Sunday, June 24, 2012

Adoption Heartbreak

Some of our friends know that we had a woman renting our house while we were away in America that had come here with her husband and daughter seeking to adopt 2 girls from Zambia. The Lewis family.

We met over email, they were looking to adopt and came across something from us and heard that we would be away in America for a few months. We began emailing about adoption and about renting our place. The laws in Zambia state that the child being adopted must be “fostered” for 3 months in Zambia before they can be adopted.

Everything seemed to fall into place and they were able to come a few days before we left Zambia. This worked out great because we were able to pick them from the airport show them around Lusaka, introduce them to our friends and take them to the social welfare office. We had gone to an orphanage as well just to see and later a friend Stephanie took them out to another orphanage where her daughter was from and they began to get information on two girls and started to get to know them.

The adoption process had changed some from when we adopted Grace.
For us, we met with social welfare and they had a list of kids in orphanages that were already “available”, - cleared for adoption. I had hoped this would be the case for our friends Jacky and Darren, but they no longer were doing that. Instead they had to work at getting the children “cleared” for adoption once they met them.

After 2 weeks in country Jacky’s husband had to leave to go back to work so she remained in a foreign land with her 2 year old daughter. They had at least met the girls they were planning to adopt by then and so began the process. Essentially Jacky was left here to navigate the adoption process with social welfare and a lawyer that they hired shortly after beginning the process.

Both the lawyer and the worker at social welfare were supposed to help “fight” for these kids. To fight for them to get them into a loving home.

Visits were made, papers filed, appointments made, some appointments kept, alot of appointments canceled, promises made, and promises not kept... and so began the waiting period and the tug of war for these kids.

The first girl after a month they were able to get the necessary papers to bring her “home” just in time for Christmas. (This is home to zambia home) The second girl they had hoped to adopt had challenges associated with her adoption they thought they were not going to be able to get her , then they were, so they brought her “home” end of Jan.

The lawyer had told Jacky and Darren that the 3 month “fostering” period can actually start from time of meeting and interacting with the kids so it would not have to be a literal 3 months in your home. I am not sure why he said this or how he thought he was going to get around it, but he did. This news encouraged them to go ahead and pursue the 2nd child because they could all be “in theory” or in his “opinion” adopted right after the 3 months of “meeting them” had occurred.

By the end of March the first child’s adoption was supposed to be complete. Sometime they found out that what the lawyer had said was indeed not true and they would have to remain in the country the whole 3 months from child number 2’s coming to live in the home. This was very hard news and an emotionally difficult time to contemplate being away even longer.

Many bumps and challenges along the road. Somewhere in the middle of their adoption process the social welfare began firing workers for participating in corruption in the office and adoption process. This added to the upheaval as now everyone was skittish and under suspect for their dealings in foreign adoptions especially.

Her husband was able to come for a week visit in February but besides that week she had been here on her own with her biological daughter for 8 months, when they had anticipated only 3-4 months.

Along the way more papers were found to be lacking in the files, police reports needed, some files the social worker lost, other papers having to be re-signed... and then the day after the the police report was granted someone came to the police claiming to be the mother of one of the girls. It was found untrue, but it all added to the drama and the “is this ever going to end” feeling.

When all the right papers were FINALLY filed about a month ago, they expected to go to court the very next day because that is what the lawyer had said would happen. But they soon found out that they now had to wait the 3 months from the date of adoption notification.

The adoption notification paper was not filed when it should have been filed. So they were required to then wait out the 3 months from THAT date. Because the lawyer and the social worker messed up on that document and they waited too long to file it, it was going to be another few weeks on the one girl just to get a court date and another 2 months on the second girl. (This would not included the extra few weeks to get immigration and passports, etc. )

I went with Jacky to appeal to one of the director’s at social welfare, a very kind woman who is a member at Katryn’s church. I had met her almost 2 years ago but remembered she was fairly high up in the department. Unfortunately she had been on leave for several months and was not able to be more helpful and involved in the process. She essentially said not much could be done, but she did call the social worker in and asked her to see about changing to a different magistrate to hear the case out. I don’t think the social worker ever came through on that.
My last thought was to take it to the supreme court justice that we know from our church and see if she could help. But, it was not to happen.

It was at this point that they decided it was time to go home. Jacky’s husband Darren, who had been talking her through the process from an ocean away and missing her all this time, said it was time.

Zambians will often tell you want they think you want to hear, rather than being upfront and honest about the situation. Both the lawyer and the social worker had many times of saying one thing and it never happened, or one more day, one more week, one last document... this had gone on for months, so that they no longer believed them or anything about the process.

It was so very sad. So this past week was Jacky’s last week with the girls. The girls that she has loved and cared for, for the last 7 months. The girls that have called her mommy, and had anticipated with hope of being brought into a “forever family”. She had to legally revoke the committal orders that had given her custody of the children and they were taken back into custody of social welfare. Friday she brought them back to the orphanage that they came from. And today she got on a plane with her biological daughter and left Zambia, headed back to her husband, her family and her home.

