Friday, April 29, 2011

Marck H. Finley

A month ago I met an amzing little boy who I instantly fell in love with!  I mean check out his hair below, is that not the most precious thing you have ever seen?  I LOVE the Fro!

After a Doctor encouraged his Mom to quit breastfeeding and she came to us in search of formula for him.  Marck was a tiny 6 lbs 6.2 oz baby even though he was 3 months old. Being that malnourished and based on other parts of his story, Marck was a perfect candidate for our formula program.

He and his Mom came yesterday to trade in their empty can for some more formula.  This is the third time I have seen them.  At first, I'll admit, I was a little upset because formula program day is Tuesday, and this is the second time she has come on the wrong day.  Turns out God had a reason for them to come two days late that I was yet aware of.

Yesterday started out like any normal formula program rendezvous, we weighed the baby and documented his weight.  After a month he has only gained a few ounces (up from 6# 6.2 oz to 6# 14.2 oz).  I began talking with Mom to try and figure out how much he's drinking and see if there is a reason why he's so small for his age.  She informed me that she feeds him every 3 hours around the clock, but he just doesn't take much.  I asked her to make a bottle in front of me and give it to him so that I could be sure that she was making it correctly and she if he has a good suck.  She made the bottle perfectly, but as soon as she gave it to him, he started choking.  Just what we were thinking, the nipple was probably too big, so we switched to a premature nipple because his mouth is so tiny.  This still didn't help and he continued to choke.

Tori, our nurse who helps with the medical part of the formula program, instantly knew something was wrong.  The Mom told Tori that he was sick.  Tori listened to his lungs and right away thought that he might have pneumonia.  She gave him a breathing treatment, but things quickly got worse.  I ran outside and called in Amy, our other nurse.

The next several hours are kind of a blur as we all worked on this tiny little guy for what seemed like forever.  By the end of it, he was connected to two oxygen machines, had an IV in his scalp for fluids, a heart rate/oxygen monitor connected to his foot, the occasional breathing treatment, and constant sectioning to remove the secretions coming out of his mouth.  We also drew some blood and gave him a shot of steroids.  Needless to say, he did not enjoy the torture treatment.

To be honest, we weren't sure if this little guy was going to make it.  His oxygen levels should have been about 95, and his were averaging in the low 70's, some times even dropping below that.  His heart rate was all over the place.  He was weak and refusing to drink.

But through it all I was reminded of a few things.

1. Haitian women are stronger than anyone I've ever met.  If this was all happening to Eventz, I would have been an absolute mess.  I would not have been any help and definitely would not have been calm.  Eventz has been on his death bed before and even though at the time I was not yet his Mother, I was bawling.

This Mom however was so strong and calm.  She sat there the entire time, her little boy in her arms, holding his tiny little hands, singing to him to try and keep him calm, and praying over him.  It has been about 26 hours since all this started, and she has not yet stopped singing.  She knew she had to be strong for her baby, to fight for his life, and she did.  There were a few moments where she would turn her head to the side for a few seconds, sniff back a tear, and return to singing.  I was amazed by this lady.

2. Amy and Tori are AMAZING!  They are both right out of nursing school and are doing work that they should have gone to many, many, more years of school before doing.  I have seen them in life and death situations many times, and they are so calm, work so well together, and some how, even though they aren't trained in these areas, know exactly what to do.

3. COTP is overwhelmingly blessed.  We have so much technology and medicine here that has been donated.  If we didn't have most of this, Mr. Marck H. Finley probably would not be here with us today.

4. My respect for our nannies has grown immensely.  None of them know this family, but over the past two days, many of them have come in to offer a word of encouragement to them.  One nanny came in this morning and said "God knows.  God gave you this child as a gift. He knows." Other nannies have brought food in for them to ensure that they eat or will sit and say a quick prayer with them.  When I've told nannies that there is a sick kid here from the community, the first thing they do is bow their heads and pray and then through out the day, ask how he is doing.  They love babies so much and truly want to help out those who are sick.

