Adoption is something we've always wanted to do. When Tyler and I got married over a decade ago, our family plan was to have two biological children and then adopt two children internationally. We modeled this plan after Tyler's Aunt Mickey who adopted our cousins, Chloe and Christopher, from China after having two biological children. Witnessing the beauty of adoption with this extended family birthed a passion in us. We just knew that we wanted to be a part of something that beautiful. We look at Chloe and Christopher who are thriving in a home where they are safe and loved, and try to imagine what life would have been like for them without adoption. Where would they be? Whose would they be? Would they even still be? Sobering thoughts for sure.
Last year, when I (Katie) turned 30 and Lennon, our second born, turned two, I began seriously contemplating what adding another child to our family should look like. It was time for the adoption phase of our family plan, but where would we start? Adoption is a daunting process. We began looking into China, because that was what we knew. But we quickly became discouraged. The waitlist for Chinese adoption is 3-4 years or longer and much more expensive than we anticipated, so we switched gears. We realized that even if Chinese adoption wasn't possible for us, we still had to do something. And so we began the process of becoming licensed as foster parents with hopes to adopt through the foster care system. It was a departure from our original plan, but it still involved caring for orphans, and something we felt we could make work in our current phase of life given our financial situation. I was working on finishing the last of my paperwork to complete our licensing when I got a message from a friend about adopting from the DRC. I didn't know anything about the DRC, so I did some research.
According to UNICEF The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to 4 million of the estimated 140 million orphans world wide. In the DRC 1 in 7 children dies before the age of 5, a quarter of all children are underweight and malnourished, and more than a quarter of children age 5-14 are forced into child labor. Less than half the population there has access to clean drinking water.
The message about adoption from my friend included pictures of children waiting to be adopted and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested. I told her that I would love more information, knowing that she had adopted 2 children from the same orphanage. As she began sharing her story, I became hopeful, excited, and once again motivated to make an international adoption work. My motivation only grew as we began talking with the adoption agency and discovered that unlike Chinese adoption, these children didn't have families lined up and willing to wait years to adopt them. There was no wait list. There was a surplus of children whom nobody wanted. We quickly fell for a 2 month old boy who had been in care since his first week of life after being abandoned at a local church. We were shocked to learn nobody else was pursuing him.
By stepping forward we could be the difference in him belonging to a family who would love and provide for him versus him becoming another UNICEF statistic.
As people who love Jesus and desire to live according to the his teachings, there's never been a doubt that caring for orphans is something that we should do, and are in fact called to do. James 1:27 says, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
Our journey has been one of seeking to understand what this looks like for our specific family and adjusting our plans as new opportunities have arisen. Often times, the most difficult part isn't knowing what we should do, but rather knowing where to start. The DRC has given us that starting point, and we intend to continue down this road for as long as we can. My New Year's Day this year was filled with planning and strategizing how to make this adoption work. My 2017 goal will be to bring home a baby from the Congo before the year ends. I can't think of a better way to spend the year.
We are confident that once we bring him home we will be able to provide and care for him, and afford him opportunities he would not otherwise have, but we need help getting him here. Even though we are wealthier than 80% of the world's population (who lives on less than $10 a day), we still don't have the funds to bring him home. Our estimated cost to adopt from the Congo is between $35-40,000. 100% of this is money we need to have upfront to cover lawyer's fees, court costs, and other legal fees associated with the adoption.
So here we are, stepping out and asking our community to join us on this adventure. We've done our best to align our passion and skills to this process, and are honored that you've taken the time to read our story. We'd love it if you'd share this, tell your friends, and join the story yourself.
Oh, and we'll be using this blog to document our journey... so stay tuned!
-Katie (Tyler, Molly, and Lennon, too)