As most of you reading this already know, I have had Dan, a very special 4 year old, living with me for the past 2 weeks. The last 2 weeks been extremely hard, much more difficult than the last few months. Trying to figure out Dan's situation along with all the other responsibilities involved with the sponsorship program, processing 4 adoptions currently, and making daily trips to Al-Shafa and Nalufenya to bring money for patients who can't afford treatment. Oh yeah... and the work for these two courses. And in the last two weeks I can't tell you how many times I've thought "Okay God, I can't do this. I'm not qualified. I'm 21. I didn't ask for this". And in the silence, when I lay my head down at night, He whispers, "I don't give you anything you can't handle. Trust Me. Let Me carry you through this one".
As I wrote to you last week, one of the options I was considering for Dan, was adopting him myself. Doors continued to open, and Dan's Grandfather asked me to be the one to take him. That wasn't enough for me to make a decision that would effect the rest of Dan's life and my own. This is BIG. This is a child's life. For a while I really felt like adopting Dan was the only way I could protect him from a family that was neglecting to even meet his basic needs. Dan doesn't have a biological mother or father, and he has a very old Jjajja (Grandfather) who at 80-something is just too old to look after a 4-year old boy. They asked me to look after him, they said they wanted to sign their rights over to me because he was "my son".
Man, I can't tell you how much I wanted those words to be true. I wanted God to give me a clear answer, I wanted to know that walking through that door would be the right choice for Dan and for me. But what "I" wanted, was not what God had for him... I realized I wasn't the best option for Daniel. Although I wanted to be, I just wasn't. I wanted him to have a Mom, the best one I could find. And I knew that I wasn't the best I could find. I knew I still had a lot of work to do before I could raise a child, and that God didn't give me a peace about Dan being my son for a reason.
I began to seek out a Ugandan family for Dan to be fostered and adopted into. However, there was A LOT that needed to fall into place to make this possible. First, Dan's family would need to be willing to hand him over to grow up in a family that is not his own. In Uganda, clan/family ties are unbelievably important. This has a lot to do with why so many children are growing up in orphanages, while they still have family. The family may not be able to take care of a child, but the majority wouldn't even think about signing their rights away to their own flesh and blood. So naturally I worried that Dan's family would not be okay with him growing up in another family, despite their inability to care for him.
We also needed to find a Ugandan family that would be willing to adopt him. I asked at least 10 different people if they knew of any Ugandan families who were looking to adopt. I got lots of "maybes", but nothing definite. And then my friend Aaron told me about a woman named Julie, who was considering it, and who wanted to meet Dan and I. All I knew is that Julie was the woman who translated at Calvary Chapel, Jinja. I knew who she was but I knew almost nothing about her. So on Monday night after a long day in Kampala with Immigration/Passport chaos, and a trip to the U.S. Embassy, I met Aaron at Calvary. We met with Julie, and she told me her story. Julie has a 9 year old son, Benja (her only biological child). She has also taken in her 13 year old niece after her brother died of AIDS. Julie took in another little girl more than 5 years ago who had Sickle Cell, as well as a disease that was eating her bones. When Julie found her she was severely neglected, and malnourished. She had 7 broken bones. Julie said, "If I had come a few days later, the girl would have died". She raised this little girl as if she were her own daughter. Everyone that knows Julie reiterated that. 2-3 weeks ago Julie lost her daughter, a girl she had taken in and raised for more than 5 years. And 2-3 weeks later she was willing to consider opening her door to another child who needed a home, and a Mommy.
We shared much laughter, and many tears during those 2 hours I spent in Julie's living room by candle light. As she shared her story, and I shared my heart for Dan. I explained to her that I couldn't pick a better woman to be Dan's Mom. I asked her to pray about it. The next day I met with her superiors (The American couple who oversee the ministry at Calvary in Jinja). Since Julie lives on their property, I needed to ask their permission before Julie could even seriously consider taking in Dan. They told me that if this is what Julie decided, that they would be okay with it. At this point it seemed like all the doors were opening. I was then told that Julie was also considering taking in a 4 month old baby whose Mother was dying of AIDS in one of the local hospitals. Julie is involved in a hospital ministry, and this Mother begged her to take her child. With Julie's heart, I knew this would be a hard decision to make. And at this point she was giving me a very slight, "maybe". So I began trying to look for alternative families for Dan. With more "maybes", I decided to move forward and at least meet with Dan's family and see where they were at with all of this.
Today we drove out to Dan's village. My friends Aaron and Peter both came along, to help facilitate the meeting, and translate what I wanted to communicate to Dan's Grandfather and the rest of the clan. We arrived and all the family members were there, Dan's Grandfather, his 3 wives (he's Muslim), Dan's Uncle, and the LC1 and Secretary were there as well (Basically he mayor and secretary of Dan's village). We met and discussed the 3 realistic options we had come up with. We communicated to the family and village members present in the meeting that we wanted them to chose what they felt was best for Dan. Option 1- Dan remain in the family. Option 2- Dan be fostered and adopted into a Ugandan family, keeping his culture, and allowing his clan to check on him. Option 3- Dan be adopted into a family internationally, limiting the possibility for the family to stay in contact. I wanted to be honest about all 3 options, and what they would look like for both Dan and for the family. I wanted to give them the ability to chose what they felt was best for him.
When it came time to "vote" on Dan's future (I know this sounds crazy, but this is how a clan/ village decides on situations like this here), the vote was unanimous. The meeting was in Lusoga. As each person gave their answer, I had no idea what was being said. Every single member of the family and village that was present, said they felt it was best for Dan to be fostered and adopted into a Ugandan family. So we got it in writing. The LC1 stamped and signed it, along with all those present. A few minutes later, Aaron got a call from Julie saying she wanted to take Dan either Sunday or Monday. She wanted to be Dan's Mom. And all of that time spent worrying, and being anxious was for nothing. Because He sets the lonely in families. Because we need only to be still, He will fight for us. Because God works all things for the good of those who love Him. And it is never in our timing, and it is never the way we thought it was going to look. But it is exactly what He had planned all along. I am so thankful for a God who knows what is appropriate for our lives. A God who carries us through even when we are anxious, even when we are doubting His plans.
So Monday morning we will got to meet with Mr. Opio ( at 8am Uganda time, which is 1am EST if you are awake and want to pray). Mr. Opio is the Probation Officer of Jinja. We will bring him the foster papers for Julie, as well as the letters written by the LC1 of Kimanto (Dan's village). Please pray for favor. That God would continue to open the doors, so that Dan can become a part of Julie's family as soon as Monday. As of now, everything seems to be lining up for this to happen, but this is Uganda and it is not unlikely that we will have more hurdles to jump in this process. Pray for Dan, as this is going to be a difficult and confusing adjustment. He loves Julie, and loved spending time with her son Benja. It is still another big change for a 4-year old boy who has already went from orphanage, to the village, to living with me, and now to a new family and new home. I'm sure he must be so confused right now.
Thank you for praying and for your encouraging words.