Thursday, November 2, 2017

Adventures in Haiti

We had quite the outing on Tuesday.  We have come to really love some organizations in Haiti.  We believe in empowering Haitians to better their own country.  Two of our favorite organizations do just this in Haiti.  Our first outing of the day led us clear up into the beautiful mountains of Haiti.  The children had been seeing the mountains in the distance, so we were glad for the opportunity to show them more….. and well…. it’s cooler and  who doesn’t want to experience cooler weather when you’ve been in the city heat for 5 days!!  Espwa Berlanica (look them up on FB) is an organization that cares for malnourished babies.  It is so much more than that, but in a nutshell, that is their main focus.  We were given our tour by the founder, Rhyan, who started Espwa 18 months ago.  If you are looking for a place to invest in, this is the place.  Along with treating malnutrition, they also train and educate mama’s so they can better their lives for their families, with the goal being for parents to be able to care for their children (once they are well enough to return home) to avoid these children being placed in an orphanage. The people that work at the center are Haitans who have been trained in taking care of these special little babies!  We were blown away at all they do for the surrounding community and the fact that they will not turn away a sick child!  The government and other orphanages are now becoming aware of this organization and sending children their way.  There are a number of ways to support them, so I encourage you to consider them!

When leaving Espwa, we had another adventure.  Our car wouldn’t start – no shocker there!  We all piled out and sat alongside while our driver did what Haitians do best – adapt and overcome!  As we were sitting on the side, they got the car started, however, black smoke started pouring out of the car directly in our faces.  We all scrambled up, running two different ways, all the while screaming.  D happened to go my way, but W went the other way.  As soon as I saw D was ok, I rushed through the smoke to find W.  Her eyes were HUGE, and she was definitely searching for me.  I scooper her up and her heart was beating so fast!!  We all laughed about it after, but at the time, my peeps were scared!!  I love that we now have a family joke – our whole family can understand!!  The kids still talk about machin fou (the crazy car). 

After the excitement, we piled back in machin fou and traveled to ApParent Project (not-for-profit) or Papillion Enterprises (for-profit).  I have been to this organization several times now and love the experience every time!  This organization’s focus is to keep families together with the motto of “Orphan prevention through job creation.”  With donated items and locally purchased items, artisans create pieces – everything from pottery, jewelry, t-shirts, purses, dolls, Christmas ornaments, and so much more!!  By making these items, they have steady jobs to provide money for their families, therefore, allowing mama’s to be able to keep their babies instead of feeling forced to give up their children.  Our children were able to see how collected cereal boxes are cut into strips, rolled into paper beads, coated with a clear glaze, and assembled into necklaces.  It was a great picture of how a small action in the United States can result in huge changes in Haiti.  We haven’t met the founder, Shelley, but she just put out a book (called, “Shelley in Haiti”) that I am itching to read… my down time….whenever that is!!  We went upstairs to eat lunch at the café – frozen lemonades, gigantic hotdogs (of which my small little W ate 2!!!!)  We then shopped until Papa’s wallet dropped!  It’s my favorite store in Haiti!! 

Then we were off to the store to pick up some groceries for lunch and the girls cake for a goodbye party at the orphanage.  I knew this would be an emotional day for me, and it was!!  We told (via our translator) our girls that this would be the last time at the creche and to say goodbye to their friends.  They left with smiles and hefty goodbyes, but I can only imagine what all is going on in their hearts!! 

We are all still getting along here just fine.  We have some kids that pair up more naturally, but everyone is doing fine.  We had some with upset tummies and temperatures yesterday, but everyone woke up feeling better this morning.  D and W are getting so good in the pool, with less and less clawing and scrambling.  It truly has been a life-saver for these parents that are trying hard to entertain 9 children!  Our main focus is family-time, and we have been so fortunate to have that undivided attention!  The girls say they are ready to go home tomorrow, however, it will be into next week before we are paper-work ready for that.  We are still waiting on medicals, one passport, visas and a travel authorization and then we are outta here.  We are hoping to come home as one family, however, if the paperwork continues to trickle in, we will have to start sending some people home.  This is not our wish – we want to come home as one family strong – but the money and Daddy’s days off only go so far!  Pray with us that this happen!!  Ryan and I are so glad we decided to bring everyone – this trip has been a life changer for all of us! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's Go Time!

Tomorrow is the day!!

Tomorrow we go and get our girls to bring them home!  Just over 4 years ago, we started off on this journey.  So many ups and downs, however, one thing has been consistent and that's the God we serve!  He has had His hand in this adoption from the very beginning, even before we applied to adopt.  We feel honored that He chose us to be D and W's forever parents.

