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Friday, March 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes: Stuck in Africa!

Our 2 week adoption trip has turned into what will most likely be a 6 week adventure...if I'm lucky - and thus, the theme of my 7 quick takes today.

It is truly amazingly hot here. Really - like Africa hot. Even though the temperatures are not exceedingly higher than what we experience at home in North Carolina, the sun is much stronger and the heat is unrelenting. While here, I've realized that while it gets hot at home, we don't really have to deal with it as much at home - all our stores are air conditioned, our cars are air conditioned, and we have whole house air conditioning (not just a room or two).

The past 4 weeks we have had to live day in and day out with a great deal of uncertainty: when would we get our approval, when would we get our visa (still a question), will there be electricity tonight, will there be water to take a bath or do laundry tomorrow, will our food arrive in the next hour, and so on. It teaches you to make do and live without holding too tightly to your own schedule.

There are many sides to life in Ghana today. We've seen the extreme poverty that one often imagines in Africa, stayed in an area of lower to middle class apartments (our first guest house), currently staying in an upper middle class area (our second guest house), and we will soon enjoy another visit to Coconut Grove and its "upperclass" treatment. While there are areas that have no basic services (water, electricity, etc) within the city and outlying areas, there is also a very nice, modern, western-style mall. It is a culture of contrasts as it grows and strives to become a successful African democracy.

The local cuisine is really delicious - at least to me! I'm a fairly adventurous eater, so others may not feel the same way...but I've enjoyed it all: Banku and Okra Stew, Jollof Rice, Red Red, Piri Piri, and LOTS of good fresh fish.

"Obruni" - wow, who knew we'd get so much attention as "white people" (that is what "Obruni" means). The white mamas and black babies cause a big stir wherever we go. It is good natured curiousity usually, but the staring and pointing and shouting of "Obruni" is tiresome after a while. It is hard to be "on display" and watched so much. It is part of international adoption (and transracial adoption) to suddenly be "conspicuous", but that is all the more so here!

The longer I stay here, the more I want to come back...but only so long as I can leave when I want to! We've had some major hurdles getting L's visa (and the other family traveling with us and adopting a similarly aged baby have, too). While I respect and appreciate the US's desire to make sure all adoptions are "clean", there is some disrespect being shown by the US Embassy for Ghanaian government's ability to do this in ways that make sense within their culture and legal system. I may post more about this when I return home as it is a long and involved story. We do believe that once our birth mothers' passports are completed (should be in 5 business days), we will be able to complete the US Embassy's requirements for evidence and we will recieve our visas! AND WE CAN GO HOME!

Thankfully, hubby has gone ahead and headed home to be with our other three kids. A month is just too long to be least unexpectedly. I feel so much better knowing he'll be there soon. We expect that I'll have L's visa in about 10-12 days and should be able to leave on March 18th or 20th - depending on when we get the visa in hand. I'm not really looking forward to the 10 hour flight with my wiggly (she's amazingly strong and squirmy!) baby on my lap. But we'll manage!

Today is Ghana's Independence Day. I'm hanging out with L (who is having her morning nap - the only way I can manage any typing!) with the Independence Day ceremonies on the television. The uniforms make me wilt just looking at them.

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Stephanie said...

Even though it's not what you planned, what an amazing opportunity to spend time in the country of your daughter's birth and learn a bit about the the culture, the traditions and everyday lives of the people!

My Quick Takes are all within Arizona - no African travels for me (yet). :)

DebD said...

I'm so glad to get an update, I've been wondering how everything was going.

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Wow, what an experience. Thanks for the updates! I'll be praying for you guys.

Dana said...

Praying it all gets taken care of soon. We have friends here who adopted from Africa and it was sort of one thing after another blocking their way home. But the children are here now, and the frustration is just a memory...kind of like those horrendous birth stories women seemed to like to tell me when I was pregnant with my first. :)