I know you all have been anxiously awaiting news about my meeting with the Embassy today. I am happy to report that our discussions were positive and the Consulate took several suggestions I made about making the process perhaps a little less stressful. She acknowledged the unfortunate families who have been caught in this new transition and express that she hoped not too many more families would be in this position.
One of the concerns shared was the increase in adoptions and why that was happening. My explanation was simply.........20 years ago before the war Liberia was a peaceful and relatively prosperous nation and with the African culture that supports extended families caring for each other, adoption was a rare occurrence. Then with the many years of war the nation was left with thousands of orphans. NGO's and Organization like our saw the need to respond.Now while the orphans may be for the most part semi orphaned or children with single mothers, the need for these children to find loving forever families is just as great. The war left poverty at such a all time high, that extended families in many cases are no longer able to care for the vulnerable children. I had the opportunity to share what Acres of Hope was all about and the many programs we have that are serving the children of Liberia. That we are committed to serving all the children of Liberia. In the big scene of things only a few will be lucky enough to find the loving arms of adoptive parents, but because of those few..........thousands of others will be served in Liberia. They were impressed with the humanitarian outreach Acres of Hope and that was a real plus. The Consulate was quite socked to see the 22 page album that we put together just showing our special needs miracles. She assured me she would consider the needs of some of the most fragile children and applauded Acres of Hope in meeting the needs of this special group of children.
After discussions of the latest venture my staff had to make driving 200 miles on terrible roads with life-threatening conditions, crossing bridges washed out by the rains and needing to be re-built, I informed the Consulate I would not ever put my staff in that position again and that her request certainly appeared as if she was trying to put blockades in the process. Again she assured me her intentions were not to stop adoptions. At that point I suggested we pre-approve the children for visa at the beginning of the adoption process at the time the parent signs the relinquishment. That way the investigation should not be so involved as the part of verifying the orphan status would already be complete. She agreed to this.
So what does this all mean?
There will be a new order to adoptions that would include a pre-approve of the orphan for adoption by the Embassy much like the I600A is for the adoptive parent.This should eliminate the fear that at the end something could go wrong.
Time wise.........well that is still yet to be known, but I truly believe that this will improve what has already been in place and probably cut the process down in the end.
We also discussed that it was necessary to allow processing to be 2days per week with Thursdays being the day to drop off papers and schedule appointment.The result will be much more order, still the same amount of time,but with some strict guidelines.
In conclusion, our new Consulate is very willing to work with us to improve the system. She encouraged me to meet with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to discuss all these issues and concerns I have in educating others in the country on adoption including NGO not in favor of adoption.
I gave her a stack of information on articles you all were so good to research and I know she will have lots of reading materials and hopefully learn alot.
All in all it was a positive and productive meeting and I went away with good feeling realizing that changes are always hard and take time to get use to, but in this case I am convinced it is for the better.
Too many agencies have done short cuts or been dishonest and this is what has caused the issues we are dealing with now.
Acres of Hope is committed to setting the standards for how adoptions should be and with all of your help I believe the Lord will bless our efforts.
Thanks you all for your many prayers and patience through this growing experience. I want all of you to know I personally along with our wonderful staff are here to do everything in our power to remain a voice for the children and support to you as adoptive families.
THREE CHEERS FOR YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*Note: I will give each of your children a big hug and kiss !
Blessings,Patty Anglin, Executive Director