Our U.S. kids have lots of emotions going on - we've been talking through what everyone is feeling since booking our tickets on Monday.  I've heard everything from butterflies, anxious, scared, excited, nervous, happy it's almost over, etc.  We have a few kids that are a little unsettled, mainly with the travel.  For the most part, it is excitement about meeting the girls.  We were able to send another video through our friend to D and W.  We told them we would be coming tomorrow and that this was the trip in which we would be bringing them home.... on the big airplane.  We've been talking about the big airplane with them since April 2016.  It's go time girlies!

If you would remember us in prayer with a few specific things:
*For our girls hearts - so many new experiences that we wish we could just gloss over, but they are leaving everything they know, love, smell, friends, people constantly around them that look like them, food, environment, Nannies, beds, everything.  This part of international adoption makes me sad.  I have wrestled and wrestled with what they might experience and I can't even come close to imaging!  Please pray for their hearts and big-time trust that we will get them home.

*We still need some documents to come through while we are there.  Please pray for speediness so that Ryan and I can rest a little easier knowing all of that is taken care of.  We also have some friends that you could lift up.  God knew I would need these two ladies walking the road with me, and He gave me some great ones!  Please pray for their adoption paperwork as well!

*For our U.S. kids - they have heard the lovely stories of the Haitian airport.  That's where most of the anxiety comes from.  We had a long talk with the kids here about this being just a small part of what D and W will go through when they come back with us.

*Bonding to continue to happen, walls to start coming down brick by brick, and trust to continue to develop.  All of these things will take time, we realize that, but every time we go, we remove bricks and barriers.

*Health - for all of us.  Yeah, just health!!

We will do our best to keep updates coming, but we also aren't going to be connected to the internet constantly because we are soaking up our new family.  We have waited so long to have everyone in ONE country!!

We thank you all so much for praying for us, supporting us during the hard times, giving financially to assist us, talking me off the ledge when I would go to the dark side!

It's Go Time!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Home stretch

Today is a special day.  4 years ago today we sent in our application to adopt.  We didn't know whom God was going to complete our family with, but we were assured He already knew them by name and how many hairs were on their heads.

Looking back in the rear view mirror, we were at times naïve, at times scared, at times frustrated with the whole process, at times scared, and at times so excited we didn't think we could keep waiting!  God matched our girls perfectly to our family.  Ryan and I still vividly remember meeting our 2 beauties for the first time.  So much emotion, so much nerves, and so much joy.  From the beginning, I was introduced as Mama and Ryan introduced as Papa.  I was torn - that was a title I felt I needed to earn.  But, WOW!  It felt so good for them to call me Mama!  While I still am not sure I've earned that title properly - I am a lot closer.  I am fortunate that I have gotten to be with my babies on 4 different occasions.  They open up more and more every time I am with them.  We are slowly peeling away the layers of learning everything about each other.

Fast forward 4 years, and last night Ryan and I were able to apply for Visa's for our girls!  VISA'S!!!  This is HUGE!!  While we still can't be cleared to travel yet, we are inching closer and closer to the finish line.  Those same emotions I had earlier - the feelings of naivety, anxiousness, frustration, fear and excitement - are all still very real and alive today in the present with our impending homecoming!  Actually, I feel all those emotions and so many more times about 1,000.  Not to mention, those emotions change about 1,000 times a day.  Yes, I've been "fun" to live with!!  So many what-if's, grieving for my girls, anxious about all the children jiving together, etc, etc.  So much going on in the Batch house!!

I am thankful that God took care of us 4 years ago, just like He is today.  I have come to learn to stop and pray immediately when the fears, doubts, and frustrations start to creep in.  He's got all that under control and I am so thankful for that!!

We are hoping for a 2 to 3 week homecoming, but obviously, that could all change - longer or shorter - depending on a few things!  We would love some prayers in the mean time!!
  • D and W leaving behind everything they know and everyone they love.  
  • Safe travels and all on one flight.  Since the 7 kids here are traveling with us this time - we have a, ahem.... larger party to book last minute!  
  • Final paperwork to come through timely, but completely.  
  • Health for everyone, but mainly our W as she has some strikes already against her!  
  • Going through customs can be tricky and it seems to never be the same for one family to the next.  
  • Finally, pray peace and endurance over us - we have a long road ahead of us, we realized that, but Mama is beyond ready to have her babies together in one country!!!
As always, thanks for all the love, prayers and support we have been given over the last 4 years!  This is definitely a team game and we can't wait for you to meet our newest members!  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Can you all hear that????!!! 
That's the sound of the clock ticking for D and W to come HOME!!  We have officially entered USCIS (Customs and Immigration).  We couldn't be more excited!!  We should have our girls home in approximately 6-8 weeks!!!!  Yep, you read that right...... 6 to 8 weeks!!

