Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2 Suitcases

At this point in my life I’m really good at packing. I can fit an unbelievable amount of stuff into a small space.

Tonight’s packing is different than any other.

Tonight I am packing Gup’s things for his new home. Tonight, after I read him his last nighttime story, held his hand while he repeated after me, “now I lay me down to sleep…” Tonight, after his very last bath and the last time I kissed his forehead… Tonight I sit in front of 2 empty cases and try to figure out what to send him with. His clothes of course, a few shirts he just unwrapped 2 days ago. I haven’t even had a chance to dress him in some of them. He has 2 snugglies that he sleeps with every night, he will need them when he is trying to fall asleep in that new place. I will send them but selfishly I want to keep one. I want something to sleep with when he goes, something that smells like him, something that he used to hold. I add them both.

Blankets, towels. Today we received a big box from Joe and Jill, it had 2 huge packets of diapers. Throw them both in. Cups that have always been “his” snack bowls, favorite treats. Toys… so many toys. For each one I add, a thousand memories. For each I don’t send along, a thousand feelings of guilt. I want to send it all, every single thing that fills up his home here, I want him to have there. And then there is the part of me that can’t imagine sending it all away. The living room will feel too empty, too clean. I need his things around me, I need to trip over his cars and stub my toe on the airplane he left out for the thousandth time. I want a part of him with me when he is gone, but I want to send all of me with him when he leaves.

I put in an extra tube of toothpaste, his little toothbrush and comb. Shampoo, soap and baby powder… I try to think of everything. I know I’m forgetting something. How could all this life, all of these memories be piled into 2 bags, sitting by the door, waiting, glaring at me, reminding me of what is about to happen.

Now the packing is over. The last bath, goodnight story, rock in the chair in the corner and bedtime prayer. The last tuck in and kiss on the forehead. I turn out the lights but I don’t leave… I sit along the wall and watch in the dim light as his chest rises and falls. I sit and I cry, it’s ok because it’s dark, he can’t see me. I sit and I watch and I pray for time to stop but it doesn’t. The seconds pass and then from the other room Annabel starts to fuss. My other baby. She needs me now and so I turn around a close the door. I wipe my eyes and I go to her… I rock her in the chair in the corner, in a room that is too quiet and too clean. I pray over her head and I with every whispered breath I thank God for His sovereign plan and for the strength He has promised. I thank Him for the gift of 430 days to love and hold him. Most of the time I thank Him, I try not to blame Him… I’m doing pretty good at that, but sometimes I fall down, sometimes I get angry, sometimes I scream out cause it all sucks so bad.

Tonight I go to bed and 2 suitcases sit by the door, much different than any other time I have slept with packed bags waiting for a journey. This time morning will not bring scurried excitement, dashing off the the airport and flying away to a place I call home… This time home will be further away than just a car ride or a flight, this time my home is further than it ever has been, held in the heart of a little boy who does not understand, while he sleeps and dreams away the last precious hours.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

He Was Mine


I want to post about Christmas, it was beautiful. This morning was literally something out of my little girl dreams, holding my baby daughter on my lap, laughing with my little boy while he discovered joy with each gift revealed. We splurged on a special breakfast, fried spam, eggs and pancakes and then off to OLTCH Orphanage. We were blessed to have been invited and I was incredibly thankful to have my friend Lydia, who is a  great photographer, capture some moments. I am waiting to get those treasures from her.

At around 3 this afternoon I was called to the gate. Standing outside were Gup’s parents. It was the first time I had met his father. Because of a lot of confusion and dishonesty in the past I had a much different impression of this little “family”. Today I met him and he has the same ears that I love to whisper into.

For the most part Gup looks just like his mother but today I saw him in the face of a grown man. A face that I alwasys thought I would someday know. Theirs is a story that I wish I could share but I am still so hurt and angry, I will not do something I will someday regret.

Instead I will only say what I keep telling myself… I promised to come to Haiti to do everything in my power to keep families together. It seemed like a great plan, it is a wonderful, much needed work. But, I never imagined that in that committing to that, I was committing to tearing my own family, and heart, apart.

