The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A comment response

I thought that this comment I received yesterday (see bottom of this post) was interesting enough, and well enough written, to respond to. I guess it is obvious from this comment that I haven't shared all that many details about our situation here on the blog.

I know I don't have to do so for friends and family.

But because I do write about adoption ethics I thought I'd go ahead and address this comment by saying the following:

1. AJ has legally been our son for an entire year now. We were pronounced his parents and given an adoption decree in the fall of 2012. Legally we are 100% responsible for him.

2. We have already blogged here about our multitude of concerns regarding his care, the agency we found out was unlicensed, the lies, etc that led us to remove AJ from the orphanage he was living in. We removed him fully knowing that we should and would need to investigate everything.

3. We partnered with another agency and their lawyer to completely readopt AJ in Haiti to ensure that each step of his adoption process was done with full transparency. Prior to doing this we explored all options for reuniting AJ with what was left of his family of origin. What I have just written in two sentences actually consumed 6 full months of 2013. It was not made any easier by the fact that our former agency would not give us all of AJ's original documents. We didn't even have a social history for him. So many things that could have been relatively easy were made more difficult.

4. Our ongoing delay has to do with obtaining a Haitian passport and delivering it to the embassy so that AJ can receive a visa for immigration. Obtaining a passport is not as easy as one would hope (there appear to be about 17 steps the adoption paperwork has to go through to get the passport and someone is always on vacation, there is a demonstration in the streets, the office is being relocated, the stamp was placed wrong, etc etc.) We have found that when we are there in person things move a bit more smoothly.

One of the reasons I am so very angry is because we paid for this passport and supposedly had one last February. The agency either cancelled it, destroyed it or had never applied for it. The jury is still out on what happened exactly. No matter what, no matter how everything played out, I would have liked to be holding that passport all along.

This dear child is our son. He is living in the same home he has been in since last February. His foster family (his godparents) are on a sabbatical to the U.S. So while he is in the same home and with the same Haitians who live in their home and help to care for him, he is without his foster family for a period of time. We visit him regularly to BE THERE. He needs family. We can't relocate there (in large part due to Ariam's healthcare needs) but we try to take turns to be there as much as we can to a. be present for this ongoing attempt to obtain a passport b. connect with a child who will at some point be getting on an airplane and flying across the United States to live with us (we do not want to be strangers to him) and c. learn more about AJ in a place where he is comfortable, see more of his culture and create more memories in Haiti.

I will not be able to go into any detail about the "why" of AJ being adopted and the details of our investigation of and connection with his family of origin. Doing that would not serve him, them or us. It may serve you and your curiosity and I get that completely. It would be interesting to write about particularly from a bigger picture adoption ethics standpoint. But it is not appropriate.

What I want to say though is that it would have been far easier to walk away from AJ last February. It really would have. We are neither doing something altruistic by bringing him to the US nor are we doing something easy and fun for our family. The cost - financially, emotionally, physically and to our family life and careers has been outrageous. It is not the easy thing to do. But it is the right thing. We are sure of that.

So AJ waits and we wait. And yes, we are angry. We watch as dozens of families walk behind us in this complicated process of determining if the children they hoped to adopt through this agency and orphanage are adoptable. We equally cheer when a child's adoption turns out to be legitimate and we also cheer for those families who have been able to reunite the child they hoped to adopt with their birth families. We have seen some heartbreaking resolutions and I have also been present in Haiti for some amazing child-birthmother reunions.

There is absolutely no one size fits all solution for the families and kids affected by this entire situation. I am so very inspired to watch as people strive to do the right thing even when it is the hardest thing they have ever done. This is an incredibly complicated situation for people who went in to adoption believing it was going to be a way to grow their family. It requires layers and layers of understanding, knowledge, effort, love, and patience. Presuming the worst of each other is the last thing we need.


You're trying to adopt a kid who doesn't appear to be available for international adoption after 12+ months of doing so via unlicensed adoption agency and unlicensed lawyer -- and continue to do sans said agency/lawyer. Losing the agency/lawyer is the morally/ethically correct thing to do -- continuing to pursue the adoption of a not-adoptable kid (whom you clearly love and adore) from a country with a barely functioning government and huge human trafficking within the context of international adoption problem that you are fully aware of? Not so much.

