Famous Last Words

Our Adoption Journey to Haiti

Thank You Team Haiti October 25, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 12:17 pm

While Patrick and I have been in Haiti for two weeks, there has been an amazing team of people at home taking care of our lives.

Thank you prayer warriors Colleen, Jenny (and many more) – we have felt God’s protection and grace during this trip.

Thank you (tired) grandparents – you have picked up vomit (both dog and kid), cooked dinner, checked homework, walked our dogs, sorted laundry, read books, packed lunches, tucked in at night, and loved our kids SO WELL.  Noah and Brady will cherish the time they spent with you.

Thank you Katie and Tony for taking our kids, cheering them on at baseball games, and distracting them with crazy fun sleepovers – at times when they really needed it.

Dear friends- Finneys, Orlandos, Vinsons, Stovers, Korsvalls.  Thank you for very early and late airport rides.  Thank you for feeding and hanging with our parents.  Thank you for loving our kids (and sending them surprise packages in the mail…all the way from Ohio). Thank you for the love you’ve shown us while we are here in Haiti.  We couldn’t do life without you.

Thank you supportive bosses and co-workers.  Patrick and I are so fortunate to work for and with encouraging people.

Thank you baseball crew.  We love baseball and play it a lot.  Coaches Dave, Curtis, Brett, James – thank you for the rides and for covering for Patrick these past two weeks.  Carlos, Auna, and Erin – thank you for getting Noah where he needed to be.

We are so grateful for everybody’s help (financially, emotionally, spiritually) in getting us here to meet our son.

We’ve said our goodbyes and are headed to the airport shortly. We can’t wait to see our oldest sons.

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Saying goodbye October 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 11:00 pm

I was holding J in my arms today as he was sleeping. I was thinking about the day this journey began – August 1, 2012…J was only 7 weeks old.  God placed this path, this child, in my heart that day and changed our lives forever.

I’ve had three years to process this journey.  Three years to dream about our child. It has only been 12 days since J’s life was changed forever.

When Patrick and I walked into that orphanage and J was abruptly bathed and changed, he had no idea what was happening.  Then his nannies, the only adults in his life ever, brought him to two white people and told him that these are your parents.

I’d say J was a champion these past two weeks. He navigated this surreal experience with us the best way a 3-year-old possibly could.

So when we told him goodbye today and he bit his lower lip like he does when he is sad or nervous, our hearts just broke.  Here we are J – love us.  Now goodbye J – we’ll be back in some indefinite amount of time.

I know that God’s love is sufficient for J…but it still feels terrible to leave him.  Patrick reminds me that J has been taking care of himself for a long time – he knows what he is doing. But he shouldn’t have to fend for himself…not when he has a mom who loves him.

 

Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 1:10 am

To be completely honest, today was really tough. Probably our most challenging day in Haiti. We knew a group of missionaries were coming to the orphanage today to play with the kids.  I thought that would be fun – there would be something new to entertain J.

We arrived around 10 am and the missionaries were already setting up on the front porch of the orphanage.  We grabbed J and headed upstairs to the balcony for some alone time.  We heard lots of noise downstairs, so he wanted to go check it out so we headed down to the porch.  There must have been 10 adults and 40 little children on a small porch.  I was holding J.  We walked by a woman holding a baby girl – he hit the baby girl on the head??? We could tell he wasn’t quite sure what to do.  His instincts were telling him to push everyone out of the way to get to the balloons and candy.  But we were with him, so he didn’t know what to do.  He pointed upwards, which meant he wanted to go back upstairs to the balcony.  We must have done this 3-4 times.  All of his friends from his room were on the front porch – so he couldn’t play with them in his room.  He was very conflicted.

He directed me to the kitchen.  He is not supposed to be in the kitchen.  But we let him take us there once a day.  Today, that was not enough.  He was pointing me to take him to the kitchen for the second time.  I shook my head “no”.  He started to have a fit.  His fits look like him whining and swinging his legs around while I am holding him.  So I put him down.  He walked away, pouting, into the corner.  He began to slam a door open and shut.  I evoked the name of Kiki (the resident orphanage enforcer), so he stopped slamming the door.  He took his shoes off…just testing me.  The whole time I was standing several feet away from him, giving him some space.  He took his shorts off.  Before he got any further, the nurse came in and yelled at him.  She told him to get his shoes and shorts back on and go upstairs with me.  Both Pat and I were emotionally exhausted from that brief stand-off.  Unfortunately, it happened again about 30 minutes later.  Same issue – the kitchen.  He had already several meals today, so we don’t believe it was hunger-driven. Just control.

The second time around, the older kids were home from school.  We were not going to take him to the kitchen, but one of the older girls scooped him up and took him. He came back to us completely fine after his victorious trip to the kitchen.

