Monday, June 30, 2008

Little Son

So we were quietly sitting at home tonight and Brent said, "I miss Jessica." The puppies were curled up with him and Daddy would rather be snuggling with his little girl than the dogs.

Momma wonders how long it will be until they're home with us and we never again sit quietly at home. Instead we'll be chasing kids back to bed and reading bedtime stories and hope that they pass out from exhaustion just like we want to.

I wonder if Malot and Jessica are thinking of us.

I spent a lot of time snuggling with Malot and talking to him. He says this little "Mmhmm" at little intervals while you're talking to him. It's just adorable because it SOUNDS like he is agreeing with you but he really no idea what you're saying. I guess the tone of ones voice is pretty universal, though.

Bedtime with Malot was my favorite time. Momma and Malot slept in one bed. We'd snuggle close, face-to-face in soft light of the bedside lamp. I'd stroke his cheek and smile at him. He'd stroke my cheek back. I would tell him over and over that Momma and Poppa loved him (renmen Malot) that we were so excited to be able to be a family with him. I'd stroke his cheek and whisper to him about how wonderful we think he is. I'd say, 'I'm your Momma and you are my pitit gason." Over and over, we'd share these little whispers as he settled down for sleep.

One night, he was ill in the middle of the night. I got up and helped him to the bathroom. When we got him cleaned up, I tucked him back into bed next to me again and started again on our little snuggly whisper bed time routine: "Mama renmen Malot. Malot is Mama's pitit gason."
His eyes started to get a bit heavy, so I turned off the lights and rolled over to prepare to go back to sleep myself.

Imagine my heart when I hear this sweet little child, exhale this contended....deep....sigh and say

"mmm...pitit gason...."

His happy thought. My heart nearly burst as I realized that he's been waiting for his whole life for a mommy that just wants to be with him and tuck him in and tell him that he's her little son.

We need them as much as they need us.
Come home soon, my pitit gason.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What the Haitians Saw....

I mentioned that our tap-tap broke down a few times on the way to the Orphanage on our first day there. We were stuck on the Haitian equivalent of the 'freeway', which means we were in the middle of a 2-lane road being used as an 4+ -lane road and traffic was swerving around us. It's very possible that one could get carbon monoxide poisoning from just sitting by Haitian traffic. I don't think there are regulations about vehicle emissions in Haiti. It was quite a thing!

Brent and I are both professional people-watchers. We love to observe people. Airports are a particular favorite. We like to go to the mall on Christmas Eve and grab and Orange Julius and then sit on the benches in the hallways and watch all the craziness around us. It's fun to watch people in their "natural" habitat being... people.

So, from that aspect, I imagined to myself that we were, at that moment in Haiti, a bit like a special exhibit at a "people zoo".

This is what we looked like in the back of the tap-tap.

Along similar lines, there are a lot of UN soldiers in Haiti. You see UN vehicles all over the place. This vehicle drove behind us for miles.

The soldiers in this vehicle were from Brazil. They saw that I was trying to take a picture of their vehicle from the back of our taptap, so at the next stop, they posed for me:

A big thumbs up from the Brazilian soldiers!

So at the end of the week, when we were loaded up and heading back to the airport, this UN vehicle of Filipino soldiers was behind us.

As a testiment to what a strange site the "Americans in Tap-tap" exhibit was in Haiti, I saw that the soldiers were taking a picture of US!

So I flashed them a peace sign.

Their faces lit up and they tried to line up again to take a picture again:

I guess I'm not the only one that likes watching people....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

I didn't properly thank all the people that helped us in the last little while.

We're grateful to Amanda and Michelle and their respective families for taking care of our puppies while we flew off to far-flung places to meet our children.

We're so thankful to the dear friends who gave us money to give to the Orphanage. They were able to buy medication they wouldn't have had otherwise.

Without Trudi and Garrett, we might not have been able to make this last trip and there's no doubt in my mind that we wouldn't be adopting Jessica as well if we hadn't gone when we did. They gave us their skymiles and bought a ticket to Haiti for us. We will be eternally grateful - as a family - for that.

Michelle - who clothed our daughter and had diapers and medicine when we suddenly had 2 children on Thursday. Thank you, friend. We wouldn't have felt like we could bring her back to the hotel with us without you and your generosity. We're so grateful we had that opportunity to see them play together and make Jessica part of our family.

And the prayers - we can't say enough about what prayer can do. Sometimes you have to pray that the next appropriate person in this long line of processing will have the DESIRE to ACT on your paperwork today. Help us get them home. Thank you for including us in your prayers and thoughts.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Live the Dream

As I entered the city today, I found myself behind a Yellow Cab with a thought provoking bumper sticker. There, emblazoned on that adhesive paper were these profound words:

Become a Cab Driver.
Live The Dream.

