Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some History

for those of you new to this blog.

Rick and I were both born in Elkhart, IN and grew up there learning to survive lake effect snow. Rick has one older sister, and I have an older brother and sister.

We went to the same Baptist school for six years and were friends, although we didn't date. I went to college, and Rick went into the USAF.

We were married July 2, 1988 and at that time Rick had custody of his daughter (in the front in blue).

Rick was stationed in England when we got married, so I joined him and Ashley there.

Rick was sent to North Dakota in April 1989, and custody of Ashley reverted to her mother as previously agreed upon.

Tyler was born July 23, 1990 in North Dakota.

And we became a family of three.

Jessica was born August 14, 1991 (that's 12 months, two weeks and a day after Tyler just to save you the math) Rick spent most of my pregnancy in the middle east in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

And we became a family of four.

When Jessica was around two months old, we moved to Okinawa. Finally somewhere warm!

We only got to stay in Okinawa for nine months and then were sent back to the states late summer '92 for early intervention and testing for Tyler. (He was 2 at this time, and it took until he was 15 for his diagnosis of aspergers)

I always knew I'd have children and then adopt children (although there was no guarantee I'd have birth children, and I did miscarry my first and needed intervention to get pregnant again)

We lived in South Dakota (another place with snow!!) and contacted the state about adoption. They didn't like to work with the military because the birth parents have 18 mo to appeal a termination (at least at that time) and a military family could be reassigned before an adoption was complete.
So we applied to Bethany Christian, and after a very long wait were chosen to adopt Adam who was born January 12, 1995.

The dad was unknown, and there was a lot of issues I won't go into in trying to find the dad. The judge dismissed the placement the first time and more junk went on. He was finally placed with us June 1995.

And we became a family of five.

Adoption day December 8, 1995.

Next issue--Rick had orders to England. We couldn't apply for Adam's passport until his adoption was final. Right after we applied, the passport agency went on strike. Rick went on to England right before Christmas, and we went in February '96 when we finally got a passport.

I had been donating to Christian Haitian Outreach for a while when Rick and I talked about adopting from there. In Nov '96, Tyler and Rick went to the orphanage to meet the children available for adoption. It turns out that most of the children there were not available for adoption. The parents placed them in the orphanage but wouldn't release them for adoption. There was an older handicapped girl, a mean five-year-old, Jeff who was then 3 1/2, and a toddler who ran screaming anytime anyone came near him. So Jeff was the obvious choice.

It took us quite a while to get paperwork ready due to being Americans living in England. Everything kept having to be sent to Chicago. Once we sent the final paper, it was less than six months before we traveled to Haiti.

My mom and I went down to visit Feb 1998 not knowing if we'd be able to bring him home or not. We knew nothing about the Haitian adoption process (which was nothing like it is today) and assumed it was like a domestic adoption-- go to court and take them home. We didn't know about ibesr or any of that.

It turns out we would have been able to take him home because his visa appointment had been scheduled, but I didn't have three tax returns in a row. We had four with a year missing in the middle. So while that was being sent, my mom and I flew to FL. I bought all the shoes and clothes I'd need for the kids until my next time back in the states. Jeff was escorted a week or two later.

Then I found out I didn't have the right paperwork to take him to England with me. So he went to IN with my mom, I went back to England, and Rick flew to the states to do the paperwork and bring him home.

He arrived in England March 1998. Rick got order to Valdosta, GA, so we moved there July 99. We didn't do Jeff's adoption right away.

Jeff's adoption was finalized December 5, 2000 and we became a family of six.

(We were actually a family of six since March 1998 but I don't have a picture of all of us together!)

We applied to be foster parents in Georgia. We got our first child in January 2000. That was a baby. Then we got a 5-year-old girl. Then a five-year-old boy who was with us almost two years. (We had two foster children at a time). We had special needs 8-year-old girl (when she arrived at 11 p.m. we were told she was quite smart. Turns out she was mentally delayed!). After the 8-year-left (and we still had the boy), we got a lot of calls for 8-10 year old girls but I needed break from that age group. We heard about a baby with a lot of "birth anomalies" who might be coming into care. I held out for her.

