June 6, 2012

Days with Abiella... Part 1

Wowza.  It took us 48 hours to get home because one of our flights was canceled.  Long story short, we walked into our house yesterday morning, unpacked, did laundry, then packed again, and by night-time Sean was on the road for Texas.  God bless him. Point being, I'm finally home and ready to share with you parts of our amazing journey!!!!!! Did I mention we're parents???? 

After our first day (where we played African drums with the locals), we got up, got dressed, and in following our case worker's instructions, took a taxi to the main offices in town.  Our case worker was in another part of the country that day, so we were essentially on our own.  However, he called ahead of us every step of the way, and took very good care of us from afar.  When we arrived at the offices, we waited until someone came out and got us.  After waiting in the halls and meeting with various people, we were eventually handed a letter and told "Take this letter to the orphanage and go get your baby."  By ourselves?? Ahhh!!!

So, Sean and I eagerly walked out of the building called our social worker, told him how the meetings went and then grabbed a taxi and headed to the orphanage.  We kept looking at each other like "Oh my gosh!!!!! I can't believe this is happening!!!"

A few minutes later we found ourselves seated in the offices at the orphanage.  There were papers to fill out and questions to answer, and eventually, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman outside the window bringing a small baby to the office swaddled in a white sheet. I quickly stood up, walked to the door, and squealed as I saw Abiella for the first time in 5 months.  I scooped Abiella out of the woman's arms and began talking to her and kissing on her cheeks.  As I kissed her cheeks she smiled. Just like she did the first day I met her:

(This picture was taken 5 months ago, when I met Abiella for the first time. It's my favorite photo in the whole world.)

Sean walked over and we couldn't believe we were holding our baby again.  Eventually, we sat back down and waited for the all clear to leave.  The caretaker said, "Let me go feed her really quickly."  So I handed her back, and we were instructed to go wait for Abiella under the tree outside. When they returned, Abiella was in a stunning little dress, smelling so sweet, and looking so beautiful.  A few seconds later, the woman at the orphanage came outside and told us, "You can go."  We smiled, thanked her, and turned to walk away.

Holding our precious Abiella wrapped in a white sheet, clothed in a gorgeous cream colored, poofy dress we began our walk down the orphanage driveway to the busy streets ahead.  Suddenly it began to sprinkle, and the rain felt so good against the hot, heavy air.  I covered Abiella the best I could and told Sean to run ahead and grab us a taxi.  As I neared the orphanage gates, Sean had a taxi waiting and I climbed in the back seat with Abi in my arms... all the while staring at her precious, matured little features.

As we drove, we quickly realized the cab driver wasn't exactly sure where our hotel was, and because of the language barrier, all of our best instructions were becoming futile.  So, Sean called our steadfast social worker and handed the taxi driver the phone. There was a lot of talk in a different language and a few seconds later the driver handed the phone back to Sean and said, "Okay.  I know now." And then we were off, zooming along busy streets headed back to the hotel. The traffic was heavy and the heat was even more intense. As we drove, Sean kept looking back at us, me dripping with sweat, and baby Abi looking around the cab, as calm and collected as ever.

Eventually we made it to the hotel. I quickly walked through the lobby and down to our hotel room where Sean met me with the key.  We got inside, put Abiella down on the bed and stared at her. It was really happening.  The three of us, alone in a hotel room in Africa, to survive for the next three days.  Abiella stared back, moved around, stretched, and looked around the hotel room taking in all of her new surroundings. We quickly realized that her eye sight had improved.  She was focusing.  She was noticing things. We were so excited to discover this great change!

We had originally thought we'd be with a social worker to go get Abiella, and that that person would take us to a store that sold the same food the orphanage had been using.  But since, we were alone and taking a cab instead, we opted to just let Sean do that search on his own.  I (being nervous to be in a hotel room alone without a phone in Africa during the first minutes alone with my first baby) wanted Sean to go get the food ASAP.  I wanted all the "What if something goes wrong and I don't know what to do and I can't get a hold of Sean?" fears out of my head.  So Sean quickly wrote down his number (so if something did happen I could go offer someone a cedi to use their phone and call him), and then Sean gave us a kiss and was out the door to go find formula.  As the door slammed, I looked at Abiella.  Just me and her.  Alone.  It was awesome and glorious and wonderful and scary.  We played on the bed.  Her looking around at everything, me looking at her, kissing her cheeks talking to her.  Before long she was moving her arms AND LEGS (something she hadn't been doing much of in December.)  I squealed.  She was improving in motor sklls too!!!!! Thank God!!!!  Abiella talked the entire time Sean was gone.  I think she was catching me up on the last 5 months of her life.

Here we are during that wait...

Eventually I heard the click of the door and breathed a major sigh of relief as I watched Sean walk in the room with food.  We stayed in the room the rest of the day and waited for our social worker to come by that night.  He wanted to say hello and discuss our court date scheduled for the very next morning...

June 3, 2012

Meet Abiella McConnell!!

It's official!! We are now a family of three!!!!

More details on court and our THREE DAYS in the hotel with Abiella coming soon!

For now, I'm in the hotel in Ghana waiting for my ride to the airport. (And for those have been asking, we will not be able to bring Abiella home today. We still have to wait for the visas, passports, etc.  But hopefully by late summer she'll be on a plane headed home!)

Thank you SO MUCH for all of the prayers and encouragement.  I can not begin to explain how much we felt them, and what a miracle this trip has been.

Praise God!!! We're PARENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!