Famous Last Words

Our Adoption Journey to Haiti

Promises October 16, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 5:47 pm

PROMISES

We launched this blog 4.5 years ago. The last line in the opening blog post read, “We ask for your prayers and your encouragement as we go through this process over the next 2-3 years.”  Wasn’t that adorable? We thought this adoption would take 2-3 years.

 

Here we are. Nearly 5 years later. And over the past few months, I have felt compelled to share with you the real story that has been written in our lives.

 

Our family has the most amazing community. We get to do life with people from diverse backgrounds who don’t always share the same beliefs. For our cherished friends and family who do not share our faith, this is a story about God…so this post is going to get a little bit churchy. And it’s long (fair warning).

 

This whole journey began in August 2012 not out of some desire to “rescue a child” or “do the right thing.” It was not even our idea.  I’ve had the opportunity to tell this story 2,689 times and every time I do, it is just bizarre. It was literally a “feeling” (Christian code word for this is a “calling”) I had on an airplane. I felt that God was telling me that we should adopt a child. Again, weird, I know.

 

We knew nothing about adoption. We had never considered it. But we knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was driving this – and that we damn well better get on board.

 

So in the Bible, God makes all these promises to people. Big deal things, like “wait on me, and I’ll give you strength,” or “if you get tired, I will help you endure,” or “just call out to me and I will answer you.” Pretty compelling stuff.

 

Someone very early in this journey told me, “hold onto God’s promises, because this is a long and messy road and some days, His promises will be all you have.” We have heard that once your adopted child is home is when things get really complicated. So this wait apparently is just the beginning of that messy road. Awesome.

 

Anyhow, I want to share with you just some of the ways God has showed up and kept His promises throughout this adoption, because I get goose bumps every time I think about it and my cousin recently told me, “you’ve got to write this stuff down.”

 

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One of the most obvious, tangible ways God showed up is by providing us with the financial resources to fund not only the adoption, but also seven trips to Haiti in two years to bond with Jonathan.

At the earliest stages of our adoption, someone told me that if God is really behind this, the money will come.

Patrick and I have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family. For example:

  • Several years ago, Patrick found a mysterious envelope under the windshield wiper of his car.  He assumed it was perhaps a mistaken drug dealer’s payment (naturally). Of course, he opened the envelope and inside was $600+ cash with a tiny torn up piece of paper with a scribbled note that read, “God bless your adoption”
  • Or the time I was super stressed about money and an envelope arrived in the mail from a family member with the total amount of cash we needed to make the final payment on our adoption
  • Or Patrick’s high school friend’s mom who paid for our hotel on our vacation so we could save our money for the adoption
  • Or the friend who bought Patrick and I first-class tickets on our first trip to Haiti
  • Or our neighbor’s children who host lemonade stands to raise money for the adoption
  • I literally could go on and on – we have probably 100+ of these stories

 

Strength

I have heard from hundreds of people, “I couldn’t do it” or “I don’t know how you do it”. The reality is, I am not doing it.  If I had to muster up the strength to ride out the emotional coaster that we have been on the past several years, forget it. I am pretty pathetic. I cannot handle seeing an elephant in captivity at the zoo. I can’t even watch my son pitch in a baseball game without wanting to vomit. I certainly could not manage the turmoil of a Haitian adoption. Seriously, when I:

  • Was afraid I had dragged Patrick, Noah, and Brady down a rabbit hole of financial stress and emotional despair
  • Listened to people who questioned our decision – is this real-what if your agency is scamming you?  Why don’t you adopt from the US (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post)?
  • Had so much anger and bitterness inside that I literally wanted to crawl out of my skin
  • Couldn’t even walk into our church without tearing up because I was certain God had forgotten about our son in Haiti….God, in a number of different but very real ways, gave me a peace that is completely and undeniably from Him.

 

Community

I recently turned 40. And my husband threw me an amazing birthday party in our backyard. Toward the end of the evening when the sun had already gone down and the candles were lit, we all gathered around the birthday cakes (he made 5, because that is how he rolls) and friends and family sang happy birthday.  And as I looked around our backyard (this goes back to me being pathetic), I literally had to will myself not to fall to pieces because of the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for our community. Our friends and family who:

  • Traveled to Haiti with us and were eye-witnesses to some of my family’s most vulnerable moments. We had 12 friends and family members travel with us. That is a lot of money, time, and emotional energy – not to mention the post-trip gastrointestinal troubles many faced.
  • Sat with us (okay, me) while we cried over lost time with our son
  • Drove us to the airport… every single trip. Even at 4 a.m.
  • Stayed up all night with a very-anxious Noah the night before his parents left him for a 15-day trip to Haiti

We have so many stories of people that God has planted in our lives who have carried us through the bad and celebrated the victories.

