In the summer of 2009, a friend from high-school returned from her yearly summer mission trip to Uganda. She has travelled there annually with a group of ladies to bring books to the school libraries and make improvements to the school. That summer, she met 3-week-old Mercy. Her mother died in childbirth. She emailed her husband that night and said she’d found their baby. Melissa and her husband, a pastor of a Baptist church, have two daughters. They’ve wanted a third child, but she wasn’t healthy enough to maintain a pregnancy. He told her to come home, and they would pray about it.
The Start of a Promise
In January 2010 with the blessing of their church and family, they began researching international adoption procedures. In August 2010, Melissa returned to Uganda to meet their attorney. Her husband followed a month later in time for their court date. For whatever reason, the court decision did not go in their favor. Their lawyer told them they could fight the decision or give up. Melissa and her husband prayed for guidance. They felt confidence that Mercy was to be their daughter. Melissa’s husband had to return home, but Melissa remained.
For I Know the Plans I Have for You…
Over the next 11 months, Melissa kept her friends and family updated on multiple court dates and activities via her blog. More than anything she struggled to understand why her adoption was taking so long when so many other families had short stays and left with their newly adopted children.
Faith Without Works is Dead…
But Melissa refused to feel sorry for herself and refused to be idle. She sought out needs and found ways to meet them. By now, it wasn’t just friends and family reading her blog, but friends of friends of friends. Some had stumbled upon her blog by accident and continued reading. Any time Melissa would mention something, she’d get tons of emails asking how people could help.
So, Melissa started her own one-woman relief society. Through donations, she created almost 1000 mama kits filled with basic supplies to help women in remote villages to have safe deliveries. She visited multiple orphanages and helped transport sick infants and children to the clinic. Her biggest endeavor was the complete renovation of one of the poorest most dilapidated orphanages. Again, purely through donations and the help of a US youth group, she bought all the school-aged children shoes and uniforms. She had their school tuition paid. The entire orphanage was painted inside and out. Plumbing was installed in the boys’ dorm. New mattresses were purchased for all the bunks, and finally food was restocked to last a very long time. Melissa was stunned at the amount of money that poured in. She had to set up a charity account because PayPal considered the sudden influx of thousands of dollars to be fraud!
All this time, she was learning to be a mom again in a foreign country to a little girl of a different culture. She named every Monday – Mercy Monday – and asked her readers to hold her and Mercy in prayer, that soon there would be a way home and her family could be reunited. As you can imagine her husband was playing Mr Mom, and their daughters had their birthdays without their mom.
Delays and Candor
Melissa couldn’t publicly explain the problems with court. She could only share her hope when another hearing had been scheduled and her disappointment when there was another delay. But aside from what needed to be kept private, Melissa was not afraid to share her joys and her sorrows – learning about her youngest child’s homeland and tears over missing the rest of her family at home.
A Promise Fulfilled
Finally, July 15, Melissa’s husband blogged – his wife and daughter were coming home. They arrived in the US to balloons, friends, and family. More importantly, the family of five Melissa and her husband had been promised two years ago was finally right where they were supposed to be!
Road to Mercy
To read Melissa’s story in more detail, check out her blog.