Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The End is Near!

Our final piece of paperwork has been approved! I guess the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has ruled that it poses no threat to national security to allow Sweet Williams to immigrate to the United States. We have been deemed financially stable, emotionally stable (yeah, right!), parentally(sp?) stable by the U.S. and the Ghanaian governments and will now be allowed to move this little peanut of a kid into our home. I never thought this day would come. Well, yes, I did, but it just seemed like it might take forever, literally.

As far as I know, Williams' visa was applied for today by our POA in Ghana and that is absolutely the final piece of paperwork required. Everyone keeps asking, "How long do you have to stay in country to pick Williams up?" The response is, "Not at all. We're done!" Unbelievable! Scott has even joked about having someone just drop Williams off at the airport so that he doesn't have to leave the airport. As you can see, he's not nearly as excited as I was to experience Africa.

The ticket will be purchased tomorrow, but at this moment Scott is scheduled to leave for Ghana on Thursday, Aug. 7 and return home, WITH WILLIAMS, on Wednesday, Aug. 13 at 10:35am, but who's keeping track?

I can't wait to smell his head! Just a little quirk I have. God has blessed me with 4 children with the best smelling heads in the world!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bathroom Central

After meeting Williams on my first night in Ghana, I returned to the guest house where I had a wonderful American, AAI (my adoption agency) family waiting for me. We sat in their room and chatted until much too late, but it was so nice to have them there. I can't quite imagine what it would have been like to be there all by myself.

Edward, my driver from the airport and the guy who booked my room, told me on the way there that a family that was supposed to have checked out, didn't. What that meant to me was that I couldn't get a room with it's own bathroom. Edmund at the guest house (a whole lot of "E" names, there was also and Emmanuel) showed me the bathroom right next door to my room and said that I would just have to share it with another AAI mom who would be arriving in a few days. I thought that sounded great, especially because it had a regular toilet and toilet paper.

As we were shutting down for the night, Heather, the other mom, was in my room and I heard the shower running in "my" bathroom. I said as much and she agreed. We waited for the door to open and she backed into the hall to see who it was, as if we'd know them. She came back and said it was some guy in his underwear. Alrighty, then! A little surprising but I could deal with that.

Heather said goodnight and went to her room. As I was getting my things together to go take a long awaited shower, I was just sure I heard the shower again! I went into the hall and the door to the bathroom wasn't quite shut. I knocked and heard some kind of an answer. I went back to my room and sat on the bed waiting to take a shower in "my" bathroom. When I heard the door scratch open I went into the hall and out came a woman in jeans without a top...I mean nothing. I said "hi". I hope that was the appropriate greeting for when you pass a topless woman in the hall.

Right then and there I thought I was going to sit down in the hall and cry. What a big baby I was! This all was just not clicking with this American's expectations of normal. If it hadn't been for the Americans in close proximity at that moment. I would have found some way to move somewhere else, ANYWHERE else, regardless of the fact that it was probably 11:30pm or midnight.

I managed to make it into the bathroom, LOCK THE DOOR, and take my cold shower. There was no hot water at this guest house. At least I DID expect that. Looking back, I just laugh at myself, because this quickly became the norm and didn't bother me at all. I still have no idea who all the other people who used the bathroom were, but they were there the whole time I was because it was a very busy place. Just to let you know, I did jump at the chance to switch rooms later in the week when my American friends left to go home. I would have continued to share my bathroom with the rest of Ghana though, to have had my friends there for the rest of my trip!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our First Meeting

