After that conversation with Jessica, my husband and I decided together that we would have to reach out to this Gladys lady, it was the only way to find out what was true. I emailed Gladys, and she responded right away. I gave her all the information I had in regards to Grace and Abraham. Names, last location of birth relatives, villages where the children were born. I asked Gladys how much this investigation would cost, and I cannot remember the exact number, but it was wildly cheap. I remember thinking that she must be legit and honest, otherwise she had no idea what she was doing.
In a matter of days, Gladys located the birth family, which for my kids was their biological grandmother on their mother’s side, and their paternal grandfather. Gladys interviewed both, asking thorough questions about the adoption of the kids. She interviewed them in Luganda, and translated everything. She wrote a full and detailed report of the interviews and sent everything to us, including the taped interviews. This woman knew what she was doing, and she did it incredibly well. I read through the report carefully, afraid to miss a single detail. I came to these final questions asked of the maternal grandmother, Jaja, “Do you know what adoption is?” Her answer, “I didn’t, but I do now.” “Did you know that your grandchildren were being adopted?” “No, I was told that they were living in Kampala, going to school. I was told they would come back to see me.” “Did you know that your grandchildren live in the United States?” At this point, Jaja looked distressed. Not quite crying, but holding it back. “No.” was her single whisper. “If you could tell their adopted parents anything, what would you say?” “Can I please see them? Can I know they are ok?”
I could not imagine what this must have felt like to Jaja. As much as I felt my world was turning upside down, how much more was this woman’s life just rocked? Her grandchildren were taken from her, ripped from her arms. She was lied to. All she wanted was to see them, and to know they were well. My heart tore open for her. My heart tore open for my kids. What have they gone through to be in our family today? I could not bear the thought. The only thing I could do is let Jaja see her babies, to grant her this wish. We scheduled a facetime call in the coming days. Gladys made this possible, setting up a place and time to facetime with Jaja. As soon as Jaja saw her grandchildren, I knew this woman loved them with her whole heart. She doted on them, just as a grandmother would. Commenting on their growth, asking them if they had enough to eat. Then she did something I was not expecting, she thanked my husband and I. She addressed us as “daddy” and “mama.” She told the children to listen to us and behave for us. She was everything I know a grandmother to be.
We were so thankful to be able to have a connection with her, to be able to speak with her, even as we grappled with the grief of what had happened to her and our children. It wouldn’t be until years later that we knew the full details of the day her beautiful grandchildren were taken from her arms, the agony she felt, the hopelessness as time went on and she still heard nothing from or about the babies she had cared for after their mother, her daughter, died. Sitting in Uganda, six years after their adoption, Jaja told us: “When the agency came to take the children, they had told me they were with child services and I believed them. I did not have any reason at the time not to. They told me I was not fit to care for children as an old lady, and they were going to bring the children to an orphanage. There was a commotion. Neighbors came out of their homes to protest yelling, “You cannot take these children from this woman! She loves them, she cares for them, and this one (pointing to Abraham) never leaves her side!” The children were crying and screaming, and Abraham clung to me. They pulled him from my arms as he fought to stay. I did not know what would become of them. How would this baby survive without my love? I thought surely now he was going to die.”