When I was completing my undergraduate degree I had a social work professor who would frequently say that every social problem “had a name, a face and a soul.” Although I have been passionate about the world’s orphan crisis for years, this weekend I was able to attach names, faces and souls of children in El Salvador to this larger social crisis. They were beautiful, friendly children who were just as curious and excited to see us as we were them. They greeted us with hugs and smiles while trying to learn our names and ages. Spending an hour or so with them rekindled my passion and commitment for this process that we are all in. I will never forget the image of the children putting their hands and faces through the bars that locked them in the courtyard while we were leaving.
I was so thankful for the opportunity that was offered to us to be able to go first hand and see these children. As we all know, waiting is one of the more difficult things in this adoption process. This weekend I was not waiting; I was participating in the process. During our trip we were able to meet with several individuals who had domestically adopted from El Salvador and are passionate about changing legislation within their country to shorten the amount of time it takes to identify and process the children at the protection centers to make them available to adopt. They are not only trying to influence government but also to change their culture to be more accepting of adoption. One particular person, Carmen, hosted us in her home and shared with us her passion to get all the children into families, either biological, domestic foster care or an adoptive home. She begged us not to give up as she will not give up advocating for these children. The experience I had in meeting Carmen and her husband; Marisa, the executive director of their agency; Alexis, our legal representative; and Gary an adoptive father on the board of a private orphanage reinforced to me that Kevin and I made the best decision for us to stay committed to this program.
Besides spending time with just fifty (of the 150,000) children in a Salvadorian orphanage, and meeting those people who are in the country advocating for the children, the next best thing was being able to meet and bond with those who are also in this process. Throughout our adoption I have often felt very alone. We have had numerous friends from all over the country who have adopted domestically and internationally, however, at this time we do not know of anyone in our community who is currently adopting. Experiencing the passion and desire of the others to add to their family in this way was comforting and instantly bonding. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together and hope we are able to continue to support each other not only to the point of finalizing our adoptions but also as we bring our children home and raise them in our families.