Monday, December 10, 2012

Hugo's Passport is printed!!!!

I am a few weeks late on this but things have been hectic and I have neglected my posting duties.

Our passport application was submitted at the end of October to Haitian immigration for Hugo's passport.  Based on other timelines and families that have been going through this process ahead of us, we didn't really think that we would be hearing about Hugo's passport for a couple months.   Plus, in this process, nothing has happened in the timeframes we have been given.  It is the world of adoption.  Internationally.  Our experience has taught us to have hope but not to have true expectations for when things might happen.  Because nothing goes as planned.

So the Tuesday before Thanksgiving we were getting ready to head to Disneyland with Adriana for the holiday.  Adriana and I were heading to have lunch with my mom and I got a phone call from our agency.   First off, they never call so when I saw CCAI on my phone, I panicked.  I can count on 1 hand the times I have talked to them on the phone. It isn't bad, we just do most communication through email.  So when I saw them calling, I got super nervous.  Just panicky.  (I should also tell you they have never called me with bad news.  I just always assume it is.)

I answered and heard on the other end, a truly excited voice from our wonderful dossier manager, Kim.  She said she didn't want to share this news over email so she called.  Then told me that Hugo's passport had been printed!  She was sending me a picture of it but wanted to let me know as soon as possible.

I can't really describe what I felt in that moment.  3 weeks to get a passport was seriously not heard of.  I wasn't expecting it.  And I was so happy, shocked and just overwhelmed.  My head just kept repeating "he will be home soon!  It is coming true.  It is happening."  I felt so happy.  But couldn't really talk or function.  Just silent.   I truly wonder what I will do when we find out it is time to go get him.  Pass out?  Wreck my car?  I better pull over before I take that call.

So this phone call has truly been my favorite one so far.  We are so much closer to getting our boy home.

We have 1 step left.   We just have to get the US immigration to approve our petition and get Hugo a VISA appt so we can get his VISA to get him into the US.   This step shouldn't, in theory, take too long.   But as we learned, nothing is what is expected.    We were told about 3 weeks ago that our file was going to be submitted to the Embassy in Haiti.  And here we sit 3 weeks later and that still hasn't happened.  We truly hoped for a end of the year homecoming, but at this point, that will not happen.  We found out last week there are mistakes in our file and that it has to be fixed before the US will accept.  We truly have no idea what they are or how long it may take to fix them.

So now we sit and wait.  We pray and hope for good news to come that our file will be submitted.  And we hope it comes soon.  Until then we will be thankful we are this far.  And that Hugo is our son.  I can't ask for a better gift than that.            

Monday, October 29, 2012

7 Degrees of Adoption Waiting

So every day of waiting for this adoption to be complete, I think of some new silly, and usually weird and off the wall, thing to keep me sane.  I barter.  I think that if I make certain plans, Hugo will come home faster.  I tried the whole "build it and he will come" campaign with his room.  That one was good.  It took up a lot of time and kept me occupied so I wouldn't sit around and wonder why we weren't hearing anything. It didn't bring him home but the reward of that task was really productivity.

Today I was thinking about all the different emotions I feel on a daily basis.  All the different "seasons" of adoption.  And this list popped into my head.  I think I have felt all of these.  And not always in order.  Sometimes I feel more of them at the same time.

So I thought I would share.

The 7 Degrees of Adoption Waiting

1. Elation - Look at my beautiful kid(s)!!!!

2. Sadness - It is so hard to be away from this beautiful kid(s).

3. Anger - It is so wrong that I have to wait so long to begin my daily life with this beautiful kid(s).

4. Indifference and Despair - Whatever.  That beautiful kid(s) is never coming home.  No matter what I do.

5. Stage 1 Insanity - This feels hopeful.  I have a renewed sense of energy for this fight for my beautiful kid(s).  (This is also accompanied with what I like to call a degree of bat shit craziness.)

6. Desperation and The Bad Place -  Making crazy bargains or declarations in hopes that the adoption Gods will cut me some slack and send that beautiful kid(s) home.

7. Stage 5 Insanity - This you never return from.  Welcome to your new normal.

Of course this all in fun.  I know that all of this is worth it.  Worth every moment of waiting to get to be the mommy of that beautiful boy.

