I wasn’t planning on writing this post. I don’t even know what to say, really, but after three months of these thoughts sitting in my heart, I need to get them out. Writing is how I so often process my joys and my frustrations and my sadness. And I want you to know.
I want you to know about the little girl who danced in my dreams. I saw little glimpses of her running through the grass, twirling barefoot in the dirt, placing her dark little fingers inside my cream-colored hand.
For years and years I’ve wanted to adopt. When I met Pete and he shared the desire, I knew we would one day have a little one…or more…who would be born from another mama’s womb but who would grow up and learn to love in the arms of our family. We talked about the time and place and the ins and outs of how it might happen, until one day, not long after Sam was born, we felt the time had come. We would begin the journey of growing our family through adoption.
There was no question where our little one would be born. After all, we hope to live a good part of the rest of our days in Africa. We asked friends for recommendations of agencies and countries and plans, but when we discovered Lutheran Social Services (LSS) had a Kenya program, our hearts felt right. When I was fifteen, my parents adopted my youngest sister from Colombia through LSS. We would follow their path.
In the spring of 2014, we had our first meetings with case workers at LSS. They were very encouraging and knowledgeable about the process. They had led multiple families through the Kenya program, which isn’t a common occurrence as Kenya requires an 18-month in-country stay. That’s just not a possibility for most families. Perfect for ours, however, as our first stay will be two years. Our case worker gave us a whole lot of information and recommended we start the actual adoption process one year before our projected move to Kenya.
In the year between our first contact with LSS and when we were told to start the paperwork process, Pete and I often spoke to each other about our future family. We decided to begin with a little girl, and planned to only request she be younger than five. We prayed a lot about whether or not we would pursue siblings, if there was a little girl with a brother or sister, and decided we would wait for God’s leading if that became a possibility. I looked all over Pinterest and Etsy for fun, unique ways to share the news with our families. We thought this fall would be good timing, as it wouldn’t be too terribly long before our sweet girl was in our arms. We were beginning to talk about photographers to help us make the announcement. So many dreams.
When we began to work through the paperwork again this past April, we were thrilled. We had shared the news of our planned adoption with just a few friends and some who would understand our early excitement and budding dreams. We also made sure WGM, our mission organization, would be okay with our plan of being matched with our little girl shortly after arriving in Kenya next summer. Multiple missionary families have adopted Kenyan children, and our coach and Kenyan team members were supportive of our plans. We completed our first packet of papers for LSS and were ready to send it off after signing our names on the lines marked adoptive father and adoptive mother. I decided to send a quick email to our case worker to let her know we were going to drop the documents in the mail the next day, but the response we got back from her was not what we had expected.
In her email, we learned that Kenya had closed its doors to all international adoptions. I read and re-read the US Department of State – Kenya Adoption webpage, praying it was a temporary mistake and would quickly be corrected. But no. The decision will likely not change for quite some time.
My heart broke. We had thought this was the right time, that God was leading us down this path as a way to grow our family. I had been dreaming of my little girl and how she would make us a family of five. I imagined her sharing a room with her big sister and learning to play alongside her big brother. I cried hard about this ending. I told Jesus my heart was hurting, that I was confused and mad. Why was this the timing? Why, when I know there are so many children all over this world who long to be loved and to be a part of a family, can we not bring them into our family? We have so much love and patience and joy, and we want to pour that all over our next little one. Or two. Or three. But for now we can’t. And I am sad.
Why would Kenya stop international adoptions? Well, it’s no secret that there is a lot of corruption in the world of adoption, especially in poor areas. Children are not always truly orphans when they are given to an orphanage. Some are taken with force from their homes, others are sold for money to support a desperate family. It is my understanding that many African countries are currently closed to international adoption until systems can be established to control and police these situations. I understand this, and I absolutely agree that families should be kept together if at all possible. But I also know that there are many motherless children who desperately want to be loved.
The opportunity to adopt in Kenya is not permanently out of the picture for us. If Kenya doesn’t open to international adoptions again in the near future, it may be possible for us to adopt as Kenyan residents once we’ve been there for a number of years. Three, I believe. It’s hard to imagine waiting that long, but we have no idea what God has for us. We are quite open to other adoption possibilities, but at this time, our options are minimal because of our hope to leave for Kenya in just twelve months. So we will continue to trust and keep our hands open to what he wants to do. We know that his eyes see the orphans of this world, and we ask for more of his heart to continue to live well on this path he has set for us.
Everyday I find myself needing to ask Jesus to comfort my heart. I am a part of a beautiful community of parents through Instagram and Facebook and blogs who are currently pursuing adoption, domestically and internationally. I love following their journeys and participating in their adoption fundraisers. I am truly, truly excited for each of them. But it hurts a bit. And when I see sweet photos on Instagram of families who have a beautiful palate of skin tones, I smile and ask God again to allow that for our family.
My heart wants to be the mother to so many. For now, I will continue to pray for the babes I have yet to hold and I will cuddle and and whisper wonderful promises to the two in my arms.