In truth, I will have to admit that made this trip to get some answers. Did I get them? Yes. And no. God, of course, had much bigger plans for me than to simply answer my questions in simple fashion.
These things I now know:
• I know that the children are beautiful, God’s finest handiwork, and they have few advocates. Many of them have complex stories about their siblings, some of whom may be with them or may be in other places or even at home. Some of them, sadly, have no story at all. While we were blessed to have visited a “private” orphanage, run by the nuns, I now know that there are seven “public” run orphanages in San Salvador, and these have few resources and hundreds of children.
• I know that there are people, amazing people, who care about the children and who want to see them in families. These people have formed a foundation, and they are bringing important government officials together to converse about adoption and hopefully work together for the benefit of the children. These angels are bringing about things that have never happened before in El Salvador- including a forum on Adoption this summer where they hosted officials from Mexico to help share what they are doing with the Salvadoran government.
• I know that there are three separate government offices that deal with adoption in El Salvador: The Procuraduría (somewhat like an attorney general), OPA, and ISNA. ISNA is responsible for the children and the public orphanages- they, in theory, are responsible for getting children “paper ready” for adoption. Many, many, many children have no birth certificate or any documentation of identity, making them impossible to adopt. OPA is the office that processes and approves our dossiers. The Procurador is the one who reviews the cases and officially assigns the children to the approved families. One of the hurdles we face as adoptive families is that these three agencies all have to meet and/or work together for adoptions to happen, and that has been difficult.
• I know that God is HUGE. As you may have already heard of our trip, doors were opened for us in a way that we never could have imagined. Brian Luwis literally stood up in church on Sunday morning and asked for prayer that we would be able to meet with the Counsel General at the American Embassy… only to find out that he had just been appointed President of that congregation, and was, in fact, helping to lead worship that morning! And yes, he did make our Monday morning meeting- praise God!
There are many things I don’t know. I don’t know when the seeds that have been planted will come to fruition and we will be able to bring our children home. I don’t know how the elections next March will affect this process and our situation. I don’t know if there is hope that children might be able to be placed into families at younger ages.
I do know that I will be spending lots of time on my knees for this process, this country, and especially for these children. For our children. For His children.