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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