Abby’s tribe

One thing I’ve been working on while in Haiti is capturing photos of Abby’s life here. We want to make sure we share this portion of her story with her as she grows up.

So I’ve been photographing Abby with some of her favourite people. (Since we aren’t showing her sweet little face publicly yet these out takes will have to do to share with you).

There’s Amos. He’s the gatekeeper at the orphanage. As soon as Abby sees him she yells out his name. He can not walk by her without tickling her or calling her name or making her laugh somehow.

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There’s Mona. One of Abby’s nannies who she adores. Mona comes across as serious but all the kids lOve her. Mona came into the kitchen while we were eating yesterday and Abby could barely contain her excitement as she yelled out to Mona. (You’ll see a theme that Abby likes to yell out people’s names when she sees them). Mona also taught me how to say calm down in creole when Abby was running around like a lunatic one day. That’s invaluable teaching right there.

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Abbys best friend Ruth (or “root” as Abby says) is being adopted by a great Italian couple. Since they are here at the same time as us Abby has had some great times playing just her and Ruth together. These two are the same tiny size and similar huge personalities. It is hilarious to watch these two little loud girls interact together.

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Yesterday Abby went and sat with one of the cooks and chatted away. She hugs the accountant when she sees him. I mean who hugs accountants? (Kidding)

And so as we look to leave in a few days my hurting heart eases a bit as I know we are leaving her in the care of people who love her immensely. People seem to light up when she’s near and she mirrors their happiness. Once again she is living up to her name “giver of joy”.

We are so grateful for the exceptional care for miss Abby and that her heart is being well exercised in how to love in this waiting period!

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The interview

This two week socialization trip is a mandatory part of the Haitian adoption process. While here we have an interview with an IBESR (Haitian child services) social worker. We had no idea when it would be or how long or what all it entailed. Everyone’s experiences varied greatly – from a full two hour interview to 20 minute brief ones.

Last night at supper we found out our interview would be today at 10am and it would be Mark and I, the social worker and a translator. And Abby. Because two year olds love nothing more than sitting through official meetings.

We started to worry. Not about the interview – we knew just to answer honestly and from the heart. Can’t really prepare for that anyways as the questions are unknown. But we started to worry about how Abby would behave.

You see yesterday was a wild child day. Abby’s best friend Ruth’s parents arrived from Italy to pick her up. They brought Ruth back for the day to play and play they did! Abby and Ruth are very similar in size and personality. They went crazy running around and being incredibly hyper. And then Abby just built on that enthusiasm. She is very social and wanted to yell at every person she saw she knew. We went on a walk with friends. Usually Abby likes to be carried on her walks but this time she ran full speed the whole way. She was hilarious and had us laughing but wild.

And then in the afternoon she got really tired. Normally she’d cuddle into us and fall asleep but instead she insisted on going back to her room early and to her nanny. In our heads and rational thinking we know this is fine. Bonding with a nanny is healthy – it shows the child can form a healthy attachment and then it can be transferred over time. And who doesn’t want down time occasionally and to go back to what’s familiar? But the head and the heart don’t always communicate well. My head knew that her wanting to go to her room early was all good but my emotions took a hit. Seeing her want to leave us was hard. We realize we’ve had an exceptional experience in that she’s come running to us every day calling for momma and papa. She has wanted to be with us as much as she can each day. This is unusual and not what we were anticipating. So we tried to remind ourselves of all this.

So now we leave Abby after this hard farewell and an extremely hyper day and find out we have to have her in with us at the interview the next day.

I sent out a message to some friends and family asking them to pray for the interview. Pray that Abby would behave and the interview would go okay.

This morning when we walked down to the orphanage I felt heavy. Usually there’s a bounce in my step and I’m trying to get there as fast as I can to see my girl. Today I felt heavy. Worry is an ugly thing.

We are allowed to get Abby after 8:30. So we got her ready for the day and tried to keep her calm as 10am approached.

10am came and went.

We kept her awake through the morning as we waited. We held off on snacks so we could save them for the meeting.

Noon comes. We eat lunch and clean up and continue to wait. We can’t go for a walk in case they come. We don’t want to go upstairs to the third floor balcony where we usually play as we’d have to walk right by Abby’s room and she might want to go in to sleep as she’s exhausted. So we stay in the dining room/living room area of the home and wait.

