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,


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Buckling Down and Pressing On 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 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 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.


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,


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,


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

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Gotcha Week in Review!!!!

Oh my....I knew that this was going to happen. I just knew that we would be sucked up into the mission trip and adoption whirlwind and the blogging would go by the wayside. Tonight I am feeling a bit sleepy...but I suppose that I should begin to put my thoughts down before the memories begin to fade and the details are lost.

This last week has been surreal. That is the word that I have been sharing with everyone that asks how it is going. The mission trip that we participated in from July 15-22nd was simply amazing. We went with a team from our church and were joined by a few others along the way. Together with the Haitian Mission Haiti Youth Group, we were able to travel 5 1/2 hours from Port-au-Prince by bus, hike three hours up and down the mountainous terrain, and witness through vacation bible school to 280 children and many, many adults and youth. It was amazing. Many new relationships were formed and more than anything, I was reminded that God's beautiful family includes people from all over the world. It makes missions seem all the more vital to our Christian walk.

On Tuesday, July 22nd, the mission team drove us to our twins' orphanage. Because they had to fly out at 9am, we left the house we stayed at in Port-au-Prince extra early (5:00am) so the team would be able to spend time seeing our boys and their orphanage before getting to the airport in time to check in. It was such a blessing to me because the team requested this. After a week of serving in the mountains, we were all tired...but the team saw the beauty in seeing the humble beginnings of our boys to the point of sacrificing their sleep so they could all be a part of our re-introduction. My heart swelled with love for this team and with love for our church.

We arrived at the orphanage and of course the boys were still sleeping because it was early (5:45 am). The staff had us stay out in front of the orphanage as they woke and readied the boys. I am sure that they were lifted out of a deep slumber, stripped of their wet cloth diaper, set in a cold bath with eye-burning lye soap, dressed in a fresh outfit (shoes and socks included...which the boys are not used to) and brought out to meet us. I don't know for sure how long we waited, but it felt like forever.

Judah Elysee was brought out first and he was quiet but content. He was placed into my arms and the photos began. The team did a beautiful job taking photos and videos of this reunion. We were re-united to Elijah James shortly after, and he was not so content from his early morning waking. He was tearful but quieted eventually in Craig's arms. There were teary eyes and lumps in throats...but with a joyous was nothing but a blessed moment!
The team took a quick tour of the orphanage but then had to leave to head to the airport. We said our goodbyes and remained on the porch as they drove out of the gate. We planned to stay at the orphanage for much of the day and then had our flight for four later that evening to Miami.

We spent the day reconnecting with the boys, and they seemed to connect with us very quickly. We snuck in every snuggle we could and couldn't help but wish the time to pass so we could be on our own with the boys. We met a few of the missionaries that were currently at the orphanage and spent some time capturing photos of the other children at the orphanage so their parents could have a little piece of the joy that we were feeling. (From past experience we know that it is terribly difficult to sit at home as you know that other parents are with their children at the orphanage, and somehow it makes it a bit easier to know that your little one was loved on a bit in your absence, and to get updated photos is always a blessing.)

We had been praying for years that we would have the privilege of meeting the boys' birth dad. We knew that we wouldn't know for sure until he actually arrived, however, we knew that the director, Pierre, had contacted him. About two years ago prior to our first bonding trip, I had compiled a list of questions that I had for the birth dad, just in case we would be blessed with this opportunity. I still had that list and had brought it along with me. Praise God for that, because at one point during the morning at the orphanage I chased Judah out onto the porch and knew immediately that the man who had come in the gate and was seated in the wicker chair was the boys' birth dad.

I was speechless. There was another man on the porch as well and he was an interpreter that had come to the O just in case. He stepped in immediately when I found my voice. I introduced myself and asked if he was Elie and Elysee's birth dad. He said yes. His name is Jean Robert.  I quickly told him that I needed to go get my husband from inside. I came back with Craig and my list of questions. Through the course of our visiting, we learned that the boys' birth father is soft-spoken, handsome, relatively short, lives on the streets of the most dangerous and poor area of the capital city (actually the most dangerous neighborhood in all of the world), and he misses the boys and their mom every day of his life. Heartbreaking.

The love he felt for the twins was very evident...and he made it very clear that he could see the love we had for the twins as well. We had a beautiful conversation with him that lasted almost 2 hours! We learned about him, the boys' birth mom, how they met, what their birth was like, who was born first (Eli at 10am at home, Elysee 4pm at a hospital), where they were born, how their mother died, what the names of their half-siblings are, that they don't have any known family illnesses and that they were named after Isaiah and Elijah in the Bible because their mom was a Christian.

Praise God for that bit of information. That was the most painful thing that I was afraid to learn. I feared visiting with their birth dad and finding out that their mom was not saved. We are hopeful that someday the boys will profess a love for the Lord, Jesus, and I know that they will be relieved to know that one day they will be reunited with her in Heaven.

I took that opportunity to ask Jean Robert if he was a Christian. He said no. I am thankful for his honesty but wasn't content just knowing this fact. I shared the truth of Jesus with this broken man and expressed how important it is to me that he know the Lord, so he not only is reunited with the boys' birth mom someday in Heaven, but so that he can be reunited with his sons as well, and live with Jesus! I wish I could say that he gave his life to the Lord right there...but he didn' we will continue to pray for his salvation and ask that you all pray as well.

(If any of you reading this have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, please contemplate the eternal ramifications of taking that decision lightly. I would love to celebrate with all of you as one HUGE family in Heaven someday. Please contact me if you have questions, or visit this site.)

So saying goodbye to Jean Robert was difficult for us, and we could tell that it was difficult for him to pull himself away as well. We said our goodbyes and promised to send photos of the boys to the orphanage so they could deliver them to him, so he would be able to see where life brings them and that they are healthy and happy. We promised to provide for their basic needs, provide an education and most importantly to love them unconditionally. We hugged and said that we are family, forever.

After he left, we continued to play with the boys, ate lunch and then it was time for baths and a quick retreat to the airport. We found out at the last minute that the normal orphanage van was not available, and we would get to take a tap-tap to the airport. Really? Well...if that was the only way...why not leave this country Haitian style? It was a little unnerving to pile into the back of a pickup with a wooden board to sit on and nothing to hold on to with two toddlers in tow...but we made it.

Once we got the was a whirlwind of paperwork and getting whisked to the front of lines. It was amazing how many people came up to us and commented that what we were doing was a blessing and thanked us. In many ways, this broke my heart. This country is so broken that the people are grateful when perfect strangers take their young to raise them in another country. What a broken world we live in.

One of the people that whisked us to the front of lines tried to scam us at the very last minute, and I have never been more grateful for my husband and the way that he defended us and guided us on our way. This man said he was going to help submit our folders of exit paperwork for the twins to leave the country, and that he needed the paperwork and $40. Craig said he would pay him inside the security lines and give the paperwork to the counter that needed it. He could tell the man wasn't allowed beyond security so we just headed for the security guards ourselves.

We made it to the gate and spent more than an hour there getting acquainted with the twins. It was there that we realized that the twins knew how to pee on the potty! They didn't tell us when they had to go, but if we placed them on the potty, they would go! Oh, happy day! We could also tell that the boys were already connecting with us.

We were a bit apprehensive about the flight but were thankful that we were only traveling the first leg of the trip on our day. The flight proved to be the simplest endeavor yet! The boys both got sleepy and after a quick snack, Judah slept for the rest of the flight and Elijah just played quietly.

Immediately when we got off the plane in Miami, another mom adopting from our orphanage greeted us from behind a thick window and took video of our boys on US soil for the first time!!! What a blessing to meet her and share in her excitement as well, as she was headed to Haiti to pick up her adopted son from the same room and orphanage as our boys!

After the flight, we headed through customs and immigration. It took roughly 50 minutes for us to process all of our paperwork...and probably 20 minutes just to get the boys to the correct area of the airport. Eli literally cried for the ENTIRE time through this process; and continued to cry while walking to the boarding area for the shuttle to the airport (via walking to the completely wrong floor first), while on the shuttle, while checking into the hotel, and all the way to the room. Judah joined in as we rode in the elevator. I have to admit that at this point I thought, "Oh, boy! Now we are in for it!"

I muttered a quick prayer for patience reminding myself of all of the changes that the boys had been through in the last 8 hours and was shocked by the transformation in their behavior. We sat them down for a snack and immediately we had little boys throwing food and giggling wickedly! Again, I thought, "Oh my!"

Thankfully shortly after snack, we were able to lotion the boys up and cuddle them  into pajamas. Judah's thumb headed straight for his mouth, snuggling began, and we were quickly listening to the slow and deep breathing of two beautiful little boys.  Oh my, God is so good.

We quickly realized that we, too, were exhausted. We got ourselves ready for bed. We slept solidly from 10:00 pm to 8:30 am. We literally had to wake the boys the next morning so we could head to breakfast in time to make our morning shuttle to the airport. They ate fairly well, but Judah did much better than Eli.

We headed back up to the room and realized that our time was very short. We hurried Craig and the twins through the shower, got dressed and headed to the elevator in record time. We made it to the shuttle with ten minutes to spare, and of course Elijah cried the whole way to the airport!

The flight to Chicago was pretty uneventful. Both boys slept about an hour and a half on the way, and once at the airport, did well with waiting during the short layover.  When we boarded the plane to Sioux Falls, it all began to feel very real. Unbelieveable. This journey we had been on for three and a half years was coming to a close...or was it just beginning? It was a mix of nerves and excitement...but mostly excitement. We knew that our friends and family were going to be waiting for us on the other end of this flight, and I was beginning to be filled with anticipation.

