Tuesday, December 30, 2008

People are People....

Yesterday while traveling to work in the commuter lane, I checked my rear view mirror and was alarmed to see a rather large SUV rapidly advancing on me. To say this driver was "aggressive" is like saying that Audrey Hepburn was "kinda pretty".

Because the commuter lane has marked entrance and exit points, there wasn't really anywhere I could go to get out of this dear man's way. And because there were cars in front of me, I couldn't go any faster than the 75 mph (if you're my mother, read that "64.9 mph") that I was already going.

As this gentleman continued to travel dangerously close to my bumper, I began to wonder if he was some sort of automotive proctologist. Did I forget my yearly physical? Is there some sort of new age "house call" taking place here? Perhaps there is a need for bumper stickers with your insurance information printed on them so that I can more easily be billed for such a thorough exam.

Eventually he zipped around me and started "examining" someone else. I watched the brake lights and swerving as this vehicle pushed his way through the morning traffic, causing frustration for many other drivers. I don't think he was oblivious to his behavior - I think he plain didn't care if anyone else was impacted by his aggressive rudeness.

Compare that to the email that I received this last weekend through the Etsy store. You may remember we had a hot dog/bake sale in September in the parking lot of the Walmart down in St. George. The email said:
"I met you at Walmart while you were doing a fundraiser for the orphanage. My little 5 yr old girl was so touched by you guys and talked for days about wanting to help. She has been making bracelets and selling them to earn money for you guys. We wanted to come over with the money before Christmas but we never made it. I would like to figure out the best time for her to come over, she has been so excited to deliver the money herself!"

We all come into this world with the same things. We all choose different paths. I'm very grateful that for every bumper-prober there's a little family who is teaching their children about helping and serving others.

For good or bad, one person does make a difference!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snuggling with Daddy

I think we took these pictures the first night of our October trip. We had only Jessica for most of the week, as you'll recall. That night, Brent had his computer out and was trying to upload some pictures or something.

Miss Jessi just came right over and of course wanted to help - anything with that many buttons and lights has to be AWESOME!! Naturally, right?

But the part that I liked the best was when she snuggled back into Brent's arm - cuddled right up with Daddy. She'd touch a key on the computer and then look up at Brent to see what his reaction was.

Of course, we think everything they do is adorable, so he was laughing which made her laugh with him. She has the funniest laugh - particularly if she knows she's being funny.

My dear friend, Melissa, recently posted about how her daughter likes to snuggle up with Daddy and they take a nap.

I can't wait until that's Brent and Jessica on our very own couch at our very own house.

Please let it come soon enough that they're still little and still want to snuggle. With our luck, they may well be 17 by the time we get them home! :D

Friday, December 26, 2008

Continued Prayers, Please....

My sweet friends found out today that the birth parents of the twin girls have decided to keep the babies. It's excruciating to go through this rollercoaster called adoption. Please keep Jason and Leslee in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Giving

We've been so blessed to have a few choice family and friends who have donated to our Orphanage as part of their own Christmas celebrations. We're very grateful for all the love and support we've received and will be sent to Haiti from good people like you.

Thank you so much!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Calling All Happy Thoughts!!!

I have a work friend who is adopting. He and his wife have been at this for years, just like us. They found out a couple of weeks ago that a birth mother had selected them and that she was expecting TWIN GIRLS in January.

I just heard that the birth mom is going to be induced TOMORROW and that my friends should get their baby girls on CHRISTMAS DAY!

I'm nearly in tears, I'm so excited for them.

I'm also anxious - now comes the agonizing part with adoption. Will she change her mind? Will everything go well?

It's so hard to want something so much that is such a blessing for you and yet such a heartache for another mother somewhere.

J&L will be FABULOUS parents. I am praying so hard that this happens for them and that they get their family on Christmas Day.

If you believe in happy thoughts - please send prayers, clap your hands (thanks, Tinkerbell) or just positive thoughts to the Powers that Be that this little family will have THE BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

We're praying for you!! Keep us posted, J&L!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Stuff

We had our family part with my siblings this weekend. My older brother and his wife have hosted it the last few years. It's getting harder and harder to find a space where everyone can fit. They pulled it off yet again and it was a good time.

The food was great. It was fun to watch baby Abbie open her presents. For gift exchanges between my siblings, we changed the rules up a bit this year and said the gifts had to be made or had to be a form of service.

My sister and her husband drew our names and they made us 3 beautiful ornaments with pictures of Nathan, Jessica and Malot on them. I'll post pictures as soon as I figure out the best way to capture them. I was quite touched by them - literally speechless to see Malot's little smiling face on that ornament. Thank you, Z and Aaron. That was the perfect gift for us.

