Thursday, April 12, 2007

Our Children

This is Matthew on one of his trips up north with his grandma and papa. He loves going up north. He loves working on things, playing outside, crafts, tractors, and riding bikes. He will be 5 in a few weeks.

This is Alisha. She loves to sing, eat, get into things she isn't supposed to touch, and be loud. She just turned 3.

This is Michael. He is still in the orphanage in Haiti. They say he is very active and loves looking for something to get into. He is 19 months old. We are hoping that we will be able to bring him home this summer.

???????? Then there is the baby. Baby is due to be born on
October 2nd. We don't know what gender baby is, but
we are excited about baby joining our family too.

Our Domestic Adoption

After Matthew was born, my female cycle never restarted. I went to a doctor and a specialist for about nine months. I took a number of different infertility drugs and hormone pills. It was very difficult on my body and emotions. They ran all kinds of tests, but they still were unable to help me get pregnant again. So we started talking about adoption. I had a very strong desire to have another child myself, but if that was not possible I knew there were a lot of kids out there that need homes. So in November of 2003 we began researching the option of adoption. I did not want to start the process until we had both agreed that we would complete the adoption even if I were to get pregnant in the process. So not wanting our children to be too far apart in age, we started making decisions. So around the end of January or the beginning of February 2004, we decided to adopt from Guatemala. We decided on Guatemala because we wanted an infant and could not afford to travel for extended periods of time. And because we were extremely leary of domestic adoption for several reasons. The birthmother could change her mind at the last minute. Or she could have been smoking, drinking, or doing drugs while she was carrying the baby. Those types of things were not as common in Guatemala and there was no chance of parents changing their minds.

So the search began. We searched the internet and found a set of twin boys in Guatemala. We decided to go for it. So we started our homestudy with Lisa (Adoption Consultants, Inc.). We inquired with the agency in California that had the boys listed. They responded to let us know that if we signed the attached contract and sent a deposit, they would hold the boys for us. We were so excited that we cried. Then we opened the contract. The boys came with a list of fees that was between $40,000 and $50,000. There was no way that we could come up with that kind of money. We tried, but we couldn’t do it. So we resigned ourselves to the fact that we could only afford to adopt one child. The more we talked, the more I realized that Aaron really wanted a little girl. Guatemala had lots of baby boys available, but not so many girls. I prayed that God would grant Aaron’s wish. So we continued with our homestudy and began the paperwork for immigration.

One day around March, my cousin Julie brought a “friend” named Sara with her to our Sunday School class. Sara was a very petite, pregnant black girl. She was introduced as a friend from Chicago that would be staying with Julie for awhile. Later, our class got an email from Julie that let us know that Sarah was staying until after her baby was born and there was someone already interested in adopting her baby. My parents gave me a heads-up about who was wanting to adopt the baby. Knowing the baby was supposed to be a girl, I took the risk and emailed Julie. I asked her to keep us in mind if the other person was unable to adopt Sara’s baby. Not that I wouldn’t have taken the chance for a boy, but I really wanted Aaron to have a daughter.

We got to visit with Sara a few times after that. Once at Aunt Nancy’s house and once at the hospital when my Dad got hurt at work. Then on Tuesday, April 6, Julie called and asked if we could meet with Sara on Saturday to talk about the possibility of adopting her baby. We were extremely excited. The baby was due to be born on Matthew’s second birthday. So we waited in anticipation of Saturday (little did we know what was about to happen). Friday morning we got the call that Sara’s water had broke. But she still wanted to talk to us on Saturday morning. Saturday morning, Sarah still had not gone into labor, so Julie took her to the Hospital. When they arrived at the hospital, the nurses wanted to call in a social worker so that the baby could be taken to foster care straight from the hospital. Sara was terrified. She grew up in foster care her entire life until she turned 18. She did not want her baby to end up there even for a few days. So they called us and told us if we wanted the baby to get to the hospital. So we rushed up there. They called us on our way to let us in on the plan. The plan was to tell the hospital that Sara decided to keep the baby. Then when the baby came home from the hospital, Aunt Nancy would keep her until the legal paperwork was complete.

Then while Sara was in labor, the emotions hit her and she decided she wanted Julie to keep the baby. So with broken hearts, we left the hospital after picking up lunch for Aunt Nancy and Julie. Sunday morning, we got the call that Sara had given birth to a 4lb. 8 oz. girl on Saturday April 10, 2004 at 8:58pm. We were also told that Julie could not keep the baby. So Monday night, Julie called to let us know that Sara wanted us to adopt her baby. So Tuesday morning, I took my Dad with me to the hospital to see the baby. She was absolutely beautiful. Only one person could go in at a time with Sara because the baby was in the special care nursery. So I went in and held little “Kalinda Michelle”. Then Sara asked if my Dad could hold the baby (because of his injured arms). I told her that he could if she placed her in his arms. So she requested that he come in and hold the baby. My Dad was very kind and gentle with the baby and with Sara and had a word of prayer with Sara before coming out. That evening, Aaron met me at the hospital and we spent a few more hours with the baby. Matthew was only allowed to see her through the window, but he was very excited to see the little baby.

The baby was finally cleared by the doctor to go home on Thursday. I waited anxiously for the phone to ring. Finally, around 2pm the phone rang. I was ready to go out the door to go see “my baby”. But it was Sara calling to let me know she had changed her mind and was going to keep the baby. We were devastated. But we continued on. We proceeded with trying to get our approval for immigration.

Thursday night, May 6, we got a phone call around 9:30pm. It was Lisa, our social worker. She wanted to let us know that Sara had contacted her and wanted to know if we were still willing to adopt her baby girl. She had no support and she realized that it would be better for the baby if she had a family. We consulted lawyers and social workers on Friday and the processing was scheduled to start on Monday the 10th. Then on Monday, Sara told Laurie (her social worker) that she wanted to wait a week until the father graduated before proceeding. So once again we figured we had lost our baby. Then on Sunday the 16th, Aunt Nancy got a call from Sara. Sara wanted her to come pick up her and the baby. So she did. We went and spent an hour or so with her that night and took some pictures. Then we went back on Monday night and spent some more time with her. That was Matthew and Allison’s first time to meet her. My mom had met her on Sunday and Beck got to meet her on Monday. Allison was very excited and bouncy. She tried to pull the baby off Beck’s lap. Matthew was more reserved until some of the people left. Then he climbed up my lap with her and fed her a bottle. All the paperwork and meetings started that Monday. Matthew informed us that night that he wanted to name his baby sister “Eeyore”. We didn’t agree with him.

“Kalinda” was taken to a host family on Lake Michigan on Tuesday. That way we could use the Owosso court system which was supposed to be the fastest. We finally heard back on Wednesday that the court hearing for release of parental rights was scheduled for Friday,
May 28 at 1pm. We were then given an appointment at the same time at the Jenison office of Adoption Associates. Friday the 21st we drove in one of the worst storms to Farmington Hills to meet with Paula (Adoption Associates director) to turn in our homestudy and discuss the details of what was going to happen. Periodically over the week and a half that the baby was in host care, I called out there to check and see how she was doing.

We already had the baby’s room ready, but we needed clothes and a few other small items. So Beck and I went to a mom-to-mom sale on the 22nd and got a bunch of girl clothes. My dad walked up to the dollar store on the 19th and bought hair barrettes and clips for the baby. Everyone was excited now. It seemed that this was really going to happen this time. Aaron and I put in our requests to get the day off for court (Friday, May 28). Aaron did not have any trouble getting the day off. At first I was told it was okay. Then my boss pulled me aside to let me know that I would not get paid for the day because it was the day before a holiday break (Memorial Day). So we sat down with the employee handbook and tried to find a way around that policy, because Susan (the company vice-president) refused to do anything about it. So we found that for Family Leave Act required that you use up all vacation days first and then the remainder would be unpaid. The no pay policy for days before a holiday was worded in regard to personal and sick days not vacation days. So Fiona emailed Susan and explained the loophole that we found and allowed me to take the day as a vacation day. So everything was set to go get our baby.

