adoption update 5.0 – MATCHED!

On the 15th of October, the fifth anniversary of the beginning of our adoption journey came and went. I posted a “Timehop” screenshot of the status I shared five years ago when we had our initial meeting with a local agency to start the process, along with a note saying I never ever would have imagined that five years later we would still be waiting to adopt. The next day, our agency called with our match from Haiti. WHAT.

We’ve been waiting for that phone call for 26 months, and for the past eight months we’ve had a foster child in our home, so we’ve been distracted from the wait a bit. We’d almost, almost given up on our dream to bring a child home from Haiti. Paperwork necessary for adopting reached their expiry dates. Haiti was plagued with strikes in their government and judicial branches.

Then on the rainy evening of October 16, the call came. “You’re matched!” It’s a boy. He’s almost five years old. He was born just weeks after we decided to pursue adopting (not from Haiti, initially, if you’ve been around long enough to remember the beginning of this crazy adventure!). He’s in one of the most wonderful places a kid in his situation can be. (Huge answer to my deepest prayers: I’ve asked God this whole time that wherever our next child was, that he or she would be safe, loved, fed, and well cared for. He is! and has been for his whole little life.)

We are now in the midst of the flurry of paperwork and invoices for payments (thanks to our generous friends and family and savings, we are able to make the next payment right away) and figuring out childcare for our three plus one to coincide with travel dates to go meet him in Haiti.

THANK YOU, Jesus. We are so excited and grateful to finally know a new, tiny sliver of this story He is writing. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us through to this point. Thank you for partnering with us financially. We would not be here without all the help and love and gifts you’ve given. We still need about $10,000 to bring this kiddo home, and the court process in Haiti takes anywhere from 10-20 months or so from when we meet him. So your prayers and partnership in this endeavor are still so needed! Let’s rejoice together at what God is doing! We can’t wait to go to Haiti and meet this little man soon.

http://www.adoptalovestory.com/families/Puelston

FAQ’s:

  • What’s his name?
    We can’t share this online until he’s a Puelston. But we can tell you in person and show you his picture, and we’d be very happy to do that!
  • How old is he?
    He’s almost five years old.
  • Why don’t you get to bring him home right away?
    The court process in Haiti doesn’t start until we go down to meet him. That process can take anywhere from 10-20 months, depending on many factors. Haiti is a mystifying country – sometimes you just have to chalk delays and strange things up to “it’s Haiti”!
  • How long will you be in Haiti when you go to meet him?
    We get to stay in Haiti for two weeks, required by Haitian adoption law. We will stay at a guest house near the orphanage (creche, in French), and have time to play with and get to know him each day.
  • Feel free to ask other questions and if we are able to answer them we will!

 

overheard

When my kids’ say something sweet or cute, I try to jot it down on my phone instantly. I keep a running note with these little sound bytes and then a few months later, like to record them all here. I’ve got quite the collection now, so it must be time to dump them out and save them. 🙂

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Jackson

This morning I thanked Jackson for being so helpful. He looked thoughtful and then said, “Having three children is hard. And we’re going to have FOUR and that will be even harder. I like to help.”

“Can I vacuum for you, Mom?” Um, let me think about it, okay. 🙂

Kyle was painting the swingset this summer, and the neighbor girl asked: “Can your dad do that (paint)? Jack said: My dad can do everything! Anything!

Taylor, aka The Princess of Sass

Crunes = prunes.

As she looked at herself in the mirror: “Ta-da!!!”

In the car while driving to the North Shore: “How much longer?” Half an hour. “I don’t yike half an hour!”

“Why does daddy cut his hair?” ‘Cause he likes it short and doesn’t have much hair. BIG SIGH. “I wish him had hair!”

About school: “Can you teach me how to talk words?” (She meant teach me how to read.)

“I need to go vacuum my teeth ‘cause they aren’t so sparkly.”

She overheard me saying that some days it’s just hard to be a mom. “Do you want to be something else today? Like a…grandma? You could be a grandma instead.”

To Jack: “Don’t tell me what to do. Are you the mom??!” (do you think maybe she hears me say that to her and her brother a few times a day, or what?)

She and Jack were arguing about something petty. “Don’t argue with me!”

Newest word added to her vocabulary: “Literally”. What??

Far past her bedtime because she had taken a long nap: “I can’t go to sleep. My eyelids are GLUED open!”

