Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Today we went to a Southern Fried Chicken (picked by Edward) which has KFC type fast food but also pizza, curry, Ghanaian dishes, etc. I, of course, had a Ghanaian dish as I want to try it all. So I had beans and red sauce on top of fish (red snapper) and fried plantains. All the meals here are huge though... I have yet to finish one I bought. Last night I had Tilapia and Banku at the little place next to the guest house. They were very nice and thought the pepper would be too much but it wasn't, although I just could not finish it all (so a little banku got left behind).
I asked Edward how hard it was to go out of Accra and he said that he could take me to the Central Region, about 2-4 hours away (which means longer). So you probably won't hear from me tomorrow because I'll be overnight in a village. This means I get to present the chief with a bottle of gin (which seemed to surprise Edward I knew we'd need this - thank you Anthony Bordaine). I'm not sure which village we are going to but I asked Edward how much I'd need to bring and he said 20 cedi should be enough for a bottle of gin and an overnight stay. What a cool adventure. I'll be sure to get pictures there!! We will be leaving very early Monday and will be back in Accra by mid-morning so it should not disrupt Embassy affairs.
I got to meet Rose today (Z’s co-worker’s mother-in-law), who was thrilled to get her icy hot pads and cameras. She actually is only about a quarter mile down the road so I can probably walk there and get the cameras on Wednesday next week. She smiled and said, “oh Angie” in a funny way so she seemed tickled by it all. I still need to grab hats for Kali but I'll take care of that next week when I'm back here.
I have not gone to the orphanage yet today but I figured I'd do that later because I had a headache when I got back (from the market) and thought I'd go to get some cooler water and relax in the shade before getting all sweaty picking up kids. I feel bad since Jim went there to give the things we bought today but I didn't want to have a headache and not be much fun so I figured I'd sit in the shade and write this e-mail and go send it first. I actually am feeling much better now... I just needed to relax a bit from all the heat and bustle of the market place.
I'll get to see them tomorrow too when they go to Church so they don't miss a day of seeing me, yippee! After Church is when we'll be traveling so I'm going to wash up my laundry tonight. I'm definitely excited about this extra trip. I think I'll add what I can extra for the drivers when I leave because they are definitely doing more than what was expected. Speaking of expected, I'd have to say that other people that travel may want a book or some form of the Ga language written down for both reference in talking here and when the kids come home. The kids all speak Ga, English, toddler and something in between all of them; sometimes all at once. The caretakers speak a lot of Ga and most people here converse in Ga or Twi probably 80-90% of the time. I think I'll ask for Ga words while riding in the car tomorrow.
I'll update when I can!
Friday, December 28, 2007
I know that Z appreciates having Jim around...he is soaking up lots of parenting advice from Jim's experience! Thanks, Jim!
We went to the orphanage this morning while they were in class. It was fun to see them in the classroom environment. Our boys are prone to cry when they want something, rather than ask which I'm sure results in the quickest response, but it’s another thing we’ll have to work on. I also think that T is left handed. The other day they were eating and were using knives and forks...T would usually just use his knife (held in his left hand) and eat with that. When corrected, he'd change but had a lot of trouble and would just switch back when not being watched.
E cried a lot when challenged to write his ABC's (only to D). I've noticed both boys will cry when something is difficult or they don't get what they want. It's basically like they are half their age and I think it'll be challenging (maybe I should do the same thing as they do… sniffle...) but exciting to watch their progress as they learn our boundaries.
I've photographed the school schedule, the orphanage schedule, the school rules (which are a great guideline they'll recognize) so we can follow a lot of that and not change patterns. They do ask to go to the bathroom now so we may not have to worry as much about that front. Also, as for sizes, they are both about Dante’s size (shout out to Z’s sister and nephew!), T is a bit heavier though. I'd say E’s weight is in the low 30s and T might be in the low 40s after a meal. I've picked them up plenty, and usually that is their reward and punishment... funny how it is different. When they are good they sit up on my lap or want to be lifted high; when they are bad they go to the floor crying when confronted and kick off their shoes and scream bloody murder when picked up.
Edited to add:
Z also says that the boys seem to be getting more and more comfortable with him coming and going from the orphanange. For the first couple of days E would cry and try to follow him as he left...Z would have to pick him up and bring him to the nannies so he could leave without E following him. But, the last day or so have been better. The boys will watch him leave, but they aren't crying anymore. It is good that they are learning that he will continue to come back after he leaves.
Z said that he is also getting to know all of the kids at the orphanage a little better. He said that Amara is "cute as a button" and can do a really great funky dance. Little S is a cutie who needs some reassurance...he always seems like he is on the verge of tears. And the older girls love to play with his hair.
