Court Day- Grace in Practice
ZG slept great. The music stopped at 10:30pm. Carla and I slept great too. Carla dressed ZG in a pink and white dress with a white head band. We all looked so nice dressed up together for court. The front desk called our room at 8am to let us know that the van had arrived. The family was all there. We learned that the biological father was, for all intents and purposes, detained at the hospital overnight to ensure he would be in court. The orphanage director has many great relationships in the community and the Doctor of the clinic was not an exception. He ensured the director that the “tricky man” would be ready for court. From inside the van poured out the biological mother and JAJA, a camera man, the orphanage director, and Patrick the driver. Carla very Gracefully handed ZG to her biological mother and we took some nice photos with ZG and her “family” and then some with all of us. These will be very important to ZG when she is older and needs answers to the very difficult questions that her mind will create. ZG’s biological father stayed in the van because he was still quite ill and weak. Unbeknownst to him, the lawyer’s office and court room were on the 4th floor and there were no elevators! Remember, be graceful; I have to remind myself!
We all loaded back into the van for the two hour drive through the jam to Kampala. ZG’s biological mother held her for most of the ride. We don’t speak the same language so our actions must fill in when our mouths cannot. Readers, if you don’t remember anything, remember this; Carla was a perfectly Graceful woman through all of this. Put yourself in her shoes and try to think of how you would act-- Grace in Practice.
Our lawyer is a short dark man with a charming smile. He works from a very small office and is very well respected by the Family Court Judges. He insisted that we receive consent from the living family members once more before proceeding to the courthouse. As we nervously sat to the side, oblivious to what they were saying, our lawyer finally chimed in with a very soft tone, “they consent”. He also let us know that he was having our hearing moved up due to the welfare of the biological father. Instead of 2:30pm we would start court around 1:30pm.
It was still early in the day, well before 12pm, and we were corralled into a waiting room with several other Mnzungus who were nervously anticipating their own hearings or judgments. Even though our white skin should have attracted us to speak to each other, we never shared a word. Everyone’s full attention was on their child. For over two hours we shared a small room with ZG’s entire living family while we waited. And then we were called out of the waiting room by our lawyer. We walked down a long dated hallway and entered the courtroom of a 60 year old wise looking gentleman known only to us as “Judge M”.
Ugandan court is not like American court. The courtroom is the Judge’s office and there is no telling what might be said in your case, even by people who aren’t associated with it! The Judge was in full force when we entered the room. He was making an example of the plaintiff’s attorney in a cohabitation land dispute. At one point during his lecture to the attorney he went to his book case and removed a book on land law in Uganda and told him to read it before he came back to his courtroom! The man willingly took the article of law and left the room while the remainder of the spectators laughed at him. I had no clue what happened until later because he did all this in a local language, but I laughed anyway; kind of like at a joke you didn’t understand, but didn’t want to look stupid. Yeah, I’m that guy!
The Judges in these cases ask a lot of questions and have follow up comments to every statement made by witnesses and petitioners alike. When our case began, each member of the “family circus” (this includes us) were called on to stand and face the Judge. I was the first to be called. I stood up confidently as he mispronounced my name, so to help him out I said, “just call me Josh” (my first name is Joshua and it is easier for most dialects to pronounce over Clint). Carla was next and the Judge was so concerned over the spelling of her maiden name, ArchibAld. He insisted that it was spelled wrong and should be ArchibOld. He went on to tell us that there was a famous writer of legal studies by that name and if we would have known that he would have been impressed! With this we shared a laugh and our nerves were settled for the moment.
The introduction of witnesses continued with the orphanage director, JAJA, the biological mother, and the “tricky man”. The Judge cast stares of judgment upon the entire family as he began to hear the story of how ZG was orphaned. As I stated, he spoke a local language for most of the hearing, but through our facilitator we learned that he wanting possible criminal action taken against the family. Another court official was summoned to the room and a pretrial of sorts took place against the biological family. I am unsure if anything will come of the fanfare that took place for over 2 hours between the Judge, Court Official, and ZG’s biological parents. However, I can tell you this; I felt heartbroken for the biological mother who, I found out later, was treated very sternly concerning the issue of abandonment. I prayed for her during the hearing and didn’t know why. Now I know it was Grace.
After this series of questioning, the three living family members were escorted from the court room with the court official and a police officer for further questioning. We found out after court that the court official was trying to convince them to rescind their consent. What a day!
The Judge quickly asked several questions to the orphanage Director and then called Carla to the stand.
Carla was ready. She bravely walked up to the left side of the judge’s desk and with her hands lightly crossed at her waist she answered all the questions perfectly. The judge needed to tell a story though. He began by reiterating that everyman wants his own flesh and blood to be born. The story was centered around a couple who did not choose to have children because of other desires in their life. However, one of the couple desperately wanted children while the other was content. The wanton spouse ultimately got her wish through the arms of another. The ending of the story was that they worked everything out… and moved to America and lived happily ever after. What that story had to do with us I still have no idea but still, we shared another laugh! He scheduled our ruling for next week. Please pray for us as we anticipate next week.
Keep in mind, it is now almost 4pm and we haven’t eaten a bite all day long! We are physically lacking. After our court session, the biological family took another one hour to be dismissed and our lawyer was even later. At 6pm we went to the Lawyers office to debrief. He said that everything went great and the judgment would most likely be favorable. We knew that anyway because this entire process is sanctioned by God. The lawyer did, however, throw us a curveball when he told us that the biological parents would have to attend the visa hearing with us in a few weeks at the US Embassy. We aren’t concerned that they will travel with us again but please pray for our reassurance that they will comply with our needs concerning ZG’s visa.