Grant

He just says a few words: mom, da, amen (complete with a sign/clap), and signs more and all done. He has also started giving kisses and high fives, which is pretty darn cute.

long overdue adoption update

here’s where we left off –

June – ready to tackle our dossier!
July, August, September – dossier document collecting. Setbacks, mistakes, delays. 😛
October – sent dossier to our agency.
Currently – redoing a couple documents for the dossier.

Next steps:

  1. Dossier approved, translated into French and submitted to Haitian social services or IBESR.
  2. Wait. Wait some more. Wait covered waiting with wait filling. Our file will sit on a desk, in a file drawer or in a box (I have no idea how they file dossiers when they arrive – just making this part up) for as long as it takes for it to reach the top of the stack. The front of the queue. The interesting thing is there seems to be no rhyme or reason to who’s file is chosen first, second or third. No centralized, standardized system. So we wait and pray and wait. Probably somewhere between 9-20 months.
    Also in this waiting time, we’re going to learn some basic Creole (the language most commonly spoken in Haiti) and work toward meeting Haitians living here in MN and more families with Haitian children.
  3. MATCH! At some undetermined date, our dossier will be reviewed and chosen to be matched. A child will be chosen for us! The much anticipated, long-awaited and most definitely loved child who will become a Puelston. 🙂
  4. Travel to Haiti to meet our child. Once we are matched, we will make a two-week trip to Haiti to meet and get to know our child. We will be able to take any or all of our kids with us to meet their brother or sister – we’ll decide if that’s a good plan or not when the time comes. This will be an exciting and nerve-wracking trip, hopefully full of good opportunities to love and get to know this little person. Then we have to leave them in Haiti and return to the U.S.A. while their adoption processes through the Haitian legal system. Sad/hard/really tough.
  5. More waiting. We wait again, for an undetermined amount of time, for the court system and social services to go through the necessary steps to make the adoption legal. Hopefully, in this time period we’ll be able to send our child lots of reminders of our love, our family and how excited we are for the day we will be together again. There are LOTS of steps in this process, and it can take anywhere from 9-18 months.
  6. Visa appointment! This is the last step in the long process and once our child has been issued a visa from the U.S., we will travel back to Haiti to bring him or her home.
  7. Home. Hallelujah and pass the bonding/attachment phase. Lots of love, family time and learning how our family works with another, amazing person in it.

So that’s it in a nutshell – we hope and pray that the time frames are shorter, rather than longer, but Haiti is in a time of transition with adoptions and things are slow right now. They could get faster, they could stay slow, they could get slower. We will have ample opportunity to exercise that lesser known beatitude: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall never be bent out of shape.” And ample opportunity to trust a loving Father with His perfect plan and timing.

Thanks for being part of this journey with your love, thoughts and prayers! We are so grateful for the support, financially/emotionally/prayerfully. This is a bumpy, winding road and we’re so thankful for those who are cheering us on!

a seed of faith

Jackson, tonight I had the incomparable joy of hearing you ask Jesus to save you.

Who knew that a conversation about wildcats in South Carolina would turn into a redemptive conversation that would lead to you wanting to follow Jesus? I sure didn’t anticipate it as I painted the swing set and you sallied back and forth on the red swing below. But Jesus knew. He knew you’d want to know if bears lived in North Carolina and if wildcats lived in South Caroline. He knew I’d tell you about my Pop-pop’s stuffed wild cat that was mounted on his wall when I was a girl. He knew you’d ask if my grandpa was in heaven…Jesus knew it would go like this:

You asked me if I was going to heaven and I said yes. You asked what heaven is like and I told you it was the best thing you can imagine, but better than that because God was there. Then you wondered what hell was like and I explained it’s the worst thing you can imagine, and worse, because God isn’t there. You asked what was in hell I said fire and darkness.

You asked again I was going to heaven and why I was. I answered, “Because I have asked Jesus to save me from my sins and I was sorry and repentant for my sins. I asked Jesus to save me because I knew I wanted to follow him all the days my life.” And then Jack, you said, “Mom, could you help me do that too?” I said, “I would love to.”

So later in the evening you and I prayed together and you asked Jesus to save you. I’m so glad Jack! So glad that God takes conversations about Wildcats and turns them into redemption. So glad that you want to follow Jesus. Dad asked you why you wanted to go to heaven and you said “to be with God.” I can’t think of a better reason, because He wants you to be with Him forever. He made the way for you to be with Him forever!

