DRC Adoption

The steps we took and are taking in our current adoption 
from the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

There are an estimated 5 MILLION orphans in DRC. (Population of Missouri is 6 million.) 

Average annual income of a Congolese citizen is 120 US dollars. 

Life expectancy: 51 years. 

20% do not live past the age of 5 years old. 

Almost half of the children do not have access to school or education. 

War and conflict have led to the death of 5.4 MILLION people since 1998. It is the deadliest war since World War II.

DR Congo has been named the worst place on earth to be a woman.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/democraticrepublicofcongo/10036773/Democratic-Republic-of-Congo-is-worlds-toughest-place-to-be-a-mother.html)

We are adopting "Sweet C" from this country.

September 2012 -- We begin semi-serious talks about another adoption. (You can read a little about our first adoption, from Kentucky, here.You can also read more about the craziness of that adoption by reading my posts from 2011. Crazy, I tell you, and I didn't even write everything, although I should have!)

October 2012 -- More serious adoption talks in the Lotz household. We have decided to adopt again in the future, just not sure when that will be.

December 2012 -- We decide to begin the adoption process in 2013, but we won't do paperwork until after Brecken's first birthday (July 21); we agree that it's a good plan.

Early March 2013 -- I look at the photolistings for our agency's Democratic Republic of the Congo adoption program. OH MY GOODNESS. I start hinting that I'd like to get paperwork in for our next adoption before Brecken's birthday...you know...so we can make sure to get grant applications done on time.

March 7, 2013 -- Me, in a text: "Umm, can we do home study update ASAP?" Bradlee: "Yes." Me: "Really???" (Yahtzee!) I email our agency immediately.

March 13, 2013 -- Pre-application complete ($50)

April 3, 2013 -- Formal application complete ($200) - We were asked to specify gender and age, and we said we are open on the gender for ages 0-5. The application also asked us if we were open to multiple children. I filled out the form by myself, so I slipped this in at the bottom of an email to Bradlee: "Also, i put that we are not opposed to sibling group if needed for our adoption. Should I change that?? :o)" He didn't respond, but when I asked him if he saw it I got this: "Saw it. That's fine." I love my husband. Hopefully we will be able to talk about this with our agency so they can help us figure out a way to not end up with 10 kids (I'd do it; It's just that we've got this thing called a "teacher's salary" with which we have to contend.)

April 10, 2013 -- $500 DONATION! (We have amazing friends!)

April 24, 2013 -- First official meeting with agency for this adoption. First round of interviews for our home study ($700). Next up...the home visit! 

May 2, 2013 -- Received a $200 donation in the mail from our friends (who we really only know on Facebook and Twitter, which is a shame!). Also received a MO tax refund check for $501. (Total=$701. We just paid $700 about a week ago! Coincidence? I don't think so.)

May 6, 2013 -- Home visit for home study complete. Paid $750 in adoption program agreement. Found check from government for $1,462. Long story here. Still working on fingerprinting and medical examinations while waiting on official documents from our nannies (because they have to be included in paperwork, too). Poor girls...didn't know what they were getting into!

May 8, 2013 -- Receive $2,500 donation from donor who wishes to remain anonymous. I will tell you this: This donor is a foundation that has done and continues to do TONS of great things in our area.

May 13, 2013 -- Dossier preparation guide comes via email.

May 16, 2013 -- Fingerprints complete!

May 23, 2013 -- Brody and Brecken's medical exams complete. Spent 5 hours on the phone trying to find a place to do physicals for Brad and I. No dice.

May 28, 2013 -- Complete physicals at a walk-in clinic for SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTY BUCKS. I was ticked. You can read about the full experience here. Still trying to work through my anger, but in the back of my head I know it's worth it.

June 1, 2013 -- Gathering dossier docs and getting things notarized. Almost to the end of the paperwork!

June 17, 2013 -- Last home study document from us (pet safety statement) is in. Now just waiting on some reference forms and other peoples' paperwork.

June 20, 2013 -- Adoption shirts are in! Donations from those shirts are rolling in, with many people giving even more than we expected!

July and August 2013 -- Waiting on a few documents for our home study. Dossier paperwork is done except for home study portion. Also waiting on extra house to sell. Pray!

August 13, 2013 -- Home study approved!

August 15, 2013 -- Home study is already translated. (That was QUICK.) $250 due to our translator.

