Compassion Family Changes

Yesterday I got a disappointing phone call. For the second time in a month, Compassion International called to let me know that one of the children we sponsor as a family was no longer part of the Compassion project. Last time it was 13 year old Saitil, a boy I chose from Haiti, and they told me his family moved out of the area. That bummed me out, since we had been writing back and forth with him for quite awhile. This time it was Caroline, a six year old in Ghana. But this time it was because Compassion had discontinued their partnership with the local project she was part of for reasons they were not at liberty to disclose but it sounded like a sticky situation. They said something about Compassion’s unyielding position on child protection. It breaks my heart, but I respect what they’re doing.

The good news is that I get two new children to sponsor and develop a relationship with. Meanwhile I will never stop praying for Saitil and Caroline.

Last month we had the blessing of visiting a traveling exhibit called the Compassion Experience that came to our area. My boys and I got to walk through a dramatic interactive experience telling the real story of three children from three different countries. The first one we walked through was a girl from Kenya, which is where my first sponsored child, Mbeyu, lives. When we got to the end and it showed the real photos of this girl as a grown woman who graduated from college and changed the lives of her entire family, I started bawling happy tears. I know the truth of how Compassion changes lives from my own friend, Maurine Owino, who grew up in the slums of Kenya and now is the Executive Director of Mercy House, a maternity home we support. Child sponsorship really and truly saves lives.

Walking through the  Compassion Experience

Alex listening to the story of a sponsored child in the Compassion Experience.

Here’s a short video I saw this morning about why one mom chooses to sponsor a Compassion child. 

Curious about why I choose Compassion International instead of alternative child sponsorship programs (which I do support in other ways)? It has nothing to do with their hiring policies or political positions, I assure you. It’s their model. Shaun explains it well here.

So if you have never sponsored a child, why not start today? It’s cheap but more importantly super meaningful if you actually take the time to write letters to your kid. Which you absolutely should. The letters mean almost as much, if not more sometimes, than the money for food and school.

 

Blogging On The Go

The Resistance is winning.

If you’ve never read Stephen Pressfield’s amazing book, The War of Art, you probably have no idea what that means. If you have read it, you know exactly what it means. Basically it means I’ve been super lazy when it comes to blogging.

Something about sitting in front of a blank WordPress dashboard on my laptop makes me run screaming. But blogging from my phone when I’m bored is far less intimidating. So here I am!

I post on Facebook constantly, so much that it probably annoys people, but most thoughts and doings feel unworthy of a whole blog scribe. So here are a few things I’ve been up to lately:

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Soccer season has started which means practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights and two games on Saturdays. I generally enjoy it because the boys love it and are both doing well and getting exercise and I get to make new friends with other parents. I love making new friends! Right now is a great time to meet people because one of the first questions is “how many kids do you have” which flows immediately to our adoption, which everyone loves to chat about. It makes conversation easy.

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Then I have cool things like my local social media lunch group, where we do stuff like brunch food sampling at the new Dunkin Donuts in Katy. Have I mentioned how Dunkin is my fave and I missed them so much because they were virtually nonexistant in Houston till now? Besides the food, this group of ladies are THE. AWESOME. We spur one another on to blogging greatness. Or try, at least.

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And of course I’ve been continuing with caring for my grandparents, which has shifted some from keeping them happy and healthy to cleaning out their old house. This is a huge undertaking since the house is five bedrooms, 3500 square feet, and they saved everything for the forty plus years they lived there. I mean EVERYTHING. Borderline hoarders. My great-grandmother lived with them for awhile but she died a loooooong time ago, but all her stuff was still in the house. Every stitch of clothing, every card she ever received, every medical bill.

So I’m working my way through a few hours a week, room by room. Not getting very far yet. Meanwhile the real estate market in their hood is scorching hot. Hope it stays that way awhile.

