Guest post by Rich and Ginger Kruiswyk, MAA Colombia adoptive family
Buckle up … this is a long post, full of twists and turns. When we last updated you, we were facing a four-day mandatory lock-down, which we are now on the second day of. We are confined to our hotel room during this time. No one is allowed to be out in the city, with very few exceptions. Our hotel does not have cleaning staff or restaurant service. There are a few food services that are allowed to deliver food (restaurants and grocery stores). But, all in all, the city street we can see from our hotel room, that is usually crammed with people and vehicles (and lots and lots of motorcycles), is eerily quiet.
Thursday morning we had another little adventure as Naomi was complaining of pretty intense tooth pain. Naomi has some minor disabilities, including speech delays, and is not always easy to understand. Plus, she has some processing delays that make it harder for her to understand what we are asking. We understood the pain to be pretty bad (she had mentioned it to Rich the previous day when Ginger was not around), and, knowing the lock down went into affect the following day, we messaged our agency. These people are truly amazing!! One of our local contacts reached out to her dentist, who was only a 5 minute walk from here. Ginger zipped over there with Naomi (made sure they had their masks on) and we were in and out in about 20 minutes. Praise God it was nothing serious and she is doing just fine now.
But, while Ginger was there, she received truly devastating news … the Colombian president decided it was in the best interests of his people to close his borders to all incoming traffic beginning Monday, March 23rd … FOR 30 DAYS!!! This means no planes flying in for 30 days. So while there is no ban on leaving the country, there will not be any planes here to take people home.
We were put in a terrible position … do we stay with the girls, knowing we have no way home to our other children for 30 days at minimum, or do we return the girls to FANA (transition home) and fly home to our other children?
When we were together again, we had the one of the most difficult discussions (if not THE MOST difficult) we have ever had. At the end, after looking at how rapidly things have changed over the last week, we made the decision that it was best to return to the United States at this time. This was primarily influenced by several big factors: the thought that 30 days might turn into 60 or 90 days, or more (this seems a very real possibility when schools and universities are canceling activities 2 months out) and the fact that we know the girls will be very well cared for at FANA. They are truly the most amazing and loving people, and we know the girls are loved by the staff. They will get to be with friends, continue with some education, and will receive love and counseling. We will get to Skype with them weekly as well. Yes, we considered having one of us stay here while the other returned home, but rejected that option because 1) we didn’t feel living in an apartment for 30 or more days (with no opportunity for social interaction with peers or semi-formal education) would be a good outcome for the girls, and 2) we had not yet completed integration, which means the remaining parent would be able to do very little to advance the adoption process until we were both together again.
Next we had to tell the girls. We cannot tell you how absolutely horrible it was to have to tell them .. no words can adequately describe that conversation. So so so many tears cried by all four of us as we talked. We are all truly devastated at this turn of events. We tried to emphasize to the girls that we will be back AS SOON AS WE CAN, as soon as the borders are open, we will be back. Again, we are blessed because the girls have the BEST counselor at FANA who will help them understand, especially where our Spanish cannot get across to them all we really want to say.
Just when we were settling into the reality of leaving, we were given the news that we might not be allowed to leave. We are not going to go into the details of the reason behind that so that we can protect the privacy of our girls, but after preparing the girls to get picked up Thursday afternoon and making flight arrangements for Saturday, we were told to change our flights to Sunday, and then, that we might not be able to leave AT ALL….that we might have to remain in country indefinitely, until the travel ban is lifted. This was too much for Ginger, who basically had a meltdown (behind closed doors, so the girls did not see or know).
Our expectation was that we would find out for sure on Friday. After waiting all day, we received word that our agency made arrangements to be sure we could get out of the country on Sunday. We were simultaneously relieved and crushed. So, our flight leaves tomorrow morning at 7:30. The girls went back to FANA this afternoon. To say it was a difficult good bye would be an understatement.
The people at our agency have been absolutely amazing throughout all of this. They sent us groceries Thursday morning to help us get through the citywide lock down (before the travel ban was announced), they have kept in constant contact with us as we have waited for news, they answered all our questions, and have been a very understanding and sympathetic ear as we have struggled with (and continue to struggle with) the decisions we have had to make. Several of the local staff have even taken the time to talk to and reassure our girls. And, mind you, we are not the only family here! There are several others at various stages of the process that they are working with and we know are helping in similar and other ways throughout this nightmare. We are truly blessed by them! And, the psychologist at FANA has also been in contact and is very supportive.
Finally, a shout out to our kids at home!! We skyped with them yesterday, at the request of the girls, and filled them in with what was going on. We did not know the final outcome at that time, so we had to tell them we might not be home for 30 – or more – days. They are troopers. While they may also be struggling with the current situation, they understood and were willing and are very able to hold down the fort for as long as needed. We know we have several friends who have checked in on them while we’ve been gone this last week (so much has changed at home since we left, it is unbelievable), and we are beyond grateful for them, too. We hope to be pressing everyone back into service in a little over a month so we can come back down to Colombia and BRING OUR GIRLS HOME!!
In the meantime, we have a list of prayer requests:
1. Pray for the girls, for their peace and that they know in their hearts that they are loved, that we are coming back, that they are Kruiswyks now.
2. For our safe return home. We are flying through Houston, and we will immensely grateful to be back on US soil. We will be wearing masks, gloves, basically keeping our hand in our pockets, and taking every conceivable precaution.
3. That the measures being taken, by people all around the world, are enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 so we can get back to Colombia ASAP
4. That the 30-day ban is enough, so we can be back with our girls sometime in late April or early May
5. For peace for us – this has been incredibly difficult, we have questioned our decision more times than we can count as we have looked into the eyes of our daughters here in Colombia and into the future.
6. That we won’t be judged by others for our decisions. If only people could understand the agony experienced by us and others in similar (and different) positions, maybe there would be more empathy and less judgment. In fact, shouldn’t we always strive to leave judging up to God and instead just love? We’re pretty sure that is what God calls us to do.
This journey has not gone how we expected it to go in any way .. ANY WAY!! However, we know that God knew about this all along. While Ginger definitely struggled, she also stated that if we have to remain here, then God must know we need to be here in Colombia more than we need to be home. She would be lying if she didn’t admit that she is still very grateful that she gets to return home. Happy … no, not happy. Happy only if our daughters were coming with us. But grateful to know the girls are loved and safe here, and we can return home to make sure our other children stay safe as well.
Finally, one last little push – if you feel God is leading you to adoption … DO IT!!! These children are worth every bit of it. These last few weeks have been scary – including, no toilet paper!! We have eight (soon to be ten) people living in our house, so we need toilet paper! What we are facing is nothing compared to what many orphaned children around the world face. We miss and need toilet paper, they miss and need a home. We are blessed, and we should do something with all we have been blessed with.
Thank you for your prayers, and we ask you to pray us home. God willing, we should get home by 8:00 pm Sunday evening … hopefully we’ll be coming back to you in about 30 days to tell you our next departure date.
Blessings, Rich and Ginger
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