(Thank you to Sarah for today’s guest post!)
My husband and I are the proud parents of five children. Two of our kids are adopted and we have three biological children. A year and a half ago we adopted our son from the US foster system at age seven. This past February, our son Reese, age two at the time, joined our family from Haiti. This is the story that I want to share with you today.
After the earthquake, things were very touch and go trying to bring Reese home. When things were looking like they were going to happen, I volunteered to go to Haiti and help escort Reese and five other Haitian boys to their adoptive families. I flew from Minnesota to Florida. On Friday morning I rode on a jump seat of a cargo plane to Haiti. I wasn’t sure of the logistics of when I was going to meet Reese.
I walked into the airport and I’ll never forget the moment I laid eyes on my son. He was tucked up close to his caregiver from the orphanage. He was sucking on his thumb and had big brown eyes that looked kind of scared and sad. I had learned that he was pretty shy, so I approached him quietly and said “Hi.” He quietly waved with the fingers that weren’t in his mouth.
We spent the night in Port au Prince and Saturday morning the cab dropped us off at the airport. It was two other female escorts, the six boys, and me. The US Embassy was supposed to meet us there with the kids’ official paperwork and they ended up being an hour and a half late. We were told to wait outside the airport for them. Right after the taxi dropped us off, we were surrounded by a group of angry men. They started yelling at us that we were stealing Haiti’s children. We tried to reason with them. We tried to get away from them, but they were blocking us with their bodies. I started yelling for someone to help us and everyone just ignored us. I have never been so scared in my life.
Finally, the police arrived on the scene. I thought to myself, “Good. They will straighten this all out.” WRONG. They took all of us into police custody. We were sitting in the police station. The police wouldn’t speak to us, pretending that they didn’t speak English, while talking about us in Kreyol.
I was so scared. I was shaking and having a hard time getting a deep breath. I felt paralyzed. Three things comforted me during this time:
- The name of Jesus…I really didn’t have any words to say. I just knew that I wanted Jesus, which I just kept saying over and over again Philippians 2:-9-11 says that at the name of JESUS every knee will bow.
- Knowing that the Spirit would intercede on my behalf: I was so scared and I had so much to pray, but I wasn’t really thinking clearly! I really didn’t even know what to pray. Romans 8:26 came to mind and I knew that the Holy Spirit will intercede for me when I didn’t know what to pray.
- Worship: I knew I wanted to enter his gates with thanksgiving and prayer. I wanted to be like Paul in the Bible in jail. I didn’t want to be afraid. I really couldn’t think of any of the contemporary Christian worship music that I love so much. In that time of need and confusion, I went straight to the songs of my childhood, so I sang “Jesus Loves Me“, “Amazing Grace“, and “Jesus, Name Above All Names” in the children’s ears.
The US Embassy arrived and we spent nine hours trying to sort things out. We were told that the children would have to stay in the custody of Haitian Social Services. We went in police holding trucks to the Haitian Social Services orphanage, which was a tent camp. They had no food, no milk, no diapers, no beds, and only older kids there. They didn’t ask the children’s names. We told the workers the kids hadn’t had a meal since breakfast and we wanted them fed. Finally after our persistence, they got out a box of cornflakes.
The whole day, I thought we would go to the airport. Then I thought we might have to stay another night in Haiti. Never did I entertain the thought that I was going to have to leave my new baby/son on the ground of a tent camp 36 hours after I had gotten him.
We begged and pleaded to stay there. We’d sleep on the ground. We wouldn’t get in their way. Could just one of us stay there? No. We were escorted away while six kids were terrified and screaming.
That night the verses that gave me comfort were: Matthew 10:30, “And even the very hairs on your head are numbered,” and “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” John 10:3b (NIV)
The song that played repeatedly in my head was, “He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I pray.” I knew that He knew Reese’s name.
The next three days were the LONGEST of my life. We had no control over the situation while the two governments duked it out. Our story was on CNN three nights in a row and it got a ton of media attention. I believe that it was part of the reason that our situation was resolved relatively quickly.
Tuesday we got a call that the kids were finally in the custody of the US Embassy. We went to the Embassy to meet the kids. It was so wonderful to have my baby back in my arms. We are stuck together like glue now. He is doing so well.
From all the media and internet attention we know that thousands of people were praying for Reese’s and the other children’s safe arrival to the United States. I am so thankful for the power of prayer.