Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our First Video

Last week, our Congo program director arrived back in the states from the DRC and all us pre-adoptive Congo mommies had one question as soon as she hit the ground---where are our new pictures?!! This boils down to two facts: a) We are always wanting to know and see more of our future children, and b) the only time we receive pictures is when adoptive parents or agency workers visit the orphanage and upload upon arriving home (which is not very often). I've made friends with another adoptive mom named Carly who is in Montana, and I think for about a week we emailed each other five times a day asking each other "Where are our pictures?!!!!" Well, before I ever received pictures, I received something else--something far more precious and unexpected--a video of my two children. I had not yet seen them in live action, and to top it all off, it was a video of Papa John (a Congolese member of my agency's staff) showing my kids the Shutterfly book I had made of family pictures. It was absolutely amazing to watch my children see me, my parents, my dogs, and other family and friends FOR THE FIRST TIME. I was awestruck, and I can safely say I've watched the video twenty times since receiving it three days ago. 

One picture in the Shutterfly book was of me wearing a beautiful African blouse, skirt, and headdress made by one of our Burundian friends, Christina. The picture is of me standing between Christina and her daughter Delaya, and when Papa John flips to this page, my daughter giggles so hard that she falls down to the floor. I can't understand much of what John says, but I do hear him saying "Oooooooooh, Congolese-Americain Mama!" My little girl gets so, so tickled in both videos when she sees this, and it cracks me up completely, partially because the sight of myself in this African outfit is also funny to me. It makes me very happy to see my little girl smiling and laughing--laughing so hard that she collapses! We have not seen this before. In fact, most of the pictures we have seen of her so far are very serious. 

Speaking of serious, my baby boy appears in one of the videos, and he doesn't smile the entire time. He seems sleepy and maybe a little sick. He recently went to the hospital for malaria, so we hope he's not suffering the lingering effects. Maybe he had just gotten up from a nap. Our agency contact says our little boy is very quiet, and has not yet learned to make noise when he needs something. Such is the personality of a neglected child, and I'm so glad he's somewhere where he is getting constant, loving care from a group of nannies. 

The best news of all is our agency thinks we (me and my parents) will be able to travel in January or February. I have a feeling it will be more like February, mainly because a couple of errors and inconsistencies were found in the kids' Congolese governmental paperwork. In the meantime, we have a lot to do. I still need to clean out the kids' room, get rid of lots of clothes and junk that I've stored in there for the last four years, and shop, shop, shop! Anyone in the Memphis area have a crib they want to loan me? I don't think it will be long before we switch to a toddler bed, so I hate to buy one. 

One last thing: As we quickly approach Christmastime, I am collecting money to provide Christmas for 35 African refugee kids here in Memphis. (See post below for details.) Please consider helping these children--any amount will help. 

Thanks for keeping up with my journey. Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Much love from the Boltons. We have much, much, much to be thankful for this year. 


<------ Click on Chip-In Button to the Left---Help Memphis Refugees at Christmas Time

Dear Friends and Family,

As many of you know, my parents and Ia have worked closaely with a group of refugees from the African country of Burundi for five years. Displaced in the past by genocide and civil war in their home country, these families came to Memphis to find better lives...but they haven't found that yet. They still live in poverty, and every day is a struggle for their hard-working parents financially, despite public assistance and steady work. The truth is it's very difficult to find a job when your only languages are Kirundi and Swahili, and on the flipside, it's difficult to learn English when you spend your waking hours working to provide for your family.
As you can imagine, these families' current situation makes it difficult to provide daily necessities, much less Christmas. I would like to help them to do both. I have approximately 28 days to raise Christmas money for these children, the majority of which attend my school.
My mother, Vickie, during our very first Christmas season with the kids. 

Just like last year, I do not want to buy toys. These families live in extremely cramped conditions (think 12 in a small 3 room apartment). I want to help them with necessities, such as deodorant, socks, underwear, toothpaste and toothbrushes---things these children do not have on a regular basis. I'd like to be able to give their parents' each a gift certificate to Kroger so that they can buy food for Christmas and necessities such as laundry detergent. And finally, I'd like to provide a little fun: the girls love, love, love new clothes, and I'd love for them to be able to pick out an outfit each at somewhere inexpensive like Target or Rainbow. I'd also like to use the money to take the kids to activities such as skating, movies, and possibly camping. Please know our goal is not to promote materialism, but to give these kids things they need and provide some much- needed fun.