We took him back upstairs to the balcony.  This might not sound so bad, but we are running on fumes.  By this time, it is 1pm.  He is clearly tired.  He is being a complete tyrant to all the other kids around us.  Patrick and I are sitting shoulder to shoulder on the floor of the balcony…trying to hold it together.  Patrick did a better job than me.  Finally, around 1:30, I scoop him up and rock him to sleep.  We made a bed for him on the balcony floor.  I was so tired, I passed out beside him on the ceramic tile.

Patrick went downstairs to play with kids while we slept.  I don’t know how he does it.  He always has enough energy to play with the kids.  He has three older boys (ages 10-14) that he adores.

Even with the frustration today, we left the orphanage around 4 with heavy hearts that tomorrow is our last day with J.

 

Adventure October 22, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 11:43 pm

Moise and Francois picked us up at 8:30 this morning.  We had to pick up the social workers from IBESR by 9 am.  When we arrived at IBESR, Moise only found one social worker.  The other one had not arrived yet.  She told us that we had to pick her up at her house in order for us to have enough time to get to the orphanage and do the interview.  So we drove to her house.  She wasn’t there – she was on some street waiting for us.

We finally found her and headed off to the orphanage. At one point, Francois took a shortcut through a village.  We got lost. We arrived around 10:30 – it was a long two-hour car ride.

We picked up J and brought him with us to the interview.  They asked us questions about our intention to adopt; how we plan to raise him; how we will deal with discrimination; etc… The interview last 1.5 hours.  J was bored by it all, so he slept in my arms most of the time.  Patrick, on the other hand, was overcome by emotions and cried through a good deal of the interview.   Don’t worry-I held it together for the family.

When the interview was completed, we decided to join J’s nanny in picking up the kids from school.  We wanted to see where the school was located and what it looked like.  It was about a 20 minute walk – we were dripping with sweat by the time we returned to the orphanage.  J got to ride on Patrick’s shoulders most of the trip, while eating Cheetos.  J was fine, but Patrick was covered in Cheetos powder mixed with sweat.

We played with J for the rest of the afternoon.  He was been engaging in pretend play the last two days.  Yesterday, he put goldfish or fruit snacks in stacking cups while carrying them on a tray and delivered them to everyone on the balcony as if he were a waiter in a restaurant.  Today, he had a can of soup.  He was either acting like a prison warden or a teacher – we couldn’t tell.  But he brought it down to his roommates and made them all sit at a table and say a prayer.  He would then feed them soup one by one from his spoon.  He mostly gave them the carrots, which he did not like ( I am leaning toward prison warden).

We tried to leave around 3:30, but discovered four men gathered around our car.  We had a flat tire and a jack that did not work.  Patrick was dying to help – but they would not let him in to the men’s club.  They finally were able to lift the car with some blocks and wood and get the new tire on the car.  Hope we don’t get a flat tomorrow.

We were famished when we got back to the hotel, so we went to the hotel restaurant.  Have I mentioned that it is a four-star restaurant?  There are business men, couples on dates, groups of women dressed in fancy clothes…and then there is us. We have our shorts, filthy t-shirts, and tennis shoes on every night.  We are too tired and hungry to clean up before dinner.  Fortunately, Patrick is on a first-name basis with most of the wait staff at this point, so they welcome us every time.

 

Mama October 21, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 11:06 pm

Today, J was all mine!  We arrived at the orphanage around 10 am.  We tried to stop at the Supermarket on our way there to buy more pate, but it was closed.  Fortunately, we ran into a man carrying a big box of pate on his head.  We bought 6 pate (for $1) through the car window.  Moise and Francois also buy cell phone minutes and water in plastic bags from the car window.

We played for about an hour.  Then J took a nap on my lap from 11:30 – 1pm. He was very busy from 1pm – 3:30 pm (when we left).  As soon as he woke up from his nap, he wanted to go to the kitchen.  We couldn’t find anything for him.  Someone tracked down his nurse who found some cheese and bread.  Mama Tita – she is a big deal at the orphanage, also gave him some eggs.  He then ran into some Chiritos (Cheetos).  It is no wonder he is the biggest 3-year-old at the orphanage.  He wanted to get on my shoulders during yesterday’s parade – I couldn’t do it.  He was too big.

We had a lot of kids on the balcony with us all afternoon.  Our American friends who are visiting their son brought Twister – the older kids loved it.

twister

While J was a bit rambunctious today, he was always looking for me – always had his arms up for me to hold him.  We had to tell him no several times (like the time he found the metal bat, or was drinking from the wrong sippy cup).  He either pouted for a short period of time or laughed and headed back to commit the crime again (oh boy).  Either way, he is adorable.  So for now, he gets away with everything.

