Monday, July 29, 2013

The Wait

We are now in the longest waiting period of our whole adoption. In every other stage there was always something going on. We did the home study and the dossier paperwork, we had no wait time for a referral and our court process breezed by, our I600 paperwork is all completed and approved, and throughout all of that we have applied for grants, done fundraising and written thank you letters. Now, for the first time, there is nothing to work on and absolutely no progress is being made. We are just waiting on the Embassy to decide to go to Roland's birth city to complete another batch of investigations.

This period of time is a struggle for me. I handled the last 15 months fine because we were busy working toward something. Now everything is stagnant and we haven't even received any updates on Roland since May. I don't even know how many times I have heard "It's all in God's perfect timing." I've been struggling with this in my head a lot lately. It sounds nice, but is God specifically causing us to wait these extra several months for some mysterious reason? I do not claim to understand all the workings and motives of God, but it seems unlikely to me that God will choose to keep an orphan away from his loving, waiting family until some magical, predetermined moment in time. Since the Bible commands us to care for orphans, I tend to believe that if God chooses to interfere at all, He will be helping the adoption progress, not halt it at the end. I think the bumps in the adoption process are just a part of life. It is the result of people using their free will to make various choices. Sure, God has the power to slow down our adoption if He wants, but it seems more likely it is the inefficiency of governments and individual people that is causing us to be separated from our son.

I also hear frequently that "God is teaching me patience so that I can be a better mother." I do not mean to sound smug, but this is offensive on several different levels. First of all, I have been waiting for a child for seven years; whatever lessons I am meant to learn, I think I would have learned them already. Waiting several extra months at this point is not going to turn me into SuperMom. That brings me to my next point- Why do people think I am naturally so unfit to be a mother that I need years of refining while other women have children with no effort at all? I do believe that it is God's plan for us to adopt, and yes, I have grown over the past years, gradually becoming a better person and Christian. But, please do not tell me that this delay in our adoption process is a little last- minute lesson in patience. I already have a graduate degree in it.

I know people mean well and they just don't know what to say so they try to make delays sound optimistic and meaningful. This does not make us feel better- it makes us feel insulted and sad (even if what you are saying actually is true). Please, just genuinely sympathize with us. Say you are sorry to hear things aren't moving forward and how hard it must be on us. Say you are praying for Roland, for our adoption, and for us. These are the things that are an encouragement and a comfort to us while we wait.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mountains, Helicopters & Ground Squirrels

I probably will not have many adoption updates to share for a while since we are just waiting on the next U.S. Embassy orphan investigation. Instead, I will share with you some pictures from our weekend outings over the past month. (Click on the pictures to make them bigger).

   One of our favorite places- only 15 minutes from our house                     

 a storm looming over our tiny town
My little family :)
One evening we saw two helicopters carrying what looks to be water buckets. They must have been coming back from a nearby forest fire.

 a view from Lolo Pass- the border between Idaho & Montana
The Lolo Pass area was a popular spot for the ground squirrels.




Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fundraising Update

Our adoption fundraising has been going amazingly well. Before we started this adoption we knew there was a large chunk of expenses that we did not have the money to cover, but for over a year we have been praying that God would somehow take care of it. It was definitely a leap of faith, and there was a little bit of worry involved, but as we are nearing the end of our adoption, God has provided. With our Hand in Hand matching grant, we raised an incredible $6,650. As donations were coming in for the matching grant, we received another blessing- a $3,000 grant from the Rollstone Foundation. We were even more humbled by the generosity of others today. Our church held a spaghetti feed fundraising dinner for us and we raised another $1,550. It is amazing to think that just a month ago we were facing the possibility of taking out a $15,000 loan and now we are only short $3,600. We still will not be travelling for several months, but it is such a huge relief to know most of our expenses are taken care of already. I just want to give a huge THANK YOU to everybody who has donated money for our adoption expenses and who has kept us in their prayers. I am so happy that Roland will be surrounded by such wonderful, loving, generous people who gave of themselves to help bring him home.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Treasures of Congo: Okapi

I realize that I frequently write negative sounding posts about the DRC. It is too easy for my mind to turn Congo into a one- dimensional land of despair. However, Congo is very large and diverse and Roland deserves to know there is more to his birth country beyond violence and poverty. In an effort to learn more about other aspects of Congo, I am starting a series called "Treasures of Congo" where once a month or so I will highlight something that I find good, unique, or interesting within the DRC.

