Sunday, January 31, 2016

Final Adoption Timeline

It has been too long once again...but the rhythm of life seems to sweep me away in it's current and I find it more and more difficult to find time to reflect by blogging on the many blessings that we have been given...and indeed...they are many.

Today I was just sitting down to the computer to put a few final touches on the life books that I have created for our boys...and I decided that the information that I was including in their books could be so helpful to the many of people still waiting and contemplating adoption. I finished up the boys' adoption timeline. It is such a blessing to just be able to write those words!!! It is finally finished!!! The process of getting them here was such a struggle and brought so much strife and hidden blessing. Here is their overall adoption timeline!

  • 1997—Started sponsoring 3-year-old Wichelanda Bazil in Haiti through Compassion
  • Summer 2009—Connected with Mission-Haiti for a short term mission trip to Haiti
  • 12.09.10—Received the dates (June 2010) our family would go to Haiti in the evening and an earthquake hit 12/10– 3:53pm CST
  • 03.13.10—Craig went to Haiti with Mission-Haiti and began praying about how our lives would change after having been to Haiti
  • 10.03.10—Rebecca went to Haiti with Mission-Haiti and we began praying together about God’s will for our lives
  • 01.15.11—E-mailed Kiki (Alexis Jean Kuislin) at Maison des Enfants de Dieu
  • 01.23.11—Sent an e-mail to family and close friends asking for prayer as we began considering adoption
  • 02.01.11—Interviewed LSS about being our South Dakota Home Study agency
  • 03.01.11—Emailed Kiki at For His Glory Outreach (The US side of Maison) and Dede at LSS saying we’d be going through them
  • 05.26.11—Started the adoption blog
  • 06.19.11—First paperwork sent to CAN
  • 08.21.11—Home study completed and Dossier process started
  • 08.25.11—Kiki, director of Maison,  passed away
  • 10.05.11–-Twins born
  • 10.13.11—I-600A document done
  • 10.17.11—Dossier completed
  • 10.20.11—Dossier mailed to CAN
  • 11.01.11—Dossier approved by Secretary of State and sent to translation
  • 12.12.11—Translation completed
  • 12.19.11—Chicago Haitian Consulate approves paperwork
  • 12.20.11—Dossier heads to Haiti and arrived seven days later
  • 01.10.12—Twins arrived at the orphanage
  • 01.19.12—Informal referral regarding 3 month old twins
  • 01.25.12—Twins’ birth mother passed away
  • 03.09.12—Received 8 photos of the boys, names, general medical information and USCIS approval in the form of I171-H
  • 03.27.12—Formal referral received at 2:45 pm, medical/social history received
  • 04.03.12—Accepted referral
  • 04.27.12—Dossier submitted to IBESR three days prior to an adoption freeze
  • 04.30.12—Invited to meet the twins
  • 05.03.12—Decided to take entire family to Haiti to meet the boys
  • 06.10.12—First Bonding Trip, met them on 6/11, US Embassy appointment 6/12, Haitian Court appointment 6/14 and returned on 6/16
  • 06.27.12—Birth dad misses his US Embassy appointment-then misses a second appointment on 8/7 and a third on 10/1
  • 08.13.12—Card shower for support
  • 08.14.12—Elijah took his first steps and the Scranton house sold
  • 09.04.12—Adoption file waiting for Dispensation in the President’s Office, Judah walking too
  • 10.23.12—Dispensation received
  • 11.01.12—Exited IBESR, transition to Parquet
  • 12.03.12—Birth dad attends the USCIS appointment-signs off on the boys
  • 01.16.13—1st legalization of the Adoption Decree by Parquet Court-Judgment Granted
  • 01.18.13—Notification from CAN regarding not receiving accreditation from Haiti to process adoptions
  • 01.25.13—Adoption Decree Granted!!! Notified 1/29. (2nd Legalization of the Adoption Decree by Ministry of Justice. 3rd Legalization of the Adoption Decree by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • 02.27.13 thru 3/8—Second Bonding Trip
  • 03.19.13—Entered Ministry of the Interior
  • 04.17.13—Adoption Decree is reviewed by the Ministry of the Interior and 4/26 submits request for Passport
  • 08.17.13—Passport issued by Haitian Immigrations (notified 8/20 and scanned copies 9/13)
  •  09.17.13–-Attestation from the National Archives

  •  11.20.13—Judah submitted to USCIS-Elijah submitted to USCIS-date unknown

  •  5.22.14–-Notified CAN that we’re done paying monthly care fees until we’re in country picking up the twins
  • 6.13.14–-Submitted to USCIS
  • 6.13.14–-Unofficial USCIS approval
  • 6.20.14–-Official USCIS approval
  • 6.24.14–-Visa appointment date set for 7/8 and boys get their physical exam
  • 7.8.14–-Visa appointment date
  • 7.10.14–-Visa issued by US Immigrations
  • 7.15.14 —Exit letter printed by IBESR
  • 7.22.14–-Flight from PAP to Miami to bring Elijah and Judah to the US
  • 7.22.14–-Elijah and Judah become US Citizens as soon as they got off the plane!
  • 7.23.14–-Flight Miami to Sioux Falls-5:20pm
  • 8.24.15–-Re-Adoption Completed
  • 9.1.15 –-SD Birth Certificate issued

It is such a blessing to know that the boys are home and all of the paperwork is final. The crazy thing is though...that this journey has just begun! We literally have a whole lifetime to pour ourselves into these precious boys and it is such a blessing that the Lord has given us this time with them and trusts us to share Him with them!!!

