This is the dress she chose at Old Navy for her birthday. Does she know her own style or what? It was so perfect for her.
We began our adoption of two sisters from the DR Congo last February after a ten year long desire to adopt. This adoption process has been intensely invasive. It started with our home-study over a year ago, where we sat with an almost stranger for hours and discussed our values, parenting beliefs, life experiences, religion, and home life. We sat with this social worker in our home, let her look at every nook and cranny, and let her ask our children questions. It continued with background checks and multiple sets of fingerprints sent to the state and the FBI. Add in physicals for everyone in our family and a complete disclosure of all our finances to every party involved, and endless paperwork filled out for the Department of State, the Congo courts, and our adoption agency. We have never exposed ourselves so completely and been scrutinized so closely.
AND THAT IS OKAY. It is for the sake of the the children who deserve to be placed in home where they have a chance at love and safety.
We are in the very final stages of our adoption. We got through court in the DR Congo last summer and are the legal parents of our girls. We have passed the immigration steps that we need to, and are currently 4 months into the 3-6months it is supposed to take for the US Embassy in Kinshasa to investigate our adoption to ensure it was completed ethically. Once that step in complete (which could happen any day), they will set a date to issue our daughters’ visas to come home.
Sadly, these visas will be worthless. In the DR Congo, even when you have your children and their visas in hand, the last step to leaving the country is obtaining an exit letter from the entity of their government that handles immigration – this entity is called the DGM. Last September, the DGM decided to stop issuing these exit letters to adopted children. They made this decision amid rumors of adoption fraud and “rehoming”. Their stated plan was to shut down for up to a year to restructure and investigate.
Chad and I, and every adoptive parent I know, are firmly committed to ethical adoptions and we want the DGM, and every party involved in adoption, to do all that they possibly can to ensure that each child placed in a home truly needs a home and will be treated well. We are in this for the children.
This shut-down is complicated and I am giving you all these details so that you know I am not trying to oversimplify the issue or turn a blind eye to the issues in adoption. We want the DGM to dig deep into whatever suspicions they have.
Our problem with this mess is the complete freeze of exit letters that has taken place and the lack of a plan. It has been over six months. What exactly is the DGM doing to investigate? How will this change the adoption process? Exactly how many families and children are being affected? How will they work through the enormous backlog when they finally do issue exit letters again? Do exit letters have to stop completely while all of this happens? Can they let families who were through court before the shutdown take their children home? The U.S. Department of State cannot answer some of the most basic questions put forth to them. Just a couple of weeks ago in a conference call with adoptive parents , they told us that the freeze would be in place until at least September, and gave us little hope that it would actually be lifted then. So we are left with a hundred questions and no answers, and very little hope. If the US Department of State isn’t asking these questions and getting answers for us, who will?
In the meantime, literally hundreds of children are waiting for their families. The Congo courts are still (more slowly) issuing adoption adoption decrees and the US Embassy is still (more slowly) issuing visas for these children to go home. Every day that passes with this suspension in place adds to the number of children waiting and adds to the wait once the suspension is over.
Our situation, as depressing as it is, it not as sad as other families I know – a mother who went to the country to pick up their daughter after being promised they would receive an exit letter, stayed with her for five months, had to return to her children and husband at home and is still waiting to bring her home… a father missing the birth of a child while trying to get his adopted children home….. and so many families who have spent every dime of their savings on their adoption and who are now scraping together money to pay monthly foster care fees that have no end in sight.
If these children are waiting and waiting to begin their lives with families, it needs to be for a real reason.
We want a voice. We want our children to have a voice. That voice should be coming from our government and it is not.
We have answered every question asked of us and we deserve the same respect.
This isn’t an issue of diplomacy, this is an issue of apathy. We need the U.S. Department of State to care. These children matter.
These are our daughters. We received these pictures the day we were matched with them over a year ago. Although I have looked at these faces countless times since then, my heart still beats fast every time, because I know they are worth it. These two girls matter. Every day of their life matters.
Today, please take the time to sign this petition and fill out letters at the end of it. Please share this blog post on Facebook, through email, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Use the hashtag #DRCStuck.
Before Carina was born, I had a feeling that there was a reason she was joining our family when she was. That her soul and body had come together at this particular time and in her particular fourth-child spot, for a purpose.
As my transition from three to four kids was my hardest, her disposition made that feeling grow and grow. She just fit.
And as this past year has been one of my more difficult ones, having her home with me all day every day has been a blessing. Her chipmunk voice, her spunky attitude, going all day long, often insistently pulling me out from under the cloud I am under. It is a phrase that is used often, but she is a ray of sunshine in my life. I am so thankful for it.
