Friday, February 27, 2015

Our 2 amazing weeks in Haiti as a family of 5!

I really don't know how to put our amazing 2 weeks in Haiti into words.  From the minute we landed at the airport my heart was happy. I cannot explain the feeling of utter joy I have just being in that country.

Riley and Bella were mesmerized on the drive from the airport to the creche (orphanage).  I am not sure what intrigued them more, the driving or the street life. Either way, their eyes were wide open trying to take everything in.

When we got to the creche and walked through the front doors Shaina was there waiting for us. She looked unsure, as I expected. We have not seen her in over 3 years and I really didn't know how much she would remember of Ryan and I (if she remembered us at all).  She went up and hugged Riley, who looked as unsure as she did. Then she turned and faced me. I was crying, of course! I knelt down and just hugged her and looked at her and hugged her again. My baby. My baby! I kissed her cheeks and told her I loved her over and over again. She then gave Ryan a huge hug before going over to Bella. I was loving seeing how the kids interacted. After Bella and Riley hearing about Shaina for almost 4 years and only ever seeing pictures and videos of her, she was now standing there with them, real and in the flesh! This little girl that we have all been praying for, loving, missing and thinking about for 4 years was now here!!! Now she was real!

She warmed up very quickly to all of us and before we knew it we were laughing and playing and loving on each other.  She wanted us to carry her everywhere, and we happily obliged. She had Bella and Riley giving her piggyback rides and played with them non stop. It was wonderful! My heart was
overflowing with happiness finally seeing my three children together. Words don't do it justice!

There was another American couple staying at the creche and visiting their son for the first week we were there and a woman from France who was there doing research for her PhD. We loved spending time with all of them, getting to know them and experience being there together. The couple that owns and runs the creche; Eveline and Jean Jacques became like family, especially MamaJeanJean as we came to call Eveline.  We enjoyed our meals together, trying all of the new Haitian dishes and our great conversations. The kids were very adventurous in their eating and we were proud of them.

We spent our days playing with all of the children at the creche (the toddlers on the days when Shaina and the older kids were at school). We brought a suitcase full of toys to use with them; everything from jump ropes and soccer balls to coloring books and frisbees. It was so much fun to have no To Do's each day and be free to relax and play. Let's just say Riley and Bella were in their element!!

We were able to take a few trips outside of the creche. We had to plan our trips for days when there were not protests going on in the streets, which made it unsafe to go out of the creche compound. Even locals stayed in on the days the protests were going on.  We went to a local grocery store where we stocked up on Haitian sugar (, Haitian coffee (don't start your mornings without it) and spicy mamba (spicy peanut butter- snacking just got kicked up a notch). We also went out for a day to a place called the Baptist Haiti Mission. I had read a lot about this place which is in Kenskoff, up above the city. We went on a drive through PAP and the kids marveled at the different neighborhoods.  It is such an eye opening experience to drive from the poorer neighborhoods to Petionville, considered the wealthiest neighborhood in PAP. The houses are huge, all fenced and guarded, there are less people on the streets, more trees, etc. The Baptist Haiti Mission itself was very disappointing. They did have a little museum of Haitian history which we enjoyed but the "market" I had heard so much about was one store that was almost empty. But, the drive up made it worthwhile as the views were spectacular! Our other trip was out with our Haitian friends. We rented a tap tap and went to visit some friends and then went to the Iron Market. The Iron Market was amazing! Two huge buildings that were meant to be a train station before being bought and shipped to PAP.  One building now housed vendors selling everything from pots and spices to hair extensions and turtles (no joke). The other was packed with vendors selling crafts, paintings and voodoo paraphernalia.  Very very interesting to be there! The streets around the market, downtown, were jammed packed with people and other vendors. It was really fun and vibrant! Mama JeanJean also took us to a Sunday Mass at her church, church concert that evening (so much fun with people dancing to the upbeat music) and to her church choir's rehearsal/ Valentine's Day party. We loved it all!

Our two weeks went by too quickly. Saying goodbye to Shaina was heartbreaking, especially not knowing when we will be able to see her again and bring her home.  The flight to Miami was quiet and many tears were shed. I was very thankful to have two nights in Miami to be able to decompress and soak in all the memories of our trip before getting home and hitting the ground running.

So, now that we have been home almost two weeks we have all had time to process and there is one thing I can say. We all want to go back. Like now! Riley and Bella loved being in Haiti and it wasn't just that they didn't have to go to school. They loved the people, the food, the weather. They loved Haiti! Ryan and I were praying that something would click while we were there and we would really feel God's direction for our lives. Unfortunately we didn't feel that so we are home now, missing Haiti, hearing our kids cry because they want to go back, and wondering what the heck we are supposed to be doing next. Being home doesn't feel right anymore. I go in the girls' room everyday and look at Shaina's empty bed and the closet hanging full of clothes for her. My heart hurts.

The next steps for the adoption will hopefully progress quickly but there are families who had their bonding trips a year ago who still haven't been able to bring their children home. I would love to say she will be home by Christmas but the reality is that I don't think that will happen.

So please enjoy our slideshow of our trip and the video tour (in 2 parts) of the creche compound and keep praying for our family and for Shaina! Thank you!!

Haiti slideshow- volume UP!

Creche tour- part 1

Creche tour- part 2

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing so many interesting details and photos from your trip. Very helpful for those of us waiting and anxious to go. May your next trip come quickly and may your Christmas wish come true.