The I-600 has been filed, but there is no word on how long processing will take. We are praying for quick processing so that the boys can come home with Z. We had hoped we would know some sort of timeline by now, but it looks like we just won't know until its done. Once the I-600 is approved, they will begin work on the boys' visas so they can all come home!
We appreciate continued prayers for safe travels, good health, and for fast paperwork processing. We would also appreciate prayers that Z and the boys will form good bonds with each other so that when the time to travel comes the boys will trust Z and follow him obediently (easing travel for Z, the boys, and everyone else on the airplane!).
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The boys in their brand new traditional outfits! Aren't they just the most handsome little boys? I can't wait to get them home! The guy standing in the background is Z....I now have photographic evidence that he is there!
Thanks to Anita for posting the photos for everyone....Being able to hear about the boys' Christmas and seeing pictures is the next-best thing to having them home for the holidays. All of the kids look so beautiful in their new traditional outfits! What a great looking bunch...I can't wait for them all to come home to their families!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Last night we were going through the list of paperwork that our adoption coordinator put together for us and for some reason I couldn't wrap my mind around how long it was. What? We need that? We didn't need to provide that much detail before; why do they need more now? Isn't it a little late in the game for that? Bank statements, W2s, birth certificates, employment letters, receipt letters, 171-H, I-864, I-864A, DS-230, I-600, ugh, ugh, ugh. I looked at the list and I cried.
And then I started to hyperventilate.
And then I ran away from my computer to go upstairs to bed and cry some more.
And then Z came upstairs to talk some sense in to me, assure me that we could get it all done, and encourage me to come back downstairs and get to work.
I felt stupid for getting so upset. But, the truth is, I looked at that list of paperwork and I got overwhelmed. This was another list of paperwork that I could screw up. I could make a mistake, send it with Z and then not be able to fix it in Ghana. Messed up paperwork means the boys are delayed and they don't come home with Z.
It wasn't that we couldn't do it. It wasn't that I didn't WANT to do it. It was that I finally reached that point where I was just TIRED. I'm tired of waiting...I'm tired of discovering more "steps" that need to be done (of course, I knew all along that these steps were there)....I'm tired of paperwork....I'm tired of having "one more" obstacle in front of me before we can bring our boys home. I knew that these steps were always there; I knew that I had to do them, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm just tired.
I won't be with any of "my boys" for Christmas. I won't be with any of "my boys" to ring in the New Year. I'm feeling a little "grinch-y"...and lately I'm feeling a little cranky, too.
Luckily, I have a husband who is understanding; who coached me on how to breathe last night and who took on the mound of paperwork like a trooper. What would I do without him?
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Throughout the process of adoption, we have waited and waited and waited, passed over hurdles we were waiting for and waited some more. Those of you who are in the process (or completed it) know exactly what I'm talking about.
Ever since my trip to Tanzania in college, I felt that adopting from Africa was a part of the plan for my life....but I knew I had to wait until the time was right. I went on to graduate school, met and fell in love with Z, got married, and was set to finish up my degree. I was blessed to find Z...a man who loved the idea of adoption as much as I did; a man who wanted to be a dad but didn't care whether or not his kids looked like him, shared his genetics, or were born on the same continent. He didn't even care whether or not they were babies when they joined our family.
We waited with our plan until we felt it was the right time....I can't explain how we knew it was the right time to move on this plan, but we knew...and all the doors opened for us. I spent several months researching agencies and trying to determine the right fit for us. We set a date that we would send in our application and we waited until the date came. Soon after, we heard from the agency that we were accepted and because we were requesting "older" kids we were told we could go ahead and start our homestudy. We found a fantastic social worker to do our homestudy, got all the paperwork ready and waited some more. Soon we found out that the agency was starting a new program so we asked to be a part of a pilot program in Ghana. We waited for the decision. When we got the go-ahead, we put together our dossier, sent it off and waited some more.
I have heard some people say that the wait from sending the dossier to referral is the hardest wait. I've heard other people say that the wait from referral to court date is hardest. And I've heard other people say that the wait from referral to travel is hardest. There's no doubt that they are all difficult waits....but I feel differently about them now than I did when all the waiting started.
After sending off the dossier we waited and waited to hear who our children would be. When we saw pictures of our two boys we were so excited! There they are! Those are OUR boys! Suddenly that wait between dossier and referral didn't seem so bad.
