First family picture

Haha…oh the first family picture experience.  We knew it wouldn’t be our best, and we weren’t sure how it would go, because Lucas was still scared of everything.  We had been home from Uganda about 3-4 weeks, so we decided to go to the Picture People, and just get a few pictures, nothing much.  As we had suspected, it didn’t go so great.  Lucas was scared, he didn’t know what was going on, who this guy was holding this big black box that shines a snap of light in your eyes….and he would NOT smile for nothin!  Poor Lucas.  We tried our best to show him, reassure him, and make it fun!  Nope…NOT having it.  He didn’t cry or get upset, but we knew he was scared and overwhelmed, so we already had got a couple pictures taken, and we left.  LOL.  It was probably too early to attempt to try to get family pictures, but were excited to have a family picture of the FOUR of us wanting to show off our new family!!  We’ll try it again sometime later when Lucas isn’t so overwhelmed with everything.  He was actually doing very well, completely comfortable in our home, *trying* to get comfortable with the dogs, and learning that we are his mommy and daddy, and Aiden was all his family.  He was really doing well, just outside of the home is when it became overwhelming for him.  It will come in time.  Patience and understanding to what he is going through is key to this process.  🙂  Anyway, so here are our lovely pictures from that day (which I’m still proud of and LOVE-smiles or no smiles):

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First Christmas

Lucas and I got home a few days before Christmas to join Aiden and Roger, thankfully.  God’s timing was absolutely perfect!  We knew there was a good possibility of us not making it home in time for Christmas, but we prepared for Christmas together anyhow before we left for Uganda…just in case.  We also had presents under the tree for Lucas before we left for Uganda, that was the first time it really felt real, that this was actually happening, that he would really be home soon!

We didn’t decorate as much as we would have liked because the Christmas tree alone would be overwhelming enough for Lucas, so we really scaled back on decorations and presents this year.  It wasn’t about that stuff anyhow.  It was about Jesus, and celebrating the birth of our Savior, about being together as a family of FOUR finally, it was about L.O.V.E.  Amazing love.

We were home, together, and feeling closer to the Lord than ever.  We woke up that Christmas morning and opened a few presents together, they were the first gifts Lucas had ever received.  He first watched Aiden open a gift, and watched Aiden became excited, and then Lucas quickly got it…you tear open this paper stuff covering the toy, and then there is something cool in there to see and we get excited about it!

What he didn’t understand was that the toy was for him.  He opened the gift, got so excited, and then put in on the ground next to him, he was just staring at it.  We had to teach him that it was his to play with, he got to keep it, no one was going to take it away, we had to teach him what toys were.  Besides the few little toys I brought for him to Uganda, he didn’t really know that there were toys beyond hot wheel cars, books, and a few other things we brought for him.  He learned all about toys very quickly that morning!  lol  Within a matter of 30 min. he was totally like any other American kid on Christmas, open one, cool…move on…next one?!  Play Play Play!!  It was the first toys that were “his” and we’re still trying to teach him how to share!  haha.  Not happening.  Not right now anyway.  lol.   We loved seeing the joy on his face, and Aiden’s.  We also felt so loved because some of our sweet family thought of not only us, but Lucas too for Christmas, and mailed all of us presents.  We were thankful for such sweet and thoughtful gifts, and the love from them.  The whole morning was just such a joy and new experience for all of us.  Incredible.

I love this picture of the boys as they're pointing to Uganda on the new globe the boys just got!

It was a great day, we took our very first picture as a family later that night, although not a wonderful picture, it was our very first picture as a family of four.  We are so blessed.

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Meeting Aiden

While we were in Uganda, Aiden was staying in Kansas with his Papa and great-grandparents until we arrived home with Lucas.  When we had a good enough internet connection while we were in Uganda we were able to skype with Aiden as much as we possibly could, so Lucas and Aiden were able to see each other on the computer, which was so neat!  While we were in Uganda with Lucas we showed him pictures and video we had taken of Aiden so he could begin learning who his brother was.  Lucas loved Aiden from the start and said his name for the first time while we were in Uganda.  Every time we would skype, Aiden would wave and smile so big, so proud to be a brother half way across the world, and Lucas would point and excitedly yell “ahden ahden!!!”  (his way of saying Aiden).  Roger and I could already tell that they would be wonderful brothers together and that God had certainly not missed a thing when perfectly pairing these two little boys together.  We are blessed.

After a few days of arriving home (where I left off from the previous blog post), we took some time to get settled and introduce Lucas to his new home, just us.  It was a nice time for the three of us.  Plus, I got caught up on sleep and tried to recover from jetlag as much as I could before Aiden came home.  Although I was BEYOND anxious to see Aiden, the last thing I wanted to be when he came back home was exhausted, I wanted to give him all of my complete undivided alert attention-as he would need after weeks of being apart for the first time.  I was glad I had the time to sleep, and bond with Lucas at home, and spend that one on one time Lucas needed to be reassured he is ok in his new home before adding the other boy to the mix.  It was a really nice transition to being home.  But finally, and sooo happily the day came a few days later that Aiden and my dad were flying in from Kansas and we were SO EXCITED!!!!  We drove to the airport and Roger and I developed a plan….”you video tape, I’ll take pictures!  Then I’ll go find Aiden and dad, and you and Lucas stay behind a pillar and start video taping as I bring Aiden around the corner!”  lol, well things don’t work out the way you think sometimes…just like when we met Lucas for the first time!  (check out travel day 2 of our blog)  So we arrive, Roger and Lucas stand behind this wall pillar thing, and I search the baggage claim area for Aiden and dad, and…THERE they are!!!!!  AHH!!!!  I was SOOO EXCITED to see Aiden!!  I snuck up behind him and surprised him!!  Dad was laughing.  I hugged Aiden so tight and I gave him probably a million kisses and the world just seemed whole again…I was with my Aiden again!!  🙂  Bliss!  Oh I was so happy to see some of my favorite guys…Aiden and my dad.  I helped them get the rest of their bags from the carousal, and anxiously walked them to where his new brother was waiting to meet him!