I get that you love AJ and got screwed over - its horrible and that darling boy suffers as a result. But you pursuing an unadoptable kid is so very far from an ethical adoption so as to be on another planet. In another galaxy.

It's so ironic that you blog about the importance of adoption ethics, not supporting corruption, the need for PAPs to be responsible as they have so much power in the adoption triad in developing countries, particularly ones with weak governance like Haiti... Yet love AJ so much you want him, ethics be damned.

You also break that poor boys heart by having him call you mommy, stay with you in Haiti WELL BEFORE that is a legal fact, ie a court declares you legally AJ's mom, officially.

You love AJ, have wonderful intentions and they are very possible making you take reprehensible and ethically horrific actions. The ends doesn't always justify the means.

Friday, October 25, 2013

In my dreams

I can't live in Haiti with AJ. Each time I try I'm pulled back to Denver by the force of Ariam missing me and vice versa. A nightly skype call just does not cut it. Jeremy and Ariam cannot live in Haiti for medical reasons right now. They both have live-giving medications that are not accessible in Haiti and not easily sent down if an emergency arose.) Each time I'm there we think we are just a few weeks from bringing him home only to find out that that day is nowhere near. Back and forth I go.

I often think that we actually have it so good. Most adoptive parents wait 2 years while their child lives in an orphanage with little to no contact. AJ is in a great home with people we trust and we can see him as often as possible. But still.

This last visit took place over the first part of October. Two weeks is exactly enough time to begin to deeply connect and to make saying goodbye incredibly hard. A two year old needs his mom. And so does a four year old. This situation is so entirely unfair to both children.

So in my dreams I am back in Haiti and AJ is calling for me "mama..."and running through the house to me. I wake up feeling sick. Who leaves their two year old with a nanny in a foreign country??

And what can I do except regroup and then buy tickets on the credit card to go back down and keep trying?

At the end of this last trip, the night I arrived home, I had a raging fever. The sickness that overtook my body was out of this world. I was in the hospital for part of last week. The doctors aren't sure what happened to me. Today is the first day in two weeks that I feel some energy to get up and move.

It scares me to think that I could have been this sick, alone with a 2 year old, in Haiti. What then? You know what is even scarier? Thinking the what-if of AJ being that sick alone without his parents.

Because I am still recovering, Jeremy will need to go to Haiti next. The only time he has off of work is over Thanksgiving. The result is that we will divide for the holiday. Jeremy and AJ in Haiti together and Ariam and I together in the U.S.

In my dreams AJ was home for Thanksgiving this year and we would be together at our hideaway with friends up in the mountains. (A tradition that is only one year old but that we are trying to make lifelong.) The bonfire, the visit to Santa, the frost on our noses while the kids ride bikes along the one road in town. Hot chocolate and games and good food. It was supposed to happen last year. It was supposed to happen this year....

But I am trying to face reality. We have to live with the cards we've been dealt and find a way still to make the holiday and time together with each child special.

I need to admit this though.
I am not feeling very gracious.
I don't know how to overcome these feelings and not let them rub off on Ariam and AJ.
I am so deeply angry.
Furious really.
There are people, Americans, who are responsible for this situation. Specifically for the withholding of our dossier, the fraudulent wording in our documents and the destruction of our passport.
And on my kids' behalf I am completely disgusted and sickened.
I've had 36 years of holidays. But at age 4 and age 2 each holiday is so special and so important. Ariam is the queen of planning for, decorating for and discussing holidays. We haven't told her yet that Daddy will be gone for Thanksgiving. Or that AJ may not be home for Christmas.

In September we received a nasty note from our former agency's lawyer complaining about our blogging. We had made a personal offer, in mediation in June, to not blog here about the "situation" regarding our former agency. And we held to that commitment. But apparently we offended them enough somehow to be worthy of that note.

Here's the thing. Participating in mediation cost us $10,000 in legal and mediation fees. It was just a game to them though. We began the day by signing a confidentiality agreement and then found out that our former facilitator was texting details of the mediation to her friends and staff all day. We have proof of this. We just sit on it marveling at the level of deceit. Who does that?

