Livin’ and Learnin’

Holloways

Never a dull moment in our family

I wanted to just give everyone an overall update on where things are.  First of all, we cannot express as a family how grateful we are for the overwhelming support.  It has made this journey exponentially easier and more encouraging.  Thanks, and please hang in here with us until we are home.

I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief order of deadlines and decisions that must be made to get the kids home.

First, we had our court date.  Many of you prayed and the judge ruled favorably.  This was a ruling for guardianship, but it is temporary until a written ruling can be obtained.  This takes a couple of weeks, and it is what we are waiting on now.  A few days after the court date, we received an official court ruling that is then written out, and signed by the judge.  We are waiting now for the signing.  It is on his desk, so please pray he will do this quickly.

Once this is done, we are clear to take the ruling and apply for passports with Ugandan Immigration.  Once we apply, we wait until they call us with the passports.  This can take anywhere from three days to three weeks.  We obviously are praying for this to go quickly.  Average time has been around a week for the other families we have spoken with.

When we have the passports in our hands, we can go to have medical clearance for the kids.  This is about a one-week process, consisting of a general exam and TB test, and then an approval is sent to the US embassy.

Once the exams are complete, we will apply for an appointment with the embassy to have all of our documents reviewed.  This is where a lot of people run into trouble, as the pile of documents is huge and there can’t be a single mistake or discrepancy.  We have met people who were hung up in country for weeks and even months because of a wrong date on a document, or a misspelled word, or any other number of things.  We will have to go through these documents with a fine-toothed comb before we go for our review.  We still have quite a bit of paperwork to do through each stage of this process.  We cannot afford to mess those up.  For those of you who know Little and me, this is our biggest weak spot.  We are both horrible administratively.  Pray we are vigilant in this area.

Once we have been cleared at the document review, we are given a visa appointment for the kids’ passports, which will be two days after document review, then called in two days later for a final exit interview.  Once that is complete, we are given all we need to leave the country.

In summary:

  1. Court date and initial custody granted (Birth fathers present)
  2. Official verbal judge’s ruling (1 week)
  3. Official written judge’s ruling (what we are waiting for now)
  4. Passport applications
  5. Passports issued (Can be 3 days up to 3 weeks)
  6. Medical exams (one week)
  7. Document review (3 to 7 days)
  8. Visa applications (2 days)
  9. Exit interview at Embassy with birth fathers present. (one day)

Hope this isn’t too confusing.  A lot of steps, I know.  If we get the passports applied for this week, and then the medicals and document review goes well, we are looking at about three more weeks in country.  I will travel home on March 5-6 and be in the U.S. for about 10 days.  This would put me back in country here just in time for the final two steps.  Please pray this all runs smoothly!

We could be home by late March if all is well.  In the meantime, we could not be more convinced that we are in God’s will here.  We are learning much and seeing new life in these two little ones.  Our three older ones are doing an amazing job, and we couldn’t be more thankful for them.

Thanks again for all the prayer support.  We will keep you posted.

Trying to Love Like Jesus

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We are learning a lot on this journey.  Adoption is always hard.  Adoption is always worth the fight.  We didn’t come in here with any preconceived or romanticized ideas.  We knew it would be hard.  The long days of waiting for the next appointment.  The attachment issues.  The task of giving love to someone who has never experienced it, and may not always want it.  But as the saying goes, “The reward is worth the risk.”

This evening, our new daughter was standing alone in the yard, in the dark, crying softly.  Kilby found her, and brought her to me.  As I held her and stroked her hair and gently wiped her tears, I told her the things I would tell either of my other daughters.  “I love you.” “Jesus loves you.”  “It will be okay.”  I spoke Psalm 23 over her, and made up a song and sung to her.  And then it dawned on me, ”You can cry as long as you want to.”  You don’t have to stop crying.

In a culture of survivial, I wonder if she has ever felt the freedom to cry.  Or, maybe, she has spent a lot of nights crying herself to sleep.  I don’t know.  I don’t speak the same earthly language as her, and I am not sure she would have given me answers to those questions even if she could.  The language barrier was shattered by gentle hands, soft words, and tight squeezes, and  hopefully the love of an earthly father that reflects a God she will soon know.  After half an hour, Little took her to her bed, and rubbed her little scarred belly and arms until she slept.  Now, she is peacefully resting, and I have to believe feeling a little more secure.

