Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Aftermath....

I guess you could say today was the aftermath of Christmas. I spent time picking up stray bows, scraps of paper left behind, and for dinner eating leftover ham. I must say that maple Dijon glaze I made was pretty tasty the second day too. I could not help but wonder about Grace and Alex. They spent a wonderful Christmas with their Nana and their orphanage siblings. I got an amazing picture of Grace reciting a poem at her school party. Here she was with her hair all done in two braids parted in the middle with colorful barrettes. She wore a little skirt and shirt and I could not help but notice the floral keds I bought her. She had her fingers in her mouth as three year olds often do when they are nervous, but there she was up in front of her whole class. I looked through the faces in the class and knew many of them from previous visits.  I studied their smiles and again was reminded of all that they share.

I let my mind wander to Zachary. On his last day before break, they had a party too. He loved telling me about the singing, the artwork, the treats.  There were friends woven into every tale he told. Today he even asked how many more days until he could go back to school because he missed his friends. As I put it all together I wondered what it would be like for a stranger to take Zachary someplace new. A new house, new family, new school with nothing familiar. This is what we will do with Grace and Alex soon. I was once again overwhelmed in thinking it through. One of my fellow, and very wise, mamas talks about helping her daughter through the grief of leaving their old family for hers. I see this coming into focus more and more for us, as well as the value of maternity leave to help them to feel secure.  I am so grateful they will have each other.  A familiar face in the overwhelming world of newness. I am also grateful for the network of mamas so they can remain connected with their first family.

I know that they feel the aftermath of Christmas perhaps in a different way today, but it is my prayer that their day was wonderful with their Nana and their orphanage family.  I have a feeling next year will involve the magic of Skype!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Readying for Christmas

This has been a very busy week for me. I once had a friend tell me,"my husband believes in Santa too.  He wakes up Christmas morning and believes the whole event happens by magic.". I guess the same could be said for my husband. I take the helm for Christmas and make it happen. To be fair, he has so many other helms to manage and I love doing it. So, I spent the week shopping, wrapping, and in the case of tomorrow, baking. This is kind of a hard week for me because I am terrible at containing myself when I find the perfect thing. The thing that will make the kids go crazy with excitement. I found that thing. Even though I have seen the reaction a bunch of times, i never get tired of the oooo's and ahh's.  That really is a gift to me.

I must admit however, the were some rough periods. I found myself browsing the Barbie aisles for Grace and the toddler aisles for Alex. No need for that stuff this season, and the reality is I have lots of homecoming stuff for them anyway. There was that family situation I mentioned earlier that continues to require a great deal of prayer. Through the midst of the difficulties, I put myself to work making a list of all things that were good about the babies being in Haiti. Here it is:

1.  We have very close friends who have laughed and cried with us and mostly prayed with us through every minute of this wait. Miraculously, they now just may have an opportunity to adopt as well. I cannot help but wonder how God's timing has nudged their hearts too.
2.  Today, Grace got to have her Christmas party with the teacher at her orphanage. This is Grace's first time in school. She has learned to wear a uniform, learned to function in a classroom and today got to celebrate along side this amazing lady.
3.  On Tuesday, Grace and Alex will have their last orphanage Christmas. I do not know if their parents are coming or not, but if they do it is their last holiday with them. I pray their birth families will come, as they are amazing people who selflessly are sharing their children with me.   More importantly, they have come to know our coordinator as Nana. She has been a focal point in their lives. She not only single handedly processed their adoptions, but held them through skinned knees, and hard times. This is her holiday with them.
4.  As for us, this is our last holiday as is family unit. The last time our house will look like this, not a bad thing, just that life will change dramatically soon.

I am sure there are a million different things that are so amazing about Grace and Alex still being in Haiti, but one thing is for sure, next year we will have a million blessings to count with them here.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I have really liked our sermon series at church. Our pastor has talked about the paradox of Christmas. Identifying with the sacrifice of the birth of Jesus compared with our quest for stuff in shiny packages. Today, he discussed joy and sorrow of the season. This really spoke to me, especially the sorrow part. It reminded me of all the people who cannot be with us this Christmas for one reason or another. I thought of the babies, relatives and friends etc...  However, the suggestion was to surround the sorrow with joy. This reminded me of all the Christmas traditions my children have come to depend on. Things that give me great joy to do.

One of my favorites is known as "WFSJ's".  This refers to my tradition of purchasing special Jammie's for each child to wear Christmas Eve.  In my mind these are not just any Jammie's. They have to have a special meaning. There were the Ohio State Jammie's for my Ohio kid, and the Star Wars Lego Jammie's for another kid etc...  I like the Jammie's to be reflective of who they are. This year I got awesome and unique Jammie's, however cannot share what they are as one of my children reads this!  Jack has taken the wfsj tradition and added a Santa hat. He has to sleep in a Santa hat Christmas Eve too, another tradition that has spread to the other kids too. In fact, today we had to be sure we knew where the hats were.