August 16, 2013 -- I-600A application sent in with $1060 fee for USCIS services. Sent $250 to our agency for translation.

August 23, 2013 -- Receive document from agency that says we're 15th on the overall Congo list with about 3-4 referrals happening each month.

August 30, 2013 -- Sent in Show Hope adoption grant application.

August 31, 2013 -- Receive donation for $7,500 from friends. Unbelievable, but not really. Read about that here.

Early September -- Denied for HelpUsAdopt grant. Boo. But received a donation for $210 from an amazing woman (and family) at Brad's school. Hooray!

September 15, 2013 -- Meet with friends to discuss our big adoption fundraising event. We went to lunch and had our hands quite full with Brody and Brecken...our friends probably wondered how we thought we could handle ANOTHER Lotz.

September 21, 2013 -- WE GOT THE CALL...We were referred TWINS!! Read about it here. After acceptance, we owe about $28,000 to our agency.

September 23, 2013 -- Informally say YES to the twins, to which our adoption coordinator says "You crazy kids! :o)" Yep. We are both BUSY coaching and our formal acceptance must be notarized, so we will have to squeeze out a time to sign official documents in a few days.

September 25, 2013 -- Sent in two more grant apps. (Salvation International and Kinsman Redeemer, if you're curious.)

Also talked to our Congo program coordinator to get more info about our Littles. The court phase should go decently quickly because the attorney is traveling in a few weeks. Then we will wait for the investigation period to be completed (3-9 months). Then we will be cleared to travel. We will also get some more PICS and updates soon, because a few other people (organization founders and translator) are traveling to the orphanage in the next weeks. YAY!

September 27, 2013 -- Learn that DGM in Congo has suspended issuing exit letters while they investigate "rehoming" and other post-adoption issues. This does not halt the adoption process, but it does make it impossible for families to take their adopted children home until the suspension is lifted.

October 2013 -- Receive $420 donation from another amazing woman (and family) at Brad's school, who just happens to be related to the other amazing woman who gave us a donation for $210 in early September.

October 15, 2013 -- Early in the morning, we learn that 22 of 46 kids in the orphanage in which our twins live DIED tragically of dysentery (a disease that would hardly be a blip on the radar in any other country). We don't hear anything about the twins...hope no news is good news.

October 16, 2013 -- Late in the evening, I finally break down and ask our coordinator about our Littles. I didn't want to bug her, but I had to know they were ok. They are well, as they were moved out of the orphanage when workers there determined it was too dangerous for them to remain. BLESS YOU, orphanage workers. I cannot imagine the heartache you experienced in the midst of this. Read more about what I learned here.

October 17, 2013 -- Learn that we were rejected for Katelyn's Fund grant. BIG DEAL. Money is nothing in light of lost lives.

October 18, 2013 -- We get the full scope of the heartache endured at the orphanage (from this post), and it was even worse than we imagined. 31 of 52 orphans died. We begin working on clean-water solutions for the orphanage.

October 21, 2013 -- We learn the heartbreaking news that our twins have died due to dysentery. Read the full post about that here.  In the next week, we (along with our agency and many others) work hard to increase awareness about the dysentery epidemic in the orphanage. 

October 23, 2013 -- Secretly accepted a referral for Sweet "C," a 3-month-old little girl living in foster care in Kinshasa. Read the whole announcement (after the fact) here.We see pictures and a video. She is adorable, but she exhibits some unusual shaking/tremors in her extremeties (which we knew about when we accepted the referral...she needs a family to love her, and we do!)

November 1, 2013 -- Our agency has received $15,000 plus in donations, enabling them to provide plenty of support, tools, food, and clean-water solutions to the orphanage. Some solutions will take a while to get into place, but short-term solutions can begin changing lives.

November 4, 2013 -- Learn that we have earned $324.88, as well as some free items for our silent auction at our December 2 event, in our 31 Fundraiser, which was originally planned to bring the twins home. Yay Jill Widel! Thanks for your help!

October/November -- Congo adoptions aren't really going well. This will be a prayer-filled adoption. Please join with us in prayer to bring all of those sweet children home to families.

December 1, 2013 -- We receive more pictures and a video of C, along with a written report. She still has tremors that seem to intensify when she gets excited. She interacts well with people and smiles easily, making great eye contact. Her caretakers say she is a very sweet little girl.