Family, what does it mean? How is it built? Is he any more theirs than he is mine, just because he has their eyes, ears, their blood in his veins? What about the fact that he has my laugh, that he eats his toast just like I do, that he shares my memories. It’s hard to figure out and impossible to define. What I have come to accept is this, if my son grows up to learn that his mother and father are married to each other (rare enough here) that they have two other children together, that they wanted him and I kept them apart, he could very well hate me. He would have every right to be angry. Who am I to think that I could raise him better? How could I compare and claim that I love him more? This is something that I have to do for them, for him, for families!

I hate that they were broken apart for all of those months. I hate that they missed so much time together, all of them. I hate that he missed them and they missed him. I hate that every single day that I loved him was a day that they missed. I hate the circumstances that lead to this place but I don’t hate them. Sometimes I want to, sometimes I want to think horrible, judgmental thoughts but I fight them back with all that I am.

I can not hate his father for leaving to find work because if I hate this one I hate all the others, all the fathers and sons in this country who are forced to leave their families to try and provide for them. I can’t hate him and claim to love the rest of them.

I can’t hate her either, the woman who’s baby was starving to death. I can’t hate her for “abandoning” her child. I can’t hate those women who are convinced by someone that they best thing they can do is give their child away. I can hate the system that tries to fix by breaking, but I can’t hate her.

He left to do what he had to do. She gave him up because no one took the time to tell her that she didn’t have to. They made the choices and decision that they knew, and now things are different. Now they still struggle but most of the time they eat. Life is still hard, it probably always will be but they have made a new decision now, now they have decided to that their precious son belongs with them. I can’t argue with that.
If I have any regrets it’s only that I didn’t know sooner. Even though it would have meant missing precious and life changing months, I wish I would have known. I wish I would have known how hard he tried. I wish I would have know how desperate her love was. If I had known I would have done something then.

I can’t go back in time, I can’t fix what I didn’t do but I can now. I can do everything in my power for my son.

Unfortunately, “everything in my power” isn’t much at all.

Gup’s parents live in a small shack/home in Carrefour, a city not far from Leogane. When I visited my heart broke. I know he belongs with them but how could I send my baby to that place? I spoke to them about my concerns. They told me that they rented the “building” for 2,500 gourdes, just over $50usd for 6 months. In January their lease is up. They are prepared to renew. I asked them to wait. Could we find something better. What would it cost. For a mere $500usd I was able to find a clean, 2 room home with a covered outdoor kitchen and bathroom. I want my baby to live there, I might be able to handle the thought of my child sleeping in that place.

Their belongings are meager, a few pots, a table, a bed. They will need things to fill their new home, I want more than anything to give them to them.

There are 2 other boys in the home, a 6 year old and a 3 year old. The 6 year old goes to school with money his father made selling all of the chickens that he was able to collect, somehow.

I want to be clear in telling you that this family has asked me for NOTHING. Nothing that is, except their child back. I want to give them everything, mostly I want to give HIM everything. I want my baby boy to live in a home that is comfortable. I want him to eat when he is hungry and I want him to go to school and learn! I want to give him all of it but I can give him none…

My job is running this organization, unfortunately the paycheck that comes with it is a bit less than nothing. All of the money that comes in from my other part time job goes directly into Espwa Berlancia. I can not take money that was designated for something else and spend it on whatever I want, no matter how great the need feels in my heart. I need you, yes YOU. I need your help. Wideline, Gereald, and Gup need your help.

My son’s brothers need your help.

We need $500. to pay for their rent for a year.

I need $300. to buy furniture and supplies for their home.

I need 3 people who are willing to sponsor each of the boys for $25. per month to pay for their food and care.

I need your help. I am begging. If I could get down on my knees before each of you and ask I would. My heart is breaking over losing my boy and not being able to do anything about it or anything for him. My heart is breaking over their struggles. My heart is breaking because they had to give him away, and because now I have to give him back. My heart is breaking because I gave him things that taught him to expect a different life than they will give. Every single second my heart feels like it will shatter into a million pieces. I know that buying them things will not make this hurt go away but it might make it feel just a little more bearable.

If you will help me, I just might be ok.

If you can help Gup’s family please send me an email rhyanbuettner(at)espwaberlancia(dot)org.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Just Call You Mine

There is a country song that I just love, I don’t have it on my ipod so the only time I hear it is when I’m in the US and listening to the radio. Every single time I see his face… I hear the words and they were written for him and I.
My baby. MINE. For more than a year I have held him, poured my heart and soul into him, loved him like I have never loved before. For more than a year he has been mine.

