Off Trend and Off the Map

I've never been on trend.  Ever.  If it happened, it was completely by accident.  I was the kid in elementary school who didn't understand what this "fashionable" thing was (I thought the gold-lamé jumpsuits on the Charlie's Angels re-runs were AWESOME).  My little family is mostly off trend as well...and usually we like it that way.  More about that in a bit.

Last Sunday, the theme of our Pastor's sermon was "off the map."  I wrote to him afterwards thanking him for giving me the perfect phrase to describe how I felt about this adoption business we're undertaking.  Pastor Ron shared with us beautifully about his brother, who recently suffered a stroke, and the road to recovery, care taking, and the guardianship Pastor was taking of his beloved younger brother.  He said, that while there are case workers, lawyers, and various other persons with policies to follow and forms to fill out, he still felt he was off the map.  For those of you who do not remember, maps were these things printed on paper that showed you where to go.  No blinking dot to follow or electronic"rerouting" if you got lost.  You pulled off to the side of the road and reconsulted the map to see where you were.  If you were off the map, it was scary.  No one to phone, no GPS.  Pastor said everyone has a plan for their life, or at least short term plans of how they see things going.  Off the Map is for when that plan goes awry...or you just simply find yourself where you never thought you'd adopting from a third world country or caring for a family member.  This is where Jesus can be comforting and calming.  God always has a plan, even if we cannot see it...but sometimes, you want to see the plan, the map, and know where you are going.  My heart went out to our Pastor while at the same time I was thinking "this phrase is so perfect for those not-so-perfect situations." 

We knew adopting was going to bring challenges, and I am aware that the challenges really have not yet begun.  We're just chasing papers right now.  However, we have also had to give up a lot more of ourselves than we ever did when I was pregnant.  I thought I lost a lot of privacy and dignity during the pregnancy...I had no idea how much more we would be tested during these early days of adoption.  We were given a map, but, like Pastor, I am not sure I'm on it.  My motives have been questioned, repeatedly.  I already mentioned the screenings and background checks in a previous post.  We sat through a training yesterday that was partly helpful, partly frightening, and mostly uncomfortable.  Imagine sitting in a room with five other couples and having your parenting ideas and ideals called into question repeatedly along with withering glances and shakes of the head (from both participants and leaders).  Mind you, it was not all bad, but my heart went out to one couple in particular who were mostly silent (I didn't blame them) through the entire daylong class.   Adoption is scary.  It is certainly different for me.  It is what we want, what we are praying for, what makes us hopeful. We are dutifully reading our books, taking our online classes, and preparing as best we much as you can before meeting the unique soul that will be joining our family.  That is what I wanted to say yesterday.  Treating these families and each other with a tone of "you just don't know what you're getting into" is not very productive as none of us know anything with certainty...including those helping us along this journey.  Keep in mind, in many ways, it is like I am pregnant, and Mama Bear felt threatened yesterday.  Was it all valid?  Probably not, but Mama Bear isn't always about the valid.  She's about the loving and protecting. We did meet a wonderful couple that, like us, are already parents and are adopting from Haiti.  We had the fortune to take our lunch break together...the time we spent sharing information and supporting each other at that meal was the best part of yesterday, and one of the times I felt I found my way on the map again.

Now, back to this on trend business.  We joked with our new fellow adopting friends that clearly we were not "on trend" with our choice for adoption.  I wish it wasn't such a sad or true joke.  The list of resources and local mentors for Haitian adoptions is so so small compared to other countries.  I have also gone to the two biggest bookstores in our area looking for resources.  I combed the travel, the world history, language learning, and the cookbook sections.  I have found exactly ZERO on Haiti or Haitian Creole.  I conducted an internet search on Haitian restaurants and communities in our area.  Again, ZERO.  Amazon is my friend.  We found some great children's books so far.  I ordered one cookbook, it was okay.  I'd much rather be able to peruse the book standing in a store than order mostly unseen from the internet, but clearly, Haiti is not a trend.  This is upsetting to me, especially since I do a lot of my loving through food.  I feel a need to cook more from Haiti to one, feel closer to the country, and two, to prepare for our daughter.  I want her to feel some of her first home when she moves to be with us, and I vow to help her not lose her culture.  We will be taking her from her country, but I do not want to take her country from her.   I ask those of you local to please reach out if you have ideas or know someone in our communities with ties to Haiti or Haitian culture.  For now, I'll continue off the map and off trend...and hope the magic internet can provide some things. 

I would have liked to share a recipe at the end of this post that I found at a bookstore, instead I will share the list of books we've purchased for Evie (and us).  I recommend each of them, and all were found on  I love books as much, if not more than, cookbooks and cooking.  Evie's bookcase is full to bursting with books, and has overflowed onto her bureau, beside her bed...and I love it.  So, here are our picks for books from and/or about Haiti.

 Bonnwit Kabrit is our favorite.  We call it the Haitian version of "Goodnight Moon."  A small child is called to by his Mama to say "Bonnwit" (goodnight) to various creatures and objects in Haiti.  The Haitian Creole words are sprinkled throughout the book, and are listed in a glossary with phonetic pronunciation in the back of the book.
 The English-Haitian Creole dictionary is not fancy, it has a series of pictures with the English and Haitian Creole words.  We find it cute, and hopefully it will be helpful in our learning.
 This delightful story tells of Janjak and Freda going to the famous Iron Market or, Mache an Fè, in Port-au-Prince.  This story is presented in both languages entirely, along with a glossary in the back for some of the Haitian Creole words that appear on the English side of the page.  It also includes a brief history of the Mache an Fè.
 I did not realize when we first purchased this CD and Book combo that it encompasses all French Creole speaking islands.  Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Reunion are represented in this book along with Haiti.  The songs range from playful to lullaby.  We have been listening to this in the car and trying to pick out works here and there. 

The book you see above at the start of this post is called Tap-Tap, and it is now one of my favorite stories to read.  It is the story of a girl and her Mama going to market...and how the girl wishes they had the money to ride the tap-tap (shared taxi/bus).  The "tap-tap" comes from what you do to get the driver to stop when you've reached your destination.  I can't wait until I can "tap tap"...when we've found our way on the map and reached our destination...and our new daughter. 


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