Roger had the video tape in hand, ready to film as soon as he saw us, and then Aiden and Lucas saw each other for the very first time!  Incredible!!  It was overwhelming for Lucas but it was the first time Lucas had smiled so big!!!!  Lucas was a little scared, and overwhelmed because Aiden wanted to hug him (of course!!) and he wasn’t ready for that.  Lucas still smiled, but moved away.  Aiden was a little disappointed, but understood.  He was still so happy to meet his brother! Then, a sweet older man came over and offered the kids both a candy cane (being a few days away from Christmas) and it just added a little extra sweetness to the moment.  🙂

I was trying to take pictures (as we had planned) but I couldn’t focus on the camera, I tried, but seeing their sweet faces examine each other and begin playing “ring around the mommy”, and hearing their sweet giggles, it melted my heart!

Here is the video:

Aiden and Lucas meet for the first time

Roger also managed to get the first picture of me with BOTH of my boys!!  🙂 Lucas still wasn’t sure what the camera is all about!

It was absolutely amazing having our two sons together, and all FOUR of us together as a family.  Having TWO kids in the backseat of the car was INCREDIBLE!!  I can’t even tell you how blissfully perfect that feeling was of having our whole family together…finally!

Lucas surprised all of us with how quickly he bonded with Aiden and his Papa!  For the first time Lucas had a grandpa to love him, extended family who cared about him, and it was incredible to see how loved he felt.  He wouldn’t stop smiling!!

That was a big night, a great one, and to be re-united as a family was just one of the best days of our lives.

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Travel day 19 (Dec.14th)

We’re on the airplane in Uganda, getting ready to take off.  It’s Lucas first time ever seeing an airplane.  He has no idea what is going to happen or what we’re doing.  The other problem I foresee is that when it’s time to put the seat belt on, he will flip out and won’t have it.  See, in Uganda there are no such things as car seats, high chairs, strollers, or anything that “straps” a child into, so that is a foreign concept to Lucas.  I entertain him in his seat and hope he won’t notice me slipping on his seat belt.  He is too nervous to play and doesn’t want to do anything but observe everything and everyone.  Great.  This is not going to be good.

Of course, time has come and I must buckle his seat belt.  As prepared as I am with snacks, a drink, candy, toys, etc. he notices, and FLIPS out.  Yes, FLIPS OUT.  I mean completely losses it, melts down, I don’t want anything to do with this, flipping out.  We’re pulling away from the gate and I know if I take him out of it now he won’t sit in his seat again, and there will be no way I’ll be able to get this seat belt back on him, so I really have no choice but to try and comfort him and leave it on him until I can unbuckle him.  He is screaming and crying!!  I know I’m the most hated person on the plane.  I don’t care.  I’m trying to comfort my terrified child.  I know he is beyond terrified because not even I can comfort him or calm him down.  Oh I feel so bad for him.  He is crying so bad and screaming so bad that he starts to gag and I know what’s coming next…I grab one of those handy dandy throw up bags in the seat pocket in front of us and get ready.  Oh my poor boy!  He is so upset.  I can do absolutely nothing at this point for him but just hold him the best I could through the seat belt.  Then the flight attendant has the nerve to come up to us and ask me what she can do to get him to stop crying, like I haven’t been trying everything possible.  I told her that if I could unbuckle him he would be fine, and she of course said “oh no we can’t do that”.  Ok, well then, he will keep screaming.

Thankfully, a short time later, we are on the runway to actually take off.  As soon as we hear the jet engines spool up, Lucas became silent, absolutely terrified.  We are pushed back in our seats from the thrust of the take off and Lucas grips my arm so tight his finger nails left imprints.  Poor baby.  I try to comfort him and let him know I’m ok, therefore he is ok, and he remains silently gripped to my arm.  We are finally at a high enough altitude to take off the seat belts and as the seat belt sign goes off I scoop my baby and rock him in my seat, he is finally calm and falls asleep in my arms.  Heaven.

This was the first of many planes we were on that day, but the first one was by far the worst.  The next plane we were on, the plane from Brussels, Belgium to America, which by the way, an airplane is called an “Enyonyi” in his language, and he says that word all the time now!  He did much better the second time around and although fussed about the seat belt again, it was nothing like the first time.  He settled down, ate some food, played with the toys I brought, and enjoyed time with one of his favorite people, my cousin Wendy.

An entire day had gone by that we had been on airplanes and airports, and finally, we arrive in the United States of America!  Flying onto U.S. soil had never felt so good with our new boy.

Walking off the plane, through the gate, into that American airport in New York, seeing signs in English, and people were speaking English, was amazing.  🙂  I’m Home.  In America.  WITH my boy.

My phone…oh my phone…I can use my phone!!  🙂  Next is going through U.S. Immigration.  Oh celebration over, nerves quickly arising.  Ok, so THIS is where I give this sacred sealed envelope to…we wait in line to “enter the country”, my cousin goes first, no problem.  I’m next.  The guy sees the black child on my back in the carrier and alerts another man to come take me to a different location.  Uh…ok.  Wow.  This is super nerve wracking.  I have no idea where we are going and Wendy says she’ll wait for me in the hallway.  We go in this “waiting room” type area in the airport and I see Homeland Security signs everywhere.  They ask for my sealed packet from the Embassy, and some other things and I wait about 15 min. and then I’m called up and they tell me they have signed Lucas passport and that he may enter the U.S. and is a temporary U.S. citizen until we finalize the adoption in the U.S.  Phew!  No spotlight over your head investigation to be done, we’re on our way now!  We’re officially “in the U.S”!!!  Big sigh of relief!!

