Thanks for visiting our blog! The Jeffersons are made up of Mark, Krista, Madison and Eden… and we are soon to grow again as we work on adopting from Haiti. This blog is a place for us to document our process, our thoughts and updates. Thank you for journeying with us!
“When Abby comes home can I still get together with my friends sometimes?”
Yes. She’s not going to be here just to visit. She’s here forever.
This is a concept that excites and amazes me. Up to this point any communication or interaction has been guided. While we were in Haiti, we had guidelines as to where we could take her in the community and had to let the staff know when we were heading out and when we got back in. There was a schedule to keep – what time we could pick her up in the morning, have her back for afternoon nap and see her afterwards. Her menu was decided long before our arrival. Her hair was done by the nannies. If we had a question, we asked the staff.
Since we’ve been home, if we have a question about Abby we have to contact our agency who contacts the orphanage staff. Once they’ve received a response at the agency, then they contact us with it. We receive updates on her health and growth and wellbeing monthly. If we want to send a gift it goes through the staff.
We welcome all this guided interaction, but I marvel at the transition of guides.
Tonight as I cleaned the table after supper, I was reminded again that in the near future, Abby will be at this table. She will eat what we decide to cook, when we decide to eat. She will wear the clothes we have prepared for her here. Go to bed with the bedtime routine we set. She will not just visit the community on walks – but live in it and interact with it. She will roam in this house and yard. This will be her home. I won’t need to ask permission if I can take her upstairs to read her a book, take her outside to go to the park or have a snack. We will be her guides now.
This terrifies me a little. And I can not even fathom how it will feel for wee Abby.
They say adopting a toddler is one of the most difficult ages to do so. The child knows something is going on – but can’t quite articulate what they are feeling and experiencing.
One day, in the hopefully not too distant future, we will arrive in Haiti and be reunited with Abby who has now become our daughter in our absence. It would be lovely to think she remembers us clearly and holds onto our memories. But ask any three year old what they did last week and good luck getting an accurate response. Now, imagine asking a three year old what they did 9 months ago with people they spent only two weeks with… yeah. I don’t think it’ll be a clear recollection.
We had a wonderful two weeks with Abby and she was eager to see us each day. But for a child who does not understand the role of parents – I’m not sure we were anything more than two people who gave her undivided love & attention, snacks and occasionally presents. Pretty exciting in the present – but in our absence, I’m not sure those memories remain.
And this is ok – we do not expect her to remember us clearly. We try to be realistic in our expectations. We have left photos, audio books of our voices, photo books and more – but don’t know if this toddler will make the connection between these still images, and then the real people who will arrive almost a year later. Although, I have to say, she is extremely brilliant. No bias here. 🙂
I try to imagine those first days. We arrive and it’s exciting (more gifts! snacks! attention!) but then it’ll come time and we leave. Leave everything she’s known. Her friends. Caregivers. Food. Culture. Language. Routine. Clothes. Toys. Smells. Sounds. Everything.
And we will replace it with firsts.
Airplane ride. Seeing the ocean. Customs. Hotel. A new country. So many white people. New language. New home. Bed. Friends. Caregivers. Food. Culture. Language. Routine. Clothes. Toys. Smells. Sounds. Everything.
We can’t even imagine what it will be like for this brave little one in this unbelievable transition. We try to prepare to take on the roles as her new guides. And we pray for patience and wisdom as we all transition into this new normal that will be nothing like anything any of us have ever known before.
For so long I didn’t blog because I had nothing new to say. “We are still waiting. It’s been 6 months and we haven’t heard anything new.” “We are still waiting. It’s been a year and we haven’t heard anything new.” “We are still waiting. It’s been 3 years and we haven’t heard anything new.”
Doesn’t make for riveting reading – or writing!
But now, things are happening and my head and mind and heart are going faster than I can write the words down. So I’ll try to blog in these coming weeks so I can chew on a bit at a time as we prepare to welcome our DAUGHTER home.
