Friday, December 21, 2007

Good News at Last!!

I got an email back from USCIS last Thursday saying that a decision would be made on my file within the week. I was extremely happy to get any response at all from them, since I knew that the officer was on vacation until the 20th. That meant that someone in the office was at least responding finally.

Well, as of yesterday, I hadn't heard anything. I wasn't terribly surprised. Since the officer was supposed to be back in the office yesterday, I replied to the email I had received and asked if anything had been done. I also called the office (three times), but, of course, never got an answer. I left a message and felt defeated - yet another message - sure to be ignored.

Well, today I got an email from USCIS saying that MY APPROVAL HAD BEEN CABLED TO HAITI on the 19th!!! Hip, hip hooray!!

Scott said "Maybe it was good that the officer was on vacation because someone else finally took care of our file." One way or the other, I'm thrilled.

So - next steps. I'm going to call the consulate today and see if they will now schedule the birth parent interview. The medical appointment is already done. After the birth parent interview, we will have a visa appointment. The day of the visa appointment is the day that we bring our boy home!!

Things are looking up!! Thank you God!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Out of Office Autoreply

That's what I got just now when I emailed USCIS again (read the post below for this morning's USCIS drama). Apparently, the reason I haven't heard back from the Chicago USCIS officer is because she's out of the office - from DEC 3rd to DEC 20th!!!! Not that she got back to me before the 3rd either, but that explains this latest round of silence. In her out of office email, she gives a number to call if you need to contact someone in her absence - Ironically, the number she gives is her own office number - the number I've been calling for more than a week with no answer. Obviously, no one is listening to her messages or handling her workload. That's three weeks where no one is even attempting to solve the problems that this officer has created. I know - I'm starting to sound spiteful. I just can't help it at this point.

Before I received the news about the officer's vacation, I called Senator Durbin's office again. I decided that it was just ridiculous that in two weeks my case hadn't even been assigned to anyone and I begged to just talk to someone who could help me. I did end up speaking to the person who handles international adoption cases. She said that she corresponds with the officer via email and would let me know when she hears back. I was feeling hopeful that I might at least hear something when I decided to email the office myself as well. That's when I got the out of office reply. I had to decide whether to scream or cry - I chose cry. It's looking like nothing will be done on my file until after the holidays. I guess we might not have Noah home in January after all.

Still Nothing

Okay, this is getting beyond frustrating. I finally got ahold of the consulate in Haiti last Thursday and they told me that the person I needed to speak to was on vacation until Monday. I then called back again today and the consulate told me I needed to call USCIS in Haiti instead. I did get ahold of someone in USCIS. They never got anything from the Chicago office stating that I had opted out of the AOF program. As far as they knew, they were still waiting for documentation from the orphanage so that they could conduct the orphan investigation. I'm guessing that, since the Chicago office had mistakenly had my file marked as approved (instead of pending), they never even sent it. The Haiti office said that the Chicago office needs to send them the letter and then adjudicate the I600 themselves (which is what they were supposed to be doing all along). She gave me their email address to give to the Chicago office.

Now, for more frustration, though. The officer in the Chicago office DOES NOT ANSWER HER PHONE. She also DOES NOT RETURN MY CALLS!!!! I called her at least a dozen times today with no luck.

I tried calling Senator Durbin's office again and was informed that my case hadn't been assigned to anyone yet (it's been one day shy of two weeks since I faxed my letter) - she said to call back in a couple of days if I still hadn't heard anything. Can I scream now?? Why is it that dealing with the US government is just as hard as dealing with the Haitian government? Haiti has lots of excuses - shoddy electrical system, no computer system to speak of, poor road systems - what excuse does the US government have?

Okay, I'm done with my rant for now. I guess I'll go back to calling the USCIS Chicago office another dozen times. Sigh...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

No News is... Bad News

Well, I know the famous phrase says that no news is good news, but I'm afraid it's wrong. I still haven't heard anything from Senator Durbin's office or from USCIS. I call USCIS every day and leave a message, but the officer never calls back. It's so frustrating. She was simply supposed to get me the name of someone to call at the consulate in Haiti (I've tried calling there without a specific name since and haven't been able to get through) - Somehow, she can't even manage that. I called the Senator's office and they said my file is being actively worked on and that they will let me know when they hear anything. So, I wait. No news is definitely bad news.

You'd think I'd be used to it. But, I have to mail a Christmas present to Noah. I've been avoiding it. I had been so hoping that he would be home with us, opening presents here on Christmas. I have to face that it's not going to happen.

In some ways, it might be better for Noah. He's a shy little boy and the hubbub of Christmas might be a bit overwhelming for him. I just have to keep reminding myself of this fact. I'm actually okay with it most of the time, but if things don't start moving again soon, I think I'll go a bit insane. Heck, I'm already halfway there. The US government doesn't want to have that responsibility on its shoulders, right? Okay, USCIS, get moving!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Things are not going well on the I-600 front. I contacted my Senator Durbin's office today and they had me fax a letter requesting help. Here's what the letter said:

I am currently in the process of adopting a child from Haiti. Our son has his passport and is ready to come home, but I have been experiencing issues with getting the I-600 approval needed so that he can get a visa. I am hoping that perhaps Senator Durbin’s office can speak to USCIS in Chicago on my behalf so that the I-600 approval can be expedited.

I applied for the I-600 on May 1st, 2007. At that time, I asked to be included in the AOF (adjudicate orphan first) program. In July, I received a letter stating that my son, Louines, had his I-600 approval. However, I noticed that the visa classification was incorrect (IR-4 rather than IR-3). When I emailed USCIS to inquire about this, I was told that Louines had received his I-600 approval in error and that it would be revoked. I was told that, since I had opted into the AOF program, I could not get my I-600 approval until the Chicago office received form I-604 from Haiti.

Meanwhile, I spoke with someone at the USCIS office in Haiti who informed me that I should not have participated in the AOF program because my son already had an adoption decree. I immediately called the Chicago office and asked them if I could opt out of the AOF program and asked what documentation I would need to submit in order to get my I-600 approval from the Chicago office. The officer informed me that I would need to submit a copy of my son’s adoption decree and a letter asking to opt out of the AOF program.

On Sept. 6th, I faxed these documents to the Chicago office. The fax was apparently not received and I faxed them again on Sept 13th. An officer emailed me and informed me that I also needed to submit Louines’ IBESR authorization of adoption in order to get I-600 approval. This document had never been mentioned to me in past conversations and I did not have a copy. Because I had opted out of the AOF program, I now needed this document in order to get approval.

I was not able to get a copy of the document until my son’s passport was printed and the file was returned to my orphanage. As you can imagine, I was now incredibly anxious to submit the document to USCIS and receive the I-600 approval. I emailed and called the USCIS office several times both before and after submitting the document in order to find out if anything further was necessary in order to receive my son’s approval. I never received a reply.

Today, I received word from the consulate in Haiti (via my son’s orphanage) that my son’s birth parent interview cannot be scheduled until the I-600 approval is received. I called the USCIS office once again and this time was able to speak to the officer. She was very confused about the state of my file. First she said that it had been approved in July. When I explained that the approval had been revoked, she then said that they were waiting for the orphan investigation results to come back from Haiti. I reminded her that I had opted out of the AOF program and told her that the consulate’s office had informed us that they would not begin the orphan investigation until we received the I-600 approval. She then said that she needed a letter from the consulate saying that she could give the I-600 approval without the orphan investigation. She indicated that she had requested this letter, but I honestly don’t believe that this could be true, since, at the start of my call, she seemed to think that I had already received approval. Overall, she just seemed confused about what needed to be done. I asked if there was someone at the consulate that I could call to make sure that this letter gets sent. She said that she would call me back with a name. That was this morning. I, unfortunately do not have much confidence that this matter will be settled anytime soon.

I am sorry for this long explanation, but I wanted you to understand what has happened so far - what I have already done to try to rectify the situation myself. I am hoping that someone in the Senator’s office can help me with this matter. I am hoping that the I-600 approval and the scheduling of the birth parent interview can be expedited so that we can get our son home. Noah (as we will name Louines) has been in hearts since we first visited him in October 2005 and has legally (in Haiti) been our son since February 2007 – I’m sure you can understand that we are heart-sick with waiting and just want him home soon.

Thank you so much for your help!
Nicole Hewitt

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Okay, so I got the document that I needed for my I-600 approval from COTP today. I sent it to our translator and she was able to turn it right around and get it back to me tonight - thank you, Deb Blaz! Tomorrow, I will fax the document to USCIS in Chicago and hopefully they will get working on my I-600 approval!

I'm a bit frustrated because USCIS hasn't returned my recent emails or phone calls. I've been trying to get verification from them that this document is the ONLY thing that is still needed for my approval. The last time I spoke to someone there, she made it sound like I would just need the adoption decree and then I could be approved. I submitted that and thought I was all set. So I was very surprised (and upset) to hear later that they needed the IBESR approval as well. Needless to say, I don't want any surprises this time.

That's about all the update I can give right now. We still have the birth parent interview and the medical exam and then the visa appointment to go. But, we're moving forward and that's what counts.

As far as the birth parent interview goes, Robin told me today that for some reason it's being done a little differently and will be done at the consulate. They're not sure why USCIS requested it this way, but please pray that this is a positive thing and not negative. I should be hearing soon when the appointment is scheduled.

It's real - He's coming home!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Noah has a passport!

Wow! We're getting closer!! I just got a call from Robin saying that Daryl at COTP has Noah's passport. I'm still waiting to hear for sure that they have a copy of the document that I need for USCIS, but it's looking good. Hopefully I can get that faxed to them in the next day or two and we can keep moving along!

Please be praying that these final details move along smoothly. There's a lot that has to happen still, not the least of which is getting Noah's I-600 approval. Please pray that that happens quickly because I'm not sure that anything else can happen until we get that approval.

I'm just so happy to report that things are moving!! We may have our boy home for Christmas yet!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Noah is out of MOI!!!

Yes, it's true. We are finally out of MOI!! I just got the news today and I almost can't believe it. We're out!!

