Thursday, June 21, 2012

Paperwork's what?

Our home study is finally complete and we have the approval letter from Illinois DCFS, which only took about 2 or 3 weeks; not bad.

This means that our Haiti dossier is complete, and since Scott is now 35, we officially qualify for a child referral.

Of course, things in Haiti are still in limbo.  We don't yet know how adoptions will continue in Haiti, and our agency is being cautiously optimistic.  They have advised families who don't yet have a referral (that is, who haven't been officially matched with a specific Haitian child) to hold off on paying any large adoption-related fees for a few weeks, until we know when all the Hague changes are going to happen, and what kind of grandfather-clause they will create for families already in the process.

Please keep praying for us, but more especially for the children in Haiti!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Haiti and the Hague Convention

If you're not adopting internationally, you may never have heard of the Hague Convention. Basically, it's a set of rules and guidelines that many countries have agreed to abide by when handling international adoptions - designed to try to prevent child trafficking and ensure ethical adoptions, etc.

Most people think the Hague is a good thing in principle, and a good number of countries have signed on. And apparently Haiti ratified the Hague Convention yesterday.

This may not be as good of a thing as it was intended to be. Haiti now has only 90 days to rework their processes, their ministries, their infrastructure - EVERYTHING - to match Hague requirements. Apparently it took the United States something like 14 years to become Hague compliant. Many other countries have closed down their international adoptions for a year or two while they figure out how to get their procedures lined up with what the Hague requires. And a number of people in the adoption community - naturally - worry that Haiti isn't logistically ready to comply with all the Hague rules, and will therefore have to shut down international adoptions too. Obviously, this would be a pretty big negative for a lot of children in orphanages right now, even though it's intended to be a positive in the long run.

We don't really know how this will affect US families in the adoption process, like us. Our home study is more or less complete, as is the rest of our paperwork, but none of our paperwork is actually IN Haiti yet. We're at the point where we would either be referred a child or two (and have to pay a massive amount of money), or else we'd wait for a referral that is appropriate for our family. At this point, though, we don't know when that might happen, or if it will happen at all. It sounds to me like we'll be waiting in limbo for at least a couple months to see how Haiti handles all this.

Please pray for this situation: for our family and others who are trying to adopt Haitian children, for the government officials and orphanage staff who will have to navigate this transition, and of course, for the children in Haiti who are waiting for families. Thanks!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Adoption update

The last piece of paperwork finally arrived! For an international adoption, we are required to get child abuse clearances from every state we've lived in as an adult; for me, that includes Arizona, which quoted me 8-10 weeks (to get them to check a box saying that no, there are no records of me abusing children there).

It came today, a month earlier than expected! We also had our home visit today, so now our social worker will be able to actually write up our home study and submit it to the Illinois authorities (who, she warned us, may take up to 2 months to approve it). Our dossier paperwork has already been sent to our Haiti placing agency.

In big-picture terms, this means that we don't have a darn thing more we can do for this adoption now except try to save up some money and wait. This also means that we're probably on schedule for getting our dossier to Haiti on or around Scott's 35th birthday (mid-June), which is the earliest they will accept us anyway. We are tentatively expecting to get a referral for our child(ren) sometime this summer, and then hopefully bring them home sometime next summer. Still a long road ahead!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

more theological questions

So we just tackled the whole "animals in heaven" thing.

Today, thanks in part to our church's "Journey to the Cross" program (which I really appreciate every year; thanks, Melissa!) I got a couple more problems.

On the way home, we were talking again about why Jesus had to die. In discussing the concept of sin, and the fact that every person except Jesus is/was a sinner, Miles pauses for a second. Then he says, "What about Juliet? She can't even TALK yet!" to explain sin nature to a five year old?

Fortunately, I had a comeback, albeit a little facetious in nature! After a moment, I said, "But Juliet sins too, right? Doesn't she hit you sometimes? And she bit you this morning!" HA! I know this is evading the question, but it got the point across that even babies can be sinners, even if I happen to know that a baby's hitting/biting probably doesn't qualify as sinful behavior. Judge me, ye who have a better explanation!

A few minutes later, Miles pipes up again. "The bad king (meaning Nebuchadnezzar) wanted to make people worship him, but DANIEL only worshipped God. But WE have two gods: the God who created everything and the God who is Jesus. Which one did Daniel worship?"

Trinity explanations for five-year-olds? Is there a website?

I kept having thoughts of how to explain...and then kept remembering that each of my bad analogies was related to some important but deadly heresy I must have studied 15 years ago. I resorted to the non-explanation of "Well, they're both God, and they're both the same God. Jesus was the same God who created everything." I didn't bring up the Spirit at all.

Then Miles asks, "What about Nazareth?" This takes me a while to decipher, but I eventually figure out he means LAZARUS (hey, YOU say those two words next to each other - pretty confusing!) "Is Lazarus God too? He rose from the dead."

Hey, this one is way easier. "Remember, Lazarus didn't raise himself from the dead. Jesus is the only man who can do that, because he is the only one who is God."

At this point, I guess Miles was satisfied. Then Eleanor joins in the fray, adding "Yeah, when I'm grown up I'm going to die on the cross with Jesus!"

Ummm...OK, I'm not sure where this came from. I guess if we tell her she will go to heaven to be with Jesus, it might be logical that she also needs to die like/with him? Anyway, I assured her that she would die, like everybody, but probably not on a cross.

I'm ready for Scott to be home.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A morning of strange comments

Today, as I was picking the kids up from the childcare at my gym, a young African-American girl (probably about 6-7 years old) stared in disbelief as Eleanor yelled, "Mommy!" and ran up and hugged me.