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Of course there’s Rose too, who occupies my thoughts and heart always. Soon, sweet girl, soon.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

As of this morning, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel of the adoption process, that is…not the adoption journey itself of course, that will only begin when Rose comes to live with us. Then the job of waiting turns to parenting which is much much harder, make no mistake.

Rose and Mike

Rose and her Papa

Since we came home from Haiti everyone has been asking how soon till Rose joins our family. Because there are a whole bunch of steps in the “legalization and courts” process, steps I really couldn’t identify clearly and understand, I didn’t have a good answer. We were told maybe four months by our lawyer and creche director (creche = orphanage) but our agency coordinator said that was unrealistic and to expect longer.

This morning I got an email that we are through all those “courts” steps and on our way to the MOI, the Ministry of the Interior in Haiti! That means that our adoption decree has been issued and legalized and now Rose has our last name and is legally part of our family!

Bread for snack time

Bread for snack time

You might think that means we can go get her now…ooooh good heavens, no. The MOI can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to review the file and give permission for immigration to print her a passport. We hope and expect 3 weeks. Then it takes 1-4 weeks to actually print the passport. Friends received their’s recently in just a week, so we hope for that. At that point, everything is done on the Haitian side of the process.

Then things flip back to the US government side of things to grant her permission to enter the US. The Department of Homeland Security has to do an investigation into the adoption to make sure it is ethical and there is no child-trafficking involved before they will grant Rose a visa. This is a super important part of the process, which we have actually already begun. But they can’t start reviewing the file in earnest until they get her passport and the full dossier. This last part can take anywhere from 3 weeks to months. Sometimes USCIS decides to request a DNA test to prove a family member who dropped her at the orphanage is really a family member. That adds considerable time. Sometimes they request extra official documents from judges who signed off on the file. We believe everything is in order so I’m not expecting any of that, but it certainly can happen.

Morning playtime

Morning playtime

After the US grants approval for a visa, they give a visa appointment and Rose has to actually go to that. Then it is printed and we can go get her and bring her home!!

So the quickest timeline I could see would be 8-10 weeks. I’m not really expecting that though, 12 to 14 weeks is more likely. But oh my gosh, we are talking about weeks now. I’m thinking about June-ish.

Suddenly I’m freaking out a little. There’s still so much to do to get ready for this little princess to join our family. I wanna learn more Creole!! She talks a lot, in babyish Creole, and the few phrases I was able to pick up in Haiti were so helpful. She responds so well when I speak to her in her language! I know she will switch to English soon after she’s home, all toddlers do, but I understand the importance of connecting with her quickly on her level.

Playing with blocks

This girl LOVES shoes.

Y’all, she is a joy. Her smile lights up the room. Her chatter is adorable. She’s a cuddle bug, loves nothing more than being held in my lap. She sleeps hard and eats a ton. I gotta learn to cook Haitian rice and beans!

So today I’m praising Jesus for the incredible, amazing, perfect timing of this roller coaster journey he has brought us through. I know He goes before us, every step of the way.

Smiles

Smiles

Bonjou from Haiti!

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Well we have finally arrived at this blessed day where we get to love on our daughter in Haiti. This is for realz, yo. Somebody pinch me.

We got word last week that we were released from IBESR and the lawyer wanted us to come for court asap. So we requested a new appointment with USCIS and they got back to us this past Tuesday with a date of this coming Tuesday. Ha! So we booked flights, packed up quickly, notarized and signed tons of forms, and left for the airport early Saturday morning.

Our flights were easy peasy, save for the opinionated racist (himself adopted 60 years ago) who talked my ear off en route to Port-au-Prince. How do you deal with a chatty, obnoxious jerk who has you trapped on a plane? Smile and don’t say much I guess. He was on a mission trip and at the end reminded me that “the dude upstairs is the one in control” which only served to remind me of how broken even we who claim Christ are.

