Saturday, December 26, 2015

Things can be both big and small.

I'm not concise with words, so if you don't want to read everything (this is my journal, you know...so it's therapeutic for me to get it all out) then at least scroll to the bottom at look at the photos!!

So! Two weeks ago we passed our one year mark since changing from adopting from Ethiopia to applying to adopt from Haiti. There is nothing important or ceremonious about this, but documenting time seems to be something we as humans like to do. When recognizing anniversaries of any kind I think people find an increased element of sentiment...around the anniversary of marriage, death, birth, or other big life event. We look back and reminisce, we look forward and imagine what we hope will be or perhaps think of what could have been.

While turning in adoption papers (again) may not be as life changing as a birth or death, it certainly marks the beginning of something that eventually will be that big. It's easy to think forward to what that date next year will hold.  Will we have seen her face and know a bit of her story? Will we have met and held her? Will we be nearing a time that we could be bringing her home? Then there is the sentiment of the holidays, which is clearly a factor to how I've felt lately. I'm wondering how much these things (anniversary of turning in adoption application and the holidays) has played into this feeling that I've had lately...a profound feeling that someone is missing. It's not like I don't already know that, but I have been feeling it lately.

I've heard other people talk about this feeling. I've experience it multiple times lately, but I can pin-point where I was twice when it happened: Once was when our family was at Christmas Village together. We were having a really nice time enjoying hot cocoa and looking at Christmas lights and displays together. It wasn't particularly busy, but I kept counting and re-counting the boys and kept wanting to look for a fourth child and had to keep reminding myself that we don't have a fourth child yet. It sounds like a simple mistake, but it felt more profound and urgent that that. The other time was when we were pulling out of our driveway and I checked to make sure we had everyone and stopped the car because I thought we left someone. I had to check a couple times and remind myself that there wasn't another head to count! So, it was more the feeling than anything else...but if you've experienced this you know how strange it feels.

So! With the context of added sentiment and this strange occurrence happening, perhaps it shouldn't have caught me off guard when opening a certain birthday gift this month sent me into another room in tears. Let me tell you about it. One week ago and we were enjoying a nice combined birthday celebration for myself and my sister-in-law (Katie) at my parents house. We were having a nice time and each opening nice gifts from our siblings and parents. Katie handed me a birthday gift from her and Matt and I opened it. 

I saw a stack of beautiful cards and immediately knew they were from Haiti. I continued to look and saw two photos of beautiful children. Katie began to explain that she had seen me posting about sponsoring education for a child through Haitian Roots. (She obviously also knows that we are waiting to adopt from Haiti) She wanted to buy me a gift that would help support the cause of educating children in Haiti and found a place that sold art work from children in Haiti. These children produce this art through a fantastic nonprofit organization called ACFFC that helps provide empowerment and education for children in Jacmel, Haiti! How fantastic is that?! I continued opening the gift and found the most LOVELY painted bowl (made perhaps from paper mache?)...it looked like something that would stop me in a store window anyway, but knowing that these children made it in Haiti made it even more precious.  There was also a beautiful yellow bird ornament. THEN, to really ramp up the sentiment, Katie asked the organization to send her a couple images of the children who make the art-work (she knew I'd love that) and she printed them to include with the gift. I seriously could not handle it. These beautiful children. The thoughtfulness Katie put into this gift. Haiti. This beautiful gift. I couldn't hold in the tears. It was just too much, but in a good way. Eventually I had to leave the room and pull myself together. 

Here are the beautiful hand painted cards - the young man who makes these is deaf and these provide him income to support himself in rural northern Haiti. The photos are of the children who made the bowl (you can see some they are working on in one of the photos) and the ornament...



Such a thoughtful birthday gift. It is perfect. Absolutely perfect. Thank you putting the effort into something like this, Katie & Matt. I love it. And I love that you knew I would.

I titled this post "things can be both big and small" because, an anniversary date is just a date...but it can also feel like something big. A little gift can be just a bowl, card and ornament...but it can also be something big - providing an income and education for someone and also filling my heart to overflowing. So yes, something can be both big and small. If in this post I had just written that it's been a year since we turned in our first adoption application for Haiti (with no other context) and that my brother and sister-in-law gave me this gift (insert photo)...it wouldn't have seemed like anything very big. But those have been huge to me this month. I suppose perspective really can determine size.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

FAQ

Since I'm mailing out holiday cards tomorrow and I shared this blog in the card's text, I figured that I'd better throw an update of sorts up here (for the 2 or 3 people that decide to take a peek anyway)! ;)  I decided that since most people aren't going to want to wade through pages of posts, I'd just try a quick question/answer form of update here with the questions that I get asked the most:

Q: How long have you been waiting to adopt?
A: For a more thorough answer read my previous post here.  More concisely: on Dec. 12th it will have been one year since we turned in our application to adopt from Haiti through WIAA.  We originally started our adoption process (from Ethiopia) 3 years + 2 months ago with AGCI and that program eventually closed.

Q: How old will she be when you bring her home?
A: Likely around 2 years old.

Q: Do you know who your child is already?
A: No. We haven't received a referral of a child yet.  We are hoping that will happen sometime in 2016. 

Q: What does it mean when you talk about "referral"?
A: A centralized government authority (IBESR) in Haiti is the one who matches a child with a specific prospective adoptive family. Once they deem a child legally adoptable they issue the official referral.  We receive a picture of the child as well as any history available on the child.

Q: What happens after you get a referral?
A: After we receive our referral we review the information and submit an official acceptance for the match.  Then we travel to Haiti for a mandatory 2 week "socialization trip" where we will spend time with our child and be observed by a Haitian social worker.

Q: Once you've met your child, how long until you can bring her home?
A: This varies greatly, but my best guess is anywhere between 6 months to 1 year from the time we meet her until we get to bring her home.  We definitely will visit her as much as possible during that part of the wait.

Q: Why does this process take so LONG?
A: This is a very complicated question, with long multi-faceted answers.  Here is the simplified version of that, broken into four parts that I'm guessing that most reasons will fall under: 
1. Part of the reason it takes so long is that there are procedures in place to ensure that adoptions are completed ethically, that families are properly vetted and that children being placed are indeed in need of adoption.  That takes time.
2. Another part of the answer is simply government red tape and bureaucracy including sometimes unnecessary, frustrating hold-ups (sometimes on the Haitian side, and sometimes on the U.S. side of things).  Haiti is frequently tormented with social and political turmoil, which can periodically put the brakes on the processing of adoptions.
3. Also Haiti recently overhauled all their adoption laws and also became Hague ratified (joined the Hague convention which oversees the international adoption of children), so it takes time to change and implement all these new guidelines, and there are bound to be wrinkles to iron out when so many changes happen. 
4. Lastly, simply because it's Haiti. Things take time to process through our U.S. government with all modern conveniences.  Documents in Haiti are all hand written and documented (not typed or digitally archived), and people can be difficult to track down for interviews and signatures.

