Katie Ashburn writes about her experience in Haiti when she went to meet her three siblings who will be coming home to Texas in 2017.
My family has been working on adopting three children from Haiti for three and a half years.
Imagine this: Packing two weeks worth of clothes for six people, electronics, stuff to do on the plane, toys and candy for the kids, and some last minute stuff from dollar general.
All in 48 hours.
The plane ride from Houston to Miami was cool because the plane took off at five, and we watched the sun rise up through the clouds from the window in the plane. We also got free cookies, and who doesn’t like that?
Although the first flight was super cool (it was actually my first flight EVER), the one from Miami to Haiti was awesome. You could see the crystal clear ocean from the windows, and we actually passed over lots of islands.
The ride from the airport to the guest house was probably one of the craziest experiences ever.
The driving style was similar to the epic car chases that you see in a Marvel Superhero movie. The driver swerved dangerously around corners, slamming his fist on the horn when other cars passed in front of him.
I’m pretty sure that drivers don’t use lanes in Haiti.
The sidewalks that we passed by were lined with vendors, random cows wandering around, and a few stands where women were selling unplucked, dead chickens. We even saw some pigs splashing around in a mud puddle.
The guest house was pretty cool. It was made out of concrete, and there was barbed wire all around the gate… So I guess that’s not cool…
The next day, we went to the creche. In Haiti, the creche (cresh) is where children go when their parents are unable to support them, or if the parents died. Orphanages are where kids stay temporarily until their parents find a job and can support themselves and their children. Anyway, when we walked inside, the driver pointed to a little boy, who we instantly recognized as Mackenley (Mock-in-lee), my new two-year-old brother. Unfortunately, our first meeting with him wasn’t magical.
He started to scream and cry. We learned later that he was scared of white people. Shortly after, the older two, Mirlanda (Mee-lon-duh) and Mackenson (Mock-en-sun), were led into the room that we were in. The first thing they did was give us all great big hugs.
We sat around and played a bit.
After getting Mackenley calmed down, Mirlanda led us to the third floor, which is where she spends most of her day. Mackenson usually wasn’t allowed up there, but he was for two blissful weeks because we were there.
At least fifteen kids, all ranging from ages four to seven, were lined up against the wall, playing hand games, looking at beaten up flash cards from previous visitors, or simply staring off into space. That day, I learned how to play at least four hand games.
But what really hit me was that these kids shared the little they had with those around them.
Even though the toys were beaten up, the clothes torn, and every meal was just beans and rice, they always had huge smiles on their little faces. Especially this one group of siblings. They were almost constantly picked on by the other kids, but they never stopped grinning.
The second day, Mirlanda decided to do my hair. She pulled it out of the ponytail, combed it between her fingers, and tied it neatly back into it’s original hairstyle. This might not seem like much, but this meant the world to me. All my life I’ve had brothers to play with. And though they are awesome, sometimes a girl needs another girl to chill with and style her hair.
A few days later, we were all in the courtyard downstairs, when a few of the older girls (ages ranging from 8-12) approached me. In broken english, they asked me what my name was. Apparently, they thought it was funny, because I heard them whisper it to each other and giggle. We started to play with a beach ball, and this one girl (she got really attached to me) pulled my hair out of it’s ponytail.
The girls loved my hair. They sat me down on a step and proceeded to braid my hair in delicate cornrows. My scalp was on fire. You’d think that it’s just like a normal french braid, but it’s not. They pull HARD. I had a headache the rest of the day.
The rest of the time there was spent with pretty much every kid in the creche.
The last day there was one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do.
After the first week, Mackenley had started to scream when my mom left him with his nannies. This continued into the second week. One of the nannies speaks English, so we asked her to tell Mackenley, Mackenson, and Mirlanda that we were leaving, but we would come back for them. The boys understood somewhat, but Mirlanda started crying.
On the flight home, we all cried (well, Mom and I did at least).
We have to wait an entire year before we can bring them home. It’s going to be the longest year of our lives. Some families, however, have been able to bring their children home sooner. So we’ll just keep praying, waiting patiently for that day when Mom and Dad fly back to Haiti to get them and bring them to Texas.