After saying “never ever” over and over, we finally made the decision to jump in with both feet and adopt from Uganda. This was a pretty big deal to us. We had completely changed course from adopting an infant to adopting a little girl that was living half a world away. But God made it so clear to us that this is the route he wanted us to take to start our family. So we proceeded with finding a reputable agency who was working in Uganda. Which proved to be a huge hurdle. There were a bunch of sketchy agencies (read: willing to cut corners, falsify documents, or use any number of unethical means to expedite a case) out there, but none of the agencies we felt comfortable working with were running their Uganda programs any longer. We eventually found two agencies with Uganda programs that checked out. They were able to answer our questions and we had recommendations from people who had used them and were satisfied. One agency still seemed hesitant about working in Uganda, so we applied to the Uganda program at the other. Since the agency we chose was out of state (most of the agencies were, actually), we had to choose an in-state home study agency. We basically Googled home study agencies in North Carolina, emailed them, and from the ones that got back to us quickly we chose the cheapest. Ha! We ended up really loving our home study agency and would recommend them to anyone. They were on the ball, knew who I was and what our story was every time we called, and worked so efficiently with our placing agency (the one with the Uganda program).
Even though “home study” sounds like someone is going to come to inspect every inch of your home, it actually just involves a ton of paperwork. Like more than you’ll ever do in your life….until you get to the dossier portion of your adoption, that is. We each needed medical exams, fingerprints, background checks for any state we’d lived in for the last 15 years, official birth certificates, and a bunch of financial statements. Whew! It probably took us longer than average to complete our home study–about 4-5 months since a lot of it entailed Corey taking off work to get this stuff done. Once that was all completed, we were assigned a social worker that would do the interview portion of the home study. And again, this sounds like someone who is going to go over your home with a fine tooth comb, when in fact he/she just wants to get to know you and your spouse, your history, what your life is like, and why you want to adopt. We really liked our home study social worker. She was also an adoptive mom and had a lot of great advice and insight. The big takeaway for me from this portion of our process was that agency conducting the home study really was on our side. They weren’t looking for little things about us or our home to pick apart, they wanted to help us get to our daughter as much as we wanted to get to her.
After we completed the home study, everything got sent from our agency in NC to our placing agency in Texas. And this is where a lot of our problems began. The agency was just so slow to process everything and they did some crazy things–like only sent stuff to Uganda once a month. So if your paperwork arrived the day after they sent stuff it all had to wait until the next month. And if you’ve ever been in the waiting stage of adoption, you know exactly how much each day means. So the fact that there was paperwork just sitting in the office waiting 29 days to be sent drove me absolutely insane.
It was also around this time that we started seeing in the Ugandan adoption groups on Facebook that there was a bill in UG Parliament that would, in effect, shut down international adoptions from Uganda. At this point, we kind of panicked. Mostly because we had submitted all this paperwork that seemed to just be sitting in an office in Texas waiting to be sent to Uganda. I talked (and probably really hassled) our dossier caseworker about all of this and to my frustration, no one at the agency had any idea about the bill or the rumors. She agreed that time was of the essence, but assured me that these rumors had been around for years without. So we had nothing to do but wait and just hope and pray that this bill wouldn’t get passed before we got a court date. I felt completely helpless. In fact, the more time that passed without hearing anything, the more I lost hope. I remember working a night shift one night, feeling so sad and angry and thinking “this feels like the lowest I can get. I don’t know if we’ll ever actually get to meet our daughter.” And then lo and behold the next day when I was sleeping off my shift from the night before, I got a call from our agency. We had a court date! It was six weeks out, which was honestly longer than we were hoping for. We were told throughout the waiting by our agency as well as other parents who had been through the process that our attorney was able to get court dates pretty quickly, and at that point we were just so ready to get there and get everything underway that we were hoping we’d be granted a court date closer to when paperwork was filed. But, little did we know that we would need every single spare day of that six weeks because something big was on the horizon and God needed that time to prepare our minds, hearts, and our home for not one child–but two.
For previous parts of our adoption story, click on the links below: