Many of our friends and family have been asking, “What is going on in Ghana?” We have had to remain quiet for awhile, as details were confirmed and other processes were put into motion, but the time has come where we can speak more freely about what we have experienced.
Three families that adopted from the same orphanage we did, Luckyhill, went through a horrific experience this March in trying to take the final step to bring home their five children, collectively. They were told at the U.S. Embassy that they could not be issued visas to bring those children to America, because the Social Welfare office in Ghana had found significant problems with the paperwork (e.g. birth certificates, adoption decrees, and so on). No visas would be issued until those problems were solved. Our friends thought they would be in Ghana for a week or two. They were there for three weeks to one whole month.
When they returned to the United States, blessedly with their children, it began a difficult time for all of us associated with Luckyhill, and went far beyond paperwork problems. We only have the right to speak concerning the problems that directly affected us, so out of respect for all of those connected to the orphanage, we will address only our particular situation as much as possible.
Our portion began as we were told that none of the families traveling there were ever taken to Seth’s gravesite. There were two groups of adopting families that went there after Seth’s death, and neither one was ever taken there, despite multiple requests. When one of the adopting moms mentioned offhandedly something regarding Seth’s passing, her child was horrified and said that Seth was not dead, that he would know if he were, but that he wasn’t. Those three moms asked multiple children, in many ways and on many occasions, to tell them about the schoolwide memorial service that we were told happened with all 300 children at the orphanage and school. Not one child could provide a single detail, not one of them had seen Seth leave in the taxi or even that he was ill. We were never given the photos and video that Kingsley said that he took of that service, but he said that it was “wonderful”, with singing and dancing, and then a private burial service with Seth’s family.
We remembered Seth’s birthday on April 6th. It was especially hard for Shannon, thinking of all that we had planned to do with our son. Two days later, after some powerful, prayerful pleading by that adopting mom mentioned above, the other two families asked their children to tell them the truth about Seth, whatever the truth might be. Independently of each other, the three children in those two families confirmed what we had begun to suspect: that Seth was alive, that he was living with his birth family, and that those children had been told by the orphanage director that they were to lie about it and say he was dead. Furthermore, when one of the adoptive moms was in Ghana in March and went to a nearby village to pay a visit to a church member, her adopted son saw Seth, who ran out to give him a hug. Her son reminded Seth that he was not to be seen when any “obrunis” (white people) were present. Unfortunately, the adoptive mom did not also see him at that time.
We have since received secondhand confirmation from a number of adults in the community that Seth has been back in that village since January, only a few minutes’ walk away from Luckyhill. No one in that community even knew that we believed Seth to be dead, that we had mourned him deeply and even raised funds to build a library in his memory. The collective reaction of all asked in that community was that they were appalled that we would be told such an awful lie.
This week, the orphanage was “raided” by police and the Social Welfare department in Ghana, to remove any children at the orphanage and bring them to safety. (WE ARE SO GRATEFUL FOR THOSE PEOPLE IN SOCIAL WELFARE AND THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA FOR STEPPING FORWARD TO HELP IN THE WAY THAT ALL OF US HERE WISH WE COULD HAVE BUT WERE POWERLESS TO DO.) Kingsley ran with his family but turned himself in two days later to the police. He was in jail for a few hours and then posted bail. We received a phone call from him the next day, trying to tell us that Seth’s birthmother had lied and said that Seth had died, but that Seth was actually alive. Needless to say, Rob told him very directly that we knew for a fact that that was just another lie on his part, and rehearsed to him all of the ways that he had created and perpetuated the lie of Seth’s death all on his own (not the least of which being collecting money from us for a funeral and burial that never took place).
The question on everyone’s mind, including ours, is, “What does all of this mean?” Our best answer is “we don’t know, but time will tell.” We still do not know for certain why Seth is back with his birthmom – from everything we can determine, she genuinely did consent to the adoption. Rob met with her on two different occasions, interviewed her, and all of her answers indicated that she knew Seth was coming to be a permanent part of our family and that she wanted him to make the best of that blessing. She was seen (by someone not affiliated with Luckyhill) when she was at the court, ostensibly to give her consent on the paperwork we were given showing that she wanted us to adopt Seth.
It seems that it is Seth’s stepfather that wanted to revoke the completed adoption, perhaps because he became aware of the wrongs Kingsley was committing on many levels – including requiring that birth families pay Kingsley for documents, essentially having to pay to have their children adopted by American families. We wonder if Seth’s birthmom or stepdad were asked to pay Kingsley, and they refused (if so, good for them!) If that is the case, would they feel differently if they knew what happened on our side of things, that we were not part of the evils that were committed and were victims ourselves? Maybe, maybe not.
We will wait with as much patience as God will grant us, to see what comes from Social Welfare’s investigation of the situation. As we said from the very start of this process, we will be there for Seth in whatever way we are allowed – whether by some amazing turn of circumstances he comes to our home, or whether we are allowed to sponsor his education, or some other outcome, we love him and will help. We would never take Seth away from his family if they did not consent wholeheartedly and knowingly, but he does not need to live in our home or carry our last name for us to give him our love.
The next question is “What about the library?” First and foremost, there will be no library built at the school Seth attended. We would like to take the funds that were given so sacrificially by our friends, family, and even complete strangers, and partner with the Osu Children’s Library Fund – a well-established, non-profit organization that is already building beautiful, well-stocked, efficient libraries in Ghana. However, we will do everything we can to make sure funds are returned to anyone who contributed that would prefer to have their money returned; please let us know as soon as possible if this applies to you and we will do whatever we can.
These are the facts as we have them at this point. There is a spiritual component to everything we have experienced, and we will address those in a later post, but for now we wanted all those who supported us in love and prayer and well-wishes to know all that has transpired over the past month.
Until then, we want to say once again, although he has already heard it from us before: Kingsley, you need to accept all of the consequences of your actions, spiritual and temporal. You have asked for our forgiveness, but whether we do so is not your business, only God’s. For your own repentance to be true and sincere, you must confess all that you have done to the proper authorities – civil and religious – and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. All of those whom you have hurt, including us, deserve to know that you have admitted to how you have wronged us. No more lies, no more trying to blame anyone else. Step forward and own the choices you have made. That is where healing can begin for you.