And Abby goes into full wild child mode. She’s hilarious – making everyone laugh but she’s out of control hyper. And she’s missed her afternoon nap too.

3pm. Five hours late. Or I should say right on time for a Haitian.

Abby has now missed two naps, most of her snacks, no walk and is going crazy. This is not looking good.

But remember how I asked people to pray? God heard.

We sat down for the interview and Abby seemed to sense it was time to calm down. She sat on our knees and quietly ate her snack. She smiled and greeted the interviewer. She shared her snack with the translator. She snuggled in and was so incredibly good.

I was surprised to look at the clock when we were done and realized an hour had passed. An hour had passed with a two year old with no naps who was beyond tired. An hour had passed quickly and without issue.

The interview itself went really well. The social worker was young and actually spoke great English. His questions were all very logical and what I would expect to be asked for this situation. I’ve heard of some really inappropriate questioning and harsh situations. The social worker was friendly and you could tell genuinely had the best interest of the child in mind.

When we walked out I felt giddy. It was done. Abby had been so good. And again I ask myself – why am I always surprised when prayers are answered?

We finally took the walk Abby had wanted to all day and I think she too felt an excitement and freedom! Four more days to love on this wee girl before we start the agonizing wait to bring her home forever. Glad to have this interview over so we can all relax and enjoy our time.

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Real girl

I’m still getting use to saying three daughters. Today when talking about Abby to Mark I said something about how she was like “our girls” at that age. Then I stopped. Looked at him and said, “I guess I need to start saying our OTHER girls as there are three now.”

You see there is no “real” daughter or daughters for our family. Actually I take that back. There are three very real daughters. Two happen to be biological and one will be adopted. Biological. Adopted. One is not greater than the other.

Each girl needs to feel loved. Accepted. Valued. That home is a safe place. That mom and dad are their champions. Advocates. Supporters. Disciplinarians. Educators. Cheerleaders. And madly unconditionally in love with each girl.

I read once that it’s better to say a child WAS adopted. Not IS adopted. The difference? One is referring to an event that happened. A child was adopted. An event that happened on a specific date. To say a child IS adopted makes adoption an adjective of the child. A description of them and not of the event.

Being adopted does not define Abby. That is far too limiting for this huge personality of a girl. “Abby is” can be finished many ways that are far more accurate.

Abby is quick to laugh. A funny face. A raspberry blown on her belly. A tickle. And you’re rewarded with a hearty belly laugh.

Abby is generous. With a beloved snack in hand, she is quick to offer a portion to anyone and everyone.

Abby is friendly. She says a cheerful “bonjour” to all we pass on our walks. If they don’t respond she won’t let them ignore her. This tiny body yells out at the ignorant person “HEY!” And when they turn she repeats “bonjour”. How can you not smile and reply to this confident mini?

Abby is stubborn. If she doesn’t want to do something, eat a food, go somewhere – you know it. “No!” And she refuses as she shakes her finger at you.

Abby is a daddy’s girl. She wants mark to hold her. To sit with her. To read to her. To fix her barrettes. But yet she insists on calling him mama.

Abby is smart. She speaks creole but repeats English words back to us. Today when I got her from her nap I forgot her shoes in her room. As we walked out she looked at her feet and asked for “shoes?” Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. She repeated until we got them. Then I realized she was using the English word we use!

Abby is a fashionista. Each morning she wants to put on a pretty dress. When I forgot her shoes in her room I tried to get her to wear one of the old pairs the kids share. The horror. “No!!” She was happy only to have her pretty sparkly shoes. If a barrette falls out she wants it back in. She loves her pretty pink purse we brought her and carries her head high as she slings it over her arm.

Abby is neat. If we drop even the slightest thing – a piece of a snack wrapper or a tiny scrap of paper -she can’t ignore it but must pick it up immediately.

Abby is animated. Her facial expressions announce every emotion loud and clear. No hiding if she’s angry, happy, curious or sad.

Abby is independent. She gets to eat lunch with us now. The little munchkin sat in a regular chair with all the adults and ate her lunch – a messy bowl of rice and a bean sauce – by herself and barely spilled any!

Abby is bossy. She lets everyone know what she thinks they should be doing and how.

Abby is amazing. Loved. Delightful. Funny. Outgoing. Cheerful. Generous. And a very real daughter.

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Our day

I’m awake and wanting to go. See my Abby now. I don’t want to wait three more hours.

The orphanage asks us to help maintain her regular schedule so we get Abby from 8:30-1pm when she goes for a nap. And then from after her nap until about 4:30.

When we arrive we go to Abby’s room. She lives in a large room of 14 children around her age. They are all in cribs. They have about 3-4 Haitian nannies who live with them. Abby’s nannies are fantastic. Very clear they love the kids. We get to the half door to get Abby and our ears ring with the shouts. It’s either Abby’s squeal of “momma! Dada!” Or the thirteen others yelling out “Abby momma dada!” Abby will have leaped in our arms by now and thirteen kids will be reaching for you, walking right with you or just trying to be near you. They are all so sweet.

We get to spend all our time with Abby how we want. We can go to the main balcony where the volunteers play with the other children one on one. This area is full of toys, books, etc. One day we stayed here and Abby splashed in a blow up pool with her friends.

But we really like time the three of us. So we also sit downstairs at a table where we colour or enjoy a snack or look at books. Or we go to the other balcony that’s private where we chase Abby around and let her run! We may sit or lie on the ground and read or snuggle up in a chair here and fall asleep together.

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We also like to go for walks. Most of the children’s lives are spent within the confines of the orphanage broken up with short walks occasionally. And so I’ve heard of kids being fearful of the outside world. So we walk. We greet people along the route. Then we sit on the side of the mountain and look out onto the homes below and people watch. We watch the man with the machete getting wood. The cows and goats. Children running. Men building homes. We point and repeat words learning each other’s language.

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As of yesterday Abby eats lunch with us. At the orphanage the volunteers and us all eat together and it is the same food the children are fed. So far everything has been delicious. (Well maybe not the spam sandwiches.) Abby sits at the big table and carefully feeds herself while sneaking big smiles to us to let us know how proud she is to eat with the adults.

At 1 and at 4:30 we take her back to her room. Her nanny will greet her warmly and then Abby says bye to us with a hug or a kiss.

If we go outside after this time Abby is there watching out the bedroom window yelling “momma dada” and pointing and waving at us.

We then head back to the guest house (with the exception of Wednesday when we eat at the orphanage with all the staff and volunteers). We come back and if we are very, very lucky we can go to the washroom and shower. Right now there is a team of 12 women volunteers here, and then about 5-6 individual girls here volunteering. Getting a turn in the washroom is an accomplishment. But a shower is not relaxing as the water is most likely cold and you are asked to take military style showers. Get wet. Turn the water off and lather up. Turn the water on and rinse off. Repeat as necessary. We often read or play one of the board games we brought or just try to journal and take the day in. Suppers are delicious and great connecting with all the volunteers and our hosts Tim and Melissa. What amazing people we have met! And everyone is so beyond supportive of the adoption. It can actually be overwhelming. Last night the team of volunteers asked us to share with their team about our adoption.

We go to bed early. We are already anticipating the next day. We pack our bag figuring out what we will bring for Abby that day. We had brought a few things for her. We had asked friends who have two or three year olds for ideas as it has been a decade since we were last in this stage! We brought some snacks for Abby and a sippy cup. She drinks water (l’eau) non stop. We have a snack in the morning and afternoon with her. We brought a small pink patent purse I couldn’t resist. Each day I put something in it like stickers or maybe her snack. She likes to carry it around and put treasures in it. We don’t want to be just about handing out gifts and toys and so when we go for walks we collect rocks. Or flowers or leaves. We put them in her purse. Later we colour the rocks.

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We brought some clothes for our fashionista that she loves putting on. She loves pretty things. We brought a few books and a photo album. The biggest hit with the books is the one with different parts to feel textures and fur and such. We brought other odds and ends too that we bring one a day.

We go to sleep and wake up counting the minutes until we can make the walk back down this part of the mountain to the waiting Abby.

