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!

1 comment:

  1. Nikki,
    Thanks for posting this. It is so true! Some day my son will know how very much his first mommy loved him. It takes a lot of strength and courage to make the choice to give up your child so that they can have a shot at a better life. I will never ever take that for granted!
    Hope to see you soon!