Amen to THE END...and new beginnings!

Esmée arrives in the U.S.A.!!!
March 18, 2014
Four years buried in prayers, perseverance and paperwork on the Haiti side came to an end last spring when we were finally able to bring our much loved girl to meet family and friends in the states. Traveling and reuniting with family and friends in eleven states and Canada has kept us very busy the past few months while continuing to be buried in paperwork on the U.S. side! We have been working hard to finally fully complete this process and return to our beloved Haiti! As soon as we arrived in Texas we began making appointments with our doctor and lawyer in order to obtain medical evidence to prove the girls ages and court proceedings to legally change both our girls names and obtain U.S. birth certificates. These proceedings helped us obtain the paperwork (with new legal names for both and corrected age for Esmée) to proceed with applying for updated Social Security cards, U.S. passports, and Esmée's certificate of U.S. citizenship. It's a good thing we planned an extended stay away from Haiti because it has taken since March to get all this done! We finally finished TODAY! The end of chasing the paperwork trail is finally here! We are tired but thankful and praising the Lord for His faithfulness every step of the way!

As of August 14, 2014 we have all the official U.S. docs with Esmée's legal name and age change (updated or corrected from Haitian docs)! This was not an easy undertaking, but just like everything else the Lord has seen us through!

Esmée signed her citizenship papers at Homeland Security today!
Her U.S. passport came in the mail a few days ago and the paperwork that we needed back from the passport office in order to make our appointment with Homeland Security today arrived in the nick of time in yesterday's mail!

And look who received their new updated U.S. passport in the mail today!
So we are really truly D.O.N.E.! Finished! The End! Our Chosen (Elita) and Much Loved (Esmée) girls can "officially" begin their new lives with all the privileges of their new citizenships! We are reminded once again that adoption is a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for He has chosen, loved us, and paid the price of our redemption so that we can become His sons and daughters with all the privileges of family inheritance and citizenship! Summing up the end, we remember where we began "according to the kind intention of His will" which has carried us throughout these chapters of our journey.

These verses were the inspiration for our girls names with the meanings "Chosen and Much Loved" and the title of this blog. We pray that for those who have observed and journeyed with us it has been a testimony of God's faithfulness and encouragement to you in the ups and downs of your own journeys. We pray that you too will look to the riches of His grace, know the hope of His calling, and find redemption through adoption.

3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." -Ephesians 1:3-19

We began this blog over four years ago at the beginning of our adoption journey. We love to share stories and struggles, the joys and pains that accompany adoption with fellow adoptive families and encourage one another. However, we typically prefer to do that privately to protect the privacy of our daughters. It will be rare for us to blog much more here. We hope you have been following our family/ministry blog at where we have been and will continue to share our stories! Please continue to pray for us in all our new beginnings and let us know how we can pray for you too! To the praise and glory of His grace...Amen!
But not the end of blogging so please sign up for automatic e-mails to follow all our new beginnings HERE!
We will be returning to Haiti in just a few weeks!

Four years in waiting...We can't wait to see you!

Want to be the first to see us? This Tuesday, March 18th, is the big day! We invite friends and family to come to the Austin airport (see flight itinerary below) and welcome us back as a family of six! We would love to hug your necks! We plan to stop off and eat somewhere inexpensive, convenient, and kid friendly (if Eric gets his way it will be Chick-fil-A) nearby and can visit some more there!

If you can't make it to the airport on a school night, we hope to see you soon! Here is the plan in a nutshell. We will all be around San Marcos/New Braunfels for the first two weeks after arrival and then spend the last week in the DFW area before Eric heads back to Haiti on April 8th. Elisabeth and the kids will be in San Marcos, TX, until they fly to VA on April 16th, and will then travel to KY and IL where Eric will rejoin us May 13th. We begin our journeys to FL, GA, TN, OH, NY and Canada between the end of May-mid July. Then we head back to TX, and Eric heads to Israel with our mission Heart of God International Ministries. He will return from Israel in mid August and we will have a few weeks in TX, before we head back to Haiti!

Please pray for us to finish packing the next few days, for our hearts and others that we are saying hard good byes to, for the people and ministries that we are leaving behind during these months, for safe travels, that immigration will go smoothly in Ft. Lauderdale (we only have about an hour to get through or we will miss our next flight), and for all of us to do well with all these travels and transitions! Please read THIS post if you have not done so and plan to see us! Thank you for your faithful prayers over the past four years that we have waited for this day! We cannot wait to share our joy with you!

