Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flight out...

I was asked to write a snippet about our evacuation, and since I haven't blogged yet I found it only fair to put it here as well. I have many stories to tell, hopefully I'll be able to unpack them into words for your benefit and mine.

On January 22nd, 2010 I boarded a USAF C-17 Globemaster with my two adopted sons and 14 of their adopted friends. It was the end of a traumatic week, and the beginning of our lives together. Before the earthquake we had been in the arduous process of adopting Sammy and Gino, navigating within the requirements of the US and Haitian governments to give these children a home and family they could call their own. Two years of paperwork, homestudies, interviews, physicals, fingerprints, background checks, and the like. We expected the adoption process to take another 8 months at least. Then an earthquake, in Haiti, in Port au Prince where our children lived. Panic, worry, fear. Immediately we booked a flight that soon would be cancelled along with all other commercial flights. I had to be there, trained as a Paramedic and a Firefighter I knew I could help, and I needed to know that my boys and our friends were okay. I was able to get a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, thanks to the local ABC affiliate and a donated flight from Southwest airlines, hopeful to join a chartered flight into PAP scheduled for Saturday morning with 2 of our missionary friends who were stateside separated from their ministry and families. Hillary Clinton’s visit bumped our flight until Sunday, so we spent Saturday gathering medical supplies and doctors to come with us (we had to charter a larger plane which was paid for by a supporter of the “Heartline Ministries” where the boys are from). We were able to take off from FLL to PAP with 2 doctors, an anesthesiologist, a nurse, two paramedics, a midwife, and over 2,000 pounds of supplies. The next week is a blur between going to the embassy to expedite the adoptions and helping at the makeshift clinic as they treated horrific wounds and infections. Finally on Friday, around 6pm, I had humanitarian parole visas for my two boys and 14 of their friends who also had American families in the adoption process before the earthquake. I called the orphanage and told them the news and within an hour they had the kids in a truck traveling to meet me at the embassy. In the meantime I was in contact with Lt Col Randon Draper of the USAF who was in charge of arranging evacuation flights on the airplanes returning to the US after bringing much needed supplies to Haiti. From the embassy we were put on a escorted bus to the airport, onto the tarmac next to the waiting C-17 where our passports and the children’s visas were checked and confirmed. The children’s eyes were wide as they took in the sights of huge airplanes everywhere. “AVION, AVION!!” they shouted over and over again. Soon Lt Col Draper greeted us and led us up the stairs into the cavernous cargo plane. Jump seats lined the walls with an extra row of seats down the middle. News crews, rescue crews, red cross personnel, military, and other evacuees made for a motley crew on this windowless flight. The captain opened the rear hatch to back the plane towards the runway, we all took a good look at what we were leaving behind before the door closed and we began our flight toward our new lives.

1 comment:

rk said...

so great to finally hear this story, my friend. you're an inspiration! hope to see you again sometime!