The stillness is calming this morning, for some reason even the family of bluejays in the woods on our hill are snuggled up tight and quiet. The bare bones of the large, sprawling trees (that I still have no idea what kind they are) are naked but hopeful, moss and lichen clinging to their host – kind of like hanging on for dear life, lest all this rain and murky mornings shake them from their roost. We’ve only lost a few branches in the storms the past few weeks, and while I cringe every time one comes flying, at the same time I quietly breathe, “Yes! One branch less blocking the view!” 🙂
As I opened up our blog page this morning I was embarrassed to see that it looks like we’ve been living in a half-constructed house for the past three months! I assure you, we do have a roof over our heads and the kids are happily safe inside a walled-in, sealed structure! To sum up the past 3 months, in quick timeline:
Oct. 31 we hosted our very last “annual” Halloween party in our old house! The next 3 weeks following were spent packing, sorting, purging, and craigslist-ing – Kris would say I pretty much sold everything but the kitchen sink…because it wasn’t mine to sell! On November 21st, the moving truck pulled up and our life was loaded and transferred approximately one mile west (on the same street! Lucky for our kids they only had to memorize a couple small changes to their address – proves confusing to utilities and other accounts when I say I’m changing the address and tell them the new address – which sounds really close to the old address)…
Moving day was insane. A 4-hour estimate from the moving company turned into a 9-hour ordeal, and while it was nice to not have to do all the heavy lifting, we missed the camaraderie of a multitude of our close friends heaving cardboard and sharing laughs and pizza. Thank you to those who ended up coming even though we didn’t ask for help! Your presence helped it feel a little less sterile! 🙂
5 days after move-in, we broke the new house in with Thanksgiving dinner with my (Laura’s) family, a crash course in “only unpack what we need to sit on, cook with, and eat off of”! What a wonderful time with loved ones! We enjoyed it immensely and wouldn’t have changed a thing if we did it again! From Thanksgiving weekend, we launched straight into a week crammed full of dress-rehearsals for the girls’ Christmas production for dance, and then an entire weekend of performances. Kris and Braeden ran sound for the production, while I worked behind the scenes on the organizational end (a complete family affair!).
(Above)My Grandpa Lee, (who we got the pleasure of having join us for thanksgiving dinner – an amazing addition!) and my mom!
Immediately following production weekend, we were scrambling to get ready for Christmas, and hosted a yummy traditional cinnamon roll Christmas breakfast, and then hosted Christmas dinner/gathering for Kris’ family. The day after Christmas we hosted again for my family…(are you exhausted yet?)…then…
WE FELL ASLEEP. Like Rip Van Winkle…we are just now waking up, full leafy beards and all! 🙂
Christmas was weird this year for us. It felt like it came too fast, too rushed, and for the first time in my life, I’ll be honest I was really glad to have it just be DONE. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before – Christmas is typically my favorite time of year! I think I was ready to move on, move forward, and attempt to get life back in order. Now, here we are a month later, and the house is quiet, kitchen sink piled with dishes, one dog sleeping and the other at boarding school (LOL – Ollie is at training camp for three weeks, learning to behave and follow directions! House is super quiet and I miss my big snuggle buddy!).
Here’s some photos of the house completed! Within the first three days, we spilled coffee on the new carpet, dog puked on the carpet, and grape jelly exploded on the white ceiling…and didn’t come out.
I’d say it’s officially broken in!
Ollie’s boarding school photo! 😉
My course load this quarter is heavy, much to the dismay of my husband and kiddos…mommy isn’t as much fun when she’s glued to homework during free-time! I’m trying to balance getting it done while they are at school, and at night after bedtime…but sometimes it just doesn’t pan out that way. I’m week 4 into the quarter and things are starting to get into a groove again…so I think I’ll be okay.
Braeden (13, 7th grade), made it through tryouts to the 7th grade basketball team at school, so he’s been neck deep in 5-days/week practices and 2x/week games. He’s in heaven – and let me tell you middle school sports is a whole different ball game (excuse the pun)! Fast paced, much more competitive, and their signature moves and skills certainly shine on a whole new level! We love it, and the girls are getting into the excitement of being a traveling cheer squad for their favorite 7th grade team! Braeden also seems to have developed quite the following of 7th grade GIRLS… LOL I shouldn’t be surprised.
