Moise's Adoption Story
Do you ever see a certain person over and over again in your daily life? At the grocery store, at the cleaners, church, the park, driving to work? And you take notice because maybe there was one time you had a small encounter with them - a pleasant exchange over the deli counter or watching the kids swing at the park. But you didn't get each others names or numbers because odds are you wouldn't see them again. And yet, you do. Again and again.
Today's adoption story comes from a mom kinda like that in my life. Alexis and I met for the first time at the park in my old neighborhood. We have girls in the same grade and two boys around the same age as well. They all played together and we talked for around 20-30 minutes. We exchanged names and a few stories, bonded over my recent Oklahoma move (her roots) as the kids ran around us. And then, meltdowns starting happening so alas it was time to go. We parted ways hoping to see each other at the park again. Spoiler alert: We didn't.
But I did see her again at swim team during the summer wondering if that was really her and did she remember me? I mean, we only met once. If you've ever had a kid in swim team you know how crazy it can be, especially when you bring along their not-so-willing siblings, so before I knew it summer was over and my boys were starting at their new school. A couple of weeks in and who do I see? Alexis. This time I knew it was her because I saw her with Moise. Not only does he have a beautiful and unique name, but because I knew Moise was adopted. And today, Alexis is going to share their story with us.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
My husband, Seth, and I have been married almost 15 years. He is originally from Colorado and I am from Oklahoma. We met while becoming active in a Christian ministry at the University of Oklahoma when he was a first year graduate student and I was a junior, but it was my first year at OU. We married two years later and were married for over 6 years before we started having kids. During that time, I worked and completed a Masters degree. He worked during the first few years of our marriage (we were trying to find our path as a young couple) and then went back to graduate school and earned his PhD. Literally, the day he turned his dissertation into the library, I went into the hospital to give birth to our twins, Elizabeth and Miriam. Then, 3 weeks after they were born (8 years ago next month) we moved to Houston so my husband could start his new job after graduation with a large oil and gas company here in town. We decided I would stay home with the babies when they were born. 26 months after we had the girls, we had our first son, Boaz, a leap year baby! The month Boaz turned 2 we received the referral for Moise through our adoption agency and he joined us at home a little over 2 years after that.
Tell us about Moise’s adoption story and how he came to be a part of your family.
Moise (he came home calling himself (say Moyz-ee) is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We worked with an international adoption agency out of Ohio. One of the reasons we chose DRC was because, at the time, the total timeframe was predicted to be short and it was a “one-trip” country. Meaning, the adoptive family didn’t have to travel to the child’s country of origin multiple times, for court dates, etc. to complete the adoption. We had read and seen horror stories of children being stuck in international adoption limbo and if we knew one thing about our process, it was that we did not want to put ourselves and our family through that kind of drama. Then, as these things are often unpredictable, the drama began.
Before we even received our referral (and turns out, before Moise was actually even born) the officials in DRC issued a moratorium on adopted children leaving the country. Our agency assured us that it would be short-lived. They had seen this before from DRC and it had been politically motivated and lasted only a few months. So, we continued in our process and received our referral (where the adoption agency matches a child with a potential family) for Moise in February 2014 when he was several weeks old. He was legally adopted by us in DRC through our attorney in June 2014 and we had him moved out of the state-run orphanage to a house our agency ran in October of that year, which was the soonest they allowed it to be done.
It would be a year and a half after that move before we were able to bring him home to Texas. The officials in DRC upheld their moratorium for over 2 years. It was heartbreaking. This ban affected over 1,400 children with adoptive families from multiple countries in Western Europe and North America. I can’t tell you about the tears, the Skype calls, the conference calls with the US State Department (approximately 420 of those children being kept in country were adopted to American families), all seeming to lead to nowhere. No progress. Then, DRC announced they were going to start issuing Exit Letters (a document created and produced by DRC) and releasing children. We were thrilled, but at the same time cautious in our optimism.
Seth and I had our visas and were prepared to travel to DRC when they announced that they would allow for escorts to bring the children to their new countries. We made the difficult decision to let our attorney escort Moise home, IF and when he received and Exit Letter. The officials in DRC communicated they were reviewing ALL adoption files again and that all final decisions on Exit Letters would be made by the end of March 2016. We received our email confirming Moise’s letter on March 31st. After one failed attempt to get him home, we were able to pick him up in Atlanta on April 13th.
Have you always known you would adopt?
We really always have. You know those conversations you have with your husband when you’re dating about what your life will look like? How many kids, where you’ll live, what kind of house, all that jazz? We have always talked about adoption in those conversations. We always said we wanted two biological kids and two adopted kids. And we had some trouble conceiving before the twins, so after they were born, I thought maybe I wanted to be pregnant again (we didn’t expect to get two at one time). Miraculously, we actually conceived the second time with our son with no problems at all. When he was about a year old, we decided to start the process to adopt. It was the type of adoption that we contemplated for a while. International adoption had always been on our hearts and since I had worked in child protective services as a social worker in Oklahoma, I honestly wasn’t emotionally ready to pursue adoption through foster care or even private domestic adoption at that time.
What victories and challenges do you face?
How much time do you have? The victories are great and so are the challenges. But, such is parenting in general, right? Really, on a deep, personal level this describes my journey: I had a friend who used to say, “There’s one kid that breaks you!” I had no idea what she meant by that. If I’m being honest, I still don’t fully understand what she means, but I understand the feeling more than I used to. When Moise came home, things did not go like I thought they would. It’s like, how when you bring home your first newborn you realize all those books were jokes and you just want sleep. Okay, maybe that was just us…But I KNEW I was prepared for this adoption. I had been in social work. I read every book I could get my hands on. I went to an adoptive moms support group. I just knew it was going to be awesome, hard sometimes sure, but in general awesome. Not so. When he came home, I didn’t feel connected with him like I envisioned. I felt distant and afraid. I felt tired and weak and ignorant. It was so hard and it is taking time for it to get better and easier. Through this process I realized, Moise didn’t break me at all. It felt like it at times, but that was NOT what had happened. God used him to show me where I was already broken. And, God is healing me through this process.
What is the most surprising thing about adoption?
Great question. I think what strikes me is just how everyday life it is. Especially when the honeymoon period is over. It’s playdates, preschool, homework for siblings, naps, dinners, swingsets, it’s life with kids. Even though it is an extraordinary miracle that someone became a part of our family in this way; it’s ordinary at the same time because it’s still our family. Does that make sense at all?
What is the community of adoptive moms/parents like?
Adoptive parents are amazing! In my opinion, adoptive moms are among the most grace-filled people anyone will ever interact with. They KNOW it is not all Pinterest and cookie-cutters. They KNOW this parenting thing is hard. They KNOW competition among moms is stupid and worthless. They KNOW we are all in this thing together and that it is tough, but we can be tougher. They are tender, compassionate, caring, and understanding. They know because they have a child in their life because of loss, that life does not always work out the way we think it will or want it to. I would be weeping in a corner somewhere (way more than I do now) if it were not for adoptive moms who have supported me and loved me and my family throughout this process.
It was so awesome to hear from Alexis and learn more about her family and Moise. I'm so glad that I kept running into her all around town so that all of you could know them too!