Brent and I don't do much around our own house for Christmas over the last two years. We both love Christmas, don't get me wrong. But lately our Christmas to each other is "the next Haiti trip". Not gonna buy a tree when that money could go to a Haiti trip. Neither of us really need anything, but what we both want is a Haiti trip. You get the idea.

We're just saving and focusing everything on that. I'm sure some of the neighbors wonder if we've changed religions as we don't have a tree up or anything. It's not that, it's just that our hearts are in Haiti and we want to really enjoy our next tree - and have kids home with us to join in the fun.

We ran an errand to Cabella's last night. For those of you that may not be familiar with it, Cabella's is an enormous hunting and fishing store. We have a ginormous store not to far from us. Inside it's practically a wildlife museum with all the different stuffed and mounted animals from all over the world.

When we're at Cabella's I normally think about our kids because I try to imagine what their reactions will be when we get them home and they can see this or that. But this last trip was different for us because we ran into two other families that had adopted black children. And watching the children run around and be so excited and the brief bit we spoke to one of the parents.... It was just a different reminder that sometime this will end and we'll be done and they'll be ours.
Next year.... please let it end soon....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Been There - Done That - Had the T-shirts Made...

Well, Brent found a company to make our silk-screened T-shirts for us. ABC-Tees made the first batch and they look GREAT! The colors are perfect and the print is clear and sharp. They were wonderful to work with and Brent had nothing but good things to say about Cort at ABC-Tees. If you're ever in the market for custom silk screening, we highly recommend them. Thanks to Colleen for recommending them to us!

I still need to post them on the Etsy store (trying to figure out if I can get away with that - we're kind of bending the rules of what Etsy was intended to be, I think).

We only have adult sizes right now, mostly Medium, Large and X-Large. We're not sure what would be "requested" so we didn't order children's sizes at this point.

We've also nearly got all the kinks worked out of of the embroidery process. We've gone back to our friend Colleen to get a few tweaks made to the logo so that the small print will be legible when translated to thread but we should have some options in that department soon.

Thank you to all the people that are helping us pull things together to raise money for our orphanage. I wish you could see their sweet faces, but that will have to wait until we get the org website complete.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advertise our store on your blog...

I have a tiny bit of code now so you can put our logo on your blog's sidebar if you'd like. Thanks to Friend Dan for his help there.

Email me or leave me a message if you'd like me to send this to you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweets for the Sweet

Sometimes dinners with the big people get boring. Even if there's pizza involved.
Cute Jess loved the Halloween ghost suckers that Aunt Mare brought down for all the kids.

She also liked Pizza crust - we order it from Dominoes on the last night at an exhorbitant rate.

She had a little dance with the pizza crust. You go, sister! What every makes you happy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Home Sweet Orphanage

I thought I'd post some pictures of the place where the kids are living. I only have a few good shots because, quite frankly, we're more focused on getting pics of the kids while we're there than of the facility.

Nadia and her staff try very hard to keep things very clean. And you can see in some of the pictures that she'd had cartoon characters painted on the walls to make it more visually stimulating for the children.

Kids still get sick for a variety of reasons. After watching Jessica lick the walls and the bottom of her shoe, I'm not at all surprised when we find out someone's sick at the O. Kids will be kids and kids put things in their mouths. When those things have been touched by filthy rain water and all that goes with it then you end up with an orphanage full of kids with giardia or some other gift that keeps on giving.

The O is basically a house with 3-4 bedrooms in it. It has a living room/dining room area, but not a lot of furniture. There's a big kitchen space and oh - how I desperately wish I could carry enough food to stock their shelves!

The kids play and spend most of their day in this area - it's basically the carport. It's covered so it's a bit cooler. We want to get ceiling fans installed for them to keep the bugs down. They eat their meals around these tables. They play around these tables. I'm assuming when the school teacher is there, he's teaching them around these tables.

The kids sleep in these bunk beds - multiple kids to a bed. There aren't blankets because it's Haiti and it's hot all the time. They don't have air conditioning and, given that electricity is often unavailable in the evening, a ceiling fan isn't even an option. Every inch of wall that a bunk bed will fit on is used for that purpose.
50 kids - 3 bedrooms and a carport. But they make it work and they're doing the best they can for our kids.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wacky Jess

Jess is very curious. She has a "texture thing". I mentioned before that she kept licking everything - the wall, her shoes, the mirror... You can see the gunk on the mirror in this picture left behind from the week's worth of kisses she kept giving herself in the mirror.