5. God is Good!  Until just a few weeks ago, I used to do the formula program by myself.  Now however Tori is always available to do a consult with them if the child is sick.  Had she not have been there, I would have assumed that Marck just had a normal cold and sent him home.  Who knows if he would have made it.  Plus, this little guy needed TWO oxygen machines because he was having such a hard time breathing.  We only just recently had our second machine donated.  Everything worked out exactly in God's time.  He had Marck come to get his formula two days late, knowing that he would need intervention that day.  He made sure that both Amy and Tori were here to work on him.  He provided us with someone who could watch Eventz so I could stay in there with him.  And most importantly, he watched over Marck when he was so unstable.

Last night we invited Marck and his family to spend the night at COTP.  Ideally we would have taken him to the hospital as soon as we started noticing he might have health problems, but he wasn't even stable enough to make it there.  Marck slept upstairs with the girls to get monitored all night and the Mom slept down stairs in one of our special needs rooms which is open at the moment; which is another God thing because we are in the process of moving some kids into that room and had we have done that yesterday, then his Mom wouldn't have been able to stay here.

Marcks stats are much better today.  His heart rate is normal and his oxygen has been in the high 80's.  We think that he might have a heart condition.  There is a team coming down to the local hospital in a few weeks and we will be able to get an ECHO done for him to know for sure.  Marck has been connected to an IV, but is retaining all the water and isn't peeing.  Amy gave him some medicine to try and help with this.

Again we wanted to take him to the hospital this morning.  We disconnected him from the oxygen machine so we could rush him there, but his stats dropped almost instantly.  He just can't breath enough on his own and we don't have a portable oxygen machine.  We think he could possibly be having either heart or kidney failure but don't know for sure.  This would explain why he is so dang little even though his Mother is trying to feed him.

Marck's Mom and Dad have been by his side all day.  His Dad told us today that he's tired because he missed his son and wife last night and didn't like sleeping by himself. Marck's Mom is still singing.  Her voice is starting to get horse, but she keeps on going.  We have to force her to eat because she doesn't want to take her attention off her baby for a second.  Marck loves his Mother dearly.  I held him for about a minute so she could eat, and he cried the entire time.  As soon as I gave him back he was perfectly content!  His Grandma is here now as well and is also very attentive to her grandson.  Her presence seems to ease Marck Mom's tension that she has been having.  Marck has been resting for a while but is still very weak.

There is a visiting pediatrician at the Milot hospital right now and Nick just left to pick her up so she can look at Mr. Marck H. Finley.  Hopefully she will be able to offer some good advice on what we can do to help this little man!

He's adorable and in need of prayers.  Please pray for this family and for Marck.

For a more Medical perspective on this read Tori's Blog.

They're Here!!

After three long days of waiting, Nick finally called me and said that the container which held our solar panels had arrived and to send the yard guys in with the truck to pick them up!  Each day Nick would return home and say with confidence, "They're coming tomorrow, for sure this time."  As you all know, TIH and so nothing is ever for sure!  The fact that it only took three days is actually kind of a miracle in itself.

We were worried that some of them may be broken but they were all delivered here, carried up two flights of stairs, and are now on our roof in one piece waiting to be installed.  The team of electricians arrive on the 5th of May to install them and we are very excited about this!  The trip has been delayed twice, but it appears that was for the best as our panels just now arrived!

Our yard guys and a few men from the community were all so excited yesterday as they hauled them up to the roof.  They were all smiles the entire time and kept saying "Dousman, Dousman." Slow, Slow.  I think they were all just as scared as Nick was to drop one!

Chef Eventz supervising to ensure they are stacked right!

The Stolberg men excited about the panels!
Thanks to everyone who helped make this project possible! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I know a few posts back, I talked about how sad it was that Easter is all about the Easter Bunny.  But truth be told, there is one Easter Bunny I like, MY EASTER BUNNY!!  Call me a hipricrit, but is he not the cutest thing in the world??

