thoughts on the littles
by Kayla Raymond
A lot has been shared on this little blog of mine. According to the stats, there have been 72,000 of you that have stopped by to read my thoughts and rants. That number actually blows my mind.
But here we are, about four years into this Haiti adventure and blog-writing gig. So many of you have played so many roles to get me to this point. Thank you for that.
But there’s this part of my soul that I haven’t shared. It’s a part that is still so sensitive. It is still trying to figure out who she is and what she believes.
It’s funny how this soul of mine works. There are so many things that are black and white, so defined. There are so many things she has made her mind up about. Like orphans and job creation: if mamas are given jobs, then babies won’t become orphans. When my Haiti adventure started, I knew this statement was true, but today I live by and work for this statement alone.
A while back, I gave a loan to a woman named Annelika. She has two children: a son, Jonas and a daughter, Marantha. They live in a tattered tent together. She wanted a loan to fix her sewing machine. I gave her the loan and then gave her material to make small gift bags for me at Rosie’s. This last week, she came to my house with over 600 small gift bags and I was able to pay her a wage that will not only pay off the debt from her loan, but will also pay for her son’s entire year of high school. She hugged me so fiercely on my porch just the other night, after tightly wrapping her wage in a piece of plastic, protecting it with her entire being.
She walked away proud and I walked into my house humbled. How deep the peace in my soul runs when a mama can care for her child. These moments stop me in my tracks because it doesn’t take much to make a difference for a family, we just have to have the eyes to see what it will take to make the difference. How easily distracted we become by our own lives and schedules that we forget to look for the good and how to become the good.
But, there is also a part of my soul that has a hard time stringing words together and forming sentences. This part of the soul, she wants to have the answers. She wants to know it’ll be okay. She desires confidence and grace. She lacks patience and sleep. She prays on calloused knees and is restless.
This part of the soul is the part that beats for my own three littles – soon to be four. Yes, if you didn’t see the announcement on Facebook, we are expecting a little caramel Raymond in October!
But, the journey of becoming a family and coming into this specific season of our lives has been surreal and hard. It was the hardest decision of my life to become a mom the first three times, yet the easiest. It’s been a roller coaster ride full of malnutrition, illness, medications, nightmares, and trauma. The drama of biological families, abandonment, lies and manipulation makes me cringe. I refuse to go into detail here because the reality of these biological families is just so damn hard. I don’t want to give them the time or energy. I don’t want to exploit my children’s past. I don’t want to dwell on where they came from. The only thing I can thank them for is abandoning their children and allowing them to become my own.
But the question stands, am I the hypocrite for taking them in and not empowering the parent to take care of their own? When is it okay for relinquishment when I’m on the front lines of fighting for families to stay together? Where do we draw the line?
We, the North American, wealthy, Christian, are so quick to turn to adoption. And while adoption is biblical, I think we are missing the entire plague of the impoverished orphan. We will fight for the cute naked baby, but we won’t take a stand for the desperate mama. It’s so much easier for us to take the baby out of their hands, knowing we can offer the baby a better life, because we have access to better education, healthcare, technology and toys. But, how much harder of a battle is it to fight for the longevity of poor families and keeping them together.
And, we are quick to defend ourselves. I know I am. I make arguments and excuses for my actions all the time. They would have died, if we hadn’t taken them in. They wouldn’t have thrived without the environment I have created for them. They wouldn’t be learning or growing without me. And while these things really are true, do they really make me a better mom? Would I still feel like a good mom if I couldn’t feed them three times a day? Or if I couldn’t send them to school? Or if I couldn’t dress them in cute clothes or buy them kites for Easter break?
Because, I see mamas who can’t do these things for their own, but at the end of the day, they’re still good mamas. They’re fighting for what makes their heart and soul beat: their babies.
So, maybe we all are the same. All of us mamas. Our hearts beating for the same cause. I don’t know.
That’s where the soul wrestles.
There are two things I do know:
I know God has put my family together. I never dreamt of being a mom. I never thought I would have the patience to be a good one. At the age of 22, He gave me a son in the craziest of ways. At 23 it happened again and at 24, a day after Webert proposed to me, God gave me a baby girl. Our story isn’t perfect, but it’s ours and only God could write a story like ours. This fact alone, gives me the confidence to know we are meant to be together. I do struggle with the questions I asked above, but every time I argue with myself about this, I come to this answer each and every time: His story. This is His story. And His story is always pieced together and written perfectly.
I also know that my deepest desire is for my family to be together and to be safe. These two things look a lot different for our family than most because while our first three are ours, they’re legally not ours. We have a list that hangs in our kitchen. I stare at it as I prepare each meal for my family. It’s a list including every paper and document we need to not only have legal guardianship of the kids, but get their passports and visa so we can travel together.
Next to the list is a sign my mom gave Webert and I. It says, “Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all your problems together. have fun! I love you.”
There have been so many road blocks on this journey with many unexpected problems. In this moment of typing, I can say I trust God with them all. I pray all the time, “God, I know you have all the details so specifically laid out. You know the exact day we will be granted visas. You know the number of our airplane seats for our first trip. You have it all planned out and I trust you with those details. I wait in expectation for that day.”
I pray this and thirty seconds later, I’m in panic mode. I wake up in the middle of the night worrying the day will never come and I’m fighting an endless battle. It’s so exhausting.
And that’s why thirty second later, I’m back on my knees again.
Friends, I’m coming to the end of my first trimester. I’m pregnant and it’s a beautiful thing. I truly trust God and His timing. I told God a long time ago, I didn’t want to carry a child until the first three became legally ours and could travel to the States with us. And here we are, pregnant and steps are happening to make this dream of ours a reality. I find it to be no coincidence.
We have all the paperwork filed for their passports. We are told we will receive them on April 1st. We have done our home study and are waiting on a call for that document to be finished. With the home study, we can take that with about 15 other documents to social services and file for legal guardianship. The reason it took us so long to arrive at this stage is because it took us two years to find Loveson’s biological family and another year to get his birth certificate and consent from his parents. But, we have arrived. It’s exciting, yet scary as shit!
Once we have passports and legal guardianship (both things should be given during the month of April) we will be able to apply for visas at the American Embassy. The visa process is simple because you fill out a form on the internet and show up for an interview. The frightening part is that there is really no rhyme or reason for an Embassy representative to grant you the visa – Webert was denied three times before being granted a visa. It’s a simple yes or no. The yes would change our lives and the no would devastate us.
I feel like it’s our time. I feel it deep down. But, we would appreciate your prayers. Would you pray for our sensitive souls and our broken, beautiful family? Our specific prayers would be:
• Receive home study in the next week
• Receive passports by April 1st
• Receive legal guardianship papers during the month of April
• Be granted visitor visas for all three children
• Travel to the United States for vacation during the month of June
• Have a safe pregnancy and be able to welcome this little caramel into the world together in the United States in October (due date is October 12)
We also have a goal to raise $5,000 to help us with all the costs of documents, visas and traveling expenses. We have reached out to family and close friends and are halfway to our goal, but if you feel led to give to our family and our dreams we would be beyond blessed.
Donations can be made to
Touch of Hope
205 Old Mill Lane Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246
*memo: June is our June*
As always, love from Haiti.