Our Adoption FAQ’s

I’ve come to learn that people have lots of questions about adoption. I’m so glad they ask! I really love telling people about our experience, what we hope for, what we know, what we don’t know, etc. I’m also happy to explain that there will be questions we won’t answer, to protect our child’s privacy and history. But I thought I’d try to answer some of the frequently asked questions here. If you have other questions – please ask! I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

Why are you adopting? To add to our family. To put our feet to the command of Christ to care for the orphan. To spread the love God has given us. Because Jesus adopted us into His forever family. Because humans belong in families, not in institutions.

Why from Haiti? Because of a personal connection. Kyle’s life was forever changed by his experience in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Our hearts were drawn to adopt from Haiti then and we’re finally able to do it now.

Why not a kid from here? We had to choose somewhere! And we’ll continue to do foster care and welcome kids from our area into our home as long as we have space to. If I could paint a picture of our future, it will always have kids coming into our lives from all kinds of places/experiences/locations/backgrounds. We want our home to be that place, Lord-willing.

What age/gender would you like? We understand the challenges involved with disrupting birth order, so Jackson will remain our oldest. Beyond that, we’re not specifying boy or girl or a particular age, just somewhere between baby-four years old.

Why does it cost so much? I wish I knew. I mean, I do know, but I wish it wasn’t this way. About $6000 goes to our agency – we’re paying them for their expertise, relationships with ethical adoption facilitators and creche/orphanage directors, etc. We also had to have a home study done and it has to be overseen and approved by a licensed social worker – that cost $3000. $14,000 or so goes to Haiti, some to the orphanage that currently cares for our child and some to their social services. I found this article helpful to explain some of the costs, and this is our agency’s cost breakdown sheet.

How long will it take? We have NO idea. Haiti recently joined the Hague Convention, and that will naturally cause some hiccups and lengthy paperwork processing wait times, etc. We are imagining it will be about a little over a year from now when we are matched with a child (receive a referral in adoptionese) and two-two and a half years from now when we finally bring that child home forever. Feel free to pray that it goes more quickly! This page is an extensive explanation of the Haitian adoption process – it still sounds like a foreign language to me, so if you think the same way, don’t feel left out.

Will you keep their Haitian name? We will in some way, shape, or form keep their name as part of their name. It may be their first name, it may be a middle name, but we want to honor and keep their heritage and identity with Haiti alive, as well as give them identity within our family with a new name. All of our kids have family names as middle names.

Do you plan to adopt again? Yes, but probably later. We are getting approved for two children, even though we plan on only one this time, on the off chance that when we arrive in Haiti we discover our child has a sibling we weren’t aware of or some unexpected situation arises. We only plan on adding one at this time, but we would like to add another child to our family in the future through adoption.

And yes, just like our other kids, this sweet one will be our REAL child. Our wonderful, given life by God, precious child. :-)

home from haiti – an adoption fundraiser

hands together-001

Check out our Puelston Family Fundraiser for info on our upcoming silent auction fundraiser!

When: April 26, 6:30pm
Where: Grace Church Wyoming
What: Wicked awesome silent auction and dessert/coffee bar!

There are some really neat items coming in for the auction – beautiful artwork and framed photo prints, photography packages, signed prints from the DC Comics Batman artist, Twins tickets, gorgeous handmade items, locally roasted coffee, jewelry and much more! You can RSVP on our Facebook event or to my email as noted above. Hope you can come!

taylor funnies

Taylor has hit a new level of vocabulary and verbal proficiency that is just cracking us up daily. It’s like she’s 2 going on 10. I wish I had a voice-activated recorder lying around because very often she comes up with something or we have a conversation that is just TOO MUCH. And I really wish I could capture her inflection in writing, because she has this adorable up-talk in her speech that I can’t explain. It sounds like she’s inquisitive, but she’s not.

Here’s a meager sampling, since we’re dependent on my memory…

Recently, Grandma Char had plans to come visit, but the day she was going to come turned out to be a day of snow. The drive is an hour and a half in good weather, so she very wisely stayed home and rescheduled. Taylor asked me, “When Namma tuming?” I explained that she couldn’t come because of the snow. Taylor replied, ever the problem solver, “Her tood put her boots on and walk here!” Well… :-)

Trying to open the fridge: “I’m BIG! I’m OLD!” Unsuccessful: “I’m too wittle.”

