Friday, December 30, 2011


I'm thankful to have 10 full days away from work to recharge my batteries and spend time with my kids.  Right now I'm on Day 7 of sleeping in, being lazy, and not wearing real clothes.  Yesterday Henry said, "Mommy, put on make-up."  That's how wonderful my time off has been.

Yesterday was a crazy busy day at home.  I'm nesting.  I don't understand why, but I have this urgent need to get ready for her.  We have a modest house by US standards.  (A mansion by Haitian standards.)  Only 3 bedrooms.  That means the little girl will be sharing a room with someone.  Since she's currently in a room with all boys, and Henry is closer to her age, it's only logical that she'll share a room with him.

I started cleaning Henry's room yesterday.  Organizing toys, removing the diaper Genie we haven't used in ages, clearing out a corner.  I told Jason I want to buy a toddler bed and get her part of the room set up.

"It's too early.  We don't need a toddler bed yet."

My heart wants a toddler bed set up.  With cozy warm bedding and lots of stuffed animals.  I just want...something.

Along with cleaning yesterday I also finished the second panel of the blanket I'm knitting for her.  Don't be impressed at all.  I'm using a loom so it's total cheater knitting.  But it's something I made with my own hands for her.  I can see her wrapped up in it.  I want to put it on her bed.

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I love connecting with other adopting mothers.  No offense to anyone else out there, but they are the people out there who 'get it'.  They too have waited/are waiting for their child to come home.  They too understand what being paperwork pregnant is like.  They too understand how crazy, emotional, neurotic and confused I am - and they don't judge me for it.

A dear friend Kara shared a blog with me.  As I read it I almost shook my head off my shoulders.  If you want to understand a little more the crazy person that is Karen, please read this:  How to be the Village.  (Full credit given to Jen Hatmaker whose blog I will be stalking daily now.)

I'll post a couple of points just in case you don't click on the link.  But I hope you do.

How can you help? By not saying or doing these things:

1. “God’s timing is perfect!” (Could also insert: “This is all God’s plan!” “God is in charge!”) As exactly true as this may be, when you say it to a waiting parent, we want to scratch your eyebrows off and make you eat them with a spoon. Any trite answer that minimizes the struggle is as welcomed as a sack of dirty diapers. You are voicing something we probably already believe while not acknowledging that we are hurting and that somewhere a child is going to bed without a mother again. Please never say this again. Thank you.

4. We’re happy to field your questions about becoming a transracial family or adopting a child of another race, but please don’t use this moment to trot out your bigotry. (Cluelessness is a different thing, and we try to shrug that off. Like when someone asked about our Ethiopian kids, “Will they be black?” Aw, sweet little dum-dum.)

5.     Saying nothing is the opposite bad. I realize with blogs like this one, you can get skittish on how to talk to a crazed adopting Mama without getting under her paper-thin skin or inadvertently offending her. I get it. (We try hard not to act so hypersensitive. Just imagine that we are paper-pregnant with similar hormones surging through our bodies making us cry at Subaru commercials just like the 7-month preggo sitting next to us. And look at all this weight we’ve gained. See?) But acting like we’re not adopting or struggling or waiting or hoping or grieving is not helpful either. If I was pregnant with a baby in my belly, and no one ever asked how I was feeling or how much longer or is his nursery ready or can we plan a shower, I would have to audition new friend candidates immediately. 

Let me add my own.  I realize that I'm 42 years old and going in the opposite direction of my friends when it comes to kids.  We're about to add a 2 year old to our family.  And if God asks us again, we'll be bringing another little one home.  And maybe they'll have special needs.  I'm not doing this because I'm a good person or a saint or because I never want a social life again.  There's this thing about listening to God's call.  You know what?  I didn't get it either at first. 

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I think it's time to check Craigslist for a toddler bed...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, sweet girl

Adoption is an interesting journey.  By 'interesting' I mean stressful, exciting, filled with heartache, hopeful, overwhelming, and more.  When people find out we're adopting we hear many interesting things. The one we hear on a regular basis:  "You're such good/amazing/wonderful people for adopting!"

Let me tell you, we're very much human.  Jason and I argue, I get short with the kids, there are evenings I ignore everyone because I'm sooo tired, I sometimes spend money on stuff I REALLY don't need, and the list goes on and on.  There are many days I don't feel amazing or wonderful.

Yes, I'd say we try to do the right thing on a regular basis.  In general I'd consider us good people.  But we aren't saints or anything amazing just because we're adopting.

People adopt for many reasons.  For us it wasn't something we had to do in order to have a family.