As it turns out, we've been out since the 19th and Robin just didn't want to let us know the news until she had absolute confirmation (which I definitely appreciate - if it had turned out to not be true, I would be completely devastated right now instead of overjoyed). Unfortunately, they were still not able to get the document that I need for my I600 approval because my file went directly from MOI to immigration and was never in NLL's hands. So, here's what still needs to happen for Noah to come home (at least as far as I understand it):
Passport printed (this hasn't been taking long lately, so hopefully it will be soon).

Once the passport is printed, I will get a copy of the IBESR approval, which is what I need for my I-600 approval. I will submit that document to USCIS, and hopefully they will do the rest of their processing quickly.

Visa application is filed. I don't remember everything that is involved in this, but I do know that Noah has to have a medical exam and I think that they do a birthparent interview at this point. Once we have visa approval, we go to Haiti for the visa appointment and to bring our son home!!

Things have been moving relatively smoothly post-MOI. I am optimistic that Noah will be home with us for Christmas this year!!

Please keep praying!


Monday, October 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, Noah (Not So Happy for Mommy)

Today is Noah's 3rd birthday. I have to admit that I'm having a hard time celebrating. Last year, we had a little party for Noah on his birthday. It was nice for Jaden and Danielle to mark the day and for us to celebrate Noah being part of our family. This year, I just can't bring myself to do it. I can't manage to be anything but sad today. I can't believe how much he's growing up without us. We just had no idea that things would take this long, that our little boy would pass up toddlerhood and we wouldn't be there to see it happen.

People often ask if anything new is happening with the adoption. The answer is no. We are still stuck in the same place we've been since the beginning of March. It's hard to say when we might hear news. Could be tomorrow, but I've been saying that for months. We still haven't been able to get I600 approval yet either. When I finally got a copy of the adoption decree and sent it in, they informed me that they also need our IBESR approval document. No one has a copy of that, so we'll have to wait until Noah gets out of MOI and hope that USCIS processes things quickly. I've pretty much given up hope that anything will happen quickly.

Happy birthday, Noah. We love you and miss you!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Life Goes On

It's been awhile since I've posted. Mostly because I haven't had anything to say that relates to the adoption (or to Haiti in general). But, even though I started this blog to write about the adoption and Ruthlande, life goes on. Life here goes on. No reason why I shouldn't write about it, right?

So, it's been a big month in the Hewitt household. Jaden started kindergarten. He's been loving it, which I knew he would. He's definitely ready for this step and I'm excited about all the things he'll get to learn and experience!

Also moving up in the world is Danielle, who started preschool last week. She's always had a more timid personality and I worry a bit more about how she's going to adjust. But, so far so good!!

It's been nice to spend mornings with Danielle - just the two of us. I guess this is one small benefit to not having Noah home yet - I get some individual time with Danielle in the mornings and with Jaden on the two afternoons that Danielle is in preschool. I'm trying to look on the bright side of things after all, and if Noah was home right now, this time would be focused on him adjusting to life in our family. In some ways, I think that it's nice that that adjustment isn't happening at the same time that Jaden and Danielle are adjusting to their new school routines. (Of course, if Noah had come home months ago as we were hoping, those adjustments wouldn't have had to come at the same time. But, then I still wouldn't have one-on-one time with Jaden and Danielle - focus on the positive, Nicole!).

One positive thing about the adoption - I did get a copy of Noah's adoption decree and faxed it to the Chicago USCIS office. Hopefully I'll get that elusive I-600 approval (again). I'm not holding my breath at this point, though. I won't truly believe it until I get the letter - and even then, I might still have my doubts. This process sure has squelched my normally optimistic spirit. Now, if we could just hear those sweet words, "Noah is out of MOI." Some days it feels like it will never happen. According to the adoption decree, Noah has been our son since February 16th. February 16th. Danielle has started randomly making comments - "It's taking Noah a very long time to come home." Don't I know it, baby. Don't I know it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Color-Blindness is in the Eye of the Beholder

So, I've been obsessed with reading blogs lately. Some of you reading this now can probably relate. Somehow (I don't even remember how anymore), I found a blog written by a TRA - a trans-racial adoptee - and now I can't stop reading them. It's been fascinating and frightening and enlightening and a million other things that I just can't describe.

When we started this adoption process, we decided that race "didn't matter" to us. We felt led to adopt a deaf child - a child who might not easily find another family and who probably wouldn't have a chance for a great life in their home country. We wanted a child who was relatively young, but we didn't care about race or gender.

What I've come to realize is that the only reason that I'm able to take this color-blind position is because I'm white. I see little direct evidence of racism and what I do see is easy for me to write off as ignorance. It's easy for me to be color-blind. However, my black son won't have that luxury. Race may not "matter" to us, but it will matter to him - it will be a part of who he is - a part of how he experiences life. No amount of love and wishing will make that fact go away. So, what does that mean? How do I raise my child to understand a part of himself that I've never experienced, that I can't share? How do I give him a sense of identity so that he doesn't grow up wishing that those well-meaning white folks hadn't messed up his life by adopting him?

That's why I'm reading - voraciously. I find myself desperate to do the "right" things for my child. And I know there are no definitive answers. But, I feel like I can learn from the experiences of those who have been there, done that.

I know in my heart that Noah was meant for our family. God has showed that to me in a thousand ways. Scott and I have often chuckled at the fact that we set out to adopt a deaf child and it looks like Noah has no hearing problems at all. We've also realized that, since Noah was believed to be deaf, only a family that was willing to adopt a deaf child would have accepted his referral. God gave us willing hearts and led us to our child. Still, I have to remember that just because I know that God is in control, doesn't mean that I can sit back and assume everything will just work out fine. Life doesn't work that way. We're going to have to work at this family thing. We're going to have to live and learn and probably make a bunch of mistakes along the way.

Is it terrifying? Sure. Is it worth it? I guess you'll have to ask me in 20 years or so, but right now, I can't imagine an answer other than, "Absolutely."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Some MOI Movement (and Articles on Ruthlande)

Well, there has been some recent movement in MOI. This past week, several people on the Yahoo Groups that I belong to have reported that they are out of MOI. They should be picking up their kiddos in a month or two. This includes one child from COTP!

It's great to see movement - it means that at least something is happening - but I have to admit that it's bittersweet. The people who have come out of MOI recently all went in after we did. It's hard not to wonder if something has happened with our file. Has a problem been found with the file? Is it in a pile somewhere, pushed off to the side? I've heard stories about the disorganization of the offices and it's not hard to believe that this could happen. A few files have even been lost!

At this point, I've given up hope of getting my I-600 approved until I get my adoption decree from Haiti. And I've given up hope of getting the adoption decree until Noah's file comes out of MOI (Robin at COTP has been trying to find out if NLL, who is facilitating our adoption, has a copy of the adoption decree, but so far we haven't been able to get word about that). I'm really just hoping at this point that we get out of MOI very soon, that we're able to get the adoption decree to USCIS, and that USCIS will approve my I-600 quickly.

I do have to remember some of the good that has come from the waiting. We probably wouldn't have felt capable of taking Ruthlande in if Noah had come home recently. And this second trip to Haiti felt like God's plan for lots of reasons that I won't go into. Still, it's hard to be patient when God is telling me to just wait. Patience has never been one of my defining qualities. Guess I have plenty of time to continue working on that...

On a brighter note, here's a link to an article that was written about Ruthlande in the Daily Herald:

Also, another article written in our local paper by the Pioneer Press (the picture is from this article):,li-medvisa-072607-s1.article


Friday, August 10, 2007

Chance to win $2500

Okay, so there's almost no chance that I'll win this, but what the heck, right?

Over at Ashwin’s blog, you will find one crazy blog owner!! You can win $2500!! To enter just copy this text and paste it in your blog!! But hurry, this competition will not last long! So get posting!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Happy Birthday to Scott?

Okay, so yesterday was Scott's birthday and what a day it turned out to be! Not exactly the happy birthday we were hoping for. Let's see - the "day" started at 3 AM when we awoke to the sound of a massive storm - pouring rain, lightning and the strangest, loudest thunder I think I've ever heard. Scott got up to check on things and found that our basement window was leaking water. We're in the process of getting our siding replaced and so all of the gutters are off of the house. With no gutters, the window well had filled completely up and the window was leaking. Luckily, Scott had found the problem early enough - the basement just had a bit of water and Scott was able to caulk the window and stop the leaking.

Problem averted, right? Well, then we looked out the front door and realized that a MUCH bigger problem was awaiting us. I'm sure you've seen the picture above and can figure out what I'm referring to. Because the siding was in the driveway, Scott had parked at the end of the drive instead of at the front where he normally does. He was kicking himself because he had thought of moving the car at one point, but then didn't because he thought I might want to go somewhere in the morning (and I can't move his car because I'm incapable of driving stick shift). Well, when it rains hard, the sewers in front of our house tend to back up and the road floods. I can't tell you how many countless times we've seen cars get stuck in the flood right in front of our house - we're always amazed at how many people drive through even when they see someone stuck!
This night was the worst flooding we had ever seen. The water came halfway up our front yard and the water was up past the doors on Scott's car. The inside was full of water as well. At that point, Scott decided it was too late to do anything but wait for the water to recede.

So, Scott spent most of his birthday taking the seats and carpet out of his car so he could dry them out. He said he vacuumed over 20 gallons of water out of the car (maybe approaching 30). We're now thinking we might want to invest in a new car - we had been thinking about it anyway, since we can't fit three carseats in Scott's car - but we don't really have the money right now, so we were holding off. Guess we might be revisiting that decision. We just don't know how well we'll be able to trust this car now. Scott drove it and the battery light kept coming on and he thought the transmission felt a little funny. So, we'll see. We went out and test drove a Kia Rondo last night. We'll see...

Other than that, we also had the I-600 issue come up yesterday. It just wasn't the best day overall. But, that's how life is sometimes. Even on birthdays.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Clarification on I-600 Woes

I got some questions on this and realized that I didn't explain the situation with the I-600 very well. It turns out that the I-600 should never have been approved. It was approved in error apparently. They said that they needed to get the results of the orphan investigation from Haiti (which hasn't been started yet, as far as I know) before they can approve my I-600. Here's the actual email that I received.