Then, there are the presents. Each year the kids each get a stuffed animal. These too have had themes like last year when they all got giant Angry Birds. They each get a Starbucks mug, which in all reality is more reflective of me lol!  Probably the most fun thing is baking day. My mom always put Johnny Mathis on the stereo and we rolled out cookie dough and  decorated them. I carried this tradition on too. It was always funny to me that when the children were very little we ended up wo just two or three cookies with two pounds of decorations on them and the others were plain. They would carefully see how much they could get on the one cookie, painstakingly taking forever to do it, then lose interest. Well, that or have a tummy ache from eating too many sprinkles and frosting. The important thing was they established the ever important cookie for Santa.

So many things help us to celebrate the Christmas season aside from this.  There is spiral cut ham, heart attack potatoes, kids in Jammie's all day, Christmas movies all afternoon, and a relaxing mom and dad. Yes, I will take joy in all of this in the coming days, and dream of the days the babies will be here to enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Praying for a Christmas Miracle...

What a busy day today.  I spent the first part of the day running errands, trying to do some Christmas shopping, then, well, I gotta be honest here, I did briefy get a manicure.  I will admit I am trying to be a reformed short nail girl.  I have placed myself on a strict regimen of gel manicures to promote nail length before Princess Grace comes home.  There are two reasons for this, first I rather enjoy a good hand massage and a few minutes break during these busy days, besides I am pretty sure I will have little time for this when the babies come home.  The second reason is I am trying to prepare myself for my girly girl coming home.  She loves clothes, nails, hair and all things girly.  As the manicurist carefully painted my nails I let my mind wander to the times when Grace and I will go together.

As for the rest of the day, it was spent cleaning out closets and throwing things away.  I would love to say that I have some impressive decorating feat that I accomplished, but mostly just tried to create room for new things and got myself covered in dust and Pledge.  However, I did get to use some power tools at one point mounting molly bolts, that was pretty exciting.

Mostly, I spent my time praying.  Asking God for a Christmas miracle.  Today, we are essentially at month 22 since beginning this journey.  We have had a total of three referrals, only two of whom are coming home, countless delays and crazy circumstances.  Now that we are nearing the end, we pray for a Christmas Miracle.  This step historically have taken families 2-8 weeks, however I heard last week of three families flying through in 9 days.  If that happened for us, we would be done with this step next Friday, right before Christmas.  Much as we would love things to work out that way and give us our perfect Hallmark holiday, we realize this is in His hands.  He has shown himself in so many ways through this adoption, the way the money came about, the constant communication through Zachary, the addition of Alex to our original plans, all of it...He will show himself again, whether it is a Christmas miracle or not, it will be His miracle and just as great.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Crazy News

This has been a difficult few days for us. We have had some private family issues that have shaken us to the very core with an incredible amount of grief. Through it all, I found myself questioning what God's plan was for us. Why the adoption delays? Why these other issues. Through it all, I found myself strangely attracted to a song that I listened to quite a bit in the last few days (odd, me, a It is "I Surrender". I guess somehow I felt that if I listened to it enough times, I would be able to do it better. Surrender is so hard for me. I did find myself saying over and over that I was giving these situations to God. I had no control over either and that was all that was left to do.

Just yesterday, I learned that must be what He was waiting for. Waiting for me to trust his word is true.  It was Tim's birthday and I asked our coordinator to send him a new picture. She posed our babies with Grace blowing him a kiss.  She also shared our adoption decrees are done. Legalizations are done and we are off for final review in the Ministry of the Interior. I never dreamed we would be here so soon. I never dreamed this would be the week these children were actually mine. In fact, as I found out I was at work with a coworker who was so excited for us. She had goosebumps. I could not muster the excited reaction. I was just so dumbfounded I think I just blankly stared at her. Even now I can hardly believe that after considering this journey and getting things moving almost two years ago, they are actually ours.

Today as I busied myself with getting things ready for the babies and tried to put my head around them being home soon, I continued to ask God into our family situation and surrender that to Him. As the song goes,"I lift my burdens up to you, your loving Grace will see me through"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Parquet Court take four...

I realize people who read this blog are left hanging. The fact that I gushed on and on about the location of Grace's mom and her triumphant return another time to parquet court that was to take place yesterday. Well, anyone familiar with the government in Haiti would probably not find it surprising that it did not happen. Grace's mother went to court only the commissaire was not there and that is who she needs to meet with. In the end we learned the commissaire meets with parents on Wednesdays. So, she is going tomorrow.