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Good gifts

I came guarded emotionally. Knowing we’d need to leave in two weeks and then not see her for about a year. Knowing that she might not respond warmly to us as strangers. I prepared myself for worst case scenario. Not wanting to be near us. No attachment. Fear. Confusion.

So I guarded my heart.

Mark and I laughed today thinking perhaps all those years of praying and waiting was to prepare us and her for each other rather than being answered by a quick adoption process.

We step foot through the gates into the orphanage and the first thing you hear is the yells “momma! Dada!” You look up and she’s at the window watching for us.

We walk upstairs to her room she shares with 13 others near her age and we hear her. Momma! Dada! As she reaches for us and flings herself into our arms.

In the two weeks we had to plan this trip I had prepared a couple of sentimental things to bring Abby. A simple quilt I made where each of us had cuddled and slept with a square of the fabric to get our smells on it before I pieced it together. A book where we each recorded our voices reading to her and as you turn the page it plays us reading to her. We would start each page with “this is mom” or “this is your sister Eden” and so on so she could start to learn our voices. I also prepared a photo album of Mark, Madi, Eden and I along with the dogs, home, grandparents and aunts and uncles.

And I prepared myself that she probably won’t like or want any of these but at least I had tried. Guarded my heart.

Another adoptive mom told me how she had rocked her son every day on her visit in the blanket she brought. I liked that idea. I was hesitant to bring out the blanket in case it was rejected. But it was important. We had each put effort into it. The girls had helped me do some embroidery on it. Everyone had intentionally slept and cuddled with their fabric. I couldn’t go home and say to the girls “mom wasn’t ready emotionally to give Abby her blankie”. Seriously Krista. Pull it together.

I’m happy to say every morning and every afternoon Abby has ended our time together with calming down, cuddling in (often falling asleep on us) and snuggling her blankie. Going for a walk today she brought it along. I get emotional at this as its a tangible piece of something from home and her sisters here with her. A visual connection of my girls both near and far.

And when she starts to calm down and snuggle in we show her the photo album and record-a-story book. We go through each page of the photo album, point to each person and she repeats their name. Although she still insists on calling Mark “momma”. 🙂 She loves flipping through the record-a-story and hearing our voices read her the story. The story ends with the words “we love you!” And we four had all read that sentence together. Abby loves to say that line too now when we listen to the book. So sweet. She was hilarious with the book today. There’s a small speaker the sound plays from at the bottom of the book. When each page would turn and it starts with “this is mom/dad/Madi/Eden…” She’d put her mouth right on the speaker and yell “hello!!” Like it was a telephone. So funny.

 

We were warned that we might not get hugs. Or called momma or dadda. And we guarded our hearts to the fact we might spend two weeks trying to get her to like us.

Yesterday she gave me a kiss. Today we each got kisses. When I say “I love you” she echoes it back to me. I get hugs. When we leave the room to go to the washroom or get a drink she’s looking for us or crying for us. When we take her back to her room when we have to leave for the day she kisses us both and gives us a big hug.

My heart is full.

After five years of walking in the wilderness I feel like I’m in the promised land. And the wilderness was so worth it for these rich, rich days of love I was so parched for.

This year I have been learning about accepting God’s good gifts.

A week and a half before we found out about Abby we had moved. And we love the house. And it’s hard to explain but I felt guilty having a home I love.

This past January I went to Hawaii with two girlfriends from high school for our 40th birthdays. It was incredible and amazing. And I struggled with guilt of having such a fabulous trip.

There is something so powerful and beautiful to see your child open a gift and their face light up with sheer delight. “It’s exactly what I wanted!” “How did you know?” And it only gets better when they enjoy the gift. Use it. Savour it.

I try to visualize God choosing the perfect gift for me and then me not using it out of guilt or fear. Others don’t have the same gift and I don’t want to make them feel bad. It might break so I don’t want to get attached to it. And the list of excuses goes on.

Our time with Abby has been a gift. A gift that far exceeds our expectations or hopes. A good, good gift. And I plan to take my guard down, risk a little heart ache in exchange for these two weeks of love, and accept this gift with open arms.

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Meeting Abby

After a wild drive through Haiti up into the mountains – suddenly we arrive at Abby’s crèche (orphanage). No warning. Just suddenly there’s the sign. The gates open and we pull in. Mark and I are still looking at each other through our tired eyes going “we’re here!?!”

The staff were so thoughtful and since there was a large volunteer group upstairs with the kids they gave us the living room to meet Abby. There was another volunteer who drove from the airport with us and they whisked her off to the guest house so we could have a moment alone to meet Abby.

“She’s ready and waiting for you”

What? Already. I felt like I was in a daze. I know I should cry. I should be overwhelmed with emotion. But instead we walk in to find a little girl in a pink dress with a plaid skirt. Pink barrettes and white sparkly shoes. Her very finest clothes. Melissa – the adoption coordinator – tells her mama and papa are here. She looks at us and says “momma! Papa!” As she gets off the couch and comes to us with arms wide open. And gives me a hug. And then Mark a hug and suddenly she’s snuggled into Mark’s arms. She’s studying his face and he’s melting into those big dark eyes. I’m feeling calm and trying to still grasp what just happened.

We are encouraged to take her and spend time with her. We only have an hour or so before it’s dinner.

What do we do? There’s a toddler in our arms and we are at a loss what to do. We are looking at each other like “now what?”

So we did what has always worked with our girls. We cuddled in with a book. She speaks creole but we could point at photos and make funny sound effects to her delight.

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Mark got out some Cheerios from our backpack and she ate those – shared with us and anyone who passed. She laughed a belly laugh as we made funny noises pretending to gobble up her treats or sticking them to our faces.

We went to a balcony no one was on and with no toys. No books. No crafts. Again we went “now what?!” But it all comes back. We always tried to not be dependant on toys with our other girls. So we stomped our feet and skipped and she mimicked us. She spent a long time running into marks arms then back to mine with the recipient throwing her in the air or twirling her around. Each time she’d reward us with a hearty laugh that had us laughing in return.

Then it was getting close to supper time. We went and met her nanny. We saw her room where she sleeps with 14 other children in their cribs. We saw where she goes to play. We saw a glimpse into her small world. As we told her we had to leave until morning (they like to maintain the kids schedules) she snuggled deeper into mark. Her eyes getting heavy. It was so hard to leave.

As we waited for our ride in the driveway I heard a yell from an upstairs window “momma!! Papa!!” Abby was pointing at us and yelling. Be still my heart. Is it morning yet??

To answer a few questions we’ll likely get asked or have already…

“She calls you momma and papa already?” Abby is one of the oldest in the baby house where she lives. She has seen countless children go home with their mama and papas. They said she’s often the one pulling the child over to their parents showing them who they belong to. It’s finally her turn. She’s been waiting for this moment. Now she calls Mark “mama” and me “mamadada” most of the time. But it’s coming.

“Isn’t that great she came right to you with open arms?” At first I was nervous about that. We’ve learned that it’s healthy for a child to have attachments rather than freely going with anyone as they can more easily transfer their attachment then. So seeing her come to us was exciting but was it healthy? After chatting with staff we were happy to hear she loves her nanny and has a good attachment. She’s just outgoing and as mentioned above – excited to finally have her turn.

I’m tired. I want to soak in all that’s happening. So I likely can’t message you each individually. But know that we are happy. And so in love. Please pray for the fastest processing time in the history of Haitian adoptions. Pray for our hearts. Hers and ours. Thank you.

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Let’s do this.

One hour and thirty eight minutes.

As we board the flight in Miami to port au prince in Haiti the pilot comes on and announces this is our travel time.

Less than two hours and we’ll be in the land of my littlest munchkin. We will be experiencing the culture – the sights and sounds and smells – she was born into. I want to soak in Haiti. To memorize it in my mind so I can teach our Abby about her culture one day. To let her know that Haiti is more than the poverty and destruction you read about in the news. To show her the good. The parts she can be proud of to call her own. And if this is my daughters land – it is also now a part of me and my family. Today and for generations to come.

Today feels like a beginning. Even though we can’t bring her home this time with us, it feels like the start of a pivotal chapter in this story. A birth.

When Eden was born we drove to the hospital just the two of us and a heart of hope and dreams. We talked about what our child would be like. How would the birth experience go? What could we expect?

