It's a bedtime tradition that began with Little Nutbrown Hare, and each night we try to outdo the last...I love you to the moon and the beach and the mountians...and one of my favorites, "to Jesus and the angels" and back...We never imagined we would be saying, I love you to Africa and seems like the furthest imaginable place, but yet in God's perfect timing, we plan to go.... to Africa and back!!! And when we get back, we will have another little cheek to kiss goodnight...please keep us in your prayers and enjoy this journey with us!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


 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!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Mother’s Love

In the midst of so much gratitude and happiness, there is also a sadness I feel today on Mother’s Day. For almost a year I was the mother of four children. My plans included the colors of the walls for their bedrooms, closets full of clothes, picture frames with their photos and daydreams about what life would be like when our three children living in Congo would join our daughter here to play in the yard and swing on the porch swings. I know this feeling is shared by so many other adoptive parents today who thought they would be holding their children by now. I know how hard the wait is, and I also know what it’s like to realize they will never be coming “home”. I  am so grateful that I  know the truth about their history and their mother, I wouldn’t change having this knowledge for a second, but this truth is painful. The hardest part is knowing how close we came to taking these sweet children away from their loving mother and knowing how close we came to never knowing anything about her. How close we came to unrightfully being their parents. I see the world so differently on this Mother’s Day. When I look at their pictures now, I don’t see orphans. I see a happy family, held together by a mother’s love. I may still grieve somedays my perceptions of my “what might have beens”. The perception of what I thought our adoption meant for these children and our family, and other days I grieve the reality of my “what might have beens". The reality of what this adoption almost meant for this mother and family. 

Today, in honor of mothers and especially this mother, I want to share an excerpt from my journal that I wrote after learning the children were safely out of the orphanage and with her:

"I'm exhausted, I've slept so little over the past few nights. My mind races, my thoughts scatter, my heart aches. So much pain, so much heartache, so many broken dreams and promises and so much hope. Hope keeps me pushing, hope keeps me fighting, hope tells me don't stop, it will all be worth it. And today, confirmation. Today confirmation that the dream that I have invested every aspect of my life into for my adopted children and their mother, is becoming more than just a hope and a dream. It's becoming more than just an "if only". It's becoming more that just a fervent prayer and a wish from the depths of my soul. Confirmation that miracles happen. Miracles happen everyday, the little things in life that we take for granted. They are all around us. But not only the subtle miracles, but the monumental, in your face miracles. Miracles that can only come from a loving and sovereign God, that kind of miracle. Today I witnessed a miracle. The moment we allowed our hearts to open to the calling placed upon them to help the less fortunate, miracles began. They started subtle, they became more evident as we moved forward and reflected on events that seemed to be more than coincidences. We've learned that daily we receive reminders that God is fully in this with us. Today, hopes and dreams and more than coincidental connections, came together.

From the moment we discovered that our children had a baby sister at the orphanage I began praying. Praying for the mother who's heart was breaking for her children. As we learned that we had the authority to remove our three children from the orphanage and into the care of their mother, we also were reminded that we had no control over the fate of the baby. The mother wanted all four of her children released together and we were told, the baby belongs to someone else. Out of love and desperation, the mother agreed to leave the orphanage leaving the baby behind only under the circumstance that she would be allowed to return daily to care for the baby. She stated that she was concerned about the well being of the baby, if she was not there to care for her. A decision a mother should never be faced with. Choosing the greater good for the the greater number. Her children. Heartbreaking.

My prayer changed. God we need another miracle. For this mother, for this family. Let her walk out of the doors of the orphanage with all four of her children. Don't let her leave the baby behind. Give her the strength and the courage to fight for her family. It seems impossible. We have no authority to demand the release of the baby girl. God if the child is in her mothers arms as they leave the orphanage it can only be by your power. We dreamed it, we envisioned it and most importantly we prayed it. God we need a miracle.

