Sunday, January 31, 2010

Updates via Facebook

Due to changes in our situation, I will be posting updates on Conleigh via Facebook. If you are wanting to follow our story, please request to be my friend on Facebook. I never know who is reading here and hate to share too much about our lives here.

Stephanie, Lori, and Jacci-I have no problem adding you on facebook but am having trouble finding you. 500 Stephanies with none having your maiden name, 2 Loris with the exact same name, and Jacci I found you but it won't let me add you as a friend. Email me at and I'll send you my full name so you can find me.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keep the Word of God in your mouth

My friend, Christina, offered me some wonderful advice this week. "Keep the word of God in your mouth." Oh how those words have rung true so many times this week. As we were driving home from Lincoln tonight and I was feeling discouraged about not hearing a single thing from our government, those words again came to mind. But what would God say about this situation? What I got was the verse "Pray for those who persecute you." Obviously this isn't a deliberate persecution but it sure feels like there are many things stacked against us. It's so easy to be mad at the people who you feel like aren't doing their jobs. So tonight I prayed for those people who may be mentally fatigued from reading documents, who may have tired eyes from staring at a computer screen, who may have dealt with some really angry, hopping mad parents who were not kind or gentle in spirit. And you know what, I actually started feeling better about it. And then we got home and had three emails from DHS so that makes me feel even better. Counting God's word as a blessing...

Trafficking and Politics

Per my recent posting regarding the political games some child advocacy groups like to engage can read about it in this article, which quotes the Haitian director of Kenson's orphanage who apparently was visited by Haitian officials and child advocates and was essentially questioned if he was trafficking kids. People have doubted whether child advocacy groups can really influence government policy. In fact, on the conference call a few days ago, this question was posed by a parent directly to government officers who denied that this could happen. However, some of these child advocacy groups have long arms that are linked to the press and deep pockets that are lined with money. That sounds like a recipe for politicking if I've ever seen one.

Let me say I do believe adoptions need oversight. And that oversight does need to evaluated and reevaluated as time goes on. But the bottom line is international adoption accounts for a very small percentage of the kids who are being served by the Haitian government. The statistics that came out a few weeks ago estimated 2, 500 kids in the adoption process worldwide and 380, 000 orphans in Haiti prior to the earthquake. So to me it makes a lot more sense to concentrate the bulk of one's efforts on the 377, 500 kids who are not inolved in adoption. The 2, 500 children in the adoption process are probably some of the most monitored kids in Haiti. They are in orphanage that does have some supervision by the Hatian government. The prospective adoptive parents have to assemble a dossier, have a homestudy, do state and federal background checks, and in some cases travel to Haiti. Adoption documents could be forged or officials bribed but it seems like a lot of work to traffic kids through adoption when there is a semi porous border with the Domican Republic that would be a much easier route for trafficking. (Which by the way, is done with children and adults.) See the update below...the only arrest I know of in recent history involves this border, not anyone trying to use the adoption process.

What also galls me about most of this is that these same child advocacy groups seem to be silent on issues that could vastly improve not just the lives of the 380, 000 orphans but the remaining children in Haiti. Currently a major issue in Haiti is a culturally acceptable practice of resteveks. Restevek literally means to stay with and refers to children who are sent to stay with someone who is not their birth family. It is not an adoption. What usually happens is that these children are expected to work for the family, without pay. These children usually do not attend school and may live in terrible conditions or suffer abuse. This is not a "high society" problem. It is accepted at most socio economic levels. I think I read that there are estimates that there might be 200, 000 resteveks in Haiti.

Another major issue with child welfare in Haiti is the lack of enforcement on issues directly related child welfare. Abuse and neglect often go unpunished (or uneducated, if it really is an issue of educating the parents). Hundreds of orphanages operate without performing adoptions and are not required to be inspected by the Haitian government. And even those that are inspected could surely benefit from some common sense help on issues like nutrition and discipline. Mental handicapped or physically handicapped children have few places where they can go and receive the care they need. Infants are left to die on river banks or on garbage piles but no one investigates these crimes. A beautiful girl from Conleigh's orphanage was returned to her mother who then left her outside to die. Sexual abuse, when it occurs to an adult, is often not prosecuted in Haiti. Imagine how often children are sexually abused with no system to stop the abuse. School and education are not mandatory so Haiti faces a 50% literacy rate. Imagine the impact if these child advocacy groups would be as vocal on these issues as they are on adoption.

Yes, I know that accusations are rarely leveled straight on. Instead, they are stirred and simmered, whispered to reporters who are eager for a story and don't really investigate what is being said. 15 children disappear from a hosptial following the earthquake. Children who may have living parents who are looking for them were transported out of Haiti following the earthquake. And prior to the earthquake, buy a Haitian child for a mere $50. (That one is one of my favorites as no one actually tried to test the system and see if the "papers" that were supposed to be produced really could get a child out of Haiti. No one even saw the papers, they were just told by a Haitian man that they could get papers. And most interesting of all, no child was actually produced. I'm sure the Haitian who got $50 out of that blan was quite pleased with himself.) Almost always the issue of legal adoption is raised and somehow there always seems to be this insinuation that adoption is linked to trafficking when in fact there is little evidence to support this. I do not have a problem of people raising the issue if they can show that there is currently a system in place where people are falsifying adoption documents in order to traffic children. But no one has provided proof of this. Instead what we're left with are sketchy internet and television articles that seem to paint international adoption with a dark, slightly underhanded brush. And those brushstrokes result in what we are seeing today. International adoptions that are under such scrutiny that they take years (2 or 3) to complete or grind to a halt, not just in Haiti but in many other countries. Kids sleeping on the street in Haiti, under tarps, praying that it doesn't rain, despite the fact that they have a bed ready for them in the U.S., waiting for the government of their homeland to act and sign them out.

Makes me crazy...that's all I can say.

Or how about this first hand report of a bizarre encounter one ministry had with this group yesterday. "Something very odd went down with unicef yesterday. We were instructed in writing to pick up patients from the Comfort ship. When our driver got there to get the people there were unicef vehicles taking them to some camp. The unicef folks were not talking, they were just large and in charge. I'd love to believe somebody just got their wires crossed, but I'm not so sure. Something smelled wrong about it. The Comfort ship went to the work of getting us patient names, details, lists and a time to come get them. Clearly they were unaware of what was about to happen." The Comfort is a US military hospital on a boat. You can read the rest of the story from the Livesays here.

Wanna read another things that will make your eyes pop out of your head? The Haitian prime minister is quoted in an article by CNN as saying that trafficking is of concern because Haitian children are trafficked and then their organs harvested. I am not kidding you. He said this as easily as one would say the sun sets in the west. If he truly believes this, than he should be providing evidence. And if he truly believes this, than why are groups that have large amounts of power with the Haitian government not providing him with the facts that discount this? I'm not saying it couldn't happen or that it has never happened. But you and I both know that it's probably an anomoly, especially since no one has yet to produce evidence to the contrary.

Here's another good post on this topic from a family working with a water ministry in Haiti.

