Congratulations Uganda, fifty years of Independence. The slogan that you see on all the promotional pieces reads, “The Golden Jubilee”. Uganda has been free from British rule for half a century, but peace and productivity has only been in place for about twenty short years. I see so much promise in this beautiful country over the next fifty years. They have made very promising alliances with India and China. The leadership in the country has a vision. The general budget is mostly balanced, and in the city of Kampala the mayor has initiated a beautification project that will certainly enhance the overall image of the bustling city. The military appears very strong in numbers and resources. In the 1990s the country’s entire fleet of MIG jets was destroyed in one night during unrest. Today, the sky is full of Ugandan pilots in Russian made fighter jets, showing off their agility and skill as all eyes are in the air waiting for the next daring pass. Tourism is the main economic catalyst. If there is a natural element or exotic animal that you want to see, all you have to do is visit this bountiful country. Lakes, rivers, the source of the nile, Zero degrees latitude, mountains, monkeys, deserts, and plains; there is literally nothing that this country doesn’t offer its visitors. If you want to work, there is a job for you in Uganda. Unemployment is a choice. The streets are littered with boda-bodas; motorcycles that serve as cheap transportation around the city in lieu of a lacking public transit system. The boda-boda drivers make up the biggest employer in the country. Traffic laws don’t apply to these two-wheeled accidents waiting to happen. Sidewalks, medians, the wrong side of the road, it doesn’t matter. They will deliver you to your destination safely 91.2% of the time. As for the other 8.8% of the time, what’s life without a little danger? I decided to take the boda-boda to the ATM about two weeks ago. Let’s just say I’m glad that Ugandans don’t have a problem with touching. I was locked in to the driver’s hips with my thighs, and squeezing his shoulders as we dashed through traffic at 40MPH. He must have sensed my fear and took me back to the hotel along a back road at a much slower rate of speed.
What was America like at fifty years? 1776 + 50 = 1826. In 1826, the United States had begun westward expansion, they were educating their industrial pioneers in grade school, and they would enjoy thirty more years of peace before the Civil War would attempt to divide our land forever. Uganda, in some ways, is lot like America was after fifty years of independence. Struggling to make their mark on the world’s stage, Uganda is committed to changing its image as a hostile and corrupt country into an investment worth taking a chance on. I see promise in this East African country and have no doubt that ZG will be very proud of her heritage as she gets old enough to understand where she came from.
The last post was made from an internet café at the Forest Mall on the east side of downtown Kampala. ZG enjoyed the time away from the B&B, and it helped Mom and Dad’s day pass a little faster as well. We had a nice meal of fish and burgers. I had a large pot of African tea without spices as I caught up with things on the web and sent my pals at work a few quick emails. Carla and ZG took a stroll through the mall and looked at some American made baby clothes that were about 400% more expensive than at home. ZG will not eat baby food. She demands to eat like an adult so we meet her demands and stuff her face with whatever it is that we are grubbing on. Nutritionally speaking, I’m sure there are some developmental things that need time before they are introduced to sugars and complex carbs, but ZG is well past those precautionary measures. She has gotten an upset stomach a few times over the last week, but so have I. There are three budding teeth in her tiny little head that she uses to tear apart the bread, potato chips, French fries, and fruit before she uses her jaws and gums to terrorize what remains. We have been giving her oral gel and Motrin to help her with teething pain that seems to be at its worst at night. Apparently the pain of teething is pretty bad because she squirms from one end of the bed to the other while moaning and groaning in her sleep.
The driver we use for our in town excursions is named Twaha. I just can’t seem to remember how to pronounce it so I end up calling him Tahji. He picked up on my inability to remember his name and finally told me to call him Charles! I can remember that!
We got picked back up right at 3pm and came directly back to the B&B for ZG’s afternoon nap. The afternoon wasted away quickly, and we did not eat supper until very late and shared a chicken wrap while ZG had her cereal and went to sleep after we gave her medicine for the skin rash. The rash is getting so much better, but the medicine turns her into a zombie so we have cut the dose by half.
The B&B is perfect, except for the dog. The dog barks at its own shadow all night long. What better place to exercise his vocal chords than right outside our window? ZG doesn’t mind, she could sleep through an air raid.
