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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What's Next

I want to thank you. THANK YOU. Each of you. For reading, for praying with us, for supporting us, and for donating. Most donations through Project Hopeful are kept anonymous. Since we can't thank you individually please accept our collective thank you!

We met our fundraising goal of $8,500 and we have moved on to reproducing the dossier ourselves. We can breathe now. We can smile again. We aren't going to bed feeling sick every night. Food isn't turning to ashes in our mouths anymore.

The fundraising link is still open and if anything else comes in we will use it towards our legal fees.

We will be going to mediation with the "agency" shortly. And I will not be able to share what takes place in that mediation. I think this is reasonable. It is a space where we will come together in person hopefully with the truth present. We have been asking for a date for mediation since April but we felt like it would only be successful if the existence of the dossier could be confirmed first. I am so thankful to each of you for making it possible for us to go to this meeting without the dossier as a condition.

I will continue to write in the Adoption Truth series because I think that our four years of adoption experience will continue to, hopefully, assist prospective adoptive parents. But I want to be honest and let you know that I won't be talking further about the events of mediation or the outcome.

At the same time, we will continue to share our thoughts on Adoption Truths in a way that honors and respects this adoptive community and does not seek to protect anyone who profits from silence.

With much love to all of you for helping us make a giant leap forward in bringing AJ home...


Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. (1 Peter 3:13, 14 NLT)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Love Compels Us

"The situations that grow me the most are those in which I feel the most helpless, 
but in which love compels me to keep trying." ~ Greg Boyd*

Last month I took Ariam to spend a week with AJ in Haiti. There's a big difference between fantasizing about a "baby" brother who lives thousands of miles away and the reality of a toddler brother in person.

After a year of statements like: "I will hold my baby brother to my heart" and "I will feed my baby brother his bottles" I was a little nervous that reality would not live up to her fantasy.

But I had underestimated the power of love.
Both Ariam and AJ are children who are filled with joy and love just brimming over. Within minutes of meeting they were running through the house laughing, tickling, and playing.

There was not a bit of "holding brother to her heart" or even feeding him his bottle.
But there was sharing of sunglasses, wrestling, bath taking, block stacking, and sharing snacks.


Not everyone has been happy that we are talking about the truth in our adoptions.
Not everyone feels we should continue fighting for change.

It is simple. Love compels us.


Thank you for sharing your time and resources as we work to bring AJ home.
We are getting closer to our fundraising goal and will update soon.


* I was about 10 years old when Greg Boyd moved into the office next to my dad's in the theology department of Bethel College. A fascinating person whose speaking and writing has influenced my faith from childhood to adulthood.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bring the wind and bring the thunder

Thursday afternoon: I'm waiting for our final total and will update here just as soon as I get it!

I came here to ask for your help and you have given of your time, love, prayers, "shares" on facebook, positive messages and resources.

We are getting there! We made it to $6,000 from Monday-Friday of this past week. Just another $2,500 to raise. I'm not someone who has ever asked for money before. Watching this miracle take place has been completely inspiring.

Sometimes when I just can't find the right words to pray, to thank, to ask, or to answer, I turn to what others have written.

Bring the wind and bring the thunder, when its over bring me stillness....

so much hurt and preservation
like a tendril round my soul
so much painful information
no clear way on how to hold it
when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache

I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

standing at this waters edge
looking in at God's own heart
I've no idea where to begin
to swallow up the way things are
everything in me is drawing in
closing in around this pain

I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it's over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can't fake

wide open like a lake

everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I am fighting to stay open
I am fighting to stay open
open open oh wide open
open like a lake

"Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galations 6:2

Thank you for helping us to bear this burden.

~ A

Monday, May 13, 2013

Adoption Truths Part V: Sometimes things fall apart and you have to ask for help

Update - we made our goal of $8,500. Anything given over that amount will be put towards the cost of mediation and our legal fes. Thank you!

When our friends at Project Hopeful asked last week if they could intervene and help us raise the funds we need to bring AJ home from Haiti, I was nervous.

I don't want anyone to think for a minute that I write this blog as a lead up to asking for money.

But truthfully we need your help.

We need to reproduce all of our adoption documents and our son's passport in Haiti.

"WHAT's that?" you ask. You've never heard of this situation?! Neither had we. How could a family be completely done with their adoption, legal parents of a child, adoption fully paid for and yet unable to bring him home?

If you are like me, you probably need the long story before you make a decision about donating your money. And that is completely legitimate. There are a lot of fundraisers out there and a lot of people in need asking you to fund their cause.

You can read more of the story HERE under our Fundraising Tab.

We hope that, after reading our story, you will support us for this simple reason: we will not sign a gag order to protect our former adoption "agency" and their facilitator in return for the easy release of our documents.

We feel that signing a gag order would NOT protect other children, Haitian first families or prospective adoptive parents in the future. 

We have decided that our discomfort asking for financial help, the work of reproducing AJ's adoption documents and the extended time it is taking to get him home is worth the freedom to tell the truth.

Our full story will be part of the Adoption Truth series which you can find here. Please keep coming back to check for updates. It is taking time to write and requiring significant prayer and mentorship from close friends and family.