Friday morning we got going early. We really had not slept much the night before because we were so excited. Since we had a three hour drive or so, we wanted to make sure we left time for traffic and stuff. So we ended up arriving in Jenison about two hours early. So we went to McDonald’s for lunch and went shopping at Big Lot and Meijer. We bought the baby some nice dresses at Meijer. Then we went to the adoption agency to sign our paperwork, pay our money, and get our baby. When we got there, we did not realize that there were several different doors labeled as part of the adoption agency. So we went in the wrong door at first. But there was nobody in the building. But after a while I happened to look out the window and saw that the other building had a door labeled Adoption Associates Inc., so we went over and found where we were supposed to be. Then Dick took us to a third door for the agency and we went to his office to sign our paperwork. The court hearing and our signing were both at one o’clock. Dick let us know about 1:25pm that the hearing was over and both birthparents had signed off their rights. I cried. We finished signing our paperwork and then they took us to a family waiting room to wait for the host family to bring us our daughter. Matthew played with the toys and was very well behaved while we waited for what seemed like hours. We called our parents and other family members to let them know that the hearing was over and we were waiting for our baby girl. Then someone came in to let us know that Sara had requested to see the baby one last time and was on her way to the agency to see the baby. Once Sara and Ray’mon had spent some time with the baby, the host mom brought us our daughter. While we were talking to the host mom and her husband, Laurie came in and told us that Sara had requested to come in and say good-bye to us. So we told her that would be fine. Sara and Ray’mon came into the big conference room outside of the waiting room we had been in and I hugged Sara and thanked them both for this wonderful gift they were giving us. Then I ran out to the van and got the outfit we had bought to bring her home in and the afghan Grandma B had made her. Then we adjusted her car seat and headed on our long journey home. We got home around 6:30pm. Aaron’s parents and Beck and Joshua came to see the baby. Aunt Effie and family came to visit the baby as well. We got Tubby’s for dinner and just tried to relax and enjoy our new, bigger family.

Alisha did not think that nighttime was for sleeping at all, so the first few nights were rough. On Saturday, we went as a family to Samuel’s birthday party. Matthew kept a close eye on his sister. At one point, Alisha had fallen asleep and I laid her down in a baby bouncer. Then I went to get something to eat. Since it was all family, I knew she would be fine by Grandma B and Aunt Nancy. Matthew had been playing outside and came in to eat with us. He took one bite and then realized that I did not have the baby in my arms. He frantically scanned the room and spotted the bouncer. He climbed over several children and open birthday presents that littered the living room floor to get to the bouncer. He looked in and saw that his sister was resting peacefully. He looked at Aunt Nancy and told her that it was his baby. Then he was content and came back to share my food. Over the first few weeks, Matthew was always keeping track of where the baby was and what she was doing. He tried to help feed and burp her. He insisted on giving her a pacifier. When she cried, he would get upset and tell us “baby cry”. He really has been the most wonderful big brother.

We counted down the days for the 21 days when the birthparents could request a rehearing. As that day approached, we got more and more excited hoping that the chances of losing our little girl would be over. Then in the last week, we received a phone call from Laurie informing us that Sara had contacted her and wanted to request a rehearing. The agency contacted the courthouse on the following Monday to see if anything had been filed. They did not know because the person that deals with that was out of town. Then the judge was out of town. We finally found out that the judge had granted a rehearing and it was scheduled for July 29. We were very upset that it took two weeks to get into court the first time and then over a month the second time. But the agency kept reassuring us that there was no way the judge could reinstate the birthparents rights. However, he had granted a rehearing even though they waited till the 23rd day to file which is after the 21 days allowed, so we did not know what he would do when it came time for the rehearing. The agency sent us a copy of the letter that had been sent to the court requesting the rehearing. It was too well written to have been written by Sara. And it was full of how Ray’mon’s mom was going to take care of the baby till they got out of school, help them care for the baby while they were finding jobs, and giving them the family house when they had jobs so they would have a place to raise the baby.

I spoke with Doug, the agency's lawyer, several times as we waited for the rehearing. He tried to reassure me that there was no way that the judge could legally take our daughter from us. I also took the two kids with me to the agencies Farmington Hills office for our thirty day post-placement meeting. Laurie was very cold as she asked me some basic questions about how the baby was adjusting and how family was accepting her, etc. Then she called Paula in so they could “answer any questions I might have about the rehearing.” I said I did not really have any questions. Then Paula looked at me and said “Did you ever think about the fact that this rehearing is going to cost money?” I kind of stuttered because I had not expected any discussion about money and I really had not thought about it since Paula had told us at our first meeting that once we paid and got our daughter there would not be any more costs involved. Then she said, “Do you realize that those expenses are going to be passed down to you?” I told her that we did not have any more money, we already took out a loan to pay the first bill. She said that she would work on getting the agency to cover some of the costs and making arrangements so that we could pay as we got the money. I was devastated. I felt like I had just been attacked. Here I was all alone with two kids and they dropped a huge bombshell on me. I cried most of the way home.

