Friday, April 30, 2010

Cuerpo Muerto

Amanda and I used to play this game called "dead body". One person would pretend to be completely dead and the other person had to move them around the house a great distance. I started playing this with my kids and they love it. It is also useful in showing them that while it would be very easy for me to dispose of their bodies, it would be impossible for them to dispose of mine.

The Opposite of Warewolves

Our kids are terrors during the day and sweethearts at night. Terrors. If you are interested in adopting older, hurt, siblings let me tell you something, it won't be before long before you are questioning why you are doing it in the first place. But today, in the midst of it all, Amanda was able to steal a couple of minutes to talk with Pamela about how horrible the day was going and Pamela said that she knows that it's horrible, but that our family will overcome it. Our daughter. One more amazing thing about Pamela's heart that helps keep us going: Yesterday I took Pamela and Camila to the store to get some things we needed and since they were super helpful, I let them each have some candy. Pamela picked out some candy and asked me a question I didn't understand, so I just said "yes" (normally a bad idea). When we left the store, she gave her candy to the begging children outside the store! That was what she was asking me: if she could give her candy to the kids outside. After Pamela did this, Camila shared her candy with Pamela. It was awesome. Anyway, we made a new rule: we need to be out of the hotel in the afternoon, because it is never good for us. The kids go crazy and we go insane, which makes the kids go more crazy. So we'll just spend our afternoons walking around Bogota and playing at the park to wear off energy. Thanks for your prayers.

Funny thing about tonight: we all watched a bootleg copy of The Princess and the Frog that our hotel manager hooked us up with. One problem: it was in English. I didn't even notice until five minutes into the movie and when I brought it up to the kids they didn't care. They'd rather keep watching the movie in a language they didn't understand than switch to another movie in Spanish. Wierd.

what do you do when all your kids hate you?

Really - that's it. Just try to survive the day, or keep trying to get something better? Right now, we've decided to just go for survive.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grateful today.

We had a wonderful day today. We went to Ayudame for our integracion meeting. The beginning of the day didn't start out as well because the appointment was an hour later than we were told, so we had an hour of kids sitting in dress clothes waiting for a taxi, but they survived.
The meeting was really great. Everyone (all 10 staff members) that joined us were so caring towards our children and had nothing but positive things to say. When I say that I mean that they were very concerned with how our kids are doing and they all wanted to talk with us about it, give us advice and support. They also all said that they children are doing really well, that our case is really good and they think our kids are going to do fine. Ed had the opportunity to talk with Maria Clemencia and some of the psychologists and social workers about some of the behaviors we have been seeing. They had some thoughts about it, but offered to let us bring the kids in to Ayudame twice a week to have the kids meet with counselors and therapists for free!! Wow! We feel so blessed by that! What a great opportunity for our kids to get therapy and counseling in their own country and in their own language with people they already know. So, we will be going to Ayudame every tuesday and thursday as long as we are here.
The Defendor of Minors talked with the children very briefly and just asked them how they were doing. They all said they miss their foster family, but that they have been having a lot of fun and that they are excited to go to the United States. They also all showed all of their million bruises and scars to the social workers :) Seriously, our kids look like wounded soldiers!
The meeting was a little hard in that Samantha choose to be with the workers and other people rather than us, but as soon as we left she was back to liking us :) It's understandable that she actually knows them better than us.
We went to the park when we got back and ran and ran and ran for hours. I actually just came back but Ed and all the kids wanted to stay and run more - honestly I don't know how he does it! Ed is the other thing I'm so grateful for today. I always knew Ed would be a good dad, but he really is. He loves those kids SO much! If you know Ed, I'm sure that's not hard for you to imagine, but it really amazes me that he never gets tired of helping them, talking to them, loving them, picking them up, playing with them and then when they go to bed, working on Spanish, thinking about what we can do better and then looking at pictures of them! If you know me, you know that I am way more reserved. I love the kids so much, but I'm glad that they have Ed to just lavish them with attention, even when they don't want it :) Also, the altitude really effects me. I'm so tired all the time. A lot of the other families have mentioned the exhaustion too. Yes, I realize that having 4 kids is tiring, but it's a different feeling than that. Anyway, I'm so grateful for Ed.
So, tomorrow our case enters the court system! So really all we do now is wait for Sentencia and then we come home with our kids! I think we are jelling as a family more and more everyday. Not to say things aren't going to still be hard, but we are attaching more and more to each other which is the important thing.
Thank you EVERYONE for praying and keeping up with us. We so appreciate the messages and the love. We are sorry we don't have time to respond to all of you, but we will someday :) We are thinking about all of you too and missing you very much!
Last thing - we forgot to take any more pictures today :( This is a real bummer, because I really wanted a picture of today for the kids as well. Oh well, we will just have to remember it in our hearts. The girls all looked very pretty in their dresses (Samantha actually wore a dress!) and well, to be honest, Sebas looked a little silly in his only dress clothes that were 2 sizes too big for him, but he is very handsome anyway.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Movies are really never a good choice, but we have always had a hard time saying "no" to fun!