She really liked playing with the little girl in the mirror.
Jess is a very sound sleeper. Yes, she's completely asleep in this picture. You can tell she's an orphanage kid used to sleeping through the noise of all those other kids. She could sleep through a freight train going through the house. Her hair in this picture makes me giggle. And yes, we're terrible parents. Once we realized she'd sleep through this, I made Brent do it again so I could take pictures. Poor kid.... Jess is goofy. You can almost hear the silly noise she was making when I took this picture. She apparently REALLY liked PopTarts. She was doing a little dance and making noises. And there's that crazy tongue of hers! It's practically an accessory - it shows up in so many pictures!

That last morning, Brent and I were trying to get the kids fed and make sure we'd packed everything. We had a lot of "busy-ness" going on to try to distract us from the fact that we were leaving them AGAIN. Lots of action to delay the hurt that would hit us hard later that morning.

I had Jess in my arms and Brent had Nathan. As we were walking towards the area where we were to meet the other parents, Brent was approached by a nice looking group of people. It was an older man and woman and an extremely beautiful young Haitian woman. They were obviously Americans. We learned they were doing some sort of missionary work in Haiti.

They asked if we were adopting these children. Brent explained that we were and because the excitement was so fresh, he told them a bit about how we'd just been reunited with Nathan. He mentioned we had to leave them behind today and go back to America to wait for more paperwork to process.

The man and woman looked at each other and smiled knowingly several times through Brent's story. When Brent finished, the woman said, "Well, what you're doing is a good thing. It's good for all of you. And in 20 years, maybe your daughter will be as beautiful as ours is" and she put her arm around the young Haitian woman as she said this. She turned to her daughter and said, "It's all worth it. When we were going through the process of adopting our daughter, twenty one years ago, things were even more chaotic, if you can believe it. But it all works out in the end."

I don't think I need to tell you that I was sobbing by this point. It was just what we needed at that moment - a reminder that at some point we would be a family in OUR home, and not in a hotel in Haiti. Someday we'll be done with the paperwork and the waiting and the delays and the frustration and the sickness and sadness and distance.

Someday Jess will legally be our daughter and Nathan will legally be our son. But I already feel that they're both ours in my heart.

We love you, babies, and pray for angels to keep you happy, healthy and safe until we can bring you home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank you, Tia!

My dear Tia made and donated this sweet puff baby quilt for the Etsy store.

We sure appreciate all the support from good friends and family.

Luggage Woes

My friend, Ashok just had a rather rough trip getting back to India for a family funeral. He spent about 40 hours in the air, not counting layovers. And they lost his luggage. Travel can be so frustrating. It made me think of this little clip.


We added a few more items to the Etsy site. Thank you to Darlene who was willing to donate such beautiful cards and gift tags. Thank you as well to my brother and his wife who came over to help me get better pictures to post. Hopefully some of those items look a little better now.

Thank you again to everyone who purchased something thus far.

I have other friends and neighbors who are willing to help with the effort. Hopefully we'll have more items soon. And, if any of you kids reading along from home out there in Internet Land want to make something to contribute to the Etsy store, please feel free to email me. Etsy's business model is that it must all be handmade. You can browse the site for a bit and get a feel for the absolutely insane variety of items that are out there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Giving

A dear friend told me today that she'd told a neighbor about our orphanage and what we're trying to do. The woman asked her how she could help and my friend gave her the link where I posted about donations to WIAA.

She just let me know that the woman emailed her today and said:

Thanks for the link. I will share this with my extended family as well. We have several nieces who are unable to have children and have adopted or are in the process of trying to adopt. I know they will want to contribute as well. I'm so glad you mentioned this in church. I was looking for something special for Christmas this year. You are an answer to my prayer.
I'm so grateful people are willing to help our kids and this sweet orphanage. They're trying so hard against nearly insurmountable odds to keep these kids alive and get them to better, eternal homes. As Harry said, they need our help to do what they do. They simply can't survive without donations.

We just can't imagine what it's like to live in Haiti or to be an orphan in Haiti. I'm reminded of what Nadia told our friends this last trip. Our friends are adopting a sibling group and Nadia told them that every time a plane flies overhead the oldest girl wants to know if that plane has her Mommy and Daddy on it to come and get her and take her to her new home. At 7, she is old enough to realize that life has more to offer than what she has available to her and she can hardly wait to come to her new home.

We're the answer to their prayers. You're the answer to our prayers. Those sweet children are the answer to so very, very many prayers.

Thank you so much to those who have added our little orphanage to their family's Christmas plans!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cards, cards, cards....

What a strange week it's been! We managed to get all the card orders shipped this morning (or delivered in some cases).

I made up these little tags and tied them to each bundle of cards with ribbon. How many times have I mentioned that I love having a logo? It just makes it seem more official and less like I'm suddenly and completely randomly an importer for Haitian handmade cards that I then package up in my basement and mail off to far-flung places like Montana. Oh, wait....

