Friday, January 19, 2007

The Rest of the Story

**Edit 10/2010 - We have always struggled with how the systems of poverty causes families to be torn apart. We are now (through growth in this journey) working to keep families together. In the case of Phoebe we asked her first mom if there was any way she could keep her (even suggesting financial support to do so) and she said that no matter what she was placing her. She gave us her reason, which I won't share here.

Tuesday night we had a family meeting to discuss and pray about Phoebe and what we should do. We knew that all we could do was wait for God to show us His plan, and we really had not seen yet what the plan was for this baby girl. We had a long discussion about the risks involved (mainly the chance that the adoption could not go through for any number of reasons), and whether or not we were prepared for the pain of losing her after having her with our family and getting attached. It was decided that even if she isn’t meant to become a permanent part of the family we want to have her with us and give her the love and attention she needs while we can. We decided the risk is worth the reward, both for Phoebe and the rest of the family, and then gave the whole matter over to God and promised to wait to see how He worked it out. We didn’t have to wait long.

We had been waiting for the last week to hear from the mother, Beanne, and find out what her intentions were. No one had been able to find her, after a couple unsuccessful and very dangerous trips to Cite Soleil.

I was already planning on going to Port-Au-Prince on Wednesday, to take care of some business and vehicle issues. I planned to visit Phoebe as well, and find out if there was any possible way I could bring her home. I had no peace at all with the idea of bringing her home without speaking to Beanne first, even if that was possible. No one knew that I was coming to Port in advance except Eddy, who – trust me – does not and will not ever be involved in anything as huge and important as an adoption…for obvious reasons. Ok, in case it’s not that obvious – he drives me nuts. But that’s another story.

It was a strange and awesome feeling to just put it all in God’s hands and wait and see what He would do. I guess someone else did know I was going to Port – HE did.

In our prayers over the issue, Tara and I both asked God to shut doors and make it clear if we were not supposed to pursue this further, since we were really at a loss for what to do and how to continue. I told Tara that I would call a couple of our mentors/friends on the way to Port to see if God used them to tell me we were crazy. I was figuring on closed doors for sure. After speaking to both of them, the message was clear, and it was the same – be bold and go see what God does.

I didn’t know who to talk to or where to go or what I was going to do. I decided to take care of business first, and went down to the “circulation” department for another non-inspection inspection of our other truck. I sat there making a list of all the places I needed to go and other tasks to accomplish. As soon as I finished the list, I threw it away because I knew that I was supposed to just go to the orphanage where Phoebe was and see what happened.

I tried calling the two people I knew who worked at the orphanage over and over again, but didn’t reach anyone. I was worried that I was already going to hit a dead end. When I arrived, I was relieved to find out that one of them was there, and he let me in. Last time I paid him a visit, it was to inquire after Beanne and see if they could help locate her…that’s when I was shocked to learn that the baby we’d been praying and fretting over was there in the same building with me.

This time, he had more shocking news. (Remember, I thought that I was there to- at the minimum – see Phoebe, and at most – talk to him about the possibility of bringing her home while we waited to find Beanne.) He told me that Beanne had just been there minutes before and was on her way down to the McHoul’s house to see if they could locate me. For the second time in a week, I almost fell down on that same tile floor out of shock. Then I remembered who was running the show, and whose plan this was…and was no longer surprised. I left without even seeing Phoebe, but felt sure I would be back for her.

Now my task was to try and connect with a Haitian woman from Cite Soleil who was traveling from the Delmas area of Port-Au-Prince down to Tabarre, using Taptaps and other ridiculous methods of public transportation – in a city of nearly three million people. I just smiled and knew God could handle that – no problem.

Using the terribly poor cellular telephone network that hardly works - I called Johnny Mack (as I call him behind his back), and informed him of the situation – but he was at least an hour out from his house and unable to help me. I eventually found Beth (Mrs. McHoul – she is sweet so doesn’t get any secret nicknames) and was glad to hear she was at her house. She told me that the other worker from the orphanage was indeed there (hooray), but not with Beanne (no good) – another woman was with her – the first mother of some other children who had been adopted by another family a few years ago. My mind started racing and I quickly assumed the worst – I was ready to freak out and learn that this was all some big mix-up and the baby that we thought was Hope’s sister was not related at all…and so forth.

