home.

Feeling thankful, humbled, taken care of, energized and something slightly past exhausted. Thank you to our community of family and friends who made our homecoming so special. I literally am at a lack for the right words to describe just how much your love, care and support (expressed in so many different ways) means to us during this time. Thank you. I’m excited to share more of our homecoming story with you later, but tonight’s priorities are in getting settled and prepped for the rest of the week. It’s a big day tomorrow- Macy and Owen’s first day of school! These two have been such troopers for these last 7 weeks, making so many sacrifices without complaining, that I’m making their first day back a little extra special this year. The table is decorated and the red plates are out. I can’t wait to have some fun celebrating their first day. #reallifefeelssogood #returntonormal

things i will miss.

I’m super excited to go home. It’s becoming more real that very soon I will get to see the people I love face to face and be able to enjoy the comfort of my home and community. I can’t wait! But, as I mentioned in a previous post, it is a bittersweet thing to leave and there is a weight that comes with these last few days here and all there is to process about our trip so far. Though my excitement outweighs the sadness, tonight I’m reflecting on a few things I will miss most about our life in Uganda. They are (in no particular order):

-Our laundry line. What started out as a major stressor (no laundry for the first 2 weeks of our trip) has turned into some of my sweetest moments here. Hanging laundry out on the line in the early morning sun, hearing the chatter of people walking by on the street below and the roosters crowing nearby. The sight of cows grazing, children playing, and birds and trees dancing in the breeze. Huge white clouds moving slowly by, the orangey-brown of the road and my back patio juxtaposed against the brilliant blue of the sky and the lush green that covers everything else… Laundry has not just been a chore here, it’s been a discipline that has taught me to move slowly and pay attention to the beauty that is often hidden by the ordinary.

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-Walking. To pick up fresh fruits and veggies for dinner. To the local bakery for a treat with the kids. To favorite restaurants, birthday celebrations, wifi hotspots, the pool, or our neighbors home. Traveling by foot has felt good, has slowed us down, and has opened up opportunity for more conversation and a deeper knowledge of one-another. It’s also given us some great stories and memories (ask us about the time we walked home in the dark from Let’s Do Coffee with Batman himself).

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-The international community. My life, and the lives of my children are enriched and enlivened by the stories of those we have met on this journey. People from all over the world, here for all different reasons, bringing their culture, language, food, style, and spirituality with them. They are people of passion and determination. Many of them have chosen to make sacrifices to live in Uganda and to serve the people and the country. I never imagined Kampala to be a place of such international community. The diversity of people was a huge and welcomed surprise.

-Being ever-present with my kids. As a working mom, I don’t often get the opportunity to pass weeks at a time with my children. These weeks, though they have been insanely full and unordinary, have given me the opportunity to connect with my 4 kids in ways I don’t get to at home. Some of the key moments I’ll treasure and miss- “school” time on weekday afternoons with Macy and Owen at the dining room table. Laying in bed with Macy and Owen, talking about their highlights of the day and then telling them stories of the adventures of the Wiglud family (who needs to worry about efficiency at bedtime when there’s no school or work the next day?). Pouring buckets of soapy water all over the back patio and playing, I mean, “mopping” it all up. Holding little hands while walking (slowly) to whatever destination we are headed towards and talking about whatever musings currently occupy those young (and very active) minds. Always being present as the first responder- for every need, big and small (“I can’t find my xxx,” “I need help wiping,” “(Sibling name) won’t share the (item of desire),” “I’m hungry,” “(Loud, high pitched screaming sound)”  “Can I have a treat?” “Will you play with me?” “Can you read me this story?” “(Crying, crying, and more crying)”). Being challenged to pick up soccer games with Macy and Owen (inside AND outside the house), and legitimately having to try not to lose. Slow breakfasts with the whole family around the table. Walks to pick flowers for the dining table.

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These moments and memories are seared deep in my core and are carried with me as I head home. I am hopeful that they will be assimilated into the way I live and how I parent moving forward.

