Peter has asked us if we remember the day he came to Canada. Um, yeah... it's a day I'll never forget.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010.
15 days after the earthquake.
When I heard there had been an earthquake in Haiti I immediately went online and the information was already posted that the kids at GLA were all safe. That was such a relief and because I had been comforted, that first night I had no idea the earthquake would be so devastating. When it became clear that the country was in shambles and the aftershocks were a real and continued danger, we became consumed with safety for the kids.
Our adoption process had already been 3 1/2 years; and over 2 years since we received our referral. Because of so many twists and turns in our journey, I was not at all hopeful that Haiti would do anything for the sake of adoptive kids. And I knew there would be huge resistance from international organizations who are supposed to be child advocates but who would not want to allow kids to leave Haiti before the adoption process was complete.
But Robin was determined. And he put himself out there talking to an immigration lawyer, our MP, and numerous media outlets. And in the midst of incredible destruction and tragedy, a miracle happened for our kids. The government of Haiti officially allowed all children who were in the process of being adopted to leave the country. And finally, the government of Canada allowed all children in the process of being adopted to enter Canada without a passport and VISA.
And on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 a plane landed in Ottawa carrying our 2 children along with 50 other adoptive children and some Canadian families leaving Haiti.
When I look at photos now of the kids on that day, I just see fear and blank looks. I can't even imagine what they were thinking and feeling. I know the 6 adults from GLA who were on the plane with them did everything they could to make the trip fun and to help the kids feel safe. It sounds like the airline staff and CIC staff who were flying with them did a great job and completely catered to the kids. But still... what a journey.
Molly sent us photos of the trip from GLA to the Canadian embassy where the kids spent the night on the floor, to the airport. I'm saving the photos and some of the words that Dixie, Molly and Joyce wrote about that time for the kids when they are a bit older. But just last week Peter told us what he remembered of that trip and how Madame John helped them sing and put stuff on the windows so they wouldn't look out. When I look at the media images of the kids, especially Gaelle, they certainly look happy and excited. But when they stepped off the plane, they look cold and uncertain. The fun and games were over.
The kids were all processed and given temporary Canadian VISA's, looked at by medical personnel, and then we headed over to the main terminal of the airport to catch our flight back to Halifax. Everbody in the airport was so kind to us and again the kids were so brave. They just accepted everything we did to them.
Change my clothes? Ok. Eat the food? Ok. Step on moving stairs? Ok. Stand in line? Ok.
It's a bit hard to remember exactly what we were thinking and feeling on that day. I was super excited and completely focused on getting the kids to Halifax so we wouldn't have to spend another night in Ottawa. It was such a relief to see Kaylin and to know that we were finally starting the next part of this adoption journey. The Forever Family part. But there was also a sense of, "What have we gotten ourselves into? We're adding little kids to our family of teenagers. Are we up for this?"
Now it's been 6 months. We have learned so much and grown so much, but we probably have more questions than ever.
2 weeks ago