I’m still soaking up all of Jake’s stories about our girls from his trip and wanted to share a few more pictures and little smidges of details from his time with them…
Continuation from the rest of his day with them August 1:
Bath time for Florence :)
Cannot even tell you how invaluable it will be to have this picture someday – this is a such a showcase of the Ghanaian culture.
Text from Jake later that night: Just got back to hotel. I was with girls until about 6:30pm and just spent two hours with ‘K’ picking up kids from foster homes who have court appointments tomorrow including our ‘baby in the bush’. Jennifer balled her eyes out when I had to leave.
Jake also told me on the phone that night that Jennifer did not leave his side the entire day. He said she was just starving for a father’s affection - she gave lots of hugs, held Jake’s hand, and was very snuggly/content to be right next to him at all times.
August 2nd: Jake was still in Accra this day but did not get to see the girls. This was the day of our appointment to file the I-600 form at the Embassy which was done successfully. The official who handled our case was satisfied with all of Jake’s answers during the interview, and noted that our documents to file were all in order. Now we wait for our approval which could come any time between now and 60 days from the date of our appointment.
August 3rd: Jake spent the morning with Dotse at his appointments and then spent the afternoon with our girls at their foster home. Jake said Jennifer made a mad dash up to the car once she saw Jake arrive.
Florence was still taking her afternoon nap.
Once I saw this picture, I realized it was an answer to prayer. On this side of the ocean, for the past few months my continual prayer has been, “Lord, please prepare Jennifer and Florence to come into our family, our home, and our lives. Ready their hearts and their minds for this big change that they will soon be experiencing.” (I have been praying this for our hearts too, and shared a few weeks ago about how God is preparing me in this post.) So, I’ve been praying that for our girls, but up until this point I didn’t know exactly how God was answering….I just trusted that He would. But this picture gave me one little detail of what He is doing.
Normally in Ghana, a child Florence’s age would take a nap strapped to their mother’s back….and they would pretty much be able to nap anytime they wanted as their mother walked around working and would lull them to sleep. In fact, when we last visited the girls at their orphanage in March, this cultural way of doing things was presenting a huge problem for me. Florence was so used to being strapped to the foster/house mother’s back that she would get very disturbed when she wasn’t. It felt almost traumatic to watch her in such stress when she wasn’t strapped on. I had begun praying even then for the Lord to give me wisdom on how I was to handle this. Should I go out and buy a baby backpack contraption thingy? Would I absolutely need it to get us through the airport during Florence and Jennifer’s long travel home? What about once they got home? How were we going to teach Florence to sleep by herself? Remember our crazy first night with Flo at the hotel? I started envisioning night after night of episodes just like that once we would bring them home! I know that most people wouldn’t even worry about these sorts of things. But this is how my mind works. I am a planner by God’s design. So I work through all of these thoughts in my head until I come up with a plan. But God had a different plan all together. I wasn’t going to have to handle this. In the past months when our girls got switched from the orphanage to a private foster home God began working through these little details. These details may not seem like a big deal to someone else, but they mean a lot to me.
Florence is being laid down for a nap. On a bed. By herself. At the same time. Every afternoon. Just how I will do it once she comes here. [Can you hear the choir of angels singing in my head? :) ] We didn’t request this….this is just how the foster mother runs her home. Not only that, but Jake was there to experience the nap time routine on two different occasions. He said that each time the foster mother would lay Florence down for a nap, she would go right to sleep – no crying or anything. Then, the foster mother would send Jennifer and her two bio kids inside for ‘quiet time’ where they watched a Tom and Jerry movie. Then, once Flo woke up about 2 hours later everyone had snack time – they received biscuits which are like crackers.
I know this all doesn’t seem like a jaw-dropping miracle to anyone, but if you know Ghanaian culture you would understand that having kids on a ‘schedule/routine’ just does not happen! But it’s happening for our girls. In addition, Jake kept telling me how good the foster mother’s son was with Florence - that he was a huge help with her. And his name is Justice. And he is 9 years old – right around the same age of our Justice. Jake said this boy’s personality was also exactly similar to our Justice – very kind, caring, helpful, and compassionate. Goodness! I just love how God is concerned with the details. Although we are oceans away, in these tiny things God is starting to prepare our girls for our family - and in so doing He is answering my prayer. I cannot even imagine the other work He is doing in their hearts that may not be revealed until later.
Flo up from her nap and snuggling with Jake…
Jake was purposeful about feeding the girls and sharing plates of food all together as a way of bonding.
The foster mother noted that Jennifer has been used to scarfing her food down, and so she has been trying to teach her that she doesn’t need to ‘fight’ for food anymore and can eat slower. Jake saw this in action as well. Jake said Florence is always eating and always asking for food, and she REFUSES to allow anyone to help her eat or drink. She wants to hold the spoon/cups herself and if anyone tries to help her she’ll ‘yell’ at them…in a 2 year old sort of way. :) Jake said Flo loved the Cheez-its that he had brought, was carrying around the entire box, and would not share with anyone except for Jake! In his time spent with the girls Jake noted that Florence is very protective of her food and her meals.
Text from Jake a few hours later that day: I had a blast with the girls. I have to stay away now though - it is too hard to leave them. It is totally different adopting girls, especially when Flo is running around calling me “Da”.
From here Jake was off to Asikuma with the rest of the team for the remaining days of his trip. On Friday, August 10th he was back in Accra and got to see Jennifer and Florence one last time before his flight back to the U.S. Our adoption worker brought the foster mother, her two bio kids, and Jennifer and Florence to the Airside Hotel in Accra where the team had dinner and hung out before heading to the airport.
Here’s a video Jake sent me of him playing catch with Florence…SO CUTE!
He said Jennifer really, really wanted to swim (the Airside Hotel has a pool) so he promised her that on our homecoming trip we would stay at the Airside and take her swimming for the first time. If you remember, this was one of the first bonding activities we did with Justice.
And this was the last picture Jake sent me on Friday before heading to the airport….
And his text after saying goodbyes: Hardest thing ever to leave the girls. Florence screamed her head off when I had to get on the bus.
Jake said this was the only time he saw Florence cry the whole trip….when she saw him leaving.
Although this part of the adoption process is so hard - getting to bond with your children and then having to leave them - I am thankful. To even be afforded these opportunities to get to meet and and spend time with our children in their country and their comfort zone multiple times before bringing them home is one of the biggest gifts in international adoption. It's one of the reasons why I love Ghana adoption so much. Our girls know us and are familiar with us, and have already begun to attach to us in little ways. It's such a blessing.
Hoping in God's Sovereignty and trusting in His timing and plans as this process nears the end. :)