Latrine Babies

Okay, just read an article this evening by Reuters on a group of Americans who were arrested this week on child trafficking. They were trying to take a group of 33 children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic without papers. They said that they were moving them from a collapsed orphanage in PAP to another orphanage in the DR. But didn't have paperwork for the children and said they were intending to go back to Haiti to finish it. ARRRR!! Who knows if the lady who said this was telling the truth or not. I can't imagine that anyone would really think it would be okay to take kids across a border and then to back to do the paperwork. Cases like this mean more scrutiny for adoptions. Nevermind that this group obviously was avoiding anything that might look like a legal adoption. In other words, they knew what would be required to fly out of Haiti and into the US so they avoided the paperwork. They took the easiest way...the border with the DR. It is not about scrutinizing adoption paperwork and adding more steps to adoptions. It's about common sense and realizing that illegal activity is going to most likely occur in areas where there a lot less scrutiny. At least there has now been a documented case with arrests rather than just speculation.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Conleigh update

Kids are still sleeping outside under tarps. A Mennonite construction group is coming to evaulate the orphange soon. A few of the older kids seem to be getting sick so they are going to be assessed soon. Another adoptive mom heard from her Senator's aide that all of our paperwork had been processed but none of us know exactly what this means. Melinda went to the Embassy today with kids in tow. We thought for a moment or two that maybe our kids would be on the list getting travel documents but apparently the Embassy in PAP needs fingerprint records from the three families. I have no idea if Melinda actually has Parole paperwork for all three kids or not. The Embassy was supposed to be requesting the necessary paperwork from DC and told Melinda to keep coming back. So tomorrow she'll be back. And we'll keep riding the "maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week train."

On a positive note, 127 kids flew to the US today. The Haitian government approved their exits. Only a handful were FHG kids. But at least kids are leaving which is much better than the 5 day political stalemate that was occuring.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hair and identity, part two

So where does Kenson fit in in this conversation? As we were preparing for his homecoming, D and I discussed what we would do with his hair. It had always been shaved in the orphanage. We'd never really seen him with hair. We kind of wondered what he would look like. So we decided when he came home, we would grow it out. And prior to him coming home, we talked about locks. We thought they were cute and that on older boys and men, they were handsome, especially when cultivated not left as wild Bob Marley style locs. (Nothing wrong with that style, just not our cup of tea.) And we thought longer hair on him would help me gain some confidence in hair care and styles once Conleigh came home. So we let it grow. What became clear to us was that even 2 inches of his tightly coiled hair took a decent amount of time to detangle. And that keeping it neatly trimmed would require regular trims, probably once a month. So that lead us to the locs decision. Locs, althought time consuming at first, once they mature are truly a wash and go hair style. Making that decision was not something we took lightly. (At least not me.) There were a lot of things to consider, not just the end result or the convenience of locs.

In the smaller towns where we live and work, there are only a handful of black men. And almost everyone shaves their head, does a close trim, or an afro. In Lincoln, a city about 30 minutes from us, black men do all of the above or wear cornrows. But what I have kind of seen is that there is a class issue with African haircare. Cornrows are ghetto. A nice trim or neat Afro is more middle class. It's not my opinion but one that I think is there. We're human and we make all kinds of judgments based on appearance and that's one I think that gets made. Which leads me to one of the major concerns regarding Kenson's hair. As young man, if he chooses to keep his locs, will he be judged because of that?

I also had to wonder about my decision to make such a major choice for him. We chose locs, in part, for some reasons that had not very much to do with him, but more to do with our own opinions and desires. Locs are a semi permanent hairstyle. It takes months to have the hair grow together and loc. Undoing locks means essentially shaving the hair and watching months of hard work go out the door. Was it fair for us to make such a decision for him? In the end, we decided it was. We're not saying he has to keep them forever. At some point, when he's old enough to really care for his own hair or if he gets to a point where he absolutely can't stand them, then we'll discuss it and let him have some role in the process. But for now, that's not the road we're on.

That said, there were lots of other identity type scenerios that I honestly never thought about. Maybe because some of them are just a bit weird and things I would never have guessed. One of the major ones is how Kenson's hair often makes him the center of attention. People ooh and ahh over it. I have had strangers ask me about it. How do you do it? How long does it take? Did you do it yourself? the grocery's weird. I'm from a small town. I get how small towns work. But I can't imagine stopping someone I didn't know to ask them about their hair. Weird. People, not so much strangers, but friends and acquaintences want to touch it. Other kids especially, which I get because they usually haven't seen anyone with hair like Kenson's, even when it's not in locs. The kids are just curious about what it feels like and if it's the same as their hair. But adults I don't quite get as much. It doesn't offend me. It's just something I wasn't prepared for. I really hadn't considered how locs would generate that much attention and what that attention is teaching Kenson about hair and friendship and tact and appearance.

I think I'm also surprised by the lack of knowledge many people have regarding black hair. Granted, I know now a lot more than I did 2 years ago. But there are a lot of questions that I am surprised people need to ask. Can you wash it? Do you do that every day? What are dreadlocks? What do you mean the hair grows together? Oh, dreadlocks like Bob Marley? There are other kinds of dreadlocks other than Bob Marley's famous style? I guess I thought some of that was common knowledge, but it turns out it's not. As Kenson overhears those conversations, I wonder if he thinks his hair is just so bizarre that no one knows anything about it. Or as he gets older, if he will pick up on the questions about hygiene and wonder if others are assuming his hair is never washed.

I think the last surprise for me is truly how his locs in some ways, will define him. I am willing to bet that at some point in his school career, he will be "the black boy with spikey hair. " I don't think it has to do with racism as much as in a school that is 50% Hispanic, 40% white, 5% Asian or other, and 5% black, his black skin is just an easy way to identify him. And the spikey funky hair will be yet another that sets him apart. I am sure he will be tired of the fuss about his hair. I'm sure he will be annoyed at the first days of school when he has all sorts of new friends wanting to touch his hair. The chances of him meeting another little boy with locs is slim. The chances of him meeting an older boy or man with locs a bit greater, but that will probably only happen on rare occasions. D does coach against a man from Ghana who wears his hair in locs. I'm hoping he is still coaching come spring; I'm interested to see Kenson's reaction. But in general, Kenson will be alone in his hair. We try to point out black men on tv who wear locs. But that's tv, not reality. And we of course want him to see his locs as a unique trait, that being unique is a good thing, something to be proud of.

