A New Name

We got the most wonderful news on Thursday morning that we were finished with Parquet Court, and Mathieu’s last name is now Bullen! The adoption is complete! What? Praise the Lord!!!!! I can’t believe this day has finally come.

Our file has already been dropped off at the Haitian immigration services/MOI (Ministry of Interior). They will approve our file and issue him a Haitian passport. Then our file goes to the US Embassy for approval. We aren’t sure how long how this will take, but we should be notified as we complete each step.

Mathieu is pretty excited about his new name and asked if we were coming in December. He remembers from February that we said we would be back in December to get him. Please pray that these last steps move swiftly and we can indeed get him in December (or before!)6b230360-a94e-4b03-a69c-2e801f36cd88

 

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Au Revoir IBESR

Good bye, IBESR. It was nice knowing you and hanging out for the last 7+ years, but we are leaving. We received our adoption authorization letter/exit letter on Thursday!!!! We are praising God that no matter what evil the enemy has planned, God means it for good, and His plans cannot be thwarted. We are also jumping for joy with such excitement and disbelief. This is perfect timing right before Mother’s Day.

What’s next?  Our file will be dropped at Parquet Court on Monday. Mathieu’s dad will come sign there one more time, and then our file will be legalized. At that point, the adoption is FINAL, and we will go through the immigration process for both Haiti and the US. It all sounds so simple, but please pray for everything to go smoothly with these steps.

For everyone who volunteered to buy a pair of shoes for the kids, THANK YOU! We have all the kids covered. It looks like we will maybe be heading down this fall, so we will take the shoes with us then.

Hopefully, more good news coming soon!

God’s Faithfulness

I know it’s been a while again since we have updated. We had great momentum going into the end of 2016. We had a minor bump but had great confidence we would get through. We went to see Mathieu (and all the kids at the Children’s Home) for Christmas, and it was such a great and wonderful Christmas. We are so thankful for the time with him and for our friends and family who generously sent Christmas gifts, crafts, candy, and supplies to all the kids.

In early January, on MLK Day to be exact, we got probably the worst news we have gotten during this whole process. It was a huge road block. I honestly thought God was telling me it was over and to be at peace with that. He is still in control and has a perfect plan even if this adoption didn’t work out, and the ultimate goal is His glory, not Mathieu coming home. Even though God told me Mathieu would be our son, I thought that we were going to be his parents from here. But God kept giving me little reminders that He is God and to just believe. As we came home on the evening of MLK Day and hit our knees in tears, I remember a dear friend telling us not to settle for Ishmael, (don’t settle for parenting Mathieu from here), our Isaac is coming. Peyton was also confident that it wasn’t over and Mathieu would come here. We kept pushing through, praying, and believing even though it was not easy most days. In April, we got news that the road block could be moved but was going to be take some more paperwork, right? Hallelujah! Praise God! Once again, God proves to me He is faithful and His will, will be done.

Of course the paperwork took a few more months as well. Finally, last week of September, we were back on track. There were meetings and court dates and classes that had to happen and miraculously happened quickly. We went back to see Mathieu and the kids for Christmas again in 2017 and had another special time together. Our friends and family rallied together again to send all the goodies they would need for a proper Christmas party. This trip was much different knowing that we had actually made progress. We wanted to tell him so badly but knew there were too many delays that could still happen that it was probably not safe to say anything just yet.

On January 9, we got our official “referral” or “matching” letter. IBESR (like social services in the US) has officially approved us to adopt and think that Mathieu would be a good fit to be our future adoptive son. (For adoptions where you do not previously know your child, this is where you would “meet” your child on paper for the first time, receive information on them, and accept to move forward to adopt them. The adoption process has changed in 7 years since we started, so we are having to comply with some of the new laws now.) We had to sign and have notarized a letter back to them saying that we accept him to be our son. Peyton was in Brussels during this time and wouldn’t be back and able to sign the paper until what day? MLK Day to be exact. What a difference a year makes and wow to God.

