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Monday, December 31, 2012

Two years - two steps to go

His bags are almost packed.

He washed her sheets and blankets and made her bed.

He patched a hole in her wall.  The hole I've asked him to patch for months.

He put an extra leaf in the table.

He handed me a pair of sunglasses to pack.  He said she'll need them.

He is ready.

There are two steps to go.

Her visa appointment hasn't been scheduled yet.  I'm waiting for an email with the date.  After the appointment her visa will be issued.  The final step is an exit letter from IBESR.

Yesterday I got really excited.  For the first time.  Excited at how real this is becoming.  We have waited for her for over two years.

It's time to come home.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brief Update

It's hard to post an update today.  A dear friend lost her son on Thursday.  It feels insignificant to talk about passports or visas when a beautiful little boy passed away before he was able to join his family.

Right now there are concerns about cholera at COTP.  Many of the kids are sick.  Some are on-site with IVs.  Some are at the hospital.  And some are still showing no signs of being sick.  We've heard no updates about our little girl since Friday.  Our prayer is that she's OK.

Her I-600 was approved and her file moved to Visa.  We are waiting to hear about her visa appointment.  After that we just need an exit letter from IBESR.  Once that's submitted we'll be on our way to get her.  Not soon enough.

Please pray for the family who lost their son.  Please pray for all the kids who are sick.  Please pray for strength and wisdom for the staff that is on the ground in Haiti.  Please pray that all hands that are involved in the adoption process work diligently to get all of our kids home.

I just want her home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And so it continues...

Adoption is a rollercoaster.  You start to climb up, hoping, anticipating...only to go back down again.

I received an email from the embassy yesterday.  Someone at that very moment was working on her file.  Then they stopped.

My fingerprints aren't...on...file.

We had our initial fingerprinting done almost 18 months ago.  They expired a year later, so we had them redone.  They have his prints.  They don't have mine.

If you haven't had your fingerprinting done recently, you might not know that there isn't ink or paper involved in the procedure anymore.  It's all computerized.  Digital.  Instantly on file.

They can't find mine.

We have our updated I-171H.  For the non-adoption speakers it's a document from Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration.  It not only confirms our fingerprints were done, it gives us a new 'expiration' date for them.


My heart sank.  My thoughts started going crazy.  I instantly emailed the embassy back with a copy of our I-171H.  They answer emails 'in the order they were received'...

I don't want to wait.  All I've done is wait.  

It's been over 18 months since our paperwork arrived there.

This needs to be done.

I need her home.

The Christmas miracle I've been praying for.  It's not going to happen.  Please God.  Please have her home by her birthday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jane...get me off this crazy thing...

What.  A.  Day.

Right now I've got the movie 'So I Married an Axe Murder' in my head.  How's THAT for the start of a blog post?  There's a scene where Mike Myers is doing a little jazz bit.  The line, "Jane...get me off this crazy thing..." is in my head right now.

The past few days have been crazy!

  • We got word that the little girl's passport was issued.  Can I get an AMEN?!   
  • I found out late last night that she was one of the kids heading to PAP.
  • She had her medical exam at the embassy.   Today! 
  • Early this morning I get an email that documentation needs to be shipped to PAP ASAP.
  • Soon after that was an urgent email - a document needed to be signed, notarized, scanned and emailed immediately.
Whew!

While I'm tired, stressed out, and very anxious...I am so thankful!  This has been a long, taxing process.  When you're talking about the life of a sweet little girl, any amount of stress I'm feeling, any amount of money we're spending, and even the wait...it's all worth it.

We're praying for a Christmas miracle.  While it's highly unlikely, but it IS possible that she could be home before the end of the year.

Meeting last February

Sunday, November 11, 2012

8 more weeks

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who shopped with purpose during the Delicate Fortress Creations fundraiser for Jason's upcoming trip to Haiti.  You helped to raise $527 which will be used to cover some of the costs of the projects he'll be working on.

Thank you!

This past week I traveled for work.  I was in a pretty intense training session, and thankfully pretty distracted.  The length of the adoption has started to wear on me, especially as we approach the holiday season.  In addition her 3rd birthday is just around the corner.

Any adopting parent understands the severe email addiction during the adoption process.  Every ding or buzz causes a reaction to instantly check email.  We were in the middle of some pretty intense conversation when the buzz happened.  Instinctively I grabbed my phone to see who had emailed.  99% of the time it's one of my sisters or SPAM.  But this time was the 1% - it was from our agency.  The title was benign:  Archive process.  My heart skipped a beat.  We've been waiting for a document to come out of Archives so we can proceed in MOI, then eventually to passport.

My heart stopped and everything went fuzzy when I started to read:  I hope you're doing OK today, because I have some news that's not pleasant to pass on...

It's hard to describe the emotions that went through my body as I continued reading.  I stopped hearing all outside conversations.  I started biting my lip because I was about to start sobbing.

One.  More.  Setback.  Why?

I quickly set my phone down, knowing there was nothing I could do with the news.  I needed to focus on the training and try to get my mind to stop thinking about what I just read.  Every moment my thoughts turned to her I had to do everything in my power to keep from sobbing.  The stress started racing towards my back.  My sorrow had to be expressed somehow.

