Travel day 12 (Dec. 7th)

Today was AWESOME!

So, we went to Isaac’s office, hoping he would at least have the signed ruling & order from the judge in Mbarara today, and *hopefully* the passport as well.  I was nervous about how long we might have to wait for the passport.  We show up to Isaac’s office, and they say that he is out of the office and will be back soon.  It’s not easy getting anywhere in Kampala, so we just decide to wait there for him.  We didn’t know if it would be a few hours, or a few minutes, neither did his office.  So we wait.  We’re waiting about 10 minutes, and guess who pulls up!?  Isaac!  Oh, awesome!  Well now let’s just hope he has the signed ruling & order.  In his hands I not only see the signed ruling & order, put Lucas’ passport as well!!!!!!!   YAHOO!!!!!!!!  Amazing!!!  I am sooo happy!  Isaac is really an amazing lawyer, and become a friend of ours.

Oh happy day!  So now, we go take the signed ruling & order, and Lucas’ passport to the Embassy and try to schedule a visa interview!  We can’t believe how fast Isaac was able to get his passport!  Amazing!

So we head on to the Embassy.  We stopped by a place that has a copier and made about six copies of each paper (you need about that many for the various people you give it to-the Embassy, the airports, etc.) and then we go to the Embassy.  We submit the paperwork, and talk to Freda, she said we have everything turned in we need, and that if we want to come back to 2pm today, then we can go ahead and do our interview.  What?!  TODAY!?!?  Oh my gosh!  YES!  YES, I will be back in plenty of time before 2pm to have our interview!  WOW!!!  Can’t even believe it!  Wendy and I high five and squeal in excitement!  Oh my gosh, this is nuts!!  I am soooooo excited.

It was about 11am, so Steven (our friend and driver) suggested we go eat lunch at a place close by called “Chicken Tonight” and head back to the Embassy after that.  Sounds good, let’s go!

Lucas was tired, hungry and ready for a nap!  He did eat everything on his plate, plus half of mine!  This boy can eat, I’ll tell you what.  He loves some “n’coco” (chicken) that’s for sure!  Something else that’s delicious was the passion juice there.  It’s everywhere, and sooooo good!  It’s like nothing I’ve tasted before.  All their drinks are in glass bottles in Uganda (probably all over Africa) and they drink it with a straw.  There is just something that makes you feel good about drinking out of a glass bottle.  Plus, it’s actually probably smarter than the way we do it in aluminum cans!  First, the drink tastes better in glass, and second, they reuse the glass bottles, I’m no expert, but I think it’s a better way to recycle than aluminum.  I just love that they use glass bottles there.  🙂

So, it’s 1pm and we’re already back at the Embassy, ready to go for the Visa interview.  I’m nervous.  You just hear horror stories about these interviews sometimes, like-you envision being in this dark room, being “questioned” with a lamp hanging over your head or something-at least that was my scary vision.  All I really knew was that this interview is extremely important, that they take you into a room to conduct the interview, and that they’ll ask you questions.  So, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I check in, Freda knows I’ve arrived.  We are the first ones there.  As the clock ticks by, it’s 2:30pm now and the room is full.  Good thing we got here an hour early!  What do ya know, I’m called in!  Ok, here I go!  Wish me luck!  Wendy waits for me in the waiting room.  I go in with Lucas.  At the Embassy, when you talk to anyone, you go in this tiny little room and they have these “windows” you speak through (like at a bank) and a door you close behind you, so it’s really private and confidential.  I’m expecting them to say to “come with me” to a different room or something, but we just start the interview right there.  Freda (who is Ugandan) has a man with her, Mike.  I don’t know who he is, but I notice he is American.  He introduces himself and says he will be conducting the interview.  I thought Freda was going to conduct the interview, so that was confusing.  Not sure if that’s the norm, but that’s how it went for me.  He started, and we just stayed right there in that little room.  He asked me questions, basically some of the exact same things we were asked when doing our Home Study; Why do you want to adopt?  What lead you to adopt from Uganda?  What do you know about Lucas’ history?  etc.  Really nothing too in depth or hard to answer, just basic things I already knew about him and his history.  Every interview is different though based on the history of your child, if there are living relatives/parents then it’s more complicated.  The parents/relatives will be interviewed as well as you, and if you have an older child, then they interview the child as well.  It just all depends on how easy or hard your interview is based on your child’s story.  Lucas obvious has a pretty simple history, no one knows who his parents are, he has no known relatives, nothing.  He was abandoned, and a true orphan.  So nothing to really investigate there, and they knew that.  But they still make phone calls and follow up with everything in our paperwork just to make sure it matches up.  I think that’s a good thing.  I would hate to be the one responsible for taking a child away from his family and being under the impression he has no family, and if the Embassy can find that out, then that’s good.  It’s basically these children last line of defense before they are taken out of the country.  They take their job seriously and they should.

The Embassy is currently under high alert because there has been a series of unethical adoptions and a few unethical orphanages happening in Uganda lately, and the Embassy will and is in the process of putting a stop to it, as well as many other organizations that fight for the rights of children.  An example, it has been recently found that some orphanages who have legitimate orphaned children, no living relatives, were abandoned, and in need of a forever family were just being kept there in the orphanage, year after year so that the orphanage can receive funding.  When adoption agencies or couple who want to adopt come along, and ask the orphanage for a referral of a child to adopt, instead of giving them referrals for the children in the orphanage, the “director” of the orphanage gives them referrals for children who the workers are related to, their cousins, their friends kids, sometimes their own kids, because they know that the life they will have with this adoptive couple is going to be better than the life they have currently.  All the while, these true orphans are never given a chance to be adopted, and just kept as a pawn for funding.  It’s very sad this was and is happening.

Another example of unethical adoptions occurring is when couples who wish to adopt demand an infant, and specify a boy or a girl, they express what they want to a lawyer (an unethical lawyer, not a good respectable lawyer like we had) and because orphanages often don’t have infants who meet the adoptive couples criteria, and because the lawyer wants to get paid and keep this adoptive couple from looking elsewhere, the lawyer would actually go to the slums of Uganda and bribe new mothers to give up their newborns for a small amount of money (I’m talking sometimes $100 or less) and often times the mothers have other children to feed, are starving, and have no place to live, and $100 or whatever it is they are offered seems like a million dollars to them.  So they give their babies up.  The adoptive couples are told a different story, like the parents abandoned the child or the parents died, and the adoption proceeds, stories untold.  Sometimes this is caught, sometimes it isn’t.  It’s incredibly sad when this happens.  So this is why the Embassy has such an important job to do, and they take it seriously.  Every child they let leave the country and issue a visa to they want to make 100% sure that that child needed a home, and the best option for that child was you.  When they feel that’s the case, they issue you the Visa!

The interview was about 15 min. long and wasn’t bad at all.  Mike was nice, things went well, no question was too difficult, and I knew the answers everything as well as I could have, and Isaac had done a great job providing information and evidence of Lucas’ history in our paperwork.  Mike said to expect a call either tonight or tomorrow morning telling us when to come pick up the visa.  Oh my goodness I couldn’t believe how quickly all of this was happening!  We leave the Embassy feeling ecstatic!!

Today was an awesome awesome day!  🙂

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Travel day 11 (Dec. 6th)

Waking up, hoping to get a phone call from Isaac any minute that he has our ruling & order from the judge in his hands!!