Thank you for anything you can give. 

Our first meeting...March 2012.

Together again after a year, March 2013


* "Agency" is in quotes because it turns out that the group we signed a contract with was unlicensed to operate as an adoption agency. We did not know this when we signed on. It was put in writing to us that the "agency" was licensed.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Adoption Truth Part IV: Pressed on every side

we were pressed on every side
full of fear and troubled thoughts
for good reason we carried heavy hearts... (Sara Groves)

For good reason we carried heavy hearts.
That is how I feel. Heavy.
But also free.
The juxtaposition of heavy and free don't sit well with me.
Shouldn't free feel light?

This post is my attempt to shed some of the weight.


Adoption Truths Part IV: Pressed on every side

We are in a situation where it is impossible to please everyone.
I love to make people happy and to please others. But the older I get the more I have come to realize that being a people pleaser is at unfortunate odds with being a truth-teller.

Watershed moment... I can only tell our truth with as much wisdom and sincerity as possible. But I cannot be responsible for how it lands in other people's hearts and whether or not it is "pleasing."

This post is my attempt to put to words the ways I feel pressed, pressed to please. Hoping to find personal freedom from this pressure simply by recognizing it. "Hello pressure, I see you. And now I write this to release you."

When an adoptive parent finds herself telling hard truths about her adoption several things seem to happen. (Generalizing here from a very unscientific observation of the adoption blogging community over the last 4 years.)

1. Close friends and family rally. They pray and cheer and hold you close. But you worry about their longevity. They see you changing. They may suggest that you are putting yourself in danger for a "cause." Can they hold on and stick with you long term? Nobody really wants to be left hanging without resolution forever. Family and friends don't really know what to do or say. You find yourself tucking in, hiding out. Because it is hard. You are not fun. Truth telling sucks a lot of the fun and life out of you.

2. Adoptive families who have been through hard times and lived their own hard stories quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) share your blog, press like, and leave long comments sharing their pain, frustration, and fear. They want you to to press forward. Say it all. Call people out. They hope to God that you can accomplish something that they couldn't. Maybe you will finally be the family that doesn't sign the gag order offered by the agency. You feel responsible as this group's newest vocal representative.

3. Families in process or families who have not experienced difficult stories feel awkward. Sometimes they feel attacked. Sometimes they feel like you are saying they should not have adopted or should not be adopting. Sometimes they extrapolate that your warnings and concerns are actually sweeping anti-adoption statements. Not all, but some, pull away. Some scramble to reduce your credibility. (In our case we've had people say that we are "not real Christians", "frauds", and that we are "crazy.")

"Families that speak out against agencies and tell stories of fraud in their processes and want to warn other families looking to adopt or who are in process are consistently shut down. They are shunned. They are told they are mood killers. They lose real life friends and Facebook friends. They are kicked off of support groups. They are asked to stop talking because they could ruin adoption for everyone else.
But I want it to be clear: families who beg for someone, anyone to listen to their story are not ruining anyone's adoption. It may feel like they are threatening something dear to the heart. Something prayed about, stressed about and let's not talk about the savings and check writing. But really, they are not threatening adoption. The agencies they are trying to chuck a stone at, like David against Goliath, who participate in child trafficking, or forge documents, or don't investigate "abandoned" children's history, or turn a blind eye to poor practices, they are the ones that are ruining adoption." (Staci from Scooping it Up)

4. Adult adoptees. Some, not all, begin to read your blog. Maybe they have read along from the beginning but many are new to you. They are reading because a post went viral. They cheer that someone is standing in their camp. That an adoptive family is advocating for truth, reform, first families and giving voice to adopted children who will grow into adults.

You begin to feel that you owe it to them, almost as projections of your current children's future adult selves, to stay the course. You don't want to let them down. You become scared that they will be disappointed in you. You wonder if they will still be cheering if you end up completing your adoption.

5. The folks who just think adoption is a load of crap. They are out there and they have some valid reasons. They often also have extremely hard stories. They may love one post of yours but hate another. They are often anonymous and while their comments have truths they bite so hard that you have no idea how to engage with them.

6. The faith community. I am part of this community and maybe you are as well. Many in this community do not like public strife and do not want to see anyone question a Christian adoption agency. Some feel that any problems between professed "Christians" should be worked out behind closed doors. Some do not want to recognize that there are people who masquerade under religious "Christian" language but have bad intentions and/or poor practices. You need this community more than ever but it no longer feels safe.

Recently on a Haitian adoption forum filled with Christian adoptive parents someone demanded that I provide "proof/evidence" of my concerns. And then I was kicked off.

"Here is the biggest problem with proof and details: adoption lies and fraud and corruption don't just involve adoptive parents. At the heart is a child or children. And having major or heck, even minor ethical issues in an adoption story is a little like having your child be abused. If you come out against the perpetrator (who may be popular, powerful and big or even really nice) your child's story, the details of their pain is now fodder for the Internets to criticize, dismiss. To seek justice, to warn others, to appease people and convince them "it's true" you essentially must throw your family under the bus and expose yourself and your child to ugliness.

