LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a journey of love and heartbreak for two Louisville families. They've legally adopted their children, but the Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended their exit letters, leaving the families in limbo.
Jon Meacham shared photographs of his two daughters, "This is Leslie, the first girl that passed away and she was 9 months old," he explained. Meacham brought out another picture, "That was our legally adopted daughter Josephine, that's when she was only 3 months old."
Two baby girls who would have called Louisville home. Two girls who would have called Jon Meacham and his wife Bethany Meacham mom and dad and two girls who would have called Jonah and Isaac their brothers. But both girls died in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the Meachams began the adoption process in January of 2011.
Leslie died from malnutrition and Josephine from infection. Jon Meacham recalled his flight to Africa when Josephine was set to come to the states, "I was leaving on a Sunday and we got a notification on Friday that she passed away that week."
Now the Meacham's 3-year-old legally adopted son Malachi is no longer an orphan, but he still lives as one. Even with a passport and a visa, he can't come home just like 350 other children legally adopted by U.S. families due to the Congo's suspension of exit letters last fall. The Meachams now worry about his health.
"It's extremely tough and it takes a toll on us mentally and emotionally," Jon Meacham said. Bethany Meacham added of their adoption journey, "We had our pastors sitting on our couches just crying with us."
What keeps them going? Memories of a visit Jon Meacham had with Malachi, "He started telling me he loved me in his own language and giving me hugs and just really quickly attached," he explained, "that just made leaving even harder and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do to was leave him."
Hearing his son say I love you, "It was amazing," Jon Meacham said. "Words can't describe it, it makes all the waiting worthwhile."
The family's faith also gets them through the tough times, but that faith is tested as the wait goes on. Something Lindsy Wallace understands.
"We just watched her health deteriorate every month and they were mixing formula with dirty water," Wallace said of her 2-year-old adopted daughter Glory.
Wallace and husband William saw Glory go from a healthy weight to very thin. They were recently able to move Glory to foster care there.
"We pay $500 a month for her foster care fees which we are happy to do, she's our daughter, but obviously we would rather she would be home and with her family," Wallace said.
That includes big sis 4-year-old Meadow Wallace who can't wait for Glory's arrival, "I'm so excited," she said of the impending trip home, saying she needs another girl in the house with three brothers there.
As for the three brothers? They are anxious too. One of them, 6-year-old Canaan, said of his sister, "I can't wait to hold her."
Both families met recently with Congressman John Yarmuth and Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell in Washington. House Resolution 588 asks the Democratic Republic of Congo to lift the suspension. Besides the family's that have completed their legal adoptions, there are hundreds more in the process of adoption there.
The measure passed committee, but still needs a vote on the house floor. If you would like to help you can do so by calling or e-mailing your lawmakers and ask them to pass HR 588.
The group "Both Ends Burning" is helping the waiting families. To find out more information on the organization, click here.