Today, a miracle. God is not in this fight, this is His fight. Today He said, I've had enough. Today He said, I will show my power. Today, He said to this mother in Africa. I am with you. Today He reminded me. I am not alone. Today, she walked out of the doors, with all four of her children.

Only. God. " 

As I so gratefully snuggle my daughter tonight and thank God for the privilege of being her mother, I can’t help but thank God for giving this other mother in Congo, the blessing of once again holding her children tight and being their mother. 

Today, I celebrate the mother who never stopped fighting for her children and I am honored to have been a part of her fight.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dreaming Big

I have a frame sitting in my kitchen that reads "Dream Big…Remember, dreams do come true". In the frame I see three sweet faces. Three faces of children who I will always consider to be "my kids", my kids in Africa. But these kids aren't only my kids, I share them with their mother, a mother who loves them and a mother who now has the chance to watch them grow into the people who they will become. Since I got that frame my dreams have changed. My "Big dream" has evolved. It used to consist of my dream to be the mother of 4 children. To have a house full of noise and energy. To face challenges brought on by learning who my children really are and wondering where they came from. Yes, my "Big Dream" has changed. I now know who "my children" are and where they came from and I know, where they are is where they belong. My "Big Dream"  has become, a dream consisting of their mother being able to raise them knowing she isn't  alone and knowing she has support. It seemed so big at first. We met many obstacles, and so many times we wondered if it would always be, just a dream. Prayers were said. Big Prayers. Miracles happened and now a mother in Africa, once again has all of her children to kiss goodnight. Now we move on to the next phase. A phase of support. We have a chance to continue to be involved in the lives of "our family", this will involve support, education and empowerment. We begin by providing initial support to the family. Again, we move forward in faith. We know it is complicated, really complicated. But we also have learned that following God into the unknown, while it seems terribly complicated to us, only requires the willingness to follow. The willingness to be led. We are once again, stepping out in faith to see where this leads us. We have partnered with an amazing organization, Reunite. Reunite is based out of Uganda and they are making such an impact in the lives of birth families and their children. Families whose children unnecessarily  ended up in orphanages. Families who saw their situation as hopeless. Now theses families and these children have hope. They find hope in Reunite. The organization focuses on helping families get back on their feet after being separated by orphanages, empowerment of the parents and sustainability through job training, giving the parents a way to support their families. We are excited to have Reunite give us guidance and direction as we work to provide all these things to this family. We are setting up a fund, through Reunite where we can help with providing assistance with housing, daily necessities, food, medical care and school sponsorship for all of the children. We are also raising funds for team members from Reunite to travel to Congo to provide one on one support to the family. If you feel led to be a part of this exciting new step in the lives of "our family in Congo" you can make a donation via the PayPal button on my blog or visit Reunite to make a tax deductible donation directly from their page, via their PayPal button or mail a check to their US office. When the donation is submitted just specify it's for "Our family in Congo". Please continue to pray for our family, both here and overseas. As we work to make a difference in the lives of this family and for them as they learn what it's like to be a family again. I remember back to the last time I saw my Grampa before he passed away. I had a conversation with him telling him we had decided to adopt from DRC, a place where he had once traveled as a missionary. I remember so clearly his words, "what a good mission". At the time I didn't realize the significance of his response, now I see that's exactly where God was leading us, to a place to help the helpless, to advocate for those without a voice, and to bring light to the darkness. Isn't that what it's really all about? Yes, this Big Dream is nothing I ever could have dreamt up on my own, it's been filled with our shattered dreams and broken hearts, but I realize it's not about my dreams, it's about being willing to see what is possible if we only are willing to Dream Big...

