“I felt in my spirit something said, ‘Go and get your daughter.’"
“I've been in the process of adopting for over five years, and I got matched with a six year old last year. In January, I was really hoping that Neurline would be able to come home. Then it was delayed until February. Then COVID happened and things started revving up in March. I was just like, if there’s one more delay in this adoption, things are just gonna go really left.
In early March, a friend of mine and I were in the chapel where I work, and I felt in my spirit something said, ‘Go and get your daughter.’ Just like that. And I called my agency, because when you're doing international adoption, you have to have an agency here and you have to have an agency rep abroad, and every time I would talk to my agency rep, he or she would say no we don't suggest that you go until all the paperwork is in order because if you go, you might get stuck and not be able to bring her. So every time I had spoken up to her to that point she had said no.
Immediately after I left the chapel, I called her and I said to her, ‘I'm going to Haiti. And I'm going to get my daughter and I'm willing to stay there for as long as it takes. I'm buying a ticket tomorrow Friday, and I want to be home by next Thursday.’ That's what I said to her and she's like, well, I can't tell you not to go, we'll try to get everything done but there's no guarantee she'll be able to come home with you. I thought well then if I can't come home next Thursday, I'm at least gonna stay for as long as it takes.
My nephew, Nyya, agreed to go with me. But he said he had to be back by Thursday because he was teaching a class that day. So we flew out on Monday. We had Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before flying back home. That week we kept hearing that New York was shutting down. Nyya lives in New York. He and his wife were talking the whole time we were in Haiti, and he would say to her. ‘Well, Haiti is fine. They just took my temperature when we got off the plane and there’s no Covid here. Why don't you come down and we can make it a vacation?’
We needed four things to happen while we were in Haiti for this adoption. We needed the US embassy to give her a final exit, we needed her visa to be approved, we needed to get her final exit letter, and we needed her medical records to be released. I'm telling you it was like a miracle, all those things had to happen in sequence and it did. And on Thursday morning we got on the plane and we came home to New Jersey. On Saturday, the State of New Jersey declared the entire state shut down.
So, I remember coming home, and people were like, ‘You need to go and get food, there's going to be a food shortage. There's no toilet paper anywhere.’ The excitement of having her home was overshadowed by COVID. I went out and spent so much money on food because I had no idea what she liked, because this is a new child coming into my own. So I bought everything I could think of, and we just, we were isolated. And our lives have been cocooning, you know, quarantine cocooning, since then.
The upside was that I was able to get this precious time with her by myself. In my head, I had this image of, oh I'm gonna adopt her she's gonna get home, and I had all these external stimuli that would kind of make it okay, like we would go to the zoo, we would go to the library every day and read to her in a corner. We would, you know, visit family and friends, we would have playdates, she would start school. Let me emphasize again, she would start school. And none of that happened.
So we established our routine where we would go to the park and play, you know, and go on the swings. But then they started shutting down the playground. Swings were not safe, you couldn't touch anything because it was contaminated. So, instead, we would go for a walk in the park, but it was cold and she comes from an island, so she wasn't used to it. So we would try to do things in the backyard, I spent tons of money in my backyard. I put the fence around there, and added plants and gardens and swings and all kinds of things because I was like, if we're going to be home and isolated, I at least need to have a safe place and a fun place and a haven for us so that we could have the space and the time to just be together.
The downside was this extended amount of time, just Neurline and myself. It was very hard and it was hard explaining it to her. The new normal. I remember one time we were riding around and she asked, ‘Is the whole United States shutdown mama?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, pretty much.’
And when she finally got to see people, she could only see half of everyone else's faces. She can't tell if they're smiling at her or not, you know, half the time. So she's come into this new normal, which unfortunately is her normal. Don't touch this because of COVID, don't do that because of COVID. Our nightly prayers are ‘please heal the land from COVID, don't let anyone of our family get sick from COVID.’ So she knows the word COVID extremely well.” -- Carine #NewJersey
Update: Neurline took classes over the summer and is now happily attending hybrid school. She loves her teachers and classmates and is looking forward to when this Covid thing is over!