The end of the flight was a bit rough. The twins were beginning to act like they needed a nap. Uh-oh. Not good timing. This was the most important part of the journey...and I so wanted them to enjoy it! More prayers and a deep breath...and we were headed off the plane and towards the double doors I had been longing to walk through since we watched another little Haitian boy come home to his forever family earlier this year.

We got to the doors, pushed through, and the emotion bubbled over! The sweet cluster of our immediate family waiting for us was beyond words! A huge welcome home banner, my three smiling big kiddos, the two little kiddos in our arms and all of the people that had prayed so faithfully for us all gathered together. Many tears were sparkling in eyes crinkled shut with smiles. The hugs and sweet words are a treasure to Craig and me.

 We had several photos taken capturing this family reunion...and then it was time to venture to the lower level of the airport to greet and introduce the twins to our prayer warriors. We headed down the escalator and my breath caught in my chest. I knew that there was going to be several of our friends and extended family...but the crowd gathered there literally took my breath away.

My eyes saw friends from all areas of our lives. Extended family, college friends, the closest of family friends, prayer warriors from our church, the team from our mission trip, our kids' elementary classmates and their families, coworkers, our bosses, and even another adoptive mom that barely knows us but has been a quiet prayer warrior all along. Craig's coworkers, a Mission Haiti friend and even Craig's boss were behind cameras capturing every aspect of our homecoming!!!

Unbelieveable. That is what that moment was like. Unbelieveable. Truly surreal. If I could choose to stop time or bottle up moments of my life, this is most definitely one that would qualify. It could not have been more magical. We introduced the twins to all of the people there and soaked up the well wishes.

After the crowd had dwindled, we realized that the KELO-TV people were at the airport. We knew that this was a possibility...but did not know that they actually had a live shot of our homecoming on the news as we got off the plane! They interviewed us for the ten o'clock story, and then we were headed to our car. Our complete family of SEVEN loaded into the Pilot and settled in for the short ride home. We caught up on the happenings of the big kiddos and soaked up the first sweet moments of our forever family.

Once home, we realized quickly that there was going to be a serious issue with our dog. The boys were terrified of Griffin, and we had to put him in the kennel in order to get into the house and that was certainly still with much drama. (We later found out that one of the nannies at the orphanage told the toddlers that if they misbehaved or didn't move fast enough that the dogs at the orphanage would eat needless to say, in a two year olds mind....being terrified makes complete sense. Not too pleased with that nanny.)

We went inside and I was overcome by emotion. Coming home after a mission trip is always an emotional time. On a mission trip a person's heart becomes raw, our abilities are stretched, our bodies are fatigued and that is even without bringing home a beautiful set of twins! My emotions were over-flowing. I sat in my living room on the floor holding the twins and just cried. Huge, cleansing tears. I squeezed all of my beautiful children, was kissed on the head by my champion of a husband, and dried my eyes!

The real adventure was about to need to cry!!!

So then began the transition to home. We had a few family members join us at our home that first evening and we headed to bed relatively early. We got all five of our kiddos set up for bedtime in the twins' room. Aiden in the top bunk, the twins in the bottom bunk, and the girls in sleeping bags on the floor. It was heartwarming watching them bond!

I will share a few of the highlights from the week following our arrival home.

It was the next morning that I realized that my beautiful friend and my sister-in-law had both gathered some supplies for my fridge and what a blessing that was. Craig and I were both feeling under the weather as our digestive systems attempted to adapt back to normal. It was such a blessing not to have to cook a meal that first day! We had the boys' first doctor's appointment that day and later found out that they both have a bacterial infection and have now begun treatment. Other than that, the doctor said that they were beautifully healthy!!! Praise God!!

 On Thursday, we stayed home most of the day bonding but had the opportunity later in the day to take the twins to see their Great-Grandma Mary. She is now in a nursing home because she fell just prior to our leaving for Haiti and broke her pelvis in two places. It was a blessing to bring the boys to visit her. She has been fighting Alzheimer's Disease for quite some time now, and it was a blessing that she immediately knew who the boys were and spoke to them so sweetly.  We also were able to bring the boys on their first wagon ride later that night. Unfortunately we had to cut the ride short because we saw a dog up ahead and knew it was either turn around or prepare for a serious meltdown.

Friday was the perfect opportunity to introduce the twins to Mr. Connor's pool. He was on vacation and we were able to head to the pool with Jaron and Heather (Craig's brother's family) and spent the time getting the boys used to being in the water. They were very scared...but warmed up a little by the end of the night.