Your Itinerary
Carrier Flight
Departing Arriving Booking
City Date & Time City Time

1158 PAP Port Au Prince Mar 18, 2014
09:15 AM
FLL Fort Lauderdale Mar 18, 2014
11:30 AM

1337 FLL Fort Lauderdale Mar 18, 2014
12:50 PM
DFW Dallas/ Fort Worth Mar 18, 2014
03:05 PM
O Food for Purchase

1670 DFW Dallas/ Fort Worth Mar 18, 2014
05:35 PM
AUS Austin Mar 18, 2014
06:30 PM

When all is signed and done...

Nou te fini! We finished! Tickets are purchased and we will be stateside bound on March 18! We are all super excited! Yet when all is signed and done we are emotionally in a place where we definitely feel that all is not said and done. There is so much that could (and maybe or maybe should not) be said about what has transpired throughout our 4 year adoption process. There is so much that is still to be done as the ending of one process begins another. A giant work is finished but we are always a work in progress. When all is signed and done we find ourselves still processing. Perhaps we have just now allowed ourselves to breathe and begin to truly process all that has happened and how our family has grown. One day I hope I will be able to put everything into words in a beautiful way to express our deepest thanks for what God has done for us, in us, and through us during this process. When all is signed and done I imagined I would be able to share so much. But there is so much we cannot fathom and can only say THANK YOU. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for those who helped bear our burdens, who prayed with us and for us, who visited us in Haiti and/or sent special supplies our way, who showed up to our fundraisers, who settled me down, who got riled up with me, who listened, who cried, who truly cared, who sent us Scriptures, who held our hands, who held our daughters, who brought them care packages, who visited orphans, who believed us, who supported us through the best of times and worst of times, who gave us the benefit of the doubt, who asked before making assumptions, who fought with us, who stayed our friends even when we were many miles away, who chose to reconnect, who mourned with us and rejoiced with us...who rejoice with us now!

"He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
 -Ecclesiastes 3:11

...AND a Happy New Year!

Esmée received her Haitian passport on November 29th which was the last item we needed to turn everything into the U.S. Embassy for I-600 approval. Our completed file with passport was turned in on December 4th. We have been waiting since to receive the following which just came today...the very last day of 2013!
Notice of I-600 approval - REAM, Delenda Georges
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Ream,
USCIS in Port au Prince, Haiti is pleased to inform you that the I-600 petition, which you filed at this office on May 14, 2013 on behalf of Delenda Georges, seeking to qualify her as your immediate relative has been approved. Your case has been transferred to the Adoption Unit of the Consular Section for the visa process. This completes all action by USCIS on the referenced petition. The Consular Section will soon contact you to follow-up on your case.
Should you have any question regarding the visa process, you may send your inquiry to the consular section at
Adoption Team
Department of Homeland Security
US Citizenship & Immigration Services
Embassy of the United States of America
Tabarre 41
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Thanks and praise be to our God, the Father of the fatherless for this amazing gift today!This particular approval is so meaningful to us, not only because of what it means for the future but because it was this particular document that was denied in 2012 and the reason we had to redo Esmée's entire adoption. So what does this approval mean? This means that in a few weeks Esmée will have a visa! It means that the end of our long journey is here! It means that all the prayers, tears, sweat, and ransom money paid have been worth it so that Esmée can always be with her family forever!
So get ready to FINALLYmeet our precious Esmée...
sometime in 2014!
I got my wish for a Merry Christmas...
AND a Happy New Year!



"You have to know..."

I'm guessing pretty much every parent who has adopted kids from hard places has experienced the  mountaintop high's and depths of despair low's along the way...whether in the process of bringing children home or when the reality of a new reality sets in after the homecoming. We have been living in both the process and the reality for over 2 years now which adds an interesting twist. Sometimes I don't know what to do with comments or questions we get from other adopting families in the midst of both highs and lows along the journey because of our unique situation. Sometimes I just want to say, "The very best thing we ever did was move to Haiti. If that had not happened I am not so sure what would have happened both with the process or the reality of our new reality. But I can't imagine that that there is any chance we would have progressed where we are today." I don't feel that is very helpful information considering that is not everyone else's circumstance or possibility. I'm really happy with where we are today and I love our reality and what we have learned from the process even though it has been excruciatingly hard.  But our story is not everyone else's story. Most people don't move to the foreign home country of the child they are adopting. I don't think we are heroes or anything of the sort for doing so. In fact I kind of feel like a coward because when I imagine what life could have (most likely would have) been like if we had brought the girls "home" to America scares me half to death. And all of you who have done that and are living in that reality are my heroes.

