What should be a joyful experience has become an agonizing wait for many families longing to adopt some of the neediest children in the world.
These parents have done everything right, and they even have bedrooms ready for the children from the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the country is refusing to let them go, and no one is sure when, or if, the children will ever be allowed to call Tennessee home.
Tennessee adoptive families certainly don't want to offend Congo government officials, but at the same time they have satisfied all demands for adoption.
In September, the Congolese government decided too many U.S. adoptions were abusive or neglectful, so it suspended the permits.
Cassie Fish adopted Jesua and Jedidiah when they were 18 months old. They were supposed to pick them up Thanksgiving. Instead, they recently mailed off costumes for the children's third birthday.
"I start losing hope. This is just a big nightmare. I thought it would go so smoothly, but it hasn't. I wonder if it really is going to happen. Are my boys really going to be with us? Will I have the privilege of being their mommy?" Fish said.
Claire Carrico was supposed to have William home in Bellevue in time for Christmas.
The Carricos went through hoops to adopt him, not just money but home studies. They even had to submit their dog's vet records, but now they need help.
"We followed our laws. We followed their laws. We did things both countries asked of us to bring our children home. What else do you need for them to do that now?" Carrico said.
A petition with 101,000 signatures is in Washington, demanding diplomatic pressure on the Congo.
Julie Johnson wishes they would rush, and she has the most heart-wrenching reason why.
"Being an orphan in a third-world country, statistically, is not good. For us, personally, we matched with a little boy last year, but he passed away before we could bring him home. Having a 10-month-old little boy, he's gotten sick once since we got here, and we just worry whether or not he's going to make it home," Johnson said.
Channel 4 News spoke with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker's office, and a spokesperson said in a statement:
"In addition to meeting with State Department officials, including the U.S. ambassador, and the ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo, our staff also has met with several families in various stages of the adoption process. Sen. Corker is very sympathetic to each and every family facing this challenge, and our office will continue looking into the matter to see how we may be of further assistance."
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Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:32 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:32:33 GMT
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