The short explanation is that the office has 'lost or misplaced the book' in Archives.  We're at a complete stop right now and will have to start this step completely over when they find or replace the book.  I don't understand what it means, only that I was told this is another delay of at least 8 more weeks before we even get to the passport stage.

Delays.  Everywhere we turn.  Delays.

We have emotions and opinions about what's going on, but none of it will change a thing.  We are at the mercy of the process.  And so we wait.

We got a tiny piece of hope that there might be a 'break' in what's happening.  Again, I have no idea what it means.  I'm trying to keep life moving forward, expecting there will not be any positive news on Monday.

But come Monday I know I'll be captive to the buzz of my phone.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shop with purpose!

As you know, Jason will be returning to Haiti to work with Second Mile again.  We are so blessed to be connected to a wonderful woman and friend at Delicate Fortress Creations.  Starting today through October 30th, she will donate 30% of all sales towards Jason's projects.

All you need to do is click here:  Delicate Fortress and start shopping with purpose x2!  Make sure to type SECONDMILE at checkout so your purchase is credited to his fundraiser.


Monday, October 8, 2012

An Update

Have you found that the number of postings I have is directly related to the amount of updates we have? Well, that's the case.  Since this blog has been quiet for a while I'll give you a little update.

We have been sitting in MOI for quite some time now.  By 'typical' timelines, meaning what others have experienced, we should have been out a long time ago.  So I asked.  And I wish I hadn't.  Sometimes living with the unknown is easier than the known.

We were told that two COTP families got out of MOI, but unfortunately it wasn't us.  They were expecting us to be out...but there's a problem.  We don't know the specifics, only that they have to go back to Archives for something.  Weeks.  She said weeks.

You'd think after all this time I'd be pretty numb to a delay and a word like 'weeks'.  I'm not.  It hit me really hard.  The hope that I had that she'd be home by Christmas left.  That last glimmer of hope - that itty bit that I was pretending I didn't have - gone.  Completely.

We have accepted that she will not be home this year.  God might have a miracle up His sleeve, but I can't let myself think that way.  The disappointment is too hard to deal with.

Once again, I'm going about life.  I'm scheduling work trips, planning events with the youth from church, and living every day not expecting any news.

I'm sad.  I'm tired.  And I'm on the verge of tears a lot.  But with the acceptance comes a bit of peace.

I'm not sure any of that makes sense.  It does in my head.

In fun news - Jason is going back.  He worked his week in Haiti and had a wonderful time.  He wasn't home more than 30 minutes when I told him - they want you back.  He has every reason to say no.  We're paying for an adoption.  Every appliance in the house is breaking down.  Even my car is having issues.  But he said yes.  Again.

You can guess what happened next.  Yup.  God worked out all the details and the money came.  The money to cover the entire cost of his travel - there it was.

Stay tuned for an awesome fundraiser we're having starting October 24th.  It will last one week, and all money raised will go directly to Second Mile to fund the projects Jason will be working on.  It's with a beautiful company run by an amazing woman.  You can start your Christmas shopping early.  And everything you buy will make you feel good about how you spent your money.

More details...soon.

For now, I leave you with this.  Powerful.


“…and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”
Matthew 5:41


Monday, September 10, 2012

Say yes


She asked if he would come down to help them.  I knew what his answer would be, but I told her I’d ask.

He had every reason to say no.  I could hear him now.

We don’t have the money.
Who will watch the kids?
It costs too much.
I don’t have the time.
The expenses are beyond our budget.
School is starting.
There’s this thing about money…

We sat down to dinner.  It was the first chance I had to ask him.  I was ready to sell the experience to him.  I wanted to encourage, and push and deflect all of the reasons he wouldn’t go.

Very casually, I asked.

Very casually, he answered.  “Sure.  I’ll go.”

I couldn’t believe it.  What?  How?  Really?

He’s not a very excitable person, but he seemed really…excited.  We talked about dates and flights and logistics.  Without much effort, we got it all figured out.  Dates were planned.  Tickets were purchased.  Lists were being created.

It’s funny how it works that way.  When God asks us to do something.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a question, “Will you help?”  He didn’t send a postcard, or call and ask.  It wasn’t obvious or burning.  And when we choose to say YES, He worked out all the details.

A simple question.

An easy answer.

What is God asking...of you?  Take a leap of faith and say yes.  You'll be amazed.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Changing lives, one bead at a time



These are the amazing women who are creating the beads that make up the awesome jewelry that we are selling in the states.  

Beads of Promise.

Beads of Hope.

Beads for a brighter Future.

Beads that keep families together.

While this current batch is already spoken for, we will be getting another big load of beads in mid-September.  Please let me know if you are interesting in selling jewelry made from these amazing beads.  100% of the sale of these goes directly back to Second Mile Haiti.

100%.  Have I already said that?

Changing lives - one bead at a time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What’s a mom to do?


As you can tell by the stunning lack of blog posts, there isn’t much to report.  We have reverted back to a snail’s pace.  These ‘final’ steps will most likely take us to the end of the year.  I’m just praying she’ll be home by Christmas.

So what’s a mom to do?  Sit and obsess about something I have no control over?  Or use that energy for something good?

I’ll take what’s behind door B.

