Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Adoption Is Hard – It Takes Sacrifice and Help From Others

Wow, has it really been since November 2014 when we last provided a formal blog update?  Time has flown by, and it has indeed been busy.  We realize that many of you have seen updates along the way on Facebook, or maybe we have connected in person or by phone to give you some updates, but here are the highlights of our last year together as a family of seven.

We came home a little over a year ago, May 26, 2014, to be exact.  If we were to summarize the past year, it would be with words like crazy, tiring, busy, overwhelming, lonely, and hard to see beyond the day-to-day.  Adoption is hard.  Whoever says it is not is either clueless or not living in reality.  In some ways it has some similarities to having a baby; everyone is excited waiting for the new family members to arrive, and then there is a sense of being forgotten after a couple weeks.  We are not superheroes, though we have to chuckle under our breath and try not to roll our eyes as we continue to get comments like, “they are all yours, oh my goodness, God bless you,” or “wow, you guys are so great and are going such a wonderful thing,” or “I cannot believe what you have done – you are so amazing.”  The truth is, we struggle with patience, discouragement, letting our frustrations get the best of us, and not giving the time needed to our walk with God and/or to each other.  We never knew how much we would have to sacrifice over the past year just to make it through, but by God’s grace, we are making it one day at a time.

However, we know that good things are happening too.  It is hard to often see these amidst the day-to-day bickering, whining, and continued adjustments of new experiences together as a family of seven.  We have seen some great moments over the past year.  For instance, we are at the end of another school year.  God gave our children the exact teachers that they needed to have a successful year at school.  Zoe just finished third grade, Micah with first, Caleb with Kindergarten, and Jeremiah with Preschool 4.  Next fall, the older four will continue to be in the same school together, and Katie will go to Preschool 3 two days a week at another school.

Jeremiah and Katie have indeed come a long way.  This is hard at times to see, but they really have done well considering they have only been with us a little over a year.  We hear other adoptive parents’ stories and realize how well they are doing.  They thrive on routines, desire affection, want to explore and ask hundreds of questions a day like any other children.  They have physically grown (Jeremiah – 4 inches in 12 months!).  We have less meltdowns and such better rapport with them than we did a year ago.  They love going to church and learning about God there and at home.  They love to sing, play outside on the trampoline and swing set, ride bikes, go to the park, swim in our neighborhood pool, have sleepovers with their grandparents, go on trips, etc.  They have little buddies at school, church, in the neighborhood, and they like playdates just like their older siblings.  They love seeing both sets of their grandparents and having our family friends come to visit (we have had a lot of fun hosting friends from out of town over the past year). 

The Latest On Our Process
Our journey of adoption started way back in August 2011.  Yes, you read that right; we are nearly four years in.  Though we came home and have been living as a family of seven since May 2014, we have been struggling through the process of converting our guardianship of Jeremiah and Katie to full adoption.  We started this process in Pennsylvania within weeks after returning from Uganda.  We waited for nearly nine months for paperwork from the Ugandan courts to push things along here in PA per request of the PA court.  We have lost count of the number of phone calls, emails, Facebook group postings and message, connecting with strangers who we “meet” that might be able to help, and conversations with our PA lawyer.  Finally in March, we were told that the Ugandan courts really could not help us any further, so we went back to working with our contacts to try other ways to get our court process moving forward in PA.  Essentially it appears that no case like our situation has ever been considered in PA so we have no precedence in working with our lawyer to rely on and reference.  I guess you could say we are blazing a new trail in PA.  Eventually in late April, Joey was able to talk with a “higher up” contact at the US Department of State in Washington DC to get some guidance with our case.  We confirmed with her that we had all of the right paperwork and documentation to move forward, but it would take some further clarifying of terminology and processes for the PA courts.  So, more conversations with our lawyers and friends at GSF occurred, and requests for affidavits were requested and submitted. 

Finally, the first week of June, we received the following information from our PA lawyer.  "Hallelujah, the Judge has agreed to accept the latest documents as evidence of termination of parental rights...we should be able to move forward with the adoptions."  On June 15, we received a packet in the email from our lawyer that is the official Petition for Adoption documents!  Of course, we had to chuckle, as we had to go get fingerprinted again (we have lost count the number of times that we have had to do this too).

