We All Could Use A Little Good News: Appointee To Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, Has A REAL Heart for Intercountry Adoption!

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After four long years, he’s home at last

By Lara Korte 

It was in spring 2012 when Jeffres and her then-fiance, Dave Kroffsik, began the process to adopt a child.

Jeffres specifically was interested in adopting from the Congo because she had followed the political unrest in the nation since the fall of President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997. The Congolese government allows couples to adopt only if they have been married for five years, so instead of waiting, the two decided Jeffres would file as a single parent.

A few months later, in October, she was matched with Changa Changa, then 2 1/2. The couple thought they would be bringing him home within a year. But because of political unrest in the Congo and delays from the U.S. State Department prompted by safety concerns, Changa was not released from the country until April 2016.

Changa’s first visa was issued on Sept. 24, 2013. The next day, the Democratic Republic of Congo placed a suspension on the exit permits minors need to leave the country.

After negotiation through the U.S. State Department, the Congolese government agreed to honor cases that had been completed before the Sept. 25 ban. Jeffres and Kroffsik, confident they would be “grandfathered” in, flew to the Congo in November 2013.

Upon arriving at the orphanage, Jeffres said, she was “inwardly serene” because the adoption seemed to be on track.

“I thought we’d have all the time in the world, a lifetime, to get to know Changa,” she said. “I wasn’t really in any big hurry.”

Exit permits suspended

However, not long after arriving in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital, Jeffres learned that the Congolese government did not intend to honor its agreement to let adopted children like Changa leave the country with their adoptive parents.

While Kroffsik returned to the United States to resume work after three weeks in the Congo, Jeffres stayed for four months, trying to take Changa home. In February 2014, she returned to Wichita, alone.

In June 2014, reassured she’d be able to take Changa home, Jeffres returned to the Congo. But she again found herself alone on a flight home.

Exit permits are still suspended, according to the U.S. State Department, which strongly recommends against initiating an adoption in the Congo at this time. The department says the average time it has taken to release adopted Congolese children to their families has been 30 months.

The State Department also has a travel warning for the Congo, advising U.S. citizens to avoid non-essential trips to the country where “instability and sporadic violence continues.”

“Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese armed forces, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and the new provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut Uele, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, and the eastern part of Maniema Province, are known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted,” the warning said.

Difficult and discouraging

Rather than become discouraged by red tape and roadblocks, Jeffres dived into them. She wrote letters, made phone calls and even organized a call-in day to the White House to implore President Obama to demand the release of the children to their adoptive parents.

In March 2015, the Congolese government created a special commission to review the pending adoption cases. But Jeffres said it became clear after a few months that the commission was not doing “any meaningful activity.”

Next, she traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for the adopted children.

“I went to Washington four times to personally lobby my and other elected members of government,” she said.

Jeffres called her experiences in D.C. extremely difficult and discouraging at times.

But her actions were not entirely fruitless. In particular, she said, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo and Sen. Pat Roberts helped secure the release of Changa.

“Thalia Jeffres and her family have shown incredible love and resolve during this entire process and I congratulate them on bringing their beloved Changa Changa home to Kansas,” Pompeo said in an e-mail. “It was immensely frustrating to all those involved to see a brutal dictator trying to use children as political pawns, but I’m so pleased to see this young child finally home with his family.”

‘I got my whole life back’

On April 27, through e-mails and phone calls, Jeffres learned Changa had been cleared to leave the Congo.

And on May 1, almost four years after they were matched, Jeffres picked up her son from Denver International Airport.

“I felt restored once I knew that he had cleared Congolese airspace,” Jeffres said. “I kind of felt restored to normal. I got my whole life back, not just my child.”

Jeffres and Kroffsik are no longer together. Jeffres said her ex-fiance knows Changa is home.

Ten days after arriving in the U.S., Changa was hospitalized with malaria he had contracted while in the Congo. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, UNICEF estimated in 2012. For Jeffres, who had watched other Congolese children die while waiting for their exit permits, it was a reminder of just how close she had come to losing her son.

Changa’s passport now contains seven visas, six of which expired while he was waiting to be released from the Congo. Jeffres said when it came down to it, she was not willing to give up.

“The knowledge that Changa was alone in the world and that I was the only person on earth that was legally responsible for him had a very powerful effect on me,” Jeffres said.

# MikePompeo #SaveAdoption #HelpUsAdopt #MakeAdoptionGreatAgain

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Adoption: No More Waiting Children?

What if RainbowKids could no longer show you the faces of children who are waiting for families?

