Double T(ea)


Bribes are not talked about in the open. They have got expressions for that in Kenya. There is a fabulous story of a Dutch entrepreneur in Kenya who got thoroughly fed up with the slow bureaucratic processes. She talked about it to a Kenyan native who advised her to bring tea to her next meeting with the civil servant in charge. Slightly confused about the gesture, she made not only tea, but she also brought cake and served it almost like an English high tea. The government official involved was very amused about the whole scene, but it was not quite what the native meant with his advise.

For almost seven months we have been able to avoid corruption practices. We have been annoyed at times, especially in the final phase of gathering the official court documents, but it seemed to eventually come through. The two page court document appeared on Tuesday 30 June 2009. It was the second version, because our lawyer returned the first version with spelling mistakes. While applying for Matthew’s passport, I realized that the new version still was not correct. Matthew was spelled with a single ‘t’.

We do feel strongly about his name. He was born as Paul Kamau, lovingly taken care of by New Life Home, who added his first name Matthew and adopted into our family: Matthew Paul Kamau van Wijk. We honor all these phases  of his short life so far. Respecting and liking all the names he carries, is part of that.

So what do we do? Life back in the Netherlands has started again. Three ticket changes have been made so far. All our Dutch friends and relatives fully agree with double ‘t’ and every Kenyan so far looks confused when I try to explain the issue: ‘what is the problem? Are you worried about a single letter?’

We made up our mind after the story of a fellow adoption parent, who lost a complete name in the administrative process. It was clear where it happened, but the involved authority did not want to change their ‘mistake’. Mistake what do you mean?

We have lost a ‘t’ in the administrative process. ‘Tea’ is not an option. Going back into the administrative process may well lead to losing more than one ‘t’. We will honor the second ‘t’ every time we spell his name: Matthew.