Our Son from Uganda ~ Our Personal Journey
“We believed international adoption might make sense for us”
After marrying in 2011 and taking a trip around the world, we considered adoption as a means to build our family. We saw the need first hand in places like East Africa; greatly affected, we believed international adoption might make sense for us. We attended BAAS' Saturday adoption class to learn more. We began the long paperwork process, still unsure if "we really wanted to do this." Janet Shirley, BAAS' Oversees Program Coordinator, spoke with us about their new pilot program in Uganda. She forewarned us it wouldn't be an easy road. Maybe the stars were aligning but we looked at each other and said, "let's do it!"
"The Call" came in on September 12th, 2013, a day we'll never forget. After Janet's extensive warning not to get too excited – as things change – and we can't guarantee – adoption is unpredictable – she told us about a three month old baby boy living in an orphanage outside the capital city of Kampala, Uganda. That night I saved his picture as my cell phone's screen saver, secretively looking at it all day and night smiling to myself.
"The Wait" nearly broke us, as months of wondering, dreaming, and patiently waiting dragged on for what seemed like eternity. In mid January 2014 our Ugandan lawyer gave us the travel OK–she had confirmed a court date with a respected judge who would have the power to approve or disapprove our legal guardianship request. Not knowing if we would return home with our son, we boarded a plane to Africa fingers crossed, futures uncertain.
"The In-Country Process" was well… unpredictable and complicated. Luckily BAAS' Ugandan Coordinator, Dinah, was a pure saint who led us through the entire two months of court dates, written rulings, Embassy appointments, and passport debacles.
An important value for us while in Uganda was to make a positive impact on the community. We found that because of an unstable water supply many locals had to walk significant distances carrying buckets of water (yes, on their heads) from wells back to their homes. Being tired and thirsty, the kids would often drink the water before it could be boiled and purified, thus causing the kids to become sick. A simple solution was a large water tank catchment system, which collected rain runoff from metal roofs. Donating water tanks at both our son's orphanage and a local elementary school was perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences of our trip.
"The Transition" back to the U.S. was pure joy. Leaving Ugandan airspace we silently cried as the enormity of the process sunk in, as we finally allowed ourselves to let go. A 20-hour flight with an infant was nothing compared to what we had just gone through. We had learned to parent in a third world country, no bottle warmers or crib, no high chairs or car seats. No certainty if our son could come home with us. No idea when or if we could come home. Safely back in the U.S. we went crazy loving all the modern conveniences – parenting suddenly became so easy with clean water, a washer/dryer, baby food, and a safe crib!
So concerned with getting our son home, we didn't emotionally realize "Post Placement" meant more social work visits, more paperwork, more court dates. We wanted to be done with all the bureaucratic chaos already! Luckily we breezed through the post-placement requirements and were able to formally adopt our son, Everett Moses, about six months later.
Are we glad we did it? Absolutely. Was it painful? Yes. Did it change the course of our lives in ways we'll never know? We now have a healthy, high-energy two-year old. He spins himself dizzy and laughs so loud it's infectious. He lives in the moment and forces us to be present. He screams of delight whenever an ambulance or a fire truck barrels down our street. In ways we'll never understand, we truly believe this life with him was meant to be.
Through every step of the process the BAAS staff went above and beyond. Whether it was our constant paperwork questions, requests for guidance, or just day-to-day support, they have been (and continue to be) an amazing support system. We continue to work with them on supporting humanitarian projects in Uganda – it is so important to keep in touch and give back. For those seeking an international adoption, we would hands-down recommend BAAS as the best agency in the Bay Area! They are like family to us now and we couldn't have done it without them.
All our love, Ken, Hillary & Everett