Our day went okay today. It wasn't until 5:30 today that we thought, "okay, how much time do we have left before we can say the day is over?" Since we start getting the kids ready for bed immediately after dinner we feel like we survived once we make it to dinner. For some very strange reason we thought it was a good idea to let the kids watch a movie on the disney channel tonight. A movie maybe would have been okay, but on the disney channel? Loaded with commercials and other junk - oh well, we HAD to make at least one mistake today - right? So, now Ed is STILL trying to get the kids to go to bed and it's 9:30. BUT, to be fair, when I went up there a minute ago he was playing some game with them that involved jumping on the bed, so I'm sure they are nowhere near winding down.... I should probably go help :)

Everyday we see something new in our kids, which is fun, but sadly most of it is kind of scary. We are really seeing some difficult things in Samantha. Not that they are things that can't be helped or changed, but the girl has some issues. We are trying harder to make her look us in the eyes when we talk to her and not letting her not listening to us slide. She is just the most extreme girl - and it's hard to tell what is just a 5 year old girl and what is something deeper.

Tomorrow we go to Ayudame for our interview with the Defendor of Minors and a party. I'm not too nervous about it. They will first ask the kids (by themselves) how they are doing and adjusting and then they will talk to us. We have asked all the kids to be very honest but have also tried to reinforce that this is just a little interview and party and that they are coming back with us again! Hopefully they understand! After our interview our case will officially enter the court system in Soacha. We don't really know how long the process will take, but we expect to be here for at least another 3 or 4 weeks... that seems like a VERY long time right now.

Anyone have any ideas of some more fun things for an 11 year old? Most of the activities here are for much younger children and she gets a little tired of always playing with younger kids. School is going to be SO good for these kids! I'm going to try to find some little school-like workbooks for them to work on, but that means finding time to get to a store. We'll see. All 6 of us walked into a store today and we immediately had to gather the kids back together and walk out of the store. Not ready for that yet. One at a time is good.

Well - we didn't take any new pictures today, but we will have some tomorrow from Ayudame! thanks for all the love everyone - we need it!
(Ed still is up there with the kids - uh-oh!)
amanda

new day, new things

Well, we are trying a new schedule today - trying to have a highly organized day. It's going about 50% good. Right now is freetime - that is not good. No, I think we need structure every second. The kids really fall apart anytime they have choices. But, Sebas is making better decisions when given time and he picked a flower for me this morning :) Isabella, our representative, came to visit this morning and when she asked the kids if they wanted to go to the united states with us, Sebas said, yes, I'll go whenever my parents want to go. I think that's very good. Pamela is still very sad, but that's okay.
Camila is sitting with me right now and would like to say, "quiero mucho". She also says she would like to come to the US very soon. I can't think about how to say that in spanish right now. Okay, see you later.
chao,
amanda

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our pathetically easy life is getting very hard.

We're in survival mode now. Our posts, pictures, and videos will become more rare :) Today was basically the hardest day of our lives. Our family completely fell apart from sunrise to sunset today. Every minute felt like an hour. One young child escalated their anger and defiance all day until it erupted into a two hour meltdown. I don't have much experience in these things, but it was quite a site. I mean, two hours! At the top of their lungs. I'm not exaggerating. However, it was the first time any of our kids have cried out loud so we were actually pretty relieved when it started. It was much better than the defiance. In the midst of this, a doctor came to look at Pamela's arm, which she hurt on our first day together on the merry-go-round. At first the doctor told us we needed to take her to a specialist, but on further reflection agreed to just bandage it for now and give her ibuprofen and check on it in a couple days. A third child is getting a little more violent with their siblings. And the fourth child appears to be doing very well and is still very excited about everything, but I just think her sugar-coating is thicker than the others and will run out soon.

