S: Evangeline Shakila Zale New's Adoption Story
BC: To Evangeline Shakila Zale New February 2012 Love, Mommy
1: Dear Evangeline Shakila Zale New, This book is the story of you. The story of how much we loved you and wanted you before you were ever born. This book tells the story of your birth and your time in Rwanda. It also tells the story of how God knit us together as a family. Before you were born, God planned for you to be in our family. The loss you had to endure is one that we would not have chosen for you, but God's plan is greater than all of us! We are so glad to have you as our daughter and hope this book helps you understand your past. We prayed for this child and the LORD has granted us what we asked of him. Samuel 1:27
2: In 2009, We decided that it was time to adopt! | We knew that somewhere in the world, God had another baby for us. We already had your wonderful brother, Jackson. He was 4 years old. We knew it was time for him to become a big brother and for us to be a Mommy and Daddy again!
3: You might already know this by now, but Mommy likes to research. When she decides to do something, she finds out EVERYTHING about it! | So Mommy searched and searched to find the place where you were. Mommy had a feeling that this place was in Africa, so she told Daddy all about adopting from Africa. We both prayed that God would show us the place that were.
4: After doing a lot of talking and praying, Mommy and Daddy found out about a small country in East Africa called Rwanda. | The more we learned about Rwanda, the more we realized that this where YOU were! We started the adoption process as soon as we could.
5: We had to do a lot of paperwork to be able to adopt you! Everyone involved wanted to make sure that we were a good family, and that we would love you. | The first step was to have a homestudy . A homestudy is where a social worker came to our house to check everything out and make sure it was clean and safe for you to live with us. Our social worker also interviewed Mommy, Daddy, and Jackson to make sure we really wanted to adopt. I think after talking to us, the social worker knew that we DEFINITELY did!
6: After finishing our homestudy, the next thing we had to do was put together a dossier. A dossier is a file of documents about our family that Rwanda wanted to see. They needed all these documents to learn about us, to make sure that we were a good family, and most importantly to match us with the right baby - YOU! | .
7: Part of the dossier was getting approval from the United States government to bring you home. | On April 28, 2010, Daddy and Mommy got up very early to drive to Charlotte, North Carolina to have our biometrics taken. Biometrics is just a fancy word for fingerprints. While we were there we ate at the cheesecake factory (this became our adoption tradition!) and shopped for you at IKEA. This was a fun day and we knew that we were one step closer to bringing you home.
8: On May 8, 2010, we received our approval from the US Government to adopt you. We had been waiting for this important document.. That was a very happy day!
9: After a few more steps, we were finally ready to send our dossier to Rwanda! On June 1, 2010 our dossier was sent to Rwanda. Our friend Peter picked up and took it to the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) on June 7, 2010. We were officially logged in and waiting to adopt!
10: Now the hard part began...the wait. Mommy and Daddy wanted you to be home with us so badly that it hurt! | Every day Mommy and Daddy prayed that there would be news from Rwanda. | The crib bedding we had for your room. | The first outfit we bought for you.
11: While we waited, Mommy did what she does best...shopped! We knew that you were going to be a girl, so she began to get the nursery ready and buy some things for you. | The sign Mommy found for your room. This sign meant so much to us as we prayed and dreamed of you.
12: Evangeline... | While we waited, we knew it was time to decide on a name. After watching the Disney movie, Princess and the Frog, we knew that we had it. You were going to be our Evangeline.
13: Evangeline means: Bearer of Good News, which you most definitely are! It is also a French name. We liked that since one of the main languages spoken in Rwanda is French.
14: At first the wait was easy. We were told the estimated wait time was 6-9 months. That was nothing! | Of course our hearts had been ready since August 2009, so we were already approaching the 1 year mark of our decision. Mommy and Daddy were working full time and Jackson was going to preschool. We tried to stay busy, but it was hard because we were always thinking of you!
15: In August 2010, Rwanda announced they were closing for International Adoption. The close would be temporary - but temporary still meant 1-2 years. Rumors swirled for days. We had no idea if we would still be allowed to adopt from Rwanda, or if it was over. | Finally we heard word from the government. All files that made it to the ministry offices before August 31, 2010 would be allowed to proceed. Thankfully, ours was there as of June 7, 2010, so we were safe! You were still coming home!
16: After all the months of waiting, with no news, on April 18, 2011, we received this letter. Early that morning, Mommy opened her email and saw one from a Rwandan name. It was the one that we had been waiting for! The government had given their approval for us to adopt from Rwanda! | Little did we know, you had been born just 18 days earlier, on April 1, 2011.
