My Adoption Journey (Part 12) Leaving Haiti and the Last Week at Ellerslie

Although we had only been in Montrouis 5 days, life would never be the same again after those five days. We drove back to Port au Prince that morning to catch our flight back to Denver via Miami. The drive back was once again amazing, the huge mountains on one side and the Caribbean on the other with Isle de la Gonave in the distance. The drive back was emotional as I wondered if I was coming back. I hadn’t received a clear yes, from God that Mary was the child He had for me. Holding back the tears at points on the ride as I wondered if I would ever come back to this country I had fallen in love with and the children there in need of love and nurture until they could go home.

The entire way home, I felt uneasy. This had been such a life changing trip for all of us, and each of the other four were all planning on going back. But I wasn’t. I struggled on the way home. It was such an amazing experience, and yet it didn’t seem to have changed anything for me. I was still planning on going home to “Build my house and acquire Children”. So even though nothing had changed, everything had changed. I just didn’t quite know how to deal with that. So the next week was filled with emotional turmoil and the ups and downs of it. As my heart was still sitting up that night rocking Mary.

Everyone around me was in full swing in preparation for leaving Ellerslie and going home. But I felt nothing, I left as if I was lost in my own little world where I wanted this child so badly that it hurt, but God had not told me yes. Once again I was learning to let go, and this time it was incredible fresh and painful. So much so I was barely able to form a sentence when talking about it to my friends without breaking down and sobbing. I was trying to see what the purpose for me in going to Haiti was, trying to make sense of it all. But it wasn’t really working. My heart was broken. I was trying to get on with life, smile and enjoy it. But that week, those last few days were incredibly difficult. Learning to give it all to Jesus and trust that if it was what He had for me He would give it back. But I was having a difficult time letting go. Struggling with knowing that the trip to Haiti was a turning point in my life and that my life would explode with blessings out of it. It was during that time that I remembered the picture I always had of adoption or fostering was of sitting up at night and rocking and praying over my baby, which was exactly how I spent that night in Haiti.

I was desperately trying to let this go and give it to Jesus and hear from Him, His heart but my emotions were in turmoil, and it was getting difficult to hear as I was looking for answers in scripture, with people around me, in dreams. The only problem was I was seeing answers in everything. And so with a heavy heart I prepared for graduation. I looked around and people were sad to be leaving, saying goodbye to friends, unsure of what they were going back to, and what they were going to do when they got back. Me? I think I was different, I knew I was going home to start the process of building a house and acquiring children. I had done so many of these goodbyes before, I think I’ve just accepted it as a part of life, although sad because I knew I would probably never see some of these people again, it was also with excitement that I was looking forward to going back home and beginning a new phase of life.

Our graduation ceremony was very special, as each person was called out and the girls were given a name, a scripture, and a “virtual” rose. My name was “The Undeterred Pursuit”. My scripture was Matthew 13:46 “Who when (s)he had found one pearl of great price went and sold all that (s)he had and bought it.” And my rose was the “Irish Hope Rose” meaning ‘Ardent Advocate’. Looking at the struggle I was going through, these seemed perfect for me, but at the time I really wasn’t aware of the road ahead.
The ceremony was over and as we stood up to worship at the end. I was once again laying it at Jesus feet when I finally got the YES I had been praying for. I was elated, ecstatic, so many words couldn’t describe the end of the struggle, and now I was ready and prepared to fight for this child, to bring her home no matter what the cost or how long it took.

Things seemed to all make sense now, the reason for going to Ellerslie, was Haiti, the reason for going to Haiti, was this child that God had for me, and the reason now for going home was to fight for her, and make her mine. Bringing her home. All of my life up to that point now made sense. Some of the things I had been through and learned and studied that seemed to have been wasted time, now there was a reason. All the seasons of my life had come together and made sense. I couldn’t wait to get back home!

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This entry was posted on October 15, 2013. 1 Comment

My Adoption Journey (Part 11) Sunday and Monday in Haiti

Sunday started off for me as a continuation of Saturday, having spent the night sitting up rocking Mary, the little girl with special needs. So to wake us up and prepare for the day we decided to go swimming. So we headed down to the beach. Surprisingly at 7am the sea was quite warm, in fact there was only a little chill that you didnt notice once you were in. Coming from high up in the Atlantic and used to getting near hypothermia from swimming in the sea this was a pleasant surprise.

