Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to Herbison, our oldest boy. Herbison is 16 and he is a very typical 16 year old boy. He can be helpful and nice one moment, and then a minute later he can be difficult about the smallest thing. He will volunteer to do some of the most difficult jobs and then all but refuse to do something as simple as putting his bowl in the sink. Like I said, he is a typical 16 year old boy. Overall, Herbison is a great young man and one of the funnest of our kids to sit down and have a conversation with. He is smart and doing better in school than he ever has. He is also by far the best athlete at Hope Rising. He is the best soccer player, the fastest, and the best basketball player. In fact, he has picked up basketball so quickly that I wonder how good of an athlete he could have been if he had all of the advantages that children in America have. I am telling you how good of an athlete he is not just to brag (though I do like to brag about it) but also to tell you that this is how he is able to get the attention he craves and also how he is able to express himself. It is the one thing in his life that he knows he is very good at, and it gives him this sense of belonging and comfort that we all need. We have definitely bonded over sports, and he loves the way that basketball has brought he and I closer. He loves it when I bring my computer to their home and we watch basketball and soccer highlights together on youtube. Sports is definitely one of the ways we have bonded and even more since putting the basketball goal up.
Herbison probably had the most difficult transition to Hope Rising back in April. For the first few weeks he was very difficult, he did not want to do anything to help, and I was even afraid he may run away (though I have no idea where he would go). At first, this really bothered me and I could not figure out what was going on. At times I even wondered why he was not grateful that we brought him to this new place that was so much better than where he used to be. But then I realized that he had lived at the old place for over 5 years and he had lived basically on his own for most of his life. We had taken him away from his best friends, we gave him rules and structure that he did not know how to handle, and probably most difficult was the fact that he had people in charge of him for the first time in his life. At the old place he set his own bed time, he came in at night when he wanted, he studied when he wanted, and he really did pretty much anything he wanted. Now he had a bed time, a time set aside for studying, a time set aside to play, and a time that he had to be inside his house each night. Can you imagine how difficult it was for him, a 16 year old boy, to leave everything he knew and to completely lose “control” over his life. Hope Rising was so much better than the last place, but for Herbison his whole life changed and he did not know how to deal with it.
If you have been down recently, you know that Herbison has come around to the wonderful changes. He is still a 16 year old boy, but he definitely knows that he is in a better place and that God brought him here to help him to grow into the person that he was created to be. In fact, he has not just come around, but he has begun to thrive in his new environment. One of the best things about it is that he knows that he is loved and cared for by adults for maybe the first time in his life. In fact, right before Jessica left, he told her that he did not want to do Christmas without her. Now, that may not seem like a lot, but what he was saying is that having Jessica there to celebrate Christmas with him was more important than getting his gifts. He knew that Jess probably would not be back in Haiti until February, and he just could not imagine not waiting those extra 2 months if it meant that Jess could be there with him. He is not always outwardly emotional or affectionate, but this just showed his heart.
Herbison has a sister who lives at the orphanage named Dinna. They are not overly affectionate with each other, but we have seen Herbison make sure to take care of Dinna when the opportunity arises. It was really funny when Herbison and the other older kids were helping us sort school supplies. It was clear that his first priority was his sister and he made sure that she got all of the best things even before himself. We met their Dad just a couple of days before we moved and we have seen him 2 other times since then both as he was traveling to pick up their birth certificates and he needed money to get them. There is little to no relationship with his Dad though he did say that he remembers running and hiding the first time his Dad tried to put him in an orphanage (though this was many years ago because he lived in a different orphanage prior to coming with us). One of the times his Dad came, we let him in to see Herbison and Dinna. I very specifically remember Herbison not wanting to come and see him but we finally talked him into coming and sitting for a few minutes. He was clearly uncomfortable and kept trying to leave. It was really sad to see the way he felt about him and I am sure this contributes to some of Herbison’s issues.
It is truly hard work to have a relationship with Herbison. If you have been down and remember him you probably know this to be true. He does not give you his trust quickly or easily, he is guarded, and he really does not put himself out there for teams. However, when you do the work and you get that relationship with him, it is truly a blessing and it is a lot fun to hang out with him and get to know him better and better. I remember a little over a month after being at Hope Rising Jessica and I were in the boys’ house just hanging out and talking with the older boys. For some reason we went into their room for them to show us something, and when we got in there, Herbison leaned into me and put his arm around me. I remember thinking that he was finally getting comfortable in the new place and finally beginning to understand the way we felt about him. This was not just a quick hug, he left his arm around me for a little while as we hung out and talked, and that is the joy of knowing Herbison. He does not just give away his love and affection, you earn it. But when you earn it, it is very very worth it. So with all of that said, I hope you enjoyed meeting Herbison.