The Desire to Adopt Internationally: Our Story
It seemed like a foolish idea at first. “Us...adopt internationally...really?”
I didn't know what to make of it. My wife and I had talked about it for some time. Unfortunately finances never allowed us to adopt.
Suddenly things changed...a little. The whole situation was nominal. Financially we were in better shape than we had ever been. But could we honestly handle two more in our household?
This wasn't going to be an easy decision.
However, the decision was as simple as the question we asked: Do we do it or don't we?
Taking the Plunge
My wife is a research maniac. She could never do it professionally because she isn't dispassionate enough. When my wife catches fire regarding something she burns long and bright. She becomes emotionally charged and finds out all she can.
And that's what she did. She found all she could on adopting children internationally. She left no stone unturned: websites, magazines, books and even people who had already been through what we were about to do.
We already had a friend “in the business” of international adoption. He hooked us up with his group Compassion for Congo, a facilitator specializing in adoptions out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. For a while things went smoothly. We decided to try to adopt not one Congolese child but two, hopefully a boy and a girl who were siblings.
We had heard that many adoptions are purposely squeezed into a nine month period to recreate the natural time a couple has to get used to the idea of having a new member added to their household. It seemed like that would be about right for us to bring two new children into our family. We couldn't have guessed what would happen next.
As a pastor I have unusual ties to unusual people in the community, and this was unusual to say the least. I got to know four children in our church who came from less than ideal family circumstances. They were as faithful as anyone attending services. The oldest girl made sure her siblings were in church every week.
To summarize their rough family life led us to take the two oldest in. Not the most ideal situation for a couple adopting, it was still the right thing to do, and we felt it shouldn't interfere with our desire to adopt. Not everyone agreed.
Friends and acquaintances alike began discouraging us from adopting internationally. Why would we want more when we already had custody of two from the community. The pressure wasn't unbearable, but it certainly made its presence known.
Despite what some were saying, we plunged forward, fully accepting the responsibility of the two we already had (who at the time were in the foster system) and continuing to pursue two from the DRC. We knew this was what God wanted from us. How could we do anything else?
The process took much more time than we anticipated. We felt like we were traveling down a highway littered with hazards and hitting every one. We started questioning our decision (and our sanity). What followed next didn't help.
Later that year the Congolese government announced that it would close all outgoing adoptions for one year to determine why so many of their children were leaving the country. Once the DRC took this stance the United States responded with tighter restrictions regarding adoption from the Congo.
Suddenly U.S. bureaucrats were pummeling us with requests for nonexistent documents and information we couldn't possibly obtain. This nine month adoption had stretched to two years, and it seemed like this pregnancy couldn't get any worse. It did.
At the one year anniversary of the Congolese declaration to stop all outgoing adoptions, the DRC made another statement: all outgoing visas would be suspended indefinitely until a time when the Congolese government felt compelled to reinstate them. In other words, they were in charge and they knew it.
With this and the U.S. giving us so much grief, it seemed like we were fighting a battle we couldn't win. Would there ever be a favorable end to all this? We were simply waiting for a miracle.
A Sliver of Sunlight
The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration had basically told us if we didn't get all the paperwork they requested, we would be denied the right to adopt. Our file would simply lay stagnant on the desk of whatever bureaucrat was in charge that week until we complied.
Many of the documents they required didn't exist because, well, it's the Congo, and they aren't very good at keeping paperwork. We didn't know what to do. Our case was stonewalled in the U.S. with no hope in sight.
Then it happened.
We received an email from the U.S. Embassy in the DRC informing us that they had our file and would process it as soon as they had everything they needed. We had no clue how to respond. We weren't expecting a call from the U.S.C.I.S. let alone from anyone anywhere near the Congo. And how did our file get there?
Apparently someone got tired of their desk looking messy, and the U.S. sent several potential adoptions cases to the U.S. Embassy for consideration. After that things went a whole lot smoother.
Suddenly we weren't expected to produce documentation that couldn't possibly exist. Suddenly we weren't being treated as if we were cannibals ready to gorge ourselves on Congolese children. Suddenly the outlook became much more favorable.
The Hope to Adopt Internationally
We've since been cleared by the U.S.C.I.S. to adopt internationally and are preparing for the last leg of our journey. The DRC has yet to release exit visas for most Congolese children caught in the middle of the adoption process, but we're praying it will only be a matter of time before we find ourselves the proud parents of two beautiful African children.
If you would like to follow the progress on our adoption, join with us in prayer or help us out financially please visit BrownsAdoptionPage on Facebook.
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