The summer of 2016 did not go at all how I had planned, but apparently God had a different type of story in mind! I guess the best stories have a big climactic nail-biter at the end, so we can definitely say it hasn’t been dull! (I would have happily taken dull though!)
We thought we would finish our adoption process and go to Haiti at the end of May, but instead we found out that Orlanka “needed” to have a TB test that would take 8 weeks to get back from the lab. Every bit of information we got in that time was like pulling teeth…eventually mid-summer, our adoption agency representative was visiting Haiti and while she was there, she took Orlanka to the hospital to meet with a doctor with whom we were very blessed to get in contact. This doctor, Dr. Rouzier, turned out to be such an angel through the summer, as she personally emailed and called me to keep me in the loop. The week after Orlanka had some additional testing (because we wanted to find out if there was a true concern regarding her health), I went to Haiti to get the results, visit the girls, and get to the bottom of the some of the confusion we had met along the way. While I was there, Orlanka had a fever and we had blood work done. At that time, she had a lung infection and started antibiotics, and we also saw her CT scan and X-ray which shows her left lung with permanent damage from multiple infections in the past. But thankfully, no sign of TB, even though the nurse at the creche was still giving her medications for the disease. I could not wait to get her out of there! Those weeks from the end of May until the end of July were so excruciating!
Finally August 19th, 2016 came, and we waited anxiously for word from the panel physician, lab, and Embassy. We found out her TB test was negative and praised the Lord for that, but another issue had come up. On Saturday Aug. 20th, the physician said we needed to wait another 4 weeks for a 12 week lab. Dr. Rouzier stated clearly there was no such test. There was just confusion and frustration all around! We all prayed, talked with our Senator’s office (again), and contacted the Embassy for ourselves. Finally, by the next Monday, Aug. 29th, the physician had been convinced of his error (I suppose? I actually don’t know how it happened) and sent a completed medical report to the Embassy. The next day, Tues the 30th, we got the visa scan we had been waiting SO LONG for!
That day was crazy. We needed to buy 4 tickets going and 6 coming back! I was telling the family, “I could just go get them right now if I was going by myself” because I knew how quickly and easily I could get one ticket…And they all agreed to just have me go. So, the next morning we got up at 3 a.m. and I went to Haiti to GET OUR GIRLS!
August 31st was our Gotcha Day, and it was an awesome day! I dropped off my stuff in the room when I arrived and went straight to the creche to get them. We went from room to room, giving out toys and taking pictures and saying goodbye. I have come to love the children at that creche, especially the older group, ages 8-13 or so. I talked with those that I know have parents waiting for them, encouraging them, because I could tell it was really hard for them to see me but not their own parents. Orlanka especially wanted to say goodbye and get pictures. Woodjina wasn’t very interested in that, but just was overwhelmed by the excitement. It was an amazing moment when they climbed into the white van. Two nannies stood on the steps, waving, with the biggest smiles on their faces. They were so incredibly happy for these girls to be going home.
We went back to the guest house and I learned quickly how much they love to eat! They had a very hard time sitting in their chairs to eat; they stood in their chairs, walked around, got under the table, it was crazy! They wanted everything, and more of everything, all on their plate at the same time. They were just so excited to have choices and so much of everything. They sat to eat for about an hour at a time! I also learned quickly how much they love to take baths! They giggled and laughed and stood in the bathtub washing themselves and each other. It turned out they liked to take short baths both morning and night; they really care about being clean and I think it’s wonderful for their sensory needs!
The next day, Sept 1, we had to go to the Embassy and meet with some other people. They were very well behaved even as we sweated hard and ate melted chocolate protein bars all day. I was so thankful of how well we could communicate with each other! I can understand almost everything they say, and if I don’t understand, I can ask them to explain and they will. They loved their little backpacks I had brought them, which were full of toys, and they absolutely loved the underwear, outfits, and hair bows I had brought. They were just really overjoyed about everything.
Then Sept 2, we got up at 4:30 a.m., had some breakfast, and got to the airport! God intervened to help us in some scary moments there…Haiti has a way of making my heart race sometimes! No matter how late everyone and everything is in Haiti, the planes are not. In fact, sometimes they leave early. It’s crazy. So when I saw the longest line ever—literally going out the door—for security, I wanted to cry! And then a man with a sheriff badge on looked at me and said, “Adoption?” I said, “Yes.” And he escorted me to the very front of the line!!! We didn’t even get to sit down at the gate, we just moved from one thing to the next and the plane was ready to go before we knew it. The girls were beyond excited! They watched a movie, took naps, and played with ice and water in their cups. We went from Port-au-Prince to Atlanta, Georgia, and things went very smoothly at Immigration. When their Haitian passports were stamped, they became U.S. Citizens!!
In the Atlanta airport, Orlanka cried because she wanted to get right on the next plane, no waiting. Well, I did, too, but we had several hours to go! We went in a restaurant, and they ate chicken and fries…they loved it! We sat next to a really nice man who talked with us a little. He got an appetizer and a meal, and Orlanka yelled really loudly, “Manman, l’ap manje de fwa! DE FWA, Manman!” (Mama, he is eating two times, two times!!) I didn’t tell him what they said, but I had a good laugh. Later, he found us again in the airport and had bought the girls a Mickey and Minnie doll. They were also amazed (and a little scared) by the automatic flushing toilets and sinks! They yelled at the water faucets thinking they were voice activated. They jumped like 4 feet back the first time the toilet automatically flushed. They did NOT like the escalators, elevators, or moving sidewalks at first, but by the time we were in Louisville, they were more okay with it!
So, finally, on Friday evening, Sept 2, 2016, we had the moment we had been waiting for for so long…All six of us were finally together and HOME! Lots of sweet friends and family were there at the airport waiting for us, and I had had about 16 hours of sleep in 4 nights, so I was just sort of floating on fumes. Woodjina was frozen in my arms. She just didn’t know what to think at all, I felt so bad for her! Orlanka was a social butterfly, meeting everyone. Eventually, they both were running around playing with cousins and church friends! We also had a special visitor at the airport, their dear friend Katiana, who used to be with them at the creche in Haiti and now lives in Kentucky, too!!
No one could have written the ups and downs of this story except God, and we rest in the fact that whether we understand or not, His timing was perfect! Our journey belongs to the Lord, and I’m excited about Chapter Two. He did provide daily strength in His Presence while we waited, and that is my hope and joy because I will continue to need Him every hour in Chapter Two!
The Lord is good, and all of His promises will endure. Forever.