Over the last week, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my sweet three-year old’s question: “Mama, why didn’t we hurry?”

All my little man knows is that our family was getting ready to go to Africa to adopt this sweet little girl and now she died. He knows Mom and Dad have had to do a lot of paperwork. He’s been patient during homestudy visits, doctors appointments and dozens of trips to the post office. He remembers praying for Mom and Dad as we were making the decision to adopt when he was just two. Now he is almost four. It must feel like we’ve been talking about adoption for most of his little life.

So the question makes sense.

Even though we did hurry. We hurried up as much as we possibly could, but for this little girl, it did not make a difference. And to be honest, that makes me really mad.

There are many laws and institutions designed to protect children. Adoptive parents must pass the scrutiny of friends, family, doctors, licensed social workers, local and state police, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, government officials and court judges half way around the world, embassy officials, immigrations officers and finally courts at home. All of these checks are designed to make sure the adoptive parents are capable of parenting an adopted child. These laws and institutions are designed to protect children from trafficking and to prevent corruption.

But it some cases, this bureaucracy fails the little people it sets out to protect.

One of my fears when we found out that our adoption would be delayed because my first set of finger prints was rejected by the FBI was that the little girl we had just heard about would not survive two or three more months without medical care – and without a family.

Some poeple told me to relax, to not worry, to be patient, to trust God’s timing.

We hurried as much as we could, finishing the rest of our homestudy and adoption education and immigration forms. And then, as we watied for my second set of FBI fingerprints to return, this little one died. She could not wait two or three more months.

It is frustrating and heart breaking to see so many people trying to do the right thing who are stuck dealing with inefficient at best, corrupt at worst, government institutions. But at the same time, we cannot give up on these institutions. We need laws that protect children and families.

I don’t know what we can do to encourage the leaders of government institutions to find a better balance between protecting children and expediting the adoption process. There has to be a better balance. For example, there is no reason FBI fingerprint checks should take three months for adoptive parents. It makes no sense for adoptive parents to have to do six or seven different background checks. In this era of having incredible technology at our fingertips, adoptive parents should be able to submit their information once to an integrated background check system. And this should take a few days or weeks, not six months.

Sara Brinton

SARA BRINTON is a writer and entrepreneur with a passion for reforming international adoption and orphan care. She leads marketing for Noonday Collection, a business that uses fashion to create opportunity in developing countries. Sara and her husband, Mark, live in Austin, Texas with their four children, including daughter Gabrielle who was adopted from Uganda.

1 Comment
  • Bethany

    November 20, 2010 at 5:39 am Reply

    I’m trying to figure out the FBI thing, too. We live in CA so we were able to do livescan FBI prints for our homestudy (took a week or so). However, we also need FBI letter for our dossier (RU) but we can’t do livescan for that one. Go figure! Ink prints (hello – dark ages) take 13 weeks. How on earth does some of this stuff make sense? When it comes to the lives of children, it is infuriating since there IS a faster way in this age of technology.

    Sorry you are grieving – there are no easy answers 🙁

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