Archive for February, 2010

February 28, 2010

Kids that need families

While we’ve been here the need for adoptive families has becoming very apparent. Many people have asked me about adopting from Uganda since we’ve been here.
The process is not easy and is often frustrating but the children are so beautiful and the need is so great.

A little about the process as I know it. Things are changing right now in the process and this might change.

You can adopt independently or through an agency.
Adopting independently the fees are much lower than any other international adoption program I’ve seen.
The need for families is great…especially for boys, older and special needs children and you could potentially have a referral very quickly. We waited less than a month for our referral of an almost 2 year old boy.
Travel can be long and unpredictable. Some families have traveled and been home in 2-3 weeks. For others it takes 6-8 weeks. It depends on if there are any hiccups in the process while you are here. You can do two trips which would increase your costs but may cut down on time in country.
The dossier is very simple and easy to compile (at leas I thought so)
Uganda is a great place to visit and a beautiful country.
Singles can adopt children of the same sex.
No strict requirements on parents age, length of marriage, etc.

There are several children here in Uganda that I have met and that are in need of adoptive families.

There is a small group of special needs orphans in a Babies Home here. They have asked me to help them find adoptive families for these kids. These kids have been VERY well taken care of by one of the largest and most well known orphan care organizations in the country. They home has and is in the process of compiling in depth profiles of each of these children so there is quite a bit of information on them available as well as many pictures and stories from others who have spent time with them. Here is a little about the children based on my interactions with them. Please let me know if you want more information and I can get you their profiles. Please feel free to share this list with others who might be interested in providing a family for one of these sweet kids:

Boy age 2 with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Can sit up in a bumbo seat and reaches for toys. Smiles at his caregivers and other children. His limbs are very stiff. Has the best smile and is so cute!

Boy age 4-6 (?) with severe CP. I didn’t get a chance to interact with him much but his caregivers report they think he is at a 3-6 month old level. He was smiling at his caregiver while she fed him his lunch.

Boy age 5ish with untreated hydrocephalus. This little boy stole my heart. He is very smart, talks well and clearly and is the cutest little guy. His head is large but isn’t growing. He is just learning how to walk (his head size makes this very hard!) and he is so proud of himself. He is so adorable and sweet. He will make someone an amazing son.

Boy age 3-4 (?) with possible autism, deaf and partially blind. Didn’t spend any time with him but observed him for a short time from a distance. He was playing in some water and seemed very happy. Much more information available from the home.

Girl age 5ish with mild/moderate CP. This little girl is quite the character. She is very smart and seemed to understand everything I said to her though she isn’t able to talk at this time. Her caregivers report she knows the alphabet, her colors, numbers, etc. She gets around well though she isnt walking on her own. She can walk with a walker. She’s a beautiful little girl.

Girl age 18 months with hydrocephalus, probably developmental delayed, low muscle tone. If I could convince my husband to let us adopt again right away I would come back for this sweet girl in a heart beat. She is soooo sweet and beautiful! She has a shunt for hydrocephalus. She has low muscle tone. She is able to sit up on her own and army crawls around the room. She waved at me from across the room as she sat in her bumbo seat but got a little nervous and reached for her caregiver when I got too close. She is beautiful and has a gorgeous smile and twinkling eyes.

Girl age 3 with hydrocephalus, probably developmentally delayed. She was an onery little thing while I was there! She sat on my lap for a long time and we played for quite a while. She has a shunt for hydrocephalus. She isn’t walking yet but is learning. She gets around well by crawling. She has a crossed eye (just one) and is really cute.

Girl age 3 with a club foot, visually impaired, mild CP, maybe some other issues?
This little girl didn’t seem to want to interact with people and was off on her own most of the time. Her caregivers put her on a push toy and she had a great smile and was laughing the whole time. More information available from the home.

At another home there are several children that may need adoptive families. We’re still working with them to verify which children are available. Ages are all approximate.

