Monday, November 7, 2016

Prayers & fasting instead of passivity

I don't have the time right now to delve into much of the emotional background of things right now (and I've learned that if I wait until I do to wright things down...it won't get done).  So!  I will just say that I had an epiphany (which sounds much less impressive when I explain it) recently.  I'll explain it briefly (well...briefly for me anyway):

Being over 4 years into our adoption process we are well aware that we have to be patient and "wait well" during this process or it will eat you up.  We know that things will work out how and when they are supposed to, but sometimes I feel like I am just supposed to keep my head down and just patiently wait it out.  I recently had the impression that, at this time specifically, that I need to be proactive instead of passive in our waiting process.  This sounds ridiculous since there is literally nothing that I can do to help things along...until I realized that there was.

I believe that faith is a principle of action and power and that when put into action faith can replace the fear, worry, or anxiety that I often feel during our wait.  I also believe that my Father in Heaven hears my when I pray and wants to bless me if I just remember to ask Him in faith.  So as simple and elementary as it sounds...my epiphany was that I need to be proactive in our adoption process by strengthening my faith, petitioning my Father in Heaven to watch over our little girl and to help those in Haiti who are processing her paperwork for us to be matched to her.  I also realized that I needed to be willing to be vulnerable and ask those close to me who would be willing to join me in this process.

My belief is that there are big things that need to happen with our little girl's paperwork and that we need the power of God and the angels of heaven to assist us in making this happen how and when it is supposed to.  I may not know any of the specifics...but I know my Father in Heaven does.  I may not be able to help anything progress this process...but He can.  I may not know who our child is or when we will be able to meet her...but He does.  I may not be able to sooth and comfort my soul...but He can.  So, yesterday I joined some family and close friends in fasting and praying for these things.

I yearn for the day that I can fill this photo frame which for years has sat empty waiting on my dresser...but until then I am choosing to actively replace my worry and yearning for information with faith.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Not our turn yet...and worse.

I've had some communication with our adoption worker and neither of those 2 pending referrals are ours. She clarified that IBESR will request our second IBESR fee/match payment just prior to them issuing a referral, so we actually will get a bit of a head's up that a referral is soon. It didn't used to be that way. I think that's a good thing (as long as it isn't forever of me being glued to my phone before the referral actually does come). While I am so anxious to know our daughter's face, I do believe that it will happen when it is supposed to. I will move forward with faith in that.

In much worse news...the death toll in Haiti has surged up to 572 as of this morning. Unfortunately I'm sure that will still rise. Of course I don't want to see loss of life like this anywhere, but this happening in a country that I've come to love so much makes me even that much more sad.

Now if people in our country will just take this hurricane seriously as it heads our way...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Knock-out cold with a bright spot

I remember back in college that everyone always seemed to get really sick right after finals. Something to do with our bodies' ability to sustain themselves during periods of extreme stress...and then once the stress is relieved it rebounds into a weaker immune response or something.  I know, I know - that was super medical and stuff (that's Mark's world, not mine).  However!  I'm telling you there is something to all of that.  It seems like as soon as a majorly stressful event passes in my life I always get sick.

Enter my knock-out cold.  The body aches and sore throat are kicking my trash.

With the intense worry surrounding Hurricane Matthew and Haiti...for Haitians in general, but also specifically regarding our child's orphanage and how this will affect us getting her home...I lost sleep and worried myself silly.

Over the last 24-48 hours we've been able to gather more information about the destruction caused by the hurricane.  Things were really bad in the south, and while everywhere had some damage...considering what could have happened I feel like we were blessed.  Seeing updates (and a photo) from the orphanage sent me to my knees weeping with gratitude.  I am not overlooking the long road of repair ahead for Haiti or the many lives lost (count is over 100 now), but compared to the south of the island the Port-au-Prince area was largely spared - for which I am grateful, and I even just got this update from our adoption worker:

"...There will be need for help and rebuilding in the areas of Haiti and other parts of the world that have been hit by the storm, but we are so grateful that more lives were not lost to this storm. I also wanted you to know that as of today all adoption offices in Haiti are open, with the exception of the US embassy, they will re-open next Tuesday. We got a passport for a family just yesterday. One of our families on this email are currently IN Haiti on their socialization visit and they had the social worker interview today, so that is great..."

Hearing this is so encouraging.  Words to soothe my sore and tender soul...just like these fabulous herbal cough drops are soothing my sore and hurting throat.

For now...I'll focus on the soothing.