Yes. Our daughter. Legally. Officially. Until death do us part.
After 6 long years, we got word this week that we have a new daughter! Abby’s adoption has gone through and now we wait on visas and passports and then she will come home! It could be 6 weeks at the very absolute quickest. We are just continuing to hope and pray for it happening this summer.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I was overdue. I went in to be checked and they said “this baby has to come out” and told me I was being induced that night. I remember saying “Already? But I’m not ready!!” Even though I had 9 months to prepare, and was already overdue – I was not ready. I remember thinking – once she comes out, she’s here forever. Have I done everything I need to do to prepare for her arrival? There’s no turning back now!
And now I have feelings much the same. This could very well be one of the longest paper pregnancies ever – but again, moving from the IDEA of a new daughter to the reality of a new daughter’s arrival leaves me with three words rattling around in my head. I’m. Not. Ready.
Of course, as my patient hubby reminds me, we are in fact ready. “She could come home tomorrow and we’d be ready” he calmly tells me. Her room is painted and prepped. Her bed is made. Clothes are folded and put away. We’ve got toys and books waiting.
But yet… I’m not ready.
Have I grown enough spiritually, learned enough about her culture, mastered enough Creole, wrestled enough with the hard issues around adoption (specifically transracial international adoption), have I prepared her sisters enough, have I prayed enough, have I…
And that’s when I hear it “I” and “enough” over and over. Then I realize I have the wrong three words. It’s not “I’m not ready” but instead it should be “I am enough”.
I am enough.
I will move forward in these coming weeks of preparation – these labour pains if you will – and continue to try and improve and grow to be the best mama to all three of my girls. But a weight feels lifted.
I am reminded I will never come to a point where I say – NOW I am ready completely and entirely. There is always something left to do, an area of my life I want to fix, lessons to learn.
But I can come to a place where I say – here I am at this moment – right now –
and I’m offering what I have to do my best with God’s strength and guidance.
I am enough.
Come on home Abby – we are so ready for you.
Happy birthday, Abby girl.
My heart is bursting with love for you today. I may not be physically with you but trust me we are celebrating your life! We’ve re-watched your videos and poured over the photos of you. Dad baked a cake and I iced it pink this morning. Your sisters woke up with shouts of “happy birthday Abby!”
But as I fell asleep last night thinking about you turning three today, I wondered about that night three years ago. What was it like? Was your birth mama labouring through the night? What was January 10, 2014 like? Was it another hot, sunny day in Haiti? Did you come out with a cry and a scream or wait a moment before belting out hello?
Darling, I don’t know these answers. But I do know this.
You came into the world and were loved. You were loved by your heavenly Father who was there that first day of Abigaïlle and has been there every day since. But did you know we were praying for you that day? We didn’t know your name. Your face. Your gender or size. But we knew the promise of you and we were praying and loving and believing. We weren’t there for that first cry – but we were here talking to the same heavenly Dad who was there as he listened to our cries for you. Every day we pray for you. We have thought of you. For five and a half years we have been waiting and praying – that means we were praying for you before you were even born! And we will continue every day of your life, sweet girl.
They say the first three years of a child’s life are so vital. We may have only been with you in person 14 of your 1,096 days – but darling, you have been so incredibly loved and cared for. Your home before your forever home has been a place of joy and laughter. Of love and nurture. We are so incredibly thankful you have known what it is to be loved and cared for well. Yet we can’t wait to continue this honour of loving you for the rest of your days. We can’t wait to teach you what a family is and what it means to have a home all of your own.
I don’t know what the future holds. Just as I don’t know all your past, sweet girl. ButI do know this. You are loved far more than you could ever imagine. You are surrounded by a community of Abby lovers everywhere you go – in Haiti now, and a team of them here waiting. But the four biggest Abby fans are waiting with open arms and hearts that leap and ache simultaneously for our girl and wishing you the very happiest of birthdays, precious girl.
Love mom (and dad, Madi and Eden too!)
Wow – the outpouring of support and prayer these last couple of days has been astounding. The texts and messages and thoughtful notes from people in all parts of our lives was such an incredible blessing. Thank you! It definitely was encouraging and gave us strength to know others are praying for our girl and for Haiti during hurricane Matthew.
We are so thrilled to hear that – although the orphanage did suffer damage – everyone is safe!! Sadly this is not the case for everyone in Haiti – and in the coming days the news of devastation will be heart wrenching. Prayer is still needed and there will be much need for funds and volunteers to help rebuild. It is sad to see the beautiful new orphanage that isn’t even completed yet being hit so hard – with roofs partially torn off and trees down and so much damage. But we praise God all the littles, the staff and members of the GLA family are safe.
Thank you for your support and loving our girl and her home country!
I remember the first time Madi and Eden went to overnight camp. We were nervous leaving them there. Would they be safe? Happy? Would the staff keep a close eye on them while they were swimming? Would Eden be safe with her nut allergies? Would they get hurt? We had to trust the staff, trust that God was in control… and it helped we were only a few hours drive away if something did happen.
When we left Abby in Haiti – one of the hardest moments of our lives – again we worried about our littlest girl. But we had to trust. Trust the staff, trust that God was in control… but this time there was no option of driving up if something happened. There was no certain pick up date circled in red on the calendar.
Spending two weeks there with Abby we saw how wonderful the staff is and we felt comforted she’s in great hands. But now, listening to the news there’s a new concern. Hurricane Matthew.
We’ve been watching the progression of this hurricane over the weekend as it’s expected to hit today. We watch a screen in the comfort and safety of our home about how close and how strong the storm is. Knowing that there’s a little girl in possession of our hearts right in its path.
As a parent, I want to swoop in and comfort her. We were there during a couple thunderstorms and I remember how the loud claps of thunder startled her and she’d snuggle in to us for security. I want nothing more than to do that now. Is she scared? Is it raining and thundering and windy already? Or is she doing as so many children do – blissfully playing oblivious to the impending danger ahead.
Yesterday I had a good cry over the situation.It hurts to be separated from her when we know she is safe and happy. It hurts even more when we DON’T know if she is safe and happy.
And I cried thinking there was nothing we can do but wait.
Then I got to thinking – is this true? Suddenly I felt at a bit of a crisis of faith. If I honestly thought there was nothing we can do – what does that say about my beliefs in the power of prayer? When I pray – am I believing that God hears and will act – or am I praying to appease my conscience? Did I really believe that the God who calmed the storm in the Bible so long ago – is still the God of the storm today?
And so, even though I still shed some more tears for our girl – and likely will for a lifetime more as mothers do – I decided to trust. To trust that God the creator of Haiti, the loving Father of Abby, the one who is in charge of us all – even when we forget – hears my pitiful prayers. Even when I don’t know what else to pray but “keep her safe!” And so as a family we have been praying. Believing. Hoping and expecting for great news. And we long for the day when we can comfort our girl in person when the storm rages – but we are thankful today that there is One who is with her when we aren’t who is known as the Comforter. Hold her tight, Jesus!
The words to this old Rich Mullins song are playing in my heart today…
Well, sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It’s so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me Jesus, ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
Will you join me in not only praying for our Abby – but for Haiti and the other islands facing this hurricane? Abby is fortunate to be in a sturdy orphanage building in the mountains – but many aren’t so fortunate. Many are in tin shacks or tents that can’t withhold a rainy day – never mind a hurricane of this magnitude. Please pray – asking for the storm to calm or to veer off course or some other miracle to occur! Pray as we sit in our warm dry homes for those without. And if you think of our island munchkin – pray for peace for our girl.
