Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Break Down and a Break Through

The day started with great excitement. We were going to Kwahu, away from the busyness of Accra to visit our children's foster home. Up until this point, we had enjoyed the modern conveniences of air conditioning, hot water, wifi and comfy beds. Quite honestly, I was looking forward to disconnecting from the world, even if it was for a day or two. We had breakfast with our little ones, they ate mostly chicken and fried rice with spicy pepper sauce. I devoured the sweetest watermelon and pineapple I have ever eaten. The coffee was strong and better than any Starbucks!

After a few pit stops in the city and meeting two other families, we packed into our coordinators vehicle and headed toward Kwahu. The traffic was unlike anything I have ever experience before. It seemed as lane markers and speed limits were more like guidelines than rules to live by. It wasn't just vehicles of all shapes and sizes: there were pedestrians carrying anything and everything on top of their heads that we had to maneuver around. If traffic wasn't moving fast enough, someone would drive on the shoulder or make their own dirt road alongside the paved road. Once outside the city though, I relaxed to enjoy the scenery as we drove higher up the mountain and the city became smaller below us. The air was easier to breathe and much cooler and I found a comfortable position to snuggle up with our girl and a sweet 7 year old girl that traveled with us.

It was about half way, when smoke appeared from our coordinator's vehicle. Once he pulled over it was apparent that the vehicle needed repair there and then. The sun began to set as our coordinator was arranging for help.

This is what I love about Ghana: a car breaks down and within minutes there are people from the village bringing oil or bringing supplies to help. It must have looked strange to them to see a car full of luggage, two obrunies (white people) and Ghanaian kids on the side of the road. Our coordinator had to go and make arrangements for us to make it to Kwahu, so Eric and I stayed in the vehicle with the kids, as the sun finally set and it was pitch black outside. The vehicle broke down right in front of a church and there in the darkness, holding my sleeping daughter I had my "break through" moment. It was just God, Ghana and me.

I closed my eyes and just soaked in the sounds of the church choir singing. I chuckled a bit as one of the loudest singers would sing "off key" reminiscent of someone back home. They sang with such conviction and joy in their voices and it made me reflect on our adoption thus far.  I thanked God for the sweet children that were in the vehicle with us, for placing us on this adoption journey and for providing for us every step of the way. I stroked the head of my sleeping little girl, feeling each individual curl in her short hair, her soft cheek pressed against my chest and tears began to slowly flow from my eyes. It was at that moment that I "got it". Nothing about our adoption was a coincidence. God had orchestrated every single detail, even this break down at the side of the road and this was exactly where I was supposed to be. And these children, despite their past hurts and challenges, were meant to be a part of our family. I had a new son and a new daughter

<3 jenni

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swimming Pool

When our son was told that he would be traveling to the city to meet his Mommy and Daddy, he had told our coordinator the one thing he wanted to do was to go to the swimming pool. It seemed like such a simple wish for a boy that was coming to the city for the first time. Of all the things he could have wanted to do or the places to see, he wanted to go to the swimming pool.

We did not know about his wish, but as soon as we were at the hotel, this was the one thing he talked about in English. He was searching for it at the hotel and he was sooo excited when he found it. I was so glad that I packed swimsuits for both of the children. The first day, our plans didn't allow for swimming. The next day we had a long drive to the village and due to car trouble, we arrived late. Now, we were scrambling at our village hotel, since we had some activities scheduled for most of the day. Eric was determined that his son would get to swim on this trip. So we decided that after breakfast, it was swimming time.

Then.....we saw the pool. I have seen swamps that are more appealing. There wasn't the familiar smell of chlorine. Eric couldn't see the bottom, so we had no idea how deep the pool was for swimming.I don't know if the other guests of this hotel didn't swim and the pool was not attended to, but they promised to clean it for us. After what seemed like an hour of cleaning, the kids were by the pool excited, ready to go swimming. Our son showed me how he was going to jump in, swim and he motioned a breast stroke that he would do in the water. I had no idea if he knew how to swim or where he had learned to mimic the breast stroke. We were finally told to use one side of the pool while they cleaned the other side. Now, I believe the dirty water can travel to the clean side, but since Eric was willing to go, I wasn't going to stop him. He will get the "Husband of the Year" award from me, just look at that green water in the picture...