Preparing for my trip was probably one of the most stressful things I have experienced in a long time, probably ever. I think it was the idea that I was traveling so far away, forgotten items wouldn't be easy to get, and there were folder after folder of paperwork that needed to come along with me. The main purpose of this trip was to file our I600 form at the US embassy in Accra. The bonus was that I was going to meet and spend a week with Williams! It took me several hours on the plane to kind of decompress from all the getting ready.
The flights were long but fairly uneventful. The biggest problem was that I realized I'd forgotten all of my lipstick and I didn't know if I could survive that. I even called my adoption coordinator, way too late in the evening, to find out if I could get lipstick in Ghana. Her answer was, "Not anything you'd want to put on your lips." That was a kind of scary answer so I found the duty free lipstick store, (yes, there is one) and searched, with no luck, for just the right "Amy in Africa" color. I was just going to have to go to Africa lipstickless. Little did I know that this would be the biggest non-issue I could possibly imagine.
For 11 hours I did the "countdown to Williams". I watched the little map on the screen in front of me showing me inch closer and closer to Ghana and it just didn't seem real. My flight was about 1 1/2 hours late arriving. The airport was nothing like I was expecting. I was picturing the Puerta Vallarta airport which was just chaos, but Accra's was orderly, clean, and quite nice. There were no men grabbing at my bags to "help" me as I imagined. Edward, the poor driver who had arrived at the airport at 5:45pm to pick me up, sat wearily just where I was told he would be waiting. It was about 8:00pm. Besides the "wild airport" fear, I also had the "no one there to pick me up" fear. So far, so good!
On the drive to Teshie, the area where Eban House and my guest house is located, I asked about going to Eban House. Edward said it was too late and all the kids would be asleep. I was devastated! I thought that I was going to be able to go, no matter what time it was, and they would wake him up to meet me. I tried not to act like he had just punched me in the gut, but that's what I felt like. Once again, in rode my adoption coordinator, on her white horse. She called Edward on his cell phone, from Tulsa, to see if I'd made it. We talked and she said of course I could go to Eban House to meet Williams tonight!
When I arrived at Eban House, Auntie Esther was there to greet me. It seemed so appropriate since that is my mom's name. She went and got Williams and there he was, standing in front of me. After all the pictures and dreams , he was right there. I asked him if it was ok for me to hug him and he did his little "Ghana nod" which is one, small nod, and it's easy to miss. He smelled so good!!!! He was a little shy at first, but he warmed up quickly. I only sat with him for 5 minutes or so. It was hard to not just want to sit there and stare at him without talking, like I'd done with his pictures for the last 3 months, but I didn't want him to know yet how weird I am, so I kept it short. It's hard to carry on much of a conversation with a 5 year old boy, who speaks limited English, has just been woken up from a dead sleep, and told his new obruni (white) mother is waiting to to meet him in the other room. The fact that he came out at all seemed like a good deal to me. I'm not sure I would have, had I been him!
I decided to keep him. Oh, yeah, I had to! He was already my son. It's funny how similar it was to meeting your biological baby right after delivery. He didn't talk, he let me look at his fingers and toes (they were all there!), and I got to kiss him repeatedly on the head. He didn't run away from me, so I deemed the whole experience a success.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

While I've Been Away...

My posting has ground to a halt since returning from Ghana. Part of it is lack of time. Part of it is being so tired. Part of it is so much to say I don't know where to start.

I think I will steal the format that my friend Heather is using and just go through my trip day by day. But, before I go into that, I have to tell of a sad, sad incident that took place at Eban House 5 nights after I left.

Sunday night, four armed men broke into Eban House wanting to know where the valuables were kept. There were 3 house moms (Aunties) on duty. Esther is the one who the men came upon. Esther, in an attempt to keep the men from getting the items and to keep the children safe, would not tell them. The men repeatedly assaulted her. They then proceeded to break into the office, steal the money they found there, laptop computers, and what other valuables they could find. Took make a bad situation worse, 4 of the older girls woke up and witnessed part of the violence, but, thankfully, not the part involving Esther. The girls then prayed during the rest of the ordeal. Can you believe that these girls, the oldest being probably 8, had the spiritual and emotional maturity to instantly begin praying? Not only praying, but praying for the men to leave, praying FOR the attackers, and praying for forgiveness for the men.

This has left me feeling as if it were my own home that was invaded. I am sickened that such an act would happen in a small home full of 30 sleeping children and the 3 women caring for them. The only bright side of the story is that the girls recognized the men as hired men who had been at Eban House the previous week painting. The girls went to the police station and, hopefully, will be able to help with these men being caught.

