K left around 9:00 and then Sean, Abiella, and I prepared for bed around 9:45. I put Abiella in a pair of pajamas I used to wear when I was her size, placed her in the middle of our California King-size bed, made the air in our hotel room warmer than we typically like it (knowing Abi wasn't used to having AC), and then put down the mosquito net and climbed into bed.
Abi fell asleep immediately.
I mean seriously... that's one happy and secure sleeping baby. It just doesn't get any cuter.
As I lay under the mosquito net, I just couldn’t believe it was our first night with the 3 of us. I kept staring at Abiella and during the night I’d lean over and make sure she was still breathing. (I hear that’s normal.) At 5:45, little Abiella began to stir. She had slept for an entire 8 hours without moving! I was so impressed (and so thankful!)
As I watched Abiella begin to stir, my mind immediately went to court. In a mere 2 hours, we would be leaving our hotel, to stand before a judge. I was excited and nervous. Very nervous. We played with Abiella for a while and when our 6am alarm went off we got up and fed her. We were supposed to be ready by 8 and by 7:55 we were all clean, dressed, fed and ready to go…Sean in a suit, me in a colorful long dress with a gray cardigan, and Abiella in a beautiful cream colored Sunday dress. I was excited and so nervous I felt sick. What would court be like? Would I have the right things to say? What if Abiella got upset and everybody looked at me (the white woman with a Ghanaian baby) like I didn’t know what I was doing?? As we waited for a call that our ride was there, we all 3 fell back asleep on the bed for another 40 minutes… This was a blessing.
Eventually, our phone rang. Our social worker had arrived and was waiting for us in the parking lot. We hopped out of bed, said a prayer and put our shoes on. I put my diaper bag over my shoulder, gathered up our sleeping Abiella, and walked out of the hotel room. We were on our way.
On the way to court the air was hot. As the car drove quickly over the bumpy roads, the radio blasted talk-radio and Abiella began to wake up. For a reason I’m not sure of, she smiled really big and then LAUGHED! The first and only real “laugh” I’ve heard. I think it’s special that she laughed on our drive to such a momentous occasion. When we got to court, the building was packed. We waited outside until K gave us the motion to follow him. We walked up 3 flights of outdoor stairs. We then entered a quiet room with church pews. I sat in the back with Abiella and before long, Abiella started to cry. She had pooped her diaper. I asked K if I could change her diaper and he told me there was no time. Once Abi really started to wail, the woman at the front of the room asked me to step outside. I was thrilled to do so. So for five minutes, I stood outside with Abiella and a bunch of Ghanaian women while Sean sat inside the building. Since I had been instructed to not change Abi’s diaper, I did my best to keep her happy. She was a very good trooper. A few minutes later, I was directed back inside. We walked through the room, past all the people sitting in pews and into a back room with a judge. Sean and I were directed to sit in chairs along the wall, while our lawyer and social welfare officer sat in front of us across from the judge’s desk. Long story short, court went very well. The accent was thick and occasionally I’d hear, “McConnell” although I didn't know what else was being said. Eventually, everyone stood up and walked away. I wasn’t sure what had happened. We followed K back outside to the car. Then Sean asked, “Did everything go well?!??” and with a huge smile K said “Yes.” Then Sean asked, “So she’s adopted??!??” and K said, “Yes! She’s adopted!!”
Sean and I have never been happier. We jumped for joy, laughed, hugged, and squeezed Abiella. The way back to the hotel was so exciting. We were officially a family of 3 AND it was only 10 am!! We had another 2 full days to enjoy Abiella before we had to leave!! We thanked K profusely, told him it was the happiest day of our lives, and then walked into our hotel a family of 3 very happy McConnell’s. (Well… Abi was semi-happy… we still had the diaper to tend to.) Once we got in the room, we jumped and laughed and danced and cried and changed Abiella’s diaper. It was one of the most incredible mornings of our life!
For the rest of the day, we played in the room, called family, napped, and basked in the fact that we were now an official family.... FINALLY!
Around midnight, Sean and I woke up to Abiella moving around. She was wide awake and getting squirmy. The last thing we wanted to do, was to wake everyone at the hotel up with a screaming baby. So Sean grabbed Abiella, moved to a chair, propped his feet up and let Abiella lay on his belly. Before long, she was sleeping soundly. I brought Sean a pillow, moved the table closer to his legs, and for the next 4 hours Sean and Abi slept soundly in the chair. It was definitely some of the best few hours in Sean’s life. Around 4:30 am, Sean whispered, “Let’s get her back in bed.” So I quietly lifted the mosquito net, while Sean placed Abi back in the center of our bed.
(This is a picture of them napping in the same chair they slept in Friday night.)
For the rest of the day we ate, played, napped, and hung out. It was a very good day, but as time went on, we became more and more aware of the fact that we would have to take Abiella back to the orphanage that afternoon. We fought moments of serious sadness.
That afternoon I dressed her in a beautiful white and pink dress, wrapped her in a pink light-weight blanket, and Sean and I held Abiella as we walked outside to meet our driver in front of the hotel. As the car drove to the orphanage, Abiella lay contently in my arms. (She seems to really enjoy taxi rides.) As we drove through the orphange gates, we asked our driver to wait for us outside.
After a few minutes of administrative work, the caretaker came and took Abiella from my arms. Sean told the staff, "Thank you so much for taking such good care of her." And then we kissed Abiella's head, told her how much we loved her, told her we’d see her soon, and then walked to the taxi.
Although there were (and are) serious waves of sadness, we feel SOOO blessed to have gotten that unexpected time with Abiella!!! What a blessing!! Abiella is a real trooper. She let two people, who don't look, smell or sound like anything she's used to, take her away from her normal surroundings and care for her for 3 days. With the exception of only 3 breakdowns (and some feeding issues), she was happy, calm, and content. Her cognitive and physical developments are remarkable, her spirit is strong, joyful and resilient and hopefully our visit with her will help us make it through the next few months while we work to get her home!!
The next morning, we woke up, packed up our room, said a tearful goodbye to the Room #11,(the haven God provided for our first days as a family), and began our very long journey back to the states...