“The Launch of Something Much Bigger” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower
So we’re now at the moment I’ve been building to.
It was late June of 2003. My father, with whom I’d reconciled, had just returned from a mission trip to Haiti. We were to meet at a restaurant to hear about his trip and look at his pictures. Though I wish I could say I was anxiously awaiting the details of his trip, I was more excited that we were meeting at a barbeque restaurant I liked.
There was nothing unusual about our dinner until he pulled out the photographs of his trip. Among them was one of a baby. A baby just months old. And this baby needed a home. Now everything changed. Forever.
Her looking into my eyes – It ignited something within me.
Why was I drawn to this picture? How did I know deep inside that I was the one the universe had chosen to be her father? I had never considered adoption. I had a three-year-old daughter, and a five-month-old son. The last thing I needed was two babies at once.
If you know anything about international adoptions, you know that they can be rough. The travel, learning the way business is done in another country; the wear on the emotions, determination and finances. This adoption was no different. In fact, the struggle was escalated since President Aristide’s government was collapsing.
The government falling apart compounded the already difficult tasks of an international adoption. I remember getting an email from my attorney informing me that the adoptions offices were shut down, with no indication of when they would reopen.
My adoption was now on hold. But something inside me couldn’t accept this reality. Within a couple of days, I was back in Haiti. My plan was to walk to that office every morning, hoping someone would happen to come in even though the office wasn’t officially open.
So for days, I did just that. Every morning, I would walk to the office. I would sit there all day, then return to my attorney’s home each night, empty handed.
Until one day. One day someone showed. With cash in hand, I asked for a signature – and the government official signed. Just like that. My stalled adoption was back on track.
Nothing was easy about this adoption. I had to bribe people. I had to take multiple trips to Haiti. I became ill during travel. Right before Christmas, we were told the adoption was completed, only to then learn that it wasn’t. It was a tough Christmas. The newly decorated bedroom of our daughter-to-be remained empty throughout what was supposed to be the most joyous season of the year.
Then in January, another call came. The paperwork was finished. This crazy ordeal was about to end. I was going to be a father to a third child. Words couldn’t describe my excitement. I packed immediately and flew back to Haiti, arriving fully expecting to leave the next day with a beautiful baby girl.
Because of a Haitian law, her biological mother placed in the orphanage when I decided to adopt her. So I began paying for her care in the orphanage. On one of my trips to check on her, the orphanage worker handed her to me and slammed the door. They had not been caring for her, and she was sick. What would I do now? I hired a caregiver.
I picked her up from the her caregiver, but I barely recognized her. She had lost a lot of weight. She was extremely sick with a double ear infection and a nasty stomach virus. I was hell bent on getting her out quickly. I even considered trying to get a return flight that same day.
I carried her in my arms. Her head was limp; she was vomiting. She had terrible diarrhea. And she was denied a visa. She was flagged for a DNA test. For the first time throughout this entire extended process, I felt totally defeated. I was in Port-au-Prince. Alone. Holding a baby so sick she couldn’t hold her head up. I pleaded. But to no avail.
I called back to the States and had a friend reach out to my senator. His office offered compassion and a willingness to help. We were able to get her a visa.
The flight back was horrendous. Nina screamed the entire time from Port-au-Prince to Miami. The cabin pressure was adding additional pain to her fragile, infected ears. Upon our arrival, standing alone in the airport with this sick infant, I finally felt a sense of accomplishment. My six-and-a-half-month journey to adopt a baby from Haiti ended with success. I was happy and proud.
And then out of this feeling of accomplishment came a spark of recognition, and a question arose: “What changes would now ensue as a result of having persuaded dozens of people that I was the perfect dad for this little girl?”
I now began to question how her life would be different. Could she accomplish things that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible? Will she be a doctor? Will she become a nurse? Will she go back to Haiti? Who knows what lies ahead?
What lives will she affect in her journey? How would my life change?
It was a spark – no great epiphany. Though I didn’t have the answers, I knew they would be revealed over time. What I did know was that my ability to persuade wasn’t the end game. It simply triggered a domino effect that would lead who knows where. A greater good, I felt, was set in motion. And it began with my commitment to persuade.
I’d now completed my checklist of the things necessary to secure this adoption. It had been wrenching. It was done.
And it was now just the beginning. All that was over. But that was nothing. Now the real work lay ahead – raising this child.
What I saw for the first time was that each step of this initial journey – each encounter that had required persuasion – had allowed me to accomplish the task at had – which was the launch of something much bigger.