Monday, November 10, 2008

Processing It All

I realize it has been way too long since I've updated the blog. Things have been crazy around here, though, and they're just starting to settle down a bit now. First of all, check out the cute pictures of the kiddos at Halloween! Aren't they the sweetest?! It was so warm for Halloween this year - it's the first time I can ever remember worrying that the kids might be too hot in their costumes (Noah's monkey suit was perfect for our normally frigid Halloweens - not so perfect for 70 degree weather).

Okay, on to the serious stuff. We recently had Noah evaluated through the school district. We weren't surprised to find out that he tested 1-2 years delayed in all areas, but we were surprised to find out why - He has Sensory Processing Disorder. Noah is what they call a "sensory seeker", which means that he is constantly seeking out more sensory input. This is why, for instance, he constantly needs to touch everything around him, puts things into his mouth, rolls crazily on the ground (after throwing himself down onto the floor), crashes into everyone and everything and likes to hang on people. He needs that extra sensory input because his body isn't processing the sensory signals properly. He also may have trouble with auditory processing, which may account for his speech delays. His other delays could also be caused by sensory issues or they might be "side effects" of the fact that he can't slow down long enough to process and learn new information the way other kids can.

The good thing about all of this is that, now that we know what Noah's issues are, we can start to help him. Last week, Noah was moved to a school with only 6 children in the classroom. He also started speech and occupational therapy. I've already read two books on SPD, so I've learned some ways that I can help him at home too (hopefully I'll learn even more from the occupational therapists). I was honestly starting to get very frustrated at the lack of progress that we had been making on basic life skills and concepts. Working with Noah was next to impossible for me because he has such a short attention span - we couldn't work on anything for more than 1 minute without it becoming a major hassle. Plus, I was at my wit's end because Noah often makes every day tasks very difficult. A trip to the grocery store can be painful. Playing a board game with the kids is hard to do because he can't follow along and play and he also can't curb his impulses to grab the pieces or overturn the board or just throw things around. I've had to ban him completely from Jaden and Danielle's rooms because within five minutes he will have scattered things everywhere and broken pieces. A couple of weeks ago, I went to pick Noah up from his MOPS group and the woman in his room greeted me with, "I need to give you a hug. Things must be so hard for you!" "Oh no!" I thought, "He was that bad?" That was one of those days that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (unfortunately, cry wins out more often than I'd like to admit).

Well, it now feels like we're moving toward progress - or at least the possibility of progress. Steps in a positive direction - hope for change. And a little hope goes a long way... :-)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Urgent Need

I found this on a friend's blog and wanted to post as well. Scott and I just made a donation to this cause - please consider doing the same. The situation is Haiti is very desperate because of the recent hurricanes!

Northern and Central Haiti have been the hardest hit. The area around Noah's former orphanage has been damaged quite badly. Even in good weather, the road from Cap Haitien to the orphanage was very bad. Now it is under water. There is no way for things to get in or out of the orphanage right now. They are well supplied, but the surrounding area has seen a lot of devastation.

But there IS something that you all can do. In Cazale, Haiti is a wonderful center run by Lori Moise and Licia Bector. Real Hope For Haiti Rescue Center takes in and brings back to health many, many little ones as well as adults. Lori and Licia are amazing people, doing exactly what God called them to do. (The friend who originally posted about this knows them personally).

Cazale was hit very, very hard by both Gustav and Hanna. Cazale was destroyed. Many, many people are dead. The situation right now in Cazale is dire. The drinking water lines were unearthed and ripped apart by the raging mudslides and torrential rains. The only bridge in and out is not passable by vehicles. Food is scarce. Real Hope for Haiti is paying people to haul water from the river. They are then filtering it the best they can to make it drinkable.

On Lori's blog, about a third of the way down on the left, is a PayPal button. If you are able to give at all, earmark the funds to be dispersed to Licia to pay the people hauling water. They will also need money to start rebuilding. Most of the families around them have also lost everything. Gas is expected to rise for Haitians in the wake of the storms, so that will be another thing they will need money for.