The orphan unit has reviewed your file. The I-600 approval was issued in error. USCIS in Chicago is waiting for the DOS or CIS overseas office to conduct the investigation (Form I-604). Once we receive their results, we will go ahead and adjudicate the I-600 petition. For now, the orphan unit will cancel the IR4 visa that was issued to you and the consulate/embassy abroad.

Thank you,

Lisa Ubaldo

So, the frustrating thing is that I'm back at square one as far as the I-600 is concerned. One step forward, two steps back.


I-600 Woes

Well, unfortunately, I have to take back the encouraging news I shared the other day about our I-600. I got an email from USCIS today saying that my I-600 approval was given to me in error and that they are CANCELLING the visa that was issued to me!!

I had emailed USCIS because I was given the wrong visa classification (IR4 when I should have gotten an IR3 since Scott and I both visited Noah). In Illinois, you have to have a foster care license if you get an IR4 visa, which we don't have. But, now I'm wishing I'd never inquired about it - I never imagined that they would take the visa back!

Trying hard not to sit here and cry, but it always feels like one step forward, two steps back lately. Please pray for the approval to come soon and for my sanity and patience while we wait.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Life After Haiti (& I-600 Approval!)

Well, I haven't written in the past few days because things have been hectic around here. Jaden has pink eye in both eyes and an ear infection. Now, it seems that Danielle and I have caught his cold (not the pink eye so far, though!). It's just been hard to get back into the swing of things with all of this.

But, I did have some good news on the adoption front this week. I got a letter in the mail saying that Noah's I-600 was approved!! This is a major relief for me because last I had heard, we couldn't get our I-600 approval without the adoption decree (which we don't have) or the birth parent interview (which hadn't been scheduled yet). I was amazed to get that approval in the mail! Turns out that rumors that the birth parent interview was no longer needed must have been true. I don't give rumors much credit until I have proof (lots of them turn out to be wrong) - but I guess this one panned out!

Well, I'm posting some more pictures from my trip. For confidentiality reasons, I can't post pictures of all of the kids, but I'll post a few that just involve me and Noah.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Noah & Mommy

Responses to Comments

Okay, I can't figure out the best way to respond to people's questions that they've asked in comments (I'm afraid that if I just leave another comment people won't see them), so I figured I'd just create a new blog entry for them. So, here goes:

Ericka: Thanks so much for sending a box of things to Ruthlande's family! I know they will be thrilled with everything that you send. The only specific thing that they asked for is an exersaucer-type thing with wheels, so I'm going to look into that to see if I can find one and send it to her. I'll give you a call sometime this week to talk to you about the trip (things have been hectic since I got home - Jaden has pink eye in both eyes and an ear infection!)

Lori: Chrislande hadn't received her picture book yet as of when I left, but I know that mail can be very slow, so I wouldn't worry unless you sent it more than two weeks ago. It's possible they could have gotten it in this past Wednesday's mail - you should just check with them.

Sarah: The "a" in Landie's name is more of an "ah" sound - like you said, imagine a French accent. It sounds similar to Lindsay, but with an "ah" sound.

Svetik: Matthew is a sweetie. He was one of the kids who was not too wild and not too shy. The one story I can think of is how he tried to sneak into getting to play with bubbles twice. Lots of times, the kids tried to take advantage of the fact that I didn't know all of them terribly well. When it was time for bubbles, they would all try to pretend that they hadn't had a turn yet. I had to ask him his name to be sure, but when he told me Matthew I said, "You already had a turn Matthew!" But, when I got back to the bubbles, there he was again - I was thinking, "Wait, aren't you Matthew? Are you trying to sneak another turn?" It was cute. I had to send him back again, but he took it well. It can't hurt to try, right?

Amy K: I saw the boys' books while I was at COTP. All of the books are on one big shelf and most of the kids know right where to go to find theirs. They go over to the shelf and pull their book off themselves! Sammy and Jonas are both such cuties, although, I must admit I kept getting Jonas and Jeffley confused. They look a lot alike!!

Heidi: It's so nice to "meet" you. Ruth is a real sweetie!! Luckily, Katie and Maria noticed right away when Ruth started to seem sick and they wasted no time bringing her to the hospital. She never got really bad (she drank a full bottle while I was holding her at the hospital, waiting to be admitted). It's great that we have people who are paying so much attention to the health and well-being of our kids. From what I heard, Ruth was already doing much better by the time I left Haiti. Of course, Yanise still needs our prayers. She got much sicker, more quickly, poor thing!

Carlyn: I'm so sorry, but I honestly didn't spend enough time in the baby rooms to be able to learn much about their individual personalities. They were a cute bunch, though - all trying to get to me to get my camera as I was taking pictures. I do know that I got at least a couple of pictures of Reggie, though. I'll be sending them out to people as I can.

Kim: Again, I wasn't able to get a specific impression of most of the babies (see my note to Carlyn). I'm sorry about that! I'm very glad to hear that you've been blessed with helping your friend with the two babies here on medical visas, though - I hope that you're able to escort them home and visit Elijah for yourself! It will be a visit you won't forget!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Long Journey Home - Days 8 & 9!!

Oops! There wasn't supposed to be a day 9!! Travel didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped.

But, I'll start back at Day 8. I was up a lot the night before because Niki was up quite a few times in the night. I was also suffering from an upset stomach and was sick in the morning. I ended up taking some Immodium because I really feared that 3 hour Lynx plane trip with no bathroom! Of course, it's some kind of unwritten law that you have to get sick just before you get on one of those planes!!

Anyway, I made one last trip out to the baby house and said my goodbyes to Noah. It was hard, of course, but I just have to pray that I'm back to get him soon. I am so glad that I got the opportunity to see how well he's doing and to get another glimpse at what life is like for our kids. I would highly recommend making the trip out to COTP when you go to pick your kids up so that you can see for yourself.

We left for the airport and then I had a long period of just sitting. It turned out, my plane left over an hour late. When I found this out, I was concerned because I only had two hours between my flights (this was the last flight out of FLL to Chicago). I was still hoping and praying that I could get through customs quickly, though and still make my flight. Well, apparently, the Lynx flight took longer than planned because we didn't get off our plane at Ft. Lauderdale until 8:40 PM - my Spirit Airlines flight was supposed to have taken off at 8:20 PM!! I'm not sure how the flight took so much longer than planned, but there were storms in Ft. Lauderdale, so that might have been the reason. At any rate, I had obviously missed my flight. Turns out, Scott knew that I had missed the flight and had been trying to call Spirit for the past hour, but wasn't getting any answer. He tried to look online see if there was another Spirit flight that I could take, but the next flight wasn't until 24 hours later and it was completely booked! I wouldn't be able to get a seat out on Spirit until Friday night! When I got to the ticket counters at Spirit, it was a madhouse! There were mobs of people and only a few employees at the counters. I got into one line to find out if I could re-book, only to find when I got to the front that I was in the wrong line. I had to get in the back of a different, incredibly long line. After 40 minutes of waiting, I had only moved up a few spots. At that point, Scott decided to just book me a flight on United for the next day. He said he was watching as seats were going away and prices were going up - we couldn't wait for me to get to the front of the Spirit line. By this time, I was more than stressed out. Between having gotten very little sleep the night before, having not eaten anything but bread with peanut butter all day and still having a bit of an upset stomach, I think I was beyond my breaking point.

At that point, I went to my hotel room and got some sleep. I spent most of Day 9 in the airport. I tried to see if I could get a voucher from Spirit for a future flight, but found out (after standing in line for over an hour) that they wouldn't do it. They said that they weren't responsible for the Lynx flight being late, so I couldn't do anything. I could have re-booked, but, of course, I had already booked the American flight and I already knew that I couldn't get a flight out until Friday anyway. So, the money for that ticket was just lost. I won't book with Spirit again. Between the madness at the airport, the fact that no one would answer the phone and the fact that they have so few flights (so, if you miss one, you might have to wait days to catch another), it's just not worth it. Going to the AA ticket counter was like a breath of fresh air after the craziness at Spirit.

Anyway, I got home safe and sound, if a bit weary. I was so excited to see Jaden and Danielle again! Even though Jaden was asleep when I got home, I ended up waking him up so that I could talk to him. Of course, the kids then didn't want to go to bed. They ended up staying up until 10:30!! Jaden was really cute. He said, "Mommy I missed you so much. Even though I had the Mama Chante video, it didn't work. I still missed you!" It was so sweet! It felt so nice to just hang out with my kiddos again. I can't wait until Noah is home with us so that he can be a part of that too!

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Observations on the Kids

Today, we played outside with tinker toys and then later put out the kiddie pools again. Lots of fun! I definitely find that I get overwhelmed with the kids when I have too many at once, though. It's fine with the pools because they all stay there and don't try to wander away, but with the tinker toys, it was hard to keep them from heading off with pieces in their hands. I kept trying to get them to stay sitting, but it's no small task. I always start out with just a few kids and then they magically multiply until I have too many to handle! I don't know how the nannies do it! Anyway, here are some more observations:

Woodson and Geoff: Woodson and Geoff were such good boys while we were playing with the tinker toys. They were the only ones that I didn't have to keep chasing around. They got to play the longest since they were being so good (the other kids got rotated, but I didn't make them leave since they were playing so nicely). Woodson was really funny. He started hitting the ground with one of the tinker toys like a hammer and singing, "Bob the Builder - Can we fix it? Bob the Builder - Yes we can!" It was VERY cute!

Thania: Thania was also cute while we were playing with the tinker toys. She was mostly using them as drumsticks, using the metal container as a drum. She was also very intent on picking up all of the tinker toys and putting them back into the container! In the pool, Thania's favorite thing to do was to use the hose to spray the other kids (which none of them minded - there's not much water pressure). She spent the entire time in the pool with that hose in her hand!

