Adoption: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

adoptionAdoption can be a wonderful beautiful amazing thing.

But it’s also messy and complicated and risky and not quite so black-and-white as I originally supposed.

World has orphans. Orphans need families. Families adopt orphans.

Sounds nice and tidy, but oh is it ever-lovin’ not.

Before I jump into an explanation, let me share a non-update update.

I haven’t blogged about our adoption lately.

Mainly because for a long while there, nothing was happening.

Well, that has changed.

I can absolutely say that things are happening. A big decision was made and we’re moving forward with a strange mixture of caution and eagerness.

I promise that as soon as I can be less cryptic and more specific (hey, that kinda rhymes), I will. As soon as I have something I can share, I will gladly shout it from the rooftops.

Until then, I’ll say this:

We’ve learned so much. Our brains are water-logged with all the learning.

We’ve seen the sticky, rarely-talked-about underbelly of adoption, especially from impoverished countries like Congo. We’ve learned that the greater the need in a country, the greater the risk for corruption. Which should give you a hint at what we’re up against. DRC is one of the poorest nations in the world. It is a war-torn country ravaged by AIDS and poverty that has resulted in an orphan crisis that is most grievous.

Yet I wouldn’t encourage anyone to adopt from there until they’ve done much praying and are willing to do much research.

How does that work?

If there’s an excess of orphans, let’s hurry up and adopt them, right?

Well, not quite.

There are orphans who will never have a family unless they are adopted. In which case, go adoption!

But then there are orphans who already have a family. A family who wants to raise them, but can’t feed them, so they end up in orphanages that can feed them. Orphans like the ones mentioned in this post.

Many orphans in Congo fall into that second category. They don’t need a new family. They need assistance reuniting with the one they already have.

Yet there are agencies and lawyers in country who have turned a blind eye to the corruption, to the fraudulent papers, to the lack of investigations done to ensure that the children being adopted should actually be adopted. Which is exactly why the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasha is now requiring an additional 3-6 month investigation before they will issue any Visas. They are trying to clean up the mess these agencies and lawyers left behind.

So what do we do with this information?

For us, it meant reconsidering everything. We tossed around domestic infant adoption, foster care, trying to conceive on our own, changing countries, stopping altogether.

But the more we prayed and fasted and sought guidance, the more our hearts kept landing where we originally began.

The DRC.

Only this time we come armed with knowledge we didn’t have in the beginning. And knowledge is power, right?


So we’re going to wield that power. We’re going to use it to help us do all we can to make sure we’re not somehow adding to the corruption in the country. To make sure we’re doing everything possible to navigate an ethical adoption.

This means asking the tough, uncomfortable questions. This means taking extra precautions – like a third party investigation. This means checking my emotions at the door, because my mama heart yearns to race headlong with eyes and ears shut tight. This means being on our knees, praying for God’s best and God’s truth.

This means TRUST. Oh, heaven, trust.

It means surrendering all my fears to a God who knows everything–not just my past, present, and future, but our child’s past, present, and future too.

Come what may, He’s got a plan and a purpose for having the Gansherts on such a crazy, nutty, eye-opening journey. To Him be the glory.

Now, If you’d like to help we crazy, nutty, open-eyed Gansherts travel such a journey, then please hop on over to our Adoption Fundraising Blog.

Because it’s big-time time for another fundraiser. One that I am totally, completely psyched about. It involves a puzzle, a sharpie, and 500 willing hearts. I get teary just thinking about what a testament the end-product will be to our little one someday. We’re also selling t-shirts and hosting an online Tastefully Simple event! So come on over, read the details, and know that we covet your support and your prayer.

All donations are tax-deductible, thanks to Lifesong for Orphans!

Let’s Talk: Have your eyes ever been opened to something you had no clue about before?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
~Micah 6:8

Go Back to the Beginning

I have a confession to make. It’s time to take off the mask, as my friend Betsy would say, and get real.

Lately, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been a bit deflated. A bit frustrated. A bit….itchy in my own skin.

Lest you start to worry or think I’m in tears throughout the day, I’m not.

I’m generally an upbeat, resilient person and I have so much to be thankful and grateful for.

