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A Family Story: Moving from an Ethiopia to India Adoption

In 2017, the Ethiopia adoption program began to slow significantly and closed in early 2018. As the Gross family prayed to seek God’s direction for their family as it related to their Ethiopia adoption, they turned to India adoption.

Laura Gross posted on their personal blog in June 2017 about this transition. She has allowed America World to share her thoughts from that day over 10 months ago regarding adopting from India.

June 12, 2017

Hi. We’re adopting from India—or “Indiopia” as I accidentally told a friend.  We sent our program application in earlier this month and paid the entrance fee. Since things have been signed and money has exchanged hands, I guess we’re officially heading in this new direction. An officially official India family-to-be.

India’s adoption process (from finishing paperwork to returning stateside with your child) is running 18-24 months and DECREASING. This country has an overflow of needy children desperate for forever homes. Once our home study is fully assembled and approved, we’ll be matched with a child (who fits our criteria) soon afterward.

This is much different than Ethiopia, where referrals only happened for queued families once a tedious, bureaucratic analysis of their personal records was completed in turn. Accepting the match with our daughter will start the paperwork rolling in India (can take between 8-18 months). After authorizations are ready, we head to Delhi with a passport for our daughter. Over the span of about 2 weeks, we’ll finalize the last necessary documents and appointments in-country. And, unlike Ethiopia, one visit is (usually) all it takes. Upon boarding the plane in India, we’ll be—at long las—a family of four.

Revisiting these familiar adoption steps is equally disconcerting and exciting. Bittersweet. It feels a lot like abandoning one dream to begin another. But as David frequently asserts (to his overly emotional bride), FEELINGS aren’t reality. We CAN be devoted to Ethiopia and to its children, while truthfully analyzing their government’s involvement in the decline/suspension of international adoptions. Our connection to this amazing country doesn’t have to end because our adoption there has. We KNOW Ethiopia is in our future somehow, it’s just going to look a little different than our original plan. Isn’t that par for the course? At least for this family, it is. God takes our pain, our desires, our attempts at plans (even ones seemingly driven by Him) and transforms them into something bigger: A part of His beautiful and mysterious story. My (especially) small human brain may never understand this turn of events, but I do need to trust that my Savior hasn’t deserted me, my family, or the orphans in Ethiopia. And that, my friends, is faith. Or, as I like to call it, uggghhhhhhhh-faith.

Um, no pressure India, but you’re kinda a big rebound for us.

And here’s one of the 2 billion reasons we’re falling in love again: saris. Specifically my baby girl in a sari. Yes, this may sound completely superficial and trite after talking about “God’s mysterious story..blah blah,” but I DON’T CARE. I’ve already Google image searched “babies in saris” more times than I care to admit. #sarinotsari Okay—seriously though. Like good parents, we did research on India’s people, culture, traditions. We talked with our agency about the state of adoptions there, the care of orphans. Those are the head questions, the facts we need to get in line. However, once I took the time to look, REALLY look, at India on a map, I was dumbstruck. Because the outline of its border resembles a heart. Not a cutesy, cartoon, Valentine’s day heart. A beating human heart. So, not the sweet version, the actual version. I felt this revelation straight to my core.

adopting from india

Because things are not tidy in life—or in adoptions! They certainly aren’t dear or heart-shaped. Frankly, they tend to be a bloody mess. But that doesn’t make them bad, it makes them relevant, authentic, relatable. It makes them real. My friend, Tricia, who lost her husband 2-½ years ago to brain cancer, is engaged to be married. Being the amazing(?) friend that I am, I’ve been hounding her about All.The.Details. After weeks of continued harassment, she patiently goes, “You know, the event isn’t as important the second time; I already DID the big wedding thing. Us, the blessing of this unexpected life together, is what matters.” I shut up as that sunk in. Finally, I got it. Humans often feel the need to prove their first love. Thus the cheesy pet nicknames, bouquets of flowers, broadcast sentiment, huge ceremonies. For us with Ethiopia it was photo shoots, home decor, shirts, jewelry. The physical stuff made our adoption seem valid; tangible. Having those tokens wasn’t wrong, but perhaps the extent of our adoration was.

Ahh, hindsight. With India we didn’t need to convince anyone but ourselves. The second time around it’s purely about relationship: Us and our daughter. Not that we won’t occasionally rock an India tee, but that PDA is extraneous, not essential. And I’m not diminishing first loves or the accoutrements they typically carry. Those firsts will stick with us forever, literally imprinting our hearts and minds for good or bad. But seconds are a little more comfortable, mature, relaxed. More at peace with past shortcomings and present vulnerabilities, like a broken-in pair of jeans. Concerned with actually BEING the part, not merely looking the part. Dodging showy passion, to jump knee deep in the muck of life. Second love is real, messy—a testament to the beating heart I saw in India’s borders. And, Tricia can attest, even a broken heart has the ability to flutter, to honor both old and new connections with its persistent rhythm. To bang out a tune of hope and endurance. To choose to live, love, and embrace the journey ahead.

Laura Gross
America World Mom

Visit “Our Missing Piece” Blog from David & Laura Gross

America World is accepting applications from families who are considering adoption from India.

Many other children in India are in need of families who are interested in adopting from India to make them a part of their forever families. Learn more about Indian adoption by visiting our India Adoption pages where you can get details on the India adoption process, India adoption costsIndia adoption requirements, and more. Contact our India team with questions at or 800-429-3369.

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