mulletmemos

1 John 4:19 We love because He first loved us.

From Haiti

I am finally writing a blog post from Haiti!!  It’s hard to believe we are actually here spending time with our little girl.  This is day 6 of our trip, and we have 9 days left.  It has definitely been an adventure.  Haiti is a lot like we expected it to be and then a whole lot more piled on top of those expectations.  It is sensory overload.  Everywhere you go there is so much to look at.  There are bright colors everywhere.  There are people carrying crazy amounts of stuff on their heads.  There are chickens running around.  There are cars, both broken down and running, everywhere.  There are pedestrians everywhere.  There are motorcycles everywhere.  There is noise all the time.  There are beautiful mountains, and there are concrete slums built one on top of the other up the hills.  There are open air markets with vegetables, freshly plucked chickens, clothes, shoes, and charcoal for sale.  There is trash lining the streets.  There are school children walking home in their uniforms holding one another’s hands.  There are these crazy contraptions called “tap-taps”, which are pick-up trucks with covered backs used as taxis.  So many things are unfamiliar, but there is so much life.  People may have different cultures, but they are the same at the core.  They are all made in the image of God.  So many things are familiar.  There are parents walking down the street holding their children close.  There are children laughing and playing.  There are people trying to earn a living for their family any way they can.  It is the fabric of life, and it is beautiful.  Thus far, we have not had a moment when we have felt afraid.  It is a privilege to experience another beautiful place and culture.

Then their is our sweet little girl.  Our time with her has been so sweet.  She is very shy, as we were told.  However, we see her opening up to us a little more every day.  It has been sweet to see each new little step of trust.  We actually got her to laugh today, and it was music to our hearts.  We are having so much fun getting to know her.  She has really loved bubbles and lollipops and coloring.  Every day we go to the orphanage around 9 in the morning, and we leave to come back to the guest house around 3 in the afternoon.  Our days at the orphanage are full of playing with and loving on these sweet kids.  They are all hungry for attention, and we are having lots of fun giving it to them.  It has been such a joy to watch Grant, Brayden, & Tailyn play with the kids.  They are so good with them, and they tirelessly allow them to climb all over them.  It’s so fun to watch!  It is also really sweet to watch them with their new little sister.  They all love her and spoil her already.  She will not lack for attention! 🙂  Every day we spend with her is a blessing.  We are trying not to think about leaving her when we come home at the end of our 15 day trip.  We are relying on the strength of the Lord to face that when it comes.  We know that we will need His strength and His grace to endure it.

We are praising God to finally be here.  We are so thankful that we have FINALLY made it to this point.  There is still a long ways to go, but He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.  It is so real now that we have seen her face and held her in our arms.  She is the one meant to be in our family.  Every minute of hard has been worth it to see this sweet little girl begin to believe that she belongs.  I can’t wait to see how God works in her heart until she really knows that she is forever loved!

 

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IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!!!! What next?

It has been a week of unspeakable joy as we celebrated the news that we finally have our referral!  We have already fallen in love with a sweet little 5 year old girl through the pictures and minimal information that we have received.  It has been so fun to share our news with everyone, and it has been wonderful to have all of you share in our excitement.  We know that everyone now wants to know what’s next.  I will try to answer those questions so that you know what to expect and how to pray as we continue this journey.  We will be traveling to Haiti the last week of January through the first week of February.  YAHOO!  We will FINALLY be meeting our little girl.  Haiti requires adoptive families to come and spend 15 days in Haiti to meet and bond with the child they are adopting.  While we are there, a Haitian social worker will come and observe us with our little girl and ask us questions to make sure that we are committed to parenting this child.  That doesn’t sound intimidating at all, does it?  Oh, by the way, the social worker doesn’t speak English so we will be communicating through a translator.  After the social worker visits us, she will turn in a report to Haitian social services.  We will leave Haiti after 15 days, without our daughter.  It will be brutal for us and for this sweet little girl who has already been abandoned.  She will probably feel abandoned again no matter how many times we tell her that we will come back for her.  I think we should be stamped, “Fragile.  Handle with care.” as we re-enter the United States.  After our socialization trip is completed, Haitian social services will give us their stamp of approval and exit our file to complete all the legal steps for this sweet little girl to become our daughter forever.  This process takes about 6 months.  Yes, that is too long.  No, there is nothing we can do about it.  The absolute best case scenario is that she will come home at the end of summer.  However, the best case scenario rarely happens in Haitian adoptions.  We would love it if you would pray that it would happen!  We’ll try to keep you up to date as we move through the steps and have information on where we’re at in the timeline.  In the meantime, we would appreciate prayers for our trip coming up in January.  We know that we don’t walk this journey alone, and we are so grateful for the support, encouragement, and prayers that have been offered on our behalf.