17: This next wait was supposed to much shorter. Just 2-3 months and then we would travel to Rwanda to bring you home. | But in June 2011 we again received devastating news. The orphanage had run out of children in our age range! Normally this would be a good problem to have, but since Rwanda has many orphanages, and they only allow adoption out of one, that means there were still thousands of children out there, but they weren't able to be adopted. Our file had been sent to the orphanage to be matched, but the nuns at Home of Hope had sent it back, due to the lack of children. In addition to that news, we also received MORE horrible news. The Ministry decided that since there were no children matching our request (and other adoptive parents), they were going to issue a 6 month deadline. If there were no children available for us in that time, we would no longer be able to adopt from Rwanda.
18: The very next day after we heard this news, our friend Tina that helped us with our adoption, sent us an email to tell us that there were children available at the orphanage, but they didn't exactly fit our request. | We decided to look at the list of children and see if our heart felt drawn to any of them. There were 3 young girls on the list that were HIV positive.
19: Mommy had felt her heart being pulled in this direction for quite awhile now. She asked Daddy to think and pray about accepting one of the girls with HIV. | Just 24 hours later, Daddy said yes, he thought that we should adopt one of the girls with HIV. That we could handle this together! So we let our friend Tina know. She sent our attorney, Fidele to Home of Hope to tell the nuns the news. right away. They were so happy that one of these three girls would have a home!
20: Next we drafted a letter to MIGEPROF telling them we would like to change our request to adopt a child that was HIV positive. | Within a few weeks we were matched with a little girl (this was YOU!). You had arrived at Home of Hope on May 21, 2011. The orphanage had a policy that a child had to wait there for two months before being allowed to be adopted, so now we just had to wait a little bit longer.
21: Unfortunately, just a few days later, We were told that the ministry would not accept any changes to our request. There were several other families hoping to change as well, but we were all told the same thing. We would not be allowed to adopt a child with HIV since we had originally requested a healthy child. We had updated all of our paperwork and gone through all the proper steps. But the ministry still would not agree to our request. They felt that any family asking to change, was doing so out of desperation, and not with sincerity. Even though that could not be further from the truth, we were unable to convince them otherwise. | The next 48 hours were probably some of the worst in our lives. We had lost our baby girl, and thanks to the deadline, we were probably not going to be able to adopt from Rwanda. Our hearts had been in this beautiful country for almost 2 years now, and in one phone call it was gone.
22: The next thing that happened is nothing short of a miracle. Little did we know, that in Rwanda, you were being taken again for HIV testing. The nuns wanted to make sure that you were truly HIV positive. You see, a baby can be born to an HIV positive Mom and that child will also test positive for HIV for several months until the mother's antibodies leave the baby's system. Moms can prevent transmission by taking the correct medications during pregnancy and by not breastfeeding. | The results came back and this time, you were NEGATIVE!!!
23: Since the nuns had already chosen you for our family, and now that you were HIV negative, the ministry would allow us to adopt you! | We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God planned YOU to be in our family. If you had tested negative before you were matched to us, you would have been matched to another family that was higher on the waiting list. God orchestrated everything just perfectly for you to be our daughter, and we are SO glad he did!
24: Now we knew this was finally, really going to happen! We still had to wait until July 21st for the nuns at Home of Hope to be able to send our official referral to the ministry. July 21st came and went. We were so anxious. We checked with Tina every day for news. | We found out that on August 9, 2011 our referral was finally sent to the ministry. At this point the ministry just needed to approve it and we could go to Rwanda and bring you home! Once again we were waiting. There were papers missing that had to be fixed, and just general red tape to go through.
25: Finally on September 16, 2011, we received word that the referral was signed and that we could come get you! We spent the next 30 hours frantically packing, making arrangements with your grandparents to care for Jackson and our pets, booking flights, and everything else we needed. This was on a Thursday, and we booked a flight for 6:00am Saturday morning. | On Friday night we were driving to Wal-Mart to pick up some last -minute supplies when an email flashed on mommy's cell phone. She opened it and immediately started screaming. Daddy was driving and almost ran off the road. Inside the email was the first pictures of you! We were completely in love at first sight. You were so beautiful!
26: At 4:00am on Saturday morning, September 17, 2011, Grandma and Grandpa New came to drive us to the airport. | Jackson was very sad that we were leaving. We were sad to leave him too. But we all knew that once we got back, you would be with us and we would be a family forever!
