Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Warm Breeze

It is funny how God gives you just what you need.  Sometimes you don't even know how perfect the timing is, but it is always perfect. 

Yesterday morning we were up early and Bill was sitting on the patio.  He called in to me and said, "hey, I'm watching the sun rise in Africa. How cool is that?"  I went out to see a pink hue starting to come up between two other apartment buildings and I probably wasn't exactly very nice when I replied, "Yeah, that's beautiful. Let me get the camera.  Oh except that it's not very pretty coming up between two apartment buildings and a satellite dish".  I believe I rolled my eyes at him and walked back into the kitchen.  (did I mention that Bill is the "glass is half-full" part of our relationship?  His nickname is Pollyanna.  I love him to pieces but he kind of gets on your nerves at times with all of his positiveness-is that a word?) 

So, anyway...the day proceeded and we all had a very good day overall.  Fast forward to 12 hours later when Bill was making dinner.  I took all 4 of the girls down to the playground to run around while we waited for dinner to cook.  I was sitting on the swing holding Anita and I suddenly had a sense of peace overcome me.  I was thinking....."I am sitting outside at 5:30 at night with a baby on my lap. The girls are running around in shorts and t-shirts with flip flops on.  It is warm and there is a slight breeze.  If I were home right now we would not be outside because it would be too dark and too cold.  I think I could get used to this."  

So, I had to go in and confess my "Pollyanna" moment to Bill, who just smiled and went about roasting his chicken.  Sometimes I think he prays for my enlightenment just so he can have the satisfaction of feeling that he is right.  Although, God love him, he would never say "I told you so".  (I have never heard him out right say that in 21 years!)

So, that is where we are at.  Trying to find some semblance of "normalcy" here in Africa and trying to enjoy it one sunrise or one warm breeze at a time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Fresh Start

It has now been 48 hours since we received word that our court date had been canceled.  This past weekend was full of so much raw emotion. We decided that we needed to get out of our apartment yesterday and do something fun. We went to the Love Kampala festival.  It was put on by over 1000 churches.  It was a free event that included Andre Palau as speaker and artists such as Nicole C. Mullens.  It was a 10 minute walk for us (probably would have been less time if we weren't traveling with an independent 3 year old that insists on walking on her own).    It was probably the best decision that we could have made.  When we got there we found a vendor and had some authentic Ugandan food for supper. As we were eating Nicole C. Mullens started her concert.  All I can say is...WOW!  I have always loved her music and had seen her perform at Women of Faith years ago.  She is a dynamic and powerful singer, but more importantly she has a wonderful message of our need to cling to our Saviour through all things.  I needed to hear that last night.  It was a great reminder to all of us that Jesus is always there and never changes.  Deep in my soul I know these truths, but when trials come it is sometimes difficult to see even a glimmer of hope in a sea of despair. 

We have decided that if we need to be here then we need to find some sort of "normalcy".  We need routine. We need structure. We need to have a life.  This is all easier said than done when you are in a foreign country, have no vehicle,  and no idea when you may get a phone call stating that you may have to pack up 4 children and travel 4-5 hours away to appear in court.

Today was sort of a fresh start for all  of us.  Bill took Sarah and Dee's schooling by the horns and they have all worked very hard this morning.  I, on the other hand, dressed and entertained the "littles" while re-organizing drawers of clothing and doing laundry.  

Hannah and Anita are doing very well.  Each day, Hannah gets more and more comfortable around us.  We have begun to see glimpses into her sweet, sweet spirit.  She is very playful and has a contagious laugh.  She loves to get herself dressed in the morning before coming out for breakfast.  She has obviously been taught to pick up after herself because she always makes sure all of her things are in their proper place...pajamas under pillow, clothes on her shelf (which is why I had to reorganize it), toys on a table that we have designated as a "kid friendly" area.  Meal time is sometimes still difficult, especially supper.  We have decided to not make a big deal of it.  If she does not eat what we have offered her than that is her choice.  You can be certain that she eats a very hearty breakfast the next morning though! She has mastered the art of eating with a spoon and now enjoys sitting at the table with the rest of us. 

Anita is thriving in her new family environment.  She is sleeping through the night, takes a 3 hour nap each day, has a very healthy appetite, takes 5-6  steps on her own at a time and loves to babble all day long.  She is always good for a laugh and if I am feeling down all I have to do is look at that beautiful face and she flashes me her toothy grin and I can't help but smile.  She has 3 new teeth since last week...3 teeth in one week!!!!  That would help explain her fussy moments and her constant drooling!!!!

As I write this Bill is finishing up science with the girls...anatomy...his specialty!  He started with a sore throat 2 days ago and I am praying that he does not get any sicker. It seems like we have all suffered from some sort of ailment since being here, except for Sarah. 

Bill will walk down to the outdoor market this afternoon and restock us up on fresh fruits and vegetables. We are thankful that we have found this market as we can get twice as much produce there as we can at the super market for the same price.  Bill loves the entire experience of being there. He is in his glory there.  I am glad he likes to go because, I have to admit, it kind of frightens me.  Plus, I have found that, as a white woman, I tend to be taken advantage of when I am alone.  I came home from the store the other day to find out that I had paid twice as much as Bill had on some DVDs because the man would not barter with me. 

