Our friends and fellow adoptive parents, Matt and Julia, sent us a couple of pictures they took of the "Ground Control" that took over my office while Team Hope was on the ground in Haiti.
Thanks, Matt and Julia for the pictures. I posted the articles you gave me about Nathalie over on the Team Hope Blog on their appropriate days.
As for "Ground Control":
In this shot, you can only see two of the work stations, but at one point we had 4 different computers and 3 different scanners/printers running all night long to get all the families' packets ready for the government.
That's Brent's brother Brian who helped get the last packets ready. My brother, Brian (ironic, but...) also assisted as did both of our mothers and Tia and Allicen.
On the walls you can see some pictures that the little neighbor girls drew for me that I posted to keep me going. One of them has a rainbow and Brent and me, and Jessica and Nathan standing under the rainbow. Next to us it says, "I hope you fined Jessica". I loved the way she spelled that.
Another one says, "To the Rosenlost" and I thought that was probably the most appropriate spelling of our last name EVER given what we were going through at the time.
I have no idea how many reams of paper and MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE ink cartridges we went through trying to print all the paperwork out for everyone. It was ridiculous.
And did I mention we got to do all that paperwork TWICE because Haiti wanted one set of things and the US Government wanted entirely different things and different documents and different images.
Good times, good times.
The best news, though, was that all the work paid off. Before we went to Miami, Florida's Health and Human Services Department's Department of Refugee Resettlement had a conference call for the families and they let us know that we could expect that our children would be in a children's shelter for "2-3 days" while our paperwork was processed. The woman on the call let us know that we'd have visiting hours with our children from 10 AM to 5 PM and then we'd need to leave them at the shelter each night while they processed our paperwork. She also assured us that the shelter has "lovely grounds that we would be able to explore with our children" while they were in State Custody as the families' paperwork was processed.
This is where Will Smith (who, according to my sister, is going to play me in the movie about this ordeal) has the line, "You're putting our kids in a SHELTER?? Aw HELL No!"
So we worked through the night, for a couple of nights and we got all the paperwork to the Customs and Border Protection people and then again to the HHS/ORR people BEFORE the families hit the ground in Miami.
Some of our families literally just had to sign papers and they could take their children and go. We did the legwork beforehand and therefore, the children didn't have to spend unnecessary time in the shelter. They arrived, and they left.
We honestly got everyone processed in a less than a day and they were on their way to their HOMES.
There was another amazing story about the work we did with the paperwork. For the packets Chareyl had us put together for Haiti, we included pictures of each child and then pictures of the child with the parents (because the families had all been down to visit). When she FINALLY was able to get the Haitian Embassy to take our files, they looked over everything that had been compiled, they were thrilled. We had everything documented. Then they turn to Chareyl and said, "You don't HAPPEN to have small photos of the children, do you, because if you do, we can skip a step and just process these packets as they are without you bringing the children down to the Embassy for their photos to be taken."
Lindsay HAPPENED to have wallet-sized pictures of all the Foyer kids on her. She'd done a little Christmas gift for the Foyer families and at the last minute she threw the extra photos in the bag she brought to Haiti.
Chareyl did not, but she said, "Look - these are all COLOR photos on these papers we've compiled." They gave her a pair of scissors and let her CUT out pictures of the children from the paperwork we sent down and they were able to use those for nearly every child.
That's just one of the many, many crazy government stories that was followed by a miracle in this mess.