Monday, October 3, 2016

4 years ago today

We all like to recognize significant dates, whether good or bad...right?  We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and how many years since we graduated from school - along side remembering the day a loved one passed away.  There is something hard wired in most of us to need to keep track of and remember landmark events in our lives.

In keeping with this notion...4 years ago today we officially began this adoption journey!  Ta-da!  Four years ago today we turned in our first initial application to adopt a child internationally.  It was after many years of discussing it, and years of deciding on what country and agency.  Four years ago we pulled the trigger and made the concrete commitment to pursue this adoption.  We felt compelled that our timing was right, and while we knew that nothing was guaranteed with international adoption (or adoption in general for that matter)...I think we were generally optimistic and excited to be officially embarking on this journey.  Part of me felt like after the roller coaster we went through bringing Noah into our family that this wouldn't feel quite as difficult. *Insert snicker now in hindsight*

Just over 2 years into our journey our adoption from Ethiopia fell through.  (Way more information than anyone wants to know about why that happened can be read in prior posts on this blog) We spent the next 4 weeks thinking, praying, and discussing little else other than how to proceed.  Obviously we felt compelled to pursue adoption from Haiti and signed on to adopt through Wasatch International Adoption Agency.  At the end of this year we will have been pursuing our adoption from Haiti as long as we did from Ethiopia.

I had ideas of ways to celebrate this 4 year milestone...just out of sheer need to celebrate something while we continue to wait and wait.  But it just doesn't feel right.  With Hurricane Matthew bearing down on Haiti right now...threatening to devastate this country that I've come to love, and to bring more suffering and loss to a country all too familiar with it.  I just can't bring myself to do anything to celebrate us being on a journey to bringing home a child whose little life started out with some series of tragedies that we just don't know yet. How many more children will be thrust into this category today because of this powerful storm?  That thought chills me.

I have been following this storm for a week now and have watched in horror as it grew to a hurricane, and then turned to directly hit the country of Haiti.  I can't even tell you how much sleep I've lost reading up on the storm, learning more about the devastating effects in could have on Haiti due to it's topography, deforestation, and lack of secure structures due to extreme poverty.  If this storm ravages Haiti with its full potential then the effects could be mind bogglingly horrific.  I wouldn't want it to happen anywhere on this earth, but it hurts so much more being a country that I love...and knowing that our child is there somewhere vulnerable.  That frightens me.  I want to be there to protect her, or at least to have someone update me that she is safe and well.  That the flash flooding and mudslides that are sure to happen didn't affect her, that she has food and water, that she isn't alone.

I worry also about the Haitian Roots Academy that I've grown to feel passionately about...and more importantly about the students and their families that attend the school.  Is our little Nelie that we sponsor at the school ok?

I was grateful that I was able to reach out to Chareyl yesterday and she reassured me that the orphanages all are made of concrete and cinderblock that survived the earthquake, so they should hopefully be able to weather this storm well.  She also informed me that the orphanages stock up on food at the beginning of each month, so they should be well stocked should they have to shelter in place for any significant amount of time.  This did help reassure me, but I am still just so worried at all of the unknown variables.  I think anyone with a loved one in Haiti is worried right now.

So, with so much worry and potential loss at the forefront of my mind - we're not celebrating the fact the we started this journey 4 years ago today.  All that does is remind me...while our daughter joining our family will certainly be beautiful and joyous for us...that before that can all happen, tragedy had to strike her first family. It may not have been because of a hurricane, but it has struck her nonetheless.  That pains me.  That for us to experience the joy of her joining our family that she and her first family have to hurt so much first.  That adoption, while beautiful, is born out of loss.

I'm sorry this post is full of so much worry, so much angst.  I guess I feel like if I can dump it here that it helps me somehow purge some of those things.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray for Haiti.  Please join me!  For preservation of life and property.  That those who were advised to evacuate heeded the warnings and had the ability to move to safer ground.  That somehow the flooding will be less treacherous than it could have been.   And that especially those most vulnerable will be watched after and protected.

Friday, September 30, 2016

*Worries *Theme song *Reality check

My worry:
So last Friday I saw our adoption worker Chareyl post a petition on her Facebook page and on our agency's page with the tag line, "Sign this petition and help us save adoptions!!"
Petition link here: http://saveadoptions.org

I'll admit that my first reaction was (very selfishly) - "Oh no...not again".  

Of course I believe that all children deserve a home and family and I would never want anything to hinder that possibility for all children that are in need of those things...but first I selfishly worried about our family, about our child.  

