Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No, Nope, No Pank You

Deacon's vocabulary is starting to expand. He talks all the time now and most of the time you can understand him.  He gives you the right answers to questions he commonly hears.  He is starting to learn his colors and gets the color green right all of the time. The rest we are working on.

Last week, the word "no" entered his vocabulary on a pretty consistent basis.  I really thought that was a little late to the game.  At 4 months together, I really thought it would become a common word before now.  However, he left no time for other word "nope" to enter in as well.  This is probably his favorite response to most questions.  Deacon, do you want to go to school today? Nope. Deacon, did you take a nap today? Nope. Deacon, do you want to play with Cannon? Nope. Deacon, what's your name? Nope.  Other answers to the name question are oatmeal, Africa, Atukwase (his middle name), and today, robot.  This kid may have a pretty good funny bone in him.  He knows the right answer but loves to spice it up to get a rise out of whoever is asking the name question.

Another one that is pretty funny is the "no pank you" response.  I have taught him that if he doesn't want to do something someone is asking him he says "no thank you." In this family we are polite even if we don't want to hang with you.  He can't pronounce his "th" yet so it comes out as a "p."  This is somewhat comical to me.






Wednesday, January 23, 2013

9

Today Cannon turns 9.  9!  It just seems so old.  I remember when I was 9.  Crazy.  He is definitely ALL BOY and keeps us laughing.  His imagination is out of this world and I pray that his passion for life stays strong.  These are some of my favorite pictures...

So sleepy...

"my lips are cold"

mischievous smile

"do I have something in my teeth?"

so strong

I am boy... here me roar!

loves to be wrapped up (from birth to today!)

self portrait

9th birthday party photo booth

"how you doin'?"

love the toothless smiles

handsome 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

him and her



My oldest and my youngest.  How many prayers she said for him and her sister.  Wanting so badly for another sibling. Wanting so badly to adopt.  A surprise catalyst to the decision.  Such love she has for both.  Understanding of the need and the calling.  My oldest is full of compassion and love. She is going to make a big difference in this world.  My youngest is a sweet soul.  He is quiet and deliberate.  He is slow and loving.  Both of them make my heart happy. The one that made me a mother and the one that waited so patiently for us to find him.  Oh how He loves us....

Monday, January 14, 2013

the last few weeks

We have been home for almost 12 weeks.  Deacon has grown almost 2 inches in that time! We have celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Everyone is doing so much better than we expected.  Here is a photo update of our little family.


Halloween 2012
Inspired by Grace who asked to be Thing 2.  




At Kaylee's first band concert


Christmas Card Photo Shoot



Deacon at the hospital for some medical work



Goofing around with one of our sitters



Christmas Eve in our jammies




Sunday, January 13, 2013


Well, we made it.  We arrived home Sunday night to great friends and our kiddos waiting for us in the airport lobby.  Hugs went all around and awe struck as we realized how much each of the children changed in just 5 weeks.  Grace grew 2 inches, her shoes of maybe 8 weeks are too small, she has her first loose tooth and another tooth already coming in.  Cannon's hair is longer than it has ever been and his voice seemed lower. Kaylee is almost as tall as me just lacking 1/4".   

Deacon is doing great. He has responded well to being home and we have had no sibling issues yet.  He is talking more and more.  At his well check yesterday, we found out that he is in the 5% for height and 25% for weight. We knew he was small but this confirmed it.  We also know that he will grown fast like Grace did.  

Sleep is our only issue as of now.  The 3 of us have been waking up several times a night and if I can stay awake past 8:30pm it's a miracle.  A few more days and hopefully we will be sleeping soundly like always.  We are going to put Deacon in his own bed tonight so that should be interesting. He and Grace will share a room so I am sure we will have to curtail a few late night/early morning parties.

Ryan and I want to thank each of you one last time for your prayers and encouragement while we were away.  It was a quite a journey and we are glad that our family is complete. As Ryan says "no more children."  

first morning home

Saturday, January 12, 2013

landed....


After a full 24+ hours of traveling, hanging out in the Detroit airport for most of the afternoon, we landed in OKC!  Our hearts were full as we raced to see our family and good friends waiting to greet us.  Hugging my kids and seeing their sweet faces felt so so good.  The support that we received through this journey helped us make it through. The 2 years down this adoption road was bumpy, hard and at times seemed like it wouldn't happen. The time in UG was difficult.  However, we are home now. We are home to start our life as a family of 6.  Thank you!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

coming home


Yesterday was a good day. We woke up and had breakfast then enjoyed the slow pace that we have become accustomed to.  We headed to the Embassy around 1:30pm to pick up our visa.  As with everything else we have experienced, we arrived early for our appointment time of 2pm and settled in for a long wait.  We did have to wait but sitting in a nice air conditioned building with an american bathrooms was a real treat.  We ended up getting our visa around 3:15pm. We walked out of the Embassy with our packet of paperwork for our arrival into the great USA and Deacon's Ugandan passport with his US visa.  Finally, we were done.  Completely finished with everything on this side of the adoption.  What a relief I felt and then the countdown to home started.