After a while, I call Isaac.  Oh man.  Isaac tells me that the judge didn’t sign it yesterday as planned, but that he will sign it today.  That means by Wednesday we’ll have the ruling & order from Isaac, well I sure hope he gets Lucas’ passport on Wednesday too!  See, the ruling & order, and passport are important to get as quickly as possible, because you take those things to the Embassy and that is when they “officially” begin the investigation and research the background of your child to be sure they are officially an orphan, and then they schedule you the visa interview, and THEN give you a Visa so you can leave the country.  So every day that goes by and we don’t get the ruling & order from the judge is another day delayed in getting the Visa…so we’re anxious to get it as soon as possible.  Every step of this takes time, and every step could take weeks to accomplish.  There are some people who have waited literally 6 weeks JUST for the passport!  So I was nervous.  Hoping to get the ruling & order and passport by tomorrow then, since we can’t get it today.  Well darn.

So, with nothing to do…guess where we go!?  Garden City mall!  We saw that playground yesterday and thought I’d give it a try and show Lucas what a playground is all about!

He had never seen anything like this before.  He stood, clenched to my leg, looking at me like “what the heck is this?!  what am I supposed to do here!?”  So up I go, crawling, sliding, showing him what he’s supposed to do!  I pick him up and show him the ropes, carrying him since he wouldn’t let me go.  Oh boy.  Well, he isn’t liking this too much.  Well, let’s try the slide!

Oh, ok, don’t like that either.  Well, lets keep trying.  He isn’t crying, but isn’t liking it too much either.  So, let me make this look as fun as possible.  Too bad there aren’t any kids here.  Oh, look at this (picture below), this is low-key, spinning fun!  Oh he liked this!!  This broke him in a little bit and helped him realize that playgrounds are fun!

Later on, some kids showed up and started playing, he watched and observed them, and loosened up a bit more, and started to play just a little, it was a start.

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Travel day 10 (Dec. 5th)

We woke up, had breakfast; yep, more pink/red sausage and eggs…with instant coffee and s&p on our eggs.  😉

Today, we hoped to hear from our lawyer, Isaac, that he might have the ruling & order from the judge, and Lucas’ passport in his hands!  He said it would be Monday that the judge would sign the ruling & order, but that was all the way in Mbarara, so I knew it would be Monday evening or Tuesday before Isaac had it in his hands.  So, I have wishful thinking for the day, I know.  But at least we go to the IOM medical clinic again so they can read Lucas TB test, and then they send that on to the Embassy-one more step closer to getting that Visa!  The IOM medical exam and TB results have to be sent to the Embassy as one of their requirements to leave the country (aka: getting the visa).  It didn’t look like his TB skin test was reacting to me, so I knew that he wasn’t positive for it, which is a huge blessing.  I can’t imagine how long we would have had to stay in the country trying to treat active TB before we would be allowed to come home, sometimes it takes many months to treat.  Thankfully, it was negative.  Yay!  We were in and out of the IOM clinic within 10 min.  Awesome!  There was a huge wait, and tons of other adoptive couples waiting to be seen.  I am so thankful we were able to get our exam and appointment in on Friday instead of our original scheduled day of today.  We would have been there all day waiting.  We just slipped right in, they read the test, and we slipped right out…awesome!  The security guards at the front even recognize us we had been there so much!  Adios IOM!

We went to the Kampala Garden City Mall, we are told that this is where the “rich” people in Uganda shop, as well as all the Mzungu’s.  Oh, ok.  Well I guess what they consider “rich”.  As suspected, it was nothing like a “mall” you think of in America.  It was a big building, with a ramp to walk up and down the 3 levels of in the middle of the building, it was actually quite nice for Uganda!  Inside, there is a nice little grocery store, a food court (awesome!), and some shops to buy crafts in that were way overpriced, and a playground at the top of the building!  We spent quite a bit of time at Garden City during our stay in Kampala.  While we were there today we got some bottled water to take back to the guesthouse, and we went by the “pharmacy”-no prescriptions needed.  Definitely different.  I had been a bit concerned about Lucas because he started developing quite the cough, and runny nose over the past few days.  I suspected he picked it up from the orphanage when we visited there.  They were all so happy to see him, and were passing him around, I tried my best to just keep him with me, but it was so hard, I didn’t want to be rude, after all this was their final goodbye.  Ugh.  So yep, sure as I feared, he got sick.  I’m just hoping it’s just a cold or something.  The cough just kept getting worse and worse, especially at night and it would keep us both up all night.  The pharmacy gave us some antibiotics, and I hoped they were ligit and would help.  Here we are inside Garden City mall (picture below), this is what we looked like every day we were there.  They said this carrier is great for bonding too, it really was a big help.  Because his hips/legs never developed properly, and he has never been active in playing, running, etc. and mainly in a basin and crib most of his life, he has a hard time walking long distances, so the carrier was really handy.  For those of you considering a stroller to take to Uganda, don’t even worry about it.  Find a great carrier instead.  He was scared of the stroller first of all, they don’t use them there, he had never seen one before, and was scared of it.  He also hated being strapped in by the buckles in the stroller because they don’t have car seats or anything really they strap kids into there (he loved the carrier though because I was “carrying” him).  Plus, the roads are so bumpy, and there are no sidewalks.  The only place I even used the stroller was in the airport, and that wasn’t even to push Lucas around in, but my bags without wheels.  He was only wanting me to “carry” him in the carrier.  So find a good carrier, and ditch the stroller until you are back in the states, and gradually get them used to it when you’re back home.  No need to have a stroller in Uganda.  🙂

For those of you wondering about our carrier, it is a “BabyHawk: Oh Snap”, it carries up to 50 lbs. No joke!  They are pretty expensive (around $150, but I found mine for about $80 on Amazon), and it has been worth every penny!  Lucas is 38 lbs and HEAVY, and this carrier was comfy and distributed his weight evenly on my back, and mostly across my hips so it didn’t feel like I was carrying anywhere close to 38 lbs!  It is honestly an awesome carrier.  I highly recommend this carrier for any child, all the way up to 50lbs!!!!

This is the outside of Garden City mall in Kampala, at the very top is the playground, which was actually really nice!  It was pretty much like an American playground.  I’m also pretty sure this is the ONLY playground like this in all of Uganda.

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Travel day 9 (Dec. 4th)

We woke up this morning and got ready for church in Uganda!  I was excited to see what it would be like.  It was right downtown Kampala, we went to a church called Calvary Chapel.  It was in a big building, and we walked about 6 flights of stairs up to the church.  They were singing in English!  How cool!  I can understand them!!  Awesome, church in English!  One of the songs was familiar to me, and I held Lucas, singing, rocking back and forth to the music.  It was great.  He enjoyed the music too.  The pastor got up to give his sermon, in English!  Yeah!  We also got to take communion, which was very nice.  Quite awesome to get to do that in Uganda with my new little boy.  We enjoyed the service, which was really quite similar to any Christian church service in America.

After church, we went with Godfrey and his family, and a friend to Lake Victoria, to a pizza grill on the “beach”.  It was beautiful!  Lake Victoria is huge!  After we ate our pizza’s and fought the lake flies, we went to the water.  Lucas had never seen anything like it before.  He was nervous, but slowly left my side one footstep at a time and explored the sand, then the water, and he started to play.  There was Godfrey’s son, and another little girl, Joyce, who were with us, and after watching them playing in the water, Lucas was ready to go for it!  I stripped him down to his pullup and let him have at it!  After a few min. he was laughing, smiling, splashing in the water, running in the sand, he was loving it!  He is a little water baby that boy!  I had the most fun watching him.  Today was a great day.  This weekend was really nice.