This whole episode just further erodes my already fragile sense of trust that I have of people in general. On one hand, a part of me wants so badly to believe that most people have good intentions. On the other hand, it just seems a rare occasion that I don't have a part of me that cannot completely trust anyone except for a small handful. It makes you really evaluate how you should function in this world. Unfortunately, it seems that a healthy dose of distrust is the only way to keep yourself, and your family, safe.

My knee-jerk response when I first was told of this horrible crime was to think, "Why Eban House? They have nothing!" Then I started thinking of it from a different perspective. On a regular basis, "rich" Americans walk to and from Eban House. Often times they are carrying large bags of donations, the actual content of which is probably much more valuable in a bystanders imagination. But in reality, there are many things donated, or purchased through donated funds, that are quite valuable, especially in a society so stricken by poverty. It is amazing to me that these children have gone from being mainly the most needy of a society, to now being a worthy target for scumbags of the world.

I can do nothing on this end but pray for God to heal all that needs healed at Eban House. Thankfully, Williams was in no way hurt, nor did he even wake up, as far as anyone knows. I would ask everyone who reads this to please pray for this also, especially for Esther, and the 4 daughters of my 3 different friends who now have yet more trauma in their short little lives to deal with.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm Going Home Already!?

Oops, I didn't mean to send that last post. I'm leaving for home tomorrow night at 9:20pm. I can't believe it's already here. I must say, I am ready to go home. The time has been just right. The time I've spent with Williams has been good. He still wants to be with me constantly. I'd like to see him play with the other kids, but it's me he wants. He'll play catch or football forever. A couple of days ago he was playing catch with his little nerf football and he accidentally launched it over the wall of the compound. The boys came tell me they needed to look for the ball so we went out searching. We ended up with about 20 kids looking for the ball and who found it...Heather Sears the other mom visiting at the time. As we tried to herd all the kids back through the gate there were 4 or 5 breakaway little boys who were high-tailing it up the path. I was yelling and yelling for them to stop and they would not! I looked back toward the gate and no one else saw the situation. I was on my own with a few errant little boys. I decided I couldn't handle it on my own and yelled "Heather, help!" She thought my terror was funny! I was afraid I was going to lose half the population of Eban House single-handedly. They finally stopped and slowly headed back in my direction. I challenged them to a race back to the gate which facilitated a faster return to Eban House. They are safe and sound back within the walls of the compound.

Williams continues to eat a ton. I think I might have misread his intentions earlier about sharing food because now he will not give me a bite of food until he's done. Today for lunch I ordered an adult meal of chicken skewers and rice thinking that we could share it. I'll be darned if he didn't eat 2 1/4 of the 3 skewers, most of the rice and 1 of the 3 little tomatoe wedges! I snarfed down the leftovers while he stood there and said, "Let's go, Mommy!" because he wanted to get in the pool. (We went to La Palm again today. Heather, aren't you jealous!)

Today was a little more challenging with Williams. He get's into this mopey funk and sticks with it for a loooooonnnnnnggggg time... like an hour! Our taxi driver kept telling him, "Little boy, stop crying!" Ghanaians don't like it when kids cry. It wasn't real crying, more of a whine. Very pleasant! It will be something to deal with right away when we get him home. It's usually brought on by not getting something he wants. I thought only American kids had this down to an art!

I have a few hours tomorrow and I haven't told Williams yet that I go home tomorrow. He's not going to like it. I hope the time flies until he comes home!

I'm Going Home Already?!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally...time to post from Ghana!

Wow! I feel like I'm a world away. Oh, I am! I don't know where to start. I guess Williams would be a good place. He is an angel. We left Eban House yesterday to spend a day at the swimming pool at La Palm Resort or Mini America as someone has nicknamed it. It is beautiful. After quite the ordeal trying to leave we went to Frankies for lunch. I ordered chicken and rice for Williams. It was huge and he ate every bite. All that was left was a bare chicken leg bone. I don't even think I knew what one looked like before this. I meant to take a picture of his plate to show my kids at home, but I forgot.

