Saturday, September 29, 2007

The End And The Beginning


For a rare moment in this journey, I was finally being presented with a logical choice. And it felt strange!
To choose these girls, to adopt these girls, was the logical choice. They were a good age, they were healthy, they needed a home, they were beautiful, and they were even well behaved! They were obviously intelligent. My goodness, what else could one ask for?

I had to ask my heart. Can I love these girls? Do I already love these girls?

The answer was yes, but wisdom has taught me not to make a lifetime decision on impulse. And I was not used to logic all of a sudden being introduced into what had so far been mostly an emotional and spiritual experience.

So we just enjoyed our day together, and yes, we really did enjoy it! We swam and ate and played and swam some more and slept. When we woke up, it was dark and raining hard. We slept so hard we missed dinner. We went out to the courtyard and found Jen and Wil. Jen and I decided to brave the storm and take the kids back to Marie’s. When we got to the street, a torrential stream was shooting down hill. With no drainage, we were looking at a true flash flood. Living in the South, I have seen them before (and we do have drainage in Georgia, TYVM!) but not one like this. Jen and I decided to brave it.

OK, in retrospect, this was probably dumb, and I won’t do it again. Not only were we bombarded with Haitian road debris (eeewwwwww!) the force was so fierce it took all that I had to hold onto Widmina, and that was scary. It lifted her right off of her feet and I felt it when her shoes were whisked away. She was also very unhappy about losing her shoes, and informed Marie immediately when we finally arrived at the back door looking like sopping rats. Marie had a real good laugh at our expense, and we did look pretty pitiful. We sat around for awhile and Jen said her goodbyes, since she was leaving in the morning. I asked Marie if I could see the girls again the next day and also if I could have moment with her the next morning, which she agreed to. By the time we walked back to Walls, the flood had ceased and the street looked like a street, not a rushing river, as it had an hour earlier! When I got back to my room, I took a cold shower (only kind available, but it’s OK because it is so hot all the time!) and slathered myself with a bottle of antibacterial that Jen had given me, hoping it would deter any germs I might have picked up in the Haitian Road Flood of July 2007! And I decided to sleep on my decision. I knew I would know when I awoke in the morning if my decision was correct.
I woke up feeling correct, logical, and heart bound, all at the same time. I almost felt like I was making the (correct) decision to get married. This was certainly as monumental, if not more so! I expected, and maybe even wanted to feel swept away at this point, but that is not how it was for me. I just knew that these were my girls.

When I got to Marie's, I sat on the porch and waited. Pretty soon Marie came out and sat down with me. She is a very gracious person, BTW. I told her I wished to adopt Widmina and Lovely. I know she was happy, and I think she was relieved. Marie cares so much for all of these children!!! We briefly discussed financial matters, and she said she would take my dossier to 1st Legal the next morning. By the time my girls came out to the porch to meet me, I think the word had already traveled that I was to be their Mama. I say this because we had a huge language barrier, but I knew in short time that they knew. They acted more confidently and they became much more relaxed. They started acting like real kids!

We went back to the guesthouse, and for the most part repeated our routine. It is so hot in Haiti. Even hotter than Georgia! Swimming is what you want to do all day long! But that makes you tired, so then you have to rest. When we went back to the room later, I asked them in my deformed Kreyol if they knew I was their Mama and they of course, said “wi”, so I wasn’t sure if it was because they did know or if it was because they just say yes to everything. But Lovely called me Mama later in conversation so I was pretty sure they got it.

They got into everything in my suitcase and tried it out. Then politely put it back. These kids are so curious. I had crayons and drawing pads, and I was happy to see they knew how to hold a crayon and scribble. But when I wrote their names for them, there was no recognition, and that made me sad. I had brought some toys to give, in tote bags. They had fun with that. I was laying on the bed heat exhausted with one eye open as I watched Widmina try out every lipstick in my makeup bag (I did not care) then put it all back very carefully. I watched her play with her toys. Then I watched Wid put everything I had given her back in her tote bag, take it over to my suitcase and put it inside, and zip it up with the all the finality of only having moments to catch our cab on the way to the airport. Little sister watched carefully and then unzipped my suitcase, added her tote bag, and did her best to rezip.

Uh-oh.

I realized Widmina thought they were going home with me now. And she was more than ready. And I did not have the means to tell her differently. I was so sad that she was going to have to suffer this disappointment.

I left it up to Marie; I had no choice, since I could not communicate. I told Marie later what happened, and she knew she had to tell them it was not to be so, at least not now. Marie thought about it for about 30 seconds and called them over to her. I have no idea what she said, although I know she said it gently. Widmina broke away and started walking away from us. Marie called her sternly “Widmina!” and said something else in kreyol. Wid came back, listened some more, and then Marie sent them off with their friends, and they showed off their new toys. Lovely, being 4 years old, just went with the flow. She seemed absolutely unphased. But I was worried about the next day, and particularly Widmina, since I was leaving. I was not sure how they were going to take it after this episode.

