Saturday, November 15, 2014
We have been home just over 4 weeks now and have already experienced a lot of firsts. I will write more about them later but the biggest one we have been waiting for was the first snow fall!
Everyone has had an opinion on whether or not she will like it, love it or just want to stay inside until summer.
So today we took her to meet Mother Natures best! Attached is a video of the festivities. We strapped the GoPro to Gracie's head so you can get a first hand look at what she saw! We stayed out for over an hour and had to drag her back into the house!
Click here to see...
Gracie Loves the Snow!
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
For starters I want you to know how much I love you. From the moment I first saw your picture I knew you were supposed to be our daughter. And then a few weeks later your mom and I got to hold you and love on you for the first time. They told us you were a “failure to thrive” baby and they weren’t sure how that would effect you as you got older. That we should expect some delays. But as soon as we first touched you we knew that you were going to be just fine. As small as you were physically we knew that nothing would slow you down. Perfection was the word we used! You instantly won our hearts.
I am sure you don’t remember our conversation, but on that trip I promised that I would do anything to protect you and give you the life that you deserved. I told you that we wouldn’t be apart for much longer and that as soon as we could get you home you would be welcomed into a house with two big brothers that were so excited to help you grow. You were loved before you ever even knew it. You were guarded by prayer and love on levels you could never believe! So many people loved you before they ever even met you.
As we began the process to bring you home our hearts were ecstatic with all of the possibilities for your life. We prepared for a process that could take a while and supported you from afar. During that “waiting well” period, things began to unravel and we feared losing you. However, I kept holding on to our little chat. That one about doing anything for you. So as things went badly you were surrounded by even more prayer and love. People from all over the world knew you by name and were praying for your safety and health. People that we didn’t even know were praying for you and asking God to make a way to bring you home to your family.
It’s amazing what prayer and faith can do!
Over the course of the almost 2 year process to bring you home there were numerous times it would have been much easier to just walk away. But your mom and I couldn’t do that. God led us to you and no matter what people said or how badly our feelings were hurt it was never even an option to give up. The doubters had no idea how hard I would fight for you. They had no idea that at times we agreed with them, that this process was crazy and seemed like it would only end with disappointment. Yet we clung to our faith. We did our best to let their words and actions roll off our backs. All because we knew that you were waiting on the other end of this fight.
That “light at the end of the tunnel” was every picture and video we received of you. It was plastered on fridge doors, screensavers, picture frames in countless rooms and just about everywhere we went. You never left our side even though we were an ocean apart. You were with me every step of the way as I trained for a half marathon and you were there when I crossed the finish line. Your big brothers prayed for you every night. They wanted to know everything about you and when they finally got to meet you they instantly knew it as well. They knew they were supposed to be your protective brothers and right from the first moment they took their job serious.
I want you to know today how much you are loved. You are loved by the parents that gave you life and you are loved by the parents that are giving you a life. Both sets of parents sat in hot Haitian court rooms and signed on blank notebook paper to give you the best life possible. One mom and dad signed stating that they could not provide the proper care you deserved. And the other mom and dad signed on stating that they would give you the life that you were destined to have. A life filled with anything that your heart desires. A life filled with love beyond anything you could have ever imagined. A life surrounded by people that will always be there for you. A life where if you can dream it, it can become a reality. And a life where above all else, you will know that you are loved by a maker that created you to be someone amazing! A God that knew before any of us did that you would cross an ocean and become part of a family that would walk through flames for you. A God that loves you unconditionally and doesn’t make mistakes!
So today, little one, as we celebrate your “gotcha day” and finally can say our family is complete, I want to share just a couple things with you…
Finally, the last thing you need to know as we prepare to be a forever family… I love you!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
And it didn't happen in a church, or at a Bible study or where you might expect something like that to happen.
It all went down right in the middle of my fifth grade classroom! In the middle of our parent teacher conferences!
I had just gotten done meeting with a mother and son about how great his year had been going. The mother knew of our adoption process and was asking some of the usual questions about timeline and all of that. Our conversation ended with just a simple explanation that we were once again back to ground zero with some things, but were ever so grateful that we were allowed to preserve our match with Gracie! Our main priority now was to focus on the good things and get our baby girl home. God would take care of the rest!
