6 1/2 years ago, we had a big idea. We decided to take our kids (only had three then) to Disney World. We had accepted the referral of our girls from Haiti only a couple of months before. At the time, adoptions were moving reasonably quickly with about 5 months to complete the adoption once the referall was accepted and the case began to progress through the Haitian courts.
5 months seemed crazy long to us then, impossible to wait, so we decided we would take our other three kids to Disney to break up the wait. They had never been, and we knew it would be a bit before we were ready to attempt it once the girls came home. After all, our youngest Haitian daughter was only 9 months old at the time.
We had a great time, and each day when we made it back to the hotel, I slipped down to the hotel computer to check my e-mail for news of my daughters.
It was the beginning of a reality check for me, because there was never any news. As a matter of fact, the adoption did not take another long five months.
It took another 18.
The girls never forgave us for going to Disney without them. I tried to explain, but I think it still seemed like some kind of betrayal. As a matter if fact, our youngest would announce periodically that she was in fact with us on that trip, weaving our histories together in her mind and heart.
Of course, we wanted to right the wrong but we needed to wait until everyone was a little older, self sufficient, taller….
We set a goal for ourselves that we would go the last spring before our oldest went to highschool.
Then, the economy crashed and the business which had employed my husband for twenty years slashed his salary by a quarter. That type of pay cut raises all kinds of concerns. Can we cover the basics? How long can we exsist this way? What if something breaks? And occaisonally…
“How will we ever fulfill our promise to take the kids to Disney?”
So, we prayed, and continued to hope, talking about the trip all along as if it were not a dream, but reality.
The kids understood we had to raise money.
We had a yard sell. They manned a snack booth with a huge sign that said, “Help us go to Disney!”.
They asked relatives to skip Christmas and birthday gifts, and give money for Disney instead.
Even their tooth fairy money began to find it’s way into the Disney fund.
Spring came and we made the trip at last. As we drove under the entrance ro the park, the van was filled with screams of joy and gratitude.
Throughout the day, the thanks never ceased. It was the real gratitude a parent longs to see in their kids- spontaneous and genuine, from each of them over and over again.
I was thankful too.
Sure, I was thankful for the experience, but even more than that, I was so thankful to be able to give it to my kids.
Honestly, I’m afraid I missed a good bit of the rides. I was too busy choking back tears of gratitude as I watched something even more amazing. I couldn’t take my eyes off the two little Haitian sisters sitting beside me holding holding hands in the dark, their faces radiant with the wonder of it all.
And they were there with me.