Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not Speaking Creole, the Bad and the Good

Last Friday, as we were waiting for Troy's lab results and getting ready to leave Port to return home, Troy asked me to go get a phone card. (The only way they do cell phones here is consumable phone cards. Convenience is not a big thing here.)

Sounds easy enough. I tried to find a place within the hospital to buy one. But I asked the wrong person who gave me bad information and said I would have to leave and walk down to a little grocery store.

I walked down to the store, going over in my mind all of the self-defense techniques, preparing to rough up anyone who tried anything.

When I got down to the little store I grabbed a bottle of apple juice and went to the counter. I asked in Creole if they sold "voila" phone cards. She shook her head no and rang up my juice. I handed her money, she gave me change and the receipt. I picked up my juice and started out the door. The grocery bagging guy yelled "Madame, Madame, no." He motioned for me to come back. I was totally confused. They started blabbering something that was unintelligible to me. I had no idea what was wrong. I had paid for the juice, I wanted to leave and get back to Troy. I picked up the juice AGAIN and turned to leave ... the whole situation repeated itself. By this point they were sort of mocking the fact that I did not know what they were telling me. I had a brief moment where I considered smashing the juice bottle (glass) at their feet and then walking out. Instead, I handed the juice back to the lady (she still had my money) and said "finished" in Creole and left without my purchase. (I wish I would've smashed it, that would have made a better story.)

Then I totally melted down. When I got back to Troy's room the Doctor said "What happened to her? Did someone hurt her? Is she okay?" That is how hard I was crying. Not being able to buy juice was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was really crying about Troy being sick, the possibility of him leaving us, my lack of language skills, feeling alone ... not being able to buy juice was hardly the issue.

In the middle of my 15 minute sob-fest the phone rang. It was John. He said "Hi guys, I have two ladies here at my orphanage that say they would like to see you. They have photos of your family and they say they are Hope and Isaac's mom's."

If you go back to read my February 23 "Adoption Thoughts" blog entry, you will be reminded that we recognized the day was coming when our birthmoms would find us. I have thought long and hard about adoption, my family is surrounded by those issues from all vantage points. But, in that moment, it was news I could not even begin to process. I was in overload mode so I pushed it aside. We asked John to tell them we would see them soon.

A date is set up for a meeting with them on June 30 in Port au Prince, on neutral ground. I have eight days to get ready and comfortable with the whole thing.

It is not that I don't want to see them. I do. It is not that I don't care about them. I really do. It is just outside of my comfort zone. We are preparing Hope and Isaac for the meeting. They are saying things like: "Yeah, yeah, I will meet that lady whose belly I was in." "You are still my mom right?" "Is she brown?" "Does she speak English?" "Was I white when I was born?" "What was dad's name when he was born?" "Is she nice?" "Is she happy?"

I don't think they really get it. Maybe just peripherally or in small spurts. John said it will be weird for them but in some ways the fact that they are young will help.

I think my discomfort or fear if you want to call it that, is more about Hope and Isaac. I don't want them to be hurt or confused. The language barrier will come in handy to protect them. John is going to interpret for us and he will be able to weed out comments that are not good for four year olds to hear. Thankfully, for once, not knowing tons of Creole is going to help us.