Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gracie meets Mother Nature!

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…

1. God Loves you!  
2. I love you!  Your mom loves you! Your brothers love you!
3. You won my heart the first time I laid eyes on you!
4. No matter what anyone says, you are perfectly made and will do great things!
5. Life is going to be tough at times, for all of us, but together we will get through it!
6. Your smile is beautiful, use it for good things!
7. No matter what you say or what you do, I am always going to be your dad and I will always be here for you!


Finally, the last thing you need to know as we prepare to be a forever family… I love you!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's Time!! And You are invited!!

In June of 2012, Anne and I made a decision that would forever change our lives.  The thought of adding to our family excited us both, but at the same time it brought reservations.  We were excited at the possibility of sharing our home with a child that would otherwise miss out on the life we could provide, and yet fearful that we were not at all prepared for the journey of adoption on many levels.  
Many family and friends stood up beside us and decided to join us on the adventure.  Adventure may be the most accurate word I can come up with at the moment.  Although the decision seemed so clear to us at the time, we would be challenged beyond belief over the next two years.  We originally planned on adopting a little boy, and when that fell through we were devastated.  From there we thought we would adopt through the Congo, and when that became clearly not the path, we were again disappointed.  
We were ready to give it an A for effort and enjoy our family of four.  And yet that thumping on our hearts just kept coming.  God kept telling us that He had a big plan for our family and we just needed to have a little more “faith”.  And so this became our mantra…FAITH!  We decided we couldn’t put our expectations of others so high on our list.  We couldn’t worry about the way others reacted when we told them of our plans.  We couldn’t go through this process and not be an example of how awesome our God really is!  He made a promise, and we needed to trust Him.  Faith.
So, in May of 2013 we traveled to Haiti and met the most beautiful girl in the world.  Gracie quickly stole our hearts and instantly became our daughter!  As a dad I made a vow on that visit that I would do anything to protect her and provide for her the life she deserves.  I didn’t know at the time that making that promise would involve more than going through a routine adoption process and bringing her home shortly after. 
Sometimes when you make a promise or say something out loud with your faith, I think that God accepts your challenge and makes you prove yourself.  I know that God enjoys watching His followers fight for Him and His people!  My simple words to Gracie were accepted by Him, and our faith was just starting to be tested.  
Over the summer of 2013 our adoption process began to fall apart.  Things weren’t as they seemed, and we were in jeopardy of losing everything from finances to Gracie.  Thankfully we only lost money and a little time.  It was a lot of money, but in the end we were able to walk away with the relief that Gracie was now somewhere safe, and our adoption would be allowed to move forward.  
This past April, Anne and I were able to travel to Haiti andbe present for court appointments and paper filings that declared us as her legal guardians.  We met her biological parents and watched as they signed away their rights.  It was one of the most surreal feelings in the world to see one mom sign a notebook stating she could not provide a quality life for her baby girl, and another mom pick up the same pen and sign on stating that she would do anything she could to give this little beauty a life she will never forget!  Two moms and two dads, all at the same spot in time but declaring their best intentions for one little girl that meant the world to all of them.
From there our process has moved rather quickly.  We were blessed to become great friends with the people that run Gracie’s crèche and to be in touch with them regularly about her care and needs.  A number of our family and friends have been able to spend time at NLL with Gracie and see what an amazing place she is currently calling home.  Both Grandmas and her two big brothers have even been able to enjoy loving on her.  
Which brings us today!  The day we have all been waiting and praying for.  The day that your prayers and support have literally made possible.  The day that a year ago looked to be so far away, and even impossible at times.  
It is with great joy and tears in my eyes, that we are able to share with you that...GRACIE IS COMING HOME!!  She has one more appointment to get her official Visa in two weeks, but she is coming HOME!  On October 16, at 4:20pm, Gracie Peters will be the newest resident of Brandon, South Dakota!  We will land in Sioux Falls at that time and would love to share the moment with you.  If you have supported this journey in any way we would like to invite you to be a part of Gracie’s homecoming at the Sioux Falls Airport.  If all travel goes as planned we will glide down the Sioux Falls escalators and hold our baby girl, and your prayers, high in the air!  
This adventure has taken our family to places we never could have imagined.  Across oceans, into dark hallways, and down paths of fear and doubt.  Yet in the end it was the prayers, support, phone calls, hugs and ultimately the “faith” of so many that has made this all possible!  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Thank You isn't enough!