Why haven't I realized that this must be what my life is missing! I tried to get a picture of this with my camera phone (while stopped at the stop light, of course. Safety first, people!) but I don't have a zoom on my camera.

I also had to giggle at the thought that there probably is not a more boring metro area in which to drive a cab than Salt Lake City.

Don't get me wrong. I love Salt Lake. It's a beautiful city. Utah's a pretty great state. This is the place, and all.

But there isn't a buzz here, or nightlife, or foot traffic, or a large number of PEOPLE....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Its thoughts like these that catch my troubled head when you're away and I am missing you to death."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pics from Day 1

This is the picture I took of Malot and I right when we met him. When I showed him this image on the screen of our digital camera, he snatched the camera out of my hands and STARED at the picture. His face got all scrunchy as he studied it. Then he leaned down and kissed the screen.

Momma melted into a pile of goo at that moment and I knew that somehow, this would work out.

This grainy photo shows Malot with the can of formula he picked up and carried around so he could "save it for his friend, Jessica". I took a picture because I thought it was sweet and kinda sad that he was so excited about a can of formula. Yes, he knew what it was, and yes, I had someone translate what he was saying from Creole so we're positive that's what he was doing.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who Needs Walmart When You've Got Haiti??

The Appliance Center

Clothing Stores...

Furniture Department...

Quaint Boutiques...

And... The Pottery Barn... or Wall...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Strings and Things

My son loves string.

I’ve already posted about his delight at finding a loose string on the hotel comforter that was long enough to use. He was so excited to get a string that he could tie it to his machin and use to pull that around. It only took one look at my pajamas for him to figure out that the ribbons threaded through the neck and leg openings were long enough for him to use. By the end of the week, they’d all been removed and fashioned into one delightful string for pulling his machin.

You can see from these pictures that you can do all sorts of fun things once your machin has a string:

Unfortunately, Malot doesn’t yet know that not all string-like things are created equally.

He was fascinated by our laptop. The Creole phrase he uses to describe the computer means “the machine that sings”. When he wanted to look at the laptop again, he’d ask if he could play with "the machine that sings to him".

I thought it would be fun for him to see what headphones do. I knew he’d never seen such at thing in his short life:

You can see the wonder on his face. He was completely enthralled with them.

For about 2 minutes.

That’s about how long it took for Malot to realize that headphones look remarkably like string. Very awesome string!

He realized that headphones are essentially three strings. Or at least they would be if only he could convince Momma to cut them for him. People wonder how we knew what he was saying since he only speaks Creole and we only speak English and I can’t really explain it. You just know some things. We learned to recognize at lot of things. I couldn’t repeat them to you so I guess that means I understand more Creole than I speak.

He carefully explained to Momma that if I would just “cut it” "RIGHT HERE" (and he’d show me the junction where the earpieces branched off from the plug) then he would have MORE strings. What could be better than having more string?? He even showed me another machin that he’d be able to play with if only he had more string!!

“See, Momma. Just right here. Cut it, Momma, cut it. Right here.”

Momma gently kept repeating that if we did that it would break and that it wasn’t a “string” like he thought it was. He unfortunately does NOT recognize several words that Momma uses. He was just convinced I wasn’t listening or didn’t understand. So he took matters into his own hands.

Or teeth rather.

He did succeed in biting through them. He was quite pleased with himself. And then, of course, he put the earbuds back in his ears and waited expectantly for the music to start.

Funny how you can also tell when your son is telling you to “fix it, Momma, fix it.”

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Sneek Peak At Malot's High School Dance Pictures

My son is short.

He can't help it - he's malnourished and he has bugs in his gut.

But there's something about these shots with our friend, Destina, that just makes me chuckle.

I spent my life as "the tall girl". My son will have a very different experience.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Maybe I Should Have Hugged Her and Rubbed a Bit of Haiti All Over Her...

The only time this last week that I wanted to put a child over my knee and beat them occurred on the last leg of my trip home. Our plane in Denver had some delays and we sat on the plane for a bit while those were resolved. Directly behind me were two of the most spoiled, self-centered, teenage girls I've ever seen. I won't tell you all the reasons they should be grounded for life, because this one ought to sum it up quite nicely.

They were watching the airport crew load the bags and things to prepare the plane. They made all sorts of comments, but the one that was the clincher was when the 13 year old said the following about one of the women on the ground crew for our plane. (picture the disdain in her voice)

"Oh... My... Word.... LOOK at that girl. She looks POOR!"

I can think of worse things than being poor, child. And she, at least, has the ability to work - an art that I'm sure has been lost on you.

Letter To Our Son

I'm sitting on the plane from Miami to Denver and trying to doze where I can. I'm not sure what I'm dreaming about exactly, but I know that I hear your little voice say, "Wi, Momma!" over and over again.

