Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 3- THE EMBASSY


These thoughts and feelings do not represent AAI, they represent my own opinions separate from AAI.

I have mixed feelings as I wake up to go drop my kids passports at the embassy. Eddie Murphy had planned to pick us up and take us. We drove through a very provished village, garbage filled the streets and the sewers were open. Children would urinate out in the open and it made me sad to see this part of Ghana, but its here right before my eyes. I can not ignore it, it was hard to see, but its reality. Selene was very quiet, I know she was thinking the same thing.



We get to the road where the embassy is at, then all of a sudden like a soar thumb this gigantic very well built building surrounded by beautiful court yard nicely manicured, protected by a 12 feet fence topped with spiral barbwire, and huge signs that say NO PHOTOGRAPHS. It was intimidating, and most defiantly out of place. But it was American no doubt the flying flag was ginormous and you would not mistake this building for anything else.

We showed the guards at the gate our invitation letter to enter. We were let through. We had to go through security and then walk to another building passing the lovely grounds. We enter another building where we show another pair of officers our letter and they take it to one of the windows. We stand, because out of 100+ seats there were no seats open. We wait to hear the children's names called. There is a wall with a line of glass windows with the embassy workers on the other side. You can hear them calling names one by one to the windows. Three seats open up after standing for 30 minutes. A familiar tune has been playing since we have entered. Its the National Anthem. Our American National Anthem. We are the only 'Obrunis' (white people) there. I see people walk away from the windows with tears and some with smiles. I see some walk away with a blue letter, and I notice the ones with the blue letters look happy. I begin to ask Eddie questions about how difficult it is to get to the US being a Ghanaian what the blue letter means. He tells me the blue letter is a visa pickup letter. A few Ghanaians have asked me for invitations to America, I just laughed them off, but they are totally serious, I know have come to understand why. To come into the US, you have to be invited, the person inviting the Ghanaian citizen has to prove the relationship by emails or by phone records, they also have to proof that they can take care of this person for X amount of time, bank records need to be submitted, YOU need to proof you have a place for them to stay. Then the visitor has to prove that he or she has money to buy the ticket to to the US as well as a return. Out of 100 people that pay to have a visa process about 20-30 of them will get granted a visa, the rest get denied. Then we got closer to the windows, and I listened as a video was playing of great American points of interest the great plains, the statue of liberty, everyone smiling and being all um... ''AMERICAN?'' They made sure to have people off all races on the video. The people on the video were saying ''I AM AN AMERICAN, WE ARE AMERICAN''. I couldn't help but notice the way they were talking to some of the Ghanaian people. One of the embassy officers got upset and over the intercom said ''You lady in the pink shirt get to the back of the line...yes you!'' his voice was very annoyed. Then another said "Please guards please come and remove this applicant at window 9 he is becoming very hostile, remove him immediately'' when we looked over to see the commotion at window 9, the man at the window looked puzzled. He was not yelling, he seemed calm, what was the man going to do, there was a bullet proof glass protecting him, he had to go through security? The longer we stayed there to hear they way some of these American workers were speaking, the smaller and smaller I felt, I wanted to hide my passport, I was ashamed. And I AM NEVER ashamed to be an American. I was so sad that Americans would treat people this way. IT felt like they were on a high horse, if I was not at their mercy I would want to knock them off it!

I understand that we have to have laws and I get that people need to follow them. BUT, I do not understand, why its has to be that difficult. We are the land of opportunity, the land where dreams can come true. Not all the people that walked out without a blue letter look like a terrorist. There were older people, children, mamas with babies. The thing that makes me sick about the whole things, is that these people have to come up with the money to get a visa application EVEN if they are denied at the end. So they walk in to this Majesty of a building that is tempting with hope and a future hearing the national anthem, looking at the big posters of the statue of liberty hearing the video "I am an American!'' and then without even a smile they here this ''I am sorry you do not have the qualifications to come into the country....next applicant please.'' Dreams shattered. The end.

My heart was pounding I hope I get a nice one, oh please. So my kids names are called. I walk up to the window and by now its reminding me of the land of Oz and the wizard. The man that greeted me was SO NICE. I have to add that he was a little hottie too, I already told Frank so its good :) He asked me some questions about what I think adoption is about, If I had been in contact with social welfare, and a few other questions that I knew he knew the answer to, but I had to answer anyways. He gets the blue sheet out....I am getting super nervous. He says to come back on Friday the visas may be ready ....if there are no complications. WHAT??! What do you mean no complications....so yeah that came out of my mouth just like that ''WHAT..WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO COMPLICATIONS.'' Well with administration, I can never guarantee that it will be ready (I already knew this) I was just fishing for yes they have visas just not printed yet. "Everything looks good, on my end, so we will see you on Friday.'' My favorite part is there was a shortage of electricity and he continue to do his work in the total dark..I didn't know what to do but to continue talking. I had to break and ask "okay does this happen all the time?'' "yes'' he continued shuffling papers, the lights came back on a few seconds later and I took my blue sheet with me.

I know the whole point and least I am trusting that the whole change for visas of adoptive families is to assure there are no corruption in Ghana, because for sure there are in most countries, yes also USA. I am assuming the are playing, pardon this word, HARD ASS for this reason. The changes seem fair and make sense in order to have visas processed correctly. But thinking of the whole process makes me wonder...imagine The DNAs came out without being matched, the visas would be denied and my children would not come home with me. Two hearts broken. This happened to a sweet couple who lived in Ghana for 5 months getting to know their new children, ten upon tens of interviews and one wrong word brought a denial and return to the bio mom. Also there are ways to do business and frankly I am not impressed. Hello, maybe bust a smile, give a little cheer, you are representing one of the best nations if not the best nation of the world. It does not hurt to smile.
I walked out with a blue piece of hope that day, and a little disappointment. Greeted my kids at Aunties and we all spent the rest of the day at the Accra Mall. Where G and E saw their first pizza...but did not try it. And E tried running away from me again at the mall.

1 comment:

A. Gillispie said...

This was such a great post Nat. Okay, I'm with you, I won't rep AAI right now. I'm just repping as an American citizen when I say that, right now, I want to hang my head in shame at how my fellow Americans are treating Ghanaians at the embassy. Shame. Stringent procedures to make sure the adoptions are on the up and up? You bet. Disrespect and down-right being mean to Ghanaian reps and birth families? Madness.

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Pray for sweet Abby Riggs!!