That expectant feeling is here again.

This morning my mind was swirling with “what ifs” (what if this falls through? What if I can’t do it?), with insecurities (are we too old to parent a toddler again? Am I ready to navigate the unique challenges of an interracial family in a small predominantly white town? Can we do this?), with emotions (I may have cried in Walmart this weekend trying to choose snacks for Abby. For a toddler who I don’t know their food preferences yet but somehow love with my whole being.).

And then I stopped on the first flight and read from the Message.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

And I let out that breath I didn’t realize I was holding in so tightly.

This is not something I can plan for. I like to think of this journey as the Story of Abby. And it is going to be a powerful beautiful story with lots of ups and downs. I’m merely a character in her story. In God’s story He’s writing for Abby. The characters in any story don’t get to determine their next steps. If they did they would be so boring! Characters wouldn’t choose the awkward or the hard situations if they had the choice. But without those hard moments we wouldn’t have the beautiful ones. Marilla and Matthew would have missed the joy of knowing Anne with an ‘e’. Elizabeth would think that mr. Darcy was a pompous jerk and never know him as the love of her life. And if I had chosen the easy path for my life and not let the Authour have full artistic license than I might not know this Giver of Joy we love so dearly. So I’ll trust that God will work out the details – the hard things – and I’ll give him my rapt attention for the rest of the chapters.

Thinking back to Eden’s birth again – after that drive in nothing went as we had planned or would have chosen. She had some complications. She had to stay in the NICU while I returned to the maternity ward with empty arms. It was hard days parenting a newborn in the NICU and simultaneously a toddler at home who wasn’t permitted in the hospital ward because of fear of infection. But I can look back and say these words were true: “God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

And I trust and claim them for today and this story being written. Let’s do this!

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Giver of Joy

May 1, 2011. We sat around the kitchen table as a family with our application to adopt from Haiti and each prayed for the journey ahead. Prayed for the child we didn’t yet know. Prayed for guidance. Prayed believing this was what we were called to.

Several years earlier when Mark and I were dating we discussed international adoption for our future family. As a teen I sat in a world geography class and felt the absolute call to someday adopt.

And then in 2011 we felt it was time to begin the process. We were told it was a two year process. We anticipated a quick and smooth adoption journey. Instead we hit every snag and black hole along the way. We were asked by several people “at what point do you give up? Walk away?” ‘When our child comes home‘ was usually our response.

I remember one point where we sat down as a family and Mark and I weary from years of waiting asked the girls if we should continue to wait or was it time to quit. The girls were both quick to respond that we had to continue. God had called us to this and He’d bring us through. So often when I was too weary to pray – the girls would pray or a friend would text to say they were praying for us or send a verse.

Today – 1,933 days after we prayed over that initial application – Mark and I  are on a plane to Haiti.

Two and a half weeks ago we received a match or child proposal. All this waiting and waiting and then the call. I remember thinking “already? I’m not ready!!” And I laughed as I thought about when I was overdue with Madi and about to be induced and I had the same reaction. (Fortunately that pregnancy wasn’t five years!)

I suppose I should tell you some details on our muffin who we love so deeply already.

It’s a girl! Three times in my life I’ve heard those three simple words. Each time my heart burst with a mama’s love. This girl is two and a half and her name is Abigaille (or Abby). We have named each of our girls based on the meaning of their name. Madison means gift from God. Eden means delightful. So Mark quickly looked up the meaning of Abigaille. “Father rejoices” or “Giver of joy”. No child was ever more suited for their name.

People like birth stories. Here is our child proposal story. Less guts and blood. But just as much love and tears.

On Monday July 25 we got word that good news was coming. I was just walking out the door with my sister and my kids for a day at the beach. I tried to go on with the day as normal but a million questions ran through my mind! I knew I wanted to tell Mark in person so after the girls had gone to small group that night I asked him to sit down as I had something to tell him. He looked terrified. Poor guy. I told him good news was coming and we both felt complete shock!