So now we have to figure out what to do and where to go to pick up our bags.  We were told we had get them from baggage claim, and re-check them to our final U.S. destination.  What a pain!  Better yet, once we get our bags and re-check them, I notice the tags only say going to “Denver” which is my connecting flight, not my final destination.  What?  I ask the lady and she says that we are only checked in to go to Denver, that in Uganda somehow they had erased my final destination and ended our bags at Denver.  Oh my goodness, what?! She starts to tell me there isn’t anything she can do but book me another flight, when I’ve already paid for the flight from Denver to home, and I have a reservation.  She couldn’t find it.  Oh it was so frustrating and confusing, and I’ll spare you the details but after getting a little snippy and explaining our situation and showing her my itinerary, she calls someone over for help, and miraculously they figure it out.  Seriously?!  It was beyond frustrating for me, but in the end, it was figured out and we were on our way.

Next hurdle to jump, saying goodbye to my cousin Wendy.  I was dreading this moment.  She has been there with me from the very beginning, we grew closer than we ever had our whole lives of knowing each other, we formed a bond that is indescribable with everything we saw and experienced while in Africa.  She has been there through this adoption journey from the day we got on the plane to go get Lucas to the day we arrived on U.S. soil, it would be really hard to say bye.  I knew Lucas had no idea that he would have to say goodbye to her, it made me sad to think that he would once again be hurt and not understand why those he was forming a bond with would leave, and he had really formed a bond with her.  Besides me, she was the only thing that was constant in his world since day 1 too.  We had limited the bonding with her since we knew this day was coming, and further yet he needed to understand who his mommy was, and the difference between a parent and another family member.  He formed a close bond with her, and I was thankful that he felt secure enough to do so, although he did understand there was a difference between us and that I was mommy.  They had fun together, played together, and he called her “auntie wendy”.  They are buds.  🙂

I could never thank her enough for doing this journey with me.  I could never ask anyone to do this, to pay their way, to help me with everything, to stop their life and come travel half way across the world with me, possibly at a moments notice, possibly missing her daughters college graduation (which thankfully she didn’t miss), and asked me if she could come with me, because she loved us, and wanted to help us, because she said she could and wanted to, because she has an amazing heart.  It is unbelievable to feel that kind of love from someone in your family.  I pray that everyone has someone like her in their family.  Who’s willing to do something like this for you, for nothing in return.  I could never re-pay her enough, or thank her enough for all that she did for us.  She became more than a “cousin” to me, but truly a sister.  In fact, in Uganda, they don’t understand “cousins” and just refer to family as sisters/brothers, so we said we were sisters.  I am one lucky girl to have the family I have.  I have another cousin who is like a sister to me, literally is a sister to me through our sorority in college, and one of my best friends.  I just hope everyone has a family like this!  I am one blessed girl.

We stayed together as long as we could, and eventually came to the point we had to go our separate ways in that New York airport.  It was a sad goodbye, I didn’t know how Lucas would react.  We hugged and cried, and Lucas was strapped on my back looking at her, she did her best to hold it together.  He looked at her with confusion.  He didn’t understand.  He hugged her and said goodbye, and waved to her as we walked away.  I knew he did not understand we were saying goodbye.  She’s always been right around the corner, and I think he thought she was going to pop up around the corner in just a few minutes.  It felt strange to be alone, without her, on my own for the first time with Lucas.  We walked to our gate, which we would soon be boarding.

He kept looking around for her saying “auntie, auntie”.  I kept telling him that we would see her again someday soon, but we were going home to see Daddy and Aiden, and I would show him pictures.  He remembered Daddy and would point to his picture and say “daddee daddee” with a big smile!!

We arrived in Denver, and didn’t have long between our flights, oh I’m so tired.  We’ve been traveling for over 24 hours at this point, and I’m so exhausted.  Only one more flight.  One more.

So I pull out our last and final boarding pass and I’m too tired to have noticed before that Lucas and I aren’t even seated together.  Oh my gosh.  Really?!  The lady in the New York airport who had the issue with our last flight and getting us to our final destination including our bags, didn’t even seat us together…are you kidding me?!  With like 5 boarding passes, a almost 3 year old I’m wrangling, and a million bags to re-check, and trying to figure out where to go and what to do next, and not to mention I’m running on little to no sleep, looking at seating assignments was the last thing on my mind at that moment.

Well…even if we are seated apart, we won’t be sitting in those seats.  We will be together.  They can’t let a toddler sit alone anyway, isn’t that a airplane regulation or something!?  It should be.  Anyway, we board the plane and I sit in my assigned seat in the middle, and I sit Lucas in the window seat next to me, getting prepared to ask who’s supposed to be sitting there if he would mind sitting in Lucas’ assigned seat so that my child and I can sit together.  It was a middle seat, so I knew that person wouldn’t be too thrilled about it.  I also told the flight attendant that we didn’t have seats together, and he replied “why didn’t you check that earlier?”  “You’ll just have to sit apart until the plane is loaded and we can figure it out!”…uh, what?!  I don’t think so.  I unloaded on him…”I am one exhausted momma, and I can guarantee you that no one else on this plane has just traveled over 24 hours coming from a third world country…and with 4 different planes we have already been on, and all that we have been through and done in the past day, seating assignments are the last thing on my mind, in fact that’s ya’lls job to sit a mom next to her child…so don’t question my judgement sir!”  He was silent and walked away.  I should have told him off even more!  Jerk!

