The Gentrys — already the biological parents of two little girls — are adopting Emily from Africa. More specifically, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“We started discussing adoption about two years ago,” Andrew said. “We wanted a third child. At church we heard about adoption and started looking into it and doing research.”
The couple didn’t want an infant. They wanted a child that was a bit older. They considered adopting within the U.S. after much research, but soon realized that there were children in other parts of the world who were desperately in need of homes.
“There are children in many countries who should never have to experience what they do,” Sara said.
As they researched the adoption requirements and restrictions for various countries, the list of possible nations thinned until they focused on Africa.
“We really looked at the needs of the country,” Sara said. “The mortality rate in Africa is so high, especially in the Congo. We thought the need was greatest there.”
Through various networks of friends and associates, the Gentrys were put in contact with an adoption facilitator, a director of an orphanage in the Congo.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 71 million, the DRC is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world and the fourth most populous nation in Africa.
Armed conflict has devastated the nation’s economy over the past few years and the country is known for the prevalence of rape and sexual violence.
It was into this world that little Emily was born.
“We don’t know much about her past,” Sara said. “The orphanage estimates that she is two-and-a-half years old. She was abandoned in a marketplace in Kinshasa. That’s where she was found.”
The Gentrys were sent photographs of the little girl (who they will name Emily), and what little information is known about her. They have undergone adoption training and have exhausted online resources. Through Facebook, Sara has been communicating with other families who have adopted children from Africa, and is even in contact with a family who will adopt a child from the very same orphanage as Emily.
But adopting internationally isn’t an easy thing to do. There are stacks of paperwork to submit and fees to pay. The Gentrys were approved to adopt Emily earlier this month but must now wait an extra 30 days. This waiting period is designed so the orphanage has one last chance to attempt to find Emily’s biological family. If they cannot, then Sara and Andrew will fly to Africa to bring her home.
“We’re excited but also anxious,” Andrew said. “We know this will be a scary experience for her, but we’ll try our best to make her feel safe and loved. She knows no English. She may know French and Lingala (a Bantu language spoken in parts of the DRC). But hopefully she’ll understand that we’d like her to be a part of our family.”
The Gentrys have had to pay so much money in adoption and travel expenses that Sara is hosting a Craft Fair at Pal’s Coffee + Company at Mount Berry Square mall on Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Local vendors and crafters will be displaying and selling items such as hand-made hairbows, bags, beaded jewelry and monogramming, while area residents are free to browse and shop. There will also be a raffle. There are still spots open for table rentals for those interested in displaying and selling their crafts. Email email@example.com or call 404-435-0348 for additional information.
Sara and Andrew, as well as their daughters, are preparing for Emily’s arrival. They receive photos and updates regularly and said they feel like she’s already a member of the family. They even have her room decorated in anticipation of her arrival.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” Andrew said. “I’m sure there will be obstacles. But I hope that as soon as she meets us and starts becoming comfortable with us she’ll see that we love her and we’re permanent. We won’t abandon her. She’s a part of our family.”