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“And this is the great paradox of Africa: the beauty and the messiness all co-existing together.” -Shelley Homeyer

Maybe that’s why I found it refreshing. It coexists. There’s no concealing of one or the other and one is not diminished by the other’s presence. Both exist in abundance. Where I live we avoid the messy (certainly the appearance of it) and we struggle to embrace both because we are afraid that the messy and painful will take away from the beauty and goodness. I’m learning that the ability to look both square in the eye and live fully-present among them is possible and actually very freeing.

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Celebrated our last night here with this family that has literally held us together for the last 7 weeks. They have helped us get settled, provided meals, driven us on errands, introduced us to friends, tagged along with us on outings (and included us in their own outings), been our photographers, printers, conversation partners, and encouragers.

We have celebrated 6 birthdays together between our families in the last 7 weeks and have seen each other through more transitional times in the lives of our families than is normal in such a short period of time. This family has challenged our idea about what it means to be a neighbor. We could not have made it without them. Thank you Homeyers.

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At Samurai sushi on Ggaba Rd. If you are ever in town, go there. You’ll be glad you did.

the grand finale

When the first 10 minutes of our road trip to the twins’ village included me getting pooped on by a child AND a member of our car throwing up, I wondered if perhaps we had undertaken a little too much adventure. It was our last day in country after-all. Should we stay home and relax? Start packing perhaps? Were we really up for this?

I had known all along that this day was important. From the get go, I had asked our agency if it would be possible to make a trip to the kids’ birthplace, to meet some friends and family, and to try and capture as much of their story on film and in word as possible. I knew there would be a day when, as the kids grew, they would wonder about who they are and where they came from, and I wanted to have good answers. I wanted my kids to know the larger story they tie in to, and I wanted our whole family to experience part of the twins’ story together. So, because we had to wait until after the embassy process was complete, and because we finished that process just 2 days before leaving for “home,” today was our one shot.

The drive out to the village was, of course, beautiful. I still can’t get enough of the Ugandan countryside and all of its beauty. I can stare at it for hours out the window and never lose interest. We made fairly good time and were soon driving down a narrow dirt road to a simple brick home. We pulled up and out of the house bounded the most joyful and genuine welcome I’ve received. I will never forget it. One woman, Nalongo they call her, was jumping up and down waving and clapping her hands, singing and laughing. When I stepped out of the car she embraced me several times, staring deep into my eyes, expressing gratitude and love. Home.

Everyone was glad to see the twins. They all wanted to hold and kiss them, which the kids obviously were not thrilled about. No one could believe how much healthier they looked. It was a true celebration. The love also extended towards Macy and Owen and they were troopers like always- offering hugs, handshakes and photo op’s to everyone who asked (Macy at one point changed her hairstyle because she thought that’s why people were staring at her. She then realized it was her white hair and skin that was attracting the attention, not her ponytail).

We proceeded inside the home for some story-telling time. We heard stories about how the family came to live in that area, how the kids’ mom and dad met, the story of the twins’ birth and the significance of each of their names. It was a sweet time.

After stories were told it was announced that they had made us a meal to share and out from the back of the house came pots of chicken, beef, rice, and matoke. They had even gone out of their way to purchase bottled waters for us all to drink. It was the most extravagant and generous meal that has ever been set before me I’m sure. The sacrifice that went in to getting and making the food was evident and appreciated. It was a gesture of true gratitude.

At the conclusion of lunch, Simon, the children’s father, asked to “bless” the children before they left. What proceeded to follow was probably my highlight of the whole trip so far. Friends and family of the twins crammed into the front room, everyone extending a hand of blessing on or towards the kids. Simon spoke bravely and eloquently, surrendering his children and asking for God’s protection over and presence with them as they go. When he said, “amen” the place erupted in song as people celebrated God’s provision for the twin’s. We concluded by singing the twin’s favorite song all together (their faces, the people, the weight of the moment… too much to put to words).

After some sibling play time, a little sibling gift giving (from Macy and Owen to the older bio siblings of Cora and Elias), and a few more photos, it was time for us to load up again and head home.

