Adopting Ghana

Posts Tagged ‘Ghana’

News coverage in Ghana about Luckyhill

In Updates on May 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

A radio station in Ghana recently ran a story on Luckyhill. There is a radio clip with it also.

http://news.myjoyonline.com/news/201005/45858.asp

We can’t verify or deny anything that was actually said and done, except for what it says about us being told Seth was dead when he was actually still alive. Keep in mind that Ghanaian standards of journalism differ from those of the United States, so the word “allegedly” is not always used to discuss accusations not yet tried in a court of Ghanaian law.

As we’ve said before, we do want Kingsley to stop fighting this and own what he has done…confess and do his jail time and make restitution to all the families he has harmed, both in the United States and in Ghana.

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Stranger than any fiction

In Essays, Journal Entries, Seth Quaye Watson Memorial Library on April 25, 2010 at 11:06 pm

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.

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.

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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No blood for cashmere or diamonds

In Essays on December 15, 2009 at 10:48 pm

The High Price of Cashmere – TRCB

Women working in factories cleaning goats’ wool for the production of cashmere say their health is suffering and they are poorly paid.

They labour in factories all across the western Afghan province of Herat to process the wool in an early stage of what goes on to become one of the world’s most expensive cloths.

Sima, 12, would rather be studying but she extracts goat fuzz – the fine undercoat hair needed for cashmere – from the shorn wool from 7 am until 4 pm for about 140 afghani (2.90 US dollars) a day.

“My parents are dead and my brother has gone to Iran to work. I am the only breadwinner for my four siblings now,” she said. The family live in a ruin that they do not own and Sima suffers abdominal pains and asthma, but she cannot afford to go to the doctor.

I was in Manhattan last week and happened to stroll along 5th Avenue during the high holy days of rabid consumerism known as “two weeks before Christmas“. I walked into a clothing store.  I can’t remember the name, but I’m sure my admission of that qualifies me as the flyover-state hick I’m proud to be. The store was lined wall-to-wall with…you guessed it…cashmere. And leather. And other textiles whose names and origins I probably will never know.  No prices on the items were to be found. If you have to ask, you’re too poor, so get your uncultured hiney out of here. Read the rest of this entry »