Thursday, November 3, 2016

Haiti Day 6

November 3, 2016

As I sit here typing under my mosquito net I am listening to the most beautiful songbird outside of our window. There aren't true windows here like what we are used to in the States. Here its a screen with these clear blinds that somewhat cover the window. Our room is right in front of the guest house and one window is directly next to the common eating area (which also doubles as our lounge area, game playing area, etc). We get all sorts of noises that come through the windows each day.

I just cannot believe we have been gone for a week as of today and we are on our 6th day in Haiti. I honestly thought I would be struggling and missing home being in such an unfamiliar place, but that's not the case. Instead it quickly felt like home here. I don't know if it's the people or the fact that our daughter was born here, but I fell in love with this country almost immediately. Things are so different here. It's not everyday that you are surrounded by a giant wall with barbed wire and sharp rebar. And I am certainly not used to having a guard with a giant gun just walking around at all times. But, somehow, all of these things started to just feel normal. We came hardly speaking the language, and while we still have the language skills of a one year old, we are slowly soaking in the words and becoming more familiar with the pronunciation.

We've had a couple of trips outside of our usual walk from the guest house to the orphanage and back. It was a great opportunity to see more of Haiti and I was so thankful for that. There are goats wandering the streets, people selling things on every corner, trash littering your way, large houses amongst the smaller ones, the rockiest and bumpiest roads I've ever witnessed, bright colors all around you, Tap Tap's whizzing by on the streets filled with so many people, dogs lazily resting underneath the shade of a tree, motorcycles darting in front of the car, and people everywhere. This is not a country where you stay inside of your home. People are always outside here. They may be chatting while sitting on a crumbled wall or walking to the market, but there's always so much activity here.

We have 8 days left to soak in the sights and sounds and smells of this beautiful place. Which also means 8 more days getting to know every bit of our daughter before we have to say goodbye. I don't want to miss a smile, a laugh, a cry, or the silly words she makes up just to see if I will say them. I love how we spent so much time trying to figure out what, "ga-gi-o" meant only to find out that it means nothing. She will say it until I repeat it and then fall over in a fit of laughter. We figured out that if we change the pitch in which we say it or the volume that she will laugh hysterically. We may not understand every word she says (and she says A LOT), but we have found ways to work around that and we have a good rhythm going.

I did want to share about our answer to prayer. Previously in Haiti adoptions, IBESR (social services) would do referrals in batches so multiple families would go on their bonding trip together. That changed very recently and when the other family, whose file had been with ours the whole time, received their referral and we didn't, we realized we wouldn't have anyone else here to share in the emotions of all of this. We really didn't think it was possible to be here with anyone else, but I had multiple friends remind me to just pray about it. A few weeks later our friends from our tiny town received their referral. We had started the process together, but our timelines had gone in different directions so we couldn't believe that our referral's came so close together. While their child is at a different orphanage, that orphanage uses our orphanage's guest house. They inquired about when they could travel (we had about a month and a half before we could travel due to Josh's job) and it happened that they would overlap us by one week. I can honestly say I don't know what we would have done without them here. They kept us from ever feeling homesick because we had a piece of home right here. They were able to tell us what to expect for various things. We were able to go on a couple of adventures together. And, of course, there were game nights and ridiculous jokes and it was so much fun. They headed home in the wee hours of the morning, but we are so thankful for the time we had.

I wish I was able to share pictures with you of all that we have seen, but they will just have to wait until we return back to the States. It may mean a few posts of just photos coming your way soon. In the meantime, I have been posting photos to my instagram if you want to check those out. We still will be unable to share photos of our girl until we receive her adoption decree (the official document that shows that she now shares our last name). Once that happens we can flood the internet with photos.

Time to get ready for another day with our daughter! Good morning from Haiti!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Haiti Day 4

October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween! It's crazy to think that 2 years ago today, Josh was on his way to Haiti for the first time and here we are again. We are kind of surprised at how fast time has gone already. However, today was the first day where we both woke up and were just feeling so tired. But, by the time we got to the orphanage we got past that because the kids keep you BUSY. 