I’ve been waiting to write and process the time with Abby – and the farewell – until the other two girls went back to school. I really wanted to concentrate on them for the week following the trip I was home and so I just shoved the grief and joy and confusion and anger and all the thousands of emotions swirling around inside me aside until I could sit down and give it my full attention. And so I found myself for the last week having a nervous energy – I was in the washroom last night and wondered if the wallpaper would come off easily when we get around to re-doing the washroom. Next thing I knew I had stripped the wallpaper off the entire washroom. Or we have had a massive burn pile left by the previous owners – I mean MASSIVE (we guess 20ft x 15ft and about 4ft high when it was at it’s biggest). We’ve picked at it over the summer – but Saturday I spent the ENTIRE day burning a little bit at a time, and a little more, and a bit more… until 12 hours later it was gone. I don’t sleep as well – oh! I need to research college programs for the girls! what other movies has the actress been in from the show I just watched! what Christmas gifts should we make this year! And on and on. Anything – anything! – to keep my mind off of one precious little girl on a little island in the Caribbean.
And so as I have continued to stall all morning – but it’s time.
As I mentioned before – the weekend before we left (our last day with Abby was a Monday) I was a mess. The final day of our two week visit finally came. I felt total peace. I was going to go and have an amazing day with Abby. The entire day we treated no differently than any other day with her – we played, we walked, we had snacks, we cuddled and goofed off. It was a great day.
But then it was time.
Time to take Abby to the nursery and walk away without the promise of tomorrow – in it’s place was simply the hope of someday. To put her into the room with the 13 other children she shares it with and trust that she would be loved and cared for well. We had been up on the third floor balcony playing, and had to walk down the stairs one floor and return her. Mark was carrying her. Halfway down he couldn’t go on. In his words he posted on facebook:
“Hardest. Goodbye. Ever. Our two weeks with Abby went way too quick. I was completely unprepared for the wave of emotions that hit as we walked her back to the nursery for the last time today. I had to have Krista take her back on her own…I could not dredge up the strength to do it. So heartbreaking. We’ll see you soon, my Abby-baby.”
It’s interesting how we all grieve and process things differently. Mark could not enter that nursery as his heart broke and his tears poured down and he handed her to me. I could not leave my broken heart without taking her into the nursery and seeing her in the arms of her nanny. Team parenting.
So I walked into that nursery – she clearly knew something was up as Mark and I were both crying and I’m sure I was covering her in kisses and whispering my love for her all over again. I am thankful one of my favourite nannies was present right then. She knew we were leaving and upset, she scooped Abby up and gave her the snuggles that would have to hold her until we return. She had Abby say goodbye and give kisses and comforted her.
And then… having to turn my back on Abby and walk out. Close the door. And head home. I can’t even think of it now without crying.
When we went to leave for the guest house Abby was at the window waving – and we both waved goodbye and cried some more. When we got back to the guesthouse we simply crumbled. I can never remember an all consuming grief and heart ache like that. We just cried and cried and took turns comforting the other. I curled up in a ball in my bed. I couldn’t even think what I was suppose to do – how was I suppose to go on with my precious girl left behind?
Slowly, the tears subsided. We could breathe a little easier. And the mundane tasks of preparing to fly home in the morning helped take our minds of our girl.
Packing was emotional too though. That sweet little dress we brought her – likely won’t fit by the time she comes home. (Fortunately her BFF Ruth is a little smaller than her and the dress looked perfect on her!) The books we had read to her – some we had left, some we brought home for her book collection here. Packing her sippy cup and not knowing when we’d need it again. Packing each item wondering if we keep it for the unknown time she comes home, leave it in Haiti for her or someone else or throw it away.
We went to bed early because our flight was super early (wake up call at 4am!) and because crying wears one out.
Tuesday came and all day we were in and out of tears on our flights. There was a young Haitian girl on our flight about Abby’s age. I’d look at her one moment with a smile on my face reminiscing about my own wee girl. The next minute I’d be crying. I was a wreck.