Q: Why Haiti?
A: I answer this question differently depending on my mood.  I usually answer in one of 4 ways...
1. Simply "because that is where we feel like our child is." 
2. We've always had an interest in adopting internationally (we decided this before we got officially engaged to be married) and we actually began paperwork to adopt from Haiti back in 2006-7 after we adopted Noah, but we ended up being offered another opportunity for IVF which worked and brought us Lincoln (and later Max from frozen embryos). When we began revisiting the idea of international adoption for our family, Haiti was grappling with the after affects of their big earthquake and it wasn't a good time to start the adoption process there. I began to feel led to pursue adoption from Africa and we began the process of adopting from Ethiopia.  When that fell through we felt strongly that we should pursue adoption from Haiti again.  And so here we are full circle pursuing an adoption from Haiti again!
3. Because there is great need there. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. They were so even prior to the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country killing 100,00-200,000 people (estimates vary greatly) and decimated infrastructure and creating even more acute struggle with disease and abject poverty. Haiti has struggled to recover from this and disease and severe poverty are still very much a part of life in Haiti, and the number of children in need of homes has increased dramatically.
4. "Why NOT Haiti?" Every child everywhere deserves a home and a family. No child should live on the streets or in an institution, be forced into child slave labor (prevalent in Haiti, called restaveks), die from lack of care, or be left for greedy/evil people in the world to exploit them in various ways.

Q: Does it bother you when people ask how the adoption is going?
A: No! Thank you for caring about us and wanting to ask. We may not always have anything noteworthy or interesting to tell.  Or you may catch me on a day that I get weepy or want to vent, but as long as you're cool with not hearing much...or possibly hearing more than you wanted to - then always feel free to ask! (And if you're curious, but don't want to risk possible tears or taking on psychiatrist duties then you can always check this blog for updates too)

Q: I know someone who is interested in adopting. Would you be willing to answer some of their questions?
A: Of course! Our answers will be based on our own opinions and experiences obviously, but we are very open with sharing what we have experienced and know regarding adoption or infertility struggles/treatments. We have been very blessed by adoption and modern medicine and we enjoy being able to share our thoughts and feelings on those topics. Heaven knows that we've reached out to strangers we don't know during this roller coaster journey of international adoption.

Q: How can I help? Is there anything I can do?
A: This is such a thoughtful question to ask (thank you to those that have)! Mostly just keep us and our future child in your prayers (I pray daily that she is being fed, held, and kept safe). Other people you can pray for specifically are our agency's adoption worker Chareyl (who we have huge trust and respect for), our child's birth family and care takers, IBESR (that will be referring a specific child to us), and the people of Haiti in general. The only other thing I can think of is that if you ever find yourself with travel miles that you aren't going to use, we would gratefully accept donations of miles that we would use for the multiple trips we will be taking back and forth from Haiti.  We've been working on accruing and saving those too.

Q: Do you think adoption is the answer for Haiti's problems?
A: No. I don't. I do think that it is the answer for a child who needs a home and family now though. I believe lasting change for Haiti will come from Haitians. I also believe that to facilitate this, children need education. This is something that is difficult for most children to obtain in Haiti. The cost of providing education for one child is more than most entire families make altogether in a year. Because of this our family has chosen to provide an education for one child in Haiti who has an intact family to support them during their education and who will be staying in Haiti to someday provide for her own family and make a difference in her own community and country there. If this is something you are interested in, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Haitian Roots as a non-profit through whom you can sponsor a child or make a one time donation. For only $25/month (or $300/year) you can provide an education for a child in Haiti. This not only can change their life, but provide you and your family a deeply enriching experience as you are able to periodically communicate with the child you choose to sponsor. One-time donations are also gratefully accepted and can be done here online. The volunteers who run this organization have deep personal connections with Haiti and are doing much to ensure the continued success of their education sponsorship program, and of each child sponsored with them. 

Other random stuff:
This wasn't a deciding factor in why we chose to adopt from Haiti...but how wonderful and terrible is it that Haiti, who is in so much economic/social/political turmoil, is so close geographically to our own country? We love that we live close enough that we will be able to visit our child while we wait for her paperwork to clear, and that we can take her back to see where she came from later, and that this proximity will allow us to find ways to serve this country as a family. We love that our children participate in French immersion (one of the official languages in Haiti) and hope that this may provide some benefits that we don't yet see.

Some days I long to see our little girl's face and to get her home, other days it feels like it's gone on so long that it's become somewhat abstract.  I can only imagine what it must feel like to our kids.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

3 years!

When someone asks me how long we've been waiting to adopt I never know what to say.  How long since our paperwork actually made it to Haiti? (7 weeks) How long since we finished our dossier for our Haitian adoption?  (4 months) How long since our home study was completed for ourHaitian adoption? (7 months) How long since the beginning of our Haitian adoption process? (10 months)...or do they mean including our prior failed adoption from Ethiopia? The answer to that question would be 3 years.  Three years ago today actually.  Three years ago today we turned in our initial application to AGCI to adopt from Ethiopia.  We were so excited, a tiny bit naive, and very hopeful.

The way I look at it is that there are likely reasons that I don't know or understand why we felt led to adopt from Ethiopia when we did, just for it to result in all that lost time and money. That being said, one thing that I do believe is this: the course things took led us to adopting from Haiti and at this time because there is a child there that is meant for our family at this time. I also believe that a lot of the things we went through during that 2+ years pursuing our Ethiopian adoption helped shape us and prepare us for this adoption. Things we learned, people we met and have communicated with, people we relied on in our lives here when things were rough, adoption stories we've become familiar with, familiarity with the unpredictable nature of the international adoption process, our concern to do things properly instead of just quickly...all these things weave together to bring us to where we are (and who we are) today. So, even though everything we went through with our Ethiopian adoption process isn't technically related to our current Haitian adoption, I certainly still consider it part of our adoption journey and part of the story of how we found our way to our daughter. In fact it feels inseparably interwoven.

So! If you ask me today how long we've been waiting to adopt our daughter I will say 3 years! And while another day I may not be feeling quite as ok with the wait, today I'm feeling faithful in His timing and encouraged knowing that it will happen someday and that it will all be worth it!

