Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Story Continues- Like David and Goliath

OK... so we gave the social worker our phone numbers and appropriate times to call and we waited. We had been undergoing a huge addition project to our home as we needed to prepare beedrooms and more room for our family. This project has taken us almost a year and a half but, kept our minds occupied while we waited. Otherwise I think it would have driven me crazy. I was doing some finishing work on some baseboards when the phone rand. I saw a number (from the states) that I did not recognize so did not answer it. Steve's grandmother, Meme, however DID answer it and brought me the phone. I gave her the look like...why did you answer the phone and put the phone to my ear. As I did I could hear someone with a Spanish accent call Maria and JP to the phone. I jumped to my feet and went running through the house to the backyard where Steve was working screaming "OUR KIDS ARE ON THE PHONE!!". Our Spanish was very little so I ran across the street with walk phone in hand to our neighbor's house who said if you need translation anytime just let me know. When they answered the door I called for Sally and she came running. I explained our situation and we walked over to our front yard. So there we stood, the three of us, on walk phones talking to our kids for the first time. It was sooo cool. All they wanted to know was when were we coming to get them and how much longer. They said they loved us and called us mommy and daddy. We had the opportunity to speak to them about 3 more times prior to going to get them.

In the interum we were sent pictures the children drew for us via email from the social worker.

We were told to put together picture books for the children that consisted of pictures of us, the immediate family (grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and cousins), our home, their rooms and stuff we like to do. I had asked if someone could take pictures when they received the books AND SOMEONE TOOK VIDEO! They were very excited.

It was about this time that things started to go nuts. We were told by our adoption agency that that we were not going to be going to a major city like Bogota, Cali or Cartagena. We would be going to Cesar. The adoption agency could not tell us anything about the area. Steve was really good with research and started to search for where it was located. We discovered that it was in the northern tip of Colombia. Colombia has provinces called Departments which are like our States. Later we found out that we were to travel to Valledupar, Cesar. After more research Steve discovered that it was a very dangerous area. And on top of that our adoption agency said that they had never sent a family there before. We were already hesitent about going to Colombia in the first place but, to find out these things made our decission much more challenging.

Steve found out that there was a strong presence of the paramilitary there. We decided that we thought that they should move the children to a larger city. After speaking with the adoption agency they said that it was not a wise decission. It would look like we care more about ourselves then the children (which at the time our safety WAS on the top of our list) and there would be so much red tape it would be unbelievable! So moving the children was out of the question.

Steve had contacted the American Embassy in Colombia via email and after several days still no

We were to go over to my sister's house to talk to my brother n law who was from Venezuela but, had family in Colombia. We spoke to them and explained our situation. Their answer was not what I wanted to hear. They told us that it would be very dangerous to travel to Valledupar as we are caucasion and from the United States. "You'll get kidnapped" they said. On the ride home Steve said, "I know that you are going to be angry for telling you this but, we can not go to Velledupar. I do not want to risk our lives over 2 children - what good are we to them if we are not alive?" Unless a ticket falls out of the sky with Valledupar on it we are not going.

When we got home that evening Steve got back on the computer to do some more research. I am telling him at this point to "Stop doing research"! It was then that as he sat down and started to use it that a window popped up with a border that offered discounded roundtrip airfare to Valledupar. He chuckled and called me into the room. I said honey, I know it is not a paper ticket but, that is good enough for me!

Over the next couple of weeks Pastor Mark from our church (Calvary Chapel of Melbourne, FL) was teaching on David and Goliath. Steve attended a men's conference entitled "Facing the Giants". Basically we were being hit with everything God had that and obey me.

We had been talking to several patients about what we were going through and one of them who is very strong in faith was praying for us. For clear direction on what God's will was for us. We were so scared and confused as to if we should go to Valledupar of not. If we did not go then we would refuse these 2 children and would have to wait for others. Who knows how long that would have taken. She called one day just when we needed to hear it and said...I am not sure why but, God put it on my heart to tell you that where his work is being done Satan is right there to deceive and confuse. Thanks Donna G. and thank you God for guidence.

It was then that things started to become clearer. We got a chance to talk with a lady from the American embassy. She told us that she is permitted to travel there. It is not a red zone. It is not considered to be a border town because there is a large mountain range which seperates Colombia and Venezuela. It was about 3 miles wide and in order to cross into Venezuela one would have to travel either north or south several miles. She checked some records and told us that she could not find anything on Valledupar which is good because, it means that nothing is "going on" there else there would be "warnings". This made us feel a little better.

We also found out that there were more adoptions that had been done out of Valledupar and one of which was by an American family from Ohio, The Roberts. We were able to speak with them regarding their experience and it was all very pleasent. They had the same guide/interpreter that we would have. They adopted an older girl via the kidsave program.

We were coming home late one night from work and stopped to get Chineese for dinner. It had been a long time since we have done that. I grabbed a handful of fortune cookies (something I normally would not have done usually I just grab one for each of us). Steve opened his and it said something to the tune of a trip you are about to take will be successful. Mine said something very relevent to our adoption decission and our trip. Meme opened one and it made no sense. She said that she didn't like that one and opened another one and that one made no sense either. God is funny in how he communicates with us :) sometimes.