I looked forward to seeing our family when we arrived home – but I didn’t know if I was prepared to talk about Abby. It still ached.
But then, I found that talking about her kept her present. We laughed as we told stories of her excitement over finding dog poop or her sassy ways. We loved talking about her and showing the photos. It wasn’t that the hurt disappeared – but it was slowly being partnered with something else. Hope. Hope for the day she comes home. And joy. Joy for the life we’ve been given the honour of loving and raising. The ache is there, but it’s not alone now.
So how am I doing now?
What surprised me this last week was the anger and loss I felt over missing Abby’s first two and a half years. We were waiting for a child and she was needing a family – but because of the crazy adoption process we missed out on so many moments. I’m beyond grateful that the orphanage values photos and there are so, so many of her over the last two years – but I would have preferred to be the one documenting these milestones. But now as I look back on my older two daughters lives – yes, those milestones of first steps and first teeth and babyhood were amazing… but what is more amazing is the memories made that they remember as well as me. They will never remember their first tooth coming through – but they will remember vacations and hikes and family jokes and time spent together. And so I eagerly anticipate building these moments with Abby too.
I feel like I’ve been given a year to prepare. Yes – we’ve been in the adoption process for over 5 years so I should be more than prepared – but meeting Abby was the first time the idea of adoption moved to the reality. And so as much as I dread the wait and long to squish that little munchkin in my arms again – I have a lot to do. Yes, we have to get her room ready and work on collecting an entire wardrobe, book collection, child necessities and more. But those are the unimportant things. Fun – but not as important as… preparing to parent in a transracial family in an extremely white community. Researching how parenting a child who has spent years in an institution is different than parenting children raised in a home setting from day one. Getting healthy – chasing a toddler needs a lot of energy! Making changes to my schedule to have more time at home with a wee one. And so much more. And so, I will take this year as a time of preparation. I’ve got a list of books I’m waiting to devour.
I was also unprepared for how this effects friends – and our children’s friends. For many of them, this is their introduction to adoption of any kind. I have loved all the questions and enthusiasm from kids and hearing so many of them say they think they’d like to adopt when they grow up. I know not all will – but, it’s an idea that is being presented to them now in a real way as something that they too could do. Our kids friends have told us how they checked for photos of Abby everyday while we were gone and how much they love her already. And, the support we have been given is unbelievable. Even today – the first day of school – getting messages from friends who recognize this is likely a tough day for us. Any big occasion – first day of school, birthdays, Christmas, Easter… is one more moment we are missing out on celebrating as a complete family and so they are hard. Friends support means so much! And so many friends who have messaged us eager to hear more about Abby and to let us know they’re praying for us.
And I still struggle with some of the emotional side of adoption. Adoption is beautiful and powerful and amazing… but it always stems from loss. How will I share this with Abby in a sensitive way? We don’t share her story publicly – that’s her story and she can decide if she wants to share it when she’s ready – but how do I share her story with her? How do I keep her Haitian culture alive and present in this future Canadian’s life? And then I wrestle with if adoption is the best route for these children… they’re so happy and loved and cared for. But then I always come back to – no child should be raised in an institution. Even the very best orphanage care… is still an orphanage. And my mind wrestles back and forth through countless issues relating to international adoption.
And so, as you can see I’ve slowly started moving in to my new normal. My heart is a little heavier in places – but even though part of that weight is the ache for my girl, another portion of the weight is joy and love and good memories with my girl. I might cry a little easier than I did before – and that’s okay. I read articles and books, I pick up a piece of clothing or two when shopping, we try Haitian recipes, I put photos of Abby around the house, and I pray for my girl that she knows that just as sure as we walked out of that room that horrible Monday… one day we will walk back in and never turn away from her again!
I’m still not ready to blog too much about our farewell – it’s still to raw. Too near. So I thought I’d blog on a lighter tone.