On that note! Let me share something that we participated in today that was really great to be a part of! We supported a fundraising effort by Haitian Roots to raise money to educate children in Haiti who could not otherwise afford an education. A couple close friends and several of my family members supported my "team" effort to spread this fundraising effort by donating money or purchasing t-shirts to wear while running or walking on October 3rd (today)! I named our team "Bay Espwa" and it means "Give Hope" in Haitian KreyĆ²l.

While adoption is obviously close to my heart, and I believe that every child deserves a home and family, I do also feel very passionate that the way to combat severe poverty (which is ultimately the cause of a great number of children who are in need of adoption) is through education of the people that live there. Education that will empower children to someday acquire jobs to provide for themselves and their family, but also to contribute to bettering their community and their country. Naturally, this is closer to our hearts because the effort is taking place in the country of our future daughter's birth. By adopting a child from Haiti we feel like we are in essence adopting another country into our hearts also.  Because of that it means a lot to me for so many of those people that we love to support this effort - it feels like them also rallying around us in our preparations to welcome this little girl into our family someday.

Here is a photo of my family in our "Running for Haiti" t-shirts:

While the Running for Haiti fundraiser had nothing to do with adoption, we are obviously waiting to adopt a child from this country. So, doing a little something today that we hope can be a drop in something larger that will help benefit the country of her birth...well, it seemed like the PERFECT way to "celebrate" our 3 year milestone since starting our adoption journey.

Now here's to hoping that it isn't another 3 years before we get her home.


Monday, August 31, 2015

We are in IBESR!!!

We got an email from Chareyl today congratulating us on our papers arriving in IBESR (this is the division of government in Haiti that will eventually give us an official referral of our child).  We still have a long way to go, but this is a HUGE concrete step toward our little girl!  Feeling pretty over the moon right now!!!

Here's a screen shot of my phone showing a receipt that says when our dossier was received and accepted by IBESR:


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

OUR PAPERS ARE IN HAITI!

I just heard from Chareyl today that our dossier was sent to Haiti a couple weeks ago!  It arrived one week ago today, was reviewed by a paralegal hired by our agency and then was submitted for the legalization process last Thursday (the 20th)!

It generally takes 2-3 weeks to complete the legalization process in Haiti before our papers can officially submitted to IBESR (they are the government agency that will eventually issue an official referral of our child to us).

This is a really big step for us and I'm very excited!  Woot woot!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Maybe it's the rain...

The last couple of weeks I've particularly had baby girl on my mind.

Sometimes I just wonder if she's born yet, if she's being fed or held, if she's safe.

Sometimes I wonder if her mother is still carrying her and if something horrible (disease, death or other tragedy) is yet to happen or if her mother already anguishes knowing the upcoming decision is she's going to be faced with due to circumstance.  I worry if her mother has support.  I worry if SHE has food and if SHE is safe.

Sometimes I feel awful that the blessing and joy that will come into our life has to be preceded by trauma and heartbreak for our child and her first family.

Sometimes I wish that I could just see what was happening with her and her family right now, and other times I think that it may be best that I can't.

Sometimes I feel ashamed at the privilege and excess that I enjoy, and other times I'm grateful that I have it to share.

I have been able to see pictures of someone we know that is in Haiti now visiting their daughter while they wait for her adoption paperwork to process in Haiti.  She is a lovely little girl.  I can't imagine how difficult it must be each time they have to leave her there now that they have held, cared for and loved on that sweet little person.  Looking at the pictures has made me pine a bit more for some progress in our journey.  To be a little closer to holding our little girl.  We surely have at least another year before we'll see our daughter's face, possibly 2 years until we bring her home...but we've already been actively on this journey for nearly 3 years now.  Sometimes it just feels too long.  Other times it's just how it is.

I've read lots of adoptive parents in situations like ours write down similar aching that they've had while waiting for their child, only to go back later once they have their child and realize what was going on in their child's life when they were having those stirrings in their heart.  I wonder if maybe this is one of those things.  Maybe she was recently born into difficult circumstances.  Maybe trauma is occurring in her family that will result in her soon being brought to an orphanage.  Maybe I'll know someday, and maybe I won't.

...or maybe it's just the rain today.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Just thinking...

I've had baby girl on my mind a lot lately.  Sometimes when that happens I itch to write something here...

I don't really have much new to tell from the last time I posted, but here's what I do have.  On July 27th we attended a picnic for our adoption agency.  We had the pleasure of meeting a family there who is also adopting from Haiti and were leaving the next day to meet their child for the first time!  It was really exciting to talk to them.  They turned their dossier in last summer too, so that was fairly encouraging to us to picture ourselves perhaps at the picnic next year being close to heading to Haiti ourselves (one never knows about timelines with adoption, but it doesn't keep us from trying to figure it out or from hoping).

While we were there Chareyl did say that most likely we would be sent to their affiliated orphanage that had agreed to take our file without a match since they have 4 children leaving soon (meaning they will have spots open for 4 incoming children and a good likelihood that one would meet our parameters).  Chareyl said that she would probably send our file to Haiti within 2 weeks.  Mind you this was 3 1/2 weeks ago.  I'm not upset if she hasn't sent them or anything, but I am curious if there has been any change (if an orphanage took in a child that could be considered a potential match for us) or if perhaps she did send our papers and is waiting for confirmation of them being received to let us know.  I'm anxious for news, but not in a stressed out kind of way (which is normally more my M.O. for those that know me).  I'm actually excited.  Hopeful.  It's just kind of a big milestone to have the papers send off, so I'm excited to know that I'm allowed to be excited about it :)

I sent off an email to Chareyl today just following up on things, so we'll see what she has to say!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Newsletter update

Chareyl sent out a general update to Haiti families about a week ago.  She does that periodically just to touch bases and update on anything going on relevant to Haitian adoptions.  In that update Chareyl mentioned that she was nominated and elected the Joint Council Haitian caucus co-chair.  Most Hague accredited agencies and most if not all agencies working in Haiti are members of the Joint Council.  Their annual meeting is this month and Mr. Guillaume (second in command with IBESR, who issues official adoption referrals in Haiti) has agreed to attend.  Chareyl will be one of the people able to attend and address a list of questions and concerns regarding adoptions in Haiti.  Any time something like this can happen it is very encouraging and there is hope for progress to be made from this type of direct communication.  Additionally, I believe that the Council will benefit greatly from Chareyl's insight and lengthy experience regarding Haiti and Haitian adoptions.  Thumbs up all around!