Bill has told me that I was probably too emotional and negative in my last blog update. Bill has always been a "the glass is half full" kind of guy. I guess that is what makes us a good couple.  He keeps my chin up and I keep his feet planted on the ground or else he would float away with all of his "grand ideas".   My emotion comes mainly from my lack of control  in this situation.  I have never been one to be comfortable with trusting others with the fate of my children. I guess this fear has been made worse since the death of Grace. I need to remember that despite what others appear to be doing (or not doing) for my children that God has their best interest in mind and sees the bigger picture. 

Thanks to everyone for the kind words, comments and prayers.  We could not be on this journey without all of you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 13 in Uganda...What an emotional day!

So, I am too mentally exhausted to write today. Here are the bullet points:

  • Anita's TB x-ray is negative!
  • Hannah's HIV test is negative!!
  • The court granted us guardianship of Anita!!!

For a full account of the day's events please read Bill's blog: Bill's Life with Grace blog

Thanks for joining us on our journey...today was a great reminder that it IS a journey, and as Bill mentions, not one for the faint of heart. I am so thankful that I have him to accompany me as we do this together!  Praising God for so many positive answers to our prayers today!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day Twelve in Uganda

So, yesterday we headed to court. We had to be ready and out of the house by 8:00 in order to ensure that we were at court by 9:00.  The morning traffic in Kampala is notorious for it's "jams" and we didn't want to be late.  We made it to court by 8:30 and sat around waiting until 10:00 when the judge starts hearing cases.  This should have been a quick 5 minute visit with the judge to hear her ruling on our guardianship case of Anita.  Instead, she told our lawyer that she was too busy today and had too much work to do so we should come back on Thursday at 2:00.

Anita was extremely fussy and Bill diagnosed her with pneumonia and started her on antibiotics.  She then took a 3 hour nap, and the rest of us slept as well, which was definitely helpful.  All 6 of us went swimming and the two little girls are slowly but surely getting used to the water and actually seem to be enjoying floating around with us.
We decided to take our first family venture out of the apartment on our own.  I strapped Anita in her baby wrap and Sarah put Hannah on her shoulders and off we went for our 5 minute walk to the shopping center.  We went out to eat for our first time as a family.  Mr. Tasty's fast food restaurant...how appropriate.  They actually have pretty good food (for a fast food restaurant).  Fried chicken, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, fries (chips) and fried dough...mandazi, which is very yummy. It's like a sweet doughnut bread and has quickly become a favorite of all of ours.  The girls all did very well.  I think it must have been Hannah's first time in a restaurant. She just kept looking all around, taking it all in. Bill bought a lemon fanta (soft drink) to share with her.  Well, there was no sharing.  She downed the entire bottle all on her own.
After dinner we went into the local Shoprite for a few groceries.  We have been trying to get a couple days' worth of food at a time...one, because it gives us an excuse to get out of the house every other day, two because we have to carry what we buy.
Everybody went to bed early last night and all slept through the night which was so wonderful.  Bill and I both managed to get 10 hours of sleep which was very much needed and long overdue.
This morning we decided to start up homeschooling again for Sarah and Dee.  This is definitely going to be an adventure with a 1 and 3 year old running around.  Thankfully, Bill had a pretty good handle on the two little ones while I did school with the older girls.  It was kind of nice to have some sort of routine back to our day.  After school, it was lunch and naps again for everybody. Anita took another 3 hour nap, while Hannah slept for 2 hours.  Poor things are probably so emotionally exhausted that they are finally getting caught up on their sleep.
We have had our first "temper tantrums" from both of them. Hannah had one at the play ground on me the other day when I wouldn't let her have her candy (lifesaver) before dinner.  She sat on the ground, cried and stomped her feet.  Anita had a melt down today for no apparent reason.  She just laid on the ground kicking and screaming.  Bill and I just sat there and watched her and were like,  "huh, I had forgotten what those looked like".  We had  a good laugh at her before picking her up and settling her down.  I think that she has finally figured out that when she cries we respond (something that she did not experience in the orphanage) so now she's seeing just how much crying she can do before we respond to her needs/ wants.
Tomorrow, we have to return to the IOM for the girl's physical exams and TB skin test reading.  Anita's arm is looking a  little red and we are concerned because this means she will need a chest x-ray.  We pray that the skin reaction simply means that she has been exposed to TB and doesn't have active TB.  If she does, then our stay in Uganda could be prolonged exponentially due to the requirements of the US government!
Well, I need to go help Bill with dinner. Not so much help with dinner as help entertain Anita, who still thinks dinner time is the best time of night to be held.  It's a good thing she is so cute. Here I come baby girl...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day Ten in Uganda

Well, today was the first day that we had to have all 6 of us out of the house in the morning.  We did it!  Sad to say but Bill and I were pretty proud of ourselves that everybody had eaten, was dressed, 4 showers done and everybody on the way to the doctor's office by 8:30. 