Kassandra (not Robert's sister - the other Kassandra): She was such a sweetie at pool time. At one point, she thought she had to get out and said to me, "Fini?" I told her no and gestured that she could go back to the pool. She got this elated look on her face and RAN back as fast as she could. Later, when it was time to get out, I dried her off and she headed back toward the play area. All of a sudden, she turned back around, ran to me, gave me a kiss and then headed back again. It was so adorable! Hard not to be won over by that!!

Jesse: He knows how to get what he wants around here. Since he speaks the best English, he probably gets the most attention from the visiting volunteers - He's cute and he knows it! He sat on my lap today while I read him several books. I'm really amazed at how much he understands. I even use him to translate for me sometimes!

Landie (which is pronounced "Lahndzy" by the way): She is such a big, tough girl! She definitely holds her own among the boys in the Boat room. At one point, one of them started pestering her and she just nonchalantly thrust out her arm, knocking him right over. It didn't faze her a bit!

Lily: Lily took some time to warm up to me. She's a bit shy and when I first came, she would look at me with this scowl on her face, as if to say, "Who do you think you are?" She's also too shy to pose and smile for pictures (at least for me). But, after I was here for a day or so, she got used to me and smiled and came over to me when she would see me come into the baby house, so I guess I won her over!

Isabel: She is such a fun and energetic girl! She had so much fun in the pool, pouring water over her head and splashing in the water. She can hold her own with the boys too - even the bigger ones. And, wow, could she get any cuter?!

Jack: I wish I'd gotten to know Jack a bit better while I was here. Somehow, he always seemed to be off somewhere where I wasn't. I found out an interesting bit of information about him, though. He and Noah are related! Apparently, Jack's mother and Noah's father are cousins (so they would be second cousins). No one here knew that - Noah's mother often comes with Jack's grandmother, but no one realized they were related (at least not as far as Katie knew).

Makenzie: He was funny in the pool. He started balancing a full glass of water on his head, showing off. He was actually very good at it!! Of course, then all of the other kids had to balance cups of water on their heads too, but I think Makenzie was the best at it. It was a hoot!

Fresnel: Fresnel is quite the little jokester. He kept throwing water at Maria and he thought it was so funny! Maria says he always has quite the sense of humor! He really had such a fun time splashing around in the water. It was great to see!

Chelda: Chelda also has a fun sense of humor. At one point, Nelson pulled off my glasses and tried to run away and she just laughed and laughed! She thought it was hilarious!! It really cracked me up. It was great to see her interact with the other kids.

Well, I think that's all for tonight. If I didn't write anything about your child, please feel free to leave a comment and ask about them. I've tried to write about as many as I could, but it's hard to keep track of all of them. Unfortunately, I didn't spend much time with the younger babies, so I can't write much about them. I hope this blog gives you all some insight into your kids and life at COTP. I've been amazed all over again at what a wonderful place it is and at the care that our kids get. I can't wait to bring Noah home, but I'm glad that he's here while he's waiting for me!

General Observations About Noah

I just thought I'd write a few of my general observations about Noah. He is really a good-natured boy and he plays well with the other kids. Of course, he can throw a bit of a fit when someone's trying to take something from him, but nothing out of the realm of a normal 2-year-old. Today, he was actually being a bit of a stinkerpot - he kept trying to run away from me, wouldn't come or sit when I told him to. I would have let him stay out longer, but he was causing too much trouble!! I'm sure we're going to have a few struggles when he first comes home - a few time-outs will probably be in order! :-) But, in general, he's a sweetie - kind of shy - always excited when he sees me. I just can't wait until he is home with us and I can interact with him like Mommy instead of like a volunteer!

As far as I can tell, Noah hears just as much as any of the other kids. I really don't see any evidence that he's not hearing things. He doesn't always respond, but none of the kids respond ALL the time. Standard two-year-old selective hearing.

Noah is very playful and likes to be goofy. He had so much fun at school - just being silly with the teacher at song time. It was really cute. But, he also sat well and played with play doh quietly. Overall, he seems like a normal two-year-old boy.

One thing I forgot to say before (I'm adding this later) - Even though the nannies and kids call Noah "Louines", the volunteers call him Noah. He seems to answer to both most of the time. I suppose we might end up saying "Noah Louines" for a little while, which is fine, since that's going to be his name! (Noah Louines Pierre Hewitt)

Lazy Sunday - Day 6

Yesterday was a lazy day around here (for me, at least). Maria said they try to keep activities down to a minimum on Sundays and they don't bring kids over to the guest house. That was fine because I felt like maybe I should spend a little less time with Noah yesterday anyway - he's definitely realizing that I pay special interest in him (even though I try not to too much - but he's always in the group I bring over :-) and I don't want him to suddenly miss me too much when I'm gone. So, I mostly spent the day in the guest house, taking care of Niki and hanging out with him and Daniella.

In the afternoon, the kids were out by the playset, so I brought Niki out with me and we sat and watched them play. All of the kids love to see a baby, so they all crowded around, checking him out. Unfortunately, Noah wasn't out with the other kids. The kids in the Elephant room don't seem to get out quite as much because the nannies need to be with the kids with CP. It's kind of a shame, but I know that Noah will be home soon and it won't matter anymore. Maria did say that sometimes one of the nannies will stay with the CP kids and the others will go out with the kids - just depends on which nannies are here. Later, Noah was outside and I took some video of him playing, but I think he must have escaped because a nanny came our and brought him back inside. The other day, he stood on the gate and played with the lock until he got it open - I see now how some of them escape so often!!

Here are some more observations about the kids:

Chrislande: She is such a sweet, angel-faced girl! She came over while I was holding baby Niki outside and she was so loving and gentle with him. She kept touching his little face. Of course, if one of the other kids tried to touch him, she would push their hand away and say, "No!" She wanted him all to herself!

Pierre: He is so cute and affectionate! He was giving Micah all these kisses and hugs. Of course, Micah was fussing about it, so he could have been doing it to make him mad, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt! :-) He actually did seem to be doing it nicely and not in a "pestering" way.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

School Days - Day 5

Yesterday. I got to watch Noah at "school." They have a teacher who comes in and teaches shapes, colors, numbers and basic concepts like big and small, over and under, etc. Of course, they learn all of this in Creole, but it's good that their getting a base in learning these things. I was actually impressed with how much they learn and with how long their school session lasts. They also sing songs and learn concepts like please and thank you. It was neat to see Noah in that environment. He's obviously hearing just about everything because he would repeat what the teacher said, even though the room was often noisy and she wasn't sitting right next to him. It's obvious that he understands a lot - I wish I knew more Creole!! I'm going to have to really start studying Amy's Creole book! Noah was so funny - when they were singing and doing a ring around the rosey type dance, he would often just break down in these huge giggles and fall to the ground. He was having so much fun!!

In the afternoon, I brought Noah over to the guest house and just sat with him on the patio for awhile. I had a book with us and tried to get him to repeat the names of the animals, but he wasn't interested (he repeated me when I said other things to him before, though, so I know he was hearing me). Elly took some pictures of us out on the porch and then I brought him back to the baby house because it was about time for dinner. It was nice to just sit and have a small amount of quiet time with him. When I brought him back to the baby house, though, he didn't want me to go he held onto my hand and cried when I put him down. It's so hard to see him sad!! Of course, there were three or four other kids crying because I wouldn't pick them up either, so I decided to make a quick escape!

The Hospital - More of Day 4

I forgot to write about our trip to the hospital on Friday night. Yanise is already there with meningitis and it looked like Ruth was getting sick too. No one wanted to take any chances, so Blake and I brought her to the hospital in Milot that night. The pediatric ward of the hospital is basically a large room with cribs in it, plus a little neonatal room where the newborns are kept. It's not much to look at (someone has to stay with the child at all times and they just have a plastic lawn-type chair to sit in - the signs for the neonatal area and other signs are just written in marker on paper), but Blake says that the staff and the doctors there are very good. It's a private, Catholic hospital as opposed to the public hospitals. He said that at the public hospitals, there's garbage on the floors and people are basically left to die. Hopefully both Yanise and Ruth will be alright since they got to the hospital in time, but they could use prayers.

The drive home was interesting. I would have a very hard time driving in Haiti. The roads are filled with huge potholes that you have to navigate around and there are tons of pedestrians, even at night. And, of course, there are no street lamps, so driving at night can be a dangerous endeavor. It's amazing how many things we take for granted in the US!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 4 Cont. (and some of Day 5)

Yesterday evening, I went over and spent time with Noah while they were eating dinner. It's amazing to me how much food these kids eat!! They each had a huge bowl of noodles with white sauce. The nannies feed the kids huge bites at a time and they are each done with their big bowl of food in a matter of minutes. There's no way Jadne and Danielle could eat so much food, especially in so little time! I was feeding Noah and I could not keep up with the nannies' pace. I was trying to feed him big bites, but all of the other kids were finished eating and went for their baths and I was still trying to get him to eat the rest. I don't know the nannies' secret! Eventually, I gave up and one of the nannies took his bowl away with some still in it (I think he's the only one who didn't finish his off). Of course, the older kids (in the Lion room) feed themselves at a little table, but I've been told they eat just as much and just as fast. I guess that's just what they get used to.

Okay, here are some more reports on the kids I played with individually or in a small group:

Evanson and Sammy: I played with these two together, so I thought I'd talk about them together. Evanson was great at blowing bubbles and a real sweetie. He mostly wanted to transfer bubbles back and forth from my bubble wand to his bubble wand and he had quite the technique. Both Sammy and Evanson were fascinated when I would blow giant bubbles. They kept saying, "Blow a big one! Blow a big one!" And then they'd ooh and aah in amazement at the size of the bubbles. They played so nicely together - nice and polite and great at taking turns!

Ti Kendy - Kendy is so funny! He talks so excitedly about everything! Almost everything he says, he yells. The whole time we played with bubbles, he shouted and pointed at this or that. It was as if he were talking about the most important things in the world!!