Please take a few minutes to learn more about Reunite and read their blog here. I also want to share a song that has brought me so much peace and has helped give me strength as I’ve stepped out onto the water…  Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What it Means to be Blessed

One year ago today my life and the way I would look at the world changed forever. As I remember the sudden awareness that we had to move quickly, grabbing my sleeping daughter and running for the basement, prayerfully holding her in my arms, listening to the sound of the wind twisting overhead as our roof was swept from our home…slowing coming upstairs, the sound of water running in, destruction all around us. Feeling His presence, a new awareness of all that I have and all that I have to lose. A new awareness of my need for Him and what it means to find peace, in the storm. I am BLESSED.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Looking Up - Part Two

2trust verb \ˈtrəst\
: to believe that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. : to have confidence in (someone or something)
: to believe that something is true or correct

: to hope or expect that something is true or will happen

We felt, after a month of waiting, something needed to be done to learn all we could about the children's situation. We felt that there were 4 children living as orphans in an orphanage, while their mother was waiting for them to be released back to her care. A heartbreaking situation in which something needed to be done. The visit to the orphanage took place. More answers, more confusion…

They arrived and eventually were allowed inside the orphanage. I am told, what they saw were police in lieu of security, a number of kids walking around in shirts with no diapers or pants, a child sleeping in the middle of a dirty floor, the mamas all sitting on the floor and the police had children in their laps. They inquired about our children and were surprised when the children were brought in along with their biological mother. They were told that the majority of the mamas working at the orphanage are actually children's biological mothers. They work there and do so in order to be there with their children while the children wait to be adopted. Unsettling information… How is it that children are being deemed abandoned while their biological mothers care for them while they wait in the orphanage as orphans? Confusion…

They were able to speak with the children's biological mother. The children were taken out, but the baby had to be brought back in, she was too upset when she was taken out of her mother’s arms. There was an obvious bond between the mother and her children. When they questioned her about being there she stated she was there so she could be with her children. She stated she still wanted them to be adopted, but she also stated that if she could care for them financially she would not want them to be adopted. She stated that she was very upset that her son had not received needed post operative follow up care. She stated that she was told that he had not been taken to the doctor because his adoptive parents refused to pay for the appointment. This was heartbreaking to hear. We had not been notified by the agency that any action was needed on our part in order for him to receive the needed care. We knew he had a scheduled post operative appointment, when he was discharged, and we had trusted that once back in the care of the orphanage staff, they would make the needed arrangements for him to attend this appointment. We also knew that we had previously made a payment to our agency to cover medical expenses that had not been used, we had trusted this would be made available for his care when needed. We had trusted…

I've learned a lot about trust this year. All we could do was trust what we were told by our agency. We were aware, when we began an international adoption that it might be challenging to find out information about our children and we were prepared, not to know. But, when a mother can be contacted when her son is in the hospital, why couldn’t she be contacted to obtain information as we questioned? Each time we learned new information, pertaining to the adoption of our children, we were left to trust. To trust the information they gave us to be truth. To trust that there was no way of finding answers. While we may have had no concrete evidence, we chose to trust their word. As we obtained paperwork that didn't correlate with information we had been given, we began to question, our trust wavering. In October, when my friend's sister met with our children's birthmother, all I could do was trust the information she gave me to be truth and compare it to the information we had been given by our agency. There I was again, at a place where I must trust that another persons words are truth. I must trust. I trust her when she tells me, this mother asks that I ask our agency if she can have a job working for the orphanage, as many other mothers, so she can be with her children. I trust her when she tells me, this mother loves and cares for her children, and she initially had no intentions of giving up her children permanently for international adoption. I trust when she tells me, this mother allowed her children to go to the orphanage out of love for them and a chance for a better future, when she believed they were coming to America to receive an education and would return to her. I trust when she tells me, if she were financially able, she desires to parent her children. All I have are the words I have been told by this Congolese lady, who went above and beyond to help me, an adoptive parent in America, and a fellow Congolese lady and her children. I have the words of this friend and the words spoken to me so clearly by the mother of my adopted children. As I spoke with our children’s mother, through an interpreter, I told her that if we adopt her children she would possibly never see them again, their names would be changed to our family name and she would no longer be their mother, is that what she wanted and she said, "No, No." Her words echo in my mind, “Thank you for telling me the truth, thank you. You are a Godsend." ...

