DES MOINES — Somewhere between the story of how the family ran out of money in Nigeria and when the congressman in the living room started talking about the finer points of the international adoption market, little Joseph Craig nodded off.

It was probably the natural thing to do, given the time of day — about 2:30 p.m. — and nestled as he was on a soft couch between his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Kayla Craig.

But it was symbolic, too, of the rest needed by the entire Craig family now that they’re in the home stretch of a journey that began more than a year ago when the Craigs — high school sweethearts from Waterloo — decided to adopt a child.

That journey included two trips to Africa, piles of paperwork, navigating the sometimes frustrating bureaucracy of the Nigerian government and the United States Consulate, not to mention the anxiety of knowing that the future of their family rested on decisions made by people they never met.

But the Craigs also were fortunate to have a connection with U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, whose son, Paul, is friends with Kayla’s brother, Nathan, in Waterloo.

Braley’s office helped the Craigs in their effort to bring Joseph to the United States and adopt him as their son.

“International adoptions are always complicated because not only are you dealing with international treaties, but you’re dealing with the domestic law of the country, and there are legitimate concerns of the problem of child trafficking,” said Braley, who traveled Monday to the Craigs’ Des Moines home to give Joseph a flag that was flown in his honor over the United States Capitol on Sept. 9.

“Embassies are appropriately concerned to make sure the domestic law has been followed so there are no questions later on about the legitimacy of the adoption,” Braley said.

That’s what happened in the case of Joseph.

Essentially, Jonathan explained, the Nigerian government signed off on the adoption, but the U.S. Consulate wasn’t quite satisfied that everything was followed to the letter of the law.

“We fought for him like any parents would for their child,” Kayla said.

There’s still some paperwork to be filled out before Joseph is fully-adopted and becomes a full U.S. citizen, but the Craigs said the biggest hurdles are behind them. 

“Well, I’m glad we got here when he was still awake,” Braley said, glancing at Joseph, who slumbered on the lap of the woman he’ll call “mom.”