Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Full Circle

When I began this blog more than two years ago I used the phrase "mama blanc". I had heard from a fellow adoptive mama this was our name that was given to us by the children. Honestly, even though this is our third trip here I really had never heard it. After the first trip I was considering changing the name, but really why bother?  It still meant "white mama" so it was still fitting. I heard the phrase,"Mama Blanc". Rachel told me the children use it to describe us women coming for them. Apparently, the children had a lively discussion about their mama's this morning. Later, we went to the orphanage, I heard my own little Grace saying,"mama blanc" intermixed in a whole lot of Kreyole. She was talking to her friends and "mama blanc" was all I could pick up. I asked Rachel later what she was saying. Rachel said she was telling he other children I was HER mama blanc and they were not to touch me.   After we left the orphanage, we went for a wonderful lunch. I needed to take Grace potty, and as she sat there seeming to study my face I looked at her and said,"Mama Blanc?" She just smiled and said,"Oui".

In that moment, I had been claimed. I was her mama. Somehow been though we do not speak the same language we knew where we belonged in eachother's lives.  I responded back with a simple,"Oui".

As for Alex, I am mama to him too. I was not allowed to put him down at the orphanage. That was funny too. He wanted to be where the children were in the middle of the action, but safely in my arms where I could hold no one else.

Now, you may be wondering, hmmmm..... How does that work?  Claimed by both children. How will I manage?  Funny thing is, they have claimed one another too. She lovingly patted his knee in the car today and he likes to nap right on top of her. She doesn't mind though.

Somehow God knew these children from two different mountain tops are right where they are supposed to be.... With their siblings from the other end of the world from two different villages in Russia and their parents from plain old USA.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Finally...a problem worth enjoying

Until now, our adoption has followed a typical Haitian path. I guess I should clarify, the only thing typical about a Haitian adoption is it is unpredictable. Delays when things seemingly should go easily, speed when things seem impossible, up and down, up and down. In the last two and half years we have been victims of hurricane delays, paperwork snafus and delays that can only be a mysteries that will never be solved.  So, here we sit, on the US side proceeding through the embassy for the last five weeks. Yes, this was supposed to be easy. On to the US with limitless technology, and "superior" systems. Guess what?  Government shutdown. Although the embassy is open for business, they're short staffed and frustrated. Then, Thurs an answer. A paper from three years ago was not signed by us. The fix?  Go to Haiti. Go now.

We learned of our impending trip 24 hours ago. I was able to give immediate notice of my maternity leave, book flights for us, and pack for six people. Now, I sit, head spinning, exhausted and unable to even think about bed. It dawns on me, this little error is driving my children into my arms in approximately 48 hours.  Funny how one error can finally work in your favor. This time I get to keep my children. The paper will represent all that is needed for the visas.

In other news, with great joy we will show our boys Haiti. I am interested to see what they say about seeing an actual orphanage. They both came from Russian orphanages. What will they think about when they see the children?  What will they think about seeing poverty?  Will they notice smiling people who have nothing?  What will their view of life be after this?  So many questions. I have dreamed of all these things for two years and it is finally time for the answers. I have a feeling this blog is gonna get a whole lot more interesting!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mount St. Haiti

Superstitions. I think if you asked any waiting adoptive mothers they would admit to a superstition or two. Something we will or won't do convinced that by doing these , truth be told, mundane activities somehow there will be a profound attempt on our adoptions. For example, one waiting mama friend will not paint her child's room until a travel date is set in stone. I, too, suffer from superstitions.  There I said it. I have a small gathering, OK, more like a piling of things for Haiti and the babies. It occupies a corner of my bedroom. Now that I really examine it, it has become a rather large pile that I have affectionately termed to myself,"Mount St. Haiti".

This pile began over two years ago. After our first trip, I left our large duffel there. It had stuff for the babies in it from our first trip. There were toys, diapers, wipes etc...  Before our second trip 13 months ago, I got it all reorganized and repacked. When we returned home, it went back to its usual spot in the corner. Over the last thirteen months I have gathered all kinds of things that have added to the pile.  There are bags with nanny gifts, more toys, Christmas presents for the babies that are unopened, baby clothes, and I am sure much more.  The purchases remain in their bags.  The pile is ever growing. In case you were wondering, yes, we do clean and dust our bedroom, careful not to disturb the pile. I must admit this is superstitious on my part, and yes, we could probably feature this corner on a Sunday night on an episode of "Hoarders".

In my own defense though I must admit there is more to this than superstition. It is a fear. I spent months with long lists of things to do. I had painting, furniture to buy, house rearranging, all kinds of things. I had lists and errands and endless work. Now, here it is. Down to one pile. Mount St. Haiti. Somehow if I get this done and they are not here I will be at a loss.

So, this week we are anticipating good news from the US Embassy. That would be that they have all the evidence they need to issue Visa appointments for my babies. Once I hear that, Mount St. Haiti will become a distant memory and replaced with all new memories or our new family.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Weary.  Yes that is definitely the word. I guess I have been hesitating to write a new entry as I somehow thought I would have this explosive exciting adoption news. It was going to be an entry that came off like fireworks with an amazing celebration that spread to all our friends and family. The reality is, no, I do not have one of these. We are still waiting. Now we have passports and are waiting on translations to be done so we can get submitted to the US Embassy for a visa. In true adoption form our translator had surgery. We a waiting for her to recover enough to do the translations. This is an unforeseen delay and one that is quite reasonable. People get sick, people have surgery. Just victims of circumstance is all. My logical brain gets this. However, combine it with the ever changing government causing delays, the hurricane delays, the birth certificate error and the multitude of other things that have slowed things down I find myself simply weary.

So, today I have decided to throw away the pity party and try a pick me up for the whole clan. W are celebrating. I decided there really is no reason to wait for fireworks and excitement. We need to listen to the Brother Charlie song,"Times Like These". Yes, my husband is in the band, but no this is not a shameless plug. The song says,"times like these I feel I should praise The Lord."  So, at a time like this, we are praising. In my typical culinary fashion we are praising with salami and provolone calzones from scratch and chocolate cake. Praises we are here and healthy. Praises that although Jack totaled the car two weeks ago, they are ok, and yes even praises for our adoption process and a coordinator that never gives up on our case. A lady who has fought hard through this process and loved our children every minute. Yes, praises for her. Now that we discuss it over cake, there is lots to be thankful for in the midst of the difficulties. We may just be a little thankful for chocolate too....:)

Sunday, August 4, 2013


To my readers who pay attention to the time I am writing this, yes, I know it is 4:00am.  I also am aware that it seems to be a crazy time to be blogging, but I am actually holding down the fort in the ER and grateful to have just a bit of downtime after last night's busy shift.  Nonetheless, I find that during the down time I tend to get online and check my email, twitter, facebook, etc...Inevitably there are messages from my fellow mamas.  I am not just referring to the other moms from my orphanage, but the greater adopting from Haiti community.  Through the last two and a half years I have come to lean very heavily on these people.  Some of them I have cried with, some I have laughed with, some have vented to me and I to them as we claw and scratch our way through this process.  It dawned on me how fortunate I am to have these women in my life to hold me up through the rough periods. 

Suddenly today as I reflected on that, I was struck by the thought of another important woman in my life.  My nana.  She was my mom's mom.  I always knew my mom was adopted as well.  The story goes, "nana had fibroids and couldn't get pregnant".  I guess I have lived with that story my whole life that I never really thought about it.  It was the same sort of story that went along with them living in Iowa, or being german and irish.  I never considered the real depth of that circumstance.  Today I did.  My mom was born in 1944.  There were no ultrasounds.  There weren't hormonal tests, pee strips to figure out ovulation.  There were not hysterosalpingograms, inseminations or any of the other modern medical procedures we have come to rely on to create life.  Nana just couldn't get pregnant.  I suddenly thought about all the months of her waiting to get pregnant, all the disappointment.  I considered that at that time these things were not discussed openly.  She would have to keep these things to herself.  Then, the adoption.  I thought about her and grandpa waiting just like me for their little girl.  I suddenly wondered what it was like for her when she was handed her baby after all the years of disappointment.  Suddenly, Nana and I have so much in common.  However, I have these wonderful mamas to share my hard times and happy times with when she did not. 

I find myself wishing I could talk to Nana.  I wish I could hear HER story, not the pat answer story I have heard my whole life.  I guess in a sense I would like to be her Facebook, her email and her twitter.  I would like to hear how she felt God's touch in her new baby like I do in my children.  One day I will see her again and we will share our stories.  I can almost see her knowingly smile as I share the stories of meeting my children for the first time, and I will get to smile as she tells me about God having a sense of humor in that several months after bringing my mom home she found out she was 5 months pregnant.  We could share our heartaches and joys as only adoptive mothers can, and celebrate the one lady we have in common, my mom. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013


 I sit here at my laptop a little sweaty, a little dirt covered and definitely smelling like tomatoes.  When I was growing up my dad always had tomato plants (still does), and my grandmother REALLY had tomato plants.  She always planted 50 of them.  She planted loads of other things over their one acre garden plot.  There were beans and onions, grape vines and cherry trees and always lots of roses.  I liked the tomatoes the best though.  She did all kinds of things with them.  She made juice, canned them, and of course, always had fresh ones on hand.  I never was quite able to find tomatoes like hers through my adult life, although I never planted any myself...until now.  This year I got just a large bucket planter and Zachary and I carefully selected three plants.  I thought I would start small.  I then selected a tomato cage, that might make things grow right and easier and we planted them in a matter of minutes.  I guess I was not fully prepared for what would happen next.  They grew.  I mean GREW.  I found myself tucking the little branches into the cage so they would grow straight.  I would check them in the afternoon to see if they needed water.  Pretty soon, I realized my dad spent a lot of time by his tomatoes not to smoke his pipe (that was what I always thought, LOL) but because they needed attention.  Pretty soon, my plants seemed a bit monstrous.  This large ball of green leaning to one side despite the cage covered in little yellow flowers.  Hmmm..... I thought, this must be the time to "stake them", as I always heard Nana and Dad talk about.  Well, as I said, I am a novice.  I don't have that stuff, like stakes and twine.  I did however have some super long metal marshmallow sticks in the garage collecting dust.  That will work.  I had some plastic twine too.  That evening I staked them up, and made it stand tall again.  Little by little, it began leaning again.  Fruit appeared all over the vines but it became worse and worse with the leaning.  Today, I found myself at Lowe's and thought I should get some real tomato stakes and make this thing stand straight.  So, I picked up six bamboo stakes and tonight I got busy.  I first undid the marshmallow sticks and came to realize, the plant had become so heavy in places that the stalk was completely bent.  I went to work, carefully lining up stalk after stalk.  Pretty soon I realized that this plant that had grown so large had needed help in little ways to be healthy. 

I decided that this adoption was so much like these plants.  It started with a small idea.  I remember the day that we decided to adopt.  Tim actually had gotten a bonus, just what we needed to move forward.  He texted to me "I'm thinking mustard seed".  We started with one referral, it grew into mountains of paperwork, months of faith, disappointment, sadness and unspeakable joy.  Each little branch was my faith journey.  Boy, I really needed that God shaped bamboo stick to put together my fracture of trust at times, He tied Himself to His promises on another vine that at times I was not so sure were really true, He supported my sadness and heartache and restored my joy with the bamboo of His peace.  He stood me straight up just like I righted my tomatoes when the disappointment of delays grabbed hold.  Yes, although this adoption is huge just like my tomato plants, there are so many little parts where I needed God to fix little things and provide the ultimate support.

Now, my tomatoes are busily ripening in the sun, just as my last passport is being printed and we are headed off to visas.  I did get  my first tomato yesterday.  It tasted just like Nana's.  The bite of that tomato took me back to her house in Clinton, IA.  A tomato warm and juicy from the sun, so sweet.  I can only imagine holding my babies will be even sweeter. 

Monday, July 22, 2013


My mom loves to read. She loves a great mystery she can sink her teeth in or a historical fiction books among other things. No, she isn't a new fangled reader with an aptly loaded up iPad, she loves the smell of the crisp pages of a new book, or the crackle of the binding of a book being opened for the first time. She even enjoys the black fingertips that go with reading a fresh newspaper. Therefore, it is no surprise that my children get many books as gifts. I also have an amazing sister-in-law who has a degree in library science who manages to find amazing children's books. Today, I was sorting through things for the babies as I prepare for their homecoming. I came across an Amazon box from my mom.  I knew it had "Make Way for Ducklings" inside with a note that it had been her favorite book.

In my extreme preoccupation with passports, birth certificates, on and on, I think my brain had misinterpreted this gift. I now realize I thought it had,"The Chick and the Duckling", the classic story of two different birds. I had made the association of my children having different colored skin than me and thought, yes, this is a good story. Only that was not the book. I soon realized I did not know,"Make Way for Ducklings". I pulled it out and looked at it. It was cooyrighted in 1941. Yes, mom was born in 44, I bet this was popular in her childhood.

I read the story. It is the story of a duck family.  In particular the mother duck is looking for a home to raise her children. They fly until they get tired and find an island in a city park. However, there is rushing traffic, people and what appears to be chaos. Finally she finds a quieter place to lay her eggs...eight ducklings were born. Ultimately she returns to the same park, only the park is different.  She realizes people are there to help her. A police officer helps her cross the street, people feed them peanuts, and they go on to lead a happy life in the loving arms of a whole community.

I beganto reflect on this a bit. Somehow I decided the mama duck was like God.  We as ducklings need to have faith and follow Him and he will provide us with a home even if it is in a place we would not imagine. I wondered if this was how Grace and Alex's birth parents felt about God providing a home for their children here. America must appear scary. People bustling around, so much modern technology, so many things they do not have, not to mention a whole different culture.

When we return to Haiti soon we will have a meeting with their birth parents. A chance to connect our families and for them to say goodbye to their children. Until this point I have focused so hard on their sacrifice,  on the tragedy of them being unable to raise their children.  This book gave me a new focus. I now feel compelled to convey the safety and love of their new home and environment for these mamas who have given me the gift of their babies. I only hope we can do these amazing women justice.