Please click on the links below to see the devastation...
After Hurricane Hanna and before Hurricane Ike
John and Beth McHoul's Blog-Heartline Ministries Chris and Leslie Rolling, working with Clean Water for Haiti, also in an area that was heavily impacted by the hurricanes
Licia's blog-Real Hope for Haiti Rescue Center
Lori's blog-She's a nurse in Haiti working at the Rescue Center

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Those Last Days of Summer

Well, today is Jaden's first full day of school. It's hard to believe that he'll be gone the whole day!! I'm going to miss him! We've been packing a lot of things into the end of summer. First of all, we went to a COTP reunion in Minnesota. We had a really great time and were able to meet lots of other COTP families!! After the reunion, we stayed in Minnesota for a few days and went to the Mall of America (the picture is from the Lego store in the mall), went camping (in a cabin) and went to the Cave of Mysteries. It was a great break from "regular" life.

When we got back from camping, we had most of the interior of the house painted, which was long overdue. (We had done the powder room and the bedrooms ourselves, but we hadn't gotten to the rest of the house - and who knows when we ever would). It was a bit of a pain since the painters were here for two weeks (we had lots of wallpaper that had to be removed), but, wow, what a difference!! I'm so glad that I don't have to be embarrassed about our house anymore. It was getting pretty ridiculous - peeling wallpaper, marks on the walls from the previous owners' pictures, patches from repairs that had been repaired, and even holes in the walls in some places. Now it looks just beautiful - I'm so happy with the finished product! Now if we can just manage to keep things organized, it will be perfect (I'm not counting on it though). :-)

Finally, this past Friday, we got to spend the day downtown. One of Scott's vendors (at work) offered to pay for a family day for us, since Scott had been spending so much time away from the family, working on problems caused by one of their products. They gave us tickets for the circus, the ferris wheel and a boat tour. Plus, they gave us tons of spending money! It's amazing how much fun you can have when you don't have to worry at all about how much it's all costing. "You want a program for the circus? Why not? You want to drive the motorized boats? Sure thing. You want to go to the funhouse? Love to." We could pretty much do anything we wanted and didn't have to worry about the cost. How often can we do that? (Um, never). So, we've officially decided that we're going to seek corporate sponsorship for all of our family events. Hey, we'll wear logo T-shirts and hats and stuff - do a little advertising along the way. Think we'll get any takers? Okay, not gonna happen, but we can dream, right? :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pool Days

We have been having a very fun summer! Just as I suspected, Noah absolutely loves the pool. He is completely fearless - we have some awesome video of him jumping into the pool, flipping a raft (and himself) over, somehow sticking his feet up into the air while on his back and just generally swimming around crazily (in water wings, of course). It is so funny to watch him play! He and Jaden love to jump in at the same time and see who can be craziest, but Danielle is still her usual timid self - her version of jumping into the pool is standing on the ladder up to her shoulders and gently pushing off into the water (after which, she'll exclaim, "Mommy, I jumped!)

We've also just gotten past three birthday celebrations for Jaden. On his actual birthday, we went to Great America for the day. Then, on the 4th of July, we had a family party for him and for his twin cousins Krista & Molly (who are 10 hours younger than Jaden) and also for his other cousin Spencer (who was just about to turn 3). That was a fun and eventful celebration! But, Jaden was probably most excited about his first ever "friend" birthday party. He invited a few friends from school and our family friends (who Jaden has known since he was in Mommy's tummy). The kids all made Noah's Ark animals and got to dress them up in fun outfits. It was so cute and lots of fun!!

At the end of this week, we're heading to Minnesota to attend a Children of the Promise reunion. We're really looking forward to seeing Noah's friends and other COTP families and we're also going to be heading to the Mall of America and the Cave of Mysteries. Yay!! This will be our first family vacation with the whole family and we're really excited!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's been a long time

So, it's been a very long time since I've posted. Probably because I'm not sure how to sum life up lately. It seems like there's so much to say and I have no idea where to start. Life since Noah came home has been full of amazing moments and, at times, frustration. I've really had to get used to the fact that Noah is developmentally and socially more of a two-year-old than an almost-four-year-old. Now, I've got to say that I struggled when Jaden and Danielle were two. It's a hard age. There are so many things to get into and Noah, of course, wants to get into them all. He's constantly touching things, pulling things off of tables or counters, breaking things. He often yells randomly, just to hear himself make noise (this is especially frustrating in the car). He likes to test the boundaries - see what he can get away with. On my good days, I handle this all very well. On my bad days, I get incredibly frustrated and don't deal with it well at all.