Today we had another slow day.  We had lunch with the 2 other adoptive families that we have gone through this journey with.  We all arrived in country at about the same time.  We are the first to go home. They are expected to go home next week then the week after. We feel very lucky to have gotten our visa appointment this week because there now is a large amount of adoptive families trying to get visas.  The passport process has had a backlog and it seems they all got released at the same time. This means that everyone is trying to get their visa at the same time as well.

We came home and I started packing.  We are just about ready besides the things we will need tonight and tomorrow. We will leave Kampala around 5pm (10am CST) for Entebbe. We are going to dinner on the beach of Lake Victoria then will head to the airport for our 11:30pm flight (4:30pm CST).  

This journey has been such a different experience than Grace's.  It is not a journey that I wish to repeat.  Prayers have definitely gotten us through this and God has showed us time and time again that He is hear standing with us and protecting us.  

Deacon has done so well and so much better than we ever expected. We pray that his easiness continues as we throw him into our fun and crazy life.  I will update again once we are home. Thank you for wanting to be a part of our journey through facebook and email.  To have this connection to home, helps me get through the loneliness and difficulties of being so far away.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

36 and the day we have been working for

October 23
Today is my birthday! We celebrated by taking it easy then heading over to La Chateau which is a Belgium restaurant. They have such good food and absolutely amazing ice cream!


October 24

VISA APPROVED.

We arrived at the Embassy about an hour before our appointment. The waiting room was full and we heard that they were running behind.  We waited awhile then surprisingly we heard our name called at our appointment time.  We didn't have to wait very long and went in before some other families who had earlier appointments.  My thought was that each consulate has a list of families that they see and we just happened to be at the top of this consulates list so we didn't have to wait.

We went into the room and talk to the Consulate. She was so very nice and I am thankful for her sweet spirit. She had us share our story and sign some documents.  She then talked to Deacon's family representative separately.  When we went back in, she told us our visa had been approved.  I just stared at her in shock. All of the doubt and fear and hours of feeling like we were being attacked were washed away with those two words, visa approved.

We celebrated this evening with some popsicles.  I am still just so amazed. God has lead us through the dark time and rewarded us with an easy and positive day today. We pick up our visa tomorrow (a day early because the embassy is closed on friday for a holiday) then we hop on the plane on Saturday night.  All three of us coming home.  What joy fills my heart!


Monday, January 7, 2013

not the day we expected

Our day started at 6am.  We knew that we had to get an early start to get everything done that we needed to. We were out the door by 6:45 am on our way to the passport office. We spent an hour getting to our destination but we arrived a few minutes early.  I felt a sense of renewal and a sense of optimism.  We spoke with the man who would help us and he told us that we would have our new passport in 1 hour.  In African time, this really means 2 hours.  We sat with all of the waiting Ugandans in a court yard and at 9:15am up walks our guy.  We walk to the window and get our passport within the hour as promised. I gave him a big hug and felt a relief fall from my shoulders.

We then headed to the Embassy.  We got right in and were able to turn in all of our paperwork. We filled out the documents needed and told them that the only thing missing was Deacon's birth certificate.  We promised her that we were getting it today (because that is what we were told).  She said to bring it by either this afternoon or by 9am tomorrow morning.  I felt another sense of relief when she said that our visa interview is scheduled for Wednesday.  

After the Embassy we headed for a quick lunch then to go to the office where we would get our birth certificate.  We arrived at 2:30.  Our attorney's office was told to be at the office by 3pm to pick up the birth certificate.  We waited, waited and waited.  Finally, the clock read 4:30pm.  The dread started to fill my heart because I didn't think that we would receive the birth certificate today meaning that we couldn't turn it in tomorrow morning meaning that we wouldn't have our visa interview on Wednesday. At 4:45, I started to cry.  Tears of frustration. Tears of not understanding why this has been so difficult. Tears of wondering why it seems like people are working against us.  We waited another hour.  In this hour, our birth certificate application was denied 4 times.  Reasons were given and not understood.  The form that was completed had all of the information that they would need for the birth certificate.  These people were playing hardball. We have heard and now believe that they are not in favor of international adoption.  We had our ruling from the judge with Deacon's history. The registrar said that she couldn't trust the judge and that he was incompetent at deciding this case.  She demanded an affidavit from Deacon's family member and that family member's id card.  Our driver took a boda back to our attorney's office and brought back the file. From there, we were able to pull out the original affidavit and give this to her.  After hours of waiting, many prayers for hearts to be soften, the registrar decided to sign the birth certificate at 5:45pm. We walked out of the office at 6pm and they closed at 5pm.  More tears flowed as relief came knowing that we had the last piece but some were still of frustration for many reasons.

