Monday, December 31, 2007

Another Day Passes in Ghana

I heard from Z today after he returned from his mini-vacation. It turns out that the trip was not really anything that Z was expecting. He was wanting a trip outside Accra to see how rural Ghanaians live and to see a bit more of Ghana. He was expecting a "rustic", authentic African experience, but instead went to Cape Coast and saw lots of white European tourists. Bummer. Cape Coast is an area of tremendous historical significance to Ghana, so it is not a bad thing that he went just wasn't what he was expecting. Z's request is probably a very unusual one...most tourists want to see tourist sites. But, Z wants to experience Ghana, understand Ghanaian culture, eat Ghanaian food. It is important to him to know about the place where his children have come from. It is important for him to understand their culture as much as possible, to eat the food, to visit their neighborhoods and see how a typical Ghanaian lives. He wants to understand his sons...and a big part of that is to understand where they are from. Its difficult sometimes for people to understand that.

From personal experience when I've traveled I can say that without exception every time I have gotten "off the beaten path" I have learned a great deal more about where I visited and gained a much better appreciation for the people I was visiting (this was true in Tanzania, Taiwan, and Costa fact, that's even true here in the U.S.). Sure, when I spent time in Tanzania with the Maasai and Hadza people I smelled bad because I hadn't showered in a week, I was tired and sore from sleeping on the hard ground in a tent in the African bush for a month, but those times are the times I will never, ever forget. I gained a tremendous appreciation for how people in Tanzania (and many parts of Africa) live their lives. Having no safe drinking water, no clean hot water to shower with, limited food choices, and stark housing is what the majority of people on this earth deal with every day. Visiting for a week, two weeks, or a month and giving up those things to experience life is a very small sacrifice.
Did I appreciate the comforts of home when I got back from Tanzania? Sure...but I also felt tremendous guilt and shame that I had so much "stuff" and yet I felt compelled to complain about what I still didn't have. The people I met in Tanzania had very little (or no) "stuff", yet they would have given it all to me in order to make my stay more comfortable. They had the widest smiles I have ever seen. They lived their lives with gusto and did not dwell on the little things. THAT is what I always want to remember from my time in Africa. I learned a lot from them...and sometimes I need to remind myself of their example.

I am hoping that Z is able to experience just a little bit of that while he is in Ghana. I know already that Z loves Ghana. He loves the people he has met...he loves hearing music blaring at all hours of the day (and night). He loves hearing rastafarian music in the internet cafe...he loves the food (especially the fish)....he loves that everyone has been kind and accomodating to him. He loves the culture, especially how it seems that western culture and tribal culture are fused together in so many ways. He loves that there is a church nearby, that religion is such a big part of life in Ghana, and that Christianity and other religions are fused together in interesting ways. Sure, some of the experiences are different and hard to get used to (like the tremendous amount of traffic in the market, the hustle and bustle, and the unspoken rules of the flow of foot traffic). But even those experiences are exciting and great learning experiences.

The only thing he hasn't really appreciated was his time in the embassy. It seems that even with an appointment, no one seemed to know what paperwork they needed to turn one could give them a timeline for processing...and no one seems to know what should happen now. We are still praying that he will get word on Wednesday about the I-600. We would appreciate prayers for approval so that they can begin working on the boys' visas.

Today Z seemed a little bit "down". I think that being away from home and not knowing when things will get done is getting a bit frustrating. I think that he may just be overly tired and maybe the heat is getting to him (although, he seems to thrive in heat...I don't know how he does it...this Minnesotan tolerates cold far better than heat). And, I think that being away from home during the holidays is hard. On top of that, Z is getting really attached to his sons...and the thought that he might have to leave them behind is really difficult for him.

But, don't worry...Z rarely stays down for long. I am sure he will be back to his normal, upbeat, optimistic self in no time! At least I surely hope that is true!

The picture at the top is the photo I've been waiting for him to send...a picture of our boys!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adventures in Ghana

We went to the market today... it was pretty wild stuff. Very large and very busy but I managed to get a few pictures without feeling intrusive. It's second largest market in Ghana according to Edward.

