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Remembering Uganda: Moving

July 13, 2013

We are telling our adoption story through recounting memories and sharing a series of emails that were sent while we were in Uganda in July & August of 2012. If you have made your way here because you are thinking about adopting from Uganda or are in the process, please know that the process is very different now than it was in 2012.

After several over-full days in a row of many long outings and errands, we finally had a day to just breathe toward the end of our first week in Uganda. We went on walks down the roads surrounding Loving Hearts, played around the grounds and tried to slow down a bit.

As we did this, we noticed something concerning, especially about Naomi. When we were out and about and away from Loving Hearts, she was content to be with us. She would play with us, make eye contact, attempt to speak words to us in English (she only spoke Luganda at the time), wanted to be held, hold our hands, etc. And yet, each time we returned to Loving Hearts, it was like a switch flipped off. She didn’t want to be with us and instead wanted to run around and be into everything and with everyone at the home. This was made more complicated by the fact that it was summertime, and there were constantly short-term missions teams visiting the home, sometimes 3 or 4 a day, made up mostly of white people. When a team would visit, it was very apparent that Naomi could not tell the difference between us and them. She put her arms up to be held to everyone, wanted to crawl into everyone’s lap, etc. It was hard for us as her parents, trying to build an attachment with her, to see her do this.

As we noticed this and started talking and praying about it, we decided it might be necessary for us to leave Loving Hearts sooner than we had planned. We knew it was customary for the adoptive parents to stay at the baby home with the children until after the ruling giving the parents guardianship of the children had been handed down from the court (our court date had simply been a hearing- the judge would consider all evidence and rule on guardianship 7-10 days later). For us, that ruling date was July 19th, which at this point, was about a week away. It was hard for us to imagine staying at Loving Hearts for a whole extra week, seeing how hard it was for Naomi already with us there while so many teams were coming through and how she was reacting to it all.

And yet, it was hard for us to think about leaving Loving Hearts as well. It had been Nate and Naomi’s home for over a year, and we knew taking them away completely would be difficult. We ourselves were loved so well there and taken care of so compassionately. I have never experienced such gracious hospitality as I did at Loving Hearts:

The guy who did a lot of the housekeeping and maintenance at Loving Hearts, “V,” would come and clean our guest suite top to bottom every day. He was always checking in on us to see if we needed anything, and he brought us some of the most yummy watermelon and bananas I have ever eaten. He is honestly one of the kindest, most thoughtful men I have ever met.

V with Nate and Naomi

V with Nate and Naomi

The aunties at Loving Hearts are so gentle and sweet. I will never forget the morning after court when I ran into one of the aunties. She put her hand lovingly on my cheek and said, “Oh Mummy Dorcas, I am so glad you are home. Yesterday was so long.” (Dorcas was Naomi’s name at the orphanage.) It was like she knew how hard the day had been without me saying a word about it, and I almost cried at how tender she was.

Nate with his fave auntie

Nate with his fave auntie

One of the guys who kept the grounds, “F,” was attending Bible college to become a pastor. When he found out that Tim is a pastor at our church, he peppered him with questions about life and ministry. He even found me one day to discuss my experience of being a pastor’s wife and how he, though currently unmarried, can prepare for loving a wife while doing ministry. It was such a blessing to us to see his heart for the gospel and the church and how eager he was to learn.

F with Tim and Nate

F with Tim and Nate

And so, we talked a lot about when to leave, discussed it with our agency, asked some friends to pray with us about it, and then, we finally decided sooner would be better than later and that it was time. We asked our social worker “G” if Loving Hearts would consider writing us a care order for the children that would allow us to take them off the property before the ruling had been given. By God’s grace, “G” agreed to do this, and we started packing and getting ready to leave.

One view from our balcony/patio

One view from our balcony/patio

Packed suitcases out on the patio, which doubled as our living room at Loving Hearts

Packed suitcases out on the patio, which doubled as our living room at Loving Hearts

Oh, did I mention we had no idea where we were going? Yeah, we left for Uganda without any idea where we would stay. I knew most of the guest houses (kind of like bed and breakfasts- simple rooms often with shared bathrooms and with meals included) were completely booked because of all the short-term missions teams. So, I called my friend “L” to ask if she knew if there was availability at the hotel where they were staying. She said there was availability, so I asked her a few more questions about price, what was included, etc. Then, as I shared it with Tim, we realized that staying at a guest house (which charged by the person) would not be much cheaper for our family than staying at this hotel (which charged by the room and had a heavily discounted monthly rate), not to mention the fact that most guest houses were full anyway. The hotel didn’t include meals (which was actually fine with us because we had packed two giant suitcases full of food). But the hotel did include internet and laundry services, which guest houses did not, and we knew that would be a big help to us. All that to say, after much discussion of pros and cons, we decided to stay at Speke Hotel and Resort, sight unseen. So we loaded up into the Loving Hearts van once more, and we were dropped off at the nicest hotel we have ever stayed at and likely will ever stay at in our entire lives.

Looking back, it is AMAZING to see how God provided a place for us to stay. If we hadn’t traveled in the summer when all the guests houses were booked, and if we hadn’t been in-country with our friends the “W’s” who were already staying at Speke, we probably would not have considered staying there. And yet the fact is, Speke was truly a gift from God to us, a gift we didn’t know to ask for or even know that we needed.

It was a beautiful place, with gardens, a marina, stables with horses, a pool, a couple different restaurants and more. We could just spend all day walking, playing, exploring and enjoying all the beauty and fun the place had to offer. For two parents who were extremely overwhelmed going from two kids to four kids under the age of four, having so much to do and so much to see every day was a lifesaver. And as a giant added bonus, we had friends who were staying there too, which means we had community- friends to see, talk to, pass the time with, pray with, friends for our kids to play with- all on the other side of the world. It was such a blessing. God knew what we needed, and He gave it to us without us even asking. We are still astonished at His kindness.

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