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Travel day 8 (Dec.3rd)

Lucas seemed ok, he looked for Roger, wondering where he had gone.  I kept telling him over and over, although I knew he didn’t understand.  I showed him his picture all the time, and every time Lucas would smile so big!  Cute boy!  He loves his daddy!

Today I’m glad we had something to go and do for the most of the day.  We were invited to go to a small village, called Kemengo.  We didn’t know much about the village other than it is in major need of help, clothing, food, etc.  These people have nothing, and before their new water well, they had to walk 40 min. to get water, and it wasn’t even clean water.  Now, with donations and help of a lot of people, they were able to get a new clean water well.  Incredible.  This will be interesting to see.

We drive about an hour out of Kampala, and go on a series of back roads, through mud, how we didn’t get stuck in the mud, I have no idea!  Godfrey is an amazing driver for sure!  🙂  We finally start coming upon some “houses”, they are so small, and Godfrey tells us that we are entering the outer part of the village of Kemengo.  Wow.  This is what we see:

Kids start running up to the car, shouting “Mzungu” Mzungu”!!!!  We passed out candy to them, some of the followed the car.  They we so excited to see us.

We pulled up to a house.  It’s the house of a “midwife” in the village.  She delivers all the babies, and has a hut behind her house that is the “delivery room”.  Her name is Mama Florence.  She is a sweet elderly lady who is doing the best she can to help the women in her village.  The conditions are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  Walking around the house, I am in shock that is this really how they live, seeing it up close.  We didn’t go in her house, but walked behind it to the back, where the delivery room is.

This is the back of Mama Florence house, with a pig and all.

Mama Florence is standing in the doorway of the mud hut right behind her home, this is the delivery room where she delivers all the babies in the village.

It’s hard to imagine delivering your baby in these conditions.  My heart is so saddened at the lack of medical supplies, technology, and conditions that they are in in this village.  This is normal for them.  No help, no doctors, no medicines, no medical supplies, just each other.  They have no idea the kind of medical care there is in the world.  It was as if I was standing back in time in that room, definitely not in the year 2011.  It was so hard not to break down standing in the room with her looking around at the mud hut where she delivered these babies.  There had been donations brought by one of the women we were with, one of them being a stethoscope.  Mama Florence had never seen that before.  She didn’t know what it was or how to use it.  Godfrey showed her and told her what it was for.  She was amazed, and floored there was such a thing!  She listened to Godfrey’s little boys heart, and tried it on Lucas too.  She was very excited!  She said that she used a glass to hear the heartbeat of the baby.

She was also given some plastic shower curtain liners to use on the bed as the women give birth, then she can clean it up easily, and keeps things cleaner.  She was really excited about these.  They were the dollar store plastic liners.  She showed us how she uses them.  She was happy to get the medicines that were brought too, in particular the menthol rub, she said her shoulders and bones ache so bad that this will help.  She doesn’t speak English, but Godfrey translates everything to us.

I got bit by some mosquitoes while we were in the hut, the first time since being in Uganda.  Hopefully my anti-malaria medication holds up!  I’m a little nervous about being bit.  I ask Wendy if she got bit, thankfully she didn’t.  Then, I think that if I get bit by mosquitoes just standing in the hut, what do these newborn babies and mothers get bit by as they’re sweating, with warm liquids and blood all around as they’re giving birth in there!?  No wonder a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds in Africa.  My heart is so heavy in sadness.  I want to help, I want to do so much.  I want to scream to the world that this village NEEDS HELP!!!!!  Sadly, this is how most of the world lives.  We are so sheltered living in America.  We have so much.  We have so much technology.  These people have nothing.  They can’t even imagine all that we have in America.  I left a little piece of my heart in that hut.

We continued down deeper in the village and stopped at another house.  Harriet’s house, she seems like she is kind of in charge of the village.  She is a sweet lady, with a nice family.  Kids gather around us from different parts of the village.  Godfrey says that we will stop here, unload the rest of the donations-which are clothes mostly, and walk down to the main building of the village, where they are preparing food that we had donated to them and was brought there earlier in the day, and it was a bit of a walk.  I strapped Lucas on my back (in our awesome Oh Snap: Babyhawk carrier-holds up to 50 lbs-incredible!) and started handing candy out to the kids around us.

Then we start the short hike down to the village.  As we approach the clearing, we see a big crowd of kids, and people.  They come running, literally running up to us, they’re soooo excited.  You can tell that this is a huge deal for them, and not something that happens often, if at all.  “Mzungu’s Mzungu’s Mzungu’s” they shout!  They surround us, bowing to us, touching us, touching our skin, in awe.  They are treating us like we are God, like we are Holy.  It’s overwhelming.  I started to break down and lose it.  It’s so overwhelming to be treated this way, your heart breaks for these kids.  That YOU are their best gift.  They feel so special that you have come to visit THEM.  You feel so unworthy.  Here is the building out of the clearing as we are approaching them…

We walked into the building and all the kids followed and sat on the floor of the building.  There were hundreds of them.  Godfrey started talking to them in their language and introduced us and told them why we were there, that we would serve them food, and we brought some things for them.  As their way of saying thank you they sang and danced for us.  They really make beautiful music.  It was wonderful.  There was a boy behind them “drumming” the beat of the songs they sang, with a water jug as his drum.

After the dancing, the ladies of the village had finished and prepared the meal for everyone.  They laid out banana leaves on the floor as a “table cloth” and placed the bowls full of rice, beans, potatoes, and beef on the banana leaves.

One by one, the older kids came forward and got bowls of food for the younger ones and they served the younger kids first.  Then they came back and got food for themselves.  They were so happy and excited waiting in line for this gourmet meal of food!  This was something they never had, this was amazing food to them, and rare to have this much food, especially the juice.

As all the children were served, I scanned the crowd of kids, all happily cleaning their bowls, eating everything.  It was a feeling of joy watching them feel satisfied and fill their bellies.

I felt the tears coming again, oh my gosh.  I have GOT to hold it together!  I’m losing it.  I can’t even describe to you the emotions I went through, or even how to describe that day, their faces, the conditions in which they lived.  There are no words.  It’s horrible.  These people need help, need medical care, need education.  I can’t help but think of all the other people who are just like these people, in need of so much, all over the world.  I am overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed at how much I have and how little they have.  Wendy is just as overwhelmed.  It’s hard seeing what we saw.  It’s so hard.  You feel guilty for all you have.  You want to just give them everything.  But you can’t.  You can’t “fix” it, you can’t change how they live, and accepting that is hard when it’s starring you in the face.  What I can do is help, help like we did that day, and keep praying for these people, and keep donating money to the organization that helps villages like these.  Godfrey told me that tonight they will go to bed for the first time in a long time and possibly the first time with full bellies, and dream about what happened today for months.  Months.  I can’t believe that WE will be what they are thankful for for months.  You know how much money it cost for the entire meal to feed all those people?  It was probably close to over 300 people.  $120 dollars.  I look at money completely differently now.

This day changed my life.  Forever.

After everyone had full bellies, we passed out the donations of clothes that someone had brought and each child came up and we tried our best to fit them with their size.  They were so excited to have any piece of clothing, they didn’t care what it looked like or even if it was pants or a shirt, it didn’t matter, they were just happy to have it.

