From Impossible to Possible:
Our crazy adoption journey, from Ethiopia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it's been a crazy ride!
With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
|Posted by The Scotts on October 4, 2012 at 11:05 AM||comments (2)|
There is SOOOO much to write about that I feel constantly overwhelmed... My last post was roughly 1 month after we got home, just when we were starting to see a little joy again, but that vanished very quickly, and it's been very difficult since then.
And maybe that in itself is worth posting about. Ian and I keep saying that there is so much more that people need to know when they are thinking about older child adoption, but how do I write about it without casting it in such a horrible light that nobody in their right mind would ever do it?
I still have no idea, and thus my silence. That and we're quite literally just barely keeping our heads above water here.
We've been asked by a many people about adopting and the joys of finally having a family. The response I want to have is "What joys?" Yes, welcome to the first year home with children from tough places.
And we were ready! That is to say, as ready as anyone can possibly be... We read as much as we could during our 4 year wait. We talked to TONS of parents who'd brought children home from Africa, Romania, China and tons of other places. Mostly we even talked to people who'd brought home older children; families who had real world experiences. And although we knew beforehand that you can't possibly be ready, we figured we were as ready as we could be. And I still think we were, but it's funny the things you don't/can't really think about ahead of time...
* spending your ENTIRE day trying to avoid another rage with your 7 year old can/will suck EVERY single ounce of energy, strength and often love right out of you
* that we are working on toilet training at ages 5 & 7
* that there is now someone who will get angry if you do something you want to do, like clean the kitchen, instead of doing what he wants to do (which is get angry about something)
* the best part of your day is 7 pm when they go to bed
* that they won't put on jackets when it's only 4 degrees celcius outside
* that by 6:30 in the morning we've either had 3 significant run ins, or have very narrowly avoided them, knowing hang well we'll have to deal with them after school
Yup, we keep hearing that it gets better... Right now, we're living on that hope, but rather have the thought "We'll believe when we see it!".
I promise to post more again soon, as we have lots of info to help prepare for travel, but we're just finishing a very invasive and enormous home reno that will allow us to have heat in our house for winter (and living in northern-ish BC, we need it!). We're SO glad that the previous homeowner didn't tell us about this enormous problem!!
Until next time, if you're living moment by moment like we are, here's a little something to lift your spirits:
Ah ha ha ha stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Ah ha ha ha stayin' alive
|Posted by The Scotts on July 22, 2012 at 1:50 AM||comments (3)|
We've had a wonderful month of firsts being home, but have only been blessed enough to catch a couple on video, and here is one of them that is easy & clean to share. I will share more info about our fun firsts soon, but just had to post this video as it is just too sweet & too much fun!
|Posted by The Scotts on July 15, 2012 at 11:20 PM||comments (0)|
We wish we had pictures to share, but none yet...
But that certainly doesn't stop us from sharing the great news that Ian & I are 2nd time grandparents.
Congratulations Chris, Janine and TJ on the arrival of precious Violet!! Can't wait to show her off a little/a lot!
|Posted by The Scotts on July 14, 2012 at 1:30 AM||comments (4)|
So yeah, we “picked” our sons up 6 weeks ago, and you’d think I’d have blogged since then, but no, we had a rough time getting our family together, and then just really felt the need to hunker down for a while, if you will.
Although we are VERY disappointed with our adoption agency, and their lack of concern for our very difficult situation, God has (as always!) prevailed, and our family is doing far better than we could ever have expected.
So where do I start, since I’m so far behind... Well, I really wanted to be able to share information for other Canadians adopting from DRC, so maybe that’s where I’ll start tonight, mind you, writing about our arrive in Kinshasa and some of what we experienced and learned while there is kind of fun. So here goes:
For starters, we booked our flights using air miles, which meant we had an extra stop in Johannesburg on the way there, which was just fine, in fact, quite enjoyable, but 2 extra stops on the way back. In the future I think we would be much more tempted to book 1 way tickets using points for the trip there, and pay cash for the trip back to just get it over with... Food for thought. That said, we were SOOO thankful to have all that extra money in hand, because it will all get used up in dental bills, and then some!
We got into Kin just after lunch and had St. Anne’s Procure pick us up. Andres met us right away after we got into the baggage claim area, which is one of the most entertaining travel experiences. If you want a unique travel experience to brag about, make sure you put flying into Kinshasa and collecting on your bucket list!
We landed and the doors to the plane pulled up to a stop near the terminal, give or take 50 yards away, and then we were bused to the terminal, roughly 1/2 mile drive. Made us laugh! And the buses were jam packed, we wound up getting separated and taking different buses. Not a big deal, easy to navigate.
Then we entered what would otherwise be an arrivals area, except it’s just a run down room with no lights and small wooden booths with people in them. Here we showed our passports and our DGM cards (which we were given on the plane), and a man came from behind the booth to look at our yellow fever cards.
Once we were cleared to go (we weren’t able to step forward as a couple), we walked behind the booth where there were just a few men waiting, possibly protocols, I’m not sure. We weren’t allowed to wait in this little area, I wasn’t even allowed to wait for Ian. Then there was a man at the door out of this room who wanted 1 last look at our passports.
Once we were through that door it was really very “quaint”. A tiny baggage claim area with 3 belts that went around in a U shaped pattern. But once the bags started showing up, the fun began! And I do mean fun, it was so entertaining for us! We could see our bags being unloaded from the baggage carts, but they were all just being lined up beside the belt, instead of being put on it. And that’s when dozens of men started walking on the belt and going outside where the baggage handlers were (yup, the other side of those plastic slats was the outside of the terminal, on the edge of the tarmac). For more than a half hour we got to watch some very excited men walk, run and crawl out to get their bags and come back in with them. Really very funny to see. Absolute mayhem, with no thought to most any etiquette that us westerners would just consider the norm.