We returned our acceptance letter and were required to make a two-week socialization trip to see him and be interviewed by a social worker from IBESR. (Yes, we have been socializing with Mathieu for 7 years, but this is a new step in the adoption process that they added and required us to do.) So, we went to Haiti for two weeks and spent lots of great time with Mathieu. Our attorney feels confident that he will be home in 5 months, so we could not hold the good news any longer. We told Mathieu he would be coming home in December! (Because Haitian 5 months is a little longer than American 5 months. haha) He is excited, ready to meet his family, teach them Creole, and have a momma and a daddy. He also had lots of questions about his home, his bed, when he would get to come back to Haiti, and of course if he would have an iPad or laptop.

We are so proud of the young man Mathieu is becoming. He seems to love Jesus, reading His word, praying, and is so much fun to be around. Mathieu has also loved babies since he was little, and is still so gentle with babies and younger kids. He is also a good Creole teacher. I was able to have (very basic) conversations with him. It helps so much with his mood and our bonding for us to at least try to speak Creole as much as possible.

We tried our best to explain to him everything that was going to happen in these two weeks and that we had to have an interview for the adoption paperwork. Bless his heart, I think he was a little nervous. I mean, we were, too, so I can’t blame him. I think he did wonderfully. They asked him if he was ready to come home with us, and he said with a big smile, “Oui”. They also wanted to talk to him and his nanny without us. I snapped a picture below.

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It’s definitely not all fairytales when we are together, and the goodbye tears suck. But God continues to send people in our life both here and in Haiti who encourage us, help us translate, and show us that being a family is hard sometimes but that we are not giving up. We want to assure Mathieu we are coming back for him. These last two recent trips to Haiti, we have had incredible experiences and conversations with complete strangers (who are now friends). No meeting is coincidental, and God orchestrates each and every encounter. I am so often blown away. I learned a new Creole phrase that came in perfect timing. Bondye fidel. God is faithful.

For now, we wait for the social worker to write a report on our interview and pray there are no more issues with our paperwork. I really hope to be giving more and more positive news in the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, we sized all the kids’ feet while we were there. They are in dire need of tennis shoes (and also dress shoes and sandals). We are hoping to have them all a new pair of shoes for our next trip down (in the next 5-10 months!) If you are interested in helping out with a pair of shoes, let me know.

 

A Complete File

A lot has happened in the last 6 months. In March,we FINALLY got the document that we had been waiting on for over a year. Of course this took many trips to the court and “I’ll have it tomorrow”, “I’ll have it next week”, “I need another week”… After that, it was time for our attorney to go back to IBESR with all the documents that were missing from our file. After weeks of planned (and canceled) meetings, meetings with people who decided she needed to have a meeting with someone else, and meetings where they would not even accept our documents, they finally took them. They let her know that there were some more documents they wanted updated. This required Mathieu to meet with a social worker along with his bio dad. Oh yeah, and they needed to be there in less than 48 hours. We hadn’t had contact with his dad in over a year, and we had heard that he no longer had a phone and had moved. God provided miracle after miracle. A friend who knew Mathieu’s dad was able to track him down in that short amount of time. He agreed to meet the social worker the next day with Mathieu AND they arrived EARLY!

Our attorney took those documents to IBESR. Then they decided his medical records needed to be updated. Each time the medical records were turned in, they decided there were a few more things that needed to be checked. Mathieu had at least 3 doctor appointments to get blood drawn each time they decided they needed something additional.

Finally, in early July, IBESR had everything they needed. I have been told that our file has now moved to the legal department within IBESR. Apparently we can expect it to be there for 3-4 months. It made it there in July but many people take off for the summer, so our attorney said it probably hasn’t made it any further, but it is a good sign that they haven’t asked for anything else. We are just glad for progress. We’ve also still been able to keep in touch with Mathieu, so we have enjoyed seeing his pictures and getting to talk to him occasionally.

Oh, and in the middle of all this, Peyton and I had to have our fingerprints updated (again!) We aren’t trying to give each other moose ears in the picture. It is a “5” for the 5th time we’ve gotten our fingerprints done. 5th time’s a charm? Maybe! We also have pictures of Mathieu with his bio dad, on a moto going to the doctor, and picture before church today.