For more than a year before that, he was hers. She held him, gave him everything she had to give, though it was far too little for what he needed. For more than a year, before I loved him, she did. He was hers.

Today we struggle, two women who love this precious child. One, who gave him life. One, who has been there to watch him live it. One,who thinks about him every day… wondering and wishing. One, who wakes up to his kisses each morning and sees him grow. One, he knows, the other a distant memory. Both gripped by love.

Today that love hurts. More than anything has ever hurt before. It aches and rips my heart into a million pieces because today, she told me she wants him back.

Please, don’t judge her! Please! Pray with love. Yes, she gave her baby away. No, I don’t know why. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Because she did, I got the greatest gift of all. Because she did, I became “Mama”. Because she did, I am who I am today.

If she takes him back I am no less “Mama” I am no less me, the one I have become. My lessons are learned. Should he go, I will still be me, but broken. I will be me, missing him. It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t “fit”. But it is constant.

For a while he was hers, and then he was mine. Now, he might be hers again but above all he is His, he has always been. God, who loves him more than I ever could, who hates to see his babies cry. God, who holds me and Gup and Wideline all in his hands. Who knew our story long before it began. He planned this, Who chose this for me. I can not sit here and tell you I like it but I will accept it. I can do it because I know that life isn’t meant to be fair or easy to happy all the time. Sometimes moms can't have their babies with them. Sometimes kids are hungry and scared. Sometimes it all just sucks, yes, painful things suck, but God is still good.

I have to believe that my God is good.

Oh Lord, please be good to my baby. Please, oh please… should you chose to give him to another, hold him for me, for the rest of his life. My heart cries to you, oh God, PLEASE, let me keep him and if you don’t, oh Lord, keep him for me!

Wideline and I have been to court over this twice now. After the last session I have very painfully decided that we will not go again. The honest truth is, she is his mother. So many things have come to light in my meeting with her, so many reasons that make me believe that there is a chance, a hope, that he might be ok. I might not, but he will. The decision has been made. Wideline has agreed to wait until January to come again but when she does, as far as things stand now, Gup will leave to go home with her. We are still working on logistics…perhaps starting with short visits back and forth while he adjusts. I have even offered to have her come and live here for a while so he can get to know and love her again, after all, they don't know each other right now.

I have hope that this situation, while as awful as I could imagine, might be as smooth as possible for my little boy. After all, he is who this is all about. I may cry my guts out when he’s not looking but while he sees I will smile and hug and kiss and remind him, over and over again how beautifully precious he is! I will do everything I can while I still have the power, to remind him of God’s love. I will continue to teach him to pray, to hold his hand, laugh over his silly dance moves. I will rock him to sleep every single night even though I stopped rocking months ago. While I can, I will hold him close.

Please, pray with me. For my heart, for Wideline’s but most of all for Gup. My heart is breaking but it will shatter if I know that he is hurt. I need him to be ok. Honestly, I need him with me, but I need him for me. If I am half the mother I want to be I will do what is best for him, not for me. If I am to be the mother he deserves then I will do the very thing that hurts me the most, but gives to him the best. I can do it... I can do this but I don't want to!

Oh, God, please don’t ask me to do this!

Out Of Words?

When I started blogging it was to record and share an incredible and what I thought short, trip to Haiti. Almost 4 years later I’m still here. Still on this incredible trip. Still sharing. But sometimes I feel like I’m out of words, like there is nothing left to say. It’s not true, there is still a lot to stay, more than I could ever write but I’ve found myself in a slump. A place where sitting down to type feels forced, fake and frantic.
Maybe it’s because I am not shocked enough, maybe it’s because all the stories start to sound the same. Maybe it’s because I am just downright tired and discouraged in my work right now. For whatever reason the words aren’t there. And if they aren’t there I will not force them. I will not shoot out dramatic stories that are just meant to fill up space. When I invite you into my journey and the lives of those around me, I do not do it to make sure that people stay interested, to keep them reading. I do it because I genuinely want you to know. I want to paint you a picture, I want to to taste and smell and hear what I do. If I can’t do that right I will wait until I can.
Maybe it’s just a bad case of writers block that I need to work though
I won’t leave you totally hanging though…
How about a peek at how much this little boy loves his “Banabella”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Is In A Name

