Friday, January 12, 2018

Remembering 8 years ago

My heart is heavy and I'm not in much of a writing mood, but I felt compelled to at least acknowledge that today marks 8 years since the big earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of Haitians and misplaced millions. I wrote a more wordy post on this day last year, but for today I will just say that my heart goes out to all the Haitians that are remembering today with pain. While Haitians resilience is remarkable, this really was a horrific day in their history. I will be honoring the victims as well as the survivors with a minute of silence (and prayers in my case) at 4:53 as requested by the Haitian Embassy, which is the time that the earthquake struck. I also am looking forward to watching a live Facebook broadcast tonight by Williamson (with Arise Project for Humanity) as he recounts his experiences that day. You can't leave an interaction with him without feeling encouraged, so I am looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

No adoption news or feelings to share. Not today.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Next time

December was a difficult month. Several personal and family struggles made the already busy month physically and emotionally very challenging. For a good part of the month I hoped for a ray of hope to come from Haiti (in the form of good news). It did not. However with all the difficulties occupying our hearts and minds it did leave less time for sadness about not being able to finally hang an additional stocking on our mantle and worry about if our little girl was being held or fed on Christmas Day.

I am grateful that the holidays did offer glimpses of joy and magic that is only found at Christmastime. I truly am grateful for my family and for the memories we were able to create together over the holidays.

Today as I updated the kids photos in the entryway I looked at the spot reserved for our daughter by this Haiti print and realized that before the next time I replace these pictures a photo of her should already be there. That made me smile. Also, as a sidetone...I bought the metal trees you can see a little bit of in the corner of this photo a couple Christmases ago and they were made in Haiti. Metal art is popular there and I love my little trio of trees...

Another bright spot over the holidays was getting this card in the mail...
This cutie is Nelie Chery. We have the honor of sponsoring her education through Haitian Roots. The last 3 years we have been excited to receive a card around the holidays from her with an updated picture. She is so adorable and I look forward to when I will be able to meet her when we travel to Haiti someday. I'm sure her family is so proud of her!

Also, something else from Haitian Roots...they did a fundraiser where you could sponsor the painting of a flower on a mural the kids would paint at the school and put someone's name on it. We purchased a flower for each of kids and also one for Nelie. We liked the idea of her being able to see her name on the mural at school over the years as she attends there...and we thought it would be a fun gift idea for our boys to see their name on the mural's flowers too! You can see Noah's name on the orange flower in the bottom, center of this picture...

Obviously Max & Lincoln here...

And cute little Nelie...

I also opted to purchase many of our Christmas gifts this year from Haiti. I was so pleased with how beautiful they were and I love the idea of supporting artists there who are receiving a fair wage and helping to stimulate the economy in this country that I have yet to visit, but that my heart has already grown to love.

I am really hopeful that we will receive good news from Haiti soon. Somehow the passing of the holidays and the beginning of a new year has refreshed a bit of my optimism. Perhaps it is my conviction in being able to say that I am quite confident that this is the year we will meet our daughter...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Holding out hope

We received our approval letter for our I800a on November 20th. Glad that there were no RFE's - or errors this time! I emailed Chareyl the next day and she had already received their notification and sent it off to Haiti (wahoo for that). I have been particularly emotional about not having a referral going into the holidays. I remember last year at this time feeling really hopeful that we might get a referral anytime. *sigh*

For some reason I had really been hoping to see our little girl's face (at least in a picture with our referral) before my 40th birthday which is in less than 3 weeks. I've given up hope for that happening, but am still hoping that maybe we'll get a final payment request by the end of the year??...which would mean that a referral would follow soon thereafter.

Sometimes I feel foolish continuing to hope for something to happy by a certain time (because it's been blown out of the water time and time again). I do trust that it will happen when it is supposed to, and that the Lord's timing is perfect. I also just need to hold out hope for something to keep my spirits up. So, for now I'm hoping for SOME sort of news to be my Christmas miracle this year.

On another note! A couple days before we received our I800a approval letter we had the chance to attend a nice dinner prepared by a Haitian chef! We were able to enjoy it with another couple that is also adopting from Haiti. They are at the very beginning of the process, still receiving their initial approvals. It was really nice to get to know Brooke and Greg. They were a lot to fun to chat with and enjoy this special meal with together.

