The fact that I've been meaning to write this post since we arrived home says a little bit about how life has been. It's a month later, and I'm finally treading water enough to get some thoughts together. From early on in our marriage we had talked and planned on growing our family through adoption. We started really digging into the possibility once Shepard turned one. Many months (years) later, the dream of fully living out this calling has been realized.
For those interested, here's an account of our journey to Ghana.
January was a wild ride. We flew to Accra Ghana on January 5th after a week's notice and tearful goodbyes to the three babes staying behind. After a quick yet fun jaunt through NYC on a layover, we geared up to land on the other side of the world to meet our son from Africa.
We were so blessed to be staying with our friends, having a translator, driver, navigator and companions in Rasheed, his wife Anita and their daughter Chloe. It's been 6 years since we last saw Rasheed, and he was a very welcome sight once through Ghana's customs. We were also surprised by our POA and Johan's foster father at the airport, with Johan in tow! This was the moment we had dreamed of. As I knelt down to him, he flashed me a tentative, shy smile, holding tight to a plastic Eeyore toy. Dressed in fancy shoes and a new haircut, he looked all at once frightened and curious. Not having any warning of this meeting in the airport, we were taken aback but recovered quickly as we realized our dream. We were here. With Johan. Together.
Sunday, our first few hours together were spent in a blur. He was getting to know these "Obroni's" who were to be his family. I'm sure he had no idea what he was in for, and I know for certain we didn't either!
Monday found us awaking before the sun, dressing in the dark and driving through Accra traffic to the US Embassy. It should be noted that Ghana driving rivals that of both a demolition derby and a nascar race. We were very nervous about our visa interview, which ended up running smoothing but taking 4 1/2 hours. Needless to say, we emerged from the Embassy in relieved smiles having passed the interview. Thanks to many friends praying and pulling for us!
We headed out to the beautiful Central Region on Tuesday, with Anita, Chole and Rasheed as company. Treating ourselves to a beautiful hotel stay, everyone benefitted from the ocean breeze and sand between their toes. Johan went swimming for the first time, and banished all doubt from our minds that he had any sort of danger sense.
One of the most wonderful things about this adoption journey has been the other adoptive families we were able to get to know. It's a different kind of bond, as you all wait for this piece of paper, or that approval to move on. We were blessed to meet some fabulous people virtually and the encouragement shared was game-changing. In particular, we have been blessed by the parents who are or have adopted their children with our same POA. It's a fabulous community that pays it forward, quite an amazing thing to be a part of.
Three of Johan's friends were scheduled to visit on wednesday morning. We had a wonderful time swinging, exploring and swimming with the 4 gorgeous Ghanian babes, loving up on them until their momma's and daddy's could come bring them home. It warms my heart to know that we have ways to be in touch with these children as they grow.
Finishing up our visit to the Central Region, we were able to see Johan's village and meet his first family. It was a blessing to be able to meet them, and assure them of our love for him. We also toured the Cape Coast Castle, and took in as much as we could of our son's homeland. Ghana is beautiful. Hot, dusty, chaotic at times, but beautiful.
On Thursday, we were set to meet our sponsor child through Compassion International. Raphael has been a part of our lives for 4 years, since he was 13 and adoption was a "someday". While we dreamed of meeting the boy on the other side of the letters and drawings, we wrote letters back and forth, keeping his picture in a frame on our mantle.
Who knew this whole experience was being orchastrated to include so many wonderful people who've meant so much to us? It truly was a trip full of blessing.
Lucas was scheduled to fly out on Thursday evening in order to be home to set up and run the Lucas Botz Photography booth at the Twin Cities Bridal Fair. We managed to squeeze in a whirlwind trip to the High Courts of Ghana to have a letter notorized by an "Officiant of Oaths". This ended up being an insiders view into Ghana. Very... educational.
Rasheed took Anna and Johan back to the Embassy on Friday morning to pickup Johan's visa. We were thrilled when we opened his passport to find the beautiful visa inside. We were coming home!
Taking off at 10pm Ghana time, we traveled from Accra to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Detroit, and finally from Detroit to Minneapolis. Johan, it turns out, is a fabulous traveler. Sleeping well, eating when food was around, staying satisfied with the entertainment provided. Granted, that entertainment included fliping through the 40 or so photos on Anna's iphone, walking up and down the plane aisles, styling Anna's hair and unpacking and re-packing his backpack full of goodies along with the traditional options of movies, music, books, coloring and small toys.