ANYWAY, so I’m on my own to figure it out.  Then, this young-just graduated from college, has no kids probably-guy points to the seat Lucas is in and says that’s his seat.  I explained to him our situation and asked if he would mind taking Lucas seat.  He paused, and hesitated, and grumbled with a sigh of irritation, “…fine”.  Oh great, thanks jerk, appreciate the compassion.   I’m really grumpy, tired and exhausted at this point…can you tell?!  lol

Thank God this is the one flight that Lucas is totally fine with the seat belt and doesn’t fuss one bit, I wouldn’t want to upset college boy over there getting his panties in a bunch even more from our horribly inconveniencing him with sitting in a different seat for an hour.  So this horribly exhausted momma and her boy land to our final destination, and I couldn’t be happier.  A rush of adrenaline comes over me and that I am going to get to hug and kiss my sweet husband and that Lucas will be re-united with his daddy in just a few minutes!!  I am so excited.  Lucas is beginning to put it together that we will see daddy!  He starts smiling.  We come down the escalator and there he is!!!!  My husband!!!!!!  Daddy!!!!!   The whole world just shut out for that moment and all I could see was his face, oh I am sooo happy.  Bliss.  Home.  Together.  All we’re missing is Aiden, which we will get to see him on Saturday when my dad and Aiden fly in.  Lucas was so happy to see daddy, but didn’t want me to let him go.  He was still trying to figure all of this out and where we are, and what we are doing, and how daddy appeared…poor guy.  lol.

I had always envisioned this big “welcoming committee” with all our close family and friends with signs and balloons as we come down those escalators, but with coming in so late, we knew it wouldn’t be what we had “envisioned” and only Roger would be there to greet us.

In the end, I am SO SO glad we chose not to do that, I barely had the energy to keep walking to the car at that point, let alone greet all of our family and friends and have the energy to properly introduce them to Lucas.  I am so glad it was just an intimate greeting of just us when we arrived home.  Plus, Lucas was so tired and confused as it was, to have so many people there would have been way to over-stimulating and overwhelming for him.  I mean he had never even seen a floating balloon before, let alone all these new faces, and people excited to meet him.  I think it would have frightened him.

When we got to the car, I began to get anxious about the car seat and how Lucas would react.  I feared he would flip out because this had way more straps than the “seat belt” on the plane.  I think he was so tired, and excited to see daddy because he didn’t care at all.  I strapped him in waiting for him to flip out but pretending like we had done this a thousand times before.  He was fine.  He was looking around the van, looking outside, looking at the lights, the cars, he was majorly distracted by all the foreign looking things around him.  I held Rogers hand on the way home, so happy to be HOME and TOGETHER.

We pull up to the house, I’ve never been more happy to pull up in this driveway.  We are here.  my bed.  oh my bed.  Roger and I are filled with anxiousness and excitement as we are about to walk through the front door of our home with our new little boy.  Roger goes ahead of us to let the dogs outside and take pictures.

It’s unbelievable that this little boy from the middle of Africa, who was in an orphanage with no hope, no family, no one to love him only weeks before, is now walking into his future, his home, his family, and is loved beyond anything he will ever know.  It was a big moment for all of us.  We felt Gods hand on our shoulders the whole time as we took steps into that house, like he was carrying us faithfully till the very last minute until we arrived home.  It was incredible.

Lucas walked in the front door, and he was consumed with new visual sensations.  A TV, a couch, shoes by the door, carpet, toys in the corner, plants in the house, pictures in frames, lights, it was a lot of new things to look at.  He stood in the doorway looking around.  He stepped in one tiny step at a time.  I held his hand the whole time.  He was uncertain and raised his arms for me to hold him.  I picked him up and lead him slowly around the room.  He saw the dogs at the door outside.  He was terrified of them.  We took him down the hall where he couldn’t see the dogs.  Then we took him to his room.  He wanted down.  It was his room.  The first room he had ever had.  The first bed he had ever had to himself.  The first time he had anything that was “his”.  He felt ownership right away instinctively because he wanted down and smiled, exploring his room.

We had a few colorful things in his room, like his bedding, the rugs, and a hanging on his wall, but for the most part, it was purposely bare, and we didn’t put too much in his room as advised.  We wanted his room to be his “safe” place when everything else was too overstimulating.  Coming from a stale, cold, un-colorful environment in the orphanage, a slow transition to adding more in his room will come later.  For now, the simpler the better.  He loved his room.

We took him and showed him the rest of the house, and got ready for bed.  This would be the first time he would be in his own room, in his own bed, and without me sleeping next to him.  I rocked him to sleep and sat in his room with him until he was sleeping heavily.  Then, I went around the corner to our bedroom, crawled into bed, and slept the best sleep I’ve ever had…

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Travel day 18 (Dec.13th)

Today is the day!!!!!!  The day I get Lucas’ visa!!  We go HOME *hopefully*!!  I can’t even believe it.  We had been in touch with our travel agency, who has been amazing in helping adoptive families get cheaper airfare, and our travel agent said that he could get us on a flight home TONIGHT if we wanted to do that.  Oh my goodness…YES!  Wow!!  So we booked it and got our flight itinerary leaving at midnight that night from Entebbe, Uganda!  Midnight is the typical flight time leaving Uganda-just in case you’re wondering.  🙂

So all day I was on pins and needles getting ready to leave, and anxiously awaiting our Visa pickup appointment at 4pm, although we will be there by 3pm.  I am just hoping and praying that Freda actually does have our Visa ready like she said it would be today, I’m nervous.  We are putting a lot of hope in having it in our hands today since we booked flights home already!  I’ve never heard of anyone being called and told to come pick up their visa the next day and it not be ready, so I’m pretty confident, but there is still always a chance there is an issue or something happen and it isn’t ready, so I’m a bit nervous, especially because of our ups and downs in dealing with the Embassy last week.

