Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quick Update today!

Winding Down our stay in DRC

We are down to our last 3 days on this amazing trip!  Although it saddens us to have to leave, we leave rejuvenated in our desire to help these beautiful children find families like yours!

Before we depart, we still have a lot of work to do.  We will be processing the new referrals and medicals we received while here, visiting additional new orphanages, and distributing humanitarian aid!  We will need to hire additional nanny's to care for the younger children.

Last but not least, we are still working on obtaining an appointment to meet with the DGM.  Even if we do not obtain an "official" invitation, we don't take well to being told no, so we still plan on "visiting" them and having an opportunity to plead with them.

We have also been invited to the U.S. Embassy for a happy hour Thursday evening, so we are looking forward to who we can meet and speak to about orphan investigations.
We would like each of you to know the joy we experienced in bringing families here to meet their precious children.  We enjoyed watching them spend time and bond with their children.  The real beauty was seeing the children flourish in the company of their family.  It reminds us we really do have the best jobs in the world! 

Unfortunately, the reality was we had to return the children back to the foster home, and the families boarded planes back to the U.S., their hearts filled with joy, yet empty at the same time.  It reminds us we have one of the most challenging jobs in the world, and it drives us to work even harder for each of you.

The families wil hopefully soon return, only this time the end result will be completely different.  Their hearts will be filled, the emptiness will forever be replaced by the child sitting next to them on their return flight HOME!

In the meantime, the children will continue to be well cared for by the in-country staff and EAC team.  They will have the added benefits of the love they experienced, the gifts provided to them, and improved living conditions thanks to the generous water purification systems donated by Chad and Shellie.

We will be leaving here in a few days and will update you on the balance of work we accomplish during our stay, and then we are off to Uganda for more of the same!

We'd like to thank each of you for your commitment to these beautiful children and for spreading the word to others that there is an indescribable need to help these children.

Together we are, and will continue, to make differences in the lives of the orphaned children of Africa!

May God continue to bless each of you!
Debra and Robin

Monday, January 27, 2014

What a week it has been!

A Lot to Share with You!

So, with so much excitement going having the families here with us, it has made it very difficult to WORK!  Who wants to work when there is so much loving going on! 

But work we must and we are doing so.  As has become customary, when we arrive in country one of our first tasks is to visit the orphanages we are working with.  It is wonderful to be able to see the children who have been matched with many of you.  In addition, we get to see new referrals we have received and any new children to the orphanages. Upon arrival at one of the first orphanages we were greeted by the children singing the song JESUS LOVES US, in ENGLISH!   After the song we were then treated to a display of African dances... and boy can they dance! We couldn't resist joining in! Debra, the Director and a nanny danced with them! We even hooted and hollered with them!  The children are precious and have such wonderful smiles!

We spent the morning going over legal files and getting menus of what the children eat.  Prior to our visits we had asked all centers to supply us with nutrition menus so that we could make sure the children were getting the best they could supply.  We were very lucky that the families brought over alot of formula and pedialyte, so we were able to take alot of that and diapers.  We want to assure you that your children are being well taken care of by the EAC staff.  We told them that we would come back the next day to install a water purification system so that all children and adults could have clean water without fear of getting sick.  They were very excited! Thank you, Chad and Shellie for helping with this mission that is so needed in Congo.  Not only id the donate the systems, but they traveled with us on this trip and Chad has been installing the systems.  He has also been training Patrick!  Every orphanage we have installed systems has been super grateful.  Some had tears in there eyes. as the need is so great.

The next day we went to two more orphanages to see more children and install more water purification systems.  The days for us are very long and extremely hot but we cannot worry
about ourselves, we must move ahead to help the children.

We want to take a quick minute to again thank Margaret for neverending moral and monetary support.  We want you to know she is always there to approve what we need and stands behind us as we make sure all children have good food, and medical  attention.

We were invited to a new center outside of the city.  We had the adventure of a lifetime!  As drove and drove (and drove some more), thousands of people were everywhere.  The road got so bad we thought we were going to rip our car in half!  We finally parked the car and got out of the vehicle (Thankfully, the car was still in one piece!)  We asked Patrick, who was dressed in his suit, "where are we going?" His reply, "up that trail a ways".  We said, "UP THAT TRAIL A WAYS?"  So we walked, and walked, and walked" Finally, at the top of the trail we saw a small center and we were met by a wonderful woman.  We were able to visit her orphanage, meet her staff, and then make arrangement's for her to come to the city.  There is so much need in that center that we wanted to put them all in the car to bring them home and feed them. We are very hopeful that we can improve the lives of those children and staff. When you see people in such despair, with nothing to eat and needing so much. it is very humbling.  We will keep you posted on this development. 

Some of the families have provided their impressions of this trip below.  Also include are some pictures.  A very special thank you to them!

