So I think it would be accurate to say that I am the kind of person who likes to keep busy, have lots of activities going on, and I like to help and solve problems. The problem can be trivia, trivial, or more serious. I don't usually see barriers or obstacles... if there is a problem, then there is a solution and I will find it. That's just my personality.
When we were leaving for Ghana on our second trip, I was made aware of a man running an orphanage who was in need. So I decided to contact him and find out more. The problem with some problems, is that they are not so easy to solve, and it's more than just the challenge of problem solving, but actual lives are involved. I met a man I call Brother John. Brother John has an orphanage with 26 children. When I met him, they had been kicked out of their current living quarters and were sleeping in a hallway. First, let me explain that "kicked out" was due to an inability to pay one-two years ADVANCED lease for the place. I don't know many Americans who could pull that off in our economy, the likelihood of a young man caring for orphans is less likely to manage this kind of requirement in Ghana. And this is how it is in Ghana, you have to pay advanced rent... not just one or two months, but one or two years.
So, Brother John has no source of regular support. He lives with the children day by day hoping to bring in just enough to meet the needs of the children for living, education and food. So far it is litterally day by day.
Wednesday last week I received an email from Brother John indicating that the last of their money had been used to move into a place that would take them for the little money they had. On this day they were out of money, out of food, and out of clean water. And apparently I was the only person he was able to reach out to for help. The email was this:
Thank you very much and may the Lord bless you very well as only as He can.
Thank you very much for helping us in Christ's love.
I hope anything little even about 10$ could be a help for now because we ate only once today and the water we bought linked and finished as we realized it this morning but don't have peny on me to buy some.
We are praying as we have not started church services in this house where we may could generate some ongoing funds from.
Thank you very much and keep us in your prayers as well. And untill we talk again, have a blessed day.
I met Brother John, I have seen the children he is caring for. I know the place he is staying. I have all the documents that prove he is a legitimate organization. He keeps records of their finances and has shared this with me. I know it is hard for Americans to understand how someone could be in charge of so many children with no actual source of support or income. But because Brother John speaks in churches to earn a very small amount and has been able to meet the daily needs of the children, there are families who cannot meet the daily needs and will make arrangements for John to care for their children. In some cases the children are completely orphaned with no one to take care of them, or with one parent who is unable to care for them due to illness or circumstances out of their control. So in America we cannot imagine a situation like this, but in Ghana it can happen, it does happen.
During a trip to a village in Ghana I watched a mother try to give her child to someone who she believed could provide food and medical care. The person to whom the mother was trying to give the child, also had very, very little and could barely care for her own family. "Poor" is a very relative term.
So Brother John, is a God-fearing man who has provided for these children and met basic needs and is managing to provide an education. Of course people trust him with their children, what else can you do? And now as I am going about my very American daily life, there is pause. Pause: there are hungry children gonig to bed at night, children that are asking for help from ME... not an advertisement on TV, not a magazine ad. No, real kids, in a real situation, and in at least one case I was the only one who could provide help. It makes life just a little more complex than I would have ever expected.
Thanks to the support of a few friends with a few dollars we were able to get Brother John some money. Three of us gathered $75 to send to Brother John. $25 each... that's all. $25. Sometimes I feel like I am not helping if I can't offer more. I wonder what will $25 dollars do? How can $25 help? But for the last 3 days these children have eaten enough to be satisfied at each meal. I don't know how long $75 will last for 26 children in Ghana (not to mention the adults who sacrifice with them), but I know a story about 5 loaves and 5 fishes, and I pray the money will find a way to meet their needs until another way comes.
A whole week has passed since my last blog... I can tell you that it is certainly NOT due to lack of things to write about.
Week two of school was completed. And that was successful. There was a dental appointment and that went better than expected (not the results, just the willingness to participate). We have all been learning a lot more about each other. This is week three home for the children. I took note that week three was the hardest for me in Ghana. I would say week three started out rough here, but I would say we ended very well.
The girls have been telling us so much about their life in Ghana. We have learned so much about their birth family and their days at the orphanage. It's wonderful that the girls have been so willing to share about the fun things and the not-so-fun.
Friday I went to the school and did a little presentation about African Instruments (Ghana and Ethiopia). I think the instrument piece went well, but some how the children came around to asking about how the girls came here and adoption, and that part I wasn't prepared for. Not to mention that a little boy started sharing his very difficult story about why he was adopted. I promised to the teacher I would brush up on my adoption answers before a return to the classroom :-) - Just as a tip to other adoptive parents: watch out for 2nd graders, they are savvy enough to ask very in depth questions, and too young to filter it... you could be asked ANYTHING :-)
Friday night the girls meet more relatives. Last night we had a gathering of several adoptive families that we know. It's great to share with those who have and are experiencing similar situations.
Me: What do you want for dinner Eden: Fried rice, chicken and Jesus white. *at our house Jesus white is now the common term for vanilla ice cream - I am sure it is not taking the name of the Lord in vain because we are talking about a yummy treat like ice cream.
Me: You should go to bed. Eden: It makes me scared-a-fied
Trent: Change into your sleeping clothes Eden: You turn your head (I think this one is only cute in real life with her little accent)
Me: How can you be hungry again??? Eden: Mommy, I want be-yed Me: What is be-yed? Eden: be-yed,be-yed, be-yed. I want be-yed. Me: (wondering why I can understand every word in the sentence EXCEPT the important one) Eden: Muuuuummmheee, I want be-yed Me: Bread? Eden: Yes be-yed.
And for those of you who have been following our story, you know that Eden's common statement in Ghana was "Mommy, don' kiss me" and now I'd like to announce that it is "Mommy kiss me!" HA!
Transitions can be so hard. I loved my time in Ghana. It was a wonderful experience but I sooooo wanted to be home. Home was the US and Minnesota, and my house and my bed. American food, American laws, American culture... any of it would have made me feel home. More than anything I missed Trent and the kids, but I think that is obvious that you miss family.
So now my girls are here... we are heading into week 3. And I remember week 3 in Ghana. I was alone, no Angelisa and Carmin, no Trent. Just me and the girls. It was hard. I can't say I had joy about it during that week. I was glad to be there with my girls and all the other things that were going on, it was a blessing I was there that week. Anyway, I think of my girls going in their "week 3", I wonder how much they miss Ghana. I wonder how much they would love to smell Ghana and hear Ghana, and taste Ghana. I wonder how much they long to hear their native language or hear someone call out to them with a familiar voice.
Things are going well here. We are going through a transition with lots of ups and downs. A good balance of both the ups and the downs. No unwanted or unexpected suprises... a few good ones, involving suprise hugs or kisses, or some other amazing thing children come up with. Both those who have lived here more than three weeks and those who have lived here less, all very amazing. They all have suprised us with their patience and reslience, while still reminding us they are children each with their own set of needs to be met.
So I think on Week 3 in Ghana to remind me that the girls likely don't feel that they are "home". Likely an unmet need or misunderstood request feels very lonely. I have to say I am a little broken hearted tonight, I miss Ghana for them. Of course I too miss Ghana, but I miss Ghana from the comfort of my familiar home and food. It's not the same.
Tomorrow is Sunday. The girls look forward to church and I am speaking briefly about our adoption in the service. The sermon is about "Ask, Seek, Knock"... that particular process is a God given gift, no so much a challenge for me. I can "ask, seek, and knock" all day... but God has also challenged me to learn patience, we still have a long way to go in that arena!
I hear an announcement from the other room that it is bed time (it's actually WAY passed bedtime, but that's another story)... I must go~!
So for now we are working to develop a "normal" pattern in our house. By all means, I am not saying normal, as in average... just finding our own normal... our own routine.
Trent's been doing the wash. Just looking at the mound make my head spin.
I bought a HUGE pile of uniforms for the kids for school. I totally thought I was going overboard... but nope... I didn't have enough. I bought a couple more items today.
So the morning routine is going well. The kids are pretty independent and can accomplish most of the morning tasks on their own. Rounding them up to get them in the mini-van gives a whole new meaning to the saying "hearding cats"...
School is going fine. We have a little switch-a-roo tomorrow to move from afternoon kindergarten to morning, which works out well for all of us. And the girls' teachers are asking for some language tips. So tomorrow I will go hang out at the school for a while.
After school I get into a long line of mini-vans and wait for all the smiling faces to arrive at my van. The teacher directing traffic knows I pick up a whole band of children. Not soodd, since there are many car-poolers, but still we stand out just a little.
Tonight we got home and I told the kids to get ready to go swimming. While they were preparing, I cut Tamene's hair. Do you know he screamed at the TOP of his lungs the ENTIRE time I cut his hair... and then told Trent he didn't cry. All the other kids told Trent he DID cry!
After the haircut and swimming apparel were settled, I made dinner. And as I type I realize I failed to feed myself, but I am going to claim success for the day if that was the only thing I forgot to do - don't worry, I'll make myself something now.
A fun night of swimming. Tirzah tried out the big water slide. She said she liked it, but she also did not go down a second time. I was soooo proud of her for trying!
We made friends with another adoptive family with five children. When she found out the girls have only been home a week, she asked me if anyone had called me crazy yet. HA! Yet???? Who HASN'T said it. Even my brother took a quiet moment to offer support of my ways, but still making it clear he thought I was insane (he doesn't have any kids yet).
So bed time. That routine continues to take a little work. But all children were sleeping by 9:45 most before 9... so again, I am going to claim success.