When you hear an ambulance siren or a report of a horrible car accident do you mentally take inventory of those closest to you?  Of course you don't want anyone's family member to have been in a tragic accident, but it's natural to think first about preservation of your family and loved ones.  And so it was with me.  We've been actively pursuing this adoption for nearly 4 years now.  A little over 2 years into the process our adoption from Ethiopia fell through.  It was difficult and painful, however after a quick but intense 4 weeks we applied to continue our adoption journey in Haiti.  We knew it was right.  I may have had worries at first that my heart wouldn't be "in" things like it ever was with Ethiopia...the same way that I once worried that I wouldn't be able to love the child growing in my belly as much as our first child that we went through so much to bring into our family through adoption before him.  Of course I love him as much, and of course we feel every bit as committed to adopting a child from Haiti as we did from Ethiopia.

I may not have met our little girl yet, but I have thoroughly fallen in love with her country of birth.  I feel like when you adopt from another country that you don't just adopt one of it's children...but also the country itself, along with it's culture/language/traditions/struggles.  I feel invested in Haiti and the child that she will give us through whatever form of loss and tragedy she's gone through to come into our family.  I think of her daily and we all pray for her every night.  My heart misses this child that I haven't even met yet, and the idea of something threatening our adoption again made my heart skip a beat and sink in my chest.

There are still a lot of unknowns regarding the proposed regulations, but I do know that they come from the department of state.  While I do support regulations that increase standards of ethics and protect children, many of these reach so far beyond this that they actually backfire and hurt the children they are supposedly designed to protect.  The regulations are not only over-reaching, but lack funding both on the U.S. side and particularly unreasonably for the country of origin.  For example, if the U.S. wants to designate that orphanages can't receive funding from agencies (paid by adoptive parents) to provide for the child in their care until the adoption is complete...and their country's government isn't able or willing to provide that funding then the options are either that the child's standard of care will suffer staggeringly, the orphanage will have to find other (likely unethical ways) of supporting themselves, or that the orphanage will be forced to close.  None of these options help the children in their care!

They are also proposing that all internationally adopting families participate in 20 hours of foster care certification in addition to the 10 hours of parent training already required.  I'm all about gathering information and being prepared as an adoptive parent, but many of the issues internationally adopted children face are different from those in foster care in our country.  There isn't funding for this training, and those providing the training aren't educated in the specific differences of children being adopted internationally.

I could go on.  Here's a link to the proposal as it stands now: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/08/2016-20968/intercountry-adoptions
Another source:
http://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOS-2016-0056-0001

So, basically my nerves have been a little raw waiting to see how this unfolds.  I signed a petition voicing concern, and I know there are people and organizations working to see that these regulations don't pass as they are written now...but it's just a worry.

Now on to my theme song!
I have two or three songs that have seemed to really resonate with me during our adoption process over the last several years.  One of which is "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons.  When I hear the chorus to that song it's like my heart is scream-singing along trying to make itself heard clear in Haiti by a little girl there that we are waiting to know and hold.  I can't hear that song and not feel something.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes I feel emboldened, sometimes I feel energized, and sometimes I just want to pull a blanket up around me and listen to the song on repeat.

Anyway!  I had the opportunity to see Mumford & Sons in concert on Monday!  They put on a fantastic show and I loved it.  What song do you think they performed in their encore?  Yup.  "I Will Wait".  The song was released the year we began this journey and would have resonated with me at any given time during this process...it certainly did that night.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGKfrgqWcv0

Lastly, my reality check:
Yesterday my friend Jaimi's family brought their sweet daughter home from Haiti.  I found out who she and Ryan were because Mark's parents are friends with Ryan's parents.  We connected online and they invited us to their online album where we got to see photos of their trip meeting their daughter for the first time while they were there!  Then I met her for the first time at a yard sale fundraiser for Haitian Roots in June 2015, but really got to know her during our time working closely together during the Haitian Roots gala.  My heart ached for her during delays with their paper process and with how long it took them to get their little girl home.  We prayed and fasted for that little girl to come home and it was so, so fantastic to see their family all together at the airport.  

We were grateful to be invited to be part of their homecoming and our whole family attended to offer them our support and excitement and also to try and show the boys what this will be like someday.  To make things less abstract for them.  Noah was pretty into the whole thing and the other two...well they were a bit distracted, I leave it there (insert story about Lincoln & Max fighting and then Max getting lectured by a police officer).  However!  It was so wonderful to see Jaimi with Jo on her hip, and how she kept wrapping her arms around Jaimi's neck and resting her head in the crook of her neck.  Beautiful.