I'm sure this morning was as hard for you as it was for us. I wonder how the rest of your day turned out for you. I hate that we don't speak Creole and can't explain to you what is going on. It wouldn't have made leaving much easier, but it would have been nice to be able to tell you myself that we will come back for you. Given what I saw this week, I can only imagine the fit you threw when you figured out that the machin Momma and Poppa were in didn't go to the same place your machin went. Momma did a lot of crying as well, if it makes you feel any better.

Poppa and I are so glad that we were able to come to Haiti and meet you this week. I wonder what you'll remember of this trip by the time we are finally able to bring you home. Will this all seem like a dream to you in a month? I hope it was a good dream. All the food you wanted. All the hugs and kisses you could stand. A momma and poppa to love you and hang on your every word and facial expression. And did I mention the food? I would not have guessed that a such a tiny little boy could eat so much or so often. I think you gained a few pounds this week and I'm so pleased.

I wish that this process didn't take so long. It's horribly hard on all of us to wait on governments to process paperwork so that your adoption will be able to be final. I met a man on the plane to Miami who had come to America from Trinidad. He said he was amazed that "there seems to be a paper for everything in America" or something like that.

I thought you did very well this week, Bebe. You met two strange adults and were able to deal with the changes we brought into your life and your routine as we took you out of the orphanage and took you to our hotel to stay for a week. It must seem like a dream to you. It's so sad to me to see what happens in your orphanage all day long. You must get so bored. I'm so grateful that Momma Nadia has given you a home and that she feeds you but there's so much more that you need. There's so little to do when you live in an orphanage, particularly a new orphanage like yours. Momma Nadia is trying to get things established as quickly as possible but some miracles take time. She has so much she wants to be able to do for you and for Haiti. Someday there will be a bigger facility with room to play and things to do and learn. Nichole and Harry are going to see if they can help us hire a teacher to come to the orphanage and give you school classes. Wouldn't that be fun if you could start to learn about numbers and colors and letters? If we're forced to spend time apart, it would be nice to have at least a portion of that time used productively for you.

Momma needs to figure out a way to get Creole to stick in her head. There were so much frustration for you this week because Momma doesn't know how to help you understand sometimes.

In some ways it was a long week. You and your sister, Jessica, seemed intent on making sure that Poppa and Momma didn't sleep at all the last few nights. :) That's OK. Mommas need to be with their sons, even if it's 2 in the morning.

Momma read Tant Chris's blog today while she was waiting for the plane in Miami. She said that she and your kouzens are trying to learn some basic Creole phrases so that they'll be able to tell you how excited they are to meet you. It's not just Momma and Poppa that want you home.

We'll be thinking about you every day, Bebe. Momma et Poppa renmen ou anpil, Malot. Ou tre presie.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Can We Get These Children Again Next Time?

Malot's name will be Malot. His birthday will be changed so that he'll turn 3 this October, but I'm fairly positive he's 4-4 1/2 right now.

We're not exactly sure how old Jessica is simply because this whole thing happened so fast they didn't have time to get everything ready for us. We'll keep her first name, though.

I find that we still talk about the kids and our future in terms of 'ifs" and not "whens". We're still very guarded about the whole thing. The other family on our trip lost their daughter, Ellie, several weeks ago. You might remember reading about that. This was a major emotional roller coaster for both of us and both families came into the week only knowing for sure about one of the two children they ended up with by the end of the week. Michelle knew they wanted Destina and "a little girl around 1 year old" so she had to choose a little girl at the orphanage on Monday. (Also not an easy task, but Gracie will be perfect for their family. She did well!)

We found ourselves joking this morning about "How do we tell Nadia in Creole that 'We want these same kids the next time we come'?" It's hard to have to start over. It's been a rough year.

Hopefully we're on a more consistent path now.

Time will tell.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Haiti Is Like Costco... You Can't Leave With Just One Thing...

Looks like we'll be parents to a cute little girl named Jessica as well as a wonderful little boy named Malot.

It's unbelievable to watch Malot with Jessica. He spontaneously will decide to put lotion on her (which is a very necessary thing for them) and he just loves to rub her arms. He kisses her and loves on her and talks to her in a little "baby talk" voice. He seems to know when she needs help with something and he's just right there for her. She walks a bit, but is very unsteady. I turned around today to find Malot holding Jessica's hand to help her walk to Pappa today. He'd seen her try to stand up and wanted to make sure she could do it.

He also has been very understanding with her. As you would expect, he's been extra clingy to me since we brought Jessica with us on Thursday. He's constantly walking over and asking me to pick him up. He just lays his head on my shoulder and strokes my neck. But Friday morning, I was holding Malot and Brent was in the shower when Jessica started crying. I turned Malot and said (in plain old English), "Malot, can you jump off so I can hold Jessica?" and he said, "Wi" and slid off my lap and walked over to Jessica and patiently waited. I was so shocked (I'd been expecting a fight because he's been so clingy) that I knelt next to him and said, "Merci beaucoup" and he grinned so widely! He KNEW he was helping and he was excited about it.