But sometimes, in those quiet moments between the to-do’s, when I haven’t quite decided what to tackle next, there’s a yearning that tightens my chest.

You see, we started this adoption journey a year ago. Twelve months. 365 days.

I thought by now we’d have our little one home or at least be somewhere in the vicinity of traveling.

Only that is far away–a pinprick of light at the end of a very long tunnel–and I’m stuck waiting.

While I wait, I find it all too easy to look around at other people, other families. And the more I look, the itchier I become.

Comparison is a tricky, sticky trap. I know this. Yet I still step right into the mud.

That friend is pregnant. That family received a referral. That couple is traveling soon. That family is growing. That boy is playing with his little sister.

Things seemed to be moving for a bit. We were matched with an adorable two year old boy. But that fell through (and praise the Lord, we learned that he is reunited with extended family in the Congo, which is the BEST option) and now we’re in a standstill.

Feeding empty words to our son when he asks, “Are you going to get my brother now?”

Waiting as the country falls into turmoil because of a rebel group called M23.

And as we wait, it’s so easy for the doubts to creep in.

Maybe we chose the wrong agency (we didn’t). Maybe we chose the wrong country (we didn’t). Maybe we should adopt domestically or maybe we should quit altogether. Maybe this will never happen.

Have you ever been there, friend?

Doubting yourself? Second-guessing whatever journey you’ve set your feet upon?

What can we do when this is us?

We can go back to the beginning.

We can get out the prayer journals if we make a habit of keeping them. We can reflect and get on our knees and pray and seek and ask and remember how and why we are here in the first place.

For Ryan and I, it was an undeniable call. A whisper straight to my heart from the words of Esther.

“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?” ~Esther 4:14

Only replace the word Jews with orphan and queen with infertile.

It was as if God were saying, “I will rescue these children with or without you. I’m inviting you to be a part of this story. Are you willing?”

Was I willing to risk the potential heartache and the financial strain and the unknown and the frightening work of parenting a child with deep scars to become part of a bigger story than Katie’s little corner of the universe? Was I willing to step past my fear and laziness and selfishness and comfort and let God graft a lonely child into our family?

The questions were directed at me, because, you see, my husband was ready. He has a big heart. A compassionate heart. When people are hurting–especially children–he hurts with them. He is a man, if ever there was a man. He didn’t need convincing or persuading. He was on board.

That can’t be a coincidence. That God would give me this soft-hearted, merciful man for my partner. It couldn’t be a coincidence that for no apparent reason, Africa was seared into my soul or that God would bring people into our lives passionate about the plight of the orphan or that those thousand-year old words meant for a Jewess would fall so freshly on my ears or that a good friend would bring my attention to an obscure pilot program in the DRC or that the more we researched the country, the more we felt pulled toward its people or that some other friends would open our eyes to corruption which led us along a twisty-turny path to the agency we have now. One that might take longer than others, but is determined to avoid the landmines of corruption in a country where corruption runs rampant.

We go back to the beginning.

We remember why we took that first step.

We remember that the hard journeys are the worthwhile ones.

We remember that God does not call us down a path just to leave us stuck in the mud.

He has a plan. He has a purpose. And we are privileged and blessed to be a small, teeny-tiny part of a story much bigger than any we could write for ourselves.

Let’s Talk: What do you find when you go back to the beginning?

*The photo above was taken by Krista Johanson on stock exchange.

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Widows and Orphans

This was hands-down the coolest fundraiser I’ve ever been a part of–the epitome of James 1:27. Rescuing the orphan by serving the widow.

If those two look familiar, it’s probably because they shared their real-life Wildflowers from Winter story on my blog earlier this spring. Their story is truly evidence that God can use those barren, broken seasons in our lives to bring about something beautiful and breathtaking.

If you’d like to help bring an orphaned brother and sister from Haiti to their forever family, visit Chad and Kristin Reickard’s Both Hands page. Donations are tax deductible. If money’s tight (it often is around the holidays), another great way to help is by sharing this video on social media sites. The more people who see it, the better!

If you’d like to read a story about God’s ability to redeem our broken places, or if you’re struggling to hold onto hope in the midst of heartache, check out the first three chapters of Wildflowers from Winter for free, or visit my Wildflowers from Winter page to order a copy of your own!