Friday, January 31, 2014

Date of the Great Hug for Eight

Most families have a book that they read with their children over and over and over again. One of the one's each of our kids enjoy is "Bear Hugs" (link here). It talks about the different hugs the little bear enjoys as he tries to decide the hug he wants right then. It's adorable. The book concludes with... "I know the hug that's best for me. It's a hug - a hug for three!" with a picture of the little bear with mom and dad. When we finish the book we come up with cute rhymes for the number of people in the room or in our family or for the number of stuffed animals sitting near by.

All this to say that when we decided to name the homecoming day for our newest sons, the decision wasn't hard.  We know the hug that is really GREAT. It's a hug - a hug for EIGHT!
Date of the Great Hug for Eight
February 5th 2014

Matt and the boys made a countdown while waiting at the Guest House.
It sure made this momma smile!

God is so good!
Thank you everyone for all of your prayers and support!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

7 days approved

We prayed with our friends and family for approval for the boys for Titus' birthday and we got it on his birthday!

Our I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative was granted within a day of receiving our response to the Request for Evidence (RFE.) This was God going before us and giving us favor with USCIS Nairobi. To me, this was God saying that He heard us as we joined together and requested something that was within His will. These moments are the one's that you set up a stone for as a monument to look on and point toward to teach your children.

And now, just a week later, I struggle. Our paperwork that is needed to get the visas for them arrived Friday morning on the grounds. When that happened in Nairobi just four days before that, it was delivered to the appropriate office the next day. At Kampala, it has now been three full days  (not counting the hours it was there Friday) and our paperwork is still not in the office. Someone isn't doing their job. The mailroom. The adoption unit. Doesn't really matter. I have prayed. I've asked others to pray. I know God hears me asking for His favor... for His leading of those who have the paperwork... for Him to bring the boys home quickly. I. know. He. hears.

I am at a loss for why it has been 12 full weeks since the first hugs and we still don't have them home.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Don't adopt.

I mean it. Don't adopt. The whole process is hard. Saying it is a roller coaster makes it sound like too much fun. It's more like you are the ball on a wooden bounce-back paddle. Every time you feel like you are getting somewhere you get jerked back into a wall. Don't adopt. 

Unless. Unless your heart is so broken for the orphan, you can't fall right to sleep. Unless you look at your family photo and you can't shake the feeling that someone is missing. Unless you find yourself praying for some child you've never met, but somehow have begun to love them already. Unless you have fought the idea and tried to talk yourself out of going and realized how utterly insane you must be and you have wrestled with adoption ethics and you've learned about RAD and you have dropped to your knees in tears and told God that you don't want to do this ... and then He unlocks the door and opens it for you. Don't adopt unless God says go. 

If He says go, go. Go now. Go quickly. A child is praying for you to walk through the door to bring them home. Go now. Go quickly. Your sweet one is waiting for your hugs and snuggles and bedtime prayers. Go now. Go quickly.


I put off going to the orphanage. I wish I could say I don't know why, but I do. I didn't want to see that the two we were bringing home didn't make a ding much less a dent in the orphan crisis. I didn't want to see the beds. I didn't want to see the lack of bathroom. I didn't want to see the walls that kept them in and bad people out. Mostly, I didn't want to see their faces, because when you see their faces... when you hold their hands... when they smile at you... they can no longer just be a waiting child. They become 100% real to you. 

The bus we traveled on couldn't make it up the road to the orphanage and we had lots of things to carry the rest of the way to get there. The Aunties sent the older boys to help us lug everything. One came up to Isaac and spoke to him Luganda while pointing at me. He smiled and replied that, yes, I was his new mom. The walk wasn't very far. When we arrived, they invited us in to hear the children sing. To hear a group of orphans sing "My God is so big!" and then "I will sing Hosanna!" was such a blessing (I can't wait to be able to share the video!!) We were invited to share with them a word. The Mohler's had gotten each child one of those bracelets with the colors that tell the gospel. The children took turns reading in English what each bead meant. Soon after, they were given the freedom to go play and we were able to see the two bedrooms and mingle with these little blessings. I talked to a girl around 12, my oldest daughter's age. Her sister aged out of the orphanage. Her younger brother has a family coming for him. She has an amazing singing voice and she is so very kind. No longer can she just be one of the kids at the orphanage. I know her. I met a boy. He is the cousin of my sons. He is handsome and mild mannered. My older son was very attached to him while we are there. They held hands which is customary for friends to do there. They disappeared off together and laughed and played. He is no longer just a face in the pictures we took. He is a part of our extended family. He is Mr. R. and no one is coming for him yet.