I'm not sure how much we actually have in common with heroes like everyone else but there seems to be one thing that the kids do have in common wherever they come "home" to. And it's this. The kids you just went through hell and back for didn't seem to get the memo and don't really think you are awesome for plucking them out of their reality and giving them a new one. In fact, they probably have imagined a totally different new reality much like you did. Kicking, screaming, pouting, tantrums, not wanting to do this anymore feelings, and a whole slew of things I was too exhausted to blog about a year or two ago ensued in embarrassing quantities...and not just from the kids. I don't even like to remember. It was icky.messy.survival.sigh your way through the day stuff. Over and over. There were days that I just turned on movies and hunkered down because I had no energy left to do anything like be the mom I once thought I could be. I didn't even want to be her anymore. And I knew my girls knew. And we kicked and screamed and pouted about it together. And I let them see me cry. And I told them it was hard. But there was one thing I believed. One thing I always told them that seemed to always help. "We are a family. You will always be a part of our family. No matter what." I didn't think they believed it at first. There were moments I knew for sure they didn't. I doubt they believed it after a year. I think that only very recently they started to allow themselves to believe and let go of the fear that it might not be true. I think this is one thing we may have in common with other families who have adopted kids from hard places...especially older kids. So in case you need encouragement as badly as I so often do "you have to know"...that this is still possible. Even when you don't feel like you deserve it because adoption is often so hard and we don't always handle hard well and stop pausing to see how far we have come.

I received these messages in my birthday cards a week ago. And though I wanted to keep it to myself I felt that for others "you have to know" too that this is possible.

"Dear Mom,
I love you. I thank you for what you have done for Elita and I. God bless you. I am so happy that I have you to be my mother for ever now. You have to know that I love you so much with all of my heart. Love you. Love again, Esmée"

"I am happy to be with you. And I will always be a part of the family. God loves you sooo much. And I love you too. I am proud to be your daughter. I am glad because you have Jesus in your heart. You are the best Mother in the whole world. Your Daughter, Elita"

This melted me. I have been reading these precious words all week long with joy yet overwhelmed with a deep grieving that it has taken 2 years of going through every single day together for them to fully believe that "We are family. You will always be a part of our family. No matter what."

There have been many encouragements/bonding/learning to love well/not doing it well and making up moments along the way. I don't doubt there will be many more. But sometimes us parents really don't know. And I think that is ok. I tell my girls "I don't  know" all the time. But there are some things we just have to know. I have to know that my children know that I love them (even when...especially when I don't feel like I'm doing a great job). And when they really and truly know you love them (though unfortunately there probably isn't a way to know how long that will take) there is an inexpressible joy that comes when your child makes sure you know that they love you too.

Goodbye MOI!

Things are happening fast now! Friday morning November 15th we received word that Esmée's file had been approved in MOI (Minister of Interior) after 18 days and was on it's way to the passport printing office! The translator has been working on translating our dossier from French into English in the mean time and those translations will be ready tomorrow! We are praying for our passport to be printed with no complications by the end of this week so we can submit everything to the Embassy for the visa process! Christmas in the states is still a big maybe but....MAYBE we should start looking at tickets??? We should have enough from our air miles and a state adoption refund we will receive after Esmée arrives stateside to get back to our home in Haiti but not enough for all of us to get to the states. We currently have a lot of needs for ministry and basic living expenses in Haiti so we have no idea how we would swing this extra travel expense right now. We believed our chances to be able to leave over the holidays would be very slim and figured we would just wait until our scheduled visit to the states this coming summer. We knew we would be able to hold Esmée's visa for 6 months. However, we have recently learned the travel papers needed to get on the plane expire after only one month. We have a very busy ministry schedule in January-March already and don't know how traveling to the states would be possible during that time. So if there is any way for us to be able to spend Christmas and New Years in the states with our family to accomplish Esmée's immigration and end this long 4 year chapter of our lives we are praying for provision that this will happen by the end of 2013. It would be the best Christmas present ever since the gift we received 2,000 years ago!


Today is the one year anniversary of our Elita Marguerite receiving her U.S. Immigrant Visa. Eric and the boys hopped on a plane right after the visa appointment heading to see Mom and Dad Ream in Illinois. Elita and I joined them a week later and spent 5 weeks in the states waiting for her Certificate of Citizenship to be issued so we could return to Haiti. Eric returned to Haiti and Esmée after I arrived stateside. He only got one day with Elita in the states. This was an immensely bittersweet time for us all and especially for Esmée who was left behind when (in a world of justice) she should have been able to go too. For the past year she has continued to hear about all the places and people we visited during those 5 special weeks...weeks she missed. Today I thought about what Esmée wrote to explain her feelings during that time. She was imagining all her family being reunited when her sister arrived in the states while she was left behind. Cultural note: People in Haiti kiss when they enter a room and greet each other.
Elita kissing Ethan and Evan
Just Esmée you not kiss
My mom kissing my dad.
Ta kiss Ba
Mema kissing PaPa

Esmée kiss just God
By Esmée
November 17th, 2012
One year later we are believing Esmée's time is coming SOON! We received the following message 16 days ago on October 29th. "MOI" stands for "Minister Of Interior" and the timeline expectation for this stage according to our facilitator and current processing times is 1-5 weeks. We are 2 weeks and 2 days into that timeline.
"Great news!  Delenda's file has completed the attestation signature and all legalizations and will be submitted to MOI today to begin the passport process.  
I will let you know as soon as MOI approves her file and goes into Immigration for passport printing."  
The passport printing will be expedited and we are expecting it to take a few days to a week to get processed and picked up. Then the dossier's complete contents will be translated into English from French. Then I will pick up the passport and original and translated dossier documents from our facilitator and submit it to the Embassy. Then we will wait for the USCIS (United States Citizen Immigration Services) to approve our I-600. Then they will schedule a visa appointment. Then we will complete her visa medical and bring those results to the visa appointment. Then we will get the visa and then the IBESR exit letter. Then our "soon" can finally happen.
When you have already been through this complete process once (twice now up to MOI for Esmée...praising God we are now past where we were when we had to start over) and waited nearly 4 years, "soon" can feel a bit relative. Our family and friends have been hearing the hopeful sound of "soon" for a really l-o-n-g time. The Embassy told me "soon" six months ago. We thought that was funny. The Embassy has also said that they do not expect that they will need to ask anything else from us upon receiving the completed dossier with passport and will approve our I-600 this time. However, we know there can always be changes in policies, practices, and persons regarding such and we know that they could still ask for something else in our daughter's extensively reviewed case. That would not be funny. Also in the category of not funny but laughably ridiculous is the fact that Eric and I just traveled to the Embassy for a 6th set of re-fingerprinting last Friday in order to keep our U.S. approval updated. Eric may have to redo his fingerprints for a seventh time if the machine malfunctions on his clumsy prints once again if "soon" doesn't happen before December 17th when his fingerprints officially "expire". If "soon" doesn't happen sooner than December 10th for filing with the Embassy then not only will we have to file for another extension on our case but "soon" will certainly not have it's debut before Christmas because tickets would be extremely unaffordable for all of us (unless someone has a couple hundred thousand American Airline air mile credits they want us to take off their hands). The kids are really hoping for Christmas. Me too. But we are just happy to be together and look forward to the hope of whenever our soon happens.
Soon I will have my passport
Soon I will have my visa
Soon I will fly
Soon I will go to America
Soon I will see the rest of my family
Soon I will see my friends that were in the orphanage with me
Soon I will play with you all
And I will eat a lot of meat
And I will watch movies..awesome movies
Soon I will go to new places
Soon I will go shopping with my grandmas
And I will watch more movies with grandpas
Soon I will make new friends with my sister and brothers
Maybe I will go to America for Christmas
By Esmée
November 2013
Sidenote: Esmée loves meat and movies. I think she might find at least a hundred other things she loves but from her current standpoint she can't imagine much better than meat and movies, being with family, old friends, new friends and of course shopping. From my current standpoint I can think of only a few others. Like not sweating, getting my hair done, taking a hot bath, and kissing my nieces a million times for all the time I have missed!
Please pray for our long awaited soon! And while you are praying for us, please pray for adoptive families who are separated from their children and don't want to spend another day (especially the holidays) without them.
Here's to soon!


Dear Eric and Elisabeth,

Great news!  Delenda's file is out of Courts.  This is where the civil court document and Act of Adoption have been created.  This means that Delenda has legally become your child and taken your family name of REAM.  I have attached a scanned copy of your Act of Adoption. 
At this time, we will ask National Archives for an attestation signature for the Act of Adoption and then we will legalize the Haitian legal documents in both the Department of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs (MAE).  Then, we can apply for Delenda's passport in the Minister of Interior’s (MOI) office.  These stages will pass quickly...
We received this wonderful news today from our adoption coordinator! "Delenda" is our Esmee's legal name. She has now received our family name of REAM for a second time (having now gone through this process twice)! We don't know exactly what "these stages will pass quickly" will mean in the upcoming months...if that means that we could be visiting the states at Christmas or if it will be next spring or summer? We will cross that bridge when we get there. We are just so excited to announce this news and that we have sent our final adoption payment! Thank you to those who helped us to meet this financial need! The only things we have left to pay for are: $150 for Haitian passport, approx. $290 for mandatory visa medicals, approx. $230 for immigrant visa and then airfare to get to the states and back to Haiti. We have been saving up air miles for the joyful day we complete this process! If anyone out there has American Airline miles that you would like to donate please let us know!
Thank you so much for bearing with us over the past 43 months for our Much Loved girl! Lord willing just a few more months to go! Please pray for these stages to truly pass quickly and praise God with us that in His sovereign grace He has allowed her to be adopted...again!