When we arrived Selah* was headed outside with all of the other toddlers to the balcony to do some art and music. The second the kids saw us they started shouting at her to tell her we were there and she immediately started looking for us. Today she decided she wanted to go sit at a separate table so we did that for a bit, but the second she heard the rest of the kids singing girl was outta there. Next came a whole lot of dancing and singing. After that they all colored pictures which was fun to see. We actually were given a huge folder full of her previous drawings and art projects which meant so much to us. The best gift I could ask for. 

The rest of the day was just alternating between spending time with the rest of the group and then off by ourselves when she needed a break. Today she was favoring me again, so any time that she let her daddy help her with something I would step back so she wouldn't rely on me for everything and it worked wonders. It seems like she needs special time with me when we arrive and then eventually warms up to daddy. We just take it day by day. 

We did get to spend a good portion of time in the yard and she was not interested in the swing but wanted to play on the slide. Then one of the other kids who loves to follow her around came over and we had a little girl bonding time up on the play structure. Seriously, all of the kids are so amazing and I am so thankful that we know so many of their parents. We love that we can keep her connected with them even after all of the kids are living with their families. What a glorious day that will be when we get to have a reunion! 

Now it's time to rest a bit before we head back over to play. We've been fed all sorts of good food. Also, if you haven't tried breadfruit before you are missing out. It's so versatile and tastes amazing! I wish we could grow a breadfruit tree in Oregon...


We went back this afternoon and have another enjoyable time with our daughter, but this time was different. Her attitude had started to change when we would soon as she would hear that we were there she would starting fussing slightly until she saw us. This is a good sign that she needs us and for that we are grateful. Then, when we went to leave we said, "na we demen!" (see you tomorrow) and this time she didn't just say bye bye. This time she cried and said, "no!" She did not want us to leave. We are so torn because we are so thankful that she has bonded with us so well, but it breaks our heart to know that we will be leaving her soon and when we do we won't be back for many months. Nothing about this process is easy, but we know that it will be so worth it in the end. We really are truly grateful for every bit of this opportunity to spend these couple of weeks with her and watching her daily life. She amazes us every single day. If you would, please pray for her heart...we know saying goodbye the last time is going to be so painful for all of us.

Thus ends another night in Haiti...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Haiti Day 3

October 30, 2016

One thing I want to make sure to remember are the sights and sounds of Haiti. Everyone spends their day outside so there is ALWAYS noise. 

The guards walkie talkie 
Loudspeaker shouting something in creole 
Horns honking
People shouting
The squeaks of the gecko that lives outside
Dishes in the sink
Children laughing
Voices singing in church
Haitian music on the radio

We headed to the orphanage at 8:30 am like we always do. This time we got there right as they were finishing worship so we just hung back until they were done.  I spotted our girl right away and they had dressed her up in the cutest shirt and skirt. The three of us attempted to hang out with the rest of the group in the main room, but her nanny quickly shooed us out because us being there is just a huge distraction for the kids (they all want to bring us things and talk to us which can frustrate our girl).

*Selah (not her real name) was her usual joyful self and she loved the rainmaker toy that we handed her. During that time she tried so hard to tell us something and we were just not understanding. We could tell it was frustrating to her so we just kept apologizing for not understanding and then tried to distract her with a book. That lasted one minute before we again tried to tell us something. That part is really hard...she happens to know a LOT of words and is so talkative. She is usually content with us just repeating whatever she is saying, but not this time. Suddenly she was over it and decided she wanted to play with the "machin" (a walker that used to be hers) and have papa walk her around with it. They would shout, "BEEP BOOP!" and she would imitate him making car funny and cute! Her nanny had the other kids come out to color and do a craft project (it was super cute) and Selah decided she wanted to color as well.

 We did that for a bit and then her nanny had us take her into her room and we listened to music on her little piano and played with blocks. Josh turned on "Divine Romance" which happened to be one of the songs that was played at our wedding and he had Selah stand on his feet and they slow danced to the song. I sat recording it and was just in tears (I tried to hold back because I am sure the nannies would have been so confused). It was probably the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced. A moment we have waited 2 years for. She loves her daddy.

