Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why the Congo?

As more and more people learn about our quest to adopt from the Congo we are often asked this question (in addition to several others about foreign adoption in general): Why the Congo?

I don't have any overly spiritual answers to that question, nor do I have a full explanation of our desire to parent a Congolese child or children, but I can give you a tiny glimpse into my heart (My husband might have to speak for himself in a guest post, but I believe we are pretty similar in this.).

So, why do I want to adopt from the Congo?

First of all, I want to parent another child. Make no mistake about that, I am excited to be a mommy again.

Secondly, my gut is telling me to do it. My gut, which I believe is truly the Holy Spirit, makes my heart hurt for all motherless and fatherless children, but ever since I laid eyes on a child who was adopted from the Congo (back when Brad and I were still struggling to complete our first adoption), I have been somewhat obsessed with adopting from there myself. My mom told me about the couple who had adopted her....the man worked at my parents' office and my mom had just been sent a picture of the little girl with her new dad. My mom then sent me the picture, and when I saw it my heart did a little back flip for joy that the beautiful little girl had a family. She had sparkling eyes and a rosebud mouth that seemed to pout a bit as she looked at the camera. I was deeply sad that she had spent any amount of time without a mom or dad, but more than anything I was thrilled that she now had a forever family. I hoped that her apprehensive pout would be replaced with a big grin in the next picture because she would realize how great life could be with her family. (Can you imagine being pulled from what you've always known by people you've never met? It is baffling to think about that small window of transition for a small child who doesn't understand that this exchange will change her life for the better forever.) I can tell you that I have seen that little girl recently, and she is definitely smiling! I want to make someone smile like that.

Third, I have always had a "thing" for Africa. I feel like that is a total cliche, but I have always said I would go there on mission and I fully intend to do so (hopefully through the mission of adoption). In fact, Brad and I signed up for a mission trip with our church to go to Senegal over Christmas in 2009, but after finding out we were pregnant then having a miscarriage a few weeks before the trip we felt the need to back out, leaving our downpayment and excitement behind. It would have been a very difficult trip given the circumstances. That experience has always left me feeling like I missed out, and I believe it was God's way of telling me that great things would come (beauty from ashes), but not yet. Patience, Jenny.

Fourth, have you done any investigating into the crisis in Congo? Google around and you'll find some startling statistics. There are 5 million orphans, and 1 in 5 children do not make it past 5 years old...War and conflict...Child militias...Deaths from treatable and preventable disease. It hurts to see the hurt. But it helps to help.

**I must mention here that we have spoken to people who have adopted from DRC (The Congo), even some who have adopted through our agency, and we feel confident that the ethics involved are solid, meaning children are not being "sold," ripped from relatives' hands, mistreated, or abused, and the people involved are truly trying to do what's best for kids (even if it means finding true relatives instead of determining a child to be adoptable...because that's GOOD for the child!). If you wonder why I even mentioned this, take a look at this blog from Jen Hatmaker. And thanks to Ashley for cluing me in on the greatness of Hatmaker's writing.

And there's something I hadn't thought about, but just so happens to be true: The official language of the Congo is French. Guess who "coincidientally" took four years of French in high school, but may or may not remember it? This girl. (And to think, I have always wondered why I chose French instead of Spanish, the more "useful" of the two languages. I should have known...)

Incidentally, I will always remember this phrase: Je t'aime. That means "I love you," and I will say it over and over and over to our current children and to the next little(s) we will add to our little Lotz home.