In conversation with me: “Merember that, Mom?”

The other day, Kyle was at a meeting when Taylor woke up from her nap. It seems we have a bona fide Daddy’s girl on our hands. “Where my dad dough (go)?” “He’s at a meeting.” “OH! I YOST (lost) him?! Well, I miss him.”

“I ALWAYS yike to wear dose doves (those gloves).” (Always is a new qualifier of the week.)

“Mom, mom, mom, Johanna!” (I didn’t even know she knew my name. Then when I asked her if she knew that was my name she said, “Your name Mommy.”)

Me: Taylor, here’s your banana. Taylor: Thanks, honey!

Her version of “Who Let the Dogs Out?”:
Who let the dogs out? Wuff, wuff, wuff.
I don’t knoooow!


Grant Joins the Crew

In a week, Grant will be three months old. I’ve had his birth story waiting in the wings, but its been a busy three months, with the holidays, friends visiting from out of state in January and a plaguing stretch of illness that has beaten us all for the better part of six weeks. :(

So here, finally, is the story of Grant making his grand appearance.


Our third child was due on Thanksgiving day, but a week past that date, I was ready to get this show on the road. I wasn’t miserable, but I was tired of waiting. So that meant talking about inducing. My awesome doctor and I had made a plan together that I was mostly comfortable with, but still, I had my reservations about being induced.

So the plan was: go to the hospital Thursday night the 5th, check to see how far progressed things were. If they were favorable enough, go home and sleep and then return in the morning to start pitocin. If not, try Cervadil to prepare for induction with pitocin in the morning.

We got to the Birthplace around 6:15pm, and got all checked in. I needed Cervadil – all the contractions I’d felt over the past week only had me dilated to a TWO. So we settled in to watch the live Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood. My friend Kelsey came to hang out and take pictures, hoping baby came that night. My mom came a little later. The Cervadil did its job and contractions ramped up and by 11pm I was having steady, firm contractions. But by an hour or two later, they totally petered out. Kelsey went home, and Mom, Kyle and I tried to get some sleep here and there.

In the morning, my wonderful Dr. Barrett stopped by on her way to the clinic and broke my water, hoping to kick things back into gear. My contractions had never quit, but they had gotten much weaker and further apart – certainly nothing I had to work through. I could walk and talk and smile…it was definitely not active labor.

Breaking my water helped – things started getting more real again. But in an hour or so, it wasn’t progressing, and contractions had dipped down to Easyville again. At this point, I was bored and slightly frustrated. I was ready to have this baby! I wasn’t totally exhausted – I was just ready to get this show on the road and finally meet this little person who seemed far too comfortable in their watery, warm nest. :-)

Thankfully, all along the way, the baby’s heartbeat was steady and happy as could be. Around 10am, I made the call: it was time for the “get the baby out cocktail”. “Dear nurse, just juice my IV with pitocin, please and thank you.” They “gave me a whiff” (their words) of pitocin at 10:30am and it was onward ho!

FINALLY things started getting real. I was so relieved to actually feel like I had to concentrate on relaxing through the contractions. They got hard and fast in a hurry, and by 1pm I was feeling like the end was near. My doctor arrived for the delivery – it was finally time to push this kiddo out!

Once again, Dr. Barrett coached me so well. I probably pushed for 15-20 minutes, and at the halfway point I asked, “Why isn’t he coming out?!” because of how quickly Taylor had come. I thought maybe this time would be even shorter, but as it turned out, this Incredible Hulk child was quite a bit bigger than Taylor had been, so that could account for the “slower” pace of pushing. :-)

Anyway, our baby came into the world at 1:59pm and Dr. Barrett and Kyle announced in tandem, “It’s a BOY!” as his wet, sweet, beautiful self was placed on my flushed chest. Grant Richard, our sweet surprise, our second son and third child, was finally here. My first thought was “Jack is going to be so excited to have a brother!” :-) We were overjoyed.