I’ve been thinking about how amazing travel is – in particular air travel. This morning I was in Haiti – by supper time I was home in Canada with my other two girls again. Amazing.
As I walked my dogs tonight I was struck by the contrasts of home here in Canada and life in Haiti.
I stepped out at night and confidently walked my dogs in the dark. In Haiti – we never went out after dark.
I simply walked out my door and down my driveway. No big heavy gate to unlock. No gatekeeper.
One of my neighbour’s had mowed their lawn today and the smell of fresh cut grass was so sweet. To say the smells of Haiti are not so sweet is an understatement.
I went to the store tonight and walked into the store. Right inside! I did not go up to a window with bars on it and try to point to what I want and use my broken Creole/French to order a simple drink and snack.
I had a hot shower. Hot. And I left the water on while I lathered up even. Absolute luxury.
As I sit in my home I hear only the sounds of the air conditioner and snoring family members. No dogs wildly fighting or howling or barking constantly. No rooster singing it’s good morning song All. Day. Long. No horns blaring. No sounds of people in the street. No tree frogs.
When we drove tonight, we wore seatbelts. We stopped at stop signs. And we even had stop lights and speed limits. You know – traffic laws.
I marvel at the differences here – but I can’t help but be reminded that even though I am sitting here in Canada on the same day I was in Haiti earlier – there is one that is still in Haiti that has my heart completely.
These last couple days it’s starting to sink in that our departure is soon. On one hand we are eager to return home and see our other two girls we miss do much. Eager to have some privacy once again and be in our own home. But on the other… Ugh. We left our two girls at home for two weeks to come to Haiti knowing the date and time we’d return and that was difficult to say goodbye and leave. Saying farewell to Abby not knowing when we will return is heart wrenching. Not being there every day to love her and care for her in person makes me feel like I can’t even catch my breath as I struggle to think about it through the tears that keep spontaneously appearing. Wondering what she must think when we don’t come for her on Tuesday. Will she be at her usual spot at the window waiting to spot us and cry out “mama! Papa!” Will she know we are leaving because we have to and in no way because we want to leave her behind. Will she feel abandoned or will the love we poured into two weeks remind her she’s not forgotten.
(For those just jumping into this blog – the Haitian adoption process requires this two week visit and then we return home without her to continue to wait. Right now the wait times seem to be about one year).
So know this. I’m so thankful for all your messages these last couple days telling me you know it must be hard and you’re praying for us. Your prayers carried us through much of these last 5 years when we couldn’t find the words through frustration. Now they continue to help as we struggle with the impending farewell.
We have Sunday afternoon and Monday with our girl. And then…
Well let me tell you some recent happier memories with Abby as its too hard to write through my tears. I need to think about the good times for now.
On Friday we were so excited as we were heading out of the guesthouse and orphanage for the first time. And even better than that was the fact Abby could come with us. I asked if she had been in a car before and the staff thought that her ride to a doctors appointment for her adoption file awhile back was probably her only ride. And that may have been her only outing outside the orphanage in the last two years. We had a really fun morning with her and she was her usual happy, lively self but when it came time to go and she got in the vehicle her demeanour completely changed. She got real quiet and snuggled into dad and refused to lookout the window. (It’s Haiti. There’s no car seats. She sat on marks lap and we fit 12 people in the suv.) But we had a stop to make. We were picking up her best friend Ruth and her parents! If you could have heard their squeals when they saw each other! After that Abby completely changed as she sat upright on marks knee now and confidently looked out the window!
We went to the baptist mission to meet up with a group from the older kids site of the orphanage. We got there before them and went to the playground and small petting zoo. There was another large group at the playground and Abby and Ruth were instantly over stimulated. To go from knowing your whole world within the walls of the orphanage grounds and knowing every child and staff well… To a huge playground with kids everywhere you’ve never seen before running around playing. It was a bit much for these wee girls. We went up to the restaurant and ordered fries and ice cream instead. Abby loved this and was so good! It was really fun to see her in a new environment and how quickly she adapted to her fears like the car ride. Also that she didn’t freak out when scared at the playground or car ride but knew to come to us for snuggles to feel safe again.