I’ve accepted a job as the Vice President in charge of jewelry sales with Second Mile Haiti.  Oh I make myself laugh.  I’m actually a volunteer bracelet assembler and mail mule.  And I love it!!

The beads used on the bracelets are the most amazing things you’ve ever seen.  They take med boxes and cereal boxes and even juice boxes and make them into mini masterpieces.  I get the honor of assembling some of them into amazing bracelets.  Second Mile has been able to hire two Haitian moms full-time to work on making paper beads.  It’s only going to grow from there.

If you’d like to help moms and babies in Haiti, please consider selling bracelets for them.  The cost is only $10 per bracelet and 100% goes back to the organization.  Yes, 100% of the sales of every bracelet sold goes directly back to Second Mile Haiti.

100%

Invite all of your friends over for coffee.  Set up a table at church.  Shoot up a post on Facebook.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly they sell, and how quickly you’ll be asking for more.

As my dear friend Karyn at Delicate Fortress once told me, “Don’t buy more.  Just buy different.”  When searching for the perfect gift, look no further than Second Mile Haiti’s Beads of Promise.

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Stay tuned for more news.  I’ve committed to doing something really crazy, and I hope you’ll join me.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

From a snail's pace, to lightening speed

I looked in her dresser tonight, and this time I smiled.  I looked through the clothes, wondering what I'll pack when we pick her up.  I pictured her in an adorable pink sundress and hot pink Crocs.  I started to giggle, wondering which pair of pajamas would be her favorite.  As I sat on her bed, the anticipation and excitement started to swell within me.

It has taken so long.  The roller coaster of emotions.  The tension and crazy arguments and frustrations all because of the adoption process.  The extreme highs, and the very low lows.

The end of those emotions is coming.  A whole new series of emotions is starting.  They will be followed by a new dynamic in our house.  Henry will go from baby to big brother.  Sofia will still be her nurturing little mama self, but she'll realize that little sisters aren't perfect and can be as irritating as little brothers.  We'll have another little one to get to the doctor and dentist.  We'll have to figure out her favorite foods, and get settled in to a new routine.

Our world is going to change.  I'm so ready.

The dossier entered IBESR in July of last year.  11 months later it was finally out.  Two weeks later it was out of Parquet and court.  From a snail's pace, to lightening speed.

Her last name has changed.  She is legally ours.

There are more steps, of course.  This story isn't going to end that easily.  There's something called MOI.  Paperwork will be submitted for her passport.  We have to finish up the I-600 paperwork.  Finally, her visa will be issued.

Then...she comes home.

I dream of the day when she meets her brother and sister, her aunts and uncle and cousins, her grandparents, her church family, all of her new friends, all the people who have prayed for her.

I pray that these last steps happen quickly.  Her family is ready for her.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We're OUT!!

We just got word late last night that our file is out of IBESR.  PTL!!  While it's been a long year, there is finally movement.  At the earliest the little girl will be home in August.  While we understand all too well that things don't move as quickly as they could in Haiti, we're absolutely praying we'll be there in August.  Emotionally still planning for fall.  But praying for August.

God is good.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future."  
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oh. My.

This blog post nails it.  Please hop over and read it.  Rage Against the Minivan

As one woman commented:  Your post was FREAKING PHENOMENAL!!!


Read it.  It is.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I had to stop

Hi little girl.  You've been on my mind a lot today.  It's really not different from any other day.

I asked COTP what size you're wearing, knowing that many of the items in your dresser won't fit anymore.  I knew that at some point I'd need to go through everything and take out the smaller sizes.  Thankfully everything is hand-me-downs and whatever doesn't fit will be shipped to Haiti for your friends to wear.

Today I decided to tackle your dresser.  There are such cute things in there waiting for you.  As I went through the first drawer, item by item, I was excited when I came across something that might still fit.  And I got a little sadder each time I had to take out something that's too small.

And then...I had to stop.  My heart started hurting too much.

It's hard to explain this to people.  The range of emotions, the tears at random moments, the fact that I'm living this whole other world in my head.  This world that tries to be in the here-and-now but never ever stops thinking about you.  Longing for you to be home.

Don't get me wrong, sweet girl.  Life is really good right now.  Your daddy is doing really well.  Your big brother and big sister are healthy and happy and loving school.  There's just...this hole.  In my heart.  In my world.

I know that you love the nannies and all of your friends there.  And I know that it's going to be a transition - from the heat and the brown faces and the Creole and the meals you're used to.

But my heart is ready.

I just want you home.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Let's build a house!

I'm a year older today.  If you read my post about kid's birthday parties you can probably guess that I could really care less that it's my birthday.  I don't need cake, cards presents, or even wishes.  True story.  I'm just not into my own birthday.

But I am on a mission today.  I'd like to get a house built.  In Haiti.  For an amazing organization.  It costs $2,500 to build a house - supplies and labor included.  Can you believe that?  What some people make on a single house payment in the US will build and entire house.

