Thursday, January 30, 2014

dawn


 It is dark.

 It's dark and cool in here, I am propped up with 3 pillows and the light of this laptop illuminates even more than I need to see to type. Outside I hear the guard, who is seated on a plastic chair by the gate, talking on his cell phone. Andrew is awake, too, on a bunk bed across the room, and I am sure others are stirring in the house but for now it is still mercifully still and calm. It is still night, really. Soon, the street outside will get noisy with vendors, children off the school in uniforms and pigtails with oversized white bows in their hair, with feral cats and dogs wandering, with trucks rumbling, cars careening, with roosters crowing, with music ringing but for now....it is really still night. 

 I want you to know what the challenge here for me is, in writing to you. First, Haiti is a challenging country to adopt from because it is always, always in a state of flex. It is like grasping water in your bare hands. You cannot get a clear focused picture of what is happening or what will come next until you are in the moment yourself. This is not adoption where things are processed briskly, maybe coldly, but at least efficiently and somewhat "conveyor belt". No, this is a rollercoaster...that you are riding while it is still being built. Second, Every single family who adopts from Haiti, I personally believe, is a pioneer at heart. This means you will climb unforeseen mountains, unchartered territory and that you will encounter terrain no one saw coming, and you will be taken aback by it. Then, you will clench your jaw, narrow your eyes and climb. There are some who are reading these emails who are behind me in the process of Haitian adoption, and I take them into consideration while I write. And I have a daughter who, one day many years from now, will possibly read these words as a journal of this time here and I take that into consideration, too.  There are 389 email addresses on this email link, blind carbon copied, and at the moment I have regret that I ever began to share this journey. I am wishing I hadn't invited all you readers to watch this, to know what it feels like to be constantly rejected by the daughter you absolutely 100% adore with every fiber of your being, because I want so much to spare everyone who loves children and adoption and Haiti and who feels tugged to be strong in their fight, and brave to their depths. I do not want anyone dissuaded, and so I wish I was not compelled to share. However, I have begun, and I want everyone of you reading now to belong to people who are "Team Babygirl" who will grip hands, side by side like a game of International Red Rover, calling for her to "come over", unafraid with me - undaunted with me - defiantly, determinedly believing with me. So,  I will share how we are now with you, trusting that the Lord will use this sharing for HIMSELF alone.

 Yesterday, we headed over to the babies at around 8:30, maxi skirts skimming the ground and Haitian beads around our necks, knowing the Social Worker was scheduled to arrive at 10. We had a noisy, delightful morning playing with all the babies, laughing at their sweet, silly, carefree baby ways and wrestling their tummies with tickles as they rushed us,headfirst,as we sat on the floor of the playroom. We played Ring-Around-the-Rosie, we brought a small Jawbone box and played worship music for them from our iPods, "All Sons and Daughters" and "Bryan and Katie Torwald" playing, replacing the tinny kids' praise songs sung by soprano children on the CD player for the first time. It was a lovely, wholly enjoyable morning, and my baby - though she wouldn't play in my lap or let me physically love on her - would sit next to me, hold my hand to walk somewhere else in the room, and generally NOT freak out with me. Serious progress there. By 11:30 IBESR had not shown up and so we left, so we could be fed at the guesthouse and the babies could be fed and napped. As soon as lunch ended at the guesthouse, the Haitian school headmaster and IBESR liaison, our friend, poked his head in the door and shouted: "OK. IBESR." and popped back out the door to head over. Both us adoptive parent couples, our American adoption coordinator from California and our young, precious Three Angels intern from Massachusetts, followed him over to the baby house, anxious and prayerful but calm, hurrying to the baby house around 1PM. 

