GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #10

A good long read for when you have time! 🙂

In an attempt to answer the question “What happened in Africa?” I’d like to try to explain a few of the goings ons we experienced. I’m sure this will bring more questions but here’s the gist: Last year in Africa we started the adoption with a lawyer at the Court of Ouidah. It’s a big courthouse in a somewhat “major” city in central southern Benin. After several months of putting us off again and again, the judge ruled against our case. In prayer one day, our friend Pul Cherie got a revelation from the Lord to go to the court in Lokossa and try again. Lokossa is a smaller city close to Elisee’s mother’s village on the far west side of Benin (4 hours from Pul Cherie’s home and the orphanage). She drove out their several times a week and acted as our lawyer. She made excellent progress within the court towards our adoption. This led to us being summoned to the court to meet the judge and our last minute trip commenced!

Once in Africa, nothing was easy. Our meeting with the judge was more of an interrogation with no promises made of adoption and the judge seemed to remember quite a few papers necessary to progress that we would need to bring him. On top of that, it was the parliament’s election time and all judges (including ours) would be campaigning for the next few weeks before the actual election. “Come back in a few weeks” he said. Not an option! We want to fly home in a few weeks!

Next we knew the visa would be difficult. It is not possible for just anyone from Benin to leave the country and more specifically, from Elisee’s family’s village. Long ago in the “birthplace of Voodoo” (this very village near Lakossa) agreements were made with Satan himself to “protect” the people and keep them safe from the slave ships. Ever since the time of the slave trade this village and many others have been marking their children upon birth with the sign of the snake. Almost every single person we met in Benin had some variation of this sign which is three scars in a row that have been bled, filled with powdered snakes blood and healed to a scar over time. This sign proves a child’s inheritance of the snake’s protection. Elisee has this sign (faint and small yet still evident) on each cheek. He has been “given” the snakes protection which (obviously to a believer) is bondage. This spiritual battle was overarching every meeting and plan we had in Benin. We were fighting for every step forward.

Also, we found out an appointment is needed to be made for a US citizen to meet with the US Embassy. This we did not know since Pul Cherie had been several times for her visa and never had an appointment. So when we tried to set an appointment there was only ONE available during our three week stay and it was 5 days before we left. (Please consider the fact that 2 of the 5 days were a weekend and one was the 4th of July. NO TIME for adjusting paperwork if needed!?) Little did we know the Embassy was moving to a new building on the other side of town and was completely shutting down during the transition. SHUT DOWN. Great.

The second week we spent in Africa the amazing Pul Cherie traveled hither and yon collecting new copies of the paperwork we had already done (but the first judge had confiscated). She felt it best to go alone since most officials in Africa are eager to charge double or triple the price of anything if a “Yovo” or white man is present. She searched and dug and drove until she was worn out. She dragged along the mother and grandmother of Elisee for signatures and photos and help searching in their village archives. All the while she rose at 3 am to make pate’ with the older girls in the orphanage which could be sold in the market for enough money to buy the next days’ food for the children. At the end of the week, Elisee’s grandmother called and said she had some things that “might be helpful.” When Pul Cherie took the envelope of papers she discovered it held every single paper she had just spent a week and hundreds of dollars to gather. The grandmother knew all along.

The third week was the charm we had been waiting for! Finally our appointments with the Judge and the Embassy had arrived! We had spent a chunk of week 2 in prayer and felt fully confident that the Lord’s favor was upon us. We just knew that the downhill slide was about to turn into airplane ride home with our little man. We met with the judge Monday and had all the wonderful papers collected and copied. He in turn requested more information, more paperwork and remembered the need to send a social worker to Elisee’s mother’s village for interviews. This would take more than two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Our flight out is in 6 days. We paid the social worker triple the fee and he headed off to the village immediately- he actually left the building before us, PTL, he understood our urgency!- and left a handsome bribe for the judge. We left believing for a miracle.

Tuesday was our appointment with the Embassy. It was actually the first day the new building was open to “the public” (or those with precious appointment papers). We were literally kept outside the main doors until one minute past our appointment time and then entered into the chaos of the first day. This is where the nightmare began. Once we made it through the minor glitches of security and got our “misplaced” passports back we waited for a meeting which turned out to be a bank teller window with an audience of a whole room full of waiting appointment holders. We were informed that unless we had applied for adoption in the US before May 14, 2014 we did not stand a chance due to the incoming Hague Convention Act. This is NOT what their website had told us a year before, I might add. And it shouldn’t matter since the adoption in Benin was almost finalized, right? We wanted to speak directly with the consular. She was in a meeting, but we were more than willing to wait no matter how long it took. She did come forward at long last but informed us in no uncertain terms that she would NOT be offering our son a visa either today or any day and no, there was no other way to get our boy home. She did after some consideration offer us the opportunity to move to Benin and adopt him. “I know an American family who did that and loved living here so much, they’ve stayed and it’s been seven years.” How lovely for them.