She said, "THAT's your daughter?"

I said, "yep!"

And again, "THAT can't be your daughter!"

Again, I reply, "Well, but she IS my daughter!"

She tries once more: "HOW can YOU have a BLACK daughter???!!!"

I'm tired and not in the mood for a long discussion, so I summarize: "She is my adopted daughter! So she is black and I am white, and we don't look the same, but she is still my daughter."

The girl didn't seem mean-spirited; she was just apparently old enough to have a clue that biologically, Eleanor and I didn't line up, and not experienced enough to have ever met other families like ours, I'm guessing. Anyway, chalk one up for new adoption-comment experiences for me!

On the walk home from the gym, we see a dog. After a comment from Miles that the dog looks like Elmer, and where is Elmer now? Living with David and Gina still, I answer. And where is OUR dog now? Oh, honey, she died when you were still little, before Eleanor was even born.

But he has to push the issue. "So is she up in the sky with Jesus now?" I hedge: well, not in the sky; Jesus is everywhere. He's not satisfied. "Is Dagmar in heaven now?"

Sigh. I try to give the truth, as I understand it, as gently as possible: "I don't know where Dagmar is now, but I know that God made all the animals, including Dagmar and all the other dogs and cats, and that he loves them all and he will take care of them."

Eleanor cheerfully concludes, "So when I die, I can go be with her!" OK, we'll table this discussion for another time; we don't have any pets so it shouldn't come up anytime soon, right?

Finally, when we're almost home, we walk by a total stranger, an African-American woman who comments over her shoulder to us, "Hey, I have three more at home if you want 'em!"

Um? .....OK, I didn't have to respond; she was going the other way. I did have to explain to the kids that it was a joke, and we didn't really have three more brothers and sisters waiting for them. At least, not soon...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Athlete in the family

Since it was, yet again, a lovely spring day, Miles and I went for a jog this afternoon. He's been asking to accompany me, and since I'm pretty slow for an adult, I figured he could probably match pace pretty well. I think we'll let him join me next time I sign up for a 5k.

Recall from my earlier posts: I don't mean a "run". I do indeed mean a "jog": a slow shuffle barely faster than walking; probably in the 12 minute mile range.

But I just checked my map, and we went 3.4 miles, only pausing at the occasional traffic signal. That's pretty far for a five year old, and for his leg length, a pretty decent pace. I'm very proud of him! A few times on the way home, he'd suggest stopping to sit on a bench, or say he hoped a light would be red so we could stop. But no complaining, and he had no problem "towing" me up hills or "sprinting" so we could make it across a street before the light turned red.

We played games counting squirrels and birds and American flags, and just chatted about this and that - it was easily the most enjoyable run of that length I've had. He's good company!

The only down side - and this was actually kind of cute - is that he wants to hold my hand the whole way. Which messes up my rhythm and feels a bit awkward, so I tried to talk him into just holding hands as we crossed streets and not on the in-between bits.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A good day

I feel like I complain a lot on this blog, so, in contrast, I wanted to share about the lovely, almost-perfect day I had:

I woke up before my alarm clock and had some quiet time, and got the oatmeal started. Then woke up the cheerful children, who LOVE oatmeal. Score one! I finished Eleanor's last three braids at breakfast while we listened to Suzuki melodies, Irish fiddle tunes, and the orchestral excerpts from the "Jack and the Beanstalk" show at the CSO we'll be taking the kids to on Saturday. Miles helped me get all the beads on her braids - he loves making "padruns" (patterns) on the little plastic beader tools.

We made it out the door on time to CBS (and I actually finished my whole study on time); today the preschool kids had what Miles grandiosely termed their "show" for the moms. It involved marching in, reciting a Bible verse or two, and singing a couple songs. Eleanor was front and center, holding the sign for her group. Miles stood on the far end and rather in the back, not smiling and not looking at the audience...but he knew every word and every hand gesture.

We came home, after virtuously NOT stopping for fast food even though it is always lunchtime and we're hungry on the drive home Thursdays. Leftover pigs-in-blankets inspired no complaints (gross, right?) and Eleanor went to nap early, saying that she was super tired. Then Compliant Cheerful Miles (as opposed to his alter egos, Oversensitive Miles, Hyper Distracted Miles, and Angry Rebellious Miles) and I did some subtraction homework (working on borrowing) and had a very good violin practice session. I went upstairs to get some stuff accomplished while he read and practiced more in his room.

A bit later, when I came downstairs, he showed me the pile of paper he had made for me: "It just kept printing out, mom, so I put it here on the table for you." Thanks, hon; those are our taxes, done at last! He then asked me to do more violin with him, so we did that until Nora woke up.

The kids played nicely (I let them walk around barefoot in the rain out back) while I cleaned up a bit, and then we all loaded into the stroller to jog/walk to the gym. I surprised them by stopping at the park on the way and getting out a favorite dinner: homemade "Lunchables"! (That's what they call it when I give them a variety of crackers, meats, and cheeses, and tell them it's a meal instead of a snack.) They showed off a bit on the monkey bars, then we headed to the gym for some kickboxing fun. Where, incidentally, I got complimented on Nora's hair, and I quote, "Pretty good for a white girl!" High praise indeed, people.

After a relaxing twilight walk home, the kids got PJs on and we read a devotional book and the short "I Love You" book I used to read them as babies...then bed with (almost) no complaining!

To top the whole day off, I remembered that I had one beautiful sea salt caramel in my purse (from CBS), and that I had already tracked it in my food journal, so I HAD to eat it now!

OK, God, now how do I repeat this day?