My friend Heather posted recently about her upcoming adoption trip. She talked about how she was going back and forth between panic and excitement, depending on the hour. She nailed it! Even though my upcoming trip to Ghana is not an adoption trip for me, it is still "an adoption trip." I feel almost (maybe more) nervous about this type of trip than I do for my own personal adoption trips. I feel like a lot of folks' adoptions depend on me and how I represent AAI and international adoptions while I'm in Ghana.
NEED ANYTHING? This is going to be a SUPER busy 2 week trip, but if you need me to carry your dossier over, take a welcome bag, or other things like that, I'll be happy to do it. I need to know sooner rather than later so that I can plan my luggage weight accordingly. If you have kiddos that are waiting in a place I will be visiting, I would *LOVE* to take photos for you! Sometimes things happen, but I will do my very best. I will definitely be going to GMI (aka CKO), Nyame Dua (Teshie), Beacon House, and the foster home in Kwahu. I also hope to go to Eugemot (but not as sure on that one). If your kiddos is in another home just write to me privately and I can let you know if I can get there. firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT TO DO? I don't think I have ever planned to do so much in one trip before. However, I've also learned that it's useless to plan for everything to go as planned when you go to Ghana. Some of these things will not happen. Other things will come up and be done that I wasn't planning on. Still, here's my hopeful "to do" list (or at least the things I can share publicly).
1. Visit GMI/CKO. Take pics of kids. Meet the amazing Emily M. on her last day in Ghana. Hug John, Irene, and the kiddos!
2. Visit Nyame Dua in Teshie. Take pics of kids. Give my brother Paul and his wife a huge hug! Lots of kiddo cuddling. Take letters/gifts from families. See how progress is going on the Boys' Dorm that is being built there!
3. Visit Beacon House. Give Romana and Mary a hug! Take kid pics for families. Soak up the love in the home!
4. Planning meeting with The Ripley Foundation. So much GOOD stuff going on with this awesome NGO. Can't wait to hug my friends J and M and talk about all of the awesome stuff we can do in the future!
5. Visit the foster home in Kwahu that is run by CompAfriCare. Take pics of kiddos. Hang out at the home and get to know Eastern Region a bit. Meet my friend K in person for the first time!
6. Visit City of Refuge Ministries in Tema. Can't wait to meet Stacy and crew, if they'll have me! Can't WAIT to meet a certain precious baby girl in their care. Can't wait to talk about how AAI might be able to contribute to CoR in the future!
7. Visit two orphanages in Central Region that would like to learn more about international adoption. There are so many loving homes in Ghana that just have a hard time believing the love we Americans have for these children. They need/want to hear about it and see it (through pictures) in person.
8. Visit the special needs kiddos at a government run orphanage. Take pics for their future parents. Visit with officials to convince them that there are loving American families that would absolutely accept these children into their lives!
9. Deliver post-adoption reports to Social Welfare. Get your reports in if they are due! I will take yours over, even if you didn't adopt through AAI. These are *SO* important to the future of Ghana adoptions!
10. Meet D and visit the foster home she and her husband have created for children with significant special needs. So excited!
11. Go to Togo! This is the most "iffy" thing on the list, but I am hopeful. I'd like to visit GMI's orphanage there, and speak to government officials.
12. Visit Volta Region. I wish Volta wasn't so spread out, because I would like to visit the places our GMI kiddos are from, and also head over to HoHoe so that I can visit Eugemot Orphanage and Bright's birth family (who lives just behind the orphanage). I would love to deliver pics of their little "spider baby!"
13. Visit Akisuma, Eastern Region: Can't wait to see the great things that Isaiah 1:17 has planned for this community, and how we might be able to help!
14. Visit TRF foster homes and take pics of kiddos. These are the private foster homes through The Ripley Foundation. Auntie Ruth and CeCe--I want hugs!
15. Go to my Auntie Comfort's for some serious lovin' and catching up. It's been too long since her arms have been wrapped around me and she's given me motherly advice!
16. There are 3 more orphanages I'd like to visit, to see what their needs are and to share with them about the love that is ready and waiting for the orphaned children in their care.
17. Visit the children and families that are sponsored through AAI/TRF. Take updated photos of those already sponsored, and new photos and info for those in need of sponsorship. If you are sponsoring and want to send a letter, I'm delivering!
18. I'm planning on a big 'ol Texas size hug from fellow Ghana mom Emily G! I'm hoping for similar size hugs from other traveling families! Party in Ghana! Let's meet at Next Door Beach Resort and watch the sunset together over an ice cold Fanta!
I guess that's it, off the top of my head. I'm sure I've missed something major that I'll remember later. The focus of this trip is to reaffirm existing friendships and to make new ones. "Program Development" would be the official phrase for that, I suppose. When I'm here in America I constantly "meet" new people or learn about new (to me) organizations that are doing amazing work in Ghana. There's only so much relationship that can be done from a distance. My trips to Ghana allow me to make real friendships with these folks. Those friendships can often lead to new ways for AAI to assist Ghana's orphaned children and vulnerable families!!!
Special Request (sort of). I'll be honest with you. It's a very big financial commitment for AAI to send me on this trip at this time. These are tough times in international adoption. However, they are sending me. They do this because they know it's important for our families to have a coordinator who is in touch with Ghana...someone who is on the ground an not just speaking from tourist guides. In the past there has been more room financially for me to take funds to DO things for the places I visit. Buying rice for the homes that have little to no food [yes, I'll be visiting homes like that]; taking educational toys for special needs kids; buying and donating items that certain homes need (fans, or a polytank, or bunk beds). There is no extra money in the budget this time. Heck--I'm not even going to be able to pick up the ticket when I go to dinner with a friend/collegue! I know this is a crazy request, but if you have a bit of extra money in the budget this month and are looking for some way to make a difference with it, I would be happy to use it to bless the homes I visit in Ghana. Remember, $5 will buy 30 eggs in Ghana! I will (obviously!) share with you exactly what is done with it--photos included. If you want it to be a tax deductible donations, we can do that! Just donate HERE and in "other" put "Anita's trip to Ghana." If you don't care about the tax deduction, I would be happy to send you my private address (or set up paypal). If no donations come, I understand. I know it's hard times. I just keep imagining going to these places empty handed. We ARE so rich. That will be hard.