Like many things in our lives, Adam and I received our referral sort of non-traditionally. Had we stayed in the Ethiopia program, we would have waited on a list of parents and would have one day received a phone call from our agency presenting us with a referral. At that point we would accept our referral and begin the process to bring that child home.
Well, that's not exactly how our referral for DRC went, because we were matched with a waiting child. At the beginning of January, I began to feel some anxiety about the pace at which Ethiopia adoptions were moving within our agency. Because of this, I began to do some more research into available African adoption programs. I knew Rwanda was out due to its recent shutdown, and I kept hitting brick walls with other country programs. I inquired with a few agencies about Democratic Republic of Congo, but I never found a program that felt like it "fit". I was also very cautious about leaving the ET program and didn't want to make that leap unless their was a child in our age range, waiting for a family. With the uncertainty of international adoption (and the big changes we'd seen just in our own personal adoption journey), I didn't feel comfortable getting on yet another wait list.
Luckily, our preferred age range and gender meant that there were children waiting with some agencies in DRC. On a whim, I contacted an agency called A Love Beyond Borders after stumbling onto their website. The site listed no waiting children within our age range, but when Kelly contacted me, she told me that they'd recently had a large batch of children become available for adoption through their (very new) DRC program.
From the moment I spoke with Kelly, I felt great about the agency and their processes. Having been around the IA block for multiple years (and having been in a situation with a smaller, unstable agency), I was very wary about leaving a well established program and agency for a smaller, more unknown program.
We officially were matched with JN on January 20th, 2012. Immediately, we had to begin collecting paperwork to update our home study and to build a completely new dossier. We did this with two days to spare of our 30 day deadline, and our dossier was translated and sent to Lubumbashi, DRC in late March.
And now we wait... checking my email way too often, hoping for updates or new photos. Cherishing the few small photos we have. Shopping and preparing (less and less cautiously as everything moves forward extremely well). Talking to our girls about what this will mean and how things will change. And while it's not a traditional referral-phone-call-big-surprise story, it still feels wonderful. And it definitely feels like the right choice for completing our family!