Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nou pral monte yon avyon!

"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:

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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Meet Christina!

I am so excited to announce that we have been matched with a little girl! Her name is Christina and she is about three and a half years old. We are told she is bright, very verbal, physically healthy and deeply grieving from her past. I am not going to share exactly what she has been through because it is her story to tell when she is older, if she chooses to share it. Let's just say that no one should have to endure what she has in her short life. The pictures we received broke our hearts -- her eyes are so sad. We did get one picture of her grinning a great big grin with her eyes lit up and sparkly, so we know she has moments of joy.

Her journey to the orphanage she is currently in is nothing short of a miracle. We truly can see how God put all the pieces in place to make sure she would be there and we would be ready with our paperwork at just the perfect time.

Our paperwork is done, translated, approved by the Haitian Consulate and should be on route to Haiti shortly. Because Christina is in an orphanage our agency does not typically work with, we had to redo some of our powers of attorneys, causing a slight delay. We have received our pre-approval for adoption from the United States government. We are at the mercy of the Haitian government now.

I think that is the hardest part -- knowing we have done everything we can on our end, that she is waiting in an orphanage and we can't go get her. We are praying we will be able to bring her home by next Christmas. A whole year and 3 months for her to get bigger, grow out of the toddler phase and into the little girl phase. And we are missing it all. I know she is getting love and plenty of food at the orphanage she is in. We are told it rivals some of the best day care facilities in the States. It is clean, has plenty of supplies and the nannies love the kids. That helps a bit, I suppose, knowing she is safe and warm and has a full belly each night. It is certainly better than where she was a few months ago. But she needs a family. And here we are, ready for her and a bunch of paperwork is what stands between us. For a year!

On the bright side -- we do get to visit her. We have planned our first trip and can't wait! She won't know we are adopting her. We will just be some strange white people who speak a funny language and play with all the kids in the orphanage. But it will be fun to get to interact with her, see her personality and spend a bit a time with her (and sneak some pics!) I have a feeling that leaving her will be extremely difficult.

So now it is just a waiting game.