Moving On...

 The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will not protect you. To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else. 
-Bernadette Devlin

We have many people ask us about adopting from Haiti. We have tried to help many people who are already doing so in various ways over the past two years. A few times people have asked me, "If you could tell someone wanting to adopt from Haiti one thing, what would it be"? I am tempted to say "Please. Just. Don't." But I don't say that. I don't say that because I believe in taking risks for good reasons and am a junky for cheering on the impossible. I just try to warn anyone adopting (especially from Haiti) to be prepared for a long hard journey...and a fight. You are guaranteed a fight. You are not guaranteed a win. Battlegrounds are not pleasant places to hang out. You will most surely lose something dear along the way.

Some people say we gave up a lot to move to Haiti. We didn't move to Haiti because of our adoptions though that has clearly been the impression that has stuck with the majority. We chose to leave our life in the U.S. to live among the Haitian people as full time missionaries. There is so much that is stripped away when you leave your own culture and embrace another. Sometimes, it is hard to remember who you used to be, but it isn't easy to forget the people who you left behind. It isn't out of sight out of mind... for us. Some days we survive believing that someone is remembering us and praying for us. Sometimes we feel like our old friends think we live this crazy life they cannot possibly understand so they don't share theirs anymore. We don't want to move on from you. We still want to hear about your growing kids and little league and the new family pet. We want to hear about how God is using you where you are. When we were busy taking trips back and forth to Haiti and working through paperwork and adoption fundraising for a year and 1/2 before moving to Haiti, I don't think there were many people who knew about anything else going on in our lives other than the adoptions during that time. That time seems a blurry world away now but I know it's possible we didn't do a good job of keeping in touch with much else going on either. I think this played a big part in the disconnect of the perception about why we were moving to Haiti.  We didn't get a chance to reconnect. We feel like we lost some friends during that time. During that time we made some new friends through adoption who were going through the same thing as us. I always dreamed we would cross the finish line with them. That hasn't and probably isn't going to happen. These are my "something dear" that I feel like I have lost along the way. I pray one day we will get another chance though I know it may not be this side of heaven.

 God's will led us to pursue the adoptions of our girls and then to move to Haiti as missionaries. We have experienced His grace and protection beyond what we could ask or think. I blog to help myself (and maybe someone else) remember God's faithfulness. Reading through my previous two blog post about praying for specific things in Esmée's adoption process, I am once again reminded of His faithfulness to us. God does not always answer prayers in the time and way we ask, but He does always answer. Our Embassy meeting with Esmée's grandmother on July 2nd, did not exactly go as scheduled. The grandmother came, but there were some big unanswered questions and concerns. We chose to leave the Embassy and not put her or Esmée in the interview that day. We felt God's protection over that situation and went on to "courts" which we have done before and is always an interesting experience. Thankfully the experience was much less eventful this time around. No problems there. Praise the Lord! Esmée's adoption paperwork moves on!

We still needed to figure out the situation with the interview at the Embassy that we up and left. Our facilitator communicated with us well through that issue the following week and a new interview was scheduled for Thursday, July 10th. The Embassy closed unexpectedly on July 10th, due to a storm that was scheduled to hit Haiti, but never actually did. The lawyer and grandmother went to the Embassy not knowing it was closed. We asked if it was possible to detain the grandmother from her long trip home to try for the next day. We were able to get into the Embassy the next morning and all parties showed up in good form. The 30 minutes I waited for them to come out of the waiting/interview room were some of the longest of my life. I was SO nervous because Esmée was nervous and the lawyer was nervous because grandmother made us all nervous by giving different answers for the same questions over and over. She is called the same name as Esmée's birth mother, but says she is the father's mother. She says both of Esmée's Haitian parents died a very long time ago (when Esmée was very little and before she went to the orphanage). But she also identifies the man that came to the Embassy last year as the father (who wasn't) as her son. Yeah. Um. We were all more than a little confused. She looks like an old lady version of Esmée. She is precious. We believe this is the "grandmother"/legal guardian that raised Esmée before she went to the first orphanage though we are not 100% sure (not even close) that she is the biological grandmother. I was worried all this would come out in the interview along with the interviewer asking Esmée how old she is. It did. I was called up to the window to talk to the interviewer along with the lawyer though I'm not even supposed to be at this appointment. I was ready for her to tell me a DNA test was in order or a long list of items we needed to prove this was the grandmother. She didn't. Insert huge sigh of relief. She asked me some questions we had not figured out the answers to and probably never will.  I looked at the lawyer and back at the interviewer, and shrugged saying, "grandmother also told us she is 30 years old". The lawyer laughed and nodded. The interviewer (who knows our case well) paused (a very long pause for me) and asked me where we were now in the adoption process. I told her we were just waiting for the paperwork after the adoption was finalized in Haiti to the passport being issued. She said, "well then file your extension before August and I will see you back here in a few months when you hand in the completed dossier." Oh. Yeaaaah. We are moving on!

