This has been a roller coaster of a month. First, we thought we'd travel in September. When we found out that wasn't the case, it took WEEKS to find out where we really were in the process. And even then, there were conflicting reports of what's actually completed. Let me tell ya, it hasn't been confidence inspiring.
In the midst of this, our agency sent out a form called the Travel Agreement, which contained very logical, ass-covering verbage that basically asked us to wait to travel until our agency approved travel, ensuring that paperwork is completed, so we don't arrive in the Congo, missing paperwork. Pretty simple stuff. Unfortunately, at the end of this "agreement," which was really an addendum to our contract, they stated that "Children of All Nations reserves the right to discontinue processing paperwork with families who refuse to sign the Travel Agreement or choose not to follow these guidelines." See the problem in that?
There is nowhere in any of our contracts or addendums that gives CAN (Children of All Nations) the right to cancel our adoption, and frankly, I CANNOT sign something that does. So... I fought back. I emailed our agency back and forth, repeatedly, while they highlighted phrases from our contract that had nothing to do with the issue, at all. I talked with my fellow CAN families about the problem. And then I decided to seek legal counsel. And the lawyer confirmed what I suspected. CAN would be in breach of contract if they stopped our adoption because we refused to amend the contract, without both parties agreeing to the change.
And, God be praised, it worked!! I informed CAN what the lawyer had said, and when I finally talked with them on Friday, they informed me that families had been calling IRATE and in tears all week long. Please believe me when I say that I never want to upset another adoptive family. Adoption is a very emotional process, and I don't want to make it any harder than it has to be. That said, I believe in the power of the masses. And what CAN was asking was unethical and possibly illegal. My agency travel rep told me that she'd been going to bat for me all week, and that my emails pointing out the problems were all it took to change the minds of CAN staff. And I want to believe in that, in the honesty and trustworthiness of my agency staff. What I do know is that things changed when people stood up and said this is wrong. And I'm sure threatening legal action helped as well.
I counted that as an amazing victory! On top of that delightful news, we're told that we're now in our thirty day wait period!!! I'm very, very cautious in my optimism, at this point, which is why this news is at the bottom of this post, rather than the top. I'm trying not to attach too much significance to this news until I actually see the paperwork. Call me doubting Thomas, if you will. IF we actually are in our thirty day period, then on October 13, 2012, Mbo will legally and officially be ours per Congo law!!! Unfortunately, this doesn't actually mean that we can go get her then, as there are documents, such as the passport, that has to be arranged and that takes time. So, please God, please please God!, we'll go meet our daughter in November! At this point, I don't know which side of November it will be. I'm mostly just praying that we'll all be home by Christmas (Actually, that's a lie. I want to be home by December 1st!)
In other fantastic news, Mbo has a tutor coming to her orphanage several days a week to help her learn English! It's a brand new program, specifically for families adopting from this orphanage through our agency. I can't even tell you how great I think this idea is! Mbo will be learning simple basic English phrases, such as "I'm hungry" or "I need to go to the bathroom." On top of which, the teacher will be talking with the kids about their new families, really basic stuff about adoption. We get to send pictures of our house, our family, and Mbo and Ella's room, along with basic descriptions, so she'll have an idea of where she's going when she leaves the DRC. I think it's fantastic. I'm all in favor of as much preparation as possible for adopted kids, anything to lessen the trauma and culture shock of leaving everything familiar.
We're not hoping for much, however. We're not expecting her to be fluent by any means or to seamlessly merge into our family, but we think the exposure is great. Exposure to the English language, her new family, her new home... Overall, I had an amazing Friday.
I'll gladly keep you all updated as we get more news, but really, God is working in our adoption and in the lives of our merging family. It feels so very good to have things finally be falling into place.
God is good!