Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The power of prayer

I don't know why God gives us the gift of prayer, the ability for mere humans to communicate with God.  It's really humbling and amazing.  So often, I focus on praising for answered prayer and it SHOULD be praised.  It is such a beautiful thing when God answers the desires of my heart, when he answers the smallest request and I can only stand in awe realizing that HE cares about the minute details of MY life.  But today I am just praising God for prayer in general, for it's heart changing power.

How many times to I go before God to pray about someone or something and just being in his presence changes my heart?  He points out my unforgiveness, my selfishness, my anger...always gently, always clearly.  I go before him full of angst and just being before him brings peace and clarity.

Last night, it wasn't my prayer that blessed me.  It was my sons. 

Yesterday wasn't a great day.  I've had worse, certainly, but I've also had MUCH better days.  The kids just weren't at all.  Phin drew all over his carpet with blue marker that accidentally kept slipping off the toys he was writing on....that excuse somehow didn't really satisfy me.  He's four and a half, knows markers don't go on toys, etc.  I though the "Paper ony" lesson was absorbed two years ago.  Chloe was well...Chloe.  She is "highly sensitive" I am figuring out- everything or anything could set her off and yesterday it was definitely everything- from cutting the strawberries (I mean that is a CRISIS when your mom cuts the strawberries on your plate instead of leaving them whole) to having the nerve to wash her favorite sippy cup...nothing seemed to please her. 

Bedtime came and I was thankful.  I was admittedly rushing through it.  I was D.O.N.E. and ready to put them away for the night and have some stillness.  I was so mad at Phin about the marker that I left him until last.  I told him to get his pajamas on, get in bed, and wait quietly until I came.  He did...finally some obedience!  I sang to him and prayed for him and then he asked to pray.  Usually he prays before me...I guess I was rushing a bit too much;P  Anywho, my little boy prayed and I almost wept as he said, "Jesus help my ears to be open tomorrow because they were closed today."  Heart melting, anger thawing....sure he had a bad day but the softness of his heart in the presence of God softened mine.

I started bedtime wondering why in the world I became a parent and half hour later they were all tucked in and I sat thinking, "I am the luckiest woman in the world to witness these moments."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our Third Trip to Hait- Part Three- Goodbyes

August 11, 2013-

Last night was a bit more difficult.  Christian really didn't want to be in his crib.  It was like de ja vu.  I held him until he fell asleep and then laid him down.  He stirred and opened his eyes, but went right back to sleep.  He did wake up in the middle of the night.  I just brought him into bed with us.  I think he was cold in the air conditioning.  He felt cold anyway and he HATES being covered with a blanket.  We have air conditioning at the guest house.  Electricity is intermittent so it isn't as cool as we are used to but he's never been in air conditioning.  I think he usually sleeps in just a diaper, so the PJ's and a blanket must feel very constricting!

He slept fine between us.  I had a hard time sleeping, so I prayed a lot about the good byes coming in the day ahead.

We didn't have to leave for the airport until one.  The morning was perfect.  We got the chance to pray with the H's.  The kids played.  It was relaxing and so often I just paused in my heart, observed, and savored the moment.  We are blessed.

The way he chilled in this car, cracked me up.  I totally flashed forward in my head and pictured him 16, driving his car all leaned back and relaxed. 

 He's mischief, he kept running into the kids;)

 Sibling love

He is just precious.... 

 so very precious

 One last family picture before leaving....

We left for the airport after lunch.  Christian came with us to the airport, as did Sonia.  The ride was long...and hot.  We rode in a smaller car and there was no air conditioning.  The misery of the ride seemed to match the angst in my heart.  I savored the last minutes holding him.  Ava was emotional and kept crying over saying goodbye.  Both our children wanted to stay in Haiti.  It's hard enough for adults to say goodbye, who understand (at least as best we can) the process.  To the kids, it just hurt.  

