The day started like normal. Me tired. The boys somehow fully rested after what seems like not enough hours of sleep to me. Breakfast. Getting dressed. And the playing begins. I was rushing around a little crazier than usual trying to make myself presentable. Thankfully we had electricity for me to straighten the hair I had slept on wet the night before. I did everything possible before putting on my outfit for court so it wouldn't get ruined by food, snot, spit up or poop. I'm happy to say none of those things ruined my clothes! :)
Jonathan however slept. And slept. And slept. At the very last minute I woke him up and dressed him in his handsome little outfit. He was happy. And oblivious. The driver arrived and I ran out the door with him. My sweet friend watched the other two boys at home for me. As we drove through Kampala it was rainy. This was a blessing because it meant that many people were still inside and not on the street!! I fed Jonathan his bottle and he was as happy as could be. As we drove all of a sudden a mob of butterflies attacked my stomach. At least that's what it felt like. I had not been nervous up until that point but as we approached the court house the reality started to hit me (in the chaos of just getting through the morning) that Jonathan would become legally my son on that very day! I kept telling him over and over that today was a special day for him, and that today he would become a son and would no longer be an orphan!
When we arrived at the court house I was 45 minutes early for our court appointment. I sat and stood and paced with Jonathan in my carrier. I was the only person in the waiting room for the majority of the time. I had woken up with a little cold and had chugged a bottle of emergen-c before I left the house hoping it would give me a little extra immune boost. I'm not sure it did that, but it did make me have to go to the bathroom. I figured I shouldn't try holding it since court went 1 1/2 hours longer than expected the last time. I asked the guard where the bathroom was and she told me to follow the hallway all the way down until the last door on the right. I came to what I thought was the last door before the cleaning closet, and then I realized it was actually past that and in what I thought was a cleaning closet. There was a men's sign on the door, but it was the only one I saw. The door was open and no one was in there so I carried on. I chose the bigger stall and attempted to lock the door. The lock didn't seem very sturdy, but I thought I got it enough to keep it closed while I went to the bathroom. Jonathan was still in the carrier and I tried to hike up my skirt and squat with all the thigh muscles I have over the toilet without touching it! It was a success. I re-situated my clothes, making sure everything was covered before I walked back out into society. I took a few pictures for you all...haha. And then I decided to leave. I tried to turn the lock and it wouldn't budge. I tired a few more times with different techniques. Nothing. Apparently the lock I didn't think would do it's job was now working overtime. I heard some men outside the door (maybe it was a mens bathroom after all) and decided I better not waste too much time trying to figure it out on my own incase I never actually did and then was stranded at the end of this hallway with no help until who knows when. I knocked on the door and the guy immediately said, "are you stuck?" Haha. It must be a common thing. I said yes and he said ok...I'm coming to help. This door was an actual door. No crawling under the door (not that I would've done that even if it had been an option- I actually was considering how to kick in a door from the inside). The walls were almost all the way to the ceiling with just a little space at the top. My rescuer came up over the wall and down into the stall with me. Why oh why is this adventure not being video taped?! He jiggled the handle a while. Thankfully he didn't get it unlocked right away- then I would've felt really stupid. Eventually he got it open and I said many thank you's and walked out. As I walked down the hallway I could not wipe the smile off my face. I was so thankful that this was another story of this adventure. It seemed to fit so perfectly into it. It took everything for me to not giggle actually.
What I had to work with. I touched nothing except the lock and used many clorox wipes. At least it was a toilet and I didn't have to squat all the way to the floor. Been there, done that...don't want to try it carrying a baby.
The view from the bathroom.
As I arrived back at the waiting room, still no one was there. I walked, sat, stood some more. My lawyer showed up and said the judge was busy with another case and we would have to wait. Wait wait wait. Jonathan was great. So happy and sweet. As usual.
Eventually it was our turn! The judge we had was SO kind to us during our first court date. I was really hoping it would be the same during our ruling date. I had prayed for good health for her, for not traffic jams etc. so that she would be in court that day! God answered my prayers and she was there. And she was SO kind again. In the court room it was the judge, her two helpers (not sure of their official titles- but they were so kind to us too!), my lawyer, Jonathan and I.
We started with her asking how Jonathan was doing, where the other boys were, how we were all doing etc etc... I was so happy that she was so personally interested in our family and how we were doing. Then she officially started our time together and read through the ruling. A ruling includes who the child is, their story, who we are, and if we are suited to be parents to this child. Then they read if they give you guardianship of them and the specifics of that. As she started to read I hung on every word. I wish I could've recorded it! These words she was reading were the words that officially change the status of Jonathan from orphan to SON! YOU GUYS!! THIS IS AMAZING! I was sad that our whole family couldn't be present. I was sad that Adam didn't get to hear the judge declare that he is ours. I also felt like it was that special moment after delivering a child and MOM gets the first rights to hold the new baby. Jonathan was so happy and squirmy. I kept looking into his eyes thinking- you have NO idea what is happening and PRAISE the LORD that you are too young to know. How GRACIOUS of HIM. So the judge declared that she found us to be equipped and qualified to be Jonathan's parents! That we are allowed to take him back to America...and a bunch of other things. :) MY HEART FELT LIKE IT WAS TRYING TO FLY OUT OF ME! The smile on my face was probably ridiculous. I looked at our lawyer when she said that and he smiled and nodded at me to let me know it's really real!
