Friday, June 19, 2015

out of Africa

Brad began his journey to Africa last Saturday afternoon, and he is returning as I type. It was an insanely quick trip.

On June 1st, we finally got word that all of our adoption court documents were completed and corrected. Our agency emailed the Embassy in DRC to request an appointment for him to file his I-600 application along with supporting paperwork. After not hearing back from them that Friday, I emailed the Embassy to request an appointment and received an email the following Monday morning. They must not like agencies.

The email I received was somewhat negative..."Here are all of the travel warnings for DRC...Are you sure you have all of your paperwork? If not you will have to reschedule, and rescheduling often takes at least two weeks...We encourage adoptive parents to file I-600 petitions in the US." It was all enough to jolt my enthusiasm a bit, but we have talked to far too many adoptive parents who said that filing in DRC tends to be much faster than filing in the States. Plus, many adoptive parents have told us that the time they got to spend with their adopted children in DRC was priceless.

I responded to the Embassy's email with affirmation that we were ready to file, and they responded with an appointment date and time: June 17 at 8 am.

You may remember that I was originally planning to file the paperwork by myself. (We originally thought we would be ready to file around Spring of 2014...boy were we wrong!) I was sooo looking forward to meeting Clementine and hugging her sweet and sassy little self, but due to extenuating circumstances I couldn't go.

This left me with nine days to book plane tickets (shout out to Adoption Airfare for making this part so easy!), gather documents, fill out applications, color-code, label, and file them like a crazy type-A, double-check documents, get some notarized, get cash for Brad to take (a lot of cash, actually...they like their American cash fresh, crisp, new, and in large denominations!), and retrieve a ton of information from my brain and from others to share with Brad for his trip. (Information like...."Don't look at airport officials in the eye; they see it as disrespectful and will make you pay," and "Drink tons of water on the airplane before you get there," and "Keep your phone out of sight," and "Public photography is seen as disrespectful and you may get beat up or have your phone taken for it." As a side note, all of this advice may have been true and accurate, and we appreciate the warnings about the nuances in culture that make it difficult to understand. That said, people also spoke of the friendliness, the genuine caring, the warm greetings, and helpfulness of the people Brad would meet. As with anywhere else, there are all types of people in DRC, and from what I can tell, Brad met some amazing people on this trip, particularly those beautiful nannies who selflessly care for the precious kids who are still waiting for their forever families.)

And then all of a sudden it was time for him to leave. I sent him with gifts for the nannies and male in-country staff, suckers and bubbles for the kids at the orphanage/foster home, and a play camera and fake phone with a recorded message for Clementine: "Clementine, Mama loves you!" (I also had the privilege of shopping for and sending a birthday present for a six-year-old who is spending yet ANOTHER birthday away from her family, despite being their legal daughter.)

Communication was limited while he was in DRC, as you can imagine, but I did receive two of the most beautiful videos I've ever seen, along with a picture that I will print and will likely remain in our house forever.

I hope to share at least small pieces of those videos when Brad gets home, but for now you should know that the boys and I have watched them nearly 100 times, taking in every nuance of her laugh and personality. She is, in fact, a sassy little sandwich, but she is also the sweetest, cutest little thing I've ever seen. I can see how Brad's time in DRC was truly priceless, and I'm so happy that he got to be with her on three different occasions. (We expected him to be able to visit only once; what a happy surprise!)

And honestly, it is probably best that he was the one visiting and, thus, getting his heart broken upon leaving. I am not sure how I would have handled it, but I suspect that there would have been some tear-filled buckets on each plane ride away from her.