We were having a lovely swim and a chat, and we enjoyed the early morning. Somehow the conversation turned to sharks and being bitten by a shark. We did make sure we were swimming within the bouy’s to prevent such an occurrence taking place. When suddenly Emily started being chased by a fish. It kept trying to bite her, a little panicked by our conversation we all ran out of the water. Only to be disgusted with ourselves, by running from a 6-inch fish. We would not be beaten, so we diligently marched back into the sea and finished our swim. We followed this up by a quick dip in the pool to wash all the sand off and then headed back to get ready for the day.

That morning we went to a Haitian church. This was an experience, the “church” was nothing more than a couple of 2×4’s, a tin roof and wall’s made of tarp. We sat at the back and enjoyed these Haitian’s worshiping, before being introduced to the small congregation. to see these people and their love for Jesus despite the poverty. I think they have an advantage over us westerners, when you have few material possessions, Jesus can be your all. Here our lives are full of stuff, stuff that at the end of the day is just stuff. It has no real value, and in the end we cannot take it with us. I think everyone should experience life like this, to give us a deeper appreciation for their faith and trust.

After the service we got to meet the pastor and his wife. They have, I think 11 children. Because they could not afford to look after them all they gave up their two youngest boys to Heather to be adopted. I sat there trying to hold back the tears for this family, and this mother as she asked about her two boys and how they were doing. Imagine having to give up your children. Loving them enough to let them go and have a better life than you can give them. My heart was just broken for this woman, and the many like her, unable to give their children the life they deserve and letting them go, probably to never see them again, to grow up in a strange foreign country, with foreign parents, and trusting that you did the right thing. I stand in awe and admiration of these women, and families. Knowing that it takes two families to make an adopted child. One to love them enough to let them go, and the other to love them enough to hold them for life.

The rest of Sunday was spent, looking after the missionaries children and foster children so they could attend meetings and work out issues that were causing problems. You know, one of the aims of our trip was to serve and bless the missionaries, but in truth, I felt I was being served and blessed more.

That night as I finally crawled into bed, my thoughts turned once again to Mary. This child had captured my heart, and I prayed and pondered if she was the child for me.

Monday was another whirlwind day. We spent most of the morning and early afternoon at the creche. While there I spent more time holding Mary showing the missionaries some stretching and gentle exercises that would help her muscles to relax so she wouldn’t have so many painful muscle spasms. We played for a while with the toddlers, singing songs and playing. they would scramble over each other to hold your hand and sing. you could almost have one holding onto each finger. Such precious little one’s. Then we took pictures and names of each of the children to put together a who’s who catalogue for the missionaries to help with documents and such. Taking some final pictures it was our last visit to the creche.

Again the evening was spent babysitting the missionaries children as they all went out for dinner together before we left. Then we had our own dinner, just the five of us as we looked back over our trip and did our highs, lows, praises and apologies. As I sat with those people I felt amazed to have been part of this hand-picked team. Looking around at each one as they described what a pivotal point this had been in their life. Each one was planning on coming back. Some to serve for a few months as each of them had a job description of what they were going to do, missionary support, nanny, children’s ministry… I was still struggling with whether or not Mary was the child God had told me He had for me. But as far as I knew I wasn’t going back to Haiti.

There was one more introduction to Haitian life, God had in store for us before we went to bed that night. Walking back to our room, I was behind Emily and all of a sudden she screamed and started backing into me. Out of instinct I grabbed her and started backing up and screaming too. Not sure what I was screaming at but it must be good. When we stopped and I looked there was the biggest spider I have ever in my whole life seen!! There in the middle of the path just sitting there was a tarantula. This thing was huge! His body was at least six inches long and each of his legs was probably another six inches. We did manage to get some pictures of it. So with the thought of spiders running around loose outside we went and packed up, ready to leave the next morning.

My Adoption Journey (Part 10) Night Time in Haiti

We gathered up pillows and overnight supplies and piled into one of the vehicles to go and spend the night at the creche. We managed to get down the road a few hundred meters, when Heather remembered she had no money for dinner that night, so we headed back to the Club to get some. ON our second attempt we got half-way to town when the lights went out on the jeep, decided this was too dangerous we headed back to get the other one. But then the debate began that if we needed to leave in a hurry, the other jeep was not reliable for starting, and couldn’t be trusted in an emergency. So in the end we brought the two!

Eventually!! We arrived at the creche and unloaded our stuff onto the roof of the baby house. We then walked back into town to get dinner. Now I know in all the guide books they warn you about eating from street vendors, but, well, we did! We got enough food for all of us including three of the missionary ladies who joined us. And headed back to the creche. Settling back on the rooftop we sat around as Heather told us parts of her story, how she ended up in Haiti and some of the things that had gone on while she had been there with her children. We ate and listened to her story, as we were surrounded by the night time sounds of Haiti.

Something that’s hard to describe is just how bright the stars were there. Being from the western world especially as high up as Ireland is, where there is electric light everywhere and light pollution, I have never experienced anything like the stars. They are so bright and vivid, like you could actually reach out and touch them. No matter how many pictures you try to take, it never captures, sitting there on a rooftop with an unobstructed view of the sky and being almost enveloped by a sky full of stars. It makes me wonder how anyone can question the existence of God and the amazing creation around us. How people can think it all happened by accident just baffles me. Especially sitting there in a country that is so incredibly beautiful.

Into the small hours of the morning, we started to wind things down and set up sleeping positions for the night. Still Mary was at the forefront of my mind. So I asked if it would be ok if I could just go downstairs and sit and hold her. So with warnings not to wake the babies up, and anger the nannies, I made my way down and picked up this precious one and sat in a rocking chair and just held and prayed over her for the remaining hours of the night. I prayed that she would grow up to love and serve God, to life a life of glory and honour to Him. I spoke to her and blessed her, that she would know her disability might effect her body and soul, but her spirit was free to enter into the presence of God with no barriers, no boundaries. That she would allow herself to grow and live in His presence and to become a world changer. If you have never held a sleeping baby in your arms there is something about it that words can’t describe. Maybe its the peacefulness of watching them sleep. the safety and security they have of being close to you, hearing the steadiness of your heartbeat, the rhythmic whoosh of your breathing. Or of being aware that it’s one of life’s simple pleasures to just be able to sit and watch a sleeping child, with no conscious awareness of the passing of time. But being right then and there and nothing else matters but that you and the child are content in that moment. That you have nothing else to do than pour your love and nurture into that child and that’s all that’s important.

Throughout those hours I was able to watch the Haitian nannies as they cared for those babies, feeding them, and changing them in the middle of the night, when all else was quiet. Knowing the difference between the babies and their cries. Which one just needed to be changed and a cuddle, and which one was hungry. These are a set of truly incredible women. Here in western society we find it hard to care to two or three children at a time. But these women care for 10-20 at a time, giving each one love and nurture as well as meeting their basic needs.Sure it’s not ideal, and the best thing for each of these children is to go to a forever home, where they will be loved and nurtured forever. But for now these amazing women are going a wonderful job, with limited resources, and giving each of these children the best possible start that is possible.

All too soon the horizon started to brighten and our night of adventure came to an end. I replaced a still sleeping Mary into her cot and we drove back to Club Indigo, tired but happy.The sun had come up on a new day.

My Adoption Journey (Part 9) First Day in Haiti

The next day, we started early and made our first visit to the crèche. Not sure what to expect, but so excited! We left Club Indigo and travelled through the town of Montrouis, we turned down a dirt road and arrived outside the crèche. The walls and gate were brightly painted. Inside the gates was this oasis with Palm trees and flowering bushes. Outside nannies sat and lots of cubby, happy babies crawled around and played on the porch. Inside we got to work putting nappies on babies and giving them hugs and cuddles.