Since this is our last-oh my goodness…LAST day in Uganda, I am trying to think of everything and anything else we should do before leaving!  More crafts/souvenirs…?  Yes, I could always use more of those!!!  So away we go to the craft market!  I am so glad we went because I got some of my favorite things from that last minute craft market extravaganza…like the boys drums!

I got some other neat things, like my “Mzungu” t-shirt, and favorite bead necklaces.

After the craft market, it was time to go to the Embassy and pick up the VISA!!!!!!!  Oh I hope we get it….I’m just so nervous that now that we have solid plans to leave TONIGHT that we won’t get it in our hands today.  I am just in shock that the process has moved this fast for us so far, I guess I’m not completely convinced that it’s going to be all said and done in 2 1/2 weeks (which is how long the process has been for us while we were in the country…so far).  So I show up at the Embassy about an hour before I was told to be there, and wait.  Soon, another family shows up who had received the phone call to come pick up their visa as well, and then shortly after another family.  It was just us waiting in the waiting room.  I’m reliving in my head what happened the other day at the Embassy, us sitting there with the other families and watching Freda come out and hand all of them their visa’s and she didn’t have ours.  Heartbreak.  Worry.  Fear we would never come home.

Then…at 4:20pm, Freda walks out!!!!!  Ok, this is the moment….

She hands one of the family theirs, the other family theirs, and then turns to us and I see an envelope just like the other families in her hand and she pauses and smiles at me and hands me OURS!!!  She handed me Lucas VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  IT IS IN MY HANDS!!!!!!  We have it and I sighed a huge sigh of relief!  This is just absolutely incredible that the process has gone this fast, we got the visa today, and we are going home tonight.  I can’t wait to bring our little boy home, and be together as a family with daddy and Aiden back home.  We are SOOOO EXCITED!!!!  Lucas has no idea what’s going on, but he can tell I’m excited, so he is just as excited with me, not having a clue why or what’s to come!  Sweet boy!!

As a celebration, we had to go back ONE MORE TIME to our FAVORITE restaurant in all of Uganda…Tuhende’s Safari Lounge….the BEST steak I have ever EVER had.  The entire 4 course meal including an amazing piece of steak, was a total of $6.  Here is the menu:

After a delicious meal at the best restaurant in Uganda, it was time to go back to the guesthouse, finish packing, and say our goodbyes.

I am beginning to get a little sad now about leaving.

I will miss this place.  the people.  the food.  the smells.

I know it doesn’t make sense, as hard as you push to get back home, and as excited as I am to get back home, and how many things I miss about home, I will really miss Uganda.  Even though he is on to such a better life, it is still hard to know that you are taking this little boy away from all he has ever known and how terrified and unsure, and scared he will be.  How upside down his world will continue to be, and has been since he left the orphanage.  Oh, and all the many “mzungu’s” that will be everywhere in America, and how even the people will look foreign to him.  I’m sad for him, but on the other hand I am so so excited for him and all that God has in store for him in his life.  No more pain, no more abuse, no more starving, no more of being unloved.

I try my best to tell him what is happening but he doesn’t understand.  I am the only thing in his world that has been constant from day 1 of meeting him.  He clings to me like glue.  I am his world, and he makes that clear.  When he is unsure, he is comforted because I am there.  It’s an amazing feeling, and incredible to first hand witness the bond we have silently created.  To see that this child who has been through so much pain and abuse in his life able to attach and bond with someone despite the suffering he has been through is just remarkable to his character.  One one hand, this is an incredible feeling, but on the other hand, it’s hard to see him be so scared and that I am his whole world.  I want him to discover who HE is, what makes HIM happy, that he doesn’t have to look for my approval to play with a toy or eat a bite of food, that he is free to be him, to be a child.  I look forward to the day when he is a carefree, silly, playful, happy little boy who’s world feels secure, and he knows he is loved.  It will come.  For now…we pack to get ready to come home!  One thing at a time.  🙂

We pull up to Adonai guesthouse after dinner, which by the way has had power on consistently the past 3 nights!!  It’s just beginning to get dark outside as we are pulling up to the guesthouse.  We notice there aren’t any lights on inside.  Oh no.  Yeah…so yeah….the power is out.  GREAT.  The one night we really NEED to have power to pack for our journey back to America, and there is no power so we have no lights to see to pack.  So here I am with a flashlight between by knees trying to pack our suitcases and wrangle an almost 3 year old.  Fun.  I decide that Lucas and I better take a quick shower (even if it is in the dark-with no hot water) since this will be our last opportunity to take one for the next two days while we’re traveling half way across the world.  After our showers, which felt so nice, I continue packing and getting ready and I’m a mess trying to get everything together.  I’ve got things spread out all over the place, and for an extremely organized person this is just agony.  I decide that I don’t have time, or the ability (in the pitch black dark) to worry about organization.  As hard as it is for me to ignore non-organization, I had no choice.  Gosh I’m regretting not doing this earlier!  I should have stayed here packing instead of going to the craft market this morning!  It just didn’t feel final until I had that darn visa in my hand, and then we just HAD to go to Tuhende’s before we left, so there just wasn’t enough time in the day.  🙂   That’s ok, looking back, I wouldn’t have traded what we did on our last day for the craziness that packing was AT ALL, so it all worked out in the end, non-organization and all!  🙂

Needless to say, but the time I got downstairs the shower was completely worthless because I was sweating my butt off.  It was HOT.  It is sooo hot in Uganda.  Hot. Hot. Hot.  Hot like nothing I’ve ever felt before.  Anyway, it was hot and I was sweating and “packing” in the dark was finally done, and now it was time for goodbyes.  It was sad.  I cried.  The staff at the guesthouse had become our friends.  Godfrey was there to say goodbye as well, these were our new friends.  Friends we would never forget.

