In 2007, Kate and I were working in East Africa. We had heard that our friends had been involved in short-term foster care for special needs kids at a local orphanage and, after much thoughtful consideration, decided that this was something we were equipped to do.
Though I didn't know it at the time, the decision to foster Luka has become a watershed moment in my own life. During the following months, we seriously considered adopting him, but due to several circumstances, did not. At the time it was a painful decision, not knowing our future or his, but the story has a happy ending.
In the following years, we left Tanzania, and our friends decided to foster Luka on a long-term basis, partially resulting from discussions that stemmed from his time with us. This past spring, with all of the documentation finally lined up, Luka was finally adopted. Luka's parents can now tell him with certainty that he is secure as a member of their family.
Since Kate and I left East Africa, we've added two little girls to our family through birth. All of us hope to add to our family in the future through adoption.
We were able to visit with Luka and his new family this past weekend while they are in the US visiting family and friends. He doesn't remember his time with us, but he loved hearing the stories that Kate would tell him about his time with us (check out the blog we kept about his time with us in 2007), and had a wonderful time playing with our daughter, Anna. So there is a happy ending--softened hearts, new friendships, and new families formed, all because of a little boy.
Just Skyped with a good friend this morning who works for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Sudan. He's been primarily located in Renk, in the northernmost part of the country on the Nile River and quite near the border with Sudan. Since gaining independence nearly a year ago, South Sudan has seen a steady stream of southerners returning and IOM is an office of the UN that works to organize and resettle many of these returnees.
Because of it's positionality, Renk is a major migration center as people arrive from the north on foot, bus, and boat. Even now that the border is closed due to the recent conflict along the border to the west in Unity State, the north continues to allow returning southerners across the border.
The photos below were taken by my friend, Aaron Adkins, within the last couple of weeks: