As I laid down tonight next to my little Haitian man, snuggled in his sports jammies, burrowed under the covers, I prayed. I breathed over that shifting little wiggling body words of truth, proclaiming our Heavenly Father’s plan for his life to manifest in the very soles of his little brown feet and permeate his every fibre. I lifted up prayers of thanksgiving over this journey, over the transformation of our family, and that the tears we all have shed in anguish over this process have been forever wiped from our eyes. Don’t get me wrong, we will still have tears and I’m sure there will be days where we will be on our knees and faces interceding for his heart as he grows older, as we will do with all of our children. There will be days when adoption is rough, where transition just plain old sucks, there will be hard conversations and moments where we wonder what in the name of all things holy were we even thinking! But in those moments, I will remind myself to bring up this post, to remember my time spent in the 44th hour of his time within the walls of his new home, bathing his sleeping self in thanks and awe of the God who delivered him here.
I know many of you have been waiting on pins and needles for an update – I’ve received so many texts and email checkins and Kris’ facebook is blowing up with well-wishes and congratulations. We first want to say THANK YOU. The overwhelming support, encouragement and prayer that our family has experienced from friends, family, and complete strangers just completely floors us. Some beautiful friends and family cared for our home and prepared for our homecoming while we were in Haiti picking up Wesley. Coming home to meals in the freezer, fresh flowers (peonies, my favorite), a pile of fun things for him to discover over the next few weeks, and the most amazing posters and banners and balloons welcoming him home was such a blessing to see when we got home at 1:45am on Wednesday morning! So before I relay any of the last 48 hours I am thanking God for all of you, and you need to know how much your help – even in the smallest of ways – has caused our first few days home to be immeasurably easier. Thank you.
Monday night (our last night in the hotel) was extremely rough. Already exhausted from a few days of constant bonding at the hotels, Kris and I settled all the kids in bed and hunkered down with Wesley between us. We knew we had an early morning heading to the airport to fly home, and had to have kids up and moving by 5:45am, so we closed all the blackout curtains and put everyone to bed at 7:30. No one fought anything – they were all super exhausted. Well, no one complained, but someone’s little brown skin was itching and crawling with who knows what. He was SO tired, eyes rolling around in his head – tired, but he proceeded to thrash and flail around in the bed for the next 7 hours straight. We tried two rounds of benadryl, 4 hours apart, benadryl anti-itch topical cream, and cold washcloth compresses to no avail. It was the most awful attempt at sleeping we’ve had in a very very long time. I think those situations are made worse when you know that you have an early morning and a long day ahead that you can’t call in sick for! At any rate, he finally fell asleep around 2:30am, and us along with him, to sleep for the next 3 hours until our alarm went off.
We rolled 4 terribly sleepy kids out the door with all our luggage, down to quick breakfast and out the door to the shuttle. The airport in Port-au-prince was already jam-packed due to a flight to Chile (I still can’t figure out why so many Haitians were vacationing in Chile…) but in all our visits down there we’ve never seen it so packed. Kris immediately found the first guy trying to scam a quick $40 and roped him into getting us to the front and in front of the right people to help process us quickly. It is such a different culture there – while there is an appearance of lines and order – nothing is orderly and EVERYTHING is available at a price – if you understand that, and understand it is also a part of their culture, then you learn to roll with it when it comes in handy. We had no issues with seating on the flights due to the amazing help from Adoption Airfare – they booked our original flights, booked the changed last-minute flights and also helped me mid-trip to adjust our seating on our first flight so that we were all together in a row – AMAZING. I would recommend using that company to anyone who is booking flights for an adoption. They got us a humanitarian rate, and child rates for the ones that were within a child rate age bracket, and a super low change-fee for any changes that might happen last minute (which happens super often when dealing with Haiti!).
Did I mention that Wesley was super excited for this airplane? 😉 He was counting minutes to boarding, checking the time every minute on-the-dot, and practically crawling out of his skin with anticipation! I was praying the flight experience would live up to his expectations! Well, it did. 😉 He got to sit by the window every flight, and the first time taking off on the runway just filled his entire body with happiness! He loved every minute of it – and every minute of the Batman Lego movie in French, and watching the clouds out the window, and the ginger ale and the airplane potty, and “oh, mommy! loud!” and telling me to cover my ears when he flushed the flusher (that thing is so loud it makes you wonder if it is going to suck your shorts right off you out into the jetstream!). The staff thought he was adorable, so much so, that on the very first flight, the captain invited him and his brother and sisters into the cockpit! It was absolutely adorable to see his face light up in wonder at all the buttons and the Captain sitting with them.
We had to take three planes to get home – and this was probably the longest day of travel I’ve ever had. Traveling with 4 kids is challenging enough, but when one of them has never even seen an airplane in real life before not to mention the inside of a restaurant or a store with all sorts of things to buy…its a bit overwhelming. We prayed ourselves through the day – and I know others were breathing prayers over our journey as well. I was still fighting incredible nausea, as well as Logan (who we realized last trip to Haiti gets airsick). So we packed in the Dramamine, and conked out on the plane whenever we could. Thankfully Wes was so entertained and enthralled with movies and windows and brother and sister, I wasn’t needed to be “on duty”. I have to say, I am SO thankful for my husband. God could not have placed a better, stronger, more capable man in my life for a situation like this. While I was practically falling apart at the seams with virtually no sleep, stress up the wazoo, and 24/7 nausea to boot, he was strong, excitable, engaged Daddy for our new son, allowing me time to nurse my emotions my rolling stomach lining, and sneak in naps on the plane. 😉
A defining moment for me, was literally stepping off the plane, into the breezeway tunnel taking our final steps to U.S. Soil. At the end of the tunnel, my first step onto solid ground caused me to catch my breath hard as I carried Wesley over the threshold of safety of our country. At that moment, I knew that no one could take him, nothing could stop this process, that it was done, sealed, and forever imprinted into our lives and into our family. The lump in my throat and the prayers sent heavenward thanking God for the deliverance of our son was massive and breathtaking.