Let's build a house together.  Second Mile Haiti is an amazing organization that is in the process of building 12 homes.  Here's a blurb from their site:


We’re an organization focused on investing our time and attention on one (or twelve) struggling families at a time, at a point in their life which could be described as none other than crisis.  By building 6 small Haitian style homes (2 rooms with a shared wall), we will be able to offer 12 children a temporary safe place to recover. During the storm of severe malnutrition it is here that desperate mothers get a chance to regain their sea-legs on a sailboat known as care-giving in a sea called Haiti. Poverty, unemployment, hunger and disease threaten to tear families a part. We are offering them a chance to stick together, replacing death and disease with hope, healthcare training, and opportunities for economic advancement.
This organization is run by two women in their mid-20's.  I don't even want to think about all the irresponsible things I was doing at that age - like my Coach bag obsession or the importance I put on the wardrobe for my corporate job or how much I spent on just my hair.

*sigh*

Please consider making a donation today.  If we reach $2,500 I'll put the names of all the donors in a hat and Sofia will draw a name.  If your name is drawn you can name the house!!  Talk about leaving a legacy.

Just click here:  Second Mile Haiti

You'll be helping families stay together, and will be giving children all the birthdays they deserve.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why Haiti?

That's a really good question.   I often ask myself - Why Haiti?

If you go all the way back to the start of this blog, you'll get the answer.  I was a 40 year old, mother of two, content with life, full-time working, church-going Lutheran who knew nothing about Haiti.  In reality, I most likely could not have found it on a map without the help of Google.

In January of 2010 there was an earthquake in this place called Haiti.  I watched the news, read the articles, looked at the pictures, and couldn't break myself away from finding out more about the island, the people, the needs.

At the same time I decided to tackle two things I was really neglecting - exercise and prayer.  What better way to accomplish both than waking up at 3:30am to hop on the treadmill and pray.  As you can tell, I'm a corporate-working mom.  If I can do two things at once and accomplish a goal, I'm all for it.

My prayers followed a format.  It helped me not forget things, and reminded me to pray for specific things.

  1. Lord, thank you for all you have given me.
  2. Lord, please watch over these people in need.
  3. Lord, just what is it you want from me?
Every morning, at the end of my prayers:  Lord, just what is it you want from me?  I wanted my answer.  I wanted to hear that I was supposed to quit my corporate job and do something I always dreamed about.  In the comfort of my country.  

But God had other plans.

Through the course of my prayers I consistently heard that I needed to help the children of Haiti.  And as an earthbound, Lutheran church-going human I thought...

I'm watching too much CNN.  

It's obviously ME that's coming up with this nonsense - helping children in Haiti.  I need to turn off the TV, shut down the computer, stop looking and aching and longing to do something.

It's ME.  My mind.  My thoughts.  My craziness.

I had so much to learn.

At one point Jason and I had a conversation.  I told him about feeling...called.  I don't get it, I don't understand it, I don't know why.  But I have to go.

This 40 year old, content mother of two, needing to go to Haiti.  Alone.

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Many people have asked me:  Why Haiti?  Some have done it in a curious way.  Some in a loving way.  

Some in an accusing way.  After all, we have orphans and hunger and needs in the US.  Why Haiti?

My only answer is this:  Because God called me to.

I had no plans to leave the comforts of the US.  I had no plans to have my eyes opened to how much of the rest of the world lives.  I had no plans to have my world completely rocked when I saw and held and kissed orphans.  
The prayers led to a trip.  The trip lead to love.  The love lead our family to adoption.

I never would have imagined...

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What is He calling you to do?  What does your heart ache about?  What are the thoughts that never leave your mind?  What are the whispers you are hearing?

Be still.  Pray.  And listen.  All He wants...is for you to ask.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bracelets for sale!

We are selling Apparent Project bracelets - which will benefit our adoption, and families in Haiti.

Bracelets are $8 each - free shipping.  You can request a specific color scheme, but as you can see, the bracelets are multicolored and look great with anything.

There are also unisex bracelets available.

All bracelets come with the story of the individual who made them.  It's touching to read what each individual is working towards.  Some want to save enough money to get out of a tent, some are saving money so their kids can go to school, and many are using the sales to feed their kids.

We have to ship unsold bracelets back the week of April 9th, so please order early!  Simply email me at: karen.gigure@yahoo.com

You can pay via check or Paypal (using the email address above).

On a different note, I just noticed the Lilypie ticker above.  10 months.  It makes this mama sigh.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Please take a number

It has been an interesting weekend in the land of adoption.  We got news that the COTP family who has been waiting longer than us has about one more month before they'll be out of IBESR (the longest part of the process).  Just today I heard that another COTP family is officially OUT and moving through the next steps.  A beautiful little girl is one step closer to going home.

I'm really happy for her.

And I'm really frustrated for us.

When we started this process we didn't take a number.  We didn't walk up to the adoption counter and pull down a #2 from the number dispenser thingy.
We were family #2 in line.

We haven't moved.

I'm frustrated.

I want to kick and scream and cry.

We started before this other family.  Why aren't WE out yet?

You know what?  There's nothing 'fair' when it comes to adoption.  We aren't #2.  We're just another file in a huge stack of dossiers.

This afternoon I found myself feeling really gross.  I'm a mother who longs for her daughter to come home.  And not getting news, not having movement, makes me feel horrible.

She's getting older.

She's experiencing firsts without us.

She's going to bed every night without her mama or papa tucking her in and kissing her forehead.

