Monday, February 13, 2012

Just a Little Bit of Hope

BRESMA cuties and their dolls
I awake (very) early, thanks to the stupid rooster, get dressed, and prepare myself for the long journey to the alternate reality of my home in the United States.

On the way to the airport, I see the first quantitative sign of hope post-quake that I have yet encountered. Right before the turn into the airport complex there is a flat, open space of about two acres. Just last November, it was packed to the curb all the way around with tents and tarps and refugees. This morning, only a few scattered tents remain on the barren, exhausted earth. Everyone else has packed up and left. I don't know where they have gone, but it must be better than this camp, which had water and latrines. May it be safe harbor for each of them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty

A short walk on the side of the 'haves' in Haiti: I go to brunch at Quartier Latin with friends. Petionville is a place of the sharpest contrasts. We park opposite a square that is denuded from the tents that so recently filled it, and eat at a restaurant that is an open courtyard. There's a jazz band, and the menu is excellent. Another hint of what Haiti could be – a vacation paradise. The climate here from November through April could be very inviting to travelers, and the people are remarkable year 'round.

In the afternoon Margarette comes over the the guesthouse all by herself in the micro-van. She almost never drives alone anymore, after being carjacked a few years ago. We go to HFAP (Haiti Foundation Against Poverty) to visit with Frantz and Mallery Neptune. We're placing a few children who are living here, but today we're here to talk prevention. HFAP has a Depo-Provera clinic. We are desperate to prevent 'repeat customers' at BRESMA, and give all the mothers of the children at BRESMA schools the ability to control their own fertility. This program is more financially feasible than I had dared to hope. HFAP is spending about $10 per woman per month. We make arrangements to refer our Port-au-Prince women to their clinic, as it is not at capacity, and begin discussing fundraising to replicate the project in Castaches.

Sherley's idea of supper for one
I think Sherley is trying to kill me with overindulgence.  I have to tell her at every meal that I simply can't eat as much as she thinks I can!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Little Success

Very little work today, with our trip to Castaches postponed.  I'm not used to having any free time!  I go to BRESMA to spend time with my kids.  There's some very good news.  We're missing someone!  A lovely toddler girl named Reneline, for whom I was supposed to look for a family, is gone.  Her mother came and got her in the morning.  She may be able to stay with her birth family.  Every adoption we don't do is a success story for us.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yo, Kids Are Still Kids

As we were unable to get plane tickets to Jeremie for the weekend, I find myself a bit at loose ends. This morning I went to meet with Dr. Jacob Bernard in his office downtown.

It was always a very 'not-American' experience to drive down here, but now it seems surreal. The split dome of the palace remains nodding, the white paint peeling off the cracked and ruined walls in great sheets. It looks as if were squeezed in a giant fist.

Tent city in front of the Presidential Palace
The lawn of the palace itself is empty, but all of the open squares and parks that once surrounded it are full curb to curb with tents and shanties built from recycled refuse. It's hard to believe this isn't a movie set, but two years later, here we are. Welcome to Haiti!

My driver, Ti Maurice, a BRESMA employee, tells me that little by little people are leaving the camps. But who knows where they are going, or how they will survive when they get there. There are no jobs here, especially for the uneducated.

Dr. Bernard's family also runs a travel agency, and the sign says Nacia travel and New Life Link. It's a good thing, or I don't know how I would have recognized the place. I walk in to the reception area and ask to speak to Dr. Bernard. There is complete and obvious confusion. I am asked repeatedly in rapid fire Kreyol what my name is, and if I have an appointment. I assure them that I do, pronounce my name carefully and with a proper Kreyol accent, and sit down to wait. I'm getting the distinct impression that the staff is not accustomed to a white woman wandering in off the streets by herself and asking to speak to their boss. I could just call Dr. Bernard on my cell phone and let him know I'm in the waiting room, but now my curiosity is piqued and I want to see what will happen next.

Of course the moment somebody goes to the back office with my name, I'm asked to come in. Now the manner of the same man who asked me my name rather rudely has become very deferential, and he even unlatches the gate for me.

Dr. Bernard and I discuss the case we're working on together, and the Creche Directors' Association meeting that occurred yesterday with two Senators. Dr. Bernard feels that they made some progress. The group will meet again next Thursday to draft a letter to be sent to all of the members of the Senate, asking for a meeting to discuss the issues of the proposed adoption law and the Hague Convention. Dr. Bernard is concerned that most of the Senate and possibly the Director of IBESR herself don't actually understand what ratifying the Hague Convention means. I intend to make sure that meeting is attended by someone who can spell all that out for them technically, eloquently, and accurately. I may tag along too, if the Creche Directors would like me to do so.

