Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Happy Birthday Phoebe Joy

Five years ago today in a tiny house in Cite Soleil a fabulous little girl was born ...

Our lives are (Phoebe) Joy - filled  because of it.

Five years have come and gone so quickly and our little girl isn't so little anymore.  We love you Phoebe.  Happy Birthday!

We're blessed to be your parents and sisters and brothers. 

Dad & Mom

In our first years in Haiti we lived outside of Port au Prince in a rural village.   We came to Port au Prince a couple of times each week to gather supplies and do other business for the mission we were administrating. We were getting to know the McHouls and frequently saw them on our trips to town.

It wasn't very many months into our time in Haiti when we were stopping in to visit John McHoul that we learned that Hope's first Mom had been there asking John to let us know she wanted to talk to us.

A number of weeks later when we met up with her in the summer of 2006 she asked us if we would adopt the baby she was carrying.  We were nothing short of dumbfounded by the request and it took some time to even process it all. We didn't answer her for months.

The conversations with her from July until the end of October were all difficult ones as we attempted to get to the bottom of her reasoning and to see if there was any way she might choose to parent.  Most of those details and her reasons for not choosing that are private and painful. Because Phoebe doesn't yet understand them we won't go into it here.

We prayed and talked a lot as a family about whether or not we should attempt to adopt Phoebe.  There were multiple  obstacles.  On paper it didn't really seem possible.  During one family meeting I remember Brittany (16 at the time) crying and saying that she didn't think we should try because it would be so hard to have her with us and then later lose her if it didn't work out legally. We entered into her adoption knowing it could end up in loss, pain, and a denied adoption request.

We finally decided to tell Hope's mom, Beanne, that we would like to try to adopt the baby. We met with her in late October at the very end of her pregnancy. It appeared that the baby would be placed for adoption whether we agreed to adopt or not and we felt like keeping the sisters together was important.  The day we met her she looked very ready to deliver.

At that time in 2006 there was a lot of violence and trouble in Cite Soleil where the girls' mother was living. When we asked her about it her response was "We're always running".  There was a ton of gang activity and the UN had begun trying to do something to decrease that activity.  Gunfire was a daily occurrence. 

We now know that within 72 hours of that late October meeting Phoebe was born at home in Cite Soleil. 

For weeks (that turned into months) we waited for word from Beanne.  No word came.  Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went.  We decided that Beanne or the baby or both must have died. We prayed and hoped to learn the answers to why we'd never heard from her again.

In January (11 weeks had passed since the last time we'd talked to Beanne) Troy decided on one of his trips to Port au Prince to stop into the orphanage where we knew a few of the employees that lived in Cite Soleil and knew Beanne. He figured he could ask them if they knew what had become of her and her baby. We hated to think she had died in child birth but we wanted to know for Hope's sake as well as our own closure.

When he arrived that day he was describing Beanne and what we knew of her and the area she lived. He explained that he just wondered if she was alive and if she had given birth to her baby. The employee he was talking to said, "That baby is here."  Troy was then led upstairs to a room full of cribs to see the baby. 

We talked and agreed that we could only pray and hope for direction about what to do.  We told the orphanage that if they heard from Beanne we wanted to talk to her.

From 2007, this is what Troy wrote when he recalled what happened next:

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 I knew 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 finding 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 sometimes 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 the timing and 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 lost (placed for adoption) 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 upset 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 nearby 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. 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.”

Sitting here today, five years down the line, the miracles that preserved both Phoebe and her first moms lives are no less amazing.  Many mountains were moved to make the adoption legal and to allow for us to have a close relationship with Beanne today.  We're thankful to God for His clear answers and miraculous provision at every turn.

We're upside-down-crazy-fool-GRATEFUL for the safe birth (and completed adoption) of our sixth child and excited to celebrate her precious life tonight.