So thanks to the lack of US paperwork (which, might I add, is simply not possible since we can find no agency or attorney in the US who works with Benin) and thanks to the adoption of the Hague Convention Act and thanks to US government and their inability to accept a bribe and look the other way (jk, we didn’t even try) we have no visa. There. The end. Or so it seems… Praying for some crazy miracles to align and bring to fruition this adoption story, because to quote my favorite book of all time:

“The God who created the universe did NOT create too many children in His image and not enough LOVE to go around…[And] He doesn’t ask me to take them all but to stop for just one.” -Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #8

2 days until we leave! And 4 days until we have our Elisee in our arms! It’s coming up so quickly and we are so grateful to be this close!! Please continue to pray over the kids we leave behind and the appointments we have in Benin to finalize all the paperwork.

Also, we did have to take out a small loan to cover the rest of the costs we have. Please help us spread the word and continue to pray for our finances to come in! We know God is going to finish what He started and it will be so good!

GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #7

Thank you everyone for joining us in prayer today! It is been a crazy day, but Elisee’s adoption has been approved! The judge said “YES!” The only hold up is a crazy situation where the judge will be leaving the district he is in and another judge will come. Apparently this means the current judge has to close all his cases before leaving -meaning us! He needs to officially hand us our adoption papers before June 22. (Our current fly out date) We did successfully switch our plane tickets (although not for free) and we are leaving a week earlier in order to get our papers from him. Praise God! Please continue to pray for us as this means we will be gone from our (US) kiddos for THREE weeks. Please also pray as we need to raise slightly more money to cover the change in tickets and the extended time in Benin. We have an extra week of food/lodging and taxis. I know God will finish what He started in us and in Benin. We have complete peace that this was God’s plan and redirection for our trip. He’s got big things coming and we’re willing to trust Him every step of the way. It’s going to get even more miraculous!!

GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #5

Please join us in prayer today! I just got the call that Pul Cherie, Elisee, his mom, grandmother and uncle are all going before the judge today to present the adoption. Today is the day the judge will decide. Elisee may officially be a Schuiteboer today!! I told the kids and we prayed together immediately. Then they went back to coloring as I kept praying. A few minutes later here comes Carter with this prayer coloring. I’m in tears at the purity of his plea!

“Dear God, please O please Help the juge to say yes. Amen”
GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #4

Hey everyone! We are getting so close to our goal!! Thank you for your support. The final money we are raising is for Elisee’s visa, taxis while traveling to and from our appointments with the Court in Lakossa and US Embassy in Contonou, food while we’re there and all the small expenses that add up in-country. Please also join us in PRAYER for the kiddos while we’re gone. They will be with my amazing brother, his lovely wife and their fabulous family- pray for them too!! Please pray for our communication as time draws nearer and communication is everything! And please pray for our dear Elisee as he says farewell to the only place and people he has ever known. He will be grieving for months to come no matter how much we love and cherish him. Thank you again so much for love and support!!!! And thanks God for your faithfulness and provision!!

GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #3

Oh my goodness! We have more than enough money for the airline tickets for the three of us to fly home!!! Thank you everyone! Praise God. We just put a deposit down for our lodging in Benin. Last time we stayed in a flat-style duplex with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. (Thank you, Jesus for running water and electricity!!) Praying for the same place this time. We will know soon. Also getting info about vaccines and such. Praise God, He already provided most of our malaria pills ($100 worth!) for FREE! Yay! And hoping mist of our vaccines last year are still active. We’ll keep you updated. Thanks again for your prayers and love!!!
GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #2

Hey, everyone!! We bought our tickets! We will be flying to Africa on Monday June 22, and Elisee will be landing in Michigan with us on July 6!! Praise God for His many blessings. We can’t believe how quickly you all have supported us! We clicked “go” on our tickets praying God would bring the money through and within 5 minutes got a message from another friend wanting to support us! The very next day we got more than $2000 donated!! What!? Thank you Jesus! we are so grateful to be held right in the palm of his hand. This is a crazy journey and we are glad to be on it.

GoFundMe Posts, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

GoFundMe Post #1