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. 🙂

10361264_10152490351332471_2366281584168725340_n

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.

advent 2014

I’m not quite so on top of Advent this year as I was last year. Nesting was in FULL FORCE last year as we awaited Grant’s arrival. 🙂 But, I finally got around to making the plan for this year.

The kids’ are already asking about the Advent Calendar and talking about the fun of last year…I love that they are old enough to remember and anticipate the season now!

So, these are the things we are hoping to do throughout the 25 days before Christmas/Advent season this year.

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 – The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Daily Advent Activities – great ideas from friends, this daily book ideathis blog and this blog.
I’m using the Tin and Chalkboard Advent calendar from Starbucks again this year. This year’s version is even prettier, in my opinion, than the one I got last year! 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. 

Each day the kids will tear off a paper chain, and we’ll read the Scripture and the daily reading from the Jesus Storybook Bible. Then they’ll open the tin for the day and see what activity we get to do! They also get to unwrap a book, which we’ll read that day.

1. Make a Christmas countdown chain using the Names of Jesus chain.
2. Decorate the tree and the house!

Christmas tree3. Play with Little People Nativity Set. Make the Nativity Window Craft.
4. Gingerbread house. Read the Gingerbread Gospel while making.

gingerbread house5. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas & have popcorn.
6. Celebrate Grant’s birthday!
7. Buy presents for Toys for Tots or other charity, donate.
8. Snowman marshmallow craft (on Christmas Pinterest board)

taylor craft9. Make a borax snowflake and handprint Christmas tree magnets.
10. Christmas Carol Sing-Along! Small group Christmas party.
11. Pajama surprise! Christmas tree lights and hot chocolate.
12. Christmas Tree craft – (paper tree/hole punch/tissue paper/hang in window).
13. Reindeer pancakes for breakfast and Christmas Musicale at Fourth Baptist.
14. Indoor picnic by the tree/lights, make snowman pizza.
15. Hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles w/ breakfast.
16. Make a fort and read all the Advent books we’ve opened so far.
17. Make/bake sugar cookie cut-outs.

cookies
18. Decorate cookies.
19. Service Project: Take food to the food shelf. Birthday Party for Jesus with friends.

birthday for jesus20. Christmas music dance party & play the “count the snowball game”.
21. Watch The Polar Express with special snacks.
22. Make peppermint playdough and play with it.
23. Take cookies to neighbors and act out the Christmas story.

jack shepherd
24. Wrap last minute gifts. Christmas Eve service.
25. JESUS HAS COME! 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.

Our Christmas book list (some we purchased and some we borrowed from the library and will renew once in the month), in no particular order:

  1. The Very First Christmas
  2. Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
  3. Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale
  4. The Nativity
  5. Christmas in the Manger 
  6. Who is Coming to Our House? 
  7. There Was No Snow on Christmas Eve
  8. Father and Son – A Nativity Story
  9. Tomie’s LIttle Christmas Pageant
  10. This is the Stable
  11. The Friendly Beasts – an Old English Christmas Carol
  12. The Christmas Story from the Gospel According to St. Luke
  13. Humphrey’s First Christmas 
  14. Christmas in the Country
  15. The Third Gift
  16. Bear Stays Up For Christmas
  17. The Crippled Lamb
  18. A Christmas Like Helen’s 
  19. The Birds of Bethlehem
  20. One Starry Night
  21. The Little Drummer Boy
  22. A Charlie Brown Christmas
  23. A Christmas Goodnight
  24. Little One, We Knew You’d Come
  25. Good King Wenceslas 

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.

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!

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!

taylorgirl

taylor lately

From my baby girl:

  • hork! = fork
  • airpape! = airplane (always said with much enthusiasm)
  • blankek = blanket
  • no, pease = no way, no thank you, i don’t want it. (unfortunately a favorite phrase at the moment)
  • happy, happy, happy and more happy = please sing to me: “You are My Sunshine” and other songs.
  • shoooo = shoe. This girl loves her shoes. 🙂
  • go, go, go = what I hear from the backseat when I slow down for traffic or stop at a stop sign or traffic light. My girl likes to be on the move!
  • She wants to do whatever Jack does and be wherever Jack is. She really missed him this past weekend when he was fishing with Kyle. It was sweet to see.

trying to ride her brother’s bike

out of the mouth of jack 4.0

You know your kid is a Minnesotan when you’re outside on one of the first 40 degree days of the season and he exclaims, “Mom! It’s so warm, it’s like the desert!” (In his defense – there was no wind, LOL.)

“Oh no! this is TERRIBLE!” (I think he got that from Daniel Tiger, but I’m not sure…and I can’t remember what it was in reference to.)

Jack was putting on his jammies and got his head stuck in the shirt. When he got out, he said “goodness snakes!”

The other day I took him to the library for a special preschool reading time because Curious George (stuffed costumed person version) was there. They read two CR books and then the kids could get their picture taken with George. In the car on the way home Jackson totally made my day by saying, “Mom, it made me really happy to take a picture with Curious George, because I really yike him.”

