Thursday, May 19, 2016

2 Months Home Already!

I can't believe it! 2 months home already (ok, today is 2 months in the US and tomorrow is technically 2 months home but let's not be picky).

photo cred: the amazing Lindsay Hamill

What a roller coaster the last 2 months have been! Whew! Highs, lows, laughter and tears!! But, let me share about our time in Haiti.

We arrived in Haiti late Tuesday night and were on the plane with another family that was heading to our creche for the first time to visit their kiddos. It was such a joy to meet them watch them experience Haiti for the first time! And their first meeting with their two littles- precious!!!!!!

Shaina was so excited to see us- all dressed up in a fancy white dress!!! She knew we were there to bring her home and that meant she got to sleep in our room with us! What a treat! A very special thing about this trip is that two other families that we have grown very close to were there at the same time to bring their children home. One of these families we spent a week with on our bonding trip last year and the other we have been close with for a couple of years but hadn't met in person yet. Our 3 families have been going through the process together step by step for the past year, sharing our joys and our  sorrows. It was such a blessing for all of us to be there together, at the end of the journey, after all of the heartache, waiting, tears and prayers, bringing our children HOME.

together forever!

We went with one of our friends and her older daughter and took our 3 adopted daughters (her twins and Shaina) out for a little sight seeing and shopping. These girls have not had a chance to see a lot of their own country as their lives have revolved around the creche and their school. We wanted to show them how beautiful Haiti is so they would have memories of that. We went to Papillon Enterprises and did a little shopping for some things to take home and then drove up to The Baptist Haiti Mission. Ryan and I had been there before. The drive up and view there are gorgeous! We went to their Haitian history museum and then the girls got to have their first experience playing on a playground!!! That was such a memorable, joyful experience and also very sad to realize that our 8 year old has never played on a playground. Shaina loved it! We ate lunch (pizza and fries!!!!) before heading back. Such a fun day!

silly girls out on the town

first slide!

gorgeous view from Baptist Haiti Mission

We spent a day at the creche playing with the kiddos and enjoying our time with all of them. I truly love Haiti and I was sad thinking I would no longer have another trip here to plan. We will be bringing our family back in a few years to spend some time at the beach and travel to see other parts of the country, but I will miss it in the meantime.

Friday was a BIG day! The parents all went out bright and early to head to the embassy to pick up our kiddo's passports with their visas! The excitement in the car ride was palpable.  The 5 of us adults were giddy, excited, nervous, happy, anxious, worried, etc.  We were at the embassy for a short time and each of us, in turn, cried when we received our child's visa. That was the moment when it hit- our children were going HOME!!!!

After the US Embassy we were off to IBESR to get the exit letter (needed to show at airport before leaving).  We waited in the small office for hours. People came and went. We got hungry and thirsty and sent Ryan and Will out to get us drinks. Then we played Heads up on our phones. I think we all laughed a little to hard and it was a great way to pass the time and lighten the mood.  Exit letters and visas in hand and we were off back to the creche!! Oh Happy Day!!!! The end of a 5 year journey was at hand. I booked our tickets home while we drove back to the creche. We wanted to get home as soon as possible!! The 5 of us were on cloud nine on the way home! I cannot describe the feeling! Knowing the child you have been waiting for, praying for, hoping for, crying for, desperate for, is finally coming home is indescribable. And that fact that we were all together was the best!

3 HAPPY mommas and our friend Peterson after the Embassy and IBESR

passports and visas in hand

That night we celebrated!!! The 5 of us, our 4 kiddos and the other family there visiting their kiddos laughed and cried together. Then the 5 of us toasted and played more games and reminisced about our adoption journeys and wondered what the coming days and weeks would be like.

The next day was such an emotional one! Shaina said goodbye to her friends, her nannies, the creche, the only life she remembers. She was more excited than sad. I was a mess. I cried the whole morning.  When we finally got to the airport Shaina got quiet and determined. She was ready. Whatever her new life would look like she was open to it and wanted to get it started!!! She loved the flight and oh- all the firsts that day: running water, HOT water, automatic flushing toilets, air hand dryers,  airplane, air conditioning, etc etc etc. She was fascinated with it all!

saying goodbyes

about to board- next stop USA

ready for takeoff- first flight

We landed and went though immigration in Fort Lauderdale. 2 hours of sitting in the immigration office and BAM- Shaina was officially an American Citizen!!! Woot Woot! We spent the night at hotel that night. Shaina was so cute in the hotel room! She jumped on the bed, turned on and off all the lights, opened all the drawers and checked out everything else before finally crashing.

a new American citizen

The next morning we were off again for 2 flights to finally get home.  Shaina did so great on the planes and on our layover- taking everything in and clinging tightly to our hands.

Last stop- HOME! We arrived to a crowd of friends and family holding signs, banners and cheering for our arrival. What a sight to behold! Riley was there with grandma and grandpa (Bella arrived later that day- she was at a gymnastics meet).  After seeing all of our friends we went home. Shaina loved her new room and was jumping and rolling around on the couch- and oh the carpet!! What fun!

first night in her own bed

The next days and weeks went by in a whirlwind. Things have been very, very hard and very, very wonderful. Someone once told me it would be like bootcamp- harder than you can imagine but temporary- and that analogy is perfect! We had days I thought I would not get through but they are now few and far between!
In the last 2 months Shaina has gone from speaking no English to now speaking 75-80% English. I have been homeschooling her to get her caught up in math and reading and she is doing great!!! She is learning daily what it means to be in a family; taking turns, sharing, speaking kindly. And she is also learning hourly what unconditional love is; she knows that no matter what she says or does we are still here and still loving her and this is still her home.

Our hearts are full.

Thank you again for your prayers and support over the last 5 years!!
Bondye Bon

these photos courtesy the talented Lindsay Hamill

1 comment:

  1. Hi there -- I recently found your blog and love your story. I'm in the process of writing something about Haitian adoption, and I'd love to ask you a few more questions about your story and your process. Could you email me at jtw439@gmail if you are interested? Thank you! (and congrats!)