We continued to wait. We are good at waiting by now. Wednesday I was leaving to go camping with two girlfriends and our kids. We were meeting at our house at noon. I emailed the adoption agency to ask if they had any word yet as I was going away. She said it was still in translation but should be done the next day. I arranged to leave camping and meet Mark on his lunch break to read over the proposal from her. In the meantime she said she’d email us one photo to tie us over. One photo. After all these years! A face!

I didn’t open the email from her. I was in my car and pulled over on the side of the road so that I could have privacy. I called Mark and told him I was forwarding the photo and we agreed we’d open the email together while on the phone. 1…2…3…

And my email froze.

“It’s a girl!” I heard mark say.

“What does she look like? How old is she?” I pelted him with questions as I struggled to get my email to open. Afterwards I thought back on this moment and the similarities to child birth as Mark would have the first glimpse of our girls and I’d ask them what they looked like and if they’re ok and so forth.

It’s a girl. We didn’t know her age. Her name. Anything. But it’s a girl. And suddenly my heart stretches to fit in one more daughter.

And half an hour later I’m packing the car for camping and again trying to act like nothing is up. While inside I want to scream it out to the world! I remember the first time I went out to the store without Madison after she was born. When I was pregnant people would come up and ask me about my pregnancy. When I was out with my newborn daughter people would stop to gush over her. But when I went out without Madison that first time no one came up to me to talk about her. I wanted to yell “I have a newborn daughter at home and she’s perfect and I want to show you photos!” But I resisted. Likewise I resisted telling the world about my still nameless ageless daughter I loved so incredibly much.

Camping I was distracted and giddy. Sneaking off to text Mark like a teenage girl. Finally Thursday came and with a lame excuse to my friends why I had to slip out for a meeting… I went and met Mark on his lunch break. Again we sat in the car. We prayed together and then opened the much anticipated email.

Abigaille.
January 10, 2014.

A name. A birthday. This was real.

Photo after photo we poured over. We read all her history. Her medical records. We devoured every word. I may have cried. Again.

We hugged and laughed and fell deeply in love with our little Abby.

And then we exercised our excellent waiting skills and Mark went back to work and I went back to camping. We agreed to not tell anyone until we told the girls first once we were all back together.

Friday night is always family movie night in our home. We had gotten back in the afternoon and I had put the photos of Abby into a slideshow. Before we turned on that nights movie I said we had another movie to show on my laptop. Imagine their surprise! The girls were so excited! A sister!!

It has been so fun sharing the news with family and friends. I wish we could tell each person individually but it has been a whirlwind. The initial email of good news coming came a week and a half after we moved into a new home. A home I had declared a “house of Hope”. Then there was camping. Then I had a major trade show for 4 days as well as prepping for it and setting up. And we had meetings with our social worker and paperwork and our passports needed renewed and… And….

Here we are.

To answer the number one question “no” she is not coming home with us this trip. The way Haitian adoptions work is that Mark and I go for a mandatory two week bonding trip. Then we return without Abby. And without a large part of our hearts. And we continue to wait for things to be finalized. They say it’s currently around 10months to a year. This is the hard waiting. Adoption at this point had gone from a concept to a person we love and want to bring home. We would be so grateful if you can pray this is quick. No more black holes of endless waiting.

Other questions we frequently get asked…

Does she speak english or creole? We don’t know yet. Tell you in a few hours!

When can we see photos? We have decided not to share images of her sweet little face publicly until she has the last name Jefferson. So keep praying it happens quick so you can see this sweetest little face.

How will you do her hair? Seriously – his is the number one question by women I’ve told. And – I’ll learn. There’s this glorious tool called Youtube as well as friends who are willing to teach me how to handle black hair. I’ll learn. Even if my attempts are lacking in the style department – it won’t take away from this wee one’s cuteness. Don’t you worry.

So today Mark and I go. In a very short time we’ve prepared our hearts, gathered gifts, booked flights, found house sitters and dog sitters and child care and rides to the airport and… It’s happening. God is good and faithful. We both realize that if things had whipped along when we first started Abby wouldn’t have even been born yet. It’s like how we joke Mark crammed a three year degree into five years – so that he could wait to meet me. (Or because he switched to part time studies. One of the two).

Your prayers and consistent encouragement has carried us these last five years and we thank you all.

Now I’m signing off as I go meet our little “giver of joy”.