So where is all this going? It's kind of just a rant. It's really a compilation of a lot of thinking on my part about hair. More thinking than I've ever given any aspect of appearance. Hair does become a part of your identity, especially when you think your hair is setting you a part. Balding, frizzy, out of control curly, even a unique hair style like a mohawk or mullet, on some levels they start telling us what to believe about our inner person. That is not what God designed our appearance for. Our appearance should be a reflection of our inner person, an extension of the uniquely different person God made us to be, just one tiny piece that displays God's creativity and handiwork. My prayer for my kids (and myself) is that we center our identities in things that will last, in things that matter in eternity. May we not forget that "Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16)

Adoption, Breastfeeding, and Choo Choo Trains

This week, while taking a shower with Kenson, we had a wonderful conversation about all of these things, in only the way a three year old can. He started with "Mama, are your boobs broken?" Then "I want to eat them." So I asked him if he meant that he had seen a baby doing that and he wanted to do that. He said yes so I explained how when you have a baby grow in your tummy, that your boobs get milk inside and then the babies can drink that milk from your boobs. Puzzled look from Kenson and the words, "I want to go in there." as he pointed at my tummy. I reminded him that he grew in his Mama Juisline's tummy but that he was always in my heart and told him that he can't really go back in my tummy and that really drinking milk that comes from boobs is more for little babies. "Bummer, huh?" I said. And then he told me he wanted a choo choo train in the shower. Too funny...I love three year old conversations!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hair and Identity, part one

Locking Kenson's hair has been a learning experience for me. Well, just caring for his hair has been a learning experience for me. I have done a lot more thinking about hair than I ever have before. I am a wash and go girl. When I worked full time, I often went to work with no make up on. I just really don't like taking the time to fuss with things like that. But interestingly enough, when it came time to care for his hair, I decided maybe such a laisse faire attitude wasn't going to cut it. And what I learned has been really eye opening.

In really general terms, African American culture is hair centered. For a number of reasons, curly kinky hair has not been valued in African American culture. For years, African American hair was called wooly and nappy while those with Caucasion hair was described as cascading and flowing. And somewhere along the way, for a lot of African American people, cascading and flowing meant better. And so many started using chemicals to relax or straighten their hair. Their identity somehow became connected to their hair.

Now, let me interupt the story. I am a Caucasian women. I have kinky curly quirky hair. I missed the memo that my hair defines me. I had no idea I was supposed to be having an identity crisis because my hair wasn't straight. In fact, my hair is not "good hair." I wasn't born with curly hair. I had stick straight but very tangly hair until around fourth grade. As my hormones started to change, so did my hair. It started fuzzing around my temples and the nape of my neck. And curling. Not all of my hair. Just parts. So I spent a few years with a "hot mess" on my head. I am not kidding you. My mom had no idea what to do. (And even if she did, I wouldn't have listened to her anyway.) What would you do with hair that was frizzy and curly in spots but straight in others? Eventually, it all changed to curly. And by the time I was in high school, I thought I had it figured out. Other than being a nightmare to comb, it wasn't too bad. College wasn't too bad either. But then a few years after I graduated from college, my hair started thinning. So now I have thin, slightly limp curly hair which I sometimes love and sometimes hate.

Okay end of my own hair drama. Back to black hair...straight hair is better. Got it? So straighten it with chemicals, grease it with grease (petroleum jelly, vaseline, mineral oil), or iron your curls out. Live in fear of rain as it might ruin your hair style. Add a weave or a wig or extensions if you have to. Don't really consider just being thankful for the hair you have. That was the status quo for a quite a while, and in some ways still is. (Think about how many famous black women you know who have straight hair, rather than curly.)

There has been a movement towards treating your hair as a treasure and learing to work with it, rather than against it. That's the natural hair movement. Step away from the burning chemicals and just let your hair be. Wear braids or dreadlocks or heck, an Afro. Quit putting thick goopy stuff in that slicks and defrizzes by simply coating the hair. Seek out natural oils that fight frizz by penetrating your hair like shea butter or coconut oil. Take joy in the ethnic traits God gave you...kinky curly hair.

That's the history lesson portion. I promise this isn't just an Afrocentric history lesson. It does have a point related to Kenson and others who care for black hair. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

USICS conference call and so many new beginnings

This morning I spent almost 2 hours on the phone on a conference call with an assorted group of government agencies; with all the acronyms on line it was like being in a can of alphabet soup. Regardless I was thankful that our government cared enough to try to quell people's fear, answer their questions, clear up the rumors, etc.. It would have been helpful to have a call like that about a week ago but I realize they are essentially making this up as they go, trying to efficiently and ethicaly process children. They were very clear about the newest news regarding the Haitian president's decision to approve the children's depature and said that both the Haitian and the US government are still in agreement over getting matched children to their adoptive homes. They also said that they are confident that the Haitian government will continue to trust the safeguards put in place by the US government and will not be second guessing the efforts put forth by our state department as it makes decisions about a child's eligibility to enter the US as a matched child. The state department is saying it will not be weeks or months to process these children.

I have also been able to watch several friends celebrate their child's homecoming. Some of them I know personally, some of them just through the online world. Almost all of them have been waiting over two years for their children and one such friend has waited 3 years and 9 months. I have had many tears today as I've watched their stories finally get to this point. What joy to watch these children placed in their family's care.

Please continue to pray for the decisions that are being made regarding the Haitian president's desire to have more control or knowledge over the children who are leaving. May the issue be resolved quickly with an efficient process that does not result in large backlogs of kids being unable to travel. Pray also for our director who is planning to go the Embassy tomorrow. We are hearing from the state department that they now want to process all orphanages as a whole and send out appointment notices to each orphanage. To our knowledge, our orphanage has not received any notices. And to my knowledge, none of the families from our orphanage have yet to receive any notice of the DHS processing their request for Parole. I would also ask you to remember to pray for the big picture. Adoptions are one very small part of the Haitian story. There are incredible stories of God's provision as well as incredible stories of great need. My prayer is that we will continue to see God meet these needs and that He would receive the glory when it happens. I personally love how God uses all sorts of people, believers or not, to do His work.... Love it! God's just so sneaky like that!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Up and Down We Go, Where She Stops Nobody Knows

Yesterday, I spoke directly with our orphanage director which was such a blessing. It provided clarity on what she has already done and what she intends to do. Her plan is to go the Embassy on Wednesday with the kids to try again. She asked us to email some papers directly to the Embassy and also called again today to say that a Florida Congressment has said he will do his best to have the Dept. of State or Homeland Security expediate things and have things ready for her on Wednesday when she arrives. Who knows if that can happen but he might as well try. Our own representatives (well at least 2 out of the 3) have also said that they will be contacting DOS or DHS on Wednesday to ensure our paperwork will be in PAP instead of in someone's email box in DC. So that all sounded really promising.

Then on Sunday night, the Haitian president said that children were no longer free to leave Haiti if they had been in process prior to the earthquake. The President now must personally approve any child's departure. Apparently there have been concerns that children who were not in process have been allowed to leave. My personal opinion involves political games from a not so child friendly advocacy group that is most often recognized by a six letter acronym that starts with U and ends with F. They are so ideological that they are often not practical and get fixated on adoption rather than working on tangible solutions to child welfare. Prior to this, they worked very hard to convince the Haitian government that adopted children may be being trafficked so more steps and scrutinty were necessary to ensure that kids were really being adopted. Despite no evidence to trafficking, the process in Haiti became even more lengthy. And it never seemed like this group really focused on how the majority of kids were being exploited or abused through a culturally acceptable practice of restevek slavery or due to a lack of a social service system that could investigate and prosecute true case of child abuse. Now, this group has apparently being crying bloody murder over kids being allowed to leave. They have yet to explain how they are currently caring for the possible million orphans left from the earthquake but instead have focused on the 2, 500 children who were matched with families. My frustration level with this is rather high if you can't tell. And if you're in disagreement with me on this agency, sorry. I just have seen too much to think too positively of them.