Also!  Chareyl confirmed a rumor that I heard that IBESR recently hired and are training 10 new staff members!  That is a really big deal as one of the biggest hold-ups with processing Haitian adoptions is the sheer amount of work that has to be done to process the paperwork and the lack of staff!  They may be adding an additional fee to cover the cost of these staff members, but that is well worth it in my opinion!  Very encouraging news!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Haitian Roots

In case I haven't ever mentioned this amazing organization, I figured now was a good time.   A couple weeks ago I volunteered at a yard sale benefitting Haitian Roots.  The yard sale brought in a couple thousand dollars, but would have been a lot more if it hadn't been so cold and pouring rain the whole time.  So!  They stored all the leftover items and did a second yard sale last Saturday and I enjoyed volunteering at that as well.  Here are a couple pictures of those of us running the yard sale:



The goal set for the yard sale was $5,000 and with proceeds and donations (from both tries at the yard sale) that goal was met, and exceeded.  One hundred percent of these funds go to Haitian Roots which provides education for children in Haiti who would otherwise receive no education.  I absolutely believe that this is the most effective long term solution for making change in Haiti, and it was satisfying to play a tiny role in helping an organization that is focused on this role.  Haitian Roots also sponsors an orphanage in Haiti as well, and the children in that orphanage are able to receive education as well while they are waiting to be adopted.  Please take a look at Haitian Roots website to learn more about the organization and how you can help...whether it's with time, donations, or sponsorship of a child!

Also a huge shout out to Towne Storage who stored all the yard sale items until the sale, hosted the sale, and will even auction off the remainder of the items as a unit.  Hopefully joining up with them can be an annual partnership!

Chareyl (our adoption worker with WIAA) also happens to be on the board of directors for Haitian Roots (she is in the photos above wearing yellow).  She, like everyone else I met volunteering here, has a passion for the people of Haiti.  While volunteering at the yard sale Chareyl introduced me to another adoptive parent there who is waiting to bring her daughter home.  When asked what point of the process we were at with adopting, Chareyl chimed in that our papers were completely finished, copied and ready to send off to Haiti (fun to hear!) and that she has "two maybes" from orphanages that may be able to take our file.  Now, I'm not sure exactly what that means (and I refrained from asking)...I don't know if that means they have children that could potentially be a match for us, or that they're confident that they will at some point.  Either way, I'll be excited to hear what happens and things sound promising :)

It has been fun to re-connect with Brianne (Bri), that I grew up with, over Haiti.  She has been involved with Haitian Roots for some time, including a trip down there when the school was officially opened. They also hope to adopt from Haiti someday.  She is the one in the photos with the long, dark hair.  She grew up in my ward, just down the street from me, and we also played soccer together.  It was fun to see her and her mom and sister...and fun that they have the same enthusiasm about Haiti that I feel.  I may not have traveled there yet, but I already feel such a connection to this country that will be the heritage and birthplace of our child.

I have to mention that the other adoptive parent that Chareyl introduced me to is Jaimi.  She is married to Ryan who grew up in Morgan (and therefor knows Mark's family).  Ryan and Mark's parents both are in a group of couples that get together regularly and it came up that they are both expecting little Haitian grandkids someday, so we got in touch and were able to see all of Ryan & Jaimi's pictures (in a private online album) from their socialization visit to Haiti to meet their daughter.  So!  It was fun to meet them both in person at the yard sale!  I was even able to go through all the clothes that didn't sell at the yard sale and pick out clothing for kids at the orphanage (that's run by Haitian Roots) that Jaimi will take back with her next time she goes to visit her daughter while waiting for paperwork to clear to bring her home.  It made me want to get on a plane and go to Haiti right now.  Not yet.  Someday...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Name suggestion

Today out of the blue Max looked at me and said, "Someday when our baby girl comes home I think we should name her Wheat."

Random.

Figured I better write that one down for later ;)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Not in our hands anymore (as if it ever really was)...

So, last Friday I mailed off a copy of our updated USCIS approval to our agency.  Our agency is very close by so they would have received it Saturday or will get it today.

That means that as far as we are concerned we are done with the freakin' paper chase! - Until updates start rolling around I guess...

I have mixed feelings about being done with this part.  It's nice to know that I don't have anything nagging at me that I need to be getting done or following up on, but it's also strange to totally turn over control of the process.  Especially since we've done that once already and that crashed and burned.  BUT then I remember that although I was processing paperwork and felt the weight of things on me...I was still never the one really in control.  I know that He is watching over this whole process and will guide things at the right time.  I'm trying to remember that at this stage while our papers get ready to be sent off to Haiti (to start the whole legalization process there now).

I feel such a mixed bag of emotions at all of this.  Relief, excitement, nervousness, anxiousness, worry (for baby girl and her birth family), curiosity, dependency (on decisions our adoption worker is making prior to sending paperwork off as well as on the officials in Haiti upon receiving our paperwork), faith, longing to have her soon and worry that I'm not ready.

Nonetheless...here we go!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Whew!

Well I was feeling really down about this latest hiccup, but today brought good news!

I heard back from Gretchen (the person handling our file with USCIS) today and she said that due to information that I was able to provide them about another page in our home study that says "the couple is approved...child 0-18 months..." she was able to get a supervisor to approve the change on our approval letter without us submitting an update form (and the accompanying $360 fee) AND she had already completed that and mailed it out this morning!  Wahoo!

I figured that we would still have to go through all the notarization/authentication process again with the other copies of our home study (dossier, etc)...but sufficeth to say that Chareyl figured out how we could take care of that too!  So, we should have this little problem (that could have been time consuming and fairly expensive) all taken care of in the next few days!

Relief.

I will be excited to announce when we receive our corrected USCIS approval soon!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Insert sad face *here*

These kinds of things happen.  It's part of the process.  It was an honest mistake.  It is what it is.  I know these things...but I still feel sad.

I contacted USCIS about the mistake in the approval letter and they sited page 11 in our home study.  Sure enough there is the mistake right there!  I looked back at the email I sent to our case worker when our home study was done (I caught more than a dozen mistakes that had to be corrected before finalizing our home study).  One of the mistakes was that our home study read 0-12 months at time of referral in that part and that needed to be changed to 0-18 months.  When he went in to fix it he must have just not deleted the 2 when he made it 18 months (so it reads 128 months officially).

Aaargh!

Now USCIS is saying that since it wasn't their error that we have to submit a supplement 3 form with a fee of $360 to send in a new home study and then wait to have a new approval processed.  AND before we can even do that we'll have to have the home study updated and signed by a case worker that no longer even works for our agency and then notarized.  AND I'll have to have the state authenticated copy redone (take it down to the state capital and pay to have it re-certified).  AND we'll have to have that page sent back to our translator to have it corrected on the French version of our home study.

I can't decide if I'm more upset about the additional cost, the additional time we'll have to wait before submitting to Haiti, or the additional paperwork I have to do in order to get this corrected.

