Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 2

Travel Journal Day 2: we meet again Day (not sure if it's gotcha day yet)

I woke up after sleeping a blissful 9 hours. Haven't done that in ages. I got ready slowly and enjoyed the fact that I was able to do this. Otherwise I would start missing my 4 kids at home and one little one that is just 30 minutes away from me. 

I keep thinking about Afua and if she knows I am so close. That I am doing everything within my power to be with her and get to her. I wish I could talk about all of that (some day) but getting custody of her today is not guaranteed. We will have to ask, plead and maybe even beg to get her out today. 

I had a breakfast from home, asked for a cup of hot water from the hotel and made myself a Starbucks via, granola bar and applesauce gourmet meal. I need something familiar in my stomach with all this excitement going on. 

Around 10 am Patrick will be here and we will go to Afua's orphanage. 

Day 2 continued...(not gotcha day)

Patrick and I went to Afua's orphanage. We were instructed to sit and wait and she would be brought to us. It is a familiar routine they do and visitors are not allowed to observe any of the children's care areas. After some time, her auntie was carrying her, walked right passed us into the manageress to make sure she would approve of her appearance and then unceremoniously she handed Afua to me. I noticed that she had grown in the last 7 months, taller and heavier. She was smiling as I'm sure she knew she could have some one on one human interaction.

We went to sit outside under the shade of a tree and I observed that Afua had a lot of high muscle tone all over her body. Her ankle were stiff, her back was stiff and she kept arching her back uncomfortably. She was also suffering from a cold and we kept having to wipe her nose. While we were visiting, we received a call that we should go meet with the person who could give us custody of her. So we said goodbye and went to the office.

The meeting did not go well. The person in charge wanted to intimidate me, thinking because I was a woman I would not dare to speak to him. He also assumed I had never adopted or been to his country and he learned that neither was true very quickly :) He started with an immediate "no" but after I gave him all the reasons I should have custody of my legal child, he finally said he would think about it. He also stated I could visit Afua anytime I wanted for however long I wanted to bond with her. He asked that our power of attorney (POA) come and see him to discuss the custody issue. 

We returned to the orphanage and they didn't let me see her. So much for the bonding promised to me just a few minutes earlier. My heart sank. I really thought common sense would prevail, but it was not the case. In a culture where bribes are a common way to negotiate (and many Americans are willing to participate in great amounts), those who opt not to participate are at a disadvantage. I know that adoptive families have one focus: to get their children home. But there is a bigger picture that we all contribute into with our action, inaction and how we conduct business in general. My first full day back, and I had my fill of the current adoption climate here. 

After the conclusion of our adoption business and no chance of seeing Afua again, it was time to visit good friends. It was so good to see auntie Comfort, Mary, Lucy and Audrey. Lots of children were there too and I felt like it was the perfect place to end the day. Auntie Comfort was our lifeline since Erics last visit to Ghana as she would visit Afua weekly and it is because of those visits that she received better care. I don't know if I can ever express to her what those visits meant to me as we waited. I often wondered if the orphanage would let us know if Afua was sick or if something happened to her. We found out the hard way to they would not, and having Comforts presence there made a world of difference.
Precious, Lucy, Audrey and me
auntie Comfort

Overall, today was a bust. I felt like I need to fight for everything and this trip isn't going to be easy. The positive is that I am IN Ghana, close to my girl and surrounded by the most caring people who love my girl as much as I do.  

Travel Journal: Day 1

Travel Journal: Day 1 

Today was the long 24 hour journey to Ghana. I personally like the route that goes through Europe vs a long straight flight across the Atlantic. I had a layover in Chicago and then in Germany. as I left my husband and kids behind, I realized that I had a one way ticket and no idea when I would return. But I knew that I would be fighting to get Afua home and I would not leave without her. 

All flights were so smooth. Great weather to travel, no issues with boarding, layovers or connections. I had nice people sitting next to me that knew when to engage in conversation and when to let me sleep or watch a movie. As a mom of 4 (soon 5) kids, I am never alone. I prefer it that way, but it was nice to have some "me time". 

On the last flight, there were many  Ghanaians boarding and it made me feel like we were so close!!! Just 6 1/2 more hours and I would once again touch down in beautiful Ghana. 

I had a friend pick me up and he surprised me by bringing his wife and baby along. I have seen this baby in pictures only, so to see her in person was wonderful. She is just precious!!!! 

The hotel was new to me, so I checked the room out and it was perfect for the next few weeks. I took a quick shower and unpacked/sorted things. I checked emails and let everyone know I had arrived safely. 

I am in Ghana!!!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

We are home!!!!

After 24 hours of traveling, we arrive home Wednesday afternoon. Our last 48 hours in Ghana were busy as we were getting her passport printed, taking it to the US Embassy for quick visa printing. Eric came to Ghana for 2 days and we were also trying to visit friends in that short time period. We also escorted another little girl home which made our trip fun and busy. I can't wait to share how all the events unfolded, but things couldn't have been more perfect!

Yesterday we started to look into Afua's health. Today, we have an EEG scheduled to investigate her seizures. Becoming a mom to a child with special needs feels a bit overwhelming. She has had 3 (ish) years of life without us and we are trying to catch up and provide her the medical care she didn't get in Ghana. Our pediatrician helped us in prioritizing her needs and it is making things easier. Our biggest focus is managing her seizures and completing a swallow study for eating. All the kids are handling all the changes very well and we are taking things a day at a time right now.

I am going to share my travel journal (34 days worth) as I find the time. I know some people would like to know what happened and why I ended up staying in Ghana longer than planned.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The fight continues

We are still working on all the paperwork to get Afua's visa printed. One more key document remains. I am still cautiously optimistic we could get it done this week. Today will determine much of that. We are enjoying sweet snuggles while we wait.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Update from Ghana

I have been in Ghana for three weeks and one day. Its gone by quickly in some way as we worked on the final steps of Afua's adoption. On June 2nd, we had our exit interview, the final step where all documents are gathered to issue a visa to the US. Our hope was to pass right away and travel home later that week. Our tickets were booked as there was no reason to deny her a visa.

During the interview, we were told they needed to look at some things more closely. They would not issue a visa right away, but would keep me updated due to Afua's health. We canceled all our tickets, and decided that I would stay in Ghana. Until it was done. No matter how long. Just as we wouldn't leave our 4 children at home sick in another country, we would not do this to Afua.

We received the answer that we have to re-do one document and then they will print her visa. In some ways it is a hard thing to do, but better than families who have been in this situation for month. Ours was solved in a week.

Now we are working hard to get this document re-done and we should have a visa next week. Afua''s health is still a concern, she has seizures and she has been fighting a respiratory illness. She also continues to vomit and has lost weight since I've been here. I don't get custody of her until I have a visa, so I visit her daily and that is hard.

I moved out of the hotel finally and I am staying with friends to save money. I am grateful for all the support given here, at home to Eric and the kids and we are doing fine because of it. Being away from my family for this length of time is something I didn't think I could do, but it is the right path for our family and what we are supposed to do. So there is peace in that.

I have kept a daily travel journal and I will post it here once I get home. Some details have to remain private until the entire situation is finished.