Our Story

(Chapter 1)


My Trip to Haiti

My husband and I peered out the window of the jumbo jet that would take us to Haiti and the dreams we had anticipated for so long.  Tears of joy streamed down my face as the reality of the moment sunk in and the plane started down the runway in Boise, Idaho that January morning. Little could I know that all my hopes and plans would be scattered like dust in just a few short days.

Steve and I had been married just a short time when we were given the news that we would never have children together.  We both had been married previously and brought six children between us into our marriage.  Yet, we longed and hoped for just one more child…a child of our own.  It took 8 long years and a hysterectomy to finally put to death the dream of a child from my womb, yet the dream of another child refused to die.  I researched international adoption and stumbled across a missionary in Haiti who had newborn infants for adoption.  We followed the paper trail that lead us to the moment we had hoped and longed for…our own children.

We had a lay over in Miami for the night and were to be on the first flight to Haiti bright and early the next morning.  My mind continued to race forward as my body tried to rest.  We were going to meet our new son and daughter in the morning…how would they like us, how would we like them, would I feel like I did in the delivery room with my own three children? These were just a few of the thoughts racing through my mind.  Sometime that night I must have fallen asleep because I jumped when the alarm went off at 5 a.m.  We hurried to catch the airport shuttle and arrived in time to join the hundreds of others traveling to Haiti.  I stood in amazement as I gazed at the check-in counter and watched people trying to load their trunks with car shocks and other things.  There was a weight limit and everyone seemed to be trying to jam as much as they could into their trunks while staying within the limit.  I wondered if we were supposed to be carrying dry ice in our luggage, but we couldn’t think of any other way to keep the Quarter Pounders with cheese cold until we got to the mission.  The hamburgers were a gift for the missionaries since there are no McDonald’s in Haiti.  We were finally ushered to the large waiting area for the airbus that would take us to our babies.  Most everyone was black and we felt like a piece of rice in a bowl of raisins.  

The two-hour flight across the ocean seemed like an eternity.  I still remember my first glimpse of Haiti from the plane.  It was the most beautiful island I had ever seen. The ocean was a beautiful aqua color and the contrasting mountains made me think I had arrived in some kind of paradise.  That thought quickly left me as we left the plane and walked on the concourse toward the immigration office.  People were everywhere!  They all seemed to be shouting, yet I couldn’t understand anything they said.  I numbly followed everyone else and got in a line to have my passport stamped.  I had neglected to use the airplane rest room and was desperate to find a bathroom.  It was hot and the air had a different smell.  It wasn’t a bad smell, just different.  After finding a bathroom, we went and waited for our luggage.  We waited for a long time only to find that the suitcase with the hamburgers in it was lost.  Thankfully, that suitcase also had all my husband’s clothes in it…I don’t think I could have handled it if all my clothes were lost.  He seemed to take it in stride and wasn’t too upset by the minor inconvenience of not having any clothes to wear.  We were the last ones out of the airport and were met by a little Haitian man holding up a sign with our names on it.  We followed him into a parking lot where an American man met us.  This was John, the husband of the missionary that I had been corresponding with.  He was shorter than I envisioned him, with a scruffy beard.  He was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, and looked like he was ready to melt in the heat.  “Come on,” he said, “let’s get going and get a Coke.”  We piled into his Suburban and headed for our babies.  We stopped at the only familiar landmark in Haiti…the Texaco station.  John went in and got us some Cokes…and straws.   How odd, I thought, why straws? John explained that it was for sanitary reasons that we would drink out of the straws. 

