Saturday, May 24, 2008

HAITI: Part 1...

Okay, I have been home 11 days now, and this is the first night Jonas has actually went
down to bed about the same time as the other kids. Nights have been more difficult, but I
will get to that later...

My friend Mia and I left from Indy friday evening, to Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately,
we did not have enough time there, or Laurie Watson, another adoptive mom from GLA,
was going to come and meet us there and hang out for a while. That would have been so much fun!!!!!!
From there we flew into Miami, and got in around 12am.

I was so nervous all day, and did not eat much.
I was excited, apprehensive, scared; as to what I was getting our family into???? So many
thoughts, and too much time to think about them, before we flew out for Haiti the next
morning. Once we got to MIami, we found a spot in the airport, and slept for the night.
This was a first for me, and not one that I would like to do often. We knew we had to back
at the airport around 5 am, so it did not make much sense to us to spend the money on a
hotel. I probably got about 3 hours of sleep. I had my pillow with me and a down blanket,
so it was not too bad. So, we get up Saturday morning, kinda freshen up; brush our teeth, hair, etc.,
and then off to find Sheryl, (She was going to GLA to pick up her daughter, Rebecca), and her friend Lisa.

The one thing I hate about airports now, is having to do the detailed security check at
every turn. We packed all of our things in our carry-ons, so we always had to take out
baggies of liquids, etc. I do appreciate the security, it is just a pain sometimes.

We get to our gate and Sheryl's friend recognizes us pretty easily. I guess two women with
bags, and an empty stroller are easy to spot! :-) We got to sit and chat for a while, and
then it was off on our last leg. I was really feeling nervous!!!!!!! We got into Haiti at the
scheduled time, and it was so good to step out on Haitian soil! It had been 9 years since I
had been back.

The airport has improved A LOT since last time. Immigration is air
conditioned now, and the baggage claim area is a lot bigger and more organized!!!!!! We
did not even get our luggage rummaged through.

When we got outside, it was a little confusing as who to go with, even though I speak
some Creole. There was the one guy with our names, but we did not know that he had a
helper too. EVERYONE will help you, but then you have to tip EVERYONE too. So, we got to
the trucks and loaded up and headed up to GLA. The sights and sounds were so good to
see and smell!!!!!! It never changes. I was even amazed that I knew where we were at
some of the times. Where I grew up was up the coast, so we never drove a lot in Port,
except on the weekends.

We got to GLA, and it was all pretty sureal!!!!!! I went into the living room, and Jonas was
given to me, by Dixie, I think??? That is so bad, I can't remember. All I know, is that it was
SO GOOD, to finally be holding this precious boy that I have carried in my heart for 9
months!!!!!!  All of my fears and reservations were gone the moment I held him!
It was almost like holding my children after delivery, except he was 27 lbs. :-)
The hardest thing, is that you have prepared yourself, and you know that this is the best
thing for them, and you know that you will love them unconditionally: But, they don't
know you from any other stranger! Especially the younger children, like Jonas. His visual
impairment adds a whole other element too!

After a while, I could tell that he was tired, hot and restless. I felt like I had to ask
permission to do things with him. GLA did not make me feel this way at all! It was the
whole thing of arriving, and here is your child, and now they are YOURS... It almost felt
like there should have been one final gauntlet to get through the doors, for him to be
officially "mine". I also felt like I needed a manual of how he liked things done. He has 28
months of history, that I have not been a part of. I think of Luca, who is 22 months, and
he definitely has some routines that we do before nap, and bedtime, etc. So, I am sure
that I was frustrating to Jonas those first few days, because I was doing things my ways,
with his cues, but definitely not the way it had been done before! He HATED me rocking
him to sleep the first couple days!!!!!!!!!! I could tell everyday that he would be more
relaxed in my arms, and there was less frustration on his part! The staff was very leery
about how he was going to do with all of these new changes, and they were pleasantly
surprised at how well he adapted!

After I got him down for his nap, I went to help with unloading the donations. It was
already done, and it was fun to see the staff sorting things. It has to feel like Christmas to
them! Between Sheryl and my luggage, the dining room table was covered. I love to give,
and that was one of the highlights of the trip for me, just getting to see them go through

After naps, we headed up to the Baptist Mission for some lunch and souveniers. Lea and
Anna took us up, and I was able to get all the vanilla that I thought I needed. I should
have bought more, as most of it is already given away! For anyone going, I think it is the
best buy! 17 oz. of pure Haitian vanilla for $2.40 american. It used to be $1.00, but it is
still a bargain!!!!!!!! You will not find a better, more pure vanilla, than this! I have tried
many, and still Haiti's is better!

The rest of the day went well, and I loved eating all of Haitian food!!!! The cooks at GLA
are fabulous!!!!!!!! Jonas would still only take a bottle from me. This must have been one
area for him to control. In our 4 days there, the only solid food he ate from me, was a
bowl of hot cereal, one banana, and some mango. He would take a bite or two of other
things, but would not eat like he had been. So, we went through a lot of formula!

Sunday, we went to a house church about 10 minutes or so up the mountain. It was
awesome! It was also Mother's Day, which made it even more special! The family who has
the house church have been Missionaries in Haiti for a long time, and the husband runs a
christian radio/TV station that broadcasts to other Islands in the caribbean with Haitian
populations. That might not be totally accurate in all that he does, but pretty close???

After church and lunch, Mia, Sheryl, myself, and some of the other staff went to the
balcony to play with some kids. It was so much fun going into the nursery and seeing
some of your children and taking them up to the balcony to play with!!!!! Some I didn't
know, but it was still just as fun! The kids have so much fun playing in the rubbermaid
tubs filled with water! They could have done it all afternoon!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We played up there
until dinner, and then at night, I would always go up to the nursery after Jonas was asleep
to just look at the kids sleeping, or just love on and hold the ones that were still up. It is
amazing how many babies/toddlers that fit on my lap!!!!!! :-) I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF

Well, that is enough for now. I will finish up the rest of my trip in the next post, and then I
will let you know what has happened since we have been home.


Gwen said...

Rebekah, I love this post and ALL the beautiful pictures! You sure are a beautiful mommy of 4! Thanks for sharing all the details and pictures, it makes me feel like I'm right there in the midst of it all! I'm looking forward to that day.

Anonymous said...

I love seeing your pictures from Haiti. It makes me want to go and experience Haiti some more! Your boy is adorable and I am so happy you have him home now!