Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
Adoption: step one
Hello. Apwoyo. And greetings from Gulu where we are enjoying the early rainy season. As promised I wanted to share with everyone as we start the adoption process for this tiny baby (who is waiting to be born any day now)!
As with any adoption story there is much bitter and sweet all mixed up together. Adoption is always that mix because in order for the beauty of adoption to occur, tragedy must also occur. But walking through this with Jon has given both of us a deeper appreciation for the original adoptive Father. Just like in our story with baby, the story of God’s adoption of us involves tragedy and wonder. The tragedy of a world fallen to sin, and people in rebellion. The tragedy that is the rebellion in my own heart. But the wonder of a Father who still looks at me and says, “I want that one to be my child”. The story of God’s adoption is one that has become even more near and dear to my heart as He has prepared Jon and I to say yes to a little one we haven’t even seen yet. But do be warned, this is not an easy story. I will tell what I can but not all of it is mine to tell and we wish to honor everyone involved, especially precious V (we will be referring to the momma by the first letter of her name only).
We first met V last year at a pastor’s conference in Pajule where Jon was asked to teach. She is a young teenage girl, maybe 16 or 17. She wandered in, accepted food from the ladies, and sat by herself. Our friend who pastors Calvary Chapel Pajule, JB, explained that she lives on the street or in abandoned huts by herself, doesn’t speak, and won’t let anyone touch her. They are not sure what mental handicap may be there, but she functions on the level of a young child. The folks at Calvary Pajule and many other places in Pajule make sure she has food and clothes. They try to care for her as best they can since she cannot care for herself. V has the sweetest disposition you could want, despite the obvious signs of past trauma. She is never violent, never nasty, but does often run away from interacting with anyone. She has begun to trust pastor JB and even let him take a photo with her one day.
A few months ago, we learned that V had been raped and was 6 or 7 months pregnant. We reached out to JB to see what we could do (provide food, etc). Jon and I both felt our hearts completely burdened for V and her baby. After talking for a while we agreed that we felt God leading us to at least reach out and offer to help care for the baby when it came. The hope was for a local family to care for V’s baby, but that can be next to impossible in family’s with an average of 6 biological children and several that are usually cared for from other relatives. Many families find themselves trying to feed, clothe, school, and care for upwards of 10 kids! Most families struggle seriously just to be able to send their kids to school. We told JB to let us know, even if it was to help temporarily when baby was born to find placement. And we let it be in the Lord’s hands. We never forgot V but we prayed and trusted the Lord to find a good home for V’s baby.
A few weeks (yes, WEEKS) ago I was talking to our friend Stacy who had recently moved to Pajule from Washington. (She and her husband Nic live and work with JB and his family to support his ministry.) I asked in passing what was going to happen to V’s baby and she told me that because no one was able or willing to take care of the baby, it would be sent to an orphanage in Kampala. The primary orphanage that is accepting children in Uganda right now does not allow adoption, even from local people. Children who grow up in these orphanages get reminded everyday that no one cares about them. The thought of V’s baby never having a family broke my heart. I told Jon about it and didn’t really bring it up again for 2 days. Then we began to talk and pray together and were in agreement that if possible, we were going to pursue seeing about adopting the baby. The big problem was that V is quite pregnant, and no one is sure of her due date except ‘soon’.
We reached out to JB to see if the local officials would meet with us about adopting. (Because V has no family and cannot make decisions for herself, it falls to the local leaders to make the decisions they feel are best for her.) Often, and for good reason, adoption by white couples can be looked down upon here in Uganda. There was a time when children with families would be adopted in order to meet the demand of couples wanting to adopt. So Jon and I feared that if the local officials weren’t agreeable to us, that could be the end of the road. So we prayed. A few days later we found out that not only did the local officials agree, they seemed downright happy to meet with us!
We went to Pajule and met with the LC1 (village leader) and LC 3 (sub-county chairman). Basically that means the guy who is responsible for the village where V stays, and the guy who is like a mayor for Pajule. They were very happy to know someone wanted to love V’s baby, and they care very much about V as well. We prayed together for her, and talked about future plans. The LC3 said that the probation officer of Pader (the district where Pajule is located) knew about us and we would need to meet with him. The probation officer is responsible for women and children in their district who are vulnerable, and is really the one who has the say about if an adoption is going to happen. We agreed and asked for a meeting the next week if at all possible.
A week later we were in Pajule picking up everyone to go have a meeting with the probation officer of Pader. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect in this meeting, but it was so nice to see the probation officer have a genuine and deep concern for V AND her baby. We got the process rolling to get a foster-care order as soon as baby is born (since no one else is available to care for baby). And now we wait, for baby to be born. We are praying desperately for a safe delivery for V and baby, and for continuing love and care for V. The community has rallied around her so much, and they love her a lot.
We are very excited at the idea of being the parents to this little one, but our hearts break for the evil that brought the situation about. We aren’t sure if V knows she’s pregnant, or has any understanding of the situation going on. She has shaken our hands (a huge step) and is being cared for by people who love her. Please pray for her and for a special ministry of Jesus to her heart in this time. We are so blessed that God has written this small adoption story into His grand adoption narrative and can’t wait to see what He has in store as we move forward in faith.