Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When things don't go according to planned....

Sometimes in adoption things don't go the way we plan. Even when you have done everything right. 

That is my friend Lauren's story. 

Please pray for this sweet family and click below to help if you can.

My husband and I started researching options for our second adoption in early 2011. We loved Ethiopia, where our now 2-year-old son was adopted from, but knew there were too many concerns about corruption and fraud in the process to feel comfortable starting another process from there. We found a pilot program with a reputable agency in Uganda. We were open to either a single child or a sibling pair, ages 3-10. We found out about a sibling pair on a waiting child list through our agency, and things got rolling. We asked all the questions we could think of to ensure that international adoption was the last option for then 8-year-old Winnie and her then 6-year-old brother Richard. We knew all too well that bad things can happen when people start thinking that international adoption is the best option without ensuring it is even necessary.

We moved forward with the referral of the kids, and had a court date scheduled in October. With ten days notice, we boarded a plane, our little family of three, and headed to Uganda. A few days later we met "The Biggies." We were an instant family, and we were all very happy. We traveled out to the countryside and questioned members of their family. The stories were consistent. Their adoption appeared to be a sad necessity. We were sure that we were the right family for these children who had lost so much.

We were thrilled when we were granted Legal Guardianship of the children October 28th, and contacted the US Embassy in Uganda to begin the process of gaining visas for the children so they could immigrate to the US with us and we could finalize their adoptions (this is the way Uganda's international adoption system works).

We spent a total of eight weeks in Uganda as a family. Trips to the grocery store, baths, books, fights, soccer, cuddling, working on attachment and bonding, talking about our lives in the US, Skyping with family at home, coloring, cooking, learning to love each other, all out of our element. A family.

When the Embassy did their orphan investigation (as is required by the type of visa we were requesting for the children), they discovered fraud in The Biggies' "histories." They were unable to approve visas for the children based on this, and our case was referred to the field office in Nairobi, Kenya. We would be given the opportunity to appeal the denial through mail correspondence with Nairobi.

We were shocked. We made arrangements for the children to stay with a foster family in Uganda. We explained to them that people had lied and we would not be able to bring them to the US. We said goodbye. It was the hardest day of my life. It is still very difficult to even type this out. My husband, 2-year-old and myself boarded a plane for the long flight home, without Winnie and Richard.

Upon coming home, I began "investigating" based on what the Embassy had found, and was sick to find out the fraud was rampant and involved just about everyone in Winnie and Richard's life. We knew we would be able to appeal, and we still had a chance to bring them here, as we now knew more than the Embassy appeared to. But we also found out that some other adoptive families kept warning signs to themselves. Other people were more concerned with getting their own children home that kept quiet; were afraid to rock the boat. Knowing what a difference they could have made in our children's lives, my husband and I knew we could not be a part of this. We could not appeal to bring Winnie and Richard here. Heartbroken as we were, we knew we could not fight a battle we did not believe in. We made the agonizing decision to not appeal.

Our attorney assured us that our Legal Guardianship was still valid until anyone challenged it. So with that in mind we researched schools in Uganda, and with the help of a few people on the ground, were able to get The Biggies enrolled at an excellent boarding school in Uganda. We miss them every day but are trying desperately to give them a better life in Uganda.

We are trying to pick up the pieces of our broken little family. Our son asks for them every day. He cries. I cry. It has been the most heartbreaking time of our lives. We get to speak to the children every week or two, but it is difficult to have a good conversation, as they haven't spent much time on the phone, and are a little confused by it. Richard told me a few weeks ago, "Mama, when I remember you, I cry." I couldn't have put it better myself. It has been such a tough road, but we still feel strongly that we are making the right decision for everyone.

All this is to say, we had planned on being finished having children. This was to be our family of five. We acquired debt to pay for this "adoption." In anticipation of being a larger family we bought a minivan, and will have payments for several more years. We will not be able to claim them as dependents, will not be able to take advantage of tax write-offs since we did not finalize here in the US. There is also the cost of their tuition, school clothes and sundries, as well as foster care expenses for during the breaks for the next 9 years for Winnie, and 11 years for Richard. We are committed to sponsoring Winnie and Richard in their schooling and fostering costs until they reach adulthood. We just aren't sure how realistic it is to take on such costs long term if we would like to have more children some day, so we have started a fundraiser to help cover some of the costs over the coming years. We are reaching out for help from anyone willing to give it. If anyone would like to help, we will always update people on where their money is going.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My heart breaks for this family being torn apart. Sometimes God's plans just make no sense. Thank you for sharing their story.