Please continue to pray with us as we continue on the journey of life with these boys. We continue to work through many aspects of life together and prayer is such a gift and help in times of struggle.

I have also decided to include a copy of our annual Christmas Letter as an update and glimpse into our life together. Over the last year, we have deepened our bonds and have gone on several adventures together. This beautiful family that only God could have mended together is such a creative and precious blessing!

All my love,
Rebecca








 
 2015 has been filled with blessings and thankfully we have been able to find many moments to breathe and focus on what an incredible thing it is to be a family of seven! This year we were blessed to be able to travel a bunch and made many new memories. In March, the twins had an extended stay with Craig’s brother and sister-in-law, Jaron and Heather, while we took the “bigs” to Phoenix to visit our friends, the Petersons and also Craig’s extended DeWit family. We took in Sedona and the Grand Canyon, and also hiked to the top of Camelback Mountain. It was so much fun! Then in July, we loaded the entire family into the van and headed to Northern Minnesota and the North Shore for an incredible adventure of visiting family, hiking, kayaking on Lake Superior and exploring God’s beautiful creation! On the way home we spent a few days in the Twin Cities enjoying time with friends and visiting Valleyfair. This summer we enjoyed multiple camping trips with family and friends. Over Labor Day, we soaked up the sun and music at Lifelight Music Festival. As always, it was fantastic. This year we also had the blessing of taking in multiple other great concerts, as well as a weekend with friends and the zoo in Omaha. This fall we got to spend a fun-filled weekend at the Ramada Inn in Sioux Falls for our annual DeWit Christmas celebration. The “bigs” also had the opportunity to travel to Florida to visit Grandpa and Grandma Skalsky in November. They had an awesome time!

Our oldest, Aftyn (13), officially became a teenager this summer and it has been incredible watching her mature. She has a great passion for piano and is now playing keyboard and vibes with the Jazz Band at school. She continues to love percussion as well and is in Whittier Winds, a special band ensemble, again this year.  Last summer, her Gators softball team won the championship title! She was a speaker at the Whittier Honor’s Night and did a beautiful job. Her favorite past time is spending time with her great group of friends!

Both Haley (11) and Aiden took part in Shrek the musical at Eugene Field Elementary last spring. They had a wonderful time being a part of the production. Haley too spent a big portion of her summer playing softball. She continues to love to read and play the piano. Last fall, Haley headed off to middle school and has made many new friends and in October was honored as Student of the Month. Along with big sister, she too plays percussion in Whittier Winds. She has a witty sense of humor, and it is precious in combination with her sweet spirit.


Aiden (9) still loves to spend most of his spare time either making elaborate Lego creations or attached to
some form of technology. He is quite a daredevil when on a bike or scooter and loves to spend time outside (when asked to get off of technology). He played baseball for the second year with several of his friends and just finished his first Lego League season where his team was awarded the “Up and Coming Stars” award. This fall, he composed, performed and recorded his own piano piece and submitted it for the Reflections PTA competition, and has now moved on to the City level of the competition.

Elijah (4) and Judah (4) have both grown leaps and bounds! They continue to go to Jenna’s daycare where they have many friends and have been working on their vocab, language, counting and letters skills. They are doing well in their first year of Sunday School and Wednesday night church classes. We just got them registered for next fall’s preschool! They love playing outside, biking, hiking, kayaking and generally being silly. Elijah is intense and competitive and Judah is quiet and happy-go-lucky…most of the time…but both of them are adorable and sweet. We simply can’t imagine life without them!

Craig is now in his 13th year at Midcontinent and this year had the privilege of traveling to Las Vegas and New York City on business. (I happily joined him for the Vegas trip!!) He took the three oldest kiddos snow skiing, found time to fly kites with all of the kids and even built the kids a treehouse with our neighbor. Craig is an incredible father! In June, Craig led a team of missionaries from Sioux Falls (including his brother, Jaron!) to Toussaint, Haiti. They led Vacation Bible School and Youth Group, made home visits and continued building deeper relationships in Haiti. His annual guys’ biking trip was spent at Cuyuna State Recreation Area exploring more of MN and working on their technical biking skills.

I, Rebecca, am still happily employed at Goodcare LLC., however, in May I began working at a new location (Dow Rummel Village in Sioux Falls) so I no longer have to travel each day. I love my new position and have enjoyed meeting many new people. I continue to treasure my scrapbooking time with girlfriends and had a great time gardening this last summer. I also had a fabulous vacation to Florida to visit my dad and Barb. It was a wonderful, and much needed relaxing time.

We would like to wish all of our friends and family a blessed 2016! May God richly bless each of you and may the gift of Christ be ever in your thoughts and hearts as you navigate the journey ahead!
                                   


Much Love,
Craig, Rebecca, Aftyn, Haley, 
Aiden, Elijah and Judah DeWit

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Finding That Spare Minute...