While I was genuinely elated for our friends to have their little girl home (especially ahead of an incoming storm that could develop into something troubling for Haiti)...I was surprised by the mix of emotions in my own heart.  They were somehow familiar even though this was my first time at an airport homecoming of this type.  Then I realized what it was...it was that feeling that I had during all the years we ached to become parents when we were happy for those we loved to bring children into the world.  It's how I felt at baby showers, when people announced their pregnancies, or brought their new babies to church for the first time. I was genuinely excited for them and happy, I really was...but it also came with it's own sting of yearning to join them.  I know I am blessed with three wonderful little boys, and that is not lost on me...but I also have another child out there that we are STILL waiting on to complete our family.  A child that I worry about and that we have yet to even meet...and that was the reality check.  We are still so far away from her being home.  And that hurt.

Monday, August 8, 2016

I800a approval (again)!

Our I800a update approval came in the mail today! Woot woot! I already scanned a copy to Chareyl who will send it to her rep in Haiti...who will take a copy in to update our file at IBESR. In my daydreams that document is added to our file just before our file is up for final referral signature, and we get our referral in no time. Do I realize this isn't exactly realistic - yes...but let a girl dream! Sheesh!

Either way it's always nice to have something concrete happen (anything really) that is one step closer to meeting our little girl.

Also! I was re-reading some of our agency provided parent education material last night.  One line resonated with me...it says, "That wait (referring to the wait during an international adoption process, but could apply to anything in life that requires an extensive amount of waiting)...makes us strong and weak at the same time. The weakness comes from feelings of uncertainty and lack of control, which is especially difficult for those of us who cope by taking charge of a situation...the strength comes from learning to trust ourselves and others, learning to have faith that something so abstract now will be concrete someday..."

Um.  Yes.  That.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A phone call, an email, and a bedroom purchase!

First of all it's been almost 2 months since we sent everything in to apply for our I800a update.  I called last week and spoke to the officer in charge of our file and she said that they had been hoping to "refresh" our fingerprints so we wouldn't have to have them done but since it was taking so long (for us and 5 other families with files on her desk) that she was just going to go ahead and request new fingerprinting appointments for us.  Grrr.

Well!  At 7:37 this morning USCIS called me to let me know that even thought they generated an appointment for us that we can disregard it because our fingerprint refresh came through and that our approval will be processed today!  Woot woot!  Now, driving to Salt Lake to get our fingerprints re-done isn't a huge thing, but I'll take a pass at anything in the process when it's given to us!!  Besides, that is a half day of patients that Mark won't have to reschedule and miss once we'd gotten our assigned appointment time.  So we're happy about that.

I emailed Chareyl to let her know about that just in case a possible referral was pending for us that she'd know that things are almost wrapped up with USCIS.  She instructed me to scan over a copy of the approval once we get it so she can send it to her rep in Haiti to take in to IBESR.  I'm crossing my fingers that when that happens that we may get some sort of update on our file (however vague that may be).  She did say that she has been trying to follow up on the I800a files of hers and that she hasn't gotten any specific information at this point, but that she was told that "there are some files waiting for SOME of my families".  I'm hopeful that one of those files may be our daughter...

This month our file has been waiting at IBESR for a referral for a year.  We started the Haitian adoption process 20 months ago (almost exactly 1 month after our prior adoption agency closed their program).  And we are 2 months shy of having started this entire adoption process FOUR years ago (our first adoption application was submitted 10/3/12 for an Ethiopian adoption).  I know we still have a lot of the process to go before we bring our daughter home, but I am hopeful to at least know her face soon.  To know what little I can about our little girl before we can meet her and hold her.

And so!  To landmark our little victory in skipping fingerprinting (ok, ok...more just because I really wanted to buy it) - I bought a rug for her room!  I saw this rug and knew I would regret not getting it. I've waited a long time for a little girl and may go a little crazy with things floral, pink, ruffly, and just girly in general.  I know I want her room to be kind of outdoor-chic.  So, I want it to have some outdoor elements like birds and fauna, but I also want a little chandelier light fixture.  We will have to work on how to blend all of that.  I have fabric that I bought 6 years ago to make a quilt for my daughter someday that has a lot of the colors I want to use and many of them were in this rug.  So I had to get it!  Besides it was 70% off + an additional 10% off for signing up on the site with my email + free shipping so how could I not, right??