My God, who is bigger than this crazy process, is continually smiling on me.  I can hear him saying, "Oh Karen, you have so much to learn."

Our wonderful neighbor stopped over this afternoon.  This family is dealing with things much greater than any family should ever have to endure.  And yet she went out of her way to bring us something.  A sign that, at some point, the little girl will be coming home.  God's way of saying, "I've got this covered right now Karen.  I tuck her in and kiss her forehead every night."

Our neighbor brought over a bag of clothes for the little girl.  At the top of a bag there was a beautiful pink dress.  I started to cry, hoping she'll be home while it still fits.
(Thank you Heather!)

Our paperwork has been in Haiti nearly 10 months now.  I think that's enough.  It's time for them to move on to another file.  It's time for the little girl to come home to her big sister and brother.  It's time to find out what she likes to eat and learn about her personality.  It's time for her to know that we are her family.

It's just...time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweet Moses

First, a quick adoption update.  We were told our sweet little girl flew to PAP for her interview at the Embassy.  I'm not sure what it entails, and I don't know who went with her.  But I do know it's complete. The Embassy sent an email just a few hours after the interview was complete.

People are excited about how the process is moving.  Yes, it's a step.  But I compare it to a step on a treadmill.  There's movement, but we aren't going anywhere.  We're still in IBESR.  We still don't have dispensation.

I'm not being negative here.  It's more realism.  At this point we still have no idea when she'll be home.

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Yesterday I had the absolute joy of meeting another adopting mama friend.  She was in town from Utah and we were able to spend the afternoon together.  It was wonderful to meet face-to-face and talk about all the things we've been emailing about for months.  We could have spent the weekend together, talking and crying the entire time.

I scheduled some time for us to meet another friend who has a son from Nigeria.  Their story is on the front page of the Pioneer Press today.  You can read about their love story here:  Karen and Moses

This, my friends, is what it's all about.

Moses is the most beautiful, happy, loving child you'll ever meet.  His eyes tell the story of the love for his mother - a woman who fought for years to bring him home.

In one part of the article Karen talks about Joshua.  She has a new mission.  She wants to help Joshua find his forever family.  Her non-profit has agreed to pay for some of the expenses (non adoption related) to bring him home.  You see can his picture here:  Joshua has the same smile as Moses.  The smile warm your heart and stir your soul.

The numbers have changed my friends.  160 million.  160 million children who need a mom and/or a dad to love them, care for them, nurture them.  Bring them home.

Life isn't about 401k's and savings accounts and new cars.  Life isn't about being comfortable and not upsetting the apple cart.  Life isn't about 'I deserve...'

We are called to be a voice for those who have none.

Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, 
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Isaiah 1:17

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fevers and fuhgonkies

Warning - this post contains a bit of a rant.

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Last night it was my turn to sleep on the little girl's bed.  Henry has had a long stretch of being healthy, but the preschool germs overtook him once again.  Instead of having two tired parents, I decided it would just be easier to sleep in Henry's bedroom.

Even though he had a really restless night, he was up at 6am.  He decided he wanted his fuhgonkies (blankies) and a Phineas and Ferb marathon.  We snuggled close and started to watch episodes we've seen at least a thousand times.

During one of the breaks, there was a story about a little girl.  She said that before her 7th birthday she started dreaming about all the gifts she wanted.  She was really excited for her party, and all the toys she would get.

As she was waiting for her birthday, she heard about an orphanage in Guatemala that had 100 children.  None of them had shoes.  In that moment she decided that she didn't want presents for herself anymore.  She wanted people to bring shoes for the kids.

This courageous little girl spoke in front of her church, sharing the story about the kids who needed shoes.  She asked if they would donate shoes for her birthday.

The day of her party she got over 300 pairs of shoes!  She talked about how good it felt when they boxed up and shipped the shoes.

She was only 7 and she 'got it'.

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The winter after I got back from Haiti, Sofia celebrated her 9th birthday.  I remember going out and buying her birthday cake and cupcakes to share with her class.  It cost 75 bucks.  I was sick.  How could I spend that much money on cake?

Do you want to know what $75 can buy?  What $75 can do to help others?  Check out this blog:  Second Mile Ministries and you'll see how far that money can go. (While you're there, please consider donating.)

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Just a few weeks into his preschool education, Henry got an invitation to a birthday party.  Jason knew what my reaction was going to be.

"You have GOT to be kidding me!  He's only THREE!  Why is it starting THIS EARLY?!"

As you can probably guess, I really don't like kid birthday parties.  To me, they are excessive.  I cringe every time an invitation comes home in one of their backpacks.

Henry went to the party.  He brought a gift.  And he brought home a bag full of plastic toys.  A bag of junk that would break in a matter of hours, that is, if he even remembered about it.  I just kept thinking about the good that money could have been used for, instead of plastic toys that would end up in a landfill.

Why do we have this tradition?  Why do we spend all this money on cake and party favors and matching plates and napkins and presents that our kids don't need?

Why?  

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Think about the difference that could be made if just 5% of the kids out there did what that 7 year old little girl did.  If just 5% decided to take that celebration and use it to care for those who don't have.  Donate shoes, clothing, medical supplies, good ol cash.