On the flip side of things, I have seen so many changes in Noah and in myself (the way I deal with him) since he came home. He's starting to respond to discipline (and not always by laughing at his bad behavior, which he used to do). His speech is still limited - we can't have a true "conversation" - but, he's really talking so much more than when he first came home. He's able to express his needs and desires, which has helped a lot. He's also improved in other developmental skills - working on puzzles, listening to full stories, playing with toys - things like that. And, he is still a super-sweet, loving boy. He's always the first to offer up a kiss or an "I bove you!" (nope - that's not a typo - that's the way he says it). He loves to run and play and always wants to help. And he has so much fun with everything - I love to watch him giggle at just about everything!

It's already hard to remember life without him. I honestly can't believe it's only been 3 months since he's been home. Even when things are crazy, I know this is the way it's supposed to be. This is our crazy life - I wouldn't have it any other way!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Great American Fun

We had a fun trip to Great America yesterday!! Noah got to ride on his first rides - we even took him on the Whizzer! I think he really liked it, but he definitely got a worried look on his face sometimes. :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Day in the Life

Things have been going really well around here. Yesterday was a really fun day. Jaden, Noah, Danielle and I played with the kitchen in Jaden's room. Noah doesn't know how to play with many toys, but he knows how to eat! And, he thought pretend eating was just tons of fun! So, Jaden and Danielle would make up special recipes and serve them up to me and Noah. I think it's the longest that we've all ever spent together playing with toys.

Then, in the evening, we had a rousing game of hide and seek. Noah couldn't really figure out the hiding part (even with Mommy or Daddy helping him), but he sure had fun with the counting and the seeking! It was so cute because he'd always first go look wherever the last person was hiding.

It's amazing to me how well all three kids have been getting along. I really expected more shaky adjustments on everyone's part. Noah is a part of the family - just like that. Is he sometimes a pesky little brother? Sure. Does he sometimes try my patience? Yep. But, man, do we love him!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More Cuteness

As you can see from the first picture, Noah is no longer afraid of Sota. This is him trying to get a free ride. We really have an awesome dog - he just sat there calmly while Noah climbed onto his back. Noah's now also happy to feed Sota and has even been spotted giving him kisses. We've come a long way! (And yes, I realize that my family room is in a sad, sad state - I thought it was messy before, but Noah has shown me a new level of disaster - he is an expert at spreading toys, ripping papers, scattering DVD's and tossing crayons about the room. Quite a talent.)

The second picture is of Noah when we were having fun putting stickers on each other. He just thought this was hysterical!

Today, Noah, Danielle and I went to the grocery store. Noah is so cute because he really wants to help with things. He insisted on helping bring the groceries in. Even when we were down to just the things that were really too heavy for him - you should have seen how cute he looked carrying a big old jug of apple juice. :-)

Another funny story about helping - Whenever Noah is finished with his food, he will immediately hold up his plate for me to take it and say, "Fini. All done." Sometimes, he won't even wait until he's actually finished with his food - as soon as he's picked up the last piece, he'll hold the plate up with the other hand. "Fini. All done." We're now to the point where I can convince him to put the plate back on the table until everyone else is done with their food, but he still always at least tries to give it to me.
That's it for tonight. Thanks for tuning in. :-)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I so love waking up in the morning to hugs from a certain little boy! Most mornings, Noah wakes up and comes straight into our room and climbs into bed with me to snuggle. Now, this is pretty much the ultimate sweetness in my book. Jaden long ago figured out that he can get my attention at any time by saying, "Mommy, I want to snuggle with you." Yep, I'll pretty much drop anything at that point. And Noah is obviously figuring that out as well. Not only do I get hugs in the morning, but pretty much anytime I sit on the couch, Noah climbs on up into my lap. He does this cute thing where he hugs me and pushes his cheek against mine as hard as he can. It's a very intense hug. :-)

Some other quick cute things - Noah loves to play with my hair. A lot of times, he drapes it over his head and face and then giggles because it tickles him. His feet are also VERY ticklish, which is amazing to me since he walked around on rocks at COTP and it didn't faze him at all. How can he not feel rocks, but a little tickling drives him insane?

Noah absolutely LOVES the bathtub and is not afraid of the water at all. It's all I can do to keep him from actually diving into the tub - he lays down, ducks his head under, sticks his head under the running faucet - it's crazy! If Danielle gets the tiniest drop of water in her eye, she's calling for a towel. I can't wait to see him in the pool!!

