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!

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!

adoption update

it’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything about our adoption proceedings. But most of that is because there has been no news. No news other than Puelston Child #3 was coming the old-fashioned way and we were hoping to wrap up our home study ASAP.

Well…just about the time we were completing the last bit of paperwork for our home study, the country we were pursuing (DRC), started seriously slowing down adoptions and paperwork processing and other things relating to bringing children home from there. Because the situation was pretty volatile, we decided it would be wise to pursue a different avenue.

Enter Ethiopia. Adoption from Ethiopia is more stable, due to similar adoption growing pains occurring there several years ago. We know several families whom have brought home children from Ethiopia and felt like it was a good choice. So all our home study paperwork was geared toward Ethiopia. Hooray! So glad to have something a little more concrete and completed.

We narrowed down an agency choice (since our home study agency here in MN doesn’t do adoptions from Ethiopia) and spoke with them and they suggested waiting to begin the paper trail until Baby #3 was around 6 months old – the process can often go quickly, and it wouldn’t be good to be in a place where Kyle and I needed to travel to Ethiopia twice in three months when I couldn’t leave a baby. And it would also give us time to settle into a family of five, bond with the little person, etc. – all Very Good Reasons to wait.

But in the meantime, we certainly could begin putting together the money needed for each step along the way. It’s not like $30,000 was growing in our backyard, and we haven’t quite got that in savings either. 😉 So my mind has been working on fundraiser ideas, places I can cut back on spending and other assorted ways to get the money ready.

I finally received a hard copy of our final home study document a few weeks ago. The day after it came, I was super surprised by some news as I scrolled through Facebook that morning. The agency we were planning to use for bringing home a child from Ethiopia announced that their Haiti program was accepting new families…AND that Haiti’s requirements for adoptive families had changed.

Pause for back story: the first thing that sparked this adoption hope in my heart was a photo of a little girl sitting in the dirt outside a medical clinic in Port au Prince in 2010. Just after the earthquake devastated that already fragile country, Kyle went there to minister with a team from our church. His photos and stories gripped me and I wondered who would care for the hundreds, yes thousands of newly made orphans in that country. I wanted, I hoped, I prayed that we could be a family to care for at least one.

But as I researched Haitian adoption, I quickly set that little desire on a shelf in my heart because we were too young and hadn’t been married long enough for their requirements. Not to mention that things were super up in the air for a couple years after with families having a hard time getting paperwork processed and the government/infrastructure there being so disabled. So we looked at other places with dire needs, and found ourselves looking at the DRC in Africa.

So you can imagine my delight when I read that Haiti had set the “age” for adoptive parents down to 30 and that now a couple had only to be married five years instead of ten! This was exciting news. To be eligible to adopt from the country that had first stirred my heart toward caring for the orphan…it would be a kind gift of Providence.

That same day, devastating news came for many families adopting from the DRC – the final authority that issues exit letters for adopted children announced a suspension of all activity in their dept. for up to a year (presumably while they straighten out some things they are concerned about). Since then, they’ve agreed to issue exit letters for some kids that received visas before the suspension, but this is still a major blow to families hoping to bring their children home soon.

I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d have been knee deep into an adoption in the DRC right at this moment if we hadn’t gotten pregnant. I paused and asked God if this was His way of keeping us available to adopt from Haiti instead. I don’t think He cares too much of the tiny specific minutia of our hope to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly”…we seek to be obedient to His call on our lives and to go where He sends us – in ALL Things, not just adoption. So whether we adopted from a central African country, Haiti or Kazakhstan, we can obey and He will be glorified.

But I do truly believe He is intimately involved in the details of our lives and time and again He has clearly hemmed me in before and behind, in ways I can’t see at the time, to bring me to a place where He pours out His blessing in a gracious way that wouldn’t have happened if I’d “gotten MY way”.

So to wrap it all up with a God-sized bow, the same morning that I found out about Haiti’s change in requirements AND heard about the news of the DRC effectively shutting down adoptions for a time, the reading in my little daily devotional was from…Isaiah 30:18. 

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.

