…..and soon we will share a LAST NAME!
The secret can finally be announced.
I have been approved to adopt Ellie in Ghana!!
How we reached this point is nothing short of a miracle. I can't share all the details until her adoption is finalized, but here's how some of it went down.
In mid April, just before Ellie's third birthday, we went to the American Embassy in Accra, Ghana to interview for a non-immigrant one year medical visa. We were denied the visa. I was heartbroken. Every approval and document needed for the medical visa had come through. From the American hospitals accepting Ellie as a pro bono charity case, to biological family releases, to Ghanaian social services approvals. All signs were pointing to the visa being granted as I had worked insanely hard to pull everything together just in time for our interview. But ultimately we were denied and I walked out of the Embassy with absolutely no plan and distraught at the thought of having no idea when we would be able to travel to America.
So I went home, cried a lot, cuddled Ellie, and waited. And waited. I was not going to move in any specific direction until God opened the doors. I had a choice whether I wanted to try and appeal the denial, or go down a different path. I got a call about a week later from a trusted Ghanaian friend who suggested I go back to the Department of Social Welfare and tell them about the denial and see what they say. So I walked my tired body and weary heart back into their office for a meeting. I was not hopeful that they would have any suggestions for me because I know that I do not qualify to adopt Ellie for 3 reasons.
1. Ghanaian adoption law clearly states that you must be 25 years old to adopt (I am 23).
2. You must also be married (I am not married).
3. You must also be 21 years older than the child you wish to adopt (I am 20 years 3 months older than Ellie).
I am currently none of those things. I do not meet the requirements.
But you know what happened when I walked into that meeting?
They listened to my words and heard my heart. And they responded with:
"In Ellie's best interest, I think you should be allowed to adopt her"
"She's been with you almost two years. You are bonded. To not allow you to adopt her would be traumatizing for her"
"If you don't adopt her, who will? She can not be resettled to her biological family and a Ghanaian family would not adopt her due to her special needs"
"We want you to be able to go to America for her medical treatment and therapies, adoption now is the only way you can get a visa"
That office called another office and informed them on their decision to allow me to adopt Ellie. I met with the next office who also approved me to adopt Ellie. Up the chain of command I went.
I hired my lawyer, I filled out adoption paperwork, I got medical exams and police background checks. I signed a bunch of papers. Ellie's biological family signed a bunch of papers. Notarized and sealed. And making 10 copies of every single thing.
Throughout the last month I have seen God show up. And move. And change people's hearts right before my eyes. I thought I might be able to adopt Ellie once I turned 25 which is two years away. That has been pushed up to NOW! The redemption I've seen can't be put into words. The reason the medical visa was denied has been made so clear…that closed door made way for one to be opened. If the medical visa had not been denied, I would not have approval to be adopting Ellie right now.
Adoption has always been the end goal. I have always known Ellie is my daughter. But I never knew if she would legally be my daughter on paper. But Lord willing, soon it will be made official. Ellie will become a Kuntz.
We will be a family by love AND by law.
And soon a judge in a tiny court room in Ghana will say the words I've been waiting almost two years to hear,
"She is yours. Forever. As if she was born to you."
What is left to complete before her adoption takes place?
I have submitted all my papers to the appropriate office, now we wait for one letter from a top government person to be issued which says that she is considering our adoption a "special case" and is requesting that the judge allow me to adopt Ellie. Once we receive that letter we schedule for a court date.
When the adoption is complete in Ghana can you come to America?
Due to the American immigration process I'm going through and how the timing of that works out, Ellie will be granted an American immigration visa in early 2017 so we can permanently move to Chicago.
Will you stay in Ghana while the American immigration process is going on?
Once the adoption is complete and Ellie has a new Ghanaian birth certificate and Ghanaian passport we legally don't have to stay in Ghana. I am praying about where we could move to for 6-9 months until our American immigration visa is approved.
When you arrive in America in early 2017 will the hospitals still accept Ellie and treat her?
How much will her adoption cost?
Ghana lawyer fee + court fee + document notarization + transportation = $5,000 USD
American lawyer fee + USCIS immigration filing + shipping costs = $5,000 USD
Monthly rent + food + transport + internet + misc for 10 months (now thru Feb 2017) = $10,000
[if you want a more specific breakdown of expenses and receipts please contact me]