Kugatta, Part 5

In the months and years to come after that initial conversation with Jessica, we would discover that our adoption agency was indeed criminal. They have plead guilty to child endangerment, visa fraud, and the trafficking of children. It has been a long and hard road.  When I think about the people responsible for what has happened, it is hard not to grow bitter. There is no amount of justice to be served that would ever mend the lives they have destroyed. Hatred comes easily, much more so than forgiveness. However, in this story at least, there is a silver lining. Beauty has grown out of the ashes that this agency left in their wake. Without the ashes, I would have never had the privilege of meeting Gladys. Without the ashes, I would have never known the incredible blessing of having an open adoption, something that is so uncommon in international adoption. Without the ashes, my heart for family preservation and reunification probably would not be what it is today. Do not get me wrong, if I had the power to change the past, I would choose not to have the ashes. I would have wanted my adopted kids to stay with their Jaja. I am not condoning the trauma that they, and so many families like them, have endured though all of this. But this is one of the hardest and darkest roads we have had to walk, and we can either allow that to discourage us and further destroy our hope, or we can choose to use what we know to make a difference in the lives of others. From the ashes, Kugatta was born, and so many lives have been changed for the better through it. 

Kugatta was there for us during the entire reunion process. We arrived in Uganda six years after adopting our children.  It had been six years since our adopted children had seen their family. Gladys was there for us through it all, setting everything in place for a successful and joyful reunion. I honestly do not know what we would have done without Gladys, and I am forever indebted to her. 

Kugatta is a Luganda term which means, “Bringing together.” Jessica Davis had reached out to me when she first started thinking about starting this organization. She had asked me to read their mission and had sent me their first website before it went live. I was so privileged and honored that my opinion mattered to her. Kugatta does many different things, with their focus on bridging the gap between the adoptive family and the biological families involved in international adoption. Kugatta helps vulnerable families and children by supporting the family as a whole. They also offer opportunities for Ugandan families to support themselves and their children through their program called YAMBA, which offers small business loans so  that individuals can rise up out of poverty and vulnerable situations. Grace and Abraham’s Jaja has participated successfully in the YAMBA program, and she is now able to provide for herself as well as her mother and the grandchildren in her care. If you are interested in learning more about the work of Kugatta you can visit their website, www.kugatta.com 

Today, Grace is settled and thriving in Uganda with her jaja. After careful and deliberate consideration, we and Jaja agreed that it was in Abraham’s best interests to stay with us, due to a variety of special circumstances, as well as his expressed desire to stay. We talk to Grace and Jaja frequently, have been back to visit, and will do so again as soon as possible.

If anything is gained from sharing our story, let it be this, do not be afraid to question the narrative. Listen to the stories of others, and learn what you can in the listening. If you are an adoptive family reading this, especially in international adoption, do not be afraid  to question what you know and be open to searching for the truth. There are many people and organizations out there that can help. Advocate for your adopted child by seeking out the truth, and being confident that the story that you and they have been told is indeed a true story. Be a safe place for your adopted child to ask questions and make sure they know you will support them in this. It may feel scary, but it is truly the best thing that you can do for an adoptee. If you feel stirred toward justice, seek out organizations, like Kugatta, that are already doing this work, and ask how you can get involved. Be more afraid of the not knowing than you are of the unknown. There is nothing that sets us free more than the truth, and your children deserve the truth. I cannot go back and rewrite the past, as much as I wish I could. All I can do is take what I know and have learned along the way and share it. As I share our story, I hope it stirs others to discover their own truths about what it means to love orphans and widows, advocate for the vulnerable and oppressed, and to truly help and be the good that this world so desperately needs. 

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