I ask Dr. Bernard for a few documents regarding the adoption case we're working on together. He invites me out to the main work area, and suddenly everyone who didn't speak a word of English is almost fluent! Magic! I wonder why they were so suspicious of me before.

We pass a very long line of cars, double parked and spilling out of the gas station, abandoned where they stopped. Traffic is lighter than it should be, as so many cars are stuck. No gas, no traffic!!

Ti Maurice and I arrive back at the guesthouse just before noon. It's been a very short day compared with what I'm used to. The guesthouse is now empty and it's oddly quiet here for several hours.

In the afternoon two of Margarette's children and two of her son Junior's buddies come over after school. The kids are completely Americanized. I tell the visiting boys, “Hey, we don't say, 'Yo' in Haiti,” but apparently we do. A lot. They act and sound exactly like my son's goofy friends, obsessed with the same gadgets and little squabbles about who is the coolest. For the luckiest top 10% of Haiti, life is much like we have it in the U.S. Kids are kids, everywhere.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Visit to GLA

Continuing my effort to ensure that Maya's article is balanced and complete, we drive up into the mountains to visit God's Littlest Angels. Dixie isn't here today. She's in the D.R. with a very sick baby, but she left instructions for her staff to show us around.

I've been here many times, and it remains unchangingly excellent. Several BRESMA children would have died over the past years were it not for the competency and generosity of GLA in admitting our sick kids into their NICU. Dixie is a nurse, she has another American nurse on staff as well as several Haitian nurses, and she has a functioning neo-natal intensive care unit in her orphanage.

My visitors admire the healthy children and the glorious view from the rooftop terrace playground. It is a remarkable panorama. In Haiti, we say 'deye monn, geyen monn.' (“Behind mountains, there are mountains.”) You can see how true that is from here.

Next we visit their older kids' house, where I have never been before. Children ages about four through twelve live here. Joyce gives us a tour. She and Molly, another American, run this house. They are young women but they have been here eight and ten years respectively. They came as volunteers, and never left.

The program here is remarkable. The children are well-disciplined and scheduled. They have school in Kreyol and in English every day, and most of the older kids understand a great deal of English.

I see two of my own children – K. and J., who were left behind during the BRESMA airlift as I had failed to find them a family. Dixie took them in, along with the French kids and twelve more little ones who weren't matched yet. Two years later, they are still here. Praise God that their case is moving along. They are matched with a family and awaiting Presidential Dispensation for their dossier. They have grown so much that I didn't recognize them, but once Joyce points them out I know them. I must not have changed much on the outside, as they know just who I am. I am so grateful that they have been here, safe and secure.

We spend some time in the yard, just sitting with the kids and listening to them sing and watching them play. It is cool and peaceful and beautiful here – very relaxing. GLA is a good place to be a child.

My guests are leaving today, so we pop into Epi D'Or on our way back down the mountain. I buy Denis a Combo #1 at his request, which I am amused to learn is a hamburger with fries. My visitors decide that they are not hungry, so we just get Denis' meal. The air conditioning is almost too much. I'm getting used to Haiti.

I am finished with my scheduled tasks early. Maybe I'll try to sleep for an hour or so while the rooster next door seems to be on break.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A BRESMA Birthday Party

A BRESMA birthday party
What a shocking contrast! Today we had a birthday party for a little boy turning five at BRESMA. His adoptive family is here visiting, so they are sponsoring the party. In a typical miscommunication for Haiti, somehow my staff thought that they wanted to set up the party themselves, while in fact they needed BRESMA to do it for them. Anyway, apparently this all got figured out at about 4:00 pm yesterday, when it came out that nobody had set up anything at all.

This morning we have a cake, party favor bags complete with hats and noiseblowers and toy cars, pixie sticks for everyone, and paper plates, cups, and soda. We're good to go!

The party is in theory going to happen at 10:00 am. Sonia Andre has care of the younger brother of the sibling group of three which includes the birthday boy, and she is taking a day out of her busy schedule to bring him to his big brother's birthday party.