There's lots more, but I'm getting tired, so I'll have to save it for later. Boy, do I love this little guy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Another Little Update

I know it's been awhile since I've posted. It seems like time is flying by and I don't know where it's gone most of the time. Last week was a bit hectic since it was spring break, which meant both Jaden and Danielle were home all day, every day (normally Jaden is in school in the mornings and Danielle is in school two afternoons a week). Plus, Scott went back to work for three days last week (back a full week this week). It's definitely different to be home with the kids all day by myself. Noah takes a lot more supervision than Jaden and Danielle. And sometimes the three of them can get pretty crazy while playing together. It can be a bit challenging.

I've started giving Noah time-outs when he doesn't listen, and the first few were pretty rough. He doesn't like having to sit in one spot and the timer doesn't start until he stays sitting (I give him a little leeway, but he can't be crawling all over the stairs). And, after a time-out is over in our house, you have to say sorry for the misbehavior. Well, that was a MAJOR issue the first time. Mind you, Noah will generally repeat anything you ask him to say. He loves repeating. But, after his first time-out, he was mad and he absolutely refused to say, "Sorry Mommy." In fact, at first, he would just turn his head away from me and wouldn't look at me at all. I could tell that the other kids and the TV were a distraction, so I took Noah into the other room and sat him on my lap. I kept him there until he said sorry. He finally got to go play after about an HOUR and fifteen minutes. Yep - it was crazy. Sometimes Noah passed the time passively, sometimes he got upset and cried because he wanted to go, sometimes he tried distracting me from the goal at hand by talking about something else (usually pointing and saying "gade"). I just kept reminding him that if he wanted to go and play he would have to say "Sorry Mommy." There were quite a few times when I wondered if I should give up - especially when he would cry. I kept thinking, "How long do I do this for?" But, at the same time, I knew with almost absolute certainty that he knew what I wanted him to do and that he was just being stubborn to see if he could win our first battle. I was pretty sure that I was setting a precedent here and I really didn't want to give him the message that he could hold out for longer than I could. Still, I think I was reaching the point of desperation when he finally blurted out, "Sorry Mommy" (actually it sounded more like "sublunmb Mommy" - but that worked just fine for me). You would have thought that he won a marathon for all the hugs and cheering that he got for saying those words!!

Since then, time-outs have been much less painful. I think he decided that my excitement at him saying sorry was more motivating than his need to be stubborn (or he just decided he didn't want another hour long time-out) because the next time, he said it immediately. I was so relieved and so glad that I had stuck it out. I know he needs to start learning that he has boundaries in our household, but it really is hard.

Let's see. After that long explanation, what else new can I mention. Noah's getting better at the stairs. He can go down without us holding his hand now as long as he's not too distracted (but we usually still remind him "one step, one step, one step...). Naps have been on-again, off-again, which can be challenging. I'm pretty sure at COTP he took a three hour nap every day, so I'm not sure why he sometimes doesn't seem to want to nap now. Once again, I think he might be testing to see if I'll eventually just let him out of bed to play - but I haven't quite figured out the right way to handle this yet. Noah is starting to pick up a few more English words, but the doctor said that we should call the school district to have him evaluated since he's definitely developmentally behind in speech (we also want to do a hearing test to make sure that there's no remaining impairment).
That's all I can think of for now. As I keep saying, things are going amazingly smoothly so far. We really couldn't ask for much more at this point. :-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Fun

We had a great Easter yesterday. We went up to Wisconsin to visit Scott's sister and his neices. Noah seemed to have a lot of fun. We did learn, though, that no matter how tired Noah is, he won't sleep in the car. When he's extremely tired, he does this thing where he starts blinking constantly. He was already doing that at 11:30 AM yesterday. We thought for sure he would sleep during the drive to Wisconsin, but it never happened (both Jaden and Danielle fell asleep instead - and Danielle almost never sleeps in the car!).

Things have been going well around here. In general, Noah is a happy, fun little boy. I am definitely happy that Noah was able to come home to another three-year-old and a five-year-old. I've just loved watching the kids run around the house together - Noah fits right in!