A little bit about the meal...Chef Roody Salvator of Makaya Catering lived in Haiti until he was about 21. He shared with us about his humble upbringing and introduction to cooking. When each course was served he gave a bit of information about what Haitian influence was involved with that dish...if it was based on something in Haiti, if Haitian spices were used, etc. I got the chicken (on polenta) which was super tasty...

I didn't take a picture of the soup or salad (both were good)...but I especially LOVED the soup. Mmmm. Here is a picture of the dessert though. It was caramelized plantains and ice cream with a special sauce to pour over it. Delicious!...

I regret that I don't have a better photo, but entertainment was provided by the lovely Marj Desuis. She had a fabulous percussionist also, but I don't remember his name. I remember Marj's name because I have followed a bit about her online over the last nearly 2 years. She, also being Haitian, was the entertainment for the formal gala fundraiser I was heavily involved with for Haitian roots in the spring of 2016. Because I was running the auction that had just closed I wasn't able to be over by the entertainment when she performed though and didn't get to hear her at all (which I was really sad about). So! This was a great, more intimate setting to be able to relax and enjoy her talent! Her music can be purchase on iTunes also :)


Lastly, here is a picture of Chef Roody Salvator. He was quite charming and has an amazing culinary talent. Here's to hoping we can attend another pop-up dinner of his soon! Because his business is a catering service he doesn't own his own restaurant, so this dinner was held at Eggs in the City (normally only open during the daytime, so it was perfect). Looking forward to see what Roody creates for us next time!! Maybe by then I'll have happy news of my own from Haiti. I'm holding out hope.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kind-of updates

On October 12th I received an email that our I800a application had been received on the 6th (which I knew because of my tracking info). All it really said is that an official letter stating the same thing would be received in 7-10 days. I got that letter yesterday (the 17th) and am now just crossing my fingers that our fingerprint appointment is here very soon. Our I800a expires in 2 weeks and fingerprint appointments are often scheduled that far out or more. I just am dying to know if there will be any lapse in our I800a which is what allows us to accept a referral.

We don't have any reason to believe that our referral is pending any day, but I think I'm extra on edge knowing that Chareyl (our adoption facilitator) is in Haiti now. I wonder if she's finding anything out about our file? Will she have news for us? Will she (knowingly or unknowingly) see/hold our child?

AAAAARGH. I just want to know the things. I want to move on from this stuck stage of waiting and wondering and want to see our child's face and know anything about her. So, when I'm feeling that way extra - I feel extra protective about making sure that I do everything I can to be sure that an expired document won't stand between that and us.

You know what...I'm going to call USCIS now and see if our file has been passed on to a case worker yet. The letter said they would receive it 10-14 days after our application was initially received. Today is 13 days. I'm calling. Maybe we'll get lucky and get to "refresh" our fingerprints this time instead of needing an appointment, and maybe they'll be able to give me any information. ANYTHING!...calling now.

Done calling. Well, I got a helpful person on the phone but not great news. She said that they have our file, but that our file hasn't been assigned to a case worker yet and that once it has they anticipate 4-6 weeks for approval if everything is perfectly in order. So, we'll likely have at least a month of lapse in coverage.

She said that they only refresh fingerprints on the 1st free extension (which we've already done) or if we have an approved I800 (which happens after we are matched). So, we'll definitely have to go in and do fingerprinting...and she said those are scheduling out 2-3 weeks. I said that hopefully everything is in order with our application, but asked if there was a need for an RFE do they wait to schedule the fingerprinting appointment until that is satisfied (so we aren't waiting another month after the RFE is fulfilled) and she said sometimes, but not always. She said that depends on how the caseworker likes to handle it. The reasoning behind that is that if it takes 2 months to satisfy the RFE then that is 2 months of time "lost" on fingerprints, so it's seen as a favor to the applicant not to go ahead and run those before approval is ready.

It looks like I'll want to call again in a few days and talk to our assigned case worker and feel things out. Best case scenario if he/she says that everything is in order and that our approval will be complete upon receipt of fingerprints...and that she'll be sending out fingerprint appointments right away...that would be next week at the earliest before I'd get our appointment, then at least 2 weeks later to do our fingerprints. So at least a month from now at the SOONEST before we could get approval. Possibly longer even if things go smoothly, and definitely longer if they issue an RFE for current background checks. I'm so frustrated and sad. Sounds like a minimum 2-4 week period where we will be ineligible to receive a referral for the first time in several years of waiting. And of course this happens at a time where it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that a referral could come in the near future.