I thought I'd show you some of the other types of cards that Harry can have made for us. I scanned the sample cards that he sent, so my apologies if they're hard to view or cut off.

I think this would make a cute little set - "Happy Family cards"

These look like good Valentine's Day cards or a nice set to keep on hand to use on wedding gifts.

Here's a grouping for baby shower gifts

These cards say "Tropic Paradise" to me. Great all-purpose cards.

And these are my favorite - "Haitian Women". Some of these are just exquisite. I'm completely amazed by what they can do with a banana leaf!

So - what do you think?
  • Any of them strike your fancy?
  • Any that you'd buy if I had him make more?
  • Do the groupings make sense?
  • How many cards would you expect to get in a set (like one of each or two of each or would you expect to get "6 cards" or "10 cards", etc)
  • What would you expect to pay for them?
PRETTY PLEASE, I'm begging you for feedback. I feel like I don't have a good idea of whether we can really try to do this again for Harry because the bulk of the cards I shipped were ordered by three very generous people. Obviously, they can't keep that up!

Do you think that you or people like you would be interested in this?

Thursday, December 4, 2008


We have orders now for all the cards! I think that's a little bit of a miracle. Thank you for your support thus far.

We're getting more items for the store in the near future. Hopefully we can keep a bit of inventory moving through that so that we are always working on bringing in a little extra to feed the kids.

Thank you again for your support!

Next Item Up for Bid....

There's something about having a logo that makes us feel official! (Still working on getting the website and other such fun stuff done - oh, and all the legal hassels, but it's coming along)

My fabulous spouse found a company to turn our lovely logo into a symphony of satin stitching. Please give me a mental drumroll, while I present to you:

Now, we can start selling shirts with stitching on the website. And I think I'm going to see if Mom-in-Law's friend will help us put the logo on one of her lovely handmade purses. I think that would be a fun surprise for Nadia. What do you think?

We've joked that we need to get matching shirts the next time we go down to Haiti. Apparently in some ways, the missionary groups are safer than the rest of us Americans wandering around in Port-Au-Prince, and matching shirts would make us look like a missionary service group.

Anyone who's interested in getting a shirt that touts your support of this sweet orphanage and our fabulous kids - send me an email and we'll see what we can work out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Helping Harry Help Haiti

It was a good day on the Hope for Little Angels of Haiti Esty store. Our first day in "operation" and we've had 3 orders. Of course, one of those was from my mother ordering a baby blanket made by my mother-in-law and generously paying the shipping fee even though she lives 15 minutes from me. Thanks, mom! The kids will appreciate every dime.

Another hefty order was from a dear friend who is also a Haitian Adoptive Mom and so she "gets it". Thank you again, Melissa.

And thank you as well to Julie in Texas who also ordered some of our banana leaf Christmas cards.

I believe I neglected to tell the backstory on the Christmas Cards....

After our October trip, we'd heard that an American soccer ball can be sold in Haiti for as much as $100. I thought, "If that's the case, we'll start taking flattened soccer balls down!!" So we sent a question through to Harry to find out if he thought he could make money reselling soccer balls. The response came back that he didn't think they could. So I sent a new query through asking if there was 'anything we could bring down to them that they could resell in Haiti".

Somewhere that may have potentially been lost in translation.

Several days later I received the response that Harry had thought of something and he would be sending me samples. Now I was completely confused. We were supposed to be taking things to them, right?

Well, on Dec 2nd we received a box from Haiti with 200 handmade Christmas cards in it. And a note explaining the history.

Harry, who works closely with the needy members of his faith as well as working at two orphanages, had rounded up some church members that did not have jobs and had them make these cards. He then paid for them himself at $1/card. His note said, "if you can post on the cards that buying these cards is giving food for some starving children and is giving jobs for some people".

I sent a message back through to Harry that I'd received the cards and that I hadn't meant for HIM to go to any expense personally, but that we'd definitely reimburse him on our next trip. And I thanked him for being so thoughtful as to find a way to serve the children and the people in his congregation that need work.

He responded that he wasn't worried if he didn't get back the money that he'd spent because:
I'm just open a door to find more money to help the orphanage with these kids. We really need money to save our children. We can't take care of them without receiving donation. We are working hard to create other opportunities to get money because we need a lot to spend for these kids everyday. I'm really appreciate the people which made these cards. I like to keep them busy and have them working to get money.
As usual, I'm overwhelmed with the generosity and love of the wonderful people we've met in Haiti. Harry and Nadia and their crew are truly amazing people and are some of the most giving, considerate, compassionate and noble individuals you'll ever meet.

He's right - they do "need a lot to spend for these kids everyday" because costs in Haiti are so astronomically high and they really can't take care of them without receiving donations."

If you'd like to tell others about these Christmas cards, or post the link to our little Etsy store on your own blog, PLEASE spread the word. I have about 160 cards left and it's Dec 3rd. Please help me help Harry to get these cards sold.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Good News and Fund Raising Opportunities

We heard from our agency today that Nathan will be kept one more night in the hospital and will be released tomorrow. They said that he's doing much better and should be full recovered soon.

Thank you so much for your prayers! We appreciate your support!

We also have a bit of an announcement. Our friends in Haiti have sent us some Christmas greeting cards that were made by some of the people they know that needed employment. We also have some beautiful baby blankets with crocheted edges that were made by Brent's mom. We've posted these on a little store on Etsy.com. We have some other friends and family who have offered to donate handmade items as well. We hope to be able to gather some funds for the orphanage through these items.

If you'd like to stop by and check out the few items we have available now, you can see the store here

I apologize in advance for my pictures on the site - we'll have to figure out some better lighting options soon!

I'm a bit nervous about this etsy store. We'll see how it goes. We've never done anything like this before.

Noble Beasts

And another distraction post...

I learned something FASCINATING this last week on the radio. Apparently, there is a segment of the population of this great country who believe that if someone in your household has asthma you should get a chihuahua.

Yes, a chihuahua.According to the DJs, the belief is that the dog will 'take your asthma' and the dog will then be sick and you will become well!

There are many questions that arise when I think about this line of logic. For starters, it seems like a very MEAN thing to do to the poor, unsuspecting dog! It seems rather vicious. Secondly, if you were going to believe that a dog had the ability to absorb your asthma why wouldn't you pick a dog with a greater lung capacity than the noble chihuahua? I mean, imagine what a MASTIFF could do in the same circumstances.

Check out those nostrils! He should be able to cure a fleet of sick asthmatics!

But really, aren't chihuahuas kinda wheezy dogs anyway? I suspect it has less to do with asthma absorption and more to do with inherent tiny nasal passages, but what do I know??

And I can say I'm very glad my friend, Michelle, uses an inhaler rather than a chihuahua to treat her asthma....

No offense intended to any noble, self-sacrificing chihuahuas that may be among my readership! May you and all your people breathe happily ever after!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Not ALWAYS Photogenic

I need something to distract me from the fact that we haven't heard any more about Nathan's health since they told us this weekend he's in the hospital.

This pic is posted for my dear friend, Princess Heather, who asked if it was even POSSIBLE for a child as cute as Jessica to take a "bad picture".

The answer to that is, "YES! My goodness, Yes!"

I think I was trying to get a picture of her little flicking tongue action and inadvertently captured a bug-eyed moment that is completely awesome!

Now you can compare My Worst, with Brent's Best and see that we really are quite happily married. He makes up for all that I lack!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sending Out Happy Thoughts For Nathan

With Nathan in the hospital in Haiti, with IVs in his arms and just trying to endure, I thought I should post some pictures of Nathan and Daddy.

Remember we were reunited with Nathan Thursday night and that we left Saturday morning. We don't have a lot of pictures of him from this trip.

I love his little expression in this one. I'm not sure what I was doing and it looks like he's not quite sure either.

We didn't think we'd ever again see this little boy. So to be able to watch him playing and laughing with his Daddy.... beautiful.

My handsome boys! Love you both so dearly!

Hang in there, Nate. We're praying that you'll feel better soon and that you can be back to running around and being happy with your sister very soon.

We are also praying that this hospital trip turns out better than Malot's trip and that you'll actually come back to the orphanage and continue to grow and thrive and be happy until we can come and be with you again.

We love you, Nate. Get well soon!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prayers, Please

We just were updated that little Nathan is very sick and in the hospital. We're confident they're trying to do what's best for him, but we pray he'll be better soon.

It's so tough to keep the kids well in country that has so little and where there is so much disease and poor water, etc. We hope to be able to get a water filtration system to them with our next trip. I wish there was a magic injection we could give them that would keep them well until we can get them home!


I know that it's nearly December. I'm a bit late these days (ask Cliss!)

I felt the need to share these with the world.

Our little Nathan is named after Brent's best friend. Uncle Nate has the COOLEST Halloween costume on the entire planet. (And yes, he does own the horse and no, he didn't rent him for the costume)

When he rides down the street, the horse's hooves spark against the pavement and add to the ambiance of it all.

Nate and his friend, Woody, hauled the horse around to some friends and family in our little town. They'd get Nate loaded up and in costume on Jet (the horse) and position him right in front of the front door. And then Woody would call the homeowners and tell them that he was in their driveway and could they come "give him a hand" with something. Woody would then stand back and "watch the magic" as the poor, unsuspecting homeowners would open their front door and find The Headless Freakin' Horseman!!!!!