Unbelievable! The last day that I found a moment to put some of my thoughts down on this blog was December 21, 2015. Multiple times I have thought, “Hmmm…I really should find a spare minute to update my blog…and then I run on to do the next task and it quickly leaves my mind. Seven months later, I am finally finding that spare minute while driving on a family trip to Northern Minnesota with five sleeping children in the back of the vehicle and a goal to stay awake to help my hubby navigate to my childhood summer destination. It is the perfect time to begin to gather my thoughts and provide an update.

Incredibly, Wednesday, July 22, was the official one year mark!! The twins have been official members of our family for one whole year! I know that in my last post, the entire family was doing beautifully with bonding. We were finally finding ourselves wading out of the emotional turmoil of initial adjustment and bonding. This overwhelmed mama was kneeling in the sand…beginning to feel some stability and normalcy in this foreign territory.

Now, one full year after bringing the twins home, we are all fully standing in the sand. The last year has had its challenges, but the journey has been so beautiful. Breathtaking even. Watching the twins explore the world around them, one new thing at a time, and watching our beautiful big kiddos cheer them on along the way has been beyond words. It is as if we are still navigating through life’s challenges and continuing to teach the twins the way that this very foreign land operates…but we are doing it while holding their little hands and helping each other along.
I was reminded to get back onto the computer and update our blog shortly after putting together the adoption update on the twins. Craig and I have to provide written updates on the twins’ progress to the orphanage and our agency in varying intervals. Our most recent one was due at the one year mark, and it was beautiful to look through photos and to reminisce over the last year and all of the firsts and experiences we have been through together. I have edited the letter some to preserve some of the privacy, but hope that it is helpful in updating how the twins are doing.

Please enjoy the update and continue to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers. Also enjoy the multitude of photos from our fantastic Northern Minnesota vacation. It couldn't have been more beautiful or more of a blessing to our spirits!

Happily walking in the sand,

Rebecca





































*********Annual Adoption Update*********

When they first arrived home from Haiti, July 23, 2014, we knew that there were some minor surgical procedures that needed to take place. Judah had an umbilical hernia and several adhesions requiring circumcision. Elijah also had adhesions requiring circumcision. They had their surgery on August 22, 2014. Judah then had recurrent sinus infections. He underwent an additional surgery to remove his tonsils and adenoids on December 30, 2014. We have had several doctor’s appointments to get them up to date on their immunizations and to screen for any other issues. Initially we needed to treat for giardia and C-difficile. No additional medical conditions have been found and their immunizations are now current.
           
Our adoption was processed by Children of All Nations agency. The boys were adopted from an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Craig and I traveled to Haiti to complete our adoption on July 15, 2014 and returned with the boys to Miami, FL on July 22, 2014, the day the adoption was finalized. The boys were Naturalized United States Citizens (IR-3) upon our arrival home.




Elijah demonstrates normal development. He has good stamina for physical activity. His fine and gross motor skill development is appropriate for his age. He has had a screen for development through our local school system, and he was found to be within the normal range. He has a structured eating and sleeping pattern. See below for the schedule. He typically sleeps through the night and takes a 1-2 hour nap daily. His current height is 37.5 inches and his weight is 31 pounds which places him at the 25th percentile for his age. He has not required any ongoing medical treatments beyond the surgeries listed above. Elijah is a headstrong and independent boy but is also tender and loving. He desires to please and has a good sense of humor. He is able to attend to a task for a prolonged period of time and has a vivid imagination. He has attached well to the rest of the family and has adjusted well psychologically. He typically responds well to correction and encouragement. He did not know even one word of English when he came home, but now has an extensive vocabulary. He is precise with his language skills and is always trying out new sentences and adding descriptive language to give more detail. He shows good comprehension of the English language as well and appears to understand all of our commands.

Judah also demonstrates normal development. He has good stamina for physical activity. His fine and gross motor skill development is appropriate for his age. He has had a screen for development through our local school system, and he was found to be within the normal range. He has a structured eating and sleeping pattern. See below for the schedule. He typically sleeps through the night and takes a 1-2 hour nap daily. His current height is 39.25 inches and his weight is 35 pounds which places him at the 50th percentile for his age.. He has not required any ongoing medical treatments beyond the surgeries listed above. Judah is more of an observer and often follows the lead of Elijah when it comes to creativity with play. He is more gentle and loving. He desires to please, has a good sense of humor and is very ticklish. He has a shorter ability to attend to task and plays more concretely. He has attached well to the rest of the family and has adjusted well psychologically. He is improving in his ability to respond well to correction. He becomes easily frustrated and requires step by step instruction and encouragement. He did not know even one word of English when he came home, but now has an expansive vocabulary. He is less precise with his language skills than Elijah but is showing improvements every day. He shows good comprehension of the English language and appears to understand all of our commands.