Loving someone who doesn’t understand your love is as good a picture of the Gospel as I have ever seen.

JuJu Goes to the Pool

Today we found a local pool that only costs our family about five bucks per day.  This will be great for the long days when we are waiting on court stuff.  We took all the kids and JuJu walked up to the 4 foot end, and smiled this real sneaky smile she has, then jumped in…and sunk straight to the bottom.  By the time I could get her up, she was just laughing.  She is wide open and fearless, which is highly entertaining.  She had never seen a pool before.  Watch how crazy she acts in the video.  It was hilarious.  We had to basically take turns watching her the whole time, because you can’t take you eyes off of her.

Wise words from a friend

I wanted to share with you all a comment I got on the blog from a very close friend who grew up in the faith spending summers and even an internship at SWO.  Many of you know Corey and Racheal and even their awesome kids.  They are veteran missionaries who are like family to us and most all of the full-time SWO staff.  Corey’s words put things in a deeper perspective than I had ever considered.  It is powerful, and I wanted to share it with you.
Before I was engaged, I knew about Christ’s love for us, His Bride; but when Racheal accepted my proposal and I entered that covenant with her, I experienced for the first time a relational comprehension of what it means to love a bride sacrificially. The same was true the first time we had children: I experienced a father’s love for a child, one that I know about and fully believed of Father God, but finally had a much deeper comprehension of that love. I imagine you (Brody) experienced the same phenomenon with Little and Kilby.  Now with JuJu and Elliot, I can only imagine you are again crossing from a sincere belief in our adoptive status with Abba into an experiential understanding of what Abba was willing to do to ransom us from our depravity.
We can only speculate what future awaited these two souls had they not been adopted by the Holloways.  They were chosen (elected) and destined for adoption as “hiouses” (not mere teknons).  This process would not have happened without you orchestrating it (sovereignty), but somehow also in the courtroom where JuJu pointed to the family she wants to be with (free will) was an essential part of her adoption.  And though not to the eternal degree that we know in salvation, but somehow like God giving us this Spirit of adoption, so now JuJu and Elliot will not have to grow up in the sins of their fathers, falling into a life of abuse, neglect, malnourishment, following the societal norms of promiscuity, deception, greed, corruption, and drunkenness.  Now as a family, the Holloway family of seven gets to raise an Ebenezer in the midst of all the paperwork and politics — one that says this is how far JuJu and Elliot have come, and there is no turning back.  Then they will be raised in a family bent on serving the Lord and seeking Him.  JuJu and Elliot will, no doubt, learn of His Gospel and His heart for the nations.  It is a remarkable thing that, though I have never experienced it in the natural world, I can only imagine this earthly adoption will greatly deepen your understanding of your own adoption into the family of Abba God.

Bonding, Attachment, Discipline—We are off to a Good Start

A lot of you have prayed for the progression of the paperwork, and our lawyer told us today that everything is moving along very well, so thanks for the prayer on that end.
We wanted to share a video with you that we shot today.  I just happened to be walking up to JuJu and had my camera rolling and she was talking to Little.  It is a good shot of her personality.  She is VERY strong-willed, and we are dealing with some survivalist mentality.  She will slap, punch, and totally defy our authority.  It is good that we are in this place that is more familiar to her while we go through this time of breaking her will.  The language barrier makes it especially hard, but it is already working, and she is responding.  We are committed to it and have no doubts that the Lord will wear her down.  If you know Little or Me, the stubbornness JuJu brings to the family is nothing new to this party!  I am actually enjoying the challenge of showing her strong love that is consistent, but with discipline.
Elliot (Mo as I am calling him) is so young that he is happy to be eating and cooing.  He did stay awake for 6 hours last night as his body is dealing with the strong meds we have him on to remove parasites and infection.  Pray for his continued strengthening physically.  Juliet, on the other hand, is as healthy as any four year old I have ever seen.  That is a blessing.
The language barrier is posing problems, as she is very fluent in Lugandan, which is her native tongue.  The doctors say she speaks at a high-level vocabulary and is pretty intelligent.  So we have the added struggle of that.  She speaks rapidly AT us when we are putting her in bed, and I am certain she is not saying real nice things.  But she is all girl, trying her best to manipulate me, especially with her big eyes and big smile.  She will rattle off a string of Lugandan, then smile and me and say “Daddy girl?”  It is pretty funny.
Thanks again for all of the prayer.  Keep it coming.