I will always think the most fascinating thing about Africa is its wildlife so I will start this series off with the Okapi. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the most biodiversity of all of the African nations and it is the only home to the Okapi. This unique looking mammal looks more like a zebra relative, but it is most closely related to the giraffe. Of course the okapi's neck is much shorter than a giraffe's, but they share similarly long legs and long, flexible tongues. The okapi's tongue is so long that it can clean its own eyelids and the inside of its ears. Okapis have oily, velvety coats that help repel water in the moist forests that they live in. Okapis eat many plants that are poisonous to humans and they have been known to consume charcoal off of trees that have been struck by lightening. Although the okapi was unknown to the western world until the 20th century, an ancient carving of an okapi was found in Egypt. For years, Europeans referred to this mysterious animal as the "African Unicorn". In 1992, the Okapi Wildlife Reserve was formed to protect the habitat of not only the 5,000 Okapi that live there, but also for many other species. The reserve is one of the most important bird conservation sites in mainland Africa. Some of the major threats to the wildlife of the area are deforestation, poaching, mining, violence, political instability and inadequate funding. I truly hope that someday the DRC becomes peaceful enough to start an eco-tourism industry. It really has so much to offer and I would love to go back to visit in the future and be able to appreciate Congo's diverse landscapes and wildlife.

Watch the whole video to see just how long their tongues are!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Bit of Progress

Yesterday we received a fancy looking letter in the mail from the Department of Homeland Security- Our I600 is approved! The I600 is our "petition to classify orphan as an immediate relative" so that means the U.S. government now recognizes Roland as our family. Having an approved I600 is required to be able to apply for a visa when the time comes. This is a big, important step in the adoption process and I should be happy. But, this is my blog so I will be honest- I am not happy. I am sad that this one piece of paper came a few weeks too late and now I may not be able to meet my son for another half a year. I am sad that there is a large group of families from my agency preparing to travel to Congo very soon and I will be left behind. I am sad that the last 4th of July I thought would be my last without my baby and here is yet another one to celebrate with an incomplete family. The wait is hard, but at least things keep moving forward and nothing too disastrous has happened yet. All in all we have had a fairly smooth adoption so far. I know of families who lost referrals late in the process and others have had children die before and after bringing them home. I am really trying to be grateful that we are still making progress and, as far as we know, Roland is safe and healthy enough. Have a fun and safe Independence Day everybody!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Independence Days

On June 30, Congo celebrated their Independence Day. Congo was under Belgian rule from 1908 to 1960. Independence is usually a good thing, but sadly, Congo's story of independence did not turn out as successful as America's. Belgium's main priority of governing Congo was to extract it's abundant natural resources and they did treat the local population as second- class citizens. However, they also brought with them better health care and education than Congo had ever experienced before. The Belgians took an interest in the endemic diseases and launched large campaigns that just about eliminated them. Belgian Congo was also one of the few African colonies that actually taught local native languages in the schools. They also put an end to the brutal practices used by mining companies to try to get the most production out of their workers. I am not trying to idealize the colonization of Congo; you just can't wrap up Congo's history in a neat little bow. The native Congolese did not have a say in the government and they were treated with a separate set of rules, but the Belgians did bring with them helpful advances in infrastructure, medicine, education and possibly order. After Congo won it's independence, there was no fairy tale ending. They did not have the opportunity to flourish under wise, benevolent leadership. They only suffered under one corrupt leader after another and the resulting relentless conflict and poverty. Their infrastructure is crumbling and the government is too weak and/ or corrupt to adequately deal with the violent rebel groups and to create a country of order and safety for their citizens. The people of Congo do celebrate their Independence Day, but I believe it is more for an excuse to have a celebration than it is a day of exclaiming "Look how great our country turned out since we are free of Belgian rule!". As we celebrate our own Independence Day in a couple of days, let us be truly grateful for the wisdom of our founding fathers who created our nation. Our country definitely has its issues, but, compared to many, it is still overwhelmingly a place of freedom, safety, and opportunity.