 

So there it is. This isn’t a story about the Wicklines. Or our son in Haiti.  This is a story of the promises that God makes and how He keeps them. And if you want to know more about this God who shows up EVERY TIME, let me know.  By the way, the God I am referring to loves all people – gay, straight, white, brown…you name it. In fact, His son Jesus, while here on earth hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors – He was and is very cool. He roots for the underdog, loves the weak. He is not a harsh, exclusionary dictator. Sorry (not sorry) for getting political (it is my blog after all:))

 

Jonathan will be home soon. And things will be hard. Can somebody please remind me of His promises?

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Final thoughts…trip 7 October 8, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 1:00 am

My creative blog titles are a reflection of my fatigue.  These last couple days have been a blur. J did great during his first major excursion outside the orphanage. His favorite things, like so many of us, were eating at the restaurant, baths, and Netflix.  

I’d say the biggest challenge was sleeping. He’d “sleep” for about 11 hours, which was great. But for most of those hours he was rubbing my head, rubbing his feet on my legs…tracking me down wherever I would try to go in the bed. I literally curled up in a ball at the foot of the bed, desparate for sleep…he found me.  Needless to say, the current plan is to move him directly into his bed when he gets home.  No co-sleeping for bonding purposes….or I will never make it.

We were supposed to meet our driver today at 11am.  He showed up right on Haitian time-11:45.  He didn’t know how to get the orphanage and told me he was counting on me to help.  I sometimes get lost leaving my neighborhood, so the idea of me navigating the streets of Port-au-Prince is hilarious.  The one time he made a turn and I insisted he was wrong, of course I was wrong.

We dropped off J and hung out with several of our favorite kids. We headed back to the hotel around 3. 

Tonight we hired a driver to take us to a restaurant that overlooks the entire city-crazy beautiful views and amazing food.  While I will miss J, I am hoping to get some sleep tonight😴

 

J October 6, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 6:51 pm

This trip has definitely been a learning experience. Here is what we have learned so far:

-Jonathan loves meat. And potatoes. He’s basically a Midwesterner.  He passes on fruit and vegetables.  So he is also basically a Wickline (except he doesn’t eat dessert).

– He was not at all afraid to get into the pool, as long as he can cling to me or dad.  We can also count on him wanting to get out of the pool once we finally get used to the water (and vice versa-the second we are dry it is time to get back in).

-He addresses dad and Brady as “poppy” and “Noah” no matter how many times we correct him.

-He is sort of a nightmare to share a bed with because of his constant twisting and turning.

-He’s not afraid to bark orders at the servers (we will have some work to do at home).

-He wants to go to bed around 5 pm, so we have to do some serious entertaining to keep him going until at least 7:30 pm to avoid a 5am wake up call.

– His go-to show on Netflix is Ninjago…it appears he has Brady’s eclectic taste in terrible kids tv.

-He loves to laugh; constantly wants to be held or hold hands-both awesome signs of a  happy, healthy future for this little guy.

 

Trip 7 October 5, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 11:08 am

We were not planning on taking another trip to Haiti before homecoming, but given our looong stay in MOI we decided to take one more trip before we brought him home.

We did not want there to be such a long stretch between our last visit and homecoming.

Brady, my dad  and i arrived last night. We had smooth travels and made it through the Haitian airport in record speed (about 15 minutes to get through customs, baggage, and find our ride).

We arrived at our hotel around 6, enjoyed some Haitian cuisine, watched my favorite baseball team, and went to bed.

We pick up J this morning at the Orlando bring him back to the hotel with us! More to come….

 

Passports October 3, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — rgraham100 @ 5:01 pm

We learned today that Jonathan’s file has been officially submitted to passports. We also learned that we had the distinct honor of being a family with one of the longest wait times in MOI (the phase we just exited) our adoption coordinator has ever seen😐

So when do we get to bring him home you ask? Who knows!  Most families trend anywhere from 6-8 weeks from the time they enter passports until homecoming. But we like to mosey through each phase. We are praying for homecoming before Christmas because I don’t think my heart can take one more Christmas without my baby home.

In other good news, Brady, my dad and I head to Haiti this week for a quick visit.

 

 
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