Friday, November 11, 2011

GHANA—Day 11

Day 11?  I can’t believe we are already done with 11 days.  We only have 15 days “in country” and tomorrow will be 12.  I worry the next 3 days will go too fast.

I had a plan for this day.  Some of my favorite memories with my kids occurred while I was teaching them to read.  About 10 years ago, I made some flash cards to help Emily, Abby and Colt learn their sight-words.   For the last couple days, I’ve had a nagging feeling that I should make some with Delight.  But the impression was very specific:  “make them WITH her, not FOR her.”  I picked up a 20-sheet pad of rainbow colored cardstock when we were at the Accra Mall on Monday.  I had the intention of making them for Delight to use to help catch Courage up on his reading.  So we spent the afternoon in the hotel room making sight-word flash cards and sharing my headphones while listening to “mommy’s music” on my iPod.  I drew the lines on the cardstock; Delight worked the scissors and fine-tuned her cutting skills.  We made 160 cards and wrote either numbers 1-20, or phonetic words on each.

Neither of them had spoken a word of English until a year ago, so their reading levels are “very beginning” (Delight) and “perhaps knows most of the letters” (Courage).  I’d been lead to believe that Delight could read very well and Courage was making progress.  Not so.  I was pretty disappointed when I came to discover that they are way behind where I thought they’d be.   I hope that doesn’t sound bad.   I had such high hopes for their being able to acclimate right into school when they get to the States.  That dream might have to be revised.  Nevertheless, John has a pretty sweet experience to tell you about;  I’ll call it Flash Cards, Part II.  It made my day!

So back to my comment about being disappointed when I found out their reading levels.  Does that sound like I am a jerk?  I really, sincerely hope not, because I don’t mean it any other way than that now I am a little more nervous about the transition into American life.  They are such bright kids, so alert and have good concentration skills.  I know we’ll be able to catch them up quickly.  But I found out tonight that I will have to leave them here for nearly 4 months.  They have no school to attend right now because there is no teacher.  The last one was fired for having them copy words and numbers and calling it “Math” and “Reading.”  I’d like 5 minutes with that moron right now!  Teachers were interviewed this morning, though, so I hope some progress is made toward getting quality instruction for these kids.  I’d even pay the dang salary if someone would just step up and do the job!

BUT, all is not lost.  Some of you may be familiar with a certain Emily and Abby Seable.  These two girls are perfectly suited for the job ahead.  Since they were just little, whenever they have free time, they play school.  The course of study and curriculum has evolved over the years, but even at 11 and almost 13, they still dabble in it when they have time.  And if you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, more times than not, they’ll both say, “a teacher.”   Sounds to me like they’ll have the perfect opportunity very soon to have a trial internship as the English/Math/Reading teachers for Courage and Delight.  If I know them like I think I do, they’ll have worksheets already printed off and lesson plans already drawn up for their first week of teaching before I even get home from Ghana.  Shoot for March, girls.  That looks like when we’ll get them home.  (I know, big huge bummer, since we were hoping for January) L

Today was good, though.  They are getting better each night at believing us when we tell them we’ll be back in the morning.  And we are trying very hard to be patient, smile a lot and work as a team.  I have stopped trying to “put on a happy face” to John and make him think I love every single part of this.  I don’t.  There are parts that make me cringe, want to throw up and/or curl up and bawl under the dresser.  Today, I opened up a little about those things and he was really good about it.  I think he appreciated the honesty (I hope he did, at least).  It felt so good to get on the same page with him.