This is just a piece of my crazy while I am waiting...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our September trip

Every trip we go on I do a slideshow.  I wasn't going to this time.  I am not sure why.  I am having a harder time recovering from leaving Hugo on this trip than I ever have before.  So much sadness.  It just seemed like too much.

But today I was inspired by this song.  I love it and I sing it to Hugo every night and hope he can always feel my love.  I don't know why it didn't hit me before to use it.  But I am glad to be inspired by it today.

Godspeed little man
Sweet dreams little man
My love will fly to you each night on angel's wings

We love you Hugo.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My favorite update to far

I haven't done any updates this summer.  Partly because we haven't really had any news to share.  Partly because I decided we would never hear an update again.  (Rational, that is me).  We did get an update that didn't end up being true.  And it hurt.  And it was hard but we let it go and moved on.  And waited.

Then one glorious Friday, I was sitting on the couch actually looking at Fantasy Football stats and I got an email that said, "Congratulations on getting your decree."  I immediately freaked and asked if that was for reals (I am an English teacher's worst nightmare).   Then 5 minutes later I received an attachment on an email that was the most beautiful paper I have ever seen.

It was our ADOPTION DECREE!!!!!!!  Hugo is now officially, Huguenson Etchepare.  

I am fairly sure I jumped around for the rest of the day.  I made a lot of calls.  Sent emails.  Cried.  Laughed and felt like a great weight that I had been carrying around all summer had been lifted.   We had a long and somewhat crappy summer.  Rob and I have been pretty happy to put this summer behind us.  But it ended with Hugo officially becoming our son.  The absolute sweetest and happiest moment in this journey.  

We still have a few steps before we get him home.  And we know that it will be long and most likely get frustrated a few times again.  

But for now we are happy.  We leave to see Hugo in 19 days and we cannot wait to hug him!  

Below are pics from the August Birthday celebration where Hugo got cake and was able to celebrate turning 2!!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Chicken Pox

So a couple weeks ago I got the dreaded email, Hugo has chicken pox.  Attached was a cute picture of him head to toe covered in baby powder.  And a note that it doesn't seem to be getting him down.  Just a tad bit itchy.

He is young and his case was mild.  And well, now the chicken pox are over and he will never worry about having them again.   But the mom part of my heart had a really hard time with this.  I know he did ok, and had many people loving on him and taking care of him.  And I am so thankful and grateful for the beautiful women that love on my boy every day and make sure he is cared for.  But the selfish part of me wanted to be there to hold him and help him through each itch and love on him to take it away.

But as you can see, he seems to be doing ok.  They had a special birthday celebration for Naika and the kids with chicken pox got a special treat.  And there is nothing Hugo loves more than cake!  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Surprise May trip to Haiti

Here are some pics from my most recent, and very last minute, trip to Haiti in May.

I was asked on a Thursday if I wanted to go on Sunday, and after 2 days of planning, babysitting set up, emotional breakdowns and guilt, I booked on Friday and left Sunday.  It was so last minute and 100% of out character for me but I am so glad I did it and had such an amazing time.  Thanks to the wonderful and amazing Kelly, my most loving and awesome friend.

Story to come with all the details but right now, here are some of my favorite moments that Kelly so beautifully captured.

 Together again

Kelly and I 

Say aaahhhhhh 

 I love this boy!!

 Dude, get my ball

Mommy pick me up!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming out on the other side

Since June of 2011, we have been waiting to get out of IBESR, aka the black hole of Haitian adoption. In the beginning, we were told this part of the process could take anywhere from 4 months to 24. It is quite a range and a little intimidating. It also earned its name as once you are in IBESR, there is no update on your file until you are approved. So you can virtually be sitting with radio silence for a really long amount of time.

I have posted a few times about it. Many people that went through this process right after the earthquake were out in 4 months or less. Pretty amazing. So in my head, I automatically thought this would go fast for us too. 4 months came and went. 5 months....6 get the picture.

March 6th we hit 9 months of waiting. Which if you look at the timeline, isn't truly that long. But when your heart aches for your child, it seems like an eternity.

Last Friday we got amazing news, we got an email with our IBESR receipt and the most lovely words "The Etchepare's are out of IBESR and en route to Parquet!" To say that Rob and I were excited is an understatement. I may have screamed and cried a lot of happy tears in Target (and scared some people around me). It was truly a great day!!!!!!!!