The trip up the mountain was an experience I will never forget.  As beautiful as Haiti appeared to be from the sky, it was a nation of contrasts on the ground.  People lived in tin huts, they went to the bathroom just on the side of the road, not many had shoes on, and no one obeyed the traffic laws.  John answered our many questions about the country and people of Haiti as we traveled on the bumpy roads. I marveled that he knew his way around the narrow, twisted roads.  Finally, he drove up to a gate and honked the horn.  The gate instantly opened and he drove up the driveway.  He told us he would get our bags and we were to get out and get our babies!!  I climbed out of the car and was suddenly surrounded by many different people.  There were Haitian nannies, volunteers, other parents, and Dixie…the one who made our dreams a reality.  Someone put a tiny little boy in my arms!! I couldn’t believe he was so small.  He was 8 months old…and so tiny!  Then, someone put a little girl in my arms…even smaller than the boy, with a full head of black hair.  Tears fell down my face as I gazed at these two precious miracles…my babies!!  I fell instantly in love with them and couldn’t wait to get them home.  Introductions were made all around and we were shown to our room.  We explained that the hamburgers were missing, along with all of Steve’s clothes.  John had a few shirts that he let Steve borrow for a few days and the rest; Steve figured he was on a mission’s trip, so he could rough it.

We spent the first few days getting acquainted with our babies, as well as the food and water. I spent one whole day and night throwing up because I neglected to stay away from the water…how could I have known that not drinking the water also meant not putting it anywhere near your mouth? The luggage with the missing hamburgers and clothes turned up just three days later and believe it or not, the hamburgers still had a slight chill to them. John declared that any sickness due to food poisoning would be worth it and promptly wolfed down a couple of the tasty treats.

After a few more days it became apparent that all our paper work was not in order as we had been told. Not only did the U.S. Consulate “lose” our dossier, but also our son’s passport was nowhere to be found! Dixie had assured us that her lawyer had told her that both passports would be available by the time we had to leave. We tried to concentrate on the beauty of Haiti, the lush trees and hillsides up at the Baptist Haiti Mission, the loving Haitian nannies who cared for so many needy babies, and of course, our babies. 

We made arrangements to extend our stay for a couple more days in hope that the passports would turn up and all the other paper work would fall into place. Steve’s boss notified him that he was out of vacation time and needed to be back to work by Monday…or else.  We made plans to leave on a Friday and prayed fervently that our children would be going with us. Friday morning came too soon as we loaded the babies into the Suburban and headed down the mountain. Dixie explained that in case the passports were found, the children still needed their medical examinations and this would save us some time. She left the babies and I with an old Haitian woman who was a Christian, but didn’t speak a word of English. The woman lived in a building that was back from the main road, but connected to many other buildings. I assumed they were like apartments. Dixie explained to her why I was there and then hurried on her way. It was very hot in the city and sounds of cars and people were everywhere. I tended to the babies and tried to keep them quiet and prayed constantly. Suddenly a quick movement caught my eye and I looked to see a dog that was nothing but skin and bones staring at me. Dogs in Haiti are considered to be at the bottom of the food chain and most that run the streets are wild. I offered the dog one of the crackers I had, but he wouldn’t come near me. I threw the cracker to him and he gobbled it up. Quickly, the old woman appeared from behind a curtain with a broom and chased the dog away, yelling at him in Creole. Then, she offered me some water that she dipped out of a bucket sitting on the table. I knew that someone must have carried the water on his or her head from some place, and given the beginning of my trip, I politely declined her offer. The babies started to fuss and she offered me a couch to lay them on so they could sleep. Once they were sleeping peacefully, I went back to the table and fed the dog some more. The old woman came out a few more times with her broom and chased the dog away. Then, I saw another movement near the babies. I looked quickly and saw a mouse scamper across the room.  It then dawned on me that if something happened to Steve and Dixie, I had no way of calling the mission for help. Panic started to well up inside of me as the heat and the sounds and smells of the city closed in around me. I don’t recall praying so hard in my life. Suddenly, one of Dixie’s helpers came in and told me that she was taking the babies and I back up the mountain. I knew then, that my babies were not coming home with me.

A short time later I watched as Dixie and Steve dragged themselves out of the car. One look at their downcast faces and I knew…our dreams of bringing our babies home was over.