Always willing to share with Mommy and Daddy!

I think he's sneezing, but he may be pooping!  Either way he's cute!

 I just LOVE my little boy!  He's so dang cute!!

Life long Learning

Written by Nick Stolberg
When the question is asked to us by new, and upcoming people moving to Haiti, How do I prepare?  Our answer is simply live your life.  I honestly believe that everything I have learned and experienced so far in life has all played a role in who I am today. 

Nikki and I moved to Haiti to work at an Infant Care Center.  I was to be the Maintenance person, and Nikki was going to work with the kids.  The Directors at that time had committed to 5 years, and there were other people here with lots of experience as well.  We never imagined that we would ever become the Field Directors.  During the time that we waited to move to Children of the Promise, and the first 9 months of our time here, God called all but one of the other staff here to other areas. 

After 9 months of living and serving at Children of the Promise in Haiti Nikki and I found ourselves as the Field Directors of COTP.  The responsibilities are too many to name, and the work is too much to fathom.  The potential is as great as the God we serve.  The miraculous change that we are able to witness daily is constantly humbling. 

I find myself flying from day to day, hoping to make it though, without too many problems, and a small amount of progress.  I spend a significant amount of time communicating with everyone, but yet can never communicate enough.  In my first month of being a director I have A LOT more failures to report than successes.  I find it much easier to learn doing things the wrong way than the right way. 

My day is spent on a computer or in a truck rather than holding a baby.  Spending two hours standing in line at the bank, waiting in traffic for what can seem like forever, waiting at the airport for the never on time flights, or the amazingly slow customs agents is what fills up my time.  My jobs here are so unique, challenging, and occasionally so seemingly unimportant. 

One of the neatest parts of our work in Haiti is the ability to meet so many amazing people.  COTP continues to not only grow, but THRIVE because of its solid reputation for only accepting the highest of standards.  We have become an oasis in rural Lagossette because of the blessings that continue to be poured on us.  COTP as an organization has been able to continue poring the blessings onto Haiti as well.  There are lots of different types of houses in Lagossette and the surrounding villages, ranging from bamboo hut, to concrete with doors.  Right now there are 6 concrete houses being built buy our employees in Lagossette alone.  COTP has been an amazing place for hundreds of babies over the last 11 years, but it has been an absolutely unforgettable blessing to thousands of Haitians, as the money that our employees earn, though good and hard work is put into the economy in our village and surrounding areas.

Seeing the changes in the babies, and the lives of our employees is where we are able to find our strength to live here and make it through the day.  Thank you to everyone who has been with us since the beginning of our journey to Haiti.  11 months ago I quite my Job, we put everything we own into boxes and Moved to Haiti.  This has been the hardest and best year of my life.  I miss family so much, I miss going to church, and the fellowship of friends.  I miss leaving work on Friday at 4, and not having to even think about it until Monday morning.  I miss not having any responsibilities.  At the same time, as I look ahead to the next year I am so excited about the challenges that we will face and the work that lies ahead, because I know that we are walking hand in hand with God.  I know that this is where God has called my wife and I to live.  There will be very hard long days, but there will also be an abundance of Joy as we are able to fulfill Gods promise of care to the infants of Haiti.  I am honored that God has chosen us to fill the position as field directors, and I will strive to do my best for Him every day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

No Easter Bunny

Earlier this week I googled "Easter Crafts" so that I could find something to do with our kids.  I am not creative at all and always google things to find ideas for craft time at preschool.  Anyways I kept scrolling down and noticed something that kind of made me sad.  On the entire page of Google, which is huge, all I saw for Easter Crafts were easter bunnies, eggs, and chickens.  There was not one cross, tomb, or religious symbol on there at all.  I had to specify that I wanted a religious craft, and even then, there was more bunnies and eggs then their were religious stuff.

What has this holiday become?