I guess there is nothing else that I can do right now. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fingers crossed

That's me right after handing over our I800a renewal application (and home study) to the FedEx lady. I overnighted that sucker to arrive by 10am tomorrow. Let's get this show on the road!

So, there are back-logs for the background check process (which we need in order to complete our home study...so we could mail it off with our I800a renewal). We have to do state, federal and child abuse registry annually. Normally it takes 2 weeks and it is taking 9+ weeks currently. The delays would have put us getting those background checks finished after our I800a would have expired. Leaving a lapse in approval the entire time we applied with USCIS and redid our fingerprinting.

My agency agreed to go ahead and finalize our home study so we could send it off to apply for our I800a since our background checks are actually currently valid until December. Our new background checks will be in well before that so our agency is still complying with keeping those current. The question is whether USCIS will look at our home study (submitted with our renewal application) and say, "Uh...no, your background checks expire too soon" and submit an RFE (request for evidence). We would be able to satisfy that RFE, but that would result in a period of lapse for our I800a approval and therefor a period where we are ineligible to accept a referral of a child.

Sidenote - we applied to have our background checks expedited and were denied (since they don't expire until December), but they reconsidered based on our circumstances...however with them being expedited they were estimating them being done in 3 weeks. At least if we get an RFE we'll have quick turn around being able to satisfy it I guess. Hopefully if that happens USCIS is still willing to submit our fingerprint appointment while they wait for that to be satisfied so we aren't waiting on that afterward too. *sigh*

So!! The fingers are crossed that they don't care about the upcoming fingerprint expiration that is written in the home study and that they go ahead and submit our fingerprinting appointment (I'll never understand why we have to physically go in and re-do those)...and that we get our I800a renewed before November 2nd when it expires.

I'm also crossing my fingers that we get our referral SOON dang it! We're nearly 26 months officially registered with IBESR in Haiti, and almost 3 years into the Haitian adoption process (not 2 mention the 2 years with Ethiopia before that). We are ready to see her face!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 years ago today.

I'm not sure why I feel compelled to post today. The only things I can update about are long and boring: paperwork, updates, denied expedite request, pending expirations, backlogs, judge strikes, blah...blah...blah.

However, 5 years ago today we took our first concrete step in this adoption journey and submitted our preliminary application to our first adoption agency. We were "only" with them for 2 years before needing to change to our current agency and switching to Haiti, but that day was like a commitment for us in my mind. After lots of research and prayer we felt like we were on the path we needed to be on to complete our family. I still think that.

I am a woman of faith. Sometimes I may feel like I'm not as strong as I should be, but I do believe that God loves me and listens to my pleadings regarding my family. I believe that He answers my prayers and guides me. I also believe that I may not always be able to see or understand His timing or His way of doing things. But that doesn't mean it isn't perfect. Not just because He is perfect, but because His love for me is. I know that He wants what is best for me, for our family, and for our future daughter. Sometimes I wonder if I will be able to look back on this long, twisty, roller-coaster ride that officially started 5 years ago now...and I wonder if I'll see answers to some of those why's. Or will I not be able to see any answers to why, but just feel right-ness of it all?

At the beginning of this year this year I committed to focus on trying to replace my fear with faith. I have often times fallen short. Very short. But I do have faith that we are where we need to be on this journey right now. I would be lying if I said that I was ok with not being further down the road by this point, but I do believe that we are where we need to be and that He knows who our child is even if we don't. And the beautiful thing is...because He knows who she is and her needs, I can pray for her and He can succor her. He can find someone else to hold her and to comfort her for now. He can use someone else to feed her for now. He can guide the complex maze of paperwork that will eventually link us together. And He will bring her home to her family when the time is right. Now if I can just replace all my worries with faith in the meantime...and hold onto hope until the day that I can be the one He blesses to hold her, to feed her, and to comfort her.

