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A year in the making…  There are so many reasons I haven’t written this blog, until now.  It’s been a very busy year, three kids is a whole new level of parenting.  An emotion I can only compare to survivor’s guilt.  It’s so hard to still see families waiting to bring their children home.  In the last year, we have rejoiced as many families have been united, but some families are still waiting for the homecoming.  Some of these families started the adoption process just a few months after we did, and their children still aren’t home.  We pray for these families daily.  And my emotions, this has been such a journey.

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On Thursday, August 8th 2013, we cut an annual vacation with friends short and boarded an early plane to get to Haiti.  To bring our daughter home!  Nine trips to Haiti, one trip home.  We took our usual route through Dallas-Fort Worth to Fort Lauderdale to Port-au-Prince.  In Fort Lauderdale, we were fortunate to meet up with Eric Ream, a missionary we’ve met several times that lives in Haiti with his family.  He was able to help guide us through the PAP airport and wait with us until our ride arrived.  The wait for the orphanage van seemed so long, but Eric blessed our time with prayer.

We arrived at the orphanage fairly late in the day, dinner was over and the kids seemed to be winding down for the night.  Naika was hanging out of the front window, waiting for our arrival.  When she saw us, she nearly squeezed herself through the narrow opening in the window to get to us.  Then she came running to the door, happy as always.  She seemed to know.

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We only spent a short time at the orphanage.  It was getting late and it’s not always safe to travel in the dark.  We made our rounds of the orphanage.  We thanked the nannies and handed out nanny bags to all the night nannies working that night.  I had never met any of the night nannies and missed the chance to say thank you to all the day nannies I’d spent so many hours with.  So many of our friends helped us fill these bags with personal items and treats for the nannies to enjoy.  I loved hearing their delight in receiving their bags.

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We then had a very small going home party for Naika.  We handed out Rice Kripie treats to all the kids and staff.  We handed the treats out until they were gone, a few lucky kids happily accepted seconds.

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Then we said our farewells.  Naika waved goodbye and blew kisses to all her friends and the nannies in the toddler room.

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One last night in Haiti at the hotel, with one last swim in the questionable water.  We were thankful to spend time with two other families adopting from the same orphanage that were living in Haiti and finishing their adoption process themselves.  We enjoyed their fellowship, a generous dinner buffet, and said our bittersweet goodbyes.  We had always thought we would be bringing our children home on the same plane.  Thankfully, both these families are now home, but one family is still on the adoption journey to bring another daughter home.

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At the orphanage, we were told that we would not be able to meet with Naika’s birth mom and sister to say good-bye since we weren’t staying in Haiti long enough.  This last meeting is fairly standard for our orphanage and we were planning to see Joceline and Daima and had brought small gifts for them.  We were really disappointed and felt we had robbed Naika’s birth family their last chance to see her.

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Much to our delight and surprise, both Naika’s birth mom and sister arrived in the van when it came to take us to the airport in the morning.  We even had time to share breakfast with them.  Joceline found a visitor at the hotel that was able to interpret for us so we could communicate.  The conversation didn’t start off well.  Joceline was upset.  She thought that we had never traveled back to visit Naika after the first time we met Joceline in July 2012.  Luckily, I had the proof in photos to show her that I had been back to visit on three trips since that July.  Once Joceline realized we kept our promise to visit Naika, things went smoothly.  Joceline and Daima rode with us to the airport and we said pleasant good-byes.

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At the airport, I was touched to see the driver, Jackson, saying such a sweet good-bye to Naika.  Over all the trips, Jackson was the constant.  His English was better than he let on.  He loved the kids.  On one trip, during a particular difficult moment, I thanked Jackson for loving Naika and knowing her name.  I was so upset that the director of the orphanage didn’t know who Naika was, didn’t know her name, didn’t know who we were after so many trips.  Jackson knew, he understood.  I will always be so grateful for Jackson.

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Then we boarded our first plane of three.  Finally on our way home.  No words could describe this emotion.  I still cried when we took off from PAP, but it was such a release.

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We had a short layover in Fort Lauderdale, but long enough to have a quick meet up with some dear friends.  We met this family during our first trip to Haiti and developed our friendship during the many family bonding trips.  We love this sweet mama and her son so much!

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We then had an even shorter layover in Dallas-Fort Worth.  Naika enjoyed watching the “papas” and “avyon.”  Then one last flight home.

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This moment will always be one of the best moments of my life.  My whole family, finally together.  So much love, right there.

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It truly takes a village.  And there is no village I’d rather be than our village.  It was such a beautiful view to walk up the airport ramp and see so many loved ones supporting our family.  Waiting to see our family united and finally meet Naika.  I’m so thankful for each and every person.

After a long trip home, on so many levels, Naika is home!

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