The doctor's appointment was at the International Office of Migration (IOM) which is the department that the US Embassy requires us to have the girl's physicals done at.  We were there at 9:00 and out of there by 10:00.  Today was pretty simple...registration, intake, payment, height, weight and TB test.  We now have to go back on Thursday to have the TB test read and have the girl's physicals done.  Both girls did very well.  Hannah only weighs 3.5 kilograms more than Anita!  We knew she was petite, but were very surprised by that.

After that we took advantage of having a driver and stopped at the store and bought two 20 liter bottles of water. We have been going through a lot of  water and thought this would be less expensive and easier.  It has been fun watching Bill try to pour from the large container into the smaller bottles without a funnel.  He ended up with more on the floor than in the bottle at one point.  He's been faithful for a good laugh at least daily. 

We also stopped by the fresh fruit market today and bought 3 large bags of fruits and vegetables for $9.00!  Much cheaper than at the Shoprite where we've been getting our groceries.  It is within walking distance and Bill is already making plans to return there for more fresh produce.

Anita had a bit of a rough afternoon.  She had a lot of gas and an upset stomach which I 'm sure is due to the change in her diet.  She had 2-3 poops and was incosolable for  most of the afternoon.  She is also cutting teeth and has some molars coming in so I'm sure that isn't helping.  Sarah and Dee took the little girls to the playground for a bit which is always nice to have them run around and get some fresh air. Then, she was very clingy at dinner time again.  This seems to be her time of night when she just wants to be held constantly. It makes cooking dinner very challenging.  Through some serious tag teaming and baby swapping between the 4 of us, we managed to get dinner on the table.  This was our most successful meal yet!  We made mashed potatoes, meat loaf, and peas which I wasn't sure if Hannah and Anita would care for as it's nothing like they are used to but they DEVOURED it!  I guess we'll be making that one at least once a week while here. 

We were getting a little nervous last week because we had been unable to use our debit cards here.  I contacted our bank on Friday to get things cleared up.  I was able to use the card on Sunday which was a great relief as we were wondering how we were going to make our money that we had brought with us stretch over the next 5 weeks if we couldn't.

Tomorrow we return to court for Anita's ruling.  There is a possibility that the judge could require more information or different documents before making a ruling and then we would have to return to court yet again. We are praying that the judge would give us a positive ruling tomorrow and that she would grant us full guardianship of Anita.  Then, we can start the visa process and get her passport. We will be that much closer to getting home.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day Nine in Uganda...Quiet Sunday

It is Sunday morning here in Uganda.  We decided to forego church today as Anita and I still don't feel well and we are all very tired.  It was probably a good decision as we all slept until 8 this morning!  Last night was a rough night for sleep.  Anita has a terrible cough which Bill and I hear all night long, plus needed a diaper change in the night.  Hannah awoke in the night with an accident, then wanted to sleep with me (she still doesn't do well putting herself to sleep without someone else there).  Bill put her in bed with me and he slept in her bed.  The only problem with this is that she NEVER STOPS MOVING WHILE SHE SLEEPS!!!!  I am not exaggerating even for a minute.  She is horrible to sleep with.  And, it's not like a mild movement....it's a whole body movement which typically is accompanied with kicking and hitting me!  After an hour of that I got up and went and slept on the couch.

This morning has been very low key for us.  It is overcast and dreary so we are all feeling very sleepy.  Bill and Dee made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns, we did 3 loads of laundry and got those hung out, put Anita down for a nap and are now just hanging out together in the living room.  Bill, Sarah and Dee are playing Hangman while Hannah sits next to me "reading" her books.

Hannah finally started coming out of her shell yesterday.  She finally felt comfortable enough to laugh and play around us.  She was actually quite silly. It was reassuring to see that she could play and have fun.  This morning she is back to being quite sedate but at least we know that she is beginning to trust us a little bit each day.  I have to keep reminding myself that she won't be able to undo in 5 days everything that she has known to be her normal for 3 1/2 years.

Anita is a very easy baby.  Despite her cold, cough, runny nose and cutting teeth she is overall very happy.  She does like to be held a lot when she isn't feeling well, but we are all taking turns with that.  Plus, a friend lent me her  baby wrap before we left and that has come in very handy. She loves to be snuggled up in that while Mom is busy doing stuff around the house.

Dee and Sarah continue to do amazingly well.  Dee had a day when she was struggling with all of this.  She still has a hard time understand why Hannah does not like her Daddy.  This is a concept that Dee cannot understand as she absolutely adores her Daddy and can't see why Hannah would not feel the same way right away.

Bill is doing well.  He is very excited because he has found a way to watch his beloved Patriots play.  He found a website that live streams the games for troops overseas.  He watched them play last week and is already looking forward to the game tonight, which won't start until 8 pm our time.

We have to take the girls to the medical clinic tomorrow for their medical exams for their visas.  This will include vaccinations which should be fun...NOT!  It is just another step in the process of what we have to do to comply with the requirements of our US Embassy to ascertain visas to allow the girls to come home with us.  

We were able to Skype with some family and friends yesterday which was a huge encouragement to us.  I struggle with feeling alone here despite being surrounded by my family.  It is nice to be here and just enjoy each other without feeling the pressures of life that come with living in America, but we still dearly miss our family back home.  We hope you all know how much we love and miss you.

