Saturday, February 8, 2014


{"everything is so clean"}
 {"there's air conditioning"}
 {"look how cushiony the seats look"}
 {"everyone is so white"}
...these are my thoughts as I step onto the American Airlines plane. Everyone is smiling professionally. Their hair is clean. Their demeanors calm. The pilot grins a cockeyed smile to ensure us who are boarding that he's totally got this flight in the bag. Every light bulb is functioning. It feels like a spaceship from the future to me. And people are relaxed as they step past me, orderly and shushed. I am leaning my head back on the stiff blue pillowed chair, completely upright and squeeze my eyes closed so that I can't see every single one of them stare at me anymore as they file past my 14th aisle seat, watching my endless, silent tears streaming like a never-ending river down my cheeks. I can't decide if it draws more attention to wipe them away or just let them stream down my cheeks, my chin, my throat, into my hair and my shirt and onto my lap. Either way, I cannot make the tears stop, even though I am literally tired of crying by now. It has been 4 hours since I kissed her for the final time and they are still running down my cheeks and this is just feeling so ridiculous now I am downright angry with myself. I am angry at all the Haitians boarding with leisure and business on their agendas. I am angry at all the Americans staying here. I am angry that no one else feels a boulder of agony on top of their heads, sitting here feeling crushed by the weight. Just about the moment that a peace settles on my face and my heart feels still and my face relaxes into an expressionless passivity, the captain says we are next in line for takeoff. The plane is racing down the runway. Andrew films out the window beside me, watching for Haiti to become a child-sized toy beneath us, and I feel fresh anguish squeeze around my heart. 
{"Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me...."} on repeat. These are my only thoughts for minutes while I sob. 
She is too far away in just seconds. I can't get to her. She needs me. She is too far away. I will have to wait for people to figure out what happens next, wait for a break in life's demands, wait for it to make sense, wait for money, wait, wait, wait until I land here again and am within maybe a day's walk at most from her if it came to that. If there's another earthquake I can't run at top speed to her and scoop her up, laws be damned. She is on an island. I can see the water lapping at the edges of her island and I see it from way, way up here now - she is smaller than a particle, small and gone from me somewhere I cannot find or get to on my own, in the middle of a wide blue ocean I know nothing about. Almost evaporated. Before we even land in Ft Lauderdale it feels like it was all just a dream. 

 All day I planted my heels in the chalky dirt, digging my toes against the door, pulling back with both hands and all my strength against the door, heartache knocking on the other side. I determined not to let her see me crying. These white people crying while the babies were playing would only be confusing and troubling to this baby girl who now wanted to be on my lap, who wanted me to feed her by hand, who would go to no one but me, who smiled mischievously and lovingly, who laid upside down on my legs to have her neck tickled and nuzzled, who walked with arms up stretched to Andrew and I, back and forth, while dancing and giving kisses. 
There is no holding the door closed anymore. There is nothing to numb this. There is nothing to dial it down. It steamrolls and flattens me, leaving my bones crushed to powder, my stomach filled with lead, my head thick with cement. Putting one foot in front of the other takes thought. This is sorrow. It is here. 
I leaned her back in my arms and said: "I gotta go bye-bye, baby", remembering I should never just disappear from a toddler, and I watch a cloud pass in front of her eyes, watch as she furrows her brow, watch as she retreats from me in her eyes, scampers down out of my lap willingly for the first time this day, marches across the room to her beloved nanny whom I am so grateful is here to rescue her from me, watch as she winds her arm around the nanny's neck, her baby doll still clutched tightly, watch as she looks at me with hurt and distance. I kiss and kiss her cheeks while she sinks into the nanny. She waves and smiles, safe again. She blows final kisses and makes the "ok" sign with her hands because she can't master the "I love you" hand signs we send her. 2 weeks. Behind us, we leave 2 weeks. Ahead, there is unknown. 
 We determined we will not despair - she is far from us but she is not lost to us. We will wait. Jesus is steadying our hearts. We are sorrowful but not destroyed. God is with her. God is with us. He is so, so near, still using our weakness for an opportunity to show up. Andrew is already at work, already a doctor again instead of a One Man Toddler Entertainment Machine. My kids are clamoring for souvenirs and kisses, Rissa already in our bed this morning between us by 2am, ready to reclaim her parents in a way only a 3 year-old can. I hear birds outside but no armed guard, I see sunshine but no school children. I hear cartoons on the TV but no Creole songs. It's weird. I feel disoriented still. It will take time to gently reclaim our lives but we will not ever feel right again until all 5 of our children area asleep in this house, under the same roof, breathing the same air, 10 arms wrapping around us instead of 8. This is what it feels like to leave your heart behind you and walk away. This is what it felt like when Andrew and I were long-distance dating for 2+ years. This is how your brain starts to take all the messy, sloppy emoting and turn it into action, trying to get steps accomplished to achieve the goal. This is how it feels. It feels like sorrow. It is a boomerang, though and it will not return to us empty. We are sending it all like single-lined texts to God our Father and He will send back answers and whispers smothered in grace enough for that moment. He already is. He will not let this be for nothing. He never does. He brings beauty from destruction. We will see it happen, friends. He will - He must.