Steve gently told me that they had looked everywhere for the passports and had been unable to find them. He said we didn’t have any other choice but to go home and figure out the rest of the mess from there. Tears poured down my face as I held my precious blessings. How could I leave them? Luc had begun to say “Dada” and hold his own bottle. His whole face lit up when he saw us. Elizabeth was smiling and cooing at us. She was beginning to reach for us when she saw us. How could I leave them behind? Dixie offered to let me stay with the babies…but how could I stay? We had left our six older children at home with friends checking on them every day. We were in touch every day with the computer. How could I stay?

As our luggage was loaded into the Suburban, we tearfully said goodbye. Elizabeth was napping and would wake up and not know where we had gone. Steve sat Luc down in the nursery and as he turned and walked away, Luc howled. Our hearts broke.

John drove us down to the airport but we didn’t talk much. Dixie had promised that if anyone found the passports they would call her and she would radio John. If just one passport was found, Steve would put his job in jeopardy and stay the weekend in order to bring as least one baby home. Suddenly, the radio crackled…it was Dixie. She had bad news…no passports. Her voice cracked as she told us that her helper had promised to keep looking, but that nothing had turned up so far.

As we were sitting in the waiting room with hundreds of Haitians, tears streamed down my face. I was leaving my babies behind and didn’t know when or if they would even come home.

I looked at the lights of the city as the plane took off and I wished I had stayed with my babies. Yet, I knew I had made the right decision in going home with Steve.

It was a sad homecoming at the Boise airport that afternoon. No balloons, no streamers, no signs, no smiles…only tears and empty arms.

Life quickly got back to normal with home schooling and the chores around the house. Steve put all his energies into finding our “lost” papers and Dixie worked hard at finding the passports. Elizabeth’s passport turned up just a few days after we left Haiti. It would be several weeks before Luc’s was found…and the date it was issued was the date Dixie had told us. To this day no one knows where it was.

After six weeks we boarded a plane again. This time there were no tears, no great welcoming committee, just business as usual. Luc remembered us and warmed up right away, but Elizabeth would not even look at us. We had done most of the paper work while we were there the first time, so we only needed to stay for a long weekend in order to finish it all up. By the end of the weekend, I got Elizabeth to smile at me. The Haitian nannies told Dixie there would be no more parents coming and then leaving since we had spoiled Luc and they were left to deal with his constant crying.

The trip to Miami was uneventful as we played with our babies. The plane ride to Minnesota started out just fine, but somewhere over Tennessee our stomachs started to act up. By the time we were on our way to Boise we both were spending more time in the bathroom than out of it. At one point, I just sat in the back of the plane to be near the bathroom and left Steve with the two sleeping babies in the front. Suddenly a steward who said “Excuse me, your husband asked if you could come up front and watch the children for him so he could use the bathroom” awakened me. I slowly opened my eyes and said “NO”. Later Steve asked me who I thought was in the other bathroom every time I went. I didn’t know he was sick too. I prayed hard as we flew towards Boise. I knew that our children and friends would be waiting at the airport and I didn’t want to have to run to the bathroom and miss all the fun. By the time the plane landed, I was feeling better. Steve, however, seemed worse. In fact, he stayed sick for three months and lost 30 pounds before he finally got the medication he needed from the doctor to clear up the problem.

As we walked down the concourse, all our children and friends were waiting for us wearing fake glasses with huge noses! We couldn’t help but laugh. What a wonderful time it was…introducing our new babies to our family and friends.

It was quite late by the time we got home and Steve went straight to bed. The other children and I stayed up and played with the babies. We gave Luc his first tub bath and he loved it so much that he got himself, the bathroom, and all of us soaking wet. Finally, at one in the morning, we were all ready for sleep. As I laid the babies down in their new cribs for the first time, I thanked the Lord for finally making my dreams a reality.



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