When one is adopting an older child who does not speak one's language, who has lived a relatively sheltered life in an orphanage, who is shy around new people and who has never seen modern technology such as self-flushing toilets - it comes to mind that some things need to get said clearly before hopping on a plane to a new country.
So, I began writing a few letters to Sunny to help her navigate her last days in Haiti, her first big travel day and her first moments/days at home. I had these letters translated by the awesome Shane Wendel. Since Sunny is illiterate even in Creole, we had Mandaly, a native Haitian friend of Shane's, record the letters so Sunny can listen to them over and over again as needed.
I knew I was excited about having this done. But when the recording of these letters was emailed to me I could not hold back the tears. Hearing Mandaly's soft, compassionate voice deliver these priceless words in Creole for my sweet Sunny was an overwhelming experience.
There are many families currently adopting older children from Haiti so I want to share my English version of these letters to give those adoptive families an idea of the things I decided to say to Sunny. I'm sure I forgot something and I'm sure the letters are not perfect. Its hard to know what to include and what not to say or how she will receive it all. But I did my best to prepare her for the things to come and to encourage her along the way.
Without further adieu, Letter #1. This letter will be given to Sunny a few days before we depart for home.
Greetings in the name of Jesus. This is a letter from mom. The voice you hear is a friend of mom’s who speaks your language. She is simply telling you what I wrote down in a letter to you. This is the first of 3 letters. The other two will be given to you at later times. You can listen to these letters as many times as you want.
The time for you to travel home is finally here! Your family is very excited to have you home! There are a few things I want to share with you before its time to leave Haiti.
This week, before you leave the orphanage I want you to know that you will not see your friends here for a long time. If there is something you want to say to any of your friends please take time to do that this week. I know that you are excited to come home, but I also know you will miss your friends very much. It is okay if you cry. Be who you are. You are loving, kind and thoughtful. Love your friends with hugs and sweet words while you have the chance. Mommy knows this is hard.
I also want you to take some time to thank your nannies as well as Pastor and Madame. Have someone write a letter for you if you do not think you’ll see one of them before you leave. The nannies, Pastor and Madame have cared for you for many years, so it is important to thank them and bless them.
I want you to know that it is okay to feel many different emotions about coming home. You may be happy one minute and scared the next. That is normal. Like I said, it is okay to cry, to laugh, to hold mom’s hand. You can trust mommy. I’ll do my best to understand all the things you are feeling.
Probably one of the hardest things to come in the next days and weeks is the difference in our language. This will be hard for all of us, but we will be patient and will give each other a lot of grace. Learning English will take some hard work on your part and quite a bit of time. It will be hard for you to share with me what you are feeling in these first days/weeks. Know that mommy, your daddy and sisters are all trying their best to understand all the changes happening in your life. Our family motto is: “Love one another and work towards peace with one another”. Together we can do this!
For now, look around you and remember the things you see and hear. Maybe one day, when you can speak English and read and write, you will be able to tell me what you remember about this special time before leaving Haiti.
I’m so happy to be here with you! I’ve missed you so much. I love you.