A year ago this week we left the DR to move to Austin. The boy’s first time in America. The big move I had been waiting for and wishing for and dreaming about and doubting would ever happen.
I got a call a year ago tonight from Barbara, the lady working on the adoption in Port au Prince. She said the boys’ travel papers were ready and we needed to get there as soon as possible.
We were ready to go – had been waiting a few weeks. Our apartment in Santiago, DR was packed for the move and our bags were packed for the trip. It was by far the most stressful time of my life. I had known that at any point we would be moving and our lives would be forever changed, but I also knew that there was a chance the adoption wouldn’t get expedited and I’d be “stuck” longer in the DR. I was on the brink of either great news or really discouraging news and it was extremely difficult.
I wish I could tell you that in that time I trusted in God so completely that I felt the peace that only He could give. But the honest truth is I was struggling with having to go through yet another huge parenting season on my own. I wanted to trust God’s plan, but I really felt like He was just leaving me to fend for myself. I knew God wasn’t like that, but that’s how I felt and I couldn’t pull myself out or figure out how to let God pull me out.
So I got the call from Barbara and we firmed up our travel plans to Haiti and then on to Florida and the DR. A friend of our family had his own plane and was doing earthquake relief work. He had offered to fly us from the DR to Haiti and then on to Florida. We set it all up for Wednesday, February 10th. On Tuesday, I went to the Santiago airport to make sure they would allow us to fly with Haitians who didn’t have passports. The boys had birth certificates, but we were flying from the DR to Haiti to get their travel papers. I was assured that it wouldn’t be a problem for Haitians to fly to Haiti without passports.
When we arrived at the airport the next day, different customs officials were working, and the supervisor told me in no uncertain terms that the boys could not fly internationally without passports. I explained the situation and he didn’t care. He was on a power trip and he wasn’t going to let us go.
I was angry. My friend Jamie was there and she later said, “I’ve never seen you that angry!” To which I replied, “I’ve never been that angry!” After three years of working on the adoption and still having a long way to go when the earthquake hit, to having our papers be approved after the earthquake…then this guy at customs in the Dominican Republic is going to keep it all from happening??
So now you’re probably wondering what we did. Because here we are in Austin, so we obviously got out. The short version is, I knew a pilot who had been doing a lot of relief work from the DR to Haiti, and I called him to come help. He was able to help in a huge way, and we were able to get on the plane and head to Haiti. If you think I’m being cryptic, I am. I can’t share everything on the interweb.
Photo courtesy of Holly Crim, who drove us to the airport.
So we got to Haiti, went to the US embassy, waited 5 hours, and finally got the paperwork we needed to leave with the boys (Jamie was traveling with me). We had an armed escort to the plane, and then flew off to Ft Lauderdale. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening.
We stayed overnight in Ft Lauderdale and then flew from Miami to Austin the next day. The boys were champion travelers and got tons of attention because there were a lot of orphans leaving Haiti at that time and people figured they were among them. We also stood in line at the Miami airport behind Sean Penn and Maria Bello. One was nice the other was weird. I’ll let you figure out which was which.
We got back to Austin to a group of friends welcoming us at the airport. We were on the news.
And then it began. Life in American with the twins. People kept asking me how I was doing and I really didn’t know. It was surreal. It was so glad to be here. But I had just unexpectedly moved from one country to the next with two 4 year olds. I needed to find a house, a car, schools for the boys (Isaak is deaf, so he needed a deaf ed program), etc, etc. I didn’t have time to process and think about this big life change that had occurred. The boys did great, loved their new schools, loved being in Austin. I was doing okay, but still hadn’t processed.
For a while I thought that I would process the whole thing when things settled down. But I never did and I wasn’t even sure what it would look like to “process” it all, so I didn’t know how to jump start it. Then I decided that it was just happening gradually over time, that there wouldn’t be some big time of processing in which I cried and couldn’t believe we were actually in the US, and jounaled about it and blogged about it. I figured I had just transitioned without processing.
Until this week. The one year anniversary of our arrival. Yes friends, it’s happening. I’m processing it. I’m tearing up thinking of them and the opportunities they now have. I’m realizing that God is teaching me now how to trust Him completely with my life and with theirs and that in that process, I find healing and restoration for the hurts and confusions of the past.
I leave for the DR on Friday, the one year anniversary of our arrival. I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s how it’s turned out. And thinking about that makes me process the whole thing even more.
God is teaching me so many things that I wanted to learn a year ago, two years ago, three years ago in my – dare I say – despair(!) of being a single mom and feeling completely overwhelmed and under supported and maybe even forgotten by God. No, I knew He didn’t forget me, but I felt like He had asked me to do this HUGE thing and then sort of left me to fend for myself. I know that’s not right. I know God is loving and kind and faithful and true, but I didn’t “feel” those things back then. And now I do, and it’s bigger than just for this moment, it covers this whole time. Four years of working towards an adoption that looked like it might never go through. Four years of being a single mom to two rambunctious boys who really needed a daddy. So this is me, processing.
And this is us.