After she was done reading the ruling the judge put down the paper and just started talking with me. I really felt like I was talking to a friend. I have the utmost respect for this woman, but it also felt so normal to me to be able to talk with her about my SON! She told me that she too loved Jonathan. If your mouth didn't drop to the floor then (it should've) then it better after what you read next... she asked if she could hold him?! THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN!! I OF COURSE said YES! So I walked up behind her desk (WHAT?!) and handed him to her. Then I squatted next to her as she snuggled with him... not just held him but snuggled with him! We talked some more, like old friends. Honestly- I wish you could hear me say these things- I'M STILL FREAKING OUT WRITING THIS!
I had really wanted a picture with the judge because of how gracious and wonderful she was to us and Jonathan. I didn't know how to go about such a thing or if it was a possibility. God flung that door wide open for me! As I was next to her I asked if she would mind if I took a picture of her and Jonathan? She said that would be ok. I looked at my lawyer who seemed a bit caught off guard and he said ok. I took the picture and we talked a few more minutes and then it was time for me to leave.
As I went to the waiting room to wait for the lawyer to finish things up I told my driver and social worker about what had happened. Their mouths DID drop and they were surprised at each new thing I said. She loves him...WHAT?! She wanted to hold him...WHAT?! She let me take a picture of her with him... THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED EVER!! THANK YOU LORD FOR SUCH A GIFT! The lawyer said that no one had ever taken a picture with a judge before. I'm not really sure why God is so gracious to me, and I'm SO thankful that He clearly is CRAZY about Jonathan. The story that we have seen that He has written for our son already is unbelievable. I'm so excited to be able to print this picture for the judge so she can keep it and remember this sweet boy she fell in love with and how thankful his family is for her kindness to us!
As we drove home I kept saying to Jonathan- You're my son!! It is a reality that has been true in my heart since the day I saw his picture for the first time, but I am so happy it is legally true now too. I had a sweet talk with our social worker in the car about how amazing it was and how awesome it is to think about our adoption into God's family during every step of this process. I'm so thankful to learn more about MY spiritual adoption through our adoption of Jonathan.
When we got home we had a couple of hours before we went out with our friends to dinner. It was a great restaurant with "muzungu (white people) food" as the Ugandans kept describing it to us as. The setting was fabulous! Large space for the kids to run around. Shaded area for moms to sit and talk. A fun end to a phenomenal day.
Such a pretty place huh? All the kids were washing off sand box (aka red clay) filth before dinner.
Alone doesn't feel so alone with these ladies here with me! PS- check out that burger! It had cheese AND bacon.
I had posted on Facebook that it was official because I knew I wouldn't have enough time to sit down and write all this out that day. The amount of people that showed excitement for us was so overwhelming to me! People I haven't talked to in years- that I didn't even know they followed what we were doing in our family. It was sweet to be reminded of them, and to see such support. I have tried to keep an account of this journey on this blog as best as I could so that I would have a good record of all that God has done. I hope that some of you have been able to keep up with it and praise God with us for His faithfulness. God's faithfulness screams out OVER AND OVER AND OVER again at every turn of this story! The PERFECT journey He has taken my heart on was tailor made for me and I couldn't be more thankful. Not everything has been easy, or happy, but it has been perfect in His plan.
Thank you for your prayers. Please keep them up. We will still be here a while as all the paperwork/passport etc gets in line for Jonathan to be able to leave Uganda with us. It seems like a big hurry up and wait game which is tiring and hard. Especially with three children alone here. I have a passport interview on Monday at 8 AM (which means I have to leave much earlier than I normally get moving) and I will leave my other two behind to play again. Not sure exactly what happens at this step, but I know it's a good thing we have it so soon. :) I took Andrew and Jonathan for their rechecks today at the wonderful doctor that is taking care of them. Andrew got the ok and Jonathan got an iv of antibiotics. His cough is getting worse and moving towards a bronchitis type thing so they are doing iv antibiotics over the next 3 days. This means we have to go back to the office at the same time for the next 2 days. Thankfully it is at a good time for our schedule and the traffic schedule. 2 days isn't that long, and I'm so thankful it wasn't something that required staying in the hospital. I'm not really sure how I would swing that with Matthew and Andrew too! God provided the other clinic that the doctor works at that is small, quiet, clean, and fast, so we don't have to do the hospital scene anymore. PRAISE! On Monday at 8 AM I am supposed to be at my passport interview, then at 2 I am supposed to have Jonathan at the doctor. That sounds like a big range of time, but not in Africa. I also am moving apartments that day. It is something I have known about, but seems to fall on a "bad" day. I know it will get done and be fine, but please pray for stamina, grace with Matthew especially (his sass is pushing my limits the past few days), and no traffic, fast appointments, and anything else you think we will need! Pray that this antibiotic will take care of Jonathan's problem. He was on one at home first and it didn't do anything, so I really would LOVE to have 3 healthy boys and no more doctor visits. :) My sweet friend Hellen came by for about 3 minutes today and brought us fruit! YUMMY! She has been so sweet and taken such good care of us even in the hectic schedule she keeps at her job. God is good to me. She says I look like I've lost weight- I told her thank you- she told me that wasn't a good thing. Crackers, grilled cheese, and apples must not be a good diet. Haha.
I'm going to take some nyquil for my cold and hopefully get lots of sleep before the boys get up! There is some birthday party at the restaurant tonight so we will see if I can actually sleep. When I move apartments I won't be next to the restaurant and parking lot anymore. I will be in the farthest corner and am excited for hopefully a little more quiet! Goodnight sweet friends.