PLUS, Uncle Nate gives out full-size candy bars!

It's truly awesome to see him in his full getup.

We love you both! Thank you for everything you've done and continue to do for us and the kids. We can scarcely wait for Little Nate to meet Uncle Nate.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I’m Small, I Know, But Wherever I Go the Grass Grows Greener Still

A couple of people have asked me recently how they can give to our orphanage as part of their families' Christmas celebrations this year. I thought I'd post the info here so that anyone interested can get the details.

We still don't have our non-profit org set up. In order to get a receipt for your tax-deductible donation, it should be sent to:

Wasatch International Adoptions

3755 Washington Blvd. Suite 300

Ogden, Utah 84403

Please sure to indicate that you'd like it donated to "Hope for Little Angels of Haiti" as they deal with many orphanages and are a non-profit organization themselves. Indicating your intent will help them allocate it as you'd like.

Thank you for caring about our kids!

Some of the things we're working on right now:

  1. A water filtration system for the orphanage. The O got giardia after the hurricanes earlier this year and that comes from unclean water. We want to help them meet their own needs and not be forced to BUY bottled water when funds are so tight to begin with.
  2. A generator for the orphanage. Electricity in Haiti is spotty at best. There are periods every day where the orphanage doesn't have power. That means no ceiling fans, even, to try to keep the tropical heat down. In the evening, the children go to bed when the sun goes down because they don't have power at night. Imagine how cranky and uncomfortable you feel when you're hot and sticky and then magnify that by 50+ to try to get a gist of what they're dealing with.
  3. We've recently had an English teacher start teaching at the O. This is a benefit to not only the children, but also helps the Aunties who work at the orphanage as knowing English will help them to improve their own lives and provide different job opportunities.
  4. Of course, food, food, food. Everything is so expensive in Haiti. For a few months this summer and fall the O was only able to feed the children one meal per day. We want to keep that from happening again.

The title of this post is from a favorite song from my childhood. The song is about a little stream who realizes that, even though he's just a little bit of water he makes a difference with what he does. We feel like a tiny stream right now trying to quench a parched desert. With your help and support we can make a difference - little by little.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Good News

We were notified today that Nathan's mother has also completed her USCIS interview. Since it was this interview that caused her to 2nd guess her decision to place Lexi and Nathan earlier this year we've been very nervous about this 2nd interview.

It apparently went "very well".

Now we're at the same point with both files. They've both completed their birth parent interviews and we're waiting for USCIS to process our dossiers.

Still no word on Malot.

Monday, November 24, 2008

And the Award Goes to....

Brent's now an award winning photographer.

Granted it's just my company's internal photography contest, open only to employees and their spouses. It was judged by an independent panel made up of members of the Utah Arts Council. I figure they should know what they're talking about.

Plus, this is just a fabulous picture. Even if I am ridiculously partial to both the photographer and the subject matter.

(This was taken the 1st day of this last trip. We were still at the orphanage, after meeting the kids again.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Article from msnbc.com

Kids forced into domestic servitude in Haiti
'Restavek' system thrives as impoverished families have little choice

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Evans Antoine wakes at 7 a.m. and dusts himself off from his night on the floor. While other children in his middle-class neighborhood overlooking the Haitian capital head to school, the 15-year-old puts on toeless sneakers and gets to work washing dishes, scrubbing floors and running errands at the market. He also works in the yard and sometimes wields a scythe in the family's fields.

There is little reward for his toil, except for food and a roof over his head. And often, the quality of his work isn't good enough; his caretakers sometimes hit him with a switch or slap him on the back of the scalp. Once they tied his hands and put a bag over his head before beating him with a stick.

This has been his life for the past three years.

"They tell me that I'm useless," Antoine said, speaking softly at a meeting secretly arranged by a teacher who taught him briefly and who fears for his future. "They yell at me and tell me about all the things they do for me and how easy I have it."

During the interview, Antoine never smiled. He also kept looking away while answering questions, clearly uncomfortable with the subject: his unforgiving life.

Antoine is a restavek, a Haitian term derived from the French for "stay with." But, he would rather be described by the more genial-sounding Creole phrase meaning "one who lives with people." He is among 300,000 children, 10 percent of Haitians under 18, who serve as domestics for other families, a tradition in Haiti dating back to the country's independence more than 200 years ago.

Haiti revolted against French colonial rule and became the first "black republic" in 1804. With newly emancipated slaves in power, it also became the first nation to outlaw slavery. Dependent on coffee and sugar, however, Haiti kept the plantation system after the revolution, requiring "mandatory labor" of many citizens. The masters were no longer white, but working conditions improved only marginally.

