Updated timeline, beginning with our first trip to Uganda in July 2016.
July 9th - Arrived at our hut around 12:00 am.
July 9th - Met Rose in the afternoon at African Village
July 10th - Learned that our court date was cancelled due to an emergency leave of absence by our judge (this occured while we were in transit to Uganda, so we could not just stay home and wait for a new court date).
July 11-15th - Visited with Rose and volunteered at the baby home.
July 18th - Rose moved into our hut with us.
July 19th - Received a new court date for July 28th.
July 24th - Rose returned to the baby home because of our appointment with our attorney the following day.
July 25th - We met with our attorney regarding our case and what to expect at court.
July 27th - Rose moved back in with us.
July 28th - Woke up early to prepare for court; electricity went out at the courthouse and the judge had a meeting, so he did not see us. Our attorney was confident that he would see us the next day.
July 29th - Same as yesterday; waited at the courthouse all day with Rose in tow. Our attorney met with the judge, and then he said he was too tired to see us, so he went home. At this point, I was advised to go home to our boys.
August 1st - Said goodbye to Rose and Darin and began my journey back to the United States. The judge requested another document from our attorney and then left town for the remainder of the week.
August 9th - Our judge put our court date "on notice" because he wants to meet with the principle (or head) judge prior to meeting with us.
August 11th - Contacted our agency and was informed that our judge is actually refusing to see our case because of confusion of processing cases under the old law (we were grandfathered in, so there is not supposed to be any problem with our case).
September 8, 2016 - New court date scheduled for September 29th
September 29, 2016 - Court date!
October 11, 2016 - Verbal ruling date...did not happen
October 28, 2016 - Verbal ruling in our favor!
December 5, 2016 - Received Rose's birth certificate
December 14, 2016 - Expedited the written ruling...for an additional fee (crazy stuff)
December 16, 2016 - Received the written ruling!!!
January 10, 2017 - Received Rose's passport and filed for the I-600 appointment with the Embassy
January 11, 2017 - Filing appointment scheduled for 2/13/2017, which our attorney will attend
February 2, 2017 - US Embassy moved filing appointment up to February 9
February 9, 2017 - I-600 filing appointment
March 10, 2017 - I-600 approved!!!
March 13, 2017 - Submitted DS260
March 16, 2017 - Embassy requested us to be present on the 20th for an interview - declined due to short notice
March 17, 2017 - Embassy requested us to be present on the 22nd for an interview - accepted (and then immediately ran to the main office at school to tell them that it was my last day)
March 19, 2017 - After a whirlwind two days, we departed for Uganda
March 20, 2017 - Arrived in Uganda at 11 pm
March 21, 2017 - Arrived at our hut in African Village in the wee hours of the morning, slept, ate, and then went to the baby home for Miss Rose!
March 22, 2017 - Embassy interview - approved!
March 24, 2017 - Back to the Embassy to retrieve Rose's visa
March 29, 2017 - Arrived back in the states with Rose!
Uganda does not authorize adoptions, but does grant guardianship. Legally, we have not yet adopted Rose and have to follow Ohio law in order to finalize her adoption in the US.
Rose's first few days have been full of doctor appointments, so we are hoping for some normalcy soon. She is sleeping well (12-14 hours each night, with a two hour nap during the day). Now that she's feeling better, she is walking around the house and exploring. She is also eating better and LOVES drinking warm milk. Because she is underweight, we have to keep her on a high-calorie diet. She loves going outside, playing with her toys, and toddling over to give hugs. She does not like baths (read: screams bloody murder the entire time she is in the tub). Rose enjoyed meeting our small group, many church staff members, and all of her grandparents. We hope that she can meet the rest of her family and my colleagues and students very soon!
One hot day, the first of August, I kissed my precious daughter good-bye and watched Ruth carry her away to a taxi. I remained strong, partly because I had to (I would be traveling for over 24 hours by myself and needed to be alert), and partly because I knew that we would be reunited come September or October.
Fast forward to December. She's still not home.
I miss Rose with every ounce of my being. Sometimes, as if out of nowhere, I begin to cry. Even as I write this, tears stream down my face.
But mostly, I hide behind my mask. It's safer there. Because if I'm honest, I am afraid to let many people in. So few understand the heartache and many ups and downs of adoption and are seemingly unable to relate. Some still question why we have chosen this path. And others, I fear, may become weary of hearing about this tumultuous journey to our daughter.
So I hide.
But today, today I am removing my mask for a moment...
Decorating for Christmas was bittersweet. Darin and I loved watching the boys decorate the tree, but missing Rose prevented us from truly enjoying the moment. We embraced and cried quietly as our boys worked around us.
Jonathan is struggling; he longs for his sister to be home. Sometimes he has a far away look in his eyes, and we know he's thinking of her. Sometimes he cries (but don't tell him I told you so). He and Owen pray for her daily and don't understand why she's not home yet. And really, I don't either.
The monthly progress report today said that Rose is standing and trying to take steps. I never even saw her crawl.
Worse still, she had pneumonia and had an IV for five days. And I wasn't there to hold her and comfort her.
And then I read that her attachment to her nanny continues to grow, and that they have a beautiful bond. I witnessed this connection between them, and the excitement on both of their faces when they saw each other. And I love it because I know how well Rose is loved and cared for at the baby home. But it breaks my heart to know that soon I will take her away from all that she knows and from the amazing woman who has been a mom to her since she was two weeks old. I know that Rose's leaving will devastate her nanny. And that causes an overwhelming amount of grief to well up in my soul.
I know that if I had the opportunity, I would choose adoption all over again. Because no matter how difficult the journey, adoption is beautiful. Messy, but beautiful.
And so tonight, I weep. For Rose. For her nanny. For our family. And for the brokenness of the world.
But I will once again put on my mask and hope for an ounce of normalcy as we pray and wait for Elizabeth Rose to be home. For good.