Woosben, Thania and Kassandra (Robert's sister): These three were so funny together. Kassandra was being a bit of a stinkerpot, putting bubbles on Thania instead of blowing them (Kassandra and Thania weren't great at blowing the bubbles, so they were finding other ways of entertaining themselves I guess). Thania would get upset and Woosben would go over and wipe the bubbles off of her and try to make her feel better. It was really sweet. Woosben was a master bubble blower - maybe the best out of all the kids. Thania and Kassandra would bring the bubbles over to Elly and I so that we could blow them for them.

Moise and Reubens: Moise and Reubens were only interested in bubbles for a short while. After that, they were too concerned about the fact that they could see Blake cutting branches from guava trees to care about the bubbles. They kept shouting, "NO Blake!! NO!!" at the top of their lungs. I wondered if they were concerned they wouldn't get any more guava. They also sat down together on a chair and shared a guava while they were with me - it was pretty sweet to see how nicely they shared it (Moise seemed rather possessive of it when he showed it to me, so I was surprised that he shared at all). You could tell that they were very good buddies. When it was time for them to be done, I told them who to send over and they said, "No" and started making their own suggestions (actually a few of the kids did this, but I specifically remember Moise and Reubens doing it). It's funny how they want to make sure the "right" kids get turns (I actually think that I got all of the Lion Room kids and a few from the Alligator Room between yesterday and today).

Totalte and Woosben: These two were being real clowns, running all around with their bubbles. Woosben was talking to Maria - a constant chatter that I couldn't understand, but it was making Maria laugh. I was surprised at how well Toto was doing with the bubbles - he really is an amazing boy and so very sweet!

Emmanuel: He had a fun time in the guest house with us reading some books. He was able to identify some of his animals and count to ten. When we were playing with bubbles, I was trying to get him to sing and dance for me again because he had made me laugh so much when he was doing that in the kiddie pools, but he was too busy bubble blowing and I could only get one quick song out of him. He is always full of energy and smiles and his little dimples are just about irresistible!!

Obenson: Obenson is eager to please and a real charmer! We sang some songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and he was always the first to do exactly as I did and repeat the words. You could tell he was just so proud when he got a "Bravo!" from me. It's obvious that he's very smart too - he caught onto things quickly!

Nadege, Jonas and Jacob: These three really like to get your attention! They immediately run to me every time I come to the baby house and try to climb on my lap or get me to pick them up! Nadege will immediately grab my hand. Jonas and Jacob will get these pitiful looks on their faces and just sob if you don't give in and pick them up. I think they know that when a strager comes, they'll most likely get the most attention that way. And it does work!!

Vanessa: Vanessa is such a sweetie! I'm amazed at the improvements she's made since I was here in 2005. She is able to get around now by pulling herself along the floor - it's really impressive how well she gets where she wants to go. She is always such a sweetie - always a smile on her face. She likes to carry this comb around with her and always offers it to me (or at least shows it to me) whenever I come by - I wonder if she's trying to get me to do her hair? She is very smart - she really did well in school today. I can't wait to see what life has in store for her when she's in her new home!!

Family Ties - Day 4

Well, the highlight of yesterday was that I got to meet most of Noah's birth family. I won't go into details about it here (I figure it's Noah's history and, in the future, he might not be happy with the fact that I shared it with the world), but I will say that it was an amazing experience and that I'm so excited that I got to meet them.

Other than that, we played with a lot of bubbles yesterday. I brought Noah and three of the kids in his room overto play. It was fun, but the kids were too little to really blow bubbles and they mostly just ended up spilling them. We also had sidewalk chalk out and a couple of kids actually used it to color, but mostly they just transferred them back and forth into and out of the bin again and again. One would put them in another would dump them out, others would help the first put it bsck in again. They did this for probably an hour. I got some stories and read to them a bit, but somehow more and more kids kept making it out of the baby house and soon I had eight instead of four. I found once again that I am MUCH better at keeping control of them when there are only a few. I was really relieved when two of the nannies came over to help!

Later, I took some of the older kids over one on one and we read stories and then started bringing them two by two when they wanted to play bubbles (they had seen me with the younger kids earlier). Here are some observations of the kids (I know I always like to read about Noah on other people's blogs):

Peterly: He is such a sweetie. He knew quite a few animals and could count up to ten (although he sometimes skipped eight). Really smart! He didn't really want to sit and let me read full books (he preferred to point to the pages and name things). I doubt he understood them quite well enough. He was so cute - he lined up all of the books we had read in a straight line and counted them over and over. He also played really well by himself while I had to feed one of the babies. I remember Peterly being a real sweetheart two years ago when I visited - he hasn't changed!

Christola: She liked to let me read full books to her, even though she probably didn't understand all of them. What she really wanted to do was play with bubbles, though - she was so excited and did a really good job with them. She's really energetic and sweet.

Nelson: Nelson is the sneaky one. He somehow always manages to escape the baby house and once he's out, he's looking for some mischief to get into. His mama is going to have her hands full with him! But, man is he a cutie! He can melt you with those eyes and he knows it!

Well, I'll try to write more later, but I'm out of time for now. I'll try to write about as many of them kids as I can!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Summer Fun - Day 3

Well, yesterday was another fun day here at COTP. I got to spend more time with Noah. I've discovered that it's much better to take a few kids over by the guest house patio than to try to see Noah over at the baby house. Every time I walk over to the baby house, I feel like I create complete chaos because so many of the kids just want to be held and want your attention. There is a group of probably seven or eight in each room that just mob me whenever I come by. They try to climb onto me, cling to my legs, knock each other over to get to me, and, if they don't get picked up, they cry - and when I say cry, I mean CRY! I end up causing four or five meltdowns whenever I go over there and it just makes me feel so bad. I'm always looking at the nannies thinking, "I'm so sorry - I know I'm just making life difficult for you." Noah is not one of the clingers. He sits off to the side and just watches me or plays quietly. When I go over to him, he looks up at me and gives me his little hand, ready to go where I want to go. I think he's figured out that when I come he gets to go over to the other building - he always seems happy to come with me. A couple of times, I've caught him looking at me and I think, "Does he know?" I doubt he really realizes who I am, but it's nice to feel that connection without having to worry about forming a bond that's going to get broken when I leave.

So, yesterday, I took several of the kids over to the guest house porch and we sang some little songs and I had them show me where their eyes are, where their ears are, etc. It's cute how eager they are to please. I had such a hard time coralling them, though. They wait to see how much they can get away with with the visitor! One of Noah's nannies came over to help out and they listened to her so well! I had been telling them (in Creole) to sit the whole time. She came over and told them once and they all sat right down. I was so impressed! After a little while, we decided to get the play dough out. It was really fun to watch Noah play and to see how he interacts with the other kids. He is a really low-key boy. He plays so nicely and is so focused on what he's doing. At one point, some of the kids had kind of lost interest in their play dough and he just started gathering it all for himself. He had a huge pile of play dough in front of him for awhile there.

Later, one of Noah's nannies, Rose Carmen, put my hair in braids. One of the older boys, Jesse (who speaks wonderful English) kept telling me, "Rose Carmen is going to do your hair later. She's going to do your hair later!" I couldn't tell if she was telling him that or if he was just saying it, but I guess it came from her. She was really sweet and my braids look great! I'll upload pictures when I get home.

While Rose Carmen was finishing my hair, Elly (one of the other volunteers) brought some of the kids to go in the kiddie pools. They love them! Noah kept jumping in the air and crashing down into the pool on his bottom. He definitely loves the water - I can't wait till he can go in our pool! These kids are not afraid to get water on their faces at all. They pour cups of waters over their heads and throw it at each other. So much fun! When the older kids came over, the boys were all singing and dancing in the pool - so cute!! Emmanuel especially was putting on a show for me - doing all these cute funny little dances. It's amazing how many of the kids I still recognize from when we were here two years ago. Some of them still look the same!

In the evening, I spent my time at the guest house. A few of the smaller babies stay at the guest house with the volunteers. I am incredibly in love with Daniella! She is five-and-a-half months old and only weighs 6 lbs 13 oz. She is just about the sweetest thing you've ever seen!! The volunteers keep teasing me that I'm going to have to adopt her. :-) I told them it would never work because I already have a Danielle, but they say I would just have to call her Ella.

I had one of the babies - Nikenson - sleep in my room last night, but I was pleasantly surprised that he didn't wake up until 3:30 AM. So, I actually got some decent sleep last night. And now I'm ready to go play today!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dreams IN Haiti - Day 2

Well, yesterday I got to have dreams IN Haiti, instead of Dreams of Haiti. Pretty cool, huh?

Ruthlande and I got to the airport at 4:15 AM. Of course, we didn't really need to be there nearly that early, but that's when the airline said to come. The guy at the Lynx counter didn't even get there until about 5 AM. Oh well.

Ruthlande loved the flight! The plane is tiny - it only holds 19 people and you can't stand up in the plane. We were sitting in the front seat and you could see the propeller out the window. Ruthlande loved it! She was smiling and laughing and pointing out the window. Even when the plane took off - I was worried that she'd be scared because it was really noisy, but she was really excited and happy. It was very cute!! About a half an hour into the flight, she fell asleep (I was surprised she lasted that long - she had been up since 2:30 our time).

When we got to the airport, Sara and Daryl were there to meet us, which was really a relief to me because I was a bit unsure of the process once I got there. They were able to come right in and help with my bags and everything. On the way back to the orphanage we picked up Ruthlande's mama.

So, the reunion. It wasn't exactly what I had been picturing. I had imagined that Ruthlande would see her mama, light up with joy and reach for her (that's what she usually did when we would watch her video). But the whole thing was obviously very confusing for her. I handed her to Madame Mathieu and she just immediately started to cry and hold her arms out toward me. Her mama tried to comfort her, but she wasn't consolable at that point. It just about broke my heart - both because I felt horrible for Ruthlande and because I felt so sad for her mama, who just wanted to hold her little girl again when she'd been apart from her for so long. After awhile, she decided to give Ruthlande back to me so that I could hold her for most of the ride back to the orphanage. We were encouraged when her mama handed her her cell phone and Ruthlande played the "pass the object back and forth" game with her, but she still wouldn't go to her without crying. It was so strange and awkward because I wanted to comfort Ruthlande of course, but at the same time, I desperately wanted her mama to be able to comfort her instead.

