JW and KC Godwin are your typical little Southern family. They got married, moved to a new city, bought a house, and have an adorable baby girl named Olivia. When first meeting this couple, one will crack up at JW's love for Reba and will get helpful parenting tips from KC. This family looks complete on the outside, but on the inside they have a deep desire to follow God's will for their lives. Recently, JW and KC made a life-changing decision for their family. They have answered God's calling on their hearts to adopt a child. Read below about why they decided to do this and how their journey is going. For more information about the Godwin family and their adoption process, visit their blog at ourzoegrace.blogspot.com.
So, you're adopting....why did you decide to adopt?
Adoption is something that has been placed on our hearts for a long time. Ever since we started dating we both mentioned how we had a passion for helping children and how we planned on adopting one day. After Olivia was born we thought that the urge and pull we were feeling towards adoption would, not go away completely, but at least settle down some. Well it did the exact opposite. God started moving in our lives SO MUCH stronger. We both felt moved and called by God to do this. So we finally decided one day that we just had to let go and do it. So we did. And we are SO glad we did. It has been the most amazing journey of our lives.
What made you choose Ethiopia?
We have been asked that question so many times we have to laugh now every time it's asked. We always get put in the situation where we are talking about the adoption, how much God has moved in our lives and then when that question gets asked - all of the excitement leaves. "Why did we choose Ethiopia?" We have no idea. That's it. That's the answer that everyone seems to lose the interest over. I know it may seem a little weird but really we don't know. We both felt called first to doing an international adoption, then to Africa. Then I guess Ethiopia chose us.
Tell us about the adoption process...tips, things you have learned, steps/time frame that it takes.
God always tests us and gives us things that we think we can't handle and puts us in situations to help us learn. Man oh man did he do that when he put us on the path of adoption. Neither of us have the longest patience in the world and when it comes to adoptions - nothing moves quickly. It is a slow process with a ton of paperwork. But looking back over these past few months I think it has been a good thing that it has taken and is taking so long. It has given us time to evaluate ourselves and really focus on what God has in store for us. What his plans are for us. What this adoption will do for him.
You start off by applying with an agency. They then do a few reference checks and as long as everyone says good things about you, and you pay the application fee and you meet the requirements (ie age, years of marriage, age of youngest child, etc.) you are accepted into the program. Yep. That's it. It's that simple.
After that step then it becomes more detailed and tedious. You have to go through a "home study" and if your agency, like ours, is out of the state you live in then you have to find someone in state to do it and coordinate with your agency. During the home study you are asked a number of questions about your lifestyle, your marriage, your parenting skills, your childhood, your parents, etc. They spend about two months getting to know everything that they can about you. You and your spouse will do interviews together and separate.
You will fill out a ton of paperwork, get your fingers prints done and sent off to the FBI and the ABI, in Alabama, or where ever you may live. In that same time you are working on your financial statement. Most agencies like for there to be an excess of $100.00 per individual in the household, including the new addition, by the time all expenses are paid. So it can be a very stressful time if you are trying to make it all work. When you start canceling gym memberships, cutting back on satellite packages and other "extra's" that everyone enjoys, you realize about that thing called sacrifice. But then you realize what you are gaining out of this and how it would be worth living in the dark for 10 years if that would help you get your baby home.
After all of that is complete and you have been working and waiting for about three or four months you start your dossier paperwork. Now this is where it becomes country specific. Friends of our that are adopting from Uganda didn't have to do a "dossier" it was called something else and required different things. But as far as Ethiopia goes, you have to have everything as an original and notarized. You need three copies total, two can be photo copies - one is for the courts in Ethiopia and that is all of the originals, then one goes to your agency, which can be a copy and then you keep one.
You turn that in once it's done and then you wait. I honestly can't say what happens next because we are stuck at that point right now. We are waiting for our referral. It could happen as soon as three weeks or as long as nine months, we just don't know. This is another one of those trying times when you just have to hand it over to God and let him take control.
What advice do you have for other couples that are interested in adopting?
Pray about it and if you THINK you can do it - DO IT! Don't let worldly things slow you down from doing it. While it is an expensive adventure it is an amazing one and God will bless you for it. Trust me. Turn it all over to God. He may have gotten you to pick out a car, but you need to let him drive it. Trust in him and stay focused. It can be very discouraging and you may think things aren't moving fast enough or that you wouldn't make a difference, but that just isn't true. There is one baby out there tonight who is destined to be your baby - he or she may not be born yet, or may already be in an orphanage somewhere, but God knows who they are and all they are waiting on is for you to take the steps to bring them home. Take the leap of faith - it is well worth it!