I’m so thankful we got the chance to spend some time in Cora and Elias’ village with the people who have been important in their lives so far. It is clear that they are so loved. So much so that their dad has bravely decided that it is in their best interest to be placed in our care, as hard as that may be. After the visit today, I feel a new weight and privilege as I get to parent these two children going forward. They are the children of a mom and dad who had great hopes and dreams for their kids and great love, too. Dave and I get to continue to build off that solid foundation they have built and we will be sure the kids know just how loved they are- by their family in Uganda, and by their family in the US. In many ways, this adoption is more of an “expansion” of our family than it is a simple addition of two new members into our existing unit. Our family is expanding into new countries and cultures. The people we met today are now a very important part of our story and I hope they will continue to be. I’m already scheming ways to make that so.

Earlier this week I used the hashtags #gobigorgohome #gobigANDgohome. I think with today’s adventure we have done just that. It was a big day and I now feel armed with some important pieces of knowledge about my children’s past that I did not previously have, and not just a knowledge, but an experience of it’s beauty and richness that will be forever treasured (by all of us). Now, I think, we are ready. Home we go. #stillsomanyblogstowrite #somanyblogssolittletime

homecoming, HELP!

We are very excited to announce that we are scheduled to return home in just a few days. It has been a very long, wonderful, and extremely challenging 7 weeks for every member of our family. We will have a lot to process and a lot of adjusting to do when we get home on so many levels. We cannot wait to be back home and among our community of support (being away from you all during this time has been one of the most challenging parts for sure). We want to tell stories, introduce you to the kids, hear what has been happening in your lives while we’ve been gone. We know you’ll want to see us, too, and we know that many of you will ask how you can help during this transitional time.

Along those lines, there are a few things we’d like you all to know and a few things you can do to help us. We are hoping that by sending this out in advance it will open lines of communication and ensure that no one feels hurt or takes our requests personally. In no particular order, here they are…

-Cora and Elias are still trying to figure out who their mom and dad are. Because of their upbringing, it is easier for them to be comfortable with strangers and with children than it is for them to be comfortable with two primary care-givers. To help them bond and attach to us, we ask that you not show affection to the children (please no hugging, holding, kissing) and that you understand that we cannot have you feed them, change them, or comfort them at this point in time. They will know they are loved by you by the smile on your face and the way you greet them and talk to them (please don’t feel you have to ignore them).

-Cora and Elias think they live in Uganda with us. Our homecoming is going to feel like another huge upheaval in their little lives. They will be confused, disoriented, and looking for “home.” For that reason, we will limit our time spent in other “homes” until we feel they can recognize and feel safe in our home.

-Macy and Owen will want to share about their new brother and sister, but they also have many great stories from our travels that are not adoption related. Please ask them about things related to how they are doing, their highlights, etc, and not just about their new “brother and sister.”

-If you see us out and about (and you will!), please be reserved in your greeting of the twins. This means no huge greeting, quick movements, and no touching initially unless they seem comfortable enough with your presence (you’ll know) (and even then, a high five or “bonga” (knuckles) is as touchy as it should get). Remember: though you all know them, they have no clue who you are. They will be comforted by your interaction with us, and will warm up to being able to interact with you. It won’t be like this forever!

-If you see us eating out, please be especially careful. Eating is a very sensitive time for the twins and they freak out very easily when someone approaches them (or their plate). Please do come say hello (or join us!), but we ask the kids be given a lot of space at meal time.

We hope these requests don’t make you want to avoid us until we get settled but rather that they will provide an understanding between us as we transition. We will need a lot of love and grace as a family. We want to see you (read: we NEED to see you), and we cannot wait for the kids to get to know you all. Please don’t feel awkward about asking us questions, or getting clarification about why we might be doing things a certain way. We hope you will keep short accounts with us as I’m sure we will do things that seemingly don’t make sense or that frustrate those we love. We hope that’s not the case, but we know we will all be tired, emotional, and transitional. It’s your turn to embrace crazy. Here we come!

We love you all and we cannot wait to see you.