We've had some "sibling jealousy".... I've been calling Malot, "Bebe" and I say it with this silly inflection. When I call him that way, he always answers with "Wi?" or this cute little "Huh?" Well, on Thursday evening, I was playing with Jessica and I called HER "bebe". Malot stomped his little foot and let me know in no uncertain terms that HE was my "bebe" and that I was not to call HER by HIS nickname. It's quite funny when you have no doubt what a little boy in saying to you in Creole. I apologized ("Regrete, Malot. Momma regrete."). He nodded. My apology was accepted and he was mollified. All was again right in his world.

Malot has some very emotional concerns regarding food. These things happen when you go without food. He carried a granola bar or two with him the whole week. He just needed to know it was there if he needed it. He's thrown some huge fits over the panic he gets when he's not sure what's going to happen for food. And he doesn't want you to hold his granola bars. That's HIS and he needs to keep them or HE needs to put them down. He doesn't want you to take them away from him and set them down for him. So with that in mind, it was interesting to see that he does share with Jessica quite readily. He's given her one of his granola bars several times. He just seems to really enjoy making sure she's happy.

The whole thing seems pretty surreal, but then there's not a lot that's "normal" about adopting from Haiti. Why should selecting children be any different? It was also exactly what we needed. Neither Brent nor I were sure what we wanted to do, but Malot knew what he wanted. He wanted "Malot et Jessica" to "vini" with Momma.

I think I'll actually look forward to that day sometime down the road when Malot is terribly frustrated with his sister getting into his things again and I can say, "I don't know what to tell you, son. YOU picked her...."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And a Little Child Shall Lead Them....

We found out when we arrived in Haiti that if we don't get two kids NOW then we will either slow down Malot's process by trying to add a child to our files when we find a 2nd child in the future or we have to pay all the dossier fees for translation and authentication again. We aren't prepared for two children this week - we only packed for Malot. So this has been on our minds since found out about it on Monday but we haven't known what we should do about it.

When we arrived in Haiti and met Malot, we got off to a pretty good start. He's got a warm personality and he was pretty willing to come with us. He followed us into the back bedroom where we were unpacking our suitcases with donations. Malot saw a can of formula and became so very excited! In Creole he said, "I'm taking this for Jessica!" With the help of one of the aunties that speaks a bit of English we asked him who Jessica was and he said that Jessica was his friend. He carried that formula around for the entire time we were at the orphanage. We asked the workers at the orphanage and no one knew who Jessica was. No Jessica here. They suggested that maybe we heard the name wrong.

Then when we got him to the hotel and showed him the toy cars (machin) that we brought for him, he set one aside and made a comment about Jessica. It appeared to us that he wanted to save this car for Jessica.

He's so cute when he says "Jessica". With his great accent it comes out like "dje-zee-ka".

When the coordinator returned from helping at the orphanage the next day she said that there WAS a Jessica there, but that she was only 18 months old. This Jessica also doesn't live at Malot's orphanage. She lives in another location owned and run by the same woman and so they brought her over today to have her photo taken so that our agency could begin the process of finding parents for her.

There was a fair amount of confusion about how Malot would have even met Jessica, let alone have interacted enough to say she was "his friend". She's visited the orphanage, but she doesn't live there and, well, there's a lot of mayhem in an orphanage. How he would have picked out this baby from some visits.... it didn't seem likely.

On Wednesday Nichole brought her computer to dinner and was showing us the pictures that she was able to take that day. Our friend's oldest daughter, Destina, had a great time pointing out the children that she knew in each picture. She'd point to them and say their name. (And apparently there are a few little spats in the orphanage because there are a couple of young girls that she didn't want to talk about.)

We tried to get Malot to do the same thing- name off his friends as we went through the pictures. He looked at them with interest, but he would only nod his head when he saw one of his friends.

Until we arrived at Jessica's picture.

That picture came up and Malot's face brightened and he said, "dje-zee-ka!" and pointed at this little girl. He said Jessica is his friend. And all the adults in the room looked at each other in wonder.
I got copies of the photos of the other children that we were interested in and that night, I sat down with Malot and asked him some very basic questions in my slaughtered Creole. I really had to see what my little boy was thinking and why he feels so strongly about this little girl.
I asked him if Momma loved him and he said, "wi" (which is so cute when he says it because it comes out "Ooowiii, Momma"). I asked him if Pappa loved him, and if he loved Pappa (all questions he answers with "yes".) I threw him a curve ball to see if he was listening and asked him if he loved Nerlange (and sorry, Nerlange... Malot doesn't love you). Then I asked him if Malot loved Jessica. "Ooowii, Momma! Malot et Jessica vini.." (Basically saying that he loved Jessica and that he and Jessica were coming with me.)
So we made the trek back to the orphanage today. We had to see what all the fuss was about. It was hard for Malot to go back there, being afraid that they would make him stay. It was hard for me to watch what he was going through knowing that Saturday morning when we leave will be so much worse.