So that means that while our director may be successful in getting something accomplished on Wednesday, without the President approving it, they may not be able to leave. We are in a total quandry about what to do regarding travel as one concern is that if we are not there to receive our child, someone may place her in a foster placement. No one knows the answer to this. Our Senator's office says this will not happen while our Representative's office says it may. We can't just quickly get to FL (if that's where they land). It takes 8 hours or so to fly and if they called in the afternoon, we would probably not be able to arrive until the next day due to flight schedules. We had talked about me just planning to go down onWednesday to a location in FL and just waiting until we knew what was going on. (Sure wish I had a friend who lived in FL that I was just dying to visit.) But then if this presidential thing takes very long, it means I'm stuck in FL by myself while we wait for things to clear up. And we still don't know for 100% sure that the US government will grant Conleigh Parole so there is yet another uncertainty. We definitely are praying from James, that God will give us wisdom on what to do.

Basically, I'm just really tired of not knowing what to do or what will happen. Please pray for things to settle down so they are not constantly changing and for Conleigh to just get home. She is a face not a number, a child not a statistic....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A year ago today...

We left Conleigh at HCH, rode into PAP, ate lunch at Visa Lodge, called a driver, and anxiously hoped we could find Kenson's orphanage. We drove in and greeted Kenson's birth mom, Juiselene, and were quickly ushered into Pierre's office. Then back out to visit with Juislene and a few more moments of waiting until Kenson was cleaned up after his lunch. A few more minutes of visiting and our new family of three climbed into a van to head to Eagle Market where our driver left us as we waited in the parking lot for 30 minutes or so while our next connection arrived. MAF missionaries Will and Juli picked us up, got groceries at the market, and then took us to their house for spaghetti, green beans, and ice cream. Glenn Beck was on tv and we enjoyed the privelege of a private room, air conditioning and hot water. I laid awake most of the night as one tired boy coughed and coughed and kept waking up. I finally propped myself up and slept with Kenson on my chest, waking with every cough. We couldn't have asked for a nicer beginning.

(Opps just realized today's the 24th. I should have posted this yesterday...oh, well you get this jist. In Kenson's words, as we talked about it today, "I was just a ill ill baby.")

Friday, January 22, 2010

More non updates

Kenson's orphanage, despite being at the US Embassy for two straight days working on paperwork, still has not had all of the eligible kids given permission to travel. 25 kids have still not had their paperwork approved. So the plan is that tomorrow 82 kids will hopefully be traveling to the US. The other 25 kids are still waiting to have their paperwork approved.

No news on the Conleigh front. Haven't heard what happened today.

I'm incredibly frustrated tonight with our government. Word is that Canadians parents are being given flight information tomorrow. The Canadian government just declared that the kids would be allowed in just a few days ago. Our government has said it for days now but has not been very efficient in getting kids in to the States as seen by the above info. The Embassy and State Department are working through the weekend which is a bonus. Hoping we hear something soon...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Updates...and non updates...

have no news on what is happening with Kenson's orphanage but have personally fielded many offers of help from people within PAP. How useful those offers will be isn't up to me to decide. We have not heard if they walked or not. A child's advocacy group was suggesting at noon today that even though the US government is saying to go to the Embassy, that people really shouldn't. It's a mess.

I also just heard from a contact who has good contact with the orphanage that this morning's aftershock/minor earthquake has made Conleigh's orphanage unliveable. So they are back out to the yard or maybe another building in town. Don't know the specifics just it sounded like it sustained further damage. No one was hurt but they may need to make some type of plans for shelter. The bad part of leaving the orphanage is that the orphanage has its own well so inside the orphanage they have a constant supply of water.

Please continue to pray for these situations and all the people in Haiti. People are being pulled out alive. Ministries, aid workers, our military, the military of other countries, Haitians...there are lots of people working non stop to help others. Pray for physical and emotional strength as well as wideom and for God to help protect their minds as they have seen massive trauma.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Help for Kenson's orphanage

Once again, I contact you asking if there is anything you can do to help my son's orphanage in PAP. He is home but 130 children are not. Most of them will or have already qualified for visas or Humanitarian Parole from the US government. But they have to get to the Embassy to get the correct paperwork and then get out of the country. The orphanage is not sure of how they will accomplish this for 130 children. Even taking ten kids a day to the Embassy will take over two weeks. If you know of anyone who could offer any type of assistance in this situation, please let me know. They also desperately need to be evacuated from their current location at Delmas 31, #32 as it is unsafe. They are having trouble getting food and water as well and are especially fearful for the babies as formula and water are hard to get. The orphanage is Maison des Enfants de Deiu affiliated with For His Glory Adoption Outreach. The coordinates and directions are : 18 degrees 33’ 29.42” N, 72 degrees 18’ 8.73” W 2 KM due south of the airport’s west end, 1 KM north of route de Delmas .

Pass this on to anyone who know that might have a connection in Haiti that could help with this. Or even if they are Stateside but have connections with a group that might be able to help.

Update on Conleigh

After many days of having sporadic communication with Conleigh's orphanage, they have finally established a fairly consistent communication through texting. I learned last night that our orphanage director had already been at the US Embassy trying to get kids out but that the lines were too long. She is planning to go today as well. They left Mirebalais at five a.m.. She is planning to take the three children from the orphanage going to US families, her son, and her mother's adopted son. Her goal is to get all of the kids out with her mother and herself escorting them. They are hoping to be able to fly on some type of military plane. I am so thankful to hear that she has been working on this. Before, we didn't know what was going on and were maybe assuming she was busy doing other things. That said, there are no definites. The state department has outlined a procedure for doing things and are encouraging people not to go to the Embassy with kids since they don't want to make the chaos at the Embassy even worse. That's fine but that's not what most orphanage directors will do, especially those with only a handful of kids will probably do. They will probably show up at the Embassy with any paperwork they have on the child and try to get on a plane. Up until last night, I know the Embassy was issuing paperwork for Humanitarian Parole despite the State Dept. not having given an official notice of such. So they still may give paperwork even though our case has not been approved via the channels the State Dept. is suggesting. Melinda, our director, will probably have just as much evidence as we do on our case so if she has that it should work. But the lines are long. Who knows? We just have no idea. We also have no idea of what will happen if they do get out. Where they would be flying to, how we we would find our children, etc.. Hopefully we'll hear more on that today. For the first time, I am starting to feel confident that Conleigh will be home soon. Please pray specifically for Melinda, Pat, and the children as they are probably have just arrived at the Embassy. Pray for the children (Julie who is 2, Conleigh who will be 3 in a few weeks, and Eddy who is 6 I believe) to be calm and to be cooperative. Pray for Melinda as she works on getting everyone out. Pray for Amanda (10) and Michael (5) who are the children of Melinda and her mother. Pray they would understand why their parents are asking them to leave for a while. And pray for our hearts, we are excited but a little scared to believe that this could actually happen. We don't want to be crushed. And we also are not prepared for her homecoming in so many ways. The physical things like a having a bed and a winter coat we can do; the emotional part of preparing for her we hadn't really done much of at all.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Good News, I Think...