Both boys are currently in daycare for the hours that Craig and I are working. Their daycare provider is a nurse by trade and is skilled at incorporating educational opportunities and activities that encourage fine motor coordination and early educational skills as well (counting, colors, ABCs, shapes, etc.) They get along well with the other children at daycare and play well with them.
BOYS’ EATING/SLEEPING SCHEDULE

7:00 am wake                        
8:00 am breakfast                   
10:00 am snack                       
12:00 pm lunch                       
1:00 pm nap
3:00 pm snack
6:00 pm dinner
7:30 pm snack
8:00 pm bedtime


On our way home from Haiti, the boys appeared to be comfortable and attached to my husband and me. When the boys first arrived home, they were busy observing the world around them and were quite hesitant with others. We limited our activity for quite some time and also limited the direct contact with the boys from extended family and friends. We made sure that we were the only ones assisting them with toileting, eating and when they were hurt. They attached to my husband most quickly. They also attached quickly with our two daughters. They took a little longer attaching to our oldest son and me. I feel that they are now well attached with our entire family. They seem to understand that we are a family unit and are loving and affectionate with all of us. There is some sibling rivalry at times between Elijah, Judah and our oldest son, Aiden. This rivalry appears to be normal rivalry. Our older children have been so mature letting their needs go unmet in order to meet the needs of Elijah and Judah. They are helpful and thoughtful towards them.

Our extended family, close friends and church family have been supportive throughout this entire adoption process. They continue to pray for our family and encourage us daily. They have welcomed the twins with open arms and love them already.

Adding Elijah and Judah to our family has not caused us to have to make significant changes with our work schedule. Craig works a 40 hour work week and I continue to work a 30-35 hour work week. Our daily life at home has changed, however, because we have had to incorporate a nap time and this has affected the number of family outings we have been able to take. We look forward to being able to take all of the kids on more outings in the future but welcome the quieter time at home connecting with them over the past year.




We received their Social Security cards and are currently in the process of applying for South Dakota birth certificates and citizenship. Their re-adoption in the state of South Dakota is also finalized! We will likely also apply for passports in the future.

It is a blessing that we have not had any significant major family or life changes since bringing the boys to our home. We all continue to be healthy and our marriage is healthy as well.

Also worth noting is our family’s love for the country of Haiti and people of Haiti. We look forward to continuing to travel to Haiti on mission trips (Craig just returned a couple weeks ago from his 5th trip to Haiti.) and teaching Elijah and Judah about the country they were born in. We want them to know and be proud of the great country they come from.

*********************************************************************************


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kneeling in the Sand


Praise God...I am no longer standing on tippy toes in the deep waves...I am now kneeling in the sand. Over the last few months (and I apologize that it has been so long since I wrote last), I have been gradually finding my way toward the shore. My feet have left the unstable surface of the shifting sand and the water has stopped threatening to pull me under. I am weary...on my knees...trying to catch my breath.

I truly have not even had a spare moment to sit in front of the computer to update this blog for three months! I can't believe that much time has already passed by. Each day just flies by with the normal routine consuming every waking minute.

Our typical day starts with hitting the snooze button at least two times...followed by showers, getting a family of seven ready, breakfast and a departure for work/school/daycare all within a one hour time frame. I load four of the five kiddos into my beautiful new "Mama machine" (Honda Odyssey) and head to daycare to drop off the twins and then on to Eugene Field to drop off Haley and Aiden. Aftyn is able to catch the bus to and from school on her own since she is in Middle School. Then it is the mad dash to NW Iowa to put on my Occupational Therapist hat while Craig heads off to work at Midcontinent Communications. At the end of my day, I hurry back to Sioux Falls to attempt to fit in a quick workout before heading back to Eugene Field to pick up Aiden and Haley. I help them with their homework and start to prep dinner as Aftyn arrives home from school. I make sure all is well with her world and then head off to pick up the twins. We are usually in the middle of making dinner when Craig makes it home from work. We eat dinner, finish homework, do baths, brush teeth, say prayers and tuck in five munchkins. Then Craig and I dash around the house putting all of the pieces back together again just in time to fall into bed exhausted....only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

The beautiful thing is that in the midst of all of this craziness, we are able to find time to dance like no one's watching, sing at the top of our lungs, snuggle like it is our last chance, hug closely and smooch sweetly. We try to soak up the moments with the bigs and the littles. When the twins are sleeping, we snuggle with the bigs on the couch watching movies together, play board games and on one occasion arranged for the twins to play at their aunt and uncle's so we could take the bigs to see the traveling Cirque du Soleil show, Varekai!

When the twins are awake and we get a chance, we try to take in all of the firsts with them that we can. Over the last five months...they have experienced so much of life! So many firsts! They began their lives experiencing life in a small room with two nannies, fourteen other children and very few opportunities to leave that small space. Since arriving here, they have flown on an airplane, been on a boat, swam in a lake, took a warm bath, kayaked, ate a frozen treat, drank cold beverages, rode a bike, learned how to play with a variety of toys, went to the zoo, played at a sprinkler park, watched fireworks, saw hot air balloons, went for a road trip, ate at a restaurant, jumped on a trampoline, touched their first snow, trick-or-treated, rode in a car, sledded in the snow, learned to like dogs, went to a wedding reception and partied at a dance party with the SD Lieutenant Governor, rode a four-wheeler, went hiking, made a snowman, tried dozens of new foods, soaked up every moment of outdoor fun that they could and even opened their first Christmas present...EVER!!! It has been an adventure.

When I blogged the last time, Aiden and I were still having some trouble connecting with the twins. I am happy to share that Aiden and I seem to have bonded with the twins much better over the last few months. Aiden has learned to play a bit more gently with them and has figured out ways to connect with them better when playing with toys. He has even read to them on occasion without , my prompting!  I am so thankful for this step in the right direction.