What do you say and where do you start? How do you put into words, what is swelling your heart?
At a time when the battle was breaking you down, a community rose up and helped stand the ground.
At the beginning we knew we couldn’t do this alone, We prayed and we begged for God to show us the road.
A road that led through dark paths, and then out into light, A road that at times was pure joy and sometimes just fright.
But every time it got dark and we felt so incredibly small, A note would show up or the phone with a call.
The battle at hand was not ours to bear, because when times would get tough you were always right there.
Some people don’t get why and we completely agree, But God called us to take part and provide a family.
We will fight to the end and take our lumps as they come, and at the end of the day we hope to hear “Job well done”
So what do we say to the people that stood, to those that have promised to do all that they could.
Thank you is so small and we love you is true, we look for a way to acknowledge all that you do.
To walk in front of and beside us and shield all the blows, Means the world to our family, more than most people know.
At the end of this journey will be a great prize, A beautiful princess with the biggest brown eyes.
So as we try to say thank you for blessing our family, we stand tall right beside you and live for our baby.
Soon there will be a plane ride that brings an end to this part of the story, It will close miles between us and show us all of God’s Glory.
Again, thank you is small for all that you do, so from our hearts to yours all we have is “We Love you”
What a day it will be when we all come together, and Praise God for completing Gracie’s family forever!

There are truly times when thank you just doesn't seem to cover what we so badly want to say.  This would be one of those times.  This past Saturday we were blessed beyond measure and our family was extremely humbled.  We never expected the outpouring of love and support that filled Calico Skies, and we were blown away every time we turned around and saw a new face in the room.  Somewhere between 250-300 people showed up to support our efforts to Bring Gracie Home! 
It is never an easy thing to have a spotlight put on a situation like this.  The amount of stress, unknowns and straight up fear of losing our baby girl has been out of this world.  However, we have been graced with a community of family and friends that have realized that this has all happened in spite of who we are.  And we are standing strong today because of their commitment to Gracie and our family!  
If it simply was about money Gracie would have been home a long time ago!  However, it is about more than that.  The story goes deeper than even we know.  But by the grace of God those around us have been able to walk that path with us and share in the amazing testimony that is Gracie's life!

Since there is no easy way to thank the amazing amount of people that have shown their support; financially, prayerfully and by simply just being there as a shoulder to lean on, we once again turned to paper and pen.  Please, if we don't reach out individually right away, accept this as our thank you for the time being.  Our big  "Official" thank you will be when are able to step off of an airplane and introduce you to the pretty lady with an incredible story!
Peace and Grace!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Praying in 5P!

There I stood!  Smack dab in the center of the large room.  A few others were there as well but oblivious as to what was about to happen.  Without hesitation he grabbed my hand and began to pray.  A prayer that wasn't just a "wimpy" request for God to do something. It was a prayer that, as I think back on it, laid out the facts and asked God to get rolling!  It wasn't a quick one either, it lasted!  It stuck!  It had that power that catches you off guard and draws strangers in.  It was amazing!
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! 
He prayed for Gracie, the baby girl he had never seen.  He prayed for my family and our hearts through the process.  He prayed for the people in Haiti that are making life changing decisions as we wait.  For the many people involved in trying to help figure out the messy situation, and he prayed for God's grace and love to pour down on all of those involved.  Finally he simply just thanked God for all of the blessings and for bringing Gracie to our family.  Amen.
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

A note to Gracie on her Birthday!

Today you turned two in a land far away,
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
sing Happy Birthday!
Love you Gracie Marie Peters!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It takes a village...

This post is truly a long time coming.  To some of you it will be new information and to some it will not be a surprise.  It is time for us to finally give you a true update on our adoption process and where things stand today. It is an opportunity for us to let some weight off of our shoulders.  It is time to give you a true glimpse into the crazy world of international adoption and some of the behind the scenes drama.  It is time for a chance for us to once again swallow our pride and reach out to our family, friends and community.  It is a time for us to dig in deeper and fight harder for a beautiful little girl, and her friends, sitting in an orphanage thousands of miles away.  It is time to share the truth.
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.
The next day miracles began to unfold.  Jon was able to meet Gracie's Biological mother.  At the end of the conversation she handed Gracie over and said, "Gracie, here is your father".  Probably the biggest moment in our lives. That conversation could have gone in several directions, and yet God placed a woman who wants nothing but the best for her daughter directly in our path.  She wants her to go to school, to college and to do something successful with her life.  We are able to provide those opportunities, and she trusted us.
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.
Our friends at 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!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Build-A-Bear and Ms. Gracie!

