Friday, April 06, 2007

Travel Journal: 3-15-05, Thursday

It's 9am and Bright is down for a morning nap. Poor baby isn't feeling good. =-( He woke up at 6:15am today (of course--since today we could have slept in!). He was gripey but didn't all out cry until he saw a Ghanaian boy outside the window. I finished getting him ready and we went out.

Paul must have spoken to everybody last night because today nobody has offered to take Bright from me. They just say, "Bright?! That is your mommy! Stop crying!" =-) So this morning I held Bright as he cried for 2 hours. I've given up on trying to distract him out of the cry. I just hold him and let him go at it. As much as he doesn't like the color of my skin he still puts his head on my bosom to rest. He doesn't hit me or arch his back. He just cries and points to wherever he thinks the nearest Ghanaian person is.

This morning I had another HUGE breakfast. Seriously--I just can't eat it all! I feel so bad for leaving food on the plate but was told it won't go to waste.

*Post trip note: It didn't. My leftovers were always split between the kids. I learned quickly to always leave one uneaten piece of chicken. =-)*

I'm getting many bug bites--the stuff I brought this time doesn't work nearly as well as the stuff I brought last time! I also have a rash on both arms, but it doesn't particularly itch--wonder if it is heat rash?

It's so peaceful here at Hands of Mercy during the day. The children are all gone to school (except for little Noah who didn't used to be afraid of me but is now because if Bright is scared he should be too!). Paul seems to be out. So it's just me, Lawrencia, and a helper (Matilda). I'm so grateful to be here. I'm glad they seem to understand our need to be a bit standoffish.

I'm not looking forward to going back to the hospital where Bright and I will be "worried about" again. But he needs to go. He's started gagging on his coughs now and he feels a bit warm to me (hard to tell in the heat). I wonder if the air conditioning at Afegame Guesthouse and all of the crying has caused him to get sick on top of his anemia? Please dear God--let me be able to bring my baby home.

11:55am--Bright is down for another nap. He slept for less than an hour last time. When he woke he wanted to go outside (always does) so I went to the porch. When we got to the porch he pointed to the gate. So we went to the back to ask Lawrencia if we could borrow a cloth so that I could tie him to my back. She said first he needed to eat again. My word! It was only 10am and we had breakfast between 7 and 8! So out she comes with a portion of banku (think stiff malt-o-meal mixed with Elmer's glue, made from corn flour) and a fish stew that I couldn't have eaten all of even if I were starving! But this was just Bright's food! It was steaming hot--way hotter than we would EVER give a baby in the states. I used my hand to pick it up and dip it and it was almost too hot for my fingers. Lawrencia insisted it was fine and showed me how to dip it and give it to Bright. He LOVED this stuff! He at about 1/2 the serving before he had enough.

So then I was ready to set out on a "short walk" with Bright. As it happened Lawrencia needed to go buy a few things so Paul suggested I go with her. Off we went, with Bright happily perched on my back. Everybody here thinks it is SO COOL that the obruni is carrying her baby "the Africa way." They keep saying, "Beautiful!"

So...we had what I would consider a "short walk" by the time we reached the next road, but my version of short and the Ghanaian version of "short" is very different. Forty-five minutes and miles later I was seriously having a hard time! Even without a 20 pound baby on my back I would have been struggling. It's got to be over 100 degrees here, there is no shade, and I'm fat and weak! Lawrencia kept saying, "If you are tired I can help." I kept telling her I HAD to do this--be the mommy for Bright. After a while we stopped for a cold bag of water (at my request). SO GOOD!.

A bit further on I really did feel like if I were to stumble somewhere on the uneven ground I may not be able to correct my balance and both Bright and I would hit the dirt. Lawrencia could tell I was struggling and insisted that she help me. I relented. I just couldn't do it! What's worse is that she ended up carrying Bright AND all of the other things she had bought--minus a few fans she asked me to carry. Americans (at least this one) are so weak! Ghana mommies are so strong!

We finally turned the corner and I saw Hands of Mercy. Assuming we were back home I said, "Ah! We made it! Home!" I didn't realize that it was just another turn towards our hunt for Tampico (think Sunny Delight). But Lawrencia knew I was through so she said I should come and rest while she went out for the Tampico. I agreed! She was about to walk off with Bright on her back (this lady would do anything for me I think) and I told her no! I would take Bright. I came in, slurped down another bag of amazing cold water, played the "I am Mommy, you are Bright, no outside." game, and then we went to sleep.

Okay--I've got to say this. We middle class Americans come over here and tell the Ghanaian people that we aren't rich--that some Americans are just regular and we have to work hard to pay our bills, etc. I have been telling everybody that since I got here. "I'm really not rich. It's very hard for me to afford being here." But you know what? We are rich! I am rich!

