Adopting Ghana

Afternoon at JFK

In Essays, Photography on October 17, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I’m at JFK airport. The international terminal. I’m on my way to a land I didn’t really know existed independently of the continental land mass it occupies. Yes, I’ve known since grade school social studies that Africa is a continent, not a country. I even knew all the country names at some point before or during 5th grade. What I never anticipated was that I would be going to any of them at all, let alone for the reason I am traveling now.

Since I was about four, I dreamed what it might be like to not be an only child. To have a “built-in” playmate that I didn’t have to wave goodbye to at the end of a summer day. My mom longed for another sibling or two for me, but it just wasn’t in the cards for her. I once suggested that she adopt. Also not a possibility in our circumstances. When I was older and found out what an exchange student was, I mentioned it several times, but there wasn’t a way to make it work out at the time.

My extended family, cousins and 2nd cousins were my surrogate siblings. I eagerly awaited their visits and was lonely when they had to go back to their far-off homes. Despite the quarrels and spats we sometimes had (the good with the bad in all things), I secretly hoped at least some of them would move closer to us.

That’s why, when as a young adult looking to get married and settle down, I knew I wanted to have more than just one child. My bride is an only child as well and we both agreed that, despite the obvious monopoly we each enjoyed at Christmas and birthdays when it came to the blissfulness of the singular focus of parental indulgences, we both knew that living sibling-less had it’s disadvantages. The biggest, of course, being when something in the house was broken and not having someone else to blame for it.

One night I glanced at my wife and she became pregnant. That happened three more times until, by tallying the gray hairs and sleepless nights that had accumulated, we figured our quiver of four arrows, sharp and brilliant, was full.

Then we found out about Luckyhill School and Children’s Home in the Central region of Southern Ghana, Biakoye-Budaburam. We saw a picture of Seth and felt a strong, almost gravitational pull from his mischievous grin and warm, intelligent eyes.

The great thing about love is that there is always room for more.

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