Heather took us on a tour around the crèche, introducing each child and where they were being adopted to in the U.S. Then we came across a child, Mary* (*name changed) Heather didn’t know. This precious little girl, seemed to be having a continuous seizure, and looked in pain. We found out that IBESR (Haitian child services) had brought her there about a week previous, she had been abandoned in a hospital. Heather handed her to me, on closer examination it appeared that Mary had hydrocephalus, and surgery to insert a shunt. Probably as a result of the hydrocephalus or the surgery she had cerebral palsy. The seizure-like activity was in actual fact painful muscle spasms that she was having in her arms and legs.

Spending the morning holding Mary I reflected on how different her life would be like if she was adopted, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, therapies and drugs that would improve her life. Individualised proper fitting wheelchairs and equipment to make her life better. I thought about some of the children in the special school I worked at. One girl in particular, she didn’t communicate, didn’t interact, on the surface didn’t contribute anything to society, and yet seeing her would brighten my day. There was something about her that gave me joy. Could Mary have a life like that? Although in her body and soul, Mary was disabled, her body didn’t function properly because her brain was damaged. Because of this her soul was not able to function “normally”. But her spirit, the part of her that communicated with God, that was able to function to the ability God gave it to. Her advantage is that her soul, and the lusts of the flesh can’t get in the way of her spirit functioning, she had no boundaries. Could she grow up with the right nurture and become a spiritual giant, a world changer?

Walking through the creche seeing all these happy, smiling, playing, well-fed, well-looked after children, it was worlds apart of the traditional image that I had of orphanages. Those most profound were probably the first pictures that came out of Romania in the early 90’s when communism fell and the world was exposed to images of children partially clothed, living in filth and institutionalised. Here was a happy home for these children, although for most just a transition before going to their forever homes. Watching them laugh and play and giggle like little children should in this oasis, was a beautiful experience. On the flip side of this though was the realisation that each one of these precious ones had been abandoned, orphaned, abused or neglected brought tears to your eyes as you looked at them and wondered how you could let one of these go. But outside the walls of the creche was the reality of the poverty and trauma that this beautiful country and extraordinary people have been through. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would ever get to go to Haiti.

Leaving the creche, we went back to Club Indigo to get started on some of the work that Heather needed us to do. We set about working on sorting through two giant suitcases of paperwork for the creche and organising it into some sort of order as it had gotten all mixed up. So the girls spent the next several hours trying to make sense of documents in french, putting the same ones together and trying to alphabetize them. All the while Mary wasn’t far from my thoughts.

Later on in the afternoon, we each got to go and spend time minding the children with some of the missionary families that were living there, and who some had their own children as well as fostering some of the children from the creche. I got to spend time with nine children, five of whom were being adopted and the other three were foster children, playing with them and helping them with dinner. It was amazing to see how God had blessed these families and their parenting skills. Working in homecare, I’ve been privileged to see families and how they work and how differently parents parent. I’ve been able to glean a lot of skills and techniques, see things that parents do that I like, and things that I wouldn’t neccessarily like to use. But seeing these families and how they parent was an eye opening experience, and the fabulous job they are doing. One young mother had toilet trained her 15 month old son. This precious little boy, who is not able to talk yet, but uses baby-sign to communicate his needs, and not resorting to manipulation or tantrums to get his way. All of the children were well behaved, polite and mannerly. It was encouraging to see these children being raised to be extraordinary.

Once it became dark it was time for our next adventure…

My Adoption Journey (Part 8) Travelling

We were all set to leave the next morning somewhere in the ridiculous hours of the morning around 4. Well I woke up somewhere around 3 from the pain of my back having gone into spam. Oh what the enemy tries to do to derail us. Luckily I saw my roommate coming back from the bathroom and told her I needed help! Within a few minutes there were three people in my room praying for me and my back! This was not good news. I have had this before, an old war wound I call it, as it flares up from time to time. This was not the time for it to happen, because I knew how it went, it would take 3-4 days for the muscles to relax and allow me to walk and move and bend properly again. I did not have time for this. In five days we would be flying home. I was not going to spend all that time in pain and barely able to move! So we all prayed fervently for the next hour and things started to ease up. I was able to get out of bed and get dressed and ready to go. Although not better by a long shot, at least I could move.