In response to my sharing my initial blog post about our unexpected findings, I was contacted by the director of our agency and their attorney. I was asked to take down my blog post and to refrain from sharing any information about their agency that could be perceived as negative and untruthful.  I did not take down the post, feeling that is it our story to share. The purpose of my blog all along has been to share all aspects of our adoption journey, the good and the bad, the facts as we’ve been told and my feelings and perceptions. I have no intentions of misconstruing information in order to make the agency  look bad. I am stating our story from our perspective. The information that I share about our situation and that of our adopted children, is what I trust to be true. While there may not be concrete evidence supporting what I believe, I choose to trust.  Again, trusting my source. We began this journey, trusting. Trusting our agency and the information they gave to us. As conflicting information arose we were left questioning what we had trusted. It left us with no other option than to trust again. We again chose to trust someone whom we had never met. I have no reason to believe that words which I was told by my friend in Kinshasa or the words spoken to me by my children's birthmother are not true. Therefore, we continue to trust. We will hold firm in our belief that children belong first with their biological family, whenever possible. We will trust that God will help us make this a reality for this mother and her children, whom we’ve grown to love.

 As I reflect on the last year, and look forward in anticipation of the year to come, I realize that both are filled with uncertainty. Therefore, trusting, I choose to look up, to the One who sees from the beginning to the end. If I look back I see confusion and heartache, if I look forward I know the future is so's only in looking up that I can see assurance. Not assurance that I will understand the events of the past year or assurance that I will see what I expect in the next year, but assurance that whatever comes my way, I am not alone. Assurance that He is in control. Assurance that it is in the pain and confusion, He is glorified. We will continue to trust...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Looking Up - Part One

2trust verb \ˈtrəst\

: to believe that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc. : to have confidence in (someone or something)
: to believe that something is true or correct
: to hope or expect that something is true or will happen

A blog post titled “Reflection" could be expected for the first post of the new year. But I'm not there yet, I'm not at the place where I look back to reflect. I'm still assessing the situation. I'm still right here in the middle of it. It's not yet time to reflect. When I reflect on the last year, I see confusion and heartache, if I look forward I see uncertainty. I am learning to realize that it is in Him, I must Trust. I'm reminded of one of my favorite Bible verses, Romans 5:3-5, "We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out His love to fill our hearts." So I feel like we are here, learning patience, developing character, clinging to hope and learning what it really means to trust. 

In looking back I see confusion...It was almost a year ago that we saw the first glimpse of a little boy, who would change the way I look at the world. It was the first step in trust. There were so many unknowns. We deliberated and scrutinized looking at his picture, asking for any shred of information to help us have a better picture of who he was. We were told very little, assured that if any more information was gained, we would be told...

A month later, we were told that a little more information had been found out about our little boy. He was the oldest of four siblings at the orphanage. It was believed they had been brought in together and were living together prior to arriving at the orphanage. On our son’s intake form it stated he is loved by his brother and sister and that he was found without biological family (Mother). The information stated on this form was given by his biological mother. We were confused by this mix of information, but we trusted...We were told their mother's name is on the form because she was the one who brought them in and abandoned them. They assumed she just could not provide for them. We were told that the children had been referred to 3 different families, the staff didn't know they were siblings when they were first brought in. The middle 2 were twins and would be staying together and the youngest baby was referred to another family. Although they were being adopted by different families, we were told this was good information to have, so we could possibly keep in touch once they were all over here. This didn't sit right with us. We had been clear with the agency staff from the beginning that we would consider adopting siblings, if our child had known siblings. We asked if the other families had been informed of this and we were told if they hadn't been told, they would be informed soon.  We wanted to know what the siblings referred families were feeling. We continued to question...