Funny side story, as these pictures are being taken, Wendy and I keep smelling some kind of stench.  I mean, we just figured it was the children surrounding us, many of them don’t even have a place to bathe, so we brush it off, no big deal, its just the kids.  Well, it just keeps getting stronger of a stench….of…..well, it smells like….poop.  I told Wendy it smells like fresh poop.  human poop.  She thought so too.  Oh great.  Who knows where that is coming from.  We look around our feet, close by our bags of clothes we are pulling out for the kids, and we don’t see anything.  Oh well, at least we figured out the smell…keep going.  Kids are surrounding us, and it’s a fast paced, keep going, keep handing out clothes kind of thing, there are just so many of them, you can’t take your time.  We just keep moving…passing out clothes.   At this point I can ignore the stench anymore, it’s overwhelmingly the smell of poop.  I turn around to check on my sleeping boy behind me, “OH MY GOSH!  It’s coming from MY CHILD!”  Lucas pooped a humungous huge one that came squirting out of the back of his diaper and all over his back, the chair he was sitting in, the floor, and his clothes.  OH MY GOSH!  I’m mortified!!!!!!   No one notices a thing, how they don’t see this or smell this I have NO IDEA!!  Wendy and I obviously did.  She started laughing, continuing to pass out clothes, lol.  Because of our little trek down to the village and having to carry Lucas on my back, I didn’t bring the diaper bag.  Of course this is when he would decide to drop the biggest schidoobee known to man…oh my Lord, I can’t believe this.  He’s pooped all over the place!  I call for Godfrey, he gasps in seeing the poop horror before me…and poor sweet Godfrey goes all the way back to the car to fetch the diaper bag, that thankfully has wipes, clean clothes, and diapers in it.  Oh Lord, my child.

Anyway, after passing out clothes to all the kids, and having a now non-poopy boy on my hands, everyone is about ready to head out of the village.  I just look around in awe of the happiness of these kids, each one closely holding their new piece of clothing, showing each other, looking at us, watching us, some coming up to us wanting to touch us.  We smile and reach our hands out to them.

This day was heartbreaking and incredible all at the same time.  I was forever changed this day.  A little piece of my heart was left in that village that day.  I still think about those faces I saw, and my heart longs to help and do more.  These are God’s people, and to see God’s view of His people a little clearer, a little better, to gain a little more perspective was just life changing, and incredible.

After a little hike back, we made it to the car, on the outer part of the village, after almost slipping in mud with Lucas on my back, we made it.  Muddy Muzungu feet and all.  🙂  What an incredible day.

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Travel day 7 (Dec.2nd)

Last morning waking up to my honey for who knows how long…This is going to be a sad day.  The only daddy Lucas has ever known is going to leave today and he will not understand why or what’s happening.  We are nervous about how he will handle it.  We decided to let me do most of the holding, feeding, etc. today to transition him a bit.  We had shared most of the feeding, carrying, changing diapers, dressing, and bathing equally, me a little more than Roger because we knew that this day was coming when Roger would have to leave.  Especially today we made sure to leave it all to me so he might have an easier time saying goodbye to daddy.

We had a lot to accomplish today before Roger left.  We went early to the IOM Medical to see if we could be seen today.  It’s Friday, and they were packed.  Great.  We will probably have to wait till Monday, our originally scheduled appointment.  We knew that would push us back until Wednesday then for them to read the TB test, it takes 2 days for them to read it.  So darn, then we knew we couldn’t get our interview for the visa at the Embassy until after that even.  We thought we’d try anyway, even if we wait for hours, if we can get it done today it would be awesome.  So we go up to the desk, turn in our blue form-the IOM medical form we got from the Embassy, and his passport picture.

Thankfully, showing our faces the day before helped because the lady at the desk remembered us and told us to go right in!  Wow!  Alright!  I can’t even believe this, we just walk right in with a waiting room full of people.  I feel bad now.  But this is what I mean, you show your face, and keep showing your face, and things happen!  They told us to go in the exam room, and wait for the doctor.  Wow, this is the exam room.  Ok.

Alright, wow.  The “nurse” came in, asked us briefly what we knew about Lucas’ medical history, which was nothing, other than we had him tested for HIV and he was negative.  She told us they would do a physical exam, and put the TB skin test in and we would come back Monday to have it read, and that’s all they needed.  Then we went to a different room, that looked a tad bit better than the previous room we were in and the doctor came in, and was very sweet with Lucas.  Lucas had not been to a doctor before, and he was nervous.  The doctor gave him a bird statue like “toy” to distract him, which seemed easily breakable, and I was nervous.  Lucas liked it, and played with it like a 2-3 year old would, and the doctor said to be careful.  Lucas doesn’t even understand…oh gosh.  This might not go well.  I tried distracting him, and making him feel comfortable, he was doing good so far.  He didn’t like the ear check.  After he was done, bird toy intact, the doctor said that he seemed fine, needed some medical care, but nothing preventing him from leaving the country.  This is good!

So next was the TB test, I was nervous to have them hurt my boy.  I didn’t want him to associate me with pain, so since daddy was leaving I would have him hold him.  Ha.  Yeah, that didn’t work.  Lucas wouldn’t let me leave.  So I’d have to stay and watch them stick my boy.  🙁  Roger held him and I tried comforting and distracting him.  As they pushed the needle in his skin to place the TB test, he was in shock and as they were taking out the needle he let out a big cry!  I scooped him up and comforted him, he quickly stopped crying and handled it much better than I thought!  Phew, glad that is over!  We were so happy we got the IOM medical DONE, especially before Roger left, so he could be there.  The only thing he would really miss now is the Visa interview, which he didn’t have to be there for anyway, but essentially Roger was there for almost everything.  Today was a good day if any to leave and go back home, to work.

We went back to Adonai guesthouse to finish packing Roger.  Lucas noticed the suitcases, and we were packing.  He knew something was happening.  He clung to us (especially Daddy) more than ever.  Oh gosh, this is going to be harder than I thought.  I’m sad, and I knew that our little boy who already loves his daddy would be heartbroken and not know what happened to his daddy.  Oh this is bad.  I just asked God for help and guidance in how to handle this.  Thankfully, an hour later, Lucas fell asleep for a nap.  Then 30 min. later, the driver came to pick Roger up to take him to the airport.  Roger kissed our sleeping boy goodbye, and gave us both letters he had written us.  Roger was sad to leave us.  He was really worried and scared about leaving us, he was thankful Wendy was there to stay with us, that provided us so much comfort in knowing she was there, and we weren’t alone, but he was definitely worried about leaving all of us alone in a third world country and have to finish this process without him.  I walked him out to the car, and we said our goodbyes.  I was so sad.  I told him we would be ok, and I loved him, he did the same.  Roger was sad to leave me, especially Lucas, he was worried that he might lose the bond he built with him.  I told Roger he wouldn’t, and that I would show him his picture every day, and help keep that bond up as best I can, and that he wouldn’t forget his daddy.  We waved goodbye as his car pulled away.  Oh all of my heart is with that man, I’m so sad.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I walk back in and read his letter.  Of course, it made me cry.  I’m so lucky to be married to this man, to be on this journey of life with him.  We have created a beautiful family, and I have to be strong and finish this process!  I can do this!!  Wendy is there for me, and hugs me.  She tells me we can do this and we’ll be alright!  We’re strong women!  We’ll handle everything just fine.  🙂  She always knows what to say to help you feel better!  Oh I’m so thankful for her.

I go in the room and see our sweet boy still sleeping.  I pray over him, and quietly read the letter daddy left for him.

