Thursday, April 3, 2014

Answering

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.

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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.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You seem to have failed to notice that DRC is a sovereign nation -- and as such aren't required to issue exit permits to their own citizens.

All of the adopted on paper kids in DRC are Congolese citizens - they won't become US citizens until they step onto US soil.

It is spectacularly inappropriate for out govt to tell a sovereign nation to issue (or not issue) exit permits to their own citizens.

If you truly cared about ethical adoptions, you would not be adopting from DRC. The problem is systemic, not simply one or two bad agencies or corrupt facilitators -- as suggested by 48 Hours Perilous Journey.

It's ironic that you insist that DRC adoptions be expedited bc social services are so poor in congo as to be non-existent as the govt cannot even provide basics like clean water and electricity on anything approaching a regular basis -- as those practically non-existent social services are responsible for verifying that each and every Congolese referred kid is truly an orphan in need if a foreign family.

Also -- spending $35k per kid to adopt from congo? Where average annual income is maybe $800? Plus $600/month in foster care fees? How is that not an incentive to traffic for profit?!?

(There's also no real way for a pap to verify their referral truly is an orphan -- you don't speak French or Lingala and the security situation is too dicey to actually investigate the kid's background yourself).

Katie said...

Anonymous - I knew I would hear from anti-adoption haters the minute my post went up. For a long time I have not mentioned my adoption or the country I am adopting from because I knew people like you would be all over it. I will no longer do that. I will use my voice. I can promise you that I am every bit as educated on the ethics behind DRC adoption as you are and most likely more-so. It is all awful and it is messy and complicated and I would have never signed myself up for it if I didn't believe each child matters. It is frightening and hard to adopt from a country where you have to question everything and if you knew me personally you would know that I *have* questioned everything. That difficulty and fear doesn't change the fact the EACH CHILD MATTERS. I won't let two lives waste away because of fear.

It is quite evident from your comment that you didn't read my post and/or you have a response that you simply copy and paste in all blogs about DRC adoptions. I will let your comment stay to show your laziness. I know that nothing I say will change your mind because people who post anonymously aren't really looking for an open discussion. Any further comments or attempts to engage will be ignored and deleted.

Lauren Mills said...

Katie: Thank you for your thoroughness here. We are with you as a waiting family and feel your pain. Appreciate you doing such a good job to explain the situation accurately. Sadly "anonymous" has made it her/his full time job to site wrong information on many DRC blogs & social media all week long...I'm not even sure for what purpose. But we can only speak the truth & facts that we know to be true and continue to press forward for justice.

Standing in the gap for the vulnerable,
Lauren

Katie Jay said...

Welcome to the Fierce Mommas Club, Katie. :)

meredith jeppson said...

I so appreciate your being open about this situation. ...and I appreciate you leaving up Anonymous' comments---- knowledge is power and those of us naive enough to think that we can passively sit back and think everything will work out---well---that doesn't move mountains. I know of adoption--- and the scrutiny of home studies etc---- never having done a foreign adoption, I can only imagine the hoops you have had to jump through. I am happy to add my name to the petition---and your cause and names in my prayers for softening of hearts and opening of doors.

farmergirls said...

Yes, you have to question everything and yes, SOME people in DRC might not have the best intentions and most ethical practices when it comes to international adoptions. Some intentions are for the best though, for the children, keeping in mind that each child does matter. Just like Anonymous said, you're not there so at some point what can you do but decide to trust the many people who are involved in getting your children home both in the states and in DRC? What can you do, but keep moving forward? I've been home with my two daughters from DRC for two years now. The Wait is unimaginable. I'm so sorry The Wait for you and for your daughters continues with no end in sight. I'm so sorry. My daughters and I are thinking/hoping/praying/wishing for your daughters to be home and know the love a family, soon!

Erica Parker said...

For all of you "anti's" out there, sit down and take an hour out of your day to watch "Children In The Congo - From War To Witches." The orphans you see weren't kidnapped, they weren't purchased. They were orphaned by either the death of their biological parents or because they were abandoned by the families. The culture is different than ours. Imagine a small child on the street, accused of being a sorcerer.Kids are being beaten, abused and abandoned. When children have a chance for an adoption, the have a chance for a future. It is indeed unfortunate that the opinions are so split within our society as to which children should have a chance at a decent life and which shouldn't. This should be an easy moral dilemma for anyone who can look at the facts. Our children were found abandoned. No adults with them. Malnourished, Alone. Now, they have a chance for a decent life with a family who will love them. That's is when we can get an exit visa and get our kids out of DRC. Our adoption was completed Nov. 2012.

Anonymous said...

Guess you missed the state dept's alerts that at least 5 DRCstuck kids were illegally smuggled out of DRC, without exit permits?

That fraud and corruption in DRC adoptions is epidemic?

That your friend Katie Jay and BEB's efforts resulted in... DRC suspending all exit permits, including medical visas the Congolese govt was kinda wiling to grant.

Jesus doesn't want you to buy Congolese kidlets!!