Monday, January 20, 2014

5 more days…and risking it all

In response to a dear friend who cautioned me about the perils of visiting repeatedly for an adoption, mostly so that I do not forget the ardor with which I love you, Baby Girl, and also so one day when you are home and attached and this is a memory, that I may recognize and appreciate a MIRACLE in my midst. 

  • ...Sighhh. Oh, I wish indeed there was inflection in email and on FB messages because you would know how this deeply settles in knowing acknowledgement and how much I completely concur. Background for us: I have experience with RAD, I get it on a variety of levels, and as a family committed to Empowered to Connect, small group attachment study leaders and Believers, this is something we never, ever intended to do: visit and leave a child. It goes against everything we know to be plausible in adoption and frankly, was a reason we ruled out so very any programs when looking for our child this time. That was all, of course, before 2013 and all back when we innocently saw this little girl's picture and her story and talked to her creche adoption coordinator in California and heard her story and realized she was waiting because of hesitation in so many people who had inquired after her but never committed? For us, she was the realization and embodiment of what we always believed our next adoption would look like (for a number of reasons which I will not go into for times' sake right now). 
    We fell in love. We, very quickly, were ALL IN.

    When we began this adoption in January 2013 we were told there would be 2-3 trips, none lasting more than 2-3 days and we would stay at a guesthouse and have visitation with our child -that she would at no time stay at a hotel with us, nor would we call her anything but her given name nor would we be allowed to feed her, bathe her, wake her or otherwise mess with her. We knew from the beginning she was to be respected as "belonging" to her nannies and that we would have access to her in 1 room. And none of those factors have changed...except that Haiti is about to implement Hague and passed new adoption laws in November doing away with things like dispensation but adding in this 2-week, IBESR-mandated, bonding-observed trip. And we are, I am not even kidding, like probably Family #10 or less to participate. This flies in the face of everything we know and have studied for 4 years about attachment, everything we diligently practiced in our last adoption, and everything we want to be the case...and yet, it is where we have landed, almost against our will and certainly against our best judgement. I actually had friends adopting from Haiti while we were adopting from Uganda and I remember so clearly not comprehending how they could bear it. And here I am. It is extremely bizarre. Extremely.
  • I appreciate very much your candor and your attitude of love in expressing this to me. I know you risk rejection and dismissal from me in telling this to me, and I know this comes from a place of sorority and care. I want you to know that I will read and re-read all of this again and I do so with tears, knowing this is the reality we are opening our hands to: that we are risking her future attachment potential by being more white people who visit and disappear. That we will risk confusion which may lead ultimately to inability to recover from abandonment and that we may look back one day and realize we screwed ourselves. It's a risk, you realize, as an adoptive mama, we are going to take. We will not be taking care of her, nor bringing her at any time off the grounds, nor really parenting her - we will be loving her and being what she needs. And in time, she will come home and we will then dive in and regress her and cocoon and all the things my very soul is CRUSHED that I must resist doing for now, for her sake. This is broken and this is backwards but I agree with you to my core: we must be what SHE needs; we belong to HER, not she belongs to us. Pray with me, would you? That I will let my heart break and support her attachment to her nannies while we are there, even while being observed to be "bonding" and that finally, when the Lord in His good timing brings her home that we will see her bloom, blossom and unfurl in His love, that she will let us love her well and deeply and forever, that her walls will crumble, that our eyes will pour her identity into her, that we will swim out to deep waters to drag her back to this boat that is our home, that she would one day - impossibly - trust us. I know how improbable this sounds. I wrestle with the implausibility of what I am asking every day and every night. I will abandon her and I will ask her to trust me after that: I know how that sounds. Please pray with me that I will have grace enough from Jesus to harm her as little as possible and that with great speed she will come home when I can bear it no longer being only her friend and not her Mama.

  • Thanks again,

Monday, October 21, 2013

why we stopped homeschooling

July. It was July when I last posted here. 
July, then August, then September have passed. 
These days have passed methodically but have brought so. much. change. 

For one, we were submitted to IBESR
(Haitian social services) seeking approval to adopt. 
Things are evolving in Haiti in a healthy but tedious we await news everyday
about our adoption and where we stand, tangled in the red tape that adoption necessitates.

When people ask: "Why does it take so long?"
I tell them that "it takes a long time for two countries to be a part of God building a family."
That's the absolute nutshell version. 

