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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our Last Crazy Week...

Last week, Joey was on spring break from Cairn University, which meant it was time to catch up on house projects and to have more time to spend with our kids.  We made some good progress the first few days of the week, though because of the all of the work, our house was a complete disaster.  Then on Wednesday morning, we were removing wallpaper from our master bathroom, when a +256 number (which of course by now we know means an adoption update from Uganda) came up on Joey’s phone.  We answered it, and our friend Mark from GSF gave us the news we have been waiting on for 2 1/2 years.  We had a court date.  And, not only do we have a court date, but it is in six days on March 18, and we need to be in country by Sunday night.  Yes, we only had three days to work out arrangements for Zoe, Micah, and Caleb (thanks Sarah’s parents for looking after them on such very short notice), put our house back in relative order, purchase airline tickets, pack our bags, buy last minute things for our children and the missionaries at GSF, and leave. 

We said our goodbyes on Saturday afternoon, and headed to the Newark airport.  We flew to Amsterdam, Nairobi, and then arrived in Entebbe (Uganda) on early Monday morning around 1:00am.  Other than a delay in our flight from Nairobi to Entebbe, our trip was very smooth, and all of our bags made it.  We had no problems with immigration and customs, and we were so happy to see Mark and Amy.  They took us to a guest house about ten minutes away, and we crashed for the night. 

Our first impressions on our arrival into Uganda and even since then, is that this country reminds us so much of Indonesia – the airport, the traffic and lack of rules for driving including motorcyclists who drive wherever they please, the roadside stalls, younger people who approach stopped cars in traffic to sell snacks and drinks, children in their school uniforms, the weather (around 80 each day), the beauty – tea fields, banana trees, cassava plants, sugar cane fields, some rice paddies, and of course the wildlife and bugs. 

Quick FYI – we are not yet able to share our children’s names or pictures yet on social media, but the day that we can is coming soon…also, the internet is pretty slow, so we cannot upload pictures yet. :(

Monday, March 17:
We spent most of the morning and afternoon with Mark and Amy – breakfast at the hotel and catching up on the latest at GSF and our new children, finding a wifi hotspot, grocery shopping, getting our local phones set up, going to the ATM, eating a great western-style lunch, and spending lots of time in traffic.  We arrived at GSF around 4:00pm, and we were welcomed by over 400 people.  This is a tradition they do for all guests, whereby the orphanage children, the students at the GSF school (who do not live here), the missionaries, and staff, all welcome you with song, dance, and lots of greetings when you arrive.  It was overwhelming for sure, especially as at the front of the group at the gate were our children.  After gaining our composure, we exited the van and said hi to everyone, being careful not to cause a scene with our children and ignoring everyone else – wow, was that difficult!  We then unpacked and got a quick orientation to GSF and then ate dinner with Mark and Amy’s family.  Before crashing for the night, we got a quick update from Claudia on what to expect with our court date, who is the primary point of contact at GSF for our adoption process.

Tuesday, March 18:
We woke up to no power in the pitch black dark, and we left GSF at 7:00am to head to Kampala for court.  We were able to ride in a car with our children, and this was our first “alone” time with them.  They were so sweet and so well-behaved the entire day (which would not end until we returned to GSF around 6:00pm).  Our son was noticeably nervous and scared.  He clutched our hands tightly as we were in the car and walked to court.  This was their first car ride, and a day of eventual other firsts.  Riding in an elevator to get to the courtroom, and later eating french fries and ketchup at lunch.  The court proceedings lasted around 2 ½ hours.  Claudia testified first, and then the judge wanted to hear from the family and local officials.  Our children’s birth mom was present as well as the children’s grandfather and uncle.  It was so sad to hear about the drama and problems within their family, and specifically their inability to care for our children and even themselves.  Hence the reason that our children were brought to GSF over two years ago and have never left.  Three others testified, and then it was our turn.  We were able to tell the judge about our desire to adopt, our connections to GSF, our desire and ability to provide a caring forever family for these children.  The judge told us that she would make her ruling on Friday, March 28, and the only thing that was needed after our hearing was for the mom to undergo another medical/psychiatric evaluation.  This occurred yesterday afternoon, and again, it was found that she is not in a position to provide proper care for her children.  According to our lawyer and others present representing GSF at the court, they believe things went very well for us.  We now eagerly await the ruling, when Lord-willing, we can officially become their parents. 