It's the exact opposite here.  Nobodies heard of bunnies, but they celebrate the death and resurection of Christ instead.  On good Friday we were driving into town and saw a whole procession of people walking down the street dressed in all white (or at least white shirts).  There were at least 2000 people all walking together in a line.  At the front was a man carrying a cross.  Along the way several people had set up little booths in front of their home made of white sheets and plastic flowers where people could take communion.  There was often a picture of Jesus in these little areas.  Palm branches lined the street and were often put all over walls.  It was really cool to see the difference compaired to what we see in the States.  

Going down the Easter Aisle in the States would be over whelmed with candy, baskets, dying kits, etc.  It makes me kind of sad to see how far this has come.

Today we went to a sunrise church service with a bunch of other missionaries from the area.  We had to get up at 4:30 to be there on time.  Afterwards we enjoyed a breakfast potluck.  Eventz looked sharp in his little suit!  He looked all grown up and adorable.  This afternoon we will be having a turkey and a few of the fixings here.

Happy Easter,
Bon Fet Pak!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Visiting Family

Today was a great day.  Nick, Rikerns, Eventz, and I went to Dondon, which is about an hour away, to visit Eventz family.  We have been wanting to do this for a while and this is the first time it worked out.  I was kind of nervous because I didn't know if it would be awkward at all, but it went really well and I am SO glad we went.  The whole thing really touched me and on the drive back I was fighting back tears for a while.
The drive there was very beautiful.  Dondon is at the opposite side of the mountain that houses the Citadel and it was really cool to see this from the backside.  Dondon is way greener than where we live and a little more Jungle like.  The mountains were straight cliffs, covered in Palm and Banana trees.  Up on the mountain was a sign that says Dondon similar to the Hollywood sign, but much smaller.  I got the sense that people from Dondon have a lot of pride in where they live.
When we arrived their, everyone was so excited to see us, or I should say excited to see Eventz.  People swarmed us instantly, saying his name, and taking him from our arms instantly.  They kept kissing him, pinching his cheeks (Haitians always pinch kid’s cheeks, it’s not just grandmas!), and passing him from one person to another.  For the most part he did pretty good with this, which amazed me cause he normally doesn’t like anyone except for Nick and I to hold him.

Eventz Mom and Sister were gone today which made me kind of sad because I really like visiting with his Mom and I haven’t seen his sister for a long time.  But his Dad, Brother, and whole extended family were there.  They kept asking him if he remembered them and remembered living there.  They told him over and over how excited they were to see him.
Whole Family
Visiting this family today made me realize how much I don’t know about Eventz story.  I wasn’t apart of the first 5 1/2 months of his life and I feel like I missed out on so much because of it.  I know I am fortunate to have only missed such a little bit, most adoptive parents miss so much more, but it's still hard not knowing things about your child, like how much they weighed, what time of day they were born, or even if the day you are celebrating is in fact their correct birthday.  As I've said before, Eventz has two birthdays according to his paperwork and two spellings of his name.  This has already caused problems with his adoption because we realized recently that the paper his parents signed to give him up for adoption has the other birthday on it, so now they have to redo it.
Eventz and his Aunt
There are so many things that I have never thought to even ask his parents about before.   I learned today that Eventz has 6 aunts (I didn’t ask about uncles) and no living grandparents.  There was a lady there that they referred to as his Grandma, but I don’t think she is blood related.

Eventz and his "Grandma"
I asked one of the aunts that I met about Eventz twin.  She told me that the twin never had a name.  When I asked how old he was when he passed away she said she thought 6 months, but I know thats not correct because Eventz came here at 5 1/2 months old.  I want to know so much more about this so I can tell Eventz when he is older, but I hate to keep bringing it up.
Eventz with his Aunt Roseline, Brother Kevins (who he's touching), and his cousins (Roselines children).  Roseline looks just like Eventz Mom in this picture.
I liked seeing their house because I assume that is where Eventz was born and it gave me a better glimpse into his story before coming to COTP.  It's just a stick and mud hut, but it was fairly big compared to others I have seen.  They didn't invite us in, so I didn't see the inside except through the door/curtain.  It didn't appear to have too much in it, but again was in better condition than many I have been in.

