Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our Third Trip to Haiti- Part One

We did not have any internet access on this trip to Haiti.  While I would have loved to blog "real time" lest I leave out any important details, we really appreciated being forcefully "unplugged" and fully present with our baby boy and kiddos.  Thank you for all your prayers- we felt them.  We cannot thank you enough for praying; we cannot thank you adequately for caring enough about our journey to read this lengthy blog post.  Our hearts are overflowing- both for being chosen to parent this amazing little boy and for having such amazing friends and family supporting us on this incredibly joyful and incredibly hard journey.

April 8, 2013-

We awoke at 4:30am, or I should say we woke the kids up at 4:30am.  I am quite sure I didn't sleep much at all last night, the excitement is just too great.  Ava and Phin got dressed quickly and it's obvious that they too are baskets of nervous energy;)  We checked into the airport without a hitch, no projected delays.  Phew- so grateful I don't think I could wait an extra minute!

 Two children VERY excited to have passports that will let them into Haiti;)

After two smooth flights we landed in Haiti.  I was quite nervous, to be honest, to navigate the sea of red shirts (men who try to grab your bag to "help" you so that you'll have to give them money) with the two kids and prayed as we waited for our large suitcase that someone would be right there to meet us.  God answered.  The kids seemed unphased and a driver with our name was right outside the airport...a driver we'd not met but heard many good things about.  Dennis is a Haitian man who used to live in the US and speaks fluent English...a gift in Port au Prince;)  He also had a very nice air conditioned van;)  Phin felt a little overwhelmed on the car ride, evidenced by his asking, "when do we get to go back home?", but Ava seemed just overjoyed to take it all in.  I asked her what she thought and she replied, "I think it's beautiful here!"  She seemed to look above the trash and poverty to the mountainside and at the beautiful people.  She asked if she can wear big hair bows to school like the Haitian girls do.  Our little artist really does have a knack for seeing beauty in everything and my heart overflowed with gratefulness for the way God crafted her.  

We arrived at the Creche (which is the name in Haiti for an orphanage that is "official" and has ability to place children for adoption) and I think I practically jumped out of the car before it stopped moving;)

I love Ava's confident and enthusiast stride;) 

Our handsome little boy seemed to recognize me, but looked slightly overwhelmed.  Still, he didn't cry and seemed curious but comfortable....

 until I picked him up.  Then the poor kid started crying and crying...and crying  He looked around at all four of us, completely and utterly overwhelmed.  He started reaching for his nannies; they motioned for me to take him outside the gate into the courtyard.  This is the hard part, the moment when you feel your heart ripped open.  

I sat Christian down on the bench next to me.  My arms longed to comfort him, but my arms seemed the last place he wanted to be.  He cried so hard, I literally thought he would vomit.  I felt so stinkin' helpless and cruel.  I can't even begin to record the thoughts that started to swirl.  I kept begging God to give him comfort.  In these moments, I questioned everything.  It is indescribable to have a child you love with all your heart cry at the sight of you and you begin to wonder what you are doing! Why am I invoking pain on this child?  Why are we ripping him out of everything he knows?  of his normal?  what are we doing to this poor kid?!  A war began in my mind and heart and I silently prayed for peace for us all, for wisdom, for comfort.  I had to remind myself, he CANNOT grow up here.  They only keep young children.  He HAS no family and though the creche is all he knows, it isn't where kids are meant to grow up.  Survival of the fittest isn't nurturing or beneficial long term.  He is afraid because he doesn't KNOW anything else.  In that moment logic doesn't seem very comforting, but I still am glad for truth.  These are the moments you wonder if you are strong enough to walk through the pain and recognize the deep need for God's presence in this process.  He won't consciously remember any of this as he's so young, but emotionally, it WILL take a toll and my mind replays all the adoption books I've read and the journey this kid will walk.  My heart cried out to the Lord to meet needs I cannot, to comfort him, to hold Christians little heart in his mighty hands.  Ava stayed near, very anxious to "help". 