I think that the twins have gradually learned that I am their mama. This has helped them to connect with me over the last few months. They don't fight over their dad quite as much and sometimes even will choose me. (Although they usually still choose him.) I have to admit that this transition has probably been the most difficult for the twins and then for me. I have done a lot of thinking about why that is and have come up with a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is that I am an introvert. I recharge when I have alone time...and I have successfully created a family that places me in the midst of a crowd at almost all times. I was noticing that I was beginning to struggle with anxiety more and more. After talking to Craig, we decided that I should discuss this with                                                                                       my doctor.

It was very difficult to punch in the number to call my doctor and then even more difficult to admit to the receptionist, the nurse and then the doctor that this beautiful family that I fought to bring together is now forcing me to anxiousness and even possibly the need for medication. Sigh. My mind slipped back to that Beth Moore event where I learned that "I am woman enough"...and my heart broke because I was filled with a dreadful feeling that I was failing. After many tears and some sweet heart to heart conversations, I realized that I was not giving myself the grace that I would give a friend in the same circumstance. I am a super busy Mama trying to juggle five kiddos, a professional career, a husband, a dog, after school activities and several volunteer opportunities. I am pouring myself out for this family every day. I was able to receive two prescriptions to trial to see if they would help the anxiety. I am still just getting started with them and haven't even used one of the meds yet, but feel blessed to know that I have the support system I need to figure out how to manage these emotions.

Please continue to pray for us as we journey onward as a family of seven. I am truly kneeling in the sand. On my knees in prayer for comfort, patience and guidance. Resting my head in the sand because I have never been more tired in my life but filled with joy and anticipation at the same time. So happy to be out of the deep waters and shifting sands.

Kneeling in the Sand...Praising the Lord,

Rebecca

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Buckling Down and Pressing On

Ok...so I think that life is short, and it is very important for a person to be real. I think that it is also important to allow others to learn through our own difficult experiences. The purpose of this blog from the very beginning was to show our loved ones and other families walking through the murky waters of adoption what our journey was like. No two journeys are the same and no journey is ever exactly what is expected.

I have done a lot of thinking over the last several weeks since we came home with the boys. The emotions of this entire journey have been over the top. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It is so unlike any other journey in life, that sometimes it is difficult to even explain it to those that have not been through it...and even those that have been through it have had their own unique experience and challenges.

I have tried to think of ways to explain to my friends the emotions that are filling my heart since the boys have come home...and I almost feel as though I might disappoint some of them because of a few of the emotions that I am wrestling with. At times I am tempted to share my emotions, and sometimes I do, but other times, I smile and share some of the antics of the twins and move on...leaving the deeper emotions out of the conversation.

Just over a week ago...I was right in the depths of working through these emotions. It was at that same time that our church sponsored a Beth Moore Live Simulcast. I have done her studies, and I have seen her live at our arena, (and I love her) but I had never done a simulcast and really didn't know what to expect. I knew that I was wrestling with some serious emotions, and Craig suggested that I go. It was at this event that I was able to get some real clarity about the emotions that I am wrestling and a way to explain them to others. I was also able to receive some serious encouragement and prayer. Bear with me as I use a story to convey our experience:



*******************************************************************************

Before our family decided to embark on this adoption journey, we were amazingly blessed! Our family was incredibly beautiful to me. It was all that I had ever dreamed of, and I really couldn't think of anything that I would change.

It was almost like standing on the most gorgeous Caribbean beach and looking out at the sunset. It felt perfect in every way...I really had no plans to change a thing about it.

Then off on the horizon, we spotted something. It was far off and hazy but appeared to be a small and breathtaking island. There were only a few people that had traveled to this island, but somehow we knew that it was God's plan for us to travel there.  The decision to leave the beautiful beach was frightening and more than a little exciting. We knew that the journey would be difficult and costly, but we knew that we had to follow His will for our family. So we prepared as best as we could for the journey and just trusted that He would help us along the way.

Our adoption has been a journey we have never embarked on before. Choosing this plan was a huge leap of faith.

We set off into the water and began to move toward the island. We practiced our different strokes and began to make some real headway toward the island making sure that the entire way across we held our family of five together tightly.

We filled out all of our paperwork...checking small boxes on list after list obtaining all of the paperwork required to fill our Dossier. We were fingerprinted five times, had bloodwork, background checks, psychiatric exams, shared all of our financials down to the penny and pretty
much bared our souls in the process. We tightened our budget, began to save our vacation time and really began to feel like we were making progress. This was the first year.

We had tried all of the different swimming strokes many times over, only to find that it really didn't matter...we were beginning to show signs of fatigue. We were still able to keep the five of us together, and we were still afloat, but the progress was slow and the waters were becoming rough. We could hear our friends and family back on the shore cheering us on, but we had been swimming for quite some time and their voices were beginning to fade. At times, I even yelled out to my friends and my church to cheer louder and pray so we would stay together and stay afloat. There were times that some of the waves were so big, that Craig and I held our children above our heads and sunk below the surface just to keep them out of the water.