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Restless

It has been awhile since I have updated here, mostly because there is no update.  7 months and 8 days ago our dossier entered IBESR(Haitian government department that issues referrals and processes adoptions).  We were naive and hopeful back then, thinking that we would have a referral within a couple of months.  Reality has slowly and steadily eaten away at the hope.  It’s not gone, it’s just a lot harder to grab onto and hold for more than a few minutes.  Nothing about our determination to adopt from Haiti or our belief that this is where God has led us has changed.  Emotions, however, don’t always behave within the boundaries of our beliefs.  There are so many emotions that come and go as God teaches me that He is enough.  I used to joke that patience is a virtue, it’s just one that I don’t have.  It’s not funny anymore.  Patience is discipline.  Patience is discipline applied to emotions.  Patience is wrestling my heart back to the place where it rests in God and His truth and His promises.  There are moments when it is overwhelming to know that there is a little girl living in an orphanage who will one day be living in our home.  She has a family, but she doesn’t know it yet.  Every day is another day that establishes her normal as living without a mother or a father.  Every day she becomes more comfortable with the surroundings she is in right now, with being one of many who has no one.  It absolutely breaks my heart, and I haven’t even seen her face yet.  I wonder if she cries at night for a momma.  I wonder if one day she will know that she had a momma who was crying for her too.  As the government employees in Haiti work to implement a new system, we wait in frustrated silence.  There is no news.  I could be angry, and sometimes I am.  I could be sad, and often I am.  There are periods of time when my life here with the family God has already blessed me with is enough to distract me from thinking about it, and in those moments I remember joy.  Mostly, I just feel restless.  It is that feeling of knowing that a big change is coming, but having to still live the moments until it comes.  I am trying to live the moments well, but it’s hard.  Remember when you were a kid and you would mark off days on the calendar until some big event like your birthday or a family vacation?  It feels like we are doing that, except that someone keeps moving the big day on the calendar back every time we get close.  I know that I need to take my eyes off the calendar and focus on the One who is not bound by time, but I fail at it over and over.  It’s alright though, because every time I remember to look, He hasn’t moved.  One day she’ll be home, and I’ll realize that my heart was broken in this wait so that I could help her heart heal.

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Reflections…

As we start a new year, I am compelled to reflect on the old one.  Reflecting on 2013 is a lot about reflecting on our adoption process.  As I look back, I realize that so much happened in 2013.  This process seems so long, but looking back actually gives me great hope.  I see so much more looking back than I saw in the moment.  In the moment it seems like all rush and anticipation.  In the moment it seems like forever.  In the reflection it is awe and beauty and wonder.  In the reflection I realize that if we would have gotten everything done a few months earlier(like I wanted), we would have fallen under the old law in Haiti and been stuck waiting in a vacuum for dispensation.  God knew.  He KNEW!  We will actually be bringing our daughter home sooner because we didn’t have things ready when I wanted.  In reflection I see all that God is teaching us and all the work that God is doing in my heart to prepare me for the next great thing.  In reflection I see God encouraging and sustaining us through the love of so many people.  I am humbled as I reflect on the ways that God has shown us how much we are loved and cared for.  There isn’t an adequate word to describe the feeling of having people come alongside you and sacrifice for you and with you.  It is love in the purest way, and it is beautiful and awe inspiring.  The journey is long, and the waiting is hard; but there is so much beauty in it.  God is writing His story in our lives.  He wrote some great chapters in 2013, and I will look back on them and rejoice in His faithfulness and draw hope for the new year.  May I never forget what He has taught me over this past year.  If you want to see if God is faithful, step out in faith.