So we have 1 step down and a few more to go. Unfortunately this doesn't mean Hugo will be home in the next couple months. But it is a big step to getting us closer to getting him home. I feel like we have come out on the other side with this step and that is progress. It has done a lot for our hearts, our minds and helping in keeping us going in a positive direction.

We still will have frustrations and have to remember to have patience a lot in the upcoming months, but our file is on the move and right now that is all we can ask for. We are so thankful for this little boy and he is worth the wait.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

While my Hugo gently sleeps

I get a lot of photos of Hugo sleeping. The boy likes to sleep. This photo is from this week. My dear friend Jen is at the orphanage working with the kids and she took this for me. Her goal is to get a picture of him awake and not on the move. Good luck Jen. He has 2 modes. Asleep or wild man. :) Love that boy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rubble Wear

When I first went to Haiti in July, I bought this necklace that was made by the nannies at the orphanage out of the rubble from the earthquake. It is one of my most favorite possessions. Not only because it is beautiful, but because it is made by the nannies that love on my boy and the proceeds go back to the nannies to help support their families.

When I went to Haiti in January, I met the awesome lady, Kelly, that works for the Oak Project, the organization that created the idea of these necklaces and learned the story of how they came to be. It just made me love my necklace even more. I also got to meet Glorieuse, who is the creative mind behind the necklaces that you see above. They are called Rubble Wear and I brought some home to see if my friends and family would like to buy some and support these amazing woman. I sold the original batch I bought immediately and received some more last week. I am very grateful to all my friends and family that have supported this project. Click here for the story of how this all came to be.

One thing that stands out about Maison is that the care that the children receive. I could tell when I first went there in July and when I saw how Hugo lit up when he saw his caretakers. They love our children and I could not ask for anything more for him. He is loved and he loves.

I still have some necklaces left. If you are interested in purchsing one, please send me an email at and I will send you pictures of the necklaces I have left. They are $25 and all money received goes back to the Oak Project and the nannies.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Latest Picture of our Boy

I got this photo from the orphanage last week. We call it "Camo Hugo" as that shirt makes him blend into the wall. It is awesome. What makes me happier (and I am not sure why) but this is a shirt I bought for Hugo for my trip and sent it to the orphanage with him when I left. And it makes me furiously happy to see him in it.

We also got an update that he is now participating in more songs and games at school each day. I have this picture of his defiance for these things and watching him slowly giving in to having fun. When it is probably just because he is getting acclimated to being a part of a school type setting, I like my picture better. It just means he will fit in so well here. My little rebel. It just makes me more excited to get him home and get to know and see his personality on a daily basis. I already have bits and pieces from our trip that I have molded together. I am really ready to see the whole picture.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Not So Fun Anniversaries

So today we hit a date that I am not particularly happy about. As of today, we have officially been in IBESR (Haitian Social Services) and awaiting approval so we can move forward in the adoption process for 8 months. When I say 8 months it doesn't seem like a truly long time. But when you live 8 months, waiting for an email or a phone call that you have moved forward, it gets long! It has has been 8 months since we have had any update on our adoption file because nothing happens until we get out of IBESR. And when I think of it that way, it feels even longer.

At the end of last week I was stuck on a very low point in all of this. Not only had my patience run out, I was very angry. Mad at the world. Mad at Haiti. Mad at everything. Just so upset that I have to keep living life without one huge part of it with me. I didn't want to make plans. I didn't want to move forward at all. Because it feels unfair to move forward without Hugo here with us. We talked of things to do as a family and it just made me more upset. This happens a lot but never quite as severely as it hit me last week. I even got to a point that I didn't believe that he was ever coming home. That is when Rob stepped in. He is pretty good about staying silent and letting me vent or do my crazy mom thing. But he calmly talked to me and said, without any doubt or uncertainty, that Hugo will be home someday and things will be ok. He is the rock. He is the level headed one that will keep me from being committed.

