2013 has been the best and worst year I think Justin and I have faced since we've been married. We thought everything was coming to completion…little did we know it would happen at the same time.
I haven't updated our blog in a while so I will catch everyone up to date in case you have just come across our page. Justin and I had tried to get pregnant for over 2 years. We always knew we wanted to adopt so in September (2012) we went ahead and started the adoption process and decided we would focus on a biological child later. I stopped taking fertility meds and we began filling out adoption paperwork. In November of last year (2012) we finally got our home study completed and signed the contract with our agency to adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa. At that time we also decided to go ahead and adopt two children instead of one. Sunday, January 6th, 2013 was a day that I will never forget. Anyone in the adoption world knows you become obsessive about checking email. That morning I woke up and the first thing I did was check my email. In my inbox was a beautiful picture of a one year old boy sitting on the ground in a dirty white onesie that hung off of his small frame. We of course said "yes" to that little boy who is our son, Neema. We went to church and tried to contain the excitement. After we came home from church there was another email with our oldest son's photo. I immediately fell in love with the sad, 2 year old boy in the photo. His eyes were downcast and he seemed unsure. I knew Canaan was meant to be our son. Fast forward to March. We were in the midst of fundraisers and piles of adoption paperwork. One morning before work I randomly took a pregnancy test and for the first time in my life it read positive. An ultrasound later confirmed we were having a little girl who would be due in November. We were ecstatic and terrified to say the least.
So, as we journeyed through pregnancy and adoption God has stretched us and taught us more than we thought possible. He has miraculously provided large amounts of money right when they were due for adoption. He has been our stronghold as our adoption process has faced uncertain roads. We anticipated getting the boys this past summer and the investigation process changed and pushed back our adoption again. Disheartened, we trusted that all of this was in God's plan. Frustration after frustration has occurred, all of it out of our hands. Finally, in November, it was time to travel. I was due November 16th and Justin and his father had plane tickets booked for November 19th. Justin and I both wanted a natural pregnancy and did not want to be induced. November 16th came and went. So did the 17th, 18th, 19th… Justin and his dad, Tim, boarded the plane on November 19th which was the saddest and happiest day of my life. Knowing my husband would miss his daughter's birth and I would have to go through natural labor without him filled my emotions to the brim, but we still rejoiced knowing that our sons were finally coming home. I ended up having to be induced and Carson Diane Carroll was born on November 25th. Come to find out, I probably would have never went into labor on my own due to the excessive amount of amniotic fluid I had (it kept the contractions from dilating my cervix). Thankfully, Justin was able to watch the birth via FaceTime on our phones.
We anticipated that he would be there a week and a half, maybe 2 weeks. Things were moving smoothly in Africa at the time, which rarely happens. As soon as Justin arrived in DRC he was able to be united with our sons. I was able to FaceTime the first time he met our youngest son, Neema. He looked unsure of what was happening but he didn't cry. He went right into Justin's arms. The boys adjusted quickly to Justin and their papaw. Neema's outgoing personality was quickly evident as he ran around the room squealing and calling out for his papa. Canaan took more time. He has been in an orphanage his entire life whereas Neema was in foster care. It was apparent they had received very different care. Canaan was quiet and reserved. He slowly came around later in the week and now he is like a completely different child. The pictures of the little boy without a smile now smiles from ear to ear and laughs all day long. Who knew this little guy had the cutest dimples! Evidence of what love and family can do for a child.
When Justin arrived in Africa the DGM (African Immigrations) refused to take our paperwork. The boys can not leave the country without an exit letter and the DGM processes that piece of paper. This came as a surprise because the DGM told us (indirectly) that they would let adoptive children out of the country who had a certain document by September 25th. Well, we had that document and we were on the DGM's list to get out of the country. Finally, the Wednesday after Carson's delivery the African government accepted our paperwork! An answered prayer that we had been waiting 2 weeks for. After that we waited for a particular man to sign the paper and Justin could leave with the boys. Later that same week Justin informed me that the man who signs the paper would be out of the office for at least 9 days. Heartbreaking to say the least. I was pretty weepy for the following days.
So here we are at 6 weeks. 6 weeks and the man is still refusing to sign our papers and many other families' papers. Our daughter's birth has came and gone, so have the first 5 weeks of her life. Thanksgiving and Christmas have came and gone too and my husband still sits in Africa with our sons with no hope of getting them out. The DGM has basically said they refuse to issue exit letters to adoptive families. The United States Embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been little to no help to my husband. There was an alternative plan to get our sons home but that has failed too. Our agency has basically told us to exhaust any other ideas that we have to try to get our sons home (ethically and legally of course). The longer Justin stays, the more expensive it becomes and of course neither one of us are working at the moment. We know all of this is a part of God's plan and we are clinging to the fact that He is sovereign, but it is hard. It is hard being without my husband. It's hard for him to miss my daughter's birth and first month and a half of life. He longs to hold her and watch her grow. It's hard for me to look into my sons' bedroom and know they aren't there.
I'm not sure how things are going to play out but we are taking matters into our own hands. We are attempting to make our story known. We have sent letters to our senators, state representatives, and congressmen. We need the United States to push the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa (DRC) to pressure the DGM and fight for us. The U.S. Embassy has pretty much done nothing and we need them to take a stand for us and the other families who are stuck in the country with my husband. If you want to help please write, call, or email anyone you know who can help us. Send it to your state representative, the governor, the newspaper, news stations, radio stations, or anyone else you know that might could help. If you have any questions or you want a copy of the letter that I have sent to them please contact me. This is our last chance to get my husband and my sons out of the country. All of our paperwork and fees have been paid. These boys have legally been our sons since March and we can't get them home without the exit letter signed.
We will NOT leave our sons as orphans