 Just after that the kids ate snack and we headed outside to the yard to play. All the kids were swinging (they LOVE to swing) and then Selah and 3 of the other girls sat on the ledge of the sandbox and filled up their strainers full of sand so they could feel it falling through the holes. I love watching her play with them. Sadly, as we were beginning to leave our baby girl started to say she wasn't feeling well so we sent her with her nanny and left. We are hopeful that she will be feeling better once we return for the afternoon. 


This afternoon ended up being wonderful. Selah was feeling better and we were so thankful it didn't end up being anything too severe. We immediately were sent to the balcony by the nannies and played with the rain maker toy some more as well as a matching puzzle. Then she just kept yelling, "papa! machin!" (meaning she wanted daddy to push her with the walker again). So they did a few laps and then traded with me. It's exhausting! She was so busy today and had lots of ideas of where we should go. After awhile she was ready to find her nanny and the rest of the group so we headed outside to the play yard. She went straight for the swing as usual. We pulled out the bubbles and the kids had fun blowing them with us and, of course, Selah couldn't be left out. After that she wandered off with Josh and played on the slide while I stayed back to let them have some time together. She initially went for her daddy first, but today she started to favor me a bit more so I was trying to let her bond with daddy a bit more. Eventually she yelled, "mama! vini!" (mama, come) so I headed over to sit with her on the slide. After a little while it was time to be escorted back to the guest house so we said our goodbyes and left. 

We are constantly amazed at how well this has gone. That isn't always the case and we do expect there to be some hard days (we are only 3 days in out of 15) but we are thankful for the days that are good. Our friends get back tonight and will be here until Thursday so we are going to soak up that time with them before they leave. I should also add that our kids have done so well. Our biggest concern and anxiety over this trip was leaving them for so long. But they have truly amazed us! We are so thankful for each experience we have had so far, Haiti really is an amazing place full of immense beauty and wonderful people and I am so glad that we are getting to experience our daughter's birth country. 

Goodnight from Haiti! 

*We cannot share photos of our daughter until we receive her adoption decree which is when she legally shares her last name. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Haiti Day 1 and 2

October 27, 2016

The day we headed to the airport to fly to Haiti! It's so crazy to me how long we waited and then suddenly, the day was here. Previously I had been harboring so much anxiety surrounding this trip. I was worried about leaving Eden and Israel behind. Safety while we were in Haiti. Mosquitoes. Hurricanes. You know...normal things (some sarcasm there). But, honestly, once we got up to the day I felt so much peace. It was incredibly hard saying goodbye to the kids. I held it together until we walked into the airport and then it came crashing down. But, I had to get on that plane so I got over it and moved on. We flew from Portland to Dallas that first night and stayed in a hotel since we had a 12 hour layover. It was SO nice and exactly what we needed. Josh has been basically non-existent lately due to work so having a time where we could just sit and talk and eat take out and have zero responsibilities was so wonderful. 

October 28, 2016

We had to get up at 4 am to catch our next flight to Ft. Lauderdale.  Truth be told I hardly slept anyway so it didn't make much of a difference. We said goodbye to Dallas and flew off to get one step closer to Haiti. Each one of our flights was only around 3 hours and then we had a 2 hour layover in Florida. We grabbed some lunch and then waited to head to Haiti. There were so many emotions running through us at that point, but we were just so ready to get there. 

Our next flight was so different than the others because suddenly it was us surrounded by a bunch of Haitians and not much was said in English. I loved it. Stepping off that plane was so surreal. And I was extra thankful that Josh had been here before because he at least knew where to go and what to do. We grabbed our bags and headed out into the sunshine and found our driver right away. It's so interesting stepping into a culture that is just so different from ours and it certainly makes it even more interesting when you can't speak the language, but we have managed. I really wish we knew more creole. I practiced a lot of toddler words, but I would love to be able to communicate with more people. In the car was our orphanage director and she helped give us the lay of the land as we drove to our location. 