Do be praying especially for our son with his transition to our family.  It was clear that he was uncomfortable seeing his biological family, and who knows the kinds of trauma he was forced to endure in his first two years of life before coming to GSF.  Our daughter was only a week old when she was brought to GSF, so thankfully she has only know a loving, Christian environment.  Our children warmed up amazingly well to us throughout the day, and they do not appear to know yet what is going on.  Once the ruling is made by the courts on March 28, they will then be informed of the situation.

Wednesday, March 19
Today was our first day to relax a bit; we spent the morning catching up on life.  We also were able to tour the babies house, where our daughter lives, and then the toddler house, where our son lives.  It was a joy to see them in their comfortable element, specifically their personalities, and to also meet the house moms who have provided amazing care for them over the past two years.  We were able to see where they eat, their beds, where they play, where our son goes to preschool, etc.  We were then invited to stay for lunch at the toddler house, so it was fun to eat with our son and his friends.  Later in the afternoon, our son has a short study time before he goes down for a rest, so we were able to go back and read some books to him and two of his friends.  We will continue to be able to spend time with each of our children in group-type settings between now and our second court date on March 28.

Thank you so much for your prayers for our family.  Please continue to pray for the following:
  • Zoe, Micah, and Caleb as we are away from them.  We were able to talk with them on the phone earlier today.  Many thanks again for Sarah’s parents as they look after them.
  • Continued favor with the courts and that the judge would rule in our favor on March 28.
  • Time this week for us to be able to see our new children and continue to get to know them.

Love you all,
Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, and Caleb

Monday, February 17, 2014

More God Sized Miracles

Dear Friends & Family –

Since we received our referrals for a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl in early January, God’s hand in our adoption journey has continued to be so evident.  Here are a few quick updates of what has transpired since our last blog post.  When we received our referrals, we were extremely excited, but we also knew that things would begin to happen and need to be planned very quickly (potentially in less than two months).  So, here’s a recap of some of the God sized miracles and favor He has shown our family over the past few weeks:

1. Our paperwork with the American government – regardless of what you hear, it can work efficiently.  We are so blessed to have an officer in USCIS who gives us personal attention, tells us directly what we need to know and do, and efficiently processes our paperwork.  We had our government paperwork revisions approved and returned to us in four days!

2. Our paperwork for the Ugandan court – we were able to put together our affidavit packet to be submitted by our lawyer to the court in a very quick turnaround time.  We printed, signed, notarized, and sent everything (after it had been received from various locations and people) in less than three hours. A sweet lady at our bank, with a broken hand no less, notarized (stamped, sealed, and crimped) over seventy-five pages as a part of the required affidavit documents, and they did not charge us anything.  Then, FedEx delivered our documents to our lawyer in Uganda in one business day (dropped off on Friday afternoon, delivered on Monday morning).  

3. Our financial needs nearly being met – a couple weeks ago at our church’s small group, a prayer was offered up to the Lord asking that our needs would be met that week, and that we would not have to worry about organizing last minute fundraisers, as time did not appear to be on our side.  Four days later, this prayer was so tangibly answered!  Joey found the following envelope in his mailbox at work:

Inside this envelope was the following card:

Which says the following:
“Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

The only other item in the envelope was $5,000- cash.  Whoever anonymously did this out there, thank you so much!  An additional $2,525- has also been given in the last five weeks.  Even yesterday at church someone we have never met or seen gave us $100-. 

4. Opportunities to share our story – as we shared in January, we are not able to share many details about our children or pictures until our process is complete, specifically in a social media type environment.  However, this past weekend was so much fun.  First, a wonderful group of ladies at our church hosted a shower for Sarah on Saturday.  Then, on Sunday, we were given the opportunity to share from the stage at church in both services.

We are now waiting for the Ugandan court system to give us a date to appear in court, and in the meantime, here are some specific areas of prayer.
  • Continued patience as we wait on a court date, and then the logistics of working on our travel plans once we have a date.
  • Arrangements for Zoe, Micah, and Caleb for while we are required to be in Uganda.
  • Remaining financial needs to be met – we are now at 96%.  Please prayerfully consider how you can be a part of giving to us to help us reach our goal.
  • Transitions and adjustments to our family’s new dynamics.

Thanks again for your prayers and support of our family.  Blessings to you all!

Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, and ... and ...
(we wish we could tell you, but it will have to wait a little while longer) J

Thursday, January 9, 2014

We Have a Referral!

