Monday, July 24, 2017

Help Me

It's taken me almost eight months to write this post. 

Eight months ago tomorrow was the last day we spent with our son in Haiti for our socialization visit.  We were such a mix of emotions.  We had spent 14 days away from our kids, our home, and America.  And, while we had spent some amazing time with our son and made some precious memories, both with him, and with our new friends, we were READY to come home.  Except for the part where we had to leave our son behind. 

From the beginning of the process (before we even said "yes" to adopting from Haiti), when we were told that Haiti's process required adoptive parents to go on a "bonding" trip to meet their child and spent 14 days getting to know them, and then walk away for 1-2 years, I knew this part would be HARD for me.  But, I really had no idea.  We spent a lot of time with him that last day.  A LOT of time.  It was our longest day with him, and spending that much time with a 3 year old, in another country, while living on a compound is not easy.  By the end of the day, he was pretty worn out and truly ready to go back to the orphanage.  I remember wanting to tell him that we would be back, but not tomorrow.  I remember telling him that we loved him.  And, he kept telling us "I love ou.  See you to-mah-woah."  And, I knew he didn't understand.  And, then they drove off with him. 

I immediately went back in the guesthouse and began to pack.  I deal with emotions I don't want to deal with by staying busy.  And, I also think I knew if I sat down for a second, I would lose all control, and we wouldn't get our things packed.  So, I sorted and packed.  And, I held it together even as I began packing the toys, and his sippy cup, and a few things of his that we had decided to keep for our next trip. And, when I finished packing, I laid down on the bed and sobbed.  I cried until I couldn't cry any more, and then I just went to the bathroom and washed my face and went to bed.  I remember telling Neal that it was the hardest thing I have ever done and the most conflicted I have ever felt.  I missed the 3 kids we had at home and so desperately wanted to see them, but I knew that I truly would be leaving a part of my heart behind.  And, I just didn't know how to do that. 

The next morning, we had to be ready early because our driver was coming to take us to the airport.  I remember Neal getting out of the bed and leaving the room.  And, with just me and God in the room, I looked at our suitcases and just lost it all over again.  I remember not even having the words to pray in that moment.  I felt God there, but I couldn't even put a prayer together.  I just remember speaking the words, "Help me."  And, as soon as the words rolled off my lips, there was peace in my heart.  The pain was just as real as it had been a few moments earlier, but what felt like despair had been replaced with a peace that didn't make sense. And, the tears slowed down and eventually stopped.  And, I was able to get up out of bed, wipe my face, and get ready to leave. 

Our ride to the airport was mostly uneventful (except that the only space left for Neal and our friend, Shane) was to ride in the bed of the truck surrounded by our luggage.  :) And, we drove through the Saturday morning market, and our friends' kiddos got to see the meat market.  THAT was an experience.  But, we made it to the airport in plenty of time.  We said goodbye to our Canadian friends who now felt a lot more like family.  We ate a quick meal in what felt like the Haitian equivalent of a food court, and we got on a plane and flew away from the island where our son lives.

I remember another mom, whose son (now home!) lived with ours at the orphanage, told me that the first month was brutal.  And, it was.  It was several days or weeks before I made it a day without crying.  But, slowly, we have learned to live in this new normal.  It has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and it has felt like the longest eight months of my life.  I know because people tell me all the time that it seems to be going by very fast, but for me, it hasn't gone fast.  I have felt his absence every single day, and I have yet to understand how to really function completely with one of my children growing up every single day in an orphanage without me.  And, allowing that to happen goes against everything in my heart as a mother.   

But, as we have walked these last eight months, one of the things that people have said to me the most is "I just don't know how you do it."  And, I don't even know what to say in those moments.  I honestly don't really feel like *I* AM doing it.  I don't even feel completely like myself most days.  It has been harder than I even thought it would be.  But, we knew this was the process when we signed up for it.  And, we didn't sign up because we thought we could DO it.  We signed up for it because we KNEW it was what GOD wanted us to do.  I knew when we signed up that this part would be too hard for me to do by myself.  But, honestly, most of the things God has called me to do in this life ARE too hard for me.  So, as you watch us wait while people pour over paperwork, and it moves through step after step after step while we feel like we are just sitting on our hands, please know that there is no way in this world that we could do this alone.  We walk around every day, we work our jobs, we do all the normal things with 3 of our kids, because God answered my feeble prayer when all I had the words to say was, "Help me." He is the most faithful friend, and we haven't walked and cannot imagine walking a day of this process without Him.  May He alone get the glory for any and all of that. 

Thank you for following our journey these last 6 years.  We are so grateful for every ounce of encouragement and support we have ever been the recipients of.  We are currently waiting on one of the most exciting pieces of the entire process, and we are hoping it comes any day. It is a piece of legal paperwork called the "adoption decree," and it is that piece of paper that will officially make a 4 year old boy in Haiti with the biggest smile, the most beautiful eyes, and more personality than you can even stand, our SON.  We are so ready for that day to get here!

"I lift my eyes to the mountains -- where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Adoption Timeline

Here is our timeline for those who are interested!  For the moment, it only includes (most of) our Haiti timeline, and not our timeline for our adoption process previous to these dates.  As I can, I will eventually go back and add in a more complete timeline of the entire 6+ year process. 

While it appears that we have just a few steps to go, these last few steps are very lengthy, and we aren't sure that they will even happen in the order that I have laid out here.  Our best guess is that our son will be home anywhere between 6-10 months from now, but even that is just a guess.  But, we will try to keep you updated as best we can.  Thank you for following along with us. 

Transitioned to AGCI's Haiti Program from the Ethiopia Program - 10/22/2013

Haiti Home Study completed - 1/14/2014

Haiti Dossier completed - 3/11/14

Dossier Translation complete - 3/31/2014

Dossier Received in Haiti - 4/24/2014

Dossier Enters IBESR - 5/23/2014

Referral date (Matched with our son!) - 10/13/2016

Met our son!!!! - 11/11/2016

Bonding Trip - 11/11-11/26/2016

Received Article 16 letter - 12/27/2016

Submitted I-800 paperwork to USCIS - 1/05/2017

RFE (Request for Evidence) received from USCIS - 2/3/2017

RFE mailed back to USCIS - 2/7/2017

Received I-800 Provisional Approval from USCIS - 2/21/2017

Complete DS 260 - 2/22/2017

Our son attends Visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti - 3/06/2017

Article 5 approval is received from U.S. Embassy - 3/13/2017

Case exits IBESR!!! - 6/09/2017 (Found out - 7/05/2017)

Authorization of Adoption Signed - 6/09/2017

Case enters Parquet Court - 6/09/2017

Receive the Adoption Decree -

Case transitions to the Ministry of Interior (MOI) -

Case transitions to USCIS for Visa and Passport -

Our son comes home!!!