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Thankful

It’s been awhile since I blogged and I’ve been thinking about the adoption process so much lately I thought I’d take a minute to share some thoughts.

Just to update – This May will be five years since we started the process to adopt from Haiti. Three years our file has been sitting in Haiti. We still have not yet received a referral.

And when I talk about it with people they always ask “why the wait?” and feel so angry and frustrated about it.

Trust me – most days I’m so frustrated I can’t form sentences  about it or find the words to pray. But lately, I’ve sat back and looked at what has changed since we started this process and realized (once again) how God is in control of the timing. Thank goodness!

When we first applied was 2011. I had never been to Africa or had any plans to go. I have since been 5 times and started my business JustOne that I know would not exist if the adoption had whipped through. It is now getting to a place that when our child comes home, I’ll be able to handle working with JustOne and parenting this newest munchkin. Something I couldn’t imagine in the newborn and toddler years of JustOne. I can now say, I am thankful for the wait as it allowed JustOne to form and to help so many across Africa on an ongoing basis.

In 2011, we were living in a large, country home. We loved that house – but it was a lot of work and expense. We have had time to simplify and move into a home that allows more freedom to spend time with a new addition to the family. I can now be thankful that we had time to move before our newest Jefferson arrived home.

In 2011, we took a family trip to Iceland right after we applied to adopt. It was to be our “babymoon” – our last family trip before our newest addition arrived. The wait has allowed us to take other family trips – Isle de Madeline, PEI, Florida, New York City, our road trip across the United States (12,000km+) last summer and so on. It allowed Mark and I to go to Mexico together. And for me to take several trips as well on my own to Maui, Africa and more. It’s not that we plan to stop travelling once the wee one arrives – but allowing us to have these times to intentionally build into our girls, our marriage, and myself… is preparing us as we ready to adopt. It’s allowing us time to secure in our children’s minds we adore them, we value them, to have heart to heart conversations and to build memories before the family gets turned topsy turvy with the addition. I realize that with the wait, it means Madi will likely only have a few years at home with her new sibling (she starts high school in the Fall!) – so I’m extra glad that we have had time to strengthen our relationship with both her and Eden. And as Madi and Eden grow up and move out, there will be new memories made with the newest Jefferson that they won’t be a part of – so I’m thankful they have a plethora of memories of their own!

Recently, I turned 40. Leading up to the milestone definitely leads to lots of reflecting on one’s life. And I see growth in my life. I see how I’ve come to grasp who I am – and maybe more importantly, who I am not. I’m more confident in myself and who God made me to be. I look back to who I was in 2011 – and I wonder if I was really ready then to parent the new addition. I can be thankful today for the extra time I was given to prepare my own heart and life to better parent all our children.

So, my heart still aches for my unknown child. My arms long to hold that little muffin. But looking back, I can be thankful for the wait. But saying that… let’s get a move on! ha ha! Will you pray with us that we hear news soon on who the wee Jefferson will be? That is the next step in the process (the referral or proposal) – and we can not wait! We have no idea who will be joining our family, but so glad to put our trust in the One who does!

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No Way

Last night at supper we were talking about what our prayer requests were – and as always (for the last 4.5 years) adoption came up from Eden. And so, I reminded her when we pray we need to pray and believe – not just say words. And then she said in the saddest little voice – “sometimes I just can’t believe any more.”

Big gulp.

I know exactly how she’s feeling. Exactly. Before I could imagine getting a phone call with our referral, or a child in my arms – now it’s hard to even believe we are still in this adoption process.

I told her that sometimes I just don’t have the faith or the words to pray or believe for one more second. But – I know others are praying on our behalf. Believing. They’ve got our back. And I’m so grateful. SO grateful. That it’s a whole community praying this Jefferson home to our arms – not just us.

And Mark and I asked the girls if they thought we should consider pulling out. Walking away.

And everyone answered “no way”.

This isn’t the journey we had envisioned – but man. What a story it will be when we get to the next chapter! A story you are all helping to write alongside us – thank you. Thank you for petitioning the Author for us on what you want to see happen next. Can’t wait to see what He writes.

Categories: adoption, thoughts | 3 Comments

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