author: Jamie Ivey
During our adoption of Amos and Story, I made six trips to Haiti and Aaron made just as many. We tried to be with our kids at least four times a year and sometimes it was more when we took trips individually. For us it was a no brainer since their travel there was something you could do in one day, relatively cheap, and agencies are welcoming of parents to visit their kids there during the wait. On my first trip there it was super exciting for me, because I was meeting my kids, but I remember for my kids it was basically just another person there taking care of them. I’m sure I was different because I brought gifts and practically smothered them daily with love, but in their eyes, I was just another nanny.
I’m not certain that Story ever realized I was her mom, but Amos for sure learned throughout the next two years who his momma and papa were. We started visiting him when he was 2.5 and he was 4.5 when he flew home to be with us forever. We were something to him, and during our last few visits we knew that he knew that we were his family. On one hand that was a thrilling realization, that our son knows he is our son, but on the other hand it was an awful reality that he knew that his momma and papa were constantly leaving him. Amos had already been abandoned once before, and now every time we would visit we would abandon him again.
Hindsight is much easier to deal with, and I have found myself lately questioning the journey we decided to go down by visiting our kids often during our adoption. The plus to us visiting so much was that when Amos and Story came home we weren’t meeting for the first time. I had held Story since she was 6 weeks old. I had been in Amos life for the past 2 years, even if it was 5 days every 4 months. He knew me as momma and he knew Aaron as papa. He had picture books of his brothers, his new house, his room, and we were able to share videos with him some as well. The negative to us visiting him so often was that we always left. Every single time our visit would come to an end and once again, Amos would be left alone and without his momma and papa. Every single time we would leave, and he would stay.
Recently in one of our counseling sessions Amos talked about the hardest thing about living in Haiti. He said when mom and dad would leave. It wasn’t the earthquake he lived through. It wasn’t the hurricane that nearly took out his village where he lived. It wasn’t the lack of trampolines and bicycles. It wasn’t the food. It wasn’t the sickness. It wasn’t his mom leaving him at the center when he was a baby. The hardest thing for him was that we always left. Big ole alligator tears swelled up in eyes as he said this. I knew this. You see when Amos first came home every single day when Aaron left for work or even worse to go out of town, Amos would ask if papa was coming back. He never knew if this was a repeat of the rest of his life. Would we leave him again? I spent so many moments in those first few months telling him how much we loved him and that we were always together now and never leaving him.
Hearing Amos say that made me wonder if we did the right thing. Were we visiting Amos just so that our hearts wouldn’t be sad, but in the midst of satisfying our own needs were we wounding our son over and over again. I for sure wasn’t going to beat myself up over it, because in the moment Aaron and I felt it was best for us and for him. We were developing a relationship with him each time we were there. We felt as though we were doing what was best not only for him, but also for us.
I spoke up on my way out and asked the counselor if we had screwed up our kid for life by making him go through that over and over again each time. My heart broke at the thought of causing more damage to my son each time I would leave him. I told the counselor to shoot straight with me, that I could handle it, I wouldn’t beat myself up over the past, but I needed to know. He looked at me in the eyes and if his eyes had arms they would have embraced me as he told me that we did not do the wrong thing. He said that having that bond created over and over again, even if there was abandonment again, was better than that void never being filled. He said “you always came back, didn’t you?”. Yes we always came back. Although we always left, we always came back, just as we promised each time we left.
I sighed a sigh of relief. Not even so much as to the fact that he didn’t beat me up and tell me that I had indeed screwed up my son for life, but for the fact that he reminded me of the bond that was developed between us over 2 years while waiting for him to get to come home. God was indeed good to us and allowing us to visit, because in so many countries this is just not the case.
I left that counseling session with a pep in my step knowing that God was at work in my little boys life by allowing his parents to visit him while he waited for us. Was it easy on us? No way. Was it even harder on him? For sure.