We also spent some time visiting with another one of our kids biological dad.  I really like this man and think that he is the greatest.  He is so sweet, gentle, and clearly thinks the world of his son.  The first thing he asked when he saw us was if his son came with us and how he was doing.  He loves him so much.
He showed us his house and then took us to the church that both he and Eventz family attend.  It is beautiful and huge.  They said that it houses 1800 people.  Thats a ton of people.  I've never seen such a nice church here.  He also showed me where they do baptisms, which I knew was an important spot for him.  He had his son baptized there and still always carries a picture of him on that day around with him. I would assume it’s the only picture he has of him and treasures it dearly.

Looking down half of the church from the Pulpit
After a tour of the town, Eventz Dad bought us lunch, two bundles of miniature bananas and giant thing of Haitian bread with Peanut Butter.  One thing that I had to get used to here is accepting gifts from people.  Its hard when you know they don’t have extra money, but they do it because they really want to and it would be rude to refuse.  We thanked him for the gift and shared it with everyone.  Eventz ate about 2 of the mini bananas on his own, and then we headed for home.
As I was walking towards the house, I saw a mom and toddler sitting under the tree.  I wondered if it was Wadney, a little boy who used to live here.  I wrote about Wadney here because he was head over heals in love with Nick and his little shadow for the six weeks he lived here.  I had just said last week that I hoped he would come to visit because I was missing him, and then here he was under the mango tree.
I told his Mom we just got back from Dondon and she got all excited.  I didn’t know this, but apparently they are from there too.  She asked when we were going back and I said not for a while but promised we would visit when we did.  She asked if I would call her and let her know, and then gave me her phone number to make sure!
Wadney has a special place in both of our hearts and we will always love him.  His Mom cut his hair and he doesn’t look like the same kid anymore!  Nick and I both loved his hair, but look how handsome he looks now!

Wadney and his Mom
He wouldn't let me take a picture up close so I had to do it from a distance.  He is doing really well in her care and looks great!
Tori Holding Julia

Yesterday we went to check on another family we know who just had tiny boy girl twins.  We took a scale and weighed them, each were 4 lbs at 27 days old.  They were tiny, but they looked good!  Tori listened to their heart and we watched them breast feed to ensure that they were sucking well, which they were.  We were really glad to see how well they were doing.  Had they have been born in the States, they would be in a NICU, but here, they are at home, which is a crowded tiny shack.  It's amazing to see how attentive the Mother is and how well she was doing on her own.  She didn't need anything from us, she was doing it by herself.  We will go back in a few days to make sure that they are gaining weight, but besides for that, our help isn't needed.  It's great to not be needed!

Me holding Julio

Their names are Julio and Julia, you can't get much cuter than that!  The babies were adorable and had the softest skin and hair.  Tori and I both fell in love with them.

I can't explain how grateful I am to be able to have these experiences.  When Eventz is older I am going to be able to tell him so much about his family and where he is from.  I feel that this will be such an important element for Eventz and will even help him bond more with us.  Eventz will always know how much they all love him and will hopefully have a good relationship with them as long as we live here.  I couldn't imagine not having a relationship with them.  I think about so many adoptive parents who will never have this and for the children who so desperately want to know where they came from and what their story is.  Knowing Eventz parents is truly a gift from God!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eyes as Empty as their tummy...

Our new nurse Tori wrote this blog post yesterday, and I think it fit so well that I am reposting it here.  It's hard to describe the transformation that takes place in the children that we see.  Often they come in so close to death that it's scary.  And it doesn't take long, but a few days later they are a completely different child.  It's such a miracle to see!

Skin and bones. Lethargy. An inability to play, smile, or feel confident in their surroundings. Clinging to the little life they barely have left…. Too weak to learn, or even cry. Too feeble to stand or crawl. Starvation is an evil that plagues many countries- it quietly kills, it can wipe out families, it sneaks its way into innocent bellies.

