Sunday, November 30, 2008
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
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 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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
'Restavek' system thrives as impoverished families have little choice
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!