What we thought would be a quick process turned into a three year endeavor. We waited for 3 years to bring our boys home from Africa. In the meanwhile we rode the emotional roller coaster of on-again-off-again adoption approval. In the end, everything worked out thanks to persistence, prayer and miracles!
Video transcript below (read the bold headlines for a quick overview).
The Adoption Process:
In my last video I talked about how the adoption process all started. I mentioned that it was the start. It was a long, long time ago. It took a long time for us to progress. I wanted to talk about that today. We started in the fall in 2008. Normally they tell you to expect a 6 month process for adopting from Liberia. My wife, who if any of you know her know she is incredibly tenacious, said, “I”ll get this done very fast.”
A normally speedy process was brought to a halt by threats of child trafficking.
She got the paperwork going. We had everything ready to go by November 2008. So we turned in all the paperwork to the adoption agency, who then worked with the government who sealed and approved. Within a month they had turned it around and said the boys are now matched to you, meaning the Liberian government has confirmed you are adopting these boys and we can start the process of bringing them home. We were elated! We thought we would have the boys home by February. It was only about 3 weeks later, January 26th to be exact, that the President of Liberia stood up and gave her annual State of the Union Speech. As part of that speech she said, “We are now ceasing all international adoptions.” And she placed a legal moratorium on all international adoptions of healthy kids. Obviously, she had someone’s best interest in mind. We like to think it was all the kids: she wanted to eliminate any risk of international child trafficking. It impacted literally hundreds of thousands of kids; and thousands, I’m sure, of families that were looking to adopt.
Faith in our decision kept our hope alive.
We had great faith. We had felt great about the decision. We thought we’d be able to resolve this pretty quickly. We got in touch with the adoption agency and said, “What should we expect? What’s going to happen here?” They said they didn’t know, “Give us a little bit more time to figure this out. We’ll let you know.” They went to work on it and said, “Call us back in a week.” We called back in a week. Then a week turned into a month, a month turned into 2 months. It went on and on and on. In fact, it was about a year and half later, so May of 2010. Beth and I finally sat down. We had written letters to the boys and sent pictures. We tried to keep them encouraged and motivated to come home and start living life with us. So Beth and I sat down and, over a period of days, we talked multiple times about it. We had to come to terms with the fact that the adoption might not happen. We had put so much effort in to making it happen and after a year and a half nothing had changed. We kind of emotionally decided we were going to, not move on, but go on with our life with the hopes that someday we could be able to bring them home, but we thought, ”Well, it is just not the time.”
Good news: medical treatments improved, a new addition to the family, but we still felt a huge void.
The good news is that, in the meanwhile we had gotten a handle on Grace’s treatments and how to deal with her medical condition. That helped our life quite a bit.. We actually decided to try to have more of our own kids. Our little boy, Doug, was born during that time. We went on with life. I had started a business and was trying to grow that business, dealing with all the challenges that come from that. Beth had a young baby to raise at home during the day and dealing with the other kids, of course. It always, at least to me, left a void in my life. Here I had two boys, my sons were stuck in West Africa; and I had no way of bringing them home.
Facebook friends announced their own adoption approval and gave us renewed hope for our boys.
It was the summer of 2011 that Beth was on Facebook and saw one of the other families that was trying to adopt said, “Hey we got approval! We’re bringing our kids home!” So she immediately reached out to them. We got in touch with all the old people again, trying to figure out how we can bring our kids home. We got in contact with one woman who had a friend who was previously the Attorney General of Liberia. She asked her friend to look into our case. And the friend looked into it and said, “What are you guys waiting for? The Liberia adoption for Thomas and Surprise is already complete. You could have picked ‘em up anytime the U.S. government would approve.” We got in touch with the U.S. government. We had to deal with them saying, “Well, Liberia says you can’t have them.” We worked through all of those issues. The agency contacted us and said, “Would you still be interested in adopting Surprise and Thomas?” My wife texted me that and I immediately responded, “Absolutely!” And she was like, “Well, are you sure?” And I said. “Yeah, of course I’m sure.” I think she was trying to protect herself emotionally from starting on the path and having the opportunity taken away from us again.
January 2012, bringing the boys home.
We got right back on it, re-filed all the paperwork; and they kept telling us, “Yep, a few more weeks, a few more weeks.” Finally, in December 2011, they said, “Ok. You guys can come out. There’s only one person that we have to make sure is here when you’re here. But that person is on Christmas break.” It was the first week in January when we finally got the final go ahead to travel. So on January 7 of this year, 2012, I got on a plane and flew out to Liberia. I got out there a fast as I could; and met the boys, and had an amazing, life-changing experience there in Liberia. And I look forward to telling you about that in the next video.