When we got back to the orphanage, I caught a glimpse of Noah looking through the gate at the "visitors" (along with lots of other little ones). It was awesome to see him again in person. He looked like such a big boy! I then slipped away into my guest room so that Ruthlande could be with her mama without me there. With me out of the room, she eventually calmed down. I went over to the orphanage (from the guest house) and saw Noah. I'm supposed to keep a low profile while I'm here because they've had issues with kids feeling really abandoned when their adoptive parents came and left again. I don't refer to myself as Mommy and I only play with Noah in a group. It felt a bit strange, like I was stalking him, just watching and wanting so much to just swoop him up and say, "Hey, it's me!!" But it was still amazing to get to see him again. He was playing with a cup and some little toys and jumping around so playfully - I thought how perfectly he'll fit in with our kiddos at home. I did get to pick him up at one point and played with him by leaning over and letting him "fall" backward. He loved it and cried when I put him down, which broke my heart, of course.

We then went to Madame Mathieu's house, so I got to see where Ruthlande lives and meet her family. Her sister had been so excited to see Ruthlande again - Madame Mathieu said that she had woken up that morning very early and said, "Now, go get Ruthlande! Bring Ruthlande home!" The kids were a bit reserved when we got there - I'm sure it was all strange with me being a stranger and because Ruthlande was back to crying and reaching for me. I'm sure it's not what her brothers and sisters were expecting. Still, they were so gracious! They let me take some pictures so I can show Jaden and Danielle where Ruthlande is living now. The kids got all dressed up for the pictures - it was so very sweet! I said goodbye to Ruthlande, which was bittersweet, of course. I know that things will go back to normal for her quickly. This whole experience must have been so confusing for her. I'm still glad that I brought her back here myself. I think the entire trip would have been traumatic for her if she'd made it with someone else. And I'm so glad that I had the privelege to meet Madame Mathieu and to see for myself where Ruthlande lives.

Back at the orphanage, I was surprised to find that all of the older kids knew that I was Noah's mommy. I went out to them and they all swarmed me, sitting on my lap, pulling at my skirt, playing with my hair (not necessarily gently - but they weren't trying to be rough). All the while, they were all yelling "Mama Louines! Mama Louines!" (Apparently, he still mostly gets called Louines). I was so shocked and baffled, I really wasn't sure how to react. So much for keeping a low profile!! Noah wasn't there at the time, though, and I'm hoping that he's young enough that he doesn't really understand. The last thing I want is for him to feel abandoned by me! Later, I played with him and one other little boy and I got to see how he interacts. He plays really well and he was so cutely trying to keep everything cleaned up. Nelson would throw crayons on the ground and Noah would go and pick them up. I saw his naughty streak too - he saw Nelson run away with a piece of paper and throw it on the ground and saw that I told him "No." So, then he got this cute sneaky look on his face and picked up another piece of paper and ran with it, looking back at me smiling that cute "I'm getting away with something" smile. He then peeked around the tree at me, smiling still. I told him "No, Noah", but I couldn't help but smile myself a little. It's so nice to see his personality - all sides of it!!

I went to bed early last night, of course. Sweet dreams in Haiti. And today is another day.

Traveling - Day 1

So, Day 1 of travel was a crazily busy day. In the morning, I did a Noah's Ark workshop at a local preschool. Came home and fed the kids and gave Ruthlande a bath. Then, a photographer from the Daily Herald came by to take pictures of Ruthlande for an article they're doing about her (there should also be one in the Mundelein paper today - Thursday). We left at about 3:30 for the airport.

The flight went really smoothly. Ruthlande fussed a bit, but I gave her some snacks and a bottle and she fell right to sleep. She slept for the rest of the flight. :-)

We then went to the hotel - didn't get there until about 11:00 and then I didn't go to sleep until about 12:00. And the alarm rang at 3:00 AM. Time to get up already!! Needless to say, my brain really wouldn't let me sleep for that 3 hours, but at least I got a little rest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More Fun Firsts

Yesterday afternoon, Scott called from work and said, "Hey, you want to go see Ratatouille?" So, Ruthlande got to go to a movie at the theatre for the first time. She seemed to really like it, but we think it was a bit loud for her at first. Once she got used to that, though, she was reaching for the screen, trying to touch the picture in the sky! Her favorite thing about the movie was... the popcorn! Yep, just like my kids. Can't beat popcorn at the movie theatre!

Today, we had another fun first for Ruthlande - we went to our local spray park. She really seemed to like the water, but didn't love it in her face. Of course, my three-year-old would run and wipe her face with a towel every time the water got in her eyes, so I guess I can't blame a one-year-old for being antsy about being sprayed in the face with water. It was a fun way to spend the morning, though!

Not much else to report. The countdown is upon us - can't wait for the trip to Haiti!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bo Bos

Ruthlande's favorite "game" lately is to give me "bo bos" (kisses). It's really cute. Last week, I was kissing her little cheeks, saying "bo bos" and she starting reaching out to me with little fish lips. The same kind of kisses that my kids gave when they were babies. So, I kissed her and then laughed. She thought it was hilarious! So we did this over and over again. I'd say "bo bo?" She'd give me a kiss and we'd both laugh as I said "merci bo bo!" After a few times, she started saying "bo bo bo bo". So cute!! Now, she likes to do it all the time. If I play along, it's an easy way to get giggles!

She also seems to like peek-a-boo. My neice was playing with her yesterday and she actually started covering her own eyes too (the first time I've seen her do that). It's so fun to see her being playful!

I can't believe that our trip is coming up so quickly. I feel like there's so much still to do. I can't wait to see how happy Ruthlande will be when she sees her mama again. I know she's missing her so much. Today I was wearing a tank top and she starting pulling it down, trying to suck at my chest. I remembered that Sara told me that Ruthlande was breast fed until just this past April. Oops! Trust me, sweetie, there's nothing there for you! It just made me even more sure that it's time to get her back to her real mama before she gets even more attached to me. I feel 100% like that was the right decision. Can't say that about much in life, so I guess I should savor it, huh?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Countdown to Haiti

Well, I'm trying to get ready for the trip - I had to make an appointment for Ruthlande with Dr. Ruge and I'm trying to get myself set up for travel immunizations. And, of course, I need to start thinking about what I need to pack. We fly out of O'Hare on the 24th (we'll be in Haiti on the 25th), so that's not much time to get everything arranged. Luckily, Scott and I are used to doing things last-minute, so it's nothing new for us.

Yesterday was a fun day. Jaden has been asking me to make him a "Mama Chante" video. "Mama Chante" is what we call Ruthlande's video of her mama ("chante" means sing in Creole - most of the video is Ruthlande's mama singing to her). So, he laid down on a pillow on the floor and we sang goofy songs that he made up and then we read a story while my mom recorded it all. Then, of course, we had to make Danielle a "Mama Chante" video too. They really loved it and it will be a fun thing for them to watch while I'm in Haiti. Jaden wants to make some more videos of Ruthlande too - he says he's going to miss her when she goes home. I'm sure it's going to be really strange around here once she's gone.

We took a trip to the park yesterday evening - the weather was absolutely perfect and the kids found some little friends to play with. I just wish that Ruthlande could walk so that she would enjoy it a little more too. She likes to be outside, but she can't really participate in much, of course. She's not too keen on sitting in the grass, so she usually just stays in the stroller. I did put her on my lap while I went on the swing the other day and she did enjoy that for a few minutes, but then started fussing. She doesn't like to feel off-balance - I think it's partly due to her issues with balancing herself while sitting up.

Anyway, yesterday was a good day. Today, we're going to my nephews birthday party, so we've got another full day!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're Going to Haiti!

Due to the amazing generosity of our friends and family, we have reached our goal. We have already been promised enough to cover Ruthlande’s travel expenses!! Honestly, we cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of support that we have been given. It amazes us!

If you were thinking of making a donation and hadn’t let us know about it yet, I encourage you to still donate to Childrens Medical Missions. If you go to their website, you will see that they have 11 children with donated medical care in place and they just need the money for flights for these children. They also have 4 children needing to go home in July. We can tell you from our experience in caring for Ruthlande that these children are a blessing and that the medical care that they receive here is life changing and often (as in Ruthlande’s case) life saving! These kids would not have a chance for help in their home countries, but here there is hope. So, further donations will be gratefully accepted!

Thank you again for all of the generous donations that have already been promised!!

The Hewitts (and Ruthlande too!)

Let's Get This Sweetie Home to Her Mama!

Ruthlande is doing amazingly well and is ready to go home to her mama now, but we need to raise the funds to get her there! We could wait until the end of August and send her with someone, but we really feel like she needs to be home sooner than that – she is definitely attaching to me and I’m afraid that the longer she spends here, the harder the adjustment will be for her when she gets home. A month and a half is a long time in the life of a one-year old! This must all be so confusing for Ruthlande. It’s not as though we can just explain it to her. Sara at COTP has told me many times how much Ruthlande’s mama is missing her and can’t wait for her to be home.

So, I’m going to escort Ruthlande to Haiti myself. I’m sure this will make the trip much less scary for her. Plus, I’ll get the chance to meet her mother and, as a bonus, I’ll get to check in on Noah too. But, we don’t have the money to pay for the whole trip (and Childrens Medical Missions West doesn’t have the money either), so we're doing this on faith. We know God will work it all out!

For flights and hotel, (I’d have to stay in a hotel one night), everything will cost approximately $900. If you feel led to help out with the travel costs, please email me at nicolehewitt @ hotmail . com (leave out the spaces - I couldn't figure out how to use a hyperlink to do this!) Your donation would be made to Children’s Medical Missions and would be tax deductible (check out their site at

Thank you so much for reading this and for prayerfully considering helping Ruthlande go home!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fun in the Pool

Well, we've had a lot of fun this past week. We finally got some use out of our pool - we opened it a bit late this year because of everything going on. I was so excited to get Ruthlande into the pool. I was really hoping she would like it! Well, she wasn't so sure about it at first, but she warmed up to it pretty quickly. Now, she's a definite pool lover, just like the rest of us! It's been so much fun to see the kids being more and more daring when it comes to swimming in the pool. Danielle's willing to "swim" by herself (with water-wings, of course), Jaden's swimming with his face under water, eyes open (again, with water wings), and Ruthlande went from being scared to being excited about the water in a matter of minutes. I grew up with a pool in my backyard, so there's nothing better to me than family time in the pool!