The next two years of the adoption process we had many ups and downs. We had moments of elation over steps completed and moments of sheer despair when we uncovered untruths, setbacks, delays and falsified documents. It was a terribly difficult time to navigate because we wanted to stay positive for Aftyn, Haley and Aiden, but the pain we were feeling was so much at the core of our being, it was quite difficult at times. Some of the low points, it truly felt like all of my joy was draining right out of me, and I began to despair. My mind would tell me that the Lord would bring us out of this triumphantly, but my broken heart hurt beyond belief. I was sinking. A couple of times, I sought out my friends and asked them to pray over me because I felt like I couldn't get through it on my own. Further along in the process, I actually asked our church to please hold a prayer vigil because I knew that I had sunk to my lowest low. I felt like I needed to hear my church family praying. My heart was being gripped, torn and I feared what impact the despair I had been experiencing was having on me and my family.

We were still tired, every muscle cried out with each pull forward through the water. We still had encouragers but occasionally had people suggesting that we turn back. "Maybe this journey was too difficult, too costly, too long...or just that our efforts could be better spent in another way." It was painful to hear their voices in the midst of the waves. It brought on a whole new kind of pain, but after brief thought, we remembered why we set out on this journey in the first place. It was God's plan. We took a deep breath, pulled each other close and continued to paddle forward despite our fatigue.

As we moved through the process, we had family and friends make comments that were likely meant to protect us. Unfortunately, some of these comments were difficult to hear and made the journey more painful at times. As I look back now, I am thankful for the opportunity to witness to these loved ones of the importance of following the path the God has laid out for our family, and I hope that this truth resonated with them in some way.

The harder we pushed forward, the closer the island became. We could see that the shoreline was even more beautiful than the beach we had left. We could see that the trees were filled with fruit and the sunsets and sunrises were going to be beyond stunning. We began to imagine our family on the island...complete and rested. We began to think of our future and the ways that the Lord would guide our paths once we were settled there. In many ways, it was encouraging and pushed us on in our fight through the waves...but in some weary moments, I would glance back at the shore we had left...and begin to weep. Why had we chosen this path? I was beginning to feel so alone, and I had never been more tired in my life. It really was beautiful on the shore we had left too...

We were able to travel once with Aftyn, Haley and Aiden to see the twins and also traveled to see them on a second bonding trip as well. We have thousands of photos of this time together as a complete family, and we got a taste of what our new family would look like. It was truly beautiful...yet after arriving home...navigating all of the disappointments and losses...my heart had moments of fear...fear that I wasn't strong enough for this. Fears that I wouldn't be able to juggle everything once the twins came home. I felt like many in my life were tired of hearing about the twins...our struggles...and that we STILL didn't have any good news to share. I was weary. Many tears were shed during this time. I tried to make the most of my time with our three kiddos at home and truly treasured my time with them.

My arms and legs felt like they were not going to make it. I was barely able to keep them moving. At times Craig would hold me and push further forward though the water...and at times he would be frustrated, and I would buckle down, hold our family tight and press on. The island was just in the distance now...

We were close...we had been submitted to the US Embassy for Visa Approval. We were in the homestretch.

Just when I thought we were almost there...we were stuck. We were made to tread water for ten months! TEN MONTHS!!!!!

After ten months of time and multiple documents were done over, we were resubmitted for Visas for the third time and received our approval!! Praise God!!! The end was in sight!!! I just knew it that once the twins were home with us...we would be able to move forward with our bonding and our family would be able to finally move forward. We traveled to Haiti in July, picked the twins up July 22, 2014, and brought the twins to our home on July 23, 2014. We had a beautiful homecoming and many sighs of relief coursed their way though my tired body.

We pushed on towards the island, and I watched as Craig, Aftyn, and Haley quickly left the water. They hurried onto the island and began to recover from the long journey. We had stayed close together through the entire journey, but right at the end...they pulled ahead of Aiden and me. I really don't know what happened, but we continued to find ourselves over our heads in the water. The waves were much smaller in the shallower water, but we were still tired and we were unable to touch bottom. There was no rest for us, and for some reason...as much as they wanted to...Craig and the girls were not able to reach in and get us out. We would have to work our way out on our own. In the meantime, the twins waded into the water and began to tread water along side the two of us. What? I was confused. I thought that once we made it across, we would all step out of the water together and begin to discover our new life with all of its beauty together. I couldn't understand it. I still felt like I was struggling...was I ever going to make it...was I strong enough...could I help Aiden and the twins navigate the waters when I was struggling myself?

It's true. I was almost certain that we would come home and our bonding would happen together. I thought that it would have its struggles, but I thought that if it was hard for one of us, it would be hard for all of us. I really don't know where I got this notion, but it was definitely a delusion. Craig is the most easy-going person I know and the adjustment seemed so easy for him. The girls are wired to be little mommies, and they get to pick and choose when they want to occupy that role, and that gives them a flexibility I do not have. I have to be there through the tantrums, when the food is pushed away, when directives I give the twins are ignored and when the crying just seems too loud for my ears. I am there in the middle of the night when the twins can't sleep, when they are sick or in pain and when they have to undergo surgery. I change diaper after diaper, take them to the potty five billion times per day, prepare meals that aren't always appreciated and still do all of the mommy chores that I did before with my family of five. I fall into bed at night and sleep like the dead until a small cry wakes me. I am SO TIRED.

I am treading water. I am trying to figure out how best to manage trying to move the twins, Aiden and I towards the shore. I am tired, but I am pushing forward. I am encouraging them, guiding them and praying my way in.