I think I just need a hug.

:(

Monday, May 18, 2015

Premature.

Well that was a short high.  I just posted that we received our approval notice from USCIS (which we did), but reading through the fine print on the approval I noticed that in the section that details the age parameters we are approved for it says "age birth through 128 months at time of referral".  It should read "age birth through 18 months at time of referral".

Whoever typed this up accidentally put a 2 in the middle of that number that shouldn't be there.  It's obviously a typo, but I called to see what it will take to get it fixed and reissued and it's after business hours there so I'll have to call tomorrow.  Hopefully it's a quick and easy fix.  I know this will only be the first of likely many things like this to happen...I guess I just didn't expect it at this stage in the process.

Well, it was fun to be excited for a couple of minutes anyway...

It arrived!!!

Wahoo!!!  Opened the mailbox today and saw an envelope from the Department of Homeland Security!

We have our approval notice from USCIS!

Emailing Chareyl (our adoption worker) now!...

Thoughtfulness.

Ten days since my last post.  Tomorrow will be 8 weeks since we submitted our application to USCIS (our last necessary document for our dossier).  No news on that front.  However, I would be remiss if not to document this thoughtfulness...

I got a card in the mail from my sweet sister-in-law Katie.  She saw this card with this pretty, brown skinned girl on it and thought of us and our journey to our daughter.  She included such kind, thoughtful words and it meant so much to me.  Here's a picture of the lovely card:

Sometimes I am not great at "waiting well", but thoughtfulness like that helps me remember that while this is a long process that we're not waiting alone.  Thank you for that reminder, Katie.  Love you!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Blah.

Nothing to report really.  Just needed somewhere to ramble.  I'm feeling in a slump today.  Not specifically regarding the adoption, but it's getting lumped in with the general melancholy.  It's been over 6 weeks since we applied with USCIS (and 3 weeks since we did our electronic fingerprints for them) and we still haven't heard back.  That is the ONLY paper we are waiting on to have our paperwork complete on the U.S. side, so it will be nice to have that in hand.

Blah.  Just blah.

Like everything hard in life, some days are easier than others to feel the capacity to endure it well.  I've felt very optimistic about things general over the last few months, but today I'm just having one of those days where I don't feel like I'm "waiting well".  I feel frustrated.  I feel like we've been doing this forever and feel like I'm just in a hamster wheel going nowhere...and then I remember that we're also really just starting this whole thing over (with Haiti this time) and that gets me a bit down.  We officially started this international journey with such excitement 2 years, 7 months and 5 days ago.  If the timeline (insert laugh here) that they gave us at that time had held accurate we would be completely done with the process by now.

All that being said, I do know that we are where we are supposed to be at the time we should be here. I believe that despite the heartache, loss of money and time, and dashed expectations...that the Lord has not decided just at this time to guide our journey to complete our family, but rather that He has been guiding us this whole time.  Orchestrating things the way they need to be.  We may or may not understand the intricacies of it all right now, but I do feel that is the case.  And I can hold those convictions while simultaneously feeling the exhaustion of the journey.  Honestly, sometimes what makes it emotionally exhausting isn't what we've already been through, but in knowing that there is so much still to go through - and now that we don't wear those rose colored glasses anymore about the process that realization can be a lot to swallow on melancholy days like this.

That USCIS approval may just pierce that melancholy and let light in for me...hopefully it comes soon.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fingerprints done!

We completed our fingerprints (again) for the federal database at USCIS in Salt Lake City today.  Now they just have to process them and issue our favorable letter of determination and our paperwork is complete (on the U.S. side anyway)!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dossier is back!

I just got an email from Chareyl that our dossier was received back from the Haitian consulate today! We have our dossier authenticated in its entirety now!!

All we need to have for our paperwork completely done (on the U.S. side) is to receive our favorable determination letter from USCIS.  And before that we have to have our fingerprints redone - and our appointment for that is tomorrow!

One step closer...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Biometrics AND consulate!

Our assigned day/time for our electronic fingerprinting arrived in the mail today! For next Friday!

Of course I'm excited about this (it's one step closer to our favorable determination letter from USCIS, which is what we need to be able to submit our dossier to Haiti)...but of COURSE it's at the beginning of our two night girls' weekend to St. George. Grrr. It will make us leave a couple hours later than we would have liked. Luckily I have nice friends that will be understanding.

ALSO our completed dossier and translation was sent to the Haitian consulate in Chicago today!!!

I am excited at all this progress lately!!

Monday, April 6, 2015

DOSSIER TURNED IN!!! BAM!

Mark hand delivered our entire notarized and state authenticated dossier to our agency today!!! Woot woot! Not that there's not always a next step, but let's not worry about that right now. We are celebrating this big step!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Good news!

In addition to receiving the authenticated letter of recommendation from Michigan in the mail AND all our Utah state authenticated documents back in the mail last week...there is even more good news!  Today it was announced during General Conference that a temple will be built in Haiti!  Right in their capitol city of Port-Au-Prince! What a blessing!

Temples are built as holy places to worship the Lord and make promises to Him, and we consider them literally the "House of the Lord" and therefor sacred.  There are currently over 19,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Haiti and this will be their first temple!  I can only imagine the rejoicing on the part of these members of the church.  And, as a family who has already begun to embrace and love the country that our child will come from...we want the best for these people.  We hope that over the years we will see an increase in the Haitian people being able to be more and more self sustaining in every way - physically (with all the various affects of extreme poverty), mentally (particularly with greater access to education), and spiritually (continued growth of the gospel there and ability to attend the temple in their own country and language).  I pray that we may be able to find ways to contribute to those things for our brothers and sisters there, and today we rejoice that the blessings of heaven will be more greatly upon the people of Haiti as a temple will soon open its doors there!

Wonderful, wonderful news!

For those that have more questions about temples and why we build them, read here:
https://www.lds.org/church/temples/why-we-build-temples?lang=eng

Thursday, March 26, 2015

State Authentication!

Today I was able to hand deliver our notarized dossier documents to the Utah State Capitol to be authenticated! Woot woot!  I took along my little buddy Max and we had a good time together.  How cute is he?

We left a prepaid FedEx envelope for them to return all our documents once the authentication process is done, so hopefully by the end of next week we'll have those in hand.  We're making good progress on the paper chase!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Progress

Today was a day of movement.  I was contacted and told that the corrected signature pages for our home study were received and that they had 3 notarized copies of our home study ready for me to pick up!

I drove up to WIAA and picked up our home study packets.  I also made copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate and put them together with our I-800a application & supplement 2 application (which I had to stop and have Mark sign), a cashier's check for our application and new sets of fingerprints, and one of our copies of our home study...and headed to FedEx to mail that envelope off!

