"We are going to ride on an airplane!"
Got our tickets to visit our sweet girl for the first time. We hope it is just one of many trips while we are waiting to bring her home. One of the great things about Haiti being so close is that taking trips there isn't that huge of a deal. Just an hour and a half flight from Miami.
We are using frequent flyer miles, thank goodness, because while getting there is easy, the ticket price is a little steep. After two hours on the phone with British Airways -- thank you, our sweet, persistent customer service rep who wouldn't give up-- we finally found two qualifying seats that wouldn't cost us first class miles. The flight times are TERRIBLE: a 5 hour layover in Dallas, arrive in Miami at midnight and fly out the next morning at 6am. (Did you know that the VIP rooms for frequent flyers close at 11:30 pm? What's that all about?) But I am trying not to complain. At least the flight is (almost) free and we have enough miles leftover for one more trip!
I went online to the travel advisory website that the US government posts and read all about traveling to Haiti. Almost wish I hadn't. It pretty much states that no one should travel there because the country is so unstable. It has warnings about traveling by car, by bus, by taxi, from and to the airport, in and around certain areas of Port-au-Prince, and on and on. But all of our in-country travel will be arranged by our orphanage, and they do this all the time, so I am not as fearful as if we were just heading down there by ourselves.
While in Haiti we will stay at the guest house of the orphanage our agency typically works with. I am told the food is fabulous, authentic Haitian fare. For the price of a low-end US motel, we have a clean, air conditioned room and three meals a day. Luxury by Haitian standards.
I have to admit, I am scared about eating local food, even though I know it is safe to eat the food our Guest House will serve. I have a terrible fear of spending my entire time there in the bathroom because I ate something I shouldn't have. So I will bring probiotics, some OTC drugs and pray my stomach can handle what I eat. (I may pack a few granola bars as well.)
We will be driven each day to the orphanage where Christina stays, which is across town. The only day we won't get to spend with her is Sunday, because the drivers have that day off. So I guess we will hang out at the Guest House and visit the orphanage there. Lots of kiddos to play with, so it will keep us busy.
We are not telling Christina who we are or that we are adopting her. In Haiti, because child matches happen quickly (because there are so many wonderful kids just waiting!) but the process is so long, adoptive parents are encouraged to visit as often as possible, and begin the bonding process even before they bring their child home. They can tell their child they are adopting them, and give them special gifts and photo albums while they are waiting. But we have been told that telling Christina so far in advance of her coming home would be devastating to her fragile emotions. So part of the deal is she can't know until the week before we come to get her.
We will be just another white couple coming to play with all of the kids. Of course, we will take lots of pictures of all the kids, and sneak in a few of just Christina. I am sad that we can't shower her with love and gifts each time we visit, but I understand. If that is best for her, I will do it, regardless of what I want. I am grateful that the orphanage cares enough to know each child and do what is best for that child, even if it is not the standard procedure.
So now that our first trip is planned, I am attempting to learn Haitian Creole. No one in Christina's orphanage speaks English. Communicating will be interesting.
But recently I found out that a neighbor a couple of streets over not only adopted a little boy from Haiti four years ago, but she also created "Simple Language for Adoptive Families". She has books and cd's to help adoptive families learn Creole, Madarin Chinese, Amharic, Russian and Spanish. Very Cool. She has a website: www.adoptivelanguage.com.
Haitian Creole is a derivative of French, which I took in high school and college. You would think that would help some. Nope. The pronuciation and spelling are just close enough to make it seem like I should say it correctly, but then I don't.
But I will keep plugging away, learning phrase by phrase if speaking in her language will help me get to know her even the tiniest bit. Maybe after she sees us in the orphanage a few times and we attempt to speak her language she won't be as scared as I think she will be when we finally get to bring her home.
Can you imagine? Being ripped out of the only place you have ever felt safe into a world with strangers who have different skin colors, different smells and sounds who can't understand a word you say and you can't understand them? I feel so sad when I think about how scary that will be for her. But maybe if I can say to her Ou an sekirite, (you are safe) or Ou pa bezwen pe (don't be afraid) she won't be quite as scared.
And maybe, just maybe, when in a year or so she hears Ou se pitit fi mwen, nou va pran swen ou byen (You are my daughter, we will take good care of you) she will know she is finally part of a family, a family who loves her and will protect her.