Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Breath of Fresh Air--An Adoption Update!

 "Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies."
~ Erich Fromm

A big heave.  A refreshment like no other.  A breath of FRESH AIR.  It's remarkable how that one, deep, cleansing breath can somehow erase all of the stifled breaths before it.  That is what yesterday felt like to my soul.  It got a big ole' breath of fresh air...and boy did it feel good!

There is no doubt this adoption process creates moments, days, weeks, months of what feel like suffering and effort as the above quote implies.  However, those are also graced with moments of fresh breath along the journey and for those moments, all of us in these adoptions press on.  To say I have been feeling a bit restless in our adoption would be true.  In some regards I had every right to be--a year into the process and only one visit with our beautiful Nora some 8 months ago.  Multiple unanswered questions and timelines that are long and never guaranteed.  In other regards I had no right to be--there are MANY in this process who have been at this far longer than I and my one year wait is just a drop in their bucket.  However, it is what it is and I have to be true to what I feel.  I had been feeling restless to see God move in what can only be labeled as His miraculous work and nothing less.

The moment where His miraculous work becomes our breath of fresh, life-giving air.  That is what I was desperate for.

And that is just what happened when I got this email from our orphanage director yesterday...

Good news. the dossier is out of Ibesr, I am waiting for the Moniteur which is a gov news paper saying that the president has signed the dispensation..
I will try to make you come with Kiesrsten at the end of August I said I will try...
Out of IBESR.  A signed dispensation from the President.  The moment we have been waiting for, praying for, hoping for.  A breath of fresh and infusing air to a suffocating soul.

For those of you following the process and time lines of our adoption, you will know this is nothing short of a miracle!  We found out we entered IBESR on February 13, 2011.  5 months ago.  5 months.  5 long but incredibly short months when we were told to be prepared for a potential year+ wait just stuck on the President's desk.  We were (and still are) praying for God to be moving us along this journey miraculously fast.  We are hoping all others can see His ability and power to work on behalf of these orphans despite what time frame the governments say it will take.  He IS at work, friends.  He IS the One we give praise and glory and honor to along this journey.

So, where does this breath of fresh air leave us?  Where are we at in the process now?  We will hopefully be making a trip back to Haiti in a month or two to go before the Dean and to apply for our Immigration.  Of course, beyond those two very important meetings, we will also spend countless moments loving on Nora.  Our older daughter, Lily, will also hopefully be joining us on that trip so she can meet her baby sister for the first time.  She is beside herself with giddiness at this prospect.  After this trip we will then move on in the process where our paperwork goes to the next court system in Haiti.  I have a very detailed explanation of each part of this adoption here, however, if you just want the brief summary of the next steps and their time frames, here it is...
  • Parquet Court and Attestation: 1-6 months
  • Ministry of Interior (MOI): 3-6 months
  • Passport and Visa: 1-4 weeks
  • IBESR Final letter: 2 days
  • Bring Nora Home!!!!
So,  if you add up all the long-ends of those time frames we still have another 1+ year to this adoption, but if you add up all the short-ends of those, you can see we "could" have her home in a matter of 5-6 months.  Current time frames in other Haitian adoptions generally give us hope that it will not be another whole year, but somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.  With all of that, we are giving ourselves the realistic outlook of Nora being in our home by the end of Spring 2013.  While we are giving ourselves that realistic outlook, we are also giving God all our trust, hope, and prayers for the process to continue on in miraculous time.  We believe He can do the "impossible" things our earthly minds just can not comprehend.  We are already seeing Him do it.  We believe He is the GOOD God who desires ABUNDANT LIFE for each and every orphan, each and every parent, each and every child He has created.  That includes Nora, that includes me, that includes you whether you find yourself in an adoption process or just trying to figure out what it is life has thrown at you today.  I encourage you, friends, to take a stance today to believe God to be who He says He is.

A breath of fresh air.  My God is the only One who gives me the air I breathe and it is incredibly fresh.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #6-Etch-A-Sketch Beginnings

A note my sister left me at some point in high school.
Every habit, gift, talent, interest, or hobby begins somewhere.  My artistic giftings have been passed on to me from the generations past.  My mom, my aunt, and my grandpa were all art teachers.  It seems as if God also blessed me with this same family trait.  I enjoy painting murals, working on the Etch-A-Sketch, digital scrapbooking, photography, and my favorite--watercolor painting (although that one seems to be put on hold a bit with young kids running around everywhere).  I took on the Etch-A-Sketch as a young girl when my parents let my sister and I be involved in the Etch-A-Sketch club.  Here are some of my early drawings as an elementary school student...

A few times I had my etchings publicized in their club newsletter...

A few times I even did well in their contests...

Most importantly, I have had fun over the years messing around on the Etch-A-Sketch for my kids and then this past year to raise money for our adoption.  There are certainly Etch-A-Sketch artists WAY better than I, but I know I can do more than a square on there, so I have fun doing what I can do.

