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What a Difference a Day Makes
Parenting is a big commitment. Adoption is an even bigger commitment. It takes time, and patience, and finances. So it was with no lack of preparation and planning that our family chose to adopt from Haiti. Our paperwork, and dossier was ready to go about a year after we began, and then we waited another 6 months to be matched with a child. Finally we met our daughter, Midelyne in December of 2007. She was sweet, shy, and boisterous. Midelyne wanted to be a doctor for babies. We traveled 2 more times to Haiti to work on the process, and build relationships. Finally, after more than 2 ½ years, we were ready for the final visa appointment in Haiti at the end of January 2010.
Then the earthquake hit. Before the earthquake, I worried for the safety of the orphanage and the children in there due to food riots,flooding, and hurricanes-Not to mention kidnappings for ransom where children didn’t always come back. Now I worried because an earthquake would bury her paperwork under piles of rubble where nobody would find it, and she would without an education, and a family-left in Haiti forever. There was no word from Haiti, except destruction and deaths. Then finally, we received an email that all of the children were ok. There was structure damage, and they were low on food and water so I continued to hope and pray for their safety. I prayed that the looters wouldn’t come to look for food and supplies where they knew American parents had children that they were supporting from afar.
Then a call came asking us to fly to come and get her! We did.
I woke her from a dead sleep, and carried her to our room for the night where I cried silently as I watched her sleep. I had never been so exhausted and so in love.
While waiting in Pittsburgh for Midelyne to say her goodbyes to her friends from the orphanage, it became apparent that there were other children, from the same orphanage, who had not yet been matched with families. Through a turn of events, our family was matched with Katy, one of the children from Midelyne’s orphanage.We planned to bring her home the next day, after her paperwork was processed. I met with Katy, and we put together a princess puzzle. I hugged Katy goodbye while Midelyne busily collected phone numbers and addresses of friends.
After an exhausting trip to Portland and back, I was ready to complete our family. I waited, with bated breath, and exhausted eyes to sign the papers that would release Katy from her orphanage life. Then, after hours of waiting I was told that Katy, along with the 11 other “unaccompanied minors” were now at Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh, and would be there until they were properly processed according to government standards.
The other families and I who had arrived expecting to bring home our children were devastated, with no recourse except to go home to an uncertain time of waiting.
What a difference a day can make. Twenty four hours had changed my life from mother and teacher to an adoptive, and devastated parent.
It takes nine months to have a baby. In the past nine months you could say that I have both been waiting in anticipation, and have birthed a new family. My daughter Midelyne has learned to speak English as we still struggle with her native Creole. She has grown 12 inches and five clothing sizes! She learned how to swim, play baseball, kickball and throw a frisbee. She went to the library for the first time, and to the art museum. She especially liked the zoo, and swimming lessons. She even tried a dance class or two. But most of all she just loves to play matchbox cars with her brother.
She still speaks in Creole to her mom in Haiti at least once a week when the phone lines are good, and recounts to us her life in Haiti. She plans to return when she has her college degree to be a doctor in her home village. Her mother and I are very proud.
Then there is the waiting. Katy waits in an institution.I have missed the mothering times of bandaging a scraped knee, trying on her first new shoes, and taking her to the first day of kindergarten.
Who was with her the first time she experienced a snowflake on her tongue? Who held her while she got her immunizations? Did anyone tell her that it wasn’t her fault that all of her friends from the orphanage went home to families, but not her? Does she think that she is somehow unworthy of a family? Who comforts her when there is a scary storm outside? Not me. Not a mother. Maybe a “worker”, even a “caregiver”, but not a family. Does she know that she is deserving of a permanent family, of unconditional love?
It has been 9 months. I have a bed and dresser. I have clothes hanging in her closet. I have a support group, and I have signed her up at the school she will attend. I know all of the local psychologists and fellow adoptive parents. I have arranged for time off of work in preparation for her arrival. My family and friends keep asking when she will arrive. I feel heavy, and exhausted. We are overdue. And so is she.
Today, November 15th two pieces of legislation, which have already passed the Senate, are expected to be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, as early as possible, please contact via phone and/or email your Representative and respectfully request their support the Help for HAITI Act, which would provide Midelyne with citizenship in the U.S., and the Adoption Simplification Act. For more information on these two pieces of legislation, click here. To find your Representative please visit, house.gov. Once you have completed this task, email us and let us know!
UPDATE: Thanks to your calls and emails the Adoption Simplification Act passed at 2:55 today (Nov 15th)! However, the Help for Haiti Act was removed from the voting schedule. We’re re-assessing and will have more information soon. In the meantime, Midelyne and the other children need those calls to your Rep now more than ever! Please contact your Representative. Thank you!