Finally, I had some insight today.  I have too much guilt swimming around in my brain right now and I know that is what’s causing some of my anxiety with the kids.  I feel guilty for having running water, a shower, a car, and a home of my own.  I feel guilty because I have 4 people who can’t go to sleep at night until they tell me they love me.  I feel guilty that I can read and write.  I feel guilty that it is taking so long to jump through all the hoops of international adoption.  And tonight, a biggy…I feel guilty that I get to go back to my wonderful, comfortable, well-fed life and they have to stay here without a family for 4 more months.  When we walked them home tonight, their countenances were so crestfallen; I could hardly bear to look them in the eye.   What is Monday going to feel like?  I don’t even want to know…

Tonight, I will be praying for a quick return of our adoption decree, which will be followed by a speedy filing of our i-600 back in the States.  While that is being processed, I’ll be hoping for passports and visas that arrive with lightning speed.  Mostly, I’ll be praying these kids will be okay, remember our two weeks together and grow closer as brother and sister while we are gone.  Sheesh…this is hard stuff!

It’s me……John

Yes, today was good.  I got up early (6:00am) because I think my body has finally re-adjusted to the seven hour time difference.   I didn’t want to wake up Jenny so I went into the bathroom and did some laundry.  I’m getting pretty good at that now.  I think I will be able to do my own laundry when we go camping now. 

We walked over to the orphanage at about 10:00, went in to check our e-mail, and uploaded our post for the blog.   I am starting to get accustomed to this routine. 

We made plans last Monday to go to dinner tonight with the three AAI social workers.  We knew that meant tonight would be an evening without the kids.  So, we rushed through the computer stuff and went outside to play with the kids.  They were in very pleasant moods, and I was happy and looking forward to the day.  We decided to go back to the hotel early, watch a movie at 10:30.   They wanted to watch Thumbelina first thing.  That was an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back.  Then we walked to First Junction with the kids to get them some Kankee (I’m sure I misspelled that as well) for lunch.  I got some pictures of the lady that makes the Kankee and I will post them for sure. 

When we got back to the hotel, I took some video of them eating it.  It was quite a delicacy for them.  I have to admit that for the first time this trip, I got queasy watching them eat.

Wow, that fish was just salted and dried in the sun.  I wouldn’t even use that for bait.  It smelled horrid, and I’m sure it didn’t taste any better.  Anyway, the two of them loved it and ate it all up.  I had to step to the other side of the room while they ate.  It was worse than someone drinking out of my glass!

After lunch, instead of watching another movie, Courage and I walked back to the orphanage to check my e-mail and we left Jenny and Delight at the hotel to do their flash card project.  Our dinner plans were at 5:30 so we had some time to kill.  It was good for Courage and I to be able to be alone and talk a little. (Even though it was mostly me talking and him saying  “yes and no.”  When we got back to the hotel, I could tell that Jenny and Delight were having a good time together.  They had gone in and Delight taught Jenny how to wash some of my remaining laundry, and they had completed those flash cards.  When we got back and sat on the bed, Delight wanted to practice what Jenny had taught her with reading the site words from the flashcards.  I could tell she was excited about them.  We played with them until about 4:00 and then they both wanted to take a bath before they returned to the home.  They enjoyed that immensely. When we walked them back, they were pleasant but were dragging their feet terribly.  I mentioned to Jenny how, I was pleased that they didn’t complain but I feel for them.  We could feel how strongly they didn’t want to go back to the home.  They are treated so kindly there, and they are feed well.  Two weeks ago I would have said, “They don’t know any differently so they don’t know what they are missing.”  Well that isn’t completely true.  True, they don’t know any differently, but; hot is still hot, sweaty is still sweaty, and noisy is still noisy.  Clean is still clean, and dirty is still dirty.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the kids would rather be anywhere else other than the orphanage.   For the first time it dawned on Jenny and me that we will have to leave them in four days.  I have grown to love them as my own (well that is good because since Tuesday they are).  I would never ever think for a second of leaving Emily, or Colton, or Abby there for even an hour without us.  We found out tonight that the wait is realistically more like four months, not the 60 days that we previously thought. It could very well be March before we bring these kids home with us.  Driving away from this place will definitely be the most difficult thing I have ever had to do in my lifetime.   Ok, I’m not going to think about it yet.