We held to the mediation confidentiality agreement through thick and thin. Through a lot of pressure. But quite honestly I don't see why we need to stop blogging. We made the offer in good faith that there would be specific follow up happening. They cancelled the follow up. And they broke confidentiality.

And to rub salt in the wound they demand our continued silence, even on our own family blog. For WHAT??

Our family and our children have been deeply deeply wounded. It is not our fault. Not J's and not mine and not the children's. So....why are we supposed to be quiet and hold it all in?

I'm so entirely deeply tired of feeling threatened and bullied.
Those that do the bullying should try dividing their family in two for their holidays and see how they enjoy that.

Blogging is the only way we have to update our larger circle of friends and family on our adoption. And beyond that it has been my family scrap book and emotional release for the last four years.

I guess this is my way of saying no. No. I have thought about it. I was very gracious all summer. I hoped to see some massive change for the better and have yet to see it. I am done being so gracious. I have righteous anger for my family and for my children. And if blogging is an outlet that helps then it is my right to keep blogging.

In my dreams this is over. All over. AJ is home and our family is together. When that day comes then maybe my anger will abate somewhat. But until then I will blog.


My boy who waits...and waits....and waits.

Adoption Truth Part V: Eyes Wide Open

Last January I knew something was wrong. It's that prickly hair on the back of your neck feeling.
Food turning to dust in our mouths.
Waking up at 3am feeling intense dread, darkness, anxiety, nightmares.
J and I were both having these symptoms of fear.

It began with an email from our American adoption facilitator, who we rarely heard from, stating that our 17 month old son AJ might have cholera. And it escalated with the sudden onset of communication with other families experiencing the same fear and lack of health care follow up from the agency. Then it went a notch higher when these families shared with us "stories" that this woman had been telling people about us since April 2012.

The lies that had been told to us and about us were unraveling and we began to feel sickened.

I cannot describe to you the concern it produces in a parent to find out that not only is your son possibly sick with a life threatening illness but your adoption facilitator who is wholly responsible for his care has been lying about your family to the people around her. In my paradigm, if you lie about small things you are probably capable of lying about big things.

We had been in the adoption process since March of the previous year. And had determined to not let the adoption waiting impact our family. We had kept up with the happenings on our agency's closed group for adoptive families. And we rejoiced when there was movement in our adoption, despite that fact that it sometimes seemed contradictory.

Then came the cholera.
AJ was referred to us with an immune disorder. And children with this immune disorder are particularly susceptible to secondary infection and disease.
On top of the disorder and cholera, we had been told that since June AJ had been pulling his hair out.

We tried frantically to get ahold of the facilitator. We asked her by email again to move him to foster care where he could get better medical access (she had denied this request the previous summer while simultaneously telling us that the clinic in the area was closing and she was worried about his health.) We set up multiple appointments to talk by phone. She had changed her number and wouldn't respond to requests for her new number. We tried to get ahold of her through her assistant. Nothing worked. In front of other families on the agency group she would say she was looking forward to talking to us on a specific day and then would not call or respond to emails that day.

And then we learned about a healthy child's death.
This was not the first time a child had died at the Giving Hope Rescue Mission creche.

J and I began making calls and googling to find out exactly who we were working with and how experienced this adoption program was. We began to seek out people we had previously been told were "crazy" to find out their experiences with the American adoption facilitator.

What we found was so at odds with what we had been told, in writing, that I lay in my bed and just cried and cried and cried.

We knew that we needed to go to Haiti to search for some answers.

To be continued...

Sara Groves:

oh I'm gonna find the truth
even if it kills me
oh I gotta get a new view
the only way I know to
oh I gotta keep my eyes wide open
keep my eyes wide open

diggin in the dirt till it hurts
won't come up for air don't care
how long it takes me

I get tired want to just get by can't I get by
but I can't cuz there's a
fire in my bones, fire in my bones
burnin in my bones

when the lights come up on this town
when the thing goes down wanna be found
when the lights come up on this
when the lights come up on this town
when the thing goes down
wanna be found tryin
when the lights come up
wanna be telling the truth