In the recent days, we have admitted quite a few babies who were suffering from exactly this. I never really understood just how much it affects lives until I saw it first-hand lately. Starvation lowers a person’s ability to fight off disease, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea that are quick to spiral to a deathly state. But even if it doesn’t get that far, it still destroys energy and spirit. In the short time that I’ve lived in Haiti, this is the pattern I’ve seen with malnutrition….

A child comes in at a weight far below their peers their same age: 10 lbs at almost 2 years old, 6 lbs at 5 months, etc. Keep in mind that a newborn baby can weigh 10 lbs! So essentially these babies are either seriously behind in terms of growth or have gone backwards since birth. The five month old baby who came in cannot even hold her head up without support, so she is about at the developmental level of a newborn. Malnourished children come in and you can see every single rib. When you hold them, you feel nothing but bone. They often have an empty look in their eyes. Generally, they don’t smile like a normal child would. What is actually worse is that they often don’t even have the strength to cry in response to normal triggers. Today I changed a 20 month old girl who could fit into diapers that would be even too small for some newborns. One boy who we admitted recently was so sick from malnutrition that his sodium level was off and he trembled all the time and his eyes would roll back in his head. If you put toys in front a child who is severely malnourished, they just sit there completely disconnected from a childhood sense of wonder. They have no desire to invest energy they just don’t have in activities beyond surviving. They can’t learn to develop normally because they don’t have the strength- the strength to hold their head up; the strength to stand, crawl or walk.

Thankfully there’s a second part to these stories… because, you see, God created this amazing thing called food. Calories, fat, protein, carbs… you need those to survive. Simple truth, but honestly it is interesting to watch lives transformed by even just one day of food. Once admitted, they get to wear adorable clothes and have consistent bottles of milk and meals. They get to be cuddled in loving arms and sleep on soft mattresses. They slowly find the liveliness to lift their cheeks into a smile. Their fragile legs shake as they stand for the first time. As days go by, children come alive! We admitted one boy who was 2 years old and only 14 lbs- he could only sit at that time. Just a short time later, we found him smiling as he would start to explore the world around him- crawling!!! Weeks later, he actually pulled himself up to stand by a bench! His skinny legs barely host the muscle to do this, but he’s getting there with each day of nutrition. After they start getting treatment, the diarrhea ceases as their immune system comes alive again.

Just today I felt a moment of what it felt like to be in state of “hunger”- I was dizzy and couldn’t concentrate. I struggled to respond to things quickly and I felt awful. I didn’t want to walk, smile, or do anything really. I realized how much worse it must be for people suffering from actual starvation. No wonder they cannot learn or find work- without food, you literally can’t function. There is something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs- and without food, water, and safety, you can’t function higher than just surviving. It is interesting to think in a country where we know that work and education could change their lives, but without first having the food to provide the energy to learn or work, it is impossible for them to do this. But it is a tough cycle because without work or education, what means do they have to obtain food?

An interesting thing I have also seen again and again here is when there are twins, one is generally very malnourished and the other is relatively healthy. It makes me wonder why this is so. Is it perhaps because the parents understand that they only have so much, so one might as well get most of the food instead of them both being equally sick and malnourished. But can you imagine being the twin neglected? Can you imagine the horrifying reality that your life was not valued as highly as another’s? It gives whole new meaning to the phrase “life isn’t fair”.

I don’t think I could ever sufficiently describe the dark extent that starvation exists in Haiti. More importantly, I can’t fully describe the transformation of a life so far gone into a life so full of hope. It never ceases to amaze me when I see skinny, weak babies become strong, healthy chunksters!  Take Udashka for example--- she first came to us as a 6 pound baby at 4 months old. She was covered in scabies and sores and only skin and bone! Just a short 2 months later, she has gained over 4 lbs and looks like a normal, healthy baby!

