August 16, 2010
Dear Group, My name is Amy and I am adopting a little girl from Lesotho who I will be picking up in one month. The road has been long and winding... In 2007 I completed all my paperwork and it was submitted to Ethiopia through AFAA. Cheryl closed the AFAA/Ethiopian program. She then suggested I switch to Uganda. I was unsure because I didn't know anything about Uganda or its people. In February 2009, I decided to travel there to meet three girls of whom I had received referrals and to see the country, see how I liked it and see how I felt with the people. Cheryl helped with some of my arrangements. I was supposed to stay at the AFAA foster home and was going to paint the alphabet and numbers on the floor of the foster home for the children and things of that nature. Cheryl had arranged for Joseph to pick me up at the airport and he did. He was pleasant and we hit it off right away. His wife Harriet and his daughter had been at a wedding and we immediately went to pick them up somewhere on the side of the road where they were waiting for him dressed in magnificently detailed and colorful clothes. Joseph told me I could not stay at the foster home as Cheryl told me I could because the "caretakers of the children" would be uncomfortable having a foreigner stay there. Well, I don't know their culture so what could I say? He, along with Harriet and his daughter, took me to an acceptable place where I paid to stay and spent the week. Each day, Joseph picked me up and we went various places together. We always had interesting things to talk about and I felt we had a connection and I believed it was mutual. With Joseph, I met with all three girls of whom I had been sent pictures of by AFAA; who Joseph had referred to Cheryl, as referrals. One of the girls was a 4 year old whose mother worked at the rock quarry. The description I received of the mother was that she was ill. (I believe the descriptions that Cheryl received where given to her by Joseph) I met the mother at a meeting of the rock quarry woman and I can only tell you I’d be happy to be as robust as her! The story I got when I was there was that her husband, a Muslim, had died, and as she had always had difficulties with his family, a matter of different religious views, they were not giving her any help for herself or her children since her husband died. She was poor, yes, but she was healthy and had beautiful, happy children. I met the two other girls at Pastor Gerald's school. The one girl who I was most interested in turned out to be more then twice the age I was given through the information that I received from Cheryl, through Joseph. The other girl was almost twice the age as I was given through the information, again from Cheryl, through Joseph. The Pastor, Joseph and I went to the house of the first little girl. We met her aunt and one of her brothers. Of course I was at a disadvantage because I do not speak Lugandan and therefore could not understand the conversation. However, the girl was not without siblings as I was told by AFAA (see above note). She in fact has two brothers - one older and one younger. She was an orphan and she was definitely in need of help. I am no doctor but she needed psychological help. I think she was withdrawn because of shock. She had two large burns on her stomach which given to her by a "witch doctor". She was “treated” for stomach trouble by having a hot metal iron placed on her stomach where she had pain. She was then given herbs to heal her condition. I saw the burn marks on her stomach and I think that experience alone would be enough to send someone into shock… After our visit with the first girl, Joseph, the Pastor and I went to see the other girl. This girl's uncle was a bad man. I can only tell you I got a very bad feeling from him and I trust my gut. The girl was treated like a slave in her own "home". Her parents had died and her brother was sent to live with a relative in the country and she was sent to live with this uncle in the city of Kampala. The uncle wanted money for her. Joseph told me he was asking for it while I was there. Joseph said it was crazy and said he explained to him that isn't how it worked. I felt very bad for this little girl. It turned out that she was severely dehydrated and Cheryl sent her to the hospital where she received IV treatment for dehydration as well as treatment for malaria before she entered the AFAA foster home. Although I had a feeling for her, I wanted to adopt a younger child. I was just as surprised as everyone when "all hell broke loose" last year with the Uganda program. I was not affected the way others were affected. I had not accepted a referral from Uganda nor was I paying foster fees. However, I did fly there to meet three children who turned out to be different from their profiles (see above note) I, along with Joseph, took all the children, about 12, from the AFAA foster home on a day trip to the source of the Nile and some nearby waterfalls. We all had a wonderful time. Lots of food, new sites and experiences - it was beautiful. I was very happy to be able to do this for and with the children. Grace, one of the caretakers at the AFAA foster home accompanied us. I visited Joseph’s home, ate dinner at his kitchen table with all the orphans that were living there. I went with him several days to both pick up his own son at school as well as his wife Harriet at her job. We had dinner together at a lovely place one evening, my way of saying thanks for all his time. All, I can say now is, I will never know exactly what happened over there. I don't know Joseph well, and despite the fact that I had a good feeling for him and spent time with him - who knows? I can tell you I don't think anyone of us is all good or all bad! After this, Cheryl suggested I move to Lesotho and said she really thought I could get a referral there. I switched to Lesotho, I did get a referral and I am leaving within a month to pick up my daughter. I can also tell you that I run a non profit in the Peruvian Amazon and it is very difficult to work in these types of places (poor, developing countries) It is difficult to find responsible people; to find people that really get what you are doing and will follow your instructions; to find people who will not take advantage of the situation... I am not here to lay blame, but just to say, if your goal is to adopt a child, Lesotho has many orphans and it seems that the government is serious and diligent at making sure that the children up for adoption are truly orphans. Feel free to contact me if you wish. And I'm sorry to all the people who have suffered because what's happened in Uganda. Sincerely, Amy
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I am soon to be a mom and there is soon to be one less orphan in the world.
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MY ROLE:Client Served & I am becoming a mom because of Cheryl and her work.