Pardon my lack of enthusiasm. My heart is screaming and elated. My head is cautioning that I don't know that anything is for sure just yet. The Department of State is granting Humanitarian Parole to all children with pending US adoptions. It should apply to us however the wording says "case by case basis" so I can't say for sure since I don't know what that means. We also need to have proof of Conleigh's adoptability. For us that would mean relinquishment papers where her birth mom agreed to place her within the care of HCH. Things I would ask you to specifically pray for:

-pray we would get the documentation that we need to prove that Conleigh was entrusted to HCH's care; communication with Conleigh's orphanage has been spotty at best
-pray that we would clearly communicate our case via email to the state department so that it might be clear that we committed to Conleigh and that she is eligible for adoption
-pray that our case would be approved and we would be granted Humanitarian Parole

Conleigh/HCH Update

Lori, a normal "employee" of HCH, is currently in Canada working on her nursing degree. She posted this update on facebook yesterday.

"A bunch of supplies were bought shortly after the earthquake, however there is going to be a need for milk and formula soon...this is already being looked into with some friends just over the border. The kids are doing fine, don't really understand what has happened but alright and healthy. There are a lot of people streaming into Mirebalais fleeing Port. Please pray for safety and wisdom for Melinda and Pat and Minnie and all of the staff and children. 2 of the staff lost their homes, and are staying in their cookshacks. No water shortage due to having our own well, but having to boil water and running out of propane....thankfully there is charcoal to be had. She also said that they had a few people from PAP who had been injured and had been staying at HCH. She thought those people would be leaving soon. I'm not sure where they are going."

My concerns are that they continue to have access to food, milk, formula, etc. as their normal ways to get these things will be severely impacted, that they apparently are still sleeping outside because they are not sure if it's safe to go in, and that any instability like rioting or looting does not impact them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help Evacuate Kenson's Orphanage

Kenson's orphanage was reached by the Salvation Army yesterday and now has a 1/2 day supply of food and water. A family with children there is being interviewed tonight on CBS, I think the national news.

The president of FHG, an American agency that partners with the orphanage is reporting that there is a plan in place for evacuating it but they need the US state department to agree. Please consider sharing the following information with your senators, Hillary Clinton, and the White House. If you scroll down a bit through past posts, there is contact information for most of those people.

Maison des Enfants de Dieu houses 138 orphans at Delmas 31 #32 in Port Au Prince. This week's earthquake have left these children with substandard housing and a lack of access to food and water. They received food and water yesterday but this was only after an urgent cry for help went out and people connected to the orphanage began desperately seeking help from any sources they knew of. They were only given a 1/2 day supply; obviously this will quickly run out. They are also concerned with their safety as the exterior walls to the compound have collapsed and looting is an issue in all of the city. They have sick children and many babies who have been drinking regular milk rather than formula for lack of a better alternative. Please advocate for the children of this orphanage to be evacuated to the US as there are not places in Haiti that can adequately take in this many people at once. Many of these children have been matched with adoptive parents who are willing to care for them and complete their adoptions stateside. There is paperwork to establish who these children are; they are not newly orphaned children with no identification. These children need to be evacuated from Haiti as staying in Haiti at best means life in a tent city and at worst means starvation or death from illness.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Possible good least encouraging

From the JCICS website...

"It is Joint Council’s position that the U.S. government should immediately grant humanitarian parole to all children being adopted by U.S. citizens. At present, Joint Council is appealing with the U.S. government, specifically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to issue humanitarian parole for any child that has been referred to an American family. Humanitarian parole, if granted, would eliminate the need for a visa. Humanitarian parole would also minimize the paperwork and possibly eliminate the need to find documents, which have been destroyed in the earthquake. Given the urgent needs of the children, the fact that the Haitian government has lifted all exit requirements and that the children have adoptive families, we believe that humanitarian parole is the most humane solution to this crisis. Please note that Joint Council has not received confirmation for humanitarian parole but we are working diligently towards that end. When and if humanitarian parole is granted, we will publish the information widely. "

The Haitian government has lifted all exit requirements. That is a huge deal. That means it is just up to our government to agree to let children who have been matched with families in and to come up with a plan to do so.

Urgent Prayers

This was just posted on the orphanage group site from my son's orphanage. They have also posted a few pictures of the conditions. Praise the Lord, he is home but 130 children are not. They are in PAP, in the middle of a neighborhood that was hit very hard. If you know anyone in Haiti who might be able to help, please forward this information on. The orphanage is located at Delmas 31, #32. Thanks. Kayla


We received word from Pierre this morning that the situation in the orphanage is becoming dire. We would like to ask EVERYONE that receives this to use this information to get on your knees before our Lord and ask Him to provide.

We have one nanny that is deceased and the orphanage needs her body to be removed.
The orphanage has no drinkable water.
In addition they need formula for babies, medicines, IV fluids (one child is currently on an IV), charcoal to cook, diesel, and cash to buy supplies if they find them. They are running out of cash and thereare no banks open to get cash, so it needs to be delivered by someone already onthe ground or by helicopter. Others are beginning to rob them of what supplies they do have. There are helicopters flying over the orphanage and they have made a sign on the roof that says they are an orphanage and need help.

The staff is also working to get together all the paperwork for each child that has an adoptive family in a way that it can be attached to their body if there is an opportunity to evacuate.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Adoption Status Updates, request for help

I am once again asking for your help in advocating for our family (and many others) in light of the situation in Haiti. I am fairly confident that families who have adoption decrees issued by Haiti will have these decrees recognized by US immigration and will be granted visas for their children.

However, what will be done with those families, like ours, who are not this far along has yet to be seen. When I asked earlier, I really was at a loss for what options might be available. What is being suggested is that all children who were matched with families prior to the earthquake be allowed to join their families. For those with adoption decrees, visas could be issued. For those without, the children could be granted Humanitarian Parole and be allowed to join their families in the US while the rest of their adoptions were completed. This is one option but it seems to be the one that makes the most sense. If you have not already contacted Ben Nelson or Mike Johanns, you could still do so using the form letter I have created. I would also ask you to use this letter or something similar to contact our Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton as she will have major influence in what happens. For Humanitarian Parole to be issued the government of Haiti would have to agree to let those children out of the country as those children are still Haitian and have Haitian parents as their legal parents.**

We are aware of many adoptive families caught in legal limbo as they have been matched with children from Haiti for months, often years, but now are uncertain of what will happen to their children and their adoptions. Even orphanages not in Port Au Prince will be affected by the earthquake as they may have been damaged by the earthquake and will soon feel the effects of people flooding into other areas of Haiti looking for food, shelter, water, and medical care. As resources are already scarce and may possibly become scarcer, we are concerned for all of the children living in orphanages. We also are concerned that those in the adoption process will be overlooked as the Haitian government focuses on the larger issues of caring for the population of PAP. We ask that the US State Department would consider the uniqueness of this situation and allow all children from Haiti who were matched with families prior to the earthquake to join their families in the US either through visas issued based on completed Haitian adoptions and adoption decrees or for those still in process, through a Humanitarian Parole that would allow the adoptions to be completed as the child is cared for in the US by their adoptive parents