During all this, I was “racing” (at 10 miles per hour) over the side “streets” (alleys) of Port getting bounced all over trying to talk on the phone and get down to the McHoul’s to meet with a person who was possibly the wrong person altogether. Somewhere in there, Zach called to see how things were going. (His calls usually have two purposes – to encourage me and to entertain himself with all my rookie mistakes and stories). I told him I felt a little like Inspector Clouseau, chasing down some mystery that made no sense. As usual, he was very encouraging, and also – as usual – laughed at me.

I arrived to find our Haitian friend from the orphanage sitting in the driveway with a woman that I had never seen - definitely not Hope’s first mom. After a painstaking eternity of questioning and re-questioning (making sure nothing was lost in translation) – here is what I learned:
Beanne had been at the other location that day, and she was supposed to have come to John’s house as well. No one knew why she hadn’t showed up yet, or where she ended up going. The other mother had an appointment with John, and was supposed to be there as well. One out of two isn’t so bad, I guess, but it wasn’t the one I needed.

After another hour or so of talking to these two women and waiting for the one I needed to see, I had all but given up. After speaking with Beth for a while, I was left trying to decide if I should go get Phoebe and take her home without speaking to Beanne. I explained to Beth that our family had decided to take the risk and take Phoebe home to love her while we could, whether she she would end up being with us or not. I still really didn’t like the idea of doing that without seeing Beanne first, or have any peace about it. I decided to leave to think and pray and go about my other business of the day. When I opened the gate to go out to my truck parked in the street – there was a woman standing there like she had been waiting for me. It was Beanne. I don’t want to get too ridiculous in my story-telling…but she was wearing all white – and she certainly looked like an angel sent from heaven to me. I was kind of shocked and definitely confused – but more than anything I was amazed at how God works.

I sat and talked with her for a long time, trying to determine her intentions and understand what happened since the baby was born. We have always had a heart for this woman, especially since she gave up a child that is now a precious part of our family – but in our confusion and hurt and fear over what happened with the new baby – I’ll admit we were angry at times. All of that left me while I listened to her tell about living in a place surrounded by daily gunfire, her struggle with another child of hers in the hospital, and the constant fear she lives with in Cite Soleil. We asked her once before what things were like around her home. All she said was “we’re always running”. The things we had been worrying about all came into perspective and I was truly just thankful and full of praise for the safe and healthy baby, no matter where she ended up.

Beanne told me that she intended for the new baby to live with us all along, but with all her other difficulties she hadn’t been able to do anything other than bring Phoebe to the orphanage in Port so she would be safe and cared for. She wanted Phoebe to be with us and her big sister, which of course is a what we were trying to confirm and an answer to our prayers. We discussed the details and necessary steps for the adoption to move forward, and made plans to meet her with both Hope and Phoebe sometime soon.

I left to go back to the orphanage and get Phoebe. I called Tara to let her know the short version: “I’m bringing Phoebe home.”

The rest of the afternoon is a blur and one of the most surreal experiences I can remember. Bringing her home was awesome.

I definitely felt and experienced the “peace that surpasses understanding”, and the joy and wonder that comes when you see what God does when we let Him work. Bondye Se Bon. God Is Good.

Last night I went up to the prayer rock to unwind and process it all. As I sat in wonder trying to remember and praise God for all the things He has done for us I was totally blown away and amazed. Then I noticed something – there was no moon last night, and there were millions of stars shining above this dark little village. It looked like more stars than I have ever seen before in my life. My life seemed a lot smaller all of the sudden, and so did all of the things I’d been stressing about. Even the amazing day I had seemed small in comparison…because we can’t even imagine how much more God has in store for us. What God did for us yesterday was HUGE to us, but nothing to Him. The God who hung all those stars in the sky and knows every one of them came down and blessed our family yesterday with a little star of our own. Praise HIM. Amen.

(Tara's addendum: No, the bouncy chair is not the preferred method of transporting a baby, but it is what Troy had with him. We're simply embracing the culture by having no sense of safety or precaution.)