We still need $1,400 of a $2,000 payment for our adoption fees that are due right now. Then, only one more payment when all is said and done. Thank you to those who have helped so far! Our family is very excited to finish Esmée's immigration process! I pray we will be able to meet and reconnect with many of our old and new friends whenever we bring her to the states for immigration. We are most excited to move on with this huge event in our lives and move on with just being international missionaries in Haiti...which is eventful enough. :)

Praise for Progress, Prayers for Tuesday and Beyond!

Praise be to God who has blessed us so much! We recently discovered our daughter's name printed in the Haitian paper which means the President signed! Her paperwork exited IBESR a few days later! We are now moving forward again! Although we have learned to never expect "fast", our facilitator has told us that courts (our next step) is moving faster than ever (about 4-6 weeks for court proceedings and paperwork completion at present) before moving on to near immigration stage. We are scheduled to bring Esmee and meet her Haitian grandmother at the U.S. Embassy this Tuesday, July 2nd and then Eric and I will appear at two court appointments before judges the same day. Lord willing the grandmother will make it to the Embassy and travel and time spent at each office will permit us to complete all of this in one day. That is our prayer. I spoke to our facilitator two days ago and the grandmother had not yet been contacted by the lawyer. Please pray for this to happen. We will still head to court even if we have to postpone the Embassy appointment. It would just be really great to get all that behind us.

Beyond Tuesday. We now owe the next installment for paperwork, court, and lawyer fees. The amount we owe to our adoption facilitator at this time is $2,000. We will owe another $2,000 at the time everything is completed. We do not have any of this money.

It is very difficult to have to pay for Esmee's adoption once again while also raising support for our family to live and serve in Haiti as missionaries. This month in particular we have experienced many financial hardships. We are trusting God to provide a way when we do not see a way. He always does. Our family has many financial needs at this time and we have sent out information concerning those family/ministry needs through e-mail and ministry websites. We have not included this specific need elsewhere. If you feel particularly led to help with Esmee's adoption fees due at this time, we are just letting that be known here on our adoption blog .

If the Lord leads you to help with any of the $2,000 adoption fee due at this time, you can donate through our adoption fund PayPal (link located on the right hand sidebar as you scroll down on this blog) or purchase items from Esmee's new adoption fundraiser Once Was Lost (click for link). We will receive 50% of all purchases if you just write our names in the memo line upon checkout and another portion of your purchase also goes to help other children and artisans around the world.

Thank you for praying and praising God with us in this process!

What's Up with Esmée?

"What's up with Esmée?" is a question we get sometimes...though after 3 years some seem afraid to ask. We don't mind anyone asking. However, I have avoided other versions of this post written and rewritten in my mind for the past year for various reasons...mostly heart reasons. Another year. That is hard to believe. We just celebrated another year of life for our Much Loved girl. Yesterday was her birthday. We celebrated it as her 11th. There is a chance that Esmée is older than 11 as her birth certificate indicates she is older. But we really don't know and truly there is no way to know for sure. Socially, emotionally, and scholastically it is best for Esmée to be 11. She was the weight and size of a 4-5 year old when I first met her. She has more than doubled in size and weight since then. Even 2 years later when we first moved to Haiti she was the same height as Ethan (who was barely 7 at that time) and she weighed 10 lbs less than him. About 6 months after Esmée came to live with us permanently we began to see major growth and development both physically and mentally. We have read that sometimes children who were severely malnourished as she has suffered in her past often jumpstart puperty early once they began to rapidly receive consistent nutrition and security. This could also be the case with Esmée. We celebrated her 10th birthday (in accordance with the age we were first informed she was and age she believed herself to be last year) before we began to see major changes in her developmentally. We have prayed over talking to her about the fact that she could be older but have not felt that she is ready for that information just yet. She declared a few weeks ago, "I'm not ready to be 11. That is so big. I just want to stay a little girl." We are thankful she is able and desires to live out the childhood that once was lost. We believe this is most beneficial for her sake and love getting to spend her "little girl" days with her still. We are in no hurry for her to grow up as we missed so many years with her. Someday we will share all of these things with her, but for today we celebrate her being 11!

