This page is being compiled for YOU! If you don’t find what you are looking for make sure you contact me, ask your question (or add to my answers) and I’ll add to the growing list for other families! I am far from an expert, so please email me if there are any answers on this list that could use refining or additions!
Where do I start? First you need to decide if you are going to be going Independent or using an agency.
Independent vs. Agency? We chose to work through an agency because I needed someone to hold our hands the entire way! An agency will do everything behind the scenes and guide you through each step of the way to make sure that all of your ducks are in a row as they keep up with the ever-changing laws and regulations of the Uganda process. As a mom to 3 children already, it would have been very difficult for me to feel confident that I was doing everything correctly, as I had so many other things that demanded my focus and attention. That being said, we saw several Independent adoptions go through smoothly while we were in Uganda. I can honestly say that I don’t feel as though being Independent or going through a specific agency changed the waiting time in Uganda. I must say, though, that I have heard from a VERY reliable source that Uganda is trying to make it to where a family seeking to be granted guardianship of a child will be required to live in-country for 1 year before being able to get guardianship and bring them home to readopt. I have no idea how long it will be before (and if) this will take effect, but just wanted to through that out there.
Isn’t it more expensive to go through an agency? Well, that just depends on if you do everything right the first time on your own or not:) I can say that we spent under $6000 extra (and saved a ton of headache) by going through our agency.
Guardianship vs. In-country Adoption? Right now the Uganda program is set up to where a family must live in-country for 3 years with their child before they can adopt the child in Uganda. The Guardianship program is set up so the family can go over to Uganda to be granted Guardianship and then re-adopt their child(ren) once they have arrived home. This allows the family less time in-country.
How much does it cost? Anywhere between $20,000 – $40,000. So many factors can change the cost of an adoption. (How many trips you take, how many people travel, how long you have to be in country, etc.)
How can I raise enough money? There are many ways to fundraise or get the money, so don’t get discouraged! Sell Coffee, Yard Sales, save your change (and ask your friends to do it as well), send out letters for support to friends and family, apply for Loans or Grants (most of these are only given if you go through an agency), sell homemade goods, buy fundraising kits from HERE and HERE or check out some other fun ideas HERE and HERE. Get creative and then come back and tell me so I can add it to the list!
How do I know if my adoption is Ethical? This question has come up a lot since we arrived in Uganda. The only thing I can tell you is research it for yourself and ask around. Be careful as you dig deeper, though, as a lot of families tend to be VERY opinionated, especially on Facebook groups, and it is very easy for an opinion to turn into “fact” and blown out of proportion. I’m not saying to brush this issue under the rug, because it is VERY real, but make sure you are not being jaded by opinions but getting true facts. We need to make sure the children’s cases have been through thorough investigations and all of the options for remaining in their families has been exhausted.
In fact, here is a GREAT blog about the ethics in adoption. I encourage you to read this before you even get started with the process.
I have biological children. Will that be an issue? Some agencies have restrictions on the adoptive family. You will need to check the agency guidelines before signing up! Our agency allowed other young children (ours were 6, 5 and 2 at the time) and also allowed pregnancy (I got pregnant during our process and traveled during my 2nd trimester) while adopting. This wasn’t an issue for our agency or Uganda.
What are the general laws in order to be able to adopt from Uganda? If you are single you must adopt a child of the same gender as you and they must be at least. There must be a 21-year difference between adopted child and parent(s). There are no requirements on the size of family who is adopting from Uganda.
How long does the process take? I’ve heard of people whose process took several years and others who went through in under a year. Again, many factors can play into this. Our process began in November 2010. We ended up traveling the end of September 2011 and bringing our daughter home mid-January 2012. We tried to fly through the process whereas some families take their time. You can check out our Adoption Timeline to see how long certain stages took.
How long will we be in Uganda? Some people say to prepare to be in Uganda for 3-6 weeks while others say 6-8 weeks. EVERY journey is different. There is NO WAY to project how long you could be there. The entire process could honestly take less than 2 weeks if it were timed well, but realistically, you can expect delays at every step of the process. We had one family come and go in less than 3 weeks while we were there, while we saw another family go through an entire year in the process. There is also the option to travel 2 times. The first trip can be to go to court and then come back home. After your receive word that you have the WRITTEN ruling you can then plan to return back to Uganda to (hopefully) finish your process and bring your child(ren) home.
What does the process look like once we are in Uganda?
- Arrive in country
- Some families choose to take early custody of your child. This would mean that you would go pick them up very soon after your arrival.
- Court hearing – many times this has to be rescheduled (over and over) because the judge will not show up or will be out of town. Expect delays and reschedules.
- Verbal ruling
- Written ruling
- Take ALL documents (including written ruling, guardianship order, passport and dossier) to the Embassy.
- Embassy appointment/Exit Interview
- Pick up VISA and bring your child(ren) home if you got your approval from the US Embassy.
- If child’s VISA is denied at the US Embassy in Kampala your case will be forwarded on to Nairobi, Kenya for further investigation.
Embassy Tip: You are NOT required to sign your name to ANYTHING at the Embassy. Any document or affidavit that you sign could be used against your case if it is sent to Nairobi, so make sure you know what you (or others being interviewed) are signing!
What if our case is sent to Nairobi? First of all, you will not be required to go to Nairobi at any point. Everything is done via email or phone. It will take about a week for your file to arrive in Nairobi. They will contact you via email upon its arrival and let you know the time in which they estimate to be able to look at it. Be proactive and have your senator and governor updated on your case so they can keep constant contact on your status. Make sure you read more about our experience with Nairobi HERE. Once you get your approval from Nairobi you will be contacted again, via email. You can expect for your file to take another week to arrive back in Kampala. I’d email the your contact at the Embassy to let them know it’s on its way, just to make them aware that YOU are aware! After it arrives in Kampala you should be free to hop on that plane, pick up your child’s VISA and COME HOME!
Should we bring our other children with us? There is no right or wrong way to do this. You know your family and children. You know what would be best for you, but if you want my opinion I’d say, “YES!!!”, bring the whole family! The added numbers (especially if they are small children) really adds to the difficulty, but it was SO worth it for us! We believe our adopted daughter warmed up to us so much quicker because she saw our other children trust us. She had instant playmates, as the days can get pretty boring. It was important to do this as a family! Adoption is a HUGE decision. We included them every step of the way. It wasn’t always the easiest decision, but for us, it was the best one! You can read about our decision HERE. Then, check out how each of our children adapted to the Ugandan culture: Areyna-6, Zeke-5, Alethia-3, Micaiah-2 and then to top it all off I was preggers, ha!
I’m pregnant. What can I take to prevent Malaria? Read about my experience with that HERE!
What can my children take for Malaria? We gave our kids Malarone. It was an adult tablet (with a different dosage for each of their weights). We put it in between 2 smarties and they took it every night before bed. We called it a “Malarone Sandwich”:)
What should I pack? You can read all about that HERE.
Make sure you check out www.ugandaadoptionblogs.blogspot.com to add your adoption journey blog to the list and get some additional resources!