Well, we finally got our referral of an adorable girl. We were told that she was approximately 4, but she could be as old as six, so we needed to update our home study. We knew that the DR Congo has temporarily suspended issuing exit visas for adoptees--that means you can adopt them but you can't take them out of the country--but we were assured that it was only going to last a couple of months and would not impact us because it would be resolved by the time we needed her exit visa. So, we moved forward and accepted her. That was in late November.
In December the US Department of State issued another update stating that the suspension would last 12 months. I spoke to our agency again and was reassured the that was not going to happen because they had spoken with people in charge and the warning was meant as a worst case scenario. Feeling a bit relieved we began sharing her photo with friends and family.
In January I received updated pictures--but she looked older, like two or three years older. So I called the agency and requested her birthdate--something that We had never gotten. I was told that we would get her birthdate AFTER the adoption was finalized in court. WHAT?! How do you refer children when you don't know and age--even an estimation? Turns out the court actually assigns the birthdate during the adoption hearing. Weird. So, again, we trudge forward knowing that there is a chance she won't be home for a long time.
In February I went to an adoptive Momma's retreat in Atlanta. There I learned so much about the rampant corruption in the Congolese government and throughout the adoption process. I asked lots of questions. No one else was in the Congo program with our agency. I left determined to get some answers about the process and the verification of a child's status as an orphan. I emailed our agency, but for no response for weeks!
Finally, this past week, I received an email from the agency informing us of a conference call with the Dept. Of State regarding the current state of adoptions in Congo. It was gut-wrenching! Children are being trafficked, kidnapped, sold, etc to orphanages. There is fraud in lots of paperwork and that is why they have suspended the exit visa process. The country is trying to verify each case. They don't want corruption in the system. I'm glad they are working to make it better, but it doesn't change the fact that hundreds of families have legally adopted children and they can't bring them home. It's a nightmare I do not wish on anyone.
Mike and I talked about our case and what we could do. Since our case has not been finalized--in fact it was only recently submitted to court--we made the tough decision to halt the adoption. Hope will not be coming home to us. We pray that she will go to a loving home soon. I feel terrible about this decision, but honestly I would feel worse if I knew I was supporting child trafficking.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. We need a little time to grieve and pray for our loss--yes, loss. Our hearts are given completely to these children as soon as we know they will be ours. --Sharon