I’m not kidding or making things up when I say that every time, EVERY time, God wants to remind me of His timetable and goodness in situations where I wonder if and when He plans to show up, He drops that verse into my life somehow. A sermon. A song. Having it be THE verse that I read in the little Bible reading app. A blog post. Whatever – He uses it. It’s his love letter to me…the words I so need to rest upon.

And so…He waits. We wait. We are blessed as we wait for Him. We pray for our future child(ren) as we wait for them. He shows us mercy. He intervenes on our behalf. I smile at the way He speaks into my life. He is MY God.

The process to adopt from Haiti can take up to two years, which honestly will work out well as we certainly aren’t twiddling our thumbs with nothing going on in our lives here. Ahem. Raising/keeping alive the three children we have is a feat in itself!

However, as soon as we have our first pile of $$ saved up, we can start certain parts of the paperwork and make another step toward our Haitian sweetheart. I hope by spring we’ll be ready with a savings account loaded with what we need.

And if you’ve made it to the end of this insanely wordy post, you have my applause and a hug. You must really love me/us. 🙂 Thanks for the prayers. For the love. For buying t-shirts (which are still for sale by the way, though now their awesome Africa boundary is a signpost of our journey rather than a definition, I guess). For being excited with us about biological babies and adopted children and and and.

This winding road and the bumps and shifts along the way may feel confusing and not at all how Google maps would have planned the trip…but I know that at the end of it all, there’s grace. There is Love and Mercy and a God who pours it out like a waterfall upon His children. I can’t wait to see the view from the next pit stop… the next historic overlook on this crazy adventure. Kyle and I used to remind each other (in our oh so complicated days of long-distance dating and Kyle’s job hunt) “The steeper the climb, the better and more incredible the view”.

We’re gonna climb.

Do Justice/Love Mercy T-Shirts + Giveaway!

Our first big expense for the adoption is the home study. To kick off our fundraising, we’re selling these awesome t-shirts!

 

Our friend, Paul Gilmer, designed them for us and we love the way they turned out.

The adult unisex shirts come in sizes S-M-L-XL, the toddler tees in 2T-3T-4T-5T and the onesies in Newborn-24 months. We have limited quantities of the kids shirts, but plenty of the adult sizes (also comes in kelly green besides the grey and blue)!

To order, pop over to our Adoption Shop Page. FREE SHIPPING on orders of 1 OR 2 shirts! Please tell your friends, send me pictures wearing your shirts and know that the money will go directly to our home study fund.

If you don’t wear t-shirts, donations are also (duh.) accepted. 🙂

We’d love to give away two shirts too! Would you post about these (with a link to this post or to our Shop page) on your Facebook wall, on your blog or on Twitter, to spread the word, each mention will get you an entry. Just leave a comment with the link to where you’ve mentioned it – one comment for each place. I’ll draw a name on Monday, 1/7.

MANY MANY thanks, friends. We are so grateful for those who have already purchased a shirt and/or given.

lately in the motherhood

The kids are in a fun stage that usually leaves me laughing during the day and exhausted by the time they go to bed. I’m quite certain I’m biased as can be, but they sure seem like clever, adorable, sweet and sassy little people that I’m so glad belong to us.

Taylor:

  • started saying “peas” while signing “please” in the last 2 weeks.
  • will say “bah-bye” and kind of wave/open/close her hand when people leave.
  • cuddles her baby doll in her little rocking chair and says “bay-bee, bay-bee”.
  • discovered a love for climbing. On the furniture short enough for her, up and down the steps, over toys, etc.  (wonk-wonk. :-/)
  • all of the sudden loves books and has stopped pulling forbidden books off the shelf in favor of her own board books.
  • is very much enamored with the very small ride-on, motorized Jeep toy. She figured out how to push the button to make it go and wants to be on it all the time if we’re playing outside.
  • bawls her eyes out if she sees her daddy leave without her.
  • finally has more hair coming in! And I think, praise be, that Kyle’s genes are coming through for me! Her hair definitely has a reddish cast to it and some curls are appearing. I’ve always wanted curly, red haired kids. And since Kyle had red curls from infancy to his late teens, when it started getting darker (and started disappearing altogether), I figured marrying him was a good bet for that. 🙂

