It’s easy to think Jonathan and Brittney Maloney were meant for each other from day one. They met during their Dacula High School days, where from afar Jonathan always had a crush on Brittney Jackson. “I remember seeing her for the first time and thinking, that’s my soulmate. I thought she was the prettiest girl in our entire high school,” he recalls.
After being introduced by a mutual friend, they both got to know each other throughout high school and built a friendship that later blossomed into a romantic relationship in college. Jonathan proposed to Brittney on a fall evening in October 2008, and the couple was married the following year in November.
A shared desire to start a family was apparent to them early, and a few months into their marriage they began to try for a child. “We tried for two years, even going as far as exploring fertility options to help us conceive,” Brittney says.
After their attempts to conceive were unsuccessful, the couple struggled to find their missing peace. Eventually, the possibility of adoption took root. “Jonathan and I had already shared with each other about our passion for adoption, but the plan had always been to try for a biological child first. But, after the first year of trying, I felt like my heart was already on adoption. I knew I wanted to provide a home for a child that needed one,” she says.
“With much deliberation, discussion and prayer, on January 1, 2012, we decided we were going to adopt – putting the fertility treatments and stress behind us and focusing solely on adoption,” Jonathan says. ìIt definitely took a leap of faith.î
As Jonathan and Brittney began exploring adoption, they both felt they were being called to one particular part of the world – Africa. “When I was researching adoption, I was always drawn to blogs about people adopting children from Africa,” says Brittney. Their empathy and compassion for Africa grew when they discovered Ethiopia’s adoption requirements fit them perfectly. “We like to say Ethiopia chose us,” Jonathan says. The Maloneys decided they wanted to bring home an Ethiopian baby, and with their two weenie dogs, Noah and Eisley, the couple officially began their two-year adoption journey.
After finding an agency that offered an Ethiopian adoption program, for the first six months of 2012 Jonathan and Brittney were charged with completing a large packet of documents called a dossier. This included medical exams, home study findings, background checks, and financial information. Once they mailed their completed packet off in May, it became a waiting game. “We got placed on a waiting list for a baby boy or girl. A couple of children get referred to the agency each month, and eventually we’ll be the first in line to receive a referral,” she says.
When adopting, it can take years before the adoptive parents are able to take a new son or daughter home. With all this building anticipation about becoming parents, how is the couple keeping their cool during their long wait?
“As a child, you look forward to Christmas – the day that you’re so thrilled about, you just cannot wait. Sometimes, we have to not think about our adoption because we’re so excited and we don’t want to drive ourselves nuts. At the end of the day, the time could change to receive our child,” Jonathan explains. “We try not to get caught up in how long it’s going to take,” Brittney says.
To help them cope, the couple goes to an adoption support group every month with people who have experienced, or are currently going through, the adoption process. “It’s really exciting to meet families who have adopted and have children from Ethiopia. We feel that connection with them that we don’t always get to feel. It’s amazing to hear their adoption stories and get their advice on parenting,” says Jonathan.
Brittney’s enthusiasm to be a mom has also kept her strong during this time. “Once we have our child home, I’ll be able to be a mom, and we can start to focus on our own little family,” she exclaims. Jonathan believes his wife is going to be an amazing mom. “She’s naturally motherly. She always puts other people before herself and wants to take care of everyone she loves.”
As a couple, they have begun to learn more about the Ethiopian culture together. “We want our child to know that we respect and love where he or she came from. We don’t want it to be taboo. We want our child to know we took the time to learn about their culture because we respect his or her birthplace,” says Jonathan. It’s important for the Maloneys to integrate their little one’s culture into their lives, not just for themselves, but also for their future baby boy or girl.
“We’ve been so eager to learn more about Ethiopia since we first made the decision to adopt. We have so much respect and appreciation for the people and culture,” says Brittney.
The couple decided to embrace the culture by trying Ethiopian cuisine. The Maloneys recently visited an Atlanta Ethiopian restaurant. Brittney explains their first-time experience. “It truly felt amazing to be in an environment that reminded us of our future child. It made everything we’ve been through seem worth it. Literally within seconds of being there, we were both fighting back tears. The people, food, music, and accents all made the experience special.”
To complement the Maloneys love of reading, they have bought a children’s book during every big milestone in their adoption journey. Jonathan and Brittney hope to incorporate these books into the nursery, and to someday be able to share their adoption story with their son or daughter.
Brittney also has revealed their story on the couple’s blog, OurMissingPeace.com, chronicling the ups and downs, the triumphs and joys, for others who are looking to adopt. The couple also uses the blog to help raise money to pay for the adoption. With the cost of adopting reaching up to $40,000, adoptive parents often are faced with initial costs that can seem challenging.
The couple has dreamed up some other interesting ways to raise money for their adoption, including a T-shirt that’s sold on their site with most of the money going directly to the adoption process. Brittney Maloney explains the concept behind their ‘Do For One’
T-Shirt campaign. “We’ve all heard how important it is to do for one even when you can’t do for all. There are 147 million orphans worldwide and if everyone chose to do for one, what a difference it would make! Doing For One is different for everyone. For us, it has evolved into adopting a baby from Ethiopia. This is where we pulled the inspiration for the T-shirt design in hopes that it would inspire you to Do For One by supporting our adoption.”
In the end, it’s all about the day they get to bring their baby home, and the excitement for that moment trumps any of the challenges the couple may face. “You could find millions of reasons why you shouldn’t adopt but there’s one amazing reason to adopt – a child that needs a family to call its own. It’s a big decision, but at the end of the day, it’s completely worth everything,” Jonathan says.
The couple asks that you keep them, their future child, his or her birth parents, and all the orphans who deserve a family in your thoughts and prayers.