Tonight we went to dinner again at “Next Door”.  This time I brought my camera and took pictures of each meal.  I once again had “red-red” only this time it was served with fried plantains, and a whole fish.

Jenny had Fried chicken and French fries.  Shocker! 

Muna, and Catherine had Octopus and Noodles.

 We went with Joha, Muna, and Catherine. (All three social workers from AAI)  It was very nice to talk to them.  They were very professional, were great company, and very informative.  We came to the conclusion that we would prefer to file our I-600 stateside (even if we had the option of doing it here).  Joha encouraged us to do that.  That took some pressure off us to try to force it in by tomorrow.  They told us exactly what needs to happen before we will be able to come back and pick up the kids and the 60 days that we were previously told is not really even a possibility.  They did say that Jason and Brandie’s stuff was in the final stages so their time could come sooner rather than later.  But when I asked Joha if I could tell that to them he back-pedaled and said “I didn’t say that!”  He is smart enough to know that Ghana works at its own pace and committing to a date is not only unwise but just can’t be done.  I now have a greater appreciation for what they are going through.  I noticed on Facebook today that they are 51 days since court for their kids.  I’m sure they are living the fears that I just described.  I will pray for them tonight that they can hang in there.  The time frame they told us is 60-120 days.  I hope theirs comes closer to the 60 day mark. 

So when we came back to the hotel from dinner, I really wanted to go tuck in the kids.  Jenny turned on the TV and saw there was an American TV show on (CSI Las Vegas) so she was going to stay and I would go alone.  I went to the home at 8:30 and the kids were already put down for the night.  I dropped off my computer and walked up to the their rooms.  The boys already had their lights off and I couldn’t hear a sound so I decided to let Courage sleep.  I could see that the big girls’ room light was on so I walked in.  Mahti and Elizabeth were sitting on the floor playing something, and then I looked up at Delight’s bunk bed and she and another girl were sitting up looking like they were playing a card game.  I took a closer look and they were practicing with the flash cards Jenny made with her this morning.  She was loving her flash cards so much.  When I asked her how she liked it, she started reading them off to me.  She had definitely improved since this afternoon.  She looked so happy. She asked me how our dinner went with Joha; she knows the part he plays in this whole process and was anxious to find out what he said.  She gave me a huge hug and kiss and genuinely said “Good night”.  Then she asked, “Where is Mommy?”  I told her that she was asleep but I wanted to say good night to her.  She told me to tell her good night from Delight. 

Those two made a tender connection today.  I have been waiting for that since we got here.  I think all four of us will sleep well tonight.



  1. Here's the plan: I will go to Africa for the next four months, look after Courage and Delight for you if you will pay my salary to teach all the kids in the orphanage? I think it would be a great experience. I am so sorry about the crumby news on having to wait until March before they can come to America. We will be praying like crazy that it happens sooner than that.

  2. Jenny just know that you are all in our prayers! We love you and are so excited for you and your family! Hang in there!!

    The Wright's

  3. Thank you for inviting me to read the blog. Wow. You all have me missing Ghana so very much! Take heart about the 60-120 days thing. 60 days for I-600 approval is about right. Then, maybe another 4-6 weeks until your babies are ready to come home (unless something unexpected happens, which is why Joha will NEVER commit to a date)!


  4. I just joined the blog (cause I see everyone crying at the school!)..boy oh boy this is not to be read in one dose! I'm a mess sister!! ;)

    You are my hero. You all are in my constant prayer. I was in Abby's class and just so you know she got extra love and squishes.

    I can't wait to meet the rest of your family and love and squish them too. Love, Brandy Yearous

  5. Wow, I should not be catching up with these online in the public library! I had some time to kill before picking up the kids, but I can never get thru these without tears!! People are looking at me!!! Hee hee! You guys rock!!
    Also: I would love to got teach!!! Please pretty please!!!! Man could you imagine, to be young and single right now, to be available for such a job!!! That would be the best