The longer version involves recognizing international adoption as a very sticky place ~ 
one where child trafficking takes place every day and where American dollars
activate laws of supply and demand. 
Trying to wade past corruption to your child, whose story you wait to see validated
and whose hand you will ONLY grasp if their need is proven legitimate and they are truly in need of you, like you need them - without family, without options, without anyone else - 
is like trudging uphill through waist-deep slime.
While holding your breath. 
With an anvil tied to your leg.
And a bag of squirming kitty cats in your arms. 

It is laborious. 

Especially when your child's government is concurrently trying to update their international adoption laws from their last updated set from the 70's. 
And while they reform all social services and matching procedures to accompany the new laws.

All that to say: it takes time. 
These little lives, however, got nothin' but time. 
We believe it's meant to be - that she's meant to be a Floridian with 3 protective, big brothers and 1 beautiful Ugandan, big sister, meant to be ours - and we will chase her til it's proven otherwise. 
So. We wait. Everyday.

For another thing,  we stopped homeschooling. 
This came after so many "come-to-Jesus" talks between the husband and me. 
Many talks which involved him asking...
"Are we just homeschooling because you like your (homeschooling) friends? Why don't you give yourself permission to say you are not wired for it? Why do insist it's more righteous?"

...and me responding: 
"When did you change your mind about what we're doing here? Why are you on a different page than I am? Why aren't you validating what we have been focusing on like character?"

These? Are not so fun to have. 
But, I am being gut-level honest here.

It was humiliating (I won't say "humbling" because it was completely against 
my will to be humbled like this) 
to basically acquiesce. To submit. To allow myself to trust my husband. 
The truth is I have a problem with believing I am wiser than he is. 
I have this underlying belief that I am somehow closer to godliness because I am a good rule-follower much of the time. 
For me, homeschooling has been very comfortable because I like the rules:
no car line, no PTA, no sack lunches, focus on character sometimes to the fault of academics,
take them all to the vet with you and call it "school", eschew mainstream academia and find identity in family...these are such wholesome, Little House on the Prairie-esque rules, and the rules - my rules -
 suited me
I was Laura Ingalls Wilder! 
I was Anne of Green Gables!
I was Jane Eyre!
In other words: righteously contrary. 
Adventurously non-compliant.
 It suited me

It did not, however, suit my husband. 

I had to come to grips with the fact that we were just not on the same page
and it was arduous for me to pry apart my motives and trust him with what was about to come next...sending the boys to school. 
I had to change my stance, not insist verbally or otherwise that he change his. 
I had to trust I would survive, though I was about to be humbled to my core having the last 3 years of homeschooling evaluated by other "real" teachers 
 now finding my personal inadequacies conveyed in my kids' academic shortcomings.
I had to believe we would not lose the boys' hearts. 
I had to choose to believe that my husband was taking my hand and leading us out of the boat and onto 
a warm waiting beach... 
and die to the tempting thoughts that I knew better, that he was actually leading us 
to rapids downstream. 
I had to decide to be brave enough to believe God is the Redeemer, not me. 
That God is their Educator, not me.
That God is in control, not me. 
That God has a plan here.
That God doesn't need ALL their education about EVERYthing to come from my mouth
 in order to save them. 
That we don't have to be completely in charge of their little lives at all moments in order to know them deeply and shepherd their hearts. 
That we will not ruin them.
That their daddy is not wrong.
That this will continue to make sense more and more.
That this suits them.
That the right time to do this is now...not once I have a 3 or 4 year-old finally come home who speaks
 French Creole and I find myself telling all 4 of the bigger kids: 
"for the love of Pete, get out and go find yourself a school, I gotta attach to this kid here!

So far...they love it. 
It suits them.
It's been so simple.
The daddy was right. 
Maybe not for every kid, for every year ~ who knows?
But for now...this year....he was right.

It's made life very different. There are things that do not suit me as easily as being a homeschool mama. 
I have to wait in car line. 
I have to wash more clothes.
 I have to get up in the freaking 5 o'clock hour 5 times weekly. 
I have to make lunches. (UGH. THE LUNCHES.)
I have to make actual breakfasts. ( still fend for themselves with PopTarts, nevermind.)
I have to attend meetings and do fundraisers and stuff that requires being in closely dependant community with people you did not handpick for kicks and may not like me or get me (groan of pain).
This whole "school" thing is not for sissys. It's tiring, man. And requires conformity. 
(to some degree)
And submission. And alot of other crap I stink at. 

But,  it you can measure idols of the heart by how fast you list them off when you identify yourself
 to others,  
then "homeschool mama" was gaining scary, idolatrous ground in my heart.

