Throughout this entire process Josh and I have had many “I sure wish we would have known that” moments. There are so many little details that have gotten lost between the cracks.
So, whether you are working with an agency or doing it independently, I hope that this particular post will shed some much-needed light on this process once you get here to the Uganda side of things.
A few of these things I knew to look out for, but most of these things we have learned by trial and error and/or learned from other families going through this process with us over here:)
So, from me to you, here are some things that I hope will help you with your own process, or at least will inform you of what the heck we’ve been doing over here, ha!
Laundry: Laundry will smell much cleaner and stains are removed much easier if you soak a load each night in your soapy water before washing them each day;) Also, bring your own liquid detergent from the US…and then when you run out, the Nomi powder here works GREAT, but you will want gloves because the detergent here is very harsh on your skin and I promise it will leave you with bleeding, blistered fingers.
PHOTOS: You will need about 8 American VISA sized photos as well as about 8 Ugandan Passport sized photos. (We ended up having to get pictures taken 3 times.) You will need photos for your adoptive child’s Ugandan Passport, their American Visa as well as their Medical check-up at IOM.
MEDICAL: In order to get your medical completed you have to make sure you go to the right clinic. We were directed to the wrong one at first. IOM is where you need to go! You will need to give them 2 of your photos for the medical file. Another thing, you cannot get an adoption medical without a referral from the Embassy, so make sure you stop by the Embassy first. One more thing, you might want to call and make sure the Dr. is in the office. There is only 1 Dr. and if he isn’t there they cannot do the complete physical, only the TB test. You will need to remember to go back and get the TB test read a couple of days later, so try to plan it when you are going to be in Kampala for a couple of consecutive days. The medical will cost you $100 in AMERICAN DOLLARS, not Ugandan Shillings.
BODA-BODA RIDING: You are supposed to mount and dismount from the left side…the muffler is VERY HOT and is located on the right:) I have gotten much more graceful at getting on and off of those things, but my pregnant belly won’t allow me to share a boda driver anymore, ha! Oh yeah, ask a local what a decent price for your trip will cost and then have it ready so when you get off the boda you just hand them the money, say “Weebale Nyo” (which means “thank you very much”), avoid eye contact and be on your merry way. They try to get twice as much out of a Muzungus because we all know that us white people are loaded, ha!
COURT: You will be asked to be at the court house first thing in the morning but will most likely not be seen until dinner time. Our Attorney’s office is just a block away, which would explain why he isn’t around with us all day. They are informed when the judge enters the court house so let your Attorney know if you want to take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or take a lunch break outside with some fresh air. They should be able to just give you a call if the judge gets back in the office and you need to return. That would have been very helpful with our first go around with 4 small kids in that small family room, or even with just Shabila in that small room all day. Oh, one more thing…bring your own toilet paper to court, there is NO toilet paper or toilet seats…at least in the woman’s bathroom:)
SUPER MARKET: You really don’t need to pack much of anything! The pharmacy has almost anything you could ask for, and without a prescription. The market has scented hand soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, PP&J…you name it. I would pack your favorite snacks like cheerios or goldfish because those kinds of things are few and far between around here. The little shops in town have clothes, underwear, shoes, pocket books, book bags, movies…again, anything that you need. You just need money to get it, which is why Ugandan’s go without so often. They just don’t have the money to spend on even the normal stuff.
ELECTRICITY: The government is 6 Billion Shillings in debt with the Electricity company. Therefore, every other day or so we are left without electricity and internet. They turn off whole sections or towns electricity at a time to pay off the debt. It just helps if you expect it. A flashlight should always be ready by your side when it gets dark since you never know when it might go out. Unfortunately, our flash light was the only casualty from “The Little Red Suitcase” incident in Kampala. We’ve always got our Pumpkin Spice candles though:)
RULING: When the judge says you will get a ruling on a certain day, just praise the Lord if it actually happens when it is scheduled to happen!
TAXI DRIVERS: If you have someone call a TAXI for you it may take an hour or so for them to get you. Either call an hour in advance or save the first TAXI driver’s number that you come into contact with in your phone and call him directly for the rest of your trip. He will become your own personal family driver. Our family driver was Shabat:) He knew us by name and he loved “the stubborn boy”, AKA Cai! Now that Cai has gone home we can get by with two boda’s for our whole family and they will flock to you, as a Muzungu, whether you need them or not, ha!
EMBASSY: Apparently the Embassy takes both American and Ugandan holidays? So, make sure you check the calendar before driving 3 1/2 hours to Kampala from Jinja:) Also, the Embassy is open every day, so if you are just there to get your IOM referral form you are fine, but if you are at the stage to drop off your ruling and documents they only accept them on Mon., Wed. and Fri. and only from opening until 11am. You also have to pay your VISA application fee of $404, once again, in AMERICAN DOLLARS, not Ugandan Shillings.
FOOD: Food takes at least an hour to be ready after you put in your order at a restaurant. You better bring lots of toys…or just call ahead to put your order in:)
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this segment of “What REALLY Would Have Been Nice To Know”. We’ll let you know if any other information comes our way that would be helpful to have known!
Feel free to ask any questions, hey, that’s how we’ve gotten as far as we have here:)