While I was in Boston a few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to visit HFC's Peterson and Mathurin, aka Peter and Matt, in their new home in Massachusetts. I almost didn't recognize them! OK, it would have been hard not to because they make up nearly half of the black population of Ashburnham so when you see 2 black teens walking down the street there, you can be pretty sure it's them. But still, they looked different. Both of them have much thicker and longer hair now that they are not required to shave their heads every month, and Peterson has gained 17 pounds since coming to the US in February. Plus, it was the first time I'd ever seen them wearing cold weather clothes!
We played basketball together and talked. The boys were very honest with me, telling stories about school and home life. They said that it has been hard to get used to having parents that actually get mad and discipline them - I think a lot of our kids get the impression from movies and from the short term visitors at the orphanage that American adults don't get angry or set rules. Reality check, boys! They miss Haitian food (good old rice and beans) and they think our milk is disgusting. In Haiti, they drank powdered milk with lots of sugar. The thing they miss the most is the other boys, though they are very grateful that they are allowed to call the boys' home every 2 or 3 weeks. On weekends, they aren't really sure what to do with themselves because they are used to having 30 people around. A house of 6 seems very quiet when you're used to 30!
The kicker question for me was this: "Do you feel more loved here than you did when you were at the orphanage?" The kids come to the US with high hopes of getting a good education and a good career and a chance to help their native country, but more than that, they come with the hope of a second family. If we fail to provide them with that, then what was the point of removing them from their HFC family? To my relief, they responded to my question with an unhesitating "Yes".