“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. For He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
Long before we were married we knew we were called to adoption.Following the birth of our biological children in 2009 and 2010 we started the long crazy journey to follow this call to adopt a pair of siblings from Africa. After a lot of research, we selected a small agency working with a small orphanage in Uganda. After an excruciating two and a half year wait for a referral for children that never came, we knew it was time to move on and pursue other options. Just as we were realizing this, through a different adoption agency, God placed right in our laps a referral for a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy living in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We were told they were living in a desperate situation- just that month 33 of the 52 children in the orphanage they were in had died due to dysentery from drinking dirty water. Food security was also a huge issue and all of the children were malnourished. Communication with the orphanage was difficult due to lack of any electricity, internet, or adequate cell phone coverage so updates about the children would be few and far between. It was scary stuff. So many risks and uncertainties. But we also knew we had been called to the least of these….these kids without hope for a future. After a lot of prayer and contemplation, we knew for certain we were to accept this referral and so in October of 2013 we did just that.
Nicole is a pediatrician with experience in global health care provision throughout Africa. She visited the DRC in January, May, September, and December of 2014 to meet and love on the children. She also provided some care to improve the lives of all the children at the orphanage- vaccinations, malnutrition management, vitamin supplementation, deworming, management of chronic diseases, and provision of a drinking water filtration system and mosquito nets. She also worked to do training and education of two local nurses that checked in and took care of the kids every day. Things there were pretty rough initially, but with some time, care and resources, significant improvements were made and overall the kids were living much healthier lives.
Our adoptions were finalized in May of 2014. Due to issues with international adoption in the DRC, it became evident that it was possibly going to take a long time to bring these children home. We made the decision for Will to move to this remote area to love on and care for our kids and all the kids at the orphanage while we waited. So, in September of 2014 Will left his home and family and moved indefinitely to the DRC. Over the course of 3 months he provided love and support to each of these precious kids and truly transformed their lives. When Nicole visited in December, the smiles on their faces and the warmth in their hugs spoke volumes about how loved they had felt.
Things quickly unraveled at the end of December in regards to the adoptions. Through a series of events it became evident that the orphanage director was very corrupt and had trafficked all of the children away from families who missed them dearly and wanted to raise them. The orphanage was shut down and all the children were returned to their biological families. Our sweet daughter and son included. We were truly heartbroken.
But, we do not doubt that we were called to these children and to this place. We thank God for his divine purpose in everything. We may never have discovered the great needs of this area if He had not called us there through this adoption journey. We believe that God is calling us to continue His mission to love and support the children and community in this area. Not through adoption, but through our work with Restore Elikia. We are filled with expectant hope for what lies ahead.
Thank you for your support in this mission to Restore Hope to the orphans in the DRC!
Nicole and Will O’Brien