What a difference they could make.

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We are here to add what we can to live, not to take what we can from it.   ~Unknown

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Her daddy is nesting

Her bed is made.

Her dresser is filled.

Jackets and snow pants and pretty dresses hang in her closet.

Little pink slippers that say 'Love'.

Her very first stuffed animal.

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Jason is nesting.  This weekend he decided it was time.  She needs a bed.  And she needs a dresser.

I came home from work Monday night to a very excited Henry.  He couldn't wait to show me what he and his dad did.  The dresser is ready.

That evening her bed got put together.  As Henry was helping his daddy read directions and assemble the bed, he quietly walked out of the room.  When he came back, he placed this by her bed.


His toy saw.  And the little chair.  We bought this chair in PAP while at the Heartline Guesthouse.  It reminds us of the chairs they have at COTP.  It sits on our dining room table.  A reminder that we have a little person waiting on us.  Depending on us.

As soon as it was assembled, Henry insisted we make her bed.  He shared his pillow.  It's got a pink pillowcase on it now.  He climbed her bed in and slept there last night

It's hard to describe my emotions.  I'm nervous.  Should we have waited?  Our paperwork has been there almost 9 months.  It's been long enough.  But is it too soon?

My beautiful friend encouraged me to fill the dresser.  Little shoes, jammies, more pants than she'll ever wear.  Adorable little sweaters.

Will they fit?

What will I be taking out before she gets home?

Will she get to wear any of it?

We continue to wait.  We continue to pray.  We continue to have hope.

We wait for news.

Henry will keep her bed warm until she gets home.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

The experience

I'm not sure why, but I haven't wanted to tell the story of this trip.  We did so much in the 5 days we were gone I'm having trouble remembering things.

I got maybe a total of 6 hours of sleep during the entire trip.  I stressed over the details of the flights, fretted when we didn't get picked up at the airport in CAP, and nearly had a panic attack as I felt I was suffocating in the middle of the only night we slept at COTP.  Jason, on the other hand, had a great 'vacation'.  He loved all the flights, the tour of PAP, trying new foods, and just the adventure of it all.

Our time at COTP wasn't nearly long enough.  We were covered in kids as soon as they woke up from naps on Saturday.  It was beautiful to see Jason's arms always filled with kids.  Three kids in particular didn't want him to put them down.  One little guy, who was recovering from surgery, was an absolute love bug.  He wrapped his arms around Jason and snuggled into his chest.

The little girl didn't want much to do with us at first.  She's full of spunk and personality.  And she only does what she wants to do when she wants to do it.  She's exactly like her big brother.  She has the sweetest giggle and most beautiful smile.  But as soon as she sees a camera come out, she loses the smile and turns her head.  Again, exactly like her big brother.

Sunday afternoon we traveled to PAP.  It was pouring rain when we left.  We were given a broken umbrella and ran to the plane, laughing as we jumped in the puddles.  The wind was whipping, and I said a lot of prayers about our quick flight.

While rain is cleansing and healing and puddles are fun, my heart was raining as much as the skies.  I met her.  I held her and kissed her and made her laugh.  She fell asleep in my arms.

I don't want to leave her.

At 6:15 on Monday morning we were picked up for our appointment at the US Embassy.  We waited outside until 8:00 before being called in.  To a waiting room.  With about a hundred people.  Where we waited even more.  The process was emotional for a variety of reasons.  Not having all the required paperwork, having left the little girl behind, not knowing what to expect.

At one point we had to raise our right hands and swear to the truthfulness of the answers we were about to provide during an interview.  The question that got me: "Do you feel you bonded with her?"  How do you answer that?  I started to cry.  My response: "I want to bring her home right now."


I must have said, "Thank you Jesus" about 20 times on the trip.  From seeing Nick's face to the Embassy having our I-171H printed to landing in Miami.  The trip was a series of short prayers that were continually answered.

We are blessed beyond measure that we can be on this journey to bring our little girl home.  We are blessed that we were called and have the resources to do it.  We are blessed that we had the chance to meet her.

But...

I'm not patient and I'm not a saint and I'm not a wonderful person.  Right now I'm sad and bitter and cynical.  This process started 18 months ago.  Our paperwork has been in Haiti for nearly 9 months.

I'm tired.

I'm tired of the process.  I'm tired of errors.  I'm sick and tired of the unexpected and the extra money and the non-stop flow of additional paperwork.

To answer the #1 question we've heard since we got back, we have absolutely no idea when she'll be home.  There's no timeframe.  No details.  No general idea.  I will apologize right now if I'm rude to you when you ask that question.  (Unless you're my sister or Amy S or Mary or another adopting mom - then I won't lose it for some reason.)

I suspect this is what most parents go through after they've met, fallen in love with, and had to leave their child.

In all of this, the emotions, the impatience, and the ugly...I trust.  Our God is bigger than a broken process.  He is with her and all 147 million orphans every single day.  They are not forgotten.  They are not unloved.  They have a father who loves them greater than I can ever comprehend.

And because of that, I can sleep at night and trust that - one day - she's going to be home.