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Travel Day 6 (Dec.1st)

After a good nights sleep, we woke up and had breakfast, more pink sausage and eggs!  Wendy brought the best things…instant Starbucks coffee, which we quickly ran out of, but she also brought Folgers instant coffee and it was still amazing…and the best accompaniment…Salt and Pepper!  Oh thank goodness for Wendy!  She is the most uber-prepared person I’ve ever met.  Seriously.  She said she got the s&p for a dollar at Walmart, in the camping section, a little salt and pepper combo shaker.  Oh it was awesome to have that.  lol.  Yeah, sounds crazy I know.  Sometimes it just the little things ya know.  Especially when you’re homesick and in a third world country.   Instant coffee and salt & pepper somehow made it all a little better.  🙂

Today we had quite a bit we needed to accomplish, first thing we did was go to the adoption medical exam clinic (IOM Medical) where Lucas needed to get an exam, and TB (tuberculosis) under the skin test done to see if he has been exposed, which if it came back positive he needed to be treated before leaving the country.  You normally need an appointment to be seen, but we were told to just walk in and stay there and see if they’ll see you.  That’s kind of the “theme” in Uganda at these type of places (IOM, lawyer office, passport office, Embassy, Court) you just go and sit there until someone sees you.  It works.  Unfortunately it didn’t work for us at IOM that day…BUT it did help!  We went ahead and scheduled an appointment for Monday, but we knew already we were going to come back tomorrow and sit and try it again.  The process can get really delayed and drag on if you’re not pro-active and (nicely) aggressive in trying to get these things done every day you’re there.  Don’t wait.  Every day we were there it was costing a lot of money, we were separated from Aiden, and it was another day further from being home, so we were politely aggressive in making sure we were keeping the ball rolling.  It worked!  Plus, we weren’t the only ones doing the same thing.  It’s kind of standard to be that way there.  It worked to our advantage and probably saved us about 4-7 extra days of being in Uganda just by not waiting until they said to come back.

We also went to the market today!  It’s where they sell all kinds of Ugandan crafts!  Shopping!  My fav!  lol  Roger said he wanted to be with me while we went shopping before he left (tomorrow)  🙁  so he could help me remember how much luggage space we have!  haha.  We ended up leaving with some pretty cool things!  Ugandan people are amazingly talented!  Jewelry making, wood carvings, I mean just amazing work!  We had fun and found some really amazing things.

Then we went to get Lucas’s passport pictures taken, we needed 8 copies of them.  I think we really only used 4.  But better to have more than not enough I guess.  The lady taking his picture was Ugandan of course, and they sure do passport photos differently.  No smile, no teeth showing, she was trying to close his mouth so his teeth wouldn’t show and didn’t want him to smile.  Opposite of what we are wanting to do in photos!  It was funny.  None the less, we got them done and had copies ready to go for the Embassy.

Then we went to Isaac’s office (our lawyer) and got some preliminary paperwork saying that we had been granted legal guardianship and to begin the investigation.  We took that paperwork and passport photos to the Embassy and submitted it, showing our faces again.  We asked what Roger needed to do before he leaves tomorrow and all he needed to do was sign one piece of paper, so that was good we did that today.

We had a pretty productive day, and it was a good day.  After all that we went back to Adonai Guesthouse and relaxed, and packed Roger’s suitcases, especially with the crafts we had bought so he could take them back with him and I wouldn’t have to worry about it.  I don’t think we could have got one more craft in that suitcase!  lol.  Here are just some of the cool things we got in Uganda, some magazine paper rolled beaded necklaces and bracelets, and a little hand purse made out of those kinds of beads too, so cute!  Our Uganda wood carving, it’s beautiful and the entire thing is hand carved-such amazing talent.  The little hand carved wooden animal toys on the top of the quilt rack with a blanket that my mom made just for Lucas.  Then, the boys favorites, african drums!  Which I almost didn’t buy cause they were bigger items, but I’m sooo glad I did, they have had pretty good bonding moments banging on these drums!

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Travel Day 5 (Nov.30th)

We left Mbarara to head back to Kampala today.  Very uneventful compared to the drive there!  If you haven’t already, check out Day 3 and you’ll know what we’re talking about.  Oh Lord, what a day.  Before we left Mbarara, we stopped by Moneygram to pick up some money we had sent ourselves before we left the U.S., that way we wouldn’t have that much cash on us while we were traveling, and we had sent it to ourselves in small increments.  It worked out really well doing it that way.  Moneygram is way cheaper than Western Union, FYI.  Before leaving Mbarara, we stopped by an Ankole bookstore to pick up some books in Ankole (his language) for Lucas.  We wanted to find something that translated from Ankole to English, so we could read it to him and teach him Ankole as he got older.  He loves listening to us read in Ankole, even though I know we are butchering the language.  lol.  He still enjoys it!  We found the perfect Ankole books, it is a school book in level 1 reading that is used to teach the children in school English, but we wanted to use it to teach Ankole, so it was perfect!  They had 3 other books like that, we bought them for about 4,500 shillings each which was less than $2 a piece.  You can’t find Ankole books in Kampala since they speak a different language, so I’m so glad someone suggested to us to go to a bookstore there in Mbarara before leaving.  Good move!

The drive back to Kampala was nice, it was quiet, beautiful.  On the way back we stopped and bought some fried plantains from someone selling them on the side of the road, they were so good.  Lucas loved them!  We also got to stop at the Equator!

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Travel Day 4 (Nov.29th)

We woke up to a rooster welcoming in the morning…at like 5am.  Nice.  First thought: we hadn’t heard from Steven!  Oh no, is he ok!?  Roger calls him, he says he is on his way now to the hotel and that Godfrey and the mechanic had got the car running but it still needed more work, so they took that one back to Kampala and gave Steven the other car so we could get to court.  Poor Steven, he had no sleep that night at all.  He arrived at the hotel with the rest of our luggage, so we took showers and started to get ready for court.  Oh my gosh…court!  The day we had been waiting for and anticipating for months is here!!!  Today!!!  We brought two different outfits for Lucas since we didn’t know what size he would be, and thankfully the cuter outfit fit him perfect!  🙂  He had a little suit minus the jacket, little black pants, a powder blue button up shirt, with a grey striped vest and a tie, with matching shoes and socks we happen to have, such a cutie!  It’s the first time we had seen him all dressed up like this, oh he is such a handsome boy.

He loved playing with my ugandan bead neckalace, every time I wear them he always plays with it.  🙂

So here we go!  Off to court! We’re all dressed and ready to go!  It’s 8:30am…court begins at 9:30am.  We’re only about 5 min. away, Ok, this is it!!

I’m nervous.  I don’t know why.  Isaac, our lawyer, said he is confident things will go in our favor.  We get in this line that is entering the courthouse with two security guards going through purses, and bags.  We walk to the back of the line, like everyone else.  All of a sudden a woman comes and says “Oh, come with me, you go to the front of the line”, we are confused and start following her.  We get to the front, without saying a word, everyone steps aside and allows us to cut to the front of the line.  We look at each other like, huh?!  The only thing we figure is that since we are “Mzungu’s” they were trying us to show us respect by allowing us to cut, I was embarrassed and felt bad, but if we deny their offer for us to cut, we are being disrespectful ourselves, so in we go.  We get inside and go upstairs where we are supposed to meet Isaac.  He is there, and with a woman.  The same woman who told us to cut in line.  He introduces her as Jane, the police officer who found Lucas when he was abandoned and hidden.  Wow!  I had no idea she would be here!  I started to get teary eyed.  This is such a rare opportunity to meet her!  Incredible.  She began telling us more about Lucas, and what little she knew about him, his parents, the scars on his body, but it was more information than we knew before, so we were in awe of meeting her.  She said he had been tortured before, that’s where the scars came from.  The scars on his back is from his bones sticking out of his back and rubbing against the basin he was left in all day, every day, and eventually abandoned in.  The bones from his spine rubbed up against the basin and that ripped his flesh from constantly rubbing against the hard plastic and created lines of scars on his back.  The scars on his belly (which were new, fresh, and open wounds when she found him) are intentionally done by burning him with a red hot stick, poking holes in his abdomen.  The scars are horrific.  It literally sickens me when I think about all that this little boy has gone through.  There are little lines of scars above those burn marks that she didn’t know how exactly they were caused, either by a razor blade or teeth marks.  We will never know.  We will never know a lot about his past.  I know he will have questions when he is older.  We did our best to find out for him, but a lot of it, we will never know.  We are learning to accept that, and one day, he will have to to. This is a picture Jane took of him when she found him.   It’s hard to believe this is him.  It breaks our hearts, and still have a hard time looking at this picture.