We drove in the van silently as we were all shocked by all that we have encountered. A day that started out with hope turned dark quickly and I am utterly exhausted from the emotional roller coaster that we have been on this last week. 

The good news is that we have what we need. We will take the birth certificate to the Embassy in the morning.  We will have our visa interview on Wednesday.  We will continue to pray that the visa will be approved on Wednesday and that we can pick it up on Friday.  If all of this happens, we will ALL be on a plane coming home Saturday night.  The Embassy does investigations every so often on adoption cases so the approval is not 100% for sure.  

I felt your prayers today.  During times of dread and disbelief, I would feel a wave of calm and a sense of peace.  Thank you for helping us and holding us up.  I know that God has this, and that He has a plan no matter what. I do not understand WHY this has been so hard but I will look forward to figuring it all out one day.


Sunday, January 6, 2013


After a completely crazy week, today is a day of rest.  We all slept better in our new place and the boys are napping now.  We have gotten settled and have begun the process of packing to go home.  It's amazing how much stuff you bring then how much different stuff you take home.

I am watching a loop of the same 3 shows on MSNBC.  These were on last night and since it is night for you they are replaying them.  The other funny thing is that they don't really have any commercials except for MSNBC commercials.  Ryan said "what exactly are the advertisers in American going to advertise in Uganda?" Point taken...

We spent some time at the ARA which is a large American guest house. It had a play area and Deacon loved to run around and explore. Here he is posing for me on the little tykes slide.  


This was our view last night for about an hour.  We had to wait outside the gate of the office of immigration for our passport. It was after hours and the guard wouldn't let us wait inside.  The street was very busy as it was rush hour (which is never ending it seems. the traffic here is atrocious). Those vans are taxis.  The pack them full of people.  Then the motorcycles on the left are "bodas."   Everyone here rides them but they are more expensive than the taxi.  Though they are quicker so you have to evaluate how fast you want to get somewhere.  Ladies ride side saddle on the bodas. Up to 3 men and a child can fit on a boda as well. 


Saturday, January 5, 2013

3 weeks and a change in his face


Here is an update on our son.  He is doing very well! He is starting to talk more and more and is remembering words that he uses.  He is showing us a lot of affection these last few days which is nice.  An unsolicited hug or touch is so huge.  He is starting to wrestle a bit with Ryan which is funny to watch.  He loves to be tickled.  He is still eating well and sleeping great.  He is unexpectedly easy and I am so thankful since our process has been a bit crazy.   

Here are a few pictures of him from the last 3 weeks so you can see how he has changed.

At our first meeting, 3.5 weeks ago.

On our safari, 2 weeks ago. 

Trying to do some self portraits with a non makeup wearing mom early in the morning, last weekend.

I love to see the changes in his face. Just the uncertainty of not knowing us to learning it's okay to trust us.  He is so relaxed most of the time now and you can see it in his eyes, smile and body language.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

not a good few days

October 17
We are experiencing some trouble here in UG.  I have always heard about Spiritual Warfare but haven't seen it with my own eyes but now I know that it is surrounding us. I don't want to go into specifics. We are safe and so is Deacon.  We are asking for prayers for us for the next week and a half as as we try to get things done.  Ryan's new motto is "get in-get out."  So whenever you think of us, please say a prayer day or night.  I know that prayer works and our God is a mighty God. He brought us in this and He will get us out.


October 19
We have had a crazy 48 hours.  First, I want to say thank you for your prayers.  We have been through a lot these past few days and today we could definitely feel your prayers and God's presence today.  We had a good day today and I can't way to share our accomplishments.

So why did this get all crazy?  On Wednesday around noon, I received an email from our guest house "manager" telling us that we were no longer welcome there.  There is a huge backstory but her reasoning is that we complained to much. The truth is that the other families complained (there were mice, bed bugs and faulty mosquito nets). Ryan and I never complained about these things.  We went from having 3 families (9 people) to have 6 families (22 people) in the guest house over the weekend. This house is a 5 bedroom house with 2 bathrooms.  It was a very tight squeeze indeed then add that there are 6 newly adopted children (have no idea what boundaries are) and it was interesting!  I did tell the manager that we didn't have enough dishes.  There were 6 bowls total and maybe 10 plates.  This supposedly upset her. We also gave a tip to the house staff and this upset her as well even though we were told it is okay to tip while staying there.  Ryan spoke with the manager at length on Wednesday early afternoon.  She gave him so many lies (some we knew then and others we found out later) about why we needed to leave.  This is just a summary but it was just an absolutely shocking experience.  Here we are in Kampala with no idea where to go next.  Our agency "partners" loosely with this guest house and the fact that they were kicking out an adoptive family... just wow.

