is a good way to describe this adoption in comparison to our others.
We've never done an agency adoption...
YES it's true we adopted SO LONG AGO that we were among the pioneers of independent adoption in Russia with an organization called Christian Adoption Project. This time around the content is similar, applications similar, but the process is very different. That said we are extremely GRATEFUL for Diana Boni @ All Blessings International who has experience with processing the unique cases of American-Haitian residents who already have met & often have custody of their kids. She has been a huge encouragement & we will rely on her knowledge and in-country staff to get everything moving along here very soon.
Bonding & Attachment??
We DO know a LOT now about THAT. However in our situation this time around we have a 2.5 yr long relationship with & actually have PHYSICAL CUSTODY of Syndie BEFORE we have legal guardianship or have begun the actual adoption process. It is a strange thing, but we have been entrusted with her care by the only legal guardian that she has, since her mom died in the earthquake of 2010. TOMORROW we all traipse down to IBESR to get the guardianship paperwork started!
Last time we learned very basic phrases in Russian & then studied and picked it up in Russia and upon our return with our girls. Thankfully this time around we have a better grasp of the language prior to kiddos entering our home...that said we've been on a sudden increased learning curve with our 6 yo chatterbug! Opposite situations in this realm however are the fact that we'll be raising kids in their native country, native language, but an American culture household. We're currently all speaking Haitian Kreyol at home, except for Ted & I between ourselves. So we're not at all sure when to start the transition or integration of English language acquisition.
is another word we use a lot here, but especially in regards to transitioning an older adopted child in their OWN home country.
Syndie is attending a local Haitian school...studying in Kreyol & French at present. She is behind her agemates and requiring specila tutoring. In order to be ready for 1st grade next year they say whe will have to work though the entire summer. At what point do we peel her away from the familiar & her native tongue to study in English & make sure that she will be at grade level in EITHER or BOTH countries that she resides in?
Hopefully this one will work itself out in time, but this past week it has been one of our BIGGEST challenges. One of the few "friends" that Syndie has among our family community here, that bridge her present and past, is our friend Jessica's little girl, Phoebe Kate. In fact PK is the ONLY kiddo here that ever visited Syndie in her orphanage over the past few years. We are blessed to have the girls together enjoying Syndie's freedom to visit Phoebe Kate at her house now too! The reality is that they are at the END of their backwards adoption journey at last & Phoebe is FINALLY moving to the US for the very first time on Thursday. We are happy for them, but will miss them tremendously!!!
Syndie has verbalized NOT wanting to visit anyone at her orphanage and yet has a limited ability to communicate and get to know any of our friends' english speaking kids.
School is the only place where she can communicate freely with other kids right now, but that has presented it's own issues. This past week a little girl from school, who is quite a bit older than Syndie seemed to have befriended her & came by to "visit". This turned into daily "play" time which was HOURS long... We thought at first that it would be good for her since she isn't used to being an only child surrounded by adults. Slowly over this past weekend that has gone downhill. BY the end I found myself struggling with giving grace & wisdom & compassion to her and feeling guilty all the same!
I was always the mom who kept an ear out when friends were around to make sure everyone was playing well & communicating appropriately. With a Haitian schoolmate that speaks no english I immediately felt some what disadvantaged at knowing whether they were talking and playing nice. I decided not to worry too much, but check on them frequently, assess Syndie's countenance & see if she seemed ok. That worked fine. Then a few red flags started going off.
Frist of all, Syndie came in every hour saying she was hungry and asking for something to eat...even though she had eaten more than usual. Next the little girl who was twice her size came out with Syndie's clothes on...a sundress as a top here, pajama pants as shorts there... we entered uncharted territory as I tried to give caring guidance! How do you NICELY ask a girl who probably has very little, to take off & return your daughter's clothes that are 6 sizes too small? How do you politely change the subject for the 4th time when your daughter asks for food, when you've already fed two full meals AND several snacks during a playdate? How do you ford the waters of generosity & yet NOT undermine or disrespect a little girl's own family who you have (by the way) NEVER MET? Is it even appropriate to ask to meet her mom/family down the road?
Unfortunately this particular situation got out a little more out of hand... Fun turned into an "agenda", trying to steal Syndie's clothes and lying about it... Sadly, in the end I had to send her home and let her know that Syndie would only see her at school.
Poor Syndie was a trooper & said that she understood, but I struggle with knowing that this may be the norm when it comes to her trying to have local Haitian friends. And so the BIG changes in her life ensue and the valley of separation that we knew would be inevitable from her old life begins to grow wide and rocky and deep. If it wasn't for the joy, the hugs and seeing her SOAK up love & touch like water to one in a desert, I would grieve more with her...SHE would grieve more too. But I didn't see that on her face at the end of the day, just the smile and giggles of a well nourished, well rested little girl who is BRAVELY learning a new way of life and just feels GOOD!