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

Stomach of Steel

Check out Renee's blog today....Jim is "guest blogging" from Ghana. Its fun to hear about the guys' experiences there as they wait for paperwork to be processed. Z is very adventurous when it comes to eating - he will try ANYTHING! He wanted to experience Ghana when he was there, and food is a big part of that. He might pay for it later...but I know that he will say it was worth it. "When in Rome; do as the Romans" I suppose! ;o)

I know that Z appreciates having Jim around...he is soaking up lots of parenting advice from Jim's experience! Thanks, Jim!

Update from Ghana

Another update from Z (again, I edited names for privacy and edited out some extraneous stuff):

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

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Tree at Eban House....the little stockings are "extras" that I sent along with Z. Before he left we put together little stockings for each of the kids at Eban House. I'm glad that they were able to find a use for the extra ones!

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

He's in Ghana!

Here is a portion from Z's email to me today (I edited out all the mushy bits...and I edited the boys' names for privacy). The picture at the top of the email is the first (and so far only) picture that Z has sent to me. I am a botanist, so I imagine that is the reason why he chose to send me the quintessential African photo of growing plantains as his first picture...I'm still waiting for photos of the boys!

Z's email:
Well, I made it here alright. I hope you're having a good Christmas. It is definately a more up-beat holiday here. I got here last night at about 11:00pm, which my plane came in late and it was a bit of a fiasco finding the purple luggage. Everything was located alright though and I got to meet Edward and his asssisstant Percy who drove me back to the guest house. The traffic isn't horrible but I had to hold tight a few times. It was pretty fun though because the holiday is celebrated with all night parties on the street and fireworks so there was plenty to watch on the ride.

I then got here and met the other Percy (the adoption related one) and got settled into the guest house. Hooray, there are modern toilets here and they had toilet paper in stock! There was a lot of music last night when I got here and since I slept on the plane, I went outside and talked with one of the guys (Edwin) who works at the guest house. He showed me around, and I went in the church across the street and got some pictures of the celebration (which I think is still going on now). I got up this morning and had breakfast (bread and eggs with NesCafe) at the orphanage.

This morning, I went to the orphanage and met Muna. She had the boys come and visit with me in the office. They were quiet, and E was quick to give a hug. He is definately going to need some structure to help with the attachment and he was quite wild. Although T has said very little (nothing yet actually) he has been very kind and has helped keep E in-line. This is a comfort because it makes me think I'll only really have to keep an eye on one kid for most of the trip becuase T is able to help. Still, they were very kind, but wild and running all over the place.

The orphanage is a wild place! Muna said that she was going to have a Christmas party at one so I'm going over there in a bit to help out with that. I told Muna that I'd be happy to help around the orphange (meaning help cook, clean, etc.) and she seemed surprised but happy about that. It is literally a block down the road so it's no problem and I think for my sanity and the boys' comfort in getting to know me I'll go for short, couple hour periods throughout the day until they grow past the initial phase (being E's over-affection and wildness (which Muna said was not his usual self) and T's quietnesss.)

I'm pretty comfortable, it is 90 and humid all day and night, every day so I'm enjoying my fan but it's not too hot to be comfortable.

Muna is showing me around town a little. She is going to show me where to get a phone, and showed me where to get bottled water and use the internet, again it is a block away.

The goat was delicious for lunch, mmm, and I imagine I'll pay for such a big meal later! They are very excited to feed me phu phu for dinner.

Anyhow, the kids are all excited, and I got great pictures/video of them dancing. E of course was hanging off of me too much to dance but he was pretty tired after eating so he was calmer.

This place never sleeps, I'm going to be so deaf after being here. I just got to the internet cafe and it is blasting music but they had cold water next door! They also helped me get my computer up and downloaded drivers to their phone so my computer would connect to the internet alright. Kindest people in Africa!