After talking with Jane, and a good cry, we had to walk into the court room.  There are a lot of people there.  There are some American families adopting too!!  We go introduce ourselves.  Sweet families!  We were happy to meet them.  One of the couples we sort of knew already, they had a little girl from the orphanage Lucas is from too, they had originally had a court date a week before our original court date (back in early October) and were already in country when they found out that their court date would be pushed back a month and a half (to today) and I had brought them a little care package of things they wanted and had asked for, so we knew them a little bit.  Nice people, cute little girl!

This is the courtroom:

So we sit down in court, and wait.  Jane and Isaac sit next to me, and Sister Edvin from the orphanage Lucas is from walks in!  We meet her, and Lucas recognized her, but didn’t quite know who she was exactly but he goes right to her (which isn’t something he normally does)!  He seems confused, but ok.  I had a hard time letting anyone else hold my boy.

After a few min. the judge walks in with a white wig on, oh, wow, THIS is different.  We all stand.  The cases proceed, and after about 2 cases, the judge asks court if they will permit him to see families with children first-in chambers-so the children don’t have to wait.  My heart leaped with joy!  The court says yes.  They dismiss court and we are told to go to his chambers where he will see us.  That was so nice of the judge!   I’ve heard of families having to wait all day, I’m talking 7 plus hours, just for the judge to hear their case.  So this was fantastic!  Everyone told us we are lucky to be having court in Mbarara, and to have the judge we have, I see why this is true!

We wait outside chambers, and wait…and wait…and the more time that goes by the more nervous I get.  We stare through this open air window in the hallway, it’s really quite beautiful.

We are waiting, and finally Isaac comes up the stairs with Jane, and the probation officer who goes over and approves our case as well, basically proving even further for the judge that Lucas is indeed an abandoned orphan, with no relatives found at all.  So we have a good case, and we know that, but still, we’re nervous.  This is a big day!  We’re excited, nervous, a lot of emotions.

Almost our turn!

And here we go!  We enter the Chambers and the judge begins to hear our case!

We’re in there, my cousin Wendy is taking the picture for us, although you can’t see us we are sitting on the couch between Isaac and Jane.  🙂

Judge asks Isaac to begin, and he starts reviewing all of our paperwork and reading it all to the judge (which he has already reviewed) and the judge is taking his own notes.  Isaac reviews what he knows about Lucas history, and the judge asks Jane and the probation officer to speak.  Once the judge is done asking them questions, he asks Isaac about Roger, and what he does for work.  I think he was just interested more than anything.  He didn’t ask anything about me.  Then he asks us the one question he asked us the whole time, “What religion do you plan to raise him?”  Ugandans are very religious people, so this is important to them.  It is to us as well.  We told him we will raise him in the Christian faith.  The judge asked Isaac what religion the child is, and Isaac said that the orphanage is Catholic.  The judge said the basis of the two faiths are the same, so that is permissible.  Thank you Jesus!  🙂   Then the judge goes into this spiel about how in order to grant an “adoption ruling” we would have to live in Uganda for three years, and foster the child for 6 months, and my heart stops….I’m thinking, oh my gosh! what are you saying?!  We know this but we are wanting to have legal guardianship and then finalize in the U.S. since we are U.S. citizens………..uh….and then he says, “but, there is a way around that since you are wanting to adopt him with the United States, and that is legal guardianship here in Uganda, and finalize in the U.S., which is why you are here today”….oooooh ok, here we go, we’re on the same page after all…lol.  Then the judge says, “Congratulations, I grant you legal guardianship of this child”  AHHH!!!!   My heart fluttered with joy.  Roger squeezed my hand in excitement.  We smiled at our boy.  Joy.  He had no idea what was happening.  🙂  We told the judge Thank you! and he said that we will now go to the US Embassy in Kampala and apply for a Visa to the leave the country with Lucas and come back to America and finalize the adoption in the courts here in the U.S. after 6 months, and to provide a report once a year on Lucas from a social worker, and send to him until the child is 18 years of age.  Done.  So happy!  We walk out in bliss, with our new child who is legally ours now!  We thank Isaac, and are just so happy and excited! We celebrate with the other adoptive couples who also were granted legal guardianship!

We decide that since our court case was heard so early in the day, that we have enough time to go to the orphanage.  We will see the orphanage for the first time.  As we are walking out, Lucas keeps looking at Sister Edvin.  He recognizes her but clings to us.  She then starts talking to him, in his language, and something “snaps/changes” in him and he lets go of us and runs to her.  He remembers her.  He wouldn’t come back to us.  We were trying to leave to go to the hotel to change, and he wouldn’t come to us.  He starts crying when we hold him, screaming.  My heart is breaking.  All the bonding we just did, all the celebration we just had, is all over in this moment…I don’t know what to do, what he is feeling, how to help him cope, how to cope myself with my child not wanting to touch me.  I’m frustrated, saddened, but keep trying, and eventually he calms down and lets me sit next to him in the car.  We go back to the hotel, and go in our room, and the best way to describe this is “snapping in and out of it” cause we walk in the room, and he remembers us again and the room, and he snaps “out of it” and is smiling, playing, running to us, like normal.  I just cry.  I lose it.  I just lost it.  I was so overwhelmed with so many emotions that entire day, with meeting Jane, hearing his painful past, and only a part of it, not all of it.  We’ll never know all that he has been through.  I just cried a big ole ugly cry, with Roger holding me, emotional too, and Lucas crawls up on our laps, and we just hold each other.  What a good, hard day.  He has been through so much, and those “snapping in and out of it” moments were the first of many to come.

We start the drive to the orphanage, about an hour from Mbarara, and we pull in.  Wow.  We’re here.  This is where our son had lived for most of his life.  This is an orphanage.  It’s a bit better than I expected.  It’s cleaner than I expected.  It’s protected.  There is a gate with barbed wire at the top, and a gate surrounding the whole place.

I can’t believe we are here.  I’m nervous to think how Lucas is going to feel.  I’m not sure how he is going to handle this, will he think we’re dropping him off?  Will he be happy to be here again?  Will he remember everyone?  Will he come to us again after seeing Sister Edvin?  We didn’t know how he would feel.  We got out, and a woman who seemed like she worked there came up and yelled “Rogers” (his given name in the orphanage)!!!!   Oh, good they know him, and remember him at least.  There aren’t any kids anywhere.  I am told they are napping.  We sit down in the room you first walk into the building.  The women who work there are doting all over Lucas, holding him, hugging him, rocking him, singing to him.  I’m quite surprised, he seems so loved.  We are told that this isn’t something they normally do with the kids, they don’t get hugs or loved on like this at all but that they are happy he is being adopted and this is their way of saying goodbye.  Oh, ok.  So this is why Lucas seems so uncomfortable.  He goes into this robotic like state almost, no smiles, just letting whoever touch him and hold him.  This older boy keeps wanting to hold him.  He seems so sweet.  He is about 10 I think.  He is an orphan, living there, he is the oldest boy in the orphanage.  I’m told that they “age out” of the orphanage about his age and have to fend for themselves, many of them become street children.  I can’t stop thinking about this boy.

