Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More for Mom

I know my Mom well. I said we had a good day in Port, but I got an email wanting the rest of the details ... which is exactly why I said I'd share more later. :)

Britt and I went on a walk to Barbancourt this afternoon during the end of nap time, so I could not take time to write about the trip to town right when we got back. It was nice to get exercise, it was nicer to be done getting exercise. I won't ever turn Britt down for a walk now though, our walks are numbered.

The first stop today was adoption related, we needed to pick-up Hope and Phoebe's birthmom. She was ready to go and happy to help us. We went to an office to have her sign some documents. The people at the office tried to get us to pay money we did not owe, but Troy was onto the game and Peter backed him up. Their effort was sort of wimpy. The lady said "Did you pay for a morning or afternoon appointment?" Troy said "Uh, I paid everything I needed to pay and was told to be here at 9:30 am." She pushed him to give the amount he had paid, but knowing whatever his answer was, would end up being less then what a morning appointment costs for blans on Wednesday, he just held his ground until she gave up. After that it all went fine, we were in and out quickly.

Second stop was to exchange a check for Haitian cash. We got the surgery money and got all ready for payroll on Friday. The exchange rate is killing us right now, but that means good things for the Haitian economy - so we'll deal. $100 U.S. used to get us $810 Haitian Dollars when we first moved here. Now it only gets us $690 Haitian Dollars. This also means that a gallon of generic "Shur-fine" ice cream at Caribbean Market now costs $14.20 instead of $12.09 - now THAT is a crisis.

Third stop UniLab for bloodwork and Labs that the OB has been crabbing at me to get for three months. Troy claims I am the world's least compliant patient and if he were Dr. G. he would refuse to treat me. I just did not think I needed the labs. Troy says, there I go again pretending I am a Doctor. I digress ... The lab was air-conditioned, organized and fast. The only difference from an American lab was that they give you the cup for urine analysis --- AND a handful of toilet paper ... none in the bathroom - there is some in-country rule that does not allow for anything to be placed on the spools in public restrooms. It cost the equivalent of $36 U.S. and we were on our way. They even call the results to the Doctor! We still need to find the Rhogam shot, but we're thinking next week is the week to tackle that.

After that we were feeling so good about how well everything had gone, we went for a hamburger. Our girls' birthmom thought it was VERY good. It was really fun being with her and asking tons of questions - with Peter's help we were able to better understand a lot of her life story. Peter came with us today in case we needed him, in the end we probably did not but it was fun getting to know more about his childhood.

After speaking with his mom last month I have been so curious about how they decided to leave Haiti.

I will give you the condensed version.

In 1968 his parents lived just outside of Port au Prince. His dad was successful and working for a sugar cane plant that was owned and operated by an American. The American respected his dad and the work he did so he asked him to come to New York to work for him at another company he owned. Peter's dad moved to NYC in 1969. He saved money, bought a car, found a place to live and one year later he sent for his wife. In 1970 Peter's mom moved to NYC too. They BOTH worked hard for one more year and saved enough to send for the kids in 1971. All seven kids flew to NYC. The oldest was 13 at the time, Peter was 11. He remembers being very scared and a Nun who was supposed to be helping them sort of disappeared so they were alone. They found their parents in NY and piled into a big station wagon. Peter said it was about five minutes into the ride when they realized his little brother was missing. They went back to the airport and found him clinging to a police officers leg. The officer did not speak Creole and Peter's brother did not speak English.

They all enjoyed the American dream and wanted to be in America. They worked hard and went to school and everyone did well. His siblings are mostly college educated professionals today.

Without ever giving the entire story, we can deduce that Peter thought he was a legal-enough U.S. citizen. He says he knows his mother told him after he turned 18 that there were things he needed to take care of to make himself legal but he never worried about it – he admits that was a dumb move on his part. He went as far as to say that becoming a citizen was easy back then, unlike today, so he kicks himself for not taking it seriously. After getting in trouble for something else and being found out, he was deported in 2000. He lived in the USA for 29 years. Besides his immediate family of origin, he also has an ex-wife and an adult daughter and grandchild in the States.

It is interesting to be with him and listen to his observations. This is the country he was born in, he lived here until he was 11, and he will now live here until he dies. He is Haitian. But culturally, he is not so Haitian.

We were behind a loaded down tap-tap (loaded down is the norm, but this one was REALLY full) and Peter said, “That guy is not so smart, he is going to spend way more fixing that truck then he is ever going to make by having those extra people on there.”

Later, when the lady tried to see if we would pay her more money for our morning appointment Peter said “Most people, they are just out to see what they can get from you.”

When sharing our birthmom's story, he ripped on men who father a baby and take off, leaving the mom to deal with the pregnancy and the kid alone. That is the vast majority of his country's men.

When we were at the place where we exchange money I had a heavy load, named Phoebe, sleeping in my arms and he started hinting to the security guard that it sure would be considerate if he got up off his chair and let the pregnant lady holding a sleeping child sit down for a minute. He went on and on about it after the guy ignored him, he kept shaking his head and saying “some people, they just don’t get it.” He translated back from English to Creole just to make sure everyone understood his point. I finally told him to cool it, I was really okay standing. I figured at some point harassing a guy with a sawed-off shotgun becomes a bad idea.

Peter makes observations all day that are not at all something a person of this culture would recognize or verbalize.