January 24, 2010
Posted: 01:38 AM ET
Editor’s Note: Joe and Jill Wilkins of Portland, Oregon, were in the process of finalizing their adoption of a little Haitian boy, Samuel Chancelet, when the earthquake struck. Samuel Chancelet was not harmed in the earthquake, but the Wilkinses had been desperately trying to bring him home - until today. Joe and Jill have documented their journey on the LKL Blog. Joe, Jill, and Samuel Chancelet will be guests on Larry King Live on Monday at 9pmET/6pmPT!
As we sit here, writing this blog update, our son Samuel Chancelet is sleeping on the hotel bed in Miami. Two weeks ago, had someone told us would be in a hotel room, watching our baby, we would have taken a deep breath, sighed and said, “impossible.”
It surely has been quite an interesting couple of weeks. I saw a lot of devastation and yet extraordinary things too. God’s Littlest Angels orphanage was a haven in the midst of catastrophe. All of the workers and volunteers are my heroes.
It is unreal that we have Samuel Chancelet with us now (this very second!) and it is amazing to be able to look over and watch him sleep. He is such a happy boy and I love him so much. It was such a long journey to get to Miami. God’s Littlest Angels (GLA) did a wonderful job entertaining the kids and, as Dixie put it, “We made a fun adventure out of it.”
We had some incredible volunteers, along with GLA staff who cared for the kids for over 18 hours. Yes, 18 hours (1.5 hours drive down from GLA to the airport, 5.5 hours waiting at the airport, 2 hours on tarmac, 2 hours in the air and about 7 hours to process the children’s paperwork in customs).
The kids were tired and the adults were exhausted. We stayed in a small immigration room where kids slept, played or were held by staff and volunteers. Taking care of 81 children is no small task. I was exhausted.
I was keeping Jill updated via text messages. It was hard knowing we were in the same area and couldn’t see one another. Since I had left for Haiti, we really had only talked or emailed regarding “business,” as things were moving so fast. I don’t think either one of us had internalized what was taking place.
When the moment finally arrived, I had a feeling of complete relief, like a burden was lifted off of my shoulders. We were finally together. I am not sure I have fully processed this. We have been through so many ups and downs throughout this adoption. I just can’t believe we were finally able to walk away with him in our arms.
It was such a roller coaster of emotions for those 18 hours. Joe was able to text me with updates, so I was fed tidbits of information when they started their journey down the mountain from God’s Littlest Angel’s orphanage. We had no idea if the flight was actually going to get out, but were praying all the pieces would come together.
The parents were advised that the plane should land around 9:40pm. Most of us knew the paperwork could take some time, but I think we all wanted to meet each other, as we have shared this journey together for so long. Many of us are a part of internet chat groups and track blogs. I was looking forward to finally meeting them! Under normal circumstances that in itself would have been an incredible day. However, we had so much more to share!
We gathered around at the gate… with nothing but cameras and smiles. I really enjoyed meeting, visiting and sharing the anticipation of the incredible moment that was about to come. But around 11pm (around the time were hoping to hear the plane was landing) I got a text that said they were just taking off from Port-au-Prince. We all took a deep breath and sighed. Some went back to their hotel room, while others slept on the floor at the gate.
As frustrating as it was, we all knew that in the scheme of things, we could wait a few more hours. Joe let me know they were processing files and that it was going very slowly. At around 7am, the parents were taken to a new location, where we waited for 2.5 more hours. When Dixie finally walked in the door at 9:30am the whole room clapped, cheered and gave her the warmest reception (we all have such a deep respect for this woman). She spent time talking about the day, the process and what might be in store.
And then she announced it was time to meet our children!!! I was so emotional – was this really happening? When my name was called, I literally ran out the conference room door, where I saw Joe carrying Samuel Chancelet, along with our friend’s baby, Anri Jacob! I was overjoyed and overwhelmed all at once. The journey to having our own family has been so long for us.
All the pain, hurt and frustration melted away when I embraced both my husband and son, knowing we would get to be together, forever! God had a way of working this out. Everything was orchestrated perfectly, and our prayers had been answered. I am still finding that I need Joe to pinch me on occasion to make sure that I am not dreaming. I cannot wait for what life has in store for us!
PREVIOUS BLOG POSTINGS BY JOE AND JILL WILKINS:
– Day 2
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