The Next Chapter in Eve's story... (A letter from board member Julie Bajema)
Dear donors, supporters, and friends,
It has been a couple of weeks now since our meeting at the US Embassy in Liberia when Eve’s Medical Visa was denied. We have been quite vague about our options from there. Please know that this was not intended to offend anyone or to hide anything. It was a matter that needed to be bathed in prayer, more information gathered, and discussed by the entire Board prior to going public. So here is the whole story…
When the medical needs of Eve became evident, we discovered we had 3 options for Eve: 1.) medical refugee status (which we found out she would not qualify for); 2.) medical adoption (which we were told that her grandmother, legal guardian yet at that time, would not approve of); and 3.) medical visa (which we knew was a long shot). Since Eve has always lived at the orphanage and Emmanuel understood her medical condition and means for treatment, her grandmother had relinquished guardianship verbally to Emmanuel prior to our arrival in Liberia. We helped them get this handed over legally in the court system in preparation for leaving on the medical visa. During this time I was able to have several candid and honest conversations with Emmanuel and Eve’s grandmother about what her course of treatment would look like if she would return temporarily with us to the States and the fact that as she grew, she will more than likely need more procedures than just this one. They did both tell me, prior to the Embassy appointment, that it would please them if Eve would be placed in the US permanently. This was discussed with Nicole and we decided that we would continue with the medical visa as it seemed that is where God was pointing us and that Emmanuel would prefer that if possible.
When I walked out of the Embassy appointment with Eve and was telling everyone else that the non-immigrant visa was denied, right there on the bench overhearing our conversation was a Liberian adoption social worker who was at the Embassy with an adopting family and a little Liberian girl with medical needs. They were working on the immigrant visa so this girl would be able to be adopted to a family in the US and receive the medical care she needed! He seemed to be planted there by God for an obvious reason. Although we were disappointed with the denial, we were so happy that this option was waiting so quickly for us. It is so evident that God has Eve in his hands!
While we were in country, Nicole and I (as the only Board members present), as well as Emmanuel, the social worker, and his supervisor met to discuss the process and how it would all work. We were told that the Ministry of Health and Social Services would need to approve Eve for a medical-needs adoption. We were also told that if we had a picture of one of the adopting family members with this little girl, the process would be expedited since we were proving that the family is invested in Eve and her medical situation, and Liberia in general. Nicole and I both took a picture with Eve just in case it was needed. Emmanuel also told us that it would be his, Fatu’s and Eve’s grandmother’s request that Eve be placed in a Christian family, first and foremost, and that it be a family that he knows.
Since coming home, a lot of research and prayer has gone into the thought of adopting Eve. What would be the best for Eve as there does not seem to be any other options for her care? What would that look like for the rest of the kids at the orphanage? How can we help to expedite the process for Eve’s sake and abide by Emmanuel’s requests when One Body One Hope is not an adoption agency? How would this affect Eve’s sponsor family and the rest of our supporters? How would this affect the families that applied to be potential host families for Eve? What would this mean down the road if this would happen again or if adoption would open to all the orphans in Liberia?
As we knew we needed professional direction, we have been working with Acres of Hope/Angel’s Haven adoption agencies who we met in Liberia. We have found out the following: Liberian medical adoption usually takes 4-6 months on the Liberian side of things, plus a home study, dossier, and USCIS approval on the US side of things. In total, the process is between 6-8 months and requires a 2-3 week stay in-county. If this family would be the Bajemas or the Baarts with ties to Liberia, and specifically, to Eve, the 4-6 month wait time in Liberia can be shortened to as little as 30 days. Either one of these families would have to prepare a home study, dossier, and wait for USCIS approval (most likely a 2 1/2 month process), but because of the situation we can also request that everything be expedited. If approved, the US side of things could also take as little as 30 days. So for the Bajemas or the Baarts to adopt Eve, it would likely be a 2-4 month process with a 1 week stay in-country. For anyone else, it would take 4-8 months or longer, depending on where they are at in the process. Considering Eve's medical needs, this timeframe and the belief of the Board, the adoption agency and Emmanuel that it really would be best for Eve and everyone involved if she was placed in a family that has close ties with Emmanuel and Liberia in general.
With the recommendations from the adoption agency that it be one of the families that was in Liberia, the Board decided to give the Tim and I the time to pray about Eve being in our family as I have done so much leg work and understand Eve’s medical needs very well. Although we do hope to adopt in the future, we do not feel like we would be able to give Eve the attention that she would need as our daughters are young and Eve would fall right in the middle of our two oldest children. Even though Eve is not coming to our family, I promised to give which ever family brings Eve into their home all of the stories of Eve’s Grandmother, her family and the picture of Eve’s Mom that I received in Liberia.
So from there the Board decided to ask the Baarts to bathe the situation in prayer to see if they felt Eve would fit into their family. They, too, have been praying for God to make clear when adoption would be right for their family again. They have felt that their family needed another child from Africa, and did long for a girl. Aaron and Nicole have asked for God’s guidance and talked extensively with Emmanuel and the adoption agency. They do feel called to pursue adopting Eve and making her part of their forever family!
I am so happy to be able to be the one to give that announcement! It does seem to be laid out as not only a great family fit for Eve, but also the fastest way to get Eve the medical care that she needs. Eve has such a great connection with a young boy at the orphanage and will be blessed to have brothers to watch out for her!
This is new territory for One Body One Hope and the children at Christ Our Hope Orphanage. This is not something that has been taken lightly or postured for a certain outcome. Thank you for your support in this. It has been a long, emotional process for everyone involved. We know that so many have offered their support in so many ways. We are so blessed to be part of a ministry that has supporters that love these children, the people who care for them in Liberia and who trust those of us who are on the Board seeking God’s guidance as we need to make some difficult decisions.
Thank you so much for your support!!!
On behalf of the Board of One Body One Hope