On the other side of things, I do feel bad because I think that the words I say most to Noah are "pas touche" (don't touch). It's hard because there are so many things that Jaden and Danielle can do that Noah just can't. They play on the computer, but I generally have to keep Noah away from it because he just pounds on the keyboard and repeatedly clicks the mouse. The older kids can use the remote, but Noah tries to grab it at random times and ends up messing up the TV settings. He loves to play with the doors on the cabinet that holds DVD's - the doors are glass, though and I worry about him opening and closing it repeatedly - another "don't touch". The list goes on - poor kiddo. I really hate to make this our most popular phrase, but it seems necessary at this point. Hopefully that will change soon.

Another frustration is Noah's method of playing - it pretty much consists of dumping everything onto the floor (although, he was a bit better about it today - he played with dinosaurs with Jaden and Danielle and seemed to have fun actually playing - he then cradled his giant dinosaur and rocked it like a baby - so cute!). Whenever Noah is naughty, he gets this grin on his face and laughs - I think he got away with a lot at the orphanage by being cute, but it really just frustrates me when he knows he's disobeying and he's giggling about it. I have to remind myself that this is a learned behavior - the way he got what he wanted at the orphanage - and that it will eventually go away (I hope). Noah threw his first fit (which really just consisted of crying- no tantrum behavior) when we took away his Easter basket. Boy, does he love candy!! Not too bad, though - we went almost two weeks without a fit being thrown. I'd say that's fantastic! And Noah sleeps straight through the night, which is a big deal to me - I am not good on no sleep. I can't wait until Noah can talk a bit more so that communication is easier. But, otherwise things are good.

Anyway, it's impossible to describe everything that goes on around here - it's just way too complex. But, this post kind of gives you an idea of how this transitionary period is going. It's already starting to feel more and more "normal" - I'm sure we'll have more surprises along the way, though.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Home At Last

How do I even begin to describe life these past few days? I want to describe everything, but this blog would be about 40 pages long and I'd probably fall asleep here at the keyboard. So, I'll just try to hit the highlights.

Coming home was such an amazing experience for us. I was imagining that Noah would go back into his shell a bit once we were away from COTP, but apparently the days we spent there were well spent and he felt secure enough with us to be himself on the trip home. He LOVES airports, which was really fun. He spent most of the time pointing out the windows, yelling "avian!" (airplane) or "gade!" (look!). He never tired of looking at the airplanes or the little cars that carry baggage, etc. He was fascinated! Once we got to the US, it was even more fun because Noah was loving the escalators and moving walkways - every time we would get on or off of one, he would just laugh and laugh! I almost felt bad when we left the airport to come home - I just kept thinking how much he'd miss the airport. :-)

The transition home has been going amazingly smoothly so far. The three kids have been loving each other! It gets a bit wild around here at times - the older kids always tend to start bouncing off the walls at about 4:00 PM anyway. Now at 4:00, I would swear that we've added another three kids to the mix instead of just one! But, boy, they're having fun!

There have definitely been some adjustments for us all. It's interesting because even though Noah's three, he's like a much younger child in many ways. We've had to gate off the stairs again because he tends to head down at breakneck speed and he's really not good at navigating them. We've also had to make sure to keep the doors to the basement and the garage locked up. He's big enough to get into a lot and he really doesn't know yet what things are okay and what things can be dangerous (or what can be broken or turn into a big mess, etc), so we have to watch him very closely. So far, we haven't had any problems, but I'm kind of holding my breath, waiting for something to happen. And, of course, things like table manners, which we've gotten to the point of hardly worrying about with the older kids, are now works in progress (at the orphanage, Noah didn't really worry about making sure that food and drinks didn't end up on the floor). Meal times have gone pretty well, though. Noah seems to be used to eating anything that's put in front of him, but he's not used to picking up food with his hands and eating it. I have to take his sandwich or his hot dog apart so he'll eat it because he hasn't quite figured out how to take bites off of the food. But, he eats his fruits and vegetables - which is good since he hasn't had the best nutrition up to this point (they just don't have access to lots of fruits and vegetables in Haiti).

Noah is definitely scared of Sota, but he's starting to get used to him. They had dogs at the orphanage, but they're not really family pets. They're guard dogs and the kids mostly stay away from them - not because the dogs are mean - they actually put up with a lot - but I think the nannies are a bit afraid of them and that gets transferred to the kids.