The good news is that the worst day was followed by the best night. Our meltdown child was very good after the meltdown for the rest of the night and Pamela stayed up with Amanda and I for an hour talking heart to heart. I didn't want it to end. She has been sharing her heart with us about our adoption more and more. She is still very sad and very afraid but she is beginning to trust us with her feelings which is very important. She now knows that she can tell us anything without fear of disappointing us. We have seen her heart and it truly is a heart of gold.

Thanks for all your prayers. Please pray for:
1. That we would continue to learn Spanish quickly. Listening is still impossible, especially for our children who speak very quickly and don't pronounce their words very clearly.
2. That our children would know that it is okay to cry about this truly terrible transition in their lives.
3. That we will present them with a limited amount of choices, and that they would make good choices.
4. That Amanda and I would stay strong together and not resent eachother during this difficult time.
5. That the courts would move quickly in Soacha so we can return home.
6. That Sebastian can cope with the new limits imposed on him by his new family.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

empujame

"Empujame" the number one thing we hear all day long! Can you guess why? I told Sami that I was changing her name to Empujame :)

Classic signs are starting to appear, but we're still having fun as a family.

Things are going good. Hard but good. Most of the difficulty comes from there being four kids and they are scared, sad, and happy (all at once) to be adopted. The children are starting to show some classic behaviors associated with attachment issues and sensory problems, some kids more than others. We had a tough time tonight, but we worked through it as a famliy. Sami hit Sebas tonight with a toy car right above the eye (have I mentioned how strong Sami is?), which was an indirect consequence of Sebas not putting his cars away after I repeatedly told him to do so. It was a pretty big wound, but Sebas refused to say anything but "Estoy bien" -- even though he was crying. Not "Sami hit me". No crying out loud, just tears. Not "I'm mad at Sami". It probably took 30 minutes for him to say anything else but "bien". They are all wired not to externalize any of their feelings, especially when they're feeling hurt or afraid.

Amanda and I are definitely making some mistakes with our choices about what activities we do as a family, but we're making quick corrections. Yesterday our mistake was to take them to the zoo -- the kids were good but everyone had control of our family except us. Today our mistake was getting them all riled up before bedtime. And I let Pamela have four (small) glasses of soda today. Whoops. I can't say no to my kids, especially when they start their sentences with "Papi". But the kids are definitely fun. They are super adorable and super fun and we are never bored as a family. Seriously, Amanda and I are just laughing hysterically as we write this post because of all the things we're remembering about what our kids said and did today.

One of the Danish families left today and the Norwegian family leaves on Tuesday, which will just leave us and a Danish mom and her baby. This is the Scandinavian adoption headquarters apparently. But two of the kids will lose friends when the Norwegian family leaves. It's cool to see them play so well with other kids that don't even speak the same language as them. But it will be good to be "more" alone with our kids. We really need to just spend more quality time as a family without distractions.

Spanish is going well. We are learning a ton and the kids are dumbing down their own sentences in order to communicate. They had an English tutor for the past month or so, but all that means is they can say a few things like "Hecho, how are chou?" Not super helpful, but cute none-the-less.

I've said this before, but we upload picture all the time to our "Colombia" album on picasaweb, so we probably won't post any pictures directly on this blog just to make it easier on time. I'll put the link on the side bar as well. We stopped giving the camera to Pamela which means we don't have to delete 100 pictures of her every night. Also, we find that videos are more fun because they're always doing/saying super funny things that you just can't capture in a photo. Here's the link again:

details

Good day today :) Wanted to say quick - thanks for the offers of sending clothes, but we will wait till we get back, we'll survive, but if anyone has xs boys clothes or size 4 or 5 clothes that they no longer need, they would be very useful when we get back! thanks! Also, we have figured out that we will be buying lots of bread, peanut butter and nutella when we get back because they LOVE it! All for now - !

Pamela wants to say something.

quiero mucho a mami y papi

Rainy day inside.