If you haven't seen some of my other Etch-A-Sketch drawings before, you can view some of them in my past posts herehere, and here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #5-All About Me

How many of you have children in 4th grade?  Age 9-10 years old.  Have you ever wondered what life looked like from their perspective?  Have you ever wondered if classmates are mean to them?  What they dream of?  What they like about themselves?  What has made them feel like crying?  Do you know those things already or do you long to have answers to those questions?

If you think back, you may remember I had a post entitled "All About Me".  It was my attempt to let my readers know a little bit of the background to the person writing this blog.  Well, while looking through all of these old scrapbooks, I came across my "All About Me" book written in 4th grade again.  Reading these entries written by my 9-10 year old self was so incredibly eye-opening.  I was brought to tears at my own honesty and openness to tell my teacher what I was thinking and feeling.  Within my words I hear my creativeness, my hurts, my dreams, my insecurities and my hopes.  Some of these same thoughts are still within me as an adult while many are thankfully healed by the Truths I have found in Christ.  Some of my interests then are still my interests now, which was so cool to realize how far back those actually can be traced.  I'll spare you my own thoughts about each of these as that would make this post crazy long.  Instead, I'll simply post several of the entries for you to read for yourself...(and just so you know, "Tiffi" was our family dog)


 In a day of age where too many children are left to their own thoughts and feelings with no one to express them to, I found myself hoping and praying our children will one day have assignments like this one at school.  A chance to let it out.  A chance to tell someone what they think, how they feel, what they desire, what they are scared of.  I am also praying for our teachers to be people who will not only read these answers, but come alongside these students to help sort through it all.  School doesn't always have to be about math problems or complete sentences...it is also the chance to learn about yourself and how you can impact the world.  A chance for a teacher to see beyond a letter grade, a test score, or a reading level to the heart of the young person in their classroom.  Personally, I would side on the idea that the latter is even more important than the former.

As a parent, I also pray Micah and I are always seen by our children as a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings openly.  I know we long for questions and topics such as these to be shared by our children (and have even already begun asking questions like these).  We long for the questions in this "All About Me" booklet to be normal and regular questions asked BY US AS PARENTS in our very own home.  Whether they are asked around a dinner table, while praying together as a family before bed, while driving to the store in the van, or as they come off the bus from a long day at school, it doesn't matter really, we just want to be asking them.  The last thing I want to learn from a teacher is something incredibly deep about my own child.  The opposite sounds so much more appealing--already knowing those deep thoughts of my child and having assignments like these enlighten others of what I already am blessed to know.  Time will tell if our hopes and dreams to be a family of completely open communication comes to pass, but for now, we are certainly striving for this and already implementing this type of openness.  May the Lord bless our efforts beyond our wildest dreams!

If you are a person with a child around this age, I challenge you to ask the hard questions...ask the easy questions...just ask questions!  These beautiful children have so much to offer the world if people are willing to invest in them.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #4-Not My First Adoption

All along I thought my heart for adoption was spurred on in March of 2010 for the first time--right before Micah left for his medical mission trip to Haiti.  But, no.   No, March of 2010 was not the first time.  I found evidence that not only had He called my heart to adopt WAY before then, I actually have adopted a few times before!  Evidence found amongst the memories kept safe in my scrapbook piles from when I was a kid...

For some reason I have a feeling these adoptions were not quite as long of a process, didn't cost as much, and didn't involve heartache and the roller coaster of emotions that our current one does.  I'm thankful, however, to have found the evidence I have walked this road before now and in the end had my "babies" in my arms in the end.  I have no doubt this one will end the same way...no matter how long that takes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #3--Encouraging Notes

By far the most kept items throughout my scrapbooks over the years were hand-written notes.  Literally, hundreds of notes from teachers, friends, my parents, my sister, family members, and elders who were highly influential in my life.  They came to me in all different ways...notes sent home from school, cards once attached to flowers, letters with stamps on them, stickers on report cards, small notes found in my lunch box, intricately folded notes from school friends, and messages written on the sides of cards.  All of them expressing their encouragement, appreciation, love, or affirmation of either something I had done or simply who I was.  Here are some examples of what I found...


When I finished going through them all, I had an overwhelming sense of the "feel goods" running through my body and that's when it hit me...I'm still the same "Angie".  To this day, receiving notes of encouragement and affirmation is my #1 love language.  If a person wants to really strike my heart of hearts, somehow write it out to me and I will eat it up and be filled.  I don't know why God wired me this way, but I have come to know it, understand it, and appreciate it over the years.  It is who I am.   Obviously, this is the Angie I have always been.  Ever since 1st grade I must have really enjoyed and thrived on receiving notes.  If they didn't speak my love language back then I'm sure I would have tossed them in the trash after reading them, but that is not what happened.  No, they did not get tossed in the trash...oh no...they got put under the plastic protective covers of my scrapbooks to always be remembered and cherished.