She smiles all the time and full of life. Her skin is clearing up beautifully and she has a momma who loves her dearly. If you haven’t learned this by now, Udashka is one of my favorite babies in the world! This past time I saw her, I gave her a little teddy bear. She grasped it in her tiny hands and smile, which made my heart about explode. I told her mom that she needs to tell Udashka when she’s older that the teddy bear is from a girl who once gave her milk and loved her very, very much when she was just a tiny baby! Once Udashka “graduates” from our formula program, I probably won’t see her ever again. I only hope that her momma never lets her forget how precious she was when she was just a little thing.

Udashka is an example of hope for Haiti. So many people love and seek to help those in need, and she is a success story of untold generosity. It makes me so happy to see that resources do exist when there is no where left to turn. Starvation can be triumphed, just like every other evil in this world will be someday! It reminds me an incredible song that goes like this….
There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Haitian Thoughts

I have sort of self appointed myself the Port au Prince person, which means any time one of our kids needs to go to Port I go with them.  It's really a boring job and the only real responsibility is to hold a baby/child, changing lots of diapers, making sure the child eats/drinks, and paying for all expenses.  I have been on three of these trips so far, each involved a 20 minutes meeting that took a total of about 12 hours.  The problem is that all adoption offices are in Port, so any time we have to fill out basic paper work, we have to fly there, sit around for hours upon hours, and then fly home.

My last trip was a bio parent interview.   On this trip there were several instances that really broke my heart.

The first one was as we were checking in at the Cap airport.  There were three people behind the counter, and they asked the biological father what his birthday was.  I instantly knew this was going to be a problem because I have asked him this same question before and remembered that he doesn't know.  He knows the month and year, but doesn't know the exact date.  He told them what he knew, but hesitated when they asked him to be more specific.  As he waited, they all began to laugh AT him, shacking their heads and mumbling under their breaths.

The guy doesn't know his birthday, big deal, a lot of Haitians don't.  In fact Eventz has TWO birthdays and two spellings of his name.  Records aren't always kept here and it's very easy to make mistakes.  The people behind the counter were so rude to him that it made me want to punch them.  I know, I'm supposed to be a missionary and all holy and what not, but I'll let you in on a secret, I have the same thoughts as everyone else!  I'm not holy at all.  These three people were educated, they could read, write, and they know their birthdays, but that gives them absolutely no right to make fun of people who don't know when they were born.  Honestly, theres a good chance whatever's on his birth certificate is made up anyways.  And he is very smart.  I was blown away by how much english he knew.  I don't think the reason he doens't know his birthday has anything to do with education, but more just because he probably has never really celebrated it.

Later that day we were driving past several tent cities, and I sat next to this couple silently listening to what they were saying about them.  They have obviously heard about how people are living down there, but have never seen them face to face.  They were shocked at how horrific the conditions were and kept saying how bad it was and how sad they were for these people.  After awhile I finally joined the conversation and listened as she explained to me how bad it was for pregnant women to be living in these situations.  How it wasn't good for the baby and that she was sad for them.

This blew me away.  Here she is worrying about others, when she is six months pregnant and not even showing.  SIX MONTHS and NO belly.  She's tiny, obviously not having a healthy pregnancy, and she's worried about someone else who she doesn't even know.  Thankful that her situation isn't that bad. I can guarantee you that her situation isn't great, probably not even good.  But comparably, she is thankful.  What does that say for me who has so much more than this lady, who is thankful that she has so much more than her fellow Haitians.  She likely lives in a shack, struggling to take care of her children, forced to give one up for adoption, not because she doesn't love her (trust me she does) but because she TRULY has no other options.  And now she's pregnant again, in love with this new child, trying to do the best she can for him/her, and doesn't even have enough food to have a healthy pregnancy.

The third thing that broke my heart was getting to know this couple.  I don't spend much any time with biological families.  Occasionally when they come I will hand them their babies and then walk away, but thats it.  I never sit and talk to them or get to know them.  It's not my job and I don't have enough confidence in my Creole to try and start up a conversation.  But sitting next to one of these families for 12 hours forces me to quit being shy and talk to them.  It forces me to see whats right in front of me and what should be obvious.  But it's something that I, as I'm sure many, often forget.