I also filled out our application for having documents authenticated and had a pre-paid envelope made up (addressed to be mailed to us from the State Capitol).  I will hand deliver all those documents and the return envelope to the capitol myself tomorrow!

Feels good to make some concrete progress today.  Yay!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yes, it's a virtue.

I've struggled my whole life with the elusive virtue of patience.  I'm not the most decisive person in the world (those who know me would chuckle at that understatement).  BUT once I know what I want to do I go after things with gusto.  This adoption has been no different.  After things fell through with Ethiopia I was distraught, overwhelmed, conflicted, and nervous about our next move.  Once we knew Haiti was right though we hit the ground running.  So, it's hard to have little hang ups holding us back from finishing our paper chase.  (And yes I do realize those hang ups will continue, and in more dramatic fashion, later in our adoption)

Our home study has been finished for just over a week and I thought we would been able to have it in hand within days to be able mail off our USCIS application and to get our dossier authenticated.  However, we had a little hang up.  Our case worker quit working for WIAA.  Gratefully he did agree to finish writing our home study, but once it was finished and updated he emailed a copy of it to WIAA and mailed a hard copy of the last pages with his signature on it.  Apparently, when WIAA received the pages they were printed out of line with the previous pages so they had to have him resign and mail new pages.  They still haven't received them yet.  So!  We are still waiting on those.  I am particularly anxious to get the USCIS application off since it takes so long to process and we have to attend a fingerprinting appointment that they will designate before we get a favorable determination letter back from them allowing us to move forward.

Gah!  I'm just so impatient.

I called WIAA today and they said that the new signature pages haven't come still so hopefully Monday.  So, hopefully next week we can get the ball rolling on the USCIS application and authenticating the dossier...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Homestudy is done!!!!!

I just got an email from our case worker Josh that he has made all the final adjustments to our home study and it is done!  Wahooo!  He'll drop it in the mail to WIAA now and they'll notarize it as soon as they get it!  Then I can mail off our USCIS application and get our dossier documents authenticated!

Yay!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Check and check.

Psychological letters picked up!

All dossier documents (except the one letter of recommendation) all scanned in and emailed to WIAA for approval!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tired and happy. Kind of like fat and happy, but not.

We were unsuccessful picking up our psych evaluations tonight, but have made arrangements to do it tomorrow, BUT...as I was heading to bed tonight I saw that our case worker Josh sent me a copy of our updated home study late tonight for me to review and make changes to.  I spent the last 90 minutes very thoroughly going through it and found 15 things that needed to be changed/updated.  So, I typed all of those up and sent them off to him!  Hopefully he's able to offer pretty quick turnaround time on that so we can get that puppy notarized and mail of our USCIS application!

Woot woot!

Coming along

Our psych evaluations are prepared and notarized!  We just need to pick them up.

Also, my friend is able to get their letter of recommendation notarized today and hopefully send off to state authentication.

Lastly, today I sent a $400 check to WIAA ahead of us scanning them all our dossier documents.  That way when we scan them the documents they'll already have the check to move forward with translating it! Chareyl told me that we can go ahead and scan everything except the letter of recommendation and we can get the translation process started while we wait for that.

Slowly, but surely!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Anxious to wait

The content in my updates isn't very meaty, but I'm just so anxious and need to be able to "talk" about this somewhere.  We obviously still have a very long journey ahead of us, I'm just anxious to get these last few steps done so we can start really waiting.  Yup.  It's the hurry up and wait stage for sure.

On Friday we did get a copy of our insurance letter confirming coverage details.  I was able to pass that on to our case worker, so he now has everything he needs to finish writing up our home study update!  Also, I failed to mention that our government approved funding for homeland security, so once we have a finalized copy of our home study and are able to submit our application, there won't be a big wait for our paperwork as more pressing matters are caught up on from a closure.  So that's good.

So, while we wait on our home study to submit USCIS paperwork the only documents we're still waiting on to finish our dossier are the psychological evaluation and one last letter of recommendation.  As soon as those are in we will get our whole dossier packet authenticated and translated!  Woot woot!

One last thing I remembered today when I was thinking about my number nerdy-ness about the 12th (like I mentioned in my last post).  The day the disastrous earthquake hit Haiti was January 12, 2010. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere before the earthquake, and the death and destruction that earthquake caused really put Haiti in ruins.  Literally.  When I hear people talk about Haiti it is used as a modern time marker (before the earthquake or after the earthquake).  Any country or city would still be struggling 5 years after a disaster of that magnitude, but a country that was already so destitute has far less means and infrastructure to heal itself.

Anyway!  I remember thinking it was interesting that our home study visit was on the 5 year anniversary of the earthquake, but don't know whether or not I wrote anything down here about it or not.  It's just yet another notable event that happened on the 12th.

Praying for that home study update to come through today or tomorrow...

Thursday, March 5, 2015

It's my blog and I'll blab if I want to, blab if I want to...

I feel almost apologetic when I am needing to purge myself of the recent paper chase updates on this blog. Then I remember that it is my blog.  And as double reaffirmation (does that equal four?), this blog hasn't even been public anymore for nearly a couple months.  By the time I re-publish this blog nobody will even see this post...SO!  I will ramble here as opposed to some poor soul who has the unfortunate kindness to ask how the adoption is coming.

I don't have a TON to tell since two days ago, but we get our IBESR letter notarized as well as getting our judicial POA re-notarized yesterday!  One of my friends also got her letter of recommendation notarized and in to us yesterday!  Now today Mark's authenticated birth certificate came in the mail and I got a call from our insurance company saying our letter of coverage was "approved" and ready to email out to us.  Of course that was this morning and I haven't gotten it yet, but I'm hopeful to see it by the end of the day.  That insurance letter is the last thing we need before our home study can be finalized, so that's pretty exciting!

Outside of immigration stuff (which is filled out with a cashiers check attached and already in an addressed envelope...just waiting for our home study) - other than that, the only thing we are waiting on are our psych evaluations and our last notarized (and in this case also authenticated) letter of recommendation to arrive in the mail!  That's it!  Then we can get our entire dossier authenticated and translated!  Wahoo!  I'm seeing the light at the end of this paper chase tunnel.

This is a little bit number nerdy, but I was hoping we could have everything done by a week from today.  March 12th.  We found out that our Ethiopian adoption was falling through on November 12th.  After a month of intense research and prayer we turned in our first application to adopt from Haiti with WIAA on December 12th. The time between November and December 12th felt a lot longer than a month because it was intense and emotional.  Lots of lost sleep.  But it was only one month.  And while the last (nearly) three months has felt a little bit longer also because we've intensely worked on getting all our paperwork done...I'm really pleased with the pace.  Getting all our home study and dossier documents gathered and completed in two months is fantastic.  Oh!  And our home study visit with our caseworker happened on January 12th!