Right now there is a little girl around age 5 or 6, and two boys around age 12. There are two girls age 7-8 and 10-11 who may be available. There may be more kids from this home but we’re not sure yet.

The special needs kids will have to be adopted by Christian families. The other home is a Christian home but we don’t know if they will allow non-Christians to adopt. We’ll find out.

If you are interested in getting more information on any of these kids please let me know!

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February 27, 2010

I can’t believe that day after tomorrow we have a visa appointment. I am so excited….and so nervous. I REALLY want to go home next week and praying hard that everything goes smoothly. I miss everyone at home so much! We have really enjoyed our time here in Uganda but I think 5 weeks is enough. :)

February 26, 2010

We have a visa appointment for Monday at 2pm. Please pray that we can go home next week!!!

February 26, 2010

The class I taught yesterday. Such sweet kids.

February 25, 2010

Day 36 – Thursday

Today was an emotionally draining day here in Uganda. This morning Mayer was acting fussy right off the bat – just one of those “off” days I think. We had breakfast and then Keltie picked us up at about 10am. We headed for the RUHU orphanage. Keltie had picked up a whole box of chipatti (yum!) and we were able to give that to the kids as soon as we got there. They were very excited. Keltie left me at the orphanage and then she, the kids and Keith headed back to her house to drop her kids off as they weren’t going with us today. While they were gone I was recruited to “teach” one of the kids English classes today. I fumbled my way through a lesson in their English book – they were very attentive and sweet students. Their schooling situation is horrendous – they have one “teacher” for 80 students and the “teacher” didn’t even finish school. They have one workbook for the entire 10 kids in the class I taught. A dirty, hot and dark room to work in. They really need to go to a real school and we’re working on getting the kids sponsored so they can attend a nearby school. They don’t have any real public schools here, if you want your kids to go to school you have to pay for private school. They really need to go so that they will be one day able to break the cycle of poverty they live in. It will be life changing for them.

When Keltie, Keith and Mayer got back we met three kids at the orphanage in need of medical attention. Three ten year olds – a girl and two boys. The little girl (Farida) had an infected sore on the side of her face. Hamani had a rash and kept losing weight and Stuart has a whole in his leg, where you can see bone. So we took them to the hospital. The hospital here is CRAZY. I can tell you, it is not a place I would want to be when I was sick. We were there for at least four hours today. Farida was fairly simple – we waited for quite some time to get in and see the doctor but we got some prescriptions and she was done first. While Keith and I (and Mayer) were in with Farida Keltie and Patrick (orphanage director) took the other two and went to do their tests. Neither had been tested for HIV so that was first on the list. When we were done with Farida’s stuff, Keith decided to head back to the hotel with Mayer – by this time is was past lunch and he was getting fussy. So Farida and I headed up to meet the others. We found Hamani by himself in the lab so we waited with him until their medical test results were ready. I got those and then we all three headed to find Keltie, Patrick and Stuart in the xray dept where Stuart was getting his leg xrayed. The doctors were concerned that the infection had gotten into his bone. They also ran an sickle cell test on his as his spleen was enlarged. We won’t get the results of that until tomorrow. Stuart came out and we waited a bit – then we were told that the xray was done but the person who can read it wasn’t there at the time so we have to go back tomorrow to read the xray. When we met up with the others we realized that they failed to actually test the boys for HIV so when we finished at the xray department we headed back outside into the rain and down to the lab. We sat there for a while waiting and were told they ran the tests with the blood they already took from the boys and we needed to go to another laboratory for the results. So out in the rain again (by this time we were all cold!) and down to another building.