Thanks for joining us on our journey.

Friday, September 17, 2010

We got Hannah's Court Date!

Thank you all for your prayers on this.  We found out today that we are secured a court date for Hannah on October 1st!  This is huge because if we had not gotten this date than we would have had to wait until December as the judge is completely booked in October and is off in November.  We are anxious to have this process over with so that we can legally bring our girls home with us. 

Day Seven in Uganda...has it really been a week already?

I am sitting alone in a very quiet apartment right now.  Everyone else is napping.  I could not sleep because of the noise coming in from the construction that is being done on the building next door.  I decided I might as well get up and have a cup of tea.  I am feeling better today.  Still slightly congested but not as bad as I was. Last night was the worst.  I haven't had such horrible nasal congestion in a long time.  Bill made me a steam treatment with some boiling water, menthol gum and a towel at the kitchen table. I'm sure that must have been quite the sight!  Should have taken a picture of that for the blog!  I don't know if it helped my sinuses or not, but my skin is quite clear this morning.

Hannah was awake at 3:30 this morning. Not sure why.  Bill had switched places with her in the night so she just laid there and kept kicking me. We finally got up around 5:30, had a bite to eat, gave her a drink and listened to some music.  I brought her back in to lay back down around 6 but I'm not sure she ever fell back asleep.  I, on the other hand, slept until 9:30 which was the best sleep I had had in a while.

This morning was very relaxed.  It has been nice to have  no appointments to tend to for a few days while we all adjust to each other and recuperate from any illnesses.  So far, it is just Anita and me that have been sick.  She has a runny nose and a cough with a slight fever.  Everyone else is doing fine so far.

Sarah and Dee went down to the pool this morning.  Bill and I joined them with the little girls.  We introduced them to the water yesterday and Anita wasn't too sure about it, but today she loved it.  Hannah was a little more timid, but as long as she could cling to me she was fine.  We just walked around in the water, getting her used to it.  We'll try more later and see if she gets used to it. I'm sure she has never experienced swimming in a pool!

The weather here is quite pleasant.  It is always partly cloudy and in the 70's.  We have one rain shower a day and have had a couple of thunder storms.  They are usually quick and just pass through, then it's right back to mild and beautiful.  It does  make getting laundry done a little tricky as we have to hang our clothes out on the community clothes line here at the apartment building to dry.

It is fairly quiet here for the most part.  During the day there is construction going on.  These are brand new apartments and they are finishing the building next to ours which can be noisy (like today during nap time).  Once in a while we hear sirens go by, and there are the calls to prayer 4-5 times a day.  Our first few nights here we were plagued by bull frogs singing outside our window.  They were so loud I had to ask my African friends if they were the size of hippos-they sounded THAT big!  They just laughed at me.  I have not heard them the past few nights and wonder if they have moved on or if I have gotten used to them.

Our apartment has screens on all of the windows so we have had no problems with mosquitoes.  Bill and I have given up using our mosquito net as it wasn't big enough to fit our bed.  Then, we had to move our bed to make room for Anita's crib and Hannah's mattress so it really doesn't fit now.  I have only seen 2 mosquitoes the entire time we've been here anyway so I'm not too worried. Plus, we have been faithful about taking our Malarone (anti-malaria med) every day.  

We have been able to cook most of our meals right here in the apartment.  It has been challenging to figure out what to eat.  Groceries are a little more expensive here than we were anticipating.  We have heard that there is a fresh fruit market near by where we can get our fruit much cheaper. We will be checking that out on  Monday.  Both of the little girls LOVE fruit so we are going through a lot of it.  We have also decided that we are going to have to buy a cow when we get home because we are going through a TON of milk!    We are trying to just keep things simple for now until we figure out a cheaper way to shop and also figure out what exactly Hannah and Anita like to eat.  (actually we haven't found anything that Anita won't eat-ha!)

Well, that's just a tid bit about us here in Africa.  Still waiting to hear confirmation on Hannah's court date for October 1st.  Please pray with us that that would be approved by the court.

Thanks for joining us on our journey....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day Six in Uganda...Hannah

I am alone in our apartment with Hannah and Anita for the first time.  Bill, Sarah and Dee all walked down to the local mall to get groceries and have a coffee date.  Bill put Anita down for a nap before he left which left me here with Hannah. I closed my eyes on the couch while she sat on the floor playing with some toys. When I woke up she was sitting on the floor surrounded by a bunch of books which she had picked off the coffee table.  She was sitting in the middle of them and would pick them up one by one and "read" them.  She was turning the pages and talk, talk, talking while she did so. This was the most we have heard her say in 2 days. 

She is making strides in many areas.  This morning I was showing her her colors with some flash cards I had brought.  I made a row with each  color in it and would give her a new card and she had to put it on the right pile.  Half way through the game she was repeating each of the colors as I said them and she could put them in the correct pile.

She doesn't say much but it is clear that she understands much of what we say to her.  Bill and I had been talking about how we were out of matches and he said, "I know I saw some extra ones somewhere." Well, low and behold, when Hannah was looking through her books she picked up a box of matches and said to me "matches".  Oh my!  I was amazed to say the least. 

