Saturday, August 31, 2013

What to Expect at Homecoming from us;)

In just three short weeks, we will be bringing Christian home forever.  I cannot begin to explain how surreal that feels after waiting so long and yet I also know we are blessed.  There are many a family who have been waiting three times as long to get their babies home and are still waiting.  We are thankful.

As we prepare for his homecoming, we are nesting, preparing.  His bed is made; his drawers are filled with clothes.  We have diapers, shoes, books, toys...waiting for their owner to slip into them. 

We are also preparing our friends and family who we know probably haven't read the hundreds of books on adoption transition that we have;)  Some are very familiar with "rules" of transition as they've gone through with other friends or family.   As we look ahead, we are preparing for a difficult transition and hoping for an easy one.  There are recommended "rules" we will be following, knowing we can always ease up if Christian seems to be doing well.

If you haven't though much about adoption, your reaction is probably much like one we hear on a daily basis.  "Christian is so lucky you are adopting him."  Logically, we think a kid without a family is getting one, and it sounds like a blessing.  But we don't say this to biological kids, and they are blessed to be in a family too;)  The truth is Christian is an orphan; and that is a trauma that occurred early in his life and affects him on an emotional level very deeply. 

Christian may not FEEL blessed/lucky.  It doesn't "FEEL" like a blessing to be an orphan.  It doesn't "feel" like a blessing to leave every familiar sight, smell, sound, and person and come to a new place, especially when you may not understand what is happening.  We have done our best in preparing him, by visiting, leaving the book with pictures and with our recorded voices; and his crèche has regularly used these with him and talk of us.  He will adjust; he has shown very good signs of attaching to us on our visits, but he's never been adopted before.  It will be overwhelming and scary at times. (If you don't know what to say, just tell him he is loved;)

For this reason, we are not having a welcoming party at our home.  We will keep home a safe haven for now.  A place where it is just the family, and he can warm up to us first before others.  In the beginning, we will do all Christian's care.  We will feed him, change him, hold him.  Christian hasn't had parents before and though he does show attachment to a particular caregiver (a HUGE benefit in the long run for us), he is used to many adults helping him and doing things.  We want to teach him that we are his providers, his security, his safe place.  We want to continually provide for all his physical needs so he will begin to trust us with his emotional and spiritual ones. 

We won't leave him right away, and when we do it will be for very short times.  He needs to learn we won't abandon him, and when we leave, we come back.  Because we will be keeping him home as much as possible, it might seem like we've dropped off the planet for a while.  Please check in on us; ask us how we are doing.  It can be a very hard and isolating time for families.  Please call; leave messages; send notes.  If we don't get back to you, pray for us.  It is probably because we are still in survival mode.  In that time, we are told we need to be reminded by friends that though we are isolated, we are not forgotten.

We ARE welcoming people to meet us at the Airport when we arrive.  We have been apart of an airport homecoming, and it is a really amazing thing to witness a child you've prayed for REALLY COME HOME.  We want to honor your part in our story.  The support and prayer we have been given is humbling and has carried us through.

If you haven't been to a airport homecoming, it might be different than you expect.  Christian may not smile at you.  In fact, knowing him, he'll probably hid his face in my shoulder;)  It's kind of like when you visit a newborn at a hospital.  The visit is short and you may or may not hold the child, but you are welcoming them to the world.  Bring signs, watch our kiddos welcome him into the family, see our grandparents and aunts and uncles meet him, meet him, see him...he's real, he'll be here;)  We will probably want lots of pictures and hopefully grab a stranger to do a group shot;)  But we won't be there long, for Christian's sake.  We will greet you all, give hugs and then take our baby home.

Trust us, we'd LOVE to sit and tell you all about our trip, but because we want to keep Christian feeling protect, safe, and secure,  we want to get him to home as soon as possible.  :) 

Finally, I will endeavor to blog, but from watching other people fall off the face of the earth once the kid gets home, I may not get to it;)  I will give my sister "writer rights" and ask her to post updates and pictures on here for me if I find I can't get to the task. 

