God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:5
This scripture sums up how we feel about Agum being part of our family and ultimately God’s family. She was in Khartoum, age 1 1/2 years when we learned her mother, a single parent and sister to Sabet, had died unexpectedly in 2005. Though we never met Agum, we felt immediately called to bring her into our family and for the next four years we talked about her and prayed for her.
In 2008, when Agum had just turned 5, she moved to Tonj with Sabet’s mother. After spending a few months interacting with our family we moved her into our home in January 2009 and started the process of making her legally part of our family.
At that time South Sudan and North Sudan were still one nation and we were advised to wait until the separation of nations was complete. Knowing this process in an undeveloped country could be challenging we set about getting her a birth certificate and passport. Law in South Sudan permits Sabet as the uncle to take Agum as his own child. Getting her birth certificate and passport was quite easy and encouraging that the remaining process would be the same.
The culture of South Sudan recognized Sabet as the ‘natural’ parent of Agum but if something should happen to Sabet it did not secure Agum’s future within our family. For the purpose of her feeling safe within our family and getting her a US passport for ease of travel, we immediately started a legal adoption process after the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Having my name as the mother on her adoption certificate is critical.
This process has been ongoing for 2 years and not gone quite as we had expected. After completing the entire process, including a high court judge stamping his approval and recommendation and Sabet’s parents agreeing to handing Agum’s custody to our care, the child and welfare ministry in Juba rejected the application. This was based on us not going to a court inside the state we live (which we were not told to do) and meant doing the entire process again. This whole period consumed more than a year of our time and meant we would not be able to take a furlough as planned. It had been suggested that the government were buying time as South Sudan has an ‘incomplete’ adoption process.
Knowing this process would delay our visit to USA for a much needed furlough we decided to apply for a visitors visa at the American Embassy in Nairobi back in February. We were told 8 weeks for them to contact the Juba officials that we have legal rights to travel with Agum but to date we have not received any response from the embassy. In June we had to go to the embassy to renew Jed and Hannah’s passports and we took this opportunity to ask a few questions about Agum’s process. They were very kind and basically said that Juba had not responded to them!!!
So now we face starting the process again, at the right court in Kwajok and praying for favor.
Sabet has talked to the judge in Kwajok and he has a court appointment on Monday July 29th, with his parents and Agum present in the court. Now with this new political situation we are hoping he can safely proceed and accomplish this first step. Then we will need to see what happens with the Juba ministry of child welfare.
Your continued prayers are needed and appreciated. We are asking our prayer team to cover this court appointment on Monday and the completion of the adoption of our daughter in Juba. Please pray for Agum, her heart is tender and we have had tearful moments as her little mind works overtime to figure out why it is taking so long.
Praying God’s will be done.
Suzy (for Sabet and Agum too)