Bill and I were remembering today how Grace was the same way when we first adopted them.  She was very quiet for weeks after, but once she started talking it was very clear that she had been listening to everything we said and was just taking it all in. I have no doubts that Hannah is doing the same thing. She is very observant and watches everything.

She still does not go too far away from me and I can usually find her about 2 steps behind me at any given time. I call her "my shadow".  She is still hesistant around Bill, but he is slowly trying to just be near her when I am around and helping her to trust him. We are in no hurry to force her to be uncomfortable as I'm sure she is already under enough stress as it is. She had fallen asleep withe  me in the bed last night and then Bill switched with me half way through the night.  We were delighted when she awoke this morning and did not freak out that Daddy was in bed with her instead of Mommy.

She also has a terrible cough at night time.  She sleeps pretty well once we give her some Benadryl, but once she starts coughing again her entire body comes off the bed.  She is a terrible wiggle worm and horrible to sleep with, but we realize that this is just a phase and we will get into a good routine of her sleeping in her own bed once she feels better and trusts us. 

Meal time is still tough for her.  We have found that it helps to eat on the floor so we have made family mealtime bearable by all sitting on the living room floor to eat with Hannah.  She finally found her appetite and really seems to like hot dogs and fruit (neither she or Anita were crazy about macaroni and cheese for lunch).

She had her first shower with mom last night and did well.  She does not like the water in her face and kept wiping her eyes.  I was reminded of Grace who used to do the exact same thing. What sweet memories.

We were told when she came that she was not fully potty trained and definitely was not at night.  She did wet her pull up the first night but since then we have had no accidents and she has even told us a couple of times when she needs to go "potty".

She went for her first "swim" today.  It was actually just walking around in knee deep water and passing a ball back and forth but she did well with being splashed  and didn't seem to mind the water (as long as mommy was right there with her of course). 

She is very industrious and always seems to have a "plan" when she plays.  She is diligent in working at something until she gets it right.  She was trying to put the rings on Anita's Fisher Price ring holder.  She tried it over and over again until she got the right order. 

She loves her baby doll. We brought two small black baby dolls that Bill's mother bought last Christmas.  Hannah loves her "baby" and takes her with her wherever she goes.  She also found Sarah's Connie the Cow today and I think we may need to go out and buy her a stuffed animal so that we don't have any fights over poor Connie. 

All in all, Hannah is doing very well.  She is adapting to her strange surroundings and the white people who are with her all the time now.  She loves her little sister, Anita.  She is a very sweet little girl and when she flashes her smile it is absolutely contagious. You can't help but smile back at her.

We heard today that we have a tentative court date on October 1st for her. We won't know for sure until the paperwork clears with our lawyer tomorrow.  Please continue to pray that this will work out because if we don't get a court date in October then it won't be until December!!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day Five in Uganda....WOW!

I have no words to describe the past two days.  Actually, that is not true...I have a MILLION words to describe the last two days.  I was unable to blog last night because I was emotionally and physically exhausted and just couldn't even bring myself to sit down and write out the words.

Yesterday started out very early.  Bill and I were awake at 4:20  in the morning as we were so excited about going to court.  We were at the baby home at 7:00 to pick up Anita.  They dressed her in the white and pink dress that I had brought and presented her to us and we were on our way.  We arrived at court shortly after 8:00. The court does not open until 10:00 but our lawyer wanted us there at 9:00 and our driver wanted to make sure he got us there on time.  Traffic jams are notorious that time of day and he did not want to be stuck in traffic.  So, we waited for 2 hours for court to open, then we waited another 30 minutes while the judge's "scribe" arrived.  Finally, we were escorted into court with 2 other families.  Our case was presented first.  It took an hour and the judge writes everything out with pen and paper, as well as her scribe!  We have been told that she is very thorough and will review each of these carefully written notes when she reviews the case.

After leaving court we had to go back to Nsambya Baby Home so that the workers could say good bye to Anita.  We also had to have the OK from the Director of Child Welfare to take Anita with us without our final court ruling, which he thankfully gave us.

We headed home and took a much needed nap before Hannah arrived.  Sister Christine had ridden in with her from Ibanda Baby Home, which is about 6 hours away, and had arrived the night before.  Hannah played with Sarah and Dee and we asked Sister all sorts of questions about Hannah's likes and dislikes and her habits.  We had an enjoyable visit.

After Sister left Hannah had a melt down!  She sat by the door and just kept looking at it, crying and saying words that we did not actually understand, but the message was clear..."where is the only caregiver I have ever known gone?"  She was grieving!  My heart broke as I held this dear child for an hour and a half, rocking her back and forth.  Her tears would lessen, then, out of nowhere they would open up again like a flood gate!  I eventually moved her away from the door which she just kept staring at in hopes that Sister Christine would miraculously walk through it again. I took her into our bedroom and she became VERY ANGRY!  I held her as long as I could, but she was fighting me so hard that Bill took over.  She attempted to bite him and Bill firmly, but lovingly, told her no and that seemed to be the turning point for her.  She had felt loved and secure and felt safe to express her feelings, but she now knew the limits.