In the background, Margarette and the crew are all business. We were always paranoid, but now, after the earthquake, we're like crazy people. We like to have a full three months worth of supplies laid in at any given time, and today is shopping day. Margarette has bought tons of food (literally) and the guys are unloading it into the reception area of the new building. It is a stupendous amount of food! At the end Rony brings in a sack with one box of cornflakes in it. Margarette cracks up and explains that the lonely box of cornflakes was her 'free gift' for dropping thousands of dollars for this enormous haul. She'll spend the next few hours arranging all of this bounty on the shelves of the depot, and I'll spend the next few months with no worries about my kids. We are prepared for the end of the world. It's already happened once. We know what we up against.

Another major issue is sending Ti Maurice out for gasoline for the microbus. We only have a partial tank, and there is a gas shortage in Haiti. Usually this occurs in January. For two to three weeks, there is no gasoline for sale on this half of the island. Most of my friends believe this occurs because the government pays out Christmas bonuses to all the employees, and then doesn't have enough money to pay the Venezuelan government for the shipment. Naturally they are not going to send it out on credit to Haiti!

All fuel – diesel and gasoline – comes via boat from Venezuela. I imagine the diesel shipment get priority, because Haiti gets electricity from diesel. I'm not talking about the small to midsize generators like we have here at the guesthouse or at BRESMA. These are the generators that provide the city power, which comes (sometimes) through the overhead lines. No diesel, no power.

Anyway, we've heard that the gasoline is almost gone, so we're sending Ti Maurice out to try a few stations and fill up as best he can. But we'll be fine. Our main vehicle – the big van – runs on diesel. This is no accident.

Manmi Fanni and Barbarah enjoying the party
Naturally we don't cut the birthday cake until about 1:00 in the afternoon, but the kids have a great time with star-shaped toy sunglasses and their noisemakers and hats. Wislande starts a Conga line and the kids are dancing and having a terrific time.

It's difficult to wrap my brain around this raucous, joyful party, and know that not far away are children who are dying for just a fraction of this amount of care and food. Literally. But we have to focus on making the care for our children who are waiting to be adopted as good as possible, and gradually helping the rest of Haiti to catch up. We can't spread ourselves any thinner and still give these kids the little joys to which every child is entitled.

Hours later, tired and partially deaf from the noise of 26 children all sugar buzzed on too many pixie sticks, cake, and Coca-Cola, Mansour Masse comes by to be interviewed. Maya needs to get a good general picture of adoptions in Haiti, not just adoptions through my eyes. Mansour is the Country Coordinator for Holt, another Hague accredited adoption agency. Over the years, Mansour and I have worked together on various political and legislative issues both here and in the U.S. He's a great guy. I have to keep laughing because the answers he gives make it look like he and I planned what we were each going to say in advance. All of the competent and ethical creches operate in extremely similar ways. We're pretty much interchangeable, and we all work together for a common goal. I'm told that it is different in other countries, but here in Haiti we're all on the same team fighting overwhelming odds. We have no energy left for infighting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We hit the ground running!! My visitors have asked to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in terms of Haitian orphanages, and today we will.

Haiti has 67 licensed creches. Creches are specially licensed to perform adoptions. There were also 117 orphanages licensed by IBESR prior to the earthquake. Orphanages are licensed to take, shelter, and care for children. Nobody knows how many unlicensed orphanages there are. 600 in the greater PaP area is a conservative estimate. Licensed child caring facilities are supposed to be inspected and held accountable for the care they provide. I do know that the creches are inspected. I don't know about how often the licensed orphanages are inspected. The unlicensed facilities are accountable to no one, and the care provided varies wildly. Some are luxurious and loving homes that raise children to adulthood and then get them the professional or technical training they need to compete for the few jobs that do exist in Haiti. Others – aren't. Those are the kind we'll go see today.

Happy child at Au Bon Heur
First we visit Au Bon Heur des Enfants, another truly excellent facility. I have a few kids in process here. They live under the watchful eye of our dear friend Sonia Andre and her long-term team of nannies. The kids here are happy, and the baby I've had here since he was four months old remains right on track developmentally. This is another place that most American parents would want to pay for daycare for their children.

Sonia also has a list of children for me to place. There are eight of them, including a sibling set, from ages three months through age five. Sonia works with an German adoption agency, but like me they cannot meet the need for families. The children are suffering due to the refusal of the French and Dutch governments to allow their citizens to adopt from Haiti. It's just ridiculous that we should be going begging for a family for a healthy six month old girl or a three month old boy, but here we are.