Despite the repeated delays, this woman that ins Grace's mother continues to amaze me.  Although nobody could get a hold of her for weeks, the minute they found her, she came. She is willing to stay in PAP as long as it takes. Yet, in the end, she is giving up her child. I guess I should be aggravated with this little delay, but I am not. I can only imagine Grace's mother spending what will likely be the last prolonged period of time with her before she joins our family. How it must be saying goodbye. How it must be to look at Grace and imagine what she will be as she grows up. Yes, over and over again I am humbled by this woman who so bravely is giving up this little girl for us.

The reality is when we chose the name Grace it was for selfish reasons. We felt that it was God's grace bringing us this little girl. It was neat that Ann means One of Grace, which is my mother's name, and my middle name. As time marches on, I have learned Grace is a great deal more than what I ever dreamed. Spending time with Grace's mother, unable to communicate due to a language barrier I could feel her pain as she sat stoicly watching her little girl scream,"daddy!" as she ran across the orphanage to jump into Tim's arms. She bravely sat next to me as Grace would play on and off with me, and although my heart broke for her, no tears were shed by her on that day. Ignoring her own feelings, giving her precious daughter a life she could not provide was a form of grace I have never seen up close. To hug me and say thank you was grace. I have a feeling her name will be the epitome of her story, rather than a neat name we liked.

Tomorrow, she will go to parquet again. She will stand before a judge and be asked again if she understands Grace is being adopted. She will be asked again if she agrees, and knowing her she will gracefully agree and sign, thus ending her involvement in the adoption process. Although I pray for a good outcome tomorrow, I pray for God to ease Grace's mother's heart and make tomorrow go quickly and easily for her.

As for me, I am learning more that despite delays, despite frustrations, "Your Grace is enough for me."

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Early this morning I woke remembering all the things that were not working. Grace's missing mom that has dragged on for weeks, and now the house. My mother-in-law's house that we were so excited to finally close on after seven years is not happening this week after all. I guess when the person who communicated the info to us heard the 6th, he thought it was December, turns out it was January 6th. Now, I have to hold off getting the house ready until after the holidays. So, I laid in my big comfy bed, snoring lab mix curled up next to me and contemplated just pulling the covers over my head until everything gets better. To be honest, I spent my prayer time yesterday asking God why on earth he would choose me to do this adoption thing when I clearly could not handle the wait.  Ok, maybe it was a bit of a pity party or just a reaction to being asked some really ridiculous adoption questions yesterday. My favorite was a woman who asked me if my oldest child was "real." I carefully explained all of my children were real. Is it that she thinks adoption means us parents hit the local Toys R' S and pick out an imitation child and adopt them over the Internet like a Cabbage Patch Doll. Or is it more like Pinnochio?  Do we find a puppet we like and our years of longing for a child magically turn a marionette into a real child. Her ultimate answer was,"well you know what I mean, biological."

I really wanted to start a tirade on the realness of adopted children and God's direction in their lives and ours. I did not though, I walked away. So, that only added to my desire to pull those sheets up tight!  I then heard from a fellow mama. She felt the same. We have been through a lot together. Her Haitian referral died the same week our first referral was claimed by his mom and after months our first adoption was cancelled. Turned out she too was in her jammies, praying for better things. We commiserated and after a good cup of coffee I decided to do what always seems to relax me. I was going to cook an epic meal. This is our first weekend off together, Tim and I, in weeks. His birthday is this week and I thought what a way to kick it off. I pulled out the iPad, and dug through some food network recipes and started to construct my meal. Then, Zachary and I set out to get ready. We ran some errands, played some Christmas music in the car, and ended up at the grocery store. I busied myself picking out the perfect rosemary, fresh thyme and a nice cut of beef  when my phone dinged. Email, much to my surprise it was from my coordinator. It said only this:  CAN YOU BELIEVE GRACE'S MOM IS THERE :).  Yes, complete with smiley face. I had to ask for clarification. She is with our coordinator and will spend the night tomorrow and go to court Monday.

Just like that, it is over. Just like that, my good meal turned into a celebration. I carefully seared a beef tenderloin and baked it while I reduced a red wine sauce with fresh thyme, shallots and celery and cocoa. I carefully diced up some purple potatoes and roasted them with garlic and salt, I threw some flour and yeast into the bread maker and made fresh rosemary bread. It was finished off with green beans and a Cesar salad.  As always, I loved tinkering in the kitchen, but there was something that made it even more special. Tim spent my time cooking practicing his songs for praise team tomorrow. Over and over he tinkered with the same song adding and subtracting things until he had it just the way he wanted it. How fitting that he would play,"it is well, with my soul, it is well." Yes, it certainly is.