Debra and Robin

"My name is Dave Miller and my wife and I have adopted a boy from the DRC.  He has cleared court and we are now in the investigation phase.  With the uncertainty of exit visas and the thought of a delay in bringing my son home, I took advantage of the opportunity to go and visit the DRC with Robin and Debra from EAC. Nothing could prepare me for what I have experienced.  On the positive side I have been able to spend a week with my son. 

I have also spent a week with 4 other families who are on the same journey.  We started the week, as strangers and we have quickly become a community.  It has been an incredible experience.  I also had the opportunity to visit the orphanage in Kinshasa.  That is the orphanage where my son spent 6 months after he was found abandoned.  I am so thankful for the work of the orphanage and EAC because the alternative for these kids is most likely death.  As the van drove down the garbage and devastation, I could only think about my idea of needs vs. wants.   I put many things in the needs column when there are clearly wants.  On just the one road we drove down I saw so many people that didn't  even have clean water to drink.  I saw little boys 4 or 5 years old carrying large containers  filled with water.  I saw hunger, pain and despair everywhere.  I wish every person alive could Make that trip.  I think if everyone could smell the air and experience the intensity and look into the eyes of these children everyone would be involved with adoption in some capacity.  As part of humanity we have to help the ones who can't help themselves.  If adoption does not fit your family, you should find someone who is adopting and help them anyway you can."
The Miller's son resting after a long day of play!

"Our (long) journey here to Kinshasa and to our little girl has been beyond our expectations. We knew that it would changes our lives and the lives of these little ones but we never expected it would change our lives in such profound ways. The work of our dedicated EAC staff has made such a positive and profound impact on our trip. Having this experience with other families has certainly added to our adventure as we have been fortunate to play together and see the children as they might act in their EAC foster home environments. We are learning every minute about our little one - what makes them happy and what types of activities they like (note: all LOVE the pool). 

Even today, by 11 am we have been in the pool twice - laughing, jumping, and bonding. We are so very thankful to have this time to initiate bonding with our little girl and preparation for our final trip when we can bring her home. With the dedication of the Kinshasa and US EAC staff, we have been able to bond with our children in ways we did not expect possible in the short time here. Todd and I cannot believe we leave tomorrow for home - the time here has flown by - but we leave with anticipation that we will return to Kinshasa shortly and bring home our little girl."

Todd and Erika

"It’s been one week since we met our children.  One amazing, emotional, fun-filled, enlightening week.  It would take pages and pages to explain how we feel about our son and daughter, and even then we’d only be scratching the surface.  We’ll hold off on that for now and try to explain some of the other connections that have touched us so deeply this week.
 You see, we are new parents living in a new place establishing new relationships with our children.  We’ve never looked forward so much to any other event in our lives, and now that we are here—living it—we find ourselves increasingly grateful for the people who have made it all possible.  These are real people with real lives and real passion for children.

As my kiddos nap, I look around our flat and see gifts of food and toys from other adoptive parents who we’ve been blessed (and I don’t use that word lightly) to share time with here.  I think of their helping hands at “le pescine” making sure each little arm had their water wings, taking photos upon photos, even backing mama up on her first official blow-out diaper.  That’s a friend right there.  To Erika, Todd, Dave, Sara, Bobby, Shellie & Chad: Thank you for your support and thoughtfulness!  We are so glad we got to share this life-changing experience with each of you.

 The love certainly doesn’t stop there though, folks.  Over this week I’ve seen the Congolese and American EAC staff come and go from Sunny Day many times.  They are consistently seeking ways to meet the practical and emotional needs of EAC children.  Even better, nearly every time one of the children here sees their smiling faces, they run and leap into their arms with giggles.  This does a mama’s heart good.  Again, real people with real passion for our children.  I’ve witnessed our lawyer console a tearful father.  I’ve seen our social workers and caregivers hug tenderly on our children.  And I’ve watched as staff care for each other, friend to friend.  This picture of humanity working together in such an intimate way for such a beautiful cause is almost too much to take in.  I find great comfort in knowing such loving hearts are caring for our babies while we’re away.  To Patrick and team, Linda, Daniel, Mama Josie, Annie, Jessy, Debra & Robin:  There is no way we’ll ever be able to adequately express our gratitude for you.  Each of you are such an important piece of the bridge connecting us forever to our children and their country.  Can I just say, “We love you!”

  Finally, we want to thank the very gracious and hard-working team at Sunny Day.  To Papa Zavier, Papa Jacke, Patric, Joseph, Carine, Carlos, Thomas, Pablo, Samba and Allen:  You’ve created a little piece of heaven.  We will always, always remember meeting our children here and truly feel at home in your presence. Tikala malamu!"

~Strasbaugh Libota/Family



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Perspective from an EAC family in Congo

Kinshasa is everything and more than we thought!  Robin and Debra are right when they say there aren't words to describe the airport luggage claim. but even then I still felt safe because Patrick, Alan (the Sunny Days Director), and his staff were there to pick us all up.  They are the type of people who when "they speak, people listen".