Esmée had a wonderful birthday yesterday. She awoke at 4:30am and came to tell me she couldn't sleep because she was too excited. I asked her if she wanted to help me decorate her cake which was still too hot out of the oven to finish the night before. The power was on at the time but went out just as we began to write "Happy Birthday Esmée". She held the flashlight for me as I decorated. Sweet memories. She asked me to write "11" after her name. Esmée couldn't wait to share her cake with all her friends at her school. She loves school and seems to be very well liked by teachers and peers (a little too well liked by the little boys whom she declares "too short and too disgusting"). While both our girls are still a few years behind academically, they are making triumphant strides and are confident and eager to surpass everyone's expectations of where they "should be". The program they are enrolled in uses an acredited English curriculum that allows them to proceed through each subject at their own pace. This has proved to work very well for our girls and other Haitian kids whose first language is not English.

Esmée and her siblings returned home from school to greet me with the news that she had the best day of school ever and that everyone gave her cards and presents and loved the cake! Such happiness. The girls best friend Faona came home with them to join in on the continuing birthday celebration. We took a beautiful walk to the beach about a mile from our house after letting Esmée open a present containing new swimgear. After splashing at the beach we came home to her favorite "American lasagna" and more presents sent from grandparents. Esmée hugged me many times yesterday telling me how happy she is and thanking me for her birthday as I told her how happy she makes us to have her in our family and how thankful we are that God gave her life!

The inexpressible joy on my daughter's face and in our hearts living and celebrating her precious life with her trumps anything else that I could say about how hard certain things have been about this journey. One year ago we found out we would have to process Esmée's adoption all over again. We were told it would not be AS difficult as the first time because we would certainly not have to be reapproved in Presidential dispensation all over again. Presidential dispensation is required due to us having biological children. This means the President (or perhaps someone in his office) has to sign off on our adoption. Typically this is the longest part of the Haitian adoption process where you can do nothing but sit and wait for that signature often for up to a year. The child's name has to be printed in the Le Moniteur (Haitian newspaper) stating that the President has signed off on the adoptive family before moving on to the next step. We were printed in the Le Moniteur in August of 2011 the first time. This step is to approve the adoptive family. IBESR is the one that approves the child. Our family has already been approved once for having biological children and nothing has changed regarding that status. Why would we have to do this again two years later while adopting the same child? We were assured that there would be no need for this again (and there shouldn't be...except for one tiny 7 letter technical issue). After approving Esmée's adoption a second time, IBESR sent us back to the President's desk simply because Esmée's last name changed on her birth certificate from her Haitian father (who ended up not found to be her bio father after a DNA test) to her deceased Haitian mother whose name she should have been given on the paperwork in the first place (because her mother was not married). Because of this last name change to correct the documents, her name must be reprinted in the Le Moniteur with the proper last name. We have now been waiting for 8 months (which is 3 months longer than we did the first time in IBESR/Presidential dispensation). Waiting...especially waiting all over again is hard. But waiting is no longer unbearable now that our daughter is with us. All we are really waiting for at this point is to be able to once and for all finish this crazy process and for Esmée to finally get to meet family and friends in the states who love her. We pray that this will happen before she passes yet another birthday!

I haven't posted many updates regarding the second adoption process because things are really different and much less complicated for us this time around. There was much injustice done in our daughter's case and there have been times of grieving and choosing not to post about those grievances because no good would come from doing so. We are slowly regaining what was lost. We serve a God of justice. We do not need to keep an account of wrongs done. Our children are learning that life isn't fair but how we respond to the life God calls us to is what matters. Esmée is with her family and doing SO well. That is what we choose to remember. We are SO blessed by God's faithfulness as we continue to seek Him through each trial and triumph in this process. Another difference this time around is that we trust and communicate well with our adoption faciliator who is favorable toward Esmée being with her family (which we are able to do lawfully under our Haitian residency permit) and has showed us much kindness in trying to process our paperwork with the least financial expense possible. Also, living in Haiti and gaining a better understanding of the culture, knowing where all those offices that our paperwork has to go through actually exist, already having been through the process once before, AND being all too familiar with living on "Haitian time" which stretches even the most patient (of which I am most definitely not) of persons to the max, has certainly helped us have a different adoption experience this time around...39 months into this thing. But whose counting?

