Welcome! As we step out in faith to adopt from Ghana, we started this blog as a way to share the story of our adoption journey with family and friends. Step by step on this journey we are learning to trust in and rely on God all the more.
If you would like to start reading about our journey from the beginning start with the January 1st post, "How it all Started".

Saturday, August 13, 2011

June 3rd – Court Day!

Once again we woke up to the rooster calls at around 6 and got ready, as we did yesterday, for court. As we waited for “K” to arrive I started getting nervous. We had no idea what to expect. What court would be like? What the judge would be like? How would the kids act? I was nervous we might say, or do, something wrong.

“K” arrived about 8:30. When we climbed into the car, Kwame was quick to announce that Vivi wore “bumpers” at night which made “K” & birth mom laugh. Yes, thanks to Rebecca sharing some of her daughter’s diapers, I was able to enjoy waking up dry. Thankfully Vivi was good about wearing them. Kwame  also touched my heart when he tapped his mom on the shoulder and said, while pointing to Ken, “My daddy, my daddy.” She smiled and shook her head, yes.

As “K” led us down the path to the courtroom, he briefly introduced us to our social worker. He then led us into the courtroom. The room had rows of wooden benches with backs. There was also one row of benches along the side wall. In front of the benches there was a podium and in front of that had a raised floor where there were two desks. One was for the judge. The room had no air conditioning or fans, so it was very warm. The room filled up quickly.

Our family, along with Ryan & Kristen’s birth mom sat in the back row. Ryan, Kristen and our birth mom started out on the side benches. They moved to the row in front of us when they were forced to move because guards brought in handcuffed prisoners to sit there. Hmmm.

As we looked around we noticed the sign on the door. It said, gender based violence court #5. A guard stands by the door. Are we in the right place? We are all asked to rise as the judge enters the room. We sit and listen while several criminal cases are brought before her.

Vivi and Kwame were amazing. They colored, played quietly, and neatly ate snacks as we waited. Ken & Kwame drew together on the magna doodle, and Vivi & I played with her new Princess Tiana doll. Birth mom frequently looked back at them and would gesture to look at that toys the kids had. She would then look at them and give them back.

There was a break in the cases and Kwame informed Ken he had to go to the bathroom. Right before they walked out we heard it announced that adoptions would be heard next. Great timing! Shortly after they left, “K” gestured for us to come forward. I quickly started shoving toys & such into bags. We had two backpacks several big bottles of water. Plus, Vivi had her bag. Ryan, seeing me struggle, came back to help me drag everything up to the front.

“K”, Kristen, their boys & their birth mom were directed up the platform and into the judge’s chambers by a guard/bailiff.  As Ryan, Vivi, our birth mom & I approached the platform he made us stop. I wasn’t sure what to say, if to say anything; I didn’t want to get in trouble. Several minutes passed and “K” stepped out of the judge’s chambers and called for Ryan to come. By that time Ken & Kwame were back.

Not too much time passed and it was then our turn to go into the room. Ken, Kwame & Birth Mom sat on the couch that was along the back wall of the judge’s office. Vivian, “K” & I sat on the couch that was along the side wall. Diagonally across from us sat the judge at her desk. Our lawyer, the one we hadn’t met, and the social worker sat in front of her desk.

Then judge called off each of our names and we signaled to her that we were there. As our lawyer proceeded to present our case to the judge I watched. I watched my husband and my almost-son sitting next to each other holding hands. I watched their hands and tried not to get emotional. I watched Birth Mom, wondering what she must be thinking and feeling. Watching Vivi in my lap, excited to almost be her mother, but also wondered what she & Kwame understood of what was happening. I watched as the lawyer told the judge about our family. I watched, listened, and was moved by how our lives were about to be changed forever. It was exciting and sobering at the same time. Finally we heard what we have been waiting to hear for a year and a half. The lawyer petitioned the judge to grant us the adoption and the judge spoke the words that were music to our ears, “It is granted”. I wanted to yell out for joy, I wanted to run and give the judge a hug, I wanted to cry, but instead we each said thank you and walked out of the room. Solomon Kwame Okia and Vivian Afua Teye are now Solomon Kwame and Vivian Afua Bechtold.

