Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A year ago

Edited to add: I have received emails asking if there were any ethical concerns with our adoption based on this day's events. To clarify, the US Embassy did not suspect that we submitted fraudulent documents. Ultimately all our documents were verified as authentic and we were closely involved in obtaining them. But there had been cases before us with falsified documents and that is why there is an increased concerns with certain adoption professionals. 

365 days ago, I was in Ghana waking up before the sunrise. It was the day of our visa exit interview and by all indications it should have been a day of celebration. Afua had her passport, we had jumped though all the right hoops and all we needed was her visa printed on the passport.

I approached her orphanage with my friend who drove me there. The staff was not in the office so we waited for our power of attorney (POA) to arrive. Once he arrived, he called for someone to get Afua dressed. I had to fill out paperwork promising to bring her back and they sent an auntie with us (as a security guard I guess). I was running out of grace with the orphanage and the way they treated me, but I put on a happy face and scooped my girl up.
Afua sitting with our dear friend

We got to the US Embassy gate and the line wrapped around the building. Along with hearing adoptive cases, this day they also had visa interviews for Ghanaians hoping to come to the US for various reasons. The problem was that I was holding a 30 lb sick child who couldn't as much as hold her head up and the line was going to be looooong. 

I was told I could give money to the security guard to use his chair but I gave my POA a glance that indicated that I would rather stand than pay a bribe. Sorry, the Finnish stubborn side of me rose up as I saw a healthy security guard sit in his plastic chair as he watched me carry and hold a sick girl right next to him....grace...grace...I kept telling myself that over and over again.

Finally another security guard approached me and asked me why I was there. He let me in the Embassy so we could sit. My arms were numb and shaking and I'm not sure how much longer I could have held her. 

Once inside, we dropped off documents at the window for our visa exit interview. I was not aware but our POA submitted a document I had not seen before which would prove to cause a lot of confusion for our case.

As we sat and waited, Afua became increasingly distressed. The auntie sent by the orphanage couldn't tell me anything as she didn't usually care for her. Before long, Afua vomited all over herself, my dress and the chair next to us. The crowded sitting room cleared around us, no one wanted to ruin their clothes:) I don't blame them.

Finally I heard my name called. By the time I approached the window, my POA was already there. They seemed to have a spirited discussion about a previous case and finally the attention turned to me and Afua.

The embassy wanted to verify all documents in our case as there had been fraudulent documents presented previously. Also, the one document our POA submitted had a different age for Afua which raised additional concerns. It was this inattention to detail that was now causing a wait in our case. 

I was devastated to hear that we were not getting a visa that day but we would have to wait until the embassy would call me with their decision. They knew Afua was sick (they could see it as she seized in front of them) and it seemed they would proceed quickly.

365 days ago was a day that ended in many tears. Friends called, texted and messaged encouraging words and truths. Eric and I made long term plans for me to stay in Ghana. And once again, I returned my girl to the orphanage where she would lay in her crib. 

But the story doesn't end here...however devastating that day was, there was a happy ending. You can read about our last days in Ghana HERE...

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