Again, we are so honored by how many of you have followed our story and prayed for us.  We really want to continue to update you; we want you to continue praying.  In many ways, our journey is just beginning.  This has been an absolutely heart changing, mind blowing, miraculous road to walk, we are so blessed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It is REALLY Happening!

Though we were stuck in passports longer than expected, we received an email today from the state department.  Christian has been given his visa appointment!  This is amazingly fast since only YESTERDAY were we notified that our immigration forms (required for visa) were approved (we filed these forms in order for him to be granted immediate citizenship).

The crazier thing?  His visa appointment is September 5.  ONLY A WEEK AWAY!

After lining up childcare for our children, we booked flights tonight!  We will fly to Port a Prince on September 19 and on September 21, we will fly home WITH our son.

It's is really happening.  In three and a half weeks our baby boy will be home forever.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chloe's Third Birthday

Apologies to my far away family for taking so long to get this posted;)  It totally feeds parental guilt about the third child being neglected...but I had a party and I have pictures....and I actually have had this post titled and saved SINCE June, but the pictures were lost in computer land, otherwise known as the cloud that my husband had to remind me of...oh and I have been moving...and now the excuses will stop because really if it gets on the blog at all, I think I win.

Chloe turned three on June 15.  It was a Saturday and so the day of her party, as well.  I always think it's an extra special thing for kids when their birthday party is on the actual day of their birth.  Chloe certainly was excited!

Chloe has been obsessed with Rainbows for a while.  Shortly after Ava's birthday she already started mentioning her own party and insisted on it being a Rainbow party.  How can happiness not simply abound when your dealing with rainbows?

Woo Hoo...let's get this party started!

I am THREE!!!

All three in their rainbow attire...(I am sure other mamas will understand this is the best of the 10 pictures I took trying to get them all looking an smiling...)

Rainbow table set and ready...

This rainbow is smiling, because the children will soon follow her to the her end....

Thank you Costco..

My friend Janan and I made rainbow ribbons

Craft table set up for arrival activity....paint dots and colors, with a decorate me table cloth and plenty of rainbow and unicorn pictures.

The stairs were so happy, we were tempted to leave the balloons up forever.

Ava made a welcome sign for Chloe's party;)

Me and my girls at the welcome table.  As guest arrived, they could come and decorate the table cloth or color pictures to take home...

Meanwhile, Jana decorated their nails and toes as rainbows.

 Once everyone arrived, we handed out rainbow ribbons and danced to rainbow music...Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Rainbow, etc.

This girl LOVES to dance

Next we did a balloon pop.  Each child popped a balloon and got to keep what prize came out

I had rainbow bracelets and balls in the balloons and the girls liked the prizes, but only a few liked the actual popping;)

Next we followed Ms. Rainbow to find her end and reach the pot of gold

I just used a really thick rainbow yarn and weaved it through a small obstacle course

Some kids followed better than others;)

But at the end they all got a bag of gold (chocolate gold coins)

Our little rainbow chasers;)

Then we made rainbow necklaces.  This was a "hit"- Chloe did not want to sit down and loudly yelled "I don't want a necklace."  Thank goodness Grandma stepped in and where Grandma is, Chloe the necklace ended up being liked after all and she still wears it;)

Party hat time...

She'd been SOO excited to blow out candles it was hard to wait for the end of the song!!!!

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

This smile says it all;) But little did she know there was more!!  Chloe has had an imaginary rainbow house ever since we started talking about the move.  It must be her way of dealing with the change.  It's been fun to hear all about this house and the pink car that she drives there;)  It's a pretty happy, fun place to imagine and so grandma, brought it to life...

