Help Us Keep the Children Together

My name is Susan Leist.  

 This is my family’s story of how we arrived at this point and why we are submitting a Go Fund Me Page.  Honestly we are desperate to get our children home and need help to get them here.

 In August 2013 we attempted a domestic adoption which failed. This failed adoption resulted in not only and emotional loss but also the loss of $4,500.

 After the failed adoption in 2013, we discovered a sibling group of four children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The children’s ages were four, six, eight and eleven.  Since sibling groups are much harder to place in one family, the children were at risk of being separated or not adopted at all.  

When we inquired about their situation, we discovered their elderly grandmother had given consent for their adoption since both of their biological parents were deceased.  We received positive references for the adoption Agency they were placed with, which was handling their adoption.  This Agency had reassured us that their application for getting Hague accreditation was already in the process and would not be a problem.  Since everything seemed to be in order, we began the adoption process for these four children.  

 To get the process started, we conducted a fundraiser which yielded $10,000.

With the $10,000 we paid all of the initial fees for the home study, fingerprinting, agency fees, etc. 

 Once the $10,000 was used, we then took out a loan for $40,000.  We took the loan amount because the DRC required that all of their fees be paid up front.

At the end of September 2013, the DRC shut down their exit process on all adopted children.  However, we were assured that this process would not take long possibly a year at the most.   At the very least, we figured the government would be able to work everything out during our expected waiting timeline.  

 We continued to check in with our representative from the Agency and we were told that all was going very well and according to plan. They even sent us updates on the children from time to time in Lingala and French.  

In January 2014, “48 Hours” aired a special on TV called Perilous Journey featuring Our Adoption Agency and their corrupt cases and why this Agency would never be Hague accredited. Our children, as many others were featured as being in a trafficking ring, worst orphanage in the country and that this particular Adoption Agency was being shut down International. Needless to say, we were devastated!

We worked feverishly to find another agency to help facilitate their adoption in the DRC.  However, no agency would take on our case due to fear of our association with our Agency and the fallout from this Agency's  corruption.  


The only good news was the USCIS allowed us to continue to fight for these precious children on our own.  The USCIS was also kind enough to offer their advisement as we moved along.  

In June 2014, we traveled to DRC.  We were disturbed by reports of corruption and child trafficking concerns.  Therefore, we wanted to meet the children and find out what was going on.  We found the orphanage was deplorable and made arrangements to move the children quickly to the safety of foster care.  In the end, we acquired several thousand dollars in credit card debt for this trip. 

While there, we were dealt another devastating blow; we found out every single dime of the $40,000 we paid upfront was gone!  Nothing had been paid ….no court fees, no orphanage fees, no attorney fees, no social worker fees.  Nothing!  The $40,000 was gone!  We are now $40,000 in debt for these children and absolutely nothing to show for it.  We did check into the civil suit against the Adoption Agency, but our lawyer told us it could possibly take more money to sue them than what we lost. We made the decision to move forward and focus on getting our children out of the DRC and put the children first.  


The DRC court made the decision to shut down our adoption  case and re-evaluate the backgrounds of all the children. Because of this, we had to hire a private investigator to find the children's grandmother.  She was able to come forward, along with her commune director, and was able to recommend another option for the children.  The grandmother explained that she was not able to care for the children for a number of reasons.  The grandmother  lived with her daughter from time-to-time.   However, the daughter (the children’s aunt) was not able to care for the children because she had a number of children herself and was struggling to provide for them on her limited income.   

Finally, in January 2015, Wasatch International Adoption (WIA) agency agreed to take our case.   Little-by-little we worked with WIA representatives to correct all of the paperwork and get our case put into proper and legal order.  We basically had to start all over and re-work everything like we would for a totally different adoption.    

We are now ready to submit all of our corrected paperwork to the DRC courts for their review and finally finish the long and draining ordeal.  The DRC courts have “graciously” agreed to reduce the fees down to $22,000 for the review of all four of the children’s files and paperwork.  

On top of everything else, we have been fundraising every single month since June 2014 to keep the children in foster care and out of the horrendous orphanage situation.  We are currently paying over $800 a month in foster care fees which helps provide their food, medical, clothing, schooling, etc.  This is in addition to the $500 a month payment from the original $40,000 adoption loan.  


Our family lives a very simple life with very few frills or extras.  We live on one income and we work very hard as a family to bring in extra money, most of which is going towards adoption debt, foster care fees and new adoption costs.  Some of the income generating activities include: landscaping, babysitting, house sitting, cleaning, etc.  Phil (husband) works long hours as a fire fighter, but he makes time to take on welding jobs for local farms which can yield a few hundred dollars a week.  We also grow a large garden from which we can and freeze most of our produce.  In a nut shell, we do whatever we can to earn and save money and work to get our children home!  We just recently held a coin collection fundraiser which raised $1,200 to pay for our home study update.  We only have the Lord to thank for blessing us with the opportunities to earn and save all of the extra money we’ve needed thus far.  


Our hearts ache and long for our children to be HOME.  We are able to email them one time a week, sometimes more depending on their electric availability. They call us mama and papa. They are getting older every single day; and with each passing day, their chance of being adopted (not to mention being adopted together) becomes less and less likely.  

We have done everything we can and now we need your help.  Here is a list of the adoption cost which we are still facing:  

• DRC court fees = $22,000
• Agency Fees = $12,000
• Travel cost, four children and adoptive parent(s) = $15,000 
• Total = $49,000

As a review, here are the main points of our situation:


• Four siblings in desperate need of a family.
• It has been established that they are true orphans.
• If we do not adopt them now, they have little if any chance of being adopted. 
• We were swindled out of $40,000 by a corrupt agency. 
• Now have a huge debt of $40,000 and have nothing to show for it except a $500 a month payment.
• Had to start the adoption process all over again … redo, rework, resubmit (You name it; we’ve had to redo it.)
• $49,000 - Total needed to complete the adoption of these four children.

Thank you so very much for your time and consideration!


Gratefully Yours,
Phillip & Susan Leist


Susan Leist
Circleville, OH

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