Here it is:
The coloring in this photo doesn't do it justice.  I wish I could've figured out how to download one of the pictures of it actually in a room with natural light.  I just LOVE it.  I can't wait to be sitting on the floor with my little girl on it someday...

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pregnancy dreams

I remember being pregnant and having crazy, intensely emotional dreams.  They felt especially real.

{No, I'm not pregnant} If I use the term sometimes circulated in the adoption community I'm "paper pregnant" though.  Meaning our papers are done and we're just waiting for our baby.  So! Can being paper pregnant cause those kind of dreams too?  Because I had one last night.  The second one in the last month or so.

I dreamt that I met our little girl last night. It felt really real. Like I can still feel her tiny arms around my neck when I picked her up.  The overwhelming feeling of joy to meet her, to know who she is. To love a child I just met.  (I've experienced that feeling 3 other times before.  Once in an office and two other times in a hospital.) While I held her my heart ached with happiness and tears wetted my face. I wanted to learn everything about her and memorize every detail of what she looked like. I didn't want to let her go...

And then I woke up.

It felt so sudden, as if someone ripped her away from me.  I sat straight up in bed and the tears in my dream were really wet on my face.  My heart hurt as if I had lost the little girl I had finally just met.  The little girl we've waited so long for.

I did finally go back to sleep.  I think I was hoping that I would find my way back to that beautiful happy place with her, but I didn't.  Instead nightmares of loss found me.  Just like happened the last time I dreamt about her and then went back to sleep.  As if when I go back to sleep I can't reconcile the loss my heart is feeling upon waking up.

And now I have a rainy day to match my mood.  As if the sky is crying with my heart.  Luckily I know the sun will be shining by tomorrow.

I do wonder if when we really do meet her if I'll be afraid to close my eyes and go to sleep that night for fear that I will wake up and find it to be a dream.

**The night that I posted this entry I put Max to bed and sang to him as usual, but verse 2 to 'You are My Sunshine' really struck a chord:
"The other night dear, when I was sleeping...I dreamt I held you in my arms.  When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken.  So, I hung my head down and cried."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Flag Day

Flag Day in Haiti

By Samuel Jean Baptiste, Child Advocate
image

Why are you proud of Haïti? 

One of the answers you might hear when asking the Haitian people this is: We are proud of Haïti because we are the first black independent nation in the world.
Though the Haitian people face many social and economic issues, they all remember the day their country won its independence from the colonial slave system: November 18th, 1803. Earlier that same year, on May 18th, 1803, Jean-Jacques Dessalines took down the French flag and ripped out the white band.  He then had Catherine Flon sew the blue and red stripes together, creating the blue and red Haitian flag. Ever since that day, the Haitian people have celebrated May 18th as Flag Day. 
Today, the Haitian flag is composed of horizontal red and blue stripes, with the center displaying the weapons of the republic on a square of white cloth.  Inside this square reads our country’s motto: L’Union fait la force (Unity is Strength). 
Every year, it is easy to tell when 18 me (May 18th) is coming. You hear kids saying, “Map defile pou 18 me…” (“I will be in the May 18th parade…”).  Everywhere you look, you see people selling the Haitian flag, including in the Champ-de-Mars, a beautiful place that has historic monuments, the National Pantheon Museum of Haïti, next to the Toussaint Louverture Airport, and elsewhere.
The National Ministry of Education in Haïti also organizes special activities for May 18th. Students at some schools dress up in red and blue, the colors of the flag, and go to Arcahaie, in the Ouest department of Haiti where the flag was created.  Others go to Champ-de-Mars for a parade; they dance in the streets and act out a drama relating the history of Haiti. It is a very unique cultural experience, and is exciting to see how the young people get involved.
May 18th is an important day for another reason as well.  May 18th is also University Day in Haiti, so we also have activities related to education and culture on that day.  
It may be a normal day elsewhere, but May 18th is a very important day for Haiti!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Today

Exactly 1 year and 5 months ago today we turned in our application to adopt from Haiti, changing from Ethiopia.

It was 3 years, 7 months, 1 week, and 2 days ago that we excitedly turned in our papers to begin our adoption journey (thinking that would be from Ethiopia at that time).

Yes, this has gone on a long time.

Yes, we still have a long way to go.

Yes, someday it will definitely be worth it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day

The day before yesterday was Mother's Day.