Finally today, I had a profound moment of feeling like I have finally reached the turning point. I know that there will still be hard days and maybe my next blog will say that I was deluded, and we have struggles that I never even dreamed possible...but despite the multiple tantrums, the language barrier and the not listening...I feel like we are moving forward. I feel like we are connecting slowly, and like I am finally moving out of the depths.

I was kicking with all my might, dragging my three sons with me, keeping their heads above the water and trying to take an occasional breath when I could...and it happened. My flailing legs were slowed as my toes skimmed the surface of the sand. Dear Lord, I was so tired. I held my three boys in my arms and tipped my head back lifting my nose towards the sky. I could just barely touch. If I focused and held the boys close, I could rest just a little. My legs were still straining...I was on my tip toes, but I just couldn't push further forward yet. I needed to rest. Praise God...a moment of grace.

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Please continue to pray for our family as this journey is not yet over. The twins are home. Yes, that is true...but the real adjustments are just beginning.

We are having to find amazing amounts of patience and are trying to juggle life with much less sleep than we would choose if we could. It is more complicated to accomplish the normal tasks of life like mowing the lawn, making dinner and getting to school or church on time.

It is difficult to know how to handle discipline, the transition to work, and juggling all of our other commitments at the same time.  We have simplified life, but it continues to be a struggle at times.

I don't mean for this blog post to be negative. It is just truthful and honest. This has been one of the hardest things that I have ever experienced.

The Beth Moore event also helped me to process through my fears and inadequacies. It challenged the women attending that God has made them WOMAN ENOUGH!!! I found myself with eyes full of tears and a heart that was healing as the pain began to leave it when she said that. It is true...with God, I AM WOMAN ENOUGH! I can do this. I can juggle this. It is not easy...I have to take it one day at a time and make sure that I am covered in prayer and my nose is in the Word, but I am WOMAN ENOUGH. I have to try to carve out time to exercise and have been trying to eat well so I will have the energy and general health to be WOMAN ENOUGH! Bonding might have been a bit slower for Aiden, the twins and I, but in time it will piece together beautifully because I serve an AMAZING GOD, and with Him, I am WOMAN ENOUGH!!!

Praise God for that little nugget of truth!!! I love you, Jesus!

Standing on my tiptoes with my nose just above the waves, but buckling down and pressing on,

Rebecca



Monday, September 8, 2014

Establishing Our New 'Normal'

I have thought about how much I need to get myself in front of the computer to share how things are going so many times...but it has taken me many days to actually carve the time out to begin this journal entry. :) Life is crazy busy right now. We are working hard on establishing our new normal and getting to know how to navigate these new waters. It is taking literally almost all of our time just trying to keep the ship floating.

Our normal day includes many hugs, several kisses, a couple of time outs, a lot of laughter, some bouts of tears (at the top of their lungs), some frustration, but lots and lots of love.  People have asked us what the transition  has been like...and well, when in preparation I was thinking that we might have little boys ransacking the house, breaking everything in sight, doing unspeakable things with the contents of their diapers and writing on the walls...well, life has been quite simple in comparison.


I have to admit that this new direction of our lives is requiring a bit more patience, several deep breaths and 100% commitment of Craig, myself and each of our big kiddos. It has been challenging, but I think that it is going quite well. It would be nice if the boys could understand a few more English phrases so we could communicate better, but even that is progressing nicely. They are able to scream "COW" and "CAR" at the top of their lungs as we drive down the road and tell us, "All done," when pushing their plate away from themselves. They can follow many of our commands even though they aren't able to vocalize them themselves...for example..."take my shoes to the door," resulted in my shoes being ready for church right by the door courtesy of Judah! ;)

We are beginning to understand the different cries of the boys, I can almost always tell if they are hurt, hungry, tired or just plain crying with no real purpose (which happens more than I would like.) Elijah cries consistently for 2-5 minutes each time when heading to nap or bed. It is just how he operates. I have to admit that I think that Elijah is just blooming here. We have been told that he was almost always in tears at the orphanage, and it was often the case when we were there with him as well. It seems like he is thriving in this quieter environment and that he is having very few bouts of uncontrollable crying. He is sharing well with his brother and we see more and more smiles from him every day.


Judah is very happy go lucky by nature. He made a very simple transition here and has been the newest little socialite in the family. His incredible happiness has been given a little setback, however, because our dentist has informed us that he really needs to stop sucking his thumb. We have been working on this and it is getting better, but difficult to take such a simple comfort item from a little boy that has had so many changes in such a short time.  Please pray that this transition would continue to go well.

Both boys did well recovering from their minor surgeries. They are all healed up now and will have their followup visits to the doctor tomorrow. We pray for continued healing and for no further issues to come. We did get some results from some lab work and blood tests and praise God that nothing was found besides Eli being a bit anemic. That is to be expected from his Haitian diet and should turn around quickly.





We had the boys' baptism on August 23rd and it was a fantastic time. My sister in law, Heather, and a close friend at church, Leah, did a phenomenal job making it quite the event! There were decorated balloon animals, little homemade arks and animals two by two. I have never felt so blessed. I just had to get the boys ready, gather the photo albums and the slide show and make it to the party. They literally took care of EVERYTHING. This girl is so blessed to have such an amazing family and church family that loves me and my family in such a beautiful way! (There are links to the videos that Craig and a couple of friends prepared for the baptism at the bottom of the blog.)