Other than that, it's been smooth sailing. Noah's a good sleeper and he's been a happy little boy since he's been home! I'm sure there'll be lots more bumps along the way, but we can't ask for much more at this point. Here we are - a family of five!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quick Update

I'm pretty tired, so I'm not going to write much tonight. But, I did want to give a quick update and let everybody know that we got to visit Ruthlande today. She seemed so big!! I honestly thought that she looked like she had doubled in size since she stayed with us. It's obvious that she's doing really well. Her mom says that she can scoot around now and that she talks a lot! We were really happy that she didn't cry when she saw us - she was definitely timid, but not upset. It was just so good to see her again and to see how well she's doing. Definitely an answer to prayer!

Other than that, we mostly just hung out with Noah today. He loves to play T-ball, so he and Daddy had lots of fun with that. We had an all-around fun day!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dreams of Haiti Becoming a Reality

We're at COTP now. It's nice to see Noah back in his element. Obviously, the new environment in PaP made him a bit unsure of himself because he was SUPER quiet and almost bordering on lethargic - he really just wanted to sit in our laps the whole day. That was fine with us, of course, but he was just acting a bit odd. I saw him back in July and I had to tell Scott, "This is not what he's normally like." In fact, the first day that we met him, he did not make a sound - he was completely silent all day. When we got to Dr. B's (where we spent the night last night), Claudette said, "Did they tell you that he doesn't speak?" I had to laugh and say that I have heard him speak before! He did start talking on the car ride to the visa appointment.

When we got to COTP, it was a completely different story. Gone was the timid little boy who seemed unsteady on his feet. He was replaced by a rambunctious three-year-old who wanted to see what kind of mischief he could get away with! The kids were out on the back porch playing (what an amazing play area they have back there!) and Noah was having so much fun. And he was jabbering up a storm! I couldn't understand most of it, of course, but he was definitely no longer silent.

Our visa appointment went well this morning despite the fact that we were two hours late (apparently there was a mix-up and NLL thought we were supposed to go at 9:00, when in fact we were supposed to be there at 7:00). Luckily, they very graciously allowed us to do the appointment late. NLL went back in the afternoon to pick up the visa, but apparently the machine was broken today, so they will go back for it tomorrow. Luckily, we have plenty of leeway since we're not leaving until Saturday.

That's it for now. I'm feeling MUCH better after a good night's sleep last night and Scott and I are going to head to bed early tonight as well. We'll keep you updated!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Greetings from Haiti!

Well, we're here and our little boy is currently napping in Daddy's lap (actually, Daddy's taking a little nap himself). It's so surreal! The trip was hard - mostly because I have had the flu since Wednesday and I just can't shake it. I've had fevers off and on and I've now developed a really nasty cough that kept both Scott and I up all night. Literally, I didn't sleep at all last night. So that made for a rough day of travel today. Dr. B and Samuel from NLL picked us up at the airport and brought us back to the NLL office. We then waited here for about 2 and a half hours before Daryl brought Noah to us. I was feeling incredibly miserable and thought at a couple of points during the day that I might faint. So, I actually ended up laying my head down on a NLL desk and taking a nap! Luckily, Ibuprofin broke my fever and I felt human again by the time Daryl showed up with Noah. I was very thankful for that because I didn't want to be in a haze when I saw my boy again!

He's such a sweetie. He's been very content to sit on our laps and eat some snacks and play with his little toys. It was obvious that it was normally naptime for him - he was definitely acting sleepy! It's so amazing to know that he's coming home with us in a few days!!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Day is Here!!!!

We have a visa appointment!!! We will be flying to Haiti on MONDAY (leaving here on Sunday afternoon) and our visa appointment is scheduled for Tuesday morning! My mind is racing with everything that I need to accomplish before Sunday.

It's real - HE'S COMING HOME!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Well, as often happens in life, God's timing is not my timing. And, like the Israelites, I've been grumbling. Just like them, I've found myself crying out, "God, you sent me on this journey, why did you have to make it so hard?!"

I honestly don't understand it and I might never understand it. That is something that I will just have to deal with. For now, I am trying very hard to be patient. To put an end to the grumbling and to trust that God didn't put me on this journey for no reason. There is an end in sight, even if only He sees it.

My sight is so very limited, after all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Update on Ruthlande

I got this sweet picture of Ruthlande today. Doesn't she look amazing!! Her mom says that she's talking all the time now and she's doing really well. She wouldn't smile for the picture, though - apparently, she's still very afraid of white people. Poor little sweetie - she probably worries that she'll be taken away from her mom again anytime she sees a white person!