Like I said, an experience to remember!
It's illegal to take pictures most places in DRC, particularly in Kinshasa, and especially at places like the airport, so we didn't, but we were very thankful to past travellers who took this youtube video:
This same person has another video of the fun at the conveyer
We were lucky, our drive from the airport to St. Anne’s was pretty smooth. We were at the guesthouse in about an hour, or just under, and really enjoyed the drive there. We were blessed enough to be accompanied by an American who served as a peace keeper in easter DRC years prior and was making his 3rd trip back in as many years. Fascinating to hear him talk. We were also quite blessed that it wasn’t too hot. Maybe 27 - 30 degrees Celsius, moderate humidity. Warm enough though that we had to have the windows open and were very thankful when we were moving at a good pace.
The diesel fumes were a little much though, as was the enormous amount of dust. My hair has never felt like that, and I’m a backcountry campin’ kind of girl... But back to the ride itself; the streets were busy, but not as crazy busy as we’d anticipated. Fascinating; little shops all the way along the streets, and I saw several shops that were completely covered with funeral wreaths and had stacks of coffins sticking out of them. Again, just the drive in from the airport is a very cool experience.
Before we knew it we were there, at St. Anne’s checking into the room we’d booked for 2 adults and 2 kids ages 4 & 7. We were escorted to room 210 where we, for 2 weeks, all got to snuggle up on the 2 twin beds we had. And we got close! (note to self - should have been specific about what size beds we would need!!)
We weren’t able to get a phone right away when we got there, as Hasan Frere closes for the Sabbath, from about 5:00 Friday evening until Saturday evening, and by the time we got to head over to HF, they had just closed.
We then took a little tour around St. Anne’s, and that is when we were informed of the trouble our children, and by virtue of being their parents, we, were all in. We will not elaborate on our experiences there, but are happy to tell anyone who would like to know that we would NEVER use One World Adoption Services again, and although we think they are trying to make everything as good as possible for the families who followed us, we disagree with many of their policies and don’t recommend them to others either.
After spending 15 days in Kinshasa, staying at St. Anne’s with several other families using other agencies, we would recommend, in this order:
Wasatch - Julia and John are amazing, you will find more transparency with Wasatch than I think you will with any other agency. They also give you realistic expectations, or at least as much as they can, and are very committed to the children of the Congo, regardless of whether they are being adopted by Wasatch families or not. More integrity than any agency we’ve seen in our long journey, and we regret that we did not deal with them from the start (except that then we wouldn’t have our 2 precious boys we have now!)
A Love Beyond Borders - Although commonly used by Americans, I believe the first few Canadian families are waiting for referrals from ALBB. Although we had no personal contact with any staff from ALBB, from everything we heard from other families, they are a very solid adoption agency and treat their clients and more importantly, their children very well. We would gladly work with ALBB in the future if Wasatch were not accepting new clients.
Bottom of the barrel, both a VERY, VERY, VERY long way down, and in a dead heat for dead last, come OWAS and Life Adoption Services out of California. Although this is just our assessment, there is just not enough tea in China to make us deal with either of these agencies for any reason during the remainder of this lifetime.
Some of our adoption friends have asked if we ever did hear from the Executive Director of our agency after the enormous troubles that we, and more importantly our children, faced alone in Kinshasa. And the answer is “No”. We were there 2 weeks & 1 day, and although we were told a few times that OW was sending staff to help us out, nobody ever showed up. And our situation that resulted in an arrest and the trauma our children and we went through didn’t even warrant so much as an email, let alone a phone call, or any offer of help from our agency, even 6 weeks after finally taking our sons into our custody.
Don’t get me wrong, we're not so much bitter as we are praising God for all He has done, which has been far and beyond anything we could ever have imagined. But we feel that choosing an adoption agency is a very important decision, and we wish we’d known more; and we think that you should too.
Next time I’ll talk a bit about the process in country, which varies a little for us Canadians as opposed to our neighbours to the south.
And now, for a few pictures:
Day 1 after getting them very late on Sunday night.
Like I said, we got pretty close in those 2 twin beds...
Our happy boys
|Posted by The Scotts on May 18, 2012 at 7:15 PM||comments (1)|
Good News Abounds! Not only was Joah’s passport issued 2 weeks ago yesterday, but our entire part 2 package arrived in Nairobi for visa processing 2 weeks ago this holiday Monday. And the great significance of that is that we were told it would be 2 weeks, and the last family we tracked was exactly 1 week ahead of us, and they got their visa EXACTLY 2 weeks after their papers arrived in Nairobi.
So yeah, we are ALMOST there!
I can’t tell you how excited we are! We are really tempted to book flights this weekend. It will really help everything to feel real, because after all this time, and all the false starts at virtually every stage, believe it or not, it still just doesn’t feel real. Crazy, I know. But once we have tickets in hand and are counting down the actual sleeps, it will all seem so much more real!
But alas, those false starts have me a little gun shy, and so I don’t really want to book flights until we find out that the visas are at least very definitively in process, if not complete. We figured we’d read that this morning when we woke up, but no luck. BUT, Monday is not a holiday in Kenya, so we’re thinking that we’ll wake up to good news Monday morning, which is less than 72 hours away. And in the meantime, we’ve got a couple things to keep us busy... Imagine!
So, ready or not, here we almost come!
ps. Oh, and I want to share much more info about the passport issuing in DRC, but that's a story for another time. But if I forget, please remind me, because it's worth knowing