Laughter. Smiles. Thank you's said with their adorable accents. New toys being played with and shared and traded. I could have stayed and not left. I could have left and brought them all with me. These children. Their loss. I want them to receive something only God can bless them with... a second family. Adoption as sons and daughters. And even without a family they were so full of joy and so thankful. Something I need to learn myself.

We left with our two sons. We left Mr R behind. Imagine leaving your cousin behind and not knowing if you'd ever see him again. I held them a bit tighter the rest of that day as their moods were different from days before. I've heard some say that their kids seemed shaken when they went back to the orphanage as if they were going to be left. I don't think that was the issue with our sons. They were fine going and seemed comfortable walking away from us knowing we weren't going anywhere. I think the problem was our older son was sad to leave the others behind. He wants for them what he has. I let him help me send updated photos to the parents of some of the children. We sat and he named the boys and girls in all the pictures. His friends. He is excited about his new family,  but what about his friends. Will they be adopted too?


We all have the ability to receive adoption as sons from our heavenly father. He sacrificed so much to make away for you to be a part of His family forever. When you receive that adoption, you want nothing more than your whole family and all your friends to be saved too. In the same way we want salvation for those around us, we want homes for the least of these. That's our hope for Mr R and each child in that orphanage. Orphans no more. Each one loved. Each one cared for. Please join us in praying for them to be home in families soon!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


November 18-22

It was a crazy few days in Uganda. We woke early and got ready so that we could leave and head into town. It was time to get the passport photos for the boys. They were both wearing red polo shirts. Isaac looked at the camera with a blank stare and our silly John Terry looked like he had seen a ghost in his photo. I couldn't believe how many small photos we would need of the boys to get through this process. While waiting for the them to print, I went down to a lady with a copy machine at the entrance to a shady restaurant/"lounge" with our friend/guide and Jamin (glad he was with us!) We had to cross streets full of cars and boda bodas (motorbikes) that do not slow down for people at all. I cannot imagine going through the file on my own. So. Many. Papers. So. Many. Copies. By the time we got back to the photo place, the pictures were just about ready.

All the necessary paperwork, photos, & money were dropped off by our amazing friend at the passport office while we sat down at CafĂ© Java to eat lunch. Burgers. Milkshakes. Fries. Cake behind glass. It wasn't America, but it was as close as we were going to get. I enjoyed my bottled water, a few sips of coke, and a couple of fries while watching the boys eat fried plantains and little "hot pockets" of meat. Matt, of course, had a burger.

After we had lunch, the ladies left the gents in the bus with all the kids. It is the most comfortable I have ever felt in a city. Armed guards and private security hired by the buildings and malls keep everyone aware of following rules. I got to really experience Uganda that day! Weaving in and out of the hectic traffic. Boda bodas & taxis everywhere. Crossing streets within inches of moving vehicles. Products and produce lining the sides. Hundreds of specialty shops. We went fabric shopping for dresses to wear to a traditional wedding later in the week. Yes, I, Desiree, went fabric shopping. It was fun! I let my Ugandan friend pick because she has to "walk in with" us "mzungus." We bought jewelry. The seamstress measured us and haggled prices and argued with us on the style :) 4 hours after leaving the men on the bus, we returned. So many things I could add!

Photo from right before the wedding.

At was at this point where we were beginning to implement our normal parenting. We were seeing them push boundaries and mumble and not answer questions and not say yes sir or mam. At this point in the process, we thought we would be home in 3 weeks. I wanted them to be secure in the fact that we love them enough to guide their choices and correct them when they are disobeying. Thankfully, we have a very Ugandan style of parenting so they transitioned well!

This all happened right at the end of our first two weeks. The two weeks went by faster than what I expected. We were still staying very busy at this point, but not so busy that we didn't miss our four waiting at home like crazy. Having the ability (sometimes) to Skype and Vox made it a little easier. I was constantly amazed at how well the kids were doing with my mom and Matt's mom. They really pulled it off like pros.... almost like they had had young kids at some point in their lives!


During all this craziness, we visited the orphanage... but I just can't add that to this post. Next time.

