Finally home

One year ago I paced excitedly back and forth, staring at the top of the escalator, willing for familiar faces to finally arrive.

The kids giggled nervously amongst themselves with posters and gifts in hand.

Friends, reporters and even strangers who had been touched by the story waited as well, eager to see a long-awaited and much-talked-about union.

It was January 26, 2010 at the airport in Billings, Montana.  The air was cold and fresh snow fell from the sky.  Three people were expected to finally arrive on a flight from Denver, which had originated in Orlando.  One of those precious three people was my husband John who had been gone an entire week, working tirelessly in Miami to help get all the A New Arrival Children home from earthquake-stricken Haiti.  Set to fly into Haiti in just hours, he and his traveling companions were surprised by a phone call telling them the children had just landed in Orlando.  True to the whirlwind style of his “Hurry-up-and-wait” time in Florida, flights were cancelled and a rental car obtained for the drive to Orlando.  And now just 24 hours later, he was arriving back in Montana.  But not empty-handed.  There were three precious faces we all watched for.  The other two were my daughters.

Lilyne Tilus Marble, age 6

Daughters I had watched grow up before my very eyes through occasional pictures and measurements.  They were 4 and 6 years old when our Haitian adoption journey began in 2006.  Two sisters, hard to place because they were so old.  The adoption road was hardly smooth.  In July 2006 our oldest daughter Lilyne died.  We don’t really know what happened.  One day she didn’t feel well, and the next day she was gone.  The news was devastating.  We’d only seen a few pictures of her, but in our hearts, she was our daughter.  We grieved her loss.  We longed to embrace and love on Viergine, her bewildered, scared, heartbroken little sister who suddenly was left all alone in the world, without anyone to call her own.

But life goes on…even, or should I say especially, in broken, dying Haiti.  As our adoption process progressed we were blessed with another daughter, Florencia, who had been Lilyne’s friend at the orphanage, and was just 4 weeks younger than our deceased daughter.  And so the process continued…

We gave up making plans or timelines for their adoption to be complete.  Promises were made and broken.  Deadlines were given and missed.  Our hope rested in knowing the girls were receiving reasonable care and love, and trusting God was watching out for His little girls stuck in Haiti.  Occasionally we were blessed with pictures and little reports from other parents who traveled to the orphanage – visiting their own children who were also stuck in the arduous adoption process.  Almost imperceptibly the years passed.  Birthdays were missed.  Our girls, once 4 and 6 at the beginning of their adoption, had grown up, to ages 8 and 9 1/2.

But there they were.  Standing awkwardly at the top of the escalator.  Clinging to their dad, the one person who was familiar to them in the last tumultuous 24 hours.  Still dressed in summer dresses and sandals, with Orlando sweatshirts John had managed to find, they descended the escalator to joyous shouts of praise.  I embraced them warmly, tears flowing all over their freshly braided hair.  They were here.  Finally.  They were home.  Finally home.