Right now the girls are all coloring Mandalas and Ed and Sebas are building a castle puzzle. we ate breakfast in our pajamas today and then took the usual 2 hours to get ready for the day. We are doing laundry and both sammy and sebas are wearing different outfits, though Sammy really didn't want to. Everyone fits in their clothes today! If it stops raining we will go out for a short walk. The hotel says they are having a bbq today with a band - not sure why!
We have integracion at Ayudame next thursday and then our case will enter the court system.
I don't think i said this before, but presentation, in Soacha, went very well. Maria and Isabel were extremely friendly and wonderful - so that was very nice. It was clear that our children have been very well loved.
They came with a whole photo album and a video of the party their foster family had for them, so that was nice to be able to see.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Zoo and family meeting...

Well I guess I should have known better than to take the kids to the zoo after knowing them for a whole two days. It was okay - the kids were fine, but it just wasn't a good idea. A LONG car ride to make us sick, then a long walk through the zoo with 4 kids with new shoes that produce lots of blisters, a tour guide who is super friendly but a very fast walker and kids that don't really know what's going on yet... I didn't cry, but i wanted to.
We do have pictures, but they won't get up till tomorrow.
The kids have started to "test" us to see what we will do, but I think we're doing okay (right Ed)? Once we made it to the park across the street from the hotel everyone was much happier. They love the park! Another family gave us some medicine for the blisters and now their feet are much happier.
I can't tell you how weird and hard it is to think in Spanish so much of the day and then try to think in English - it's hard. When I'm just thinking to myself, I think in Spanish - so my thoughts aren't very complex! I hardly know what to say to the Danish families because I'm so confused about what language to use.
Anyway, today was the hardest day by far, but I think tomorrow will be much better because we've committed ourselves to no more field trips for a long time! In Los Estados Unidos it will be much better because WE will be the ones in control - which will be good for everyone.

Funny things from today:
Once when we were all walking up to the room, the kids yelled "con dominoes" (or something like it) and they all hid from Ed and giggled till he found them.
Samantha has worn the same outfit today as yesterday and I won't be surprised if she wears it again tomorrow.
Sebastian wore his new pajama shirt all day - probably because it's the only shirt that fits him.

Okay well, I guess that's all. Please pray for the kids. Pamela, in particular, is very sad and misses her foster family very much. This has all been very hard on her. Please pray that we could understand more and more of what they are saying, especially what Sebas and Sammy are saying. Pray that Sammy would understand that we are her mom and dad, not Pamela. Pray for all of them that they would feel free to express whatever they want to us and that we would know how to respond to them.

Con mucho gusto,
amanda (and ed)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pictures and Videos on Picasaweb & Ed's Thoughts So Far.

Since Pamela loves to take pictures so much and because I don't really have time to upload each individual picture to this blog, I figured I'd just make the album public on picasaweb, where we store all our photos. There are quite a few videos in there as well and they're super awesome. We'll also be adding more every day. Like I said, most of the photos have been taken by Pamela, even the photos of Pamela :)


I don't know what Amanda shared about the kids yet, but I can tell you they are truly amazing. I mean, we totally don't deserve them. They actually made their beds as soon as they got out of them, then they had a discussion about how best to make a bed. What!? I don't even make my bed. I should have them do it for me! :) But Amanda and I are learning Espanol at record pace and that looks like it'll be the family language for quite a while, until they get immersed in Ingles. That has actually been our biggest obstacle so far, which is a wonderful "worst" problem to have. I'm sure it won't last forever, but it'll be nice while it lasts. Sebastian is a ham, always performing for us. Little Samantha is tough as nails and is the strongest of the four. She's the only one that can do the monkey bars effortlessly, and she frequently wrestles Sabastian, and wins. She is also fearless, always telling me to push her higher on the swing set. Camila is 100% pure sugar and has positive manipulation down to an art form. She loves to be told that we love her and she is 100% sweet 100% of the time. Pamela is pure gold. I can't even think about her without tearing up. She has been through so much in her life and she still smiles all the time. She is super patient with us while we learn to communicate Spanish better, and she is grateful for everything she has. To say I am proud of her would be the understatement of the year.