Today is Saturday and supposed to be a short day for us. Just the morning to visit on Saturday and just the afternoon on Sunday. This is really tough but we try to stay within their rules. What I do like is that the weekends are quiet at the orphanage as much of the staff and volunteers have it off. It’s a totally different feel to the usual hustle and bustle. We pulled out two tiny little pools this morning (and I mean tiny!) and filled them with water. Abby had the time of her life in these wee splashing pools. She poured water over herself and splashed and laughed and laughed and laughed. We went on a walk later and she actually walked most of it. Usually she wants carried the whole way.
It was tough to take her back to her room when we were suppose to but we did. She’s started really not wanting us to leave so it’s hard to tear yourself away but eventually we exited her room. And then it started to rain. And pour. And thunder. And… We couldn’t walk up to the guesthouse in the rain. Not because we don’t want to get wet but because it’s hard enough walking and not slipping on these incredibly steep roads up the mountains. If they’re wet – we’d be slipping all over. So we waited it out. Heart breaking to be in the same building as Abby and not see her. And then we got a message from the orphanage director to stay put and get Abby while we wait out the storm. I bounded up those stairs and I’m not sure who was more excited at the reunion. Abby or us. We went up to the balcony which is covered and listened to the rain. Abby fell asleep in my arms and I dozed in and out. We had a much more quiet play time than this mornings visit and it was just what I needed.
And now we are down to two more days with Abby this visit. And there’s my tears again. Oh man.
Know that my heart is heavy and if I see you I may burst into tears when you ask me how I’m doing or about Abby. Or I may come across as stoic as I try to guard my breaking heart. I’m trying to cling to these great memories and pray that God will protect my littlest one and bring her home to us so incredibly soon. For now I find myself again crying to sleep as my heart is already aching for my girl I just saw a few hours ago and longing for my two girls I haven’t seen in almost two weeks. This mamas heart is sore tonight.
One thing I’ve been working on while in Haiti is capturing photos of Abby’s life here. We want to make sure we share this portion of her story with her as she grows up.
So I’ve been photographing Abby with some of her favourite people. (Since we aren’t showing her sweet little face publicly yet these out takes will have to do to share with you).
There’s Amos. He’s the gatekeeper at the orphanage. As soon as Abby sees him she yells out his name. He can not walk by her without tickling her or calling her name or making her laugh somehow.
There’s Mona. One of Abby’s nannies who she adores. Mona comes across as serious but all the kids lOve her. Mona came into the kitchen while we were eating yesterday and Abby could barely contain her excitement as she yelled out to Mona. (You’ll see a theme that Abby likes to yell out people’s names when she sees them). Mona also taught me how to say calm down in creole when Abby was running around like a lunatic one day. That’s invaluable teaching right there.
Abbys best friend Ruth (or “root” as Abby says) is being adopted by a great Italian couple. Since they are here at the same time as us Abby has had some great times playing just her and Ruth together. These two are the same tiny size and similar huge personalities. It is hilarious to watch these two little loud girls interact together.
Yesterday Abby went and sat with one of the cooks and chatted away. She hugs the accountant when she sees him. I mean who hugs accountants? (Kidding)
And so as we look to leave in a few days my hurting heart eases a bit as I know we are leaving her in the care of people who love her immensely. People seem to light up when she’s near and she mirrors their happiness. Once again she is living up to her name “giver of joy”.
We are so grateful for the exceptional care for miss Abby and that her heart is being well exercised in how to love in this waiting period!