Jaden's birthday party was yesterday and we all had a lot of fun. Hard to believe my little Buddy's five already! Even harder to believe that Noah is almost three - I'm beginning to doubt we'll have him home before his birthday, which is pretty depressing. I guess I should be used to the delays by now, but I just can't help but be frustrated. Now we might have a problem with getting our I-600 (which is part of the process that happens in the US) and it just feels like we might never bring him home. I just don't know how it got to this point and how new problems seem to crop up just as soon as an old one is solved (or sometimes even before the old problems are solved). I can't help but wonder when it will all end - when will we get our little boy home??

For now, we just wait. And wait. And pray...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gimme those fireworks!

Well, party #2 went really well - we had a lot of fun and Ruthlande seemed to do even better than at the last party. Of course, Scott had her in the front carrier for a long time, so she was snug as a bug in a rug in there.

On the way home from the party, we saw some nearby fireworks, so we pulled over into a parking lot to watch them. I was really glad we did because the kiddos really enjoyed them. Ruthlande especially loved them. She kept reaching her arms up toward the sky like she thought she could grab them. Every time a new one would go off she would smile and babble at it. It was so cute! I was afraid that the loud noises might scare her, but she had nothing but love for fireworks! I'm glad she got at least one opportunity to see them in her lifetime!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Party Time!

The month of July is a big month for us. We have lots of family parties going on! We went to the first (a birthday party for our twin neices, who are 10 hours younger than Jaden) yesterday. I was actually very impressed with how well Ruthlande did. She's still a bit wary of strangers. I always remind people that her first two weeks in the US were spent in the hospital, where there were tons of new people coming in and out. Most of those people were there to poke or prod her. It's no wonder she gets nervous when she sees someone new now!

So, the first hour or two of the party, Ruthlande was quiet and a bit nervous. Someone at the party touched her hand and she broke out into instant tears! But, as the party went on, she must have figured out that no one there had any IV tubes or catheters up their sleeves - she relaxed and turned back into her normal, cute self, chattering and smiling away at people. She won their hearts in no time. I even got lots of cute pictures of her sitting in the grass, smiling. Up until yesterday, the words "sitting" and "smiling" did NOT go together - Ruthlande does not typically like it when we sit her up on her own and don't help to support her. So this was a great moment for me (and for her, of course!).

At any rate, I was very happy that she eventually warmed up to the party because we're going to another one on the 4th, we're having a party for Jaden at our house on the 7th and then we're going to a third party for our nephew on the 14th. Guess we'll have her turned into a party girl in no time!

Today was Jaden's actual birthday, so he got to open his presents from our family. Boy, was he excited!! I love this time - I know eventually he's not going to be impressed with anything we give him, but right now he ABSOLUTELY LOVES every gift!! Ah, I wish it could last!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pictures of the Beauty Queen

Ruthlande spent the day yesterday (and last night) with a friend named Ericka who we met through COTP. You can see some cute pictures of Ruthlande on her blog at Ruthlande had a great time and Ericka's son, Brendan, absolutely fell in love with her. Apparently, he doted on her completely. While Ruthlande was at Ericka's house, the rest of us went to Great America to celebrate Jaden's birthday (which is on Monday). We had so much fun! Jaden, Scott and I went on the Demon three times (the last time, we sat in the front - by Jaden's request). The last time, Jaden decided he'd had enough, though. He said, "I'm so happy when it slows down and stops because I hate being corkscrewed. It broke the bones in my back!" Of course, when we tried to say that maybe we shouldn't go on the Demon next time, he said, "No, but I love it!" Guess that's what roller coasters are all about!

So, today, we went to Flash Portrait Studio to get pictures taken of the kids. I really wanted to get a good picture of Ruthlande to send home with her - I'm sure her mom won't ever have a chance to get a professional portrait of her. Of course, once we got there, she absolutely refused to smile. She had been smiling and laughing ever since we picked her up from Ericka (and she was just as happy after the pictures) - she was in the best mood! Until the photography studio. She, of course, didn't want me to put her down. We tried everything we could possibly think of - everything that makes her laugh hysterically at home. Nothing. The photographer mentioned that some kids can be intimidated by the lights. When I looked at them, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like the type of circular lights they had in the hospital. No wonder she was scared! We finally had to give up on the idea of getting Ruthlande to smile and just be satisfied with the fact that she no longer looked sad or worried. The photographer was so nice, though. She spent a whole hour with us, trying to get a great shot. We did actually end up with the really sweet picture that you see above (obviously, this is not as high quality as the real picture). Even with only a hint of a smile, she's the prettiest baby girl around!

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Changed Girl

It's been a few days since I've posted because I was attending a Noah's Ark Animal Workshop conference over the weekend! If you've never heard of Noah's Ark, we do workshops for birthday parties, day cares, etc. - the kids get to stuff the animals themselves - a lot like the places in the malls, but the parties are done on-site and the prices are more reasonable. :-) (If you want to learn more about it, go to - hey, I've gotta put in a plug, right?)

Anyway, I had a great time at the conference and I'm proud of Scott for taking care of the kids all by himself for a day (he had my mom's help the second day). Thanks, Scott!

Ruthlande is doing really well - she is generally playful and happy, which is great. She really loves it when I hold her and play with her hands or touch her nose. It's really sweet to see her smiling so much!

She does have two teeth coming in, which has made her a bit fussier - she's been waking up at 2:30 or 3:00 AM and crying. One thing I've figured out though - she's a lot fussier for me than she is for anyone else. I've noticed that if my mom is here watching her while I'm getting some things done or if Scott is watching her, she's content to sit in her chair and observe the action going on around her (or watching some TV with the kids, or playing with some toys). But, if I'M here and I try to put her in the seat, she cries and cries. She is not happy unless I'm holding her. I've gotten her to sit on the couch and play with toys for a little while (if I'm sitting next to her), but it seems that lately she won't even stay there for long without wanting me to pick her up. It breaks my heart because she holds her little arms out toward me with this pitiful look on her face, fussing and crying. So, I unfortunately, don't get much done around here. :-) Of course, I put her down sometimes anyway, but I have to do whatever I need to get done while listening to her fuss, so I probably rush through as much as I can! Oh, yes, I remember those baby years! :-)

But, in general, we're doing great around here! Ruthlande is seeming so healthy now - it's really great to see. The wound on her back has pretty much completely healed and she seems like a different girl than the poor little sweetie who we first met. I've been watching the video of Ruthlande's mama singing over her - it amazes me to look back at what she was like then and then to look at her now. Such a change!! There's nothing better!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hey, Toys ARE Fun!

Ruthlande has just been figuring out (or perhaps rediscovering) that it's fun to play with toys. It's nice to see her playing and exploring things instead of just sitting in my lap all day. The big problem is that when she's in my lap, she doesn't really seem to want to do much but lay back and relax - she won't support herself (why do that when I'll do all the work for her?) and she doesn't seem interested in the toys that I try to dangle in front of her. Sitting on her own on the floor is hard for her and she pretty much just cries. I do sit her up that way at least once or twice a day because she needs to gain strength (as per doctor's orders), but it's not terribly conducive to playing. She also doesn't seem terribly interested in toys when she's laying down (she does play a little bit, but not for long) or when she's reclining in the bouncy seat - again, maybe she feels like when she's laying back she's supposed to be relaxing. Who knows?

But, I have now found a position that seems to work for playing! If I put her in the corner of the couch, she is supported enough that she can sit up without struggling to hold on, but she still has to do some of the work herself (she holds her head up well in this position). When sitting there, she seems content to play for at least a little while. Sure, she'd probably prefer to just have me hold her all day, but we're making progress. That's all we can ask for!

Some other things we've learned about Ruthlande:

  • She loves meat! She'd rather have a hamburger or hotdog than fruits or veggies. Of course, we have to cut them up small, but she eats a lot!

  • I can sneak veggies into her diet if I cut them up small and put them into her rice. Otherwise, she won't eat them at all!

  • It's better to let her "cry it out" at bedtimes than to stay with her. Okay, I know plenty of child-rearing experts would cry foul on this one and most adoption experts would say this is all wrong (not that we're adopting Ruthlande, but I figure the situation is similar). But, it turns out that when I stay with her and try to ease her into bedtime, she'll cry really hard for an hour or more. She thinks that if I'm in the room with her, there's no good reason that she shouldn't just be sleeping on me. But, if I leave the room, she cries weakly for a few minutes and then calms down. I figured this out when I had to leave the room to take care of Jaden and Danielle at one point. It made me feel guilty at first, but I've pretty much decided that the experts aren't living here, so I'm going to do what works for us. :-)

  • She'll only drink milk with a little bit of chocolate in it. Okay, before you all say, "But the experts...!" again - I first saw this in a parenting magazine and my pediatrician actually recommended it for Jaden (who also refused plain milk). It's amazing what just a little bit of chocolate will do! The doctors and nurses at the hospital all seemed really concerned that she wasn't drinking more and this seems to be the only way to get her to do it.

  • She loves kids and dogs! Both seem to make her smile more often than anything else!

So, that's it for today. I'm sure I'll be making more Ruthlande discoveries along the way!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Files Stuck in MOI - Part 1

Lots of people ask what the status of Noah's adoption is and what the hold-up is about. This should give you an idea of why Noah is stuck in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and why we desperately need your prayers on behalf of these children. This was written on June 3rd by an adoptive mom named Vera after her trip to the MOI last week. I've shortened it so that you can get the idea of the mess in Haiti.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Haiti trip - Ministry of the Interior - May 2007

It has been a while since I updated my blog. I came back from Haiti last week from a 10-day trip. Tamarah's finished adoption file was stuck in the Ministry of Interior (MOI) for almost three months. I had called the Director of Political Affairs' (DOPA) office in mid-April to find out my daughter's file status and was told that my dossier was okay and if I came in person, it would be signed out to me.