The other part of the crazy....  I have been feeling for the last week that we were under attack.  I have never experienced this in such a way. Here is why I think this:
-Nothing was getting done when people said it would. We always here "tomorrow, it will be ready tomorrow." But it never is. I get that part of this is Africa and that Africa is unpredictable but it was getting ridiculous.  Three weeks of being here and getting nothing done is just not the norm.

-The plagues!  I haven't been bothered by mosquitoes at all. Then Tuesday evening I got probably 20 bites all over my body. We had ants infest our bathroom. Hundreds of tiny black ants going up and down the walls and around the toilet. They were crazy.

-Ryan had a dream on Tuesday night (the night before we were asked to leave) that he was being attacked by someone.  He even woke him self up kicking his bed.

-Last night, I had several different dreams of us being attacked as well. In my dreams, we were being chased or attacked by animals.  So bizarre.

So from being asked to leave the place we have lived for the past 3 weeks to having horrible dreams to having people lie to us, I felt like we were being fought.

Yesterday, we spent the majority of the afternoon finding somewhere to live.  We looked at several places and are now settled into a little 1 bedroom furnished apartment that is not far from the guest house we were staying.  It is owned by a lady in England and it is so nice inside. There is even a huge tv and it has CABLE! I don't even care what I watch but I get AMERICAN TV! Right now, MSNBC is on. I am almost thankful for all of the election talk! For one, I can understand it! and second, it is familiar.

So last night/your day, you all prayed. You prayed for us and our process. You prayed to soften hearts of people who we are working with.  Today it showed.  I prayed last night for God to surround us and protect us.  I prayed that He show us the way and what we need to do.

This morning we woke up and went for Deacon's TB test reading and medical overview. We left early and got there.  He received a NEGATIVE TB test which is awesome!  Then we found out he is 38.5 inches tall and 35 pounds.  We have had him almost a month though so we know he has grown since we got him.  He got the all clear and his medical info was sent to the Embassy this afternoon.

From there, we went to our attorney's office.  One thing we are waiting on that we have to have to proceed, it is our written ruling.  This is exactly what is sound like. The paperwork from the judge saying that Deacon is ours.  We first heard Wednesday, then Thursday, then hopefully today.  I decided that we weren't following the rules any more. The squeaky wheel get the grease right?  So went and we sat. We sat in the office and waited.  There were several phone calls made and lots of time just sitting, but guess what, it worked. We walked out with our written ruling around lunch.  This is another huge thing.

Then we had heard that the passports were also ready today.  Our attorney took our guardianship order and tried to get our passport moving along on Tuesday.  We didn't know if that would work or not.  The passport is supposed to require the written ruling to be complete. So today after lunch, we went back to the attorney's office to sit and wait for the passport. The kept telling us that it would be today.  Around 4:30, I gave up hope. The passport office closes at 5pm.  We didn't hear anything so I had resigned that we wouldn't get it today.  But we kept sitting.  We had a typo on one of our papers that was getting fixed. So we were waiting for that anyway.  Then at 5pm, our attorney came in from court, made some calls, and told us to go to the passport office and he would meet us there.  We got there around 5:30, he got there around 6:00.  At 6:15, he came out with our passport. Wow.

Now, we do have some new hurdles to clear on Monday morning. Deacon's name is misspelled by one letter on his passport. This has to be fixed.  A call has been made and hopefully we will have it early on Monday morning. The other is that we don't have Deacon's original birth certificate. It has been ordered but of course we were told it would be ready today and it wasn't.  My question in, why wasn't the birth certificate already in the file?  They have had our file since June.  Since we have to have it for the Embassy you think that there would be a check list to make sure it was already done.  Only in America I guess :)

Why does all of this matter so much?

Our tickets home are for next Saturday night, October 28.  If we could get all of this done (the written ruling, passport, birth certificate) we could submit it all to the Embassy on Monday morning, have the visa interview on Wednesday and have the visa in hand on Friday which means we will all come home together as planned.  We will save money on more airline change fees, we have already spent an extra $1800 because of court date changes.

The new prayer requests are that the passport and birth certificate will be ready on Monday morning so we can get to the Embassy before noon. There are time and day restrictions to when you can apply for visas.  Pray that our Ugandan staff get this stuff done and understand the urgency.  We know that God can do this.