Friday, September 10, 2010

Jake's Letter & Their Response

Jake felt it was time to voice some concerns to the Embassy regarding procedures of acquiring visas. Writing this email was really, really on his heart, and I wanted to post it because I think he did an awesome job expressing the vulnerability and frustrations of being on the other side of this whole visa process…..the adoptive parent side. We received a positive response from the Embassy regarding Samuel’s case literally just a few hours after he sent this to them….I am posting their response as well. Keep praying people. God is stirring……

Dear U.S. Embassy and Consulars:

I have sent a handful of emails regarding our adoption of Samuel Agyei through the About A Child adoption agency and I have received no response. After becoming more frustrated with the process and lack of communication I have decided to read up on the U.S. Embassy in Ghana. Below is a direct paragraph from the following link on your website: http://adoption.state.gov/news/ghana.html and I have bolded the interesting part of the paragraph I had the opportunity to read. Please note I am also copying this email to all of our biggest supporters in the United States as this is not something one human or one family is trying to accomplish but instead we have been called to Ghana by the grace of God and by the grace of God we are going to complete His work.

Per your website: Adoption agencies are encouraged to submit case paperwork to the U.S. Embassy for review before the Embassy schedules the immigrant visa appointment. In some cases the I-604 determination could take several weeks or more from the time a case is submitted to the U.S. Embassy to the scheduling of a visa interview appointment. We understand that in such cases this will result in a longer period before parents are able to bring their adopted children to the U.S. However, this additional scrutiny is required to ensure that the adoption is legal under both U.S. and Ghanaian law. The U.S. Embassy will work with adoptive parents and their adoption agency to ensure that each case is processed in the most expeditious manner possible in accordance with laws and regulations. Families should continue to work through their agency and the Embassy to schedule immigrant visa appointments and answer questions regarding pending cases.

You have clearly stated that the U.S. Embassy will work with adoptive parents and their adoption agency to ensure that each case is processed in the most expeditious manner possible in accordance with the laws and regulations. I find that statement difficult to believe because through our experiences you refuse to work with us and/or the adoption agency.

I have also been made aware that many times the I-604 investigation is not even taking place and visas are just being delayed within the U.S. Embassy in Ghana to make it look like the investigation has occurred. I pray daily that is not the case and instead a bad rumor, but the longer the process goes on the more I begin to believe it. In our case the mother has relinquished parental rights, a death certificate has been obtained for the father, and the young boy we are adopting has been diagnosed with sickle cell disease and needs immediate care and nobody at the embassy seems to really care. We have done everything by the book and all we want to do in this particular case is to bring home our son. Also, it is important you understand that we are not only in Ghana to adopt one boy who desperately needs it, but we are in Ghana to make a long lasting impact on West Africa. Ghana is just where God has started our adventure. We have become a registered NGO (Kingdom Cares International) within Ghana and will continue to do God's work in Ghana and beyond. However, we need your help to be able to do all that God has called our organization to do.

I need some correspondence from you on our case and what steps are yet to be taken.

Second, I am trying to understand your process in denying student visas. We have helped 3 Ghanaian students receive full scholarship educations in the United States with the complete and whole purpose of having them return to Ghana and give back to their country and the people. We just had a potential 4th student Prince Finyo denied his student visa with no reason given. Our understanding is that student visa opportunities cannot be denied if all parties know what it entails, have the intent on returning to Ghana after their education is complete, and that there is significant financial support within the United States which we have proven through bank statements. Why would an individual consular take away an opportunity from a young man that could be empowered and could one day empower hundreds more in the midst of desperate need?

After spending time in Ghana and around the United States Embassy it feels to me as though there is a fear of people within third world countries actually becoming educated and empowered. If you fully educate people of third world countries and empower them the entire world changes and at times I ask myself the question does the United States fear that? I cannot think of any good reason to deny visas and/or withhold adoption visas for long periods of time without some internal fear of what just might be possible if too many are empowered. It is clearly written in scripture that through the Holy Spirit man will be able to accomplish even greater things than Jesus did with his time on the earth. This is coming directly from the lips of Jesus as he talked with his disciples for the last time. In your mind you may say it is impossible to change third world countries and I say according to Jesus that is the farthest thing from the truth.

