Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Latest From Haiti

News about files is mute for now, with Karnival in full swing. But we did get the latest pictures today, from our traveling moms!

We also received some photos of the kids in class and the teacher. The teacher is a new developement at the "O". He's been there a few months now. I noticed a big improvement with the girl's skills over Christmas, in just the short time he has been there. He is also teaching them English!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Blog, The Musical!

Over the past 10 days, I have spent a great deal of time creating a slideshow for our facilitator to take to Haiti with her. The purpose is to show the kids our lives here at home. I showed some of that, but because I have traveled there twice in 6 months, and because I know my girls love photos not only of themselves, but also their friends at the "O", I included those photos too. The other reason S. asked for videos/slideshows is because she is hoping to take a road trip to one the the villages that many of our children come from, and she wanted something to show the birth parents. She asked that we not include pictures of our things, "houses, rooms, etc" however I did a bit of that because it was inherent in telling this story, and I don't think anyone is going to get too excited about a Christmas tree, I saw quite a few of them in Port-au-Prince last month. I also don't think the Haitians are going to think I am rich when they see my house as I definitely do not live in a McMansion! (I call it "cottage living"... instead of upgrading to a newer and bigger house this year, I spent my money on adopting these two girls.) At any rate, many of the pictures on this montage have been on this blog at one time or another, hence my title today!

I have not been feeling real creative or motivated in the blogging department lately. I have discussed this feeling with a few other moms on our group, and I see that we fall into similar funks over similar reasons. One thing that throws me off is when I am expecting progress in an area of my adoption, and I am waiting, waiting, waiting for the news. I hate it, but it robs me in some inexplicable way and it's hard to write. I feel very flat. I know I'm not "supposed" to let it get to me, but on some level, it sure does. The other thing is that both times I have come home from Haiti, I have kind of hunkered down within myself. Initially I am so high when I get back I think I can take on the world, but reality crashes in pretty fast. For me, it has everything to do with leaving my girls behind. I find I do not suffer alone in this. Some other moms have expressed the same.

Two things have helped: getting alot of necessary work done around the house, and working on this project. I am not real computer savvy, so it was a challenge. It is 13 minutes long. It says it's eighteen minutes, but it's not, that was some extra music that got stuck way out in cyberspace that I could not get off the file. Like I said, I am no genius!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Waiting For Some Big News

I had big plans to get alot done this week-end in terms of house projects, but that did not happen. I did make some gift bags for the girls, and sent them to a mom that is visiting later this week. I also made them some photo albums of our visit and sent those too. I also worked on a slide-show of both of my visits and life here at home for our facilitator to take with her when she leaves next Sunday. I fussed over that thing all week-end. Now I just need to burn it! I hope it all comes together because it needs to get to California before it goes to Haiti.

There has been some file movement in our group! A bunch of people are out of parquet, but we're still waiting on some more to come out. Some people have been in for a long long time. No rhyme or reason there, but all movement in Haitian files is good movement! 2 kids are out of ISBER that were submitted at the same time as mine. So the rest of us are patiently waiting... (Yeah right! LOL!) Well, it's good to know we're just about there. Congrats to everyone that progressed!

The S. Family published their pictures the other day, and they had taken this one of the girls and I. It's a very bad photo of me, but we are having fun, so that is the important thing. Remember, I had been bitten on my eyelids, and I had not even had my cold shower for the day, to add insult to injury. Sigh. It's very difficult to look good in Haiti, and I'm over it
I hate to say this, because there are fellow bloggers out there REALLY suffering right now, but it has been very cold the last few days. Low temps, and then the wind chill throws it down another several degrees. I'm not used to it being 12 degrees outside. It's very decieving because it has been crystal clear and beautiful outside.

I got yelled at by a grumpy old man and almost dropped the camera while taking this picture because I didn't park far enough off the side of the road to his liking, and he had to get in the shoulder to go around me. Out in the middle of nowhere on a 1 lane road.

It doesn't look cold, but I'm freezing in this vest and had to change into coat, hat and gloves before we went to the park.

I let shorty (not his real name) run around the baseball field. I tried to get him to run around the bases but he would not cooperate! Overall, it was a great week-end, I enjoyed having an extra day off from work. And my house projects are still here, waiting for me ...till next week-end!

Friday, January 18, 2008

At The Dome

Our event for the State Legislature went off without a hitch, but it was long day. It was good to get away from the routine and do something different.