As I turned to leave that conversation I was immediately stopped by another parent. A dad that I had met for the first time just a few minutes earlier. He stood there staring at me and said he had a question to ask me. That type of thing, during conferences, always gets a teacher a little nervous but I had to say yes!
His question was definitely not one I was expecting, at all!
"I just overheard your conversation with that family and I am wondering if I can pray for you?", he boldly said.
Without even thinking I agreed and was quickly swept up into one of those God moments! Standing face to face, he grabbed my hands, took off his stocking cap and bowed his head. Not worried one bit about the family still sitting a few feet away or the other family just across the room. He broke into one of those prayers that would make my momma proud. And it was bold and Loud!!
|The view from my desk!|
The prayer took a minute or two but oddly seemed like it was longer. One of those prayers that you don't want to leave because the emotion, heart felt passion and the love is just right there. I hope you can relate. Those types of prayers aren't always easy to come by. I am not a master of them by any means but when I get the privalege of hearing one, I am all in! I am a big time fan of the powerful prayer! No "wimpy" prayers for me, as a great friend once said! Prayer has played a large part in my past and continues to be a powerful factor as we move forward with this adoption adventure. Prayer got me through the passing of my father, exactly 26 years ago today. It healed our oldest son when we thought we were going to lose him. And it continues to break down walls and bring hearts together! And one day it will bring Gracie home!
Shortly after the prayer ended this prayer warrior exited and I stood there for a second wondering what had just happened, and in complete awe of how God works. How in the middle of a public school classroom I had just stood with a complete stranger and prayed! Those types of things just don't happen and aren't supposed to happen! God just seems to show up at those times when we least expect it and He shows himself through the people we would never assume He would.
God rocked my world last night while I stood in a 5th grade classroom, with a handful of people standing silently by. For a small moment in time it felt like my room; filled with exercise balls, dirty desks and broken pencils, was a safe spot that two brothers could come together and get real with God! I got served, as my kids would say!
So today I continue to ask for your prayers! Above all we need to thank God that Gracie is in a safe place and being taken care of so well. We also need to pray that those representing us in Haiti will be shown grace and wisdom as they try to clear up the dirty road laid in front of us. Pray for Gracie's Haitian family and her family here that is just waiting for the day that we can snuggle up with her on these frigid South Dakota days. And finally we boldly ask for God to continue to provide in big ways so that we can get our baby girl home! Amen
Right now our biggest obstacle is sadly re-raising funds to bring our baby home. We have been blessed by so many and continue to be but we truly can't do this alone! Please continue to pray, we appreciate that more than anything, and if you feel at all led to help support us in bringing Gracie home please check out a few of these options...
1. On the top right of this page is a link to our family page at Adopttogether. You can use this site to make a tax deductible donation!
2. Save the date, March 8th, at Calico Skies Winery. Some great friends of ours are organizing an evening out full of shopping, raffle/auction items, supper and live music! We will be posting more info on vendors and other details soon.
3. Support Vibella and Gracie. By clicking here you can shop on the Vibella website for amazing jewelry made by some incredible Haitian women. Not only do you help us bring Gracie home but you will also be helping to support the ladies that create these great masterpieces! Be sure to use the code FST09 when you checkout to make sure the Gracie Adoption Fundraiser gets credit. Together we can make a difference!
|Our good friend Kayla with Gracie and her daughter Wishla!|
Kayla is the Hands and Feet of Jesus in Haiti! She also
works with the Haitian ladies creating jewelry for Vibella!
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
I don't know if you were spoiled or heard the song for this day,
You probably don't even know it but this day is so sweet,
Because there is so much love out there just waiting for you to meet,
A mommy that needs to hold you and touch your soft skin,
A daddy that longs to protect you from all the chaos that you've been in,
Two big brothers that wait in wonder at when you're coming home,
But they love you to pieces and they won't let you go,
We have loved you in person and we have loved you from afar,
We have sat up late at night and wondered if you see the same star,
Gracie, I want you to know how much you are loved,
That even though we aren't with you today that you are being watched from above,
Someday soon you will come home and be a part of our world,
You will join us forever and be Daddy's little girl,
So today on your birthday we pray, thank God and celebrate,
The little beauty that God led us to and for your homecoming we can't wait,
You are loved by so many that to describe there is no way,
So tonight in your honor we
Love you Gracie Marie Peters!
