Yes, I (still) love Uganda.

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As many of you have seen or heard, our car has an I love Uganda bumper sticker on it.  There is also still a picture of Uganda in Jacob’s room.  But as you all know by now, there is not a Ugandan child in our home.  

When we first stepped away from the Uganda program, I wasn’t at all sure that I was doing the right thing.  I even pulled out of the Uganda adoption support groups because it was painful for me to see other peoples’ Ugandan adoptions moving forward.  After a while, it became very clear that we made the right decision; but that has not made the decision any easier.

Every day there is a reminder that Uganda is still there. My bumper sticker. The map on our wall. My news feed on Facebook, filled with updates from Light Gives Heat, Amazima, and Sole Hope.  Wonderful organizations, all reminding me that there are still children in Uganda. That there is still a great need in Uganda.

These reminders have been hard.  It’s hard to see pictures of Ugandan children now, whereas before all I wanted to do was stare at them.  It’s hard to read about the suffering in Uganda now, even though I should still want to be part of the solution.   In my mind, when we ended our Ugandan adoption journey, I said goodbye to Uganda.  It’s not something I chose to do, it just sort of happened. It was almost as if I turned inward in an effort to protect myself from hurt.

I grieve for that Ugandan child who will never find his way into our home.  I grieve for all the plans I had; plans to keep his culture alive, plans to cook Ugandan food on Thanksgiving, plans to continue learning Luganda.  We were so excited.  We were so not expecting it to all fall apart.

I have only recently realized how much our own hurt and disappointment has led to inaction. Disillusionment has led to stagnancy.  And it doesn’t take long before stagnancy turns into indifference.  I cannot let that happen.

I don’t know why I felt drawn to Uganda. I don’t know why God didn’t want us to adopt from there in the end.  Yet when I see all these organizations reminding me of the need there, it’s a gentle reminder that there are other ways to help Uganda.  We were never adopting a child in order to “save them” from Uganda and their circumstances.  We were adopting a child because we’d always wanted to adopt a child.  At the time, Uganda seemed to have the greatest need and a fairly easy road.  Although the road turned out to be bumpy and impassable, I was crazy to act like Uganda only existed  in order to help me adopt.

I look at how different I am since deciding to adopt from Uganda. How it’s easier for me to focus outward rather than inward. Since deciding to adopt from Africa, I can speak a little Luganda.  I can point out Uganda on the map, and then show you the capital.  I am aware of what has happened in Northern Uganda, well-read on Joseph Kony, and I know the names Bob Goff and Katie Davis.  If we hadn’t decided to adopt from Africa, I’m not sure I would have sponsored our kids in Ethiopia.  I know I would have never known about Project Hopeful or A Heart for Korah.  I wouldn’t have thought twice about whether something was “fair trade.”  I wouldn’t have seen things differently, both domestically and abroad.  My eyes wouldn’t have been opened enough to see the obvious injustice right here at home regarding race and poverty. I would have never tried posho.  I wouldn’t have put that bumper sticker on my car, which has led me to meet many Africans right here in my own community.

When we decided to pursue adoption through the foster care system here in America, in a way I think I said goodbye to Uganda.  Funny how I decided to say goodbye when God had JUST introduced us.  

According to our car, I still claim to love Uganda.

Nothing irritates me more than people who claim to love something but do nothing about it.  

So we’re making an effort to move past our own hurt and say hello again, Uganda.  I might not raise one of your children, but I know introductions always happen for a reason.

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