Patrick was waiting for us thirty minutes early out in front of the B&B. Before we were able to load up for the drive to Namataba, Patrick showed us his two new front tires. He was very proud of them and also told us that yesterday was his 41st birthday. Happy Birthday, you human garbage disposal you! For his birthday present I bought him a Samosa (Ugandan Empanada) and a coke at the Shell Station where we fueled up for the day. Fuel costs are absurd in Uganda. I’m sure I’ll complain in America about fuel costs, but imagine if we paid almost $7 per gallon!
The road didn’t seem as bumpy as today and the jam wasn’t bad. After one hour we pulled up at the home and prepared ourselves to play with five kids all day! The nannies were cooking something, so I was hopeful that we would be served lunch. I gave the kids a snack and let them watch Yo Gabba Gabba before lunch. Parents with small children: what crack head conjured up Yo Gabba Gabba? I want to rip the freaky eye out of the herpes infected big red one’s head. And for DJ Lance, I have already asked for forgiveness what the deplorable things that I imagined for you and your awful sideburns. However, my daughter loves every second of every episode and the kids at the orphanage have already memorized all the songs from the dance episode after watching it only three times.
The director told us that she had found a permanent replacement for ZG. The small girl that the director had been granted temporary custody of was returned to her home after three nights when her mother showed back up. If you remember from our day in the village with the Dutch girl, we met a family with a malnourished baby who barely weighed five pounds. This little bit will be nursed back to health in the home where ZG was so graciously loved and cared for for the last nine months. All the nannies are excited about the new baby and can’t wait for the opportunity to help save this little baby’s life.
Patrick returned back to the home with the director and the mamma nanny holding the newest addition of their loving family. With the assistance of the community volunteer, Hijet, and the funding of the Dutch family, the malnourished baby had much more life about him. Don’t be confused, he’s still in dire health, but he was able to keep his eyes open and he even cried when I tried to coddle him. It’s amazing how much difference a few nutritious meals have made for this whole family. The director shared some photos with us of the troubled family since they have been receiving daily help from the Dutch family. The mother who was unable to stand because of the chiggers, was standing in the photos. Her complexion was nice and her disposition optimistic. The struggle of giving up custody will be burdensome for the family for a while, but they understand it is in the best interest of the baby. The director, who feels she can never do enough, sat in the van worried that she could not do more for the father and four year old who were left behind. The Dutch family had arranged transport for the mother to be moved to a leprosy hospital in Eastern Uganda. At the hospital they will be able to treat her possibly fatal wounds to her extremities and hopefully provide her education on how to protect her household from future infestations. While the mother is away, the father and small boy will be relocated to temporary housing during the chemical treatment of the home for chiggers and other parasites. All of their belongings must be destroyed. The Dutch family is also replacing all of their things and giving them a fresh start. Please pray that the baby begins to gain weight and hasn’t lost too much mental capacity. Pray that the mother able to walk again and all her wounds are healed. Pray that the father resists the temptation to drink. Pray for the small boy that he is continually being cared for by the community and will never know the feeling of an empty stomach again. Pray thanksgiving for the Dutch family and their commitment to this family. I hope the best for this situation and will update you all as I learn more.
All of us said our lingering goodbyes for the day and we rushed back to Kampala to beat the jam. We beat the jam, but just before we made it to Kampala there was an overturned transfer truck blocking the entire road. We were forced to detour down a small dirt road that was not big enough for oncoming traffic. After a thirty minute game of Klotski through the muddy roads, we emerged back onto the tarmac just east of the interchange in Kampala. Patrick looked back at us and said that God protected us today because if we would have left five minutes earlier that truck could have killed us. The things that bring us back to reality! All we ever do is rush. We want to get to the orphanage faster. We want to get ZG’s passport faster. We want to go home faster. God gives us moments like the one yesterday to remind us that our timing sucks; it can even get us killed.
ZG would not settle down tonight. She was so restless. At first we thought that it was her stomach, but we are convinced that it is her mouth. Her three teeth have doubled in size over the last two weeks, and two more are starting to show through. Teething sucks for the parents, but I can’t imagine what it feels like for the child. To make matters worse the B&B’s guard dog camped out again outside our window and serenaded us all night. At the low point of the night, Carla told me to go and kill the dog. She was serious people! I put on my pants and shirt and grabbed my MagLite flashlight and headed outside, thinking the whole time how I would kill the beast and where I would dispose of the carcass. My first idea was a quick forceful hit across the face. Too barbaric. Plan B was to put four 500mg muscle relaxers in a piece of bread and let him drift off to doggie heaven painlessly. In the end I took a flour tortilla and sat in the moonlight and played with the harmless pup for ten minutes. I walked back in and told Carla it was done. She thought I really killed the dog and got mad at me. I said that you told me to kill it so I did! Before I could ad-lib the comedy any further, the mangy canine gave me away with another pointless howl.