27: Our first flight was short. Just about an hour and fifteen minutes.. This took us to Washington D.C. From there we boarded a long flight to Ethiopia.. This one took 13 hours. | After arriving in Ethiopia, we boarded our flight to Rwanda. As we descended into Rwanda, Our eyes tried to drink in every thing. The landscape, buildings, roads, and beautiful greenery. This was your country! We couldn't believe that we were finally here!
28: After touching down in Rwanda, our friend and power of attorney, Peter picked us up at the airport. He drove us to our motel. After checking in and putting our bags away, we were ready to go and meet you!
29: We walked up the long, dirt hill towards the gates of Home of Hope Orphanage. We had been staring at a picture of these blue gates for two years now. It was amazing to finally be standing in front of them in person!
30: The gate swung open and we were welcomed inside. One of the sisters went to get you. Before long, Sister Therese was carrying you up the long walkway.
31: The moment you saw us, you smiled as if to say, "you're finally here!" We couldn't stop smiling. We were finally together with you. We loved you so much already.
32: First moments with Daddy
33: First Moments with Mommy
34: On our second day in Rwanda, we went to Muhima Sector to sign the Act of Adoption. | This paper said that we wanted to adopt you and be your parents forever.
35: After signing the papers we returned to Home of Hope to visit with you again. You were happy to see us.
36: Happy Adoption Day! | On September 21, 2011, Mommy and Daddy went to court in Rwanda. We talked to the judge about how much we loved you and wanted you. The judge gave us his ruling that said you were our daughter forever! We were so happy! This day will always be special for our family. | September 21, 2011
37: These two men are your Rwandan "Uncles". They are both a very important part of your story. Their names are Peter Ndikumana and Fidele Masengo. Peter helped us complete everything in Rwanda and was our Power of Attorney. Fidele was our lawyer and helped us along the way.
38: For the first part of our trip we stayed at Step Town Motel. This motel was close enough to the orphanage that we could walk there to see you.
39: The view from Step Town
41: These are some of the things we saw on our walk to Home of Hope each day.
43: Rwandan food was delicious! We enjoyed eating at different restaurants every day with our friend Peter.
44: While we were in Rwanda, we had to go to many government offices to complete the paperwork for your adoption. One place that we visited several times was MIGEPROF. This was the ministry in charge of adoptions. | This is you with Alexia. She was the social worker that worked on our dossier for two years! | This is Jeanne, the secretary at MIGEPROF. She also processed a lot of our paperwork. | Outside at MIGEPROF. We had to go through a lot of security to visit each time.
46: Sleeping Beauty...
47: On Sunday in Rwanda. We went to church and out to a nice dinner at the Serena Hotel. | During the times we weren't working on adoption paperwork, we spent time with you. Just bonding, cuddling, and playing with you in our hotel room. The longer we were with you, the more you showed us your personality. You are such a happy little girl!
48: In 1994 a horrible genocide occurred in Rwanda. We have no way of knowing how this affected your story, but the scars are still there and can be seen throughout the country. | As you grow, we will make sure that you learn about this important part of your country's history.
49: On one of our days in Rwanda we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial to learn more about it and to pay our respects. This was a very hard experience, but a very important one.
50: Michael's Den, our second hotel in Kigali. | The Mother Child roundabout. A major landmark in Kigali. | Scenes around Kigali
52: Home of Hope Orphanage
53: From May 21, 2011 until September 23, 2011, you called Home of Hope Orphanage your home. You lived in a room with several other babies. The sisters and local nannies took wonderful care of you. We will always be thankful for them. They took you in and cared for you until we could come to get you you. They care for many babies, children, mentally handicapped, and elderly people. It is a big job, but they do it well.
54: This is Sister Sebastina, Mother Superior at Home of Hope. She really loved you. She called you "Shaki" | This is the bell we rang every day to let the sisters know that someone was there to visit. When they heard the bell, one of them would come out to greet us and then go to get you from the baby room. Then we would sit in the parlor or the courtyard and play with you.
55: This was your crib at the orphanage. There were several rows of cribs filled with babies. They were very small. The yellow ball hung above your crib for you to look at.
56: This is what the baby room looked like. Lots of cribs, but a large play area on the floor as well.
57: Your Story.... | We are so blessed to know more of your story than most other children adopted from Rwanda. We know that there will always be questions that you will want to know the answers to. We wish we could take the pain and uncertainty of not knowing from you, but we want you to know that while we were in Rwanda, we did everything we could to find out every part of your story. This is what we know... | Your Birth Mother's name was Shakila Tumusifu | Your maternal grandparents were Mukasa and Aisha Penso | Your Birth Father's identity is unknown.