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Lifesong for Orphans

We are excited to tell you about our partnership with Lifesong for Orphans.  Lifesong is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to care for orphans all over the world.   One of the ways that they do this is by partnering with adoptive families to provide a way for people to donate specifically towards adoption costs.  They also offer matching grants to adoptive families as an incentive for fundraising.  We are so excited that Lifesong for Orphans has generously given us a $3,500 matching grant!  This means that every donation until we hit $3,500 will be matched, bringing the total to $7,000.  It is so amazing to see how the Lord provides.  The cost of international adoption can be intimidating, but watching the Lord provide is awe inspiring.  We still have around $20,000 that we will need to pay.  We realize that not every family is called to adopt.  There are many other ways to serve those who are less fortunate.  God has made it very clear that part of our family’s calling is to adopt.  If helping families with the financial burden of adoption is one of the ways you feel led to care for others, we humbly invite you to support us through Lifesong for Orphans.  If this is not something that you feel led to do, please do not feel badly.  We would be so grateful if you would continue to pray for us and our future daughter as we get closer and closer to becoming a forever family.  If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by check or online.

  • If you are mailing a check, please make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans with “4095 Mullet” on the memo line.  Mail your check to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.  100% of your donation will go directly to our adoption.
  • If you would like to donate online, go to lifesongfororphans.org/give/donate.  Select “Give to an adoptive family.”  Complete the online form and fill in family account number 4095 and family name Mullet. (Paypal charges and administrative fee of 2.9% + $.30 USD per transaction.)

Our goal date for raising our remaining expenses is December 31, 2013.  However, funds will be accepted by Lifesong until our child is home and our adoption is complete.  In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the name non-profit organization.  This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.  Lifesong will provide tax-exempt receipts for donations of $250 or more or for smaller amounts upon request.

We are so thankful for the ways that we have seen God work in this journey, and we look forward to sharing the continuation of our family’s story with you.  You are such an encouragement to us.

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It’s our turn!!!!!!!!!

It’s finally our turn!  Our paperwork has been in Haiti all summer just waiting to be turned in to IBESR(the Haitian government agency that processes adoptions).  This is an exciting step for us because it is a big step closer to finding out who our child is and bringing her home.  So much has changed in Haiti in the last month.  It is difficult to keep up with what all the changes mean for us and our process.  On August 29th, both houses of the Haitian parliament passed new adoption laws.  These laws have been in the works for awhile, but no one knew when they would actually be passed.  These laws change A LOT about adoptions in Haiti.  According to the old law, you had to be 35 years old, married for 10 years, and have no biological children.  If you had biological children, you could adopt if the President of Haiti signed a dispensation giving you permission.  This was a common practice, but it took a LONG time to get your dispensation.  It was common to wait a year to receive a dispensation.  The new law states that you must be 30 years old, married 5 years, and you may have biological children.  This is wonderful news!!  So many more families will be eligible to adopt from Haiti.  It also means that we shouldn’t need a presidential dispensation.  This is huge.  Every step of the Haitian side of the process involves waiting, and then waiting some more.  The fact that we won’t have to wait on a dispensation means our child should be home with us much sooner. Praise the Lord!  The new adoption laws also adjust much of the adoption process in Haiti in order to make their adoption process Hague compliant.  This is wonderful news for the children of Haiti.  These safeguards assure that adoptions are necessary and ethical.  Fortunately, many of these changes have already been implemented for several months.  However, you can always expect change to slow things down when you are dealing with governments.  We will be in the first group of families to be processed under the new procedures.  This means that no one can tell us how long it will take because no one has gone before us and done it before.  Welcome to international adoption.  If you think you know what is going on, just wait a minute, it will change.  We are choosing to rejoice in the many things that are good in this and to trust God with all the things we don’t know.  He knows who our child is.  She is alive right now living somewhere in Haiti.  She is only a couple hundred miles from us right now.  We don’t know who she is yet, but God does.  I am going to put a list here of the steps that will happen up until we bring her home.  Hopefully it will give you at least a vague idea of the process.  Thanks so much for encouraging and supporting us.  We feel so blessed to have so many people who care and want to know what is going on in this crazy journey.

Steps in Haiti:

* our dossier enters IBESR

*IBESR approves our dossier

* proposal of a match by a creche

*IBESR approval of referral/Authorization of Adoption

*we will be notified of the proposed referral and have the opportunity to accept or refuse it

* Issuance of Adoption Decree

*Entry into Ministry of Interior

*Exit from Ministry of Interior

*Issuance of child’s passport

*Delivery of documents to USCIS(US Immigrations)

*Visa appointment date

*Come home!

