The Build Up to Gotcha Day

The walls around IB's Orphanage post-EQ

The 10 days between when I was evacuated from Haiti until the day Island Boy came home to us, were the worst days of our lives.  I can tell you that on January 22 The Major told me that CNN was reporting that orphanages were being looted by armed bandits looking for food and water.  They named IB’s orphanage as one that was targeted.

That was a dark day.  I had a hard time holding myself together.  We did not know it at the time, but the children had been quietly moved to another location.

The Fashionista and Subway Dude were rocks the entire time.  Neither missed a day of school.  They both kept plugging along.  We shielded them from a lot.

The Major’s computer had a virus.  We had to rush to get that fixed.  After all, who needs a computer during a crisis?  Luckily, a friend’s father dropped everything and fixed it immediately.

We knew children were coming out of Haiti.  We heard our adoption coordinator was bringing children out.  We would hear from people that she was at the Embassy with documents and children and was trying frantically to get them out.  We never knew if IB was one of the children or not.  We would hear word that she was on the plane with children and then be devastated that IB was not one of them.  We worried about diseases.  We worried that they were running out of food.  We worried because we knew IB was sleeping outside.

Finally, we couldn’t stand it any longer.   We decided we had to get out of town.  We started thinking about where we could escape to, even if only for one night.  We finally came up with a brilliant plan.

Up until this point, the children were coming in to Florida.  They were coming in to various cities in Florida, but we had an arrival state.  The Major got on the phone to a friend who has a house in Orlando.  He asked if we could use the house and his friend graciously agreed.  We figured we could wait there until we got the call that IB was on his way to us.  The house even came with an indoor pool!

At 11:30 am on Saturday, January 22, I began trying to book us tickets to Orlando.  There was a 1:30 flight that I frantically tried to get us on.  We were too late, although I suspect we could have driven to the airport and tried to buy tickets there.  We decided to catch a later flight rather than chance sitting at the airport for hours if we couldn’t get tickets.  We booked a 7 pm flight that would stop in Atlanta and continue on to Orlando, arriving at 11:30 pm.

The Major fielded phone calls from friends, family and even a personal call from Senator Schumer.  Subway Dude initially took the phone call from Senator Schumer when we were at the bank.  TM spoke with Senator Schumer as we were on the shuttle to the airport.

We finally made it to the airport.  The clerk checking us in recognized us and wished us luck.  The original Kay Nou Four enjoyed each other’s company as we had a snack and chatted with each other.  The Fashionista and I took a walk when CNN got too graphic with the news coming out of Haiti.

We walked to the gate only to discover that our flight had been delayed.  No one would be making their connections that night.  We were told we could get to Atlanta that night and then they would fly us to Tampa in the morning.

As we waited on line to speak with the check in clerk, who happened to be the one who had recognized us, we were subjected to an unhappy Canadian family who was about to miss their cruise.  It was painful to listen to them gripe about missing a day of their vacation.  The family refused to move saying they wanted to speak to a supervisor.  The clerk asked them several times to step aside.  I finally tearfully pleaded for them to please, please step aside, in order for the rest of us to make arrangements.  Please and thank you.  They did.

We changed our flight and then had to work on changing our car rental.  That price doubled.  Ouch.  We got a call saying travel papers had been issued for IB.  We felt we were getting closer.

We had major turbulence on the way to Atlanta.  At that point in time, I was extremely unnerved being bumped and jarred around.  The flight was pretty empty and we spread out and were able to lay down.  The turbulence kept me from resting.

We got about 4 hours sleep in Atlanta.  In the morning, waiting at the Atlanta airport, we joked that we should be getting a call any minute saying IB was flying in to Dover Air Force Base in Deleware.

Flying into Florida

We saw photos on Facebook of other families arriving home.  It was wonderful, hopeful and difficult for us to still not know when or if IB was on his way to us.

We arrived in Tampa and I took the wheel to get us to Orlando.  We found a radio station that was having a “Dance Party Weekend”.  We listened to awesome, uplifting dance music all the way there.  That was a bright spot for me.

The Major effortlessly navigated us to the cozy house.  We got a short nap in and showered.  It felt great to be away from everything.

We headed out to find something to eat.  We found a Joe’s Crab Shack.  This was the first meal where I finally had my appetite back.  We had such a great time at lunch, laughing and joking.  It felt like a like a vacation.

Mama and Papa feeling optimistic, but oh so tired.

We stopped at a grocery store and filled up a cart.  The prices were outrageous.  We actually decided to abandon the cart.  I felt horrible and tried to do the honorable thing.  I took the cart up to Customer Service and told them we had changed our mind.  They were so nice about it.

We found another store with much better prices.  We stopped at a liquor store and bought ingredients for Coco Locos.

We came home to unpack the groceries.  The Major checked the pool heater to find it not working.  I was in the kitchen when I heard a loud bang.  I called out to TM, “Are you okay?”  He came into the room with the phone up to his ear and a huge grin on his face.  He gave me a big thumbs up.  He passed me a note that said, “Tomorrow in Miami!”  I called the kids in.  Subway Dude picked up The Fashionista and carried her around the house in celebration.

TM got off the phone saying that all we knew was to be in Miami at 5.  I said, “That’s PM, right?”  Another phone call to make sure of the time of day and we were set.

We spent the afternoon playing Hearts and Go, Fish.  Subway Dude remarked, “Could this day get any better?”  I had to ask if he was being sarcastic, but he wasn’t.

We went to Downtown Disney and had a great time walking around.  We stopped at the Lego store to buy something special for Island Boy.  We got him an airplane and a Tap Tap (bus) and a little moto (motorcycle).

The sign read "We're going to have a baby!"

Downtown Disney

We were a mere 10 minutes away from our house, but I fell asleep in the car on the way home.  A little Tylenol PM and I slept 7 hours that night.

I proposed we head down to Miami early to make sure we hit no other snags in the plan.  We had a Cuban restaurant we had a hankering to hit again from our last visit to Miami.

More to follow…

–Running Girl

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lynne Levy on January 25, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I am happy to read the story of how this all came about, bit by bit, inch by inch, worries and joys. I am glad you feel you can tell it.

    Reply

  2. Posted by lisa on January 25, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I remember this and can’t believe it’s been a year! We are just beyond happy that IB is home and we love him and you all so much 🙂

    Reply

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