What Lies Ahead, and How You Can Help
Along the way, because we have been on the journey of a private adoption process versus going through an agency, we have never had an exact sense of a bottom line cost for our process.  We simply wanted to be good stewards, and we knew that the private route was more affordable than going through an agency, and in hearing other stories from families who have gone through agencies, we did save a bunch.  God has provided for each step of our process.  The cost for us to now finalize the full adoption of Jeremiah and Katie is $4,000, plus some other fees to do more background checks.  Once again, we are not sure how this need will be met, but we know that God will provide through others.  We have adjusted our total need thermometer on our blog to now reflect what we have received and what we still need. 

Would you prayerfully consider contributing to this final step for our family? 

Once we complete this (hopefully final) round of background checks and turn in our final paperwork this week to our lawyer, he will submit it to the PA court.  We are hopeful that we will have a court date within a few weeks.  It has been our prayer all along that Jeremiah would be able to enter Kindergarten this fall with his new last name and officially be able to be called a Beeson. 

Would you continue to pray to this end? 

Thanks again for reading this update.  We trust that it has been helpful, though we realize so many more details could be shared.  Thanks for your continued support of our family, and again, if you are able to help us financially with this final hurdle, please email us at joeybeeson@nics.org

Blessings to you, and have a wonderful summer!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Finally Headed Home

Sorry that it has been so long since we have been able to update our blog.  You will read about the craziness of our lives in an upcoming blog posting.  However, this post is all about our adventure back to the United States.

On May 23, Joey, Jeremiah, and Katie said their goodbyes to our dear friends at GSF.  We headed to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala to pick up the kids’ passports and visas.  What a relief to finally have these in hand (see the previous blog for the craziness of the process to finally get these documents so we could go home).  The night before, we booked tickets home, and Sarah left Zoe, Micah, and Caleb again to return to Uganda.  After we left the U.S. Embassy, we went to the airport in Entebbe to pick up Sarah. 

We were able to spend a couple days in Entebbe bonding again.  We stayed at Airport Guest House in Entebbe, and we were able to do some shopping, visit the zoo, play at Lake Victoria, get a good last meal, and prepare our paperwork so that we could leave the country.

Our flight out of Uganda left at 1:00am on May 26 (Memorial Day in the USA), so we put the kids to bed, and then woke them up to head to the airport.  Thankfully the check-in process went smoothly, and we did not receive any problems from the immigration officials.  Jeremiah especially was so excited to get on the airplane.  We ate a meal, and we all crashed on this first flight to London.  We had a five hour layover in Heathrow, so after a good cup of coffee and breakfast, we headed off to lets the kids play in an indoor playground.  We made it through this time with no meltdowns, and we then headed off to our second flight, which was from London to Philadelphia.  The first half of this flight went smoothly again; we ate a meal, and the kids slept again for a few hours.  However, with about three hours to go, they were wide awake and Sarah and Joey were not.  We had lessons of how to not hit the touch screen in the back of the seat to hard and made lots of trips up and down the aisles to the back to the plane.  The kids got bored with the fun activities we brought with us, and the same episode of Dora no longer was entertaining.  However, we eventually made it to Philadelphia in the late afternoon.

We cleared immigration and customs with no problems (though the lines were really long).  We had some slight meltdowns trying to collect bags and then waiting for secondary inspection of the kids’ visa paperwork.  However, we finally made it through the exit, and we were greeted by Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Mimi & Papa (Sarah’s parents), and our dear friends the Spronks (Steve, Tiffany, Adam, Brandon, Corey, and Dylan). 

We took a few quick photos, packed up the cars, and started our journey back to our house.  On the way home, we were greeted by two groups of people in our neighborhood – first, from people at our neighborhood pool a few blocks from our house, and then on our street.  What a fun homecoming!  We said our goodbyes to our friends, and then to Mimi and Papa, and then we all crashed.  Everyone was in their beds, and we were all under one roof.  What a relief, and a blessing!

