We woke up before the sun today. Still no water. We bathed with wet wipes. We couldn’t even use the bathroom.
We had a quick breakfast of cereal (Fruit Loops -- Christina was in heaven!) croissants and coffee.
We loaded up the car with our suitcases, tidied up the room and headed to the US Embassy just as the sun came up. I couldn’t believe how busy the roads were already. People and cars everywhere.
We arrived at the Embassy at 6:15 am for our 7:00 am appointment. Sonia did not want to wait in the Embassy with us, the air conditioned waiting room hurts her injured arm, so Margarette from BRESMA , who also had an adoptive parent with an Embassy appointment, met us and waited with us. There were already at least 50 people waiting in line, standing outside the Embassy in the hot sun. We took our place in line. Christina was a bit apprehensive, it was noisy, dusty and crowded, so I held her.
We waited in line in the hot sun for about an hour before a guard looked at our paperwork and told us to stand in yet another line. A group of people had already been let inside the building, but we had to continue to wait outside. At one point I asked Sam to hold Christina for a few minutes, my arms and back were killing me. She allowed him to carry her for a few minutes but then asked for me again. How could I refuse?
A little Haitian woman standing in front of me could tell my arms were tired and she said to me in broken English, “You should put her down, she is big enough to stand.” But how could I explain to her that if Christina requested I hold her, I was going to hold her, no matter how much my arms ached and back screamed? So I said I was ok, and I could tell she was thinking “that crazy American, holding that child when she should stand on her own.”
Finally we were allowed inside the building. We went through 2 security lines. I had given Christina her little purse to carry with a few toys inside to keep her occupied while we were waiting. One of the toys was an empty bubbles bottle -- the guards had no idea how to handle that: did it have liquid in it? Why was I bringing in an empty bottle? I almost just threw it out for all the trouble it was causing.
We walked into a waiting room that looked like any standard government agency in the States, rows of hard plastic chairs filled with waiting people armed with paperwork, a wall of receptionist stations behind glass. Except instead of waiting for hours to renew a driver’s license, these people were trying to get permission to enter the United States.
At first Christina sat quietly on my lap. But after an hour she warmed up a bit and played with the toys in her purse, chattering in Kreyol. At one point she repeated a phrase over and over, trying to tell me something, but I couldn’t figure out what she was saying. A woman sitting across from us finally spoke up and said “she wants something sweet”. She had just watched me put a mint in my mouth and she wanted one too! It made me realize how many people were listening to and watching us, three white Americans with this little black child.
During the first two hours of waiting only two people got called to the window. Most of the time the reception windows were empty of workers. Didn’t seem very efficient, if you ask me.
But Christina was an angel. She played quietly, never fussed and was very patient.
Finally it was our turn. We went to the window, handed over our paperwork, answered a ton of questions. We were told to sit back down and wait until our name was called again.
Another hour passed before we were called up again. We were given a sheet of paper with checkmarks next to our missing documents, as well as a date for Sonia to come back to the Embassy for an interview to verify that Christina is a true orphan, since it is impossible to interview Christina’s biological parents. We were told we have to turn in all of our paperwork or ask for an extension by October 29. I am sure we will be asking for the extension, because until we get through Parquet Court we won’t have the required paperwork to turn in.
Margarette says the interview is a new requirement. Thank goodness Sonia will be back from her trip before her interview so we don’t have to reschedule.
After 5 hours of waiting, we were finally done. We met up with Sonia outside, who had waited in the car that entire time. Since Margarette’s parent had to go to the airport as well, we loaded his suitcases into our car. Sonia told us she would go back with Margarette and our driver would take all of us to the airport and then drive Christina back to the orphanage.
While we drove to the airport I tried to explain to Christina that we had to leave, but we would be back. Her face turned sad and she stared into space. The same blank stare she gave us the last time we left her. I held her and rocked her, trying to get her to understand what was happening. My heart was breaking.
We arrived at the airport and she tried to get out of the car with us. We sat her back on the seat and buckled her in, telling her we had to go, but would return to visit soon. She started sobbing, big tears streaming down her face, her little arms grabbing for us. I think she would have gotten on that plane with us if we had let her.
Leaving her in that car was the hardest thing I have done so far during this 18 month process.
We made our way to the check in line, being pushed and shoved by people trying to get in front of us. An airport employee noticed Weston’s arm and took him to the front of the line. But he wasn’t going to let us go with him, until he looked at me and decided I must be Weston’s “petite fille” (little girl) and he let us join him. I wasn’t going to try to explain I was an adult if it meant we could get to the front of the line -- we would be lucky to make our flight, as busy as the airport was. Of course the employee wanted a tip, which we gladly paid.
Another employee grabbed my suitcases and shoved them through the first of three security checkpoints. After our belongings made it through he too demanded a tip. Weston offered him a few bucks and the man said it wan’t enough. Weston would not budge and the man stomped away. I guess 5 dollars wasn’t good enough for him and his 30 seconds of work.
A few more lines and we were on the plane. We never stopped walking and didn’t even get a chance to use the bathroom or grab a drink. But we made it.
Two hours and we were back in the States. Amazing. I will post one more blog with my final impressions of the trip...