Monday, June 18, 2012

Adopting from DRC? Pray hard and reconsider.

I was directed to this article today.   It will take just a second to look at the overview of the article.

It says that DRC is the #2 "failed state" in the world (it was #4 last year, and #5 the year before other words it is getting worse every year).  I'll say it again.  DRC is ranked second in the world of "failed states".  Right after Somalia!

Would you consider adopting from Somalia right now?  I hope your answer is "no way!".  Let me ask it another way.  Would you consider adopting from a country that is described as having no central state, no government, no law and order, and no economy (see here for source of quote)?  (You would say, "no way!", right?  I sure hope so!).

DRC is right behind Somalia and it is in a worse state than every other country in the world.

Here is a part of a definition of a "failed state" (bold and underlined my own).  The quote is from the International Red Cross (here is the link).

 The political and legal approach  
Three elements can be said to characterize the phenomenon of the “failed State” from the political and legal point of view.
  • Firstly, there is the geographical and territorial aspect, namely the fact that “failed States” are essentially associated with internal and endogenous problems, even though these may incidentally have cross-border impacts. The situation confronting us then is one of an implosion rather than an explosion of the structures of power and authority, the disintegration and destructuring of States rather than their dismemberment.
  • Secondly, there is the political aspect, namely the internal collapse of law and order. The emphasis here is on the to tal or near total breakdown of structures guaranteeing law and order [2 ] rather than the kind of fragmentation of State authority seen in civil wars, where clearly identified military or paramilitary rebels fight either to strengthen their own position within the State or to break away from it. [3 ]
  • Thirdly, there is the functional aspect, namely the absence of bodies capable, on the one hand, of representing the State at the international level and, on the other, of being influenced by the outside world. Either no institution exists which has the authority to negotiate, represent and enforce or, if one does, it is wholly unreliable, typically acting as “statesman by day and bandit by night”.
From a legal point of view, it could be said that the “failed State” is one which, though retaining legal capacity, has for all practical purposes lost the ability to exercise it. A key element in this respect is the fact that there is no body which can commit the State in an effective and legally binding way, for example, by concluding an agreement.

Here is another quote.  The link to this article is found here and it is from the Fund for Peace.  (Emphasis mine).  

"A state that is failing has several attributes. One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community. The 12 indicators cover a wide range of state failure risk elements such as extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination, severe demographic pressures, brain drain, and environmental decay. States can fail at varying rates through explosion, implosion, erosion, or invasion over different time periods."   

How in the world can any adoption agency operate in the second most failed state in the world, legally and ethically?  How can an adoption agency guarantee that what is done in the country itself is legal and ethical in the second worst failed state in the world?  

I would strongly consider you ask your agency, "How can you assure my adoption is legal and ethical in a country that is ranked second in the world as a failed state; which takes into consideration extensive corruption, erosion of legitimate authority, loss of control, internal collapse of law and order?  Please tell me how you operate in a country that is ranked second in the world for loss of control, collapse of law and order, corruption, erosion of authority?  How can you assure me that my adoption was ethically done in DRC?  What ways do make sure that all the people you work with on the ground are operating within the law (when there is a collapse of law and order in the country)?  How do you verify that the judges, the police, the social services, the lawyers are acting legally and ethically (in a country where there is a collapse of law and order and extensive corruption?).  

It's not enough that your paperwork "looks good" and that it will meet the embassy requirements.  What matters is that your paperwork is true and that means you need to confirm the story on the paperwork is accurate.  How does one do this?    You investigate the story (through a third party) and you follow your money (read here).    

No one is doing orphan investigations beyond the police and social services reports (which we have already stated are government positions in a country with little to no oversight and control and where there is little to no law and order) to verify orphan abandonment stories (please feel free to let me know if you are working with an agency that encourages you to do third party investigations to verify the child's story or if they do radio ads and extensive investigations of the abandonment story for 3-6 months before referral).  No one is doing reunification and domestic adoption work (again, let me know if your agency works with an orphanage and it does reunification and domestic adoption).

There ARE children that need families in DRC.  Let's make sure THOSE are the children being adopted.

Protect the orphans in DRC (most of whom have one or both living parents!).  Take care of the orphans and vulnerable children of DRC.  Don't allow them to be exploited and abused.  Don't take advantage of the failed state of DRC.  Where there are few controls.  Where corruption is rampant.  Where there is little oversight and control.  Where there is little to no law and order.  Because what the current failed state of DRC really means in "adoption terms" is that lots babies are available to be adopted in 9 months or less.  That is what it really means.

ADDENDUM:  As the first commenter pointed out, I do not know the actions of every single agency working in DRC.  From my interviews of APs, PAPs, and my own, I have not found an agency working in DRC that does investigations like the ones described above, hence why I say "no one is doing investigations...".  I would love to hear if your agency is doing the types of investigations I list above (which I believe are essential to an ethical adoption).  Please let me know in the comments if your agency is doing what I describe above and their name!  Again, we as adoptive parents are the ones that can make change happen in DRC adoption.  Let's work together to demand certain standards from our agencies.  We are the ones that can protect children from exploitation.  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

sharing the joy (an update)

I received updated photos on the sweet kids from the orphanage yesterday.  I laughed and cried looking through them.  I walked around with a big smile on my face.  I was also concerned about a couple little ones.  After I looked at the photos, I wanted to send all the people who love the children with me the photos right way.  All those people who have helped make this work possible, who support them every month, who have prayed for them, who check up on them, who read about them, who have visited them and held them, who celebrate their growth and development with me, who care about the orphaned and vulnerable child in DRC and who pass on their stories so others partner with us.  And it hit me, that it is not just my joy and concern, it is our joy and our concern.  And I was filled with gratitude.  Again.

