Tonton (uncle) showed up as planned yesterday with his nephew, Dilinks. He had told us the baby was 7 months old, but his papers show he was born in April, so 10 months now. Tonton had traveled from the other side of the island after hearing that Pastor Francois may take the baby. He said the bebe’s mother was his sister and that she had died last month. He doesn’t know who the father is. Tonton held his nephew tenderly, and the bebe was obviously attached to his uncle. Pastor and I each tried to hold him—no way!
We 4 drove to Jennifer’s bi-weekly baby clinic where Dilinks was examined, screamed crazily while weighed, and was enrolled into the program. He will return every 2 weeks for a new supply of powdered formula and to be weighed to make sure he’s thriving. The bebe’ was determined to be healthy, although small and weak for his age, as is common with malnutrition. As we drove back to the orphanage, I kept thinking about when Dilinks would be taken from his uncle—How sad that would be. We stopped for diapers and a bottle and a tiny “boutique.” Meanwhile Dilinks had fallen asleep in his uncle’s arms. I hoped he would stay asleep through the separation. And he did stay asleep through the ride and up the steps to my room.
We hadn’t planned on how the baby would be integrated into the orphanage—it appears that it it just allowed to happen on its own. I had encouraged Pastor to hire a ‘special mama’ to take care of the baby, as well as the other 2 little ones (1 and 2 yrs), but so far nothing had materialized—funds are so tight that I understand his hesitancy, but I assured him we would somehow get the funds for this necessity. He said maybe the worker Jeanette could help.
When tonton lay his nephew on the bed, he jerked awake. But uncle knew what to do: he gently patted Dilkins on the back and kept patting for a few minutes while talking softly to him. Bebe’ was soon fast asleep again.
Again I wondered, “What is it like to leave your child at an orphanage…or to be that child?” I had witnessed an 11 yr old girl dropped by her grandmother in 2012—it was painful to watch no visible emotion on either side—no touch—no ‘orevwa’–just both of them turning their backs on each other and walking away. Then last week I experienced Moise with his grandmother (see New Boy-New Life) who obviously loved each other, would miss each other, but accepted that this placement would be best.
This time uncle and I were both so pleased that Dilinks was asleep, we just grinned at each other. He said, “Mesi’. I tried to say “Mesi isit Dlinks.” (Thank you for bringing Dilinks.) And putting my hand on his chest I said, “Ou bon tonton.” (You are good uncle.) Pastor showed me later a parting gift tonton left for Dilkins: a plastic bag holding a wash cloth, soap, and adult sized deodorant, comb, and toothbush 🙂
I watched Dilinks sleeping and worried what would happen when he woke up. He slept about an hour then jerked awake, sat up and looked around. He appeared more surprised than anything—but when he saw me he started crying. I picked him up, rocked him, sang to him, patted him like tonton—nothing would calm him. Until I lay down on the bed, bebe’ on my chest. He immediately calmed. I think part of it was that he was not able to see my face—I could be the first white person he’s ever seen!
I patted his back and it worked, he fell back to sleep. Next time he woke, he wasn’t as freaked out, though still not happy. I tried a bath which he liked.
Then a bottle which at first he barely drank—maybe an ounce over 4 hours. That worried me but he eventually did drink four ounces, very slowly. He is very weak, feels floppy when held, and cannot support his weight if I try to help him stand. We’re hoping it’s from malnutrition, not a handicap. Pastor’s optimistic.
Dinky (my new name for him) and I hung out in my room all afternoon. He fussed a lot and cried loudly if I tried to put him down. We spent lots of time, me on my back, Dinky surveying the room and me from his position on top. Finally he ventured off of me to the bed where I had placed a couple makeshift toys: a half empty plastic bottle of water and his favorite: a small jar of colorful Tums. (Really, there was NO way he could open it.)
The little stuffed animals I offered Dinky made him scream in fright!
I finally thought he was calmed enough to introduce him to his new siblings so we left my room. Pastor approached and tried to hold Dinky, but he cried and clung to me. Pastor joked, “Uh oh, my new son only likes white people!” The children were excited to see their “nouvo fre’” (new brother) but he was overwhelmed and only clung to me tighter. Big brother Emil didn’t mind a little crying; he took Dinky from my arms and turned away, speaking softly to him. Within a few minutes bebe’ was comfortable in his nuovo fre’s arms.
Then one of the women workers walked up and took Dinky from big Fre’ Emil. Bebe’ cried but she walked off, hugging and crooning softly. I hoped her name was Jeanette, and Emil confirmed it was! So when she came back with Dinky, I didn’t take him but asked her to follow me to Pastor. (Ale avek Gramma a Papi?) She did and when we found Pastor I said, “Look at this! Dinky loves his special mama!”
“Good, praise God”, he said. And he explained to Jeanette about the new job of watching the 3 babies. And would she like the job? She was all smiles, head nods and “Wi’s” while he was talking so I knew it was a go! I was SO happy it worked out as easily and quickly as it did. Pastor and I worked to together to tell her all the new baby advice we could think of.
“Ok, Jeanette will take over now.”
“She’ll sleep with him tonight?” I asked (I had accepted that I might have a baby with me all night.)
“Yes, Gramma, she is his Special Mama now.”
p.s. Yes, Dinky bonded just fine with his new Papi’
pss. This is the sort of story which illustrates the critical need for monthly support for the orphanage. I understand we are at less than half of what is needed to assure there is enough to keep the children healthy and comfortable: food, shoes, clothes, medicine, child care workers, washers, clean mattresses, etc.
And a gwo mesi’ to all you supporters!!
The huge projects such as the ENCLOSURE WALL, WELL, PUMP, and SOLAR PANELS have been funded – praise God!
Now if more of us can give a little bit each month, we can help these timoun to live a little more comfortable (by Haitian standards) daily life.
To close…our beautiful children at their endearing best:
Another relative of Dinky’s came and claimed him…amid much family arguing – all the rest of the family wanted him to stay at orphanage. It was heartbreaking seeing Dinky go. We don’t have high hopes on a bright future for him. Pastor doesn’t think he’ll live long without proper care. My first prayer request in these posts is for Dinky’s safety. I’m hoping the Aunt
will change her mind and bring him back!
“The story is not over yet. Dinky’s tonton came by again to talk about whether, if aunt changes her mind, will Pastor accept bebe back. Pastor said if aunt brings Dinky back and asks for his shelter. And if she signs a paper saying so. And agrees this is final. Then yes. We agreed to wait a month, see what happens, then revisit it. I’m hopeful!”-Lynn