Monday, August 2, 2010


Now that we’re home, I feel the need to fill in some gaps of the story of our adoption journey. So much has happened in such a short time frame, that I fear I will forget the earth-shaking miracles we witnessed if I don’t write them out.

The process of getting our son home from South Africa was not an easy one. We were the first American family to obtain approval to brave the adoption process in South Africa in nearly 8 years. After leading a few church mission trips to the country, and seeing the incredible need for adoptive parents, we felt called to adopt from SA. Note that when we received permission in November, we merely received permission to try. There were no guarantees. There are lots of reasons Americans weren’t allowed to adopt from South Africa, and lots of reasons we decided to try anyway…. e-mail if you want details about adopting from South Africa. It’s a long, complicated story, and I’m still not entirely certain that we succeeded in ironing out the numerous kinks in the process for other American couples to easily adopt from South Africa. But, we tried. And, I hope our case will be catalytic in helping South Africa and the US forge a working adoption agreement. I’m seriously crossing my fingers on this one.

Since November, when we heard that the South African government would consider an American adoption, we’ve known that the process would be difficult. We understood that we’d be charting an unknown course, blazing a trail, if you will. And, our assumptions have been proven true. We had the guidelines of the Hague Convention on International Adoption to work with but, the US and South Africa did not and do not have a working adoption agreement. We’ve had to wrestle with government entities, fight hard against the negative stereotypes that precede Americans in the international community, and research our butts off.

We spent a lot of time praying and crying, filling out paperwork, and praying and crying again.

At every stage of this process, we have literally witnessed miracles. Miracles. I do not use the word “miracle” lightly. Sometimes when people use the word, they actually mean “coincidence” or “luck” – as in “It was such a miracle that I got the parking space in front of the mall” or “I got out of a speeding ticket, I’m so lucky.” These phrases are uttered flippantly and are not miracles.

The fact that I tucked my newly adopted son into his own bed tonight is a FREAKING MIRACLE, people.

Here’s one story to prove it.

Toward the end of our month long stay in South Africa, we were feeling desperate. There’s nothing quite like waiting aimlessly with three anxious children on documents in a foreign county with poor government infrastructure, that you need in order to go home. After repeated promises from our South African social worker that good news was on the horizon, we continued to hear nothing about the progress of our paperwork (new birth certificate and passport needed for US immigration), even though South African courts had already granted the adoption, for 24 long days. On Day 20, we decided to go to the US Consulate for emergency counsel. We knew that the Consulate had no control over the South African government’s policies and processes but, we didn’t know what else to do. I mean, when you’re an American citizen and you’re in trouble, you go the US Embassy, right?

We arrived at the US Consulate in Johannesburg on a Friday afternoon, all three kids in tow, looking wretched, and were able to speak with Someone In Charge. She was very sympathetic, took a surprising interest in our case and offered to “make a few phone calls.” She was clear that she couldn’t promise anything, that there wasn’t any official channel through which she could help us obtain the necessary documents. But, she said she would review our file and see if there was anything she could do.

We left feeling encouraged, if only for the fact that someone in government was nice to us. I will never know what phone calls were made, or how this supervisor helped us behind the scenes. But, by Monday afternoon, we received word that all the documents we needed would be ready within a few days.

I have never felt so patriotic.

We wept with joy and relief and incredible gratitude and made our appointment for the final Visa interview. On the date, after 3 hours at the US Consulate, when all the documents had finally been turned in, the same Awesome Woman called our name and Mike and I approached the window.

She told us that Duzi’s Visa had been officially approved, with a smile. We thanked her profusely, did a family celebration dance, and then Mike took the kids outside to play while I waited for the printed documents.

She called my name again and handed me the official sealed envelopes we needed to bring our son home to the United States and said something like, “Congratulations. I’m very happy for your family. I must say, I took a special interest in your case because well, I’m adopted.”

We talked for a while longer (I was trying very hard to repress my sobby, hicuppy, ugly-cry voice) and, if there hadn’t been a panel of bullet-proof glass separating us, I would have hugged her for a very long time. It probably would have been one of those long, socially awkward hugs.

This is just one tiny little piece of the story of the giant miracle we’ve witnessed......


  1. I love reading about how God is working in your life and the life of your family...... your right the word miracle is used so lightly these days.... but YOU know Gods miracle and you have seen them.... that sure is something to jump and shout about

  2. So awesome. Love it. Thanking God for delivering your son.

  3. That's exciting! Praise God for His faithfulness and being an advocate for your son.


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