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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Immigration Forms Are Mailed!




Our I-600a form is mailed……………should arrive in Texas by 10:30 AM Monday.  I kissed it for good luck!  These are important documents for immigration.  We have the help of our state representative on this one.  Once arrived, they are going to work with USCIS to help process the forms quickly.  We really, really hope this works!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Miracle: He is in Control

This morning, just when I felt so much despair something big happened.  I literally was doing the dishes through my tears, feeling so scared, alone and unsure.  After reading the many blogs of families who are a few steps ahead I was feeling very low.  I believe that I mentioned in earlier posts that Dave Reichert’s office talked to an FBI agent in Seattle who because of his own sister doing an adoption in Uganda he agreed to see if we could get our fingerprints expedited.  Mind you, every family I know had to wait at least 3 months for the prints.  Well, Reichert’s assistant had told me that the FBI Seattle agent would help, but I have not heard a thing back.  When I called Reichert’s assistant yesterday, he seemed annoyed with me and said he hadn’t heard back from the FBI guy.  I couldn’t wait, not when Joseph is sitting on the other side of the world waiting for us.  I decided to do a search for the FBI phone number in West Virginia.  I found one, not knowing if it would work.  I dialed the number and guessed on which option to choose.  In two seconds “J” came on the line.  I explained to him the situation and that a guy from Seattle was supposed to call and talk to him.  “J” said, “Are you Suzy”?  Uhh, yes, that’s me…… “I’m the one that the Seattle agent talked to, and I’m working on getting your fingerprints expedited.  We don’t usually do this, but, my family member lived in Uganda from three months helping orphans and I can help you out”.  What, did  you just call me by name?  You know who I am without even telling you my name?  It just confirmed that HE knows who I am.  “J” was just put in place to do HIS work.  “J” said that the fingerprints  haven’t been processed, but that they will be soon.  He gave me his direct number and said that I can call anytime and advised me to do so on Monday.  After hanging up the phone, I melted into tears of thanks.   HE is in control.  I must remember that during the low moments.  I believe God wants Joseph to come home.  I would not be doing this otherwise.  This is one of the many miracles we are experiencing in bringing home our boy.


The waiting game has now begun.  Waiting for everything to trickle into CHI for our homestudy.  I have been a little discouraged as I read many blogs of families who are in Uganda now, and things are not going well.  For some, the end of the road is in site, for others only miracles will move the mountains.  Please pray for us that we will get our FBI fingerprints back quickly.  Right now, it is taking 13 weeks.  We can have everything else done in about a months.  We feel very strongly that we need to get Joseph home by this summer so that he can have time to adjust before school and so that the family can adjust.  Please pray specifically for those things.  Thanks!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Reichert and Lincoln…….hmmm?

See full size image

What does the word representative mean?  Well, I think I found out!  Dave Reichert, our representative has come to the rescue, well maybe not quite, but, his assistant Lincoln (what a patriotic name) has!  This week, Lincoln has managed to talk to the director of our local USCIS office in Yakima and they are willing to help us with our immigration forms, that is, when they receive them, they are willing to help process our form quickly.  This is amazing news.  Lincoln is my knight in shining armor.  He is truly representing the needs of Reichert’s constituents.  You see, based on Joseph’s age, we must get him here quickly or he will “age” out and become ineligible for adoption.  Our hope is to get him here before summer as Ugandan courts close in the summer and if we don’t get him here, it may never happen.  Also, dear old (I actually think he is young) Lincoln was able to help us with our FBI fingerprints.  Washington law states that couples must get clearance from the FBI.  On the FBI website it states that fingerprints generally take about 10 weeks, time that we don’t have.  So, good old Lincoln called the Seattle FBI and went into detail about our situation.  It seems that the agent he spoke with has a sister who is adopting in Uganda and although he initially thought he wouldn’t be able to help, he has now agreed to work on helping us.  Imagine that! 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Paperwork is killing me………….

Ugh, really, this is the pits.  Phone calls, slammed doors, more phone calls…………..and then, something good happens.  It is really quite tricky figuring all of this out without the guidance of an agency.  I think I’m becoming an immigration expert, especially since I spent so much time on the phone with them today!  Thinking about Joseph makes it all worth it.  The boy does know how to have fun……….


I game I learned from Aunt Cheryl, Thanks, it made the car ride loads of fun when we had nothing to do!



Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Letter From Joseph’s Former Music Teacher to a Proud Mama……………….

How are you now Madam Suzy?  I think you are fine, for the case of me
I am alright here in St.Johnson. Thank you for the good things you do
for student Joseph, in fact Suzy you deserve a Godly blessing because
the boy was badly off with no body to take care and I was worried of
his secondary education after primary.

I am happy to see that he has joined one of the best high schools in
Uganda. Thank you very much because Joseph has been my best
disciplined student.

I wish you a nice stay and we miss you in St.Johnson much.

Godfrey Teacher St. Johnson

(Joseph is now in a boarding school for secondary students, I had no idea it was one of the “best” schools in Uganda)!

The Paperwork Pregnancy Has Begun!

I had a friend recently describe the Ugandan adoption process as a paperwork pregnancy!  Boy is it ever.   We have not announced what we are doing yet so many friends may not understand why on top of my normal “busy” life, I am now even busier!  I have managed to get our fingerprints done and sent off to West Virginia…………….it was no easy process!  Shawn and I are almost done with our 28 page (each) autobiography, and our 4 reference letters should be done and mailed to the agency this week.  We were not able to talk to Joseph today as he is now in boarding school.  It is going to be very rough not speaking to him as we have done this every Sunday for the past nine months! 


