Sophna and Sophinia

Sophna and Sophinia
Our Girls

Saturday, March 26, 2011

We meet our girls' birth Mom

Before we went on our trip to meet the girls and file our paperwork, we were told that we would be meeting our girls' birth Mom. We didn't know until we were in Haiti that we would have the option of maintaining contact with her after our adoption is complete. I believe that God puts people in our lives for specific purposes. If it weren't for our close friends that have an open adoption, this concept might have freaked me out. But, our friends adopted their 10 year old son at birth and have maintained a relationship with his birth Mom. They consider her a part of their family and it is such a beautiful relationship.  He obviously does not question who his Mom and Dad are, but he also has no mystery or question about who his birth Mom is.  It makes me wonder what would happen if our society was less judgmental of birth Moms who choose adoption. Or what would happen if we would celebrate open adoption as an option so women wouldn't feel adoption means giving up being a part of their child's life.  Maybe new attitudes towards adoption would go a long way in making Roe v. Wade unnecessary?
Anyway, off my adoption soap box and on to my story.  Our itinerary indicated we would be meeting the girls' birth Mom on Wednesday.  I had so many people praying for this meeting, I really did have a peace that passes all understanding.  On Tuesday, we had all day at the hotel with the girls. We had just finished lunch when our guide, Patrick, found us at the pool and said "The girls' birth Mom showed up at the orphanage today because she can't come tomorrow".  OK, I panicked a little because I thought I had another day to get my thoughts together. 
We gathered up the girls, drove to the orphanage and took the girls to the toddler room. Out on the porch, a nicely dressed, very thin woman was introduced to us as the girls’ birth Mom - Alexandra. I gave her a hug and kissed her cheek and Jim gave her a hug. Through Patrick, who interpreted for us, she thanked us for adopting her girls. We thanked her for the girls. I sobbed and couldn't talk (this surprises no one, I know). Once I pulled it back together, we actually had a very natural conversation in a most unnatural situation. We told Alexandra we would send pictures of the girls to the orphanage as they grew up. She asked if she could send pictures of herself to the girls and we said “of course”. 
Education is very important to the people of Haiti - when we wrote our dossier to be approved by the Haitian government to adopt, we were encouraged to talk about our plans to educate the children we would adopt. Knowing this, I told her that we had a child already in college and that Sophna and Sophinia would also go to college. This made her smile! 
Jim told her we would have the girls pray for her and she said that was good, because she knew she needed to go to church more. I asked her if she had Jesus in her heart and she said "not yet but I am thinking about it"! So Jim told her we would pray for her to ask Jesus into her heart.
We asked her what she wanted us to make sure we told the girls about her as they were growing up.  She said to tell them that she was very young and very poor and couldn't take care of them.

Then they brought the girls out to us and Jim and I backed off and let her love on them. We no longer had an interpreter so we just sat together in a peaceful silence while she held the girls. We had someone take these pictures of us that I know the girls will treasure.  (Well, Sophna might not be happy that you can really tell she has that belly in these pictures!)


The nannies took the girls back to change diapers and when the girls were gone, she told an interpreter standing near us to tell us she was leaving. I said to the interpreter "ask her if she wants to wait to say good-bye to the girls" but she shook her head. I am sure good-bye was just too hard. Jim and I hugged her and I kissed her cheek and then she was down the driveway.
She can come see the girls every other month until we bring them home.  There is a specific day that birth moms can visit their children that live at the orphanage or get updates on their children who have been adopted. And, we are definitely committed to maintaining contact with her, through the orphanage, as our daughters grow. 
We know it just seems downright unfair that this Mom is not able to raise her girls because of the conditions in Haiti. She is living in a tent and looks like she can barely feed herself. But, the reality is, she chose love by bringing her daughters in to be adopted. We are so blessed and grateful to God to be given the chance to also choose love by becoming their Mommy and Daddy - in addition to, not in place of, the Mommy that gave them life. Please keep Alexandra in your prayers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet Our Girls


I am sure you have seen our video, but the moment they put Sophna and Sophinia in our arms, it was the same feeling as when they put our birth children in our arms – except I was in less pain J.  They immediately snuggled up to us but I am sure they were thinking “OK, who are these strange white people that are saying they are ‘Mommy and Daddy’”.
By the end of our time together, they were definitely bonded to us.  We got to take them back to the hotel and they spent three days and nights with us, played by the pool, ate with us, etc.  We dressed them, fed them, changed their diapers, etc. (children that only eat rice and beans have interesting diapers – enough said).  They only understand Creole, so we did a lot of pointing and a lot of saying “Mommy, Sophna, Daddy, Sophinia”.  

The girls see their picture on Dad's IPad.




These girls can eat!