 Approaching the house, we saw the gates open, a giant semi truck backed through the gates, a tremendous hose snaking its way through the courtyard, through the house, noisily bringing water to the reservoirs there, ending exactly where we found the IBESR Social Worker seated on the veranda at the only table, quiet and professionally, looking through paperwork with reading glasses in place already, her assistant (?) or driver (?) accompanying her. "This is not meant to make you nervous", we were told, "she just wants to ask you some questions. Be yourselves." Fair enough. The babies are all resting in their cribs in siderooms, the cheery morning of playtime has ended now, and the water truck guy is crouched at the foot of our table while his truck deposits water through a hole in the floor to the room beneath us, and he's listening interestedly and unabashedly to every word (who can blame him, really?) so we half-shout over the noise of the water truck. Our daughter and the other family's child are brought to us. My heart breaks and every ounce of maternal instinct I have to protect her gets called to attention. My child is utterly terrified. Her heart races as the nanny deposits her onto my lap and slips away. Her breathing is rapid, approaching these 8 or so adults, almost none of whom she knows and none very well, not a nanny in sight, and when they place her on my lap as wide-eyed and horrified as you can imagine, and my arms tightly wrap around her and I whisper: "I know, it's awful, I am so sorry, I gotcha - I gotcha - I gotcha" I hear her begin to cry, her shoulders silently shaking as her fear wraps around her again and again like a shroud of pain and bewilderment, cocooning her in emotional isolation.
The questioning begins, via the interpreter, all questions designed to prove that Andrew and I are familiar with her story (that we want to raise this particular child whom we have now met; that we still want her now) and they want it adequately shown that we have not personally known this child before this week, anytime before this invitation from IBESR has come to us to come bond with her for this 2 weeks, that she is Their Referral to give, that she is not too familiar with me, ("so they oughta be satisfied", I think to myself angrily, "she's freaking out here on my lap without a nanny") I tell the interpreter: "please tell her we love her" and he does, the Social Worker raises a hand to me and the answer comes back interpreted: "She says, 'I will decide'.
My heart hits the ground floor and a wave of bile rises.
My daughter's tears are running.

 The damn water truck guy is casually listening at the foot of the table with his hand amusedly on his hip and I glare at him, angry that he can understand all the things being said while I sit here like an idiot waiting for a translation after every line, understanding the further we go into the 4 pages of notes that I. am. not. being. understood. and there's nothing to be done. We wait while the other family is questioned just as hard, their son resisting even sitting with them. My wide eyes meet the other mother's eyes across the table and we just stare at one another, our message to one another reading: "WHAT THE HELL". I tell the interpreter with a good natured, "let's all be conspirators together, and let's break the mood" attitude while laughing, "please tell her we are intimidated" ( like "haha, isn't this all necessary but funny, since we all want the best for the children of Haiti and this one we have worked so hard together for?") and the response comes back only "yes". She will be back again, the translator tells us, and we will fill out more paperwork and she will watch us play and she will look for improvement in our bonding.
She leaves with her assistant, and we hand out traumatized children back to the head Nanny and they both dissolve completely on impact of her Haitian arms, their pooled eyes of tears turning from us gratefully. The other mama and I absolutely lose it. Our husbands both go to take naps once we are back at our guesthouse and sleep off a pain they could neither predict nor protect us from. 
My daughter is back at square one. 
She will have nothing to do with us. Friends, this is an anguish I cannot, even with all my love of words, describe.
 I will not try.

 It was dark. Friends, it was dark here just a few moments ago when I began this letter, remember, but the sun is coming up. I know that upstairs, if I were to go up on the rooftop where the laundry dries and mountains surround and the sea sits at their feet I would see the sun peeking out from behind a green crest. I know it will rise, and I know it will heat up this room til mosquitos are hard to dispel, and I know Petionville will come alive and I know the day will go on. I hear the first chirps outside our windows even now. It is dawn.

 It was dark with my baby, it was dark in my soul, it was dark in the agony that Andrew heard escape my lips. And I have never really understood the verse: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" but all I can tell you is that it woke me this morning, lit up in my brain, hung like a parade day banner across my heart when my first thoughts registered: "CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY". I don't imagine I interpret it rightly but I want to see some glory. I want the hope of glory. I want this story redeemed. I want an ending that makes sense of all that we are living through. I want beauty. I want justice. I want Jesus. I want dawn.

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