Blessings to you all,
Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wow, What a Day - May 21 Won't be Forgotten

Wednesday, May 21 will be a day we will never forget, but first, here is what has happened since our last blog post on May 12. 
  • May 12-15: Our lawyer investigated what would the best route to take in amending Katie’s official documents.  The embassy would not accept all of the documents we provided, as the names did not completely match (Katie Miracle, Miracle Katie, Ketty Miracle, Miracle Ketty). :)  This appears to be a common thing in Uganda especially as various American, English, and Uganda personnel were involved when she came to the orphanage, but nevertheless, we had to amend her documents to all match.  Either change her birth certificate and passport or change the court documents.  We decided to go with the first option; however, after two days of negotiating with the immigration office, he was told that it will take more than two weeks.  So rather than go with this option, he applied for the court documents to be changed. 
  • Monday, May 19: Our lawyer appeared before the judge, and she reluctantly agreed to change the court documents per the embassy’s request, mainly because our lawyer agreed to do the work for her, and she would simply sign, stamp, and seal the new documents. :)  We received this news midafternoon, and thankfully we succeeded in scheduling a US embassy appointment for another document drop for Wednesday, May 21.
  • Tuesday, May 20: At around 10:30pm at night, we received the amended court documents, and went to bed, knowing the next morning would be an early one.

And now to Wednesday, May 21: What a day of emotional roller coasters.  At least the day ended well, because it certainly started off awful.  Jeremiah, Katie, and I left GSF at 5:30am to head to the embassy for our document drop.  This would eventually be our first of three appointments at the embassy on this day.  This first appointment was at 9:00am.  We were told that though the court documents matched in name spellings, but they could not be accepted because of the name order (first and middle names).  We were not given much help other than, change your documents to match exactly and come back.  Needless to say, I left in tears, and I called Sarah and Claudia from GSF to give them this awful news.  More tears and frustration ensued, and we were so confused as to the whys…

Claudia called our lawyer to see what could be done but he was in court, so we went to do some grocery shopping, as it appeared at this point we would be in country for at least another week, as the embassy would be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.  (The embassy only allows adoption appointments on Mondays and Wednesdays).  While in the grocery store, Sarah and I were texting back and forth, and she suggested that I go to the lawyer’s office and talk to him directly to see what could be done.  While in the checkout line, Claudia called and said go directly to the lawyer’s office as she just talked with him.  There was a longshot-type document that might be a solution to Katie’s name mess.  We left the store around 10:00am and arrived at his office around 10:20am.

I worked with our lawyer to create, sign, and stamp, a statutory declaration, which appears here to be one step higher than an affidavit, explaining that we had done everything possible per the Ugandan government requirements regarding Katie’s name and documents.  He said this type of document had been used before in a similar situation, and he was hopeful that it would work for our situation.  We left his office around 11:20am praying that this would be true.

It only took us 10 minutes to get to the embassy (I truly believe that was a God-thing because normally it would take much longer in the middle of the day).  They reluctantly let us in, as we technically did not have an appointment, but I told them we had been there earlier and that I had an important document to give to them regarding our paperwork.  We had to wait about fifteen minutes in the lobby, and I was praying again for favor and mercy.

At 11:45am, we were called back into the interview room, and not only was the document accepted to clear up Katie’s name mess, but we were also told to come back at 2:45pm for our visa interview.  Wow, though we were praying that this could happen, we had no indication until this point that it would even be possible.  We left the embassy again, called Sarah and Claudia (who also called our lawyer), shed some happy tears this time around, and then went to find some lunch.  What a turn of events within just three hours!  The only possible hiccup is that the embassy asked for the biological mom to show up for the interview.  Also, just because you receive a visa appointment does not necessarily mean that approval will be granted.

At 1:30pm, Claudia called to let us know that mom was obstinate and would not come (at least this time she was not violent and aggressive).  Remember she suffers from major mental illnesses, hence the reason Jeremiah and Katie first came to GSF, and of course, they have never been placed back with her.  Claudia said that the embassy would either require more investigations with mom not coming or they would accept our documents to be clear enough on describing the mom’s situation.