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Pause

Yes, we are still waiting.  We will be waiting for a long time.  Right now we are waiting for our dossier to be submitted to IBESR.  Our dossier has been in Haiti since June.  It has been legalized by the Haitian government, and now it is sitting there waiting for it to be our turn.  Haiti currently has a quota in place that allows each adoption agency to turn in only 1 dossier per month to IBESR.  And so we wait.  It is like someone has pushed the pause button.  We are not stopped, we are just waiting to resume.  We take joy in each little step moving forward even though it is often just moving forward to pause again.  It is good for my American consumer instant gratification heart to learn to wait.  Most days I hate it.  At the same time that I hate it, I feel God stretching and growing my heart.  I feel Him teaching me that He is enough.  And I love it.  He whispers faith into my heart.  He places dear friends to tell me, “It WILL happen.”  I check my email multiple times a day hoping for news that rarely comes.  Isn’t hope an amazing thing?  We can live on hope.  That is what we are called to do, and God has given us an incredible hope to live for.  If all this waiting teaches me how to live for hope, then one day I will thank God for the wait.

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Moving forward

Well, we are finally getting somewhere!  Our dossier is in Haiti right now.  YAY!  All of our documents are currently being legalized by the Haitian government.  This process is similar to having all of our notarized documents certified by the state of Florida.  Once Haiti has legalized our dossier documents, our dossier will go to our agency in Haiti to await our turn to be put in to IBESR(the Haitian equivalent to our Department of Children and Family Services).  As of right now, Haiti is allowing each accredited adoption agency to turn in only one family’s dossier per month.  Our dossier will be in the  mix to be chosen from in July.  Our agency has a handful of other dossiers also waiting to be turned in.  They decide which dossier to turn in based upon the needs of the children waiting to get a referral.  For example, if they have a 6 year old girl that they feel needs to be matched soon, they would look through the dossiers of the families they have to see which one has an age range and gender preference that would meet that need.  They will notify us at the beginning of each month whether or not our dossier was chosen until it is our turn.  It is so exciting to be to this point where we have done everything that we can do.  It is now in the hands of our adoption agency and the Haitian government.  Getting to this point has taken us longer than most, and longer than we had anticipated.  Now the waiting really begins.  When our dossier goes in to IBESR, it will be sent to the office of the President of Haiti to await his signature.  This is called a presidential dispensation.  Current Haitian law requires this step if you have biological children.  They are talking about changing this law with the new adoption laws that they are voting on, but it is still in effect right now.  This step alone can take 6 to 8 months!  The new rules that IBESR is operating under state that we cannot be matched or referred to a child until we have our presidential dispensation and are an approved IBESR family.  I know that all of this sounds confusing and ridiculous to many people.  While it can be very frustrating because things are constantly changing right now in Haiti, it is also comforting to know that these rules and laws are changing for the right reasons.  Haitian adoptions are moving towards a more ethical and reasonable process, and this is good for the children in Haiti and the families who hope to adopt from there in the future.  It does make it difficult for us to give specific answers to questions that people ask.  We really don’t know, and what we think we know often changes.  Welcome to international adoption.  If you’re looking for adventure, you should try it!  Please join us in praying for those in Haiti who are making decisions about the adoption process.  Pray that God would give them wisdom and unity of vision.  You can also be praying for the creche directors and adoption agencies who are trying to adapt to the constant changes.  This is a very stressful time for them.  We are so thankful to be working with an adoption agency that we have great confidence in!  Thanks for walking with us on this journey even though it’s a long one.  We appreciate your prayers and support so much!

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Wait and help are four letter words

Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere?  Invariably, it is when I am in a hurry that I will get stuck behind some big truck going 20 below the speed limit in an area that doesn’t allow me to pass.  Or, have you ever left for vacation knowing that you are going to have a long day on the road?  You’re not necessarily in a hurry, but you don’t want to be in the car with the kids going stir crazy any longer than you have to be in order to get to the good part of the trip.  Imagine you are cruising along feeling pretty good about your progress, and then you see brake lights ahead.  You end up crawling along for the next hour, and you only move forward about 2 miles.  It’s so frustrating!  You’re still moving forward, but you feel like you aren’t.  You know you’re still going to get there, but it won’t be when you wanted to or when you had planned to.  If you can relate to this at all, you can understand how I feel in our adoption process right now.  We aren’t stopped. Praise God!  We are just moving so much slower than I want to due to circumstances outside my control. Praise God.(Really trying to mean that!)  Things continue to change in Haiti.  They are really working hard to revamp their adoption system, and these changes are good.  However, one of the consequences of all these changes is that we are going through this wait, go, wait, go process all the time.  Every time they say they are implementing something new, we have to wait and see how it is going to affect us before we can proceed further.  We are also at a point where we will need to come up with a large portion of the money that it will take to complete our adoption.  Up to this point, we have had to pay things in smaller chunks with some time in between.  Now we are to the point where we have to admit that we need help.  I hate needing help.  I could write a whole other blog on how the Lord has been working on me in this area.  God says that in our weakness He is made strong.  If I am unwilling to admit my weakness, I am unwilling to let God’s strength sustain me.  OUCH!  I am excited to see how God is going to show His great strength and provision for this dream He has planted in our hearts.  We are so grateful for many of you who have already been a part of His provision for us!  If you are reading this and you would like a way to help, we are selling our tshirts again.  People have loved them so much, and we have had many requests from those who missed out the first time we sold them.  You can click on the Simply Love tshirt fundraiser tab on the right hand side of this page to see and order them.  Thanks for walking(and sometimes crawling) with us on this journey of adoption.

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The Process

One of the first questions I usually get when someone finds out that we are adopting is, “How long do you think it will take?”  The first answer that comes to mind is, “Longer than we’d like!” 🙂  International adoption does not fit into our world of instant gratification!  If you are adopting from another country, it means that you are going to be dealing with 2 governments.  Sounds fun, huh?  Add to that the fact that one government is in a third world nation and you have a recipe for everyone’s favorite fruit of the spirit-LONGSUFFERING(otherwise known as that dirty word “patience”)!  Though at times the red tape can be frustrating, I am really grateful that it’s there.  That red tape is protecting children from those who would take them for very wrong reasons.  For this reason, I will happily sit and fill out forms and answer questions endlessly.

I will try to explain the process for Haiti and where we are at in the process.  The first step is to find an adoption agency.  Haiti is not a country that allows independent adoptions so an agency is required.  We wanted to find a Hague accredited agency that had been successfully completing adoptions for a number of years.  The next step is to find an agency to do your homestudy.  Our adoption agency is in another state so we needed a home study agency in our own state.  Once you complete your homestudy you begin filing paperwork with our government.  You also begin to compile the list of documents that will be required by Haiti’s government.  After you complete the paperwork with our government and compile everything required by the Haitian government, your agency will send it all(called your Dossier)to Haiti.  Oh, by the way, it all has to be translated into French before they send it.  When our dossier arrives in Haiti, they will match us with a child.  We can request gender, but there are no guarantees.  We have said that we are willing to adopt a child between the ages of 0-5.  Once they refer us to a child and we accept the referral our case will start to move through the Haitian system.  They have recently made big improvements in the government agency that processes adoptions, and they seem to be moving cases through more quickly than they did in the past.  For us, there is an extra step in the process.  Haitian adoption law says that families who already have biological children and would like to adopt from Haiti must get a dispensation from the Haitian president.  These dispensations happen on a regular basis.  However, it is difficult to know how long it takes for the dispensation to happen.  It could sit on the president’s desk for a day, or it could sit there for weeks.  This makes it impossible for us to know exactly how long it will take.  At this point, we are within weeks of sending our dossier to Haiti.  We have found an agency that we love, completed our homestudy, sent all of our paperwork to our government, and compiled 80% of the documentation for the Haitian government.  Most of the work that has to be done on our end is completed.  It feels like it has taken us forever to get to this point!  We know that God’s timing is perfect, and we can’t wait to look back and see how He lined it all up.  We will need to make 2 trips to Haiti.  Each of the trips will be 2-4 days.  The first trip will be a court date to finalize the adoption in Haiti, and the second trip will be to bring home our child!

Hopefully this helps to answer a lot of questions.  It is a tedious process, but it is so worth it!  You don’t always feel the excitement while you are in the midst of the mundane forms and doctor appointments and photo copies, but you learn to celebrate the completion of each little step that is bringing you closer to hugging that child.  Days like today when I open my mailbox and find a letter from USCIS telling me that they’ve received our application for international adoption are good days!

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