Continued from Part One…
Last July (2006), my husband and I went to Haiti to meet our two new daughters. While we were there, we decided that it would be great for our older children to experience Haiti. Haiti is like nothing I have ever personally seen before. It is the perfect description for extreme poverty. Around the same time we went to Haiti for the first time, our son, Ryland was constantly complaining about his “rough” life. He felt that nothing was fair. The entire time I was in Haiti, I kept thinking to myself, “Ryland needs to come here.” One of the very first things I did upon our return home, was apply for Ryland’s passport.
Ryland was an excellent traveler. There were moments here and there where I was slightly bothered with him (and I didn’t have anywhere to escape to), but for the most part he was awesome. I was impressed with his ability to deal with the heat, his boredom, the poverty, being stared at constantly, and Georgia’s tantrums. He was Mr. Flexible. He helped Tim and I with the girls. He brought a positive aspect to the trip, which often lightened the atmosphere. He made friends with all of the other parents on the trip. The Haitian people adored him. I don’t think they get to see little Asian boys very often, if ever. He was quite the popular guy. He learned a lot. He was able to realize just how blessed we truly are. He was absolutely horrified with the poverty. He could not comprehend why it was so bad. There were times I felt a little guilty that we had brought him along, and forced him to deal with such adult issues and emotions. And yet, he will never forget. It has become a part of who he is.
I do not ever want any of my children to ever, ever feel they owe us anything. Because they definitely do not. However, I was happy that Ryland was able to see what living in an orphanage is like. He was disgusted by it, and our daughters’ orphanage is pretty nice as far as orphanages go. Just as if he were my biological child, I want him to have an appreciation for how blessed our lives are. Sometimes we cannot fully comprehend that unless we see how it is for others, firsthand. He has not said anything about his “unfair life” since going to Haiti. Somedays, out of the blue, he will say something like, “It is really sad that the people in Haiti have to have trash in their rivers,” or “It is really sad that there are so many starving people in Haiti.”
One of the other beautiful parts of his coming along with us, was him being able to meet and connect with his little sisters in their country. He bonded with them both, but especially with Talley. He simply adores her. He thinks about them both and worries about them. He truly loves them. And they will know him when they come home. He won’t be a stranger. He will be their brother; the one who came to their country and played with them.
When we had to say goodbye, he cried with us. His heart broke with ours. He was able to understand how we felt the first time we had to leave them. I can only imagine that it is a good thing for him to love them so deeply; to have the experience of saying goodbye. I get a lump in my throat every time I remember that morning when we left. I will never forget picking up my 8 year old son, who is not much shorter than I, and carrying him around because he was sobbing so hard, he could barely stand up. We have a loving, compassionate son. It was something I always knew, but that day I was able to feel it, and see how deep his compassion runs.
Stay tuned for an actual pros and cons list…