I arrived at Coq Chante with Mark on Tuesday, December 2nd. Getting out of the truck I was greeted by Odette who had been waiting on me to arrive all day. She had already heard about us wanting to adopt her. I later found out that she had spent the day getting ready for me to arrive. She had her hair fixed twice that day. Her smile was intoxicating. It was almost surreal when I picked her up in my arms. She was beautiful and I knew for sure at that moment that she was my daughter. As I held her in my arms she smelled wonderful. I wanted to go and spend time with her and play. We walked around for a little while and I decided that we would go to the dining room so we could be together and I could hold her. We were only in there for a few minutes before a man entered followed by a woman I had never seen before. Odette hopped out of my lap and was trying to tell me it was her papa and mama. My intent for this trip was to ask Odette first about adopting her and then her parents. I was not ready for this. I had already thought through this in my mind many times and this was not how I envisioned this. I wasn't ready but the time was here so I got ready. Brian was walking by and I told him that this couple was Odette's parents (I didn't realize it at the time, but they were dressed in their Sunday clothes). I told him to get someone to translate for me. He went and got Pastor Ernst. I can't remember what was said first but we began to talk and discuss us adopting Odette. They first shared when Eddy asked them a few weeks before that they were a little slow to warm up to the idea. I can only imagine what it must have been like to decide that your daughter was going to live in another country and be another family's daughter.
Communicating deep feelings and emotions is not easy when they have to be translated. Her father did most of the talking. He asked how many daughters I had and I answered that I had 3. He wanted to know if Odette would get the same love, treatment, attention, and education as my own daughters. And I assured him as best I could that I would. By this time Eddy had shown up and sat down at the table. Having him there helped. He already had a relationship with her parents and was the one who originally talked to them about the possibility of us adopting Odette. I felt overwhelmed with trying to understand what what Ernst & Eddy were translating, then trying to answer in a way that would translate well into Creole, trying to remember every detail to write down & also to think of all of the questions that I wanted to ask them right then. After answering the question from her father, which were questions from a father that loves his daughter. He asked if we could help Odette's older brother with college. I was starting to sweat. I wasn't sure if this was going to be a "deal breaker" if we couldn't help I looked at Brian and said I can't afford to adopt Odette and bring her brother to the states and get him through college. I had Eddy and Ernst explain that the adoption would cost almost a whole years salary by itself. They seemed to be ok and understood. I wanted to tell them that this just wasn't something that we wanted to do, but something that God had lead us to. I also told him that I would never let Odette forget her family. He asked if they would be able to have contact with her and I said yes, definitely. I told him that I would bring her back to see them.
Once it seemed everyone had said and asked what they needed to Eddy began to question them. I could tell by his tone that he was very serious about it and spoke with authority (if you have met Eddy, you will know what I am talking about). I asked what he had told them. He said that if they say "yes" tonight that they can't change their mind. He said if he calls in two weeks and says you need to come to Port-au-Prince to sign papers to abandon your daughter then you have to do it. I think he said more than that but that is what he told me. To finish up Odette's papa said "From this day forward you are her papa." It was so real at that moment. Her father had just given up his daughter. This had nothing to do with forms, policies, procedures, certifications, or money. This was his his word and that is all it had to be. Again I wanted them to know God had told me and my wife that Odette was supposed to be our daughter. I didn't want him to think this was something we were doing on a whim or taking lightly. Think about it, it makes no sense at all, but in God's economy it does. We are all adopted into the family of Christ. He choose us and we choose Him. And we choose Odette because He said so and that's reason enough. I did let the parents know that just because a paper says that they have abandoned their child and they are not legally their parents, they are still her mama and papa forever. I did tell them that I will help the family with what I can. We finished up and took pictures. Her parents who had already sent their daughter to live in an orphanage, a 15 minute walk away, to give her a better life had just given her up again to live in another country with a new family.
That night I played with girls, ate a little and played some more. I slept on an air mattress in Odette's room. Our beds were head to head.