Phineas was unphased.  He kept saying, "Hi Christian!" and playing around the courtyard. I suppose he's heard Chloe cry enough that he knows the tears are temporary.  In that moment, I longed for Phin's confidence and ease;)

Finally the director reappeared.  I was probably only 5 minutes, but 5 minutes of a child's screaming because YOU are near,  feels like an eternity.  She agreed to take him to calm him.  He did calm in her arms.  I suppose that should make me feel jealous, but in that moment, I just felt grateful that he felt safe.  We got right into the van to go to the guesthouse.  I was questioning the wisdom of that, but we had no choice.  In the van, he just stared at me and after 10 minutes he was comfortable coming to me and I held him the rest of the ride.  I realized then that the "hand off" just happened too quickly- it was too rushed for his heart to grasp, especially with all four of us there.  He actually seemed comfortable in my arms, while 10 minutes earlier, he freaked out.  I got out his picture book (the nanny had packed it and it is obviously worn from much use, I was so grateful;) and went through the pictures, reminding him of his siblings names, etc.  He took it all in, and seemed to be figuring it out.  I would notice more and more through the week, he likes to study before doing, look before diving in and I make a mental note to be forceful in allowing this for him next time we come to take him.  Allow him time to study me, place me again from his book into reality, and allow him to come to me on his terms. 

He really eased in relatively smoothly once we got to the guesthouse, which surprised me because of his dramatic reaction at the creche.  Again, I am aware that we overwhelmed him at the creche and will make sure not to do this again. He definitely recognizes the kids and Marc from his book, he definitely remembers me.  He kept looking at us all and then holding up his hand and studying it. It really appeared that we was figuring out that we looked different than was fascinating to watch.  I think he is quite smart;)

The is another family, the H's, staying at the guest house and we meet them and their two girls.  It is so nice to have other's staying there with us.  I look forward to getting to know them.  Their girls are gorgeous and know Christian from the creche.

He loved reading stories before bed and cuddling with me.  We didn't even attempt yet to have Marc or the kids hold him.  We wanted to correct our earlier mistake.  It was so fun to have him part of our bedtime routine.  He fit in so naturally.

He did not want to go in his crib at bedtime.  I ended up holding him against my chest for quite a while, relishing having him in my arms again, even savoring the smell of his little head, the softness of his skin.  He is such a cuddler, he really squeezes tight with hugs and my heart grieves that though he is loved, he isn't hugged with regularity and it seems to be a deep need.  I am happy to meet it, but anxious for the day I can meet it on a daily basis.

I decide I need to put him in the crib.  It doesn't seem fair to let him sleep on my chest all night when he will return to the creche in three days.  We want him comfortable but not to attach to such a degree that separation is overly painful.  He is not happy.  I scoot the crib right next to my side of the bed and hold his hand.  He settles immediately and just stares at me. I keep saying, I'm right her.  He falls asleep while holding my hand and I tuck the memory away in my heart.  It feels like a sacred moment.

April 9- Our visit to the US Embassy

Morning came a bit too early;)  We had to be up and out of the guest house by 6:45 for an 8:30 appointment at the US Embassy.  Traffic in Port au Prince is crazy and we need to allow time.  We wake all three children from deep sleeps, but all three seem okay.  We rush through breakfast...and I quickly pack snacks and activities as we are told it could be a long day.

The ride to the Embassy is surprisingly short, only 30 minutes or so.  There is another family from a different guest house also in the van.  I enjoy meeting Chassidy in person as I have become familiar with her and their story on facebook.  They have two boys with them, 2 and 10.  The H family is sitting in the very back of the van and one of the girls vomits right as we arrive at the embassy.  We are packed in like sardines and there is little we can do to help, so I just pray for them and for this carsick little sweetie.