When I got to Haiti, I went to the MOI to see about getting Tamarah's file signed out. It took two days just to locate her file. There are three offices in MOI that deal with the adoption files.

Office #1 is the Unit Juritique. This is the "original office" where all finished adoption files went through prior to the other offices being added in January 2007. In this office, there are one or two lawyers who review the files for accuracy. The lawyer makes sure that all Haitian documents, from birth certificate to adoption decree do not have any mistakes. Once that review is done, the file used to get signed out and was ready for passports. Now, once the lawyer has reviewed the file, a letter is typed by the secretary and the file plus unsigned letter goes to Office #2.

Office # 2 is the Director of Political Affairs (DOPA) Office. This is where the letter is signed by the DOPA. According to a conversation with him, the file goes to yet another office, but I only saw three offices involved as I followed the files. Once the DOPA has signed the letter, the dossier file and letter go to Office # 3.

Office # 3 is an upstairs office in MOI. I do not know the name of that office. The director of that office goes to the DOPA (office #2) and gets files that have the signed DOPA letter. He takes the files back upstairs and then interviews one of the orphanage representatives about the adoptive parents. The orphanage worker brings copies of dossier documents, passports, driver's license, employment verficiation, homestudy report, letter from pastor, etc. for this interview. The interview is guided by a form questionaire that has to be filled out. Instead of allowing orphanages to take a form with them to fill it out, it has to be done with that director. It takes about 60 minutes to fill out one form. Once the form is filled out, the file is signed out to the orphanage and is ready to go to passports.

From my personal experience, once the file comes out of MOI, all the original documents come back to the orphanage and the papers are taken to the Immigration Office where the passport is applied for. Once the papers are submitted, the child has to go to get fingerprinted at the Office of Immigration for his/her passport. Depending if an orphanage pays for an expedited passport or not, getting the passport takes between one to four weeks.

Once the child has the passport, for a U.S. adoption, she/he can get the visa physical and once the sealed envelope with the physical is received, the application for the visa is ready and can be submitted. A child can have his/her visa phsyical started prior to the passport being issued, but has to return a second time with the actual passport to verify the identity.

At the time that I got to MOI with Mirlande (adoption facilitator's Haitian assistant), approximately 200 finished adoption files were sitting in one of the first two offices in MOI. I had been told of a family that has been waiting for nine months for their file to be signed out of MOI. Keep in mind that this was a rumor, but I knew that my file had been in MOI for three months.

What is so frustrating is that once papers are submitted to MOI for signature, the child has already been legally adopted and carries the adoptive family's last name. The child is no longer an orphaned child and has a family. However, that child cannot join his/her family until MOI has signed out the file. It really felt like our children were held hostage. At least that is how it felt to me.

The first two days, we spent in Office # 3, sitting and waiting for adoption files to come upstairs for interviews. Most adoption workers sit in Office # 3 to wait and see if any of their files are ready for interviews. They come every day, sit in a hot office and wait.

The people who work in that office are nice. One clerk was especially polite.

When I asked the director, who was not working on any files for the first two days, about the adoption files, he told me that he only works on files when "they send them." I asked him who "they" were and he would not answer that. He was polite and would laugh at me and my frustration. I asked him to please consider my position... I had been told that my file was ready if I came in person, I could get it signed out. I had a sick baby. I had to take a week off from work, pay $1,000 for an airline ticket, just to sit in a hot office and be told that maybe "they" would bring my file. He would just laugh and tell me not to be upset.

At the end of day #1, after having waited in office #1 for most of the day without seeing any adoption files worked on, Mirlande and I went downstairs to the DOPA office. It was locked. We were told that somehow the door had been locked and nobody could get into that office, not even the Director of Political Affairs. (I do not know if that was the truth, but that is what we were told and the door was obviously locked.)

At that point, I called the Haitian Ambassador in Washington D.C. and asked for help. I had had some contact with his office prior to coming to Haiti. I explained the situation to the Ambassador's secretary and gave her the necessary phone numbers in MOI.

Mirlande and I went home...I had a sick baby to tend to. The Ambassador called me back and said that he had talked with the DOPA in person and that he was told my file was ready and to come back on Tuesday (day #2).

On day #2, we went back to the office #3. Again, we sat for a long time in that hot office. We asked about my daughter's file but got no answers. We went downstairs to office #2 of DOPA and again found that office locked. So, we went to office #1. We found that my file was still in office #1 after three months! The secretary in that office had a legal pad with a list of names and Tamarah's name was on one of the pages. She confirmed that her file was in their office.

I asked about having the file sent to office #2. She was not sure about that. In the meantime, we had contacted our friend Rodon who is a "depute de la circoncription" - member of Haiti's Congress/Senate. He came to office #2 and after an explanation of what had happened, he went to office #1 and spoke with that director. The director confirmed that my file was okay and said to come back on Wednesday (day #3) to get the letter issued so it could be taken to office #2 for the DOPA to sign it.

We came back on day #3. We went to Office #2 and sat and waited for several hours. Since we did not see any "movement" for several hours, we went to office #1. We asked the secretary about the letter. The director and lawyer in that office told the secretary to finish the letter so that my file could be sent to office #2 with the DOPA. She secretary refused to type the letter. She would not do it and there was an argument between the secretary and the lawyer and director because both were directing her to do the letter. She continued to refuse.

After a while, the Director of Political Affairs (DOPA) walked passed me as he was entering his office area. When he saw me, he said some derogatory comments about me in Kreyol. He must have thought that I did not understand.

About an hour later, Mirlande was called into his office. I followed her. As the DOPA saw me, he said that he did not want me "La Blanc" in his office. I stayed on the outside of the doorway. He proceeded to scold Mirlande. He told her that he had signed 2,000 files in the past month for adoption passports. He also told her that he was upset that the Ambassador had called him. He said that I could wait all that I wanted, he was not going to sign the letter for my daughter's file.

Okay, let's do the math. Approximately 300 children are adopted to U.S. families per calendar year. I am estimating that about 100 children are adopted to Canadian families per calendar year, another 300 children to French families and maybe 100 more children to families in other countries in Europe. That adds up to approx. 800 adopted children per calendar year. I asked if the DOPA has sign for other passport permissions as well but was told that he only signs the letters for adoption passports. Considering that 200 files were waiting and had entered from January 2007 through April 2007, the math was just not adding up!

Moving on... It really concerned me that the DOPA was so angry about the Ambassador calling him. After all it had been the DOPA's office that had confirmed with me three weeks pior to day #3 that my daughter's file was ready for the letter to be signed, just to find it still sitting in office #1 in a file cabinet...three months later!

So, back to the "drawing board" - It was obvious to me that the secretary would not just disobey her boss in her office and that she was following orders from "above"... the DOPA maybe?

I contacted the Haitian Ambassador's office again, spoke with the secretary and explained what happened. Also, three moms in the U.S. were contacting the Haitian Embassy as well regarding this issue. They were waiting for their files as well. I did not dare ask for their files while I was in MOI since I did not want them to be "black listed" like my file had been. Two of the moms were able to talk with the Haitian Ambassador and relayed messages to me. He was working on it and was upset at the treatment that I had received. It seemed that instead of it being "no problem" it now seemed that it was a problem.

The good news was that by day #3, I saw people walking around in MOI with adoption files in hand. The director from office #3 came out of office #2 with about 20 files! Those files were ready for interviews and were ready to be signed out. At least there had been some effect to my efforts.

On day #4 (Thursday), we came back to the MOI and were told that my file was not ready. We were given the run-around again. We were told by some of the clerks that the DOPA was very upset that the Ambassador had called him. Again, the Ambassador was called and this time, he decided to go higher up. He contacted me and I was told that he had spoken with the Chief Cabinet Stanley Joseph (CCSJ) who is the head of MOI. He told me to go and see the CCSJ on Friday.

On day #5 (Friday), Mirlande went to office #3 and office #2 and then to office #1, found that nothing had "changed" and then called Rodon to accompany us to see the CCSJ. One thing about Rodon, he can get you into literally any office. Sure enough, he was able to get us to see CCSJ, also, it seemed that he was expecting me since he had spoke with the Ambassador.

I did not know what to expect...would I be yelled at again? Would I be told that my file would not be signed out?

I was pleasantly surprised. The CCSJ was a kind, educated, sharp and compassionate man. We explained the situation to him and he (on the spot) got up and said that he would look for my file. This was the moment to tell him about my friends' files also. One girl needs spine surgery and one boy has terrible Asthma....I was able to give him a total of seven names and file numbers.

He came back and said that it would be done. He also told me to ask all the parents to please be patient because he had just been appointed to the position and had not officially started yet. I was beginning to have hope again. He seemed very concerned for the sick children and promised that the files would be signed out as soon as possible. He told Mirlande to come back the following Tuesday for the files. I was leaving on Monday.

We left his office with a lot of cautious hope in our hearts!

However, when Mirlande went to MOI on Tuesday, nothing had been done. As a matter of fact, the DOPA waved my file in front of Mirlande and told he that it along with the other 7 would never be signed.

Mirlande called me in tears! ---- Back to the "battle stations"! ---- We called the Ambassador again. He made his calls and reported that our files would be signed and ready by the end of the week.

Finally Progress! - On Friday afternoon, two of the six files were signed out following the form interview. One of the files was mine. (PRAISE GOD!) The other four files did not get signed out because there wasn't enough time to do the form interview, but they are ready!

Mirlande is taking a few days off and will be back at MOI on Thursday for the other files. I really don't know how she does this, day after day. It is exhausting. I was exhausted! I was sad to have to leave Haiti without Tamarah, again. But now I know that it won't be long for her to get her passport and visa.

This should tell you what we're up against. I'm just praying that Noah comes home soon!