October is here. 
Blessed, hot, green, birthday-laden, silent, waiting and watchful, schoolish and bookish and racing October. 
"The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." 
-Job 1:21

He is making all things new.
I believe. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

welcome to it. sit down. get comfortable. you're never leaving.

I've got this friend, Carlee
Carlee and her family started travelling to Haiti in 2010, just as soon as we moved from the Mountain.
We'd gone to Sunday School together and were casual pals. 
We had kids roughly the same age and such; played soccer together; waved hello:
that sort of thing. 
When Carlee and Eddy started visiting Haiti they fell hard for a little boy named Kervens
who was at the orphanage they visited.
Shortly after coming home to the Mountain, they decided to pursue adoption.
Because we had become all "adopty" ourselves in preparing to find the kiddo 
who would become Rissa, 
everyone and their mama told us about Carlee's Haitian adoption. 
We even chatted exuberantly on the phone comparing
international adoption notes 
once or twice back then. 
Carlee's adoption was beautiful. Arduous. And L.E.N.G.T.H.Y. with a capital "L".
When we were bringing Rissa home lickety-split I was embarrassed by the riches of speed
compared to Carlee's formidable, grueling process
which seemed like an endless, inky tunnel of bureaucracy. 
I remember being a bit ill at ease, knowing how the timelines deviated. 
I knew of course that was silly...and Carlee tried to alleviate me of such nonsense...
but there was this undeniable injustice 
and I just couldn't un-feel it.

Mostly, I remember just really wondering HOW.
HOW they could wait so long.
HOW they could endure it.
HOW they could stand the multiple visits, leaving without him time and time again. 
WHY had they chosen this.
and HOW.

It boggled me. Seriously. 

Clearly, this would be where we would adopt from next.
And everyday after January 18 has found me bewildered,
simply confounded that this is where we have ended up: Haiti. 

Because of one face. 

All those 27 months I watched Carlee wait for Kervens to come home. 
All those months I was a little ashamed of our adoption's speed and also a little amazed that they'd chosen to do something so unyielding, so laborious as adopt from Haiti. 
All those months I wondered HOW and WHY.

*I cannot help but smirk at God.*
As if He'd said: "Here. You really wanna know HOW? Welcome to it."

This is HOW they could wait so long...because if they stopped fighting he'd just remain there in the orphanage. 
This is HOW they endured...because every, single day they were forced to their limit waiting on God to show up. 
This is HOW they could visit again and again....because any moments together were worth the pain of separation afterward.
This is HOW they chose Haiti....that's where the kid was.

Kervens came home March 8, 2013. It really happened. 
Some days that's the coin I keep wrapped in my fist.

Most days I keep busy with these 4 rambunctious, ridiculous, rowdy, ravishing small people.
But my 5th child in Haiti...her being there and us being here...
it's like wearing a pair of shoes 2 sizes too small.
It pinches. It nags. It is unresolved. 

I've no idea HOW we'll make it another 1.5 years...maybe more. 
We have been waiting to be submitted to IBESR for more than a month. 
It was to have been May...or June...and now it is July already.

The HOW is not so important from where I stand now. Nor the WHY. 
Only WHO.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Three days ago while taking a sweaty, glaringly sunny walk around my neighborhood 
a truck passed me with a license plate which snagged my gaze.
The first three letters were of my daughter's name.

My second daughter.

My eyes drank it in.

I watched till the random truck with the precious license plate disappeared around a hedged corner.

That had meant way, way too much to me.

"Time to write", I realized.

Normally, I would spend a few posts catching up here.
I mean, I haven't downloaded my brain on this blog in almost 6 months. 
Normally, I would've posted the annual recap post...
a New Year's post...
a January post or two...
a few posts of noteworthy pictures for memorabilia...
next, trot through February and March posts...
then an April post for Ethan's birthday...
and finally May would bring an anniversary post here.

Normally, I prefer to back up and blog chronologically
for posterity's sake
so that the printed version I keep for my kids,
 in place of scrapbooking which I gave up on 2 kids ago,
would make sense for them, my Intended Readers, one day.

Normally, I would




as I tried to retrace steps since December 10, 2012 and 
recapture all that I could, in order. {That? Ain't happening. I ain't feeling real methodical.}

Back then we'd done the "Before, During, After" of adoption
and we were in the "Beyond".

Now? We're in it Again.

January 18, 2013 we saw her face and there's no going back, no other road,
no way we could entertain anything else, 
no way we could ever walk away.

5 months later with a 
completed, translated, immigration-approved, apostille'd, and consulate-stamped dossier 
about to be submitted to IBESR in Haiti,
I am catching my breath.

This blog reboot will be messy and chaotic
because I am about to have 5 kids, y'all.


Eh, methodical pacing is overrated anyhow.
This? Really crazy, disheveled messiness while we bring home our girl?
So way better.