It has been a settling in week since our last post. Settling in does not mean becoming comfortably accustomed to all that goes on. In fact, a metaphor for our situation that has come to our minds on a number of occasions is a kind of resignation to bricolage. In sociology, bricolage refers to a life, activity, or cultural construction of some sort put together from whatever is at hand. Typically the bricoleur is viewed as a craftsperson of sorts whose work is admired. I suppose all of us are bricoleur in some sense. But, here in this time, Kendra and I are much to frantic about our piecing together of whatever is at hand to have achieved any kind of artistic flare or vision in this enterprise. Yet, despite being fairly uncertain about best practices beyond feed, clean, put to sleep and of course despite being very tired life rolls along and everybody seems fairly healthy. We try to remember to take deep breaths when one or the other youngling feigns sleep and wakes up for the third time in 20 minutes. We drink lots of water, take breaks where possible, and sleep. Ahh sleep - we were warned, but the bricoleur will tell you, one has to do it to fully know it - sleep is a precious thing. We have been working on this sleep issue through a series of family conversations that Kendra instituted over the past few days. We'll let Kitoko and Likabo tell you about it.
Paperwork and adoption proceedings continue to move in a roundabout way towards a conclusion of some sort. On the Congolese side this process is characterized by personal face-to-face relations, at least with the people who know how to make things happen.
Last week we met with Master Okoko, the Congolese lawyer who is helping to make everything official over here, and with Pastor Loma, the man who fostered Kitoko and Likabo and continues to manage a variety of behind the scenes work all of which we are not completely aware of. They handed over all of the original copies of important documents like the kids' birth certificates and the newly made passports.
At that same meeting we also met with Adrian, the English translator studying to be a pediatrician, who translated all the original Congolese documents into English. We are still waiting on one final document on the Congolese side but are more or less the official parents of Amari and Desmond as far as the Congolese are concerned.
The USAmerican side of the equation is a different kind of social animal characterized by online forms and anonymous letters that come to us whenever they please on departmental stationary. Saturday evening, early afternoon Goshen time, Kendra had the strange opportunity to open up one of these letters from the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) in real time via Skype with Jeremiah, Stef, Scarlett, and Mira, our neighbors. Unfortunately, it was not the news we were hoping for. It appears that the USCIS has some concern about our legitimacy as US citizens, because we were both (now all) born abroad. Consequently, our parents have had to scramble together their own notarized birth certificates, passports and marriage certificates along with sworn affidavits that we are indeed their children. Hopefully this will help satisfy the USCIS and push along the US side of the formal adoption process.
Of course, neither the US nor the Congolese side of this process would be possible without the work of Jilma, the ultimate global bricoleur. She has pieced together this bricolage that brings together different systems and peoples to constitute families. She has some grace we cannot know and remains mysterious to Kendra and I who have never met her in the flesh but know her only as a voice out there. We are assured that she is real and, in fact, it was Jilma who cared for Likabo and Kitoko for the first few days after we learned of them.