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Friday, February 19, 2010

Remembering, Part Three

January 19, 2010 - in words
The best description I could come up with to describe the 24-48 hours before our boys landed in Florida was: "It is like feeling our way in the dark."

First we were told to fly to Miami; then Orlando. We booked flights to Miami and a rental car to Orlando. On Monday night we received e-mail confirmation on Orlando and instructions to reserve a hotel room near the airport, hopefully the same hotel as other adoptive parents. We did so. Then when we finally reached Miami (after a six-hour delay in Lima) and connected with Mateo and Raquel, he (Mateo) had received word to have us call someone named Cherie and follow her instructions not to Orlando, but somewhere (we thought) near Port St. Lucie. The kids were arriving around 5:30 p.m. and the drive would take a couple of hours. We didn't have much time!

I was counting down the mile markers as we sped down the highway. It looked like we wouldn't make it in time! At one point I called Kristy (another adoptive mom) who was already at the hangar waiting for the kids' arrival. Then at 6 p.m. I called Cherie and found out that our kids had landed! Hurry, hurry, hurry ... Fifteen minutes later we reached the airplane hangar to which we'd been directed and ran out of the car and up to the first person we met, breathless and asking where to find the kids. They were not there! We were pointed around the block to the customs building of a small international airport (Fort Pierce.) I called Kristy again and she said they could hear the kids coming and that they were minutes from being released. She said she would wait for us outside and to hurry! We arrived; parked; raced past reporters and into the small foyer where three other couples were waiting. (By this point we had been traveling for almost 24 hours straight. It is a miracle that we arrived literally in the nick of time. Thank you, Lord!) The guard wrote down our names and then kindly said, "Well, I won't keep you folks waiting any longer. The children have been processed and are ready to go!"

He opened the door wide and we walked into a large room with luggage belts and uniformed airport personnel. All eyes were on our group of four adoptive couples reuniting with our six Haitian children. Inside we were greeted by Barbara (our adoption coordinator) and Sue, who handed a feverish Ian to me. Alec was racing around the room and did not want to be stopped! A sticky lollipop (thanks, Kristy!) won him over for a time. Each family received a packet of important paperwork from Barbara, then we stepped outside. Reporters with microphones and cameras were waiting, and Pedro and I were interviewed by Stefan Holt of WPBF 25 News. (Apparently a clip was aired on their station later that night and on a Philadelphia affiliate the next morning, but unfortunately we were not able to see either one nor have we been able to locate it online.) Still, it was thrilling and surreal. Someone said the two of us looked "radiant" and I suppose that was a good description! It literally felt like we had been running, running, running to this moment with all the non-stop traveling and to finally have our boys in arms was a dream come true.

To be continued ...

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