Well we finally made the decission to go to Valledupar. We felt that God wanted us to go there. To trust him with our lives. These were our children. The ones he wanted us to have that we have been waiting for. Now...all we have to do is make the travel arrangements.

We leave June 9, 2008.

Friday, October 3, 2008

An Answer to Prayers...Our Story Begins

It all started about 4 years ago. Steve and I traveled to Orlando to attend an adoption seminar with an adoption agency. We had been considering adoption for some time unable to have children of our own for no known apparent reason. We just accepted the fact that God's will for us at this time did not include a biological child, so we decided on adoption. This agency's program sounded great so we took the information home and slept on it.

It was about this time that our next step in the plan was to go in with Steve's brother Joe, his wife Trish and another friend, Lisa on some investment property. They were townhouses in a vero beach community similar to Disney's Celebration off of Highway 60 just a few miles west of the mall. The market was great, the initial investment (deposit) was minimum and the end results were to help us pay off some debt and have enough for the adoption. The whole plan sounded great!!! Then guess what....The builder took 6 months longer than they were suppose to to get started and the plan fell apart as did the market. The stress level within our family intensified greatly!! It was not a pretty situation. I would ask God on my knees in one of the oupstairs bedrooms to help us with the sales and nothing would happen. I did not understand. Why would God let something happen like this to our family re: stress levels, financial stress and not able to continue with the adoption, etc.?

FYI: It wasn't until 2 years later would I understand. It is all in God's timing. He has a master plan for us which is better than any plan we could come up with for ourselves. We just have to be patient and wait. Had we sold the the townhouses when we did we probably would have turned around and put the money down on maybe a $600-700 thousand dollar investment property, the market would have crashed and can you imagine what trouble we would have been in? ALSO, The adoption agency we had put the deposit down with at that time was under investigation for withholding several thousands of dollars of families monies and dangling children in front of them only to tell them that sorry they were not available. It's all in God's timing. He has a reason for everything we just have to trust him.

Now fast forward 2 years - August of 2006 we sold the townhomes after a year and a half! We had been paying for both mortgages plus our home! It was a VERY stressful time and it was finally all over. Thank the Lord! Now we can move on with the adoption.

I only took me 4 months to complete all the paperwork required for our "package" which is called a dossier which includes: local background check, FBI background check and fingerprinting, background checks from Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Immigration Background Checks and Fingerprinting, Medical Letters, Psychological Evaluations, Reference Letters, and much more. I got it to our adoption agency about the 1st week of January 2007.

After the agency received the dossier then it gets translated from English to Spanish which typically takes about 4 to 6 weeks. This process took about 6 weeks - We received word that our translation was completed in mid February 2007. (Exact date to be entered here).

The next step is for the whole file to go to Colombia and you become registered with the country and approved to adopt from the country. This process was suppose to take another 4-6 weeks and it tool about 4 months. It wasn't until June 2007 (exact date to be entered here) that we received our letter from Colombia that we were registered and can now be placed "in line" for a referral. Our request was for a sibling pair of 2 children - one boy and one girl both under the age of 7 years old. We were also told that typically once you have your registration number that it should only take about 6 months for your referral (we expected a referral by December of 2007).

During this 6 months of waiting time there were several "opportunities" that were placed in front of us: (1) There was an infant that was ready to come home from the hospital, I had spoken to the attorney that was responsible for the infant's wellfare...the mother was ready to give up the child for adoption but, the father who had never been in the unborn child's life suddenly stuck his head in the picture and there could be no promise that there would not be a custody suit - we declined and informed the attorney if the father decides to "sign off" on the child to let us know...we never heard from him (2) My cousin's wife, Paula, had a family member pregnant with twin boys that were possibly going to be put up for adoption...we found out in January the girl lost them (3) We were offered a sibling set of 3 girls...we prayed and asked God if these were the children he had for us and if not to "Ax" the referral....the very next day the girls were unavailable to us as we were getting the process ammended to accept 3 children instead of 2 another family had taken them (4) There was a sibling pair of 2 girls and the same thing...we prayed and asked God if these were the ones and the very next day they were no longer available as they were removed from the private system and put into the public system and they were adopted out. The country never notified the agency that they were no longer available. February 2008 rolls around and we still do not have a referral! And there is that still small God's timing.

About this time all this was going on Lincoln Bruester had a song out which the key words that he sang became my "motto" they were "Strength will rise as you wait upon the Lord". The words were very appropriate for what was happening in our lives at the time. It would occasionally be played on the Z (thats Z88.3, .5, .7 and I think 97.9 or so for those of you who don't know is a christian radio station). It had been playing occasionally and all of a sudden I noticed that they were playing it like crazy. I did not understand this as it was not a new song? I guess it was a way that God was telling us that the time is near.

I was involved with the Kidsave program (that's a whole other story) which we were trying to get started in Melbourne/Brevard County/Florida as there was not a program yet in Florida. We were dilligently working on trying to bring about 6 or 8 older children in hopes of getting them adopted. There were 5 key people at the time trying to organize the whold thing: There was Lori, Patty, Myself, Juan and another beautiful lady that for some reason at this moment her name escapes me - I am so sorry. Anyhoooooo...Steve and I are still waiting for a referral so we decide that we will host a sibling pair. They were a brother and sister. In speaking with our adoption agency they discovered that we had been matched with a sibling pair of our original request! We were so excited! On April 3, 2008 I was having birthday lunch with my sister and my mother at Makoto's (a Japanese steakhouse) when I received the call. I immediately called Steve then while on the phone with Steve's mother, Arlene, I told them all together. Wow!

We later learned that it would be a while before we could travel as the children had to undergo "training" to educate them on adoption, what it is etc. This process would take 6 weeks. We understood and agreed to wait.

As we waited the social worker asked if it would be OK for the children to call and talk to us. We said of course and emailed them our phone numbers and appropriate times to call them.
Then we waited........

Friday, September 12, 2008

7 Weeks in America

This kids are doing fantastic. They are adjusting so well. In fact I had 2 of our friends over yesterday one of which is a social worker and adopted a little girl Maria's age (7yrs) from Guatamala several years ago. She said that both of the kids are doig super! JP is a hit at his school - he loves it and everyone things he is just a little ham. Maria's teacher is VERY patient with her. She has tested her a little and said that she knows a lot more than what we know. We just need to get it out of her. She has her first spelling test today, Friday 9/12/08. There are a few little minor things that we keep working on i.e. trying to get other children's attention while the teacher is instructing. Other than that she is doing great. She has become connected at the hip with her cousin, Taylor who is the same age and the same grade at the same school (not in the same class). We took them both to Rock the Universe (Universal Studios Christian Concert Weekend) in Orlando. THEY LOVE THE NEWSBOYS!!!!! Betty, Sonya and OKenny's the kids have not forgotten you. Sonya, Little JP still says "Gracias Senora Sonya" to me to be funny. I will try to keep in touch. Still working on home network. Will try to get pictures up as soon as I can. Love to all in Colombia! Blessings Wendy By the way...our case worker who was with Common Wealth Adoptions (Our adoption agency that went under) is great! If anyone knows how we might be able to help with a position and prayers for her and her family would be great!

Friday, August 15, 2008

School's In

Well, school starts Monday! The kids have had their physicals and we went school supplies/clothes shopping yesterday. We went to several stores...JP missed his nap. They were so was "are we going home now?" We would answer, No not yet a couple more stores. They would reply oh no....aye yi yi yi yi! :). Maria finally has her teacher's name and will be 3 doors down from her Aunt Trish (Bilingual/Teaches speach). She is excited. JP starts with his teacher who is a little nervous as this is her first Spanish student (has had other ethnic children before but, first spanish). She is super sweet and stopped by the house for an hour to get aquainted with him. Her assistant is from Venezuela and is bilingual so will be big help. Both are looking forward to seeing him in school. Thats it for now.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The First 3 Weeks

Hey Everyone! I have yet to get my network set back up at home so bare with me a little longer. We have been working on getting the kids ready for school. J.P. will be starting VPK at the methodist church. He will have an English speaking teacher who has a bilingual assistant. She will be making a visit to our home tomorrow to meet J.P. to introduce herself to him. Maria will be attending public school with our niece, Taylor, she starts first grade. Her aunt is bilingual and is the Speach pathologist at the school so she will be onsite if we need her.

I will try to get things up soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Christina & Nickhil Get tHeir Sentencia

Thanks for all your prayers! Christina and Nick got their sentencia! She will be traveling home with him on Saturday. Please keep them in their prayers for safe travel.

We are having home network issues so I have not been able to update on the Canuels.
Will try to get us back up this weekend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The First Days

The kids just went crazy in awe when we got them home. They loved their rooms. After breakfast we took a drive out to my sister's house as they were not able to meet us when we came home yesterday (Sunday night). It was too late for their kids. The kids swam at their house for a little while. Michelle (an "aunt") made finger foods for the kids for lunch. Then it was off to the beach. They were so funny....Maria ran down to the water and was not afraid of the waves. J.P. on the other hand didn't really want to and only got his feet wet. They both loved digging in the sand and loved how it felt between their toes. We met Aunt Trish and Uncle Joe and cousin Taylor for Pizza at Bizzarro's for pizza. The kids love pizza. After pizza we went over to Taylor's house and the kids went swimming. Maria wanted to stay and play for a little while and it was time for J.P.'s nap. We took J.P. home to take his nap. Later when he woke up we went to pick up Maria at Joe & Trish's. (Trish is bilingual and has been a big help translating and teaching good manners & how toos.) When we got to Joe and Trish's however, Maria wanted to ride in the car with Taylor to go get ice cream. After icecream it was home for bed. We'll write more later.