The Steps Left:
The fine people at USCIS will comb over our girls files and make sure everything is needed. 
At the same time this step is happening, we should receive the girls passports.  We have been in this step for two weeks and are anxiously awaiting the word that they are ready for pick up!! 
USCIS will then either say we are completed or ask for more documents.
After USCIS approval, we wait for the Visa's to be printed and then we get the green light to travel.

We are still a go for taking the whole crew.  Much chatter happened today about what would be taken and what there just wasn't room to take in suitcases!  It was exciting to hear them plan about what the country would be like, how hot it would be, and what to expect with their new sisters!  I am still pinching myself about this happening.

Our two biggest prayer requests:
**Our youngest daughter has had some health concerns that we are asking prayer for.  We need her little body to hold up awhile longer until we can get her home to some specialists.  Please pray healing for her and for the right people to have compassion on her case to rush her through.

**Prayer for the girls to be brave - they are leaving so much and it will be quite scary to leave everything they know!  They have to have a lot of trust in us and hopefully we have built enough trust to calm their little hearts the minute we take them from the orphanage.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mommy .....the sweetest name!

What a trip.  I finally feel well enough to blog about my trip to Haiti.  I came down with D's cold and have been miserable since returning home - emotionally and physically!

C and I left early, early Wednesday morning on our flight for her to meet her sisters!  Silly me, I thought she would go to sleep on one of the plane rides.... yeah right mama!!  When we got to the Haitian airport, we met up with my dear sweet friends who are traveling this adoption journey with me!  God has provided these ladies for me in a way I never knew I needed!  They have been my support, my laughs, my crying buddies, and have definitely covered for me a time or two!  Anyways, back to the airport....  I had strict instructions for C when we got off the plane and she did great.  It's one of the most stressful parts of the trip!  She said later it was a bit overwhelming, but nothing she couldn't handle.

We drove to the crèche, however, were quickly disappointed with the news that we couldn't see them that night.  C started to tear up, the mama's started murmuring about how we could catapult over the gate, and one of the dad's showed pictures of previous trips with his girls..... but alas, no gate was opened and we went home disappointed.  We have all been down this road for almost 4 years, I guess we could wait another 14 hours..... I guess.....

The next morning we were set to meet C's sisters.  I saw D first and her smile melted my heart.  We have to wait for the girls to be presented to us, so even though they were close, we had to wait.... more!!  Then they finally were released to come over to us.  They immediately came and gave me hugs and cautiously looked at C.  They knew the face from pictures, but didn't get the name right away.

We went over to the all-familiar mango tree and started playing with our kids.  It was incredible the way they remember things we have done together.  I try to bring back things that they really enjoyed to trigger memories.  I immediately had to explain to them that this was not the pick-up trip (ugh, gut punch!) and that Papa wasn't here because he had to stay home and work, but that we were trying to get all the paperwork done so we could bring them home to their house. 

We then got to explain that we would take them to the guesthouse for a couple days to spend the day together.  I'm not sure they understood what this meant.  When we came back the following day to get them, my girls were very cautious and quiet - taking it all in.  When we got to my room, they saw my familiar bags and I think understood what was going on.  We got changed and headed to the pool, which, by the way, they claimed they could swim.... pretty sure that was their first time in a pool!  Much clawing, grasping, squealing, laughter, and memories were made that first hour in the pool!  

The following days flew by - so many firsts for me and my daughters!  I got to feed them lunch, bathe them, eat dinner with them, do a partial hair repair, paint with them, help them choose what to wear, take a try at communicating with them all by myself in Creole, take a nap with them laying next to me, and so much more!  It was the first time I truly felt like their mama.  My youngest, W, called me Mommy almost the whole time we were there.....!  Here are a few more pictures to enjoy!!

W kept asking to call her Papa on the telefon.  So we got to face time daddy and the other kids which was a big hit.  I had a couple instances where I finally KNEW that they were beginning to understand what was going to happen.  I know God had me go on this trip to give me confidence that I could do this mommy-ing thing to them.  I know that God had C go with me, to help hold my hand when the tears wouldn't stop.  And I know that God had me go on this trip for D and W to continue building trust and bonds.  However, just because I knew all of this, doesn't make the leaving any easier.  In fact, it was waaaaay more difficult this time.  I felt like I got to be their temporary mama, but then had to go home and not be there anymore.  Words can't describe the tearing of my heart, but I will continue to go through that pain until my girls come home.  