When you go through a journey like this, people who are with you in the midst of it somehow grab a hold of your heartstrings a bit and there is a connection there that no one else has.  It’s hard to say goodbye to them.  I was glad we had a little more time in the car with Steven as he drove us to Entebbe, to the airport.  Steven would be the one person it would be really hard to say goodbye to, he had been there with us from day 1.  Lucas was ready for bed, and fell asleep in my arms in the car on the way to the airport.  I was thankful for that.  Poor baby had no idea what was happening and was overwhelmed.  We chatted with Steven and enjoyed the ride to the airport that seemed to go by too fast.

We said goodbye to Steven, and I took one last breath of Ugandan air, and away we went inside the airport.  Chaos.  Wow.  People everywhere.  We have so many bags.  Lucas wakes up and is terrified and upset.  I try to comfort him as I’m trying to help my cousin with the millions of bags we (I) have, and as I’m trying to figure out where we go next.  It’s chaos.  It’s close to midnight and we’re tired, and did I mention sweaty and hot!?  This was not our best moment during the trip.  Grouchiness had awoken.  The only thing keeping us happy and going is that we are going back HOME!  lol

We finally get our boarding passes and our bags checked, thank God.  Less bags, we are happy campers!  Although we did have the maximum amount of carry-on’s you could have, and away we go to immigration to go into the gate areas.  I’m nervous.  This is what I was warned about, to make sure we had enough copies of our court paperwork to hand out to every airport official who asked for it, in particular the Ugandan immigration, and to not let them open the brown envelope that the Embassy gives you (only in the U.S. at Homeland Security Immigration can they open it-if it’s opened before then, you have to go back to UG and start the process over again-yes I’m dead serious).  I’m nervous, what if I make a mistake?  What if I hand the sealed envelope to the wrong official?  What if I don’t have enough copies?  What if someone who’s not supposed to see those documents gets our information from them and tries to steal our identity?  Yes, I’m a worry wart.  How can you tell?  🙂 Long story short, we make it through Ugandan immigration just fine, nothing to worry about, I was prepared and had more than enough of what paperwork they needed.  They took our fingerprints, looked at my passport, looked at Lucas Ugandan passport, Visa, and paperwork, and off we went.

It’s now close to midnight and we’re sitting on the plane an hour and a half later, and getting ready for take off…

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Travel day 17 (Dec.12th)

It’s Monday!!  To my complete surprise, the phone call I’ve been waiting for has come!!!! Freda from the Embassy called me and told me that Lucas’ visa is ready and we can come pick it up tomorrow at 4pm! Well we will be there at 3pm! 🙂 oh I am so so excited!!! I can’t even believe it!! Our flight leaves tomorrow at midnight (typical for flights going to America to leave around then). Tomorrow night we will be on a plane headed HOME!!! HOME!!!!  SO SO EXCITED!!!

Now that this is actually happening, much faster than we had thought it would, it’s a bit bittersweet.  I’m taking Lucas away from the only home and country he has ever known, the food, the smells, the people, everything will be forever totally different for him after tomorrow night. But of course on the other hand I am thrilled to be going home!!!!!! Oh we can be together as a family!  Aiden can finally meet his little brother!  We can show Lucas his home!  His forever family!  I can’t even tell you how excited I am!!!  I’ll update you tomorrow with a visa in MY HAND!!!!

On a different note, for those of you interested, or possibly traveling to Uganda, and want to know what a VERY nice guesthouse in Uganda looks like (relatively speaking of course), or where you should stay, I wanted to give you a look at Adonai Guesthouse 3 where we stayed the whole time we were in Kampala.  It’s a very nice guesthouse, and has 7 rooms, and each rooms has their own bathroom with running water.  They also have wifi, so my ipad worked there!!  The only bad thing is (and you’ll run into this anywhere you stay) is the power comes and goes there.  The main thing I loved most about this guesthouse was the staff, and food.  Olivia runs the guesthouse and she is just so sweet, such a kind lady, and has an amazing group of ladies who work there.  We were actually very sad to say bye to them, they became our friends.  They are all just so nice, they work so hard, cook such good food, and boy do they keep this place clean!   They also loved Lucas and would try everyday to make him smile.  🙂  I also can’t forget to mention the hardest working man I’ve ever seen, Julius, he works at Adonai 3 as the grounds keeper, security guard, landscaper, etc.  You name it, he probably does it!  He was just amazingly kind with Lucas and you could tell he has grandchildren.  He is a very sweet, hard working, kind man.  I can’t say enough great things about this guesthouse.

Here are some pictures:

The driveway to the front

The gates on one entrance, the entire thing is on a compound with a gate all the around the building, we felt very safe (our things included) the entire time we stayed there.