We arrived at the embassy (round three) at around 2:15pm.  Claudia suggested getting lollipops on the way to keep Jeremiah and Katie busy, and she was so right.  We were called into the interview room at 2:45pm.  The consulate official asked about my employment, our family, what I knew about Jeremiah and Katie’s past, GSF, the court process, our adoption process of 2 ½ years, and then what we knew about the biological mom.  At first the consulate official seemed a bit upset that the mom did not come and said this would need investigated.  All I could think when she said this was that we would be delayed 4-6 more weeks because all cases requiring investigations are sent to Kenya.  She initially could not find the most recent mental evaluation completed for the mom in March, which did not help either.  I had a bit of a panic moment too, as I did not have a copy.  I asked her to search the court ruling documents again as I was sure it was there, and indeed it was.  She reviewed it (thankfully it was clear and confirmed what was in the court documents), asked a couple more questions, and at the end (the interview lasted about 30 minutes and both Jeremiah and Katie were amazing – the lollipops did their job), she said something like: “I see no reason to not support the court’s decision.  The mom both in the past and present has not been able to take care of her children, so in the best interest of the children, no further investigation is necessary, and I am going to rule in your favor.  Your children’s visa applications are approved, and come and pick them up at noon on Friday.”  Woohoo!  I immediately called Sarah and Claudia (who also called our lawyer again), and shared this amazing news with them, and yes, more happy tears were shed. 

Over the next few hours, I talked with Sarah multiple times, and we decided it best for her to return to help bring Jeremiah and Katie home.  We used the same amazing travel agent (go Tabitha at Adoption Airfares!), and by 10:30pm Uganda time last night, we had Sarah’s ticket completed to get here.  Today will be our last day and night at GSF, and we will continue making our rounds of goodbyes.  Sarah will arrive around 1:00pm Uganda time on May 23, about an hour after we are scheduled to pick up Jeremiah and Katie’s visas from the embassy.  We will spend a couple days together around Kampala and then travel back to the US on Monday.  If all goes well with our flights, we will arrive into Philly around 3:30pm.

Thank you so much for reading this long post.  God so clearly moved and made it possible on May 21 for major hurdles to be cleared, and He continued to fulfill the promise of Philippians 1:6.  We appreciate your prayers, and we continue to ask that you would pray that we would leave Uganda well, that we would safely return home to be reunited as a family of seven, and that God would continue to give us wisdom and strength to lead our family through the next season of adjusting to Jeremiah and Katie being a part of their forever family. 

Blessings to you all!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Monday, May 12, 2014

Working Through Disappointment

So, today was a bittersweet day for us.  Joey and Jeremiah dropped off Sarah at the Entebbe Airport to return to the States.  Whether you just heard this for the first time, or if you saw the quick posting on Facebook, this was probably quite a surprise.  It was for us too.  Here is a brief recap of what brought us to this tough decision. 

Sarah had been on her own in Uganda for nearly a month, and she simply needed daddy’s help.  Thankfully Brian and Hazel (Sarah’s parents) were able to watch Zoe, Micah, and Caleb again.  Joey arrived back in Uganda late on the night of May 1, and it was such a sweet reunion with Sarah and Jeremiah.  Then, the next day, we moved Katie out of the babies house at GSF to come and live with us.  Our time of bonding with our new kids is going well; we have our sweet times and our rough ones.

Then, we had our document drops at the US Embassy in Kampala on Monday, May 5, and Wednesday, May 7, and this process appeared to go well.  Next, we were waiting on our visa appointment/interview, as it appeared that this would happen today, May 12, and we could potentially come home together as a family around May 15.  However, we received some disappointing news on Thursday afternoon from the US Embassy.  There was a problem with Katie’s paperwork (her passport and birth certificate now needs updated), and this must be fixed in order for us to be able to get our visa appointment/interview.  Unfortunately, it may take a week or two for these documents to be updated.