Jackson

  • “what you got-for?” = What did you forget? Anytime he means to say forgot or forget, he says “got for”. I love it.
  • At a stoplight, we observed a man next to us who had a very long (like ZZ Top long) beard. Jack’s sincere comment? “That’s a vewy nice beard.”
  • After a bath, he was cleaning his ears out with a q-tip and declared, “I’m getting the boogers out.”
  • “Mom, I’m finding for my toy gun.” Finding for = looking for. 🙂 We’re working on that one.
  • He really likes the soccer gold (goal) Uncle Nate and Aunt Kar-yah (Karla) gave him for his birthday this summer.
  • Kyle got a cut on his hand and Jack asked if he was “blooding”.
  • When he sneezes he announces, “OH! I gah-bwess-you’d.” Is that similar to turning Google into a verb? I think so. 🙂
  • “Last night” is his measure of time for anything we did in the past. A few weeks ago we took a harbor cruise of Lake Superior in Duluth. About a week later Jackson said, “Mom! We went on that boat yast night…and we went around the barber. Yet’s do that again!”
  • loves “Blues Clues”, “Dinosaur Train” and “Mr. Rogers” these days.

We’ve reached a stage where Jackson is more aware of things and pays pretty close attention to things that are said/overheard and simple explanations are not enough anymore for this big boy.  The other day on the NPR were talking about the girl in Pakistan who was shot in the head, Malala. I hear his little voice pipe up, “MOM! THEY SHOT A GIRL?!!” I’m thinking: “Great. Now I get to explain the Taliban and their oppression of women to a 3 year old.” Needless to say, we’ve been a little more vigilant about what he hears/sees now.

Or another example – last week we had an appointment with an adoption agency to talk about their programs and interview their director. Enter “explain adoption to Jackson”. 🙂 He got it pretty well I think. Later that day I was looking at adoption programs for various countries online and Jack saw the pictures of kids and said, “So, which kid we gonna adopt?” I hope we can help him understand this crazy process for his little brain. He seems cool with the idea of having a chocolate colored brother, so that’s a bonus!

And of course, a recent picture. 🙂 That’s all the news that’s fit to print!

 

together for adoption and where we’re going next

 

so almost a month ago now, we boarded a plane for Atlanta and attended the Together for Adoption conference. In short, it was fantastic. Very informative, encouraging and eye-opening all at once. The plenary sessions were deeply theological (sometimes a little too much so for my poor brain) and beneficial. The breakout sessions were practical and plentiful – I wish only that I’d be able to clone ourselves so we could have attended more of them. Kyle and I took the divide and conquer approach so we could get as much information as possible in the time we were given.

I went to sessions on attachment & attachment styles, trans-racial adoption, HIV & orphans, and fundraising/financial helps for adoptive families. Kyle addressed some of the things he learned on his blog. And Noel Piper’s main session on “What I wish I knew…” was so real, honest and helpful. I love that woman and I don’t even “know” her. 🙂

We came home with a suitcase full of great resources, and packets from agencies. Meanwhile, our brains were full of information and our hearts full of a new awareness of how much we don’t know about orphans, adoption or any of this adventure on which we’re about to embark.

I feel like one of the main takeaways for me was how much better it would be to prevent orphans from happening in the first place. Next best is empowering communities and villages to care for their own orphans so a child can remain with their people in their culture. The next option is in-country adoption – another family in that country bringing a child into their fold. International adoption ranks low on the list. We also came to the conclusio we do not want to be placed on a waiting list for a “healthy” child. There are too many kids with minor illnesses/medical issues that can be cared for with a competent medical system to wait for a “perfect” kid.

So what’s next? We’re in the process of choosing an agency with a program for the country from which we’d like to bring a child home. We’re definitely hoping for an infant-toddler boy from an African country. We have an appointment with an agency here in MN next week and if that doesn’t work out, we’ll interview/apply with a different one in another state (which means we’ll have to do a home study here in MN with a MN agency).

If you wish to pray for us, I’d be grateful. Pray that God leads us to an ethical, reliable program with great in-country practices and a waiting boy that needs a family. Pray that we are able to negotiate these uncharted waters for our family with a minimum of complications. We are excited and confident that He who began this good work in our hearts will have His way.