Children were particularly susceptible. The sons and daughters of slaves remained house servants following the revolution, indentured to newly rich army officers who took over the plantations.

Key to the economy
Today child workers remain an important part of Haiti's economy, a system that barely sustains a nation of 8.7 million that is wracked by poverty and lawlessness.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. A little over half of primary school-age children are enrolled in school, according to UNICEF, and less than 2 percent finish secondary school.

Children become restaveks in a variety of ways. Some, like Antoine, are orphaned and taken in by family friends. Others are runaways pulled off the street. Most are given up by parents from depressed rural areas who can't afford to care for them and hope that another family will do better and send them to school.

Antoine's case is an example of what so often goes wrong. His adoptive family promised to pay his tuition, but when it came time to do so, his adoptive father reacted harshly. "He said I was lying and he beat me," he said.

In fact, the majority of families are only slightly better off than restaveks' parents, despite living in the capital.

"It is not in Haitian culture to send children away," said Guerda Constante, a child-rights activist in the small coastal city of Jacmel. "Parents do this because they do not have the means to provide for their needs. It seems strange, but the parents are acting with love."

Promises by host families to feed, educate and take care of the children are just too alluring to poor parents, Constante said. In some cases, the new family meets those promises, but in most cases, she says, "the difference between the promise and reality is seen on the first day they arrive."

Rural poverty
It takes a bumpy four hours in a 4x4 to make the 60-mile trek from Port-au-Prince to the rural village of Fond des Blancs, where electricity and running water are scarce. The center of activity — a foreign foundation-funded hospital, a church and an outdoor meeting hall — sit in the middle of the valley.

Over the treeless mountains to the south lies the Caribbean Sea. Single-room, thatched-roof huts dot the landscape, many housing families with 10 children or more.

Fond des Blancs has little communication with Port-au-Prince and the capital's political system has nearly no influence on the area. Lack of police has made it a favorite destination for Colombian planes to drop drugs for local Haitian runners to send onto the United States.

While some families farm or make charcoal, most have no regular means of support. In the most depressed areas, fortunate children are those that are fed once a day.
Children in places like these, activists say, are most at risk of winding up in the restavek system.

"More than 50 percent of the children in Fond des Blancs don't have the chance to go to school," said Briel Leveille, a community leader and member of COSEDERF. "It is said that education is the foundation of development. It is through education that Haitians will one day come out of this misery."

One U.S. community gets involved
Hearing about the lack of education, one American school has become involved with the Haitian community.

At the Seth Boyden Elementary school in Maplewood, N.J., the PTA is trying to set up a sister-school relationship with those in Fond des Blancs. Students have been collecting school supplies and attended a Haitian Flag Day celebration.

"I hope we can do a lot more than this," said Tamara Thompson, a former U.N. observer in Haiti who now resides in Maplewood and has a 9-year-old son who attends Seth Boyden. "Education is a key to ending the restavek system and it is their right."

For now, however, many parents in Fond des Blancs see the restavek system as the only hope for their children.

"I'm afraid to send them, but I really don't have any choice," said Rodette Clermanceau, a mother of 10 in Fond des Blancs. She is sending two of her children to Port-au-Prince to work for other families. Clermanceau has been raising her children alone since the father was sent to prison.

"If I had the financial means, I would not give them away," she said.

Drumroll, please...........

......we were told today that Jessica's mother did come for her birthparent interview with USCIS and that it went "very well".

WHOO-HOO! Two Points for the Lord!

If I thought I could do a cartwheel without ruining more than my pride, I'd do it!

That's all we know, but that's something great!

Still no word on Malot...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Awesome Made Up Game #426

Jess thought the pool was pretty sucky. She didn't like the whole "wet" part. I think that was the core of the issue. She did invent a fun game to play with Daddy while Daddy was helping the other kids play in the pool. (Remember none of these kids have been at a pool before, so everyone needs to be held by an adult to prevent that pesky DROWNING issue from occuring)

Step 1: Find beach ball. Carry it to edge of pool. Try hard not to ooze cuteness but fail miserably.

Step 2: Chuck ball at Daddy who is in the pool. Make Momma laugh at the cute little ruffles on your bum and the way your swim suit WILL NOT stay up.
3. Be delighted in how clever you are and giggle to yourself as you run away from the edge of the pool.
4. The next step in the game is for Dad to throw the ball back to the cement so you can chase it. Momma didn't get good pics of that. So imagine Dad chucking the ball back.

5. Repeat.
She does this little thing where she chews on her lip all the time. This is a good image of "Jessica": Toddling around, being busy, chewing her lip and being too stinking cute for her own good!