And I know that what he was saying is true. I feel that in my heart. I feel guilt for losing faith in all this. And the guilt I felt for feeling like he would never be here, was a little overwhelming. But the sad fact in all of this is that anger does nothing productive. Sure, it makes me crazy and a little scary to be around, but who wants that? It does nothing to move things forward or bring Hugo home. So I had to let it go. I have to move forward. Because that is the only thing that makes sense and is fair to Adriana, Rob and me. And to Hugo. He deserves for me to stay strong and positive and productive in this journey to get him home.

So today I am trying to change my attitude, not let the demons get the best of me. To move forward on a positive note. The 8 month mark is not really helping that. But we knew that this could take long. Our time frame for IBESR was 4 months to 24. So the reality is, we are not even half way to the worst case scenario. But as with everything, I saw people getting through this part in 2 to 4 months and it gave me hope that it would happen for us too. But it hasn't. And well. I have to be ok. I have no other option.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My beautiful boy

Here is my favorite picture from my trip. Hugo and I really had a lot of fun and silly times together (as well as some challenging ones..which I honestly loved because it just made me feel like his momma).

I have debated doing a slide show about this trip since I don't have as many pictures, but it seems to be good therapy for me so I think one will come soon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Heading back to Haiti

This Sunday I will be heading back to Haiti to visit my sweet boy. I am really excited but also a little sad as Rob is not going with me. Because of work and so we don't strain our family babysitting resources, Rob has decided to stay home and take care of Adriana while I go. I will miss him and he will miss having his time with Hugo, but I think this begins the parental split of having multiple children. We must learn to use our time wisely especially until Hugo gets home. For both our kids' sakes. Our split though just happens to cross international waters. :)

We have no real update on our adoption. We continue to be in IBESR. We are closing in on 8 months and while we were told it would take anywhere from 4 months to 24, we were hoping to be on the lower end of that timeframe. I am really hoping we hear something soon. It is hard to go month after month without any news. But I am very thankful for these trips and that we are lucky enough to be able to go and see Hugo as much as we can. It is a blessing.

Some great news on the adoption front for some other families though. A group of families adopting from our orphanage have received their adoption decrees and that means that in the eyes of Haiti, their children's adoptions are finalized and they are awaiting for their passport and Visa to come home. I am so excited and happy for these families. Their kids are amazing and deserve to get home to their loving families. It is a great week for the adoption world as a whole. Hoping for some more good news for other families waiting too. But seeing these families complete the process brings hope to everyone waiting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Taken by a mission group, Grangou, that was in Haiti for Christmas and had a Christmas party for the children at the orphanage
December 2011

December 2010

Much of my time is spent on the internet. For many reasons. But I spend an insane amount of my spare time searching for pictures of Hugo on the internet. Facebook, You Tube, Blogs. All of it. Many mission teams visit Maison throughout the year and many have photo albums of the children as well as video. So much of my time is spent going through strangers photos and videos just for a glimpse of him. Our Team Haiti group is also amazing at finding new Facebook albums for us to go through. It sounds a little crazy to spend my time going through things. But it truly does make me feel connected to Haiti and the orphanage.

I have only found the above pictures of Hugo in all of these albums but it also makes me very happy to see all of the other children that live with him. To see pictures of my friend's children they are waiting to adopt and some of the faces of the kids that we fell in love with on our trips. Hugo is not the only Haitian kid that consumes my thoughts on a daily basis. I feel so much love for so many of the children there. They are all beautiful, charming, happy children and to be around them is truly a gift. I would venture to say Rob agrees with me as on our last trip, I sent him for pics and he came back with an arm full of kid. :)

The last picture above is a picture I found right before Christmas. This picture is most special to me because it was the very first picture we received of Huguenson and the picture that grabbed us, pulled us in and started the process of us falling in love with him. It was taken in December of 2010 when he was 4 months old. I absolutely love it. When we received his information the picture was in a word document and not great quality. But it is the only picture we have of Hugo before he was 6 months old. His only true baby/newborn picture we will ever have of him. So when I found it, I was very excited. It was taken by a photographer that visited Haiti and took photos for the orphanage. I contacted her to see if I could buy a digital copy or prints of this picture and any other she may have. She is such a nice lady and is going to look and see if she has anymore of him to send to me. She has no idea how much this means to me. But I will make sure she knows.

Happy New Year to all the kids at Maison. May this be the year that you get home to your families are find your forever family to love you and care for you.