Could the twins go to one family and the baby & oldest be kept together, to at least keep the children in pairs? The response was no, the baby was possibly a cousin, and was already referred to another family. Confused, we trusted this to be truth. We prayed. We offered to let the family of the twins have the referral of our son, if they would consider, in order for him to stay with the brother and sister that love him. We had already fallen in love with our little boy but we didn't feel that we could ask them to give up the referral of their children. We would offer to do what we felt was right. At almost midnight that night, I got an email from the director of our agency, that there actually was no "other family" and if we wanted to consider adopting the twins we could do so...we were confused, but hopeful. 

We prayed, we shared our story and we watched God bring the needed funds to be able to accept the referral of the twins. We had to pay fees as if the twins were not related to the oldest because we were told that although they shared the same biological mother, they had different biological fathers, therefore they would not be categorized as siblings, as far as fees. We were confused, we were not told they were half siblings until the question of fees came up, therefore we had a hard time understanding this new information. Why they had been presented to us as such, but could not be processed as siblings, requiring our agency fees to be higher. We were told this was because they would be processed separately.  As they all passed through court at the same time it was hard to understand why they had to be processed separately. We continued to ask that our information be shared with the family of our children's baby cousin, so if they chose to contact us, they would be able. We were told this could not be done. We know nothing about the family of our children's baby sister other than their last name and that they are Canadian. We originally wanted to be in contact with them to keep our kids in contact over the years, we now pray to make contact to help them maintain their sibling relationship. 

In July, when we reviewed our court paperwork, we noted that the abandonment document for our oldest son stated an address at which he had been found, and the twins document stated they had been abandoned, as opposed to being brought in by their mother. We were again confused…but we trusted.

As the summer drew to a close we awaited final documents to be able to file the I600. In order to have everything lined up and ready to file as soon as possible, I contacted USCIS to determine how we should file for the children. We knew that a new procedure was in place to file separately for each child, regardless of sibling status, but our understanding was that only one fee needed to be paid to process all of their I600's. We received a notice from our agency that we needed to pay separate fees for each of the children's I600's, keeping with the standing that they were not being processed as siblings. In an attempt to avoid paying an additional unnecessary $1400 to USCIS, I began a series of emails with someone from USCIS. They informed me that if the children were known siblings (regardless of paternity) only one fee was necessary. If there was any question of true sibling status, separate fees would be needed. If we attempted to process them as siblings and through their investigation it was determined they were not actually siblings, our case would incur delays. I questioned the agency, asking why they recommended filing separately. Did they question their sibling status? They had been presented to us as siblings and we had never been told otherwise. When we questioned this, we received the explanation that we would not be able to prove they were siblings since the children are abandoned. We were told that once a child is declared abandoned, the child is made a ward of the state and the parents names are no longer on the paperwork. Because of this, there is not enough evidence to satisfy USCIS of the biological relationship. We were confused. The intake form states the mother provided the information, so why were they declared abandoned and the mother's name removed from the paperwork? Wasn't her word, which was given on the intake form, enough? We were told the intake form is not an official document and cannot be used as evidence to support form I600. Often in abandonment cases there is not a document such as a parental authorization or an original birth certificate that could be used as evidence. Again confusion…we had not yet resolved how we would file the I600's when our son was hospitalized, leading to what we believed to be answers. Answers that we felt brought light to many things that had not made sense to us over the last year...