She came into our home early March 2001. And she hasn't left yet! We had more foster children come and go after her placement.

She was with us as a foster child for 3 1/2 years and we finally adopted her July 14, 2004! And we became a family of seven. Jessica was on a mission trip to NM at the time. All that waiting and then it takes place while she's gone.

In the meantime, Rick had moved to FL for a job after retiring from the USAF (he didn't want to retire but at the time there was no choice, it was before 9/11). The kids moved down with him and then Jasmine and I moved down after her adoption was complete.

We got to Florida and found out the foster care limit was five under 18 and we already had that many of our own. So we applied to adopt. We had our home study sent for over 25 children during the next two years and nothing. We finally realized that our future child was in Haiti. I'd been looking at the For His Glory photolisting for many months thinking I'd like this child or that one but never really considering it. But finally in October 2006 we applied. Earlier this year Jeff left for a home for troubled youth and just returned to us last month.

After a long delay because Linda was in Haiti for several weeks, we were approved to adopt. We decided that as long as we were adopting we'd get two children--a boy and a girl. I am SO GLAD we didn't know then that it was going to drag out for years.

After we were approved, I started looking at the list for real. I had decided on a boy named Juvenson, but couldn't find a girl to go with him. Then we saw a set of twins named Angelo and Angela but they didn't really feel like our children either. I kept putting off the decision because none of the kids "felt" like ours. Then one night we'd gotten back from Orlando/Disney near midnight and I turned on my computer to look at the list again, and there were new kids.

And we chose the twins. We didn't know how old they were at first and even though they were named like twins, I thought Kaleb looked younger. I was guessing they were nine months apart in age. But they were both 20 months.

Most of you know the story from here. We took our dossier to Haiti May 2007. We waited because we thought we were going to adopt Duckenson but two of our children had really bad feelings about adding three children at once. So after meeting him, we made the hard decision not to adopt him. : (

Three years passed from the time we chose them until the earth quake that brought them home. It was horrible. We were stuck ibesr, we were stuck in parquet, our judgment papers were lost TWICE. Then they had to redo the minutes because it had been so long. By the time all that was done, a new step were both parents had to go sign in court was added. We did that in November 2009. Our adoption was finalized in Haiti on January 10, 2010 but we didn't find out until June. The earthquake happened on January 12 and the kids were sent to the states January 23. They were released to us after 1 a.m. on the 25th.

And we became a family of nine!

We drove five hours to Jacksonville to Homeland Security on September 28, 2010 for the citizenship interview. It was favorable but they said the $1,860 fee had to go to Orlando before we could get our certificates. They said it would be about 2 weeks. Crazy things happened with our paperwork I guess, and the certificates were processed January 14, 2011. We received them yesterday.

Our final thing is to figure out what to do about their adoption. We were told that in FL you can just domesticate a foreign adoption. But when we did all the paperwork, the person we were assigned to at the court house said she didn't know anything about it and we should get a lawyer for a readopt. Easier said than done, and the couple we have found want almot $4,000 to for the readopt.

I normally say I have 8 children rather than 7 because I count Ashley although she is not here with us. She and her husand have two children and live in Indiana. She met the twins this past summer.
Are we done? Probably. I am not looking to adopt another child. I would like to do foster respite care but the GA foster care people won't release ours records to FL even though I've sent certified letters and FL has called them. FL will not approve us without the old records even though we've been through MAPPS yet again. So we are stuck. But that is okay. We have our hands full. That's why we were only going to do respite. It would be nice to have an extra child around occasionally. Or course you never know what might really happen! Life's a journey and we are still traveling.


One Crowded House said...

my answer to people when they ask if "we are done" is similar, I won't be actively pursuing adoption again... but I am not going to put limits on what God might have planned for our family!

Felicia said...

Well, we said we were finished. I talked to the adoption worker today.....

Do you know where White Pigeon, MI is? My husband was born and raised there. (Right across the border)

Kathy C. said...

F-- We had kids driving down to our school from there. Quite a drive to make twice a day but not that far otherwise.