The day of the rehearing, my dad, Aunt Nancy, Julie, Sarah (my cousin), and their kids went to the court for the rehearing. My dad called me that afternoon to let me know that the birthfamily was half an hour late to the hearing and the judge still waited for them. Then when they got there, the judge asked Sara what her grounds were for requesting her rights to be reinstated. She told the judge she could get an apartment at school, so she wanted the baby back. When the judge asked her again what her "legal" grounds for her request she stated, “I want Kalinda back because I can get an apartment at school.” So the judge turned to Doug and asked him what he had to say. Doug simply quoted a few laws of the state of Michigan regarding adoption and supported that the adoption be upheld. The judge then gave his ruling. He ruled in favor of upholding the adoption. Now we were in the last leg of possible court battles. The only thing the brithfamily could do at this point was to go to the court of appeals. They had 21 days to file an appeal. In order to file the appeal, they would have to hire a lawyer to file it for them.

We waited patiently to hear if anything had been filed with the court of appeals. We did not think that the birthfamily had the money to hire a lawyer, but we were still not sure. The 21 days came and went and we never heard anything. I finally called the agency and they told me that we should have already heard if anything had happened, so we could assume that we were in the clear.

We made it through both of our home visits with Laurie. Our family had accepted Alisha and Alisha had accepted us. A few weeks before the adoption was supposed to be finalized, we got a letter from the agency stating that they would not put our adoption through for finalization until we paid the extra $2000 from the rehearing. They also wrote some threatening statements about making it cost more money if it took too long because they would have to do more post placement visits and they would have to charge extra. We just cried. We did not have any money to pay the bill. So we continued to pursue different adoption grants. Most of them turned us down because we already had the baby. Finally, I got in touch with a lady from Fore Adoption. She felt the agency was very wrong for how they were treating us and threatening. She presented our case to their board and got us a grant that paid off the remaining bill.

Then in the end of November, the agency turned our paperwork in to the courts for the judge to sign off on. On December 2, 2004, the judge signed the order of finalization. Then just before Christmas we received Alisha’s new birth certificate in the mail. The adoption saga was finally over.

No matter how much stress and agony we went through, we know that we made the right decision. God wanted Alisha to be a part of our family and she is exactly that now. I pray that one day she will also join her dad and I as part of God’s family.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Adoption is a huge part of our family. I never would have dreamed of saying that, but I am so thankful that the Lord directed our paths. I always believed the verse about God directing the steps of a good man, but I never imagined that His direction would take us to where we are today. In May of 2002, God blessed us with our first little miracle. Matthew Aaron was born and he changed our lives. We enjoyed every minute of life with a new baby. We began trying for #2 when Matthew was very young. However, secondary infertility caused us to be unable to have another baby. Growing up with a brother and sister very close in age to me, I wanted my kids to enjoy the same closeness. We began infertility treatments in the fall of 2003. However, I had the unfortunate referral to a very rude doctor. Combining a rude doctor with hormone therapy is not a good idea. After a few short months, I told Aaron that we had to decide what was more important my mental well-being or having a baby. We then decided to stop treatments. I still strongly desired another child, so I began researching adoption on the internet in November. By February of 2004, we had decided that adoption was the next "step" that God was leading us to take. So after all the research, we decided to adopt from Guatemala. We chose Guatemala because of the short travel times and the very young babies available. So we started all of the paperwork and our homestudy. Around March, my cousin brought a young pregnant girl to church with her and that was the start. April 10th, Alisha was born. Of course that wasn't her name at birth, but I'll save more of that story for another post. We continued to try on our own to get pregnant, but had no luck. In December 2005, we lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy. In January of 2006, we started infertility treatments with a new doctor that was very kind. In February of 2006, we started our second adoption. This time we chose to adopt from Haiti. We got our first pictures of Michael when he was 6 months old (Feb. 06). In early February of 2007, we found out that baby #4 is on the way. This is going to be an exciting year. I'll post more about each adoption and infertility journey that we faced. I am hoping that someone will come across this blog and see how a mighty God can direct our lives in ways we never imagined. Through a lot of pain, stress, and trials God has given us a fabulous family with a bond that is unbelievable. I used to question God, and now I have learned to say "okay God, I don't kow what you are up to this time, but I'm gonna let go and let you lead".