I tried feeding her a banana and rice, but her stomach was so upset from all of the crying that she quickly vomited that all over me and herself.  I washed her up, placed her in her pajamas and then placed her in bed next to me.  I wondered what this poor child could possibly be thinking and how long it would take her to trust us.  At one point she rolled over and looked at me and flashed me her amazing smile and I knew that she ultimately knew she was going to be OK.

Hannah awoke in the middle of the night because of a thunderstorm.  She was running all over the apartment and tried to go out the door (which thankfully locks with a key so she can't open).  I did not want to frighten her any more than she already was so I sat in the chair and simply held out my hands to her.  She immediately came over to me and sat in my lap.  The poor child was physically shaking all over.  I covered her in a blanket, rocked her for a bit, then brought her back to bed and slept with her for the remainder of the night.

Today went a little better. We are making slow, but positive strides in Hannah's trust for us.  She still is not fond of Bill and if he is the only one in the room she will cry but is easily consoled if I come and take her in my arms.  She has not eaten much since she has been with us. Tonight, she consumed the most food at one time that we had seen her eat in 24 hours.  We all sat on the living room floor and allowed her to eat with her hands and she devoured an entire hot dog and an orange!  We are trying to be flexible and creative with her to build up her trust in us.

Today was a little less busy but we still had a lot of running around to do.  We had to get passport photos of the girls and make copies of their social work reports and police records to drop off at the Embassy.    We also met with Hannah's lawyer, who did  not have very good news for us.  Our case has been assigned to the judge of the anti-corruption court. He is seeing these cases to help the Family Court with their back log of guardianship cases.  He has no slots open through October and is then going to be away in November.  We are desperately praying for a miracle!  We know that this is a test of our faith and we know that God has a plan but it is very unnerving to not know when our case is going to be heard.  There is still a slight chance that the judge can fit us in and that is our prayer...that he can fit us in this month! 

On top of all this I have a very bad head cold and have felt miserable.  There were several people coughing and sneezing on our first plane ride over and I just knew that I was going to end up sick because of it.  Sure enough, I feel miserable.  Thankfully, I travel with a mobile medicine clinic (i.e. Bill) who has kept me well stocked with many OTC meds and is ready to start me on antibiotics should I need them.  He has also been so amazing through all of this.  He has done all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry (video blog of the manual African washing machine to come at a later date), purifying water, and keeping things in some what of an organized manner while I try to sleep whenever I can.  He is an amazing man!

Sarah and Dee have been absolute angels throughout this process.  They love their baby sisters, fight over changing diapers, feeding, holding, playing, and caring for them.  They play with them to allow me to rest, yet we also allow them to have their own time "alone"...aka away from little children.

All in all, it has been tiring, exhaustive, wonderful, magical, tearful, joyous, painful, grievous.....Like I said there are a million words I could use to describe the last 24 hours.  Those are just a few that I can think of at the moment in my Sudafed induced haze!  Good night.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day Three in Uganda...Anita Hope

We met our youngest daughter, Anita Hope, today.  She is absolutely darling and we are all in love with her already.  We had to start our day with a meeting with our lawyer, Victoria, to review our dossier and answer any of her questions that she thought the judge might inquire about so that she was prepared.  We then drove to Nsambya Baby Home where Anita has been since April of this year.  We were welcomed into a small room and took a seat while we waited for them to bring her out to us.  Every time the door opened we all jumped to see if it was her.  Finally, the door opened and a worker emerged with a beautiful baby girl.  I didn't dare get my hopes up that it was actually her until they said "this is Anita".

She had a large smile on her face and looked so healthy.  I went up to her and hesitantly took her from the worker's arms as I wasn't sure how she would respond.  She came right to me and never even flinched.  She just looked at me and gave me that beautiful 2 tooth smile and my heart melted immediately.  Bill and the girls all surrounded us and we were an instant family!  Dee handed over her iPod and Anita took to that very quickly.

We were only allowed a few minutes with her and then we were whisked away to meet with the probation officer.  We snapped a few photos, took turns holding her and then reluctantly handed her back to Betty to care for while we went to our meetings.

The probation officer was a very scary man!  We walked down this dirt alley and entered a small door into a brick building only to find it completely empty except for a very large desk at the end of the room with a very large man sitting behind it.  He and our lawyer's assistant, Helen, exchanged some words and nobody spoke directly to us!  It was clear that he had no idea who we were or why we were there (and we were supposed to be picking up papers from him to take to court tomorrow!).  I quietly sat in my seat and prayed a silent prayer to God that He would work out all of the details.  A few minutes later the assistant to the probation officer emerged with a large binder, flipped through some papers and found our paperwork!   Bill slipped him a very appreciative smile and a silent "thank you" to which the young man smiled back and nodded his understanding.  We waited while the probation officer filled out 3 copies of our forms, stamped everything with his official seal and we were on our way back to the baby home. Phew!  That was nerve wracking.

Back at Nsambya we were brought right into the central court yard where all the babies were playing. We were not allowed to take any photographs inside the actual compound.  I wish I could have because there were so many precious moments.  Dee and Sarah were the instant entertainment for 24 babies.  Every time I looked up Sarah was holding at least 2 children with several more around her ankles waiting to be picked up.  At one point she was pushing one on the swing and there were at least 15 children around her waiting for their turn.