What struggles have you had along the process?
The main struggle we have had was us trying to figure out a way that we were going to tell everyone about the adoption. We felt that when we told someone what we were doing, we needed to follow it up with an explanation. It took us a few weeks to realize that we didn't owe an explanation to anyone and that everyone was more open, encouraging and excited about it than we thought they may have been.
The second struggle has been one of the biggest ones that almost every adopting family faces - money. It is an expensive thing to do and not many people have an extra 20 or 30 thousand dollars they can use, but God opens doors during the process. If you let go and have faith in God, everything will work out like he has planned.
Are you concerned how accepting your community will be of you having a black child?
We were at first. It is only a natural thing. We are the blonde haired, blue eyed family in deep south Alabama. Anyone who has been born and raised here realizes, even though many don't talk about it, people aren't always accepting of those circumstances and families. So naturally we thought about how people were going to react about us having a black child - but we then stopped and focused again and realized that it didn't care what others thought. We realize that it is going to be at times difficult to explain things to our girls and others, but we know that God will let us know what to say and when.
How has God used this experience to grow your faith?
We have grown in our marriage and our faith together since this has started. We have grown so much closer and have learned how to not only rely on each other for things, but instead how to work together and stay focused on the main goal - bringing Zoe Grace home.
It has also been an excellent way for us both to be able to open up and talk about our relationship and walk with God.
Do you have any fears about raising an adopted child?
The fear of not knowing much, if any, family history is a fear that naturally runs through your mind, but it isn't something that would ever make us stop the process.
We also wonder what our biological children will say and one day when they are old enough to realize how our family is made up, what they might think of that it and how they feel about it.
How can others help you during this adoption process?
Well, the time to fundraise has come and the biggest challenge for us is not opening our hearts and home to another child, but it is in finding the finances to make this happen. We estimate our total costs for adoption fees, document preparation, home study, airfare, travel, attorney fees, etc. to be close to $27,000 - and that's certainly money we don't have just lying around, but we know God is faithful and is leading us to trust Him. By God's grace we've been able to pay the initial fees by practically draining most of our savings and by some private donations.
Honestly, it's a little difficult, mainly because of our pride, to make our needs known to everyone around us, but we also know it's very Biblical to do so. We appreciate your friendship very much and would like you to pray and consider helping us in our adoption. There are three ways you can help:
1.) Prayer - Please pray God will tenderly care for Zoe Grace in Ethiopia until we are able to bring her home, that God would prepare Olivia for the upcoming changes to our family, and that God will give us wisdom, discernment, and insight as we raise Olivia and Zoe to know Jesus Christ.
2.) Financial Support - Will you please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help us pay the remaining $10,000 in adoption expenses, to bring Zoe home?
Lifesong has graciously set up a fundraising account for us to raise funds to help pay the "ransom" to bring Zoe home. If you would like to be a part of God bringing Zoe to Himself through our family, you can send your tax-deductible gift starting today October 1st! Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on Zoe's behalf, and will pay the adoption expenses out of fund received. They truly are amazing people and a God send!
Steps to do this:
-Please make checks payable to: "Lifesong"
-You should write "Godwin/#1549" in the memo section.
-You can then mail your check to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Post Office Box 40
Gridley, Illinois 61744
3.) BUY A T-SHIRT –
We have been selected as the family of the quarter by a wonderful website called Dolka Pots. It was started to help families raise money for adoptions. There are two families chosen each quarter and whatever is bought on the website, you have an option to decide which family you would like to receive the credit and then that family gets a certain percentage of the proceeds from the sales during their quarter. They are also selling and making our t-shirts and we get 50% of all proceeds from our t-shirt sales and that will go 100% directly to travel expenses. So I hope you will take a moment and at least look at our shirt and around on their website. If there is anything that you would like to buy, make sure you chose “Godwin family” when you go to check out. We would really appreciate it.
I don’t think we could ever say thank you enough to everyone and how supportive you have all been. Thank you for investing in the Kingdom through prayer and finances - it will be an investment with an eternal return! (Matt 6:20). We'll give you an update with a picture of Zoe as soon as we receive it and any other details as we receive them. Please pray this entire process will glorify God and fulfill His purposes! Check out and follow our blog at - http://ourzoegrace.blogspot.com
JW, KC and Olivia
Till next time, let your light shine!