For starters I need to apologize for the silence of this page.  We have had quite a crazy and unexpected last few months, and the silence has not been easy.  A lot of crazy and unforseen things have taken place since my last post and a whole lot of God has shown up time and time again.  He is just really, really cool and faithful that way, which is why we all wear our Faith bracelets every day.  It's a great reminder that God's plan is so much bigger than our own. So through the silence we also want to thank you for the prayers and support.  Without all of that we know that this message would be a little different than it is today.  God truly does "Got It"!
I have a whole lot of personality!!
You see, this past November, amidst a whirlwind of uncertainty and whole lot of chaos I took a trip to Haiti to move my baby girl to a new creche(orphanage).  Gracie and one of her friends from her old creche were graciously allowed to move to New Life Link, just outside of Port Au Prince. This made it possible for us   to successfully pursue completing their adoptions.  The old place was not meeting the requirements that we had to follow, and a good friend and I left on a week long mission to transfer our babies.  By the grace of God we got them moved and settled in and our process appears to be back on track.  We pray the next steps go smoothly, and that Haiti will allow us to bring Gracie home sooner than later. The hard part is waiting and realizing that we are starting over in a lot of different areas with the process but in the middle of that we rejoice that God has allowed our match with this little beauty to stay intact! (More details on this to come)
We were even able to bring our two boys to meet Gracie for the first time after she was moved to NLL.  They were the best big brothers ever and are so excited to have her in our home forever someday.  

Now, can I introduce you to someone very special?  Her name is Tabitha.  She is just over a month old and already has quite a story to tell.  She is adorable, furry, extremely Frassy, likes sparkly things and when she shares her message it is always straight to the point.  No we did not get a new pet in our house!!
We went to Build-A-Bear! I had always walked right past this store at our local mall and vowed that with two boys we would not be entering!  As a dad it was my job to protect them from the wild world of building your own stuffed bear and dressing it up in cute clothes!  That was until my heart started to see Pink!  Until my heart started to beat for a little girl in Haiti!
We stood in that Build-A-Bear on our Christmas break.  Picking out the perfect one was not going to be easy.  This bear, whichever one the boys chose, was to make a journey that I am not sure another bear of its kind had made before.  It would pave new paths and bring healing to broken hearts.  This bear would have to be cute, obviously, but also durable and able to handle the love that would be poured into.  So there in the bins of hundreds of bears was the ONE!  Mikah found it after scouring the many different options.  He knew it right away and Isaiah, like his dad was too cool to be there, agreed and the process began. 
We stepped up to the waiting Bear Builder, not sure if that is what they are called, and started to follow her lead.  She was amazing.  She engaged the boys and asked questions.  Why? For Who?... Then it started.  Mom began to cry.  Dad began to cry.  And two little boys answered questions with tears in their eyes.  This bear was being created for our sister/daughter in Haiti.  It would be traveling to Haiti inside of a giant glass vase, another long story! Its name would be Tabitha, the name that Gracie's biological mom gave her. 
As we stood there with tears flowing, and a long line of bear builders waiting, it was time for Tabitha to receive her mission.  Placed ever so gently in her foot was a simple little message - an "I love you" from each one of us.  A quickly recorded message for Tabitha to deliver to Gracie.  
Frassy Shoes!!
Frassy Shoes!!
After that came her hearts.  Each of us picked a little cloth heart out of the basket.  We rubbed it on our noses, so it would have our scent for Gracie.  We placed it over our own hearts so she could always feel our love.  We kissed them ever so gently so that every time Gracie holds her she gets a kiss.  Finally we placed them inside the bear and Tabitha was sealed up tightly, with all of the love in the world! 
We spent some time scouring the shelves of the factory for the perfect outfit.  A nice t-shirt with LOVE across the front, a black TuTu like the one Gracie wears on our visits and finally the same exact shoes that her Aunt Sissy bought her in November.  Tabitha was all Frassied up and ready to make her trip.  
We said some prayers over Tabitha and gave her a little extra loving and then sent her on her way with Aunt Sissy, Uncle Rob and Alex.  They were headed to Haiti for a wedding and at the end of their stay would be visiting Gracie for the first time.  Aunt Sissy would finally get to touch, feel and love on the one that we have fallen head over heals in love with.  Due to the craziness of Haiti and it's traffic Aunt Sissy was able to spend just over an hour with Gracie.  Nothing else in the world mattered at that time and it was all about Gracie and the bond between an Aunt and her niece.  The only way I can describe it, from an outsiders view, is that it became "real" that day!  Aunt Sissy has given me permission to show you a small portion of her visit that she and Tabitha made to Haiti!  To be able to witness this and see Gracie looks around when she hears the message is heart melting.  Our prayer is that she continues to grow, be loved and know that she has a family waiting to spoil her rotten.  Thankfully a little bear from a silly factory was able to close some of the miles between our hearts and hers.  
We don't know when we will be able to go back to Haiti and visit or how long it will take to complete the process from here.  A lot of things were drastically effected this past fall and the resolutions are tedious and costly.  We simply ask for your prayers and support as we wait.  We are so fortunate to be working with NLL and the director, Dr. B right now, and we ask that you pray for all of those that are caring for Gracie and her friends at the Creche.  Now that things have settled down and we are back on track, we hope to keep you more in the know about updates, prayer requests, praises and even some fundraising that we unfortunately will have to take on.  Please know that we are so grateful for each one of you and can't wait for the day that we can share this little beauty with you in person!