Monday, January 21, 2013

Errands and BRESMA

Today is relatively mellow – the craziness starts tomorrow. In the morning we head out to the pharmacy to pick up some medications for our baby boy. He’s pretty sick with what looks like pink eye and a yucky upper respiratory thing. Boogers galore. Ick. Luckily, his adoptive mom is a nurse, and in Haiti there’s no such thing as a prescription. Mom is able to buy the antibiotics of her choice on the spot. They cost the equivalent of $37 US. The other mom stays at the house with her son, so we pick up bandaids for her killer blister. $23 US. Seriously. For ordinary bandaids. You just never know what things are going to cost here, and I know it’s not just because of the color of my skin this time. The ladies at the pharmacy are genuinely friendly and eager to help our baby feel better, and the prices are clearly marked on every box.

Next I get a new phone. The lady is able to transfer all of my contacts because this time instead of just getting a new number, I’m getting a new telephone. The one I have is about eight years old. I don’t think they make them like my old phone any more. After this long it feels more like a co-worker than an object. I’ll miss it. On the other hand, my new one can do some pretty spiffy things to make up for it. Haiti is all about cell phones, smart phones, and the internet. We are WIRED down here.

Sleep and play room
Changing room
 Back to the guest house. After lunch, Franck gets to earn his pay some more by taking me and one of my two moms over to BRESMA for a tour and a visit. Things are happening! We check out the new house first. Lots of construction is going on, and much progress has been made since my last visit. Piti a piti, ti zwazo fe nich li. Little by little, the bird builds his nest. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it includes brightly colored walls and adorable little wall sconces. Whoever said an orphanage has to be ugly or unpleasant? If they can’t be living in a family as God intended, at least they can be living in beauty, cleanliness, and comfort while we work to remedy that situation. They sure will here. This house is nicer than any day care facility I have ever visited.

We go up to the old building, climbing the stairs along the side until we reach the top story. I want to visit the itty-bitties first, because once I go downstairs I usually become encrusted with children clinging like barnacles.

It’ amazing how much a baby or toddler can grow within a few months. Barbarah and Nathalie are almost unrecognizable. The tiny, emaciated preemie that our nurse kept in her own bedroom is a smiley little chunker. I’m thrilled, because I really wasn’t sure she’d make it at all. Some of the kids remember me, and a few manage to call me by name rather than just ‘blan’. I enjoy pointing around the room to the many children who will be leaving within the next thirty days. There are fourteen in my caseload who are homeward bound! It’s always bittersweet for our nannies, who love the children in their care and miss them terribly.

We have a new baby with special needs. She was found abandoned, and I can see how a Haitian family might have despaired of raising this little one. She has minimal hands left, and only two little stubs for fingers. Her feet and legs are normal. I know I’ve seen this syndrome before, either online or on television… She may also be blind. She doesn’t seem to look at us. It’s hard to tell, as young as she is. I think she has plenty of potential for a fulfilling life in Europe or the United States, but her future in Haiti would not be promising. How fortunate for her that she won’t be staying permanently. Kudos to whomever it was that found her and brought her to IBESR.

Downstairs, everyone stands up and recites to us as we descend the stairs. I ask a few questions in English so the kids can show off their phrases that they are learning. Down here I have a name, not just a color.

We have two new kids – a sibling pair who was just transferred here. Their cousin moved to BRESMA some months ago. These two definitely need more groceries over all and more protein. The boy’s legs are terribly thin, the girl’s hair is just as discolored as her cousin’s was. But she tells me that even though she likes BRESMA, she misses her old orphanage. Her eyes fill with homesickness. Both have excellent manners and my nannies report that they are well behaved children. It would seem their orphanage is short in resources but is providing enough attention as all three of our transfer children are quite delightful. The younger cousin is now little Miss It, super sociable and silly. Everyone likes her.

Homeward bound!
 I get to explain to a sibling pair that their mother will come to get them in about a week. It takes a few minutes for them to register and truly understand what I’ve said, and then they just can’t stop smiling. They are so ready to go home! They insist they are not afraid to ride on the airplane, and are ready to go just as soon as their mother arrives to get them. You can read how these two came into care in an earlier blog post. This is one of those cases that just makes me feel good. Their biological family was completely informed and made an adoption plan with complete knowledge for their children. We were able to keep siblings together, and the adoptive mother and biological parents got to meet one another. And most importantly of all, the two children are absolutely a part of the process. They are ready to go home.

Back to the guest house where I meet a prospective adoptive parent who wants to adopt a pre-identified child. Far fewer of these cases are going to be permitted, but I’m willing to go to bat for this family and child. The child was already abandoned in an orphanage when the family first met her, they’ve never met the birth family, and they’ve been here multiple times and have an ongoing relationship with the child. I can take this case to IBESR to ask for an exception.

Finally, a large meal and bed. Tomorrow is a busy day.

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