It turned out fine. I went over to Marie’s for about an hour before I was leave for the airport. Violette (head nanny) acknowledged me when I walked thru the kitchen, and I indicated I would be on the porch, waiting. Pretty soon the girls came out. The nannies had made a point of putting the elastics I had given them in their hair. Widmina seemed over her upset, she was very calm and back to herself. They sat on my lap for awhile, and was talking to them in English, so they did not understand much of what I was saying. They did know I was leaving though, I could tell, so somebody must have told them. Other kids started trickling out onto the porch, first a few little ones, then several of the older ones. Pretty soon they all started to play. They started a game I took to be a version of hide and seek and tag. They were running from one end of the porch to the other. Soon Widmina and Lovely jumped off my lap and joined in. Then the kids switched to another game that looked like a combo of London Bridge and Ring around the Rosie, singing the whole time. I found out later it is a French game called “The Medallion of the Rose”. They ended by sitting on the floor in front of me singing some more songs, and clapping, they knew them all by heart. It was really an amazing and spontaneous performance. After that the girls came and sat on my lap again, and all the kids started to teach me how to count in Kreyol. Then one of the older girls, Loveline, started counting in English, so she and I switched to teaching them to count in English. We would say a number and the kids would shout it out. I started telling Widmina and Lovely that it was time for me to go, but that I would be back to see them when I could and I would miss them. I pulled out my cell phone and indicated I would call them soon. Loveline started translating to them in Kreyol. It was great! She was the only child I met there that could speak any English. Her mom thinks she picked it up from hanging around adoptive parents when they come to visit. As difficult as it was, I knew it was getting to be time for me to go. I was starting to feel very emotional and I did not want to lose it in front of these kids. With a very heavy heart I finished my goodbyes and walked back to the guesthouse. It was the very best and worst part of my day.

It is a strange to come home after an experience like this. First to re-enter the world as we know it, that is to say, leaving the 3rd world and coming back to the good ole USA. Then to experience falling in love with your kids and leaving them behind, knowing the journey to bring them home will be long. Leaving them there feels terrible. I felt like an emotional astronaut, reentering Earth’s atmosphere. The first few days back I was really tired but highly energized because I was just over the moon. Then, a deep depression set in, and I started to feel very withdrawn. Dealing with the reality of a long, emotionally tough road ahead, and just missing my girls. Eventually I evened out again, and now I am just dealing with it as best I can. Most days are fine, but sometimes it just gets really hard. I miss them so much, and they are on my mind all the time. Even though they are well cared for by orphanage standards, and they have friends there, and they have each other, they are still in an orphanage. Surrounded by people, but a lonely place to be. I see it sometimes on many of the kid’s faces in the pictures that get sent back by other visiting adoptive parents. Sometimes I see it on my kids.
After regaining my emotional balance, I decided to channel my energy into doing all I need to do to keep them connected to me, as well as doing the things that need to be done to get them home. For me that includes but is not limited to:

*Working on needed remodeling projects to create more and better space in my (little) house

*Sending the girls packages and photos, via other visiting PAC parents

*Learning at least a little Kreyol; ideally learning a lot! Learning about Haitian culture past and present

*Continuing to educate myself and my family about adoption, attachment, transition, transracial, and education issues

*Educating myself about hair and skin care which is 180 degrees different than mine and my bio kids

*Keeping myself mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially fit

On September 5, the girls entered ISBER, which is essentially the government agency in Haiti that examines your dossier and approves the adoption. It is the next step after first legal and the heart of the adoption process. It is where the files become legitimized. Right now it is taking about 4-5 months to move through this all important phase. After that the files move into second legal/Parquet, which is where the adoption becomes official. Then it is the immigration and visa phase, which our own government is obviously involved in. The whole process seems to be taking approximately 11-13 months from the time the dossier is submitted, so I’m likely looking at sometime in June-September to get them home. Because of the instability of the Haitian government, any of these current timelines could change at any time, so going through this requires flexibility and faith on my part.

In the meantime, I am planning my next visit to Haiti. I can hardly wait!!!

1 comment:

wendy said...

Small Town Girl - I just finished reading about your journey to date .... and wept the whole way through. I could relate to so much of what you wrote. I am just starting on this journey of adopting two precious sisters from Haiti, a country I have known and loved for many years. If you are willing, I would love to talk with you, share stories and see how we can help each other. I, too, live in Atlanta. And the group I volunteer with visits Haiti about every other month, so I might be able to help you with "hand deliveries" of things. I know you know that in Haiti that is the only way to go. Anyway, I hope to hear from you at was109@gmail.com. You, Wid, Lovely and your sons are in my thoughts and prayers. Plesae keep me, Kenia and Berlande in yours. Kenbe pa lage, Wendy

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