The roughest layover was our Miami to Dallas leg (leg 2), because when we arrived, we already had a 3.5 hour layover (to give us time to get through customs and immigration with a new adopted child, which for some is super long (sometimes hours), and stressful, was the shortest, most painless part of this entire process. We went through normal customs lines but after asking one of the passport officers what to do with his customs check-in because of his adoption and Haitian passport, she had amazing mercy on us and put us in a short line bypassing the probably 60 people waiting in a long line for an official pass. Once cleared there (we had the nicest guy at this step too, who chatted up Wesley and us about the adoption and the language, we’ve never had such friendly helpful staff in customs!), we were shuttled into a small back room for immigration. We were prepared to wait out the next hour or two in that tiny waiting room, but after about 20 minutes we were called up, they handed us a sheet of paper and said have a nice trip and Welcome to the United States! It was pretty much amazing. LOL The biggest issue then, was that our flight was delayed 30 min. Not a big deal…until 30 minute later it was delayed another hour. And even then, it was delayed further. A 3.5 hour layover in the Miami airport turned into a near six-hour airport stay. We were camped out on the floor watching movies and trying to sneak in more naps, and made regular trips to potty and walked the halls, it was insane trying to keep 4 exhausted kids entertained in an airport terminal.
Finally, just after 6pm our flight left for Dallas, and our connection in Dallas was still made (PRAISE JESUS. I think I would have laid down on the airport carpet and bawled had we missed our flight). The very last flight was the one I prayed most over. Wesley’s incredible itching seemed to be intense only at night, and I was so anxious that he wouldn’t sleep. Kris found an airport shop with Hydrocortisone cream and I slathered it on him before our final flight. Once in the air, as soon as the lights went off, I told him it was time for sleeping. After about 30 minute of wiggling and trying every imaginable position possible he finally gave in to his tiredness and laid down on my lap. He then proceeded to sleep the rest of the 3 hours home to PDX (as did I).
I just looked at my word count, and I’m at 1821 words. (Sorry about that). 😉
When we arrived in PDX, stepping out the glass one-way exit doors into the main lobby we were met with the sweetest, most perfect small-gathering of friends and family! Complete with banners signed by friends at school, smiling faces and the Grandmas Wes had been asking about all day long. It was the perfect homecoming experience! Kris’ parents had brought our car to the airport so we could drive ourselves home and arrive home alone to get settled, which ended up being awesome. We literally walked in at 1:45am, Wes took one look around the living room and looked at me and said “sleeping”. I laughed and scooped him up and laid him in our bed to sleep where he promptly conked out for the next few hours. Silly kid was up at 6:30 the next morning bouncing on the bed with a happy grin asking to see his new bed! We indulged him and proceeded to give him a tour of the house, in those early wee-hours, his curiosity and awe unfolding as he opened every drawer and closet, tried light switches, threw confused glances at the weird thing we called a trampoline in the backyard, and laughed at Bella’s little cardboard house in the mudroom. He dragged us upstairs, peeked into Logan’s room and immediately ran over to her sleeping body and gave her a hug! What a sweet way to wake up, I’d say! He just peeked into the other kids rooms while they slept, but his excitement was so loud when he got to his room that the other two roused and wandered in to enjoy his first moments. His favorite things in his room were his Captain America and Iron Man action figures (that talk…hooray), and the bucket of legos in the closet! He immediately wanted the kids to open them so he could play! We purposefully limited the number of things in his room so as not to overwhelm him, and will slowly introduce new things and gifts others have brought over the next few weeks and months.
Yesterday was a fun-filled sunshine day, spent in complete exhausted action. He moved from one thing to the next, short attention spans, wanting to try everything. We made crepes for breakfast, walked to the park to play baseball and soccer, and picked up the dogs from the “hotel la pou chen” (hotel for dogs). He was so excited to see the dogs but when they finally came in real life, he decided Bella was okay but he was quite a bit terrified of Ollie! Over the last 24 hours, he has warmed up to Ollie and was already playing catch with him today, and no longer screaming and running away when he tried to come near him!
This kid is taking America in stride, enjoying new foods and experiences with a hunger and curiosity that is so beautiful! His laugh is infectious and his sense of humor is constant. He is a jokester and loves to say silly things to make the kids laugh. He likes to know the time, so he can know the plan and what we are doing at each time in the day, what time meals are and what is next. Structure will be key for him.
Today was the big kids’ first day back at school, so Wes and I hung out at home while Kris got some work done in the other room, popping out to say hello and playing Captain America with Wes when he wanted to drag his toys in with Daddy. He entertained himself with a table full of Lego men and superheroes for about 90 minutes this morning – it was amazing! Babbling in Creole, perfectly happy to be alive.
It’s been a beautiful near 48-hours. Our kids are doing wonderfully with him and having a blast loving on their little brother, he is transitioning super well for the first 2 days and we are praying to get extra sleep tonight. (Kris is bugging me saying, “are you almost done writing?? I want to sleep!”)
Thank you for prayers, and keep them coming! I know there will come some difficult days ahead.
I’ll keep updating this as we move forward, as I know that post-adoption blogs are difficult to come across, and sometimes it is super helpful for others to know what it’s like after the process is done.
Blessings to you all,
Laura & Family
(pics to post later!)