It was the sweetest sight. After all the excitement, we saw him become extremely nervous about the water.  Our brave boy was clinging to Eric and hesitant about the feeling of floating. He looked to his Daddy for a confidence boost. Our son was scared to let go, but at the same time his dream of "swimming pool" was coming true. As Eric encouraged him, our son would loosen his grip, allow his legs to float and then he made the swimming motions he had been practicing on dry land. Trust was established, Daddy did not let go of him. 

As we told our coordinator in Ghana about the swimming experience, he shared with us our little boy's wish. I couldn't believe that we almost missed our son's simple wish of "swimming pool". It was such a wonderful bonding experience for Eric and him that I think Daddy would have gone to muddiest, slimiest water to experience it all over again.

<3 jenni

Friday, June 10, 2011

Our children

I think the easiest place to start to share about our trip to Ghana is to tell you about our children. Actually, we are still waiting for the courts in Ghana to officially call them our children, but in our minds they are our children. We received information about a boy and his younger sister a few months ago through a waiting children list. We felt that they were meant to be a part of our family from the moment we received information about them and saw their faces on a referral photo. They had arrived at the foster home a couple of weeks earlier. We kept receiving information about their background and personalities over the following weeks as we finished our homestudy and complied our dossier for Ghana. Once all of this was done, I asked our wonderful agency, About A Child what we do next. Our coordinator said: "plan a trip"!!! 2 months after learning about our children, I booked our flights to Ghana and another month later we were on our way. I could not have believed this in my wildest dreams:)

All this time, I was trying to guard my heart in case of bad news. Maybe the children would go to another family, maybe they were no longer available for adoption etc. But secretly, these were my children and I would do whatever it takes to get them home. Even as we made our way to these precious children,  I kept waiting for some unexpected news, but there in the middle of pouring rain, we saw our children for the first time.

Our son is 5 and is an energetic, outgoing, giggly little boy. He loves to dance and he loves to be the center of attention. He has a sweet affectionate side that craves the love of a father and he was by Eric's side constantly. In one video clip I took, I see him play with his friends, but every few minutes he searches for Daddy with his eyes or runs to hold his hand. While he is skinny, he is incredibly athletic and loves to play soccer (or football as they call it in Ghana). We were impressed by his English skills considering how recently he started school. I am convinced that him and Jakob will be great brothers and friends.

Our daughter is 3 and is more reserved and quiet when you first meet her. But watch out, when she is comfortable with you, she is full of energy and talkative. She loved playing with her baby doll, but will grab her brother's cars and join in with him as well. She can make her wishes known, even though she doesn't speak much English. She loves to be held, carried and rubs her little ear when she gets tired. She has a wonderful relationship with her brother, but isn't afraid to boss him around when she wants something.

Until the courts pronounce them our children, I don't want to show their faces in pictures. There is a reason why we couldn't go to court while in Ghana and I hope it doesn't cause a delay in having our children join our family soon. Gods timing is perfect, even though my heart is broken into a million little pieces while I wait.

<3 jenni

Friday, June 3, 2011

We are home from Ghana

I haven't even started to unpack my thoughts and feelings from this trip. We met our children, fell in love and had heart wrenching goodbyes with them. We experienced many wonderful and many sad things all at the same time. I connected with my husband in a whole new way and saw his vulnerable side come out time after time. This weekend I hope to journal some of those thoughts publicly and celebrate the good times of our trip, but right now I am experiencing a post-Ghana funk. We left two pieces of our heart in Ghana, one in the shape of a boy and one in the shape of a girl in hopes that we get those pieces back soon....

<3 jenni