So, here's my hope (we'll see what happens):  If we can have our updated home study reviewed and finalized, immigration paperwork submitted, dossier approved by Wasatch and authenticated and sent off to be translated by one week from today...that would be awesome.

Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A few little baby document steps

It's only been a week since my last update, but I've been having one of those "urgent" weeks where I'm feeling a big push to wrap things up.  Those super motivated pushes have come a small handful of times throughout this process with both Ethiopia and Haiti.  I tend to believe that there is a reason for when those urgent pushes come.  Anyway, of course this one came at a time where I've been sick so that's been a bit of a bummer, but we've still gotten some things done since last week:
  • Mark's medical letter got finished and notarized (a nice lady in another office in his building that's a notary offered to go notarize it at Mark's doctor's office).
  • Reciprocal power of attorney letters typed up and notarized.
  • Judicial power of attorney letters typed up and notarized...except I did something wrong on it, so we will amend the date and try again tomorrow when the notary is working that has the expiration date that we want.
  • We gave the last of the information we need to get our psychological evaluation letters written
  • Followed up on 2 remaining letters of recommendation that friends have written but need to have notarized.
  • Looked up information on how to authenticate a document originating in Michigan and sent appropriate envelopes and checks off for that (to have a letter of recommendation authenticated).
  • Wrote our IBESR letter (about ourselves and officially requesting IBESR to adopt a child from their country).
  • Followed up TWICE more on our insurance company getting us the letter to verify coverage for our future child (we still don't have it).  I got bounced around on hold each time for more than a half an hour each.  So frustrating.
  • I hand delivered all our documents except the aforementioned insurance letter (which I'll take in as soon as I get it) to our agency so our case worker can start completing our home study amendment.  We want to get a jump start on that so we are able to submit our immigration pre-approval paperwork (it has to have a copy of the home study submitted with it).
  • I filled out our I 800a application (for immigration) so when our home study is done we are ready to quickly mail it off.
Also!  When I went in to our agency office to deliver our home study documents I was able to meet Chareyl in person.  I've talked to her several times over the phone and emailed with her many more, but I hadn't met her in person.  Just talking to her was such a solidifying re-affirmation that we chose the right agency to guide us through this journey to adopt from Haiti.  I am so impressed with her knowledge of Haiti and the adoption process there, her insight, and just in her as a person in general.  While I know that even the most knowledgable, experienced person on Haitian adoptions can't insulate us from the unpredictability of this process - I do feel like we have the right person at our side to guide us through this journey.  And I'm so grateful for that!


My newest concern is...the likelihood that Homeland Security will be closing for a period of time soon due to lack of funding from gridlock in congress on political issues.  And that is who we send our paperwork to for immigration pre-approval.  Just one more thing you can't anticipate or do anything about I guess, but grrr...

In good news I found out that while we do have to wait for our finalized home study to submit our application to immigration...we don't have to have already attended our fingerprint appointment that they'll assign us and have our favorable determination letter in hand before starting to process our dossier!  That could save us a couple of months on our timeline!  We can be getting our dossier authenticated and translated while we wait for USCIS to process our application and so it's ready to go when we get our FDL.  That was great news!  So, here's to hoping we get that home study wrapped up quickly.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Paper chase update

Nothing that's huge news to tell, but I figured that I'd update anyway.  We're plugging away at all the very exciting (sarcasm) details involved with the paper process:


  • 8 passport photos each - check.
  • Employment and income verification letter received and notarized - check.
  • Bank letter (notarized) with 3 months of statements - check.
  • Labs drawn for HIV, hepatitis & syphillis - check.
  • Mark's birth certificate mailed back to CA for authentication - check.
  • Additional birth certificates ordered - check.
  • Marriage license found - check.
  • Photos of home and family printed, assembled onto pages, and color copied - check.
  • Copies done of passports and drivers licenses - check.
  • Mobile notary with acceptable expiration found (that wasn't easy), hired, and met at my doctor's office to notarize her signature with her letter clearing my health - check.
  • TB test documented for Mark and performed for me - check.
  • Legal information researched, immigration office called to consult with, and information gathered to decide on which USCIS paperwork to use for our situation - check.
  • Doctor letters verifying each of our kids' health received - check.
  • Letters of recommendation from 4 families requested - check.
  • Letter requested from health insurance company verifying that our future child will have coverage immediately upon us taking custody (I had to be pushy/insistent that a document of credible coverage wasn't sufficient).  It has taken weeks to get the letter written and is currently "under review" before it can be sent out to us - almost a check.
  • Last 3 years of taxes copied - check.
  • Notarized local police clearance - check.
  • Judicial and reciprocal power of attorney letters typed, but not yet notarized.
So!  As you can see we've been busy trying to attack this paperwork.  Mark took a fasting blood test today that his doctor required in conjunction with his physical that is scheduled this week.  Mark found a notary in his office building that is willing to come to his doctor appointment to notarize his doctor's signature on his medical letter Friday also.  Once that is done and we finally receive the letter from our health insurance company then our home study documents will be complete and our case worker can finish writing up our home study!

Once our home study is complete we can turn in our I-800a application to immigration.  They will send us an assigned date for more fingerprinting and once that is done we'll wait on their favorable determination letter.  That is what will be holding up our dossier at that point since we are close to having all the other documents that we need for that to be complete.

Once our dossier is complete it will have to be authenticated and translated before it can be sent to Haiti.  So that's where we are in the process!  We're definitely in the hurry up and wait part of the adoption process.  We feel like we're frantically hurrying to get together all the paperwork we need...so that we can start waiting :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Pain in the butt, BUT...

Some days I'm less enthused than others about having to start this paper chase part of the process over again.  New background checks (no we didn't become criminals in the last 2 years).  Asking the same people to write another letter of recommendation.  Getting new physicals and letters from employers.  Notarizing every document under the sun etc, etc...

You get the idea.  It's a bit tedious.  Then there's that BUT...

BUT I still feel like there has been His hand in the timing of things.  And here is yet another way I've seen that:

When we found out that our adoption journey with Ethiopia could no longer continue and decided that adopting from Haiti was the right thing for our family...the next step was choosing an agency.  After researching online and communicating with several families who had adopted or were in the adoption process from Haiti, I felt like Diana Boni from ABI was who I wanted to facilitate our adoption.  Unfortunately when I contacted them I found out that they had no more openings for children in our age parameters.  We also contacted another agency that several families said good things about and they were very helpful and quick about getting back to us.  We were tempted to just jump on board and get going, but I was really hesitant for some reason.  One thing that concerned me was the large number of families this agency had in process, but they assured me that there are more children in Haiti in need than there are families looking to adopt.  Based on our prior experience being at the end of a large program list with Ethiopia, I was still nervous about this.