Logan and Abby are still plugging away at dance, but Abby also started basketball last week for the season and basketball is a close runner up to dance, threatening to take over the favorite activity spot! Logan is still a full-time dancer, although we are attempting to talk her into trying other sports at school this year…track is coming up!
Kris is Kris, is Kris, is Kris. He is compassionate, steady, a hard-worker and loving the whole “this is my house, which means I get to fix stuff and build stuff” mentality! After spending the last month of construction on-site every day, directing subs and pitching in when they needed an extra body, he is thoroughly invested here. Projects seem never ending (even on a new-construction home – part of the joys of building it ourselves…it wasn’t a cookie cutter done-deal), next up on the docket is finish the side and back yard! Right now it is still a mudpit covered in hay…time to get on that before neighbors start complaining! 🙂 He got a chainsaw for Christmas, so a fun project for Kris and Braeden as soon as the rain lets up will be cutting back all the scrubby filbert shoots on the wooded hillside so we can open up more of our view and access the woods!
God blessed us with incredible neighbors here – though we still missing our good friends and neighbors from our last house…we are trying to convince them to buy something near us! Bottom line on our home and family – we are together, and we are home. We are staying here for a long while, and will continue to build and grow as a family unit in this space. We will teach, change and mold each other, accepting the challenges God opens up before us, and being diligent to live out our lives with integrity and responsibility.
Now, on to the real reason you all are reading this page. (I know it, because if you are an adoptive family reading our page, you’ve barely registered any of the past several paragraphs until you came to this one! It’s okay, I do the same thing. Not because I don’t care – but because as adoptive parents we are honed in on any information that might give us hope, or bring us closer to counting toes on our long-awaited little addition!)
In our last update, I mentioned that we were still waiting on a 2nd birth parent interview to be completed for our soft-match. If that makes no sense to you, here’s a snapshot of the “normal” process as best as we can describe it:
- family submits dossier paperwork to agency and Haiti government in charge of adoptions(IBESR)
- family also designates an orphanage of choice (from a short list of partner orphanages from agency) to adopt from
- orphanage directors “soft-match” a child in their care to family based on family’s specifications/potential best fit. (i.e. age, gender, health status)
- orphanage pays large fees and sends that child’s paperwork through legal process to become legally adoptable (this process includes 2 birth parent interviews (usually months apart), signatures from multiple avenues of the government, additional birth parent signatures/meetings, etc.)
- after final signatures from IBESR on that child’s paperwork and approving match to specific family, a “referral” (official) is ready for agency staff to pick up.
- referral is picked up and translated from French to English, (typically a few days process) and emailed to the family in the States to review and accept/reject along with two travel date options for mandatory 2-week travel/bonding trip in Haiti
- upon acceptance, a travel date is confirmed, and child is officially “matched” with that family, and will not be given to another family as a referral.
- 2-week bonding trip: family spends every day with child, on-site at orphanage, one or more days under the scrutiny of IBESR representative, along with an extensive “interview” with IBESR rep, to further probe into whether or not they believe this match is beneficial for family and child.
- after 2-week stay, family returns home to wait for extensive legal process to complete. Adoptee stays at orphanage until final visas and passports are issued, then is allowed to come home. (the steps after bonding trip here are much-simplified. It is a very involved, long process, which we are not close to right now – so figured it isn’t as important than the present)
For the past almost 26 months, we have been on bullet point 4 on this list. Our soft match has been waiting for the birth parent interviews portion of the legal process to be completed for approximately 15 months, with no end in sight. Continuous rescheduling due to missing information, or simply “not a good day”, and the latest was “we found an error in his file” and they would not process the 2nd interview until this was fixed.
We waited, we prayed, we cried, we yelled (respectfully) at the Lord, we glazed over, we asked tough questions. And then an answer came a few weeks ago. Not necessarily a life-changing revolutionary answer, but it was an answer of sorts. And at this point, any answer is hope enough.