I'm just so happy to see her and to know that she's doing well - We miss her!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Wait Continues

The consulate got my I600 approval (USCIS sent another copy out). But when I called hoping to make the visa appointment today, I was told that they need to talk to NLL because they have some questions about the paperwork. She wasn't very clear on what the issues are, but for some reason I got the impression that something was filled out incorrectly? This might just be wishful thinking, though - if something is wrong with a document and we need to get another one from archives, we can expect to wait another month or more.

We'll just have to wait and see...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stalled Again

Well, we knew it couldn't go smoothly, didn't we? Today, Daryl called the USCIS office in Haiti to find out the status of Noah's paperwork for the birth parent interview. They said that they sent the paperwork - but they didn't send it to the consulate in Haiti. For some reason, they sent our paperwork to the Chicago USCIS office!! Robin says she has no idea why they would do this - she doesn't know of any circumstance where the birth parent interview paperwork would be sent back to the US, so she can't imagine why they would make this mistake.

So, now I have to try calling the USCIS office in Haiti (it was already closed when I found all of this out today) to see if they can somehow send copies of the paperwork to the consulate (I don't know if they have copies or if the consulate will accept them, but that's what we're going to try to find out). I'm also calling the Chicago office to see if they have received the paperwork (I don't know exactly when it was sent out). I'm really not sure what they would even do with the paperwork if they got it. Still, I'm hoping that maybe they recieved it and put it in my (now closed) file. I'm hoping they'll let me drive to the office and pick it up. And then I'm hoping that Carine at the US consulate in Haiti will allow us to make the visa appointment and bring the documents with us.

I know that's a lot of things to hope for. And, let's face it, my interactions with the USCIS Chicago office up to this point have not gone well. But, I still have to hope.

This has not been an easy road. It's hard to see God's purpose in all of this, but I know that He has one. I just pray that our son will be home with us soon!

UPDATE: I did speak to the officer in the Chicago office. She was actually very pleasant this time, but she said they haven't received anything. She had me send an email requesting that they contact me if it comes in.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not Quite There Yet

So, I called the consulate today and, unfortunately, they haven't gotten the paperwork from the birth parent interview yet. Daryl says they will keep calling every day until they have it. Then, we'll be able to schedule the visa appointment and go get our little boy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

And Closer Yet...

I just got this email from Robin (the adoption coordinator for COTP) today:

All that is left is for INS to send up the letter from the birth parent interview to the consulate. Daryl said to start calling the consulate on Tue to ask if they have everything. If they say "yes" then ask if you can make your appointment . We are in the home stretch. :)

Almost there!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Most offices in Haiti are closed this week because of Carnaval (it's like Mardi Gras). So, we're not expecting to hear anything until at least next week. It would be nice if I could hear some good news for my birthday on Monday, but I'm guessing that's too early to expect any news.

Waiting...patiently...well, as patiently as I can...

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Bit Closer

Noah had his birth parent interview on Wednesday. It was a long day (they didn't get in until 6 PM), but it went well. Now, we just have to wait for the visa appointment. I'm not really sure how long the wait will be at this point, but we're hoping things will move quickly.

We had a bit of a scare with our passports - it turns out that you can't travel to Haiti on a passport that expires less than 3-6 months from the travel date. Our passports expire in mid-March. If you are going to travel in two weeks or less, you can get an emergency passport, but you are supposed to have either a confirmed ticket or a letter from a company stating the necessity for business travel. Of course, we had neither of those. But, the last couple of families who traveled to COTP to pick up their kids only had one or two days notice to book their travel - that wouldn't be enough time to get even an emergency passport. So, we decided to have Robin, the adoption coordinator for COTP, write us a letter and we hoped that the passport office would accept that in lieu of a letter from a company for business travel. But, we were very nervous that they would be sticklers and they wouldn't allow it. Luckily, we had no problems and were able to get the renewal. Scott's passport came today and mine should be here on Monday. Phew!

So, two things that happened on the same day and they both actually went right! We're on a roll!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And Found Again

Noah's I600 made it to Haiti!! COTP has gotten a birth parent interview scheduled for Monday, but the flight to PAP is full, so they're trying to see if they can get on the flight somehow. Please pray that they can get on the flight so that they can get to the appointment on Monday.