* *insert pic of Henry and Sofia here* *

We are adopting because we were called to adopt.  OK - I got the call and Jason realized that the call was a good thing.  There's no such thing as strong-arming someone into an adoption.  If he truly didn't want to adopt the home study would have flushed out his feelings and we would have stopped the process at that point.  You can't fake a home study.

The whole 'calling' thing is a new thing to me.  I was raised Lutheran.  Stand up, sit down, say your prayers (on occasion) and eat your hot dish Lutheran.  The only people who talked about being called were those crazy Christians.  Lutherans are much too reserved to ever be called.

In January of 2010 I started feeling 'called' to Haiti.  It was the first time I really heard God.  It's hard to explain, but when it happens, you know.

Here's the amazing thing.  The time I started to feel called to Haiti was the same time our little girl was born.  God knew at that time what was going to happen.  God knew that she was meant to be with us.  And God took a chance on a nice Lutheran girl, and started to whisper in her ear.

The timing of it all still brings me to tears.  There are many more details to her story that make this so much of a God thing.

Our Plan C is God's Plan A.

Josette was God's way of getting us to consider adoption.

Magdaline was God's way of helping us realize that we need to start working on keeping families together.  (please click --> HERE)

And our sweet little girl.  Our sweet little girl is God's way of telling us that we need to fight for the orphans.  We need to be a voice for all the children in the world who don't have someone to snuggle them when they're sick, to nourish their bellies and their hearts, and to tuck them in at night.

Sweet girl, I love you more than even I can understand.  I am so thankful that God is trusting us with you.  I cannot wait to get you home and kiss your boo-boos, break up fights with your brother and sister, and get the precious gift of being called your Mama.

Merry Christmas, sweet girl.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

I really thought we would have had our court date in Port-au-Prince by now.  I planned out our Christmas card.  Jason and I would be holding her - in Haiti.  We'd make an 8x10 print of that picture and have Sofia and Henry hugging the picture.  Doesn't that sound sweet?

We had to do Plan B - an 8x10 of her with all of us holding the picture.
I'm praying for a Christmas miracle.  All I want tomorrow morning in my stocking is a date.

"Dear Jason and Karen, we need your butts in court in Port-au-Prince on January......., 2012."

Our adoption gal isn't working on Christmas morning.

My stocking is going to be empty.

Maybe she'll have a really sweet email for us come Monday morning.

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The icky dreams are continuing.  I started to stress about them until I remembered a dream I had when I was pregnant with Sofia.  In the dream I was going into labor - in the shower.  I remember the labor very clearly.  It wasn't as painful as actual labor, but at the time it was pretty intense.  While I was in the shower, I pushed out a...prickle bush.  Her head was a pink flower and her body was green and prickly.  I remember how confused I was.  How in the world did I get THIS?

Laurie, our super awesome adoption gal at Love Basket, has helped me understand why I'm having dreams about her.  I'm expecting.  While my body knows it's not pregnant, my mind knows our daughter is coming.  And it's messing with me.

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Today we're enjoying something we don't get at Christmas - a day home with just the 4 of us.  We got to sleep in this morning.  The kids got spoiled with 2 gifts each.  And we've been busy crafting, playing and just being lazy together.  I'm looking forward to Christmas Eve services at church tonight.

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I'm not sad or weepy today.  I thought for sure that Christmas would have me in tears - just thinking about her.  I didn't expect to be....happy.

I think about her every day.  I will think about her a lot tomorrow.  If there's any place our daughter has to be in Haiti on Christmas, I'm so thankful it's Children of the Promise.  She will be loved and nurtured and cared for all day.  And every day.

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As you enjoy your holiday season with friends and family, please remember the 147 million orphans who are waiting for a family to love them.  Search your heart and see if there's room for one of them in your home.

Let's bring them all home.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It's a weepy week.  They happen.  Thankfully not all the time.

I spent a week in Canada for work.  My mind was occupied during most of the trip.  But...I got an email.  It was from the social worker at our home study agency.  She said that if the little girl isn't home by 3.21 we have to update our home study.  Along with that we have to get our security clearance (US), police clearance (local), and medical redone.

It's not that big of a deal really.  But the date hit me.  That means our home study will be a year old.

We started this process last October.  In June we found out who our daughter was.  She's going to miss Christmas this year.  She won't be home for her 2nd birthday.  And most likely, her feet will not be on US soil before 3.21.12.

Her birthday is in January.  This afternoon the kids decorated a box that we'll use to ship presents for her. My sister bought her a super cute little dress.  We'll include 3 cake mixes and fun candles.  I know that Nikki will take a ton of pictures for us.  It will be joyful, and it will be sad.  I want her home.