Another good day :)

Sorry - I want to put up more pictures, but Ed has some grand plan for having a link to them on the web, so when that's ready to go, you will be able to see ALL our pictures at once. Right now Camila is looking over my shoulder and I'm trying to tell her what I'm writing. Again - we can't believe how the most difficult thing we've encountered so far is our lack of spanish. If we could speak fluent spanish everything would be so much easier! Oh well - we are making do (and learning SO much - everyone at home would be surprised to hear how much we speak).
We took a very long walk with the kids today that ended with Ed carrying three kids the last block. We also had to make a trip to the mall (blah - never again!) because none of Sebastians clothes fit (all much too big!, but at least he'll grow into them) and all the of the kids needed a new pair of shoes that fit... We tried our best, but still needed stuff here. At least not everything because it is VERY expensive here. The kids actually were very good at the store, but I thought it was overwhelming :)
We pretty quickly run out of stuff to do but hopefully will get into a better schedule soon. we are going to the zoo tomorrow.
A little bit about each kid:
Pamela - very much the most responsible, independent child I have every seen. It's very hard to get her to stop being a parent. She really likes things to be organized and clean. First thing in the morning, when she woke up, she said good morning, gave a kiss and then asked permission to make her bed! Woah. She also loves her clothes to match. She is VERY beautiful and looks wonderful in all her "outfits" - she is the only one who fits in her clothes :)
Camila - A total drama queen. She giggles at everything and smiles and gives kisses to get her way - yes we know we are being totally manipulated. She has begun to show signs of rebellion when we say no to things. She loves to pose for pictures and to hear that we love her and think she's pretty a hundred times a day. She is very smart. Both her and Pamela read and write very well.
Sebastian - loves to tickle and laugh and make jokes, but most of the time we don't understand them. We feel really bad for him because none of his clothes fit, but I'm sure he'll grow :) He is so happy to have a Papi to play with him, rather than just girls all the time. He loves making movies with the camera and seeing himself in photos. He also really wants to dance all the time!
Samantha - She is so goofy! We just laugh all the time at her. She is a total dare devil! she is the only one of the children that goes across the monkey bars by herself and she always goes down the slide face first! She told us at 7:30 last night that she was tired and would go to bed now.

All the kids love to change their clothes and shoes a million times a day, which is fine and fun. The also like to take two showers a day and brush their teeth 3 or 4 times a day. They all slept 10 hours last night! Can you believe that everything we have read in their profile seems to be true? amazing!

well - I'm sure that was more than enough info for now. Hopefully I'll get Ed to post the pictures before dinner tonight.
Thanks for all the love everyone!
amanda

Happy Birthday Graham!

Here's a video the children made for you :) It's awesome.




Thursday, April 22, 2010

today

It was a very good and very long day. The children are amazing and doing a great job of putting up with us and our trying to speak so much broken spanish to them. Pamela and Camila are very slow and patient with us, but the two younger ones are having a hard time. Sebastian clearly doesn't understand what's happening and Samantha seems a little lost too. We are trying very hard to communicate, but it has been a crazy day. Camila is all sugar and sweetness - and we already realize, too much so. She tells us whatever we want to hear. Pamela really shares her true heart. We know it has been a hard day for her, but we were able to have a good talk together this evening. She is the "mom" to her brother and sisters and we are trying hard to stop that, but oh so hard when we don't understand so much of what Sebastian and Samantha are saying... so yes, we need your prayers still! I am reminding myself that it is only the first day! We are happy to have the rest of our lives to work on these things with them. We really love them so much already, and all things considered, there is no way this day could have gone better!
Okay - I will go back to the room now and sit with the sleeping children while Ed comes out and gets some "internet time" then the two of us need to formulate a plan for tomorrow!
love to all!
amanda

ps - the three youngest ones all have glasses on in the photo, but they took them off the minute we got to the hotel... no mention of glasses before, so I'm wondering how much they need them?

More pictures tomorrow - the first one of us all together.

one minute away - will papa survive?

I snuck out for one second to say hello - we are good - absolutely perfect! They are all wonderful - we can tell that we have many things to work on in the days head, but today, everything is good! Okay - "Sebas" is here, time to fly! Love these kids - totally - 100%! I know you are dying for pics, pero it will wait for bedtime!

love,
amanda

They're wonderful! I could die of happiness.

Quick update: everything is great. The kids are great. Everything is wonderful! Photos are coming later of course. Pamela would like to say hello:

estoy muy feliz, y ya quiero conocerlos.




Wednesday, April 21, 2010

walking

So far today we have done a lot of walking. We went for three pretty long walks and only got lost once. We've seen a lot of interesting things and have had a lot of nice talks with our new friends from Denmark. They have reassured us that no matter how bad our presentation goes tomorrow, in the end, everything will be fine. Not that we are looking only for things to be "fine", but wow, I'm just so nervous right now - I've really never experienced anything like it. I think all will be better when we can finally see our children, face to face.
Would love prayers for courage, trust in God and JOY!
We will post pictures tomorrow as soon as we can. The internet doesn't work from our room, so we have to be out in the commons area, to use the internet, so it might not be till later in the evening.