Jim would give one of them an object and say “take this to Mommy” and they would march over and hand it to me and then look so proud of themselves.  We did learn the Creole word for “Leave” was “Allee” so when we said this, they would head to the door and put their arms up to us to be picked up. It was so adorable!  
 Just like other people we know with twins, these girls definitely have their own personality. Sophna is the alpha-twin and pretty much gets her way.  But when Sophinia finally has enough and takes a stand, she will pinch or smack Sophna’s arm to which Sophna laughs and gives her back the toy that she stole.  


video

The other very distinct difference between them is their size. Sophna is a good inch taller and she seriously has the most amazing belly (I am actually praying that this is not a medical issue).  Jim said at one point “that belly has its own zip code” so the other parents were congratulating us on our new daughters and our new zip code.  Sophinia is tiny and petite so most of the week I carried Sophinia and Jim carried Sophna because she was seriously a chunk to carry around.   We asked their birth Mom who was born first and she said “Sophna” to which we laughed and could just imagine Sophna pushing little Sophinia out of the way to get out first.

 
Sophinia had an instant bond and attachment to Jim so we decided on this trip to name her Jamie (James, get it) and we will change Sophna to Sophie - two Sophies would be a little confusing.   

It was incredible how God matched the kids with the adoptive parents on this trip.  We had only seen a picture so the personality match was a total God thing.  The single Mom who was adopting her first child at the age of 43 is adopting a one year old boy who was so calm and snuggly and would lie on her chest and stroke her long blonde hair.  The couple that had been married for 13 years with no children are adopting a 2 year old girl that snuggled with her Daddy and a 10 month old boy that would stare in his Mommy’s eyes like a newborn.  The sweet and sensitive Mommy is the Mommy of a beautiful 6 year old who is emotional and sensitive – and they both struggled with their good-bye.  The high energy couple with 2 kids in High School are adopting the very rambunctios 3 year old boy that kept them all running and chasing. It was just so amazing to see how God made sure personalities matched families. 


Of course, we got the girls that when you sat them down, they pretty much just stayed where you put them – this is because God knew we were too old to chase anyone.  And our girls loved to eat like their Daddy and power nap like their Mommy so they are definitely ours!


We can’t wait for you to meet them in person.  I decided I am going back at the beginning of June (this decision was made the day we were flying home and I couldn’t stop crying) and I think I am taking my 17 year old son with me to help carry the zip code and so that he can witness Haiti firsthand.  God’s timing is perfect for bringing our girls home but it is going to be a long year!

Friday, March 18, 2011

God meets me on the streets in Haiti

Since I couldn’t blog when I was in Haiti, I decided to put a blog out for each day of our journey.  This first blog is to explain the work God did in our hearts regarding the country of Haiti.  When we first arrived in Port Au Prince, we checked into our hotel and all of us new parents were beside ourselves to get to the orphanage and meet our children.  Instead, our guide from the adoption agency said, “We are going to take you on a driving tour of Port-Au-Prince first”.  I’m not sure about the other parents, but I know I was thinking “Driving tour?  I want to meet my children!”.  But now it is so clear to me that this was God’s plan for us to really, really understand why we were called to Haiti.
The first thing that strikes you as you begin driving is the amount of earthquake damage that has not been touched 14 months after the earthquake.  My cousin who lives in PAP had described this to me, but it was still pretty shocking to see that the government has left buildings in total shambles everywhere you look. 




Next, you simply cannot wrap your mind around the number of people living in tents.  It is estimated that 1 Million people still live in these tent cities.  As we drove, the tents and the poverty just went on and on and on.  Oppressive and overwhelming were the adjectives that kept coming to my mind.  These people have no electicity, no running water, and they sleep on dirt floors. Some don't have tents, they just have sticks and tarps. When it rains, they have to stand up because they can't sleep or sit in the mud. We simply just can't fathom month after month and now into years of living like this.


The next thing that strikes you is the garbage.  Everywhere you look it is garbage and filth.  We found out there is no place to take the garbage so it just piles up – can you imagine the health issues?  Along with the garbage it is shocking to see the wild pigs just rooting through the garbage right in the streets next to where people are living.  There is also a significance to these wild pigs that I will tell you about later in this blog. 


But what you just can’t take your eyes off is the people and the children.  They are all so thin and desperate looking and you know they must feel hopeless.  But in the midst of it all, you actually see smiles and waves and laughter.  As you look closer, you also see hard working people trying to change their situation by literally selling anything they can find.  And they are an enterprising people.  If there was a large pot hole in the road, invariably there would be a tire repair stand right next to it.  When we had to go to court, there was a man standing outside selling ties in case anyone needed a tie for court.  There are bottles of perfume for sale but we found out you don’t buy the bottle – you buy a spray of perfume.  Men have cell phones that you can pay them to make a phone call.  They call that a Haitian pay phone.  This is what made it so tragic to me that this government is doing nothing for its people to support private industry or meaningful work.  They are literally starving in the streets, willing to work, and yet they have no hope or future.