 

Visit with Mathieu

We just recently got back from a visit to Haiti to see Mathieu. We didn’t have any courts to see, papers to sign, or any “business” to handle. We just wanted to go see him and let him know we are still trying and we still love him so much. It had been almost a year since we saw him. Yes, another year. The years seem to pass by like months now. It’s hard to believe that in February, we will have been walking this path for 5 years. This adoption wasn’t in our plan, and it hasn’t gone like we would have chosen it to go. But while we were in Haiti, I told Peyton that how much more fun is God’s plan for us than what we plan ourselves. We wouldn’t have been making multiple trips to a 3rd world country, renting a car (yes, I drove this time!), “trying” to learn a new language, and buying street food if Mathieu wasn’t part of God’s plan for us. We would probably still be trying to work our way up the corporate ladder to see how much money we could make. And for what? A bigger house, a newer car, and more stuff?

The adoption process in Haiti has recently gotten even more complicated. Laws have changed on both the Haitian and US side, and now the US is causing delays and scrutinizing paperwork. Many families have made it through years of struggle and paperwork in Haiti to only be told at the very end that the US won’t issue a visa for the child to come home due to one word in their paperwork. Adoptions have been done this way for years, but now the US decides it can’t work that way any longer and they gave no warning of the change. We met with our attorney early in our trip, who I believe is probably one of the best attorneys in Haiti and is doing everything she can to get Mathieu home. Basically, we are still and have been waiting 6 months for one document to be signed. She had to correct this document when she took over our file last year. Apparently the only person who can sign has been out of the office lately. We are praying he signs when he is back tomorrow. Once we have this document, she can then go to court to see what we can do so that our paperwork won’t be denied a visa at the end of the process. She was very frustrated with the process and the way the system works and isn’t even sure how we are going to work this out. She is so perplexed herself. But she is confident we will still get this adoption completed; it’s just going to take more and more time.

Of course after this meeting, I had a breakdown. I told Peyton that this is all it’s ever going to be, us going to visit Mathieu, but he’ll never be home. He said even if that is the case, it’s more than Mathieu had before. Which is true. Since the point of our trip was to spend time with Mathieu, we were determined not to let the process get us down. We wanted to enjoy our time there.

We had an absolute fabulous time in Haiti and spending very special quality time with Mathieu. We were able to be at the Children’s Home when he would get home from school, help him with his homework, play with the other kids he lives with, give them a pizza party, and go to church with him. We are so thankful for that time. We even were able to work on teaching him to swim! We wouldn’t trade this precious time for anything. He was also able to FaceTime with some of our friends and family. He told us multiple times, “Thank you for loving me.” What do you say to that? On the last day, we took him to meet our attorney so that she could see who she’s fighting for. We explained to him that we are working so hard on the papers so that he can come home with us. We promised him we would be back soon for him and that we aren’t going to leave him. We told him to pray everyday that God will bring us together. We pray for that everyday, and He will bring us together. Bondye bon tout tan. (God is good all the time.) He just kept shaking his head, “yes.”

God is good all the time. We don’t understand this story, and maybe we never will. But we know He is good. He is faithful. So whatever the next chapters hold for us as a family, we are believing that nothing is out of God’s control, and everything is working together for our good and His glory. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it just honestly sucks most days to continue life as normal without Mathieu, to miss out on him growing up, to not be able to hold him and kiss him and tell him good night, to walk by his empty bedroom that’s been waiting on him, and to feel our heart being ripped out every time we have to leave. And yes, it even feels like God has forgotten us at times. But we know that’s not true and for now we wait and trust Him. Because isn’t His story so much better for us than the one we plan ourselves?

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A Quiet Year

I know we have been quiet for the past year. Honestly, there hasn’t been anything to say but more lies, broken promises, and heartbreak. Just because we have been quiet doesn’t mean we weren’t still fighting everyday doing everything we knew to do to try to get Mathieu home. We were reaching out to anybody and everybody who said they could help with any kind of connection to Haiti. One person was recommended by two separate people, so we thought that had to be a good contact. We spoke almost daily back in the spring. We had a plan drawn out, and things were progressing along. Then after a few weeks, it was like she vanished. She, and her contacts in Haiti, stopped answering phone calls, texts, and emails. We have still yet to hear back from her. Again, we were left confused, heart-broken, and frustrated. We had been praying for two years for God to send us someone who would fight for us, work hard for us, and someone we could trust. Why wasn’t He answering our prayers?

