Our family is about to embark on a new chapter–or in some ways, it’s one chapter that is closing and another one beginning. Over four years after starting the adoption process, we are in the final months’ countdown to bring home our new son and daughter!
The pieces of the story that I share with you readers are meant not only to provide some measure of education or insight into the international adoption realm, but also to encourage you. We have been through heart-soaring moments and heart-breaking moments, and we can truly say through it all that we are grateful the Lord has brought us on this journey. Below are just a few snippets of our story, but hopefully the beginning of a picture that will demonstrate just some of the ways the Lord has been at work.
About two years ago (and two years after starting the adoption process), we were matched with twin boys in DRC. A year into the process and joining the efforts with hundreds of American families pushing for the exit letter suspension to be lifted, we learned that the boys were reunited with their birth family–a wonderful and good thing to happen, but one that took us completely by surprise, as we had been told a completely false story about their social history, family structure, and “orphan” status. Even in the midst of our heartbreak, we were utterly convinced of what was right–that there was no other place for the boys to be than with their family. We began to sense that the Lord was at work in a big way, and we took deep breaths to see what would unfold.
We stepped away from the process, reevaluating what we knew about international adoption. We came to see that unfortunately too often, agencies build “partnerships” in vulnerable communities that should better be described as business ventures with the adoption of kids becoming the high-value commodity. Vulnerable families are exploited because they provide the “supply” end of the exchange: children for adoption. While well-meaning adoptive families and even agencies with right philosophies intend to do good, in reality much harm is often caused. We became passionate about seeing not only ethical adoptions move forward wherein true orphans are adopted (and not children within intact, even if poor and vulnerable, families), and where a grass-roots community effort existed to grant dignity to vulnerable women and families and promote family reunification in what actually becomes an orphan prevention model.
The Lord brought us to the amazing organization of Mwana Villages (mwanavillages.org) in the next-door country of Republic of Congo. To say we found an organization that reflected our beliefs and values is an understatement–we found lifelong partners and a ministry to pour our family into. Mwana seeks to serve all individuals affected by the orphan crisis: “the littles” (through holistic care in their Mwana Home for orphaned babies), “the bigs” (through provision of educational and economic opportunities for older children and teens), and “the mamas” (through programs to promote self-supported mothers through economic opportunities, training, and resourcing). Hundreds of pictures, conversations, and life-changingtrip later, we now are thrilled to have started a US-branch of the organization and look forward to many learning about this incredible organization.
What began as an adoption process about our family has become so much more than that. While our little family will soon be completed with the joyful additions of our son and daughter through Mwana Villages, we are humbled and privileged to just have begun the journey to see what the Lord will do in the lives of many through these people, place, and his ministry.
Photos above show Maman Henriette, a single mother who was wrongfully imprisioned reunited with her daughter, who was cared for in Mwana Home during her imprisonment. Mwana sought not only to reunite the family, but to provide training and resources so Maman Henriette’s family can be self-supported through dignifying means.