Part One HERE.
Now we are 4 years later. Honestly, if you would have asked me if the little Ghana program I helped to start would still be around four years later, I would have said "probably not." Ghana reminded me a lot of Cambodia back then. I was afraid that corruption would cause the program to be short-lived. I was afraid that people would flood the country wanting to do adoptions and that it would topple the program into a huge mess. But it hasn't happened that way! In 2007 there were 30-some adoptions completed. In 2008 there was a "big" jump to 97 adoptions. 2009 and 2010 saw only small increases--to the low 100's.
Are there problems in Ghana adoptions? Of course. No perfect adoption programs out there. But all in all, the program feels more secure to me now than it did 4 years ago. The things that make the program difficult are also the things that make it valid. It's a pain sometimes to deal with officials that are so paranoid about child trafficking that they are afraid to do legitimate adoptions. It's hard to be patient when judges decide they can do no more adoption cases during X month because they don't want anybody to think they might be a child trafficker. But you know what? I am taking a moment and thanking those officials for being paranoid! It's because of that mentality that the country-wide program has remained small. Officials are commited to a small international adoption program. If history in international adoption has proven us anything, it's that they "exploding" programs are the ones that quickly topple over and end.
I have been absolutely blessed to have assisted with somewhere between 60-70 adoptions in the last four years (not counting any friend-to-friend assistance). In the world of international adoption, where programs are more often counted by hundreds or even thousands of placements, this is a drop in the bucket. But it's my drop. It's our (Ghana parents) drop. I'm really proud of that drop. But mostly, I'm thankful.
I've had the opportunity lately to be reminded how absolutely blessed I am to have the Ghana team I have. Truly, I am spoiled to work with this group of people. I don't have to spend my nights worrying about whether they are speaking truth to me. I don't have to wonder if they have the knowledge to bring a case to completion. I don't have to be concerned that they are trying to profit off of tragedy. And I think that is all because the Lord somehow gave us the foresight to start "small small." "Take it small, small Ani." How many times have my Ghanaian friends said this to me when my American sensibility has said to go faster and bigger?
Have there been bumps? Oh, most assuredly! We have learned some tough lessons. We even had to fire our first coordinator when his ethical standards didn't measure up. When our current coordinator came on board he had all the right professional experience to do this work (NGO worker, social worker, etc.) and we had the info needed to get him going. Now HE is the leader and we learn from him. =-) Now HE is teaching others in Ghana how to do ethical adoptions. What I'm saying is, the Lord has used it all to His glory. Every bump. Every valley. He has used it to teach us to better do this work.
As I head into another year of this work I feel very optimistic. Now we ARE able to take on more complicated cases. We are not limited to the basic. We can sometimes weave-in cases where nothing is "normal" but it is all still right. We can even take on additional partners--partners that are not as experienced. Hopefully, we can assist more in learning how to do adoptions without corruption in Ghana.
One lesson I took to heart long ago is, "The more I learn, the less I know." That is absolutely true in this work. Four years ago I thought I knew a LOT about this work. Now, I know that the learning never stops. Four years ago I may have thought there was some limit to our goals for this program. I'm sure I was thinking about one specific group of kids. Now, the more that is done, the more I see to do. We can lift up one group of people, but that only allows us to move on to another group. And we will never run out of people to lift up.
There is always something "new" to light a fire under me. Today I saw pictures of a child's leg. The child had a simple problem. He had not had a bath in a month because there was absolutely no water to spare for bathing where he lived. As a result, this child's legs were covered in sores. NO WATER! I'm not talking about no clean water. NO WATER. This evening my mind is racing about how we can step up to solve this, at least for this one child's community. Then what? What will be the next thing? What I know for sure is that there WILL be another thing. And I will count myself blessed to be burdened with it.