When it came our turn for the HIV results they called Stuart in first. They talked to him for quite some time and Keltie said she had this feeling he was positive. Out he came and they called Hamani in. They only talked to him for a few minutes but when he and Patrick came out we knew it was bad news. Stuart was negative but Hamani is HIV positive. Keltie, Patrick and I went in with him to the doctors office to officially have his results read and explained to him. The doctor was very nice and explained HIV, what he needs to do now, what meds he’ll have to take, etc. As he was talking you could see Hamani’s face just getting darker and sadder. At the end of the conversation Hamani started crying and trying to hide his tears from us. Patrick pulled him into his lap where they both cried together. Keltie and I sat and cried with them. For some time the four of us sat huddled in the doctors office crying for sweet Hamani. He has such an incredibly difficult life already, at only 10 years old. A life I can’t even imagine. And now this. Who knows how he got it – he’d been living on the street before he came to the orphanage. I don’t even want to think about what his life was like out there on his own as a little boy.

The doctor explained that he should be able to live a fairly normal life, but he stressed that the stigma is very bad and that we didn’t need to tell his friends at the orphanage. Hamani now has to go on medicine he’ll take everyday for the rest of his life. He should be OK. HIV isn’t the death sentence it once was, in the US people with HIV have an almost normal life expectancy. I’m not sure about here in Uganda, I know the chances he’ll get his meds everday are slim. He is malnourished and I’m sure still isn’t going to be getting the nourishment he needs to stay healthy and strong. Keltie and I talked about different options for him. Maybe a home in the city for HIV children where they can make sure he gets his medicine. Maybe he should be adopted. But who is going to want to adopt an HIV positive preteen boy from the streets? We’ll do everything we can to help him.

Tomorrow we go to get Stuarts xrays read. Poor Stuart was also from the streets. He and two other boys were scavenging in an abandoned building when part of it collapsed. Stuart was the only one to survive but his leg was obviously injured. This was MONTHS ago. He has lived like this for a long time. He is happy that he is finally getting some help. He has the best shy smile and such a sweet spirit.

I can’t even begin to tell you how these kids have gotten into my heart. These are LITTLE KIDS, little kids that have been through so much more than I can even imagine. When you look at them you see so much hurt, fear and neglect. But as I get to know them I also see so much potential. They want to trust, to be loved. They want to be a part of a family, to feel like they matter and belong. My heart breaks for them…I imagine everything they could be one day. And I see how their lives will turn out if they continue to live the way they are living now. I hope what we are doing is really helping. It seems like such short term solutions. Yes, Hamani will get started on his HIV meds, but what about 3 months from now? Yes, Farida ate enough and is finally full, but what about next week? I’m praying that God will show us what He wants for these kids and provide a way for them to be fed, healthy, safe and educated after we leave.

Like I said…an emotional day.

In adoption news – we have our ruling written. It has the wording we need to apply for a visa for Mayer. We have a visa appt scheduled for Monday. We are PRAYING we can come home next week. I can’t tell you how much I want to come home. I am soooooo ready. I like Uganda, but being stuck here stinks. I just want to take my son home. Please, please, please pray that we get a visa next week.

February 23, 2010

Consular officer is out sick. Not sure if we’ll get an appt this week. Will keep you updated.

February 22, 2010

Mr. Cuteness

February 22, 2010

could it be…

an end in sight?

maybe?

we got our ruling today. we think it is worded in a way that will please the embassy. it was hard to get, but our lawyer is amazing and worked very hard to get it. We are calling in the morning for a visa appt. Please pray we get a visa appt quickly and that the Embassy will give us a visa so we can take our little guy home!!!

February 22, 2010

Orphanage Pictures

Handing out nets…

Girls dorm hanging nets

Boys hanging nets

Keltie & Patrick walking into the market to by veggies.

Happy about their food…

So happy.