Finally, we left downtown around 6:30pm. We went to GAME and had dinner as one big, very unorthodox family. I didn’t feel too weird because I have been to family reunions with more complicated situations than this one. Let’s just say my blood runs thick with simple gene composition. (for Brooke: I’m talking some of my family being inbred!)
The day was so long and we still had a one hour drive back to our hotel from GAME. We got out of the van at 9:30 and all three of only had sleep on our weary minds. I did have the overwhelming conviction to shake hands with all of ZG’s biological family and they seemed grateful for the gesture. Just one more lesson of Grace that God humbled me with.
The alarm is set for 6am so we can be in Kampala at the US Embassy at 8am. Unfortunately, as tired as ZG was she was not ready for bed. So very naturally, neither were mom and dad! After an hour of crying and screaming Carla said, “I want to call my momma”. So right there on our hotel room bed, three generations of women cried with each other and I learned then that it’s always better when you call momma! NaNa told Carla to walk and hum. We also gave her some gas drops and by 2am Carla had her asleep. At 5am ZG was up laughing and ready to play! Mom and Dad are in for a long day-- again.
Still very tired from the long day of court, we loaded into the van with Patrick and the orphanage director a little after 8am and headed back to Kampala! Weren’t we just there! Oh well, forward marching is the only way to go. When we arrived at the Embassy it was raining pretty hard, and because of the violence in recent weeks, no parking was allowed with 100 yards of the gate. So we gladly walked in the rain in the name of international security.
The purpose of the visit to the Embassy was to receive an invitation to the IOM, the International Medical Clinic. Once through security we spent a few minutes waiting and then the Embassy worker issued our invitation and answered a few questions that we had. We left the Embassy and met our facilitator at the IOM Clinic. We didn’t have to wait very long, only about an hour. I expected it to take much longer. When we saw the Doctor we told her that we wanted ZG to receive her nine month MMR vaccination and have a Malaria test done just to be able to rule it out as a possibility of her tough night. Thankfully she was negative for Malaria, and didn’t so much as flinch as she was pricked and prodded during her exam. She is so much smaller than the pictures made her look. She only weighed about 17 pounds. She is so precious! We love her so much!
We all traveled to the Wentz Clinic where ZG would get and independent examination that is required by Alabama DHR. Our instructions were unclear as to which exam she should receive so I said, “just do them all”! For those who know me, I love to sleep. I guess I was a little cranky! While we were in the clinic our angel of an orphanage director rested in the van. When we left, we took her to a meeting in the city. Patrick, our driver, was hungry and so we ate lunch at about 4pm. It was awesome. We all had Chinese, except for Patrick who had traditional Ugandan food at the shopping center food court. After another quick grocery store and ATM visit we set out to go back home. I told Patrick to take the next day off because we needed to rest. He was glad to have a day as well.
When we got back to the hotel, we played with ZG several hours until bedtime. She loves to laugh and talk! It is too cute when she says “nanananana, dadaddada, ahpaaaaaa”! She really is a great baby. Perfect actually.
The night was tough for ZG again and we gave her gas and pain medicine and she slept until 3am. She was really ill this time and she lay in bed restless until 5am when we gave her some milk. The poor baby was hungry. All the playing must have used up her energy.
We hope to get really good rest on our day off. Remember to continue to pray for our bonding with ZG and the orphanage. Add the father’s health to your list and our continued health as well. Thanks to all of you who are out there praying for us and know they are felt. To God be all the Glory!
Even God Took a Day to Rest
My baby girl and I are morning people. I hope we will always share that. Mommy likes her mornings in a zombie like unconscious state so we left her in the bed and went for some breakfast at the hotel restaurant. On our way back to the room I stopped by front desk and asked for the modem. While we were inside talking and watching the last few minutes of a terrible Judy Greer and Joshua Jackson movie about werewolves the housekeeper came by with her six month old behemoth of a son, George. George was scared of me because I was wearing my glasses. According to his mother glasses scare him because he was circumcised by a man that wore glasses! Well I would be scared too! I probably wouldn’t even walk past Len’s Crafters in the Mall ever again! After we got back mommy was up and ready to play. But first I sent her to the kitchen to ask for breakfast as a courtesy and she came back with some fruit. ZG and mommy played for a while until mommy decided it was time for a shower. During Carla’s shower one of the hotel staff came by our room and reached to take ZG. I let her go with her down the hall to play with George. When Carla got out of the shower I said, “ZG is down the hall playing with her new friend George. She came back by the room and nervously said, “no she’s not”. Oooops! I lost my kid on the 4th day. That’s even worse than Jeremy Burrage! Carla walked to the courtyard and found a host of people playing with the beautiful ZG and her friend George. After a while of Carla being gone I joined in on the party. The Ugandans are so interested in America; especially Barack Obama! After discussing politics and Obama’s views on key issues with a few of the young men, I determined Uganda to be a very conservative country. It was close to 11am and I told Carla that I wanted to lay down a minute; or 120 minutes. It was the best sleep I’ve had in days. Thank you God!
The afternoon passed by playing in the room, then with George, then napping, then eating, then napping, then pooping, then playing with George, and then eating before bedtime.
I stayed up late because I needed to get some things written down and Carla went outside and watched the African Dancing Show that didn’t end until 11pm. ZG slept like a rock! She got up around 2am and was hungry so we fed her and in two minutes she was back asleep until 6am.
5-Hour Energy Parents