We both independently entered marriage with a passion for adoption. I (Keith) decided I was going to adopt when I was in the fifth grade after seeing a story about the “One Child” policy in China. Laura doesn’t necessarily remember one defining moment, but does remember feeling inspired by the example of two families she knew who had adopted when she was in college. We both made our intentions clear while dating that we wanted adoption to be a part of any future plans as a family.
Adoption is even more important to us now because it is the only means we have to grow our family since we can no longer have children biologically. Laura’s BRCA 1 gene mutation necessitated that she have a preventative hysterectomy. We’ve long since mourned that loss, and are now overwhelmed with joy at the prospect of growing our family through adoption.
Finally, and most importantly, we feel called to show the horizontal picture of the vertical truth that we ourselves have been adopted. Through the person of Christ we have been adopted into the family of God! We are now His children and heirs with Christ. There is no greater picture of this spiritual reality, than that of bringing a child into a family through adoption.
Why International Adoption?
There are 153 Million orphans in our world today. This number is comprised of both domestic orphans (those in our foster care system) and orphans in other countries. We value greatly those that have felt the call to foster care. It is tough and at times heartbreaking. For us, we did not feel that at this stage of life, foster care was the best fit for us. In the past six years we have dealt with much grief with the loss of two babies through miscarriage, Laura’s dad passing away from colon cancer, and Laura’s sister, Kim passing away from ovarian cancer. Emotionally, at this current time, we do not feel like we can handle the potential loss that may come through fostering. When thinking about adoption, I (Keith) had always had a desire to adopt internationally. Laura didn’t know exactly which path she wanted to take, but through conversation in our years of marriage, the desire to adopt internationally grew over time.
We have literally been around the world in terms of researching countries from which we could adopt. We settled on two different countries previously, but life and timing did not allow for us to move forward. We believe this is by design because upon settling on Colombia, we had so much peace and joy! For the first time we were both 100% certain that Colombia was the country God was calling us to!
We met and fell in love in large part because of our love of Salsa dancing. Latin culture was a big part of the formation of our relationship. The people, the music, the dancing, and the history all matter deeply to us. Laura is fluent in Spanish and I (Keith) am in the process of learning the language. We once read a post from a friend, who is also adopting internationally, in which this friend discussed the importance of falling in love with the culture and country of your child. With such a strong love for Latin culture, we felt we could fall in love with the country of Colombia. And boy have we!
The need is great in Colombia. According to statistics, there are 577,000 orphans in Colombia. Most children are placed in orphanages or foster care due to extreme poverty, violence, neglect, abuse, or parental incarceration. Efforts are being made to preserve families, and to encourage domestic adoption, which is so important. Beyond these efforts, there are still many children that need a family.
Our Goal in Adoption
Our intention in this process is not to be the “saviors” for the child we will eventually bring home. Christ is the only one that can save. Our hope is to bring home a daughter and to show her the love that God has shown to us. We hope that in raising her we can give her an appreciation for who she is and where she comes from. We want to teach her about her country’s history and culture. We have already begun to meet people from Colombia and definitely plan to bring our daughter around them as much as possible.
We also want to ensure that she knows what it means to be an Echols. We are dreaming of the day when we look in the back seat of our car and see three faces. We look forward to family road trips, taking her to see her grandparents, and cheering her on as she plays sports. We look forward to washing her scrapes when she is little, and caring for her heart when she is in high school. We look forward to seeing her go off to college and welcoming her back for the holidays with her own family one day.
Our daughter, whoever she may be, has a family that is so ready to accept and love her. We love her so much without having met her. We will be doing all we can on our end to get to her and we invite you to join with us in prayer as we wait for the day we are joined with her!