Praying for Others

Had a great day today and continuing to see the kids progress.  Thanks again for all the prayers, and I hope you enjoy the videos.

Tonight I wanted to ask you all to share a burden for a family we have met here.  Scott and Cheryl have two biological girls ages 11 and 8 and are adopting an amazing little guy named Paul (8 years old) here in Uganda.  Cheryl and Paul have been here at the guest house going on four months now.  It has been a difficult time for their family as Scott and the girls are back home in Alabama, and Cheryl and Paul are stuck here in Uganda dealing with a mess of legal and bureaucratic red tape.  They should have been home two months ago, but the roadblocks keep stacking up.  Little and I and the kids have gotten close with Cheryl and Paul and love them very dearly already.  This is the international adoption nightmare that you hear about often, and it is truly a nightmare.  They cannot do anything, and their hands are tied, waiting on cooperation from both governments.  We will be going with Cheryl tomorrow to get her visa renewed, as it is about to expire.  She wants so badly to be home with the whole family together and we want it for them.

These guys are an amazing family who love the Lord and love the Gospel.  Please pray with us that they are reunited as a family soon.  God broke the heart of the Kings of Bablyon and Persia and crushed the authority of Pharaoh.  He can certainly deal with uncooperative government agencies in this situation.  Please pray for a breakthrough.

I will keep you posted.

And then there were seven.

Leaving court with Orphanage Director Hillary

Leaving court with Orphanage Director Hillary

The amazing outpouring of support through prayers, texts and social media has blown Little and me away.  We are indebted to so many of you and humbled at the size of our extended family in the States.  It has been a blistering pace since we arrived, but things are progressing.  We took the kids to a local clinic today for checkups, and they are both being treated for worms, parasites and bacterial infections.  They will fit right in at SWO!

Thursday and Friday will be important days as we meet with the lawyer to discuss documentation issues.  Much prayer will be needed, so please keep it up.  We are not surprised that it is working!  The prayer of the righteous has much power.  God’s people are driving this whole thing, and we are grateful.

Tuck telling Mo to man up during his physical

Tuck telling Mo to man up during his physical

We have learned much more of JuJu and Mo’s story, and it is truly an act of God’s grace that he is bringing them out of it.  They come from a background of severe abuse and neglect and suffer from pretty intense complications from malnutrition.  They are responding so well to our family, and our biological three have been an amazing asset.

One quick story for now:

When we were in the courtroom (six hours in a 90-degree room), the judge asked JuJu if she had the choice, would she go back to the orphanage or back with her great-grandmother or go with us. She pointed straight at Tuck, without hesitation.  I cried.  The judge then made her biological father pick her up, look at her, and tell her that he didn’t want her and that he couldn’t support her so he was giving her away to us.  He told her to be a good girl.  It was heart wrenching.  I think Little wanted to throw blows with the biological father, and I wanted to let her, only I was broken for this man’s sin and spiritual need.  We are trusting God to heal JuJu through Gospel love in our home.

Thank you all for loving Planet Holloway so well.

Adoption Update

Family photo
The Holloways arrived in Kampala around midnight local time on Feb. 7, met with their attorney first thing and then went to the orphanage. They were immediately given access to spend the day with Juliet (JuJu), shown above in Brody’s arms, and Elliot (pronounced “Ariat”), center of photo in red. They’ve had contact with them each day. They even took them out of the orphanage to hang out and get fresh clothes. JuJu has responded very well. Elliot has been quiet and a little standoffish but is warming up.
Tomorrow is the critical day — their court date.
Here are some things Brody has asked prayer for: (Note: Kampala is 8 hours ahead of EST).
  1. The judge shows up to court (4 a.m. EST).
  2. The dads are found for custody to be granted (one has been located and the driver is confident he will find the other).
  3. Brody and Little will rest in God’s sovereignty over the court proceedings.
  4. The judge will rule in favor and grant custody.
  5. The court and legal process will proceed rapidly (4-5 weeks best case scenario; 6-8 weeks average; 11-12 weeks possible).
  6. Passport, Medical and US Embassy processes go without delay.
  7. Continued safety for the Holloways (including Juliet and Elliot) that they will be steadfast and courageous though it all.

Brody invites you to begin praying at 4 a.m. EST and continue until 11 a.m. If things go as scheduled, these hours will cover the entire court proceeding period. Thanks in advance for your prayers and for your continued love and support of the Holloways.