Here he is with Lucas:

Sister Edvin walks in the room, and she gives us a tour of the orphanage.  There is a sweet little boy following us around, he is about 5 years old, and he is holding Lucas hand everywhere we go.  Lucas likes him and is comfortable with him.  We go on the tour and she shows us the babies area, there are about 8 babies, all lined up on the mattress.  One of the girls is holding one of the babies.  They’re crying.  One of them is so small, I’ve never seen such a tiny baby in person.  She is malnourished.  She looks like a 6 week premature baby, I am told she is 2 months old.  Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  I’m holding back my emotions.  Roger is in shock too.  We start to see some kids, I guess they’re waking up.  They’re not wearing any pants, or underwear, just a shirt, and there are about 10 of them right next to Lucas.  They remember him, he remembers them I can tell, he isn’t in the robotic like state he was in, but he wasn’t excited about being there either, he was unsure why he was back and what was happening, but he seemed a little happy to see his old friends.  He stayed close to the little boy holding his hand, and us the whole time.  We saw where they sleep, and she showed us where Lucas slept.  I was actually surprised they have one or two children to a crib, I thought it was more than that per crib.  Heck, I was surprised they even had cribs!  And to see Lucas’s crib in the back of the room, empty, I can’t even tell you how we felt seeing that.  Amazing.

They run a tight ship there.  There are so many kids and very little care workers.  These kids are very institutionalized,  meaning there are so many children per care worker that they are expected to do what they are told or else.  For example, when you tell Lucas “Weybac” which means “sleep” in his language, he will very quickly lay down and close his eyes and not move a muscle.  It’s very sad to see actually.  It’s just driven out of fear.  From fear of what happening, I don’t know.  He also doesn’t like to spill things or get anything on his clothes.  He spilled his drink the other day and he looked at me with terror in his eyes as to what I would do, and was absolutely terrified.  I had never seen that look from him before.  The second I smiled and told him it was ok, it took him a second to process that I was ok and he smiled so big and started clapping!!  lol.  It’s like he was so happy that he didn’t have to be scared he was celebrating!  poor sweet boy.  He will also hand me his plate when he is finished eating, and will hold it high up in the air until I come get it.  There are more things like that, where he has been institutionalized, those are some examples.  It’s very sad.  But, these kids are so resilient and  he is doing really great adjusting.  We have our moments, but he is really overall doing really well so far.

Seeing the orphanage was very hard.  It’s hard seeing all those faces, all those children without homes, without parents, without someone to love them.  I wanted to take them all home with us.  There was something very special we got the privilege of doing while we were there.  There is a group that I am a part of on facebook where other families who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Uganda are all a part of, I’ve met some wonderful people through that group and we have become friends.  One family in particular, who sent us a package to take to their little boy, are adopting from the same orphanage Lucas is from, so while we were there we got to deliver the package to this little boy and he got to see his parents and sisters faces for the first time!  It was an honor to get to do that for them.  I didn’t know which little boy he was so I asked Sister Edvin who he was, and she said, well, he is the little boy holding Lucas hand the whole time you’ve been here!  Oh my goodness, I had no idea!  I had seen his picture before that his adoptive mom had sent me, but I was so overwhelmed looking at all the faces, taking it all in, I didn’t look close enough to see that this was the same little guy following us around, and was buddies with our little man.  Oh I’m so thankful for this special connection!  So I sat down next to him on the couch in the main part of the orphanage and handed him his package from his adoptive parents, one thing at a time.  I gave him the photo album first, and he opened it to see his family for the very first time.  He smiled so big and pointed to them.  Love.  I loved this moment.  How incredible.  The older girl next to him knew English too and translated to him what I was telling her.  I told him that those were his parents, his mom and dad, and his two sisters, and they are coming to get him soon, he has a family.  This was a picture of his home, of his grandparents, etc.  He was absolutely in awe looking at the pictures.  I took videos and pictures of this moment and sent them to his family when we got home.  They are a great family, and already love this little boy so much, they are more than anxious for him to come home, if you could pray for this little boy and his family, I know they would appreciate it!  Waiting is very hard, especially when he knows they are coming.  🙂   I am so blessed God allowed our families to become connected in the small chance we could have, so that our boys will be able to grow up knowing each other, sharing their special connection all the way back from the orphanage in Uganda.  We already have plans to get together with them sometime this year so the boys can reunite, in America!!   How cool is that!?

After visiting some time there, giving them our donations we had brought, which they were so thankful for and made such a big deal out of, almost like a presentation in front of everyone who had gathered to see, and they especially loved the camera one of my friends had donated, and the candy we had brought and passed out to the kids and even the adults loved the candy, it was time to go.  I feared Lucas would not come with us, and cry after Sister Edvin the way he had at the court house.  But once we started to say goodbye to everyone, to our surprise Lucas was the first one out of the door!  He ran to the car as if he was saying, “No way, you’re not leaving me here, I’m coming with you!”   We said our goodbyes, gave our last hugs, and walked out to the car.  Sister Edvin said goodbye to Lucas, he didn’t want her to hold him, he leaned in to give her a hug but still holding on to me.  My heart was happy, he knew who his momma was.  He knew he was going to a better life, and began to understand the meaning of having a family.  He wanted to leave.  He was ready.  We took one last picture with Sister Edvin and we waved goodbye to the place that would never again be Lucas’s home.

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Travel day 3 (Nov.28th)

We woke up surprisingly not tired, we realized we had actually all slept all night long.  Wow.  Ok, that was a surprise.  In our room in the guesthouse there is only one queen size bed, so the three of us were all sleeping in the same bed.  We were expecting to wake up SEVERAL times in the night with Lucas-Rogers.  He surprised us and slept well.  He was still sleeping when I woke up, Roger was awake, laying there starring at us.  Sweet moment.  We smiled at each other.  We are here, next to our little boy.  We are blessed.

After breakfast, yep-more red sausage and eggs, we had a long day ahead of us.  We had to make the drive to the town where court was, about a 4-7 hour drive, depending on rain and traffic.  See, roads are not paved and potholes are HUGE and you have to dodge them, and if it rains that means bigger potholes and more mud.  Of course it was raining that morning.  Great.

Yeah, those are the roads in Kampala…

Well, first we needed to go to our lawyer’s office to review the hearing in court tomorrow.  We arrive at his office, prepared to hear what we need to know for court.

Outside our lawyer’s office.