Patrick and I ventured outside the walls of our hotel tonight.  We are tired of our hotel restaurant’s food and frankly can no longer afford it…so we are getting creative.  The hotel driver, Samuel, took us to Muncheez where we ordered our dinner to-go.  This was a big night out for us!

 

Tired October 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 10:48 pm

Our day began at 9 am when Francois and Moise picked us up at our hotel.  Around 9:30, Moise got a call from Junior who works for our orphanage.  He told Moise that the IBESR (the Haitian government adoption unit) social worker needed a ride  today to the orphanage.  Aside from bonding, there are two important things that need to happen on this trip.  The first one already happened when we filed our I600 paperwork at the Embassy.  The second is that IBESR sends a social worker to the orphanage to interview us.

The 9:30 call was the first Moise had heard of picking up the social worker.  At 10 am, Moise got another call – Junior wanted to know where Moise was.  He was supposed to pick up the social worker at 10 am.  Wha???  Anyway, Moise dropped us off at the orphanage around 10 am and headed back to IBESR to get the social worker.  When he finally came back to the orphanage around 2, he did not have the social worker. She said he was too late. We will try again Thursday.  Now Moise knows to pick her up at IBESR at 9 am.

Since Moise was tracking down the social worker all day, Patrick and I did not have a translator with us.  We picked up J and headed to balcony.  We brought two pate for him (Haitian meat pie).  He loved them.  He grabbed a couple bags of fruit snacks and headed downstairs to his room to share with his buddies.  This is when chaos began.  All of the kids from his room wanted to parade again.  Which we did.  And then they all followed us upstairs.  It was crazy-time on the balcony.  We could not get them to go back downstairs and I could not track down their nanny.  J was also going a bit crazy.  He spilled his juice on the floor and lay on his stomach licking it up.  Patrick kept telling him no sternly, but he ran back to it every time.  We could see his inner spirit coming out.

Patrick and I were losing it.  Eventually, one of us held the door shut while the other one picked up the kids one by one and put them on the other side of the door.  We finally got all the kids out and J wanted to go downstairs again.  We told him no and he began the whine and cry.  Patrick and I were both sweating at this point.

We decided to just let J take the lead.  We followed him downstairs – he of course led us to the kitchen where he got some bread.  We pretty much followed him around the orphanage for another hour.  Around 1:30, he fell asleep on my shoulder.  He slept until we left – 3:30.  Right before we left, he peed on Patrick.  Moise called it his blessing.

Patrick and I are getting tired-we are covered in pee and bruises.  But we know we only have a few days left with J.  And once we leave, we will instantly want to be back on that balcony floor with him.

 

Bonding

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 12:05 am

If we had any doubts about whether or not J was bonding with us, today put our mind at ease.  He greeted us with a big smile .  When I picked him up, he hugged my neck tight.  His nanny told us he was asking for us yesterday (break my heart).  When he hold him now, he is really leaning into us.  He hugs our neck, rests his head on our shoulder – very affectionate.

Today was a big day for Papa and J.  He was in a very playful mood.  We brought him a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti and meatballs (don’t judge-we have limited options for “hot food” at our disposal).  He and Patrick sat on the floor and ate it together.  J would feed Patrick the meatballs and single strands of spaghetti with his hands.  Patrick would slurp it up and J would die laughing.  It was all very disgusting – but it had J rolling so Patrick played along.

At one point J was sitting on my lap when he heard Papa making loud noises downstairs.  He had me take him downstairs to find Patrick.  Patrick had all of the kids in J’s room following him around the hallway, parade fashion, making animal noises.  About every minute, Patrick would yell and the kids would start laughing.  He threw J on his shoulders and we continued the parade for another 30 minutes or so.

J took his nap around 1:30.  But at 2, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. The orphanage cleared us off the balcony and put us into a large room we had never seen before.  While we were hanging out, another American mom and her sister arrived to spend some time with her son.  They will be at the orphanage with us for the rest of the week.

We left the orphanage at 4 pm.  Because of the rain, the traffic was terrible.  It took us more than 2 hours to get back to our hotel.  Apparently, it would have taken us 4-5 hours if Francois had not gotten behind a police car and tailed him through long lines of cars standing still.  Here is a photo of our “police escorts”.  The guy with the tear gas gun only yelled at us once.

cops

Here is a picture of some of the flooding from the rain.

flood

We can’t wait to see J again tomorrow.  Patrick briefly mentioned to me this morning that I need to prepare myself to say goodbye, and I lost it.  I cannot even imagine walking away from him on Saturday.

 

 
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