Dear Family & Friends,

We have been waiting over two years to share this information, and we can barely contain our excitement.  To be exact, we started our adoption journey in August 2011, and we sent our application to Good Shepherd’s Fold (GSF) in December of that same year.  Fast forward through multiple periods of frenzied busyness completing paperwork, followed by multiple periods of waiting, waiting, and more waiting, and then to New Years Eve 2013.  While spending the evening at a friend’s house, Joey received a text from number with a +256 country code.  The message was from one of our contacts at GSF, and he wished us a Happy New Year from Uganda and asked “can I call you soon?”  Of course we responded, “yes please!” 

His phone call came on Thursday, January 2, explaining that the team at GSF had a situation that matched our criteria request, and they wanted to confirm that we were open and ready to receive the official referral (if you are not familiar with the term, "referral", then click here).  Again, we responded, “yes please!” 

Our referral then came on Monday, January 6, and we agreed to accept it on Wednesday, January 8.  Later that day, we had a great time sharing this news with Zoe, Micah, and Caleb.  They are excited about getting a new brother AND a new sister.  

While we are not at liberty yet to share many details or pictures until our process is complete, especially in a social media type environment, here is what we can publicly share with you at this point:
  1. Our referral is for a four year old boy (around six months younger than Caleb) and a two year old girl.  Both children are healthy, are developing well, and have been at the orphanage for a while, so the knowledge of their status is strong, and considering what God brought them out of to even be alive, let alone now healthy, is truly a miracle.
  2. Most likely our two required court dates will occur in March (yes only two months from now), though the exact timing of our trip is completely up to the Ugandan High Court calendar schedule.
  3. Both Joey and Sarah will need to be in Uganda for around two weeks, and then one of us will need to stay an additional four weeks.  We have been advised to not bring Zoe, Micah, and Caleb.

Thank you again for supporting our adoption process and praying for our family over the past two years, and we appreciate your continued prayers for the Lord to take care of the required steps that lie ahead in the next few months and that He would provide the remaining funds needed to bring this to completion.  You may have noticed that the thermometer on the right side of our blog has remained at around $11,000- for quite some time; also, you may have noticed that our overall need as expected has increased to $20,000- since we will be adopting two children.

Quite a few people gave to our process back when we started two years ago, but understandably so, as we have waited, you may have also waited to give as there seemed to be no tangible end in sight.  Now that this process appears to be so close to completion (possibly less than two months), we are in need of financial support from friends, family, and churches.  If you are interested in helping us bring these two children home, please contact Joey directly at  Also, stay tuned for some creative fundraising opportunities that we are beginning to organize.

Beyond rejoicing with us that we have reached this milestone in our journey, here are some specific ways you can be praying for us:
  1. Continued good health and development for our two new children.
  2. Continued wisdom for the team at GSF as they navigate through completing this process for us.
  3. The right timing for our court dates and that all required documents and processes will go smoothly.
  4. Wisdom for Sarah and me as we work through this process, especially as we will have to be away from Zoe, Micah, and Caleb.
  5. That God would meet our remaining financial needs.
  6. A great transition for our two new children to our family.

Thanks again, and blessings to you all!

Take care,
Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, Caleb, and two more soon!

Monday, January 6, 2014

What is GSF?

Happy New Year from the Beesons!  We trust your holidays have gone well.  We have had a busy Christmas and New Year, but we have had a lot of fun making memories with our family.  Both Sarah's brother's family and Joey's parents were in town, so our kids were able to play with Rhys their cousin, and both sets of grandparents for over around two weeks.  We have also had our fair share of snow, which we have enjoyed.

We are now two years into our adoption process, and along the way, many folks have asked, what is GSF, aka The Good Shepherd's Fold?  We have done our best to answer this along the way as the ministry of GSF continues to unfold and grow, but now that GSF has launched a new website, we thought it best to let you investigate all that they do -  Check out of all of the different ministries and ways that you could also be involved (and they do much more than adoption).  Take special note of their child child sponsorship opportunities -

Here is an e-copy of GSF's end of the year newsletter for 2013.  Enjoy reading about all that is happening!

We continue to appreciate your prayers for our adoption process.  We are excited that things appear to be moving again, and we will be posting updates as they occur.  In closing we thought you might enjoy another blog that featured our family's journey a month or so ago -

Have a blessed New Year!
Joey, Sarah, Zoe, Micah, & Caleb