When I changed money I got a humongous wad of 20,000 cedis notes ($2 US). My 1/2 hour of internet cost 4,ooo cedis and they barely had enough change when I gave them the 20,000 cedi note. Today I wanted to buy the veggies and water with Lawrencia but nobody had the change for a 20K cedi note. TWO DOLLARS! It was like I went to a drive thru and bought a .49 hamburger with a $100 bill (can't do it).

I am rich here, with my huge wad of 20k cedi notes and my 10 outfits and my lotion and my 4 pairs of shoes. I feel ashamed for telling all of them that I'm not.

8:00pm--Not sure how much of this will be public when I get home but I've gotta write.

First the good--Bright turned a HUGE corner today!!! He's not always happy I'm mommy but he definitely knows I am. I carried him almost exclusively today (minus the ride on Lawrencia's back) but one time when Paul was holding him (bathroom break) I put out my arms and he leaned over for me to take him! And I can say "Bright, where's mommy?" and he will pat my chest! Then I say, "Where's Bright?" and he will pat his own! We played an M&M game today where I gave him one and then said, "Give mommy a bite" and he would give me one. Okay--sometimes he REALLY didn't WANT to give me one--he loves them and wanted them all! Lots of good eye contact today. He's starting to play with me a bit but we still haven't had any kind of true giggle fest yet. The day I hear him laugh I'm sure I will cry. Still get only very few smiles. Tonight I got to see him interact with other kids for the first time as he "played" Jacks with Noah and the other boys. They are all so sweet to him.

Medical--Spent another 3 hours at the hospital today (but Bright wasn't crying so it all seemed much faster!). The stool sample they wanted didn't arrive until 30 minutes before we got there--whew! Then we had to wait for a long time for those results before seeing the doctor.

Let's just say that an exam here is not an exam in the US. Bright is obviously congested but the doc didn't even look into his ears or throat. He listened to him breath with the stethoscope (while Bright was screaming), heard his wheeze when he cries, looked at the lab work, and gave his diagnosis. Bright is still anemic but not dangerously so at this point. The doc confirmed that the previous lab WAS dangerously low. He prescribed a tonic of iron, B12, and folic acid as medication. He said he thinks Bright has an "upper airway obstruction" and referred us to the ENT specialist. So tomorrow we leave at 6:30am for another hospital (37 Military Hospital) and Edward said we might be home by 2pm. No appointments. You just show up and hope you get a number, and wait. Africa. =-)

Edward--Thank God for this man. He takes such very good care of me. He spent several hours with me today but when I asked how much to pay him he said he wasn't charging--maybe if I would just buy some fuel. He asked for $10 worth. I gave him $20. He deserved $200. Today Bright and I were measured for matching outfits his wife Florence is making for us--as a gift. So generous! I wish only good things for Edward and his family.

Agency Director--I'm not going to say this is an LVI problem because Edward is part of LVI and not a part of this. I just do not understand this woman's actions. As part of the fee we paid to LVI some of our transportation in country is covered. One trip to Ho Hoe, 2 trips to the Embassy, a trip to the grocery store, and a shopping trip. When Edward first asked me about payment I told him that LVI would be covering part of it--that was news to Edward. So I asked Edward to inform the agency director that we are considering THIS trip to be our adoption trip and assured Edward that LVI would pay. Wrong. He told the director and she said that I came without her approval (not true) so she wasn't paying. I told Eric to call her today and tell her that we consider THIS our adoption trip and any future trips would be at our own expense. According to Eric the director reluctantly agreed to pay Edward but said she is going to tell Edward not to do anything extra to help me complete the adoption early.

First, the adoption is complete! I have taken custody of our son. If I have to leave without him *I* will choose where he stays. Nothing is being done early. Secondly, I have known Edward for the same number of seconds as the agency director. I have my own friendship with him outside of LVI. If he wants to help me as a friend who is the director to tell him not to? Finally, even if Edward weren't a friend he is a driver for hire and I can hire him if I please.

--It gets more angry from there so I won't post the rest to this blog.--

There are so many great things happening in other areas of this trip. Lots of awesome friendships and connections being made and strengthened. Lots of hope for the future of Ghana adoptions beyond this program. Please God, help me focus on that.

Final note: Lots of bites and my first sunburn today. Ouch. Itch.


Anonymous 10:56 PM  

I cannot thank you enough for what you are sharing..I hope all AP and PAP's read your blog.

Sue 7:40 AM  

I am really enjoying your journal. It's such a shame you ended up with a dud agency though. ;-)