That went well, he feels good about our case.  Our lawyer, Isaac, gave us paperwork that we needed to take to the Embassy so they could get the investigation started on Lucas-Rogers background, which is typical.  The Embassy is part of the United States, it’s basically like a last stop before the children who are being adopted leave the country, last line of defense so to speak, from unethical adoptions, etc.  The Embassy is where they approve your adoption-saying that this child is definitely adoptable/an orphan/etc. and that they approve you to adopt him, and then they issue Lucas a Visa.  A visa is a stamp in his passport saying that he is able to leave the country with you as his parents.  The Visa also includes a sealed packet of documentation that you take to the United States upon arrival in the first U.S. airport immigration station you enter.  This process to get a visa can take a while.  So getting the paperwork turned in from our lawyer early gives us an advantage to get the visa quicker, and they could begin the investigation earlier, so by the time we get back from court and turn in our ruling to them they *might* have it completed by then.  That’s the hope anyway.  But, at least the paperwork is in their hands and we have met and introduced ourselves, especially so they could meet Roger since he has to leave that Friday.  So sad, can’t think about Roger leaving yet.

Here is the outside of the Embassy:

Also while at the Embassy we had to get the “blue” form, in other words, the IOM Medical Form for Lucas.  The Embassy requires a medical (a physical) from the doctor at the IOM Medical clinic, they also do a TB (tuberculosis) under the skin test to see if he has active TB.  They can’t leave the country if they have active TB until it is treated for several weeks/months.  We know that Lucas is negative because while he was in foster care we paid for him to get medical treatment and tests done and his had come back negative already.  Thank the Lord.  Another reason we put him in foster care is because when he was at the orphanage he was sick, he could have had TB and we didn’t know why he was sick at the time, and in order for us to leave the country with him he needed to be treated so we wanted to get him as well as possible as soon as we could.  We are so glad we got him medical treatment as soon as we could.  He was healthy and doing fine by the time we got there, and I know he felt a world better!

After the Embassy, we went back to the guesthouse to gather our suitcases, orphanage donations, etc. so we could begin the long drive to the town where court is, Mbarara.  The rain stopped!  Yay!  Our driver, Steven, had to take the car to get a little something worked on before our long drive.  No biggie.  He comes back an hour or so later, and away we go!  The drive from Kampala to Mbarara is beautiful!  Uganda is very different when you get out of the city of Kampala!  Fresh air, green, green, green!!  Beautiful!  Now this is the beauty of Uganda!  We enjoyed the drive, windows down, cool breeze blowing through the car, sleeping boy in our arms.  joyfully relaxing.

That is…until…about 3 hours into the drive.  It is just barely beginning to get a little gray in the sky, sun going down, and we are one hour away from Mbarara.  We come to a police stop.  We stop after hours of rolling down the road, and they peer into the car.  I’m nervous.  There are about 5 of them, and they all have loaded shotguns.  Ok, wow.  What are they looking for?!  Steven just said this is normal, they are looking for bombs.  Uh, ok.  He looks us all over, they check the trunk.  They wave us on through.  Phew!  Steven starts the car.  It won’t start.  Hmm.  Tries again.  It won’t start.  Ok, this might not be good.  Tries again.  Smoke comes from the hood.  It WON’T start.  OH NO.  They push us off to the side of the road.  Oh no.  Oh no.  I’m starting to freak out.  Steven gets out and looks under the hood, smoke POURS out.  Oh my gosh.  This is NOT good.  Roger gets out to offer help, against my advice.  There are 5 Ugandan “police” man with shotguns and here goes an obvious NOT Ugandan getting out of the car.  “Get back in the car” I want to yell.  Wendy is silent.  I know she’s worried too.  Steven gets water from the trunk and pours in somewhere under the hood.

Steven closes the hood.  They get back in the car.  Steven tries to start it.  It doesn’t start.  He waits, tries again.  IT STARTS!!   Yahoooo!!!   Alright…we’re on the move!  Steven tells us that the radiator has a crack in it, and that before we left Kampala he was getting that crack filled and fixed.  He was told in Kampala that it was fixed and good to go.  Well, it did hold up, but now the OTHER side of the radiator got a crack in it!  Oh no.  So Steven said that he was gonna try and make it to Mbarara and then get a new radiator when we got there.  See, we are in the middle of NO WHERE.  No towns close by, nothing.  We just passed one about 20 min. back, but he thinks he could make it Mbarara.

We are going down the road, and 15 min. down the road, smoke comes pouring out of the hood again…we’re driving.  Steven pulls over.  Oh this isn’t good.  The sun is getting lower and lower.  Not good.  We are sooooo frustrated.  Steven is upset.  We’re all just silent.  There is nothing anyone can do, he pours more water on it, same drill, eventually we get started again.  Steven gets on the phone with our friend and his boss, Godfrey.  He tells him to go to the nearest town and get it fixed.  We drive 20 min. back to the town we passed, pull into town and Steven tells us to roll up the windows, and don’t get out of the car.  Oh this isn’t good.  Ok.  Lucas-Rogers is starting to get restless.  We have to pee.  Bad.  We hold it.  Entertain Lucas and pray that we get this fixed fast.  It’s getting dark now.  We are obviously not in the safest part of Uganda!  We are told 10 min. 10 min. 10 min. it will be fixed.  Steven is frustrated, poor guy.  About 45 min. later, we’re on the road again.  It’s fixed!  Yay!!!  Ok, now if we can just make it to Mbarara.  It’s grey-dark now.  We pull up to that police check again, oh please don’t stop, please don’t stop, they recognize us and we roll on through.  Thank God.

We’re on a roll now! Phew.  Alright, 40 min. from Mbarara now.  30 min. from Mbarara now.  Uh…what’s that?!  uh…we see smoke.  Smoke!  OH NO!   NO NO NO.   Then “POP”, something sprays all over the windshield, and SMOKE ROLLS OUT under the hood.   I cry frustrated silent tears.  This is HORRIBLE.  What on earth are we going to do now.  The car is done for.  It’s pitch black.  We’re Americans in the middle of no where in Uganda, Africa with our new little boy who is DONE being in the car.   Roger and Steven get out and look it over.  The car is broke down.  Steven walks up to the house on the side of the road and asks for water.  They don’t understand each other.  We are in Ankole land.  See, Uganda is cut up into areas of Kingdoms.  Example:

Kampala, the capital, is in Buganda.  Where Lucas-Rogers is from is Ankole.  Where we are broken down at is in Ankole land.  Ankole and Buganda speak two completely different languages.  It’s like English to Spanish, or English to Luganda (the language the people of Buganda speak).  So they don’t understand each other.  So when Steven was trying to get help, they didn’t understand him, and they come to the car and see us, Americans-“mzungu” as they call “white people”, and they can’t understand Steven’s language, they begin to get a little scared of us.  So they give Steven some water and leave.  Alright, so we’re hours from anyone to help us in Kampala, and we’re not in any place for anyone to help us.  We have no idea what to do.  Steven calls Godfrey.  He immediately leaves and is on his way to us with a new car, and a mechanic.  But it will be hours before he is there.  We can’t stay on the side of the road here.  Steven is scared.  We are all worried and begin brainstorming.  I think of who I know that is coming to Mbarara…Isaac!  Our lawyer Isaac!  He is from Ankole/Mbarara and has got to have family/friends in Mbarara!  Steven calls him.  He is on a bus coming to Mbarara.  Isaac starts making phone calls and calls a friend of his.  His friend charges a crazy amount, but does come out to get us!  We are just trusting this person because he don’t have any idea where we are, where our hotel in Mbarara is or who this person is, but we have no choice.  We get in the man’s car, and thankfully he drives us safely to the Acacia Tree Hotel in Mbarara.  Thank you Jesus.  We made it.  We had to leave our luggage behind in the old car and just grabbed our court clothes and bag from and we hoped Steven would be ok.  We were nervous to leave him.  After calling Steven, and checking on him a few times, we fell asleep, trying to mentally shift gears to focus on court the next morning.

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