Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Boy Named Christian

I wanted to continue on about the little boy that caught my attention in the school’s more from my journal:

After our time in the school yard we went back to the hotel for the rest of the night. Jake and some of the others headed into the restaurant gazebo to talk….I snuck away to our room to write the day’s happenings in my journal. As I was writing tonight, all of a sudden the door flung open and Jake walked in with Christian and some of his friends!!!!! When I saw him peek around the door I said, “Christian, I was literally just thinking writing about you!!!” Jake began filing through our suitcase of shoe donations to find some for Christian and his friends (it turned out that many of the children from the school yard had followed a few of our group back to the hotel…many of us rode back in the pick-up truck, but a few walked back and apparently had company coming behind them). Unfortunately medium sized boy shoes had been the hot commodity over the past few days, and there were none left that would fit them. Instead Jake rounded up some t-shirts, food, and candy and as quickly as they came in Christian and his friends were gone – practically skipping off happy as could be! Later tonight as Jake and I were summarizing our day with each other Christian’s name came up again.

“I asked him about his eye,” Jake said.

“What?!?!?! When?!?!” I answered.

“When he came to the hotel tonight. We were talking up in the restaurant before we came to look through the shoes.”

“Well, what did he say?” I asked.

“All he said was that his dad didn’t want him anymore…so his dad had tried to gouge out his eye. He also said that his mom didn’t want him either, so he lives with his grandma now.”

As Jake spoke my heart sunk for this boy. He was so intelligent, and well-spoken, and sweet-hearted. Knowing that his own mother and father didn’t want him made me sick. Immediately Psalm 27:10 came to my mind –
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

After Jake and I talked a little more I felt strongly that I should look around and find Christian tomorrow. I wanted him to take me to meet his grandma.

* * * * * *

Day 3

As I got ready this morning I prayed that God would help me to run into Christian today at some point. I really felt that I needed to meet his grandma. As I was praying my thoughts were interrupted by someone at the door…


I opened the door, and guess who was standing there? Yep, Christian. :) You know, by now I’ve realized that when God does things like that, that it means He’s trying to get my attention. I don’t know why I was actually surprised to see Christian standing there. When we pray we should expect answers. Needless to say, when God did that this morning, I got the point. We are supposed to do something for Christian. I am not sure what. But I am going to find out.

Christian was dressed in his school uniform, but since it was 9am I wondered why he wasn’t in school? I asked him and he said he was part of the second shift (they have so many kids at their school that they split the kids in half and do one school session early in the morning, and one later – he was part of the later session). I asked him what he stopped by for. "Just to say hi," he said, smiling. I asked him if he had eaten breakfast yet and he shook his head 'no'. I grabbed some granola bars and fruit snacks off the table and then we walked outside to where his friend was waiting for him. I told Christian that I wanted him to take Jake and I to meet his Grandma today. He said he would come back to get us around 3pm after school. Then he said, “If my Grandma says it is ok, can you take me with you back to the United States?”

I smiled. I wish it was that easy. But I took my cue, and adoption entered my mind. Maybe we are supposed to help Christian get adopted…

Jake took our picture…Christian is in the middle.
Later on today….

Around 3pm Christian and a few of his friends came by to take us to meet his grandma. As Christian led us along the road to his home there were many curious village children out and about who decided to join along on our walk. Pretty soon as we approached the entry point for Christian’s home we all of a sudden had a group of about 20 kids with us. It’s kind of funny how that happens here…I get a kick out of it! As we walked into the entry we asked the other kids to stay by the door. We followed Christian to the back of his house. His house was a 2 unit structure that he and his grandma shared with another family. It was set off the roadway, back amongst a cluster of mud huts and trees. Christian’s grandma was outside and we introduced ourselves. Quickly I realized that she didn’t know English….she also seemed a little overwhelmed that we were there. Some of the other kids had sort of snuck in behind the house and she started hollering something at them. The moments turned awkward so I decided it was a good time to pull out the two pairs of Sass shoes from my backpack that we had brought for her (yes, my own grandma would be proud to know that we had Sass shoes donated!). As I handed them to her she waved them off and said something. One of the ladies sitting outside translated for us in English, “She says she doesn’t like shoes.” I looked down at her bare feet and realized these wouldn’t have fit anyways. Fortunately I had also packed some soup mixes and packages of tuna that had been donated, as well as a big cooking pot (yes, I fit a cooking pot in my backpack!). I offered them to her and she took them and looked them over. Meanwhile, Jake struck up a conversation with the family that shares the housing unit with Christian and his grandma. I sort of just stood there, taking everything in. Christian’s grandma looked quite old to me…definitely in her late 70’s at least. I started to wonder what would happen to Christian if she passed away. After about 10 minutes went by things still felt awkward, so we decided to say goodbye. As we left I was a little bummed that our time with Christian’s grandma didn’t go as well as I thought it would, but at least now I knew where he lived.

This day ended up being the last time I saw Christian. He came to a bible study that we did at the hotel this night of our 3rd day in Asikuma, but he again disappeared before I could say goodbye. The next morning we left for Accra….a 2 hour drive from Asikuma. I wouldn’t be seeing Christian again on this trip.

Since we’ve been home, God has kept ‘bugging’ me about Christian. Like I said in my journal, I don’t know exactly what we are supposed to do for him, but helping him get adopted seems like the first logical thing to look into….adoption is what I am familiar with, so it’s a good place to start. As I thought about adoption for Christian, I got a little discouraged because I wondered if he was even ‘eligible’ for adoption. He would need to have orphan status, but it sounded like his parents were still living. However, since they had already ‘abandoned’ him, I wondered if it would be possible to locate one of them to have them sign a relinquishment of parental rights if they indeed ‘didn’t want him’ as he said. Since I didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, I decided to email an adoption rep who I’ve been connected with through our work in Ghana. She is quite knowledgeable about these sorts of things, and I knew she would have an answer for me. And it looks like the possibility of adoption is indeed a place to start for his situation! Here is what she said:

It seems, from what you've shared, that he would likely qualify for adoption. If the whereabouts of his father are unknown, but his mother's whereabouts are known, the adoption could occur with only her permission. If whereabouts of both parents are known, an abandonment proceeding would need to occur within the courts, and then both parents' rights would be terminated. In any case, as the guardian, the grandmother would need to agree with an adoption plan. If you like, I can refer Christian's case to our partner NGO. They would go out and do their own investigation and speak with the family members about the reality of adoption, or other assistance (if that would allow them to stay together). With the grandmother's age, it seems that he may not have anybody after she passes away. Adoption may be the best plan.

So, it looks like this is a good place to start. I’ll keep you updated on Christian’s situation as I know more. I wonder what God has in store for this boy?


Mindy said...

Each day's post gets better and better! What is your guess at Christian's age? I'm in love with each and every child you show!

the crawfords said...

amazing stories!
his smile is fantastic!
thanks for sharing this and we will be praying for Christian!

Janel said...

Hey Mindy- Christian told us that he thought he was 12 or 13 years old. My guess is more like 10 years....he is comparative to Justice, but seemed a bit older/more mature.

Tamara B said...

Look at that boy. He has such a beautiful smile - it's contagious!