I am not sure who all reads my blog, but if you are reading this and were one of the many who have given me notes over the years, can I publicly thank you here?  You have no idea what they have meant to me.  You have no idea the love and acceptance and appreciation I have felt and been built up on by your willingness to take a moment out of your day to tell me something nice.  Your words have been fuel to my soul over the years and I am so grateful for them.  I have kept so many of your notes as reminders of the love that abounds in this world.  When days are hard, I have an arsenal of blessings to go to and remember.  I thank God for each of you today for speaking my love language and showing me how much you care.

For those of you who still make a habit of writing notes to other people...thank you!  I am sure I am not alone out there in the world.  I am sure there are others who need to hear how much they are loved and appreciated through the written word.  I'm sure there is still a little first grader somewhere who is thriving on the hope their first grade teacher will be like my first grade teacher--a teacher who went above and beyond her teaching gifts to simply write note after note after note of encouragement to her students.  I'm sure there is a daughter or son out there who needs a smile today as they open up their lunch box at school to find a note hidden amongst the food letting them know they did a great job on their report for class.  I'm sure there is a youth member who needs to know from an adult in their congregation that they matter in the body of that church and in the body of believers.  I'm sure there is still a young woman or young man who needs us to be speaking their love language of written affirmation to simply make it through another day.  I want to encourage all of us to take a moment out of our day today to be the one who writes a note for whoever just came to your mind.  It could be something they cherish in a scrapbook of their own for many, many years to come.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing."
~I Thessalonians 5:11

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #2-Left & Right

A short post here that will undoubtedly make my husband smile....

There it was.  Proof.  Proof that what I still struggle with today started at a very young age.  Proof that what a young child doesn't quite understand even in pre-school may very well turn into an issue that plagues them for life.  Proof that it's important to hammer in those basic skills as a child in order to fully learn them, understand them, and not need to even think about them later in life.  Proof that my husband has every right to crack up or roll his eyes over and over again as I once again mess this up...

Yep, proof that I have always struggled with correctly knowing my right from my left.  Ha!  This has to be one of the funniest and yet profound discoveries I found.  This picture was taken from my pre-school skills evaluation.  Pre-school!  Check marks with circles around them were indicated at the top of the form to be skills that were not mastered yet and needed improvement.  Unfortunately, some 30 years later, depending on how fast they would want me to answer their question, I may still get a check mark with a circle around it.  It makes me wonder what Lily struggled with in her own pre-school experience last year that I should probably start reviewing with her again so she doesn't find herself writing a blog like this later in life. : )

I can hear him now...my blessed husband.  He's laughing and probably saying, "Yep.  I can totally see why she got that mark on her eval!"  And really, my parents, and perhaps my sister, are also laughing since they have all had to deal with my struggles over the years.  Oh well, at least I can say I'm consistent!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm Still the Same "Angie" #1-Braiding Hair

I was sitting in choir class in 6th grade, bored.  Really bored.  So, I started playing with my hair.  For some reason I decided right then and there to take out my ponytail and figure out how to french braid my own hair.  I'm not real sure what it looked like in the back when I put a twisty on the bottom of it, but I remember feeling quite proud of myself at the end of class.

And that's pretty much how it started...a love of braiding hair.  My mom had been braiding my hair before this tender age of 11, but from then on pretty much, I took over.  As you can see in the photos above, I even decided to teach others how to braid hair by writing a paper on it for English class.  This was one of the treasures I found while searching through all of my old papers and scrapbooks.  I'm not sure what the fascination is with braiding, but I really do enjoy it.  Seeing strands of hair being developed into a beautiful pattern and tied off at the end feels like a nice accomplishment.

When Lily was born I was so excited to have a girl who had hair I could braid.  Her hair as a toddler was so thin and fine that braiding rarely worked, but I knew a day would come since Micah and my hair are both thick, thick, thick.  This is the first french braid I tried to put into her hair...it didn't stay for long because her hair was still so thin.

Over the years, however, it has thickened up just as I suspected, and now we can really have fun with her braids.

Little did I know at age 11, this learned trait in 6th grade choir class would one day be extremely beneficial...not completely for my daughter, Lily's hair, but for another little daughter I had no idea God would bless us with.

Nora's hair will undoubtedly give me plenty of times to perfect my love of braiding!  In fact, I'm a bit nervous about how much braiding I will have to do with her sweet little head.  4 hour braiding sessions will become a norm...I still can't even wrap my brain around sitting for 4 hours working on her hair.  I have been reading up on products, styles, how-to's, and don't- do's ever since we found our beautiful Haitian gem, but I still don't feel like I have a clue how to create those beautiful braids on her head.  Perhaps if I could actually get my hands on her beautiful black curls that would help. : )

Until then, I will continue to practice braiding on Lily, I guess.  She doesn't see to mind...

Who knew a love of braiding could become so valuable later in life!  Who knew my strange desire to have my hair corn-row braided as a high school student would actually be a precursor to a life-time of corn-row braids on my very own child.  Well, I guess I do know...God knew and He uses everything for good, doesn't He?!?