The main entrance

The little yard on the side of the house

The main floor area (stairs go up to 4 of the guest rooms)

The common (living room) area

Another view of the common area

Dining room area

Our room (a bit small, but just fine for the two of us)

The view from my window

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Travel day 16 (Dec.11th)

We went to church this morning in Kampala City, and heard children sing Christmas songs and put on a little Christmas show, it was so  cute!  Then we came back to our guesthouse and relaxed, Lucas took a nap, and I got to read some and have a little free time, the only time of the day I get to!  He is attached to me like glue, which is good, that means we are bonding!  So nap time is heavenly! 🙂

He is still learning who I am though because he will go to just about anyone right now.  Maybe its because he is comfortable with me, I don’t know.  I think mostly he just isn’t quite sure who I am yet.  For example, today, Lucas went to Steven’s wife no problem and he let her carry him, I normally don’t let anyone carry him at all but me, but she was a little insistent, and later to find out we were the first American’s she had ever met, and she was more than likely trying to be helpful and nice.  I didn’t want to be rude.  I think she thought she was doing me a favor since he is a big boy to carry.  Good thing it was only for a few min. because I wasn’t really comfortable having anyone else hold him but he had no problem going to her.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  Just when I feel like we are getting a secure bond he proves me wrong and makes me wonder.  We’ll just keep trying and keep bonding.  I think once he’s home and he figures out who his family is and his core nucleus then he will be ok and our bond will solidify and become deeper.

One of the best things about today was getting to meet Steven’s family!  🙂

While we were in Uganda, we kept seeing the ladies at the guesthouse eating something crunchy, it looked cooked, and greasy.  When we asked them what they were eating they replied non-nonchalantly…”oh, grasshoppers”.  WHAT?!?  Grasshoppers?!  Like the grasshoppers outside?!  They laughed at us.  lol.  They said that it’s Grasshopper season, and they are so good!  It’s a popular Ugandan snack!  Wha?!  Oh my goodness…I’m gonna have to try these aren’t I?!  Wendy and I got brave and decided that we should just suck it up and try one!  We’re in Uganda after all, where else are we going to try a “grasshopper”!  :/  Poor grasshoppers!  These things aren’t the normal itty bitty grasshoppers we have in America, cause here in Uganda these suckers are HUGE!  The ladies fry them in oil, garlic, and seasonings, and take their legs off, all that you eat are the bodies of them.  Then they’re ready to eat.  Oh my gosh…am I really gonna do this!?  Yes, I did.  It wasn’t…too bad actually.   It was crunchy, and nutty tasting.  I just couldn’t get over the little black beady eyeballs…eww.  Lucas on the other hand, ate them by the handfuls!  :/  lol.

I am praying and hoping we get a phone call tomorrow morning saying “Your Visa is READY!”  oh my goodness, that would be amazing!  Probably not gonna happen, but I can hope!
So today has been a good day, it was a nice weekend.  Relaxing with some fun added in.  Now I get ready to get back to hounding and living at the Embassy until we get his Visa!  🙂

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Travel day 15 (Dec.10th)

Well, another weekend spent in Uganda, we will use it wisely!  Looking back, I’m so grateful for this weekend in Uganda!  We had a lot of fun!

We soaked up the 100 degree Ugandan sun with a trip to the Ugandan Zoo in Entebbe!

Phew it was hot!  But it was a neat little zoo!  American Zoo’s have safety standards that the African Zoo here doesn’t have, so that was definitely interesting.  We were very close to the animals!  Sometimes only a ditch between us!  We were close enough to touch the Monkeys and feed them pistachios!  haha!  I got to touch one of the monkeys fingers and monkeys fur!  It was awesome!  Wendy, Steven, Lucas and I had fun with those silly monkeys!  I think the monkey’s were Steven’s favorite!

We also got to watch many of the animals at feeding time since we were there about the right time.  That was even more interesting than the zoo safety standards!  The workers would pull the dead carcass of whatever it was (fish, dead chicken, etc) out of the bucket (with no gloves, fyi), open up the door to where the lions, cheetahs, snakes, etc. are and just go right in their cages/area and stand there and throw the food around!  Wowza, I am glad I don’t have that job.

We also saw camels, just running around free in the zoo.  That was kinda weird, but cool!  They were down by the water in the sand, just hanging out.  We got probably 5 feet away from them and I was too scared to go any closer, they were a little intimidating.  When we got close to one of them he raised his leg and stared us down, opening his mouth looking at me straight in my eyes….ok, time to go!  haha.  It was really cool to see them that close though!

This is a Crested Crane, Uganda’s national bird.   They were all over the zoo, and beautiful!

It was a good way to spend a Saturday, at the Ugandan zoo!   After the zoo, we went to a little pizzaria on Lake Victoria, the same one we went to before where Lucas splashed and played in the water for the first time.  There was a nice breeze and we sat outside in the sand, watching the water, with palm trees and a nice cool breeze blowing through after a hot day at the zoo.  Good food, good conversations, and one sleepy boy…score!

Almost felt like we were on vacation on a tropical island somewhere…(I said almost)

My beautiful cousin Wendy

Our driver and sweet friend Steven!

My handsome and sleepy sweetie

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Travel day 14 (Dec.9th)

The most horrible, no good, awful bad day.

We had “heard” through the grapevine that other adoptive couples waiting for their Visa like we were got a phone call to come in today to pick theirs up!  So we DEFINITELY were going to the Embassy to pop our little heads in and see if anything happened to be ready for us.  We checked in, and he called Freda to let her know we were there, she never came out.  We sat there with all the other couples about to get their visa, waiting on Freda, and that she didn’t come out to tell us it wasn’t ready was a good sign for us!  Maybe she’s getting everything ready for Lucas too!!  We are hopeful!!

Freda came out and handed the 3 other families waiting their Visa’s BUT us.  I almost lost it, about to cry crocodile size tears.  What the heck!?  I am one super frustrated momma!  Where is Lucas’ visa!?  If the investigator or someone who can sign off on the visa’s is back, and signed theirs, then why isn’t ours ready?  Freda had told me there wasn’t much to investigate, and that it’s done anyhow, just waiting on a signature.  I don’t understand!