I don't quite think she knew what to do at first, she was pretty amazed...

but she moved in quickly;)

Chloe means verdant or vibrant and she certainly is.  Our prayer for her this year is to continue to learn to manage her emotions that often overwhelm her.  She has the ability to completely change the dynamic of a room based on her mood.  We pray she grows to utilize that strength to encourage and uplift and not to bring down.  We are thankful for her imagination, her silly ways, her love of music, books, and her family.  We pray this year she understands the love of God in a deeper way than storybooks and that her heart is open to hear his voice in her life.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's the little things

I have no problem with big crises.  They are obviously huge things I can't handle and I quickly jump into "trust God" mode.  I probably even have a bit of pride about this, if I am honest.  Water coming through my ceiling?  The first thing I said was, "we are going to trust God and praise him cuz he allowed this."  I mean I am just such an incredible woman, right?

No, I am dense.  The big things are like huge pot holes.  They are obvious and I can spot them a mile away and KNOW I can't handle it.  I mean no one is meant to handle those things, so there is not shame in jumping right into the "give it over to God" mode.  It's little things that get me every time.  It's like driving on a rode they are preparing to pave.  There are no potholes, but tons of minuscule rubble. You keep driving on it, cuz there are no warning signs, it's a minor inconvenience.  It shakes the car a bit, but it's over before you know it.  You can handle it, your car can handle it.

Only...I can't handle it.  Cuz it's annoying when the car vibrates.  I only THINK I can handle it and it is never over quite as quick as you assume it will be....and often when you stop and look at the car you realized all that rubble dented and scratched the paint and if you don't attend to it, you can get a rust problem.   I believe the lie that I can handle it....and then find myself a anxious mess and wonder what went wrong.

God is trying to rid me of that self deception- the lie that I can handle little things.  I can't.  I get grumpy and annoyed and usually my kids or my husbands are the ones who get the short end of the stick.  I lash out with my tongue or with a short fuse for normal childish behavior.  "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" it says in when my words have edge or when I raise my voice, it isn't a vocal problem it's a heart problem.  My heart is easily overwhelmed.  I get stressed easier than I like to admit.  I can't handle things as easily as I tell myself I can and then there is internal chaos.

God has been allowing lots of this.  The big things in life have been there and I am sure they have affected me on some level, but it isn't what really has been raking me over the coals, it's the little things.  The temper tantrums from my little one, the mess of the house, the paper work of the new homestudy, the juggling of appointments without good childcare, etc.  I can do it, right?  Wrong.  I am stressed.  I plan and I control and it doesn't work and I inevitably am grumpy.  I am not so capable, not so accomplished, at all.  I need help and lots of it.  I pray about the big things, but I find myself mentally "figuring out" the little ones.

It's been so busy my time of prayer and journaling with the Lord has been a struggle and it's evident in my life.  I can't juggle it all, I can't "figure it all out" and fix it.  I know that God cares about my details and I know he is allowing a lot of them so I put into practice what I preach.  I need to quite "figuring it out", quit organizing and fixing and striving and controlling and just pray, just pray and wait.  I know I can trust him with the big things.  I actually know I can trust him with the littles, but I fall prey to believing I don't have to.  I really feel him calling me to trust him with the little ones; I feel him calling me to quit believing the lie that I can and should handle these on my own.

"Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean NOT on your OWN understanding.  In ALL your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths."  Prov. 3:5-6

I memorized that verse when I was very little...and yet I feel him calling me to learn it a new.  To trust him in a deeper, fuller, more encompassing way.  I like to be capable and I feel him freeing me from that image of myself...calling me to trust and abide.   I can't do my life.  Three kids really is two much for me and number four is coming.  He didn't call me to four children so I could show the world my awesome mothering skills or how capable and organized I am.  He called me to this so in my weakness he could show his strength.  He's preparing me, molding me, showing me there is more of me to surrender, more of me to refine for his glory.  He keeps showing me there is stuff I have to hand over, he sometimes has to pry open my fingers to prove to me I really am hanging onto something, and yet EVERY time I surrender, give something over to him, something so little I falsely believe it couldn't possible matter, I feel such peace, such rest.  EVERY time I wonder what took me so long...