Ice Sculpture

The most famous bulldog in the world....

Poor Uga VI looks like he is getting old. But he has had a good run, and he is a good dog! He is so patient here, taking hundreds of with the state legislatures and interns.

If you don't know about Uga click here

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More Water

Yes, I'm a little obsessed with this topic. This was in the paper today.

I'm still getting a water barrell.

Don't get me wrong. I am trained to conserve water. When I first moved here and people just let water run out of the tap unheeded and oblivious to it, I would just FREAK OUT! It took along time to accept that water was something we had here in overabundance. So different from the American West. This recent drought has opened alot of eyes. Most folks around here won't take water for granted anymore, and that is good. What has been difficult for me is watching the local and state government do nothing about it for years, seeing it get worse and worse, then all of a sudden restricting beyond reason, out of fear, and initially with no warning. And, no plan! The lack of foresight boggles my mind. The thought of not at least a few flowers was driving me to despair! But...


And, I'm determined to have some flowers next spring and summer!!!


I just went out and took this's snowing! Not too often does that happen around here. The bad news is that it is supposed to turn to sleet/ice by morning, and we have a big event in Atlanta at the State Capitol tomorrow. That should make things interesting....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Drought Solutions?

I continue to be frustrated with the handling of the ongoing drought here in the Southeast. Still no outdoor watering allowed. Also no car washing or pressure washing allowed either. You are not even allowed to use grey water from your house for outside watering! So for most people it goes to waste because most are not going to collect it at this point to flush their toilets, which is what the county "suggests" you do. Meanwhile, it's been raining quite a bit this winter.

Local resevoir, today

Same resevoir last fall

I have refrained from planting anything. Or even planning my garden, my January ritual. And it is driving me crazy. Apparently this is more than one of life's small pleasures for me. I bought these pansies in a fit of rebellion the other day. And they were difficult to find. No one is selling flowers. Or seeds. The forecast is for another dry summer, and of course there is no way to know. I can't help but remember that "they "forcast a very busy hurricane season for 2006 and for 2007 (after Katrina) and it never materialized. But, we don't know, and we have to conserve or risk running out of drinking water. And, I am not the only rebellious gardner I know. People are planting, with the eternal optimism required to be this sort of person anyway, that we will get enough rain to sustain us this year. Then today in the paper I saw this:Make Your Own Rain Barrel

Woo Hoo!!!! I feel like a new woman! I'm going to try it next week-end. Or go out and buy one. Meanwhile, I'll be looking thru my seed catalogs...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Concept of Adoption

Until that fateful Sunday 14 months ago, when I had what I call my "adoption revelation" I never thought much about adoption. To me, adoption was about other people. I was not for it or against just did not have anything to do with me. In fact, I did not even know that it was a concept that some people are for, or are against. I know differently now, and I know where I stand on it.But that is not what I am going to write about today.

On that day, I began my immersion into the concept of adoption as we know it, and there was no turning back, and my life has not been the same since. I know it will never be the same. It was like a gigantic wake up call, and every day a new door opened or a new page was turned, and I saw things and learned things that I'd never seen before. I became very aware of the world outside my box. It was without a doubt one of the best things that ever happened to me.


After that I began seeing the concept of adoption in other areas. I'm not talking about pet adoption. (Why do they call it pet adoption, when it's really pet rescue???? I mean, the chances are good that the pet will be eventually euthenized if it does not find a home, I think that qualifies as a rescue!) I began to see alot of talk in Christian circles about God's adoption of us. This confuses me because I already thought I was God's child, that is how I was taught. But some people believe that because we are sinners, that when we accept Jesus Christ, we become part of God's family. Thats when we are adopted. I realize this is an analogy, and an interesting one. It is another concept of adoption. This is when we connect our heart with the heart of God.


It occured to me the other day that I have lived in the South now for 25% of my life. That is a big chunk for a native Californian. Long before the other day, however, the South had become my adopted homeland. Somewhere in the pain of homesickness and the joy of new discovery, my heart connected to this place, and that is how it became my adopted homeland. I have known this for years now.