Please pray for all involved, but especially please pray for the two girls, that the Lord would still provide them with a family.
Thank you.

*I can in no way in one blog post describe or encompass all the facts, the situations, emotions, difficulties and challenges, of these past 8 months for my friend Jacky and her family. But I did want to give an update from what information I knew and the little involvement I have had with her and the adoption and the social welfare office, and ask others to pray.

For more information you can check out their blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


We had our first group meeting with all the kids together since adding the new ones. 10 of them did not show up, so instead of the 45, we had 35. It went well and I think it was most exciting to see them all in the room meeting with us. I just was looking around thinking wow, in 2 years, what all the Lord has done and how the work has grown.

We had several issues to discuss with the kids, most importantly being respect. For one another, for the teachers and workers in the ministry, for the building and supplies that we have been blessed with, for the homes that they are in particularly Maureen's as they eat lunch from her place.

Then we just had basic things to discuss , rules for the classroom, what they need to do when they are sick, etc. We are wanting them to be coming directly to Maureen or Fanny instead of going to the clinic on their own. When they do that, they then come to us later asking to pay for their costs or with a bad diagnosis. So we want to be involved in the beginning so we can even be taking them to a better clinic.

We sang a few songs, though they didn't seem too enthusiastic about it today, and then ended with cake, juice and acknowledging the birthdays that have passed since we last met. Maureen and Fanny also had a birthday so we sang separately to them, which they seemed to enjoy.

We were able to get the classroom set up even more this past Thursday. We brought all the posters and signs I had gotten while in America and then we moved a cabinet up with locks on it to be storing supplies and the food items.

It looks good, even better today with all the kids in it!

Some of the birthday kids

"How old are you now?"

Christian and Memory

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quarterly update letter (from James)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We thank the Lord for His many mercies to us as we seek to see Christ magnified in this part of the world, just as you do at home. As for the Williamsons, the kids are all on a one week break from school. They are doing well by God's grace! Emma and Ian have birthdays coming up August 3 and 4, and like all the other kids, they are making plans far in advance! I am mainly involved with the college, but also is teaching Sunday school weekly for Ibex Hill Baptist Church and helping with the development of this church plant as he is able. I am also preaching once or twice a month at different churches, and will be preaching at a Youth Conference here in Lusaka July 2-3. Megan is caring for the kids and managing the home, helping with homework and generally being a Proverbs 31 woman. As the orphan ministry supervisor, she visits the kids weekly, giving direction to that work, and travels around town during the week buying clothing and food supplies, administrating the schooling, etc.
At the moment, there are many things going on for which thanks to God is due, and for which your prayers are requested:

After adding 15 kids a couple of months ago, the ladies of the Hope Kabanana work, led by my wife Megan, have had their hands full. With now 45 kids to look after, it is full of challenges. Some of the kids show gratefulness, but many do not. Some study and try hard at school, but many do not. We have several kids that are not showing up for tutoring which they sorely need, and others who show up and disrupt the classes and disrespect the teachers. So, do pray that the ladies will not "grow weary in well doing," and also for the Lord to change the hearts of these kids.
On a positive note, thanks to some gifts last year and early this year, we have a completed classroom and almost completed kitchen. This is a big help, since we've stepped up the meals program to be more consistent and make sure the kids are all getting what they need for nourishment. Thank the Lord for this facility on the grounds of Faith Baptist Church of Kabanana. The kids of the orphan ministry will have a Youth Camp from Aug 7-10 just outside of Lusaka, which Megan has been organizing along with Katryn, Maureen, and Fanny.

LMC has moved into its third year, and is doing well by God's grace. Our main focus right now is insuring that the 20+ students in the program receive more out-of-the-class mentoring and development. In the first two years, we have gathered in students and begun teaching them. But we see that we need to make sure they are really implementing what they hear in their personal lives and their churches. This is a major part of ministerial training, and it requires a lot of time and energy and personal relationship.
With the growth of the college, we are very much feeling the need to have our own building in which to hold classes. It would be well worth it to have somewhere to meet regularly that is suitable for our size and needs. So, we feel a bit like the "school of the prophets" under Elijah who needed to build to accommodate their studies! The building we are thinking of building will probably cost about $30 to $40,000, and we hope to have two classrooms, a couple of offices, and a small library. Most of our students are from the poorest areas of town, so the college already runs on a subsidized budget from the support of churches and individuals from the States. Anyone who wants to contribute to some bricks and mortar for this building project, therefore, is most welcome!

The roads and airways will be filled with activity related to LION of Zambia ministries tthis summer (summer, that is, in the US; it's COLD season here!). Pray for traveling mercies and God's blessing on the labors of each traveler.. First, I am scheduled to teach with Kabwe Kabwe (Zambian and academic dean for CMC) in Botswana June 25-29. It's their first set of module classes to see if we may develop a college there, so pray for the Lord's help and direction. Then, Catie Woodman from Grand Rapids is coming next month to help with the orphan ministry and with the Bible camp mentioned above. Andy Dunkerton and David Scott are coming to teach at LMC July 16-20. Joachim Reick (a pastor from Namibia) and Kabwe Kabwe will be teaching the next module at CMC with the newer batch of students July 23-27. Ron Baines and Jim Renihan are teaching the recent CMC graduates Masters degree level classes from August 13-24, and then Ron and I are scheduled to go to Malawi to check out prospects for ministerial training there. In September, I've been asked to teach in Kenya and help with the development of a new college there, along with Victor Kanyense (Zambian). Then, George McDearmon and Rob Burchett are coming Oct 15-19 to teach at LMC, along with a deacon from their church.

