Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our Adoption Journey in Pictures

We made this video for Asher before we met him. (Excuse the cheesiness)...

And here's our story. Once upon a time...

Steve & I began volunteering for Project Hope Worldwide - thus beginning our passion for Uganda and caring for orphans. PHW is an Owasso-based non-profit organization that was birthed from 3 people at our church. PHW now has an orphanage, school, medical clinic, and church in Lira, UG. They are also expanding to other countries and have sponsorship programs in both Uganda and Juarez, Mexico.

Uganda is in Africa

Located on the equator

My first trip to UG - a life-changing experience!
Dec. 2010

2 1/2 million orphans in UG. My heart was broken and I knew we had to do something more.

Steve's first trip to UG
July 2011

I felt "the call" to adopt. I NEVER would have imagined our family would adopt. It was a great thing that other people did but it just wasn't part of "our" plan. But then in December 2011, I truly felt like it was what God wanted us to do. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'd dream about it at night. I'd turn on the radio and there was a song about orphans playing. I tuned in to listen to a podcast and it was about adopting. And I kept hearing a soft, still voice within my spirit that it was our time. I have to admit, I fought it at first. Adoption is scary and messy and there's so many unknowns. But it turned out to be a huge faith building event in our lives and we're so thankful God took us down that journey.
Dec. 2011

After much prayer and research, we said "Yes!" This is the night we told the girls ;-)
March 13, 2012

My 2nd trip to UG - again, my heart ached for these orphaned children. Everyone deserves to be in a forever family.
June 2012
After visiting Arise and Shine (AASU) babies home in Jinja, UG, I saw their great need for funds to provide for the home so I committed to selling bags and beads that were made in Uganda. I now sell them on facebook, out of our home, and at Vintique Charm in Owasso, OK and send 100% of the profits to AASU.

We knew we wanted to travel to UG to adopt as a family. This was a happy day when the girls received their passports.
July 17, 2012

Received our first referral, a 2 year old boy named Reagan
Sept. 5, 2012

Lost our referral to an uncle that came out of nowhere and said he would take care of Reagan
Oct. 4, 2012

Received a new referral for 2 year old Muhamad Twinomugisha
Nov. 4, 2012

We said "YES!!!"
Nov. 9, 2012

SOOOO much paperwork to fill out, copy, & notarize
Nov. 9, 2012

Our girls are part of a ministry called Project 1:27 - Hope 4 Uganda. They make crafts and sell them at craft shows & all of their money goes towards supporting orphans in UG. They won a chili competition in Oct. 2012 and sent most of their funds to AASU to purchase 9 cribs for the home. This pic was sent to them the day the cribs arrived. Ironic, as one of them belonged to their future little brother ;-)
Nov. 19, 2012

Time for immunizations for international travel!
Jan. 16, 2013

They were very brave ;-)

Created for Care Conference
Bedford, GA
(I HIGHLY recommend this conference for any ladies considering adopting. We learned so much helpful info & it was great connecting with other adoptive moms. This is a pic of me with 4 other ladies that adopted from the same babies home in UG. We are from 4 different states so it was so great to be together at the same time!)
Feb. 16, 2013

Adoption t-shirts - One of our fundraisers
Feb. 2013

Other fundraisers included:
Give1Save1: Africa
Zumba Benefit at Fit For Her
Coins in bottles challenge
Breakfast fundraiser at Baja Jacks
On-line facebook garage sale
Adopt Together

Time to start purchasing necessary items for the trip - lots of diapers, bug repellent, snacks, and donations for the babies home
Feb. 21, 2013

So many choices for black skin and hair products! I had a lot of educating to do! 

And we're off - with 9 suitcases & 8 carry-on bags. We're not the best at traveling lightly ;-)
Feb. 27, 2013

Asher's Gotcha Day! Such a surreal experience. He was so tiny & looked so sad. We don't remember him smiling the entire time we were with him, yet he didn't want us to put him down. He even started calling me "Mama Way" which means "My Mommy" within a short period of time after meeting him. The next day we went back to see him & the director thought it was best that he stay with us because he missed us and didn't want anyone at the home to hold him or care for him. So he stayed with us from that day on - and we did see lots of smiles on that 2nd day & he hasn't stopped since - ironic, since his name means "happy".
March 7, 2013

Alirikos Guest House (a.k.a. Herb & Ellen's) - Our home away from home. Such a great place for adoptive families to stay  - it was a huge blessing!
Kampala, UG

Asher and his buddy, Elijah, comparing bellies ;-)

This is one of our favorite drivers, Deo. Asher even has an African doll he calls Deo today ;-)

Entebbe Zoo
March 12, 2013

Court Date
March 14, 2013

Written Ruling
April 15, 2013

This is Asher's bio mother and uncle. His father committed suicide and his mother was unemployed and poor and could not take care of Asher - nor did any other family members want him. When I first saw her, I broke down because I felt so bad taking Asher away from her. She just smiled real big and held my hand and said, "Please don't cry! This is what I want and it make my heart so happy that he will be with your family." We held hands often and she told me many times, "I love you, my sister!"

On the far right is our wonderful attorney, Rebecca. Also pictured is Asher's bio mother and sister. 

N'Dere Dance Troupe
Dinner and African dancing - an amazing evening!
March 20, 2013

Nile River - with another one of our favorite drivers, Francis
Jinja, UG
March 31, 2013

Arise and Shine Babies Home
Jinja, UG
We brought hundreds of filled eggs from home & the girls hid them on the grounds. The kids had so much fun finding the eggs & eating the sweets!
March 31, 2013

Asher's first time to hunt for eggs at Easter

Asher with his friends Jonah and Bruce. Jonah was just adopted last month. So glad he has a forever family!

The girls and I are pictured here with the director of AASU. She has become our friend and we love her so much. She is an amazing young woman that has done so much good for her country.  She not only runs the babies home, but she has also started a school and has created several income generating projects to help educate and employ men and women in her village. She is a true saint.

LOL - notice Asher standing in front of me wondering why I wasn't holding him ;-) 

I was curious how Asher would do visiting the babies home after being with us for several weeks but he did great. He stayed right by our side at first but ventured out some eventually, making sure we were still there often. When it was time to go, he hopped in our van and waved goodbye to everyone. Sure wish I knew what was going on in his little mind at that time!

Safari at Murchison Falls - an amazing experience!
April 5, 2013

No seat belts or car seats, kids! Hang on!

Boat ride on the Nile

Hike to the top of the falls

Other outings...

Watoto Church
Kampala, UG

We loved the craft markets!

Our highlight for the week: Buy one get one free ice cream on Tuesdays! ;-)

Our first boda boda ride!

A bit scary, but fun ;-)

We took lots of walks while waiting

Another one of our favorite drivers, Brian

Received Asher's passport!
April 19, 2013

Received Asher's Visa...
April 23, 2013

That's the last step! Time to go HOME as a family of FIVE!

April 24, 2013

Our new and improved family
Pics by my sis, Anna Lee

Adoption is hard, messy, and scary. There are so many unknowns and it's not for the faint hearted. But it's so totally worth it - you're giving a child a forever family, which all children deserve. And remember, if God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it.

What a difference a year makes...

So many people have told us how "lucky" Asher is to have our family, but we feel just the opposite is true. He's rocked our world (in a good way!) and we are so blessed to have him join us. He amazes us everyday with how much he's growing, talking, and developing relationships. He bonded so well with our family and we attribute that solely to everyone that prayed for us before we even met him. He's all boy. He's a toddler. He's a mess. And we wouldn't have it any other way. Can't imagine life without him! Thank you, Jesus, and all glory to Your name.