Maya interviews Sonia, asking her the same questions she already asked here. I am asked to translate. I can never understand why Sonia only wants to speak Kreyol with me. I believe her English may be better than my Kreyol, but at least she can correct me when I mess up the translation!

Melissa examines a child at Au Bon Heur as she has been requested to do by that child's family. The little girl is physically healthy but appears a bit depressed. The only time anyone has ever seen her outgoing and lively and joyful is with her adoptive mother. I sent this parent here to meet a different child, but she and L. fell in love. I am not going to argue with the little girl's choice. Her immediate attraction to and comfort with this adoptive mother tells us all we need to know. Occasionally, a child will be in the best possible orphanage and will still be unhappy. L. is the sort of little girl who'd be miserable at daycare too. She just doesn't like the level of noise and chaos that is inevitable in any group setting of children, and she never gets to go home with her family after a long day. I am desperate to get her out of here. One of my own daughters was just the same – her sister loved BRESMA so much that she cried from homesickness after coming to the US, but Garline was very unhappy at BRESMA. It just didn't suit her temperament to be there.

We make plans to meet tomorrow at BRESMA for a birthday party and fortified by cups of very strong, sweet coffee, we continue on to our next stop.

Melissa has a commission from another family to examine a child staying at another licensed creche, which I have not visited before. The creche did mostly independent adoptions before the earthquake and is now connected with a number of U.S. agencies who are new to Haitian adoptions. I do know that the facilitators at this creche know how to finish the job, and I encourage the Director to go in and sign the Joint Coucil Standards of Practice now that they can meet them.

There is a noticeably lower level of care here. There is plenty of space at the facility, but the rooms are overcrowded and the toddler room is filthy. There are not enough staff people to care for this number of children and still provide an adequate level of stimulation for the children to remain on track developmentally. Melissa believes that kids from this house might arrive home a bit developmentally delayed, but they'll catch up with their peers shortly. Still, cleanliness is free. I wish there were a bit more of it here.

Funding has obviously been an issue. The children are wearing clothes that my nannies would use only as rags (yes, they are insanely fussy, but still). We are told that the reason there are no mattresses for the older children is because they are having new ones delivered today. But I don't see the old ones anywhere on the property, so I'm a bit skeptical.

I'm not pleased to see that many of the older children's hair is not neatly done. Hair is a huge point of pride in Haiti, and of course styling it is free. However, the older children we meet are inquisitive and appear well fed and energetic. I certainly wouldn't put one of my own kids in daycare here, but I don't think the children here are in any danger. I guess I just feel that if a child has to live deprived of a family for over a year, he deserves to be living in the utmost comfort possible for that time.

We thank the director and go on to pick up C.W and H.W. and their delightful daughter, who will take us to some unregistered orphanages they've found near their rented house. “There's an orphanage on every corner,” C.W. says. He's about right. I've seen quite a few just in the neighborhood around BRESMA. It could be that estimate of 600 in the greater PaP area is too conservative. I'm going to pretend not to be able to speak Kreyol in the hopes that I might overhear something interesting. We have a Haitian translator with us.

Before we go to an orphanage, we stop by a project where a group of men from a KY church are laboring in the sun, building another orphanage. This will be used by a pastor who takes in children. I don't know what sort of care will be provided here, or if an orphanage is a better idea than a daycare center or free school, but I can see that these kind men will be forever changed by their service here in Haiti.

A group of Haitian men and boys sit on the wall watching the blan working with concrete block. They are hoping that someone will change his mind and hire them to do the labor. They are very thin.

Behind the project site is an encampment of windowless plywood shacks with metal roofs. A sign credits the Red Cross, along with a few other organizations, for building them. This 'transitional' settlement has latrines and cisterns. It's paradise compared with the tent camps, but I have no idea what these people might be doing for food or employment.

Beyond the camp, north and up the mountain as far as the eye can see, stretches Obamaville. That's right, Obamaville after the U.S. President. The largest tent camp in Haiti, a ragged collection of tarps and real tents, a few block houses springing up and shacks cobbled together from garbage, Obamaville stretches for miles up the coast north of Port au Prince. The ownership of the land is in question, but it hardly matters. Nobody is hurrying forward to clear the squatters and their tents from the sun-blasted, rocky desert. Nothing lives here but a few brave cactus plants and Haitian families with nowhere else to go. I have no idea what they do for water. The camp was not planned or arranged, so there are no facilities at all. Where ever all that aid money went, it is not here.