Looking back, I cannot believe how in control, calm, covered with grace, and able to concentrate I was during his labor. It was really awesome. I was so present, so able to focus, and was a lot more verbal – i think that helped me push through the pain in a better way. A lot of people were praying for me – I could feel it. Kyle and Mom were so helpful to get me through the most challenging points. And Char, my mother-in-law, ended up arriving to cheer me on for the last half an hour! Love my labor team. :-)

From the point when my labor REALLY started to his arrival was only 3.5 hours. Grant was easy on me, and he nursed right away like he was born a pro – latched perfectly and settled in for almost an hour before we finally weighed and measured him. We were all slightly shocked to learn he was 9 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long with a 15 inch head. My little beefcake baby. He wins the prize for biggest at birth, coming in at 3 ounces heavier than Jack was.

We had such fun introducing Grant to his brother and sister and the rest of our family and friends that stopped by the hospital. He was doing so well that we were able to get home the next evening and continue to rest up in our own beds.


Grant has the most sweet, cheerful and happy-go-lucky personality! I cannot imagine our lives without his sunshine, so I’m ridiculously glad that God surprised us with his beautiful life. Welcome to our family, Granters. Mama, Daddy, Jack and Taylor love you SO much.

Grant (2 of 49)photo by Sarah Smith – Grant, one week old


books for 2014

I’m totally stoked that i read (most of) 20 books last year! I’ve come a long way, baby. In 2011 I read 6 books. In 2012, I read 12 books. Last year, 20! So this year, I’m shooting for 25.

2013 Books (in no particular order)

  1. Real Marriage – Mark and Grace Driscoll
  2. The Explicit Gospel – Matt Chandler
  3. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy – Eric Metaxas
  4. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl – N.D. Wilson
  5. Give Them Grace – Elise Fitzpatrick
  6. The Hole in our Holiness – Kevin deYoung
  7. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  8. Peter and the Shadow Thieves – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  9. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon – Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
  10. The Book Thief (skipped part of the middle) – Markus Zusak
  11. Fit to Burst – Rachel Jankovic
  12. Building Her House – Nancy Wilson
  13. Forgotten God – Francis Chan
  14. Power of Prayer – E.M. Bounds
  15. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne
  16. 100 Cupboards – N.D. Wilson
  17. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley
  18. Speaking from Among the Bones – Alan Bradley
  19. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford
  20. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Foer

Books for 2014 (again, no particular order)

Multiply – Francis Chan (reading this in small group, started last year)
Standing on the Promises – Doug and Nancy Wilson (started last year)

  1. The Drowned Vault – N.D. Wilson
  2. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches – Alan Bradley
  3. Praise Her in the Gates – Nancy Wilson
  4. Live Like a Narnian – Joe Rigney
  5. How People Change – Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane
  6. Gospel-Powered Parenting – William Farley
  7. Five Days in November – Clint Hill
  8. Songs of Willow Frost – Jamie Frost
  9. Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
  10. The Boys in the Boat – Daniel James Brown
  11. The Monuments Men – Robert Edsel
  12. Call the Midwife – Jennifer Worth
  13. The Astronaut Wives Club – Lily Koppel
  14. Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay
  15. Death By Living – N.D. Wilson
  16. The Grace Effect – Larry Taunton
  17. The Connected Child – Karen Purvis
  18. Thinking. Loving. Doing – John Piper, etc.
  19. Seabiscuit – Laura Hillenbrand
  20. The Kite Runner – Khalid Hosseini
  21. Same Kind of Different as Me – Ron Hall
  22.  Surprised by Joy – C.S. Lewis
  23. Parenting with Love and Logic – Foster Cline and Jim Fay
  24. My Life in France – Julia Child
  25. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

I think that’s a good mix of non-fiction and fiction, self-help and just for enjoyment. :-) I’m excited because as I read good authors, good writers, good words – I am grown, stretched and aspire to better writing and thinking and doing in my own real life.

Books I’m most excited to read: Death By Living, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia was left hanging on a serious cliff at the end of the last book – very, very mean of you, Mr. Bradley), Live Like a Narnian and My Life in France.

Honestly, I’m really looking forward to each title on the list for various reasons. They all interest me, or are subjects about which I’m passionate, or are really needed in my life. Some will be easy reads, some will bend my brain and challenge my thinking. Some will be easy to flip through on my Kindle app while I watch the kids play outside, others will require undistracted silence and a hard copy to hold and underline. But all of them will shape me.

As Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Here’s to being a better person with more stories read and more stories to tell and the ability to tell them better in five years. :-)

What are you reading or hope to read in this new year?

2013 Year in Review

I’ve done this simple little question/answer style year in review post for years now. :-) It’s become a welcome friend at the end of a year, as I look back on the year that was and look forward to the year that will be. 

The Year that Was – 2013

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before? became a mom to three children. 

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made goals again, not resolutions and accomplished some! Several were made null and void by nature of being pregnant. A little hard to lose 15 lbs. when you’re supposed to gain around twice that. ;-) 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? a few friends did this year! :-)

4. Did anyone close to you die? Not anyone close, but many friends of mine have had hard losses this year. :(

5. What countries did you visit? {Some year I hope i can put countries in here and not just states.} I went to North Carolina in January with my parents, and Jack and Taylor to see my brother Nate graduate from Special Forces school and visit him and Karla. We also enjoyed visiting with my dear friend Sarah and her family! Kyle and I took a little trip to WI to see JJ Heller in concert in March. Then in September, I traveled to Ohio to stand up in my sister-friend Lindsey’s wedding. It was a privilege to be there when she married her Marcus. Love that girl so much. 

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? more patience and grace for my busy preschooler and toddler. Babies are easy for me – kids are harder! 

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 6. Grant’s birthday! Our little surprise baby arrived on St. Nicholas Day. SO happy he’s here. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? surviving another pregnancy, and a wonderful labor/delivery of our sweet Number Three Baby, Grant. 

9. What was your biggest failure? not enough exercise, not being patient with my kids. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? the usual basic colds/sore throats/stomach flus, and sleep deprivation. 

11. What was the best thing you bought? I really liked the gifts I gave Kyle for our 7th anniversary – a wool, hand-knit hat and a copper guitar pick inscribed with “i’ll stay with you”. 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Kyle’s. He supported me so well through this third pregnancy, birth and recovery time. 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? those who took the lives of innocents. heart-breaking and appalling.

14. Where did most of your money go? housing, food, church/missions and gasoline. 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Lindsey’s wedding!!! and finally meeting our baby, learning he was a he, since we didn’t find out the gender before the birth. 

16. What song will always remind you of 2013? Goo Goo Dolls’ “Come to Me” and Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive”. 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? happier. My little snuggle bear has brought immense happiness to our home. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? exercising, reading, writing and praying.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? sitting on my butt, whining, frivolity, and judging.

20. How did you spend Christmas? we opened gifts with Kyle’s parents and youngest sister on Christmas Eve, then had our own family Christmas in the morning on Christmas day with a special breakfast and gift opening, and wrapped it up with all of my family over for Christmas dinner and gift opening with them. It was a great time! 

21. How will you spend New Years? Kyle is working, and I’m trying to be good about going to bed as soon as the baby does, so I’ll probably be sleeping when the New Year rings in. :-) Then on NYD, we’ll be with Kyle’s family celebrating together. 

22. What was your favorite TV program? Parenthood, Southland, White Collar and Suits. 

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? no.

24. What was the best book you read? ooh good question – I read more books this year than ever in the recent past! I’d have to say “Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl” by N.D. Wilson. It totally inspired me and resonated in my soul. Loved it. 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Rend Collective Experiment. SO GOOD! 

26. What did you want and got? a new baby/child home by December. I thought it would be through adoption, but God gave us one the homegrown way. 

27. What was your favorite film of this year? Either “Captain Phillips” or “Parkland”. They were both fascinating, based on true events. 

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I ticked over to 31, and we had an enjoyable day with my family in a little celebration here at home. 

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? spending more time at the feet of my Savior.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? maternity clothes suck. bump minimization. :-) 

31. What kept you sane? my husband, my friends, coffee, and the Word. 

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Nelson Mandela. 

33. What political issue stirred you the most? I just don’t get stirred up by politics really, but the health care debacle sure has been amusing/frustrating. 

34. Who did you miss? my best friends that live far away. and my Grandma Alice.

35. Who was the best new person you met?  this wasn’t a year of new people, but rather a year of loving the ones currently in my life better and with more intention. 

