I’ve gotten a crash course on this trip. Not that I didn’t already have some baseline knowledge, but this trip has put me to the test. Both BubblyGirl’s Ghana Daddy and GhanaGuy and GhanaGirl’s mother live within walking distance of the orphanage. They are with me, and their kids, all the time. I couldn’t turn around without greeting BubblyGirl’s father when I went to get her. This time it’s the same with the Ghana-duos mom. Every birthparent has a story, most of them aren’t happy. If your life were sunshine and rainbows, would you really be placing? The answer would probably be no. I have met all of my kid’s placing parent now, minus one who chose not to meet us. The interactions have always had the same feel to them. The feeling of “could this BE any more uncomfortable?”. How do you adequately thank someone for giving you the chance to be a parent? You can’t. As the days go by, and the child begins to feel like more of “yours”, the memories fade. The birthparent becomes a picture on the wall or in the photo album. Sad, but true. It almost has to be that way so that you can bond with the child. It’s hard to love a child when you feel like they’re borrowed.
Even though it has only been a little over 3 months that BubblyGirl has been home, I had forgotten what it feels like to stare into the face of a birthparent while trying to bond with your kids. There is an added pressure here, because I don’t speak the language, but can plainly tell when the kid’s Ghana Mom is referring to me. What is she saying? Is she telling them things that will help or hinder this process? Who knows!
Then there is the desperation. Again, the living situation is almost unreal. So, it comes as no surprise when someone in a horrible situation like that asks you to help. Whether the help comes in the form of cedis or food, it is still looked upon as a bribe. Nothing can be promised. Do you know how hard it is to stare into the face of someone who has NOTHING, is giving you EVERYTHING you could have ever hoped for and have to tell them NO. It’s eating me a little. It’s eating me a lot.
Time and distance will probably help me see that I can’t do a whole lot that isn’t illegal now. But as I sit here in Ghana, looking around me, it is hard to think that in just three days I’ll get to go back to all the things the kids here can’t even fathom (like my dishwasher). I get to escape and go back to my “real” life. For them, this is real life. Wow.
who is thankful for a cold Coke at the restaurant she is at. She just wishes people would stop shouting “obruni!” at her.