The other day I finally brought my American kids (Nia, Nico, and Josiah) to the refugee camp with me. I wanted to introduce them to Babette (Patricia's mom) as I think she was starting to think I was lying about actually having kids.
Wow. Kind of a mistake.
Pre-earthquake there were very few white people in Jacmel-- maybe about a dozen and a half or so "regulars." There were even fewer white children. Prior to us moving here in fact, there was only ONE... Riann Pye. (Danny and Leann's daughter.) When we moved here and added two more white kids the number SKYROCKETED to 3. In a city of about 35,000, that's not a very high percentage. We try to take our kids out and about with us as often as is appropriate, so they were coming pretty well known in Jacmel, but that was pre-earthquake.
It never really crossed my mind the kind of swarm that would gather by bringing two (very) white children with us into Pinchinat (the camp.) It was actually pretty ridiculous. Well, very ridiculous. We were mobbed, mostly by kids who were trying to get a good look at, and/or touch the children in some way. (Their hair being the most attractive part to touch.) Josiah even got picked up by some random kid and was screaming... needless to say, wasn't the best thought-out plan I've ever concocted. Our trip was short-- we stopped in to see Patricia, but couldn't pass along the supplies I had for her because there was too much of a mob.
So we headed for the exit. By this time, Nick was carrying Josiah to prevent any further unwanted physical touch, and I had Nia and Nico holding my hands. We were almost out of the camp when people started to yell and make some noise. That kind of thing happens in Haiti so we just kept walking. But then it got louder and we realized we were somehow a piece of the drama. Long story short-- people thought we were kidnapping Nico. (For those new readers, Nico is Haitian-American. We adopted him (legally) about 2 and a half years ago.) Now, given the recent news of white people trafficking Haitian kids, I understand the concern. But that's not what was happening. But try explaining that to a group of semi-angry Haitian people who think that's what WAS happening. I tried to get Nico to speak English with me to "prove" he was actually American. Of course, his mouth was shut tighter than a clam and wasn't interested in saying anything except, "I am Haitian." (But at least he said it in English.)
Finally we just had to swat our way through to our car and load up and take off. By then some people were convinced we were legit. Others weren't, but I didn't have the time or effort to stick around (with my three attention-grabbing kids) to make sure everything left with the right idea.
Ahh... the joys of transracial adoption. For all my long-term readers, does it remind you of a certain situation a few years ago back in the Southpoint mall???