Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Second Trip to Haiti

I returned on Wednesday from my second trip to Haiti.  I hoped to blog sooner, but even now I am at a loss for how to summarize my few days in Haiti.  It's hard to find words to articulate the experience.  I know readers would like a concise post, so I apologize in advance if this becomes too verbose.  Editing the murmurings of my heart has never been a strength of mine.

Getting to Haiti this time felt difficult.  Ava was sick the Monday before I left (I left on a Saturday).  She woke with a high fever and I immediately was nervous that she might have influenza, as the media has been abuzz with how dreadful it is this year.  I had to work through a myriad of emotions Monday morning, not unlike a grieving process, before coming to a place of surrender.  As much as I was desperate to see Christian, I knew that if God was closing the door, his plans were superior to mine and I needed to trust him.  Bringing flu to an orphanage could be deadly, if it was flu is would be a definite "no go".  It turns out it was a much simpler virus.  Her fever lasted for the first day, and she was back in school by Wednesday.  All appeared well...until FRIDAY when Chloe woke with a fever.  We went back and forth about whether I should go to Haiti the next day, but Marc was firm that he could handle things at home and unless I showed any signs of getting ill, I'd get on that plane as scheduled.

I left for Haiti VERY early Sunday morning via Chicago.  My flight was delayed due to a light that wouldn't go out- the light that says the door is open would not go off when they closed the door.  Thankfully maintenance crews were able to fix the problem.  I had a three hour layover in Miami., where I was to meet up with another mother and our agency director for the trip into Port Au Prince.  I sat in the gate, asking every single woman I saw if she was Kristin and keeping my eye out for our director.  The flight was boarding and there was no sign of either of them.  I was on the phone with Marc having him double check the itinerary they sent me and making sure I didn't get my days mixed up.  He assured me they were to be on the flight.  The fact that both of them were no where to be seen was crazy- they were coming from different parts of the country.  I made sure I had contact numbers for the orphanage director and boarded the plane, but not without anxiety.  My last trip to Haiti was wonderful concerning Christian but extremely difficult and lonely even with Marc there.  I kept praying for God to protect me and give me grace if I was to make this journey alone.  The last person to board the plane and sit down directly behind me was our agency director.  I cannot tell you the relief that flooded me.  I don't speak Kreyol and being "lost" in Port Au Prince is no small matter!  She isn't the most warm and fuzzy person, or I would have kissed her upon sight;)  Kristin also made the flight but was seated farther front so I didn't see her board.  I prayed a lot on flight.  So much had seemed to happen to ruffle my feathers the week leading up to the trip, I prayed for spiritual protection and a wonderful time with Christian.

We arrived in Port Au Prince to find there is a new addition to the airport- it is actually MODERN!  What a nice surprise;)  We go through customs with ease and I found that Kristin was a nervous wreck.  Poor girl was on her first trip to Haiti and the gentleman next to her on the flight literally told her horror stories the entire way down; he told her she should have brought a body guard.  I am sure it didn't help calm her when she was welcomed by the crowd of people clamoring to carry your bag or give you a ride and our driver no where to be seen...thereby leaving us to the crowd longer than necessary.  I felt for her- I have never ever had or understood panic attacks until my first trip to Haiti last October.  Communication is so poor, expectations are hard to set and being completely unsure of where you or how to get anywhere is very unsettling.  Her tears were barely under the surface and I got it, I felt her heart and fears and offered what reassurance I could, while Diana (our director) set off to find the driver.

Sonia, our orphanage director, came with the driver to meet us.  I was delighted to see her again.  She is working hard on our behalf to get Christian home, so the affection I feel for her runs deep.  They took us directly to the orphanage.  I was honored to witness Kristin's meeting of her son for the first time.  I know her son from pictures and our last visit and knowing he has such a wonderful mother does my heart good;)  Christian was already in bed for the night, sound asleep.  I learned then, that they go to bed very early (5pm or so) and get up very early.  I suppose it is cooler for sleeping.

I could tell from his breathing that he had much congestion and was told he had a cold.  I didn't want to wake him- seemed a bit traumatic.  I learned, however, that Sonia would not have time to get me the orphanage on Monday and I'd have to wait until Tuesday.  Leaving Wednesday and only seeing Christian on Tuesday?   No way;)  I went ahead and woke him up.  He cried- no surprise and his crying escalated to terrified screaming when I started to get into the van with him.  The poor kid hasn't been in a car since social services brought him to the orphanage at one month old.  He did calm and buried his face into my chest.  I savored the warmth and the way he clung to me tightly with all four of his extremities.  I barely heard conversation around me, I just basked in the delight of holding my baby again, of offering him a secure embrace.  I smelled his sweet baby head and kissed him a thousand times.  My heart was overflowing.