Webster's New World dictionary says: 'adopt' v. 1.take legally as one's child 2.take as one's own 3.choose or accept

Funny, I dont see anything about the heart in there. It sounds so dry! Unless you are talking about 'adopting' a law, which is dry stuff anyway! Now I can't imagine the concept of adoption without the heart. I can't imagine the concept of adoption with out love ( with the exception of an 'adoption' of a law). Webster talks about commitment, he talks about choosing, he talks about legality, but he does not capture the concept of adoption. maybe I spoke too soon, maybe it's not just pet rescue. I know that day, years ago when I brought my puppy home from the pound, she was already in my heart. I drove to South Carolina and back two days in a row to make that happen!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Some Fav Photos

I really, really, really like my bathing suit!

I also really like having all of my mommy's attention when my sister is taking a nap.

Boys, and their fascination with guns.

Tummyache, too much candy.

Hanging with my brother.

Ahhhh....this much closer to a hot shower!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Leaving Haiti

Motherhood is hard. But it is totally worth it. I have had a lifetime of experiences, but this has been, and I expect, will continue to be, the one that means the most to my heart. There is no totally right road to follow on this particular journey. You have to follow your heart, and you have to be strong, even when it feels like you cannot be. And you have to be honest, first with yourself.


Now, we're at the orphanage, the facility my girls live in with at least 40 other kids. The building inside is clean, it's immaculate. Outside in the courtyard is where the kids are. Most of the nannies don't speak English, but one is very good at it, and all of them recognize the driver from Walls. This is good. Still, it is hard to see kids in this environment. They are good natured, but they play rough, and what you see ultimately is that they are surviving. Thankfully, most of them have a home they will go to when it is finially said and done. The few that do wonder why. I want to fix that, but I can't. I hate that the system keeps them here so long, and yet for most of them it's better than where they came from in that they can eat. But they are missing LOVE. It seems many of them have known LOVE at some point in their lives, and they are better for it. They have very good care. They just don't have that family LOVE.

I'm going to back up alittle. When I was preparing for this trip, I was looking for one Disney video for the girls. I really did want Cinderella, it is the all time basic chick flick. But towards the end of the season, I could not find it. I saw alot of Peter Pan. I like Peter Pan, but I did not want to represent or glorify the "lost children" to my children. They already live that life, and it is a fallicy. IMHO. I was fortunate enough to pick up the last copy of "Cinderella" at the local Sam's Club. Thank the Lord.


We stayed at the orphanage for about 30 minutes. I wanted to hug and love on all of those kids. Like everything in life, there is a pecking order. The older, bigger kids, rule. The little kids sit on the sidelines. Truthfully, they cry, or they seem sad. A few are just determined little fighters, and they get in there with the big kids and hold their ground. I'm sure it's not like this all of the time, but that is what I saw. And there seems to be an advantage to being part of a sibling group. Orphanage life is tough, and it is hard to look at. I know I will never be the same, and I know I was put here for a reason. For all I know, this is my reason for life.


We leave, finially. I hate to, but I am ready to. My girls are certainly ready to, and so is my teen-age boy, as well as the S. Family. They meet their son's sister there, and have their own issues surrounding that.

We drive the streets of Delmas, and I am still amazed at all I see. Hundreds of Haitians, with not much to do. Hanging on the streets. Beautiful people. L is sitting on my lap. W is as happy as a princess sitting in the seat beside me. I am already freaking out because I am leaving them tomorrow, and there is no way to really prepare them for this. Everyone, including my son, is lost in their own thoughts.

When we get back to Walls, it's all pretty uneventful. I had promised the girls a swim, so we do that, and we have dinner. We play on the swing. The church group comes back for their meeting and sings beforehand. It's all very normal. I am sustaining a feeling of dread. I know what will happen tomorrow. I call the director of the O and actually get ahold of her! This is a first since I have been in Haiti. We make the arrangements for the following day. I get the girls ready for bed. L plays "jacks" with Goldfish crackers. She sets them all up in the swim position, and then takes one and somehow pounds the mattress and pops up the one she wants like playing jacks. She is way smarter than I am, I still can't figure out exactly how she does it. She gets every Goldfish cracker up off the bed that way. And eats them, of course.