We didn't think we would meet our daughter until the next day so it took us by surprise when she said we were heading there. It ended up being a really good way to just slowly introduce ourselves as to not completely overwhelm her. We mostly just watched her interact with her friends and her nanny and didn't interact with her much on our own. We felt it was important to take it really slow. We then said our goodbyes and headed to the guest house where we would be staying for 15 days. As soon as we walked in our friends were standing there. They had received their referral just after us and it ended up that not only did they overlap us by 1 week, but they were also staying at our guest house. Stacey and Tyler are from our tiny little town and we started this process together, never even imagining it was possible that we would be here at the same time and staying together. Having them here has been a huge blessing. They keep us busy and sane so we don't have to get too homesick. We are beyond thankful we get to have this time together. The rest of the night was for unpacking, getting settled, eating spaghetti with eggplant marinara, and playing lots of Uno. By the end of the night we were so exhausted and so ready for some sleep. 

October 29, 2016

Today was a full day with our girl! We woke up and ate some breakfast and then headed straight over to the orphanage. When we got there they were doing preschool so we just sat off to the side and talked to the orphanage director some more. The kids sang lots of songs and our girl couldn't stop dancing the whole time. We got to watch the kids eat snack and head back out for some more school. By the time they were done it was time for us to leave. The nanny didn't realize that and handed her to us, but we had to tell her we had to go. We saw our girl get sad and that broke our hearts, but we knew we would return after their naps. 

After our goodbyes, we were escorted back to the guest house (we had a sweet lady who walks us to and from the orphanage every time) and ate the most delicious rice and beans I have ever tasted. The cook and the guest house manager have been so wonderful about accommodating our food needs and have been cooking fully plant based for us and doing an amazing job of it! Our friends were headed out on a trip overnight with yet another friend of ours that is in Haiti so we said goodbye to them and then we headed back to the orphanage after a quick break. When we arrived most of the kids were still napping so we just hung out out of the way and then as soon as they woke up it was snack time. The kids were all half asleep at the table. Our daughter (we will call her Selah since we can't share her real name) was so quiet and just not interested in eating or interacting at all. I thought the rest of the day may not go so well, but eventually she perked up and was in the best mood. She seriously lights up a room with her smile and her giggles. I could listen to her laugh all day long. Josh and I had a lot more one-on-one time with her this afternoon which helped us get an even greater sense of her personality. Selah LOVES music so we brought her a shaker egg (its a plastic egg shape with little beads in it that makes sounds) and she enjoyed shaking it and singing along. It was fun interacting with all of the other kids as well. We know many of the families that are also adopting from the same orphanage so seeing their kids, the ones we have prayed over for so long, was just an incredible experience. They are all just so fun and amazing! Today really was a great day. Now I am ending it with swollen feet from the ridiculous amount of mosquito bites that I have, but it's so worth it. I am loving it here! 

Hopefully I will be able to upload photos to future posts, but the internet here is not so great so I am not sure that it would even work...hopefully it will at least let me upload this post! Thank you to everyone who has shared in this journey with us. We have been so grateful for every prayer and for each one of you that has encouraged us. There's still a long way to go until Selah is home, but we are thankful for this time. Goodnight from Haiti! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I cannot believe I am finally typing these words after so long, but we received our REFERRAL yesterday! I remember so many people saying, "just wait until you see God's perfect timing" and "it WILL happen" and "God's timing is perfect." And some days I loved those words and some days they just STUNG. But, guess what? Our God is SO COOL. He did some amazing things with the timing of this referral (even though we are scratching our head on a few) and you know I am totally going to share all the details with you.