After our sleepless night I took ZG out of the room so Carla could sleep a few more hours. Too bad our facilitator texted her at 8am to invite her to the market. Carla scraped herself off the sheets and got ready to leave by 9:30am. I took the day off. So with Carla and ZG gone for the day, I watched ESPN and ate fried chicken on the couch until they got back around 12pm. What a guy thing to do with a few hours to kill!
The facilitator brought Carla back with a just napped ZG. Carla was proud of her shopping day and showed me all the goodies that she bought at the market before we even walked inside. I gave her the equivalent of 200 US Dollars and anticipated her to return with none. To the contrary, she came back with more than half of the money and enough merchandise to fill a small suitcase.
This particular market sets up every Friday and consists of hundreds of vendors hocking their handmade and imported items. The prices are always negotiable at the market. Our facilitator has her favorite vendors and tries to get the best deals for all of her families. As they strolled under the big tents, through the aisles of goods displayed on old rugs, the facilitator spotted another adoptive family. The fellow Americans were at the same point in the process that we are, but have been here one week longer. After a little bit of “adoption process gossip” and well wishes, the facilitators phone rang with some news for the Hamners.
Our court ruling paperwork is in and our passports are being processed, however, the passport office is requiring an in office interview with Carla and I before the issuance of the passport. No big deal. Our facilitator called the office to setup a time for the same day, but they had closed their office for the afternoon. Again, no big deal. We’ll just go on Monday and hope that we have a passport by Wednesday. This is our next big step. Please Pray us home!!!
After the passport is finalized, we will need a few days for the US Embassy to do their thing. Remember, we still have to locate and transport the biological family to Kampala for this. Please Pray that all members of ZG’s biological family are found, willing to travel with us, and provide the US Embassy the same answers that they have been giving during this whole process.
Assuming that everything goes off without a hitch, we could possibly be traveling home the middle of the week after next. We have been struggling with the timeline since before we even left America for ZG. We have prayed, fasted, and given thanks to Him, but we are just human and think that we deserve to be hoisted on the wings of angels and brought home NOW. Our God knew humans would be loathing and self-serving, yet he still brought us into existence. Why? I think so He could have some comic relief to his day.
Hear me out.
Carla and I suddenly went amnesic when we were informed that the process had fallen behind. We immediately questioned God about his intentions for us; after all we fasted from coffee, music, and chocolate. And did you hear me say COFFEE! Cut me some slack Warden God. Quit treating us like a bunch of prisoners. Did you hear me God when I prayed those nice prayers and gave you all the glory? And for Pete’s sake, I haven’t had coffee in thirty days and I just want to hear Jamey Johnson’s voice again!!!
What a weak argument against our most favorable God. He hasanswered all of our prayers, and as stupid as fasting from coffee and chocolate may seem for some people, God has used it to remind us of the control that He has in this process.
Then, out of nowhere, like a frying pan smacking me in my face, I’m reminded of the Prize of this process. A Prize that can never be taken away. The Prize we prayed for before she was ever conceived.
I remember now.
ZG was always our prayer. That prayer is FULFILLED! AMEN. All the other stuff is cosmetic. The loud hotels, the quick trip home, and the bumpy roads were just a little bit of comic relief for our Heavenly Father. Even God needs a laugh. So let him have one at your expense every once in a while.
What I Know About ZG So Far
She gives the best kisses. She makes the worst face in the world during “potty time”. She will fight sleep every time. She talks in her sleep. She sucks her left thumb. She hates baby food. She copies everything; noises, expressions, sounds. She loves people; but she loves her Mommy the most. She can crawl faster than Usain Bolt. She loves Yo Gabba Gabba. She soothes herself by rubbing her blanket against her cheek. She loves to drink hot tea. She hates to lay her head on my bare chest. She likes to splash the water during bath time. She knows how to get what she wants. She loves to play with her Daddy. She puts everything in her mouth. She loves to play with jars and bottles instead of her toys. She is scared of soccer balls and stuffed animals. She has a scar on her left knee and right arm. She smiles in her sleep. She wants your food, even when she isn’t hungry. She is so smart. She will steal your heart with her smile. She is beautiful. She is spoiled rotten. She is my daughter.
Parenthood is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,
Two Hopelessly in Love Parents