The next morning I get up early and take a shower. The girls wake up and I get them ready for breakfast. They brush their teeth. It's Sunday, and most people at the guest house are going to church. There are many people there on this morning. The coffee pot is not working well. This is distressing, Mike and I are 20 minutes early, waiting for coffee, the first ones. Americans! The Frenchman is not that far behind us. Finially we get a few cups of coffee in us, and we're OK. After breakfast, the girls and I play awhile and then I start getting the them ready to go across the street and back to PAC. I sense that W is catching on because for the first time I am making them wear their back-packs and take their dolls with them. The S. Family wanted to go to, to try and check on their son. So off we go, me, my kids, and S. family. Director's vehicle was not in the driveway, so I was not expecting to see her, but she was there (Thank you God) Once we got inside, there was full fear on W's face. I knelt down to them and told them I had to go, in English. They both started crying immediately, they know what this means, and my voice was shaking, I was fighting it. I felt like I was betraying their trust by leaving. Director recognized the situation. After all, it was not the first time for us. She called them to her, and they went and clung to either side of her just crying. She was translating for me, so that was good. Then she said the most amazing thing, I almost did not hear it at first, but she said (in so many words) that some files were moving and she had every hope that things were getting better. That may not seem like much, but for parents caught in this uncertain quagmire, it is everything. I have to leave my girls there crying and clinging to her. I never want to have to do this again.


So L and I go back to the airport, after I settle the bill. It takes forever. It should only take 5 minutes, but it takes 30, because Veniel has gone to church and his assistant is handling it, and I'm sure he feels like he is asking me for alot of money. Which he is, but he does not understand that in the States, we are used to paying for accomodations. I leave the tip in a seperate envelope and I realize he is angry with me because he thinks I did not leave a tip for the staff! But I want it to go straight to Veniel for distribution. That is what I want. So the assistant drops us off kind of rudely at the airport, he does not even unload our bags from the back of the truck. Of course we have lots of offers of help for that, and the hustlers want us to pay them to take us into the terminal. I keep saying no, but they are insistant and keep hovering. Finially I say "Souple! "(sp) with some anger, and "No!" I might as well have stomped my feet. They scattered. They left us alone. We progressed without problem, and L and I sit inside the gate and discuss our trip. On the plane we discuss some more, and when we get to FLL we are still talking about it. I realize that yes, bringing my son here was probably the best thing I could have ever done for him, and he is even smart enough to realize that NOW. We are talking more at this moment that we have in months.

More Haiti

OK, so we go up to the roof and sit on the swing. Silent tears are just pouring down Widmina's face, and Lovely is sobbing, and I have no idea what is wrong with them. And I have no idea what to do either, which leaves me feeling a little panic. How can I not know what to do? I already am a mama. I start to doubt myself, and the thought creeps in that maybe I am not cut out for this, and I have bitten off way more than I can chew. Then I remember Steph writing about singing, and so I start singing a lullaby, "Hush Little Baby" but I pretty much have to make up all the words because I can't remember them. I didn't sing that much to my boys when they were little because when I would they would insist "stop singing mama!" But these girls did not do that. So I rocked and sang and sang and sang. When I got tired of singing I hummed it. I kept the same song. Instinctively I felt that repetition for these kids was probably a good thing. Pretty soon Widmina quit crying, she just sat and listened while I sang and rocked. But Lovely went into Stage II of the meltdown, where her sobs just turned to pure grief. It was like deep almost animalistic sobs coming out of her. I was racking my brain trying to think of what the matter could possibly be. I wondered if they wanted to go back to the orphanage, if they felt homesick. But the deeper her grief, the less I thought that might be the case. It didn't quite correspond to her intensity. She was beside herself. I laid back in the swing (never stopped singing/humming) and laid her down on me with her head on my chest. I had on a surplice cut top, and she opened that up and laid her head on my breast and then cried even harder if that was even possible. Widmina was next to me on the other side, and she was pretty calm, she eventually even fell asleep next to me. I wondered if being with me triggered her memories of her Haitian mama, and that loss. The level of grief did correspond to that trauma. One thing that never occurred to me was that she might be hungry, because it had not been very long since dinner, and she ate alot as she always does. The truth is, I just did not know. After about an hour and a half of this ( and my lullaby!) she finally fell asleep. Hallelujah! She must have been exhausted. I know I was! I kept rocking, and of course I felt very relieved but still mystified by it all. I realized at that moment what a ride I was in for. I wondered if I could handle it. I realized I was going to have to handle it. I remembered that God had put me here, and that He had promised me He would help me find my way. So once again I was back to Faith. And the rose-colored glasses were removed. But I was shaken.

