Adopting Ghana

Seth is a child of God

In Essays on January 21, 2010 at 4:25 am

UPDATE: Seth is ALIVE! The orphanage director lied to us. More details.

January 18th, 2010 marked the unexpected end of Seth’s earthly sojourn.  He went home to his Heavenly Father that evening after feeling chest pains and a severe headache. The orphanage director’s wife, Gloria Eshun, called for a taxi to take him to the hospital but he died en route.

Seth was healthy.  He was checked by a doctor from the U.S. in July 2009 and found to not have any heart problems.  Seth was energetic and got all the exercise a boy needs, even if he, like his brothers and sisters in the orphanage, did not get the steady flow of good nutrition a growing child requires. We were all working on that.

We are heartbroken, but we cry with hope, knowing that this is not the end. God had a plan for Seth and we had a part in that plan.  We saw its outlines, but did not see the end from the beginning as God sees all things.

We know Heavenly Father drew our attention to Seth.  When we started the adoption process, we felt that there was a sense of urgency about it.  We started in Haiti, but a series of circumstances that were anything but random led us to a tiny orphanage in an obscure village outside of Accra, Ghana that was working not with an adoption agency, but with a handful of volunteers and adoptive parents who were independently working out all the adoption details.

All we had was a 2-year-old picture of Seth that we found on a German humanitarian website.  We wanted to know more, but no one knew who he was, or where he was.  Every family that went over to meet their own children had the hardest time tracking him down – ever the “Elusive Seth”, as he came to be known for his penchant to play hide and seek.

Finally, he was found – and he was moved from foster care to live at Luckyhill.  In the nine or so months (Shannon’s “Ghanaian pregnancy”) that Seth was at Luckyhill, he had so much that he didn’t have a lot of before:  joy….love….laughter….attention….feeling noticed and known and special….the love of his Luckyhill family and ours here.  Father could have taken him directly home long ago – but He loves our Seth and wanted to give him a gift before it was his time to go.  Heavenly Father trusted us, the Eshuns, all the families adopting from Luckyhill, and his biological mom – to get it done, to deliver our love and our attention to this little boy, so that he could go Home without a doubt in his mind that he mattered. That he was loved, known, and wanted here, too.  God also trusted all of us to be able to say goodbye without being ripped to shreds by it.  That is our answer to “why us?”  As one Luckyhill mom said, “Promises kept.”

We are keeping our eyes wide open to the beauty that our Savior can bring from these ashes.  Our family is going to work with the Luckyhill.org Web site and support group to raise money for the Seth Quaye Watson Memorial Library to be built at or near the school that is part of the orphanage.  I’ve had a small 20×20 foot floor plan and architecture worked up since my visit there in October (libraries run in my family’s blood 🙂 ) – but now we will tackle the fundraising and some heightened goals to see if we can’t expand the vision of what it could be.  In our memorial to Seth, we will ask our friends and loved ones, in lieu of flowers, to contribute to the library fund.  Our boy loved looking at books, and we hope it will also bring comfort to the children there to see his pictures in the library, smiling at them and enjoying a good read.

We live by faith in this world, which means much of our life is spent walking in twilight as we step forward hoping to set foot in bright sunlight.  Seth, once impossible to find among a small population of 200 students and orphans, stepped into the bright sunlight of our love and the even brighter heavenly light of God.  A child who once mattered to only a handful of individuals now matters not only to hundreds of his fellow orphans and students at Luckyhill, but also to other adoptive parents working with Luckyhill Foundation and, most of all, to a mother and father a quarter of a world away.

There are ways of finding comfort during a time like this.  Beyond the common stages of grief that are commonly discussed after the death of a loved one, there is a spiritual element to this kind of loss that carries us out of that darkness and back into the sunlight.  Jesus Christ made it possible, through His Atonement, for all of us to be resurrected–for our spirits to be reunited with our bodies eternally–and the blessings of the temple give families the knowledge that the bonds that we forge with one another on earth do not have to be severed once we are out of this life.  By finding faith in Christ, we become one with Him and by becoming one with Him, we inherit, along with Christ, all that the Father hath.