Thursday, January 30, 2014
For starters, we say thank you! Thank you for all that you have done for us and Gracie up to this point. Above all, thank you for the prayers. You would not believe the times that they have literally been felt and answered. Thank you for the support, both financially and emotionally. This is not a journey that we were ever prepared to embark on by ourselves, and with God's help you have lifted us out of the muck and mire several times. Thank you!
Now for the update...That moment when we swallow our pride and share the truth...
One year ago Anne and I decided that we were truly going to put all of our eggs into the adoption basket. We scratched together all of our savings and told God that if He truly wanted us to go to Haiti that we trusted Him. We invested everything we had, along with donations from some amazing people, and the journey began. As you know we were quickly matched in April and traveled to Haiti in May to meet our beautiful baby girl, Gracie. This was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives.
At that same time we had called upon all of you to ask for your assistance. We knew that this was not something we could do alone and needed to reach out to those that had already offered their help. We sold bracelets and paintings, had garage sales and held other small fundraisers. In the end, with our savings and your help, we raised enough to pay the full amount to Giving Hope Rescue Mission to make our adoption official.
We were on
the road to bringing our baby girl home!
Then over the course of the summer months we started to hear grumblings out of Haiti that things were not as they appeared with our situation. At first we were inclined to defend the actions of those in charge of Gracie's care. We wrote letters to senators, the Haitian government, and anyone that we felt had enough pull to help our situation. There was a real fear that some "crazy parents" were attacking and trying to stop our adoptions out of hatred and malice. We fought hard and believed we knew the truth.
Over time though, things began to unravel and the truth came to light. Things were not adding up. Simple questions were left unanswered. Money was disappearing and not being accounted for. And ultimately the welfare of the children was being challenged. As school began here in South Dakota, things quickly changed in Haiti. We learned of several things that would make your stomach turn. The children were being neglected. Some adoptions were being legitimately questioned as to whether the children were even true orphans. The stories were disturbing and broke our hearts, and most were true. We worried for Gracie's safety and our process of adopting.
We began to dig in to the details and joined a group of parents that were wanting to find answers to the hundreds of questions that were going unanswered. How are the kids? Are my kids even adoptable? Is my paperwork legitimate? Where has all of my money gone? Can I transfer my child to a new orphanage? The list went on and on. Thankfully for us, we were surrounded by some amazing family and friends at the time that allowed us to cry on their shoulders, to yell at the top of our lungs, and to be angry, but not vengeful.
We continued to dig in. We were upset with how things were going and were truly scared of losing our baby girl. At a few different times were told that the Haitian government was freezing our adoptions, and not planning to continue with them due to the fraudulent activities involved.
All the while we tried to show grace, give the benefit of the doubt and keep open lines of communication with those responsible. Jon took 6 days off of school in November and traveled to Haiti to move Gracie to New Life Link Creche. The process while there was scary and unpredictable. There were dark hallways, a major protest in the streets, the same khaki pants for four days in a row, and the uncertainty of will we even get Gracie moved. By the grace of God only, another family and ourselves, were allowed to move our children. At the very last minute, literally, God stepped in, and in a cramped office our baby girl was handed over with just the clothes on her back.
After that, Anne, the boys, and Grandma and Grandpa Thomas arrived for a week long stay, and we all had the opportunity of loving and spoiling Gracie. It was truly one of the most remarkable times for our family. It was just right! It was perfect! Gracie was amazing and bonded with all of us in incredible ways.
We left Gracie the day after Thanksgiving in the amazing care of the New Life Link Staff. We have received updates from other visiting parents and Jon's sister Missy. (previous post) Gracie is thriving and doing well. She will turn two years old on February 5. This is a day that will be hard for us here in South Dakota, but we know she will be loved! We just pray that birthday number three is celebrated in the snow!
