This post does not specifically pertain to the Toddler House at this moment. But it pertains to the children that have made the Toddler House what it is over the years. With every passing “group” of kids, or even with one predominant child that takes leadership the Toddler House gets a different feel, different games are played, different songs of sang, different treats are favored and requested, different problems or attitudes arise that need attending to, etc. Everything that happens here depends on who is making Kay B home at the time. For instance at one time our kids LOVED scrambled eggs. But after many of the kids from that group that had an opinion left and we served scrambled eggs again the newer kids did not enjoy them as much and preferred porridge, time for a menu change. At one point in time lying was one of our biggest problems and we had to focus a lot of energy into first of all catching the lies, and then teaching why there are always consequences regardless of the size of the lie. Months rolled by, some kids left, some kids learned, and the lying diminished dramatically. At one time the kids loved to go on long walks in the neighborhood so it was scheduled daily at 4pm to go for a walk, again kids left, new kids came, and many of the kids opted out of the walk at 4pm and we changed the afternoon activities. At every point in time with each group of kids that are under our care the house has different feel to it, and for the nannies, Joyce, and I we remember the house at that time often by the individual kids that were here and shaped it to be that way. The thing of it is, these kids not only shape the house and everything we do on a day to day basis, they shape us. They change our lives. They change our lives forever. We think we are teaching them, when they are teaching us. We try to show them what love is, but they do it better. These kids, every one of them uniquely and individually change a part of each of us. Those who have been through the roughest times and still hold on to their childlike joy and innocence teach us about strength. Those who face change in hesitation but willingness teach us about courage. Those who reach out to each other when they themselves are facing the same struggles teach us about humility and putting others first. Those who have open hearts and love like they have never been rejected and disappointed by another teach us about forgiveness and putting the past behind. The truth is these kids that we are blessed to receive at GLA for a short time before they move on to be with their “Forever Families” are some of the strongest most courageous people of the world.
At the end of July, Joyce and I had the awesome privilege spending 16 days on the road in the US and Canada to visit some of these kids and see just how much they are thriving in the places and with the families that God united them with. We flew from Port Au Prince, Haiti to Seattle, Washington. Joyce’s brother, Josh met us there and drove us over the border into British Columbia, Canada, where that evening several BC and Alberta GLA families gathered to kick off a weekend of fellowship. I had no idea who all would be there and was surprised again and again as the door to the hall opened and another little familiar face walked in. These families welcomed Joyce and I to each of their events that weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor games and fun with them and their kids set in the scenic (did I mention BEAUTIFUL) west coast. From there we drove down through Washington State to Oregon and visited two families in the Salem area. We found that there is usually hesitancy to see us for kids that are older than 5 years and have recently, say in the last 6 months, gone home. They are not sure why we are there or what it will mean to them. So it is not surprising that some kids need a little time to see that we are just there for a play date and will not be disrupting their progressive adjustment. We just loved seeing these kids and their self-confidence as they showed off their strength on the playground monkey bars. The next day we drove back up to Seattle area and flew out to Minneapolis, Minnesota. That’s when the real “Road Trip” began and six hours after our flight touched down we were hitting the highway and headed up to northwest Minnesota to crash a small gathering at the park MN families. Many of these families had gotten their kids out on the evacuation flight on January 21st. And many of them I did not know well because they had never lived at the Toddler House, but by the warm welcome we received you’d have never known it. It was a truly delightful afternoon hearing the miracle stories from parents of how God had brought their families together and carried them through trials and blessings. Joyce and I left feeling so encouraged and hit the highway headed down to Iowa, where we spend several hours with a brother and sister sibling set who showed their newly acquired swimming, dancing, and piano playing skills!! Then heading on to central Tennessee took us through Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. We spent a weekend of high energy with a family of 9 who have adopted 4 hard to place children from GLA, and also saw 3 other evacuee children while there. I think we spent the first 20 minutes just standing by the car catching up on 3 years worth of hugs. We heard all about how life has changed, what they like, what they don’t, and what they hope to learn and do in the next year, two years, or long term in their lives. It’s such a delight to see these familiar faces, but always hard to again say, “Good-bye” till the next time not knowing when that will be. We drove on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania passing through Kentucky and seeing Joyce’s Aunt and Uncle along the way. Then on to Ohio, and through the tiny tip of West Virginia, ready as ever to get out of the car at our destination. These girls were still fluent in Creole and wanted to chat it up in their native language. They showed us their neighborhood, their fun rooms, and how much they love their new siblings! We visited another home of a GLA adopted child in the area and our host family gracious had a small PA gathering while we were there so we could see other families as well that we would not have been able to see otherwise. All along the way it was story after story of joys and of trials that they have had to overcome. Each family dealing with things differently trying to best help their previous and newly adopted children adjust but the same story with each… how they all known without a doubt that God called them and blessed them with the gift of their Haitian little one and they know that He will guide them with His wisdom and bless them with His grace to make it through whatever has or may come. We left PA with promises to return, and headed on to Grand Rapids, Michigan, stopping along Lake Erie in Ohio to see another of Joyce’s Aunts. Then through Lansing, MI to pick up my brother Timothy who spent our final weekend in the US with us. When we arrived in Grand Rapids I thought we would be one of a handful of families arriving that early. But as Joyce and I got out of the car and went to check into the hotel we hadn’t even reached the door when we saw the first kids. OH, such excitement! We greeted them at their van and chatted and hugged and then headed again for the door when another van pulled in, then another, then another!!! For 45 minutes we stood in the parking lot as family after family pulled in with their precious cargo in tow. The weekend was HUGE so many families coming together to encourage, support, share, and allow their children to renew and continue friendships that they formed long ago at GLA. Looking out over the kick off dinner on Friday evening at all the kids and families that we have known over the years was previous to that moment inconceivable. Tied together by God’s call on their lives, these are strong, loving, compassionate examples of what true family is all about.
Joyce and I are so thankful for each and every family and friend that opened their home and welcomed us along our 3500 mile drive, and to those that we couldn’t make it to their home and agreed to travel to meet us nearby. THANK YOU each and every one for sharing with us, encouraging us, and allowing us to learn from the experience’s you’ve had to Lord willing be able to better and more adequately prepare the children we have now and will have in the future for the beauty of adoption and the changes, struggles, and joys that take place with it.
Posted on Sat, August 21, 2010