Sunday, September 27, 2009

More of the Process

I have not mentioned it on my blog, but I have started a Yahoo chat group for people who have adopted from Uganda or are interested in adopting here is the address:

Please leave me a message explaining who you are and where you are in the process. Membership is not open to everyone, so that our families' privacy can be protected.

OK, now more on the guardianship process. As for adoptions from Sanyu, after you identify the child you want to adopt you have to take pictures for Ugandan passports, medicals, and US visas, these pictures are 2 different sizes, get extras just in case. Godfrey knows where to take you and what size and how many. You will also have to go to the Surgery to get medicals done for US visas. You will see a Ugandan first, I think his name is Joseph, I'm sorry I can't remember. He will do measurements and initial blood tests. Dr. Pinto or Dr. Stockley will see you for the follow up visit and they have to sign the forms. Pictures should cost $10-15 and medicals, depending on followups and different blood tests $45-60.

After this you get to wait for a court date. When you show up for court, dress in your Sunday best and have the children dressed nicely with shoes and everything if possible. If Peter is your lawyer, he and his associates show up at the very last minute. It is very nerve wracking, but they will be there. You do not talk, unless the judge asks you a specific question. You address the judge as Your Lordship, if you do talk. Thank him or her at the end of the hearing. I did ask to speak in my hearing for A, because the judge was leaning toward denying the application. Crying does help in some cases, make sure you are truthful and genuine. The judge will tell you when to come back for the ruling, so you wait some more. People are having to wait different times for rulings with different judges. I had to wait 1 week for WR and 2 weeks for A. When you go back for the ruling take the child with you again and you just wait for those words "Application has been approved." Then you jump up and say 'Thank you' and burst into tears outside.
Now all you need is passports and visas and you can come home. Peter's office will work on birth certificates and passports. Make sure you keep on them about these. They should be ready the day of your ruling or a day or two after. Once you have your ruling, make an appointment with the embassy for your visa interview. It could take 2-5 days for this whole process.

You need paperwork for the US Embassy as well as for court and for the orphanage you are working with. There is a new consular and she does not seem to be as tough on paperwork as the former consular. But I am going to give you the entire list of things people were asked for in their interviews while I was there. Home study, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificates for both parents, any divorce decrees, a letter from your attorney including all adopted children as rightful heirs, a personal financial statement proving you are able to provide for the child/children, letters of employment from employers, birth certificates for children in your household, letter from your pastor, guardianship plan for the child if you die, doctor's statement of your health, 3 references, last 3 years tax returns with w-2s(copies are fine), I-864, I-600a approval notice if you have it(they also mail this to the embassy if you put the address for the Kampala embassy on the form), I-600 petition to classify orphan as immediate relative, affidavit concerning exemption from immigration vaccination requirements for a foreign adopted child [these forms can be downloaded from the Dept. of State website, if only one parent is traveling the other parent needs to sign these forms and have them notarized before traveling]. Some of the other random things that people have been asked for in court or at the embassy, pictures of your family and your home, copies of diplomas or professional certificates, proof of post adoption home study visit, also if you adopt 2 unrelated children you will be asked to pay $670 more at the US Embassy for the second child.
Paper work that you need for visas that you will get after you are finished in court, guardianship order, relinquishment letter from the orphanage and any living relative if there is one.

I made 3 copies of all of these forms and had them in a binder that never left my sight. Do not pack these forms, carry them in your carry-on bags.

Take some time to go and see Uganda. Go to Jinja and see the Nile. If you have time go to some of the National Parks. We even went to the equator. Get to know more of the country than Kampala, it is a beautiful place. Kampala has beautiful parts and the people are doing a lot of work to make it better, but you need to be able to tell your children about the whole country.
Remember, this is your child's heritage. You want to be able to tell them as much as possible about where they come from. Please make sure that you give them a positive image of their heritage.

By the way, I suggest flying through Amsterdam. The airport and airline is much nicer than Belgium. Belgium does not want me to do a tourist recommendation for them. The chocolate is not worth the rudeness.

I hope this is helpful. It has been a brain dump. If you have specific questions let me know. Remember, the process changes, so this should not be taken as written in stone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Starting to Process

OK, I have finally had a chance to slow down some and start processing everything that has happened in the last 4 months. I did not post much about the guardianship process while we were in Uganda, but I did want to tell people about the process for me. I say 'the process for me' because the process is always changing. If you are not flexible and able to roll with the punches DO NOT try to adopt from Uganda. I would almost say that goes for any adoption.

First of all do not start the process unless you are absolutely sure that this is something God is telling you to do now. Please take time to bathe the process in prayer. My process was by no means smooth, but it went much better when I was sure that I was communicating with God. Keep in mind, God calls us all to take care of orphans, He does not call us all to adopt. Make sure the timing is right.

If you are planning to adopt from Uganda or any other country, please make sure you go to that country with a respectful attitude. Do not think that because you are American or any other Westerner, that you are doing that country a favor and are entitled to special treatment. If you can not respect the culture or are offended by what you may come into contact with, are you going to be able to raise a child from that culture? I am not talking about being appalled by the poverty or some of the conditions that you might see. I am talking about being respectful for their way of life. Don't openly mock or make derogatory comments about things you see. Remember you are a guest, be a good one. Ask if you can help out at the orphanage or at some of the NGOs. Do not assume you know how to do things better. Do it their way. After you earn trust and respect, make suggestions respectfully. Remember, African cultures have been around longer than America. I'm convinced they do most things better than us anyway.

Next, do all of you paperwork that you need to adopt before you leave the US. DO NOT go to a country without a homestudy or your USCIS paperwork at least being processed. Show the people you are working with that you are committed to an adoption not that you are at their orphanage 'shopping' for a baby.

Contact the orphanage that you want to work with. You may have to contact more than one. Make sure you meet their requirements for adoption and that they have available children.

Contact an attorney. I recommend Peter Nyombi. He knows more about the guardianship process than any other lawyer. He will also make sure things progress in a timely manner. I will add this disclaimer though, I had a problem with one of his employees asking for a bribe to process my children's birth certificates. I played dumb and asked Peter about and he reprimanded the employee. However, when it was time to process one of my children's visas the birth certificate was not there. You have to stay on top of all of the steps.

Contact Godfrey to drive for you. I can never say enough good things about Godfrey. He is more than a driver. He is a guardian angel. He took care of anything my aunt or I needed. He knows as much about the adoption process as most lawyers. He knows where to get anything you need and where everything is. Let me add this bit on a personal note. He is a driver and he will become a friend. DO NOT TREAT HIM LIKE HIRED HELP!!!!!!!!! He is a very caring man and he deserves to be treated with respect. I don't want to come after anyone that has treated him badly, BUT I WILL, because I already have, and it wasn't pretty.

I am going to say this again, because it is the most important thing. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! Make sure that this is in God's plan for your life and the life of any children you adopt. Do not do this because some friends from church did it and had a wonderful experience. I prayed about every step of the process. When I fell out of communication with God and did what I wanted was when I experienced problems. I know I was doing God's will in adopting both of my children. I may not have done everything the way He had wished me to.

I will post more of the process later. If you need further details about the process, leave me a comment. I will be happy to answer any questions.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I know that it has been a month since I posted, but things are just now getting into a routine. You will notice I did not say that 'things are back to normal'. I don't think they will be normal ever again. But I love not being normal!!!!!
The kids are doing great. They both started walking all by themselves last Thursday. If we can determine if they have giardia and get the pooping under control we will be doing great. They are both putting on weight anyway.
Thanks again for all of the prayers and comments while we were in Uganda. They kept us going.
I will post pictures and more about the whole process soon.