20130405-230920.jpg

out of the mouth of jack 3.0

at Christmastime – “Oh look – there’s Santa Claw!”

in December, he surprised me by writing his name without help for the first time. J-A-C-K, Jack! he says. 🙂

“Can you buy me a mean shirt so I can get a present?” = i need an ugly sweater so I can win the Ugly Sweater contest at Grandpa and Grandma’s on Christmas day. 🙂 (It took me quite awhile to decipher this one!)

When Nate and Karla flew home for Christmas, we were all going to eat at Famous Dave’s after picking them up from the airport. Jack and I had a conversation in the car that went something like this:
Jack: Mom, are we going to Farmer Dave’s?
Me: Huh?
Jack: You know – DAVID CROWDER?!!! (with a duh! tone of voice)
Me: wow. I have no idea what you’re talking about!
Jack: We can eat meat and stuff dere (there)…wif Unca Nate and Aunt Karya?
Me: OH!!!! Famous Dave’s?
Jack: yeah. there!
Me: I love it. Farmer Dave, David Crowder and Famous Dave’s. (Farmer Dave is from a kid’s book he likes to read – The Big Red Tractor by Francis Chan.)

Recent new word: wondering.

A few weeks ago, we were attending some adoption training. Jackson asked if we would be “bringing home his choco-yet bruver”. I wish it were that easy!

If Kyle or I leave for any length of time, he tells us “I will miss you!” Like even when I’m going to the grocery store for milk. We have no attachment issues, clearly. 😛 🙂

“Taylor – you crack me up! I yuve you.”

He has to kiss and hug and wish Taylor “nigh-night” when she goes to bed.

Upon waking up one morning, I was greeted by a hug, a smile and “Mama? You are my sunshine.”

Daniel Tiger is helping make some good habits more solid – washing hands after using the bathroom, calming himself down when he starts to get upset and remembering that grown-ups will come back.

Overheard: “Then Daddy will get in his car, and drive real fast to help a boy or a girl if they are in danger or afraid. Then if there is a lion (yi-on) there, Daddy will boom it dead, so they don’t have to be afraid. Daddy helps people.”

On Sunday, Kyle was commissioned as an elder at our church. The way our church does it, an elder is a functional “pastor” – caring for the flock and occasionally preaching/teaching. We were trying to explain this to Jack, and I guess he thought it meant Kyle wouldn’t be a cop anymore because he said: “YAY! Daddy doesn’t have to go to work!” haha – not quite!

I will remember to you = I will remind you. Or…I forgot to remember you = I forgot to remind you.

Favorite things at 3.5 years of age:

  • PBS Kids – Daniel Tiger and Super Why 
  • Painting
  • Cars and trucks
  • “Booming” (shooting) things, complete with spit-laced sound effects
  • Hard-boiled eggs, sans yolks
  • Taking his “buddies” and blanky to bed.
  • Mom.
  • singing praise songs at the top of his lungs – Glory to God, God’s Not Dead and Ho-whoa-whoa (Holy by David Crowder) are some of his favorites
  • Montgomery Gentry’s song “Gone” – also known as the “bang! bang!” song.

I sure love being this boy’s mama.

“i voted” photo contest winners!

Today I ran a little informal photo contest on my Facebook page, for the coolest “I Voted” sticker picture of the day. Holy pixels, Batman – too many CUTE babies/kids, funny grown-ups and awesome creative types. The winner gets a dozen cookies mailed or delivered, and because I’m horrible at picking one fabulous picture over another, i decided to make a lot of cookies and have winners in several categories. 🙂

1. Cute Baby
2. Cute Kid
3. Most Creative
4. Most Beautiful
5. Funny Stuff

I had a couple people enter via Instagram, and they counted too. It was way too hard to decide!

SO. The winners!

1. Cute Baby – ACK, so many cute ones. But Jeremy and Rachel’s little sunshine’s smile was too much.

2. Cute Kids – Ben’s clan of little-uns made me smile with their big grins.

3. Most Creative was a tie between Amber, with her Voter Droid and Sara, with her Baby Belly.

4. Prettiest – when Janelle told me she was entering (and going to win!) I knew she’d come up with something fabulous. And she did.

 

5. Funny Stuff – Leah got her boys in on this and her son Jack (love that name!) turned into Voterman! LOL. I died laughing. Super great.

I wish that I had enough money to mail cookies to everyone that entered, because I loved every single picture. 🙂 I have some great friends and acquaintances across the U.S. that participated in the privilege of voting for our country’s president and other leaders. Proud of you all!

I was glad to vote – I was voter number 1012 in my precinct today. We brought the kids too and they got their little stickers. They even had a little voting booth for kids! Jack voted for the Angry Birds over Cat in the Hat – they’ll use the winning vote for an ice sculpture this winter at our town festival. Cute, huh?

 

Lastly, my friend Joy asked if she won, would I send her cookies to her brother who is stationed in Germany with the Army. That is a YES. Even though I didn’t pick her photo, I am definitely sending him some cookies. If you would like to join me and send him some homemade baked love, email me or leave a comment and I’ll get you his address. I’d love to have 5 other people mail him a care package before Christmas. {Supporting our troops is big around this house with my brother Nate also serving our country in the Army Special Forces. So proud of him!}

Even if your man (or woman) didn’t win today, I am glad that “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Daniel 4:25. Trusting that He will guide us through whatever lies ahead.

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!