How did they do? How did we do?
If you look back, we had three goals we wanted to accomplish:
• Make sure that the U.S. government, in particular, the State Department is aware of and watching out for the good of our kids.
• To strongly urge the U.S. government to communicate with the new government in Haiti that the U.S. State department is watching and wants the new Haitian government to make sure our kids were okay.
• To get humanitarian parole so that we could bring our kids home safely and soon (and finish the paperwork later.)
Let’s address the last one first. Did we get humanitarian parole for our kids? Nope. Realistically, did we expect we would? No, but we also knew that if we went in asking for three things, we had a better chance at getting two of them than if we went in asking for only the two. In addition, it ended up being okay because within approximately a month from that time, the Haitian government picked up and began processing adoption paperwork and approximately 4 months after the coup, we went and brought our two kids home because their paperwork was finished.
What about the other two? While they are somewhat intangible and hard to measure, I would say that those were successful. Throughout all of that, I ended up on a first name basis with a lady named Michelle Bernier-Toth in the State Department. She was very in touch with us and was an excellent person to work with. She assured me that the State Department would be watching out for our kids and that she wanted me to keep in touch with her if we heard anything that might be even close to resembling a problem.
I just did a quick Google search on Michelle and she is now the Director at the State department who runs the department that is in charge of emergency services. In other words, when there is a crisis over seas and there are Americans who need help, her department helps. That was what she was doing in working with us back in 2004 and now she’s running the department. Thanks, Michelle!
Overall, the Bear-a-Van and the meetings in Washington were, I believe a success. The ultimate goal wasn’t achieved but the other “steps” were and it also generated positive publicity and gave us, the helpless parents at home, something to do where we felt like we could at least try to make a difference.
It turns out that about 6 years later, a lot of what we learned after the coup would become very useful in helping adoptive families after the earthquake in 2010. But that’s a story for another day (actually more than one day).
Childhood trauma leaves scars? For those of you who parent children who have suffered trauma when they were younger, you’re probably reading that and saying, “uh, yeah, tell me something I didn’t know……” That’s not really news.
No for those who are in the middle of parenting children who have been through trauma (adoptive parents, raise your hands – I see you) we know what this can be like. But that’s not why I kept this article.
What’s newsworthy about this article is that a major college and a fairly substantial city government (Madison Wisconsin – I know, it’s not Chicago, but it’s not Borculo Michigan either) are acknoweldging it and are taking steps to do something about it.
I’ve talked to so many people who have, over the years, suffered through so much grief and guilt feelings because they have been either directly or indirectly that their child’s struggles, their child’s actions, their child’s attitudes are the fault of bad parenting. The “system” is starting to see that the problem just isn’t the adoptive parents or whatever parents the child(ren) have, the problem is that there was significant trauma that happened when the child was younger.
We’ll talk a little bit later – but a LOT more about the fallacy called, “All you need is love” and how that is true for everyone.” (It’s not!)
Childhood trauma leaves scars that are genetic, not just emotional, study affirms The researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wanted to study the impact of childhood stress on genetic chemistry. Author: John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published: 11:14 PM PDT July 22, 2018 Updated: 11:17 PM PDT July 22, 2018
If you had asked me before we started this adoption journey what it would look like, I probably would have told you something along the lines of this:
• We’d figure out where we were going to adopt from.
• Then we’d work with the people in charge and eventually figure out who we were going to adopt.
• We’d bring them home – and things would be noisy and crazy and full of adjustments.
• But after a while – maybe a year, maybe two – we’d settle into the new normal and life would go on pretty much as it was – just with more kids and more noise.
Boy was I naive’.
If our adoption story had gone that way, here’s a sampling of what I would have missed:
• I would have missed hearing Haitian roosters who couldn’t tell time – and crowed at 2:00 in the morning.
• I would have missed the sounds of Haiti in the night. It truly is musical.
• I would have missed getting to know some truly amazing people who have given and currently still give so much of themselves to help others.
• I would have missed the privilege of sitting with others in their pain and sadness – a privileged place that few are allowed to enter into.
• I would have missed a lifetime of learning about poverty, corruption, the 3rd world, racism and problems that are worth fighting against.
• I would have missed getting to know some great kids – Michno, Sonia, “Small Man” Peterson, Kenbe, Judith and Kerby and many more.
• I would have missed out on seeing some miracles – and not only did I see those miracles, I got to, I get to see those miracles as they turn from children without a future to children who healed and have a future and are a blessing to many. Elli, Roselaure, Danny – you are just a few of them.
• I would have missed out on conversations with an 80 year old lady in the hospital who told me that God gave her a second chance at life through a successful heart surgery and I gave her a chance to make a difference for kids in Haiti. There is a building at the orphanage named after her.
• I would have missed the opportunity in 2011 to sit on the porch at the orphanage late at night – in shorts and a t-shirt – while messaging with my wife who was at home in the middle of a major snow storm with wind chills approaching 30 degrees below and well over 2 ft of snow falling in 2 days time. I missed the storm and I’m still grateful.
• I would have missed out on being uncomfortable.
• I would have missed out on getting to know people at my current church – people like Christy and LeMaar and Susie and Pastor Darrell and Laura and…….
• I would have missed out on learning about and getting to know the people at Potter’s House School.
Boy was I naive’. Boy am I glad I was wrong. Has it been easy? Not a chance. Would I trade? Maybe for a day or two every now and then.
But not a chance.
If I got $5 for every time someone has asked me that question, well, I’d have a lot more than $5, that’s for sure.
Why did we choose Haiti?
Shortly after that Christmas, we were on a cruise and got to know a couple. In talking to them, we mentioned that we were trying to figure out what God had planned but were thinking of adopting. Her boss had recently brought home a child they adopted from Haiti.
My brother runs a local Christian youth camp. He was talking with one of his camp counselors and it turned out that counselor grew up as a missionary kid – in Haiti. Actually, it turns out that his parents were good friends with the orphanage director and her husband.
Our oldest came home from school one day and said, “Hey guess what – the B_______ twins have a younger brother and sister they just got home from Haiti.”
At the same time that these and other instances all seemed to be pointing towards Haiti, we were going to adoption information meetings and learning about adopting from different countries. None of them felt like a good fit.
And then there’s Karen Kingsbury – we did actually get to meet her later – but while we were attempting to discern what God had planned my wife was reading one of her books and discovered that Karen had recently adopted.
You guessed it.
Finally it was like, okay God, we get the picture.
Everything was turning up Haiti. Everything we knew and everyone we talked to, it all kept pointing to this little impoverished country south of Miami.
That’s why we chose Haiti. Actually, we didn’t. That’s why God pushed us to Haiti.
We were about to take the first steps into becoming a transracial family.
Boy was I naive……..