I have spoken out about how I think doing an ethical adoption in DRC is pretty near impossible considering the current state of the country (lack of infrastructure to carry out it's own laws (police itself), the extreme level of corruption, the common practice and wide spread acceptance of bribe giving and taking, the lack of accountably and transparency of orphanages and their directors, as well as the institutions that we work with to adopt, the inability to protect vulnerable and exposed children, and the destitute poverty of most of the population). I've stated that I think adoptions should be put on hold (and I would state that again and again).
At the same time I believe in adoption. There are children that need desperately do need homes. So, I call on everyone, again, (and by everyone, I mean all the adopting (and the ones that consider it) parents and other interested folks that read they little blog) to make adoptions in DRC ethical. Yes, it is possible and yes, there are extremely extremely important roles we play. And since I am not writing this blog to agencies (and their staff....but if they read it then, yes you have an extremely important role as well) nor to the DRC government (but yes, you have an extremely important role too), I am writing to adoptive parents. Because, really without us, there wouldn't be any adoptions in the first place. So, go back and read the posts on the right side of this blog (esp. the last two). Comment about the posts, disagree with me, go ahead, let's discuss, let's figure out how we can make this work. Let's talk about how we can make adoptions in DRC ethical and transparent. So far, I haven't met anyone that wants to take a child from a family member that wants them! Let's talk to our agencies (WE are paying them after all), let's work together with them to make sure children are true orphans who need homes and that they aren't being sold in the process. Let's make sure we are bringing home children that really do need families (and not children that already have families that want them). Maybe you are wondering what I am talking about, maybe you wonder how in the world investigations to prove orphan status could happen. Here is an example (in a different country in Africa). How I wish we would advocate for investigations like this in DRC! And to all of you who are working with your agencies (or that are refusing to work with ones that you feel are not answering your questions, or won't delineate their fees), asking question after question, refusing referrals that are questionable, working to make change happen, speaking out, pressing on in your advocacy despite discouragement and negative things said against you, BRAVO and COURAGE ("Courage" was yelled to me often in DRC, the french way....as I walked through the streets with all my kids, it is more applicable here to you all)!
A Curious Case
Yes, I stole that title from this article about the death of Trayvon Martin. There are so many people that write about racism better than I ever could. I've written before once here about my very white upbringing in a small town in the Pacific NW (that was a lovely place to grow up). I've commented before how I feel pretty inadequate to raise our girls to help them understand what it means to be a black woman in the U.S. today. Actually, I shouldn't even say pretty inadequate, because what I really mean is that I can't raise them to understand what that means because I don't understand what that means. I am white, my skin is "white", I understand what it means (to some extent) to be a white woman in the U.S. ( or "tan" in my children's words.). When I read that article I cried with so many others. It just seems hard to believe. But then, it would not be hard to believe if I was black, if my skin was black and not white. And this makes me feel even more angry and heartbroken. Now, the two little ones that I am raising, my congolese daughters will grow up in the U.S. not really understanding these two paragraphs from the article above (because, again, I am not a black skinned woman in the U.S., I am a white skinned woman).
"As the father of two black teenage boys, this case hits close to home. This is the fear that seizes me whenever my boys are out in the world: that a man with a gun and an itchy finger will find them “suspicious.” That passions may run hot and blood run cold. That it might all end with a hole in their chest and hole in my heart. That the law might prove insufficient to salve my loss.
That is the burden of black boys in America and the people that love them: running the risk of being descended upon in the dark and caught in the cross-hairs of someone who crosses the line." (ref.)
I want to say it doesn't matter, the color of my skin (when it comes to raising my kids). But, it does, it really does matter. It matters because they are going to be black children in the U.S., they are going to be black adolescent girls, and they will be black women one day, and they will be treated differently because of it. I want to yell, "the color of your skin shouldn't matter like that, it shouldn't make it harder!". But it does. And I won't be able to understand, really understand what that means, how that injustice tastes and feels. I will never completely understand. So, we do small things now (that they are too young to understand) to try to bridge this gap, small things that we hope will one day translate into bigger things that will truly help them bridge the two worlds that they are part of because of their adoption. That we hope will somehow give them a community that not only resonates with the felt experiences of racism and injustice they will one day face because of their skin color, but that will also give them the depth of understanding and shared fortitude that we could never give, simply because we are not black, we are white. And meanwhile, in every way I can I will work to rid the racism hidden in my heart and stand up for injustice and racism where and when I see it.
I'm ending with a photo of little Esperance, who has lived at the orphanage her entire life. She is beautiful.
Some news about Tumaini coming soon!
Oh, if you are wondering where the "donations that make a lasting difference" part of this post went, I got tired of writing and will save it for a post by itself. But the photo above is a pretty good picture of what I want to talk about!