This says it all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do not be afraid

I'll be the first to admit that I had fears before our trip to Haiti.  I knew everything was going to be fine, but the irrational Karen thought of every single thing that could go wrong.  Six Seven flights, leaving our kids for the first time, places we've never been, depending on others.  It was enough to make me sick to my stomach.

On the flight down I read a book called Kisses from Katie.  While my sweet friend Kara thought it was the wasn't the best choice (she was kinda right - I was crying on the plane) it ended up being the best thing I could have read.  Here's an excerpt:

"Jesus called His followers to be a lot of things, but I have yet to find where He warned us to be safe.  We are not called to be safe, we are simply promised that when we are in danger, God is right there with us.  And there is no better place to be than in His hands."

I can't tell you how many times people said, "Be safe" before I left.  Yes.  I had fears about many things.  But our God is bigger than my fears.

The following scripture kept going on in my head: "From everyone who has been given much much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much will be asked."  Luke 12:48

Much was asked of us.  We were asked to leave the comforts of our home and our daily lives to travel to an unknown.  We were asked to work hard to bring a little girl home to be part of our family.  We were asked to shake up a lot of our world to make it all happen.

From everyone who has been given much...

From Katie's book:

"The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children.  And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians.


The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.


This is the truth.  I have the freedom to believe it.  The freedom, the opportunity to do something about it.  The truth is that He loves these children just as much as He loves me and now that I know, I am responsible."


On Saturday and Sunday we spent the day with a few of those children that He loves dearly.  We got to meet a little girl for the first time.  A little girl full of spunk and attitude and the greatest hugs a mother could ask for.  One who I can already tell will be sassy and big trouble when she's finally home with her brother.  One who I was in love with before I ever met her and I cry now thinking about leaving her.

This is a long journey to bringing her home.  It's filled with challenges and unknowns and a few times I've wanted to vomit my guts out.  But He has called us to fight for her.  To fight for these children.

The least of these.

God never said it was going to be easy.  But He did say He'd be by our side the entire time.

I have felt Him with us this entire trip.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy birthday, sweet girl

Today our sweet little girl turns two.  My sister Becky was the first to post about it on Facebook.  Seeing her picture, reading the post, it brought me to tears.  It's a mixed bag today.  I wish we were spending the day with her, but I know how much love she's getting in Haiti.

Sofia wanted to have a rainbow cake for her birthday celebration today.  It was quite a process to create, but it turned out just beautiful.


Here are 5 of the 6 colors.  Blue is in the oven.  We had to bake one layer at a time because I only have one round pan.


The six layers put together - waiting for the final cover of frosting.

The finished product.  This was a lot of work but it was so pretty!!
Sofia was very proud of how it turned out.

The end of the rainbow cake.

We had a wonderful party for her.  A dear friend of mine and her kids were out for lunch and got to share the moment with us.  It was fun watching the kids as they all blew out the candles.  It was even more fun to watch Sofia's reaction when she saw the first piece of cake.

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God blessed us with an amazing pre-birthday present.  As I sit here right now I can't believe this all transpired yesterday.  Early in the morning I received an email reply from USCIS.  They would not process my request until I gave them travel dates and attached a required document.

I was sitting at my desk.  At work.  

The document was sitting on the island.  At home.

I work 55 miles from home.

You can only imagine how frustrating that was.  If I had attached the document to begin with, we'd have a date.  

God smiled on me, yet again.  Our adoption worker, who doesn't work on Fridays, was at work.  She had a copy of the document and she sent it to me!

It was highly unlikely I'd hear back, but I quickly sent USCIS my requested travel dates and the document they required.  

Then I held my breath.  

Just a few hours later - an email response.  IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING??

Dear Ms. Gigure,

You are scheduled to file your I-600 petition at this office on XXXXXXXX, 2012 at 7:00 a.m.

We are located at the US Embassy Compound, Tabarre 41, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

Regards,

USCIS Haiti 

The afternoon/evening was a whirlwind of emails and searching for flights.  I'm happy to say our travel is officially booked.  Now we need to pack our bags, and wait.  Wait for that special day when we fly into Cap-Haitien and meet our little girl.

The only gift that will be greater than this is the day she meets her brother and sister.

One step closer.





Thursday, January 26, 2012

Change of Posts

This week has been a week of frustrations.  Our file is at a standstill in Haiti.  There has been no movement, no news, for months now.  There have been meetings with officials, decisions made, blogs being posted, and information shared.  Most all of it has only increased my frustration level.

The other night my sister sent this message, "Maybe she's still doing God's work there."  (in Haiti)

When she texted that to me, I didn't have a very good response.  I shut down.  God needs to get her out of Haiti.  God needs to bring her home - to a mom and a dad and her brother and sister.  God needs to get her here - now - so that she's safe and she knows how much she's loved.  God needs to...

I had a post all set to type up tonight.  I spent the day constructing it in my head.  I knew exactly what it was going to say.

My post was going to be titled:  I want to be Angelina Jolie.

I'm sure you can guess why I'd want her.  It's not because she's unreasonably beautiful, or that she's rich beyond belief.  It's not even because she's with Brad Pitt.  (I don't find him attractive - hope he doesn't read this.  I'm a Team Clooney kinda gal.)

My reason for wanting to be her is because of...her adoptions.