Sarah has now been away from Zoe, Micah, and Caleb for eight weeks – way too long.  Also, Brian and Hazel have been watching our kids for a while, and whether they will admit it or not, they need a break.  So, we prayed through should Sarah go home or not?  We decided that she should, especially not knowing now how long it will be before Katie’s paperwork gets fixed.  Thankfully, Joey’s dad was able to get her return ticket completed last Friday for today, May 12.  Delta thankfully did not charge us a $300 change fee, and no fare difference was required too.  So, Sarah left today, and Lord willing she will be home on Tuesday afternoon.

Oh, and we did obtain the “wrong” documents today from the US Embassy, and we took them to our lawyer’s office this afternoon to start the process of them getting updated. 

Amidst this disappointment, we continue to treasure the dedicated time that we are able to have with Jeremiah and Katie and work with them in developing an understanding of what it means to be in a family.  We also were able to participate in GSF’s 20th anniversary weekend.  This was an amazing time of hearing many stories of how God has used this ministry in the lives of so many children. 

Here is how you can pray for us at this point:
  • Continue to pray for our process to end soon.  We want to be together back in Pennsylvania together as a family!
  • Continue to pray for Jeremiah and Katie’s transition to being in a forever family.  Pray specifically that the time Joey now has with them would go well.
  • Pray for a safe return for Sarah (she leaves in a couple hours of when this was posted) and then the same for Joey, Jeremiah, and Katie.
  • Continue to pray that God would meet our financial needs.  The longer we have to stay in Uganda, the more expensive our process becomes.

Blessings to you all!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Friday, April 18, 2014

Saved & Rescued from What?

Good afternoon friends and family.  Happy Easter to you from the Beesons!

As today is Good Friday, it is potentially easy to ignore the truth and reality, that Jesus Christ went to the cross for you, for me.  Though our finite minds will never comprehend the full extent of why, we do know that "He came to seek and save those who were lost" (Luke 19:10) and "to give His life as ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)  In the midst of family, friends, egg hunts, chocolate overdoses, and Easter weekend busyness, we encourage you to not forget that He came for us so that we might know Him.

We also love the connection of what His death and resurrection means to us as His children.  "God decided in advance to ADOPT us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.  This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." (Ephesians 1:5)  What an amazing thought that the truth and reality of Easter provides us the opportunity to be His children if we choose to commit our lives in faith to Him.

Since we received our referrals for Jeremiah and Katie back in the first week of January, we have known some of their story before coming to GSF.  Actually we found this by blog stalking, which we know some of you may enjoy doing too. :)  One of the missionary kids at GSF had pictures on her blog of our children, and here they are:

Then, we discovered as we continued our blog stalking that there were actually two posts related to our children from a nurse from the UK who was serving at GSF.  We know there's more to the story and that our Katie has her name from nurse Katie.  Though we have not met her yet, we hope to one day, and in the meantime, we are so grateful for you being a part of rescuing our children back in November 2011 and bringing them back to health at GSF.

Do note that Katie's blog posts may be too graphic for some, but these contain such a amazing story of what God did to rescue and literally save our two children from the brink of abuse and even death.  It is so appropriate that our daughter's name is Katie Miracle.

Blessings to everyone on this glorious Easter weekend.  Be sure to check out our blog posting from a couple days ago that provided updates on the last few weeks and also included some updated prayer requests for our family.

Thanks for reading this and take care!
Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In Case You Missed Anything

Hello again!  Many of you have followed the updates we have provided on Facebook over the past month or so, but in case you missed anything, this post should be helpful for you.  It is hard to believe that five weeks ago today (March 12) is when we received the big phone call – come to Uganda…you have a court date. 

