Once upon a time there were two friends. They had met at church and had even sat in the same Sunday School Class for awhile. They had a lot in common; they just didn't know it. Both shared a passion for kids. Both felt their lives would be incomplete without the experience of international adoption. Both were hysterically funny and incredibly good looking. (OK, I just added that part for fun)
Then one day, someone announced that one of them had adopted from Ethiopia. The other one was jealous, intrigued, excited. And inspired.
And so a friendship began, which would see them through the good times and the bad. They would find out that they were very much alike. Their families were very much alike. They shared much more than the fact that they both had children from Ethiopia.
Like most friends, when one hurts, the other hurts. And right now, I hurt.
My friend, who has a heart of gold and a spirit that moves her more than anyone I know, met a boy from Liberia. He was nineteen and here to have hip surgery through a program called Healing the Children. He was living with a host family from a nearby community church. I will not say what that religious affiliation is, but I will say my view of that religion will forever be tainted by this experience.
Initially, they were able to help the host family by taking him to Dr.'s appointments, keeping him over the weekend, and inviting him into their family. They came to a point where they wanted to see about adopting him. Their whole family came to love this boy. The woman's eleven year old nephew, who suffers from Crohn's disease, donated his entire savings of over $200 to the boy. It had taken him the entire summer to accumulate this amount of wealth. They spent a lot of time getting to know him, and he shared much about his life in Liberia. He had fallen in an empty grave while being chased by robbers. This was when his hip was broken and he ended up getting a TB infection in the bone. I say initially... because eventually she wasn't allowed to help with this boy any longer.
As we looked into the options of adoption, we hit a brick wall. He was too old. He was not educated enough to pass the English proficiency exam and be allowed into college here. Everywhere we turned, it seemed inevitable that this boy would indeed be returning to Liberia.
The host family and church sponsor was suspicious of their motivation. They were from different religious background than ours. Evidently the host family couldn't understand why a family would want to adopt a child who was already grown. Why do you want to help? The boy would have to spend more time with the host family to learn more about their church. The boy needed to learn more about their religion and less about the Christianity displayed by my friend.
The boy was "allowed" to work for the host family. He made a lot of money for the family, but was only paid much less than minimum wage. He was not allowed to make outside calls or to know the status of his Visa. He wasn't even sure of when he would be sent back to Liberia. When my friend inquired about the status of his Visa, and what she might do to sponsor him is when the real trouble began. He was sent to another home, farther away. He was not allowed phone calls or visits. He was legally an adult... but treated like a prisoner.
The boy was able to make a few phone calls when no one was looking. He wanted my friend to know that he loves her as his mother. He wanted to let her know that he was ready to go back to Africa... where he could be free. He was ready to go back to a place where he would live in the bush, struggle to make enough money for food, and have virtually no future... just so that he would be free.
My friend received a phone call the other day to let her know the boy, the boy she loved as a son, was on his way back to Liberia. He had not even been allowed a last phone call to say good bye. He also had not been allowed to take his savings of over $1000, including the gifted money my friend's nephew had given him. He had not been allowed to take his laptop, which had been a gift as well.
I'm sure he says good bye to America with a bad taste in his mouth. Good riddance to you American do gooders. Good riddance to you religious nazi's who seek only to help only in exchange for a religious conversion experience. Good Bye America. Land of the free... my foot.