They had a driver go pick Jessica up from the other orphanage and bring her to Malot's orphanage. He didn't react much to Jessica when we were there. He was tired and cranky and Jessica was screaming her head off. I mean SCREAMING for the entire time we were there. Inconsolable.

Somehow we felt like we'd give it a shot and bring her back to the hotel tonight and see how Malot does with her when he's out of the situation where he feels he has to hide from the workers that might make him stay or that he must fight with the other kids who want attention from HIS momma.

When we loaded up the tap-tap, Malot could see that Jessica was getting into the cab of the truck with Pappa and he was happy about it. I didn't catch all of his comment, but it pleased him.

When we got her back to our room, he went to her and started playing with her feet and talking to her sweetly. He kissed her cheeks and her hands, and tried to help her hold her bottle. Brent and I looked at each other and thought, "where is the busy little boy that we have had the rest of this week who doesn't initiate hugs and kisses?"

So needless to say, we're announcing that it's probably a girl and that we'll get more details after we get the full referral. Shes very aware of Brent and she shares everything she's eating with her fingers with him. It seems Brent's super fond of her as well and so far she's been fairly happy in his arms. Well see how it goes.

Malot, I wish I understood what you know about this little girl....

Sharing Is Caring

You don't waste food when you live in an orphanage. You don't know when you'll get more of it.

But it IS acceptable to pawn your cast-offs to someone else.

You can tell when the kids are getting full because they start giving away what's on their plate.

It also turns out that, truth be told, neither of the older kids on this trip like beans. They ate them the first day in their rice, but they've picked more and more out of their rice as the week has gone on. And the look they get when they find a nasty bean in their beans and rice is priceless.

It's amazing how having options gives you the ability to have opinions.

Now that the kids have played together more and are more familiar with us, Malot and Destina are playing together and talking to each other. It's adorable. Destina was pretty quiet at first but she chats up a storm with Malot.

Last night during dinner we were able to watch an interesting exchange. Both kids ended up with similar sippy cups (they like to be able to carry water with them).

I put some soda in Malot's cup and the rough English translation of what happened next is a bit like this.

"Destina, look. I have SODA in my cup."

(Destina's eyes get big. She didn't realize that the ingenious design of the sippy cup would carry other liquids besides water. The water is emptied from her cup and then she convinces her mom to help her pour the soda she has in the hotel's goblet into her sippy cup)

"Malot, I have soda and ice in my cup."

(Malot's eyes get big. He quickly holds his cup up to the light and performs an inspection. No ice!! He manages to indicate to his mom that he needs ice in his cup. Mom puts a piece of ice in Malot's cup.)

"Destina, I have ice in my cup, too."

(Destina picks up her cup and shakes it. The ice in Destina's cup makes a glorious noise at it hits the sides of her cup. Malot observes this with wonder. The cup makes NOISE! Will miracles never cease! Malot shakes his cup and quickly deduces that the lousy piece of ice his poor excuse for a mother gave him doesn't weigh enough to smack delightfully against the sides of the cup. He gestures to Mom to get help to rectify the situation.)

"Destina, I have lots of ice, too."

(Both happily shake cups)

(Destina can actually take the lid of her cup, so she does and shows Malot. Malot cannot take the lid of his cup and uses the phrase that Mom can't repeat but has learned to recognize as "take the lid off this cup, woman")

It continued like that for some time. Please note that there's nothing mean spirited about the entire exchange. The wonder on their faces as they discover things together and mimic is wonderful. We try to pretend we're not watching them because then they get shy and stop but it's fun to watch them interact with someone that "speaks their language".

Destina is the sweetest little girl. She loves to eat ice. LOVES it! But she pulls out pieces on her fork and we caught her feeding it to Malot off her fork yesterday. She just wants him to have the good stuff as well.

Oh, Yeah! Well BLINK YOU!

So apparently our little Haitians do this slow, deliberate, scrunchy-eyed blink that is culturally a very rude gesture.

Malot first whipped it out after I correctly used the Creole phrase, "Please don't do that". You should have seen the shock in his face. It was a bit like watching the Wicked Witch realize she's melting! The thought that crossed his eyes was like, 'Who on earth told HER those magic words!"

And then he blinked at me.

I didn't think anything of it because I didn't know it was code.

Later at dinner when I gently told him that again for something (probably flicking ice at someone) he blinked at me again and Nichole started laughing and explained the significance of 'the blink".

Now that I know that it means something it's much easier to see when he's getting a bit defiant. Which, in this case, means I really AM understanding him and he really IS understanding me.

