Waving Under the Mango Tree
2013… It feels like it has been the Exodus. Many children have finally been able to go home with their forever family. It is such a blessing to watch the parents and the children unite. To watch them learn to communicate with each other, to watch them bond, and to watch them live out the moment they have been waiting for and praying for, for so long.
A day that their families have waited years for.
A day that begins a life that our children cannot even fathom.
A day of tears of joy.
A day of question from the child.
A day where the child is excited to have someone to call their own.
A day where the child doesn’t really understand what is going on.
A day where we say good bye, never knowing if we will see the child we have loved on again.
A day where their friends wonder where their friends are going.
A day where their friends question when their turn will come.
Each time we stand under the mango tree, waving to a new complete family driving out the gate, a part of us leaves. A part of us is going to start a new life with a new family in a new country. It is always bitter sweet. We are thrilled for them, but that doesn’t mean we do not miss the child we have come to know and love. Every time a child leaves the next few days feel like we are constantly missing someone.
It’s weird to think about where all of our children are. To think of how they are celebrating a holiday or wonder how they are doing in school. We are curious how they have bonded with their parents and their siblings. We wonder how they like so many things they never experienced here in Haiti.
So many things we can picture them doing, but the children still waiting are left to wonder. They do not understand. They are waiting to be chosen, they want to go home.
“My mommy and daddy are coming tomorrow?”
“No, buddy not for a few more months.”
“I want to go home.”
“Your family wants that too.”
“When my mommy and daddy coming?”
“They will be here as soon as they can. They love you so much and they pray for you every day.”
“I go on an airplane?”
“Yes, one day you will. You will go on a small one to Port au Prince and then you will get to go on a big one with your mommy and daddy.”
“I want my mommy and daddy to come.”
“I know. They want to come get you too. They love you sooo much and are praying for the day they can come.”
I could repeat those conversations in my sleep because they happen so much these days.
No matter how common they get, they don’t get any easier. Each question comes with a pang of sorrow and the holding back of tears on my part. I want to hug them and hold them and explain to them how their desires are the same as their parents. I want to tell them there are mountains of paperwork and lots of money that has to be done. But they won’t understand all of that. They don’t understand what the difference between tomorrow and next year are. Sometimes I fear that they are losing hope as the days go by. I fear that they wonder if the people on the pages of their family books are real.
Catching the blank stare of a child as they try to fight back the tears and then watching the tears win as they drip down their face breaks your heart. Those moments call for the tightest embrace I can do whispering how loved they are. Holding them tight until they are ready to go, even if that means hours. Occasionally it even means sitting by their side until they fall asleep at night.
Comforting a child who breaks down into a full blown out crying phase for no real reason is no easy task. Everything in me wants to show them how amazing they are and how loved they are but they resist. They don’t know what their mind is thinking, but finally they give in. Cuddles are what they needed. They needed to be reminded that they matter, that they are worth your time, that they are loved too.
Our older kids “get it” but their emotions do not. They just aren’t capable of it. I’ve shed tears for our children who are wondering and waiting. I pray that their hopes are never diminished and that they feel love daily and understand how much their forever family loves them even though they cannot be together right now. It feels like hugging them and holding them and reminding them how much they are loved is not enough.
Haitians often use the phrase “Bondye konnen” (God knows) for so many situations. He really does now, and I am so thankful that we can take comfort in that. God knows the perfect timing. He knows how long we need the kids here and he knows the best timing to send them home. He knows their fears and their frustrations. He knows what they are thinking even when we cannot get a word out of that blank stare. God knows. And He loves us. I pray that the kids know God’s love wherever they are and that they know he is always with them. We talk about this a lot in preschool and I can only pray that they understand even a glimpse of what I am saying.
Will you please join us in praying? Pray for:
-Our kids who are waiting on their families to come take them home
-The families who are aching because a part of their heart lives so far away
-The kids who are not yet matched with families that their families will find them soon
-All paperwork would move smoothly
-The staff who have to say goodbye to the kids they love so much