I love you, Jackson and my deepest prayer is that you will follow Jesus all the days of your life. God has begun a good work in your heart and I know that he will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I pray that this seed of faith that God has planted in your heart will grow to be a mighty, strong oak with deep roots. Sink yourself deep into Jesus, Jack. He loves you and promises to be with you all along this journey of life. He is FOR you. Chase after Him with every bit of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Love, Mom

Photo by jomegs - Google Chrome 7292014 114601 PM.bmp

a recap – three months and some change

whoa. It’s been a full three months since I’ve touched this blog. 😦 Which makes me sad. Life has been busy, needless to say. Adoption paperwork/stuff, living life, trying to balance myself, our marriage and the joy of three kids. And at the end of the day when I have a few minutes to spare, I don’t tend to write…because BRAIN CELLS.

Brain cells which have been eaten alive by five year old boy questions. Seriously, it’s like the Spanish Inquisition around here EVERY DAY. Which is great, because I am glad he’s so hungry to learn, but some days I feel like handing him Siri to answer the barrage. 😛

But I do really love my life, with all its quirks and hiccups and exhaustion. And coffee. About a month ago I felt like the post-partum fog and blah lifted – praise be! That six month mark…its a beautiful thing.

May brought SPRING, our first niece/cousin, Jack’s last day of preschool and his first success at reading, and Jack’s first t-ball game. June held my birthday (32-what?!), Kyle running the Grandma’s Marathon in under 4 hours, and our sixth Backyard Bible Club. July has flown by with family get-together’s, the Fourth, a boat excursion, Jack’s birthday, and a quick trip to Duluth for the Park Point 5-Miler and Walk. August is upon us in days!

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Jackson turned five on the 17th and I can’t believe we’ll start kindergarten in a few weeks. I have one…exactly one item of curricula ready. Er, purchased. But not really ready. Yeah. Need to get on that.

Taylor is just a riot. Every day she makes me laugh and brings a smile to my face with the things she says and the ideas she has. Her favorite things lately have been riding her new pink bike that our kind neighbors passed along from their daughter, and popsicles. Oh and fruit snacks.

Grant is quite simply our Mr. Sunshine. His smile (sporting two teeth and two more on their way!) lights up every corner of every room. I can’t get enough of his roly-poly legs and his fat, dimpled elbows. He has tan lines in his arm and wrist fat rolls. I mean, REALLY?! It’s just too much. He’s juuuust starting to scootch around and be mobile. I foresee crawling and pulling up being not far away.

On the adoption front…we’re THIS close to being done assembling our dossier! Just waiting on some paperwork from our doctor’s office and a revision of our home study before we apply to USCIS and send our dossier to be translated. I hope by September, our dossier will be filed in that beautiful country called Haiti. Then we wait. For a time period only God knows the length of…patience and resting in His promise of knowing what’s best for us will be the name of the waiting game.

So that’s a quick recap…I hope it’s not three months before I open this page and thoughts spill out onto the keys and into words on this page.

 

 

 

My Kids Say Funny Stuff 4.0

He Said

“Push-ups are good for my body.”

Jackson likes to watch the news on an app on the iPad while he eats breakfast. We obviously only let him watch age appropriate news stories, but he’s right there seeing screen shots while we choose the ones he can watch. One particular story’s photo was of a certain medicinal plant. Jack said, “Oh Mom, let’s watch the one about marijuana.” Jaw drop. Then I realized that he’s been paying attention when Kyle has shown people video clips and photos of the very large marijuana grow his SWAT team helped dismantle last summer. Cop kids. :-O

We have tiger lilies growing in our front garden bed and Jackson has called them “Lion lilies” after asking me what they are called. Presh.

After a discussion about a nearby town called Taylors Falls and how it has the same name as Taylor, Jackson remarked, “I wish Jackson, MIssissippi was closer to us.”

He pointed to a picture of missionaries on our refrigerator and asked, “Where do those Christian-airies live again?”

We recently went to our favorite place in Minnesota, Duluth. and our cabin stay in a North Shore town called Lutsen is coming up in this week. As we left the shore of Lake Superior and headed south to our home on our recent visit, Jackson sighed and said wistfully, “I want to live in Dulutsen.” So do I, buddy!

