Not everyone has a merry Christmas. This is an all too familiar story.
A mother is poor and struggling to care for her children. She is approached by a woman who tells her that there’s a place her children can go for help. A place where they can get food, medical care, shelter, and maybe even school. She makes the heroic choice to travel and take her children there, trusting in the person who seems to care.
Then she’s told that she can’t care for her children. She’s poor, uneducated. She has nothing. Her children will starve. They will die of malaria.
She’s told that instead of sure death in her care, if she signs a few documents, the children can go to America. They will live in a home with loving parents. They will go to school. They will get jobs. They will always have food.
They will have a second set of parents. They will write home, and she will receive updates. She will see their pictures as they grow and know that they are doing well.
When they grow up, they will return. They will never forget their family. They will take care of her. Maybe she will one day get to go to America.
The mother agrees. She takes her children to the orphanage. She tells them to be strong and that she will always love them. She goes home and weeps. She comes back to visit every week, but then it becomes hard. She’s still struggling, and she has to care for the older children who stay at home. She weeps, and she trusts.
Please continue to read it here. It is a very important post and the ending is different than you might expect. Once upon a time, I helped facilitate adoptions. I sat in on conversations when birth parents were being counseled about adoption. I was an observer. I watched fathers looking confused, trying to understand the word "adoption". I heard words being said like, "it's about a relationship, they will be your family too, they will visit you again."
Powerful words in DRC culture where the family code law (the only place adoption is placed) specifies that the adoptive family MUST keep ties with the birth family. The adoptive family MUST help the birth family if the birth family needs help. Laws that creates a forever relationship, one that promises care for the birth family and a connection that is never severed.
On the other hand, most adoptive parents are told not to help the birth family, they are told not to be in touch with them, they are told that the birth family will receive updates through the orphanage directors, they are told that it is a closed adoption, they are told if you help them other families will give up their kids, they are told that the birth family didn't want to care for them, they are told the birth family couldn't care for them (but meanwhile the birth family is caring for siblings), and on and on. Most adoptive families are not fully aware that they are adopting children from families that were simply too poor to care for them. Families that never understood what adoption meant. Families that want their children. Families that love their children. Families that were given one solution to their poverty: adoption (the removal of their children from their family). Families that were often lied to and recruited for adoption.
Something has to give. We must stop the injustices of what is happening in international adoption and especially in eastern DRC. We can't let the story of two families in the post above be the story of our adoption.