This week we watched the movie Philomena. I would not recommend watching that movie unless you are ready to have your heart crushed. It’s really a great movie, but the story is just tragic. It’s based on a true story (that unfortunately is not an unfamiliar story today). In short, a mother traces her son who was stolen from her for adoption in 1950s Ireland.
This time, two years ago, we were in Kinshasa meeting the family of the children we planned to adopt. This is a bittersweet time of year for me. The sadness and heartache are no longer fresh, but the scars are there. At the same time, it was the end of a terrible experience for those kids having to live in an institution away from the love and care of their mother.
This summer, our adoption agency – One World Adoption Services, Inc. – had their accreditation revoked by the Department of State for substantiated claims of corruption and fraud. This was a huge victory for many families in DRC, the US and Canada, but OWAS’ victim list is long. There are dozens of families in the process who are unsure about whether their adoptions will ever be finalized or whether the children should be adopted at all, and there are few people to help get those questions answered. The lawyers that OWAS employed in DRC are now extorting families who seek to retrieve their paperwork or move the children to foster homes. The pain is never-ending, it seems.
Meanwhile, the suspension of exit letters remains so few children who have been adopted have been allowed to leave DRC. Other agencies who have engaged in practices similar to OWAS remain in business, and families continue to wait and hope.
It’s an absolute mess with no obvious solution. I wish I had an answer for the families who contact me. I struggle with wanting to end all communications that I have with people on the topic because the situation feels so hopeless. I get angry when I see people defending the ethics of DRC adoptions and proceeding with adoptions without questioning whether it’s a good idea. When do you stay and continue to fight and when do you throw in the towel?
The community that I have made with other people involved in DRC adoptions is priceless. If it’s possible to be great friends with people you’ve never met in person, than I certainly am. These women get it. They get the pain and the loss and the beauty of adoption. We keep hoping and fighting because we believe it can be glorious. Thanks for sticking with us on this journey.