We thank the Lord for your prayers and support. We are keenly aware that without the provision and encouragement we receive from you, we would not be able to remain here and do this work. Thanks very much! And may the Lord abundantly resupply according to your generosity and kindness.

Yours in Christ,

James Williamson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


It is strange that I often have “reflections” while I am looking through the cookbook at things to make. So I will divert from planning my menu to writing a quick blog.

I am looking over the recipe for those same applesauce spice mufffins I never made, when I wanted to last year. Orange french toast with walnuts, blueberry bread, blackberry scones, pumpkin bread with cream cheese...

My laptop is on the table, my cookbooks spread out and I am looking through the many choices of things I like. Some things I can’t make because the ingredients aren’t available here, other things, well I am not in the “mood” to eat this week. And some things sound delicious!

My househelp (aka maid) is singing as she works in the other room.
The same woman who just this morning told me she has to wake up very early, at 5 hours to go and fetch her water because it is so very far.

The same woman who last week told me her head was paining her with a bad headache because her drunk husband was upset at her. He was angry because when she gets paid, she then pays the rent on their small place. Evidently he has other ideas for how to use the money.

The woman that 3 weeks ago said she had a hard weekend because she just found out her teenage daughter is pregnant and she doesn’t know what to do. The husband thinks they should send her away to the farm until she has the baby. But now she can’t finish school and it is just so very hard and sad.

But she, Catherine, still can sing as she works. She still has joy in her heart to sing.

And I, sometimes find myself joyless when I have been giving SO MUCH by my good Father in Heaven. Or I find I can be slightly irritated because I still can’t make my applesauce muffins, or get on the internet to post this blog when I want to.
Hmm...that’s pathetic.
There is still so much to learn from people and their example, especially from those nearest me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

May HOPE Update

This was quite a busy month for all of us. The second term of school started for all the children. We met with the new kids and added 15 more kids to the program, increasing the amount of kids by 50%! This has been no small task this month.

Usually its a busy month when we start a new school term. We currently have 6 different schools we are working with. So fees are paid and everything is worked out to make sure the kids can continue with their schooling. This month we also had to find places at the different schools for the new kids. That took some extra attention, time and money as well as getting backpacks, shoes, uniforms, and books for them.

The new kids also needed to be part of the food program and so we have had to rework our food budget and change a few of the meals we are preparing for them.
This took awhile as well to compare prices at different places. Buying items in the compound of Chipata or Kabanana versus buying the items downtown or even at the neighborhood grocery store Pic and Pay. So we have tried to get the best prices and start buying some items in bulk. The kids now get a breakfast shake and then for lunch Monday through Thursday they are eating beans, sausage, eggs and chicken along with vegetables and rice or the staple food nshima. I hope occasionally we can provide some fruit as well.

Progress is still being made on the kitchen. The walls are up and next is to finish plastering the walls and floor and put on the roof, add the windows, etc. At least the structure is there now. Every few weeks Maureen asks, when is it expected to be done! I know she is eager to move the cooking out of her house and into the building.

All the kids are in school now and doing fine. A schedule has been set up for tutoring the kids and so far that seems to be working out well, especially in the new classroom.
We have run into a few challenges with the tutoring of the older kids. Some of them have not been showing up for the class, and then we have experienced a difficulty with the tutor not being on the same page with the subjects that are needing to be taught. So please pray for these details to be worked out. It is especially important for the older kids as they are preparing for their grade 9 exams. If they do not pass they can not continue on to the next grade level, and essentially that removes them from the program. So it is serious and we would appreciate your prayers for them to see it as weighty.

We had to put off the group meeting/open house we anticipated having with the kids as we worked out some of the “growing pains” we were having this month. So hopefully we can get all the kids together next month for a meeting.

We have a meeting scheduled with the guardians of the new kids on June 11th. Some of these kids are from an even worse area than the typical kids come from and and they are not very friendly to white people. Some people believe that if we were to go into their area and visit them that bad spirits would accompany us. Or if we visit one of the children’s homes then the neighbors would all think they were involved in something satanic, OR that home would then be robbed because we could have given them something of value. So at times there can be different superstitions or suspicions associated with us. For that reason only Maureen and Fanny have gone to visit these homes. We are hoping that as we interact with the kids and the guardians at the building they will in time trust us and open up.

Some of the kids from All Efforts School

Memory practicing her letters on the board

Ruth, Nelia, Felix

Katryn and Fanny teaching
It is working well to have 2 boards and they each can be teaching at the same time.

The kitchen in progress