I made my first trip to Haiti in 1998. Fell in love with my first orphan in 2000. Started a non-profit to help Haiti in 2003 and started taking teams down on short-term mission trips soon after. I fell in love with Wanna and Fritzon (and a lot of others in the same orphanage) in March of 2010 and had to wait over 2 years to start the adoption process due to the laws of Haiti and a process that is always changing. Our documents were finally submitted and accepted in the fall of 2012 and are currently moving through the court system. We are quickly (hopefully) approaching the end of our adoption. This is my blog to talk about all things related to our adoption and any thing else I think is relevant to it. Enjoy!

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Sunday, May 5, 2013

To know or not to know, that is the question....

For those of you reading this and involved in Haiti adoptions - unless you are still processing an independent adoption (which are no longer allowed), you are currently with an agency or looking to connect to one so this question is really for you.

When it comes to Haiti adoptions, that phrase could really be applied in a lot of areas, however, I want to talk about how different Haiti adoptions are compared with most other countries and how knowing every detailed step of the process is not always the best thing.  Had I heard that even a few weeks ago I think I would have disagreed. As I always say with Haiti, nothing is always 100% for every one and every situation, but for me I am seeing more an more why "knowing less can relieve stress!"

As I've talked to families adopting from Haiti who have also adopted from other countries I have learned how vastly different Haiti is set up when it comes to adoptions.  Most countries do not have an atmosphere of "hands on" adoptions.  All countries with really good systems in place process the adoption without parents really having much involvement other than getting an email update maybe once a month, maybe less.  Parents don't know every gory detail of the process: they just know if they are accepted and they are notified when they are needed for the final trip home.  Haiti, however, (because it does not have a "good system") has had parents doing much of the leg work for their adoptions which leads to lots of information being shared with others in the process.   Even those who are working with agencies and don't need to know every step often find it out from others.  Unlike most other countries, Haiti doesn't have a streamlined process or a set timeline.  Often agencies say "2 years" but with some families completing adoptions faster, many families want to go with those timelines and outcomes and this leads to a lot of questions and frustration.

This leads me to the question:  To know or not to know?

Now, I am definitely one of those hands one people that like to help and know what's going on and help others too.  I helped start a FB group in the fall of 2011 with the intention of just finding others going through the Adoption process in Haiti so we could just encourage one another.  Since then we have grown to over 700 families all in some part of the process or considering adopting from Haiti.  It has become a group of many moms and some dads encouraging and praying for each other but also a group where those involved in independent adoptions get help each step of the way and also share the information they learn as they go.  Those with agencies also share each step and also obsess and compare their timelines with the independent adoptions and those with difference agencies.  I have found myself sucked into the obsession of timelines and comparisons, frantically checking online for information I can take and imagine and dream about applying to my own timeline or adoption process.  This obsession has recently come on since exiting IBESR and it hasn't been pretty.  The sad thing is, is that I KNOW that no two timelines are the same.  I KNOW that independent vs agency adoptions very often have different timelines due to the huge amounts of work agencies have dealing with multiple families vs someone dealing with a single family.  I KNOW that "This Is Haiti" and what happens today may not happen tomorrow and what couldn't happen today could very well be allowed to happen tomorrow.  I KNOW all those things and more but my heart just wanted to obsess and in doing so I have caused my own self unnecessary grief and wasted time and energy.

I have had to take a step back, take a breather, calm my heart, clear my head and seek God a lot in the past week.  I have had to apologize to my own agency (that I also work for) for questioning my timeline and becoming one of those parents that turned her eyes inward and began only seeing me, and MY adoption instead of focusing on my work of helping others with theirs, trusting God and trusting an agency that has recently and is currently flying kids home and completing many adoptions.  No, instead of looking at all of those positive things I started comparing myself to others... I started doubting, I started worrying about everything that could go wrong and it certainly didn't help my adoption.  It didn't help my family and it didn't help my relationship with my agency.

I've seen and dealt with a lot of scams in Haiti adoptions.  I worked for a director that I thought was spending thousands of dollars and countless hours reaching out and helping families that have been scammed in their own adoptions only to find out SHE was ALSO scamming many of them.  I have spent hours listening to, trying to find answers and praying for multiple families that reach out from the FB group for help.  It's hard sometimes not to think that every time something goes wrong that it's not a scam or a lie.  I read a post on FB the other night that really helped me understand that things happen to all of us in this process and that just because there is a snag, it doesn't always mean someone is lying.  One of the most trusted and longest working adoption directors posted:
We have had 3 dossiers lost at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office since September/October. They said that they weren't there. I sent our worker every couple of weeks. Finally today, we had a special meeting with the director of legalization and lo and behold, the staff walked out of all 3 lost dossiers!!! We are praising God right now and I know 3 families who are going to be so happy too!
It's not fair that this happened to those poor families but imagine if they had taken it upon themselves to go after this director and accused her of lying. What if one of the families went to MOI and was told their dossier wasn't there and they thought their director was lying to them... possibly frauding them?  What if they started telling other families that she was a fraud and made other families start questioning everything about their process.  What if that director then had to spend all her time on rumor patrol and fixing the damage caused?

That's what knowing every little detail leads people to do.  It leads people to question everything.  Had that scenario happened in China, chances are you would never know and if you did you would probably have more faith in your agency but Haiti is different.  It's hard.  It's hard to know when to push for truth and answers and when to trust that what is going on is legit.  I think you have to do your research and know the history of your agency and director and look at their successes.  Look at the families involved and see the entire picture, not just the corner of the picture frame where you are standing.  

I think that the future will be much clearer for new adopting families.  In the past anyone and everyone has been and still is processing adoptions.  So much can and has happened under this method.  I have seen families taken for tens of thousands of dollars and never able to adopt their children.  It happens.  BUT, if you are with a legitimate agency.  If you are working with a director or a lawyer that has a history of completed adoptions and many families that are happy with their experience then hold on to that truth.  It's not bad to have information as long as that information doesn't have you.  Don't let it rule your thoughts.  If something is or does go wrong then push for answers and a solution but push WITH your director/lawyer/agency first.  

I don't claim to have all the answers but I know I have experienced and learned a lot in the past 14 years of working in Haiti and in the last 3 years in the pursuit of adopting my own kids and more recently in teaming up to work with an agency.  I know when you think you know something as a parent, in the US, reading online (including my own FB group) that it may be a completely different on the ground in Haiti. 

So, I end with this thought.  If you must know about your adoption, your timeline, your progress... then prepare your heart every day for the disappointment of watching others pass you on the race to to homecoming day.  Prepare your heart for a deadline that gets passed over and over again.  Prepare you heart to celebrate with others even though you are grieving another day away from your child(ren).  Prepare yourself you know that knowing more will probably stress you out more and knowing less will leave you with fewer questions and anxiety attacks.  I didn't prepare my heart and dove in thinking that I could handle it.... I am after all a seasoned Haiti worker! :)  Totally started drowning in what I knew and thought I knew.  Hang in there and pray, meditate, read, prepare the house and your heart for them to be home but don't get sucked in and if you do... take time to step back, look at the entire picture and reach out to your agency/director if you really have something that the above doesn't resolve.  Peace is better than panic any day!

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