Tomorrow, a visit to the school and all three of the girls will go to the doctor.
Friday is picture day at school (what???? you know if I buy pictures I would have to take out a loan).
Saturday we will be at a picnic with some of Trent's friends.
Sunday I speak at church. I am going to offer a few words about our adoption as it relates to an Ask, Seek, Knock message. I'm trusting God to give me power and strength to keep my statement within the 4 minutes I have been allotted. You all know this will be a true miracle. But with God ALL things are possible, even keeping me to a 4 minute testimony :-)
We arrived home late on Sunday night. It was just the four of us in the house.
Eden woke in the night and decided she was hungry. After consuming 5 blueberry muffins (compliments of Jamie and Tamene) she was willing to return to bed. Tirzah woke up and was a little shaken by her hew surroundings.
Later I attempted to make some traditional foood for them. This didn't work out well for me, so Tirzah took over the cooking and made herself some Tom Brown Porridge. Today I figured out how to make it on my own :-)
The girls (all three of them) went with me to buy school supplies. We have also gone to the school to introduce them to their teachers. Tonight is open house, so they will get to meet some of their new classmates~!
They met Trent's parent last night and will meet my family this weekend.
Adoption journey number 2. Last year we adopted and brought home our third child, a boy from Ethiopia. We are starting the journey again! The purpose of the blog is to do my best to document the journey to our new family.
I learned a lot in Ethiopia, a lot about the world and a lot about myself. This journey will surely take us back to Africa to learn more about the beauty of her land and her people. And surely I will learn more about myself. Thanks for joining me on the journey!
March 19, 2010 - Forever Day (re-adoption complete)
August 10, 2009 - First day of school
August 3, 2007 - My family of 7 sleeps under one roof!
August 2, 2009 - My family is all on one continent
August 2, 2009 - Depart from Ghana to return to America (total of 6 travelers)
August 1, 2009 - Saying good-bye to our new Ghana family
July 31, 2009 - Naming ceremony for Baby Trent
July 29, 2009 - Depart from America- trip #2 to Ghana
July 27, 2009 - 1:24:12 on the phone with Delta!
July 24, 2009 visa printed
July 22, 2009 - Additional documentation presented for visa approval
July 21, 2009, visa appointment - additional documentation requested
July 15, 2009 Visa packet pick up
July 10, 2009 - Embassy in Ghana indicates I600a is recieved and 1600 is approved
July 9, 2009 - NVC indicates that i-600a was forwarded to Ghana on 7/8
July 9, 2009 - Finally, someone who can help
July 6-9, 2009 - Contact every gov't official I can
July 6, 2009 - NVC verifies they have never received paperwork for Ghana
July 6, 2009 - Notified that I600a has not arrived in Ghana - there was never a chance for I600 approval during my 30 days in Ghana
July 4, 2009 - 30 days since the I600 was filed. No word
June 28, 2009 - Depart from Ghana
June 25, 2009 - Still in Ghana
June 22, 2009 - Still in Ghana
June 15, 2009 - Still in Ghana
June 9, 2009 - Es Passport delivered
June 4, 2009 - I600 filed
June 2-3, 2009 Arrive at Eban House
June 2, 2009 - Arrive in Ghana
June 1, 2009 - Depart for Ghana
May 30, 2009 - Received copies of court decree!
May 29, 2009 - Assured that there is a court decree!
May 28, 2009 - Verbal notification that Court Decree is completed
May 26, 2009 - Visa in hand (weekend and holiday included)
May 22, 2009 - Hoping for court decree and EE passport next week!
May 20, 2009 - Visa paperwork arrives in DC
May 20, 2009 - Re-fingerprinted
May 19, 2009 - Flights are booked
May 18, 2009 - Decision to book flights without court decree
May 14, 2009 - One Ghana Passport received (TS)
May 7, 2009 - We pass court! I'm officially the momma of 5! Official notice of approval for Medical Missions is received.
May 6, 2009 - ADP Passport arrives
April 16, 2009 - Welcome packages arrive in Ghana. Girls are notified that they have a family waiting for them!
April 20, 2009 - ADP passport applied for
April 7, 2009 - Dossier is with agency staff in Ghana
March 30, 2009 - Dossier arrives in Ghana
March 23, 2009 - I-824 filed
March 20, 2009 - Dossier received by agency in WA - (I missed an authorization - ugh)
March 19, 2009 - Dossier is in the mail!
March 14, 2009 - Referral accepted
March 13, 2009 - Referral received
March 13, 2009 - Home study complete
March 10, 2009 - First home study
February 25, 2009 - Decision to pursue Ghana adoption
February 19, 2009 - First sighting
Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at it destination full of hope. Maya Angelou
While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation. Maya Angelou
While the rest of the world has been improving technology, Ghana has been improving the quality of man's humanity to man. Maya Angelou