I had a nice day.  Mark and the boys let me sleep in and made me breakfast.  When the smoke alarms went off like they always do when cooking bacon - all 3 boys jumped in bed with me and gave me cuddles and then gave me cards they made.  We visited Mark's parents and mine.  And Mark made me a delicious dinner of salmon, brown rice/quinoa, green beans and an amazing salad (how lucky am I?).  I feel beyond blessed as I think of my own mother and the woman who raised my wonderful husband...and as I looked at the three amazing little people that I've been blessed to have call me Mom.

And yet...there is always that twinge of pain on Mother's Day.  For different reasons.  Of course there is the part of me that remembers the years that this holiday was so painful as I yearned to become a mother - and my heart goes out to all the many women (and men) in that situation now.  I also think of Noah's birthmother who brought him into the world and struggled so deeply with her decision to place him in our family, believing that it was what was best for him but breaking her heart to do it.  And then I think of what is going on somewhere in Haiti...

There is a mother who has met some level of intense tragedy.  Perhaps it was a fatal one.  Perhaps she is unable to care for her young child and has had to make the difficult choice of placing her into an orphanage just for her to survive.  My heart aches for this woman that I will likely never know.  It hurts to know of the heartache that must inevitably precede the joy this child will bring to us...and I worry about that child.  Her tender heart is going through trauma and loss too.  Is she being cared for?  Is she being fed?  Loved?  Where is she?  How old is she?  When will we meet her?  And while she isn't mine yet, my mother heart aches for her.  To be able to hold her, to know her, to give her a home and family and teach her to rely on the consistency that we'll offer her.  For our family to be complete.

The wide range of emotions that I've felt over the last week or two as Mother's Day approached has been all over the map.  Overwhelming gratitude.  Sadness.  Joy.  Hope.  Heartache.  And so I have prayed.  More than normal.  For those aching to become mothers, for those who have lost children, for those who have lost mothers, for children who desperately need a family, for the women who broke their own heart because it is what was best for their child.  And I pray for my heart to find focus on the love and gratitude.  And to know that He is in charge and watching over everything.

*I ran across this post from five years ago (from my personal blog that I don't post to any more these days), and wanted to come back and include it here.  I didn't even remember writing it and it echoes a lot of what I just said: http://hollyandmark.blogspot.com/2011/06/mothers-day.html

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cookbook & Creole

There is only so much you can do during a wait like this to keep yourself sane.  I'm trying to channel it in productive ways the best I can!  I just bought a Haitian Cookbook and am excited to try a few things out of it! I also registered Mark and I for a Haitian Creole class to start this summer!!! I got the workbook/dictionary in the mail yesterday and am really excited to learn some basic Creole for when we go on our socialization visit to Haiti and meet our little girl.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Wishes and waiting

Today I took Max to the park. Just him and me. It was one of those days that I remembered what a short amount of time I have left with him at home before he'll be at school every day and I soaked it in. It was really nice, we played together at the park and laid on a blanket together and stared up at the branches of the tree above us. It really was a perfect Hallmark movie-esque diversion from the normally hectic schedule of life that we bounce between.

Finally we decided we were tired and walked home. He still lets me hold his hand and so we walked hand in hand home and periodically he'd break away to scramble to gather the best sunshine yellow dandelions to present to me...until he ran across whispy seeded dandelions. He picked one and blew it to make a wish. I asked Max what he wished for and without skipping a beat he said, "Two baby girls. I'm going to get two little sisters."

While that's not likely to happen, I just thought that it was the sweetest cap to our little outing.  For a four year old whose life revolves around whether our pantry does or does not have fruit snacks, when he can play with his friends, and if he can play a game on my phone...the fact that without hesitation he wished not only for his little sister, but to double the wish for emphasis was just so sweet that I had to share it here.

I also got to thinking and realized that when we began this adoption journey Max wasn't even quite 16 months old yet. We felt an urgency to start the process when we did and since we knew it would take years to complete we weren't shy about starting while Max was still very young. However, because we did and have been talking about "baby girl" for over 3 1/2 years now Max can't even remember a time when we didn't talk about her. While the process has felt long for us, I can't even imagine how long it must feel to Max.

Which reminds me of one more story like this that I have to share like this from yesterday!! I told Max that we needed to stay home from the gym yesterday because my tummy was hurting too much. Max got very excited and with a lot of expression perked up and asked, "Does that mean baby girl is coming today?!!!" I realized that he thought baby girl was coming from my tummy. I had to re-explain that she is growing in someone else's tummy, etc, etc. I guess it's been a while since we talked about that. It was just pretty cute/funny to see him jump so quickly to that.

