The miracles that led us to our adoption did not stop when we were matched with our son. God continued to shower us with blessings throughout the process to encourage us to keep going – to keep fighting to bring our son home. Those blessings and prayers fueled me during the valleys of despair and discouragement.
Mothering from afar was not easy. Once I knew he was our son, my mama instinct kicked in full force. A piece of my heart would be in Haiti forever. Forever? Yes, he will always have family there. His family is our family and they are loved. I visited every few months, as often as I could. In between, I knew I was missing out on so much. Thinking of all the “firsts” he would have while I was not there, made me sad. God knew how precious that was to me, so He provided. On his first birthday, I received a photo. I was there in person when he said his first word. For the record, it was not mama or papa or dada. It was “Alleluia!” Yes, ALLELUIA! I have witnesses too! I received video of his first steps and first teeth and an abundance of pictures. For his second birthday, we had a 20 minute video call complete with birthday cake and singing “Happy Birthday”. In between visits, my prayers would be for his safety and health along with all the other children at his home.
Nothing made me pray more than being in Haiti and witnessing how hard it is to take care of the children. There are so many mouths to feed and bath and teach and keep healthy and love. My heart broke the first time I visited. Once you see these things, you can’t unsee them. Once you witness the heartbreak, your heart will continue to break for these children. Once you know their names and learn their stories, the term “orphan” is not some faceless, nameless idea that you can ignore from afar. I know them by name. I know them by face. They come from hard places and yet they sing and laugh and smile. The burdens they carry are much too big for their little shoulders. Parenting in Haiti is hard. The complexities of me parenting in a third world country was never exemplified more to me than one visit I had there.
Every visit proved it’s challenges in parenting, but one stood out above the rest. My son was just learning how to walk and was in that awkward top heavy-feet-not-in-sync-with-the-rest-of-the-body-phase. I was there with some friends and we were just sitting down for a Bible devotion time. He was walking when he tripped and fell. There was nothing I could have done to prevent this. I picked him up and saw lots of blood….an enormous amount of blood gushing from his mouth. My heart sank and the calm mama mode kicked in. However, I wasn’t at home and I didn’t have my small pharmacy at hand or an emergency room. He had bit the middle of his tongue almost all the way through. During this ordeal, I felt so helpless. Mothering in Haiti during a semi emergency tested me.
I wanted to be a comfort to him. And while he knew me after several visits, I was not his go-to person for comfort at the time. This stung. There was a point during his three hour crying session that he didn’t want me. He wanted the caregivers that took care of him everyday. In my head I understood this and of course he would want them and I was happy that he wanted them, but my heart broke. I wanted to comfort him. What was best for him at the time was to be comforted by the ones he trusted most and it wasn’t me. I walked away. I took a walk down the long hall balcony. My friend came out to comfort me. After those scary hours of the bleeding that wouldn’t stop, I broke. I was so thankful to have friends there with me as I navigated this new terrain of parenting there.
Figuring out how to be a parent to him from afar was so hard. It was messy and far from ideal. God taught me that friends are invaluable during crisis. He also taught me that accidents happen whether I am there or not and even in my care, things will happen. He reminded me over and over again that He is in control and He will take care of it all including the physical hurts and the heartaches. He is the Great Comforter, for me and my son. He can also fill in all the gaps. He has and He will.