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. 


Jason Carson said...

I can't wait 'till he's here! We'll have a welcome party with lots of ice cream and introduce him to lots of new friends!!! ;)

Suzanne Wiggins said...

Let us know what we can do to help! The faster he can get here the better!

Paint Me Out Photography said...

let me know if i can help too!

love said...

i just devoured your blog trying to find this post....the 'how' of your journey.
you did it. i know, with God, but you did it!

even though i've already done this once, this was just the encouragement i needed as we prepare to walk this journey again. it is easy to get scared at all the what if's....but God didn't ask me about those. He just asked me if i would go.