Next, we went to La Palm. It is wonderful by any standards. We were with the Sears family who are adopting 4 children and brought 3 of their children from Virginia, so we were quite a big group. All the kids loved swimming. Williams was very tentative and didn't realize that he could walk in the water. He didn't want to move. Then when he did, he walked off a step and scared himself. It took him a little while to recover from that, but he did get back in. His favorite was just riding around on my back and going under the waterfalls. We'd go back to the shallow and he'd take my hand and say, "Let's go, mommy!" and wanted to head back out for more pool tours.

Williams is quite attached to me. He always wants to be touching me or me touching him. He's always holding my hand when we're on the move and will let me carry him if I wish. This is quite easy because he's so light. He slept on my lap on the way to Frankies and again on the way home from La Palm. On the way home we took a bush road since the traffic was so bad. I've heard people tell of these, but like so many other things, you can't fully appreciate them until you experience them. Amazingly, at least 4 kids were sleeping as we bounced around. I had such a tight hold on Williams that we were a sweaty mess by the time we got home. That's not so unusual though. It was very HOT yesterday.

Back at Maa Oye, Grace was expecting us for dinner, but not the extra 5 kids. As usual, she was gracious and able to feed our whole herd. After seeing how much Williams ate for lunch I was afraid he would not be full so I ate very little and offered him my plate when his was empty. He said, "No Mommy, I ok!" I could tell he just didn't want to take my food from me so I ate a few bites and said how full I was. I asked then if he would like to have the rest and he ate somemore. Again then he gave me my fork back and said, "I ok, Mommy."

In my room before we ate I really didn't have anything for Williams to do so we laid on the bed and looked through a Family Circle magazine with a flashlight. The light in my room is so dim I can't read without my flashlight. I'm thinking little light is a good thing in this situation. The saying "ignorance is bliss" has served me well on this trip. I had a bag of cookies I had gotten for Williams so I told him we would all have them after dinner. He held them close constantly for about 45 minutes until it was time to eat them. He took one and when I went to pass them around the table he looked at me like I was a traitor but I told him we had to share. He then passed them around. He did take a second when it got back to him. When he went for a third I told him no and he said, "Take the rest back to Daddy". What a sweet pea!

I carried him back up to Eban House and I think he might have thought he was staying with me because he wasn't happy. He does a very good mopey face. I held him until everyone was ready to leave, kissed him, told him I'd be back in the morning, and high-tailed it out of there. I'm afraid this evening part is going to get worse each day.

Another mom, Robin, is coming this evening and the Sears' are leaving early tomorrow morning. I'm really going to miss them. I've loved having their kids here too. They are 13, 11, and 10 and have really helped me not miss mine so bad. The Sears have 2 more little one's at home so with their 4 more they will have 9 kids. If anyone can handle it Steve and Heather can. I'm really looking forward to meeting Robin tonight.

To my babies, all 4 of them, at home. I miss you!!!!! Be glad you live where you live!!!!! I hope you had fun at camp Holly and Hannah. I hope you've had fun at all your friends, Adam. Play good this weekend, Hannah. Keep your swing speed up! Tell everyone hi and there's a lot of cute kids here who could use good families. Dad, I hope your recuperating. Mom, thanks for the help with the kids. Hi, Patti. I love you all!!!!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Goodbye USA

I'm leaving....finally. I'm going to Ghana to file my I600 and spend a week with Williams. I don't think I've quite experienced anything so stressful as preparing to leave. I took my girls to camp at 1:00 and I'm leaving for the airport at 2:00. I will meet Williams tomorrow evening and I haven't really had a lot of time to think about that. I guess I will have time on the plane.

I can't be clever right now so I'll talk to you all from Ghana!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I have so much going on that I think I could post here several times a day. However, I'm fighting with my computer over pictures. I hate to post without pictures! I've been fighting with camera's, since mine broke and I'm waiting for a new one, and I've been fighting my Kodak software which wont let me get my pictures out of the computer and onto my blog. I've also been fighting 'too much stuff that needs to get done' and fighting the 'it's 1am and I need to go to bed'. If this one doesn't make sense it's because it's now 1:35am and I really do HAVE to go to be.