Brent and I might have to bring this habit home. I can just picture an argument where we both start deliberately and slowly blinking at each other.

"Oh, yeah! Well, blink you" just doesn't sound rude in English.

But at least I know he's trying to tell me something.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Machin Meets Ingenuity

Malot with his self-made toy -taking his favorite toy car and using a thread from the hotel comforter and some dental floss to make a pull for it. He even tied the initial knots himself.

I love that in the last picture you can see that the waistband on his shorts is rolled down to try to keep them on his skinny little body and he STILL has to hold his shorts with one hand. Fortunately he can enjoy his creation single-handledly.

Watching Nemo in French

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How Old Do You WANT Him to Be?

I've mentioned before that they aren't really sure when Malot's birthday is.

It's hard to gauge by fine-motor skills as their "needs" here are different. My friends' little girl can braid hair VERY well and she's only 4. Malot has a bit of MacGyver in him. When you live in an O (orphanage) you need a bit of MacGyver in you. Malot discovered a very loose thread on the hotel comforter, and pulled it until it was long enough for him to use and bit it off with his teeth. Then he tied it to his favorite machin (truck) so that he could pull it along behind him. That wasn't quite long enough for him, so he ended up tying that string with two strands of dental floss (clean, by the way) . Momma helped him with the lashing, but he did the initial design and concept all on his own. He knows how to bite off a thread with his teeth and and he recognizes when the ends of his knot are too long for his liking and he trims those tails down with his teeth as well.

So while he can tie knots he can barely hold a crayon. He has a very strange grip that he uses and he makes rows of loops while using faintest of pressure on his page. That seems to be what he does. The sizes of the loops are fairly consistent, so that's a good thing.

He's tiny - he's 37" tall and weighs about 25 lbs. They told us he was 3, going on 4. He does speak in full sentences in Kreyol. I can pick out about every 10th word. I've figured out that he asks for my permission before he opens a granola bar. He calls them "bonbon" because they're so sweet and sticky. We brought a BUNCH of granola bars, dried fruit, sandwich-filled crackers and fruit snacks with us. The granola bars are his favorite.

Anyway, we've been trying to figure out how old he is, as they apparently don't have any birth certificate information for him. I told that I hoped his birthday was late enough in the year that he would get to wait an extra year to start kindergarten. They turned to me and said, very seriously, "How old do you want him to be?" Given that there isn't a birth certificate for this child, someone has to decide and you can make him younger if you want. If you'd like him to turn 3 this year instead of turn 4 this year, we can do that.

We haven't exactly given them a response yet. But it is odd to think about. Surely with everything he's been through and will continue to go through for awhile, it seems it would be good to make him younger so that he has time to get caught up on English and adjusted to a new country and culture before he has to be launched into the cold cruel world of kindergarten.

Something to think about...


This is the family in the back of the tap-tap on the way back to the hotel.

Malot definitely is an orphanage kid. We gave him a Starburst and he carefully unwrapped it, popped it in his mouth, gave it two good sucks and then carefully put it back in the wrapper to save it for later. (We did convince him there were more and he really could eat it.)

He has a great laugh and a fabulous smile. He's very curious and he's a talker, but we don't know what he's saying.

He slept with me last night and he does a mean horizontal tango. That kid was all over the place! And always scratching (and Momma forgot the cortisone!)

Early this morning, I took him to the toilet and we were snuggling when we came back to bed. He started saying something over and over. Near as I can translate, it was "I go with you." We want you to come with us too, son.

He can't get enough to eat. He ate all the beans and rice in my order and there would be no sharing with me. He ate a piece of chicken and he sucked every little bit off the bones of my pieces when I was done. He has this two-hand method of eating with his fingers of his left hand and a spoon in his right. He creates this frantic cadence of shoveling and gets the food to his mouth as quickly as possible. He doesn't like to eat the red beans that split open while cooking. He carefully picked those out and set them on my plate. He even wiped the plate with his fingers when he was done. BEFORE that, he had a granola bar, a package of peanut butter crackers, and all the applesauce that Michelle's two kids didn't finish off from each of their servings and some bread with butter. And that was just at the dinner table. If there is food, he needs to be eating it. And from how skinny he is, it's probably about time he had everything he wanted to eat.

With his belly full, he promptly fell asleep in Brent's arms. He is OUT when he's a sleep. This is a picture of his "limp rag" impression in Brent's lap. We changed him into his PJs, washed his face and put him in bed and he didn't stir.

Off to today's adventures....

Monday, June 9, 2008

We'll Be Here 'til Thursday! Try the Veal!

We're here! The luggage is here! We're clean! We have scabies (OK, Malot has them something terrible, but fortunately we brought cream and washed and doused him heavily in it. Hopefully he'll start to clear up soon.)

I have a new appreciation for albino tigers today. We felt a bit like displayed animals in the zoo today when the vehicle we were riding in broke down several times and we found ourselves stopped in Haitian traffic.