We met our driver and headed out on the most adventurous drive I’ve ever had. More like an amusement park ride that just kept going up and up and up amid roads that really shouldn’t be called roads. Kathi and Espie met us at the empty guesthouse with Rosenaicha, who was already in her pajamas, sleepy and stunned. Poor child never even leaves the creche (orphanage) and here she is meeting strangers in a brand new place.

We had delicious Haitian bbq chicken with rice and beans and plantains. Rose ate a bit but refused to even think about smiling. She never cried though, just stared with eyes big as saucers.

She let me hold her and after awhile we were left to ourselves. I changed her diaper and laid down in bed with her and in a matter of minutes she was out cold. I had a much harder time falling asleep though, body clock telling me it was only 8pm and mind wired. Barking dogs outside had multiple conversations with each other all night.

Despite a wheezy cough, Rose slept soundly till past 7am when we finally woke her. I guess she’s used to sleeping through the roosters. She clung to me quite a bit this morning and after feeding her and some playtime she is now napping soundly.

So far she is making this easy on me. Mike, not so much, but he gets it and is not pressuring her one bit. She is wary of him.

Well let’s see if this will post from my phone and then I’ll try adding some photos.

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Love is a Decision

So I’m in the stage of this adoption where everyone asks this question: “What is TAKING SO LONG?”

Baby Shoes

We are approaching the two year mark from the day we decided to adopt and shortly thereafter began the paper chase. We have known exactly who our intended daughter is for almost a full year now, yet we still have not been able to go to Haiti and hug her tiny body and kiss her sweet chubby cheeks. Twice now, we were told we could get ready to travel and go, only to then be told “no, not yet”.

It really is a roller coaster of emotions.

I remember the day in early January when I was sitting in my office reading my Adopting from Haiti Facebook group as usual, and I saw the photo with her name in the Le Monitor online newspaper. I shrieked and started jumping up and down, startling my in-laws who were watching TV on my couch while my husband was outside cooking dinner. Explaining that after seven long months of waiting, our adoption process was finally unstuck.

Le Monitor HaitiOver the next days and weeks I started planning for our first trip. The dates were set. We had an appointment at the US Embassey in Port-au-Prince. I carefully went through the clothes that had been handed down to us and the few I had bought and chose outfits to bring for Rose. We collected diaper donations for the orphanage and went to the travel clinic for malaria medication.

And then within days of leaving, we got the news that despite what we had been told, our dossier had not been released from IBESR and we could not travel for court yet. We were stuck again, for completely unknown reasons.

baby girl clothes

Tiny girl clothes

My first reaction was intense anger. There was some yelling and language I don’t normally use. Then I calmed down and probably turned a little numb…a little cold. “This is Haiti” they all say, all the time.  I was little surprised that I never really fell into grief.

Adoption, the process and the thoughts and emotions, is a really hard thing to explain sometimes. People talk about “oh I’m totally in love with this child I’ve never met”. I get that, in a way. I’m in love with the idea of her, anyway. But I don’t always feel the intense pain that real love for someone causes when they should be physically with you and are not.

Love is not always a feeling. Love is a decision that you make and sometimes keep making each and every day. This is true in adoption, when you just feel like giving up but you don’t because you decided to love a child that needs love and just because it is long and hard and expensive does not mean you give up. You keep going even when you don’t feel like it.

The same is true of marriage, of course. People who stay married a really long time do not feel love for their spouse all that time. I promise you that. There have been many a day when I did not feel love for my husband. But I decided to love him and serve him even on the days I did not feel it. Love means not giving up when the feeling is gone.

So we wait some more for the day we will finally be allowed to fly to Haiti and meet our little Rose. I fully expect to feel the feelings of love for that precious child on that day. But I also know there will be days when she is home and acting like any tired/hungry/developing toddler does that I may not feel a huge amount of love for her. But that won’t mean I don’t love her, not at all. Because I have decided to love her and so I will.

This post is linked up over at KirstenOliphant.com as part of her Not So Small Stories series. Thanks Kirsten, for the writing prompt!

I STILL HATE PICKLES