Thus began the trip, leaving Ellerslie and driving to the rendezvous with two of out other team members, getting to the airport, getting on our flight to Miami, and meeting up with our final team member. I was never so thankful to be travelling with real Godly men, I wasn’t allowed to carry my bag’s at all, which suited me just fine as walking was still an effort. We had some fun as we got to know each other a bit as we had several hours of a layover in Miami. Then the fun began. Our flight got delayed, changed from one terminal to another and back again. Eventually we got on our flight, all strapped in, sitting at the gate, and then after another delay we find out the crew is over their hours and walk off the plane. So off we all get again!

Thus starts the long process of waiting in a queue to get booked onto a flight in the morning, get hotel reservations for that night, reclaim all our luggage, and get to the hotel. By now its about 9pm and we are all tired and hungry, and the food in the hotel is not at all appetising, so we head off into what I (being from Ireland) can only describe as the ghetto. But just around the corner we found an ihop. I have never been to an ihop but that night I had the best chicken salad I have ever had in my entire life. So from then on I am a huge fan of ihop. By the time we got back to the hotel and to our rooms it was late and my back was killing me! But as God had preordained the whole thing there was a bath in my room! Just what I needed, a nice hot bath to make the muscles in my back relax. So I sat in there for at least half an hour praying that it would work. Much to my relief the next morning although not back to normal, I was able to move freely and be almost completely pain-free. Thank You Jesus!

I wont bore you with more details of checking in, going through security… Anyone who has traveled knows all about it! I’m not sure what I was expecting Haiti to look like, as the only images I had ever seen were of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake a few years ago. What I was not prepared for was the beauty of the place. It was incredible. These amazing mountains that rose right up out of the sea. It was amazing. Such a beautiful country, once we got out of the big city of Port-au-Prince. We were staying an hour and a half to the north west of Port-au-Prince in the small town of Montrouis. The drive there was incredible as to the left was the beautiful Caribbean sea and to the right were these huge mountains, such a contrast.

I was getting dark by the time we eventually got to Montrouis so we didn’t go to the creche that day, instead we went straight to Club Indigo where we were staying. Us three girls had the privilege of staying with a real life Disney princess, who was such an impeccable host. When we arrived she had a banner strung across the room with Welcome and each of our names on it. We briefly met the missionaries that were living there, and following a buffet dinner, we had some prayer and praise on the beach.

Sitting on the beach listening to the waves lapping on the shore with the sky full of the most amazing stars. It was the perfect end to our arrival day in Haiti. There we were introduced to the concept of “Highs, lows, praises and apologies” at the end of each day we would gather, and have to have a high from that day, lows were optional but if we had one, we could share it, a praise for someone, something or God, and if there were any apologies to be made we could do it then. I loved that concept and have used it since. Settling to sleep that night I was excited to head to the creche the next morning and see what God had in store for us.

My Adoption Journey (Part 7) Are You Ready?

You’ve all seen those pictures of atomic bombs exploding and the big mushroom cloud and the massive fallout. Well that is what I felt like waking up on December 3rd, just the day after God told me He had a child for me in Haiti. I felt like He was asking me if I was ready to have this atomic bomb of blessings dropped on me.

Well to my shame my answer was “NO!” who on earth is ready to have an atomic bomb dropped on them? TO have their life blown apart, to have it explode and never be the same again? As you can probably guess I’m not big on change, who is? However to my credit as I was taking the time to digest all that had happened in the last three days I was able to say, “Lord, I’m not ready, but I am willing”. It was that predetermined “Yes Lord”.

It didn’t take me long to be ready though, the following day I was ready with open arms to accept each and every overwhelming blessing that He could pour out on me, until I was ready to explode. Our God is so good, He picks us up out of the clay, covered in dirt, dusts us off, cleans us up, and then pours out His blessings on us like a son. That was how I felt as days were filled with preparations, organising supplies, meeting with the other’s that were going, plus the last minute addition of another team member.

We did get to go on one of the biggest shopping spree’s I’ve ever been on, we got to spend over $1000 on nappies, formula and toiletries! I have to say we had some of the most amazing ladies living with us in our dorm, not only did they unpack all the supply’s and fill 8 suticases all within weight, but when we found we had more room, headed out to Walmart to buy some extra supplies to make sure we brought as much as we could. I also need to mention the wonderful men who came to our rescue and loaded up the car with all the now heavy suitcases! What a joy to be living in an environment surrounded by godly men, willing to be men!