We arrived at the airport and I held him until we were all unloaded and ready to proceed inside.  He didn't want to go to Sonia, the creche director. HE clung to me.  I had to pry his arms loose and wanted to scream as I had to walk away with him reaching toward me.  Ava was a mess, she just sobbed.  I held it together externally for both her sake and Christian's.  We told him we loved him and that next time he should be able to come home with us.  I was thankful in some ways to have Ava and Phin to "take care of".  It helped me keep it together.  Goodbye just plain stinks.  Still, I rejoice that this is quite possibly our last goodbye....and allowed myself to imagine the next journey home, with our baby boy in tow and it helped soothe the ache.

We landed in Fort Lauderdale and made it through immigration without too much difficulty.  When we went to recheck our bag we were informed that our already late night flight was delayed.  The airline representative was amazing.  She gave us her honest opinion that she believed the flight would indeed be cancelled.  It was currently delayed to 11:10pm and she would rebook us on the first morning flight.  We found a local hotel.  It had a heated out door pool and though it was already bedtime, we took the kids for a short swim and then ordered room service and watched Shrek 2.  The night was a gift.  Diving into the pool was refreshing.  A hot shower and running water safe to drink was heavenly.  My heart got an extra night to decompress before jumping back into life.  Instead of arriving home exhausted to our youngest, I arrived home refreshed.  It was something we didn't ask for or even imagine needing and yet it was perfection.  Our "plan" had been to arrive at 10:30 at night (with the delay it would have been 12:30am), spend the night at my sisters, get up and come home.  Instead, we had good night's sleep, and arrived two hours after Chloe woke up and drove home.  We missed minimal time with her and came home ready to give her what she needed.  Another reminder that God gives us immeasurably more than all we can ask or desire.  He is so good.

This trip was hard at moments and that pain and angst is real, and yet, I couldn't ask for more.  I tear up with gratitude.  I don't know why we were chosen for this journey and I'm definitely not capable of handling this on my own, but I am so grateful, so grateful.  

Our Third Trip to Haiti- Part Two

April 10, 2013-

Today we attended court.  The H's and we were very thankful that the departure time wasn't until 8:30am.  The beds at the guesthouse are clean but hard as rocks.  None of us are sleeping well and more time to catch a few zzz's is appreciated.

We decided last night that since we'll be done with business today we will depart Haiti tomorrow, a day earlier than scheduled.  Chloe is doing well at my sister's but misses us.  We wondered what is the right balance of time with Christian.  We want as much time as we can get and yet we want our time with him to bless HIM and not be too much or cause too much attachment.  We prayed for wisdom and decided if American Airlines would wave fees to change flights (it doesn't hurt to ask;), it would be a sign that we should go home.  American airlines did wave two of the four change fees.  When you take away one nights payment at the guesthouse it became almost free to change flights AND they had four seats for us on Thursday.

Sonia informs us that the schedule is to go to court, then to the Creche for lunch and then they will take us to the market and such for souvenirs.  I am concerned about this plan.  Communication isn't perfect, but I express my concern that this is more back and forth for Christian, that it may confuse him more to take him to the creche for an afternoon only to pull him away again.  She says she "will think".  I don't have great confidence in that moment that she's understands what I am saying.

We decide that if we have to go to the creche for lunch, we may leave Christian there.  The thought of losing a day from him is heart breaking.  Ava and Phin are heart broken at the possibility.  It's hard to explain our rationale to them.  We just know if we go back to the creche and Christian doesn't want to leave we aren't putting him through that trauma again.  It just doesn't seem right.  He is too young to understand what is happening.

Because this is a possibility, we decide to celebrate his birthday even if it's small right away in the morning.  His birthday is in a couple weeks, but we planned on celebrating with him while we are there.  I don't want to miss that.  We missed his first birthday (we didn't know him yet;), we are DEFINITELY celebrating his second.  I hang some decor and we wrap the presents we got for him.

 Ava hanging with Christian while mommy hangs decorations and wraps gifts.

 Hey, it may not be a typical Kim party, but you can be sure it's still a party;)

 Papa shows Christian how to open gifts...and he catches on quickly

Phin picked out a Mr. Potato Head to give him.  He immediately smiled when opening it. 

Ava chose catepillar stacking cups. 

We gave him a peg board. 

 The coolest part is that he really seemed to get it.  He seemed to know it was about him and special and he beamed!

 If you know Phin at all, you know he LOVES Mr. Potato Head!   He was so excited that Christian loved it to and showed him the ins and outs of changing pieces.