The church group started filtering upstairs, and Widmina woke up. And she was OK. I found that what happens with them is when one gets really upset it sets the other one off too. I can only imagine what the two of them have been through together. Or maybe not. Obviously some deep seated issues going on, which of course is to be expected. I just thought I would be dealing with it after they came home, not so much on these rosy little visits. At that point, Lovely woke up, and she did not start crying again, so I picked her up and took them to the room and helped them put on their pajamas, and then took them to the bathroom and gave them each a sponge bath, humming the lullaby the whole time. They never said a word, just looked at me with big eyes as I washed them all over and then put lotion on them. (I regretted that I had not brought powder with me) Then I had them brush their teeth and we went back to the room. They were still quiet, subdued, probably kind of fragile. We had not been in there long when the church group upstairs started singing "Amazing Grace". Their hymn filled the building. I took the girls out and we went up to the landing and sat there and listened and it sounded really beautiful and calming. Mike Schmidt came out right after me carrying Jacson, who was not feeling well, I guess he was thinking the same thing I was, that somehow this music was calming these kids. Certainly it was calming me. It was like a little extra gift from Heaven. They sang a number of songs, some contemporary Christian music as well as some known hymns. Widmina sat on the step, her head cocked, intent. For the second time that night I wondered if she had ever heard this before, she was transfixed. Finally they stopped and started their meeting, and I took the girls back to the room for bed. Wid settled right down. Lovely was somewhat back to her mischievous self. I got into bed, and she crawled right in with me. UH-oh. All the attachment wisdom tells you not to let this kind of bonding happen at this stage in the game, but the truth was there was a bonding that happened up there on the swing, when she got all that deep seated grief out. It didn't feel right to put her in her own bed but I got up and did it anyway. As she lay there, the silent tears started running down her sad little face, and I decided that this was not the way to go either. So I let her sleep in my bed, but I slept on the other end, and she was OK with that. In the middle of the night I moved to her bed, and awoke the next morning to her standing over me looking at me. Then she crawled into bed with me, and I let her. It was almost time to get up anyway.

Sometimes you just have to tell all the experts to take a hike and do what your heart tells you is right.

So, this new day started out pretty much as a repeat of the previous one. They watched Cinderella again, and them we went up to the roof, where they watched the happenings over at PAC1

Pretty soon there was finally some pay-off. Old friends appeared on the orphanage steps and they waved. The girls waved back. The PAC kids waved again. The girls waved back. This went on for awhile.

After the kids went back inside it was time to PLAY on the swing.

Then one of the nannies came over from the orphanage to get Jacson because he was not getting better. The girls were excited to see her, but they did not act like they wanted to go back with her. They lived at PAC1 for about 2 months when they first came to the creche last summer, and when the new facility for older kids opened, they went there. So they know just about all the workers and all the kids from both facilities.

Later, after lunch, Lovely started getting a little teary again. She was trying to tell me. One of the staff members went by and I asked him to translate. He looked at me like I was nuts. He said "she says shes hungry!" "But she just ate!" He just shrugged and walked off. I went back to the room and got her a pack of crackers, which she carried with herself almost constantly for the rest of the day.(After she ate about half the sleeve) I started to wonder if food issues had set her off the night before. Because whatever the problem was, it was deep seated and instinctual. Still, a mystery.

Later in the afternoon we had the opportunity to go to PAC2, the facility where they live, for a visit. The driver loaded us into his beat up compact car that had "JESUS" plastered across the dashboard. I was glad Jesus was in that tiny car with us because I felt like we were going to need Him there. This is the first time I have ever been out and about in Port-au-Prince. Besides back and forth to the airport, or across the street to PAC1. It was quite an eye opener, to say the least. Its not everyday you see goats in the street.

Or live poultry on it's way home for dinner!!!!!

When we pulled up to PAC2, the tears started streaming down first Widmina's face, then Lovely joined in. The driver turned around and saw them and said "They're crying!" I said "please tell them we are only here today for a visit." So he told them, and they told him they didn't want to go here. They did not want to go back. So I asked him to repeat my statement, and we got out of the car and went inside, and once they realized they were not staying, they were OK, and had fun showing off their new toys to all their friends. But I got a sinking feeling, because I was leaving the next day, and then they would have to come back here to stay. And I knew, once again, they were going to be upset when I left.

Last Installment tomorrow.......

daily scripture