Saturday was warm and we decided that it would be good to spend much of the day outside playing and then later headed to Connor's pool again. Craig was feeling pretty ill this day, and I was encouraged that I handled five children mostly single-handedly without too much trouble.  The boys were more comfortable with the water and were playing by the end of the night.

Sunday was a huge blessing. We loaded up our vehicle and headed off to church. We were greeted by past Mission Haiti team members, prayer warrior and friends! It was such a joy to introduce them to the boys. The boys did quite well during the church service. They were mostly quiet, and I even was able to soak up some of the message. During the service, they showed the sweetest video of our team at the orphanage when the boys were presented to us. The music spoke of God's faithfulness. Indeed.

After the service, we had trouble leaving the church. We visited with everybody and enjoyed our JB cookies and the boys got to have their first JB cookies...and they LOVED them!!!

We ran by Great-Grandpa Richard's apartment so he could see the boys and then headed home for some mowing. The twins did fairly well with this, and Eli rode around in my Tula back carrier as I pushed mowed the trim, and Judah rode around on the riding mower with his daddy. They were nervous at first but warmed up with time.

On Monday, we ventured to the mall. Both boys appear to be bonding well, and we felt ready for a challenge. They were like champs at the mall. We got the couple of things we needed and headed home to play outside for much of the day. Judah said his first English word on this date. When the girls helped him outside the front door to find me, they shut the door and he loudly said, "O-pen!!!"  "O-pen!!!" So cute.

Tuesday, July 29th, we woke with a knock on our door. I should tell you all that we are BLESSED with sleepers. (These twins can sleep in like no other child I have ever had under my roof!) We looked at the clock and it was 8:45am! I went to the door thinking one of our big kiddos would be there...but no, it was Eli, needing a fresh diaper. He had just woken up and came straight to us without big kiddo assistance! Unbelieveable! I changed him, and then we realized that, "OH NO!!!" We had a doctor's appointment for Judah at...of course...8:45am. No joke. So, after a few phone calls...we had set up our appointment a little later and worked to get out of the house.

We were able to get to the appointment and actually had both boys evaluated. They are both going to have minor surgeries, and we were able to schedule them for August 21st. I was thankful that we are able to do the surgeries while both Craig and I are off with the boys.

After the appointments, we were able to take our first stroller ride straight through the Great Plains Zoo. We had no idea how this adventure would go provided that the fear level of a household dog was at the terrified level still. Surprisingly, the boys did very well at the zoo and were attentive and interested in all of the animals. They really did not show any fear. Interesting.

The twins also learned a phrase from Craig today and have said it consistently every day since. That is the phrase "Oh man!" So for example...Elijah was running around with a blanket over his head and ran right into the doorframe and appropriately said, "Oh man!" Pretty stinking cute.

On Wednesday, the 30th of July, we stayed home for most of the day and soaked up just being a family. It was wonderful. The normal routine is beginning to fall into place. We received a dinner invitation to Jaron and Heather's and headed over there in the evening. The kids all had fun playing and the twins warmed up right away. They were skittish over Wembley, their small dog, but were more content by the end of the visit. Eli even touched her paw! Progress in the dog department.

The kids also had the opportunity to jump on the trampoline and the boys were cautious but appeared to be having some fun with this.

Thursday was a quiet day at home. We spent time together inside and outside and soaked up all of the snuggles we could.

Friday, the 1st of August, (today) was a little bit sad because we knew that the big kiddos would be headed for an adventure to Minnesota and Wisconsin with their Grandpa and Grandma Skalsky for five days. This was our last day all together until we all would meet up in Northern Minnesota on August 6th. So we made the most of it. We enjoyed the morning at home...and then headed out to Terrace Park Pool and then later met up with friends for the Milky way Ice Cream experience. Mmmmm.....

I realize that this blog is long and rambling, but I hope that it give a little insight into our adoption. We feel very blessed that the transition is happening as smoothly as it is. We prepared ourselves by thinking that it would all be difficult and that bonding would be complicated. It has not been. The language barrier has been tough, and we hope that someday they will love their dog, Griffin, but for the most part, we have nothing to complain about. Life is certainly busy, but it is blessed. Greatly!

We hope that you will continue to pray with us as we continue to bond together. Pray that the English language will gradually become familiar to the twins, and that Craig and I will continue to be able to grow our abilities to speak in Creole as well. Pray for the boys to feel loved and for them to continue to be comfortable with us. Pray that when we finally begin our transition back to work, that it would go smoothly. Also pray that their little systems have nothing else going on that we have not yet discovered. Pray for their birth dad, and pray that he will find work. Pray also that our big kiddos would enjoy their time away but that the reunion would be smooth. Mostly, give God praise for the beauty of the work that he has done in our family and pray that He would get all of the glory. His will for us and our lives is nothing but beautiful.

Feeling greatly blessed,