Joseph trying Ice-Cream for the first time!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Decision

I am beginning this blog before we let the world know about our intentions to make Joseph a part of our family.  I met Joseph in June of 2009 when I was in Uganda, Africa as the co-coach of a girls soccer team.  We met on the soccer field.  Not being able to resist a good game of soccer I jumped onto the makeshift field and joined in with a group of kids.  Joseph was a fine player, and we instantly found ourselves making 1-2 passes and scoring for our team.  From there, our friendship blossomed rapidly into a very special bond of mother and son.  Joseph lost his parents when he was young and was left a complete orphan. No one could provide for him, so he went to live with a  stranger, Mama Dorothy.  He has lived there ever since.  Mama Dorothy is a kind women, but there are other people who live with her who do not treat Joseph well.  When I returned in June after my whirlwind trip, I got on the plane feeling like there was a huge hole in my heart.  It missing a piece, it was missing Joseph.  A complete depression engulfed me and it took me about 3 days after getting home to get out of bed.  I was so heart-sick missing this young boy.  I told Shawn about him, never mentioning the word adoption.  Shawn is a therapist and has also done domestic adoptions for 10 years.  He knows a lot about adopting older children and things such as birth order.  Adopting Joseph was out of the question.  I never mentioned the word to him, but he must have known somewhere deep down how I was aching to have him with us.  Shawn was a real trooper.  He embraced the idea of Joseph calling him father, accepted the letter Joseph had sent to him asking him if he would act as his father and even agreed to invite Joseph for a visit.  But, the word adoption never came up.  I didn’t dare mention it, as I truly believed there was a better chance of me walking on the moon than us adopting Joseph.    From the time I got home in June, our family has made weekly Sunday morning phone calls to Joseph.  The kids sing to him, he sings back the songs he composes and we all feel so uplifted when we hang up.  Fast forward to Jan. 2010.  I started a non-profit called African Promise Foundation and we were traveling back to Uganda to do work for APF.  Shawn, who had never traveled to Uganda, (and quite honestly never expressed the desire to go) decided that as a board member, he needed to go and have the experience.  You can imagine Joseph’s excitement that we were coming!  Our first official night in Kampala, Joseph arrived at the Red Chili Hostel where we were staying.  Shawn and I went to the gate to greet him and out of the darkness his figure ascended upon me with such a force that I was almost knocked over.  We both became emotional before Shawn stepped in and gave him a hug.  The funny thing is, that after we went inside of the Red Chili lounge to continue visiting with a group of friends that assembled, Joseph quietly leaned over to me and said while pointing at Shawn, “Mom, is that dad”?  I laughed out loud!  Shawn and Joseph spent the first night bunking together in their own room as there were only two beds.  The next morning we took Joseph with us to Gulu for the week to spend time with us while we did work for the foundation.  We spent the week like a little family.  We had a hotel room where every night Shawn and Joseph would lay on the bed and talk like old friends.  IMG_3134
There were several times that Joseph would open up to us and share his feeling of missing his parents and some other difficult things that were happening in his life.  We cried together.  By the end of the week, we knew saying good-bye was going to be hard.  I forgot to mention that we had an appointment earlier in the week with the US Embassy to get Joseph a tourist visa to visit us.  It was denied.  It was clear that getting him to our home, even for a visit was out of the question.  We decided that we all wanted to go back to Joseph’s “home” to drop him off before we caught our plane.  This is what we saw.
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 008
Joseph sleeps on the bottom bunk.
  Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 004
Just outside his room
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 013
Several feet from Joseph’s room, live the smelly cattle.
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 002
This is Joseph’s room.   He has no net (until we bought one for him) and has suffered from Malaria many times.  Several mangy, bloody dogs are scattered about.
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 003
While we were in the north we saw poverty much, much worse than that of the situation Joseph is living in.  But, as sad as all of that was for me to see, nothing compared to the sadness I felt leaving him there alone in a bad situation.  We were all so full of emotion.  The mood was very somber.  Then, it came time to say good-bye.  A moment we were dreading. 
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 020
We cried together under a mango tree and we walked away, a hole in our hearts. 
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 021

I love this boy
Day 6 Joseph Goodbye 024
We left him, there alone, without a mother and a father.  After getting through security at the airport, Shawn and were all alone for the first time since we had arrived in Uganda.  We literally had not had one moment together to talk.  We sat down, emotionally drained, exhausted and completely devastated.  Shawn looked at me and said, “We know what we have to do”.  I said, “What”? And he replied, “You know”.  I said, “I need to hear you say it”.  To which he replied, “We need to bring him home”.  It was very emotional. 
We got home, life hit us in the face like a ton of bricks and I thought several times, “Are we out of our minds”?  Doubt set in.  Uganda is not an easy place to adopt.  So many things can go wrong.  How can my family afford to have me or Shawn gone again when we have to go to court in Uganda?  What if we get stuck for a lengthy period of time?  What if people pass judgment on us?  How will he do in school?  How will it effect our other children.  What if we can’t afford it, what if, what if, what if?  Well, the bottom line is, it is going to be difficult.  There is no way around that.  I am not a “spiritually” blessed person.  I don’t feel like I have inspiration very often.  That is why when I feel like God is calling us to do this, I believe it with all of my heart.  I am trusting that it will all work out.  Trusting that miracles will happen. Trusting that the wonderful friends and family that I have will embrace him and treat him like he belongs.  So now, we start our journey to Joseph.  We’re coming son.  We will not give up until you are home.