Some of our friends know that we had a woman renting our house while we were away in America that had come here with her husband and daughter seeking to adopt 2 girls from Zambia. The Lewis family.
We met over email, they were looking to adopt and came across something from us and heard that we would be away in America for a few months. We began emailing about adoption and about renting our place. The laws in Zambia state that the child being adopted must be “fostered” for 3 months in Zambia before they can be adopted.
Everything seemed to fall into place and they were able to come a few days before we left Zambia. This worked out great because we were able to pick them from the airport show them around Lusaka, introduce them to our friends and take them to the social welfare office. We had gone to an orphanage as well just to see and later a friend Stephanie took them out to another orphanage where her daughter was from and they began to get information on two girls and started to get to know them.
The adoption process had changed some from when we adopted Grace.
For us, we met with social welfare and they had a list of kids in orphanages that were already “available”, - cleared for adoption. I had hoped this would be the case for our friends Jacky and Darren, but they no longer were doing that. Instead they had to work at getting the children “cleared” for adoption once they met them.
After 2 weeks in country Jacky’s husband had to leave to go back to work so she remained in a foreign land with her 2 year old daughter. They had at least met the girls they were planning to adopt by then and so began the process. Essentially Jacky was left here to navigate the adoption process with social welfare and a lawyer that they hired shortly after beginning the process.
Both the lawyer and the worker at social welfare were supposed to help “fight” for these kids. To fight for them to get them into a loving home.
Visits were made, papers filed, appointments made, some appointments kept, alot of appointments canceled, promises made, and promises not kept... and so began the waiting period and the tug of war for these kids.
The first girl after a month they were able to get the necessary papers to bring her “home” just in time for Christmas. (This is home to zambia home) The second girl they had hoped to adopt had challenges associated with her adoption they thought they were not going to be able to get her , then they were, so they brought her “home” end of Jan.
The lawyer had told Jacky and Darren that the 3 month “fostering” period can actually start from time of meeting and interacting with the kids so it would not have to be a literal 3 months in your home. I am not sure why he said this or how he thought he was going to get around it, but he did. This news encouraged them to go ahead and pursue the 2nd child because they could all be “in theory” or in his “opinion” adopted right after the 3 months of “meeting them” had occurred.
By the end of March the first child’s adoption was supposed to be complete. Sometime they found out that what the lawyer had said was indeed not true and they would have to remain in the country the whole 3 months from child number 2’s coming to live in the home. This was very hard news and an emotionally difficult time to contemplate being away even longer.
Many bumps and challenges along the road. Somewhere in the middle of their adoption process the social welfare began firing workers for participating in corruption in the office and adoption process. This added to the upheaval as now everyone was skittish and under suspect for their dealings in foreign adoptions especially.
Her husband was able to come for a week visit in February but besides that week she had been here on her own with her biological daughter for 8 months, when they had anticipated only 3-4 months.
Along the way more papers were found to be lacking in the files, police reports needed, some files the social worker lost, other papers having to be re-signed... and then the day after the the police report was granted someone came to the police claiming to be the mother of one of the girls. It was found untrue, but it all added to the drama and the “is this ever going to end” feeling.
When all the right papers were FINALLY filed about a month ago, they expected to go to court the very next day because that is what the lawyer had said would happen. But they soon found out that they now had to wait the 3 months from the date of adoption notification.
The adoption notification paper was not filed when it should have been filed. So they were required to then wait out the 3 months from THAT date. Because the lawyer and the social worker messed up on that document and they waited too long to file it, it was going to be another few weeks on the one girl just to get a court date and another 2 months on the second girl. (This would not included the extra few weeks to get immigration and passports, etc. )
I went with Jacky to appeal to one of the director’s at social welfare, a very kind woman who is a member at Katryn’s church. I had met her almost 2 years ago but remembered she was fairly high up in the department. Unfortunately she had been on leave for several months and was not able to be more helpful and involved in the process. She essentially said not much could be done, but she did call the social worker in and asked her to see about changing to a different magistrate to hear the case out. I don’t think the social worker ever came through on that.
My last thought was to take it to the supreme court justice that we know from our church and see if she could help. But, it was not to happen.
It was at this point that they decided it was time to go home. Jacky’s husband Darren, who had been talking her through the process from an ocean away and missing her all this time, said it was time.
Zambians will often tell you want they think you want to hear, rather than being upfront and honest about the situation. Both the lawyer and the social worker had many times of saying one thing and it never happened, or one more day, one more week, one last document... this had gone on for months, so that they no longer believed them or anything about the process.
It was so very sad. So this past week was Jacky’s last week with the girls. The girls that she has loved and cared for, for the last 7 months. The girls that have called her mommy, and had anticipated with hope of being brought into a “forever family”. She had to legally revoke the committal orders that had given her custody of the children and they were taken back into custody of social welfare. Friday she brought them back to the orphanage that they came from. And today she got on a plane with her biological daughter and left Zambia, headed back to her husband, her family and her home.
Please pray for all involved, but especially please pray for the two girls, that the Lord would still provide them with a family.
*I can in no way in one blog post describe or encompass all the facts, the situations, emotions, difficulties and challenges, of these past 8 months for my friend Jacky and her family. But I did want to give an update from what information I knew and the little involvement I have had with her and the adoption and the social welfare office, and ask others to pray.
For more information you can check out their blog. www.heartacrossthewater.blogspot.com