Updates and Thoughts

These last few days have just been a constant influx of information for me. Watching images on tv. Getting updates about people we know in Haiti. Starting the process of figuring out where our adoption is headed. My head has just been full of information. It's been overwhelming. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was just in shock trying to comprehend what the people of Haiti would do next. 2.5 million people in a city that most are saying needs to be completely leveled. Bodies piled into dump trucks and dumped in mass graves. People on the streets with major wounds but no medical treatment available. And seeing my children's faces both literally and figuratively in the faces being cast out from the television. Another adoptive mom described it as that and it is so true. Generally speaking Haitians have flat broad noses, almondy eyes, and deep chocolate toned skin. In many ways, the features of my children are those same features we've been watching on tv. And then by Wednesday evening the reality of it started to set in. I had felt relieved that Conleigh wasn't in PAP and that she had some measure of protection from the fall out of destroyed shelters and lack of access to food, water, and medical care. But then I started to realize that this isn't necessarily true. That they are sleeping outside because they don't know if the orphanage is safe. That the millions of people who will be leaving PAP will soon flood the outlying areas looking for food, water, shelter, and medical care. That we have no idea if they will be able to continue to receive adequate supplies. The entire country of Haiti will be effected. And then Kenson's orphanage started reporting about the damage they sustained and in all seriousness wrote about a possible option being creating a tent city inside the walls of their orphanage. A tent city? For 130 children? In a city full of anxious, scared people who will probably resort to looting? In a tropical climate with heat and bugs and heavy rains? That's not a place for children.

So where does it leave me? With some definate praise and some heavy requests. I am so thankful that Kenson is here. I cannot imagine having a child in PAP. We are also thankful that we have not heard of anyone we know being killed. I am also so thankful for the dedicated ministries already on the ground in Haiti, ministries that have loved the Haitian people for years and will continue to love on them as they struggle to recover from this. And praise the Lord, that God is still God. From Psalms 46 "I will not fear. Though the mountains give way and fall into the heart of the sea...Be still and know that I am God."

Please continue to pray for the people of Haiti. I promise you what you are seeing on tv is just a sliver of the horror that is going on in PAP right now. There were 3 doctors for every 10, 000 people before the earthquake. Imagine it now. Pray specifically for the orphanages and ministries that are in Haiti. They will need access to food, water, and shelter as well as protection from looters or violent criminals. I also ask you to pray specifically for Haitian adoptions. It looks as if those families who were issued adoption decrees in Haiti prior to the earthquake will be able to obtain visas to bring their children home. This has not yet been substantiated and no one knows exactly how this will look. It also leaves out many families, such as ours, who were not that far along in the process. We are hoping that child advocacy groups and the different governments will be able to help Haiti establish some type of procedure for processing these adoptions and then bringing these children home.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adoption Status-Help Please

As I'm sure you can imagine, the status of Conleigh's adoption (and hundreds of other children who were in process) is very uncertain. Most of the paperwork for adoptions is processed in Port Au Prince. No one has any idea of if the buildings where those papers were stored are even still standing. Like everything else in Haiti, the Haitian adoption process changed the moment the earthquake hit. There are groups working on solutions but we have no idea what those will look like and it will take some time to find out. One of the problems is that even though these children are being adopted by Americans, they are still Haitian citizens. Many of these children have birth parents who will be unable to be located to vouch for their desire for their children to be adopted. At any rate, it is being suggested that we contact our elected representatives in Washington and ask them to advocate on our behalf and for the sake of our children. What I would ask is that you would contact several people and relay the following information:

As you know, many children in Haiti come to the US every year through legal adoptions. Prior to the horrific earthquake this week, many US families had committed to children in Haiti as adoptive families. These families are at various stages in the process, some almost at the end and waiting for USCIS approval and visas, some in the middle and legal parents of their children under the Haitian law, and some more towards the beginning but nevertheless committed to their child. Even for some of those who are still towards the beginning of the process, they have been in process for lengthly amounts of time including some who have been in process for well over a year. These families are no doubt concerned that their children in Haiti will not have access to shelter, food, water and medical care should it be needed. They also are concerned that the massive amounts of families devastated by the earthquake will need services that the orphanages could be providing but will be unable to, as many are already operating at capacity. We ask for you to personally advocate for these families and their children, to help the State Department and Haitian officials work together to find an efficient and creative way to help these families in process bring their children home.

You may certainly copy this letter directly from my email. You may change it if you wish and include information about us personally.

You can use this site to find out your Senator's contact information.

You may also contact your own representative to the House. Another avenue might be to contact Bill Clinton as he is a special envoy to Haiti. I don't know what address for sure to reach him at.

Thank you for taking the time to help us out. Up to this point, I think I've been pretty calm about the whole adoption issue but as I have had to write all this out, worry certainly starts to creep in. Please pray for our ability to be free from anxiety and worry as we wait for new of what will happen with our adoption.

FHG update

Please read here for more info. The short version is they have still not gotten physically in nor have they had any direct contact but they have heard from others in Haiti regarding the orphanage. The exterior walls are damaged but the children are safe.

Also, if you have not visited the Real Hope for Haiti site, it has new photos and information up. They are not in Port Au Prince but are already feeling the pressure of caring for those in need.

Haiti news

I really have no new news out of Haiti. I would ask you to pray for two specific things that are being reported by Troy Livesay via Twitter. (Troy and his family are an American missionary family who live in Port au Prince) Troy is reporting that they have not been able to get into Delmas 31 as it is severely damaged. I believe this is the neighborhood Kenson's orphanage is in and no one has had contact with them since about 20 minutes after the initial quake. (Somebody from FHG correct me if I'm wrong.) They made contact but no one has been able to get ahold of them since. Members of the board are hoping to be on the ground in Haiti today but that's only if they can get in. Please pray for the orphanage staff and children, for the board members who are traveling, and for the many worried parents both in Haiti, the US, Argentina, France, etc. who are waiting for word.
According to another adoptive parent who is friends with Tara Livesay on Facebook, FHG kids are okay. No news on the actual building. That was posted about half an hour ago.
Also Troy is reporting that many have their bags packed and are ready to leave the city of Port Au Prince. This mass exodus is going to create chaos and strain many other cities and towns in Haiti. Last night, my friend John who has worked with Grace Mission which is located in Cap Haitian, 100 miles from Port Au Prince, said that they are preparing for a huge influx of people fleeing the city. Many other ministries are probably bracing for this as well. Pray that they would have the resources they need to meet the needs of so many. Specific ministries you can pray for by name that will probably be receiving people include Haiti Children's Home, Real Hope for Haiti, and Grace Mission.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Specific prayer requests from Haiti

Information coming out of Haiti is slow. All phones, including cell phones are down. There is no electricity unless you have a generator and even that would depend on if your generator were damaged or how much fuel you have to run it. Internet access is basically for as long as people have batteries/electricity to keep their computer on. That said, I have managed to compile a very basic list of specific concerns from Haiti.

