In typical Ghana fashion, our day started on “Africa time”. For those who are unfamiliar with travel on this continent, rarely in Africa is a clock followed. The only consistent exception I’ve found would be the US Embassy (because we Americans can’t function without a schedule).
Our POA had said he’d pick us up from the hotel at 10am to travel the hour plus to the kids’ orphanage in Kasoa. He arrived just after 11am. We proceeded to drive to the institution our children have called home for at least 1 (possibly 2 or more) years. What a range of emotions that held. We weren’t given a tour or anything. We were quickly greeted by “Auntie Rose”…the sweet, grandmother figure that opened the orphanage in the late 90s to help care for the neediest children in her community. Truly a remarkable, Godly woman. She ushered us into what I can only assume to be a neutral meeting space with a sofa and some chairs. It’s a small space, maybe 6 feet wide by 12 feet deep. We seat ourselves on the sofa and Auntie Rose sits across from us. The children pile in. It always amazes me how many kids will squish into a small space to be part of something…anything…they think might be worthwhile.
Mind you, not ALL the children were happy we were there. Specifically, ours weren’t. Liam quickly retreated to a corner with his friends. He was afraid we were leaving them there today and he did NOT like that (can’t say I’d blame him. It’s going to be devastating to leave them on Friday!!) Cora was a completely different child while we were there. It became VERY clear, VERY quickly that she was not happy there. She was quiet & sullen unless Mommy or Daddy was holding her…then she was ok. Not sure if she just had the same fears as Liam or if there’s something more…but I can see why we were told she’s so quiet. She didn’t speak the entire time we were at the orphanage!
In stark contrast to our two, another pair of children named Prince & Emmanuella, were extremely happy when we arrived bearing photo books from the family that is in the process of adopting them. Well…E is young, and she looked like someone woke her to come see us, so she wasn’t THAT excited, lol, but her soon-to-be-big-brother was THRILLED!!! He was so excited to see that, not only does a family love him and want him…but also that they get snow! He’s never seen snow and is VERY excited to! Thank you L family for allowing us to experience that moment with your children! What a blessing it was for all of us! Can’t wait to see them in your arms!
After treating the children to some candy from home, we piled back into P’s car to head to the home of our children’s first mother. You see, she wasn’t JUST a “birth mom.” This woman didn’t place her child(ren) into the arms of adoptive parents immediately following delivery. This woman, Jennifer, was a wife and MOTHER. She loves her family dearly. She had cared for her children for years even after her husband died…but made the courageous, selfless decision to place her children…my children…in an orphanage so they MIGHT have the food they need to survive. She relinquished her parental rights, knowing full-well that she may never be able to see these tiny pieces of herself ever again…so that they might LIVE. This, my friends, is a sacrifice I find humbling and brave. I don’t honestly know that I would be able to make the same decision. I mean, I would give anything & everything I have to save my kids’ lives…but could I give THEM? Would I be strong enough to admit I couldn’t parent them because to do so would surely result in their death…so instead, some family I’ve never met & have no say in choosing will take them to the other side of the planet so that they will have food and medical care and maybe even a shot at receiving an education? Can you even imagine a situation so desperate?!
We drove to the neighborhood where Jennifer resides. We were greeted at the road by Cora & Liam’s “foster mother” Jeannette (she is charged with their primary care within the orphanage). She knows the family & was there with them when we arrived. We continued driving over the rough terrain (not even a road, just a worn out walking path that P took with his little Toyota. lol) We drove to the furthest point attainable by vehicle…which ended near a long, narrow adobe building which appeared to have 3 entrances, indicating 3 families likely call this building home. As soon as the car came to a stop the shouts of “MIRIAM!! MIRIAM!!” began. Kids were running to the car to see her. But just her. It was horribly sad to see no one running to greet Charles (Liam). He did wander over and sit with another boy about his age, but his aunt scolded him (I assume for playing in the dirt). It was CRUSHING to this mama’s heart to see one child so loved and adored while the other is cast off without regard.
We were first introduced to the children’s aunt and her daughter (their cousin) Millicent. Millicent & Miriam (Cora) are more than cousins…I could tell they are the best of friends. They’re about the same age and play so very well together. It’s painful to realize that connection is being severed. When we sat in the chairs beneath the tree outside her home, J offered us water and then joined us to talk. Our meeting was brief. It was awkward to tell this woman whom I have never met how much I appreciate her. To share with her just a glimpse of how much I love her children…my children. To help her feel safe & comfortable with us as the ones chosen by God to raise her son & daughter. And then confirmation came. When I asked her “what is the most important thing we can share with the children as they grow? What do you never want them to forget?” Her response was that she wants them “always to worship God”. I can do that!!! Ok…well…I can’t force them to worship, or it isn’t true worship…but I CAN instill the values of our faith and that includes worship! I also assured her that they will have all the food they’ll ever need, top notch medical care, education…and, of course, a lifetime of unconditional love. I asked her if we could take a few photos and I promised to bring them to her when we return to Ghana to bring the children home. I actually am hoping to make a little scrapbook for her that includes the photos taken today, as well as a letter from me – mom to mom, misc other photos of the kids, and photos of our home & family so she can see what the children’s new life will be like. I have also told her that we are fully open to her sending letters to the children through our POA if she ever feels the desire to do so. We will send photos to her of the children as they grow via our agency too.
When we had to get in the car to go, Charles (Liam) jumped right in. Another sign that he hasn’t got a strong attachment there. Breaks my heart…it really does. Miriam (Cora), however, clung to her mother. She cried, but did get into the car and snuggled me after Jeannette gave her some pineapple juice. It’s hard to see her want to stay with her first family, yet it shows me that she was cared for & that she has bonded. That’s actually a really GOOD thing in the adoption world.
We grabbed take out on the way back to the hotel. We were (are) all exhausted. This day has been so filled with emotions…especially for our children. After dinner we swam for a while (in the dark) then skyped with Ivy & Mya back home. Cora & Liam were SOOOO excited they couldn’t stop bouncing around yelling “Ivy and Mya!! Ivy and Mya!!” They absolutely adore seeing their big sisters on the computer! I’m hoping to be able to skype with them at the orphanage a few times while we wait for their visas to be issued…but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to or not.
So that about wraps it up…I think. So much happened. So many thoughts & emotions have been experienced since waking this morning. It’s quite possible I forgot something. If so, I’ll add it to tomorrow’s update. Until then…sweet dreams from Ghana!