Haiti's has two basic traffic laws: "honk until they move" and "swerve so you don't get hit". All other "normal" traffic guidelines are completely ignored. Find yourself feeling that the traffic on YOUR side of the highway is too heavy? Just drive on the side that was intended for oncoming traffic! Feel that the other cars driving 4 abreast on a 2 lane road are too spacious? Simply make your own lane in between them! Decide that you went the wrong way? Simply drive in reverse right there on the road where you are until it's convenient for you to turn around!

So there we are, in the middle of this chaos when the tap-tap breaks down and all the other lanes and honking and dust and people are left to swerve around us on the highway. For about an hour. It was quite dusty, smelly and may have possibly caused some degree of carbon monoxide poisoning. It was like our own exhibit at the People Zoo. Look at the White Americans! At any rate, there we were, a truck full of white Americans. As trucks swerved around us and honked, people pointed, nudged each other, stared and yelled random things in Creole that I'm probably glad I didn't understand. It had to be quite a sight! And there was an entire gaggle of us! Probably seemed a bit like migratory birds.... you know they're just passing through but you have to get a good look at them while they're in the area.

When we finally arrived at the orphanage, and pulled in behind the gated wall, it was like we'd been transported to heaven and there were angels singing. All the kids in the orphanage were sitting in the outdoor space just singing their little hearts out - not as a show because we were coming, but because that's what they do. I couldn't stop myself from peeking around the wall to look at this sea of beautiful little Haitians, just singing and singing. It was beautiful. I hope the little video clip I took worked.

When I finished trying to get my camera to do a video clip, I looked out at the group of children again and immediately found Malot. He's lost some weight since his picture, but Momma knows those eyes. He wasn't quite sure what was happening, but he was willing to come with us. We went into another room in the orphanage where we could sit with them for a bit and I pulled him onto my lap. He eyes were tearing up and he hung his head, I pointed to him and said his name, "Malot?" and then I pointed to me and said, "Manman" (that's mother in Creole) and repeated that several times. Then I took a picture of him on the digital camera and showed him the displayed result on the camera's screen. He thought that was cool. So I took one of the two of us and showed it to him. He took the camera from my hands and LOOKED at it. His face got all scrunchy as he studied it. And then he leaned down and kissed the screen with our picture in it. Somehow in that moment, he felt he was going to be OK.

He's cheerful. I've caught him singing little Creole songs to himself. He LOVES cars (machin). He likes to laugh. When I showed him the clothes we were going to put on him after we bathed him, he got very excited. He splashed around in the tub and loved the water. He didn't have any trouble with bathing. The clothes we brought for him he loves, particularly the sandals.

I just drifted off, so I think I'll share more tomorrow.

We've had good lightning this evening. I guess there's a Tropical Storm coming.
And yet, even with all the issues and delays and everything - We believe this is right where we're supposed to be.

Why Pack Clean Clothes When You Can Pack Febreeze?

In all my travels for work, I’ve never had an issue with my luggage being where they said it would be. Brent has.

My luggage made it to Miami. Brent’s did not. They tell us it will be waiting for us in Port-au-Prince.

That meant that we had 50 lbs of baby formula and all of Malot’s things when we got to Miami. Our clothes, on the other hand, were a different matter.

Fortunately, B rent had us pack our basic toiletries and a change of underclothes in our backpacks. We could brush our teeth and at least take a shower.

Also fortunately, in Malot’s bag, I have a can of Febreeze – that fabulous air freshener that takes smells out of cloth. We learned from our last trip that you never know when you’re going to end up with a very ill child in Haiti and it makes your stay more pleasant if you pack an air freshener. Unfortunately, this can is not the fabric saving of Febreeze. It’s the room air freshener kind. I figured it still couldn’t hurt to spray it on this ripe T-shirt. It’s got the same first name – it should be close, right?

In case you were wondering, this kind of Febreeze does not remove odors from cloth.

That means that this morning, my olfactory receptors are being serenaded by a masterful blend of Airport, Sweat, and Fatigue, accented with delicate citrusy high notes. I can’t believe no one’s tried to bottle this combination.

In other words, I reek.

That luggage better be waiting in Port-au-Prince. And it had better have bells on.

If not, at least we’ve got Febreeze.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


I'm in the Denver airport, on my way to Miami so I can make my way to Haiti. I love that Denver has FREE WIFI! Yeah, free!

There's a lot on our minds right now - it's hard to remember where we were just 6 months ago when we were going down to meet Lexi and Nathan. We know how badly we can be hurt after this trip. We know what can go wrong. I was a lot less nauseous last time when I was naive.

We're so very grateful to Brent's sister and her husband for giving us a ticket to Haiti. They gave us their sky miles and we were able to get my ticket for this trip. Given that our income was cut drastically that was a huge blessing. We wouldn't be here without their generosity and thoughtfulness. We love you, too, Garrett and Trudi.