What's the next steps?  Well.....
I am hoping to have good news very, very soon - however, I am going to leave a cliff-hanger until I have OFFICIAL news.  So stay tuned and keep those prayers coming!!  All 11 of our hearts need them!!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Chocolate and tears.....

Well this is a post I have dreading to write since early this week.  So grab some chocolate with me and take a read.

Last post, we were ever-so-close to being submitted to passports .....or so we thought.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty, we have actually take a step backwards.  Ugh, that hits me like a punch in the gut.  No one wants to hear that you've gone backwards in a process that has taken nearly 4 years!  But since I serve an all-knowing God, I will trust in the process that has to happen to legally bring our daughters home to us.  After we repeat this step, we will be back at the Passport submission stage once again.

So the new time frame?
Go ahead - take another bite of chocolate - it will be before Christmas.
Yes, I have had my breakdown and realize that crying never really works.  So we hold onto to positives in a time like this.  Hang on, let me think of one of those positives.....
Just joking - we have still been seeing God's timing and His fulfilling of His promises.
We just have to see it through in a different way than what we thought it was going to look like.

A verse I have been clinging to this week - Hebrews 10:35-36 - "Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when  you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised."  God never promised that the road to bring our girls home would be easy - He just asked us to follow Him and hold His hand, and have faith.  So that is what we are doing.  Don't get me wrong - this news was a PUNCH to the gut and a definite faith-tester.  We want to be told "job well done my servant" when we meet Jesus face-to-face and "talk through" the adoption.  So we will hold His hand and continue to let Him lead.

Music has become a huge help to me through this process and Casting Crowns did it again with their new song "Just Be Held".  I've had this song on repeat since the night we got the news.  The lyrics speak to me greatly - listen to some of these:

And when you're tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held

Right???!!  Just be held Jen - that's all I keep saying this week!
Does God need to hold you today?  Let Him - it's the easiest way!

We are still accepting any and all prayers!!  We are asking for specific prayers:
-There are 4 families that are desperately wanting to fly through the courts.  Would you pray this happens for all 4 families?  7 children are waiting on this to happen to come home to their forever families!
+ChoPray that our girls continue to thrive in their current environment.
+Pray for me, I want to go and visit them one more time before homecoming, but leaving the girls once again, brings such heart-ache for all of us.  Remember that chocolate - eat more for me!!!
+Endurance for all of us - our kids here are so disappointed in this delay - so it is important that Ryan and I act in obedience.  We want to finish this four year marathon with God's grace, but we need strength and endurance.

Well - I have run out of chocolate, so I will close.  We are blessed to be lifted up by family and close friends to help us with this difficult news.  We thank God for everyone that has walked beside us in this journey!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Changes are coming!!!

So here it is .....almost July and we are still waiting on a homecoming....

However, the wait is getting closer to being over.

We are getting submitted to Passports tomorrow!  We have been waiting over a month to get to this stage!!  At the same time, we will be getting submitted to USCIS.  Both of these steps run concurrent to each other.  (Yay!!)  Both steps are taking about 6-8 weeks to complete.  Then last minute doctor appointments for the girls, some Visa printing, and then travel approval for the rest of us to buy tickets!!

Have we mentioned we are going the crazy route - and taking ALL the U.S. kiddos with us for pickup?  We have prayed and prayed about this since February and truly feel God's leading for this to happen.  So many advantages, only a few disadvantages.

At this point, we are going for an August homecoming!!  Pray with us that this happens!  You all have been so faithful in praying for us thus far and we are so glad you have teamed up with us!

In other news - the Batchelor's are on the move....
We are heading to Richmond, VA in July.  With Ryan's promotion brought a new set of orders.  I'm sure he's doing something really, really important - it just hasn't been put into long term memory for me yet.  I went to Richmond three times in the last two weeks, and the last time I traveled, I found a house!  We can't wait to host visitors after we cocoon a bit with our family!!

Batchelor Academy has started once again.  We are on Week 3, plugging right along.  We (ALL) chose to start early so we can take the maximum time off when the girls come home.  We are anticipating taking our two months off when we get back to solidify bonding and attachment.  We all get to just be a family, without too many distractions and other happenings!!

With all these changes, we are praying we don't forget anything .....ok, we are really praying we don't forget anyone at this point.  We will do our best to stay in communication, however, please realize that this is going to be some serious transitioning for our family.  We have some kiddos that are dealing with all the changes superbly, however, there are those that don't want to move!  Please pray for hearts to be flexible and that they feel grounded, even though everything is changing for them!  They are anxiously awaiting to meet their new sisters, and are even talking about what they are going to do with them first when we all get HOME!

HOME - what a sweet word for us at this time.