Life with Jesus is a journey.  He doesn't let us stay stuck.  If we follow him on the path to freedom, to life.  There is lots of letting go, lots of confronting my own weakness, sometimes we can't see ahead and it's scary.  But freedom has been bought.  He is trustworthy.  We can't see two inches in front of us, can't see beyond the little things sometimes and yet if I keep my eyes on him and just obey and follow, he leads me beside the still waters and restores my soul JUST as he promised.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adoption Update;)

Christian has his passport!!!  Yippee!

We are now on the US side of things, which should make time lines more predictable.  Though I have to say, I am really confused much of the time.  I thought this made us four weeks out...but I am told I was wrong.  It may be more like eight weeks until we're bringing our guy home.

This is what I am told happens from here...

Christians case is now being investigated by USCIS.  They look at his file an ensure everything is inline .Make sure they verify the facts of his status as an orphan, etc.  If he had living birth parents, they would interview them, etc.  They interviewed the crèche director in May.  This could be a short process, but we are told to allow an average of four weeks.  As much as I hate to wait, I am thankful we have this step- it is to help prevent child trafficking.

Once this investigation is complete, they hand our file to the Department of State for visa approval.  Christian will go to the Embassy for a visa appointment.  It often take three weeks to GET an appointment, though it can happen much faster. And then allow a week for an Exit Letter.

Honestly, I don't even really understand the exit letter part.  It's all legal stuff, that I am glad we have people helping us with...all I know is we are know on the US side of things, so the time lines given are pretty good estimates.  Just so thankful for more movement, for progress, for the light clearly shining at the end of the tunnel.

I have a good feeling that fall is going to be extra special this year;)

Friday, August 9, 2013

What's going on with our Adoption?

I am asked about our adoption daily.  I so appreciate all the people that support us and are truly rooting for our little boy to be home!

I recieved a "semi update" from our director today.  She emailed me to basically say nothings changed.  We are stuck in passport office and we don't really know why.  Our creche director, Sonia, has been going to the passport office daily to check and see if Christian's passport is printed.  Diana (our agency director) said they are both pulling their hair out with the wait and are sure we are too.  It's true I've been aching to see Christian.  This is the longest I've gone without seeing him since meeting him last October and my heart is a hurtin'.  I had just been praying this morning about making another trip to visit him should we be "stuck" much longer.  I don't think the Lord is directing me to do that quite yet, but just telling us to wait on him.  I pray Christian is home soon!

In the meantime, we are actually busy with new paperwork.  Because we have moved to Illinois, we had to do a bit of sleuthing to figure out what is needed for the US government in relation to our move.  It turns out the government just needs and addendum on our paperwork that says we've moved, but they had a simple statement that made things infinitely more difficult, "just a simple addendum is needed, along with being in line with adoptive procedure in their new state."  It makes sense, of course, but in Illinois, one must be a licensed foster parent to adopt.

We found an amazing local agency thanks to a fellow adoptive mom, that is updating our homestudy for a reduced fee, and RUSHING it so nothing will be slowed in Haiti.  I mean they are not missing a beat in processing things.  It has been amazing how quickly they have met with us, gotten us information we need to obtain, etc.  We have already turned in the majority of our new paperwork (think fifty new signatures, questions, etc;).  We were fingerprinted last Friday.  Our social worker comes to check out our home next Wednesday and a pastoral consultant will meet with us here on Monday.  They have been amazing.  Homestudies usually take about three months, we will likely be completely done in one- AMAZING.  We just have to get new medical physicals, which our scheduled, but not yet completed.  This will also help us in the long run, not only do we need two follow up visits with a social worker,  we hope to readopt Christian in the US so he has a US birth certificate.  Because we are already well on board with this agency, these should be more simple and more simple with a fourth child will be welcome, I am sure.

So we still wait, with a bit to do now in the waiting.  Christian's passport could be issued at any moment...we pray now for Monday!  Join us!  I will be SURE to share the good news when we have it!