Monday, January 6, 2014



 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread,

will give him a stone?    Matthew 7:9 

If you have read books or blogs about adoption, you may have come across post about food and each one with a slightly different view.
"Feed them as much as they want and they will learn to self limit."
"You need to stop them at and not give them more when you know they have had enough."
"They will be picky. Have no rules on what they must eat for the first year."
"Let them try everything!"
"Slowly introduce new types of foods to watch for allergies."
"Check in their bags. Orphans will hide food."
"Keep trash cans locked up. Some will scavenge for food."
I'm not going to go into which ones I agree with. I know. I'm almost as shocked as you are... The opinionated one is not giving her opinion!
This post is about something I just wasn't ready for with our sons that related to food.
It happened a number of times and it will probably happen again. My sweet son slowly faded away from interacting with us some days. He would get a mean look on his face. He wouldn't smile for a picture or answer simple questions that we knew he understood. He would get tears in his eyes.
I couldn't figure out it out! Was it me? Did he not like us? What was making him sad?
We asked for someone to translate for us two of the times. Both times he simply said he was hungry.
Hungry. hungry. HUNGRY. Dude, if you are hungry, just ask. I wanted to scream it at him!!
Yes, English is his second language, but ask anyone who was there... these kids know how to say "foodie" and "water" and most of the children there say it with a slightly pitiful whiney cry.
I hate to admit it made me mad. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I was eating less than 500 calories per day because of my food allergies. Maybe, but just maybe, I was a bit moody. I bit my tongue. I told him to ask. I even let them both ask me with just using three words. Mommy... water please or Mommy... food(ie) please.
It hit one day how sad it was that they didn't know if they could or feel like they could ask for food. Food. That basic need that a mother naturally provides at the first whimpers of her babies cry.
Food. What moms grow and shop for and stand over a hot stove cooking to place on the table for her hungry table of children. How could they not know that that is what moms are for! We feed kids. It's what moms love to do! But they don't know.
Had they always struggled for food? Were they scolded for asking when they were hungry? How many nights did they hope for sleep to not feel that empty pit in their tummy? Did they stop crying out when hungry because that need was never satisfied? Will they ever fully feel comfortable asking for snack or asking for seconds?
Everything I had read. Everything I had mentally prepared for.
They didn't keep asking for more. They cleaned up their plates and put them up before I could offer a second helping.
They weren't picky. They rarely said no when I said to eat something. Even when one of them knew the beef would cause an allergic reaction, he ate it.
Titus asks me for food 10 minutes after he finishes breakfast. Azriel's nickname is "stomach" because she is forever going back for more food. Trinity and Emma eat more than I do now and will probably pass me in height before they are 13 years old. My hope and prayer is that when... yes WHEN... God brings them into our home that they will see that we are feeding them bread and not stones and that, Lord willing, they will never go hungry again!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to ride in a van for 13 hours...

...with 5 children and 5 adults
...with 4 speaking English and 5 speaking Luganda and 1 who speaks both, but is concentrating on driving
...with no lunch break and one potty break
...with limited snacks and water because you had absolutely NO IDEA it would be that long

Our dirty van/safari vehicle at the entrance to Murchison Falls National Park. We thought we were close when we got here. We were wrong.

You just do it because you have to because you are in Uganda and you can't drive yourself and you don't know where you are and you don't speak the language and you hope it will eventually be fun for the whole group. Eventually.

Lesson over.

These amazing friends of ours had this crazy idea to go on a "safari" (I'm using that term very loosely) while we were waiting for the next step in the guardianship process and then they made it affordable for us and we just couldn't say no.

The falls were just amazing!

Crossing the Nile River with an overloaded ferry. I'm sure they had enough life vest for everyone just in case we began to sink into water where we spotted a large crocodile. Well, I'm almost sure.

Isaac swore he could swim. Maybe "swim" sounds to him like a word that means "sinks very quickly." John Terry wasn't speaking much to us at this point... so we just figured he couldn't go in the big pool either. Thankfully, there was this shallow pool where they could play after such a long drive.
"Aren't those their clothes?" you ask.
 Yes. Yes, they are. I didn't bring them bathing suits because I did not realize swimming would be an option.

Hippo fence. To keep hippos out. Hippos are not nice.
Cape Buffalo. Also, not nice. These are the males who have been kicked out of the herd.

One of many beautiful giraffes we saw.

The Mohler's!! :)  Oh, and elephants that were really close.

Pretty cliff on our boat journey. There were holes all in the side where birds placed there nest.

Scary baboon on the top of the van and part Matt's face.
He had the pepper spray ready to defend the van if necessary!

John Terry soaking in the view... or wondering why we won't let him stay in the water on a continuous basis.
Isaac and John Terry looking over the Nile River.

Matt and I after climbing out of the boat onto a big rock with the falls in the backround.
Thank you for the picture Jamin and Kara!

I'll have to do a post with all the pictures showing their faces once we get our visas!