Though we are early, the lines at the Embassy are already long.  Sonia directs us to the right one and we wait.  Poor punkin' number two from the H's now vomits.  We want to offer to ride in the back next time, but Marc too is sick and the seat is covered in vomit.  We all hope the driver perhaps will clean it before we get back in the van.

The Embassy in Haiti is interesting.  You go through security, which I would expect to be led my military, but they are Haitian personnel.  Still they follow policy- taking away our water and an Elmo phone I brought for Christian because it has a battery.  I am grateful the US is providing jobs...annoyed that I lost the phone he likes.

A lawyer is supposed to meet us there.  We are told she'll find us.  We all wonder aloud how she'll find us, but as soon as we are ushered into the waiting room we laugh.  We are the only white people there are are huddled in a group.  Indeed, she'll easily find us.  I am amazed at how patient the Haitians wait, most seem to be applying for visas.  Their kids too sit silently.  Mine are REALLY well behaved, but playing Go Fish and Uno.  Ava and Phin, teach J, Chassidy's 10 year old to play Uno.  He is smart as a whip and easily beats them repeatedly.  He is gorgeous and I find myself wishing we lived closer.  I love watching Ava and he communicate.  He understands English quite well.  

We are called up to the window and excited to be seen until she scolds us for missing papers.  AH! I was so meticulous, what could I possibly be missing.  As she shows me, I realize, that is the lawyers portion, Christian's information.  We are frustrated as she is not where to be seen.  The same will apply to all three families.  Marc decides to go outside and see if Sonia (our director) is still out there.  Indeed, she is outside and the lawyer arrives a few minutes after he gets outside.  He brings her back in.  She is lovely and we are reminded of our obsession with timeliness that we need to release.  We get a chance to reappear at Window 27;)  Our papers are now in order and we are told to wait for our interview.  It seems to be a long wait.  It's amazing how slow time moves when you are still and not plugged in to technology.  The kids eat snacks, draw, play Uno...and thankfully the Embassy provides water.

Our interview is simple. They ask questions about our lives and Christian's story.  We are told we need to update our homestudy with Marc's job change but have until 7/9 to do so.   Then we are done.  It was a long wait for a two minute interview, but my heart soars at checking something else off our list.  We are a tiny bit closer to the end and it is a joyful moment.  All three families are done by 10:30 and we return to the guest house.

We spend the rest of the day, just being together and it is nothing short of beautiful.  Words can't describe it;)

 Kids at play

 A little brother finds his big brother utterly delightful

 and big brother LOVES being the big one;)...some that find his silliness equally silly?  Phin won the brother jack pot;)

Big sister loves to instruct and teach 

and cuddle;) 

Brotherly giggles are etched into my memory and heart. I can't wait until they fill our home!

 He finally got time to really warm up to Marc.  He seems to like that his dad juggles.  He's fascinated.

Sure, buddy, give it your own try?;)

Seems a little unsure of this game...again taking it all in and trying to figure it out. 

No worries, big sister comes over to explain!

A beautiful, absolutely beautiful day.  He is very comfortable and happy as a clam with us.  I am so thankful.  God seems to have really opened his heart to us and I offer thanksgiving for answered prayer.


  1. Oh Kim. That is all. :) Loved it, and can't wait for more.

  2. Dear Kim, What a great adventure. Christian is blessed beyond words to be joining your family! What a difference you are going to make in his life. However, you are also blessed to be given the gift of another precious child to bring joy, laughter and love into your home. You and Marc are amazing parents. It seems that Phin and Ava don't mind sharing you with their new little brother, and I'm sure Chloe will be just as excited when she gets to meet Christian. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Can't wait to read the next chapter! Aunt Janelle

  3. Oh my gravy! I don't know if I should laugh, cry or start blood pressure meds. That was quite the adventure y'all started.....and so much emotion. Kind of brings some degree of clarity from Scripture when Mary treasured all those emotions/things in her heart. So loved seeing the pics of the kiddos....and their mom too.:0)