58: Your Birth Mother and her parents were living in Uganda, a country that neighbors Rwanda. We believe they may have fled there because of the genocide. Your grandparents passed away and your Birth Mother returned to Rwanda. | In Rwanda, your mother met a man and got married to him. She became pregnant with you and the man left her.
59: Your Birth Mother gave birth to you on April 1, 2011. She was very sick with AIDS. We believe that you were born prematurely because you were so small. | About one week after you were born, your Birth Mother became very ill and went to Muhima Hospital. Your Birth Mother loved you so much and she wanted to make sure you were safe, so she brought you to the hospital with her.
60: A few days after being admitted to Muhima Hospital, your Birth Mother was transferred to another hospital in Kigali, named CHK. She died there on April 21, 2011 due to pneumonia and complications from AIDS. | Your Birth Mother gave you the name Shakila. The same as her name. Shakila means "Beautiful" in Swahili. We heard from the social worker and others at Muhima Hospital that your Birth Mother was one of the most beautiful women they had ever seen. You look just like her! When you were received at the orphanage, the sisters added the name Anne. When we met you, your name was Anne Shakila. | We chose to keep the name Shakila as one of your names, because your Birth Mother had given it to you, and we always wanted you to have a piece of her with you. She would be so proud of you today.
61: On one of our last days in Rwanda, we were able to visit Muhima hospital and find out your story from the workers there. | The first person we met with was Bonevanture Kaligirwa. Bonevanture was the Social Worker in charge of your case at Muhima Hospital. When your Birth Mother died, she tried to find other family members that could care for you. However she was unable to find anyone.
62: While Bonevanture was searching for your family, you were living at Muhima Hospital. You lived there from April 7, 2011 until May 21, 2011 when you went to live at Home of Hope. | These are some pictures of the room you lived in.
63: You were not alone while you lived at Muhima Hospital. The hospital had an employee that stayed with orphans and other special cases as the need arose. She was a widow, and while she was caring for a baby she stayed at the hospital around the clock and took care of them. | This special woman's name is Speciose Musababera She loved you and looked after you just like you were her own daughter. The only way you survived those early months was because of Speciose. She was so worried about you because you were so small. She always tried to feed you extra formula to make you grow big and strong. She was so sad on the day she had to take you to the orphanage, because she loved you so much.
64: The day we went to visit Muhima Hospital, we were so happy to be able to meet with Speciose. She was so happy to see you again, and you were happy to see her! You definitely remembered her!
65: Speciose told us that she never finds out what happens to "her babies." So she was so very happy we came to see her and that now she would know that you had a good family and would have a good life. She was so happy for you!
66: Even if you know nothing else about your past, know that you were loved by many. You were loved by your Birth Mother who took you with her when she entered the hospital. You were loved by Speciose who cared for you day and night until you went to Home of Hope. You were loved by the Sisters and nannies at Home of Hope. They took such good care of you until we could come for you. You were loved by Rwanda and now you are loved by us. | Through all of your loss and changes you were loved most of all by the one that made you... God. | The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
67: We completed all the adoption requirements in Rwanda on October 1, 2011. This was also the day you turned 6 months old! | That night we flew to Nairobi, Kenya to begin the process to get your American Visa. | Before leaving Rwanda, we enjoyed a farewell dinner with the other families that were there adopting and our Power of Attorney, Peter. | We also said goodbye to our friend and driver, Emmanuel.
69: In Kenya, we completed your medical exam and visa interview. We were also able to visit some animals at the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe Center.
70: After a long 3 weeks, it was finally time to fly home! We left Kenya on October 6, 2011. You did really well on the long flights! | We arrived in Washington D.C. and you officially became a US Citizen on October 7, 2011.
71: We arrived back in Knoxville later that night. We were so happy to be home! You met everyone at the airport. After a long, stressful trip (Daddy was very sick, and we had lots of troubles getting a flight home), Mommy and Daddy were so happy to be reunited with Jackson and your grandparents.
72: Your grandparents were so happy to meet you! The first weeks home were fun and hard. We all had to get used to new routines, new time zones, and lots of new people and places for you. Before long none of us could imagine life without you.
73: Evangeline, you are the perfect addition to our family. Mommy and Daddy love you fiercely, and your brother, Jackson is your favorite person. The two of you are going to have a very special relationship. This story is just the beginning. We thank God every day for allowing us the the privilege of being your parents. We can't wait to see the woman you will become. | I didn't give you the gift of life, But in my heart I know. The love I feel is deep and real, As if it had been so. For us to have each other Is like a dream come true! No, I didn't give you The gift of life, Life gave me the gift of you.