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2013:
~The journey of adoption rarely goes the way you anticipate. And the road is long…
~Surprise babies are pretty neat blessings. :-)
~I need to become more disciplined and structured in my life to create space for what I want to be and want to accomplish. 
~It’s painful to have friends point out your weaknesses and inconsistencies, but it’s better to grow than to have never been so stung. 
~I have far to go, but God is making beautiful things out of my dust. 

This morning, my mother in law posted this beautiful quote that resonated with me, and I leave it with you. 

“Your goodness has been with me during another year, leading me through a twisting wilderness, in retreat helping me to advance, when beaten back making sure headway. Your goodness will be with me in the year ahead; I hoist sail and draw up anchor, with You as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.”

Here’s to the beautiful and amazing adventure of 2014, with the blessed Pilot of our future at the helm. 

advent 2013

For the first time ever, I’m actually on top of Advent this year. In the past I’ve done small things, or parts of things, but this year I really wanted to get organized and have a good plan as we try to foster an atmosphere of building anticipation for the arrival of the Savior, Jesus.

This is probably also the first year Jackson is old enough to really “get it” and Taylor is his little shadow, so it seems like a good year to get it together. :-) A lot of the execution for this is going to fall to Kyle this year, since I’ll be recovering from birth here soon. But that works out since he will be off for most of the month on paternity leave – government job for the win! These are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season.

Advent Wreath

advent centerpiece

Each Sunday before Christmas, we will light a candle on the table (I haven’t made an official wreath yet, but I put the five candles in a group on our dining room table each year) and read a verse:

1. Light the 1st candle.  It represents the HOPE of the promised Messiah.  Isaiah 9:1-3
2. Light the 2nd candle.  It reminds us that the coming Savior will be the Prince of PEACE.  Isaiah 9:6-7
3. Light the 3rd candle.  It reminds us the JOY we may have in Christ. Isaiah 35:1-2, 10
4. Light the 4th candle.  It reminds us that God LOVES us so much that He sent his only Son.  John 3:16
5. Christmas Day – Light the middle candle and the other four. The Savior is come!

Daily Readings

With the littles – Readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible 

For the bigger set – Good News of Great Joy 

Daily Advent Activities – great ideas from friends, this blog and this blog 

I’m using this Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks this year. It says its not available online, but your local shop should have one. I’ll print out the activity on small pieces of paper and put it in the right numbered tin. Some year I’ll get all fancy and make my own pocket calendar. Or, more realistically, I’ll pay someone to make one for me. :-) 

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain and this poem for the top:
Christmas Day will soon be here and I can hardly wait.
I’ve made this little Christmas chain to help me celebrate.
Each day I will snip one loop from it to help me to remember.
To rejoice of Jesus birthday on the 25th of December!

2. Decorate the tree and the house and unwrap/read two new Christmas books

Christmas tree 3. Open and play with Little People Nativity Set. (This is a GREAT price for the set, even shipped.)
4. Gingerbread house or nativity. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house 5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas with popcorn.
6. Pajama surprise – hot cocoa and Christmas light drive.
7. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)
8. Go caroling at the nursing home.
9. Make a borax snowflake.
10. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies 11. Decorate cookies.
12. Christmas tree craft – (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
14. Bell ringing for Jack and Kyle and indoor dinner picnic by the tree/lights.
15. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
16. Unwrap and read two more new books.
17. Birthday Cake (or cupcakes) for Jesus (invite friends for a party?)
18. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
19. Service Project: Pack VoM action packs with small group.
20. Christmas music dance party (AM) & watch The Polar Express (PM).
21. Play the “count the snowball game”.
22. Make thumbprint snowmen cornstarch dough ornaments for grandparents.
23. Take cookies to neighbors.
24. Christmas Eve service and maybe new pajamas?
25. JESUS! Christmas morning: read Luke 2, special breakfast and open gifts.

Christmas breakfast

And if we don’t get to everything, no worries. :-) It’s far more important to love on the kids than do a million projects, like this wise mama reminds us. I’m not going to spaz out if we miss a day.

The Christmas books we got for this year are:
The Very First Christmas
Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
The Nativity
Christmas in the Manger 

That’s about everything, I think! I hope it is helpful for others who might want to create their own list of fun things to build excitement and anticipation for Christmas Day and the arrival of the Christ Child. :-) May your Christmas season be merry and bright as you celebrate all the gifts HE has given us, beginning with Himself.