But did the information that we learned, as I recorded in my last blog post really bring answers, or just more confusion? For the first time since we learned about the children we felt like we had real answers as to who they really were, where they had come from and where they truly belonged. Two paths intersected, worlds meshed and we felt answers were found. We had a outpouring of support. Countless people began praying, not for us to be able to quickly bring our children home, but for us to be able to get our children home. We shared the discovered information with our agency and we were told that they would do their own investigation to determine what was in the best interest of the children. If it was determined the best situation would be to be for them to be placed with their biological family, they would help facilitate this. We were hopeful. We knew our friend’s sister had spent many hours, over several weeks, with the children's birthmother. Not only at the hospital at our sons bedside and in the waiting room while he was in surgery, but also at a restaurant where they went to lunch together. They had had the opportunity to have multiple, private and in-depth conversations in their native language, and we felt sure of the children's birthmother's desire to parent her children. We eagerly awaited the agency to complete their investigation so we could work together to help the children, whom we had considered to be our own for the past year. A month passed and we heard nothing from the agency, except for a request to take down my previous blog post. While we waited, we came in contact with some people who stated they were willing to help us find more answers. Through a sequence of events, they were able to visit the orphanage on our behalf. What they discovered brought more answers and more confusion...

(to be continued…)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Mother's Prayer

Her arms empty, she has prayed a prayer, God did you hear me? Did I hear you right Lord? My children are gone…and in her heart she hears "Trust Me"…

Another mother prays, her arms empty…the words she has heard have hit her heart, leaving her frozen. God did you hear me? Did I hear you right Lord? You told me, in the quietness that night…"Why not adopt"…so why are my children gone…and in her heart she hears "Trust Me"…

Two mothers, 3 children and 1 Almighty God…and in the bareness of a hospital room in Kinshasa, DRC, these mothers are given a glimpse of His plan... Divine Intervention…

Last summer my parents attended some church meetings in rural Kentucky…We are from Nashville.  As the meeting ended they joined the crowd for a potluck lunch. As they looked around the crowded room they spotted a table with barely enough room to sit but felt compelled to join this table. As they ate they began conversing with a man across the table. He stated that he was in the same profession as I am. They asked about his practice and where he had gone to school. As the conversation went on they learned that he and I had been classmates in graduate school and had known each other quite well, but each going our separate ways after graduating. He began asking them about me and my family. They proceeded to tell him that we were in the process of adopting from DR Congo and that the orphanage we were hoping to adopt from is in Kinshasa…at that moment his wife spoke…"that's where I'm from, my family is there"…Divine Intervention...

As our story has unfolded they have become a significant source of information and support for our family. As we receive each new document, she translates it for me, helping us make sense of the chaos that is, International Adoption...

On October 14th I received an email from our caseworker at OWAS. It stated that our oldest son had been taken to the hospital with a broken leg. Along with the message that our son was hospitalized we also were told that this is outside of the normal medical expenses and that we would be required to cover this expense. I immediately told them to treat him as needed and we would pay later. I learned at what hospital he was being care for and received a phone number for this doctor. I immediately contacted my Congolese friend who told me she had a sister in Kinshasa, who is a nurse...relief swept over me. I all of a sudden didn't feel quite so far away from my son or quite as helpless. She assured me that her sister would travel to the hospital to visit our son. In the meantime she called the phone number for me, seeing as I would find it impossible to converse in French and Lingala with the physician. This was perfect, because she also is a nurse. She immediately called me after speaking with the surgeon and informed me that he stated he was there with our son. He needed surgery, but he was waiting to operate until payment had been made…at that moment I felt let down and angry with our agency. I thought they were there representing us and I find out from a friend here in the US that a surgeon is at my sons bedside awaiting payment in order to treat him??? I then immediately contacted my caseworker who told me to make an online payment to the agency and they would be able to send funds that day. Of course, without hesitation I rushed to my computer and promptly made the payment. After the payment had been received, I then was contacted by the caseworker, notifying me that the payment would have to be sent to the director at the orphanage, a 45 minute drive out of the city and an orphanage worker would take it the next day. I knew the urgency of the need for surgery and asked for the money to be wired directly to the hospital and was told this was not an option. She then told me if I wanted to make arrangements to make payment directly I could do this and they could refund the money, to which I said I would do and asked for a refund (a refund we are yet to see, but that's for a later story). When I relayed this information to my friend she then said that we could wire the money directly to her sister, who would go pay in person for us…Divine Intervention…

