Let me begin by saying that God is good. It has been an incredible couple of days in Uganda and at home and in big and small ways, God has shown Himself strong. The hardest part of the adoption process, other than your family not being together, is the unknown. Even though we received the judge’s ruling almost one month ago that Paul and Matthew belonged to us, until you are on a plane with them coming home, you live with this fear in the back of your mind that a brick is going to fall and everything is going to come crashing down. I saw this fear in Paul and Matthew, even though it was somewhat present in Susan and me as well. All that fear was relieved on Tuesday afternoon when I got an email from Freda at the U.S. Embassy that simply said, “Mr. Norris, I think we shall be able to give you the visas tomorrow at 12 p.m. Prayer is powerful. Blessings, Freda.” The fear melted away from me into joy and excitement. When I told Paul and Matthew we were going home, they shouted and danced and the bounce in their step that I’d not seen much over the previous week immediately returned. I think Paul and Matthew have thought all along that something was going to happen and they were going to have to go back to the homes they had always known. Homes that I had an idea of what they might be like, but homes that I had never seen until Wednesday morning. If you could have seen the sights I saw, walked the places I walked, smelled the smells I smelt, knowing that these were the places these boys have somehow miraculously managed to grow up healthy, you would have been as astounded as I was. As I made my way through the scarred, dirt roads of the slums of Kabalagala to Matthew’s grandmother’s house, I was praying for this final goodbye that was about to take place. Matthew went in to see his grandmother first and then invited me inside the 8×8 (I’m being generous) concrete home where Matthew and his grandmother lived. She was sitting in the floor right inside the house and there were tears in her blind eyes. She held out her hands sensing that I was in front of her and she began to speak to me in Lugandan. I asked Matthew what she was saying and he said she was telling me to take good care of him. I assured her that I would and I thanked God for a grandmother who loved this child since he lost his parents as a baby but was simply unable to provide for his basic needs. As we walked away I asked Matthew where he slept. He told me he had always slept on the floor in the corner. I put my arm around him and told him he would never have to sleep on the floor again.
From there, we went to see Paul’s grandmother. I had met her at court and also at the U.S. Embassy last week during our visa interviews. Paul’s home was very similar to Matthew’s except slightly smaller. Paul’s grandmother was not nearly as emotional as Matthew’s had been. She was very excited that he was getting to leave with me and she shook my hand and told me “Safe journeys.” As we walked away I asked Paul if there was anyone else he wanted to tell goodbye. He said, “I have no one else dad.” With that, I put my arms around Paul and Matthew and told them that I wasn’t sure what all God has in store for them in their lives, but he must really have a very special plan for them and their mom and I couldn’t wait to see it come to pass. They looked up at me and smiled and we walked out of the slums and the life they had always known for the last time.
On Wednesday night, we made our way to the Entebbe Airport. We arrived three hours early because I had heard getting through the airport and immigration with adopted Ugandan children can be lengthy. I prayed a prayer asking God to help us get through without incident. As we arrived at immigration, I handed them our three passports, a copy of the guardianship order and a copy of the judge’s written ruling. She glanced at the papers, opened our passports, took the boy’s pictures, stamped our passports and we were done quicker than we’d made it through four weeks ago with Timothy, Abby, and John Mark! Thank you Jesus! Now, we sit here on Thursday morning in the airport in Amsterdam. The flight was good other than some turbulence. The boys were excited as we took off and within two hours, they were both sound asleep. As we started to land (literally about to touch the ground) in Amsterdam, Paul, who was seated next to me was suddenly out of his seatbelt and crawling over me. I shouted, “Paul, what are you doing? Get back in your seatbelt!” One look into his face and I knew what he was doing. He was about to throw up and with his head between his legs, he through up in the seat pocket in front of him. For those of you who know me, there are two things that you can do that I will help you with: crying and puking. If you cry, I will cry. If you puke, I will puke. Miraculously, I held it together and offered him a vomit bag about twenty seconds too late! I told him it was going to be alright and we both smiled and waited for the plane to come to a stop where he could go wash his face. I immediately made a mental note to have the vomit bags handy on this next flight. We are five hours in to an eight and a half hour layover here in Holland. In three hours we will fly to Detroit and then it is home to Birmingham. Our flight is scheduled to arrive in Birmingham tonight at 9:27 p.m. and that can’t get here soon enough.
I met Paul and Matthew in May. It is January 12th and we are a few long hours away from being home in Hoover. We’ve prayed a lot, traveled a lot, planned a lot, and now here we are…and the journey is about to begin. I may need a vomit bag. Just kidding.