Originally published Friday, 20 February 2015.
When do we become parents? At what point in the journey do we transition from the life we knew before to the life we know now? Perhaps it begins with the most simple knowledge of our children’s existence. A positive pregnancy test. An email from an adoption agency. We are changed simply by knowing they are there; and nothing is the same.
We understand the wait of a physical pregnancy. There is an expectation of time and a range of dates in which we can expect to meet our sweet baby face-to-face. Those months are marked by planning and dreaming while anticipating their arrival. For families that adopt, the length of their wait may be unknown. They plan and dream and pray over their child, falling more in love with him or her each day, but without the luxury of a due date or the security of holding their baby as close as the womb.
Now imagine you have walked through each step of the legal process. You have undergone the background checks and signed the papers and paid the fees and been to court. You’ve prepared your other children and bought new clothes and set up a room and rearranged your life to make space for this new child. You’ve been to court and have officially been declared his legal parents. You’ve purchased a plane ticket and flown across the ocean and met your son face-to-face. You’ve held him and played with him and shown him pictures of the family waiting for him at home. Done! He is yours and you are his. If you lived down the road, he could come home with you today; but as a US citizen, you prepare to bring him back to your family and life in the states, only to be told that there is one piece of paper needed in order for him to leave the country – an exit letter – and that the government has put a suspension on all exit letters for adopted children. You stay and wait and pray, but eventually you are forced to say goodbye and fight for his right to come home from across the sea. Nearly two years go by and you continue to fight, continue to wait, continue to pray.
This is the story of a family I know, and it’s the story of hundreds of other American families who have been waiting to bring their legally adopted children home from the Democratic Republic of Congo for over 17 months. Their children have US Visas and legal families waiting for them in the United States, but they have been denied exit letters permitting them to travel. Over a dozen children have died while waiting to be sent home and many others remain at risk.
Each child is the sole responsibility of their parents. When they are sick, their parents wire money and work through translators to try to arrange care, assuming it is even available. Whatever they need, their parents fight to provide it for them from across the ocean; and yet they continue to be stuck thousands of miles away.
Let’s lend our voice to their cry, taking up the burden and committing ourselves to supporting these families until each child is brought home.
Let your voice be heard. These families are calling on the White House to intervene by working with the President of the DRC to end the suspension on exit letters. To date, there has been no recognition from the President of the United States that this situation exists. Several Congressman have offered help, but what is needed is the voice of the President.
To help bring this to his attention, a petition has been started that will be given to the President if it can reach 100,000 signatures before March 12. You can be a part of this quick, simple and crucial step by clicking here. (A confirmation will be sent to your email, so if you don’t see it, check your spam folder in order for your voice to be counted).
Spread the word. Tell your friends, post it on Facebook, email it to your coworkers. Reach out to your circle of influence and ask them to stand with you in asking our President to intervene.
Pray for resolution. “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). God is sovereign, faithful and above all things. He is just and kind and a defender of the weak. His heart is for these children and their families. Join us in praying for his hand to lead the resolution of a crisis that has continued for over 500 days.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” -Amos 5:24
Let’s be part of the rolling river of justice, crying out to our loving God and shouldering the burden of our brothers and sisters and their beautiful children.