A second trip to Haiti for the MOUGEL family, who has returned to France with their son, Cédric
20 February 2018
We were once again standing in front of the metal door that had closed behind us 15 months before…
As the door opened, we tried to spot our son, who was not outside, but waiting in the front hall of “Nid d’espoir,” his nursery. He smiled, said, “Hello daddy, hello mummy,” and at long last, we could hold Cédric in our arms. We were so relieved that the apprehension of our reunion had been unfounded. We would later find out that he remembered us, along with so many other things from our previous visit.
We spent a bit of time at the nursery to catch up with Dallye, his family, and hear general nursery news. The faces of the children who flocked around us were familiar. As the afternoon was coming to an end, it was soon time to head back to Villa Thérèse, the hotel which had been booked for us in Pétion-Ville.
There we were, the three of us in Vanel’s car. Cédric kept a close eye on everything that was happening outside, while we kept a close eye on him!
After checking into our room, we started getting to know Cédric, and getting to know ourselves, too. Although we had been waiting for this moment for such a long time, being together as a family was quite a special feeling.
For our first meal at the hotel restaurant, Cédric’s behaviour was admirable: he waited patiently for his dish (about 30 minutes!), ate neatly, finished all his food. He was polite with the waiters and never forgot to say thank you or smile to people. Verbal communication was a bit trickier with us, as his sentences were peppered with Creole, which we didn’t always understand!
Back in our room, it was bedtime for our sweetheart. Mum was all ready to help him wash up and put his pyjamas on, but got to him too late. He had already pulled his PJs on all by himself, folded up his clothes (!!!) and was brushing his teeth when she came in. He fell asleep without looking particularly fearful about anything, aside from a few “critters.” We quickly convinced him that they would not bother him, and that in any case, our bed was beside his.
That first day was quite an intense one, between our flight, immigration paperwork, and all the emotion of our reunion… We were quite surprised by Cédric’s level of independence compared to other children his age.
We woke Cédric early. Our appointment at the French Embassy to pick up his visa was scheduled for that morning.
He woke up in quite a good mood. Mum was a bit less hands off and helped him wash up. Everything turned out to be quite easy: Cédric was accommodating and seemed to enjoy being looked after.
Next came our first breakfast… What should we give Cédric, who usually had maize and milk porridge? We settled on a classic, hot chocolate with bread and butter… A mistake—we were surprised to discover that Cédric did not like chocolate! From then on, we would just give him sweet milk. Butter toast seemed to agree with him, followed by fruit (mango and pineapple), which he clearly enjoyed.
Vanel dropped us off in front of the French Embassy and went to park his car. Cédric, who had been joyful and chatty all along, suddenly shut down upon seeing the Embassy’s armed guards. We later noticed that uniforms generally terrified him, particularly police and weapons. Vanel joined us, and we entered the Embassy. We were seen by the head of visas, who gave Cédric his passport, explaining to him what a visa was, and its importance for us three. After chatting a bit with this kind person, we were led to another office to pick up our legalised documents.
We were all set—the proud holders of all our required documents for the journey back to France with our son ☺.
Our family life, in the closed space of our hotel, was settling into a steady rhythm. We ate at the restaurant in very decent conditions, given the systematic wait before being able to start eating. Cédric ate pretty much everything he was served, or at least was willing to try things. We discovered that in addition to chocolate, he did not like feta… not the end of the world!
We also spent time at the hotel’s swimming pool, both in and out of the water. Cédric loves the water and is not afraid of it at all. We had to be very attentive since his tendency is to jump into the pool and then wonder if he is able to touch the bottom! We enjoyed so many sweet moments as our connection grew. On the whole, our son is rather joyful and open, but can also be quite stubborn! Inevitably, his first scolding arrived, followed by his first tears… and who was sadder? Him or us? Had we gone too far? These little clouds on the horizon would end with a kiss and a snuggle, and were quickly forgotten!
We had also brought some homework books with us and tried to work on them a little every day. It was not always the easiest thing to do, keeping him concentrated. But at least it gave us a sense of where he was with it all… Cédric is diligent; his colouring in is precise. He can count, recognises and traces numbers without any difficulty. Handwriting, however, is not his strong point.
As the days passed, we got to know one another and learn. We are learning about looking after a little boy of six and a half, with our victories and defeats, and he is learning about the benefits and limitations of having parents who take care of him. By the end of our time at the hotel, he was no longer folding his clothes and was quite happy for mum or dad to help him wash up.
During our stay, we went back to the nursery twice. Our first visit was a short one, to survey the building site of the future Mirebalais premises. Our second one was for Cédric’s “Going Away” party.
At the party, Cédric struggled a bit to find his place—was he to stay with mum and dad, or play with his friends? In the end he went to play with his friends. It was our second party, and this time we were involved, we were the white mum and dad. Just as during our first stay, we met other future adoptive parents, from Quebec. We left the nursery towards the end of the afternoon with a little twinge of sadness to be leaving. How could anyone be indifferent after spending time with these children who smiled despite their situations? As for Cédric, he left without looking back, something we had already noticed during our first stay, for Kervens’ (aka Louis) going away party, much like a rite of passage!
Tuesday, 27th February
Vanel dropped us off at the airport. He gave us all our paperwork, with copies of any necessary records, and everything we needed for things to go smoothly through immigration. And it all went smoothly indeed, we only needed one copy of our records and to show the original documents. Cédric helped us… he flashed his bright smile to the immigration official, and off we went ;-).
Our trip was uneventful despite a two and a half hour delay at the boarding gate. Cédric’s behaviour was exemplary. He slept between us for part of the flight, and stayed calm the rest of the time. Even the last phase of our journey (from Paris Orly airport to Montbéliard), which we had been dreading, went as smoothly as it possibly could.
Incidentally, it was 37 °C in Port-au-Prince when we took off, and -7 °C when we disembarked from our plane in Paris! Cédric did not flinch despite discovering that it was possible to have cold hands! Likewise, we had planned on stopping at a McDonald’s so he could play, but by -7 °C, outdoor games were not an option! We had ordered a Happy Meal for him, and while he ate the chips, when he bit into his burger, he spat it all out into his napkin, saying, “That’s not nice”! Great, he doesn’t like McDonald’s ;-).
We finally got home, where our house and neighbours were waiting. We were surprised to find that our house had been decorated with balloons and “Welcome home, Cédric” banners, which pleased him immensely! We gave him a tour of his new home, and he was curious about everything, wanting to touch everything.
Just over two months have passed since we began our new life, and Cédric continues to adapt well. He goes to school, has learnt how to ride a bike and a scooter, and has even taken swimming lessons for a week.
At school, he still has trouble following the teacher’s instructions, such as not whistling in class (yes, he has mastered whistling with his fingers, our son is relentless!), raising his hand before he speaks, or not speaking so loudly. On the playground, he is less bossy when he plays ball with his mates.
The days go by quickly, and we relish every moment we spend together.
We would first like to thank Dallye, Claude, and all those who work alongside them every day, taking care of our children despite the lack of material and financial support. Cédric speaks fondly about his nursery from time to time, and remembers many things.
We are also grateful to Mrs Montel and her team, whose assiduousness helped us make our dearest dream come true. We very much wish for all adoptive parents to have an easy time too, so that their children may flourish in their new families.