How Adopting My Daughter From Haiti Changed My Life
As women, we have the choice to have kids or not, be a stay-at-home mom or working mom, be a business woman or take a hiatus when you have children. Nobody should judge what we do with our body, or with anything else in our life. We make mistakes and we learn, we fall and we get up, with no complaints we go on.
When I decided to adopt my daughter Ili, I was a single mom to my son Pol. I owned a business and I was studying, in someway I always have. I decided to adopt because I’ve always wanted more than one kid, having a daughter was a dream of mine. If I learned something about becoming a mom, it’s the fact that a baby coming from my body or my soul is painful in many ways, sometimes unbearable, but I’m a woman and as a woman we can take a lot of pain with little complaining. Adoptions are never easy, they are complex, tricky and you never get it right the first try so you just have to keep insisting until the day some country, orphanage or government takes your paperwork and says “you are eligible to become a mom”. We women never give up! I had a burning desire that guided me all the way through the entire adoption process, not even one day I felt it wasn’t going to happen.
The burning desire held me up.
Haiti was the country of my choice. The paperwork often takes years, mine took around 2 years which is an amazing time record. When the adoption was in the finishing line the Coup d’État happened in Haiti, the chaos took over the country. I got a call from my lawyer saying they were not going to be able to process the paperwork for my daughter, the government was closed and the militia was burning down governmental offices so my daughter’s paperwork was probably gone forever, but “don’t worry, there are so many kids, if it is not her, you will get another one”….WHAT??? Absolutely not! There was no question, she was my daughter, only her and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I decided to go and take my daughter, with or without paperwork, second option not legal, not even there. But I wasn’t eating that pill. I bought a ticket to fly to the Dominican Republic a week later. I told my lawyer I was going, he said I was totally crazy, there was a war going on there. By the way there were no foreigners there, all the consulates and embassies were empty, that was an impossible situation and there was no chance for success. No paperwork, no passport, no kid, and it makes sense, right?
During that week before leaving, a Spanish journalist got killed in Haiti and the government had to repatriate the corps and apparently this is always a problem for the government. Anyways, the day was approaching and I got a telegram from foreign affairs of my country stating that they won’t allow me to go. If I were to go and I got killed there, my family was going to be responsible for the corps. There you go! I had a conversation with my mom and dad and Pol, I told them I had to go and rescue my daughter and I didn’t know when I was coming back. I was expecting complains, tight faces, disapproval because the situation was insane. My mom grabbed my face and kissed me, my son was attached to my body like a sticker and my dad said “if there is anyone that can pull this off it is you, you are the bravest woman I know”. My jaw dropped and we stayed holding our hands for a little while and that was it. The next day I was leaving to Haiti, not knowing if I was ever coming back.
The only thing I needed was my burning desire, that from day one never left me. I had no fear and not even a thought of doubt crossed my mind, I knew that I was coming back with my daughter. What I didn’t know was when, but this was happening!
I got to the Dominican Republic and I needed to fly to Haiti, but the airport was closed, so no flights were departing anywhere, including Haiti. I wasn’t giving up so I spent some time in the airport trying to figure out if I could rent a private jet or see if someone, anyone was going there. No one was, until I saw a military guy cruising around the airport with a big backpack. I approached him and asked him if he was going to Haiti by chance. He said, yes but in a military plane, no civil person could fly there without specific permission. I told him my story and situation, he told me to talk to his superior if I could join them in the plane. I went to the superior and he said, yes!
So far, the impossible was happening, one thing after another. My burning desire was intact, burning and guiding me all the way.
Previously I had set up to rent a room in a rich lady’s house, she was used to hosting adopting parents. She was an American living there and helping parents. She was awesome. I was in communication with her too. She told me if I could get to Port au Prince airport, she was going to send a car to pick me up, she had a bullet proof car. I got to Port au Prince airport, it was closed so no people there besides aid planes and military personnel. I found my driver and we headed to the city. He suggested me to lay down on the floor of the car since he went through some shootings on his way there. And he was right, we went through some shootings on the way out of the airport, the car got hit a couple of times, but we were mostly safe if the car kept moving. I got to the luxurious house in a gated community, which separated it from the real crisis, it was weird, I have been in poor, very poor countries but the energy of that place was so strong, hatred and rage, people were angry and they had reasons to be.