We believe the scriptures teach that any child who dies before the age of 8, the age of accountability, is already perfect and will be exempt from a final judgment that weighs his/her works against the law of the Gospel.  Seth, having died at age 6, is likewise exempt from such a judgment as the rest of us would incur.  He has the “Golden Ticket”, as it were, to enter directly into God’s rest along with all the other innocents, the Prophets, the Patriarchs and those of us who, through faith upon the merits of Christ, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances, and enduring to the end, will also inherit the greatest of all glories…to be exalted to live eternally in God the Father’s presence.

Therefore, we simply cannot mourn for Seth.  We can only mourn his absence in this physical world.  While we would have liked nothing more than to shower him with hugs, kisses, wrestling on the rug, reading at bedtime, visiting the park, and showing him the wonderful things this world has to offer, where he has gone…and where we have hope of being…is something wonderful beyond words.  Grief and memorial is for the living to cope with missing that soul which is no longer seen, but is known to still exist.

One night during my two week stay in Ghana, Seth was having trouble settling down to go to sleep.  I knew Kingsley, the orphanage director who also happened to be a part of the lay clergy of the LDS congregation just down the street, had taken great pains to ensure Church attendance by as many Luckyhill children as possible, had taught them certain Sunday School songs.  I wanted to see if Seth knew one of our family favorites, “I Am a Child of God“.

As I began to sing it softly, Seth didn’t miss a beat and began singing it with me.  I held his hand and rubbed his head with the intent to calm him into a soothing sleep.

I Am a Child of God

I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Chorus
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
Chorus
I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I’ll live with him once more.
Chorus
I am a child of God.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
Chorus

And then Seth fell asleep.

Seth Quaye Watson - April 6, 2003 - January 18, 2010

Seth Quaye Watson - April 6, 2003 - January 18, 2010

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  1. I actually got the privilege of taking that picture. He was so happy to finally be playing with his mom. This is the way I will always remember your Seth; a smiley, funny, but sometimes stubborn, little guy. He’s up there giving the other angels a run for their money now.

    Time to fundraise for his library now! He would have LOVED it.

  2. Thank you so much Rob for your post it was truly AMAZING! I must admit, I wish I had met Seth, that smile of his is just captivating. However everyone has done such a great job describing his little personality and I have loved hearig eveyone’s personal experiences with Seth, that I feel like I have gotten to know him. He chose a remarable family to join as you chose a remarkable son. I look to you and Shannon’s example with so much gratitude and appreciatation. I too hope to stand to such conviction and strength if circumstances are required of me.

  3. I posted on FB before I read this wonderful and heart reaching tribute to Seth. I don’t have much in the way of money, but I can help. He knew he was loved and that is the greatest gift of all.

    Mona

    • Thank you. We’ve found some resources to help us in planning the library. The good news is that it shouldn’t take that much, at least as compared to a similar effort in the States. Every little bit can help. I’ll post more about the library here later.

  4. that is really interesting– that is, that we both posted about the resurrection on the 18th. Same knowledge. What a blessing. Thank you for sharing. He is beautiful in every way!

  5. That is truly a beautiful tribute. I never knew Seth, as most of us, but I know he was a blessing in your life, and you in his, during the short time you were a family. Knowing that families continue eternally is such a comfort, and to know that as a perfect child, he entered directly into God’s arms brings peace to my heart. You are bound by spirit and by the love you shared. You were obviously meant to intertwine during his short life, and his work here is done. Please know that I am praying for you, and many of us are, that your burdens will be light during these difficult times.

  6. […] In Seth Quaye Watson Memorial Library on January 25, 2010 at 9:00 pm To honor our Seth, who passed away on January 18th, and his love of books, we have started a special fund in his name. 100% of donations will go to […]

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