That is the reason most families stay silent. That is the reason many people don't report abuse: it is hard to prove, it can feel like shame, it can harm our kids more than they've already been harmed.... How do you prove to people that fraud happens and that agencies are either complicit or know about it/suspect it but have personal philosophies that justify the fraud? How do you convince people without specifics that throw a kid's privacy in the garbage?" (Staci from Scooping it up) 

What to do? Pressed on every side. There is no way to win and absolutely no way to please everyone.

"There's redemption in confession and there's freedom in the light. I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid...."

I'm going to keep saying that until I feel it. And I am going to keep writing until there is nothing left to hide. I am going to do my best. Thank you to those who choose to stay with me in this Adoption Truths series. I know it isn't light reading. But thank you.

go on and ask me anything
what do you need to know
I'm not holding on to anything
I'm not willing to let go of
to be free, to be free

it's a sweet, sweet thing
standing here with you and nothing to hide
light shining down to our very insides
sharing our secrets, bearing our souls,
helping each other come clean
secrets and cyphers
there's no good way to hide
there's redemption in confession
and freedom in the light
I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid
(Sara Groves)


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Adoption Truth Part III: Adopting Again

Let's get this show on the road, yes?
I'm sorry for the long delay in posting. I was in Haiti. Again.

Thank you for reading, commenting and reposting parts I and II. Your comments, even when questioning, were so full of grace. I try to remember to give more grace when I am the recipient of so much.

Thank you for recognizing that the stories I'm telling here are glimpses. Snapshots. Thoughts in time. They can never be our full story and will never reveal more about our daughter or son than we think is acceptable to share publicly (which we recognize is walking a very fine line.) It is a thin line that I'm walking only because I believe with my whole heart that truth and light can dispel darkness and create change.


Adoption Truths Part III: Adopting Again

If we were so concerned with Ariam's mother's story, why on earth did we start a second adoption?

In fall of 2011, while we were still putting together puzzle pieces of Ariam's story and wondering if this story was an anomaly, we began to discuss a second adoption. We sorted through our desires, a potential second child's needs, Ariam's needs, and all of the options for expanding our family.

I think that whether you have adopted or not you will probably resonate with our reasons for adding a second child to our family.

Reason 1 - we wanted children, plural. We wanted to be a family and we wanted Ariam to have a brother or sister. We did not want to rescue a child, be "saviors" in the eyes of our community, or do some act of charity. It is a selfish reason to adopt - wanting a child. But if done right, there is actually no better reason, in my opinion, to adopt than *wanting* a child. Wanting to be family for and with a child.

Reason 2 - We didn't want Ariam to be the only person of color in our entire family. We were reading more writings from teen and adult adoptees and unanimously they felt that being the "only one" (adopted, with special needs, different ethnicity, whatever the case) was hard. Uncomfortable. An extra burden.

I won't forget the day we were with our extended family in a restaurant, all of us white as white can be, and I realized that all eyes in the restaurant were on Ariam. Talking, laughing, animated. She didn't seem to notice. But I did. And I don't want that for her. I want her to have siblings with whom she can share this unique experience of being adopted in a transracial family.

The day we told Ariam that she would be a big sister to a little boy she asked "will he be chocolate like me?" (She was 2.5 and still thinking of skin as a color not a race or ethnicity yet.) I know her well enough to know that she would love any baby. But her reaction to the knowledge that yes, her brother would look like her, was confirmation to me that we had made the right decision for our family. And for our children.

Throughout the year she has checked in on this with us. "Will he be brown like me mom?" "Is he definitely going to have black hair like me?" "He and I will be the same just like Mia and her sister are the same and like Roan and her brother are the same!"

She has never wavered in her love for this little brother. Across time and space, across more than a year of her young life, through confusion and delays and questions he has been the dream she holds most dearly.

(Transcribed by her preschool teacher. We have dozens of these type of letters.)

There have been moments in recent months when we have thought we would need to break it to Ariam that this little brother of hers, held so close to her heart, would not be coming to live with us.

We made the hardest decision I think any adoptive parent has to make (and yet at the same time this seems like something so very basic and obvious to anyone who is not adopting!) We needed to find out if this little boy's living birth parent had been coerced to relinquish him for adoption.

We are waiting for the end of this story. It is not quite finished yet. (Sometimes truth, when dealing with cross cultural communication, requires the allowance of time and patience.)

I hope to share more of this journey with you at some point in the near future. Not because I have any interest in exposing our most personal fears, stories, or our child's life details with the internet community at large. But because this entire story sheds light on aspects of adoption, agencies that masquerade as "Christian" and the dangers of group think that we all need to be more diligent in discussing and working to change.

And because we have come to this exhausting but liberating realization..
until we can lay down our hopes, dreams, desires, image of our family, and even the child we hope will be ours on the alter of truth, we will never actually be capable of fully seeing truth or acting on it. (This is the hardest realization I have ever come to. Ever. It should be so simple, but it is not.)


“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” -- Bonhoeffer

We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality. -Dallas Willard

For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are. ~C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew