Well, I have been procrastinating on this next part as it is one of the most frustrating parts of our journey... one still affecting us today! (<-- Ok, I actually wrote this over a week ago but with the great news of getting CONA I didn't want to put a damper on the week so waited to post until now!)
I left off saying that I had just met up with a new girl (now a dear friend, Jaimie) who had someone ready to fly down from mainland Japan (way cheaper than flying from the states) to do our home study. Woo Hoo!!!! This social worker was from an agency called "Adopt Abroad." I debated for a long time (part of my procrastination in writing this) whether to use agency names... but decided yes! (because I don't want anyone to get stuck with a bad agency). Anyway, she agreed to come down the following month, February, and do both of our home studies. Jaimie was already set to go with an agency and we had decided to do what is called an independent adoption.
Let me back up and explain that for a minute. After we heard that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was open for adoption we began looking around for agencies that we could use being overseas. My husband went to a conference in the fall of that year (2011) in the states and ran into an old dear friend who had been on faculty at our college, Master's College, Kent Dresdow. They got around to talking about adoption (this awesome family already had 2 bio kids and 2 adopted ones!) and Kent said they had just started the process to do an independent adoption through a church in... yep you guessed... DRC! What a crazy small world! So we connected with the stateside pastor and church who were helping facilitate the independent adoptions (what they are called when you don't use a placing agency) and we began the application process. This was a very new thing that DRC was letting happen and the stateside church was not acting as an organization, only as a connector for Christian families to be able to connect with a national pastor and his church in southern DRC (himself having been an orphan) who took in street children and little ones left at his house/church and help them go through the legal process of adopting. We were thrilled to work with such a neat ministry and to know that these kids were NOT being trafficked or ill treated while they waited for families.
Back to the home study... we told the agency that we just needed a home study done by a licensed agency and that we would not use them for the adoption, only for an independent adoption home study. All the other families (and there had been about a dozen by then) going through the church ministry had done this without problem. Adopt Abroad said that they would do the home study as an independent one. What this means is that I turn in all necessary paperwork (ie background checks, financial review, birth certs, marriage certs, etc) to them for a home study ONLY and pay the home study fee. Then after the interview and house inspection (done by the social worker) the home study is written, reviewed and signed by the agency (Adopt Abroad/ AAI) and original signed copy given to us. Then we are DONE with the agency, nothing else is needed or required of them. Ok, you can maybe see where I am going with this...
So my friend and I split the cost of the social worker to fly here from mainland. We did all our paperwork and had our interviews. Then wrote her a nice fat check for $2400. Several weeks later she emails and says the home study is done! Great! But it needs to be reviewed by her boss, the head of AAI. I start getting emails from the director wanting to make sure I am doing a legitimate adoption. Ok, I send her the contact info for the church in the states who expressly say they are just facilitators, not an agency. Through a series of escalating events the pastor calls me and tells me that this women has over the phone verbally threatened to shut down his churches program and said things about AAI needing to take over their program. What? Then the director emails me (not telling me most of what the pastor told me she said) and said they need another $1500 from us to complete our home study and that they will have to track our child once we bring him or her home for at least a year. WHAT?! The pastor and other leaders of the orphan ministry decided that they could not continue with our family in the adoption process if we continued to use AAI for our home study agency. They said they were threatening the ministry and it could get shut down. They had a lawyer who had been working with them from the start of the ministry and he had been making sure they were not crossing any boundaries or doing anything illegal. He said what AAI was saying was untrue and unnecessary, but that to continue with them causing problems through the contact with us would be detrimental to the program!
I remember how heartbroken I was! I received an email saying all that and called John, but he was at work and could only talk for a few minutes. I then called a dear friend and future ministry partner, Beth Steward, who was in the states (I don't even know what time it was her time when I called! Not the middle of the night, but really close) and just burst into tears. When we were pregnant with our daughter, Esther, early on in the pregnancy we thought I was having a miscarriage. Those same feelings of fear and pain and helplessness were flooding in over me as I thought about the setback of being at level zero again in our adoption. After over a year of trying to get a home study done and finally having it completed, yet withheld from us, it seemed like there was no moving forward!
Now, many of you out there have gone much farther in your adoptions than this only to have it shattered. A dear friend here had home study and dossier (and tons of money) poured into an adoption from Russia early this year only to have the country completely shut down and her agency go bankrupt! Other friends have done all this and received that beautiful referral picture of their future child only to have that child pass away from illness or stolen from their orphanage or lost the referral in other ways. I am by no means down playing any of these loses! I just am also showing and expressing the loss we felt after feeling like we were following God and being obedient and finally moving forward. I want people to know that obedience is not easy and does NOT mean things are going to happen like they should. Especially in adoption.
We have said many times (and people much greater than us have said it even more eloquently and more times) that adoption is warfare! God calls us to care for orphans and the devil wants to keep us from obedience at any cost! I'm sorry to end this post on a heavy note, but this is a reality of the process: hard, heart breaking, and awful setbacks. But praise be to God that this wasn't the end!