Today on her third birthday, I knew exactly what she would love to do. After a breakfast of sugary cereal we went to my parent’s house, where they gave her their gift to her – “Frozen.” Then Granny came with us to Old Navy, where she got to pick out whatever dress she wanted. We brought six or seven options into the dressing room and when she tried the second one on, no other dresses would do. I encouraged her to try the others on, but as she did she kept saying, “I like that one,” pointing to #2. Library was next, where we ran into some friends going to story time, so we joined then. After that we dropped Granny at home and had lunch. She wanted to watch Frozen with her new dress on. I told her she couldn’t eat lunch in the new dress, so she wouldn’t let me start the movie until she quickly gobbled half her bean burrito down, declared she was done and got the dress on. When the boys and Dad came home we went to Nothing But Noodles and then SAS Cupcakes, where she got to choose her own (pink) cupcake. She only ate the frosting (no surprise there).
When it was time for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, I found that there wasn’t a fiber of my being that wanted to jump into a freezing cold pool. It has been a dreary winter for me and I think my spirit of adventure has been hibernating. Chad was the good parent and agreed to do it will the boys – Ollie decided he was in this year.
Here is Ollie afterwards. Chad sorta, kinda, accidentally let him go under when he jumped in next to him. Oliver was not expecting that, and added to the cold, it was just too much to bear. He needed my robe, some hot chocolate and a lot of cookies to recover.
Last night after I finished writing my blog post, I found these three pictures waiting for me in my inbox, straight from New York. Deviled eggs (with shrimp on top, of course), Pork chop (with quail egg on top, of course), and German-Chocolate Cake (with coconut whipped cream on top, of course). Despite the fantastically poor picture quality (I think that all that cholesterol was fogging the camera lens), my carrots were not quite satisfying after seeing these.
In the email with the picture of the cake, Chad mentioned he was wrapping up dinner and would call me when he got back to his hotel.
I waited until 10, and then as I was drifting off to sleep shortly thereafter, Chad called. The city noise bustled across the line with his frustration as he explained that he had been trying to hail a cab for the last half hour. A huge section of the street was barricaded for the lighting of THE Christmas Tree and it was crazy everywhere. “Man, poor guy,” I thought, as I lay in my cozy bed and drifted off to sleep immediately after.
I have never been to New York and all my New York education is based solely on Chad’s two trips there (crappy pictures, lots of work), Hey Natalie Jean (fantastic pictures, fantastic style), and You’ve Got Mail (pencil bouquets, Christmas sing-a-longs, and bend in the flower garden at Riverside Park).
Oh, and let’s not forget 30 Rock. My absolute favorite New York clip from 30 Rock:
This morning started off rough. Gabe stayed home from school sick (read: very tired and ultimately, very bored). Everyone was slow to get going and when our carpool van showed up, Oliver did not have his backpack on yet. When I went to get it, I found that it was still in the van from the previous day, and then discovered that he had unfinished homework inside (rows and rows of Chinese characters to write). I quickly wrote the teacher a note saying he would bring his homework tomorrow (which I have never done) and sent the freaking-out kid out the door.
The kindergarten adjustment has been a tough one for my guy and he is reacting in the same manner than he has reacted to every big adjustment in his life: waking up over and over again at night, lots of emotions spilling over, heels dug in with all his might and needing my constant love and affection without knowing how to show that that is what he needs. I know him and I know he will get through this. I know his teacher and I know that when Colin had her he cried every single night about not wanting to go to school the next day. She is a good teacher-no one can doubt her desire to help the children learn and grow-but she is tough. When Ollie’s folder came home today, it had a post-it note addressed to me, informing me that homework is supposed to be returned the next day and reminding me that she discussed that with me at the parent –teacher conference. Thanks.
Those kindergartener emotions didn’t just spill over tonight – they gushed over, drenching the whole household. I put the homework back away until tomorrow morning and took him to bed, where he was asleep before 7.
Carina just feel asleep so now it is my chance to munch on carrot sticks while I watch The Host and fold laundry.
Did I mention? Chad is in New York. He is eating at Bobby Flay’s restaurant as I type this. Oh, and he just sent me this picture:
November 24, 2013
Gabriel Robert Coleman
Fort Mill Ward of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Charlotte, North Carolina
Conducting: Brother Boyd Rogers
Pianist: Sister Kelly Johnson
Music Leader: Sister Deann Ballard
Welcome: Brother Boyd Rogers
Opening Song: Choose the Right #239
Opening Prayer: Sister Ashley Wright
Talk on Baptism: Brother Robert Jeppson Jr.
Baptismal Ordinance: Brother Chad Coleman
Witnesses: Brother Seth Morris, and
Brother Roy Wright,
Special Musical Numbers: Colin Coleman, “How Firm a Foundation,”
Sister Kelly Johnson, “Jesus Once Was a Little Child”, Cousins, Aunts and Uncles,” A Child’s Prayer”
Talk on Holy Ghost: Sister Katie Coleman
Confirmation: Brother Robert Jeppson Sr.
Primary Welcome: Sister Connie Simms
Bishopric Welcome: Bishop Chuck Johnson
Closing Song: If The Savior Stood Beside Me
Closing Prayer: Sister Lindsey Morris
Please join us for a picture and refreshments after the service.
For more information about baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, click here.