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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Trying to understand me

"...you can't walk away from misery and do nothing."
~ Father Reiser

Yesterday Jason took my car in to get the tires changed. He got a break from the home stuff and sat at the dealership with his laptop. I got a text message from him while he was there. Since I've been to Haiti, I get messages like this all the time. It read, "Story on KARE11 on Haiti right now." I quickly grabbed the remote and hit 1-1. (Henry was NOT happy with me.) Too late. I missed the story. Jason told me to go to the website and look up Father Reiser.

You can see the article here: Father Reiser

I came back from Haiti on a mission - more than just my mission to adopt. I could not walk away from Haiti and do nothing. I saw poverty unlike anything I've seen in my life. I saw unimaginable suffering. I tried desperately to feed a severely malnourished little girl, and rejoiced with every drop she drank. A person cannot walk away from something like that unchanged.

Part of me feels as though I need to help people 'get' me. Why is Karen shipping stuff to Haiti every week? Why, when I talk to her, does Haiti always come up in the conversation? How come she cries when someone offers to ship items down? I want you all to come to Haiti with me. I want you to understand my motives. And I want you too to be moved to take action.

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We've been spending the weekend completing the home study paperwork. One of the questions is, "Why do you want to adopt?" Jason said, "It's just like Father Reiser said. You can't walk away from misery and do nothing."

Jason amazes me at times. For a while I felt like he was being forced into this adoption, just like he's forced to live with 4 cats right now. Once again he has confirmed just how 'into' this he really is. It also confirms how much he gets it.

We had another beautiful moment as he was filling out his passport application. We are required to have two forms of picture ID for the adoption process. Since he doesn't have a passport at this point it just made sense to get one now.

I was expecting to be the only one traveling to Haiti to pick up our daughter. We've talked about it before and we don't want to both be away from Henry and Sofia at the same time - especially when the destination is Haiti. As Jason was completing the application he asked, "What if we go together?" He wants to come to Haiti to pick up our daughter!! His next question, "Do you think we could find someone to watch the kids?" (We don't even have a daughter identified or a date yet and my three sisters have already offered to watch them.)

I'm really excited this weekend. We're deep into the adoption process and we're almost done with all of the paperwork. Of course, I'm sure we'll be surprised with a stack of forms we didn't realize we had to complete. As it stands right now, we're two weeks away from our completed home study. After that, we'll be fingerprinted for immigration and the dossier will be complete. Our paperwork will be ready long before we'll be able to afford it.

It's time to start working on some grants!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm going back

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Proverbs 31:8-9

The dates are being set. Plans are being made. And my excitement level is increasing. As of now, it looks like I'll be heading back to Haiti Monday, July 11th on the 6:30 am flight to Cap-Haitien. Returning Friday, July 22nd.

Those of you who expressed interest in going to Haiti, where are you at now? Are you at a point where you want to make the journey? Right now there's one other person coming along. An amazing woman that God sent my way.

Some day I'll share the cool story how Brenda and I ended up meeting. Let's just say it was a nudge from God. For both of us. Brenda was being called to Haiti and God was using a megaphone to get her attention.

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Yesterday Jason and I attended a workshop called Parenting the Adopted Child. It's a requirement, in Edina, so you can probably guess how excited I was to leave my kids all day Saturday to sit through what I fully expected to be hours of boring lecture by people who couldn't present. (My career is in Training & Development. I'm a very bad participant in a workshop.)

We attended with five other couples, two of whom were from Wisconsin. It was exciting, informative, and overwhelming. And I'm happy to announce that the presenters were fantastic.

We did a bead exercise that really impacted me. Everyone was given a container of beads. Yellow, brown, black, white, red, tan. The facilitator then slowly asked us about our lives and the color of skin of the people we interact with. We were first to pull out a bead that represented our family. Next was our church. School. Dentist. Doctor. Friends. The list went on and on, and we kept pulling white beads out of the container.

Then she said, "Pull out the bead the represents the child you are adopting."

My plate was filled with white beads. As I went to place the black bead on the plate with all the white ones, I felt like I was going to cry.

We're going into this adoption with our eyes and our hearts wide open. We realize that we are bringing a little Haitian girl into a very Caucasian family. We aren't color blind, and we're fully aware she will experience prejudice and we hear comments that will shock us. What hits me the hardest now is what SHE will hear and experience as she grows up. I'm already in mama bear mode, and we don't even know who she is.

The hour-long drive home was a great way to decompress and talk. We talked about the challenges we'll face, the process we're currently going through, and how adopting our little girl will impact our family. In that conversation I realized that Jason is very much with me in this process. He's excited for her to come home too.

Since I'll be back in July, I most likely will meet our daughter at that time. But I won't know that it's her. She won't be assigned to us until I get back home. That's going to be an exciting 11 days for me. Ask me in July about how I'm feeling, being back home and having to wait.

I can see her. As we all cuddled together on our bed for what we call Family Cuddle Time, I pictured her there with us giggling. She's already part of our family. And I can't wait to bring her home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cholera is getting closer

The media has really let up their coverage about cholera in Haiti. And when the media does that, people either assume that things are better, or they forget about what's going on and focus on something else in the news. Let me tell you, cholera is still very real in Haiti. People are still getting sick. Men, women, and children are still dying. The last number I heard was that 3,333 people have died. That number is higher than what is being reported.

Cholera has reached the gates of Children of the Promise. A few of the nannies have family members who are sick. And I've read on the COTP blog that some siblings of the babies have it. Some parents have died from it. Cholera is still a very real threat in Haiti.

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I think God has given me a long commute so I can cry before I get home from work. On Wednesday I got the news that the baby we were so close to getting up here for surgery had died. He had meningitis. With his condition, it was the worst case scenario. In addition, a baby girl also died. I didn't even know she was sick.

It just brought out so many emotions in me. The only reason these babies died is because of where they were born. If they were in the US, they would have lived. There's no question about it.

My mind drifted to Josette. That just made the tears more intense. I know they're all in a better place. I know they're whole. I know our time on earth is just a blip on the radar compared to all of eternity. And yet I mourn the loss of these babies.

That evening I went home to two beautiful, healthy children. It's as though Henry and Sofia could sense my sadness. When I sat down on the couch, they both came to my side and cuddled with me. We had a great evening together. No arguing, no fighting. Just lots and lots of cuddling.

I felt guilty. Why was I born in the US? Why was I blessed with two healthy children? Along with the guilt, I felt a new purpose and mission. My energy to try to provide for and save as many as I can was strengthened. I can't save them all. But I can work on saving a few.

Out of respect for the parents of the babies who died, I'm not posting specific information about them. The COTP blog has not been updated at this point, and it doesn't feel right that I write about it before them. You can check their blog here for updates.

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We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.
~ Marian Wright Edelman