Upon arriving to our son's bedside, our friend's sister, learned so much more than the answers to our questions about our son medical condition. She was able to answer for us the many many questions that we had asked OWAS over the last year, in which we had never received answers. In finding our children's birthmother, sitting at his bedside in that hospital room, she learned who our son really was. She shared that he was not the oldest of 3 siblings but the 3rd child out of 6 siblings. She learned that there is a baby, is his youngest sibling, also at the orphanage, referred to a different family. She learned that our son is 7 years old and the twins are 5 and that birthdays are indeed, kept track of in DRC. She learned that the children's father, who is the father of all 6 children, is living.  She learned that their mother was approached by a staff member of the orphanage, when their father who is in the military was stationed away from home. At the time that their mother was approached by the orphanage staff member, she was pregnant with the youngest. He told her that he was going to take her 3 youngest children to a home where they would be well fed and cared for. She was told that Americans don't want older children so the oldest 2 were left behind. She was told that Americans would come and take the children to the United States where they would receive an American education. She would receive frequent updates about the children. She was told that after the children were a little older and educated they would be coming back home to her, where they would build her a nice home and support her. When the baby was 1 month old, the same person came and took her, stating Americans love babies, she will go to America soon. And she learned that this mother, loves her children and she cries for them every night. And as conversations ensued between my friend's sister and our children's birthmother, their mother learned that what she had been told was only half truth and that her children had actually been taken to an orphanage to be adopted internationally, never to return again. She had never heard the word adoption. While there may not be a Congolese word for adoption, there are ways to describe the permanence of adoption. When one Congolese person speaks to another, there are ways to ensure that there is nothing lost in translation. There is a mother in DRC who longs for her children. There is a mother who has been lied to and coerced who never agreed to give her children up for adoption. There is a mother whom, when told that her child is hospitalized, she stays around the clock at his bedside. This mother is the rightful mother of our children. This is a mother, who deserves the chance to love and raise her children. While this mother will never get those first months back to bond with her baby or have the last year back that she lost with her children, she deserves the chance to learn who her baby is growing up to be and to restore her relationship with her older children. While we have fallen in love with these children, our children, we are not their rightful parents. We set out to adopt a child without a family, an orphan. We realize that we have no other choice than to forfeit the adoption of our children, therefore restoring their family. These children are not true orphans, they are not adoptable. They do not belong in an orphanage, they belong at home, with their birth family.

Two mothers, one prayer…Lord you know what is best for my family, please lead…Trusting, each of us pursed what felt right, we followed our hearts and God's leading to make the best decisions for our families. The decisions that we have made have led each of us to this exact moment, where our lives intersect and families can be restored… Divine Intervention…

Looking back if there hadn't been the familiar T-shirt we wouldn't have accepted the oldest son's referral. If when we learned about the twins, we hadn't already felt a bond with the oldest, we might not have considered adopting them as well. If we hadn't received the donations, we would not have been able to pay the referral fee enabling us to keep the siblings together. If my parents had never crossed paths with our friends from Africa, we could have never known the truth…this could have so easily been a situation of a mother lied to in which she gives up her children, all 4 children are referred to different adoptive families, never knowing who they really are. A mother left wondering when her children will return, never to hold her babies again…heartbreak…evil…loss…

Our children's birthmother told my friend's sister, there in that hospital room," I prayed". I prayed for my children for their future, for our family. She was, out of love, sacrificing to give her children a better future, with the promise of knowing they would be home again, in her arms. She felt such desperation and then when the children were gone, she was so empty. Her arms were empty. She prayed, God did you hear me? I prayed for you to lead, but now my arms are empty. But, she never stopped praying. And as she prayed... we prayed. God, we want to change the life of a child, lead us. We set out to bring one child home…God has given us the opportunity to help 4 children home. While my heartbreaks for what will not be for our family, I am overcome with love and compassion for this mother who has found her children…Divine Intervention...