One step closer...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Still Waiting

Well, there's not much to report, unfortunately. I spoke with the Haitian consulate yesterday and they still haven't received my I600 approval. According to DHL, a package should only take about 3 days to get to Haiti - it's been a week now. I know I should be more patient, but it seems impossible right now. I just want to get our boy home!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Well, I spoke with the NVC today and, amazingly, they actually received my file. In fact, they sent it out to Haiti via DHL yesterday. Thank you, God!! We are praying that we don't hit anymore speed bumps and that we will be able to pick Noah up in the next couple of weeks.

We'll let you know!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lost and Found

Well, my file has been found!! This is a wonderful thing, but it also makes me want to scream because of the complete incompetence of the Chicago USCIS office (okay - being honest here - after I got off the phone, I did scream). Turns out, they never sent it. Yep, you read that right - hard to believe yet another mistake could have been made with my file, but apparently the incompetence of USCIS knows no bounds.

When I spoke to the officer yesterday on the phone, she assured me that my file had been sent. That they are always sent the next day. After much cajoling, she finally agreed to have a clerk look at my file and make sure (I tried to convince her to do it herself while I was on the phone, but she couldn't be bothered with this). She took my phone number and said that she would have a clerk look at it and then she would call me back.

Of course, she never called. Finally, this afternoon, I called her back and she said, "Oh, I found out that it was never sent. I forgot to call you." Just like that. I wish I would have had the foresight to tell her yesterday that I would pay to have the file overnighted if it was found. Since she never called me, it had already been sent out and it was too late. She assured me that it would only take a week or so to get to NVC (funny, yesterday she was insisting that it could take up to four weeks). Scott and my mom both reassured me that it wouldn't have mattered if I had offered to pay for overnight shipping. She's not the helpful type - she would have just said, "That's not how we do it." I'm guessing they're right.

The truly frustrating thing about this whole ordeal is that I have never once gotten a single "I'm sorry" for anything that has happened with my file. Apparently, the US government has no need for customer service because, let's face it, it's not like I can switch to another vendor. (Hmmm... Canada sounds good about now). And obviously the officer working at USCIS Chicago doesn't have the human decency to come up with an "I'm sorry" without a customer service policy forcing her to do so. When my file was approved back in June and then that approval was rescinded, they simply sent me an email stating that the approval had been given in error. No, "I'm sorry for any inconvenience this has caused." Nothing. Then, when the officer gave me incorrect information on what was needed in order to approve my file (which caused months of delay), again, I was never offered a simple apology. USCIS Chicago never sent my letter to USCIS Haiti to let them know that I had opted out of the AOF program. They also never showed an ounce of regret. After all of this, they forget to send my file. You would think that the office would feel horrible that yet another mistake had been made. If it were me in her position, I would have said, "I am SO sorry that this happened and that your file was delayed yet again." Go back and read what she actually said in the third paragraph. It's pretty much verbatim.

Every time I spoke to this officer and explained to her that my son had had a passport since the beginning of November and that this approval was the only thing holding me up, she would respond with a completely non-committal, unsympathetic reply. Usually, she would suggest that we should just "wait" for some paperwork or other from Haiti (which was never coming - I talked to the people in Haiti and they had no idea what she was talking about and said there is no reason that she shouldn't give me the approval if I had opted out of the AOF program). She even chuckled once at the fact that she was waiting on Haiti and Haiti was waiting on her. So very amusing that my son was stuck in limbo due to her incompetence! She would repeatedly tell me that she would check on something and then call me back - She never once called me back during this process. I've been treated as though my child coming home is completely unimportant - like I've been waiting for a baby doll instead of an actual child. What's a few more months, right?

A few more months in the life of a three-year-old child. It's a lot.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Trials and Tribulations

More bad news I'm afraid. The National Visa Center has not received our I600 approval yet. Of course, everyone I've talked to is trying to tell me that it could take up to four weeks to get to New Hampshire, but you can tell they're just trying to sound positive. Everyone says, "Well, yes, it really should have gotten there by now, but you never know - it could take longer". The woman at NVC that I spoke to told me to call USCIS Chicago. I did, but the officer was not very helpful (not that I expected her to be). She basically told me that there's nothing she can do. They don't have copies of anything from the file and NVC needs the physical file before they can do anything. So, once again, we're stuck.

Please pray that the file will make its way to NVC SOON!!