December 4, 2013 -- The BIG EVENT, a dinner, music, and silent auction for our adoption. We believe the event brought it nearly $10,000.

December 26, 2013 -- We receive two anonymous donations totaling $1,550!

December 27, 2013 -- We get a Christmas craft from C: her footprints!  We couldn't be more thrilled to have them! (And her feet appear to be only slightly smaller than Brecken's...he is 16 months old.)

December 31, 2013 -- Another large donation! $500!!

January 10 -- Receive Commune docs and their translations. We are officially in the middle of the court process.

Need a visual? Here you go. (Thanks to my Facebook friends who are adopting from DR Congo.)

February 2014 -- We have received two grants, one for $2,000 from Salvation International and one from JSC Foundation (who would rather keep our amount under wraps). We also received a $200 grant from Lifesong for Orphans to attend Empowered to Connect in April. Woo-hoo!

April 2014 -- Still waiting to hear about court...praying for DR Congo...praying for hearts to change in DGM so they will begin issuing Exit Letters again...praying Sweet C remains safe and healthy and happy.

June 2014 -- Still waiting to hear about court and praying for DR Congo adoptions. Advocating with Congressmen. Received two more grants: A matching grant from Hand In Hand Christian Adoptions for $7,000 and one from Families Outreach for $500. So incredibly grateful for both. This means we are theoretically fully funded!! ("Theoretically" because it will get more expensive as our wait goes on...)

August 2014 -- Finally, a hint of progress in C's case: Suppletiff (sp?) Judgment is now complete. More court paperwork to come soon, we hope.

September 2014 -- Rumors the Exit Letter Suspension will lift...

October 2014 -- Rumors the Exit Letter Suspension will lift...

November 2014 -- Rumors the Exit Letter Suspension will lift...

December 2014 -- Let down. Again. Rumors leave us on an emotional roller coaster.

December 25, 2014 -- Another Christmas without our Sweet C.

January 2015 -- I begin emailing our agency for more answers about our case. We haven't heard much, and we've been in process almost 14 months. Meanwhile, DRC sits in crisis while we wonder if children are okay. (Also, without mentioning it on the blog, I find out I'm pregnant. Holy smokes.)

February 5, 2015 -- Finally, a weak pulse on our adoption case, the first we've felt since July 2014. Our agency has received more documents from our adoption case. Unfortunately, Brad's name was written wrong, so the paperwork will have to be redone. At this point, it seems more efficient to have his name legally changed than to wait on more paperwork from DRC, but that's not going to happen.

March 11, 2015 -- We receive our corrected Judgment of Adoption, listing our daughter's name with ours. FiNALLY. Judgment was dated October 29, 2014, way back when we thought NOTHING was happening.

March 18, 2015 -- We share the name we have chosen for our daughter: Clementine.

April 1, 2015 -- No joke, we received a lot of good news on this date. All of our adoption paperwork has been corrected and is in the process of being translated. Rumors about positive movement in DRC are abounding from nearly every corner of the world, Michele Bond made very positive strides in meetings with high-ranking leaders in her recent trip to DRC, and President Obama has finally brought up the situation with President Kabila (DRC). (More on all of this here.)

April 2 and 3, 2015 -- More amazing RUMORS out of DRC. Still rumors, but they come from people who know things and know people, as well as people in other countries. The Department of State even asks for information from DRC families who have completed adoptions (and that's us!), which we feel is a very solid sign something is happening.

April 2015 -- ((Not related to adoption, but we find out we are pregnant with a girl. Now we are waiting for TWO girls to join our family.))

May 2015 -- Rumors abound in DRC regarding the Exit Letter suspension. We keep WAITING for kids to finally be allowed to come home with their families. We found another error in paperwork, which means it will have to be corrected and translated AGAIN.

June 2015 -- Finally got word that all documents have been corrected and we are ready to request an appointment at the Embassy. (See this post for that excitement.) I applied for Brad's visa and got it two days later, then set myself to work getting all the other documents printed, labeled, organized, notarized, color-coded and ready to go with Brad to DRC. (For a general recap of June, go here.)

June 17, 2015 -- Brad went to DRC and filed our I-600 paperwork. It was a near-debacle because we didn't have original documents. (Read about that craziness here and here.) He also got to meet Clementine and spend three days with her!!!

(Apparently I got tired of writing "still waiting...")


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