*Real Hope for Haiti has family members unaccounted for in PAP. Enoch's mom, dad, and brother I believe.
*Foyer de Sion orphanage has had no contact with it's families yet. As you can imagine, they are quite worried.
*Licia at Real Hope for Haiti has said that food price have already become inflated. Pray for the generousity of those who have access to food, that they might not price gouge their fellow Haitians.
*There are approximately 9, 000 UN troops stationed in Haiti. The UN compound collapsed and most of the troops/UN staff are unaccounted for.
*Kim, the president of Kenson's orphanage, has not been able to contact anyone at the orphanage since last night about 30 minutes after the earthquake. Pray for contact. Two board members will be in Haiti tomorrow if they can get into Port Au Prince. They are also trying to contact them via HAM radio.
*The Christianville Mission in Gressier which has NCC faculty member David Huskey on it's board sustained major damage and has four staff members missing.
*The airport in PAP is back up and running under limited use. Pray that rescue planes/helicopters will be able to safely get in and out.
*A group from First Christian Church in Norfolk is currently in Haiti but are on the northern coast. They are okay but I'm sure they are wondering how they will be able to get home.
*Lastly, a petty request in the midst of so much major stuff. Pray for the adoption paperwork contained within many of the buildings in Port Au Prince. We have no idea what this will do to adoptions but for people and children who have been waiting for long amounts of time, starting over feels like hopelessness. I have many friends who are near the end and I cannot imagine how they must feel. According to Kim from FHG, a children's advocacy group and the US State Department are aware of how the earthquake has affected adoptive families and hope to help with creating solutions for families with children still in Haiti.

Again, I ask you to step up and pray. Even just make yourself watch 10 minutes of one of the cable news shows and pray as you feel lead for the different situations they are reporting on.

Morning After

By now, I'm sure you have heard that a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti around 3 yesterday afternoon. It was centered about ten miles west of Port au Prince. It has been literally devestating to the immediate areas around Port Au Prince. Port Au Prince is home to 2-3 million people even though it was mean to hold about 250, 000 people. It is congested and normally crawling with people, like a busy ant hill might be. Families there live in either unreinforced metal sheds or unreinforced concrete block homes. There are no building codes enforced in Haiti. There are no emergency services (ie ambulances, EMT's) in Haiti. The hospital services that do exist are rudimentary at best and there is no way the hundreds of injuried would even begin to fit inside the hospitals that do exist. As far as search and rescue goes, this is not a sophisticated country; they have not sent out their urbal search and rescue teams complete with dogs and diggers because they have none. They do have heavy equipment but it is construction equipment so I don't know if they will be able to use it all. Last night was a long dark night for so many in Haiti as I'm sure there were hundreds of people trapped who spent the night trapped, thousands of people scared to death and unwilling to reenter their homes, and thousands of others waiting for news of loved ones. I myself woke up twice in the night to find my mind going back to Haiti.

Praise God the people we know in Haiti seem to be okay. Conleigh's orphanage is about 50 miles from the epicenter. They of course felt it but the children and staff are okay. The building appears undamaged but they would like to get it evaluated. I don't know if they slept inside last night or not. Kenson's orphanage is in Port Au Prince, on Delmas street which is a street that sustained a lot of damage. The orphanage itself was damaged but to what extent, we do not know. A nanny or cook was injured when a wall fell on her but that seems to be the only major injury. I am guessing they slept outside last night but cannot confirm that. The many ministries we love and support all seem to be okay as well. I would encourage you to read the Livesay's blog out of Port Au Prince. It provides a very clear idea of the devestation. According to them the Caribbean Market, a 3-4 story grocery story has collapsed while it was open for business. The Presidential Palace has collapsed as well as several other government buildings. An orpanage called St. Joseph's Home for Boys has collapsed. And the first three examples are probably some of the better constructed buildings in Haiti. Also, in Port Au Prince there are literally hundreds of orphanages which is terrifying to me as those establishments will have large numbers of children in their care that may or may not have been hurt and probably have no shelter. Even if their building survived, it is probably unsafe to enter.

I would ask you to rally to Haiti and her people. I know you're not Haitian and I know you have no vested interest in Haiti. But these people are people, God's people. There is no way this country was prepared for simply emergencies and this earthquake is beyond devestating. Food, which was already in short supply before the earthquake, will be a priceless commodity. The cost to purchase staples like rice and beans will skyrocket. Clean drinking water will be hard to come by as well. Many places, like Kenson's orphanage, have it delivered in huge water trucks but those trucks will probably be unable to get to the orphanage for a while. Fuel costs will go up as well. I honestly would not be surprised to find out that thousands have died and that tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands will have no homes as their homes collapsed or were left uninhabitable. The greatest pressing needs are prayer and money. I would ask you to commit a time today to pray for the people of Haiti. There are so many needs making a specific prayer list seems unnecessary. My personal challenge to you is that you fast your lunch and pray instead. Use the Internet and search for info related to the earthquake and then pray as you read that information.

I also challenge you to put your money where your mouth is. Gathering supplies here is a wonderful thought but in all honesty, those supplies we gather now, will not reach Haiti for months and months. The best way to help is to provide money to trusted ministries who can use that money to purchase the supplies that are specific to the needs they have. Many places, even though they are not designed to be, will become centers for aid distribution. I would suggestions donations through the following ministries:

Heartline Ministries
For His Glory Adoption Outreach
Red Cross

Lastly, on a totally selfish note, there are many adoptive families whom this tragedy affects. There may be adoptive families who have hurt or dead children. There are currently adoptive families who are unsure of exactly what is going on at their orphanage. There are many adoptive families who have no idea and may never know the whereabouts of the birth families of their children. And sadly, adoptions in Haiti will probably come to a complete standstill for many months as the government will probably be unable to process them. I pray that is not true as many orphanages are already full and the earthquake will result in more families being unable to care for their children. When children go home to forever families, it opens a bed at an orphanage for a child who needs it. For people involved in long waiting processes, this is a frustrating moment as they know it will cause their adoption to take even longer. And obviously, there are much more pressing needs than an adoption moving along right now. But if you can imagine waiting for your child for 2 or more years and then not being able to get the last little big of paperwork done so they can come home, you can see how frustrating that might be.

