When I see my dad’s name pop up on my phone as a missed call, I stop what I’m doing and call back. It is so rare to receive a call from him that I fear the worse. So while Jordan drove all of us around for our errands I returned his call. He just wanted to tell me a story about how he related to a group of little league baseball players from Uganda.
This group of players was so good they made it to the playoffs, and while my dad was enjoying their enthusiasm and happy energy he watched them learn they were disqualified because none of them had birth certificates. It upset him so much to see their disappointment, so he called me to learn more.
“Is this true, do kids there not even have birth certificates?”
I explained that in Uganda there’s no official record of who is who, where they live or even if you exist. When they say, ”I’ve missed you”, it literally translates as “you’ve gone missing”, which is exactly what a person can do in Uganda. I actually have a suspicion that the woman who gave birth to my Kira was probably a young girl who got herself pregnant, left her village and came to the city to have the baby. She went missing. And after the horrible selfish way she abandoned her newborn, she went on home to her village as if nothing happened. If she had stayed with her family she would have been beaten and chased away for getting pregnant. And a person can go to jail for abandoning a baby so there are no safe ways to drop off an unwanted child. Putting a child up for adoption is unheard of there. So she did what she did. And in the big picture it was to fulfill God’s plan for Kira’s life, because she was meant to be in our family. And when God makes a plan for a little unwanted baby on the big continent of Africa to be the daughter of an old mama in America, well, nothing and no one can stop it. Whoa, it makes me shudder to see how great our God is when I look at Kira’s story. She is going to have a great testimony some day. I can’t wait to watch her story unfold, it is my great honor to walk alongside her.
So, anyway, to get a birth certificate it requires going through the government process and making payments that are a financial stretch for so many. And since it’s not required, why bother?
In our society we can’t go borrow a book from the library without proving who we are and where we live. Registering the boys for school required a fishing expedition into all of our vital files and carrying a stack of documents proving they are who I say they are and that we live where I say we live.
For our group in the orphanage, we don’t think they have birth certificates. Elitia is determined to go to each of the children’s villages where they are from and see if we can find any relatives. Then she will apply to get birth certificates for each of the children. And yes, their birthday will have to be estimated. And that counts as good enough. It could be that after this process is satisfied, those who are truly orphaned and not just abandoned will be eligible for adoption. I tend to feel that God will have to move in a big way to make adoption a part of the story for the children in our care there, and of course all of us will yield when and if that happens.
I’d like to mention, this week the children at the orphanage are on holiday from school, and so happy about it. Phiona is spending all of her time with them. She’s enjoyed playing games and doing crafts with them. She uses English, forcing them to practice it. It will be so wonderful when I can have good conversations with each of them without a translator. It is such a good feeling for me when she reports how much she loves her job working for these children. I thank God for giving us the ability to pay her salary, and her eagerness to devote so much of herself to them. I feel like being able to place Phiona there to care for them is as close as it comes to being there myself. They need mothering. Phiona is fantastic because she has all the Ugandan culture ingrained in her, and yet, a modern educated mind that is creative and open to change. She is a gift to these children and I know they must love her so much.
Well, when I think about my dad having a connection with these little children in Uganda who wanted so badly to play ball in the little league world series, and their circumstances opened his mind to learn more about their culture to the point where he called me, well that’s a happy change. Kira will never know how much her presence here has blessed so many. She’s even caused me and my dad to grow closer. I love that.