She Said

After swimming in a hotel pool, shivering and needing to go potty, Taylor got big eyes when she sat on the toilet: “I have hot pee!”

Earlier this spring, Taylor’s Aunt Anna and future Uncle Tyler asked our family to be in their wedding (which is only a few weeks away now). Taylor was so excited to be the flower girl. She had a little conversation with Kyle about wedding roles: “I’m duh fwower dirl, you da fwower boy?”

“I’m two, How much you be?”

She had some especially stinky and serious gas – “Mom! I have fire in my butt!”

Taylor is Miss Independent these days. “I do it maself,” she says daily.

As she pulls her t-shirt down to reveal her shoulders: “See my big muffles?” Translated: Muscles.

Sweetest question ever: “Tan I div you a butterfwy tiss?”

On our way into one of our favorite river towns nearby, Taylor got so excited. “We’re almost to Taylors Falls! MY falls! I match.”

Jackson got some handcuffs for his birthday last week. Taylor asked him if she could play with his “lockers”, which is only slightly less funny than when she asked him for his “hookers”.

Jackson is Five!

 

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What day is today, Jackson?: My birthday!

How old are you? Five.

Who made you? God did.

Where do you live? in North Branch

What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy?  Go play at the playground.

What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? Go to the store.

What is your favorite thing to do with Taylor? Play babies.

Who is your best friend? Reegan.

What is your favorite book? Trusty the Train

What character in a book do you like best? Thomas the Train

What is your favorite Bible Story? David and Goliath

What is your favorite thing to build? Towers

What is your favorite food to eat? Apples

What is your favorite thing to play? Hide and seek

Where do you love to visit? North Carolina

What song do you like to sing the most? Glory to God

If you could buy anything at the store, what would it be? Spiderman

What is your favorite animal? Horses

If you could buy someone a gift, what would you buy and who would it be for? I would buy a toy house for Reegan.

What would you like to be when you grow up? A police officer.

What do you enjoy doing outside? Playing football.

What holiday do you love celebrating? Fourth of July

What is your favorite work to do at school? Painting

What is your favorite restaurant? McDonalds

What is your favorite special treat? Popsicles

What do you love most about being a big brother? Taking care of Taylor and my brother

What do you want to do today on your birthday? Play mini-golf and eat at the Drive-In!

What was your favorite thing about being four? Going to the beach

What are you most excited about in turning five?! Playing with my friends.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

two years with taylor

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at two years old, Taylor:

  • weighs 28 lbs. (70th percentile)
  • is 2 ft. 11 inches tall (80th percentile)
  • has almost all her teeth – those two year molars are still coming through…sigh.
  • runs and jumps and loves to walk or ride her plasma car.
  • talks up one wall and down the other – her vocabulary and communication skills surprise me every day.
  • is a total fashionista. She frequently tells me exactly what she’d like to wear and loves shoes and tutus. 🙂
  • still loves her Pooh lovey and her “blankek” (blanket).
  • adores her daddy, her “Namas” (Grandmas) and Granpa and Papa.
  • thinks Jack hung the moon, except when he is touching her stuff.
  • enjoys “Boos Coos” (Blues Clues) and Georgie (Curious George) and Dannel Tider (Daniel Tiger) for TVand
  • her favorite songs to sing are “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “You are my Sunshine”.
  • loves Sandra Boynton books, especially “The Belly Button Book” and “Pajama Time”.
  • loves to play “Ring Around the Rosie”
  • points out “trators” and “big trucks” when we’re on the road.
  • we still call her Tay or Tay-Tay for nicknames.

Taylor is my sunshine. 🙂 She makes me smile and at the same time, boggles my mind with her smart little self and so much personality. I feel like I know less about parenting her than I did about Jack, because his personality is more similar to mine and her’s is not. Where he likes to follow the rules, she would like them not to exist. 🙂 But oh I love her. She is a treasure.

I can’t wait to see what her response to her baby brother or sister will be and if she’ll love being a little mommy. She likes babies a LOT, so i think that will be in our favor.

She recently started singing along when we have family worship time – its so precious to hear her little voice singing “Bwess the Yord” and other sweet words of praise to our Jesus.

Jesus, Taylor is your girl. I pray for her to know you and love you. Please help Kyle and I parent her well. May she know your love because of our love for her. May she know your heart is for her. Amen.

Happy 2nd birthday, Tay-tay! We love you.