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. ūüėČ 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. ūüôā 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.

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foster parenting adventure

so apparently I haven’t said a single thing about our new pursuit of a foster care license online. If I think about it, I think I’ve only mentioned it to about two friends in real life…mostly because ever since we decided to pursue fostering, nothing has happened to move it forward. here’s the story of how we find ourselves elbow deep in redundant paperwork:

Last November, Kyle had a particularly heart-wrenching encounter with a little two-year old boy on a call at work. Kyle found this little guy on a bed in a horrible drug house, surrounded by trash and old food crumbs, obviously neglected, drug-impacted (there was drug¬†paraphernalia near his bed)¬†and far behind developmentally. After a stern conversation with this boy’s mother, and placing the child in an emergency foster home, Kyle came home wanting to do something more. We talked and prayed about looking into foster parenting and called our county to start the process.

We received some basic info in the mail in December, and called back to schedule the next step, but were told they do orientation once a quarter and there had been one recently – the next one would be in the spring of 2011. So we went on with life and I read up on foster care kids, foster care challenges and every blog about fostering/adoption I came across. I recalled my experiences as a house parent to 22 kids at the children’s home in Florida and thought how “easy” it would be to only have one or two kids to care for.

Earlier this month we finally heard from the Foster Care Manager that the next orientation was scheduled for this week and gratefully, it fell on a day Kyle already had off and we could easily attend. Grandma Char and Aunt Molly came to watch Jackson and we sat through a 67 slide PowerPoint presentation on how our house needs to be set up, rules and regulations, information on procedures and how the system works and detailed information on foster care needs in our county.

Later in the afternoon we started on our Mt. Everest of paperwork with duplicate forms going to different state and local agencies, realizing once again that government is anything but efficient. ūüėõ We also heard from a 12 year veteran foster parent on her experiences and some of her favorite tips and tricks to making kids feel at home and loved in a difficult time. She said two things that really stuck with me.

The first: “The hardest part is always letting them go home.” And the other was her personal vision for fostering to adopt. ¬†She hopes is to adopt as many kids as possible from the MN Waiting Children list until she is too old to do so. Let me tell ya – she’s no spring chicken either – I’m guessing she is near 60 and her youngest adopted child is 5. So far she has adopted 8 kids and more are going to be the lucky ones to have her for an adoptive mom.

I learned that most adoptions of kids in the Minnesota system take just about as long as it does to grow a baby: 9-10 months. Sometimes it can take up to a year if its a confusing or complicated case. There are about 350 kids waiting to be adopted in our state right now. I share this mostly because it was interesting information to me, not because we are actively pursuing adopting through the foster care system. We are definitely open to it if God brings us a kiddo that can’t be reconciled to their family and needs a forever home.

I will not lie: this is a little nerve-wracking for sure. You never know what placement you could get. You can’t possibly know all the pain and hard things a kid has experienced in their short life until you start loving on them and it unravels. I feel like we have absolutely no idea what we are getting into, but am confident that with the massive amount of resources and the power of a Mighty God at our disposal, we can do this. “He is faithful who called you, who also will do it.”

Thanks for your interest, prayers and support as we start this adventure! It will take 2-4 months for us to complete the licensing process and are ready to accept kids. Placements have been down over the past few years in our county (a very good thing!) but there is a possibility other counties would bring their kids to us if we’re available. At the beginning, we will be available for emergency shelter care and respite care and later we will move to longer-term placement status and foster-to-adopt.

So here we go! Into the wild blue yonder that is full of clouds of grace and mercy. We just want to be faithful to Christ’s call to be his hands and feet – to care for the orphan and widow and to be His light in a dark world.