Happy kids

February 22, 2010

Day 32 (Sunday)

Today was amazing. We were picked up at 9am by our friend from Watoto. We headed out to Ssuubi where one of their children’s villages is located and where they are building a new babies home. All of the toddlers and special needs children have been moved out to their new building. We got a brief tour of the Watoto village. If you are in Uganda and have a chance to tour one of their villages, do it. They are a great organization and their villages are a beautiful refuge for orphaned children. Kids are raised in a family environment. Each “family” has their own house where they live with a mom and up to eight orphaned children. The children grow up together as siblings and go to school in the village. They are cared for and educated clear through college. They are currently caring for about 2,000 children in Uganda. Simply amazing. I would love to see something like this modeled in Haiti at some point. It is a great way to not only provide for orphans but to raise up a new generation of leaders for a country – can you imagine what these 2,000 college educated people can one day do for their country? We were so impressed. The new babies home is huge and beautiful. It is still a work in progress and since they are having their grand opening on Monday everyone was franticly trying to get things finished up. While Keith helped with sanding and painting I spent some time with their precious children. I spent most of my time with the children with special needs. There are eight of them that I’m going to help them find adoptive families for. The orphanage doesn’t normally do adoptions but they are making an exception for these children. They are so sweet and unique. Each child has their challenges but I think each has great potential if they were able to be adopted and get the proper medical care and therapies. Two of them in particular really touched my heart. I would love to be able to bring them home to our family, but I don’t think it will be possible at this time. If you are interested in possibly adopting from Uganda and might be interested in a special needs child feel free to contact me. I will post a list of who the kids are soon.
After we left Watoto we headed back to the hotel where we had lunch. Keltie picked me up at 3pm to go deliver all the goodies we were able to purchase for the RUHU orphanage, the very poor orphanage we have been trying to help. We had 35 bed nets, a big bag of rice, a big bag of beans and a big jug of cooking oil. The kids were alone when we arrived. We called the director of the orphanage when we realized he wasn’t there, he was at a meeting at church but he showed up about 20 minutes later.
We spoke for a few minutes then I them we have bed nets, rice and beans for the children. We opened the back of the truck and everyone (including Patrick the director!) started SCREAMING, jumping up and down, hugging, wooping, dancing. It was such pure, genuine joy and gratefulness. Keltie and I were both in tears at their excitement. It was like Christmas morning times 10! You have never seen children so grateful, so thrilled just to get a mosquito net for the bed. We watched as children with enormous smiles on their faces were handed a net and raced to their dorm to start putting it up. We tried to help get the nets up but we weren’t very good at it (as I was told!) so we let them do that. They know how it is supposed to be done. :) Then Keltie presented the second part of the surprise. She told the director that we were going to take him to the market and buy 100,000 shillings worth of fresh fruits and vegetables for the children. He played it really cool at the market as we filled up the back of the SUV with bags of potatoes, greens, onions, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon, pineapple, passion fruits, etc. I mean FILLED the back of the SUV. It was so fun. We got back to the orphanage and as soon as Patrick got out he grandly opened the back of the SUV to present all the food to the children and everyone started screaming, jumping up and down, dancing, etc again. It was like Christmas morning again! Patrick showed his true excitement when he was with the children – he was dancing and screaming too. :) The kids helped carry all the food into the house and put it in the kitchen. They kept wanting to pose with their various fruits and vegetables. Everyone stood in the kitchen just laughing, hugging and staring at the food for a bit. It was surreal.
Moments like this make us feel so humbled. Each time I experience something like that I realize again just how spoiled I am. How spoiled we all are. How much we take for granted.
We took pictures of the children and got all of their names, ages and information. We are hoping to find sponsors for these kids. They aren’t able to go to school and they really want to. We’re still working out the details but it looks like school will cost less than $200 per child for the entire year.
As we were hugging the children goodbye I couldn’t help but get emotional. I will never forget these kids. They have touched my heart is such a special way. Thank you SO SO MUCH for all you have donated and given to help them just a little bit. This food is a short term help for them, but their joy was worth every penny we spent. If we get more money in for them we’ll continue to get things for them as long as we are here. There are SO many needs at their home.

I will post some pictures. Thank you again for your help and love towards these children. I have lots of video to share but I don’t know if I can get it uploaded here or not. If not I’ll do it as soon as we get home.

Internet acting crazy. Will try to post pictures later.