Here are the highlights of the past month:
  • March 15-17 – we travelled to Uganda
  • March 17 – we met our children for the first time, though they will have no idea who we are yet.  We are simply visitors to GSF; we are called Auntie Sarah and Uncle Joey. 
  • March 18 – first court date (“the hearing”)
  • March 28 – second court date (“the ruling”)
  • March 29 – We told Jeremiah that we were now his mommy and daddy.  Joey would be leaving the next day to return to the States, but he would return in about a month or so to come help him, Katie, and mommy come home to join his new siblings in the States.  While we are not sure what he understood during this first conversation, he now is understanding more.  Sarah mentioned a few days ago that each time he hears an airplane, he asks if daddy is on it - so sweet!  Katie is too young at this point to understand much, though she is potentially beginning to understand more as Sarah spends time with her each day.
  • March 30-31 – Joey flew back to the States to be with Zoe, Micah, and Caleb.  Other than the expected missings of mommy and daddy, they did quite well.  Sarah’s parents stayed with them at our house, and without them and their help both while we were away as well as while Joey has been fulfilling the single parent role, who knows where we would be.  Thanks Brian and Hazel!
  • April 5 – Jeremiah moved into the guest house on the GSF campus to be with Sarah 24/7.  Katie continues to remain in the babies’ house at GSF.
Here's a picture of us with our new children before Joey returned to the States.  We are standing on the shore of Lake Victoria, not far from the source of the Nile River.

Before Joey left Uganda, we knew that there were five major steps that would need to happen for Sarah, Jeremiah, and Katie to come home.  Here are these steps, as well as where we are as of today:
  • Step 1: Obtain the written ruling from the judge.  This was expected to take two business days; instead it took eight.  Welcome again to Africa time (not our first experience, and certainly not the last).  Sarah picked up the ruling on Tuesday, April 8.
  • Step 2: Obtain Jeremiah and Katie’s Ugandan passports.  We filed these on Tuesday, April 8.  Our lawyer estimated that this process would take about a week, though if delays occurred, it could take three to four weeks.  Praise the Lord that Sarah was able to pick these up today, Wednesday April 16!
  • Step 3: Complete medical exams as required by the US Embassy.
  • Step 4: Drop off required paperwork at the US Embassy and complete necessary interviews.
  • Step 5: Apply for visas for Jeremiah and Katie.
  • Book tickets and come home!

Thank you for your continued prayers for our process.  The Lord has been so faithful and continues to answer our prayers and meet our needs.  We ask that you would continue to pray for the following:
  1. Pray that no delays would occur with Steps 3 to 5 above, especially with Step 4.  Pray that all of our paperwork presented, specifically the written ruling, would be abundantly clear for embassy personnel reviewing our case.
  2. Pray that Sarah would continue to have a great time of getting to know Jeremiah and Katie and bonding with them.  Pray for her as she works through homesickness and looking after the remaining details until Joey returns.
  3. Pray for safe travel for Joey (the actual date has not been determined yet) as he returns to finalize things and to help Sarah and the kids fly home.  Pray that we can all return together around the end of April.
  4. Until we arrived in Uganda, we estimated our financial need to be $20,000.  However, with the length of time required to be in Uganda, the rising cost of airline tickets, and the number of trips back and forth to Kampala for court, our lawyer, the US Embassy, etc., our actual need is now around $23,500.  So far God has provided $20,843.  Would you prayerfully consider how God might use you to help us reach this adjusted goal?

Thanks again for your prayers as we look to the day to be reunited as a family of seven in the States.  Blessings to you all!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, and Katie

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another Hurdle Cleared, and, Introducing Our New Children!

As we communicated in our last blog post, the internet here is quite slow, so it is difficult sometimes just to even check email, let alone provide regular updates and upload photos.  We have decided that when Joey returns to the States in a few days that we will then upload photos from our time so far in Uganda.  For now you will have to pretend there are photos to go along with the text below. :)

Before we get into the highlights of our time in Uganda since our last blog post, we can finally announce on social media the names of our children, since we cleared the latest hurdle of the judge verbally ruling that we were their legal guardians!
  • Jeremiah is four, his birthday is in November, and he came to GSF around his second birthday.  He lives in the toddlers’ house at GSF and currently attends preschool here too.  Though he was apparently really quiet until he started preschool about six months ago, he is now developing well in his language and confidence.  We have seen some great progress even in our time here so far. 
  • Katie Miracle is two, and her birthday is in October.  She came to GSF around when she was a week old.  She lives in the babies’ house, and she is quite the little leader.  She has a fun personality, is affectionate, and loves getting the attention of us.  While we probably will end up calling her Katie, most of GSF has known her as Miracle up to this point.