Leaving our countymen doing hard time labor at their job site, we continue on to an orphanage also run by a Haitian pastor. Pastor Nickolas lives on a property approximately 1800 square feet in total with 43 children. That's right, 43 children plus staff in the size of a typical four bedroom house, with no yard or playground. The facility also includes a school that neighborhood children's families pay something for education. The schools is conducted under tarpaulin roofs on uneven benches, with additional benches serving as long desks. There are blackboards, but I can't imagine that there are any books or paper.

Children at Nickolas' house
Inside the house is very dark and unbelievably crowded, like a party to which too many people have been invited. The air is thick with the smell of human sweat and overcrowding and a hint of urine from the few young children they have. It feels like every lungful has been used several times before.

They are wearing rags that my nannies wouldn't be willing to use for rags – they'd be thrown away immediately. Most are barefoot, which is culturally something Haitians diligently avoid. The kids appear to be mostly age eight through fourteen or so. All are thin, some are painfully so. One girl in particular looks endangered. I can see her ribs in her back where her shift hangs low off of her skeletal shoulders.

The children cram into a few benches, sitting on eachother's laps, and C.W. and H.W. hand out crackers and cheese for everyone. The children solemnly pass them along to one another. Once everyone has their snack, they pray and eat. All eat with care and manners.

C.W. and H.W. Tell us today is a good day at Pastor Nikolas' house. The two nannies are cooking a meal of beans and rice. Everyone will eat today. Some days, no one does.

The house is located in an area that floods. The first time our guides visited, the back of the property was flooded thigh deep with unclean water. Today is is dry, and the latrine hole outback is below ground level.

At night, the boys' mattresses are laid out on the floor of one room. The girls' are spread in the main room. Everyone arranges themselves carefully, and there is just enough room for everyone to lie down at the same time. Pastor Nikolas lives in a dark room smaller than an American prison cell with a mattress on a platform and a few changes of clothing. This is his home.

Pastor Nikolas tells us he recently had to send about half of his kids off to another orphanage, as his was overcrowded. I cannot begin to imagine how more human beings fit into this space. Quite literally this would never be allowed in an American prison, and these children and their caretakers are guilty of nothing more than being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. He says he wants to shut down this orphanage, but every time he tries, another family begs him to take in their child.

I wonder if the conditions these children lived in with their biological relatives could possibly have been any worse than this. In the tent camps, they would have had more space to move and their own families to comfort them. They are not eating every day where they are now. I wonder if the advantage people think living here will give their children is education? They are all learning how to read. Haitians do value education over everything, including comfort and medicine.

We leave reflective and depressed. Melissa and Maya keep asking me over and over about the number of unlicensed orphanages we did NOT visit. I ask them to imagine Nikolas's house repeated 699 more times in the greater PaP area, and then they might begin to get an idea. But the truth is, there are worse places. Nikolas is not profiteering off of his kids (obviously – he is desperately poor himself) and is was obvious that the nannies loved their charges. None of the children bore marks of physical abuse. There are worse kinds of hell than this, and many of them are located in Haiti.

Next, we proceed to another unlicensed orphanage operated by a man who describes himself as a pastor but also runs two businesses, including a funeral home. He has a house in Petionville, the wealthy neighborhood of the city. The W. family's daughter came from here. They met her on a mission trip, fell in love, and together we've been desperately battling to finish her paperwork and get her home.

Kwashiorkor - protien
deprivation malnutriton
This facility has more ground than we do! It's a large space, perhaps an acre and a half, but located on the coastal lowlands it is entirely covered with round rocks. There is very little built in the space. A few small concrete structures line the low walls and there is one metal building and a concrete pad. The children are all gathered in a back corner of the compound. We are told there are ninety of them who live here, mostly ages five and up. I see five adults, although none of them are near the children. The kids are leading their own prayer and church service, with singing. One boy plays the drum to accompany them. An older girl stands off to the side holding a belt folded in one hand. A few children come up to greet us. I'm still pretending not to speak Kreyol, but I take the opportunity to introduce Melissa to kwashiorkor Haitian style. I have many children to choose from to point out the knee and elbow joints having a greater diameter than upper arms or thighs, the dull matte skin and yellow sclera, and the classic red or yellow fine, thin, dry hair. These kids are suffering protein deprivation starvation. Most of them are not as skeletal as the kids at Nikolas' place.

There are a few children with special needs. H.W. reports one of the two girls in wheelchairs is new. She appears mentally alert and apparently knows a few words of English. I'd love to know her story, but I can't ask without blowing my cover.

H.W. takes us on a tour. The maddening thing here is that with the amount of American support given, the children at this orphanage should be eating a lot better than they are. Their meal today was rice and beans – no meat, no vegetables, and their snack was crackers and juice. That's it. Nothing else but water, all day long.

This facility also operates a school. Neighborhood families pay what we figured out was a total of $700 per year to send children in for a rudimentary education. Compare this with the $300 Margarette and I budget per month for care of each one of our older kids who don't need formula or diapers. Of course the orphanage children also attend class here. I have no way to test if the children are actually learning without asking them directly, but I am curious what quality of education occurs. Haiti is notoriously short of teachers who are themselves educated or trained at all.

Maya and Melissa are horrified at the thought of these children, perhaps as many as 90 of them, being stored here indefinitely. There is no plan for them. In the words of one of my visitors, “They're just )#$^&ed!” I'm not a big fan of bad language, but there are times when there's not much else to say. They are still fighting this mentally. This is my 32nd trip to Haiti, and perhaps I'm becoming jaded. All I feel is depression. I can't do anything for these kids, or the hundreds of thousands like them. All that I can do is make sure that the kids for whom I am directly and personally responsible will never live like this.

Melissa and Maya are excited about doing some fundraising for our two main projects right now – finishing the new orphanage building, and helping the women of Castaches to help themselves. If we can manage it, none of the children of Castaches, nor their children, nor their grandchildren, will even end up in a place like those we've seen today. We'll focus on protection and family preservation, and adoption only when we fail completely.

It's been a long day. I am tired and filthy, and covered in germs from sick children that I must scrub off before I spread them to my own kids at BRESMA tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to offer $20 U.S. to anyone on staff who will bring me the head of the neighbor's rooster.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, February 6th, 2012

We visit BRESMA again, and I ask Melissa to examine two children about whom I have some concerns. We spend several hours there in the morning. In the afternoon, I have a meeting with C.W. And H.W., two of my adoptive parents who are living in Haiti while Margarette and I fight to finish their adoption so that they and their daughter can go home at last. It's a pretty slow day, and my hard working, over-scheduled visitors are going a bit stir-crazy by early evening. Personally, I relish a few hours of down time. They are a rare gift for me.

Again I sleep badly. Tomorrow, I'm going to request that Sherley serve us rooster soup for supper.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Play time at BRESMA orphanage
I have arrived in Haiti with two visitors: Dr. Melissa Goldstein, a New York pediatrician with a specialty in adoption medicine, and Maya Frey, a writer and adoptive mother. Both have joined me on this trip to learn more about Haitian adoptions and to help spread the word; we have children waiting for families!

This is a first trip to Haiti for both of them. However, they are seasoned travellers. Dr. Goldstein lived in Russia for an extended period, and Maya has spent time in India as well as in Russia during her own adoptions.

I've put myself in an uncomfortable situation. For the first time in memory, I have failed to tell Margarette the whole truth. She knows I'm bringing friends, but to protect the integrity of what they see I have not told her who they are or why they are coming. I want them to see BRESMA exactly how it is every day, whether we're expecting company or not.

We fly down on a plane from New York, which is less packed with 'blan' than most of the post-quake flights from Miami I've taken since the earthquake. After a typically, er, interesting airport arrival, Maya and Melissa and I arrive at the guesthouse. I want to go to BRESMA immediately so that I can spill the beans and tell Margarette the whole truth.

We head over to BRESMA where I find things just as I expect. We currently have 26 children in care. Three are staying at the guesthouse with their adoptive family, but they'll all come over on Wednesday for the little boy's fifth birthday party. I think my guests are impressed with the level of care here. I do know as a mother that I would happily pay to send my child to daycare at BRESMA. Our house is clean and happy, most of the time. You can't realistically have that many little ones in one place without someone pitching a fit at any given moment!

My visitors seem a bit overwhelmed by my waiting children. I have two sibling sets, a young toddler boy, a toddler girl, and an infant girl. All are basically healthy. All they need is a family. Both of them either know or are working with families who are waiting five years for a referral from China or indefinitely for a referral from Ethiopia. And here, my children are waiting. Hopefully they can help us to remedy that situation.

The guesthouse is comfortable, but I sleep badly. Our next-door neighbors apparently have a rooster who has some issues with telling time.