As I continued researching and interviewing people I began to look into WIAA (who happened to be our in state agency that completed our home study for our Ethiopian adoption) and was interested, but hesitant based on the lack of families I was able to talk to who had used them.  We spent a few weeks researching (made some great connections including one from someone I know well!) and got good information.  I even got the guts to ask Diana Boni what agencies she recommended since we couldn't use them.  She gave me a list of 4 agencies she deems as the most ethical and experienced.  The agency I mentioned earlier was not on that list, and WIAA was.  After contacting a list of references, lot of thought and prayer we decided to move forward with WIAA.  They accepted our application and we contracted with them.  I couldn't be more excited about working with Wasatch and particularly Chareyl Moyes who heads up the Haiti program.  Her years of extensive knowledge and experience working in Haiti more than makes up for her self-admitted lacking of "fluffy email updates" to families during the waiting process.

Now!  Here's the point I was getting to...just days after we contracted with WIAA we find out that new quotas being enforced on the Haiti side of things...only 12 dossiers per agency may be submitted per year, and only 5 additional for special needs cases (it used to be more of a suggested quota and then unlimited additional applications for special needs).  This put the larger agencies I mentioned in a place where they have had to stop accepting applications.  ABI has enough families that their dossier quota is filled through the end of 2016 and the other agency I mentioned who had an even larger number of families in process is now going to have to hold many of their families dossiers for a significant length of time before they can even submit them to Haiti and begin their wait.  I am grateful that we went with the agency we did.  Not only did I feel like they will provide an ethical adoption, and that they have a lot of years of experience in Haiti...but because they keep their program smaller we won't run into hold ups on the U.S. side of thing before we even enter the chaos of the Haiti side of things.  I feel for these families I'm hearing from on message boards that are now trying to decide whether to switch agencies or wait out the long additional wait before they can submit to Haiti and even start the "real" wait.

So!  I wrote all of that out for myself.  Basically all that I'm saying is that yes it's a pain to start this paper chase over, but I still feel like we've been blessed.  I feel like the Lord helped guide us where we are through our experiences with our failed adoption and that we are on track now.  A long road still ahead, but on track.  And that feels good.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

New entry

I updated the pictures on the wall in our entry a couple weeks ago and just realized I should post pictures of it here!

New entry photos as we enter this new part of our family's story.
We're all very excited to watch things unfold.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Out of the mouth of babes.

Out of the blue while looking at our family picture hanging in the front room.

Noah: "Mom...I like this picture, but sometimes I look at it and it just feels like someone is missing."

Me: (after choking back a little emotion) "I know what you mean, buddy.  I know what you mean."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hesitant to share

After being so open about our adoption from Ethiopia and then having it fail has made me hesitant to share our feelings about being drawn to adopt from Haiti now.  Maybe I fear seeing apathy from friends or family that aren't sure that this adoption will go through either.  Maybe I want to wait until things are a little further down the road so that the already insanely long wait is a little shorter (I don't want people to get sick of hearing me talk about another pending adoption when there's not really much information to tell).  So, I've made this blog private again so I have somewhere to put down my feelings and I'll share the blog again when the time is right.  Maybe that will be sooner than I think, or maybe it won't.  In the meantime, here's where we are...

After reviewing every option out there for us (including considering that our family could be complete...which we didn't feel was the case) we narrowed things down to another domestic adoption or an adoption from Haiti.  As we continued to interview people, track down references, research things, pray, attend the temple, and just talk about it - it became clearer and clearer to us that Haiti was right for our family.

At first the idea of starting over was daunting especially considering the state of adoption in Haiti (they recently joined the Hague convention and last year instated all new adoption laws which are being enforced in varying degrees).  Plus there is the unstable political atmosphere of Haiti in general.  At one point I made a list of all the reasons why adopting from Haiti was risky, or would be stressful...and somehow those things couldn't outweigh the feeling that it was still right for us.  So, we are consigned to a path of unknown length with the only sure thing being that there will be unexpected delays and frustrating hoops to jump...but that in the end we will understand why this whole crazy adoption journey happened the way it did.

I like this quote.  When I get discouraged about the wait for our family to start over, I think of it...

Now, there was also the dilemma of selecting an agency.  We feel really good about using Wasatch International Adoptions.  Originally we looked into them simply because we used them to prepare our home study for our Ethiopian adoption (our agency was in Oregon and you have to have a home study prepared in the state you reside).  Once I started doing research more in depth on agencies I was impressed with the ethics and experience they have - particularly their director Chareyl.  WIAA is one of the agencies that has been facilitating adoptions in Haiti for a very long time, and Chareyl for a decade.  Many agencies opened sometime after the earthquake (which happened in 2010).  Chareyl has a good handle not only on the legal proceedings, but also the culture there and has adopted from Haiti herself.  She is self admittedly not into providing "fluffy" emails during the adoption process, but she will be the one to make things happen when the rubber meets the road.  I feel cautious optimism about the whole process we're embarking upon and feel that we've found the right partner to join up with in WIA as we jump into the unknown.

The process in Haiti is ever changing and inconsistent.  There is no waitlist number and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what agency or family is given the next referral.  Everything is processed by hand (no computers), with so many required steps to complete that means each step can take a frustratingly long time or be difficult to complete.  I believe that Haiti is doing the best it can with the resources it has to protect its children and monitor a system that can be so prone to corruption.  New laws and Hague accreditation is a great step in that direction.

So!  We are as aware as one can be at this stage of the process about what we are jumping into and how challenging it will be, but we are excited.  And I have already begun to fall in love with what I know about the colorful resilient country that is Haiti!  We have also begun the process of selecting a child to sponsor for an education.  We would like to choose a child with an intact family that cannot afford to provide their child an education.  We have always felt strongly that when adopting a child from another country that you don't only adopt a child, but their country also.  We feel like that is one small step that we can take to tie ourselves to that country, and to start the process of helping make  fundamental change to a country so riddled with poverty (poorest country in the western hemisphere).    Adopting a child will help that child (and bless our family), but adoption isn't the solution to the country's struggle with poverty.  I believe that a huge solution is access to education.  The government does not provide education and private education (even a just a few hundred dollars a year) is more than most families' annual salaries.

Anyway!  As you can see we have already begun to bond with another country :)  More to come soon...