Labor day weekend we had a fabulous time with our family and a few of our friends at Lifelight Music Festival. It has been a huge event for our family since it began 17 years ago. We have gone rain or shine every year. We have had fresh ACL surgeries and brand new babies at Lifelight and hoped that this year we would be able to make it even with all of the new changes to our family.  For the last two years it has been difficult to worship at Lifelight knowing that the boys were still in their orphanage. Lots of tears were shed those years. This year, we didn't know how the boys would handle the event. We prepared ourselves for a possible early departure. We were pleased that they did quite well. They did not mind the noise. (I guess they are used to everything being FULL VOLUME...especially Judah!) We snuggled them up in our Tula carriers and we enjoyed the weekend. Friday night was very muddy, and Sunday I wasn't able to head back out with the boys after naps due to the rain, but we made many fantastic memories at Lifelight this year!

We began a new chapter in our story last week on Tuesday because Craig began back at work again.With the big kiddos at school, that makes the house quite a bit quieter during the day. I love the weekends with the faster pace and more activity, but I have to admit that these quieter days are a real blessing to my soul.

One thing has been a bit difficult for me after bringing the boys home...and that is that they are Daddy's boys. BOTH of them! That is not typical for a DeWit child, and please don't get me wrong...I am happy that they love their Daddy and don't mind that he is number one with them. In fact, it warms my heart. It is about time he get a Daddy's boy...however, it is made more complicated because after Daddy, they then choose Haley and then Aftyn....and then come Aiden and me. We are at the bottom of the pecking order. Hmph. I guess that it is hard when one of them is hurt and Daddy is not home...and they don't want me...they want their sister. This has been an adjustment for me.

We have done a lot of thinking and think that part of this is because our girls are so awesome and part of it is because at times when the boys are upset and I have given them a consequence...they might get a bit too much sympathy from their sisters. We are currently working on that and it is getting better slowly.

I think that being home with the twins on my own the last week and today has helped me to become more of an equal with the girls. I also see them working hard at trying to be sure that they are not comforting the twins when they are in trouble any more. We are learning from this process, and I think that it is getting better every day.

Work has been going well for Craig, and he easily switches back into Daddy mode as soon as he enters the door. While the kids are at school and Craig is at work, the twins and I have been snuggling, introducing new toys, taking trips to the zoo, visiting with good friends, visiting some stores and running errands and doing chores at home. Pretty simple but so good for the soul. They are so adorable.

I would like to inform all of you that we have turned a new corner with the dog situation. The twins are now no longer screaming every time they see Griffin or other dogs. We can drive in the car without every strange dog on the sidewalk causing a meltdown. In fact, we are now trying to keep Eli from running full speed to greet (semi-cautiously) every dog that we might pass or that might pass by our home. On Sunday, he was in our driveway with Griffin and was literally sitting on Griffin like a horse while he was laying in the driveway. Amazing. Judah is a bit more hesitant yet, but he will also let Griffin close to him and even lets him lick him!

I have chosen a day for my return to work. I will be going back Thursday, September 18th. We are so pleased that we have been able to spend all of this time with the boys and really feel that the time at home with them has been priceless for the transition and attachment. Craig and I have each brought the boys to the in-home daycare that they will be attending to introduce them to the six other children and to the daycare provider. We are thankful that Jenna, the daycare provider, has a history with Haiti and even has family that have worked with an orphanage in Haiti. She has been there before, and I really think that this is going to help her to be even more understanding as they make this transition. These boys have been through so much in the last two months...not to mention the first two years and nine months of their lives.

Later this week, we plan on having a play date, where I will bring the twins to Jenna's for a couple of hours so they can play...and I will leave. This will be the first time that we will have left them anywhere (other than in the operating room during surgery after they fell asleep). Please pray for all of us. Just thinking about this makes me teary-eyed. I can only imagine how they will do. I pray that they will love every minute of it and really won't even know that I have gone.

I know that many of you have been hanging back in the last several weeks. I want to encourage you to reach out if you would like the boys seem to be attaching well, and we have been venturing out without consequence. The twins have adjusted well and are ready to meet more of our fabulous prayer warriors and friends.

We are so grateful for all of the prayers and support that we have received. We know that this has gone so well because of God answering your prayers on our behalf. We have even come across prayer warriors that we have never met that follow our blog, recognized us and have stopped us in many places in our community over the last six weeks to encourage us! Please continue to pray for my transition to work, the twins' transition to daycare and for the continued attachment to our family. We love you all more than any words can express!!!

Blessings to you all!

Feeling grateful,
Rebecca
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Videos:

I edited three video/picture slideshows (for the twins' baptism) to songs that have been very meaningful to Rebecca and me during this Haitian adoption process. I've included links to the three songs below in adoption chronological order, along with two other songs that others have put together for us.  - Craig

1)  "Follow You" by Leeland edited by Craig
2)  "City On Our Knees" by TobyMac edited by Craig
3)  "Gotcha Day" at the Orphanage edited by Jonathan
4)  "Kings and Queens" by Audio Adrenaline edited by Craig (my favorite!)
5)  "Homecoming" edited by Chad