Africa is LOUD! It's like having a radio on all day. The church is rocking and their are fireworks, although fewer than last night, all the time... everyone is pretty friendly and once I find bottled water near-by to replace the few liters I got last night, I'll be set. Z.S.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas in Ghana

Four years ago today, I was driving across Iowa and Kansas with my mom to pick Z up from Fort Riley so that he could be home for our wedding. It was the day before our wedding (which I had planned in 6 days), I was excited for what was ahead, but I was also tired, stressed, and worried. Z had a window of just a few days off his Army training for Christmas so we decided to go ahead and fit in our wedding and a holiday with our families before I had to take him back to Fort Riley to continue training for his deployment to Iraq. It was a crazy time!

Today, I feel as though I am in a similar place (at least emotionally similar). I am again excited about what is to come, but I'm tired, stressed, nervous, and worried. Today we are busy packing for Z's trip to Ghana. We're going through paperwork, discussing what's necessary and what's optional to pack in case it doesn't all fit into the luggage. We're trying to determine what is needed to pack for the boys (in case they can come home with him). We're getting copies of important paperwork...and shopping for the last-minute things that we didn't get earlier and determined needed to go into Z's luggage.
Z is so excited about his trip to Ghana. He's excited that he will meet our boys for the first time on Christmas morning (God-willing all the flights will go as planned). He is excited to spend time getting to know his sons and learning more about their birth country.

He will also be filing the paperwork needed to finish the process in Ghana and allow the boys to immigrate to the U.S. We would appreciate prayers that all will go smoothly in Ghana, that the embassy will process paperwork quickly, and that the boys will be able to come home with Z soon! Please pray for safe travels for Z and for Jim (another dad traveling to pick up his boys). Pray that the embassy will process paperwork quickly for both families allowing all 4 boys to leave the orphanage and come to America together. Our boys are cousins and it would be fantastic if they could all leave together.

Here are some pictures of Christmas decorations and Christmas dinner at Eban House. That's right...the goat is Christmas dinner....Z should be there for all of the festivities. I'll make sure to give you all a report when I have one!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Paperwork Schmaperwork (or A Minor Breakdown of Sanity)

For the past few days, we have been preparing for Z to head to Ghana to file our paperwork there and maybe (hopefully) bring our boys home. Anyone who knows anything about the adoption process knows that paperwork is involved. Lots of paperwork. But, to be completely honest, we've had it easy so far. Our homestudy social worker made it really easy for us to get what we needed - everything was totally clear and she helped us understand anything we didn't know. And it helped that she was here visiting with us when she provided assistance, she could point right to the spot where we could find the answer. On top of that, compared to lots of other countries, the dossier for Ghana is pretty easy. There's paperwork involved, but not mounds and mounds of it. For some reason, after the dossier was done and we were in "waiting mode", I assumed that the bulk of the paperwork was done. We'd just have the immigration stuff to do and how bad can that be? Well....I should have known better!

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

Living Dangerously

I'm actually a little afraid to put these thoughts into I'm going to jinx myself and what I'm hoping for won't come true. But, in all honesty, you all already know what I am hoping for, so this won't come as a surprise!

The truth is...I'm really, really, really hoping that the boys are able to come home with Z. In fact, it is getting to the point where I am almost counting on them coming home with Z. It isn't because I don't want to travel, because I do. I want to experience Ghana, I want to meet the boys birth family members (if they want to meet me), I want to thank the staff at Eban House for taking such great care of the boys and for loving them while I couldn't, I want to eat interesting Ghanaian food, I want to breathe the air, smell the smells, and buy some beautiful Ghanaian fabrics. I want to meet the boys on their own turf; hold their hands as they show me their beds and give me the tour of Eban House. I want to give them hugs and kisses and let them get to know me when they aren't completely overwhelmed with everything else that is different. I want to talk to their teacher and orphanage director to find out what their schedules are like and what their favorite foods (and least favorite foods) are.