What we saw in the media were flawless, very speedy adoptions.  Maybe she had to wait in line like the rest of us.  Maybe she had to fill out all the paperwork, go through all the frustrations, and wait without news like every other adopting parent out there.  Maybe her children were just case numbers, stuck in a flawed system.

Maybe I'm wrong in my assumption that she 'had it easy' with her adoptions.

Maybe I'm not being fair.

If I was Angelina Jolie, would I be experiencing all of this?   Or would our little girl already be home?

As I was rolling around in my pity party today, I came across a blog post that rocked me.  Sometimes I think God is up there just laughing at me.  He's giggling at how impatient I am.  He knows how much of a control freak I am and just shrugs his shoulders and says, "Ah, maybe some day Karen will learn."

And then he puts a jewel in front of me.  A gift.  A lesson.

A 2x4 to the head.

While reading this post today I started to cry.  It spoke to me.  It shook my core.

It helped me to see the other side of this process.  Click here to read the post.

No, I don't want to wait any longer.  But this gave me perspective.  We won't be sharing her birthday with her on Saturday.  But she's going to share her birthday with a lot of people who genuinely love her.



Friday, January 20, 2012

We're heading to Haiti

We received some exciting news yesterday - it's time to travel to Haiti to file our I-600!  While we're still not out of IBESR, they think it's best we get this step out of the way so we're ready when it happens.  The exciting news is that we finally get to meet her.  I was so excited yesterday that I couldn't think or do much of anything else.  Yet somehow I managed to consume and entire frozen pizza without tasting a bite.  (I didn't feel good the rest of the day.  Bleck.)

Of course it's not as simple as getting an email and instantly booking our flights.  We're still waiting to hear the WHEN and HOW.  It's going to be a whirlwind trip.  But I get to hold my baby.

Equally exciting is that Jason will get to experience Haiti.  Ever since I've gotten back I've wanted him to experience the country, COTP, and all the children.  Oh my, he's going to get an experience for sure!  We'll fly into CAP, spend a day with the little girl and all the other kids, then fly to PAP the following morning to file our paperwork.  Just a few days - but Jason's feet will be in Haiti.

Please pray that we hear when we'll be traveling by next week so we can make arrangements.  Please pray too that all the files that are 'stuck' in IBESR are signed and move to the next stage quickly.  Along with our little girl, there are hundreds of children who are waiting to go home.

It still hasn't sunk in.  Yesterday's euphoria has been replaced with lots of questions.  And I've got the weekend to just think about it all.

Hopefully we get more news on Monday so I can sleep again.  And stop eating entire pizzas.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

She's turning two

Our little girl is turning 2 in two weeks.  We've already sent down a rockin' birthday box for her, and we know that it has arrived in Haiti.  There's a pretty dress and necklace, a few cake mixes with frosting, and lots of toys for her to share with her friends.  I will be thinking about her all day long.  Not that it's really different from any other day.

As you can see from the ticker above, our dossier has been in Haiti for over 7 months now.  There are some things going on at IBESR that have caused her file to just . . . sit.  We haven't moved since first legalization.  Each day I wait for an email that we're out of IBESR and need to travel to PAP for our I-600.  Each day I sit without any news.

The waiting is torture.  Any adopting parent will tell you that.  If we could all go pick up our children right now we'd drop everything and head to the airport without coffee or a shower or a change of clothes and fly to get them.

Since the waiting is difficult, and we have a lot more money that we need to fork over before she comes home, I've decided to channel my crazy energy into something more productive.  Fundraising.  We're in the process of setting up a bowling fundraiser in River Falls.  And right now we have a coffee fundraiser up and running.

What is that all about, you ask?  Well let me tell you!  See that cool graphic just to the right of the top of this post?  All you need to do is click on it and you'll be taken to the page that details our fundraiser.  Every item purchased brings us closer to bringing her home.  With every purchase, Just Love Coffee will give us money to be used towards the expenses that are looming.  And if you click on the link you'll be able to see who this little girl is that I don't talk about by name on this blog.

Here's a pic of the coffee I just purchased.  Henry chose Valentine Blend for me this morning.  You can search the coffees and more by clicking here:  Just Love Coffee for the Gigure Family


Good company.  Great coffee.  Awesome support for our adoption.

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A note after the post:

I realize there are many adopting mamas reading this blog.  You can get your own link and start raising funds for your adoption.  Click on the link here:  JustLoveCoffee  It's so awesome to find an organization that supports adopting families.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Can I cuddle with it?

Check out that Lilypie ticker at the top of the page.  Our dossier officially arrived in Haiti 7 months ago today.  Add on the 9 months that it took us to get to that point and it's been 16 months since we started the adoption process.  Just totally outed myself as a math whiz there.

It seems only fitting that I finished her blanket - exactly 7 months after we accepted her referral and took her into our hearts as our daughter.

The blanket was laying out on the couch - a proud display of what I was able to accomplish.  (With a loom, remember.  I don't know how to knit for real.)

It's a lazy Sunday for us.  The kids and I are playing games on their last day of Christmas break.  As Sofia was lounging on the couch playing one of her new Wii games, she asked, "Mama, can I cuddle with her blanket?"

Yes Sofia.  Fill this blanket with all the love you can.