I know times are difficult right now, but every little bit helps. If you can't manage financial donations, we'd love it if you'd keep us and these families in your thoughts and prayers. You came through for these kids in such a big way last year. We hope you will considering doing so again.

My sincerest thanks,
Anna Bolton and family

P.S. If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please feel free to email me at

P.P.S. If you do not feel secure about donating online but would like to donate, we would also appreciate checks. Please email me at the address above for details.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Playing the Waiting Game

An old friend of mine (hi, Lisa) has been pestering me to update my blog, but seriously, there isn't much to say. My little boy, who was in the hospital for a not-so-serious case of malaria, is out and is supposedly much better. I have received lots of new pictures of him and his sister, Kina. The most recent picture shows Kina with a laughing, wide genuine smile, finally! It is so good to see her happy. In other news, all the kids with my agency have moved to different, nicer orphanage with bunk beds and mosquito nets. Other than that, there is truly not much to tell. I have received many documents, but I am still waiting on the courts to issue birth certificates, an acte of adoption, passports, visas, etc. Looks like we will be traveling to Kinshasa sometime between January and May--a wide range, I know! In the meantime, we are working on vaccinations (we need many, including yellow fever-yikes!). I still need to clean out my guest room, which will become the kids' shared bedroom. So much work to do, but all of it will be worth it. As for the baby's name, every time I think I have settled on something, uncertainty creeps into my mind and I start thinking about another. Any name suggestions, friends?

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I received and accepted a referral for a sibling set last month! Baby B is 9 months old and only 13 lbs--my cousin's baby was 10 lbs at birth! He has a sweet smile, but seems to not like having his picture taken. Visitors to the orphanage say he cried every time they tried to take his picture! Little Girl K, approximately 3 years old, is his biological sister. She has an adorable gap between her teeth, braids, and loves to sing and dance (we have been lucky enough to see a few videos where she appears for just a few seconds). Pictures from her early days at the orphanage show a sad girl who never smiled, so we were happy to see her smiling and dancing in the latest pictures and videos.

The hardest part of the process so far has been hearing that we (me, my parents) will still not be able to travel to pick them up for another 7-10 months. I am so frustrated by this. When I began this process in February, I thought that was the beginning of my 7-10 month wait. Because of my home study debacle (see previous posts), we will likely be traveling to Congo between April-July 2013. If you are the praying type, please pray for quick movement through the US and DRC governmental processes. Good vibes are equally appreciated!

While waiting, I have been gobbling up every bit of information about the Congo. I just finished The Poisonwood Bible, an excellent piece of historical fiction by Barbara Kingsolver (who went to my alma mater, DePauw University, and used to live in the DRC). Up next is King Leopold's Ghost, a historical exploration of Belgium's exploitation of the Congo and the related atrocities. Congolese history is truly fascinating. There is a reason this country's astounding poverty exists. Here are a few statistics about the current state of the DRC in case you are interested:

•The Democratic Republic of Congo is the 4th poorest country in the world (Haiti is 1st.)

•In the DRC, more than 10% of children will die before their 1st birthday (highest rate in the world except for Sierra Leone).

•The DRC's population is 67,757,577. Of those people, 71.3% live in poverty.

•Primary school enrollment of 33% is 2nd worst in the world.

According to the NY Times, many children in the DRC are lucky if they eat one meal a day. Even in my kids' orphanage, which has a high standard of care compared to others in the region, 1-2 meals a day is the norm.

I guess that just means we'll have to fatten K and B up with lots of good southern food when they get here. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

And the Roller Coaster Begins! Hold on for Your Life!

The last 24 hours have been a bit crazy for me! Yesterday, my agency rep emailed me asking if I was truly interested in a sibling set. "YES! Definitely YES!" I wrote back! Hours later I got an email about a boy/girl sibling set, approximately 2 and 4 years old. They have not been at the orphanage long enough to be matched with a family, but I am at the top of the waiting list, and if and when they are referred, they will be referred to me. It was hell trying to go to sleep last night! After a couple hours of back and forth emails on cost and how things would work--I was doing all this by iPhone while watching Glee with my best friend and her kids--I went home and laid in bed, absolutely wired and a bit overwhelmed. I wondered if I could possibly go from 0 kids to 2 all at once as a single parent.

