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What can change in a single year…

Wow, did this really make me emotional… tonight, i pulled up the first picture that we ever saw of our daughter Christella, almost 5 years old, only 24 pounds.

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And Christella, today, almost 6 years old – and a very healthy weight! 🙂

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As two born, not of flesh, but of heart and soul… a day to remember…

We arrived in Port-Au-Prince on Monday afternoon; almost completely without incident. 

There were no mobs of people, we were able to get right through immigration and right through customs all by ourselves; and we only had to wait about 30 minutes for our ride; and it was a great sight to see our friends come pick us up!

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Here is a road sign for the road the Crèche is on.

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We spent the afternoon at the orphanage; and it was so amazing to see our children again!

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Our daughter is getting so big; she is finally starting to look like a 5 year old (perhaps even a bit older) – our son has fallen in love with me; at one point, after playing and roughing around, and squirming and fidgeting, he just turned around and gave me this gigantic hug, and he just kept hugging me.

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He has become so attached that when his biological mother Nathalie was holding him; he kept reaching for me; it was bitter sweet…

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And it took Christella ALOT less time to warm up to us as well…

 

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but I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

Last night we arrived from the Orphanage around 5:30 I crashed hard – I couldn’t stay awake; I couldn’t get up; I could barely even move… I have no idea what was wrong with me… but apparently I really needed sleep.

Around 5:30 this morning our son woke us up – he wanted his second bottle of the morning – his cry started very docile and weak; but rose to a wail that was both loud and soft at the same time; he settled down for  awhile, except; he was soon standing in his pack-n-play, he really wanted attention – he is so used to having 15 other babies to play with… did I mention he is both crawling and standing now… (Oh and eating everything he can get his hands on – I had to save this poor plant).

 

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What we didn’t know was that morning at 5:30; his mother showed up at the Crèche just as she had promised she would; and she just sat there and waited until 1:00 o’clock when we were finally able to get back to the house…  but again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were supposed to be to the Embassy at 11:00 and were supposed to be picked up at 10:30; however, when I called Chris to ask how her hectic morning was going – she was in a big rush and said she’d have to get back to me; a child had taken ill and was unresponsive (the child turned out to be ok in the end; just had a very high temperature) – but that made the already hectic morning even more hectic.

So we arrive at the Embassy around 20 minutes late (no pictures; you can’t bring anything in with you but papers basically) – and the Embassy went amazingly smoothly.  We were able to file our i600 (this was the third attempt) – we were able to file both the i600 and our Adjudicate Orphan First advance processing.  This AOF paperwork will allow the Embassy to research the children’s eligibility for immigration long before the final court decree in Parquet – it will keep us from having to worry about adopting our children who then can’t legally im to the U.S. and will help speed up the process as well, because that research can be done while we’re doing a lot of the other court work; there are some potential pitfalls for this approach too – but I won’t go into them here… as I think we’re going to be all set.

So, that took us until almost 12:30; we had our Interview with the Embassy, paid our additional fees, signed papers, and we were back out the door. 

When we got to the Orphanage, we met Mamma David (Nathalie) and Christella’s Uncle Bernier (we talked a lot during the day; but it was always SO noisy) at the Orphanage.

 

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Our lawyer did an amazing job in setting up an interview with the judge in just one afternoon; he had all the papers ready and waiting for us to sign them.  The ride was amazingly eye opening – like always, but I couldn’t take pictures, because I was busy holding on for dear life… I’ll try and get some pictures from the back of the box truck tomorrow…

After talking with the Judge we found there was a slight problem; the Judge was fairly new to his post; and he wasn’t sure if he could allow us to sign the papers – because we are under 35 and thus can’t legally adopt in Haiti – we know we need a presidential waiver to adopt; but he was thinking perhaps that he couldn’t allow us to sign with the parents until after the presidential waiver.  Our lawyer pulled out his law book and showed the judge that we could get a waiver after the signing, because we were more than 20 years older than our children we are adopting, and were married for over 10 years.  The judge graciously agreed to allow us to sign today; and he was going to research and have our lawyer provide evidences to confirm our ability to adopt tomorrow.

However, after we were all done; and we thought we were complete, and we were just waiting to sign documents; our friend Junior realized that they had recently changed addresses at the Crèche, and the new address put the Crèche in a new district not overseen by this judge.

While we were waiting, a policeman that towered over me, holding what looked to be a sawed off pump action shotgun and escorting a prisoner came and stood in my face and yelled “An Fom” – I had no idea what he said; so I said “Sa k’ Pase” (What’s up) – and he said “An fom” and I said “Myen Pa Konnprann” (I don’t understand you) so he responded “Komo ye” (How are you), and I responded (Bon anpil).  He then proceeded to ask me my name, my wife’s name and Chris’ name.  He then told me to have a good day and walked out the door.  Junior came in from outside laughing, because the guards were outside laughing about it – I guess the Policeman was trying to intimidate me, and was just messing with me.  I guess I’m too dumb to be intimidated.

So after it was confirmed that we were at the wrong judge, our lawyer once again went into overdrive and instantly got in touch with the new judge we were supposed to see – and got us an immediate audience – I was amazed!

So, we got back in the box truck and went for another drive.  When we got to the new court house; we met the judge; the first thing he said to me in Kreyole was “If you weren’t with him (my lawyer) – there is no way I would let you into my court house wearing shorts”…  I felt really bad, because I knew that in Haiti it is very important how you dress, however, I had told our Lawyer that I had no long pants, because I couldn’t survive the heat in them – and he said it was ok for me to dress in pants…  My lawyer told me after the judge was kidding – but the judge never let on that he was….

