Joseph and Laura Thigpen adopted their precious daughter, Eliza, from Ethiopia in December 2017. Here's what Laura has to say about the adoption journey:
Four years, two months, nineteen days
That’s how long it took to finally bring our daughter home. Longer than we anticipated. Harder than we ever imagined. And worth every second of waiting.
Our Desire to Adopt
"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."
The Lord had placed a desire to adopt in our hearts very early on in our lives. In fact, it was a serious topic of conversation during our dating relationship. So, when we got married it was only a question of when, not if. But, young as we were and just pursuing life together, we assumed biology would come first. The Lord had other plans.
As we endured the pain of a miscarriage and no answers to fertility issues, we began to realize the Lord had something greater in store for us -- adoption sooner, not later. The cost, however, overwhelmed us at the beginning -- how could a young couple like us afford the financial burden of adoption?
We turned to our church for wisdom, guidance, and support. What a gift the body of Christ is! They endured every high and low with us - they prayed, they wept, they rejoiced, they gave, and gave, and gave some more.
Truthfully, it did cost us more than money. It cost us sacrificing much of ourselves to relentlessly pursue the plan the Lord had placed before us. It also cost everyone who walked alongside us time, emotional investment, and spiritual encouragement.
To See Her Face
We had been in the process three and a half years when we finally received our daughter's referral. We ate dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant, soaking up every last drop of queso onto our chips while we tried to talk about anything but our adoption. See, we had been expecting our referral for several days already, but another day had come and gone with no referral.
We finished our meals, and all the chips, queso, and salsa we could eat and went home. To our surpirse, our referral had arrived while we were gone.
That was Valentine's Day 2017. It was the best gift we could have received that day!
We saw her face. Her precious, beauitul, little face...and we both wept for joy. Finally -- after all this waiting. We got to see her face!
Two months later Ethiopia suddenly placed a ban on inter-country adoption leaving us and 200+ other families' adoptions in jeopardy.
We, along with the other 200+ families scrambled to get the help we desperately needed to bring our children home. I remember vividly Joseph asking the members our church to help us send letters requesting our adoption be allowed to be completed. We had over 500 letters signed that morning by members in our church, and more than 3000 in the days following from others reaching out to help! But that wasn't enough.
It literally took an act of Congress to help us get our children home. Not less than 152 U.S. Congressional members signed a letter to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia urging them to complete our adoptions.
To say that summer was tumultuous feels like an understatement. Nevertheless, cases were finally allowed to proceed.
We travelled to Ethiopia in December (10 months after receiving her referral) to complete the process and bring her home. We held our breaths until we landed on U.S. soil with our daughter, anticipating that at any moment our circumstances could change. Upon touching down in D.C., we both literally exhaled. Home as a family of 3!
When we arrived at the airport we were greeted by family and friends, and lots of joy-filled tears! We celebrated her arrival with a quiet Christmas at home, and fell captives to her smiles and laughs and cries and cuddles. All of which we had been longing to see and experience for such a long time -- we treasured every moment.
Twenty-four days after our arrival home, Ethiopia’s parliament voted to ban inter-country adoptions permanently. To this day, the country is still closed to inter-country adoption.
It may have taken years, but we came home with our beautiful little girl. She has filled our days with unspeakable joy.
We know that not all adoption stories end with a child coming home to their forever family for reasons beyond anyone's control.
But, with all of its hardships and risks, would we do it all over again?
The Story Continues
In fact, we are adopting again -- this time, we're waiting for our little one from Colombia. Already, there have been ups and downs, and we expect even more. But the wait is worth it, and every child deserves a forever family.
This is the heart behind HartDesignCo! Helping families like the Thigpens bring their children home forever!
Follow #theheartbehindhartdesignco to learn more about the Thigpens' story and the other adoptive families we've supported.
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'"