There have also been a few kind souls who gave us money to take to our orphanage. Last time we went we were openly soliciting donations and we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that was provided. We don't have as many people traveling this time, so we weren't able to carry anything extra. We appreciate the awareness and compassion of those who found ways to help anyway.

It's a weekend of "meetings" for us. Last night we got together with some of Brent's old friends from high school. He had a great time seeing those people again and remembering those days. They haven't seen each other for close to two decades (Brent hates that I keep bringing up how long it has been).

It was fun for me to meet the people that were there in Brent's more formative years. Lincoln had scanned in all their pictures from their high school dances and activities and it was great fun to watch them all groan as they remembered dates or saw what they were wearing. The Eighties were unkind to clothing in so many ways.

Later last night we were able to meet the extended family of our best friends. They hadn't been able to be together as a family for a number of years and it was wonderful for us to meet them.

I've been thinking about how June 9th is Malot's birthday in a number of ways. Based on the paperwork we've received thus far, they don't know when his birthday is. If you consider your birthday as "the day you meet your parents", then tomorrow is Malot's birthday.

I'm sure a lot of soon-t0-be mothers get nauseous when thinking about the events that lead up to meeting their children. I think if those mothers have previously lost children, then they'd confirm that what I'm feeling is normal. It's perfectly normal to be sitting in the airport, barely able to sip your Coke, wondering if tomorrow is really going to be the first day to the rest of all your family time together. Are we really going to be a family? Is it going to work THIS time? Or is this just another trip on the road of our lives where nothing is as planned and everything takes longer than it "should" and then it's taken away from you anyway. Sometimes life is like have a Band-Aid ripped off over and over and over and over.....

We had to make this trip. If we didn't schedule this trip and pick Malot, we would have quit trying to adopt at all. We've been through all the flavors of adoption. We've tried everything we could. We're so close to "done" emotionally.

It would be easier to stay in our little world with just the two of us and get used to having Brent and the dogs as my family. It's easier to not put yourself out there - particularly when "out there" is another country and the entire process is out of your hands. It's easier but it doesn't hurt any less.

My friend says that life "doesn't get easier, it just gets different." We can't really say "things will be easier when..." because as soon as you reach that point there are new challenges. I don't know anyone whose life went as "planned". Divorce finds you. Infertility finds you. Poor health finds you and puts you in a headlock. A spouse doesn't find you. Any time you love someone you make yourself vulnerable. But it would be a pretty dull world if it always stayed the same. If there weren't new opportunities. If we didn't try. If we couldn't fail. If we couldn't hope.

As much as we're afraid right now, we're also hopeful. And with hope come opportunities. Chances to be the one served by your family. Chances to help other people reach out to orphans they'll never meet by using your experience. Chances to be buoyed through this next week by the prayers of all the family and friends that are right there with us - hoping and nauseous and scared.

But hoping.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

One Week

We're down to the final countdown...

This is the message we sent out tonight to our family and friends:

Hello to all our family and friends,
We wanted to give everyone an update on our adoption process. As you’re aware, we lost the children that we were adopting from Haiti earlier this year when their birth mother reclaimed them from the orphanage. We’ve since started the process over again and we will be leaving next Sunday to go to Haiti to meet the little boy in these pictures.
His name is Malot (pronounced ‘mah-low’) and we know he’s somewhere between 3 and 4 years of age. (Apparently they actually don’t know when his birthday is, so that will be something fun we get to sort out at a future date.) As you can see from the pictures he has a fabulous smile and beautiful eyes. We’re nervous, excited and scared to meet him and we’re praying that things work out this time.
Many have asked what happens on our trip to Haiti. We’ll travel from Salt Lake to Miami next Sunday and then from Miami to Port-au-Prince the next morning. We’ll go to the orphanage and meet Malot on Monday. We’ll spend a few hours there at the orphanage with him so he can get used to us a bit before we take him back to the hotel with us. Then we get to “play house” for the next week at the hotel. He’s all ours until Friday evening when we have to take him back and leave him in the orphanage.
Haiti isn’t a particularly safe country, so we will spend nearly all our time at the hotel. There are armed guards there, so the building itself is pretty safe. They have a pool and there’s actually air conditioning in our room, which is a rarity in Haiti. We’ll eat all our meals at the little restaurant in the hotel. It should be an interesting week watching us try to communicate with an active 3 year-old who only speaks Haitian Creole!
We have a very small group going this time (only 4 of us) so we didn’t gather supplies for the orphanage like we did last time. There just isn’t that much space.
Malot is supposed to be essentially a child of the State, as his birth parents have abandoned him. We hope to find out more about the status of our paperwork and get a better idea of when we’ll be able to bring him home during this trip.