The children are beautiful, inside and out, and we feel so blessed to even be here.  I know all of you reading this are wishing you were here too and it breaks my heart that you have to wait for your time here.  Lord willing, you time will also come soon!  Look at all the pictures you have of your children and multiply their cuteness and beauty by 100 and that will not even come close to what they are in person.  We are just on our second night here and I got tears in my eyes after rocking baby Elie to sleep knowing he won't come home with us.

However, we are enjoying the moments here and not dwelling on the last minutes of it.  We have met Patrick, Daniel, Lisa, and Momma Josie and, trust me, these people love our children as much as we do!  They have come in and out of Sunny Days and the children have given them lots of hugs and love.  Our babies would not do that if they weren't great people, so find peace in that.

Robin and Debra are here also making a difference.  Visiting with them on the plane and while here,  I am happy to report they are two normal (but amazing) ladies who have extraordinary hearts for "the Least".  I knew they were good from the beginning but looking into their eyes and hearing their stories in person makes everything real.  I know they are doing all they can to make life better for our children while we all wait and have everyone's best interest at heart.  Keep praying for things to move forward!

~Sara Alsup (Mom of baby Elie)

Here's a couple of the bins of donated goods we have delivered:

Bath Time:

Daddy Time:

An incredible start to our trip!


It was the most incredible thing going to the gate at the airport in Brussels and seeing all our EAC families.  Some we had previously met in person, others we had not, but it just felt RIGHT!  All the families were excited to be going that final leg of the trip to Africa.

We had a long 9 hr journey, but with so much to talk about the time passed quickly. Upon arrival in Kinshasa, we were very fortunate to have passed through customs without issue and proceeded to baggage claim.  Our man, Patrick, was standing there waiting for all of us!  Thank God he was because we needed him to roll up his sleeves too and help us load all of the humanitarian aid onto the baggage trucks! All luggage was accounted for!

We headed to our guest house - the rooms are clean, there is wifi, and best of all AIR CONDITIONING!!!! We were able to get a much needed night's rest.

The next morning everybody was standing outside and ready to go to the store.  We all purchased lots off rice chicken , veggies and plantains.
But we didn't come here to go grocery shopping... the kids were on their way to meet us!!!!
Imagine the moment for a minute, the nervous anticipation, the tears of excitement, and then the sheer joy as they approached!  Each of you, as adoptive parents, has played this scenario through your mind!  It is powerful to witness and participate in.
At first the children were shy and reserved, but by the afternoon they were jumping in the pool having a blast with their families.  You find yourself absolutely lost in the moment, and then the harsh reality sets in when the children must return to the home.  (Correction - the children are remaining with the families while the families are in country, the tears will flow when the families prepare to leave Congo)
In just a few shorts hours, we saw tears of joy transform to tears of sadness.  There will be additional visits full of laughter and tears.
In the meantime, we came here with a list of goals to accomplish and met with Patrick to plan out the next two weeks. We will keep you posted as to what we are working on and accomplishing.  We can tell you this, we are scheduled to have water purification systems installed in the orphanages this week thanks to the generosity of one of our adoptive families.  What a blessing to be able to convert brown dirty water into safe, clean, consumable drinking water.  This should help with your children's overall health and well being!
Enjoy some of our pictures from the past couple days.  We intend to send as many as possible!
Please continue to pray for us, the families who were able to travel with us, and of course, the beautiful children of Africa!
Debra and Robin

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ready... Set... GOOOOOOOO!

Back to Africa!

 We are so excited as we embark on this trip back to Congo and Uganda!  Bags are packed as we leave tomorrow morning.  As usual, we will be traveling through Brussels, Belgium and experiencing our last "normal" food for a few weeks!  What makes are stop in Brussels different from our previous visit is that we will be blessed to be joined by 5 EAC families who will traveling with us to Africa!  These families will be spending about a week with us and will have the opportunity to meet their children for the first time!  So exciting!  In addition to meeting their own children, they are bringing several suitcases of donated goods, provided by so many of you!  Each of the bags is stuffed with formula, diapers, creams, food and clothes. We hope they have room for their personal items!   For us, this is going to be so special as we have worked for over a year for this week.  We have spent tireless hours going to orphanages and meeting with government officials and to make sure we have the best team in Congo, lead by our outstanding attorney, including our 3 social workers on the ground making sure the babies and young children have their nutritional needs met, along with providing them with vitamins.
 Let's not forget the Africa staff in Ohio.  Margaret, our leader and an outstanding orphan advocate has enabled us to chase this dream!  Kim, who you all know, has dedicated all her time to making sure you are all taken care of and prepared for your own adventure.  With that said, we think everybody needs to know that the Congo and Uganda has touched all employees at EAC!
 It is going to be a glorious day when the exit visa ban is lifted and we are able bring our 30 children, who have passed court, home!  This is, and continues to be, our mission!
We promise updates and many photos as we travel, so keep posted!
Let the trip begin........ 
Debra and Robin