We are pleased to announce that Nathanael Niyonzima Jukanovich is home with our family. We started this process officially on August 6 with our homestudy. Received our approval in record time from Immigration and the RWanda embassy on September 29. Submitted our dossier on October 14 after we had moved to Rwanda. Received our non-objection letter on January 19. Received our match on March 15. And here we are - the week of my birthday - receiving him into our home on March 25. We are overjoyed and feel very complete.
I was able to go the sector office last Thursday to fill out our act of adoption. We received our court date for today and I asked if I could attend the hearing. It was very brief, but we asked the judge if he would complete the judgment today - usually it takes at least one day. I was still under the impression we would have to then take the judgment to the Minister's office, receive a travel letter and then bring that to the orphanage, so was hoping for a Friday homecoming at best - braced myself for Monday. However, the attorneys that were present there told me that onec that judgment is signed, the child is ours. It is up to the nuns however if the child can stay the night. Technically they need to have that letter from the Minister. He said yes and we showed up at 2 pm to receive the judgment. Of course, nothing is as simple as receiving the judgment and go to the orphanage. We had to first drive to the district office nearby to find out the bank account to which we would have to pay 800 RWF to purchase copies of the judgment. Then we had to go to the bank and pay the fee and today there were very long lines. Then we had to drive back to the district office to hand in our payment - again another long line (Rwandans are scurrying to get their identity cards finalized for the election this summer). I pulled the Muzungu with two small children card (which was really true - my kids would not have lasted another five minutes in that crowd) and found myself at the front of the line with a nice woman. Of course, then we had to have the bank receipt photocopied before handing in the receipt. Finally got that done and headed back to court. Got the judgment, then ran to the printers to get the documents printed for the orphanage's files. We started at 2 and by 4:45 pm we were standing at the orphanage with Sister Catherine and Sister Teresa so excited to welcome us.
After visiting Niyonzima for the past week, it was such a joy to look at him and tell him he was coming home forever. The girls were so excited and were already telling me they had his bottle, could help situate his blanket, and they are trying to understand why it is so important that mommy is the only one who holds him right now.
His name came to us as we were reading the first book of John with Caroline the other night. Jesus is calling his disciples and he says to Nathanael,"Here is an Israelite in whom there is nothing false." Nathanael asks him, " How do you know me?" And Jesus replies, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree, before Philip called you." Having adopted three children now, Dano and I would both say that we really do believe the Creator of the universe knows his children by name. He knew our son before we even called him to be a part of our family. Amazing. Nathanael also means gift of God. He truly is.
He has already had his first bottle, first bath, and first bedtime story. There is still more paperwork to be done - medical exam, Ministry travel approval, passport, etc., but for this evening we will focus on the grander scheme of things and simply relish in this new life that has joined our family. Life has changed...for the better.