You may have noticed I put the term “normal” in quotes before listing the typical process. This is because we entered the process just before all the rules changed. Haiti became a Hague Convention country right after we entered, which changes the process of adoptions performed. Because we were admitted before the rules all changed, we were “grandfathered” in under old processes and allowances, even though we were going to be considered “new law”. Under the new law, orphanages are not allowed to give “soft-matches” to families. Instead, the IBESR will match families based on the parameters/specifications in the paperwork, with children who are waiting for families. The biggest difference here is that these are children who the IBESR has no relationship with, they are from orphanages all over Haiti. Orphanages they match a family with are most likely not going to be “partnered” with the family’s agency, (if they were it would be nothing short of a miracle), which means the agency has no prior relationship with its directors or staff, no knowledge (or very little) about the location or organization itself.
The answer for us was that we were approached with the option of changing our matching process. We could open ourselves and our file up to the IBESR to match our family with their own process. The main benefit to this, is that IBESR has a huge stack of children’s files all ready to go on their desks. These children have already been cleared for adoption, already had BP interviews, signatures, the like. They are literally ready to be stapled to a family’s documents and signed and issued.
The downside to this is what I previously mentioned. That the adoption agency most likely would not have prior knowledge of the orphanage home of this child, and would not have the same contact/resources/relationships built there. There would be less control over the specific child matched.
After a very short time of thinking and praying and talking over this option, Kris and I decided that we had trusted God for the past 2 1/2 years with this whole process, why would we stop trusting Him now? This change provided an opportunity to move forward, to try something different than the “stuck” we had been experiencing with our soft-match, and allowed us yet another glimmer of hope on the horizon of the view in front of us.
So, we jumped. Our file’s addendum was submitted to IBESR, stating that we would like to be matched by the IBESR staff, and we were told it could be several weeks before we heard anything at all, and might be still longer than that for a referral.
So again, we wait, but we wait with hope, and renewed anticipation. I stand at the bedroom window of our Little Man and look out at what will eventually be the view he sees every day. I pray that he won’t take it for granted, I pray that he will look out and see hope, and love, that he will lay in that bed at night and look up at the ceiling and talk to Jesus about his day. I pray that he will be and feel protected within this house, that he will know love and care, smiles and laughter, that he will not be short of hugs from his siblings, that he will run down the stairs and jump into daddy’s arms just as if he’d been doing that all his life.
As busy and crazy as life is for us, we would stop the world if it meant we could hold him. But for now, we continue to be faithful with what is our here and now – which is three little hearts that are growing fast, learning tough lessons about God’s grace and forgiveness, about sin and that the little twang in your heart that lets you know something isn’t quite right, that’s the Holy Spirit. And when we have a blessing, or a gift, we hold it with open hands and share it with anyone who needs it, because greater is the joy in watching someone else’s eyes light up than the feeling of excitement when you hold it for the first time.
We are teaching patience, by modeling it in our own lives and in our own wait. We are teaching them to be respectful of the process, to allow the frustration, to feel it and experience it, but to calm it with grace, and understanding.
Its a difficult road, its one we don’t offer up to everyone, because many times people just want the latest news, and that’s okay! We feel like broken records and sometimes we feel bad for you, that we can’t tell you a different story! 🙂 But we are really excited that someday the story we tell will begin to change and morph again, like a choose-your-own-adventure, and the novel will continue on with new highs and lows, a new kind of conflict-resolution, and I know we will change as people and as a family, again.
We would ask that those of you who are willing to pray with us and for us, that you would pray for continued movement! There has been a flurry of excitement among Haiti adoptive families the past few weeks, as there have been 3 referrals for our agency alone, along with exits from IBESR (the next step after bonding trip), Visas being issued, and multiple families ready for passports to bring their kids home. We feel the heat rising from the anticipation and it is keeping us buzzing and ready.
Please pray with us that the IBESR would quickly and efficiently match our family, that they would pay attention to the parameters, and that a result would be sent soon. We ask for prayer that we would continue to melt into this season of contentment and patience, that we would continue to be diligent in our moving forward with our kids at home, not neglecting to cherish the moments and memories we are making now even during the wait.
A tougher request for us would be that we would be able to find sincere joy to battle the frustration when families receive referrals and its not us, especially when we have been waiting much much longer – a sobering reminder that nothing in Haiti is done in “order” – there are no lines, no queues. Another way that God has been insistent that we depend on Him, and trust His ultimate timing.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I’m done! 🙂 Thank you for your continued support and prayers!
Laura & Kris McGreevey (and Braeden, Logan & Abby)