Please understand as I write this I am completely on board with the prevention laws that have been put in place to prevent child trafficking, child labor, child prostitution and all the other evils of the world. However, when an individual child is being adopted and/or being given the opportunity to study abroad and all the proper steps and documentation have been filed - why deny the opportunity? The primary responsibility of our organization Kingdom Cares International is to empower the youth. The only way to empower them is to educate them, care for them, and provide them the opportunities to ultimately help the world change. We say as Americans we want to end poverty,feed the poor, care for the sick; but do we really? I think individual people or organizations want these problems to be addressed but I don't believe in the bottom of my heart the United States cares. It saddens me deeply each day that over 28,000 children are dying in Africa! It saddens me that people are suffering and there are organizations that are willing to help and the U.S. Embassy makes this nearly an impossible task.

The problem is that injustice in our world has always occurred. It is one of the only topics that is covered in every chapter of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The only other topics that are covered in every chapter are to care for the orphans, widows, and the down-trodden. We are here to help but in order to help we need your help.

My first trip to Ghana I sat with a 13 year old boy in a village just outside of the Volta region and I asked him, that if I as the “white man" came and built your village a school and educated the people would it solve many of the problems that the villages face daily? He said, "No, because you may be educating me but my mind is not being educated because I may be sick with a water borne illness, my sister may be dying of malaria, or maybe I have not eaten in three or four days." So I said, "How does an individual like me make an impact in your village?" He said, "Just empower me, sir, and I will be able to empower others and if we do that enough times, for enough years, one day we won't be a third world country any longer." Kingdom Cares International is in Ghana in order to empower people, but the question now falls into your laps do you want to empower them or are you afraid of what might just happen if too many of them become empowered?

The young boy that I referenced above may never become empowered himself. But, what he stirred in my heart that day is going to empower many more people than he could have ever dreamed possible. Why would the U.S. Embassy squelch those dreams of that boy that may ultimately have one of the largest impacts ever on the country - without ever knowing how God fully used him in order to reach my heart and our organization. I call on you to help! I call on you to feel what that boy felt! I call on you to not be like the world but be against the status quo and believe more is possible if we just all work together.

My prayers and thoughts are with you always. Please understand our organization is in this for the long haul and I would like to work together instead of being opponents. I am assuming when you first started working for the U.S. Embassy you did it because you felt you could make a difference and I pray that this desire is still in your hearts somewhere. I pray that your job has not become like every other job often does in which you show up just to meet a few quotas, pick up your paycheck and return home. God has called all of us to make a difference. We are on our knees praying that you will choose to make that same difference in the lives of so many who just want to be empowered through the grace of God that is demonstrated through the grace of humans.

God Bless,
Jake Sullivan

And their response:

Dear Mr Sullivan,

Thank you for your inquiry dated September 09, 2010. You will see a response to your earlier e-mail as well. We are very happy to read that you are planning to work on Ghana in the future, we think it is very important for those who are less fortunate to be empowered and better their lives. In reference to your adoption, we assure you that we are continuing to work on your case to process your visa. We hope you can understand that in Ghana we deal with a unique set of circumstances, and we must work within those confines on each individual case. We understand how frustrating it can be, and we apologize that we have not had more information to share. In your particular case, the issues around the death of your son’s father has made the processing take longer. We assure you that our officers do not come to work just to collect a paycheck, but truly care about our applicants and the work we do. Once again, we are aware of how frustrating the process can be, but we hope that you don’t let the longer timeline feel as if we aren’t giving your case adequate attention. We hope to have news for you soon, and would like to work with you as best we can.

We hope this information is helpful to you and please let us know if we may be of further assistance.

Kind regards,
U.S. Embassy Accra
Consular Section

6 comments:

Dillinger Family said...

Jake's email was amazing.

Lori said...

Truth. Awesome truth.

the crawfords said...

so good! way to go jake!

KamPossible said...

As someone who has also attempted student visa, is in process with starting a sister NGO to my US non-profit, and days away from being at the mercy of the visa process... I want to offer my thanks and gratitude for your email. You did a great job of making yourself clear while offering understanding and being a wonderful representative of Christ. I am proud to be an adoptive parent, Ghana advocate and American be represented by you. I believe every email sent to the embassy is a reflection on all of us, not just the author.

Many thanks and
Blessings!

Kami
www.justmypov.wordpress.com

kbrekke said...

Wow, wow. Jake's words were amazing. They were honest, powerful, and most importantly, Christ-empowered. He is man blessed with the ability to speak so strongly and yet come across with the grace many of us lack. Continually praying for your family!

nick&abby said...

Jake did a great job...he didn't attack them, but laid it out there.
I've been keeping up with your happenings :), especially with Samuel's adoption....and I've been getting frustrated, so I can't even begin to try to imagine how you are feeling! I'm glad he spoke up.
We will keep praying that Samuel will be able to join you soon!