After the referral, we waited and waited for a court date. Since we are in a pilot program, we didn't know how long to expect that wait to be. It turns out that wait was a little over 4 months long. We had court re-scheduling and cancellations to deal with, but we finally had a court date and were granted an adoption order! They really ARE OUR boys! Suddenly that wait between referral and court date didn't seem so bad.
Now we are in the midst of the wait between court date and bringing our boys home. I can say without question that, for me, THIS wait has been the hardest. Those boys really are MY boys. Z and I are legally their parents and we are so anxious to get to know them. But, we still can't be with them.
Adoption in Ghana is new. That means everyone who needs to do something in order for us to bring the boys home needs to learn HOW to do it. Jobs that can be (and are) done in just a matter of a few hours or a day or two in other countries sometimes take much, much longer in Ghana. We passed court on Nov. 2nd, but we are still waiting for the documents to be released from the court so we can submit our I-600 and begin processessing of the boys' visas. Once we file the I-600, we don't know how long we can expect to wait for approval (though we have some hope that it will be processed quickly, based on this post from another family in Ghana right now).
Right now we are in "wait-mode"...we're getting used to it ;) But, we are praying that we are out of it soon. Z is heading to Ghana on the 23rd to spend Christmas with his sons and file the I-600. We are praying that the I-600 is approved quickly, that he can apply for the boys' visas and get them quickly, and bring the boys home with him. What an amazing start to 2008 that would be! We would certainly appreciate any prayers you feel compelled to pray on our behalf.
I will wait and wait and wait for these little boys if I have to. But to be honest....I'm just ready to have them home.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We spent yesterday morning at the doctor's office getting our vaccines for travel. I've been to Africa before and had all the basics taken care of. Z was in Iraq with the military, so they made sure he had all the basics, too. We knew we would each need probably one vaccine, we'd get prescriptions for an antibiotic and anti-malarial medication, and be on our way. But, what should have taken just a half-hour or so turned into a 2 hour ordeal. First, we were about 10 minutes late because we had to spend a bunch of time scraping ice off of the vehicle...then we waited in the waiting room for over a half-hour to get in...then we waited in the room for the doctor to come in....we chatted with him, he wrote the prescriptions...and then we waited some more for the nurse to come in and give us the shots we needed. It turns out that we both each got two shots (but I don't count one of mine because it was the flu shot). By the end of all the waiting Z was pretty annoyed...his face was even turning red! Poor guy...when he scheduled our appointment he asked how much time he should allow and they told him an hour, so that's all he scheduled for work. Luckily work was kind of a slow day for him anyway because of the weather, so it all turned out ok.
The boys' room is an absolute mess! Its been the go-to room for all the "stuff" that we accumulate and don't have any other place for. So right now, their beds are covered with things that need to find a new home, and the rest of their room is filled with Christmas presents that need to be wrapped up and sent off to their recipients, two laundry baskets full of laundry that need to be put away, and luggage that I pulled out to start getting Z packed for his trip. Not to mention the piles of orphanage donations that I am hoping to fit into his luggage somewhere and the boys' stuff that I am trying to organize! At this point, my goal for the room is just to not lose anything important, get Z packed up and off, and then I'll work on the room while he is gone. I'll need a big project to keep me busy during that time anyway.
Believe it or not, I am having a rough time remembering that it is Christmas time. We haven't put up a tree, lights, stockings, or decorations and we haven't even really done much with presents. We got Z's family's presents all wrapped up so that we could send them with his parents when they visited last weekend, but that was a quick "hurry up and get it done" kind of job. Z will be gone for Christmas...I'm not going home for Christmas....so in a lot of ways it feels like we'll just bypass Christmas all together this year.
I am thinking if Z returns without the boys he and I will celebrate Christmas (and our anniversary and New Year's) together when he gets home. But, if he returns with the boys (which we are hoping and praying will happen) then perhaps we'll just completely bypass the celebration. The boys will have enough to adjust to without the confusion of Christmas trees and lights and stockings. All of this adds up to me just not feeling very Christmas-y this year. Don't get me wrong...I love Christmas....and I am so looking forward to next Christmas when we'll have the boys with us and we can witness them experiencing Christmas in America for the first time. When we started the adoption process we thought for sure this Christmas was going to be the Christmas they'd be here. It is close to the time they will be coming home (we hope), but they will still miss Christmas, and that is sometimes hard for me. When two members of your family are missing, it just doesn't feel like Christmas.
Z will have an unforgettable Christmas this year...if all goes well, Christmas morning he will meet his sons for the first time. I am so excited for him, and so nervous for him, and so jealous all at the same time. I want to be there, too! But, I know that we made the decision to have Z travel first for a good reason, and I have peace about that. I am just looking forward to hearing all about it from Z!