What if one person, with all the power, believed that families interested in adopting should not be allowed to view children who are legally available for adoption?

Couched in legalese,with the invention of a new term called "soft referrals", that is exactly what is being proposed by the person heading the Office of Children’s Issues at the US Dept of State.  The idea is that no family without a homestudy should be allowed to receive information on a legally waiting child.  This is completely contrary to how US Foster Adoption works for waiting children.  Children waiting for adoption in the USA may be viewed by anyone visiting the national database at AdoptUsKids.org, or any of the state websites featuring waiting children in fostercare.

Under new leadership, the Office of Children’s Issues has taken radical steps to impose new fees on families wishing to adopt, crushing oversight requirements on adoption service providers, and now a vague instruction to agencies that repercussions may be implemented (retroactively!) should they fail to comply with instructions about sharing information on specific children with interested families.

How many families would adopt a child with Cerebral Palsy, had they not have first seen his or her photo?  There are over FIVE HUNDRED children with CP waiting on RainbowKids.  What chance do these children have of finding families if this new leadership at DOS has their way? ZERO! 

Bulgarian Organizations Submit Letter to US Departement of State on Behalf of Special Needs Children:

The situation at the Office of Children’s Issues has become so dire, that 15 Bulgarian Organizations have written a letter outlining how shutting down advocacy for children with medical special needs goes against the Hague Covention.  This letter was submitted this week and may be read here.

What can you do?? Read this about rising fees in adoption, and know that shutting down waiting child advocacy is part of it. This is happening. Don’t let it!

SAVE ADOPTION

Special Needs Spotlight: Heart Defects

How many children with a heart defect are waiting for a family on RainbowKids?

ONE THOUSAND-FIVE-HUNDRED AND FIFTY FOUR

ALL of those children will not be able to receive advocacy, including being featured here and on RainbowKids.com, if child-advocacy for international children is shut down. Including these twins at right.

No homes for waiting children.  No International adoption.

One THOUSAND.  Five Hundred.  Fifty Four….that is how many with just this single special need are waiting for a family.  Adoption needs RainbowKids. These children need families.  ONE PERSON at the Department of State Children’s Issues should not be the reason these kids fail to be raised in a loving family.

View Waiting Children

Featured Country:  Burkina Faso

There are many children waiting in Burkina Faso

Married couples between the ages of 30-50 may adopt a child or sibling group from the West African country of Burkina Faso.  Children range in age from infants to teens. Travel consists of 15 days in country. 

Office of Children’s Issues To Ban Waiting Child Programs!

Read This Letter from Save Adoptions to Carl Risch, Asst. Secretary of State Consular Affairs, Regarding Ban on “Soft Referrals”

Call Your Congress Member Now and Tell Them Children Will Die If Waiting Child Programs Are Banned.

Who Are The Children Hopscotch Adoptions Serve?

While Father Christmas visited all the children of the world, these children may be some of the most beautiful and hope-filled children he visited. We happen to think so. Only, he could not yet bring the gift most wanted by all children… a forever family of their very own.
While many are touched by adoption, it is often forgotten that adopting a child is but only one way to help an orphaned child.

Of equal importance is your willingness to advocate for them by sharing positive adoption information, financially supporting others that are called and prepared to parent a child through adoption or simply   by being the friend, neighbor or family member that cheers an adoptive family on in their journey.

Make no mistake about this journey. The journey is difficult and long. The child waiting at the end of the family’s journey is worth every sacrifice necessary to bring them home.
Some of the faces in this video are home already, or soon to be, but most are still waiting.

Thanks for taking a moment to watch this video and share in their joy. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers that they too find their forever families.

father-christmas

Click here to see video.

Somewhere a Child is Waiting for You…

FB Waiting Child girl on swing happy child face summer 2016

Somewhere A Child is Waiting for You!

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Watch Me Now: Girl Receives Doll with Matching Prosthetic!

Source: foxnews.com

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The gift of a new toy is met with enthusiasm by most children, but for one Texas girl, a doll that looks just like her triggered tears of joy.

Courtney Fletcher Bennett gave her daughter Emma a new American Girl doll that was custom fitted with a prosthetic right leg, just like hers.

Read more.

News from Bulgaria: BOOM!!! Another Boy Finds His Family

BOOM!!! Another Boy Finds His Forever Family.  Welcoming home our Hopscotch family and one very handsome young man from Bulgaria!

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News From Armenia: Happy Forever After Day to This Hopscotch Family!

Keep%20Family%20Portrait%20Welcome%20RV%2003-04-2016

News From Armenia: TWO Families Registered With Their Beautiful Children Today!

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