Ava showed him more silliness...

He caught on quickly;)

Here's our almost Two Year Old...lovin' celebrating his year, buddy, you better believe you'll have a party to remember.  This will be the last birthday away from home....praise God.

Before we knew it 8:30am had come and it was time to leave for court.  We gathered our things; I can't deny my heart was heavy at the possibility of letting him go within a few hours.  Time just felt too short.

The car ride was surreal.  Traffic was unbelievable and the usually short ride took an hour and a half.  That is not the slightest exaggeration.  I could never adequately describe the trip.  It was unbelievable.  Mrs. H was prepared for the little girls car sickness.  She had plastic bags all ready; they sat at the front of the van.  Soon, there was crying, we knew the girls weren't feeling well and fighting vomiting.  Yesterday may have been their first time getting sick and they seemed terrified to throw up.  I think all four adults were praying they'd be able to vomit cuz we knew they'd feel better.  They did vomit...but I don't think they felt better.  Forty mintues later, they vomitted again.  That time Mrs. H joined them.  She was sick.  Marc was sick, though sitting in the very front.  Mr. H looked green.  Ava was sick, but able to lay on my lap.  Phin was oblivious and I kept wondering when the ride would end.  Christian slept the entire way; I was grateful.  The ride seemed unending.  To say it was bumpy would be a gross understatement.  I could only laugh.  It just was unbelievable.  

A Haitian "Tap-Tap" (their equivilant of a bus system- though no one I asks seems to know how you know you are on the right Tap-Tap) 

a sample of a Haitian Tent (this is large one) 

Homes built on the hill side- it's no surprise that they don't stand up well in heavy rains and mudslides, let alone an earthquake! 

We got stuck behind a protest....possibly over the cost of Petrol, though we weren't certain. 

Even three years post earthquake, there are still areas with tons of rubble, it's unbelievable. 

Prior to the earthquake the presidential palace stood here, it has yet to be rebuilt. 

We stopped at the Creche.  Sonia had gone ahead to get paperwork and we needed to pick her up.  She met us at the van and when she realized the girls were sick decided to let them stay at the Creche and rest.  She explained the day to them in detail.  The oldest, especially understood.  She said to keep Christian for court and explained that she had given it thought and she agreed that bringing Christian into the Creche would be confusing.  We'd go back to the guest house for lunch.  Answered prayer again.

I can't go into detail about court.  But it was EXCEPTIONALLY seamless.  It was quick, there was no wait.  Answered prayer AGAIN.

We picked the girls back up at the Creche and were back at the guest house by noon.  Thankfully traffic eased up on the drive home!  This time no one threw up, but Mrs. H and Marc were still greenish looking for quite a few hours after we arrived back home.  We easily decided to fore go the market or sight seeing and just hang with the kids.  No one wanted to be in the car anymore and we especially didn't want to subject those poor little girls to more sickness.  It seemed the guest house and visiting were enough excitement for the girls and Christian- the market seemed unnecessarily overwhelming.  (Remember Christian was found at approximately a month old and social services had him in Sonia's care within the day.  He had never left the Creche until my last visit.)

It was a great day.  We had some more birthday celebration and great conversation.  In just a few short days, I can say I love the H's.  They have beautiful hearts, amazing stories, and I wish we lived closer! 

 My Itty Bitty Man

 Punching balloons.

 Are you in love with this kid yet?;)

 These two are;)

Yes, he loves tickles;) 

 He was determined to figure out how the bubbles worked, after his observation, he decided to give it a try;)

and he got it!!!!

Papa was a big helper at lunch.  They had a cute way of communicating.  Christian would lightly tap Marc's arm and then when Marc looked at him he'd point to what he wanted to eat;) 

 Three of my Four babies!

Birthday Boy dug his blowers;) 

 He enjoys people and loves to have a good time- fitting right into this family;)

And...perhaps we have a little soccer player on our hands;) 

Bedtime stories... 

And pre-bed cuddles (yes, mama looks wrecked, it is flippin' HOT in Haiti;)

Another day- a beautiful miraculous day and many answered prayers.  My cup overflows.

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.