I knew our time with Birth Mom had to be almost over and there were things I really wanted to ask. I asked “K” to interpret for us and we were able to get a few of our questions answered.  There were so many more questions I did not get the chance to ask, things I will never be able to pass along to the children. But I am very thankful for the questions I was able to ask & the answers I was able to get.

It was then time to go. Ken, the kids, and I got into a taxi and headed back to the hotel. Ryan, Kristen, the birth moms and “K” went to try and pick up some documents that Ryan & Kristen still needed. We were going to go out for lunch when they got back. A lot of time passed when the phone rang and it was Kristen asking if we wanted to meet up with the rest of the group and have lunch at a place “K” was taking them, a Chop Shop. Of course! So off we went again. I had hoped it would give me an opportunity to ask more questions of their birth mom, but that was not to be. We did get more pictures, which was nice.

Ken eating fish & rice. I only ate the rice & sauce.

 After lunch we got in “K’s” car and he took us to his home and his brother took the birth moms home. After visiting for a bit “K” took us back to the hotel. 6 adults and 4 kids piled into his 5 passenger car. Thankfully his car was air conditioned.

When we got back to the hotel we had a chance to Skype with Charmaine and a couple of her kids. We also got to Skype with Jacob and some family. We then took a much needed nap and chilled the rest of the day. We ate Peanut butter sandwiches for dinner; they were a hit.
We are so happy that we are now officially a family of six. What an amazing life changing day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

June 2nd – Court Day. Or so We Thought

One thing I forgot to tell you was, the reason we had chosen to stay at the Pentagon Hotel was because an adoption friend had told us about it. She and another American mom had been staying there and would still be there during our stay. Tracey and Rebecca where such a valuable resource and support for us.

We woke up around 6 to get ready for our big day. No need for an alarm clock, the roosters took care of that. Ryan & Kristen showed up around 7 and we sat down to a breakfast of eggs, toast, instant coffee and some super yummy watermelon.

We then anxiously waited for “K” to arrive and take us to our court appointment. 8 o’clock came and went. We tried to keep the kids occupied while also keeping them clean and presentable. 9 o’clock passed, then 10 o’clock. We had to remind ourselves we are on Ghana time. At 10:30 the phone rang. It was “K” informing us that court was full and we would go same time tomorrow instead. We were disappointed, but at least we’ll be going tomorrow and not Tuesday, which is when we thought the “make-up” day would be.

After we got the news we all got ready and went swimming. The kids loved the pool! The boys had a blast jumping in and wrestling around in the water with Ken & Ryan. Miss Vivi took to the water with more caution.

After swimming, and per Tracey’s recommendation, we went and ate at Frankie’s in town. Frankie’s is a restaurant that carries various international foods. She also put us in contact with Charles, the taxi driver they use. He is very nice and even helped us get a phone and minutes needed to use it.

We also got to experience street vendors, who if you engage at all, will not cease to pester you. I got very good at saying “no”.

After lunch we went back to the hotel & swam some more. It was a wonderful family bonding time.

We finished the night with the movie Lion King; courtesy of Rebecca. Rebecca, if you are reading this thank you, thank you, thank you, the movies were a life saver. After the movie it was off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow we will be going to court.

Court being canceled was a blessing; it gave us a time for us to get to know our kids and for them to get to know us. We learned more about their personalities and became more comfortable with each other. I can’t help but wonder what they must be thinking and feeling. And wondering how much they understand about what’s going on. It is hard to know these things since they speak very little English and we of course know only a few Twi words. They do seem to be bonding with us which is beyond wonderful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

June 1st – Day 2

I’m going to keep it real; today was a bit rough for me.

I wouldn’t say that I got the best sleep last night. Between being in an unfamiliar place, the excitement of the day, Kwame almost falling out of bed, and waking up in the middle of the night wet from shoulder to knee (courtesy of my daughter), it was a restless night.

We were the last of the three families to get up. They had already eaten and were getting ready to go swimming when we got up and ordered our breakfast. Our kids were not too happy that they weren’t getting to go swimming in the very green pool. As a result, Vivi kept running off; it became a game for her. We finally got everyone settled down to breakfast.