This is a shot of Jess giggling to herself as she runs away from the pool just after chucking the ball. There's that lip chewing thing again. It's terribly unfortunate how cute she is.This picture delights me. I love her eyes. She's such a vibrant little soul.
Can't wait to see you again, Sweetheart! We love you!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holding Our Breath...

Today was supposed to be the day that Jessica's mom met with USCIS.

This is a big deal for us because a) it gets one more step out of the way for one of the children and b) it was this interview that freaked out Lexi and Nathan's mom earlier this year and caused her to take the kids back. We're very nervous and anxious for news that she came and that it went well.

Rachael asked why Lexi didn't come back with Nathan. The reason there is that they have different fathers. Nathan's father has agreed with the decision to place him for Adoption. Lexi's father has had a change of heart since she was originally placed in the orphanage last year. She's not going to be placed for adoption again. At least at this point.... one never knows about these things.

A few items that are also concerning from a blog written by a woman who keeps track of international adoption issues and status - particularly for Haiti. See her most recent post here

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Update on Files

This last week we finally received our IBESR file numbers for Jessica and Nathan!

What does that mean? It means this office is officially looking at our dossier. It's usually at least a couple of months before they finish with that, but at least we're officially in the next step. Brent updated the text on our side bar so you can see that we've inched one step closer!

Still no word at all on Malot.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of

I have had a hard time posting since we returned from this last trip. On some level, I feel like if I post about the kids and share my excitement, we'll lose them again.

This has been the year of deja vu. Let me take you on a little stroll down memory lane.

This is our family in January when we went to meet our daughter and son. We'd been matched with them since October.

We were so thrilled to meet and be with Lexi and Nathan. Love at first sight! Daddy knew this was his son. We were so grateful and happy.

Then February came and we found out their mother had changed her mind and we'd lost them.

In March, we started over and selected beautiful Malot to be our son. And it felt right and our hearts were healing and we were happy.

In June we went down to meet Malot (never heard another word on Lexi and Nathan). Malot, as you may remember, kept talking about his friend named Jessica. So we went back to the orphanage on Thursday of that week and brought Jessica with us as well. Once again we were a family.It seemed fated, led, meant to be. And we were grateful and we were happy.

We made plans to go back and visit Malot and Jessica in October. Our flight left on a Sunday. The Friday before that we were told that Malot had been very ill and that his uncle (who hadn't been to the orphanage to see him in 3.5 years) had taken him back. The orphanage had pulled in the authorities, but children don't have rights in Haiti. He was gone.

We moved forward with the trip, hoping and praying that we'd be able to find Malot's uncle. So we went to visit our Jessica. Thursday of that trip we were notified that Lexi and Nathan's mom had changed her mind AGAIN and that Nadia had been working with her for a few weeks to make sure she was "definite" this time. They took Nathan's mom to the courts and she and his birthfather signed relinquishment papers in front of the judge. So we got Nathan back and we were shocked and in awe and stunned and grateful and we were happy.
So after all of that, we're in the exact same spot now that we were in January. Our files are still waiting to go into IBESR. We've lost this year. Since this process takes about a year, we're still a year out from being able to bring them home.

Brent and I both have frequent dreams about the kids. Sometimes for me, it's just Nathan and Jessica. Sometimes Malot is there, too. Sometimes they're fabulous dreams. Sometimes they're terrifying. And each time, we wake up with our arms empty and wonder if this time it will "stick".

It seems like this year has been about introductions, falling in love and loss. I'm not sure what else can happen and I'm afraid to blog about it because I don't even understand it myself.

What does it take to get our family to "stick"?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's a New Day

This isn't about who you did or didn't vote for. This isn't about who I voted did or didn't vote for. I'm not saying the right person won or lost this election. And I'm certainly not saying this election was about race and color.

All that aside, this mom is grateful that her children are coming to this country after we've had the first black President of the United States. This changes everything. It breaks through things that have been barriers for years. We've had to deal with racism from people very close to us when they found out about our adoption goals. In a hundred tiny ways, this election makes it harder for people to have hatred based solely on the color of someone's skin.

This song says it well:
I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Have finally came true...

It's time for you and me
For us and we
That's you and me together...

'Cause we weren't fighting for nothing
And the soldiers weren't fighting for nothing
No, Martin was dreaming for nothing
And Lincoln didn't change it for nothing
And children weren't crying for nothing

("It's a New Day" by will.i.am)


God Bless America!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pam's right... We basically have twins....

Love these pictures.

I'm also struck by how these hideous bedspreads are going to be such a part of our lives forever. They're in SO MANY of our pictures of and with our kids.