This two week socialization trip is a mandatory part of the Haitian adoption process. While here we have an interview with an IBESR (Haitian child services) social worker. We had no idea when it would be or how long or what all it entailed. Everyone’s experiences varied greatly – from a full two hour interview to 20 minute brief ones.
Last night at supper we found out our interview would be today at 10am and it would be Mark and I, the social worker and a translator. And Abby. Because two year olds love nothing more than sitting through official meetings.
We started to worry. Not about the interview – we knew just to answer honestly and from the heart. Can’t really prepare for that anyways as the questions are unknown. But we started to worry about how Abby would behave.
You see yesterday was a wild child day. Abby’s best friend Ruth’s parents arrived from Italy to pick her up. They brought Ruth back for the day to play and play they did! Abby and Ruth are very similar in size and personality. They went crazy running around and being incredibly hyper. And then Abby just built on that enthusiasm. She is very social and wanted to yell at every person she saw she knew. We went on a walk with friends. Usually Abby likes to be carried on her walks but this time she ran full speed the whole way. She was hilarious and had us laughing but wild.
And then in the afternoon she got really tired. Normally she’d cuddle into us and fall asleep but instead she insisted on going back to her room early and to her nanny. In our heads and rational thinking we know this is fine. Bonding with a nanny is healthy – it shows the child can form a healthy attachment and then it can be transferred over time. And who doesn’t want down time occasionally and to go back to what’s familiar? But the head and the heart don’t always communicate well. My head knew that her wanting to go to her room early was all good but my emotions took a hit. Seeing her want to leave us was hard. We realize we’ve had an exceptional experience in that she’s come running to us every day calling for momma and papa. She has wanted to be with us as much as she can each day. This is unusual and not what we were anticipating. So we tried to remind ourselves of all this.
So now we leave Abby after this hard farewell and an extremely hyper day and find out we have to have her in with us at the interview the next day.
I sent out a message to some friends and family asking them to pray for the interview. Pray that Abby would behave and the interview would go okay.
This morning when we walked down to the orphanage I felt heavy. Usually there’s a bounce in my step and I’m trying to get there as fast as I can to see my girl. Today I felt heavy. Worry is an ugly thing.
We are allowed to get Abby after 8:30. So we got her ready for the day and tried to keep her calm as 10am approached.
10am came and went.
We kept her awake through the morning as we waited. We held off on snacks so we could save them for the meeting.
Noon comes. We eat lunch and clean up and continue to wait. We can’t go for a walk in case they come. We don’t want to go upstairs to the third floor balcony where we usually play as we’d have to walk right by Abby’s room and she might want to go in to sleep as she’s exhausted. So we stay in the dining room/living room area of the home and wait.
And Abby goes into full wild child mode. She’s hilarious – making everyone laugh but she’s out of control hyper. And she’s missed her afternoon nap too.
3pm. Five hours late. Or I should say right on time for a Haitian.
Abby has now missed two naps, most of her snacks, no walk and is going crazy. This is not looking good.
But remember how I asked people to pray? God heard.
We sat down for the interview and Abby seemed to sense it was time to calm down. She sat on our knees and quietly ate her snack. She smiled and greeted the interviewer. She shared her snack with the translator. She snuggled in and was so incredibly good.
I was surprised to look at the clock when we were done and realized an hour had passed. An hour had passed with a two year old with no naps who was beyond tired. An hour had passed quickly and without issue.
The interview itself went really well. The social worker was young and actually spoke great English. His questions were all very logical and what I would expect to be asked for this situation. I’ve heard of some really inappropriate questioning and harsh situations. The social worker was friendly and you could tell genuinely had the best interest of the child in mind.
When we walked out I felt giddy. It was done. Abby had been so good. And again I ask myself – why am I always surprised when prayers are answered?
We finally took the walk Abby had wanted to all day and I think she too felt an excitement and freedom! Four more days to love on this wee girl before we start the agonizing wait to bring her home forever. Glad to have this interview over so we can all relax and enjoy our time.