I long for the day when the sweet can just be sweet. It seems there’s a constant bitterness that is a part of our everyday life, no matter what it is. Bittersweet is how I describe taking my daughter to first grade today, the beauty and the sweetness of her growing, becoming the individual that she is, mixed so strongly with the bitterness of the realization that these years are going way too fast! The sweetness of knowing "our children" in Africa along with their two older brothers will be starting school in a couple of weeks, an opportunity they have never had before our lives intersected. There is so much sweetness in knowing they are thriving, growing up with their mother and family, where they belong, but it is coupled with the bitterness that as I drive away from school today, I am dropping off one child and am left with an empty car seat. Bittersweet.
Our entire adoption journey…bittersweet.
It could be so easy to get caught up in the bitterness of our adoption journey. The natural end result to see is, a failed adoption. Two years and thousands of dollars later, I am left with nothing but empty bedrooms at my house. But I choose to find the sweet. It’s there, albeit hard to see at times. The sweetness of a family reunited, their lives forever changed and in turn our lives and the way we view everything, changed…for the better.
The bittersweetness that through my experience, the hope that I can help others avoid such heartache in their own adoption journey. Adoption is a beautiful thing and I refuse to see only the bitterness. When there is truly a need, adoption can be so sweet and it is for so many. But I know now, that it’s not ok to assume adoption is in the best interest of the child or birth family. Ignorance is no excuse for being a part of an unethical adoption. Going about an adoption blissfully ignorant fulfills only our selfish desires to adopt a child. We owe it to our children to learn all we can about their beginnings to help us guide their future...
I realize now that I spent an entire year researching all the wrong things. It seems so clear now, such a part of my everyday thought process, but I truly never stopped to think that there was this sort of blatant unethical deception happening right under our noses, in international adoption. It is so "in my face" now, but yet I really never knew. I thought trafficking occurred when villages were raided or when children were snatched from the marketplace, not when women came approaching desperate mothers offering them an alternative. An alternative that was in fact nothing of what they stated it was. It was not a sponsorship for an American education, this was international adoption. This was preying on her vulnerability to profit from the separation of a family. The separation of children from their mother and all that they know…
So much has happened since we made our decision to adopt. I have learned so much and I have grown so much. I have learned that it is in truly blindly trusting God and following His lead, that we get a glimpse of His plan. I have come to the conclusion, through many tears and prayers that where we are now is part of His plan. I thought we set out to adopt...He knew He could use our open hearts to really make a difference in the lives of people I would have otherwise never met.
We chose One World Adoption Services as our adoption agency after months of research...yes, all the wrong research. We researched things like adoption timelines, program fees, availability of agency staff to guide us throughout the process, number of in country staff, we looked for a Christian based agency, ease of online portals, etc, etc, etc. These things all seemed really important and they are, assuming the agency and it's employees are working in an ideal environment, where nobody profits financially from adoption. That was the world in which I did my research. A world in which the best interest of the first family and the children are all given priority. A world in which the agency and it's employees cared more about the people they were helping than their bottom line. My little world filled with rainbows and butterflies was so far from reality. I hate to say that this was the world in which I researched our adoption agency. And I will venture out and say that this is the same world in which many many adoptive parents have done their research. With the best intentions. There is such a need for adoption and so many orphans in need of homes. I just wish my research would have included more about how the agency and it's staff go about "helping the orphans" and ensuring the best interest of the children. I hate that I learned the hard way the dark side of international adoption. As our story unfolded I felt anger and disbelief. Naturally I felt inclined to feel sorry for myself and so let down by our adoption agency. I am so thankful to have my faith in God. It is this faith that has helped me keep my focus. I realize now that God is using me as part of a much bigger plan. First we thought His plan for our family was adoption, this faded into the realization it wasn't about helping "our children" by adopting them but by resettling them back with their family. But I really feel like this is not the end of what God has in mind. I feel like I need to use the knowledge that I have learned first hand about ethics in international adoption, or the lack there of, to make a difference on a bigger scale. I'm ready to speak out. To speak out against agencies profiting off of the vulnerable. I want to band together with other adoptive families to hold agencies and employees accountable for their actions.
Last month was a step in the right direction. The council of accreditation (COA) suspended the license of OWAS for 90 days. In response to this suspension OWAS announced it is closing it's doors. But the sweetness of realizing they are no longer taking part in tearing families apart is coupled with the heartbreaking side of the story where so many OWAS adoptive families and children are left in limbo by the sudden closure of the agency. Bittersweet.
I’m determined to find the sweet. To use my experience for good. Please be a part of this with me. If you are thinking about adoption or anywhere in the adoption process please please do your research. Don’t naively trust your agency. Feel free to contact me, I am happy to share anything that I can in order to help protect families, adoptive and birth families alike. If you are not in the adoption process and want to do something to help us help our “adoptive family”, we are helping them with education expenses and helping to provide financial support for necessities. If you would like to make a donation to help us help them you can make a donation via the Paypal button and I assure you they will receive the funds. We are excited to be a part of this time with them and thank you for your continued prayers and support of this amazing journey we are on!