Sweet Annabel has been so wished for, so loved. Before I knew her, I wanted her. Before I held her in my arms I loved her.
This is Anna. (She doesn’t blog anymore but you have to go back and read through some of her older stuff)
She rocks!
She loves the heck out of Haitian kids. She and God have loved the death right out of quite a few. Anna has an incredibly unique gift for special children and as long as I have known her I have looked up to her.
To me, naming a baby is an incredible honor and I always swore that the first little girl I named would mean something. I had no idea it would be my very own daughter. Annabel Kay is named for 2 of my very favorite people in the world.
For Anna, to see my little girl grow up to love fiercely like Anna does would be every mother’s dream. To have a child with the grace and compassion of my dear friend would bring incredible joy to my heart. As I try to guide her though this life I hope that I can use my sweet friend Anna’s example! Annabel for Anna!


Her “Kay” comes from my mom, who’s middle name is Kay. Annabel was SO close to holding out and being Nana’s birthday baby, just a few hours short! Still, the Kay fits. My mom has been incredible, my entire life. She has never been anything but supportive when I’ve done crazy and stupid things along the way. She let me follow my dream, even though it meant going thousands of miles away. Even though it’s almost impossible to think of her as a “Nana”, Annabel Kay will grow up with the very best one I can think of.


And so, for my Annabel Kay, I pray that you grow to be kind, adventurous, forgiving, loving, passionate and incredible, just like those two women are. And, above all I pray that you will grow to have a radical and steadfast faith in The Father, the kind that they possess!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Annabel Kay, 1 Month Old

I cannot believe my baby girl is growing up SO fast! Because Gup didn’t come to me until he was almost 2 years old, I missed all of those first little moments with him. I am determined to recognize and cherish the fact that this time I have with Annabel is a gift.


At one month old Miss Annabel weighs 9lbs 2oz. She is still in newborn diapers and most of her newborn clothes, although I find myself packing more and more away each day.

This month Annabel took her first trip, up to Thommasin for American Thanksgiving. While we were there Miss Joyce got her to “smile” for the first time. Since then I have gotten tiny little quivery smiles but nothing big yet!


Right now Annabel is learning all about facial expressions and it is absolutely adorable! Sometimes when I am talking to her she will close her eyes and raise her eyebrows at me like she’s really excited, I love it! She is also discovering her hands, starting to suck her thumb and always sleeps with his little fits curled up by the left side of her face!


This first month of Annabel’s life has been amazing and wonderful! She is the best baby, sleeping well, eating like a champ and always happy. I am so incredibly blessed to have 2 amazing kids to love, hold and experience life with!






1 Month

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Wood Mike


This little boy is Wood Mike, he is 5 years old.
Wood’s mother recently tested positive for HIV. We were able to refer her to a clinic in Port Au Prince where she is receiving further testing and wills soon be put on an ARV treatment plan. Thankfully, Wood has tested negative for the virus!
Before she got sick Wood Mike’s mother purchased a uniform and books for his schooling but she has been unable to pay the tuition for him to attend. If she does not come up with the money by next week Wood will be forced to leave school.
It would be heartbreaking for Wood Mike’s mom to receive yet another blow. She wants nothing more than for her son to get a good education, to have a hope for his future. She told me she is scared because she doesn’t know if she will be there when he grows up and she wants to give him all the chances she can now, she wants to make sure that he will be ok. One of the ways she can do that is to make sure that he is able to attend school for as long as possible.
During this time of year it is easy to say that money is tight, holidays can be draining financially but I wonder what it would do to a family to have one less present under the tree, and a photo of a boy who’s life will forever be changed in a frame?
The tuition for Wood Mike’s school is $300usd for the entire year. The full amount must be paid next week for him to continue to attend. Is there anyone out there who would be willing to sponsor Wood Mike? You will receive photos, a letter and school reports as well as a million thanks from me. I can’t think of any greater Christmas gift to give Wood’s mother than to assure her that her little boy is cared for and loved!
If you would like to sponsor Wood Mike please email me at rhyanbuettner(at)espwaberlancia(dot)org and let me know!