I want to back up to September 5th. Our youngest daughter's THIRD birthday. The third birthday she celebrated without us. One year closer to not being in her toddler years anymore. I spent the day before her birthday feeling sad, but the moment I woke up on her birthday I chose to celebrate her and not dwell on the fact that she wasn't with us. We talked about her constantly and prayed for her throughout the day. We headed up to Portland for the day so that we could visit a Haitian food truck that had recently opened up. It was so worth the drive. The place was called, "Jouk Li Jou" and was owned by the most amazing Haitian woman, Mathilde. She cooks the BEST Haitian food (I really had nothing to compare it to, but I'm confident in this) and even let us practice our creole on her. We've been practicing as much as we can to prepare to meet our girl, but it makes a big difference to speak it with someone who actually KNOWS the language. 

Following our delicious meal, we spent time picking out the perfect outfit to bring on the bonding trip we knew we would have SOMEDAY. A sparkly gray tulle skirt and a sweet little tank top with ballerinas basically jumped out of us (after a ridiculous amount of time searching) and we knew it was the perfect outfit for her. We hear she LOVES to dance. Of course, we pulled out some ice cream bars to finish off her celebration. But, we truly had no idea what was coming when we woke up the next morning.

Fast forward to Tuesday. I woke up with some anxiety so I spent some time reading Psalms and my devotional (Streams in the Desert - LOVE). Then I followed that up with a workout and was feeling so much more peaceful. We had decided last minute to start school today, instead of tomorrow, because it was raining and I needed to go to Costco and I don't "do" rain. Ironic from the girl who lives in Oregon, but it's just a fact of life. 

I walked by my phone and happened to look down at it. I saw that a friend that is also adopting from Haiti had texted and said that she had received her long awaited referral!! I was so busy reading it that I didn't even realize that there was a missed called from Lifeline (our agency). The second I saw the missed call I knew. I started screaming and jumping up and down. This was IT. I immediately called Josh to tell him to "turn that car back around." Actually I think it went more like this, "Do you have a meeting? Please tell me you don't have a meeting? You don't have a meeting right? [insert screaming and hyperventilating] Car. Turn around. Now. Get home. I need you. [more screaming and jumping]." Thankfully he was able to interpret my freak out and got himself home in record time. 

So, we called Morgan (the amazing woman who handles all of our adoption stuff) and we literally get Lifeline's voicemail. We have NEVER had that happen. We stop and pray. I call again and get someone and ask for Morgan. We get her voicemail. I mean it's like a cruel joke at this point. I finally have had enough waiting and call yet again and as I'm calling, Morgan is also calling me. Funny stuff. We finally connect and we basically can't even concentrate on any words but we hear the confirmation that she is ours. After 2 years of praying for her, we finally had that confirmation. But you guys. Here is the most amazing and crazy part. The referral was actually issued on Monday, which as you might remember was her BIRTHDAY. He is SO in the details! 

We still have a LONG road ahead. Our next step will be to go on a 2 week socialization trip where we spend time bonding with our daughter. We will even meet with a social worker while we are there who will evaluate us as future parents to our girl.  After that there a myriad of steps that need to be completed before she can come home. The timeline is pretty varied, but will likely be around 12-18 months. It's painful to think about, but we also know that she WILL be home. God is faithful. And He has been protecting her from the start. Plus, she's at the most amazing orphanage and we feel so confident that they are taking great care of her. We specifically wanted to adopt from Three Angels Haiti and every single day we are so thankful that God made it possible. He knew our baby girl would be there.   

I wanted to end by saying THANK YOU to each person who has prayed for us, checked in on us, and most importantly prayed for us. We have a long road ahead. But we are so thankful by the amazing community that has surrounded us throughout this process. 

**We cannot show her face or share details until she officially shares our last name. Once that happens we will definitely share her beautiful face with you all! 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Can't Get You Off My Mind

I haven't been the best at updates. I know. Some days it feels easier to not update because I just don't have a lot to say right now. We are SO close to our referral, we can feel it. We were given an approximate timeline for our referral to come, but we also know that timelines are loose, so we just wait patiently (okay some days we are very IMpatient).

In the last couple of months of waiting our girl turned TWO! We had friends there during her birthday and we were told she was very well celebrated. We made rice and beans just like the typical meal of Haiti and decorated and just celebrated her as best as we could. Those days are the hardest. The birthdays. The holidays. You just don't want to spend yet another day 3,000 miles from your child. It just doesn't feel good.