But, the truth is, I just want them to come home. Me traveling to bring them home means that we have to wait even longer for them to get here. Eban House is a nice place and as far as orphanages go, its a pretty great place. But, it isn't a home. It isn't a family. If I'm not there to do the things I wanted to do, I know that Z will do a perfectly good job of it for me. And I know that a first meeting at the airport could be just as sweet. I won't be able to soak in Ghana, but I can soak in my boys instead...and I can do it without jet-lag and without worrying about our house or our precious pets at home. If I can't travel I can do everything I can at home to get things ready for them. I can finish up their room to make it comfortable and homey...I can clean and clean and clean so that I won't have to worry about dealing with a messy house and getting to know the boys at the same time....I can cook and freeze food so we'll have plenty of dinners that are ready to pop in the oven...and I can finish up the quilts for the boys that I've been planning to do for the last few months.

When we first hatched this plan of Z traveling to file the last bit of paperwork, it seemed like a complete long-shot that the boys could come home with him. But, as every day passes I am becoming more and more hopeful that this possibility could come true. A family that is in Ghana now got I-600 approval in a matter of just 3 business days. This is a huge source of encouragement!

But, there's a downside to this hope, too. I know that becoming this hopeful and getting ready for the boys to come home with Z means that if they can't come home on this trip I will be disappointed. We will then have to wait a few more weeks to bring the boys home....and we will have to spend more money for another trip to Ghana (and we are already stretched pretty thin as it is).

I know that I am not the one in control of how things will go and when the boys will come home. But, I know that it will all work out the way it is supposed to. I just have to be patient and wait.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waiting is Hard

Alright, I have to preface this post by saying that today has not been an especially tough day for me...and this past week has not been an especially tough week. I have just been thinking about this lately and thought I'd share.

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

A little of this and a little of that

These last few days have been busy...and not busy at the same time. We are making plans for Z's trip to Ghana to meet our boys, trying to get gifts all wrapped and packed up for shipping off to family for Christmas, getting vaccines, and trying to spend as much quality "us time" as we can before our lives get turned upside down!

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 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!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Our Christmas Plans

Well, I have some news to of us is traveling to Ghana to be with our boys for Christmas!

Its kind of a long story, so I'll spare you the details, but we worked out a plan for one of us to travel early to file the I-600 in Ghana. It just works out that the trip will be happening right over the Christmas holiday. We decided that as long as neither of us travels twice, we won't really be spending THAT much more money than if we both traveled at the same time (of course, its more money for in-country expenses...but that's beside the point). So, this time around Z is traveling...and when all the paperwork is done, my mom and I will travel to pick up the boys.

Z is so incredibly excited to spend Christmas with his sons (and the rest of the kids at Eban House). He has a Santa hat to wear and we put together little stockings for each of the kids so they get a little something for Christmas. Eban House will have a Christmas celebration of their own, but we don't know if it will happen on Christmas or just sometime close to Christmas.
This trip will give Z the opportunity to meet and start bonding with the boys on their own turf. He'll get to meet their caretakers and the other children at Eban House, he'll get to hang out with them in places they are familiar with. He'll get to experience what their personalities are like, he'll get to find out what they are used to eating, what their daily schedule is. Hopefully he'll get to find out a little bit about what their likes and dislikes are, and find out if the clothing we have waiting at home for them will actually fit them! All of this information is so important to us. He'll get to meet them, tell them about me and the rest of the family, and if he has to leave them he'll be able to promise that I will be there soon to bring them to America. I know that it will be hard for him to leave the boys, but in all honesty it will probably be less hard for him than it would be for me.
While Z is there he will file the I-600 and try to determine just how long processing will take. There is a SLIGHT chance that the processing could go pretty quickly. If that happens, then Z will extend his trip so that he can bring the boys home with him. We are not counting on this happening, but we certainly wouldn't complain if it did. We are so excited to get the boys home!! With Z traveling, that reality is starting to feel closer and closer!

My head is spinning with details lately....pricing tickets, working on Z's visa, how much money to bring, what to pack, collecting donations, finishing up the boys' room, working on Christmas presents (to get to family early since we won't make it to family Christmas celebrations), etc., etc., etc. If I go a few days without posting, now you know why! I will keep you updated on news and while Z is away, I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to blather away while I sit at home worrying about Z and the boys and waiting for news!