I didn't have the chance to update on Thursday because we actually made it home today, so I have been away from the internet of the hotel room since Thursday morning until a couple of hours ago.
Our contact picked us up on time, we went to the embassy and successfully filed our I-600 (without the birth certificate) and got permission to have our POA turn in any additional papers!
If we can get an escort, that means that all of our parts are done. If not, we will be returning, but only to pick Grace up and take her home with us.
We were able to get on the plane, on time, and make our connecting flight, and successfully make it back home.
We did get to see Grace on Thursday (we weren't sure if we would or not) and she was happy and smiling almost as soon as we saw her, so she remembers us! Oh, and we were able to get a picture of her smile, which we had been trying to capture all week.
She is the most consistent in smiling after she "practices walking" on Blake's legs. He holds her, and she moves her feet, and he moves her forward, but she loves it.
Grace looking at us as she eats her snack.
I was really under the weather on the morning of the embassy, and got sick again like Sunday, but this time in our contact's car (thankfully in a bag) but I was really embarrassed. This nausea made me almost decide to just let Blake visit her on the last day, but shortly after being willing to do that, I drank more water and thankfully I felt good enough to stay too.
After a short happy time with Grace... she had a full blown meltdown. Crying, squirming, our tricks that had kept the tears away all day were not working! So we had a real parenting experience outside of that orphanage playing the game of "why is she upset, and how can we fix it" that every parent has to play at some point.
Food and water kept her placated temporarily, and we actually figured out that she was really tired and needed to sleep, but getting her to do that was no easy feat. But we kept alternating snacks, water and then rocking/singing to her, and FINALLY (as I was singing a song I had made up with the super simple lyrics of "don't cry") she went to sleep in my arms.
Then Blake watched her to ensure she was really asleep before I very carefully sat down.
So this picture, which I love, is not just a sweet moment, but a hard earned moment of true parenting in an foreign country in front of strangers. Both of us, talking about it later, half hoped and half dreaded the orphanage workers coming over to rescue us, but are much happier that we were able to diagnose and fix her tears ourselves.
I plan on writing a whole different post on our airport experiences because I think they might be helpful to others having to travel, but both leaving Accra and entering JFK for an international flight would go in my bad category. I mean, they weren't awful, but they both were crazy unorganized, unclear and had lots of lines (every airport, I know, but I'll elaborate more later).
We are home. We get to be with our dogs, our cats, our family and our friends again. We plan on decorating the house for Christmas this weekend, and look forward to all of the things that are comforts of home that we can't have in Ghana.
And yet... we are both seriously down, at different moments throughout the day. Today is the first day since meeting her that we didn't get to see her or hold her. Today it is hitting us that as wonderful as the week was, until we finish this process, which is still months away (at best), we don't get to be with her again till she has her visa and can come home. Who knows exactly where she is in the attachment process, but we are definitely attached to her, and missing her already.
We have 26 different items we bought for us in Ghana (as well as gifts for her as she grows and gifts for family) and lots of pictures and video to remember those precious moments together, but it doesn't even compare to being with her.