Unfortunately, adoption paperwork on the U.S. side IS counting. We redid our homestudy at 18 months and have filed for every extension available over the last 3 years. We have no more extensions at the 3 year mark (which technically would be 36 months in June since our I-600A was officially approved on the U.S. side). We were able to file our I-600 (for a second time for Esmée) at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti this past Tuesday, May 14th in order for our U.S. approval not to expire as long as everything goes through. Once you file the I-600 the Embassy schedules a birth relative interview with whatever relative is listed on the paperwork that relinquished the child for adoption. For our Elita Marguerite this person was her bio aunt. Last time for Esmée this person was an assumed bio father which ended up not passing the interview or DNA test. Our second facilitator used what little information she had to go on in Esmée's case history to find another relative. The relative that was found and went to court to sign another relinquishment (in order for the adoption to be processed again) is a maternal grandmother. This grandmother is scheduled to appear at the Embassy on July 2nd where we will meet her with Esmée for the interview. We are excited and yet very anxious anticipating this upcoming event. Remembering to "be anxious for nothing" has been much easier this past year up until now.

The only person Esmée has ever spoken of from her past is her "grandmother". This is someone she remembers fondly and that in her memory was her caretaker before she went to the orphanage. She was at another mission/orphanage before coming to the one that we adopted her from where she lived for 4 years. Knowing this, we believe it has been at least 5 or 6 years minimum since Esmée has had any contact with this grandmother. We are anxious to see if the "grandmother" in her memory is the same grandmother that is scheduled to appear at the Embassy. We are also asking for prayer that the grandmother listed on the paperwork would be able to make the journey and be willing to make the journey to be interviewed at the Embassy. We ask for prayer for this to happen and for the interview to go well. We are expecting that another DNA test (this time for the grandmother) could be requested considering the past issues in our case. We are praying that we will not have this DNA request mainly because of the expense of having this test conducted. We are praying that it is clear in the interview that this is the maternal grandmother and that she is of sound mind enough to answer questions well. The Embassy has granted us permission to only have Esmée present and that she will not have to remain in the room with the grandmother during the interview. This made us feel much better about it because last time this was a scary thing for Esmée to have to be in a room and asked questions with someone she had not had contact or relationship with for many years. We are all excited to meet this grandmother in person and pray that this will be a sweet reunion for Esmée. We have prayed for this opportunity for the past year and we just learned last week that this may indeed happen! We appreciate prayers for all these things and especially for Esmée's heart in the process. We ask for prayer that our dispensation for having bio children will be signed soon and/or the new proposed law banning the need for us to even have to have this dispensation will be put into effect (for the sake of many other adoptions waiting on that desk as well). We praise the Lord for His grace and faithfulness throughout the past 3 years of pursuing our Much Loved girl's adoption. How could we have known 3 years ago how much calling her "Esmée" which means "Much Loved" would test our faith and our love? Oh how the past 3 years have taught and reminded us how much loved we are by the One who pursued and fought and gave up everything in order to adopt and spend forever with us!

Happy Birthday Esmée! You are worth everything we have gone through and much more! We are blessed beyond measure to call you our daughter. We are so excited to see how God is growing you up and teaching you more and more about Him each day. Thank you for being so easy to love and for loving us too! We pray that this year will truly be your best one yet! Your life and the time we have had with you has helped us to remember that life is a gift we should celebrate every single day. Thank you for sharing precious life with us!

Esmée all ready to share her birthday
May 16th, 2013


Life with Sisters

One year ago and still today
...sisters call the shots at play.

Evan is a good little sport.
I guess he has to be since his "mom" is following him with a belt!
I noticed that after they asked me to take the picture.
She so did not learn that from me.
Still retraining from previous life experiences.
Thankful for a safe place to be able to do that in these moments.
A very good sport. 
This brings me back to the good ol days when my three sisters and I used to do this to our brother. 

What we did to my brother!
(Thanks Christina for the photo!)

This is how he turned out...
 so I'm not worried at all!

Ethan only tolerates this kind of play because his sisters play beyblades and ninja warriors with him. And because he knows if anyone messes with him his sisters have his back.
Because he knows how mean and tough his sisters can be despite their girly girl facade. 

Daly gal only tolerates sisters too.
Sisters think she needs a bath every day.
And sometimes a pedicure.
Options given the boys for after school activity.
Dress up
Sisters will surely take credit for the day white boys CAN dance! 
Sometimes sisters let brothers dress them up too.
And brothers think that is funny.
Though I think sisters still get the better deal.

Life has changed a lot with sisters.
We have always asked "Where is Evan?"
But now we find him doing things like street shopping for purses.
Look what I bought sister for her birthday!