Yesterday Rob and I spoke at our church, nlcf, at all three services and talked about adopting Riley. It all went very well, but I was really nervous even though I've spoken/sang in church plenty of times before. We are really excited to start getting the word out and it was wonderful to introduce Riley to our church family. I found myself answering a lot of the same questions from people (which is fine!), so I thought I'd put some of the "Frequently Asked Questions" up here :).
1. "So when do you get to bring Riley home?"
We only have a best guess as to when that might happen. Riley isn't "cleared" for international adoption until February 2011, so that would be the absolutely earliest he could leave the country. However, Riley's government shuts down between the months of November and February, so they stop accepting adoptive family "Dossiers" (your official translated application to Riley's government) this month. There's no way our dossier will be ready this month, so the earliest we can submit is February. Once we submit it could take several months to get official approval. In addition to that, Rob and I can't travel until May because I have to defend my thesis in either March or April, and the adoption process is a 5-6 week in-country stay. So we HOPE to travel in May, and bring him home in June.
2. "What would happen to Riley if he wasn't adopted?"
Riley has no future in his country. Children like him are considered a "burden to society" and often sent away to mental institutions at the age of 5 where most die within a few years. He will always live with the stigmas of "orphan" and "HIV+", meaning he wouldn't be able to get a job. Unlike in the US, where legally you are not obligated to tell anyone about your HIV status, in his country he would have to disclose that information to potential employers.
3. "Do you have the money to adopt him?"
No, we don't. This is a leap of faith and we need all the help we can get. We have enough to cover to up-front expenses (about $5000); the rest of the expenses (about $20,000) will come when it's time to travel in May. So we have some time to fundraise, but not an infinite amount of time. The sooner we raise the money the better.
4. "How can I help?"
PRAY pray pray! And please, consider giving Riley a birthday gift. He'll be two years old on Dec. 3 and we are having a birthday party for him. This is the best gift you could ever give a child: the gift of a family of his own. This money isn't for us, it's ALL for him. If you want to help fundraise, we'd love to hear from you. We've got some fundraisers planned and we'll announce them as they begin, but the reality is that those can only do so much. We are praying for God to move in a few people's hearts to donate a large amount. If you feel called to do this, please send me an email so I can tell you the best way to donate a large sum (to avoid PayPal fees).
Thanks so much for your prayers and support! They mean the world to us and to Riley.