As for now we wait! We don't know what the timeline for anything is at the moment. IBESR and our friend Dr. Bernard are currently digging through dossiers to make sure things are legitimate and are fixing anything that raises red flags. Once that is done we are told they will meet with Biological parents and proceed. It's a slow and arduous process that no one has a true plan for. These are uncharted waters, thanks to a whole lot of deception. But we continue to pray and stand tall in our FAITH!
Other than the waiting game right now, our biggest obstacle sadly involves a lot of you. Like mentioned above there were a lot of unanswered questions about funding. These people are not willing to provide any type of accountability for the money that was given and entrusted to them. Long story short...everything that we had saved, all of your donations last year, and all of our monthly support we paid for Gracie's care is gone. 15,000 dollars plus is gone! We have struggled with how to let people know that the money has disappeared. Was it our fault? Were we naive? What could we have done differently? Deep down, though, we know that through this God blessed us with a little girl, and she is worth more than all of it. With adoption fees paid, travel costs, homestudy work and dossier preparation, we are further into this than we ever expected. We have given, and are giving, every cent of our own money that we can, while still trying to provide a decent life for our two boys at home.
So today we are swallowing our pride. We are admitting that we were snow balled. We were lied to, blindsided, and our trust in the system was rocked. BUT, we still have a baby girl in Haiti. She still has a mom and dad that love her. She still has two brothers that literally ache to hold her. Mikah cried true tears of pain as we said goodbye to Gracie in November. His heart was broken and he literally begged to just stay with her. Their hearts are in this, and we cannot back out simply because of some misguided people. We pray for them daily that their hearts will soften and do the right thing. But those days don't seem to come.
So with a lump in our throats and tails between our legs, we very reluctantly come back to you. The people that truly "get it". Our friends, our family and those of you that understand we are doing this for the least of these, we thank you! The Bible calls us to take care of the orphans and those in need. Numerous times it says that they need us to stand up for them. We need your help today friends. We have lost all adoption funds due to this mess. Praise God today though, that we were able to keep our match!
The hardest thing to do right now is ask for your help. We are "fixers" by nature, and if there was a way that we could do this on our own, we would slip quietly into the background and do it. But we can't. God has given us a call that is real, and her name is Gracie.
With that said we are asking for you help. We have been blessed with some great people in our lives that have been able to witness the joy, the pain and the triumph in this situation. They have felt Gracie's skin and they have hugged her tight. Once again, they have offered to walk with us on this journey through all of its thorns and ledges.
We have been blessed with a great opportunity to help raise funds for our new fees. Being that we moved Gracie to New Life Link, which is 100% legitimate, we are back in the same boat. We need to pay another $12,000 for the adoption fee and her care. There will also be some travel and other paper work involved while clearing up the mess. And of course a ticket home in the future for a beautiful baby girl! We were fortunate to have someone offer us a no interest loan for the first half of the payment that was due when Gracie arrived, but beyond that we are in quite a sticky situation. We do have a grant that will cover a portion of the fees, and we are thankful to the Show Hope Foundation for continuing to walk with us through the mess.
With all of that said, we want to keep you posted on some upcoming fundraisers that friends and family are helping us with!
Mark your calendars for March 8, 2014.
Calico Skies Winery, outside of Inwood, Iowa, have graciously offered the use of their facility! What a blessing they are! We will be holding a vendor fair on the afternoon of the 8th, and then that evening we are excited to announce that the music group "Too Drunk to Fish" will be performing for anyone that wants to hang out! An amazing duo and led by our friend, Scott Jendersee, they will be signing all of your favorite tunes! There will be vendors like Frassy Girl, Tupperware, 31, Usbourne Books, Childrens Blankets, ViBella, Scentsy, Pampered Chef and more. There will also be some raffle items that you won't want to miss out on and of course the opportunity to listen to some great live music!
Please mark your calendars. More details about March 8th will be coming soon!
We will keep you posted on here as we learn more info about times and other additions to the evening.
Please continue to pray for Gracie, her friends and those taking care of all of them. This is a tricky situation with a lot of uncertainty, but we all trust that God has His hand on it all. We have been blessed beyond measure to be able to be on this journey, and we are excited for the day that our baby girl comes home! What a day it's gonna be!