After breakfast, and a couple more Vivi chases, we got our stuff packed up and got ready for “K” to pick us up. The plan is to go back to the foster home to drop off Eric & Jenni’s children because they are flying back to the States tonight.

We made the short trip back to the foster home and soon learned that the girl I spoke with the night before was Kwame & Vivi’s biological sister. Because if that, and the fact that the grandmother of Ryan & Kristen’s boys was there the previous night, we asked about our children’s birth mom. We were very surprised when we were told she was inside the foster home.

My heart started pounding when we then learned she had also been there the previous night. She was there watching as we met our children, her children. Ken had actually spoken to her, not knowing who she was. It was a very strange feeling. What did she think of us? What did she think of us loving on her children; telling them we were their mommy & daddy? What had she felt as she watched us?

Their mother knew hardly any English so we were not really able to talk to her. She smiled and giggled a lot. I’m sure she had to be as nervous as we were. No sooner had we met then we were climbing back into the van, birth moms included, to go see the new orphanage that “K” was building.

The land that the orphanage was on is beautiful. And the building is looking great.. He shared with us his plans and details. One of his goals is to be self sufficient; crops including corn & mangos. It was all very exciting to hear. It was then time to head back to the foster home and drop off those staying.

We got back to the orphanage and the birth moms disappeared. Feeling like time was running out I asked their sister what she thought her mom would want the children to remember. I’m not sure if she understood my question because she said she wanted them to obey and do what they are told. Two other girls came up and said they too were sisters. We were so surprised to learn this. Birth mom then reappeared. We wanted to make sure we got pictures for the kids to have, so we gathered birth mom and the sisters together and took pictures. We would later learn that the two newly introduced sisters were not biological sisters. Thank goodness for photo shop…when I learn to use it. J

When birth mom reappeared I had not noticed that she had a bag with her. Heart pounding again, I remember that she would be going to court with us and because Kwahu & Accra are so far away from each other they would of course be riding with us. I said something to Kristen and I’m not sure we knew what to think. For me I was ready to stop traveling and start really bonding with my children.

Before we piled into the $300 (split between the 3 American families) non-air conditioned rental van for our 1 way trip to Accra, “E” & “J” had to say good bye to their children. It was so hard to watch. I knew it wouldn’t be long before we would be saying goodbye to our children. It had to be even harder for them as they had to watch us loving on our kids.

Finally we were off. 11 adults, 4 children, and loads of luggage for our 3 1/2+ hour trip to Accra.

One thing I learned is that my kids are great travelers. Put them in a car and they are fast asleep, especially Vivian.

Nothing too exciting happened on the trip. It rain for a while and my window was stuck open so I got a bit wet; it was refreshing though. We stopped for lunch and the 3 families split the bill. It was so hard to be traveling with their birth mom and not be able to talk to her.

After dropping off Eric & Jenni we finally made it to the hotel where we had made reservations. The birth moms got out of the van, with their bags, and started walking toward the hotel. My heart was pounding; they aren’t stay with us are they? Not that I had anything against her, I was just ready to have my family to myself. Thankfully they would not.

We then learned that only one of the rooms was available…ugh, not again. We ended up staying in the single room. The bed was a double….sigh. Ryan & Kristen were brought to a near by hotel & would be able to check into a double room tomorrow. “K” informed us he would pick us up at 8 in the morning so we could be at court by 9.

As we get ready for bed I am trying to process what has happened thus far. We have basically been traveling for two days: plane, car, taxis, bus, and van. We are in an amazing country; one I never thought I would see in my life. We have met, after almost two years of waiting, the children that were about to be legally ours; these two little strangers in my bed. And we spent more time than I had expected with their birth mom who, whether reluctantly or not, watched as we loved on her children, checking out the gifts we had given them, smiling when she’d see me watching her watching them. What a crazy, unbelievable, overwhelming, wonderful, full of surprises last 48 hours. My only regret is that we have not had more quality time with the kids before they become legally ours; more time to get to know them better. With that I will say goodnight. I still can’t believe tomorrow we will become a family of 6.