He was quite awake when we finally arrived at the guest house and joined us for dinner.  I had brought along Gerber yogurt melts on my first visit and he loved them.  I brought loads for him this time;)  He just stared at me through out dinner, and it was obvious he had more than a cold.  He looked like he felt terrible, but his eyes also seemed to recognize me with familiarity.  I assume his nanny has been showing him the book I left him on our first visit and I am grateful.
He fell asleep soon after dinner, as I held him.
I layed awake for sometime, knowing I should be sleeping because he would wake up far earlier than I am used to and yet the excitement kept me tossing and turning....that and the very noisy breathing from my son in the pack n play next to me.  I knew we needed to get him medicine in the morning.

Day 2-

Christian woke about 5 am (which is 4 am back home), but I had already been up for over an hour listening to the roosters crowing.  How had I forgotten about those stinkin' roosters;)?  I thought roosters crowed at was still pitch black and about 3 am when they started.  I may hate roosters.

Christian woke with crying but calmed as soon as I picked him up.  I layed him down to change his diaper and noticed him tossing his head to and fro.  My eyes were still adjusting to the lights I'd just turned on but it didn't take me long to notice both his eyes were completely crusted shut.  There is no warm running water in Haiti.  It took me quite a bit of time to uncrust his precious eyes with cold water, but he didn't fight me one bit.  His pink eye was so severe that his eyes were not just watery, they were pussy.  I prayed we'd be able to get him ointment quickly.  I knew he needed antibiotics too.  It was painfully obvious that he had a sinus infection and bronchitis, as well.  No one else seemed awake, so I got out the wooden shape sorter I had brought for him...and we played.

Christian was not feeling well, but he still seemed very comfortable with me.  I was so surprised and delighted that he seemed unphased to be in a new setting with a relatively new person and was fine.  He definitely knew who I was.  Whether he understands what it means when I call myself his mom, is debatable, but he definitely knew I was safe and good.

We were able to go with our agency director to a pharmacy right after breakfast.  I was able to buy what I needed plus some Vitamin C which the pharmacist insisted upon and Diana told me I had no choice but to buy since this lady was insisting.  No problem;)  I was so pleased they had amoxicillin AND erythromycin ointment.  I had to dig deep in my nursing brain to remember how to dose amoxicillin and surprised that the information came to me;)  Christian obviously disliked the amoxicillin but he was compliant with drinking it (and let me tell you it is not masked in happy bubble gum flavor in Haiti) and  he let me put in the ointment without a fuss.  We spent the morning cuddling and playing with Kristin and her son Matt.

He says, "Halo" to answer the phone 

 A cuddle with my baby;)

A little acetaminophen and antibiotics were all baby boy needed to free up his smiles;)

In the afternoon, I was able to go with our director to visit the main orphanage she works with (not Christian's).  I've seen a lot of kids in the photos she sends out from her trips and was delighted to see them in person and have the privilege of seeing her in her element.  She loves these children.

Diana giving cuddle to some of her kiddos...

The afternoon held a good nap and bubbles, along with the opportunity to skype with Marc and the kids;)

He loves bubbles;)

 How can you not love this kid!

He likes to be held or have me close by...when I put him down, he'd stand next to me and just rest his head on my leg...I didn't mind a bit;)

Day 3-
Day 3 started at 4:30am (which by the way, is 3:30 am back home, so it took me a minute to register where i was when I heard Christian start crying;)  There is not much to say about Day 3.  We stayed in the guest house all day and bonded...he definitely was feeling better and his eyes were clearing up.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of time with him.  He was comfortable enough to begin mischief making-  blowing raspberries at me and laughing with delight, climbing the bookshelf, and even dumping the remote control that was left within reach in a cup of water before I could reach him.  He'll fit right in to our household!
 The kid figured out the iphone pretty quickly...he has zero lack of intelligence, I assure you.

 He gives amazing, amazing hugs!

 Kristin and Matt Milhan, on their way to their court date (yes, she's farther along in the process than we are;)

 Someone was feeling MUCH better on Tuesday!  (the sore on his nose, by the way is from a fall before I arrived;)

 ah! I love him;)

 Baby boy, lovin' his Yogurt Melts...I may have been a bit generous with them, but Mama only visits every couple months and they DO have probiotics in them, right?

 I cannot deny enjoying the sunshine and heat, especially knowing it was zero degrees at home;)

 Kristin and Matt having a little dance in the sunshine.  Can I just say I have undoubtedly made a friend for life.  This woman is amazing;)

 Our boys..Matt is so very sweet with Christian.  They are both from the same orphanage and it was enjoyable to watch them interact.

Christian was a bit nervous outside at first, but it didn't last long... 

We found some sidewalk chalk at the guesthouse- more fun;)  I have each of my children's first "drawings" in their baby books, so one of the sidewalk chalk pictures will go in his baby book, as well.

I had asked on Tuesday if I could take Christian back to his orphanage Tuesday night because I've read on other's blogs that their kids were just put in a car and taken to the orphanage crying or left with the driver after they were dropped off at the airport.  I didn't want this for him.  He is very comfortable with his nannies, but even spending all our time with Kristin, he didn't let her hold him and freaked out the time she tried to pick him up.  I wanted to get him settled in his own environment and hold him for the car ride, knowing how terrified he'd been in the car.  Unfortunately this didn't work out- I can't drive and it apparently didn't fit into the orphage director's schedule.  You'll pick up on my frustration here.  For the most part, parents have to just adapt and accept Haitian culture as it is.  It is inconvenient, and seemingly disorganized to us.  There is not the rush and scheduled culture we are used to. That is fine.  We just accept it and deal.  We eat strange food and deal with what to us are inconveniences- like this time having a bathroom that smelled so strongly of sewage I literally had to hold my breath the entire time I was using it.  Haitians don't view our kids in the same light we do.  Don't get me wrong, they love children, but expect a strength in them, we do not.  I think they could come to our side a bit on this one...appease me. Make fun of me behind my back if you want for the way I coddle my child, but make me happy and let me see him settled before I depart.  I felt frustrated and angry.  The plan was I would leave at 6:30 and the orphanage director would pick him up.  If she wasn't there when I left, I'd leave him with Kristin and Diana...I had no choice.  I was not pleased.

Day 4- Departure

Christian was hard to put to sleep the night before.  I wondered if it was just he was feeling better and fighting it or if he sense my emotions about departure.  It took me a while to get him down and he slept fitfully and ended up waking up crying at 1:30.  I just brought him in bed with me.  I think I needed him close as much as he wanted me.

He slept until 5:30.  I was able to wash him, dress him, and give him his morning dosage of meds before the orphanage director arrived at 6am.  I was thankful she came right away...perhaps she did understand my anxiety a little bit.  She isn't his caregiver, but he sees her daily.  I gave her instructions on the meds and his stuff along with the dolls and trucks I had brought for the other children at the orphanage.  I walked her to the car.  She got in and I handed her Christian, he cried/screamed and reached out for me.  She shut the door.

I fell apart.  Not the way, I wanted to say goodbye.  I know without a doubt he was fine when he got back to the orphanage, but I so wish I could have saved him the traumatic car ride, by being with him, etc.  It was very hard, there's no other way to say it.  My heart ached and still does.

I ate breakfast with Kristin and Matt and left at 6:30 for the airport....and had a glitchless flight home.

I've been exhausted and emotional since returning.  It was much harder this time and I know it will only get increasingly difficult.  It is hard to live in this in between.  Hard to have a child so far away.  Still, I have no choice and I would do anything for this kid...even hurt over and over again. I'll keep visiting- it's good for him in the long run.  He did so much better than I anticipated and I want him to know me as much as possible before we pull him out of all that is familiar and bring him home.  I love him beyond words.

When will he come home?  I know you are wondering- everyone asks.  We just don't know.  We are in social services awaiting presidential disspensation (a signature) and that could take months yet or could be done tomorrow.  We pray for a miracle and brace for a long haul.  We had hoped by some miracle he'd be home for his birthday in May.  He will not.  I pray he'll be home at the end of summer...or at least in 2013.  We knew Haiti was unpredictable...and it is.  All we know is we trust our agency completely- they are truly the best at this and will do all that is in their power,but we are at the mercy of a system far less efficient that ours.  Prayer is needed!


  1. Kim, thank you for the post! I've been wanting to ask you all about the trip, but also figured you are getting asked by everyone, so I wanted to give you some time to settle back in :) Your boy is beautiful, and the bond you two have is such an amazing testimony to Gods perfect plan. He knew Christian was yours all along! I'll keep praying for him as he waits to come home, and for you as you ache to bring him home. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I've been anxiously awaiting an update ... oh, Kim, so precious to see and hear the ponderings of your heart during this time. We continue to pray!

    And, your Christian is stinkin' adorable! Love, love, love seeing him embrace you! Bliss!

  3. Kim,
    Thanks for sharing the joys and difficulties of this amazing journey. It's so good to hear how comfortable he was with you. I'm thankful for the precious snuggle time the two of you shared together.

  4. Sister, love you and praying and grateful for your sharing this journey. You are beautiful b/c the love of Jesus pours from you. I am blessed to call you friend.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this... what an amazing story you guys will have to tell and I pray the scene changes from Haiti to here as soon as possible. What a blessing to read your testimony in all this.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your journey! A mutual friend of ours, Jeremy Block, send me the link to your blog because we have two biological girls and are currently in the process of adopting twin 4-year-old boys from Haiti. We haven't yet made it there to meet them; we are waiting and praying and hoping for an answer on that timeline soon, but as you know, there's no guarantees. I am excited to read more as your family moves forward in the process, and maybe just connect in the future to chat about this journey that is adopting from Haiti!


    1. Becca-

      Yay- I am glad you foung the blog. Would LOVE to connect!!! I'll see if Jeremy can hook us up through facebook;)