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I had a gross dream about her last night.  I don't feel like sharing it, but it didn't feel great to wake up after.  My sweet little buddy was stirring, so I decided to get out of bed and hoped a strong cup of coffee would help shake what I just woke up from.  A little cuddle time with Henry while my coffee was brewing did the trick.

When Sofia woke up she told me she had a GREAT dream.  "Mommy, I had a dream that you got a call. You and Daddy traveled to Haiti and she was home for Christmas."

That makes me cry.

As I emotionally prepare for Christmas, her birthday, and 3.21.12, I pray for a Christmas miracle.  All I want for Christmas is an email that says we're out of IBESR and we need to schedule a trip for court.

Please God, help us to make that next step that brings her closer to coming home.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

On a different note...

My sweet baby and eldest child turned 10 and 12:10pm today.  It's hard to believe she hit double-digits.  Sofia is compassionate and kind and just a lovely kid.  As we were getting ready for church this morning I asked her to watch her brother while I took a shower and her dad plowed the driveway.  I came out of the shower to this:

There are no words to describe how much I love these two.

If you've followed this blog for a bit you might remember Sofia's birthday last year.  We let her choose what she wants to do on her special day.  Last year she chose to bring a dear friend to Build-a-Bear at the Mall of America.  And if you remember, I didn't have a really good time granting that wish.  If you think about it, buying two stuffed animals, an outfit and lunch cost us less than having a party with a gajillion screaming girls, gift bags and an over-priced cake from the bakery.

That day was joyous and sad.  Underwear for a stuff animal when there are children in the world who have no clothing?  Ridiculous.

Sofia and her friend had a wonderful time.  I came home wanting to cry.

A few months ago I asked Sofia what she wanted to do for her big double-digit birthday.  Without even thinking she said: Feed My Starving Children.  I've got family members who probably don't believe that I didn't influence this decision in some way.  But I can tell you - she came up with this 100% on her own.

I was so excited that I instantly reserved 20 spaces for the 2:00 session the day before her birthday.  I remember it being early October when I sent out email 'heads-up' notices to everyone, asking them to save the date.

We had a great time yesterday.  We reserved 20 spots and 27 people showed up.  27 people gave two hours of their time to pack meals for children who otherwise might not eat.  27 people donned hairnets and lovingly packaged chicken powder (that has no chicken in it), veggies, soy, and rice.  Scoop, seal, box, pray.

At the end of the shift we were told by the staff that the group (around 90 total) made enough meals to feed 58 children for an entire year.

58 children.

A FULL YEAR of meals.

Can you comprehend that?

When our shift was completed we met in the main room again and the staff worker showed everyone a mud pie.  Have you ever heard of a mud pie before?  It's not coffee ice cream and hot fudge on a delicious Oreo crust.  It's just like the name implies - it's dirt and oil and salt.  Women take this concoction and make 6'' round pie and let them dry in the sun.  In Haiti they cost half a cent each.  Parents buy mud pies to feed their children.  It fills there belly.  There's no nourishment.  All it does is make the child's stomach feel like it's full.

The manna packs that the group packaged yesterday make 6 cups of food each.  Children will be given ONE CUP for their meal.  Their only meal for the day.  And that one cup will fill their bellies and more importantly give them nourishment.

Here's the kicker about the day - it cost us nothing.  We could have spent $200+ at something like Pump It Up and let the kids jump and laugh and wear themselves out.  Sure, they would have had a great time.  

One thing I hear on a regular basis is that just because I've changed, doesn't mean I need to deny my kids of anything.  They need presents and toys and fun stuff.  Sofia needs an American Girl Doll.  She needs a party with a gajillion screaming girls.  She needs...

Does she really?

On the van ride home I asked the 5 girls that were riding with us if they had fun.  Overwhelmingly I heard YES.  Then I asked them what they wanted to do for their next birthday party.  Overwhelmingly I heard Feed My Starving Children.

The kids laughed and worked hard and had a blast.  Every single one of them said they want to go back.  Every single one of them learned that not all kids get to eat.  Every single one of them can describe to you that some kids eat this thing called a mud cake.  A seed was planted in every single one of them.

We're so unbelievably privileged in this country.  We have safe water, an abundance of food, houses, beds, clothing, and obnoxious things like fancy britches for stuffed animals.






Maybe just one of the kids that came will host their next birthday at FMSC.  Maybe one of those kids who laughed and had fun packing meals will become a missionary one day.   

Even if they don't - in two hours they helped feed 58 kids for an entire year.  I'd call that birthday party success.