She called me into the little cubicle room where you speak through a window to talk to me, what was she afraid I would lose it on her?!  I knew what she would say, just not the reason…It isn’t ready yet, just wait for a phone call…What she did say was that they have a new investigator and he is reviewing all the cases, even if they were reviewed before by the other person, and he still had to review ours, and sign it before she can issue it.  I cried.  Right there.  In that little cubicle.  In front of Freda.  What she suspected, happened.  I was crying.  lol.  I was hot, sweaty, tired, homesick, missing Roger and Aiden, sick, dealing with a sick boy and I didn’t want my cousin who is here with me to miss her daughters college graduation (which was the following weekend) and I was stresssssssed, about out of money, waited 3 hours for NOTHING and did I mention I’m tired?  I know I am being a big whiny baby, but it was just so hard seeing all those other families handed their visa’s and us…nada.  We walked out of the Embassy, and through my tears I’m explaining my frustration with Wendy as we walk out to where the car usually is parked with Steven.

We look…and the car is no where in sight.  We look ahead a ways and see Steven pulling away…what?!!  Does he know we aren’t in the car?!  Thankfully he sees us and turns around.  We walk towards the car, and there are people in it.  Um…  Steven says that he will be right back but these people (who he has driven before) needed a ride, 10 min and he will be back he says.  Ok, fine, we’ll just wait.  After our horrible, awful, no good day at the Embassy, we were so tired and just wanted to go back to the guesthouse.  About 40 min. later, Steven comes back, and we sit in silence the way home…we are so so tired and frustrated.  Steven apologized, and made it up to us by charging us a more than fair rate for the day, and we told him we would see him tomorrow.

Oh we just wanted this day to be over.  We finally just accepted the fact that we would not be going home anytime this weekend or probably not next week either the way things have been going at the Embassy.  We accept it.  I’m fine with it now.  It will be ok.  This is in God’s hands and obviously I have more to enjoy and more to learn about Uganda since we’re still here for a reason.  We will do just that, we will enjoy more time in Uganda!

This is a typical “stove” in Uganda

Need some fresh fruit or veggies?  Some of the best in the world, literally.  So so yummy!  Avocados the size of Lucas head!  No joke!

This is the outside of some restaurant we didn’t eat at, lol

THIS is a termite nest!

Did I mention that there are no, absolutely no washers and dryers in Uganda.  All laundry is done by hand, even in hotels.

He is taking the plantains into town to sell

This man is taking these couch frames he made from wood into town to sell to a furniture store where they will upholster them.

This is how the typical Ugandan gets around if they don’t have a car, and most of them don’t have a car.  This is a cattle car, which has become a taxi.  These men in this picture are riding for 4-5 hours out of Kampala to various villages.

This is a typical Boda Boda.  It’s not uncommon to see 3 people on one of these, or it stacked as full as it can possibly be of various goods.

This is a typical little grocery store

These women are wearing the typical clothing that the Ugandan women wear.

Yeah, that’s a man up there on top of the wooden sticks, which is their scaffolding.

Yep, this is a legitimate ladder they use

This is how they eat their rice in Uganda, with “gravy” that tastes like vegetable soup!  It’s really good!!

African Tea (hot tea with warm milk)

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Travel day 13 (Dec.8th)

I wake up realizing that I didn’t get a phone call last night, or yet this morning.  Hmm…trying not to worry about it.  He will call any minute.  Eventually the afternoon rolls around and no phone call…oh man I’m bummed.  This isn’t looking good.

Isaac calls, he tells us that he forgot to give us a piece of our paperwork that the Embassy will need.  So we call Steven and we drive to Isaac’s office and pick up the paper, then drive it to the Embassy hoping for good news once we got there.

Well, it didn’t turn out to be good news.  The investigator, one of the final signatures for Luca’s Visa, is out of the office on emergency leave.  The investigator’s dad passed away, and he left yesterday evening when he found out, which is why we never got the phone call last night or this morning.  So the Embassy is waiting for a replacement investigator to sign off on the Visa, and Freda at the Embassy wasn’t sure when that would be.  Nice.  She said everything is done, she just needs the investigators signature in order to issue the Visa.  AHH!!!!  I know it was an unfortunate circumstance, and of all people, I know how losing a parent suddenly feels, and this really stinks.  So she said to wait for a phone call.  So….we wait.

In the meantime, because Lucas was still sick, the cough getting worse, we took him to the health clinic in Kampala called “The Surgery”, which is where you want to go to see a doctor in Kampala.  We got right in and saw the doctor.

The doctor was really nice and super with Lucas.  He said that Lucas’ throat was swollen, but his chest sounded fine.  He also said that Lucas has ringworm on his head, a common occurrence in kids in the orphanage.  He gave us some medicine for those issues and we were sent on our way!  All for a total cost of 66,000 shillings, equal to about $25 or so.  Here is “The Surgery”:

The “ambulances”

This is the “x-ray” room, which is outside

The highlight of the day were these adorable pictures my cousin and I took of Lucas as we are waiting outside to see the doctor!  🙂

Besides these amazingly adorable pictures of Lucas, and getting in to see a doctor, it was a pretty disappointing day as far as having hope we would have his visa soon.  We just relaxed at the guesthouse, not knowing when we would be leaving Uganda, if ever!! haha.  The days just drag on when you are there and not knowing when you will get the Visa.  We were prepared to be there for weeks.  Mostly we got our hopes up that we would be leaving this week because things went so so fast from the time we left court to this point.  We just didn’t think we would be in Uganda another weekend.  We weren’t disappointed, but just thrown for a loop since we mentally shifted gears toward leaving by the end of the week since things had been moving along so well.  We thought we would still go back the next day to try and see if his visa happened to be ready.  🙂

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