I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was around July/August or maybe even September that I was honestly ready to quit. I was angry at God. Why would He call us to something that he wasn’t going to finish or even help us with? It made no sense to me. Yes, He has used our story to change our life and grow us closer to Him and to impact many others, but I was having a hard time thinking that’s where it would end. I heard Him clearly say Mathieu was going to be our son. Why did it look like that was not going to happen?

That same day, God gave me soft whispers and confirmations that He didn’t leave us, and His promises are still true. He did this through a friend I hadn’t spoken to in years sending me a message out of the blue that she felt God laying us on her heart to pray for us, so she did. He did this through songs- in particularly the song by Matthew West, Do Something. The lyrics go like this…”I shook my fist at Heaven and said, God, why don’t you do something? He said, I did. I created you. If not us, then who. If not me and you. Right now, it’s time for us to do something. If not now, then when will we see an end to all this pain. It’s not enough to do nothing. It’s time for us to do something.” And He did this by showing me countless adoptive parents who went to Haiti to fight for their children and won. That was it. Our mission had started.

We figured out the soonest time we could go to Haiti with our work schedules, booked our trip for the first week in November, and started planning it out. We had NO idea what we were going to Haiti for. Yeah, we were fighting for Mathieu, but we had no idea what we were going to be able to do to make a difference. We don’t know the process, we don’t speak the language, and our lawyer is corrupt and had a stronghold over us. We just knew we were going. The month of October I spent talking to anyone who would hear me cry. Posting pleas on an adoption group on Facebook. Please, anyone. Help us. It got to a point where it was hard to keep straight who all I had spoken to and the next step that was to be taken with them. There was no way possible we were going to be able to meet with all these people I had spoken to while we were in Haiti, so our prayers began to be, God, show us who you want us to work with and weed out all the people who aren’t going to be able to give us help. (We had no time to waste on any path that was going to be unfruitful. A week is not a very long time to get things accomplished in Haiti.)

Before we left for Haiti, we had a room full of about 25 Smyrna friends come and pray for us and over us for this trip.photo We knew this trip could be very powerful if God showed up, and we so longed for His presence and mercies on this trip.

We also kept our family, closest friends (who feel like family), and supporters up-to-date with everything that was going on in Haiti via email so they could continue to pray. We know there were at least 60 people praying for us for specific details each day. We even had our trip covered in prayer for 24 hours a day. It was so unbelievable and humbling to see so many people care about us so much and willing to devote an hour a day to pray for us. Some of them really late at night and some really early in the morning.

The prayers worked. The whole week was miracle after miracle from God and answered prayers and more answered prayers. In the end, we were able to get our paperwork back from our corrupt attorney and able to find a real, true, legit lawyer to fight for us. God did answer our prayers that we had been praying for the past two years. It wasn’t in our timing or how we expected it to be, but He did answer them.

Our new attorney has taken over our file and is working hard on it. There are three original documents in our file that are missing (we only have the copies), and they actually need to be corrected also. She is working on those things now. We are waiting to get the first 2 documents corrected so that she can then work on the 3rd. We appreciate your prayers specifically for these documents to be corrected so that we can move forward.

We will go on Tuesday of next week to have our fingerprints taken again, for the 4th time. We are believing this is our year and our last time to get fingerprinted. Thank you all for your support. From your prayers, to helping us fundraise and buying our T-shirts and bracelets many years ago, to asking about the process, for those who have gone to Haiti and loved on Mathieu, and everything in between. We couldn’t have gotten through this without you.

Here are some pictures from our trip. At the all famous IBESR and with Mathieu and our translator, Robinson who was a HUGE advocate for us during the week.

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Happy Birthday

 

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Yep, today was Mathieu’s 7th Birthday and yet another birthday that we aren’t together. This year was a bit harder than the last two, and I’m not sure why. We came in to the new year with a renewed spirit and hope and a lot of momentum with our adoption process. We still haven’t gotten anywhere though, and we truly believed we would have by now. We refuse to give up hope that God is going to bring him home like he promised. We are claiming that God’s bringing him home by October of this year. We know this will be a huge miracle, and there’s still lots that needs to happen. But we know God can and will do big things beyond our imagination. 

This picture is from our 3 year anniversary of meeting him- February 12. I can’t believe it’s been over 3 years already. We hope and pray that he had a great birthday today. We heard that all he wanted was pizza! 🙂