Again, I encourage you to do SOMETHING. This is a disaster on a grand scale, something modernized countries would fear. In a third world country, the effects will be staggering.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haiti Earthquake-please pray

As I'm sure many of you have heard, Haiti was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake today. If you haven't been there I'm not sure if you can understand how devestating this will be. An earthquake of that size causes major catastrophes in developed countries like the US. I cannot even begin to fathom the devestation and horror stories that will come out of Haiti. The earthquake was centered near Port Au Prince which is a sprawling, congested metropolitan area, a place that is past its maximum capacity. Kenson's orphanage and birth family are in Port. Conleigh is 40 miles from Port, northeast. The center was to just off the coast so it would have been west of Port. Obviously, it was felt many hundreds of miles away. My heart just sinks to hear this news, to know how many people will die or have already died, to know how many children will be left parentless, to know how many families who have children still in Haiti are probably fearful and anxious, to know there are many other families who are wondering about their loved ones who live and work there. Here's the info from CNN:

Update-Conleigh is okay and the orpanage appears to be undamaged but they were waiting for structural evaluation. Kenson's orphanage has been damaged. All the kids are okay. A nanny or cook was hurt when a wall fell on her. We will probably not hear anything on his birth mom. The missionaries I follow/know all seem to be okay. I have not contacted or heard from the Whites, a family from my home town area but will not bog down their email with contacting them. I cannot imgaine what Port Au Prince looks like.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Love you much

Kenson has just started saying this. All on his own. D and I always just say "I love you." But Kenson has latched onto "love you much." It's sweet and tender and a pack it away forever saying.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Christmas is finally over! I love the holidays, especially seeing friends and family and spending time with people. But we don't live in the same towns as our family so we have to travel. That part I don't all. I would like the universe to revolve around me and for people to just come to my house so I don't have to travel. Anyway, we just finished our last family Christmas with D's dad and grandma despite being snowed out the first time and almost this last time. As of Thursday, you could not get into Nofolk as all the highways were closed but by the time we left Saturday morning, it was better. D headed out to watch the soccer boys play indoor, Kenson's in bed, and I am headed for the bathtub. Aaah...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cabin Fever

When you haven't left your house for almost 5 straight days, you might as well bake, right? There isn't much in my pantry/refrigerator other than the real basic staples like canned goods and dry ingredients. That and D and I trying to eat healthier. So my choices were a bit limited. I did have a big box of Raisin Bran in the cupboard which I bought thinking of making muffins. I didn't really want muffins so I started looking for a cookie recipe that would use some of that Raisin Bran. I cut a tablespoon of butter from the recipe just to cut some fat and I added cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg so they were more of a spice cookie. All in all, they were pretty good for a kind of a weird sounding cookie. The Raisin Bran was a nice crunchy nutty change from the normal oatmeal.

Hebrews 1

My cousin, Alissa, posted a few days ago about her desire to do better with memorizing Scripture. She is working on Hebrews 1. I thought I'd join her. I have also been trying to do not just the memorizing but digging into the meat of the passage. Hebrews 1 is not something I chose; she chose it. And I can't say I was all that excited about the passage. But I was excited about having someone to memorize it with. So I've been trying to improve my view of it by digging into more.

1In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,

2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

3The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

4So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

5For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father?" Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son?"

6And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

7In speaking of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire."

8But about the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.

9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

10He also says, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.

11They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.

12You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end."

13To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?"

14Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3 year old funnies

I so enjoy having a three year old. (Most of the time, that is.) Three year olds are their own little animals, full of funny stuff. Two good ones from this week involving kissing and parks.

We watched The Man from Snowy River on Wednesday as a family. It's a Western with a very mild love story. There are maybe two kisses in the whole movie, but both are pretty passionate. As the first kiss starts and gets more passionate, Kenson says, "Are they biting?"

Today, Kenson and I were playing with the toys, giving lots of toys rides in the school bus. Kenson wanted to put our Little People swing set in but called it a park so I corrected him and explained how a park has all sorts of things to play on: the swings, the slide, the merry go round. To which Kenson said, "Mary go round? Is there a Kenson go round?"

He's also been feeling the effects of being stuck inside for basically three weeks. Today he spent most of the day with his "I'm so funny" grin on which was accompanied by a frequent giggling that basically mean the same thing. He spent lots of time entertained by himself today.

Minneso tah?

Apparently I have been relocated to Minneso tah without my consent or knowledge. It is like -15 below outside with windchils into the-thirties. (Or something like that. It's so cold that watching the weather is depressing so I just don't.) We got another 3-4 inches of snow on top of the 12 inches we had before. But the wind has been so crazy with both storms that we've ended up with crazy tall drifts. Our backyard has some that are probably 4 foot. Other places have had drifts up to their eaves. D has no school again tomorrow for the third day in a row. In less than a month, he has had 5 snow days. (And most of that month includes the Christmas break.) We got snowed in at my folks' so we couldn't do Christmas with D's family as planned and had scheduled it for this weekend. Except now most of the roads around Norfolk are closed. (Not just yucky to travel on; they're closed.)

Oohftah! Once I finally get out of my house, I think I'll be checking the road signs just to see how far away International Falls is.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mental Waste

Well, last night I couldn't sleep. For me (and I'm sure many others of you) it meant a late night scavanging for all things Haitian. Not sleeping usually leads me down the Conleigh road which means scouring blogs, checking airfair rates, looking at Haitian hotels, re read discussion group posts that I already read earlier in the day, you get the idea. Really it's just a form of busyness and distraction which in a lot of ways is about God chasing me in a corner to try to get me to stop filling my mind with mental waste. (But that's a whole 'nother story.) And in a total God thing, just as I was going up to bed at 2 a.m., Kenson started crying. So into our bed he went. A child in need of comforting and cuddling does my heart good when I get on a Conleigh kick.

Anyway, then when I woke up this morning, I woke to people on a discussion board discussing 6-12 months Haitian adoptions as being normal and the expected. Uggg! This is the second time in a week or so, someone has been saying this online. 12 months is possible under the right conditions, where everything falls into place just right. 6 months? Doesn't even make sense. There are three big steps in Haitian adoption plus a preadoption step called first legal, passport printing, and your country's immigration process to get a visa. (The passport part/visa part depends on your country but for US that's the process.) So essentially 6 steps in 6 months. A month per step. Hmmm.... It's frustrating to me for a number of reasons including our own waits, a concern that someone is being taking advantage of, the assertion that so many orphanages are not being diligent and that's why most adoptions take so long , oh I could go on and on. I don't know why I'm so irritated by it. I guess I'm just frustrated at the whole process and I'm letting the Internet scuttlebutt get the best of me. (Ah, back to the first part of this post about mental waste...)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

T is for Tree

Finishing up our t i s for tree stuff...we're only a few days past Christmas.

These Christmas trees are cute and easy to do. Cut a triangle from gift wrap to make the top of the tree. Then cut the triangle into three or four horizontal pieces. Cut out a star and tree trunk and you're good to go.

Not only can you do t is for tree but the language you use while gluing the trees on the paper is great learning language. Find the biggest piece. Put the smallest piece on the top. Which one is bigger? Good stuff.

We made four trees and hung up three of them. The other, we turned into a thank you card for our neighboor since he brought Kenson a Christmas present.

On a funny note, Kenson has been all about t's. He started drawing them on the magnadoodle on the way to my mom and dad's for Christmas. And he has decided that it's easy to make them using sticks and spoons and fabric scraps. When he sees straight things, he delights in making them into t's.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jello popcorn

One of my Christmas gifts from D this year was a stovetop popcorn popper. You know the alumunium kind where you have to turn the wooden handle? My Grandma Bates had one but at her estate sale, we never could locate it. D remembered I had wanted it so it was a great gift.

Yesterday afternoon we finally tried it out. And made way too much popcorn for three people. Today, I took our leftover popcorn and made Jello popcorn. Very easy recipe for fruity colorful popcorn. We had rasberry but you can use any flavor of Jello. Yummy! And now I'll have something to take over to our neighbor as a thank you for the Christmas gift he brought Kenson.