Friday, May 17, 2013

The Legal Process of Getting Asher and Meeting His Bio Family

Asher's Court date was on Thursday, March 14th. (This was to obtain Legal Guardianship of him there in Uganda, then we finalize the adoption here in the States.) We showed up around 8 that morning but were not called until about 11. While we waited in the crowded waiting area, we passed the time with snacks, taking walks, and looking out the windows of the court house (which are open & have no screens, by the way - yikes!). This was rather difficult for Asher, being a toddler - and poor Steve was burning up in his suit.

Asher's father died when his mother was 3 months pregnant with him and his sweet mother was trying to raise him and his 4 other siblings, but it was just too much for her. She had no income and was not able to provide for him adequately. He was taken to the babies home in October 2012, then we were matched with him in November. It was so bittersweet meeting her at Court. She's such a beautiful young woman but I could also see so much pain in her eyes. I broke down crying when I first saw her because I felt so bad taking Asher away from her. She speaks very little English so she asked the director of the babies home why I was upset. The director told her and she just smiled a big smile and said (in her language), "Oh, please tell her not to cry! This is what I want. This makes my heart so very happy. I am not able to provide for Muhamad but now he has a family that can. And now we are sisters! I love her so much!" Sigh. More tears ;-)

So our actual court proceeding could have gone better but you just never know what to expect there. Most everything went well but the judge wanted to know how the father died so we had to hire a Private Investigator to travel 9 hours away to find out how he died. The PI came back and reported to the judge that he committed suicide. This did not satisfy the judge. Now he wanted to know WHY he committed suicide. So the PI had to travel even further to an island off the coast of Uganda to ask his workmates (fisherman) why he took his own life. It's a very sad story and I don't mean to make light of it, but this took an entire month of waiting which was very frustrating for our family.

We finally received our verbal ruling on Monday, April 15th. You first get your verbal ruling, then you wait some more for your guardianship court order, then your written ruling, which all about a week later. During this period of waiting, Asher's bio mother had to come back to sign some paperwork in order for us to receive our written ruling. She brought her youngest daughter with her who is about 4 years old. Again - we were so happy to meet her but the guilt feelings came back again. But Asher's bio mother was all smiles and kept telling me how happy she was that he was in our family. Sigh. More tears.

I'm pictured here with Asher, his mother, and sister, and our UG attorney

They ended up needing a place to stay that night since they travelled 9 hours and our guest house just happened to have a room available so they stayed there. We couldn't really communicate but she held my hand often and her smile never left her face. She loved watching Asher playing with our girls and we had a nice time eating together and sitting outside watching the children play. She was so precious and would often call us during our stay in Uganda. She would say in broken English, "Christy, my sister! I love you so much!" I do have 4 sisters here in the States but now I can say I have one in Uganda, too ;-)

Once we received our verbal ruling, we were able to begin the passport process which typically takes anywhere from 2-5 weeks. Thankfully, our attorney's assistant was able to help us with that and we were able to get it in about 5 days. The immigration office is not a fun place to go and hang out. In fact, we've been warned by several Ugandans to not go unless you have to. Muzungos (white people) just stand out there and for some reason most of the workers there do not like international adoption so they are very rude to adopting families. They often times "loose files" or they get placed on the bottom of a stack - somehow never moving to the top. I've heard several adoptive parents liken it to a "concentration camp" because there are so many people there compacted tightly together and you're constantly being yelled at to "move!" And there's no such thing as standing in a line and taking turns. We have one friend that went to check on her children's passports and they yelled at her because she had her children with her. They told her to not bring her kids there ever again. But then Steve went to check on our passport one day and they yelled at him because they wanted to see the child we were adopting. It's such a contradiction and rules seem to change daily - even by the minute.

Asher found plenty of rocks to preoccupy his time.

So many people waiting

Waiting for our name to be called

We were so very thankful to receive our passport when it finally came. I was at the Immigration Office with Steve & Asher. They yelled at us and gave us a hard time then put Asher's passport book at the bottom of a stack of passports when we were supposed to be next. Our patience was wearing thin but you can't say anything because they might "accidentally" loose your passport or file. So you grin and bare it. As soon as we got Asher's passport, Steve caught a boda boda (motorcycle ride) to the US Embassy to show them we did receive it then to request an exit interview. This was on Friday, April 19th and the Embassy closed at 11 that morning so he had to hurry fast! He made it just in time then our interview was scheduled for the following Monday at 3. Typically it takes 2 business days to receive the visa (if the interview went well), but our flight home was leaving the following evening at midnight. Thankfully our interview went well & they expedited the visa so we would not have to change our flight again. (We were originally scheduled to leave for home on Thursday, April 18th.)

So we were gone for 8 weeks - we arrived 2 weeks before court to visit Calo Me Lare in Lira and to have bonding time with Asher before court. Then the next 6 of weeks were part of the Legal Guardianship process. What an ordeal but so worth it!

1 comment:

  1. This is such an interesting "story"....thanks for taking the time to write it down and share it with us!