Her birthday gifts

But, we know that some day this will be a distant memory. And we really are thankful for these painful days. Because it reminds us how much we truly love her. She isn't growing in my belly the way the other two did, but you can bet that our love is growing SO deeply during this time. As a family we are learning to just cling to one another and pray continually for our baby who is so far away.

I'm finding that instead of burying myself in tasks I need to take a step back and be okay with not doing much of anything. I am having to say no to a lot. Some days are better and some days I am just so overwhelmed. And I am going to admit openly that I was letting fear keep me frozen. The fear kept me from feeling the real pain of having my baby so far away. It kept me from being honest about how scared I was about meeting her because then I would KNOW what she feels like and then I have to leave her. That hurts so much.

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to attend the Called to Love retreat. It is for adoptive/foster mama's. I didn't want to go at first because I didn't want to be vulnerable to my emotions. I wanted to bury them deep. Going there was where I finally allowed myself to admit that I was allowing fear to keep me from feeling. So, it was there that I let it go. I asked God to take it away. And He did. And I hurt. And I cried. But, it has been SO good. He also gave me the greatest gift of getting to hug two amazing women, who are also Haiti mama's, during the conference. One of those sweet mama's brought home two kids from the same orphanage that our daughter is living at. She has SEEN our girl. Those two days were a true treasure. Memories that will be with me for life.

So, for now, we just wait for "the call." We know that the families that were ahead of us got their call and will be heading to meet their little ones SO SOON. So, we remain hopeful that our call is coming. We have been working so hard to raise the rest of the money to bring her home. I've seen God work miracles for our family so many times. He took us from not having a penny to our name to being blessed with more jobs than we can handle (literally. Josh has 4 of them to try to make as much money as we can to get our girl home). We are HALFWAY to fully funded. God just keeps bringing in the money. Many people ask what our next need is, and that is the money for the referral/travel. We have $2,000 more to go. Although some days I start to fret over that money, I truly do believe God will provide it just at the right time. There are times I wish we were already fully funded so we didn't have to worry about it, but maybe this is a gift. It gives us something to focus on in our wait. It makes us rely solely on Him. It requires us to humble ourselves and ask for help.

So, for those that were asking about a way to give that would be tax deductible, we went ahead and set up a Pure Charity fundraiser page. All the money that is donated through that link goes directly to our agency, who will then use the money for our adoption expenses. Each dollar counts. Truly. And we are so thankful to all of the people who have prayed for us. Who have set up fundraisers for us. Who have purchased from our fundraisers. Who have handed us a check just because. We are truly thankful for our village. If you would like to donate, just look to the right of the blog and you'll see our fundraising page...just click on it! THANK YOU!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Think of the Happiest Things {Fundraiser}

We have another fundraiser that we have just launched!!! We are awaiting our referral call at any time so we knew we needed to get moving in order to raise the last $3500 we need in order to accept our referral and travel to hold our baby girl for 2 weeks.

The words, "think of the happiest things," are lyrics from Peter Pan. I haven't stopped singing the song since designing it! In our home, when we are stressed or scared, we always say to pray and think of happy things. Plus, we are a bit Disney obsessed in our home, so designing something that encompasses that love just made sense. We know our girl is going to be dealing with a lot of grief as she transitions into our home, so we love to think of ways to fill our home with reminders of JOY amidst the sadness. We hope you love the reminder to think of happy things!

So, in light of Christmas coming up...we thought it would be fun to design t-shirts that would make perfect gifts (or just buy for yourself...I won't tell). Our shirts are available for purchase from now until Monday, November 30th. Once it ends, shirts will arrive within 14 days which gives you the perfect amount of time to wrap them and place them under the tree. We have unisex, ladies, youth, long-sleeve, and hooded sweatshirts available! Every single purchase gets us so much closer to our baby girl. We would LOVE if you would also share about our fundraiser...the more we sell the closer we get to our goal! Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Our family is so grateful for all of the love and support we have received during this process!