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Remembering Uganda: Verbal Ruling

July 19, 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.

Every country does international adoption differently, and every international adoption process changes regularly and often swiftly. We knew when we left for Uganda that there would be several steps to check off in sequential order to complete our process. The first step was our court hearing. That was completed on July 10, 2012. Step two was the verbal ruling, in which the judge would grant or deny us legal guardianship of our newest children Nate and Naomi; we had been told this ruling would be given on July 19, 2012. However, because the courts in Uganda close for a month-long hiatus July 15-August 15, we knew that there was a possibility our ruling would not be issued as we had been told.

The night before our ruling was scheduled to happen, I sent this email:

Sent July 18, 2012

Court ruling tomorrow, hopefully. Tim is the only one who has to go to court, and our attorney wants him there at 2pm our time, so 6am your time. Please join us in praying that the judge actually shows up to give the ruling as he said he would, as the court is technically now on hiatus and so technically the judge does not have to report to work, and that the Lord would move the judge’s heart to give us guardianship of these two precious children. Please pray for me as well, as I will be back at the hotel with all four kids by myself for the first time. Tim will have our one phone at the court house, and he will do his best to make contact with me when he hears something. I will try to let y’all know as soon as I know.

We woke up on July 19 sort of on edge. Both of us were pre-occupied with thoughts of what the day would bring with the ruling to be issued. We went through the motions of the day, trying to keep it as normal as possible for the kids. Tim started getting ready just before lunchtime, and our driver came to pick him up. I fed the kids lunch, played for a little while and then one by one started trying to get them down for naps. It was a very challenging job. Until now, Tim and I had split it up: Tim got the boys down for naps and bedtime, and I put the girls down. Trying to get all four in bed and asleep by myself was tough.

Once they were finally all down, I checked the clock and noticed it was about 3pm, which means Tim had been at our attorney’s office for about an hour or perhaps a little more. I had not heard from him, and all of a sudden, with the kids sleeping and nothing else to occupy my mind, I was overtaken by fear. I started crying uncontrollably, and I just fell to my knees and prayed. It had just hit me all at once that there was a possibility that guardianship would be denied, which would mean that we would have to take Nate and Naomi back to the orphanage. I just kept weeping and begging God to move the judge’s heart in our favor. I was suddenly terrified that the judge would rule against guardianship and that we would become one more disrupted attachment, one more experience of abandonment, one more rip and tear in their already torn and ripped hearts. I just couldn’t bear it.

As I’m in a heap on the floor, crying uncontrollably, a thought popped into my head. I am certain that it was a thought that came from the Lord because in my fearful, emotional state, I could not have come up with it on my own. Here is that thought: “I love to give good gifts to my children.” So simple, and yet that one thought was enough to break through my fear and tears. It almost instantly led to another thought: “If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:10)

And then, just a quickly as the terror had come upon me, I was covered with peace. Meditating on God’s own words about Himself in the Bible led to more thoughts: I thought of how much I love my kids, how I truly delight in seeing them laugh and smile, how giving them gifts is a joy and pleasure to me. And then I thought of God, the perfect parent, the most loving, gracious and kind Father. If I love my kids like that, how much more must He love me? Considering these characteristics of God brought rest and hope to my soul. It wasn’t as if, in that moment, I was certain the judge would grant guardianship. I still wasn’t sure. I wouldn’t know about that for a few more hours. Instead, at that moment, I was certain of my God, assured of His character, His love, His faithfulness as a perfect Father. And I knew I could trust Him.

I read my Bible, prayed and sang every hymn I could think of for the rest of the kids’ nap. I just wanted to remember God and His character, and I wanted that to be greater in my mind, bigger in my heart, than waiting to hear about the ruling. The kids woke up slowly one by one, and I still had not heard from Tim. Finally, around 5:30pm or so, the phone rang in our hotel room. It was Tim. He said we had been granted guardianship. I started to cry. I hugged Naomi, who was right next to me (trying to take the phone away because she wanted to play with it), and just cried and cried. Tim said it had been kind of a strange day and that he would tell me the rest when he got back to Speke.

By the time Tim got home, we had hit “the witching hour” when it’s time to start with whirlwind of dinner prep, eating dinner, getting cleaned up and ready for bed. The was by far the most insane part of our daily routine, and conversation was impossible. So, I had to wait until the kids were in bed to get the details.

Turns out the details were strange and unexpected. Tim had arrived at our attorney’s office just before 2pm as instructed, only to find that our attorney wasn’t there. Tim and all of the attorney’s office staff tried to reach him all day long. Finally, just before the office closed for the day, Tim was able to reach him. Our attorney explained to Tim that the judge had issued the ruling already and that it had happened early that morning. Tim asked what the ruling had been. Our attorney said, “Positive, of course.” Tim asked him if that meant the children were ours. Our attorney answered, “Well yes. Of course,” almost as if he was surprised that we had anticipated any other answer.  Then he quickly explained to Tim that we would still need to wait on the written ruling, which would be issued a week or so later and hung up. That was it. No big pomp and circumstance. No bang of the gavel. Just a lot of waiting and much confusion followed by a very brief conversation.

The email I sent out at the end of the day sums it up:

Sent July 19, 2012
Court was a little insane today, and we don’t understand all that transpired, but here is what we do know for sure:
1) the judge showed up to give the ruling
2) the judge gave us a positive ruling
which means……..
Naomi and Nate are ours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!!!!! Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him!!!!!!!
And you know what? In the end, it’s not about how it all happened and whether or not it was a movie-perfect scene. All that matters is this: On July 19, 2012, two children who had no parents to take care of them were given parents who love them. And on that day two parents were given the good, amazing, precious gift of another son and daughter to raise, care for and love.
A year later, we are still marveling at and thanking God for such sweet gifts.


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