After finally sleeping about four hours, I woke up wide awake and checked my email, eager to get more information. Nothing. So then I decided to go walk away my nervous energy on a local free track. As I was walking, I received an email from the agency of three pictures. They took a full five minutes to download, and all I could think was that I was possibly about to see pictures of my future kids--family for the rest of my life. How strange is that?! When the pictures finally opened, there they were!!!! A little girl with furrowed eyebrows and a fly on her face eating rice...a tiny baby boy slung over a man's shoulder!!! And then a third little girl, chubby as can be...whaaaaaaat?! A third little girl?

There was no accompanying message, so I called and emailed my agency. An hour later, after I had emailed the picture to family and a close friend, the agency emailed me back--"No, no, so sorry! Those are other people's kids! You were accidentally included on the email for some reason." Again, whaaaaaat?!!!! "The kids I was telling you about just arrived at the orphanage this morning. We still have to blood test them for diseases before we can make a referral. It will be a few weeks."

Sigh. That was the end of the roller coaster. What an emotional high, followed by a slow, but not too upsetting, dip. I have no more information now. I hope to have more information within the next few weeks and maybe even a referral, but adoption seems to move as slow as molasses, so I will be keeping busy and trying to keep my mind from obsessing about a possible 2 and 4 year old in an orphanage somewhere in Kinshasa, DRC. Life sure is a wild ride... Pray for my sanity! Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Patience, Grasshopper

Well, I am officially pulling my hair out over my home study completion. I Fedexed the many required documents in three months ago in a neat, tidy package after checking and double-checking to make sure I had everything...and now that I'm in Maine, my case worker is telling me he doesn't have everything. Turns out he has lost some of the copies and wants me to resend them. This would be easy if I were at home with the copies, but not so easy from Maine. Maddening!!!

So...we've decided since there is nothing else to be done on my part, we'll go do something fun, like wine tasting and maybe a schooner ride! It's a beautiful sunny day out with a high of 64, and we've heard there are seal pups out in the harbor. Can't wait to share Maine with my new son or daughter.

Please send patience vibes or pray for my patience.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Begin at the Beginning

It's hard to know how to start. I guess I should introduce myself. My name is Anna, and I live in Memphis, TN. This blog is a way for me to update family and friends on journey to adopt one or two children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as well as to answer questions I've been asked along the way.

So far, the two questions I'm asked the most are "What's the latest?" and "Why Africa, when children in our own backyard need adopting?" The latest is I'm waiting on a Tennessee social worker to finish writing my home study and submit to my Utah adoption agency for review. As soon as he does that, my adoption agency can match me with one child or with a sibling set of two. Right now it sounds as if it's more likely I'll be matched with one, but you never know. 

Why Africa? Let me start by saying I started out by trying to adopt locally. With all the poverty there is in Memphis, I thought for sure I'd have an easy time. After contacting state and local officials, I was told I'd need to take the PATH (parenting) class before I'd be eligible to foster (one must foster for 6 months before they can adopt in the state of TN). So, I applied, I waited, I followed up, and I waited some more. Never heard back from a soul. 

While this was going on, I began to discuss African adoption with my family. (As many of you know, my parents and I have become very close with three Burundian refugee families here in Memphis. One of the families has become like an extension of our own. For this reason, my interest in and awareness of Africa has increased exponentially.) It's at that point that I came across a NY Times article describing how many Congolese children only get to eat one meal every other day. I started comparing the conditions of orphans in the Congo to that of orphans in the US. It's at that point that I decided to apply to adopt in the DRC. Here's the article if you'd like to read it: 

I applied with an adoption agency in February, had home study visits in April and May, and now I wait. Once my home study has been submitted, my agency says it'll be between 7 and 10 months before I bring a child home. That means that if everything goes as planned, I'll be bringing one or two children home as early as February or as late as May. I'll be traveling to the DRC's capital city of Kinshasa and will stay for 7-10 days until he/she/they are issued their US visas. My parents and I will stay in a guesthouse at a Catholic church compound (for lack of a better word) in the heart of town, and will only be able to leave the compound with an escort because of the dangers tourists face. It's going to be a wild ride, and  I look forward to having you along for the journey!