I also wonder if all the intense amount of feelings/thoughts I've been having about our little girl are bleeding over somehow to Max. I don't talk about the things I'm thinking or feeling to people very often since everything is still so abstract and far away (and honestly after 3 1/2 years people must get tired of hearing about it), but there are weeks that I just feel it more than others. I've been feeling it lately and I wonder if Max has noticed that somehow, or if it's just coincidence that two days in a row he's brought her up all on his own...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

You can't say the wait is all boring

So, there are often stretches of time during this waiting section of the adoption process where there isn't anything really new to share.  However, the unpredictability of the timeline, process, and climate of things in Haiti keeps a constant underlying level of tension that is always there. (For me anyway)

If I step back and look at the last 3 1/2 years it looks like a roller coaster though.  Sometimes that rollercoaster is exciting, sometimes terrifying.  Sometimes I wish it would go faster and sometimes I feel like it's so bumpy I might fall out.

We recently had some ups and downs that I didn't write about as they were happening, but I'd like to share about them now just to be thorough about documenting this process...

For about 2 months I worked very hard alongside some amazing women to pull of a fundraising gala for Haitian Roots.  It was way more time and work than I ever could have foreseen and was very all encompassing.  I was stretched way out of my comfort zone, and there is only one other time in my life that I've run on that little sleep for that many consecutive weeks.  Anyway! During this time I snuck away for a 2 night getaway with my friend Allison to see a band we love play and to try and re-set a bit.  I was feeling physically and emotionally drained and as we were road tripping I shared how things were going with the adoption.  At one point I got a phone call from Mark.  He told me that he'd gotten a call from our CPA regarding our taxes.  

Now let me give a bit of background...we drained our savings and supplemented with a loan to invest in starting a physician owned surgery center.  So, Mark receives founder share payouts each month and taxes aren't taken out. We had to estimate how much to set aside from each payout every month hoping it would cover the amount we would owe in taxes at the end of the tax year. So! Mark got that phone call and we found out how much we would be owing in taxes. With some deductions that we qualified for this year we not only had enough in our tax savings account to cover our taxes, but that the amount left remaining in that savings account was exactly the remaining amount we needed to have set aside to complete paying for our pending adoption.  I was over the moon! It felt so good to have that milestone met, to have that money ready for whenever we get the good news of our referral. I was crying happy tears and it felt so good to get any good news associated with our adoption!

Now fast forward to less than 48 hours later (on March 14th).  An email popped up on my phone from our adoption worker and I could tell that it wasn't good news.  The subject line read 'Alert: Update on Haitian Inter-country adoption procedures and important cautionary notes. PLEASE READ.' Phrases like "approvals are now on hold" or "this is an urgent situation" popped out at me. My heart sank. All I could think was, "Not again!" and I proceeded to read the email.  I will try to summarize what happened.  In recent years Haiti not only overhauled all of its own adoption laws, but also joined the Hague convention (a neutral entity that regulated the ethics of inter country adoptions for participating countries). The specific guidelines and laws pertaining to Hague convention were to go into affect 2 weeks later on April 1. One thing that is understandably enforced by the Hague is that children adopted from Hague countries can't be selected prior to their referral. More specifically adoptive parents can't have any contact with the orphanage director, birth parent, or care taker of the child prior to receiving an official match. This is important in order to prevent unethical behavior to develop in the adoption process leading to child trafficking. Now to how this became a problem...

The U.S. government began to interpret some of the Haitian laws and look at the process of adoptions and felt that there were things being done in violation of Hague process. They were saying that agencies can't have affiliations with specific orphanages or creches.  And that orphanages/creches can't suggest referrals to IBESR. However, this is precisely how the referral process is set up in Haiti. They were saying that had to cease, and there is not only not a way for referrals to generate in Haiti but not a way for agencies to arrange travel for their adoptive families when meeting their child without having contacts through the orphanage. In affect, adoptions would either have to go on hold until a new system could be developed that was completely centralized, or adoptions would have to cease.

Chareyl, along with 2 other ASP (adoption service provider) heads hired an attorney in D.C. to help research the law and represent them to the U.S. government. We didn't know how this would shake out and I was really overwhelmed and upset.  I was hopeful things would work out, but realistic in knowing that sometimes that could take a VERY long time, and that sometimes it just doesn't.  I didn't even tell Mark about the email when I got home late that night.  I discussed it with him the next day.

On Wednesday there was a conference call for all adoptive parents with the US department of state and US immigration.  We were on a muted conference call where they went through all the intricacies of the situation and at the end parents were allowed to cue in and ask questions.  I was very impressed with the thoroughness of things and came away with things thinking that it sounded hopeful.  I was able to confirm my deductions the next day with Chareyl and felt so much relief.  Here's what it boils down to...