On top of all this it was our second last week at Ellerslie and we had many things to do to wind down and think about going home. I have to say, home was the furthest thing from my mind, all I could think of was Haiti! The days, so full, passed so quickly and before we knew it, it was time to leave!

My Adoption Journey (Part 6) Humility, Privilege and Dedications

I didn’t sleep most o that night, in fact I was up for the majority having an incredibly sweet time of intercession, warfare and prayer for the upcoming trip with a dear suite mate. Or bathroom buddy as I liked to call them.

Waking up early the next morning we had scheduled a sunrise walk. Before we left on this we were all given a little card with a scripture on one side and a quote on the back. Mine were:
“Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” Romans 8:37

“My main ambition in life is to be on the devil’s most wanted list.” Leonard Ravenhill

These two could not have been more perfect for me for that moment in time. Heading back to our rooms after that we had a scripture from Song of Solomon to meditate on. I do confess that I did have a little nap that morning surrounded by the quiet peacefulness of an atmosphere seeking intimacy with Jesus. A picnic lunch followed by some precious sharing by a few ladies followed. I must confess I heard little of what was said as my mind was focused on the upcoming trip to Haiti, intermittently thinking and praying about all we were going to do there. Although I still hadn’t been told if I was going or not, there was nothing that could shake the knowing feeling I had.

I spent some time talking with some precious ladies and was one of the last to leave the chapel and head back to the dorms. In the hallway Grace steppes beside me and asked if she could walk with me back to the dorm as we lived in the same one. Thinking nothing of it I of course said sure! It was on that walk that she told me I had been chosen to go to Haiti. Although I didn’t tell her, I did feel like saying yes I know. She did caution me that sometimes these trips get cancelled and not to get too excited until the we were actually on the plane!

Returning to my room I was barely able to contain myself and my roommates knew there was something up, so swearing them I secrecy I told them I was now officially going to Haiti! I could hardly believe it. Now much of the rest of that day was a blur. We had an amazing picnic tea in the chapel, slumber party style, where we heard come of Grace’s testimony. The thing that stuck out most for me in that was, you never know who is watching or listening, and who can be impacted to change the world because of your obedience. I think if nothing else you get form reading this it would be that by the things God has given me the privilege to do that you would be spurned on to become a world changer.

Back to that weekend. To round off the girl time we watched the biography of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman who hid Jews in her house with her family during the second world war. It would end up costing the lives of her father and sister but one quote form her that would sum it all up is this
“You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.”
The reality of going to Haiti became a little more real that night, even though the possibility was very remote, I had to ask myself the tough question, was I willing to bleed, suffer and die for these people? I hope that even today, if that is what God calls me to He will give me the strength to follow through, and to Him be the glory.

The following morning was Sunday, and as God would have arranged it, it was “Child Dedication Sunday”, where in one morning over 40 children were dedicated to God. It was an incredibly beautiful service, where I confess that I wept through the whole thing, as family after family got up and present their children before God, dedicated their lives to Him for His glory. God was working on my heart throughout that whole time. There was one man who got up, he had as far as I can remember about five biological children and another five at least adopted children. He made one statement that God had made to him several years before that summed up my heart in its entirety,
“If I do nothing else in my life but open my home to You and raise the children You give me to serve, honour and glorify You then it will have been all worth it.”
That in a statement is how I seen the purpose of my life.

At the end of the service as the we worshiped God, He clearly showed me the whole purpose for me being at Ellerslie, it was this Haiti trip, but more than that, He had a child for me in Haiti. Although it wasn’t an almost audible voice this time. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was why I was there, it was for this little girl in Haiti. God had given me her name some time ago, the name He had for her. This was probably the most humbling moment of my life. More than being chosen to go to Haiti, the fact that God saw me, my past, all that I had been though and done, and He saw me worthy to give me a child. That He would entrust me with the life of this little girl to bring up to serve, honour and glorify Him. I spent several hours weeping over this, and even now writing it, I have tears, that God see’s me worthy enough to entrust me with the life of a child.