Ok, so back to what’s been happening recently.  On Tuesday, March 18, we had our first court appearance, which was the hearing, and during this appearance, the judge told us that our second court date, which would be our verbal ruling, would occur on Friday, March 28.  Ten days at times seemed to fly by, but at other times, it seemed to crawl.  Thankfully there is a wonderful team of missionaries here at GSF who are so hospitable and helped the time go by quicker.  Daily visits to the babies’ house to see our daughter and her friends, and then to the toddlers’ house to see our son and his friends helped too.

Here’s a few of the things we were able to do during our ten day wait:
  • Read to the toddlers some of the fun books we brought with us, as well as get to eat some meals with them – usually posho & beans or rice & beans.
  • Taking some of the children from the babies’ home for a walk in the morning – they love getting to do this.
  • Help some of the newer children at GSF go to the local hospital for immunizations.
  • Spend time with Mark’s mom, aunt, and niece who came to visit for two weeks.
  • Get to know a short term missions team who is here from a church in North Carolina.
  • Attend a local seminary and meet some of the students who are nearly finished with their training to be pastors and specifically hear two of their testimonies (students at this seminary were from Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Kenya).
  • Read and teach a song in the preschool class at the GSF school – 44 children in one small room with one teacher and one aide (and they behave so well too!)
  • Going to the market and shopping for souvenirs in Jinja (and eat some good food and have some great coffee too).
  • Take a boat ride on Lake Victoria and the Nile River – we were able to see the Source of the Nile marker and a lot of local wildlife.
  • Attend Light of the World Church; what an experience to worship with mostly Africans; their church just this week finally installed a permanent roof and is in the process of paying off their land payment.
  • Setting up an appointment and then going to the US Embassy in Kampala, and trying to fill out the required forms; the instructions were often more confusing that the forms.
  • Seeing the village (not too far from GSF) and the home where our children were found before they were rescued and brought to GSF – unbelievable: we will post the stories in upcoming blog posts about the awful condition that our children were found; it truly is a miracle that they are even alive.
  • Running with our son in the pouring down rain and playing with his friends on the playground – the toddlers also enjoyed some temporary tattoos we brought for them.
  • Spending a morning with some of the missionary kids on their spring break and doing some cleanup work at Light of the World Church.
  • Saying bye to Mark & Amy and their family, as they headed off for a week on a safari vacation; they were also gracious enough to let us stay in their home while they are away .

Friday, March 28 - The Ruling:
We left GSF at 8:30am to go to our second court appearance, the ruling.  It was Claudia, our children, a driver, and us.  Our children were a little nervous again in the car (remember this is only their second car ride in their life) for the 2 ½ hour ride to Kampala.

We arrived at the lawyer’s office, and he said we may not need to go to court, so we should wait at a local coffee shop for an update.  The actual court time was noon.  Around 12:30pm, we received a call from him to meet him back in his office and that he was finished in court.  In his office he said the judge did read the entire ruling (a four page document) and as the judge read it, he was not sure which was she was going to rule.  We are glad we were not there, as we would have been nervous wrecks.  Anyways, the judge did rule in our favor, and she made is clear that the biological mom was not fit to be able to take care of the children!

We now wait for the written ruling from the judge, which will make us the official legal guardians of Jeremiah and Katie Miracle, and we will apply for their passports; this process should begin as soon as this Tuesday, April 1.  Lord willing it takes about a week or so.  Joey heads back to the States on Sunday (arrives home on Monday).  While he is excited about seeing Zoe, Micah, and Caleb soon, he is not so excited to leave Sarah, Jeremiah, and Katie Miracle. 

Please continue to pray for the following as we continue in this process:
  • That the official written ruling arrives on Monday or Tuesday.
  • That the passport filing and processing goes smoothly and that there would be no delays.
  • That the upcoming US embassy process of interviews and visa applications goes smoothly and that there would be no delays.
  • That we can secure flights for Joey to be able to return around the end of our time here and that we can all be on the same flights home.
  • That our time apart will be smooth.
  • That Sarah’s time with Jeremiah and Katie Miracle will be positive and their transition into their forever family will start well.

Blessings to you all!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, Jeremiah, & Katie Miracle