I called my lawyer and we headed to the orphanage to get my daughter, my lawyer told me they won’t give her away without paperwork, but I was not giving up that one. We had to come back three times, three days later I told the lady at the front door “I am staying here, I am not going anywhere anymore until you give me my daughter”. I had to wait for 7 hours, but they did. This was one of the most exciting moments in my life. Ili, my daughter, was going to be given away to a lady with no paperwork, a white lady by the way, she never saw one before, so the whole thing from the outside looked crazy.
But inside me I had the burning desire and the certainty that everything was going to be great.
I knew how my daughter was going to behave the second she saw me, I knew her personality, I knew everything inside my heart, my spirit told me. I know it may seem over the top today, but that was the truth and this is how it happened.
A big Haitian woman, very kind and soft spoken, told me that she was going to bring Ili to the gate, but it would be better if I didn’t grab or touch her at least until she felt comfortable with me. “Try to smile, no touching, no holding hands, she will follow you”, that’s what she said. I didn’t know how much Ili knew about me or about leaving her country forever. I was very nervous by then because it was the first time I could have her and I was supposed to behave in a very unnatural way. But I was willing to do what they said, at the end of the day they knew how it worked and I had no clue. A little later, the same big lady was holding hands with my much smaller daughter, she was looking at me from afar like I was some sort of weird thing, a thousand thoughts crossed my mind, none had a shade of doubt about her being mine. About smiling….ha!… by then I was crying my face off, not smiling at all, the lady gave me a reprimanding look, but I couldn’t avoid the roller coaster feelings. As soon as I had her a foot away from my body, Ili jumped on my neck, grabbing me like there was no tomorrow, so no touching didn’t workout either.
Nothing turned out as the big lady expected, but everything turned out as I expected. She never let go. She was definitely mine forever and the bond got so strong and powerful and that still lasts today. We went back to the luxurious house, another thing that my daughter never saw before, but she didn’t care about anything, she was just one with my body and that is where we were going to stay for the next 5 days. Showering, pooping, peeing, we did everything together. Let me tell you, pulling your clothes off with a 6 years old girl attached to your body is not easy, neither taking her clothes off. But we made it. We had only one little detail to wrap up before we could leave. By then my family knew nothing about me, if I was alive or not or if I had Ili or not, everything was in the air. I asked my lawyer to take us to the Spanish consulate to get Ili’s passport and leave, he wasn’t very optimistic about this last step either, but I knew we were going to get what I wanted.
I packed up all my things, we said goodbye to the lady and we headed to the consulate. No Spanish personnel on site. Only a front desk Haitian lady playing cards. She said “you have to leave now, the consul is in Miami until the thing calms down and he is not coming back”. Well, I said “that’s okay, we will stay here as long as we need, this is my country and you have the obligation to protect me while we are here”. She didn’t like that, she got really rude and upset but there we were and we were not going anywhere. We spent four nights on the floor of the consulate, my lawyer was coming and going with food and water at least once a day. Ili was eating like crazy. I am sure she was starving to death in the orphanage, at least for the last couple of weeks if not longer. All the sudden one morning, I heard a chopper landing somewhere close to the consulate. A few hours later I had a passport with my daughter’s name stamped on it. We were good to go! Ili wasn’t speaking a word in English, French or Spanish, she was speaking only Creole so I asked our lawyer to write the basic words on a paper so I could ask her if she was hungry, tired, thirsty or sad and that was it. Magically, one flight a day was operating so I bought two tickets to the Dominican Republic. From the moment we left the lawyer’s car Ili cried all the way to Dominican Republic, and so did I.
The burning desire guided me and my spirit protected me the entire journey, otherwise today I wouldn’t be talking about this.
Today Ili is 20 years old, she never gave me a hard time, she is in college becoming an industrial designer and is as happy as anyone can be. Healthy and an amazing daughter. Every time I think of all things we had to go through and how easy everything got laid out for us in the worst case scenario, I realize that if it wasn’t for the burning desire that held my spirit and positivity the entire time, I wouldn’t have lli in my life, something I can’t even imagine.
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