Anyway, this new judge accepted our request; and we got the family council done, the Adoption Decree done, and the PVA done, all in a single swoop! 

Below are pictures of Amanda and I accepting the parental rights of David and Christella, whom their guardians had just previously relinquished to us; this is kind of akin to standing before a judge and saying “I do” during a wedding; it was amazing, and hard all at the same time…

When asked if there was anything Nathalie would like to know about us, she replied, that she knew all she needed to know – that we loved David, and we would provide a good home for him.  She also said that she would pray for us.  She asked one thing of us, and that is if David could come to Haiti and visit her when he turns 18 – we have already begun preparing for the day, and we have already told each other that we would support our children wanting to learn and know their roots – so this was an easy answer; but it was a sad question to answer too.

(Although it’s gross – you can see that I was SOAKED in sweat!)

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It was also sobering, as always – to get a glimpse into the life of this country.  Christella’s uncle told me a lot about her family, and his.  He is a builder by trade, but he is no longer working; he has 7 children to care for, and can’t afford to send them to school.  As we were running around from place to place today; Amanda bought some water for us out of a bag from a bucket from on top of a street vendor’s head – while reluctant to drink; i was exhausted and dehydrated, and hadn’t eaten anything but a few crackers since 7 o’clock this morning.  But then I realized that Christella’s uncle and David’s mom probably hadn’t eaten hardly anything that day either; but at the end of the day I was going to climb back into the bed at the hotel, have a full meal, air condition, and all the water I could drink. 

There was so much I want to do to help them;  but, there isn’t much I can do for many different reasons – more than I can go into here… at least for now… I don’t know about the future…

So now; there is still a big long list of things that our lawyer needs to accomplish before we can even get into the IBESR (Haitian Social Services) – but we are amazed (and Chris the Crèche director also seemed amazed) at how much we were able to get accomplished today.

At this point; I owe gratitude to our lawyer, Cliff, the orphanage director and assistant director Chris and Junior, and the H.I.S. Home staff; Gary, Richmond, Jude, Marlene, and Hal – and so many other people that I don’t even know by name that made today go as well as it did.

And of course, without question, God.  I was sitting and praying for most of the time in the judge’s office today.  Once again, He has shown Himself to be strong when rescuing us from some of the most impossible situations. 

It is now storming horribly outside right now, the internet keeps going up and down; the MagicJack is working on and off; i have dust caked to my body, covered in sweat, I smell – I can’t smell from the burning left in my lungs from the days air intake, my body aches, I have a headache… I’m suffering some of the left over effects of dehydration, and the left over effects that I have when my blood sugar gets low after I go so long without eating but in the end; I would have to say, that this is a day that I never want to forget… 

Today, I witnessed the birth of Christella Logiodice, and Jediah Logiodice II; and like the other three births before them; it brought me to humble appreciation and love for the God that is.

 

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Children’s Studio Session…

Amanda realized that because she takes so many pictures of other people’s children, that she never takes any pictures of ours… so she decided to do studio sessions of the children today… I’ll post each child’s picture in this Blog as I get them emailed to me 🙂

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The hidden truths

It was pretty disturbing to find how much of Haiti’s current economic crisis was caused by the tampering by American politics when reading an amazing book called Mountains Beyond Mountains (although this books primary purpose is to discuss the life work of Dr. Paul Farmer to help the destitute people of Haiti)…

 

And then I watched the movie tonight Aristide and the Endless Revolution which went into much more detail around the politics of Haiti in the 90’s and early 2000.

 

The other side of the story…

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with Mary, Ralph’s mother.  She said that this year was the first year that Ralph was in the compassion program, and his older brother has never been in the compassion program, that their need is very recent.

Mary’s husband has the skills of a mechanic and a mason, but there is no work in Haiti.  He was working in the Bahamas as an illegal so he could send money back to them so they could live.  They caught him and sent him back to Haiti.  She works sometimes as a cook, but it doesn’t bring in very much money at all, and her husband cannot find any work now.

I asked why they didn’t apply for a Visa; she said that it used to be that Visa’s were much easier to come by, if you had money – around 1,000$ US (which is a years worth of rent) – but now, you can’t even get them that way anymore.  They give out so few Visa’s that it’s near impossible to get them, and there is probably no possibility of ever getting a visa after being caught illegally in another country.

Apparently the economics of Visa’s goes something like this: very few Visa’s are given to people wanting to go to countries that are economically better than their own country – they are afraid the people will skip town and not come back.  Additionally, for every one migrant worker there is a worker that is displaced, replaced from that country.

And yet, these migrant workers will do the jobs that a lot of people don’t want to do in the country they are going to – mostly because they are hard, tireless and difficult, and sometimes even dangerous.  Most of the time these migrant workers work VERY hard, because they are supporting so many people that they can’t afford to be displaced, and the very little they get paid is like a fortune in the country they come from.

Towards the end of the day Mary described her situation and told me that their greatest need right now is financial; they pay about $80 US a month for their rent… I found out that the average Haitian income sometimes ranges a little higher than I previously thought – between $30-80 a month, but with a rent of $80 a month, that doesn’t leave anything for food.

Now that I’ve seen the impacts first hand from the immigrant workers perspective, with my own eyes, I may very well be in the process of changing my views…  Odd how experiences can do that to you….