Time Zones

On another interesting note, we are the exact same time as Minnesota! We thought we would be an hour ahead, because we are in the Eastern time zone, but they don't do "daylight savings" so we are on the same time as Central time zone. Kind of weird that we came all this way and are still on the same time!

In Colombia!!

We had a very nice journey to Colombia and arrived sometime last night around 10? I'm not an experienced international traveler so I thought the flight here was SUPER fancy and fun! We each had our own little TV and got to choose whatever movies or television shows we wanted to watch and we got dinner with complimentary beer or wine :) Ed lost (and found) his bag with his laptop and passport in it TWICE, but we were twice saved - once by Kim and once by Juan (our awesome hotel manager).
We got everything unpacked in our room this morning. It's a little room, for the 6 of us, but it'll be just fine! We just had breakfast in the dining area and are now sitting in the sitting area/lobby listening to Kenny G (seriously) and making our plans for the day. We have some errands to run and details to take care of for tomorrow, but otherwise we will just try to get to know Bogota a little bit.
Are we nervous? Yes - really, I am. But, being here has calmed half my nerves, so now there's nothing more to do, but just wait for the day to arrive. We appreciate all your prayers for us and our kids who are now only HOURS away from us!
amanda

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thank Yous

We have so many people to thank for SO many things, the list is endless! I have tried hard to keep up with thank you notes, but towards the end here, I've gotten pretty bad at getting them out. Please know that everything that everyone has done for us is SO beyond appreciated and that you WILL STILL get a thank you note if you haven't gotten one yet, but it just might be a special note from Colombia (because I'm sure I'll have loads of time to write notes once we get our kids!) :)

On a side note, we are all packed, the house is cleaned, errands are run - we are ready to GO!

Where We're Headed

Children who are adopted at an older age have often lived a life full of unimaginable pain and fear. Over the past year, the Olson family has been helping us see where our family is headed, helping us let go of false hope, and helping us put our hope in the the Gospel alone. Their jouney is a good read even if you're not adopting if you don't have kids or aren't married. Even though it's in the context of older-child adoption, they show how these pieces fit together: God's love, the cross, and suffering. Here are my two favorite posts: Letting Go of Dreams and These Kids Are Killing Me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 22nd!

We have heard that we will be receiving our kids April 22nd at 10AM! We will most likely travel on tuesday the 20th, to give us a day to settle before jumping in. I am on the phone with Delta right now trying to book tickets! What a crazy good day!

really good news and some bad news

We are going to get our children next week!!!

That's the good news. (obviously)

The bad news is that someone sent an e-mail to Maria Clemencia or Ayudame "on our behalf" telling them how frustrated we are that we haven't been able to go to Colombia yet. Ayudame is VERY upset about this and hopefully it won't effect our presentation date. We did not send this e-mail, nor do we know who did it. I'm sure that whoever did it thought that they had our best intentions at heart, but it might really screw things up for us. So... since they won't tell us where the e-mail came from, we are just sending out this general note and saying, "Thanks for caring for us and our children, but that wasn't the right step to take." Hopefully we are still able to get our children next week.

I'm going to look at airline tickets right now. We dont' have an exact date yet, but we have been told it WILL be next week!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Judges11

Read this today in studying Judges 11...

"The biggest lesson has to do with our inability to believe in a God of grace. In the Garden of Eden, the first lie of the serpent was to make us disbelieve that God had our best interests in mind. Since then, we have always felt we had to control God, that we cannot trust God. Consider in what ways you would live differently if you really believed God was completely committed to you and on your side?"

Oh - how I need to believe in this today.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What we're up to...

We're hanging in there :)

Just a quick update: we still don't have a presentation date and we don't really know when we will get one. On Sunday we heard news from our awesome hotel manager in Colombia that Maria Clemencia was going to return from Europe on Monday (yesterday), but that turned out not to be true. I guess she's still in Europe, but our agency doesn't really know for sure when she's coming back. We do know that Ayudame hasn't planned a date for us yet, and it's looking like they won't start planning until Maria returns. We were hoping to get our kids sometime next week, but that's looking like a long shot now. Bummer.

