Saturday, October 27, 2007

Back Home...

The trip itself couldn't have gone smoother (despite a four hour delay getting out of Miami due to an engine issue with the plane). Travel was easy and I felt incredibly safe the whole time - our drivers were amazing. They got us out of Port Au Prince quickly and without incident. For those who have been to Haiti, I don't need to describe PAP. For those who have not - - it's just really hard to put into words but imagine people, cars, animals, and trash everywhere. No street signs, no traffic signals, no infrastructure... it's chaos.

Our orphanage is in the country - it's about 40-60 minutes outside of the city. Again, the poverty is palpable but the scenery is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. The vegetation was lush and the mountains were majestic. I fell in love as soon as we started down the (narrow, unpaved and very rocky) road. The orphanage sits on a beautiful piece of land behind a high wall with a massive metal gate. There is 24 hour armed security. The gate opened and it was like an oasis filled with fruit trees & flowers.

Crèche Enfant de l’Jèsus
We drove in and met Madame Coindy. She lives in a little house on the orpahange grounds and basically manages everything on a daily basis. She is an older woman who is Haitian but married a man from France. She spent 34 years living in France and all over Africa and came back to take care of "her" babies at the Crèche. She's quite a character. Upon arriving, I received some sad news. Our baby wasn't at the orphanage and I would not be seeing him until the next day (I'll give a more detailed description of day two in a future post). But I took time the first night to play with the big boys and to get some pictures and video.

Madame Coindy and Orphanage Staff

Since the orphanage is so far from the city, the foundation has a house in PAP where administrative/social work is done. It also has a fully staffed nursery upstairs for new children. They screen them for illness before bringing them out to the orphanage and also take children there when they have mandatory doctor visits (for immigration). Children who are sick will sometimes stay there, as well, so they'll be closer to a doctor. This was the case with Asa. He was being treated for the lingering effects of malnutrition and had gone there a week or two before, so the doctor could see him more frequently. They would have brought him to the orphanage the day we arrived, but the cars were tied up waiting to get us at the airport (due to our flight delay). On the second day, we went to the city to meet our social worker & to file papers at the immigration office. And I finally met Asa.

The First Time I Saw My Son

At the Transition House in PAP

I was so blessed that an ER doctor and his wife (who were meeting their two gorgeous children for the first time) were also on the trip. He confirmed that Asa was very anemic and protien deficient. Asa's little ankles and feet were puffy with fluid and he was so very sleepy. I have to say that this does not speak at all to the care he's received in the orphanage. The care the children receive there is wonderful. They are doing the absolute best they can for him but the best in a third world country isn't anywhere close to America's standards. Please pray for Asa. His condition seems cyclical in that the anemia makes him lethargic, he's too tired to eat well, he's not getting the proper nutrition and thus staying anemic. He rebounded from the malnutrition upon entering the orphanage in May but may be backsliding a bit because he had been pretty sick.

Tearfully Holding My Boy in the Office
of the Transition House
Mostly, we just cuddled. He snuggled into me like a baby koala bear. I was able to bring him back to the orphanage and help care for him for the last day and a half. There were a few times when he was wakeful enough to hold toys but his eyelids were so droopy. He just didn't have the energy to do much at all. I did discover, though, that he has amazing fine motor skills. He was picking up and stacking the tiny Kreyol flashcards I had. He loved holding my wedding ring and watch and when he did eat a little, he fed himself very well (I have video & will try to get it up soon).

This orphanage truly is a shining light in a country that can be full of dispair. Even though my trip wasn't quite what I had anticipated (I thought I'd be playing with a bouncy, happy toddler) I'm so glad I had the opportunity to hopefully give him some comfort when he was feeling so bad. We're praying for Asa's healing and resting is God's sovereignty. There's lots more I want to write about but I'll save it for later. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who was praying for my trip and we ask for your continued prayers for our precious son.

Asa - Wearing the Nike B-Ball Outfit I Took Down

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Question of the Day...

What size diaper would you buy for a 20 lb toddler? It's only been two years since I purchased diapers but I stood in the baby isle at Wal-Mart like I'd never diapered a tushie in my life. So I was debating between the size 3 (16-27 lbs) -OR- size 4 (22-38 lbs) . My kids used to outgrow the absorbancy before they reached the weight limit so I always bought them a bit bigger. The first pack I had in my cart for Asa was the size 4. But they looked huge - and he's tiny for his age. So after about 45 minutes of wandering the store alone (Jim, Allyson and the little ones were at home) and buying a travel alarm clock, granola bars, hair bands and some other random things, I went back and switched them for size 3's. I opened the package when I got home so I could squeeze them in every possible crevice of my luggage. They look reeeeaaaaallllly small. I guess my perspective is skewed, but they seriously look like newborn diapers. Oh, well.

The rest of the day was nice. We went to Outback for dinner and came home to find a really sweet gift by our front door. A friend had left a bag of all kinds of goodies for my trip: snacks, gum, a STARBUCKS gift card, etc... And the coolest thing: a little notebook. She had no way of knowing this, but all along, I had planned to take a small journal and I totally forgot to buy something at the store today (because, remember - I was all caught up in the complexities of diaper size determination). Thank you, Maureen!! :o)

It's time for bed. I'll be leaving mid-morning while Jim & the kids are at church. Please keep Jim in your prayers! He'll be working from home next week and, of course, Allyson (15) will be a huge help with the little kids (homeschooling is a wonderful thing). This will give her an opportunity to earn more money for her second mission trip to Brazil . ;o)

And please pray for me. I'm a little nervous but very excited! Thank you so much!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wow! Praise God!

We had mentioned to our Bible Fellowship (a.k.a. Sunday School) class that I would be taking supplies down to the orphanage and lots of people expressed an interest in helping out. I printed off a list of the items that are usually needed such as formula, medications, office supplies, etc... I've been amazed at all the donations we've received. My wonderful in-laws even brought us four cases of Pediasure. Trisha sent a box full of things, along with pictures for her baby girl. And now, I have the privilege of taking down two suitcases full of supplies when I go! We're allowed one carry-on (which will hold my personal belongings) and two checked bags @ 50 lbs each. I may exceed the weight limit for a checked bag because the formula, baby wipes and Pediasure are heavy. What a great problem to have! I think they'll allow up to 75 lbs each for an additional fee so all the items will make it down to the orphanage.

Please pray that I'll be able to manage all this luggage in the airports. It's bulky and heavy but it's a burden I'm thrilled to carry! Thank you to everyone who has so generously given to this endeavor and thank you for the prayers and encouragement we receive.

I can't express enough the ways in which God has provided since we began this adoption process. Not only has He met all of our adoption related needs, His provisions have far exceeded anything we could have imagined. I have said this to so many people but want to say it again for anyone who is reading this and is considering adoption:

God will provide what you need to bring orphans into your family. Step out in faith. The Bible says that "He places the lonely in families..." HE does this. We simply need to be the willing vessels that He'll use.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


We're in (as of September 21st). This really only has significant meaning for those adopting from Haiti, but here's a brief explanation for friends and family who are unfamiliar with the process:

The Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Research (known as IBESR) is Haiti's Social Services Department. After going through "First Legalization" all the paperwork (the orphan's documents and adoptive family's dossier) is compiled and the file is then presented to IBESR where a social worker will look over the documents and decide whether to approve the adoption request. The director of IBESR, the IBESR lawyer, the head of adoption services at IBESR, and the IBESR social worker must all sign off on the dossier. We're told that this is taking 4-6 months right now. There have been times in the past, though, that it grinds to a halt and nothing happens at all. Please pray for a swift passage through this stage.

Even after IBESR, we have three other segments through which our file must travel: Parquet (not worth explaining right now), Second Legalization (civil court) and the Minister of Interior Affairs (MOI -Haitian immigration). Now study up... I might post a pop quiz on the steps involved in a Haitian adoption.

Yeah... he doesn't look too happy about a quiz, either.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


What a nice surprise. We had just returned from Wal-Mart where I was picking up a few things for the trip (in less than three weeks!!!) and a family who just returned from Haiti had posted over 200 pictures of the children in the orphanage. Here are some of our cutie-pie.