In 2014, then just a baby, Andaiye* was found abandoned in a drainage ditch in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. After she received medical treatment, it was determined she was HIV positive. She was referred to Child’s i Foundation’s Malaika Family Centre, a short-term transitional shelter for children, while social workers began searching for Andaiye’s family.
Through local radio and newspaper ads, social workers with Child’s i Foundation are often successful in finding a child’s birth family, as reunification, when safe and appropriate, is the preferred option along the continuum of family care. Andaiye’s family, however, could not be located. Her social workers took the next step to go through the proper channels to locate a foster or adoptive family. During this time she was cared for in the Centre.
Lucy Buck, the founder and CEO of Child’s i Foundation, was told in 2010 that Ugandans did not adopt. However, Lucy’s interactions with Ugandan families gave her a different sense. She believed that Ugandan families would adopt local children if given the opportunity. This instinct, mixed with the encouragement from an acquaintance not to open an orphanage, led to the birth of Child’s i Foundation. Instead of building a fifty-bed orphanage as originally planned, Lucy and her staff of Ugandan social workers set up a small transitional center, then known as the Malaika Babies Home, to help support family care efforts. In this model, children receive temporary care while social workers search for extended family or work toward placing the child with foster or adoptive parents as appropriate for the individual situation. The goal for each child who comes through the Centre is to place the child in a family within six months of entering their care.
Six years and several hundred local foster and adoptive families later, Lucy and her team have proven that Ugandans will foster and adopt, and adoption is becoming a normal part of the Ugandan culture. Child’s i Foundation has an emergency foster care program where children are looked after by professional foster carers until social workers are able to find families for the children. Today, Child’s i Foundation has more Ugandan families wanting to adopt than they have children who are available for adoption.
While Andaiye spent two years at Malaika Family Centre, social workers watched as her peers were placed into local families. The Child’s i Foundation staff knew that God had a local adoptive family for her. By utilizing a Facebook group called Ugandans Adopt, which is an ongoing campaign organized by both the Ugandan government and Child’s i Foundation, Andaiye’s social workers safely promoted her story and ensured her personal identity was protected.
The Facebook post reached the home of Pastor Charles and his wife, Melinda, who live five hours from Kampala. After navigating the proper government channels and participating in numerous assessments, Pastor Charles and Melinda legally adopted Andaiye. Today, she is a healthy, joy-filled little girl. She receives free medication from a local clinic under a government program called the Uganda Cares Initiative.
Learning how to tie your shoes can be tough. Often, the only reason young ones make it out the door with shoes on at all is the tender patience of the parent who goes searching for the lost sneakers before quickly slipping them on the child’s feet. A close look at the above photo reveals an action so ordinary, yet incredibly powerful. Pastor Charles is helping his daughter put on her sandals. And one day soon he will be there to teach her how to tie her sneakers.
Years of research reveal that this kind of consistent parenting will be life altering for Andaiye. It is in the day in and day out routines of a family that a lifetime of love, trust, and safety is built. The Child’s i Foundation staff is confident that Andaiye will use this strong foundation to become a self-assured, productive, and loving member of her community.
*Name changed to protect privacy