So I want to share.  Here are some pictures of some of the kiddos.  Sponsors will be getting their individual updates in the coming weeks (this is a sneak preview for them :).

Consolat (can't stop smiling looking at this sweet face!)

Shereba, he is almost 5 (he has grown up so much!)

Shagayo, 5 1/2.  She is going to a small school near the orphanage.  Such good news!

Bertin, getting so big.  What a cutie!

Bwinja, love her expression!

Little Chito Wambili.  Looking at this photo yesterday near to broke my heart (all over again).  Though she looks so grown up, her lost  and hurting expression haunts me and reminds me why I felt compelled to start Tumaini in the first place.  It is for her and all those that should never have such sorrow and pain in their eyes.  Her story begins here.  

There is a little 3 week old in the hospital, a little baby boy named Ishara who came to the orphanage a week ago because his mother died.  So much sorrow.  Please pray he is treated appropriately and that he lives.  He is very little.  I'm extremely grateful the orphanage is next to a very good hospital and the children are treated there immediately if they get sick.  Here is his photo.

Ishara, age 3 weeks, he needs two sponsors is fully sponsored.

There are also three more babies/children at the orphanage since I last updated!  Yeah.  It's a lot.  There are 39 children in total, with 9 of them under age 1 years old.  This is a lot of responsibility.  Without your support these little ones would not have the chance at life that they have right now.

Are you interested in sponsoring a child?  Along with Ishara (above) here are the photos of the four other babies/children who need sponsors.  A sponsor pays $25/month.  Each child needs two sponsors.  (If you want to support that child completely, you can choose to do so and pay $50/month).   If you would like to sponsor a child, then please follow the donate link on this page (it says " donation page at Children's HopeChest") and then email me to let me know which child you would like to sponsor.  My email is on the top right of this blog.  Thank you.

This is Albert, he is 13 months old, and the big brother of Ishara!  He needs two sponsors is fully sponsored!  

This little one is Esta, she is 10 months old and needs two sponsors is fully sponsored!

Ishara, Albert and Esta are the three new babies.  Here are two little ones that still each need one sponsor.  

Lukogo, 4 months, he still needs one sponsor.  

This is Mwamini.  She is 13 months old and needs one more sponsor is fully sponsored!

Please pass on this post to others that may be interested in sponsoring a child or partnering with our work in eastern DRC with a monthly donation or a one-time donation.  Thank you.

(p.s.  If you look at the header photo you will find two of the kids pictured here (that photo was from over 2 years ago)).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Some of my life and something worth watching.

This post will be in snippets.  I am tired, it is late, and I have a lot of packing to do tomorrow.

*We are moving to a new house.  It's in the country.  When I was looking at it and looked out the windows I sighed out loud.  I saw fields, hills full of green trees, and horses in pastures.  Out every window.  Peace stole over me.

I love our current house.  It has been a gift to us.  The owners that rented it to us have been beyond wonderful.  When we moved here we knew one person.  She was out of town when we arrived with our U-haul full of all our belongings.  I was so overwhelmed and felt like I just wanted to go back home, to Congo.  We were renting a furnished home for the year until we could get our bearings.  The owners of our house had left for overseas the day before we arrived.  When Natalie and Isla went into their room they started yelling.  On their beds were little crowns with their names on them.  I started crying right there.  The kindness of strangers.  Something so little meant so much, and I'll never forget it and the many other ways people showed us kindness as we moved back to the states.

But as much as I love this house (and it's backyard with two play structures, one of which has 4 swings!) I am ready to move.  We live on a busy street that is the main trucking road into town.  The house is right on the road.  It's loud.  And I crave silence (maybe because I have four kids, 5 years old and under who are all very outgoing?).  Natalie is scared to walk on the sidewalk because there is little to no shoulder in front of our house so the huge semi-trucks barrel past us literally next to us.  I miss the quite of Congo.  I miss hearing the birds from my window.  And the silence and darkness at night.  I learned to love the city when I lived in Baltimore for 11 years, but I yearn for the peace of the country similar to where I grew up.    So, my husband is moving for me.  And I'm grateful.  I have to laugh that his comment upon seeing the house was, "well, there are a lot of fields, and um, where will we buy bread?".  (He grew up in the city.)

*I'm working a lot.  I love my job.  But I still haven't figured out how to work and keep the rest of it afloat.  I'll save a whole post for this transition, because it's been a whopper for me.

*We only need two more sponsors.  To say I am humbled and grateful feel like huge understatements.
(If you have no idea what I am talking about or you want to sponsor, check out this post)

*Speaking of checking out posts, here is one definitely worth checking out today.  If you wonder why I keep talking about ethics in adoption, if you wonder why I won't stop saying "ask questions, ask questions, ask questions", if you wonder why I harp on the point of investigating orphan status, if you wonder if I am totally out there and extreme in my worry for DRC adoptions, if you wonder what I am talking about most of time (in terms of IA in DRC)--please, check out this post and watch the video.  It's all in there.  This is why I speak.  Huge thanks to the Rileys and others for their work and the continued advocacy.  Please, if you care about IA in Africa, and in DRC, take the time to watch the video.

And I think I will end on a photo of my girls taken on easter this year.