International Adoption Booming in Alabama

If you find yourself noticing more multi-cultural and multi-racial families around Birmingham these days you are not alone. Families are adopting children in astonishing numbers, but not from here in Alabama. They are going overseas.

"We're two peas in a pod," says Marcy Brown referring to her son Silas.

They are two peas grown on farms on opposite sides on the planet. "The minute I saw his picture I knew. It was just he was meant to be my son," said Marcy.

"It was me when I was a little baby," Silas says looking at a photo of himself.

Silas and Marcy have spent every day together since she picked him up from an orphanage in Ethiopia as an infant. It was a conscious decision Marcy made to adopt from overseas.

"I didn't adopt thinking 'well he's coming into my life.' I am just as much coming into his background," she said.

Marcy has intentionally sprinkled Ethiopian artifacts throughout her home. There is an alphabet hanging in his room and Silas seems eager to learn the language. Marcy is part of a booming trend of parents choosing to adopt internationally. Statistics from one of Birmingham's agencies specializing in placing children from overseas shows adoptions more than tripled from 39 in 2008 to 128 adoptions last year.

Marcy warns the process is anything but easy.

"It is not for the faint of heart at all. It is a very emotional process."

Parents must go through a background check by both the FBI and the ABI along with a child abuse clearance. Some parents end up spending upwards of $25,000 to $30,000 adopting each child.

"It is not something that you do that you just do on the side," said Marcy

Then there are the cultural and sometimes racial differences.

"I ate lunch with him the other day and a little girl across the table said, 'Silas, who's your friend?'"

Marcy says the key has been educating her son about his background before the questions come up at school.

"And he looked at the little girl and said, 'well that's my mommy! I'm brown because I'm from Ethiopia and she was born here!'"

Despite the challenges, Marcy wouldn't have it any other way. She looks forward to watching the boy she calls her angel grow up.

Unlike other parents, Marcy has been open with Silas about his adoption and visits his birth mother each time she travels to Ethiopia. To her it is simply part of who he is.

"He's got plenty of room in his heart to love us all."