Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Politics of Adoption

I want to tell you about how some of my faith has been restored.  Maybe it will restore some of yours as well. I'm not talking about faith in the Almighty.  That faith hasn't needed to be restored.  He has kept me and will continue to keep me.  I'm talking about faith in the US government, and in the way this process, this representative democracy, works.

I hated politics.  I really hated the idea of politicians.  I didn't want to hear about republicans or democrats, or any of that.  I didn't see the US government as anything but people wanting more and more power.  But then something happened.

For much of our adoption, I felt that the US government made adopting internationally more difficult, not easier.  I was frustrated at how long things took, how little information they would give us, and when the suspension on exit letters hit, how little they seemed willing to help us.  I was very disillusioned!  What I'd pictured in my head of how it should be, just wasn't panning out.  I felt foolish for ever feeling like the US "had my back" so to speak.

And then something changed.  In all that feeling helpless, I was invited by other adoptive moms to join a conference call with Kelly Dempsey, from Both Ends Burning (BEB).  (Click on the link to find out all about them...they are amazing!) What followed is truly remarkable.

BEB asked us to reach out to all members of congress, letting them know about the exit letter suspension.
  We did it. 

We called, and e-mailed, and many of you called, and e-mailed.

Then BEB organized a petition asking members of Congress to get involved in the lifting of the suspension.  In a  matter of days, we had over 100,000 letters sent to our legislative branch!  Letters that you help send.
You did it.

And you know the amazing part?  Congress, both the House and the Senate, responded!  With the help of BEB, they authored a bipartisan letter addressed to the President and Prime Minister of the DRC, respectfully asking them resolve this crisis, and give exit letters to children already legally adopted in DRC.  
They did it.

Then we organized a DC trip, for as many as could make it, to go and speak personally with our members of Congress, showing them our faces, our tears, speaking on behalf of the literally hundreds of children who can't speak for themselves.  And you know what?  For the most part, everyone listened to us! They looked us in the eye and heard our pleas, and many began trying to find creative solutions.  We met with the staffers from the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, and with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  We were finally being heard.  We held a candlelight vigil on the capital lawn, and many of you lit candles all over the country in support of us.  Michelle Chin, Texas Sen. Cornyn's legislative assistant (one super smart, SUPER busy lady) came and stood for an hour and listened and prayed with us.  We sat in on the House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, holding photos of our children, and watched as these men and women, who's job it is to manage the laws of our great nation, voted to take House Resolution 588, on Adoptions from the DRC to the floor of the house where it later passed uncontested.  Oh, my.  

We did it.  You did it.  They did it.

Since we've been home, the Senate passed a similar resolution. Dr. Jill Biden visited the DRC and met a couple of adoptive families who were there.  BEB and key members of Congress circulated a letter to President Obama, asking him to bring this issue up with DRC President Kabila directly.  Again we called, and called, and e-mailed, and many of you called, and e-mailed, and 167 members of Congress signed this letter!  The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing about international adoptions where our very own Kelly Dempsey and others were invited to testify.  This is AMAZING!  Again,

                       We did it.  You did it.  They did it.

And then yesterday, we had a national White House Call In event, where so many people flooded the lines of the White House, leaving message after message, asking President Obama to take this issue on personally.  Even my own children called!  I've heard from so many of you who called.  

People, we CAN make a difference.  We have been making a difference.  We will make a difference.  I have never been more proud to be an American.  Our Representatives and Senators have heard from us, and they are actually representing us!  They are taking on the Department of State for us! (This is where the US side of the problem has been.)  They are listening to us!  This is how it is supposed to work! Watching the men and women of the United States Congress at work, seeing them take on the issues of their constituents, and making it their own, has restored my faith.  My faith that the giant, beastly, powerful government of the United States of America, completely entrenched in red tape, works.  It actually works.  And it works because of the people who are there on the Hill, the representatives, the senators, the staffers, all of them.  And they will continue to work!  And we will, also.  And, Lord willing, so will you!

All of us, we will get it done.

Note: since Congress got involved, 19 American children have come home.  this isn't enough, and we must keep fighting, but that is 19 children who are now safe in their parents' arms.  We praise God for those lives.  Also, although all of us have been working so hard, it is God in Heaven who is going to solve this.  Thankfully, He often uses our efforts and the efforts of those in power, such as our Congress.  So above all, we appeal to the true Ruler of the Universe!  

Oh, and click on all those links for some awesome info!