The families we work with ARE NOT giving their children up because they don't love them, or because they don't want them.  They're giving them up because they have no other choice.  Because it is truly in the child's best interest to go somewhere else.  Because if they don't give up their child, there's a chance they may die, and their parents know that.

As I watched the way this couple interacted with their child and with each other, I saw many similarities to Nick and I.  They play around, make fun of each other, and laugh.  I have often seen this couple bicker at COTP, but truthfully they love each other and deeply care about one another.  And both fully love their baby.  The entire day they completely doted on her, hugging and kissing her.  Making sure I gave her enough food and bottles.  Wiping her face when she was done eating and ensuring that her dress was staying down.  They talked to her, encouraged her, sang with her, and acted like a normal family.

I can't imagine how hard that day was for them.  At this appointment, officially signing over their child for the final time, spending the day with her almost forgetting that this wasn't normal; but at the end of the day, she stayed with me and they went home.  Back to reality.  Back with out their little girl knowing that shortly they won't be able to come visit her any more.  That she will be living in a forign country, and they won't ever be able to give her hugs and kisses.  They will never be able to refer to themselves as Mommy and Papi any more because she will have a new Mommy and Papi.  They know it's best for her and are extremely excited, but also very sad.

Another biological Dad was here recently and when I showed him pictures of his son's new parents, he was on the verge of crying.  He was glad to know his son will have a good home, but sad that it won't be with him.  It broke my heart.

I've been really fortunate to spend time with Eventz biological Mom recently as well and have seen yet again how much she loves her little boy.  I try to give her updated pictures of him as often as I can.  Last time she was here she showed one of our long term staff the photo album I gave her and was so proud to show these pictures.  She's an amazing women that I really want to get to know better.  She is three months pregnant and already showing a lot.  When she came she was wearing a yellow sun dress which emphasized her pregnant belly.  I loved seeing this and realizing that that is what she looked like when she was pregnant with my son.

While she was here, I also found out that Eventz was a twin but his brother died.  This information was really hard for me to take in.  I can't imagine if there were two of my son's.  If I had two Eventz, it would be the best world ever!  I would love to have two of him!  But it makes me really sad to know this.  I keep thinking that had anyone else adopted Eventz they probably would never have found out this information because she didn't disclose this when we did a family history at admit.  Eventz never would have know about his brother.  I still don't know what his name was or how old he was when he died, but I'm going to ask next time I see her.  I keep thinking about what would have happened if the twin didn't die, or what if Eventz died instead.  It also makes me so much more thankful that he is doing as well as he is and that he didn't pass away when he was in the hospital a few months ago.

I kind of think his Mom is pregnant with twins again since she has such a large belly so early in her pregnancy which isn't common for Haitian pregnancies.  Please pray that she has a healthy pregnancy and that things go well for their family.

Life here is hard.  Every day we are faced with life and death, poverty, and hard ships.  It's a lot to take in at some points, but all worth it!  I'm so thankful to have had this time to bond with these biological parents and to get to know them better!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

March Formals

Hey All,

I have uploaded March's Formal Pictures of all of our BEAUTIFUL children!  I'm very happy with how they turned out this month and excited to share them all with you!  Take a look at the picture blog to see how much our children are growing and changing each day!  I love these kids and am SO thankful to be spending these special moments with them.  Please email if you need the password to view the photos!

Also, we at COTP could use your prayers right now.  There has been a pretty bad bug going around here recently and several of our children have been sick with diarrhea and vomiting.  We have had to start several children on IV's because they are so dehydrated.  This morning we lost one of our sweet babies, a four month old little girl named Marie.  She literally died in my arms.  Please pray that all of our sick kids (including Eventz) get over this soon and that no one else becomes sick.  Please pray for Maries family and for the volunteers and Nannies who have fallen in love with her.