Friday, June 20, 2014

June 20, 2013

A year ago today, I woke up in Ghana after traveling for 24 hours and arriving late in the evening at my guest house. It was a day full of hope as I was being reunited with Afua. The plan was to meet with the Director of Social Welfare and request custody so I could take Afua to the hospital and begin to bond with her. Legally she had been our daughter for 6 months under Ghana law but as she was in a government facility they determined when I could take custody. 

Her head was freshly shaved, she smelled like Shea butter and she was much taller than when I last saw her 7 months earlier. They definitely made a better effort to clean her than the first time I met her. Her body was weak with some spasticity in her feet and elbows. She would sit up on my lap briefly and then wanted to lay down. She studied my face as to determine who I was and why she was allowed outside for a visit.

My request for custody was a heated meeting. I was firm but polite, I had a reasonable answer to every question but ultimately I was told she was better off at the orphanage until I could take her home. My heart sank as I thought about visiting her daily and having to leave her at the orphanage. Children do not belong in cribs, they belong in their mothers arms. 

I then checked in with our adoption team to see the progress made on her paperwork. Everything seemed to be moving a lot faster now that I was here so there was positive news about that. I was clear that I would not pay any bribes and it was understood by everyone helping us. While I wanted Afua home quickly, it would have to be done with clean hands. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Casting and fitting

Yesterday, Afua had her feet casted for new leg braces. So far, she has worn braces that were designed to stretch her heel cords to a neutral position for standing. 6 months later, she is now ready for more conventional braces that can be worn with shoes. 

We also had a fitting for a custom dynamic movement orthosis (DMO) that will support her core as she learns new movement patterns. It also supports her in sitting and standing which will be a huge help. 

Here is a great video to see what the suit looks like and how it helps children:

The process to be approved for equipment is a test of endurance but our persistence paid off. In a few weeks Afua will have new opportunities for movement (and cute shoes covering her toes!).