It Takes a Village to Raise a Child

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

With less than 48 hours left in country, I’m already in “reflection” mode as I consider the great amount of work we’ve accomplished here in a small stretch of time. In the last week, I’ve met many new children who are waiting for families of their own. Orphaned siblings eking out a living in a grass hut in a rural village. A boy given up for adoption by grandparents who are too elderly and impoverished to care for him and raise him to manhood. A brother and sister, abandoned by their mother, left with only each other and the clothes on their backs. As I listen to their stories, so many of them deeply tragic, I can be overwhelmed, and I wonder what I can do. I am just one person.

The realities of poverty in developing nations can certainly leave me feeling very small. There are so many needs. But more than ever, on this trip, I have seen the great power that exists in the collective care of people, reaching out with unconditional love, compassion and acceptance to those who need it most.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

This week, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister requested a meeting with me to discuss improvements to the adoption system in Uganda. What a special honor! There is currently no central adoption authority, and many of the complexities we encounter are a result of this lack of infrastructure. I was thrilled, prepared a proposal of improvements and changes, and enjoyed an enthusiastic conversation with him a few days later. I believe our time together was significant. I look forward to how our relationship deepens in the coming months as together we work to better protect children and families and streamline the international adoption process.

During the week, I also met missionaries who are serving in a rural area about five hours outside of Kampala. Coincidentally, we have a sibling group we are working to place who come from this same area. Preparing paperwork for children who live in rural areas is a strenuous task. You must understand and respect the local culture, and you must be very flexible and patient. My time limitations did not allow me to travel to the village during this trip, but the missionaries there will provide us with a connection to temporary resources for these precious children as we wait to complete their paperwork and match them with a forever family.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Permanent Secretary, the missionaries, my colleagues here in Kampala, our staff back in Washington, and you — we are all part of the village that it will take to raise these children. Alone, the task may seem too big. Together, I believe, we can accomplish great things.

To donate to our work in Uganda, click here.

Waiting for a Passport, or Love Accommodates for Unpredictability

Hello from Kampala, Uganda!

In the office we often say that, when it comes to Ugandan adoptions, the only predictable thing is unpredictability. Coming from a North American culture that is highly ordered and regulated, many families find it difficult to imagine what this might actually mean, especially as they travel to bring home their child. Do they just need to “be flexible” like all good international travelers, or does pursuing a Ugandan adoption require something more?

Today, as we waited off and on for six hours – count ’em, six! — at the passport office for a single passport, the answer was clear. Completing an adoption in Uganda requires an extra measure of patience and fortitude. Not simply the politeness of a traveler in a foreign land, but the unconditional love of a family whose heart will now forever live in two countries.

After breakfast, I headed to the passport office with our attorney to pick up a passport we had been told would be ready before lunchtime. The passport office is a series of offices, but the waiting area is a group of tents with metal benches. And it was hot. Super hot! For over an hour we were shuffled from one tent to the next as we waited for our number to be called. We waited as employees filed through boxes of passports, calling out every number, it seemed, but ours. Some people were told to come back again in two weeks. Others arrived only to discover there was a problem with the passport they were waiting for, and could they please wait in another line to see if it could be fixed? Hours later, our number was finally called. Our passport was correct and ready. Time to head out to dinner!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

As I opened that passport and saw the beautiful face of the little boy inside, my heart filled with happiness. The frustrating wait, the equatorial heat, the shuffling from tent to tent – it was all worth it. That passport means a child can travel home with his new parents. But more than that, the passport is a symbol of the beautiful country that gave him birth.

It’s been almost five years since I first stepped foot in Africa. Every time I arrive at my inn in Kampala, I feel like I’m coming home. For many years now, my heart has been in two places – at home in the U.S., and here in Africa. Despite the headaches of developing systems and infrastructure, I love this place. I love the natural beauty and the warm culture of hospitality here, but, especially, I love the people. And I have learned that love can cover a multitude of mishaps; it can accommodate for unpredictability. Not simply with the polite graciousness of a traveler, but with the deep affection that only family can give.

Here in Uganda

We’re in Uganda this week, visiting our children’s home and preparing documents for families. Our children’s home recently moved to a newer, larger location, and we’re excited to see how much the children are enjoying running around in their new big yard. Take a look at these pictures of daily life at our children’s home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can partner with Agape Adoptions to support these children as they wait for families of their own! Click Here to make a donation on behalf of Ugandan children. 100% of your gift goes directly to providing these children with daily necessities like clothing, food, and school supplies.