The US department of state is now saying that they will allow agencies to continue to pass on adoptive parents' paperwork to orphanages, but the orphanages can't communicate information back about specific children. Those orphanages can still recommend specific families to a specific child in their care to IBESR for referral, but IBESR retains the right to follow or reject the recommendation. This I can live with. This sounds reasonable to me, and this allows adoptions to continue happening and for agencies to continue fulfilling what they legally agreed to with the Haitian government in arranging travel for their adoptive parents during their socialization visit and picking up their child. I'm so grateful for this!

Families that already had a referral would be approved on a case by case basis (reviewing the application of their case with the Hague) and families with an I600a application had until the end of the month to get a referral and they could still process as an I600 case (pre-Hague).  Families who were being processed as I800a families (that's us) who have had no prior knowledge of a child or contact with their prospective referred child's orphanage will be able to accept referrals and proceed without issue.  Us not having ever traveled to Haiti or had contact with an orphanage and being an I800a family puts us in the best possible situation for families right now.  

The crazy thing is that we were almost an I600a family.  We had I600a approval with Ethiopia that was still valid and I could have just transferred it to Haiti when we started the process, but being aware of the Hague enforcement date (I looked it up at the time) I opted to just start clean as an I800a family and we applied for Haiti that way from the beginning.  I also very much wanted to travel to Haiti to learn more of this country of our child's birth and to find some way to give back while I was there...after thinking it through I decided that Mark and I wouldn't travel to Haiti until after our official referral "just in case" there was ever a circumstance that our having been there could have been misconstrued and would require more investigation and/or delays in our adoption.  

I am now so grateful that we are in the circumstance that we are right now.  I800a family never having traveled to Haiti. I don't think we made these decisions by chance. And it wasn't because I was clever. I feel that the situations we witnessed in Ethiopia and the widespread corruption with adoptions there currently, that I approached our adoption in Haiti much more conservatively that I would have otherwise.  I normally jump into things head first and full on. I would normally welcome something that would have been faster (not having to get new I800a approval) and less expensive,  and would have jumped at a chance to go start building my bond with Haiti right away...but our experiences made me more cautious and reserved.  I'm grateful for that now, and don't see that as a coincidence. I believe that the Lord has had His hand in our adoption all along. This may not have been the only reason why things happened the way they did for us with Ethiopia, but I am convinced that it is one of the reasons. I may be anxious to see our little girl and to know her story, but I am also equally convinced that things have worked out the way they have, with the timing this way for a reason.  And that my Heavenly Father knew just what little girl would join our family and when. I hope that is sooner than later, but more and more I am learning to trust Him and His timing!

So! We had the excitement of finding out we have our remaining adoption fees all set aside, followed by being unsure if our adoption could even happen anymore, followed by finding out that amidst families who still have to undergo more hold ups and scrutiny - that we'll be spared this and allowed to proceed with our adoption as expected.  I'd say that week counted as a roller coaster.

I have to add that because of the huge push on both the U.S. and Haitian side of things to get I600a families referrals before the deadline that there was a HUGE flow of referrals with many agencies.  This is primarily wonderful for these children (and their families), but also could potentially speed up the process of us getting our referral too!  So back to hoping we meet our little girl sometime this year!...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Itsy-bitsy update

I got an email from Chareyl (our agency adoption worker) today. She periodically sends out an email update to all WIAA waiting families within the Haiti program. It was mostly a little nuts and bolts type email about the current process and how things are going in Haiti.

The only change that really affects us is that IBESR is now requesting the second foreign fee to be paid to them just before referral (it used to be afterward). So, once they have our file ready and a child referral ready for us they will request that fee. Once the fee is paid they will issue the official referral. So, we will need to be ready with the money a little bit sooner, but not a huge change...more than that I know that when I get a call from Chareyl it won't be with info and a picture about our child, it will be to request our next payment. It will be interesting to see how much variation there is in the timeline between submitting that fee and actually getting the referral. I would think that knowing the referral is so close at hand will be a bit torturous, so I hope that they are fairly regular with how quickly that's actually issued. Right now it is so unknown when a referral will actually come that you can't just sit by the phone hoping it will ring...that may be more challenging not to do that once you know that your referral is imminent.

Stuff like this doesn't really change anything, but gets me thinking (and feeling). I wonder when it will be? I wonder...I wonder...I wonder...