Monday, January 21, 2013

To Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This holiday has more meaning to me this year since my son will be African- American. The way people view him and the way he views the world will be different from my experiences. This will be for many reasons (gender, early childhood spent in orphanage rather than a family, growing up in a tiny town in Idaho rather than the suburbs of Miami, etc.), with his ethnicity probably not being the least of these. I have listed some quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. that I found inspiring and thought- provoking and I hope they are for you also.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

State Certification Fun

Yesterday our dossier coordinator told us our dossier looks great (WooHoo- I guess my natural talent is filling out and organizing paperwork) and she gave us the go- ahead to submit it to the Secretary of State for certification. The purpose of the state certification is to verify the authenticity of the document and the notary's seal and signature. We had a total of 16 documents to get certified (at $10 a piece) in three different states. The documents have to get certified in the state they originated, so our birth and marraige certificates have to get sent back to Florida and Maryland. Once everything gets sent back to us all officially certified, we send it off to our agency for translation. I know, this is real exciting stuff.

In other news, we found out today that our home study case worker had a massive stroke. She will not be our case worker anymore. Besides it being sad, this will affect us in two ways. We will be re- assigned a new case worker from Coeur d'Alene, which is farther away than where our old case worker is from. This means that we will have to pay more for mileage when she does our post- adoption visits. Also, she does not know us. The first time she will meet us and see our home is one month after we bring our child home from Congo. I can't imagine a more stressful time to meet a new person who will be evaluating our newly acquired family life. Hopefully she will be kind.

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Jealousy

I am blessed that I don't have a natural tendency to succumb to deceitfulness, vulgarity, addiction (except maybe chocolate), boastfulness or greed. Unfortunately, though, jealousy gets me every time. (Yes, I have other faults, but I'm only focusing on one for now.) Jealousy has to be one of the hardest things to overcome. It is such an automatic response. I hear something good happen to someone else, I think I deserve for it to happen to me and then I fall into a spiral of self- pity and bitterness. I'm sure jealousy is a common stumbling point for most people, but for some reason nobody wants to admit to it. I guess our pride keeps us from acknowledging our jealousy.

I think that women who want children and do not have any experience the most poignant kind of jealousy. Being a mother is such a natural and deep desire for most women, making it extremely difficult to find the joy when you watch other women have as many babies as they want. I can honestly say that I have, for the most part, dealt with my sadness over not being able to choose when and how many children I will have. (I never had much of an issue over missing out on the pregnancy experience and not having biological children- it's just that adoption is so time consuming and expensive that it will limit our family size.) I believe that the reason that I have fertility issues is so that I can adopt. Honestly, I probably would not have considered adoption if I could have had as many biological children as I wanted. I could have pursued more intensive fertility treatments, but it didn't feel right to spend that much time and money to try to make my body become pregnant while there are millions of orphans just waiting for parents. It has been a process, but I am very happy to build my family through adoption. I feel that this is my purpose and my privilege. I very rarely now feel jealous when I hear of another person becoming pregnant. And if I do, the sadness doesn't last long because I know I that I am doing something special. When our adoption is complete, I will not only be a mother, but I will be providing a home, family, and future to a child who would otherwise not have one. How amazing is that?

However, it turns out that my jealousy issues are not all over. I have been following a blog about a family who adopted a little girl from the DRC only 8 months ago.  They had a perfectly smooth and quick adoption process. So far their daughter has no major attachment or medical issues. Now they recently announced they are already far along the process of adopting a little boy. Was my initial reaction happiness for them? No. Was I happy that another orphan is being brought into a loving home? I am ashamed to say No, that was not my first thought. My first thoughts were: 1)they are getting a second child and we don't even have one yet and 2) their referral for that little boy could have been ours (which probably isn't even true).  I guess my jealousy has just transferred from pregnant women to people who have multiple, seemingly smooth adoptions. (sigh) At least I caught myself early on and was able to avoid making a trip down self- pity lane. While I may not have joy in my heart for them just yet, I at least don't have bitterness. I suppose I am a work in progress.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Introduction to Congo

Before I get started, I want to give you a quick update. We received a bit of good news: we don't have to re- do our physical exams. Yay! That will save us some time and money. We now have all the documents we need to complete our dossier. Every document is notarized and scanned into our computer. (It would be a very bad time for a house fire.) Everything has been e-mailed to our dossier coordinator for a final reviw before we send it out to be state certified.


I would like to share some information with you about the Democratic Republic of Congo. I know I didn't even know where it was on a map before we started looking into adopting from there. The DRC is the second largest country in Africa (by area) and has 71 million people, making it the 19th most populous country in the world. It has a tropical climate and the highest frequency of thunderstorms on the planet.  From 1908-1960, Congo was ruled by the Belgian government, making French one of its official languages. Congo has abundant natural resources (cobalt ore, copper, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, etc.) but, sadly, little of that benefits the people living there.

The Second Congo War (1998- 2003) devastated the country. It is the world's deadliest conflict since WWII, killing 5.4 million people. Rebel armies continue to spread violence across the country. It is estimated that 1,500 people die per day because of the conflicts. The rebel armies forcibly take children to turn them into soldiers and sex slaves.

Congo is considered the worst place in the world to be a woman. It is known as the "rape capital of the world". The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence in Congo is unmatched anywhere else.

This country suffers from widespread malnutrition, disease and poverty:

- In 2012, the DRC was rated as the poorest country in the world.
-Only 46% of the population has access to clean water and 75% of the population are severely undernourished.
-The life expectancy is only 48 years.
-Over 1 million people are infected with HIV.
-Malaria kills 400 children a day.
-One in seven children die before reaching the age of five.

I know there are people who have issues with international adoption. They feel that adoptive parents are stealing children from their birth country and heritage. I realize the importance of culture and racial identity, but more important is the child's right to LIVE. To live a life with access to food, water, medical care and education. To a life with the love and support of a family. To a life with a future.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So where exactly are we anyway?

You may be wondering how much we have accomplished and how much more we have to do in this craziness that they call an adoption. At the top of the blog you can click on the tab that says Adoption Timeline and see exactly what has happened so far. To sum it up, we *finally* completed our home study in December. We also mailed out our I-600A form to USCIS. It takes about 2 months for approval and then we will receive I171H. This is necessary for the immigration of our adopted child.

We are mostly done with our dossier (the compilation of all paperwork that gets sent to the Congolese government). We would be completely done with the dossier, but we may have to re-do our physical exams. We got the exams done when we first started the home study, but with all of the delays they are now over 6 months old, which means they may be too old to use for our dossier. So, we are waiting to hear back from our agency about whether it is absolutely necessary to get new physicals done. We would really rather not because our insurance doesn't cover them and it is insanely expensive to visit with a doctor for 5 minutes.

Once we get everything we need for the dossier put together, we send it all down to Boise to get state certified. After that it gets sent to our agency to be translated into French. As all this is going on, we are waiting for a referral. A referral is where they match us with a child, give us a picture, a guess at the child's age, and some basic health information. We will probably have to wait another few months to get this (but it will be incredibly exciting once it happens!- then it will finally all seem real). Once we accept a referral, the dossier gets sent over to Congo and then a bunch of other stuff happens. I will fill you in on all that when we get closer.

While we are finishing up our dossier and waiting for a referral, we are filling out as many financial aid grants as possible to help with the adoption expenses. We are about $10,000- $14,000 short of what we need. We are really hoping that we will not have to take out a large loan because we want to adopt more children in the future and we won't be able to if we are paying off expenses related to the first adoption.

So, there you have it. We still have a ways to go. It looks like we probably won't be picking up our child until the fall. I will keep you updated as things unfold.