- Jill Churchill
There are specific moments in life that cause each of us to pause in nervous expectation and uncertainty. Asking an individual for their hand in marriage, the birth of a child, or awaiting the results of a battery of tests that may or may not reveal a significant medical condition, describe just a few.
For us, there were two such instances during our trip to meet Koby and Kwame. The first were the moments right before our eyes found them in the gathered crowd of people at the airport upon our arrival. What would we say, how would they react, should we hug them, etc.?
The second occasion, and of no less significance, was the time immediately leading up to meeting the boys' biological mother, with many of the same questions screaming through our heads. What should we say to her, would she resent us, would the kids quickly run to her and forget about us, and on and on?
As is generally the case in life, things have a way of working themselves out, and these two moments in time were no exception. We wanted to share a little bit about Koby and Kwame's mother because of the unbelievable sacrifice she has made, and the respect she gained from us over the course of a few hours.
|The boys' mother - Elizabeth|
Kofi brought the boys' mother with him to the hotel as we waited in the lobby having already checked out. We went to lunch together, and spent a good portion of the afternoon with her and the boys' baby sister, Ahna (our sincere apologies if this spelling is not correct). The mother's name, we learned, is Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was very quiet, almost to the point where she could be described as somber, but she had a very warm smile when she chose to share it. She liked to watch the boys interact with us, and in the normal cultural manner, she was strict if the boys acted up or whined. There is no question in our minds, however, that she loved the boys very, very much, and through their reactions to her there was no question that they loved and respected her.
Kwame stayed fairly close to Elizabeth throughout and she played games with him using bottle caps. Koby tended to be more adventurous, and given the fact we were eating along the Atlantic Ocean, a site neither the boys nor their mother had ever seen, he spent much of his time staring in awe at the waves and ships, as well as looking for seashells with Jordan.
The boys' sister was beautiful and Elizabeth nursed her during lunch while we asked Kofi numerous questions regarding the boys and their family. We learned so much during that period of time, the most significant of which was that Elizabeth knew that the boys being adopted was in their best interest, and their only real hope of being properly cared for.
Elizabeth, as well as the boys, had never been to Accra before the week that we visited. They had never seen the ocean, and the boys had never been away from biological family members that long, since much of the family lives in the village of Kwahu where the orphanage is located, and see the boys frequently. Kofi shared that it was difficult to see children born into poverty to the degree that simply eating anything during the course of a day was a tremendous challenge.
It's very easy to delve into philosophical debates about whether or not women such as Elizabeth should have children in the first place given their economic hardships. It's not our place to judge, nor can any of us truly put ourselves in her place and even remotely know what we would do. She is a mother. She has given birth to three beautiful children that we truly believe she loves with all her heart, much the same way that God loves each of us despite our individual flaws and errors. Ultimately, she has had to make the incredibly difficult decision of ensuring that her children receive the best odds in life that she can provide them, and for her, that means allowing us to adopt two of them.
Elizabeth was with us when we said goodbye to the boys. To further illustrate how truly appreciative and respectful she was, she never got out of the backseat of Kofi's car. She allowed us to have our final time with the boys. Kwame stayed in the backseat beside her as Koby broke down emotionally saying goodbye. It was obvious that Kwame wasn't exactly sure how to react.
Michele and I both said and kissed Kwame goodbye in the backseat seated beside his mother. Despite what she was witnessing with Koby's reaction to us leaving, as well as ours, she stated multiple times to Michele, "God Bless you".
It's impossible for us to know what was going through Elizabeth's mind as she watched her oldest son scream and beg for his "new" family not to leave him. The obvious guess was that it had to break her heart in so many ways. It's also possible, however, that she viewed it as a sign from God that this "new" family truly loved her boys, and they loved us.
In closing relative to the boys' mother, we'd like to say so many things to her if given another chance, but the core of anything we would say would simply be "thank you" and "God Bless you Elizabeth". We pray that we contribute to making you very proud of your sons as they grow into men, and God willing, we pray that we're able to bring them back someday to see you. They are, and always will be, our "sons". You are, and always will be, their "mommy".