On this driving tour, God did business with me and spoke so clearly to me it still gives me chills.  We had gotten out of the van to take a picture of the cathedral that had been destroyed by the earthquake.  A man with one leg (in this picture) wanted to have his picture taken with me so that Jim would give him a dollar.  After Jim had taken the picture and given him money, people appeared out of nowhere to ask for money.  Thin and bedraggled children with no shoes.  Pregnant women pointing to their bellies and then to Jim’s money.  And then an elderly woman walked up with a broken arm that had never been set but was hanging limp and twisted.  Since we were being surrounded , we got back into the van.  Another adoptive Mom, Mandy, was sitting in front of me and she began to quietly sob as we looked at this elderly woman and these starving children.  I began sobbing too and suddenly I got it.  Lord, I get it, I GET IT! “For whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for Me”.  I was looking at the least of these.  They were right here in front of me.  We weren’t Americans and they weren’t Haitians. It didn’t matter if it was their government's fault.  We are just all God’s people and the “least of these” were right in front of me - God was telling me this is who needs our love in order to show Him our love of Jesus Christ.  These are a people that can’t go to a Prompt Care to set a broken bone, they can’t feed their children and must watch them starve to death before their eyes, they can’t go to school and get an education and even if they did, their situation would not change in this country.  They must receive the help of the “Haves” of the world and that is us!  In that moment, I knew that my husband and I would now forever have a ministry in our lives that is somehow connected to the people of Haiti and I am just waiting for God to tell us how to get started.
The second thing that God told me on that van ride to meet our children was that I will never, ever feel guilty about taking our daughters out of this country.  When you hear the words “no hope”, I have now witnessed this.  My daughters will be raised to love their country and will come back to help us in our ministry.  But it was never more clear to me that an international adoption means saving a life.  We learned that women are so desperate to fill their children’s empty bellies that they will feed them dirt. Some women will leave their babies in the ravines because they know the wild pigs will eat them. Some children will get sold as slaves or for voodoo rituals.  Our daughters’ mother (who you will meet in another blog) and those mothers who have brought their children into an orphanage to be adopted ultimately love, love, love their children to give them this gift of life. 
I know that the pictures and this blog are something that just don’t change a heart like the experience of meeting with God right in the streets of Haiti.  So when Jim and I ask you to go on a mission trip, we hope you will go with us to understand what God has asked us to do.  I am also hoping that others will open their hearts to adoption or at least sponsoring a child at our daughter’s orphanage (http://www.forhisgloryoutreach.org/).  Just wait until I do my blog about the children at the orphanage… Be ready to fall in love!
This all happened in our first 4 hours in Haiti…….

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a Week! God Keep Me Calm - Trying again

 So I wrote my first blog yesterday about our journey to adopt our twin daughters from an orphanage in Haiti and I learned a big lesson about blogging - don't write in a moment of weakness!  If you read it, I apologize that if you know me, it really wasn't very me. Talking about my stress actually makes this journey about me and it is absolutely not.  Beth Moore always says that low self-esteem is actually a form of pride because as a child of God, we are to shine for Him and nothing should be about us.  I feel the same way about what I wrote yesterday about stress.  So let me apologize and try this again!
The specifics of this coming week are: Saturday morning we drive to Chicago, Saturday afternoon we fly to Miami, Saturday evening we spend the night in Miami and Jim's parents are coming to the airport to take us to dinner (yay! We haven't seen the snowbirds since Christmas), Sunday morning we fly to Haiti and Sunday afternoon we meet our daughters!  I am so excited to hold those precious little girls that I can barely contain myself.  Then Monday through Wednesday we have court appearances with the Haitian government and with the US Embassy.  Please pray that we are taking all the right paperwork.  Trying to understand the steps in this process has been a bit of a challenge.....
The emotions of this week have been incredible and I cannot believe in 5 days I will be loving on my precious little ones.  As a bonus, the past month has put us in the path of three other incredible adoptive families that we also get to meet and travel with.  My cousin and his girlfriend live in Haiti (he is director of Architecture for Humanity) so I get to see them, I get to meet the amazing nannies at the orphanage who love and care for 70 children that would otherwise be on the street, and I am really excited about experiencing the Haitian culture so I can better understand my daughters' heritage.  OK, the food I am not so excited about but don't tell anyone in Haiti....
So today is just another day at work and one day closer to flying to where my heart is at an orphanage in Port Au Prince Haiti.  Pictures and updates to follow!