Amanda and I are doing okay. We're just taking it one day at a time. Some days are a lot better than others :) We know that even though some people have let us down, God has not forsaken us because he gave up his only Son so that he could adopt us as sons. And we know that when we hold the kids for the first time, some day, we won't really care about how long it took to get there. For now we're just trying very hard not to turn the kids into idols (an idol that will destroy us within the first few days of being their parents, I'm sure!).

Also, we purchased a big freezer and a Sam's Club membership and Amanda is making & freezing a bunch of meals for when we get back, so that should keep us busy for a few days at least. Mental note: I hope we actually get to adopt those kids, otherwise those will be the most depressing meals ever. What else are we going to do with 20 lbs of frozen ravioli bake?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Plan for Next Week

Our Article 5 letter was issued by the US Embassy in Bogota on Thursday, March 25th. Only two things need to happen before we can get a date to receive our kids: the Article 5 needs to be legalized (which verifies it's authenticity), and a date needs to be decided upon by the orphanage and ICBF. That's it. But I suspect that if a plan isn't in place for our agency and our representatives in Colombia, we will watch another week go by without any progress.

Where I work, if something is drastically over-schedule and nothing is being done, managers will sometimes hold hour-by-hour checkpoint meetings until they are done. Nothing lights a fire underneath you like your manager calling you every hour on the hour. It's amazing how quickly things that were "beyond your control" suddenly become under your control. I'm not going that far, but last Thursday I sent an e-mail to our agency informing them of our expectation to get a date by the end of the week. I told them that simply e-mailing our representative in Colombia twice a week isn't going to cut it anymore, and that I expect to receive status updates from them twice a day until we receive a presentation date. I also told them that if we don't receive a presentation date by the end of the week, we are flying to Colombia next weekend to do what we can to help out. Hopefully it doesn't have to come down to that, but I'm not watching another week go by without answers. I know that sounds drastic, but ultimately I'm responsible for those kids, not our agency. And if something isn't being done, it's up to me to advocate for them, not anyone else. It would be irresponsible of me as a parent to not to get the ball rolling again.

You may think after reading this that we wish we had used another agency. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have loads of respect for Bethany and our social worker, Kristina Huisinga. It's true that things have not gone smoothly for us with our Colombia coordinator in Michigan and Colombia representatives, but I think we're the exception and not the norm. And more importantly, I know for certain that their heart is in the right place: to glorify God by serving orphans. In fact we left another agency in 2008, Children's Home Society, who is known to be very smooth in the getting-things-done department, precisely we were increasingly at odds with them about reasons for adoption. From day one Bethany understood us and our desire to adopt waiting children. Our social worker is a champion of special-needs and waiting-children adoption and we are so happy to have her on our side. We've just had a lot of unfortunate circumstances work against us, and it's going to take some extra effort to get us back on course again.

Hats!

In the midst of all our bad news, we've had a lot of encouragement from friends. We had small group at our house this past week and when Amanda Isvik sat down at our table, she pulled out the cutest hats that she was working on knitting. They are so adorable, I can't believe people can actually make stuff that cute! Anyway, when I asked about them, she told me that she was making them for our whole family! One for each of us. It's the first time in my life that I actually want it to be cold out so I can see everyone wearing their new hats soon. Thanks Amanda!

Also, thanks to everyone for the outpouring of love and support to us during this waiting period. I'm sure many of you are tired of seeing our grumpy faces, but we hope to "turn our frowns upside down" someday soon :)



Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's official: we will not be adopting our children any time soon.

It has been 107 days since our referral was officially issued. It took 7 weeks for some paperwork from our referral to be "officially" translated in Colombia, another 5 weeks for our I-800 to be approved and cabled to Colombia, and now we have been waiting for a translated, legalized Article 5 letter for 15 days, and it will likely be another week or two before we get that. We have been given no answers from our adoption agency (Bethany) or our in-country representative (Isabel). We're lucky if we even get an email from them. We have watched family after family after family cruise by us, receive their kids, and return home. Now that Easter is here, the country is shutting down for a while, and everything will likely be backed up once everything opens again sometime next week. Also, our travel visa is already three weeks old and will likely be half-expired by the time we arrive in Colombia, if we're lucky. So, things are looking pretty grim and frankly, we shouldn't put any hope in reaching our kids any time soon.