Until then my prayers are for those who are caring for our child, for her first family in whatever they are suffering, for those running her orphanage, for our adoption facilitator, for each set of hands that is progressing our paperwork in both countries, and for my heart to be still as I ache to see her face and hold her for the first time.




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Irma & our unwanted milestone

Since I'm spending too much time tracking Hurricane Irma (and worrying) today as she barrels through the Caribbean with all her destruction...I decided that now was a good time to write a post that I've been putting off for a couple of weeks.

There are several landmark dates in our adoption journey...October 3, 2012 was the day we officially began this adoption journey (with our application to our first agency - with Ethiopia before that door closed to us)...December 12, 2014 was the day we turned in our application to adopt from Haiti with our current agency...and August 23, 2015 was the day our dossier was officially accepted by IBESR (the Haitian government). So, while we're nearly 5 years into this adoption journey...and a couple months shy of having been pursuing this adoption through Haiti for 3 years...the date that is referenced within the adoption community during the wait for a referral match is the IBESR entry date. For us August 23rd. As we approached that date it seemed to loom as a more concrete reminder of how long we've collectively been waiting to know who our daughter is. To see her face. To meet her and hold her. I had sincerely hoped that we wouldn't be one of the families that met that 2 year mark in IBESR without a referral. So when that day arrived it was pretty emotional for me. And something else compounded that emotional day for me...

August 23rd was also the first day of school for our boys. There are 3 reasons why that was difficult for me. My youngest child at home is 6 years old and was transitioning to all day school this year. A big 1st grader, no longer my sidekick during the day. This makes me sad. I tried not to voice that to him, but rather to express how excited I was for him...but when I put him to bed the night before his big first day of school he was the one to cry (not common for him) that he would "miss our one-on-one time". I about lost it. To compound matters with this specific child - he was diagnosed a few months ago with type 1 diabetes. I've never turned over his dosage of insulin to anyone else besides Mark or my mom. This was so unnerving for me. Being the worrier I am, preparing to send him to school all day brought with it a series of imagined worst case scenarios that sent me into an anxiety-filled feeling of lack of control.

Now, add to those feelings of sad sentimentality and justified worry the fact that I never imagined when we started this adoption that when Max started 1st grade that I wouldn't have our daughter at home by then. I thought I'd be using this time working on attachment and bonding, practicing on her hair, doing all the little kid things I was going to be missing with Max...with her.

August 23rd I felt empty. Worried. And an intense lack of control - both regarding Max and baby girl.

I think that feeling of lack of control that I mentioned earlier, regarding our little girl specifically this time, is amplified right now as we launch into hurricane season and are waiting to see the affects of Hurricane Irma as she churns by Haiti. Hurricane Irma is the strongest Atlantic Hurricane ever on record. And, again...too many worst case scenarios fly through my head. Not only worries of destruction around her and to her country of birth, but also the after effects of storms like this on Haiti. Flooding, mudslides, disease. Worries about my child crying out in fear without someone to comfort her tonight are pulling on my heart also. I was in a shelter down south as a red-cross volunteer following Hurricane Katrina as the arms our Hurricane Rita reached out over us. It was frightening night for me and I'm a grown woman. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for children, especially those without someone to assure and comfort them. Oh, my heart.

...I had to step away from this post for a bit to calm down. I had a lot of these same worries last fall when Hurricane Matthew approached and hit Haiti. It is such an overwhelmingly sick feeling of worry. I know it's not productive, and I don't want to indulge in it...it's like I just can't control the overwhelming sad, anxious, impending feeling of doom. Even when there isn't a known source of worry attacking our daughter's homeland, I have a feeling of worry if she's ok. Is she eating? Is she being cared for? Is she being neglected or abused? Does she have health concerns that are being ignored?...so then you add an acute worry like the hurricane to those already existing worries and it's like worry-overload.

To try and shift gears with this post before it becomes 25 paragraphs of me cyclically venting my same worries...Here is something that was happy at the time. I wish I had posted about it when they arrived and I was feeling giddy:

As some sort of indulgent splurge justified by the passing of the aforementioned unwanted anniversary (2 years in IBESR without a referral) I bought a couple pairs of Toms shoes...mommy and me matching. They are super cute. I put them in the basement with the bins of clothes and shoes that I've been collecting over the years. I can't wait for the day that we can both put them on together.