Anita is a beautiful child, with a happy smile.  We are not certain of her actual age. We chose June 10, 2009 as her birthday but I doubt she is 15 months old.  She has 6 teeth, weighs approximately 25 pounds, sits on her own, pulls herself up to a standing position and can drink out of a cup which she can hold herself.  I imagine that she will make some leaps and bounds with her developmental milestones once we get her home and give her some one on one attention.

While we were there it was bath time.  All of the children congregate in one small bathroom.  The older ones get themselves undressed and wait in line for the tub.  One worker undresses the babies, another washes them in the cold water in the tub and hands them to a third worker who takes them to their room, lubricates their skin with vaseline and then hands them off to yet another worker who diapers and clothes them.  The older ones (and when I say "older" I'm talking 20 months to 3 years old) wait for all of the babies to be washed and then they all congregate out in the courtyard and pick their outfits from a pile of clothes.  It was quite a system and they seem to have it very well organized.  It's quite a site to see 20 little naked brown bodies running around.  I can't help but smile thinking about it. :)

After bath time it was time for lunch.  I was able to change Anita's diaper, give her a fresh outfit and feed her lunch. Actually, I held her while Dee fed her her porridge.  Anita can drink out of a cup on her own and she drank down her milk in between bites of lunch.
After lunch I put her in her crib, kissed her good-bye and told her I would be back for her in the morning.  She never cried. She just looked at me like "O.K. you're another white person who has come and left like so many before."

Tomorrow, we will return to the baby home  at 7:15 in the morning, pick her up and take her to court for 9 am.  From then on out she will be with us.  What an amazing feeling!

Thank you for joining us on this journey...what a ride it is!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day Two in Uganda

So, the jet lag has hit and it has hit HARD!  Bill and I were both awake at 2 am last night (or was it this morning?) and I think we saw every hour between 2 and 6 when the alarm finally went off.  I really just wanted to turn the alarm off and text Linda that we would not be going to church, but the Holy Spirit moved me to get up and get my family moving for church.  It was a little challenging to get the girls going, but we all managed to be out the door by 7:30. 

We attended Watoto North church.  The Watoto church is a large church that split years ago because it was growing so fast.  There are now at least 5 Watoto church sites.  Our hostess, Linda, attends the North site and offered to bring us with her. After nine years they still meet under a large tent, although they have done an amazing job of setting it up so that it looks permanent, complete with concrete barriers all around for structure and support.  They are in the process of finishing off a permanent structure and have a building program to pay this off as they go.

The service opened with 30 minutes of praise and worship music led by an amazing worship team of 10 men and women, complete with drums, keyboards and electric guitars.  They were "backed up" by a 30 voice choir all dressed smartly in very vibrant coordinated outfits.  You could not help but feel the presence of the Holy Spirit move among these people and it was amazing to be a part of.

After the singing there was 20 minutes of open, congregational prayer.  The prayer leader addressed the congregation with a very moving call to pray for their nation (what a concept!) and the upcoming elections, that Godly men and women would heed the call to run for political office and that Uganda would be known as a country that glorifies God.  She would then ask the congregation to pray for these things and all at once everyone began to pray openly and out loud (imagine that...praying OUT LOUD!) for the things that she had mentioned.  She would close out that prayer and then she would lead them in another cooperate prayer, this time about focusing on asking God to forgive us of our sins and to repent of anything that was holding us back from truly serving Him and allowing Him to be used in our lives.

This was followed by 20 minutes of announcements about births in the church, illnesses and operations, cell group opportunities and a baby dedication.

The pastor then preached a 45 minute sermon on Revelation 2:1-7; John's message to the Church at Ephesus.  It was a very moving message and he applied it to the church today and how the message is the same for us today: we must run this race of life with endurance and turn back to our first love or there will be a consequence...He will take away our ability to be a light for Him.

Now, if you were paying attention and added correctly you will see that this was nearly a 2 hour church service!  As we were leaving, the next service was pouring in and the praise and worship team was starting up their worship yet again for the 2nd of 3 services each Sunday!  Linda says that the 2nd and 3rd services are so full that they overflow outside the tent!

Needless to say, I am very glad that we got up for church this morning.  It was a tremendous blessing and a great reminder that the God who loves me enough to send His son to die for me, is not going to leave me nor forsake me now (or ever!) I desperately needed that reminder as we go into this week of so many uncertainties.  We may not know the details and how they will all play out but the God of the universe already knows and He is in control of it all.  Amen!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day One in Uganda

We have arrived safely in Uganda.  Our first flight out of Boston was delayed by an hour. We were on the runway ready to take off when the pilot said he had a "low tire pressure" warning!  So, we headed back to the terminal, had that checked out and were on our way.  We were all able to sleep except for Deanna who decided that it would be fun to stay up all night and watch movies on the plane.  Needless to say, she paid for that when we landed in Amsterdam.  She had a slight meltdown, which Bill was able to manage with lots of love and a back rub.  We only had a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam which was just enough time to find our next gate, brush our teeth, get a coffee and do some journaling.  Our second flight was uneventful but seemed extremely long.  I ended up sitting with Dee who decided that she was going to get caught up on her much needed sleep and laid on me the entire flight.

We landed at Entebbe airport right on time.  We were the last ones in line for immigration but made it through without any problems, retrieved all 7 of our 50 pound bags, walked right through customs and were greeted by Linda, our in country hostess with the mostest!  She arranged a driver for us, Cherbon, who managed to navigate around a "jam" (Ugandan term for high traffic) and get us to our apartment at 10:30 pm without any difficulties.  The girls were both extremely tired.  Dee was very emotional and cried that she wanted to go home.  Oh no...this might be a long trip!!!  After some consoling and a promise that "things will look better in the morning after a good night's sleep" she managed to fall asleep and we all rested very well (until the 4 am morning call for Muslim prayer!)  Dee awakened without a fresh perspective as I had hoped.  I think the cold shower did not help (we hadn't figured out the water heater yet-a problem that we have now resolved).  She kept saying that she wanted to go home and she didn't like it here.  She didn't understand why we had to come here.  We had a good conversation together as a family about how difficult this was going to be for all of us.  That there were going to be times that we all would struggle and that we needed to be there to support each other.  We discussed how God had called us to be uncomfortable for a short while so that two little girls would not have to live a life of misery.  It took some time but she managed to pray, find something to thank God for, and turn her perspective around. 

I, too, had struggled this morning before Dee had even gotten up.  I was struggling with being here myself. I think God had me work through my own issues so that I could help Dee deal with the same issues.  I have to admit that there are so many things that are uncomfortable for me.  I was really struggling with finding any contentment in this.  I had to force myself to find something to be thankful for and found myself in the shower (I had the only hot shower of the day) thanking God for hot water and "enclosed drains" (as I had had visions of African things crawling up my shower drain i.e. SNAKES!)  I know it sounds stupid but offering up any thanks to God gave me a sense of release.  It was as if I was admitting to Him that He was in control of this and I WAS NOT!

We spent the morning exchanging money (2200 Ugandan shillings (UGX) to 1 USD), buying some supplies for the apartment (a fan for Bill), getting groceries, buying a SIM card for our phone and having lunch at "Good African Coffee".  It was very different to see things in the daylight.  We currently reside in the center of Kampala, the capitol of Uganda a.k.a. The Pearl of Africa.  Our apartment is very nice...two rooms, kitchen, bath, living area and patio overlooking the pool and courtyard.  The city is very busy and we are told it is even worse during the week.  There are security checkpoints throughout the city and we had to stop and have our car searched before entering the shopping center.  Linda says the security is heightened since the bombings in July.

We spent the afternoon meeting with our travel agent, Mark and making phone calls to our lawyers to let them know that we are in town.  We already have several meetings scheduled for Monday and it sounds like that may be a very busy day.  We have hired Cherbon to be our driver throughout our stay here.  He will drive us wherever we need to go and he will wait for us while we are at our various appointments which is very nice.

Tomorrow we will attend the Watobo church with Linda.  There church has grown so much that they have had to split into 5 different congregations throughout the city.  She attends Watobo North which is held under a tent (how cool is that!?!)  They have 4 services and we will attend the 8 am one.  Tomorrow afternoon should be a low key day and I will try to write more and post some pics of our apartment.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.  We can certainly feel them!

We landed at Entebbe Airport at 7:30

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It seems like we have waited for an eternity for this time to come.  In 3 days we will be boarding a plane to go get our sweet girls out of their orphanages in Uganda.  We have packed, repacked and packed again. We have talked, prayed, cried, and talked some more about how this magnificent event is going to change our family...yet again!

After Grace died we were redefined as a family of four. I remember feeling the pain of that reality and realizing that I did not want to be a family of four and crying out to God that it was not fair!!!  In the months that followed we spent innumerable hours together bonding as a family and redefining the "birth order" of our two girls.  Sarah fought being the oldest.  Deanna fought with her sister.  It became quite evident that Grace had often been the "peacemaker" in our home with her two sisters.  Sarah and Dee had to learn how to communicate on a different level now.

Two years later we feel "comfortable" in our family of four. (I still don't like it).  Now, as we prepare to transition into a family of six we face new challenges.  We knew it would be difficult.  We knew that we would grieve, yet again (although in a different way then before).  We knew there would be transitions.  We have talked about all of these things, but until the reality of the situation hits you you just don't know how each member of the family is going to respond. 

Yesterday, it became very clear that we were all very STRESSED!  We started the day with a bedwetting episode (which never happened, even during potty training).  This was followed by bickering, hollering, snide comments and pouty faces.  Bill and I just looked at each other and with our non verbal communication that comes from knowing someone for 20 years we both just KNEW that we needed to slow things down and spend some time with our girls. 

We are fairly well packed and ready to go.  Today will finish up last minute banking and notes for things left to be done by our dear family.  Bill has scheduled some special time with his girls for today.  "Time" being the operative word here.  For, when we look back on raising our children that is the most precious thing of all...TIME!