unfinished paperwork

by Kayla Raymond

Webert and I have literally been working on some type of paperwork since the day we wed. From his visa to a medical visa for Chedline to guardianships, passports, visas and adoptions for our three, we could write an entire book on it all.

What most people believe is that our adoptions have been finalized, but they aren’t and this blog is about just that.

To start this story we must go back to July 2016. We had spent the first six months of that year getting together all the legal papers to gain guardianship of our three kids. It was no small task as all the biological parents needed updated paperwork and one of that moms was MIA for a few of those months, no where to be found. We finally handed in all the paperwork for our guardianships and faced some roadblocks there, but that’s for a different day. We were finally granted and given guardianship of the kids in June. With the guardianship, we moved forward making passports for them.

Sidenote: I was pregnant with Rubie during all of this, so the goal was to have all of their visas by the time she arrived, October 2016.

Loveson’s passport was lost in the immigration system not once or twice, but THREE times! Yes, we paid for his passport to be made three different times; Webert spent a ridiculous amount of time at the immigration office waiting to receive it and when we finally were handed the document, his name was spelt wrong. Haiti at its finest, folks.

We were running out of time to get all the visas completed at that point, so we decided to apply for their visitor visas with a misspelled name. The kids were granted visitor visas and traveled to America for the first time, thirteen days before Rubie’s arrival and as hurricane Matthew made its way towards the island. If you haven’t learned this yet, we like to keep things extra stressful in our family, too!

Fast forward to June 2018. We completed an updated psych evaluation, home visit and a few other things in order to hand in our fully completed adoption dossier. Since, the Haitian government had made the mistake on Loveson’s passport, we didn’t think we would have an issue, but that joke was on us. The people reviewing our adoption dossier told us that all the documents needed to have the same spelling, but since the passport held Loveson’s American visa, we couldn’t risk losing that document, so we spent the next four months redoing Loveson’s birth certificate and his archives paper (a document that basically records the birth certificate a second time). We had to have his parents sign off on these papers and they live over three hours into the mountains and are not only hard to visit but just as hard to get a hold of over the phone.

We finally got all of his papers adjusted and on a Tuesday morning in March, we headed to social services with all of our kids’ biological parents to have them sign a final paper with social services, making our adoptions one step closer to completion.

A meeting was held with all of them that Webert and I could not be a part of. We patiently waited on metal chairs while everyone was inside. The meeting was to explain to the bio parents what the completion of the adoption meant and the way the social worker worded things led Loveson’s parents to believe they would never see him again. They were told they would never be able to talk to him and wouldn’t even know where he would be living after the papers were signed. Of course, in an international adoption setting, this would be true. But in our case, this was far from he truth. We have had a relationship with his family since we found them in 2014, which was two years after he came into our care. He’s been in our home since 2012 and we have gone to visit his family several times and they have come to see our home as well.

Loveson’s mom came out of the meeting with arms flailing, exclaiming she would never be signing any papers. As you can imagine, my heart shattered and our world collapsed a bit in that hot, empty hallway. I calmly tried to explain to her the difference in our situation and that she would always be able to see, talk to and know Loveson. She didn’t want to hear a word we had to say. We asked them if they wanted Loveson back and they were quick to respond “no” but they were adamant that they wouldn’t be signing the paper.

Them not signing this paper has resulted in a complete stalemate for our process. Over the summer, we were able to get final signatures from Jephte and Wishla’s parents, but their dossiers won’t be finalized until Loveson’s are. Social services gave us the ultimatum that we finalize Jephte and Wishla’s to only abandon and not adopt Loveson or we continue working towards Loveson’s completion and all three will be done together.

March, and the months to follow, were an emotional rollercoaster as we moved forward making decisions about the current season we are now in. I’ve chosen to keep this process private up to this point because it’s just too hard to talk about and I’ve never wanted the kids to overhear us talking about the situation and have them be fearful for their futures. The boys are aware of the situation, but we have been careful about what we share with them.

I continue to fight with God on all of this. Taking in these kids were life-altering, faith-abiding, scary decisions. From the very beginning of all the paperwork, we have faced constant roadblocks. The days we have spent going to the social services office and the resources we have had to use to get us to this point have been a much bigger sacrifice than we ever thought. The process has felt like an uphill battle against the system and has been beyond exhausting. I just want to know what is has to be so hard!

There were definitely days when I didn’t even know if Loveson would be able to remain a part of our family. After seven years of having him in our home, I can’t imagine my life without him. His bio family has never asked us for anything nor have they ever shown any interest in wanting him back. Why they won’t sign this paper is still beyond me as they have yet to give a good reason.

Their lives are so much different than ours as they really are “mountain people”. Their culture is much different than even the culture in Simonette, where we live. Loveson’s grandpa put him in the orphanage when he was less than two years old because he had fuzzy hair and there were voodoo threats being made against his life. I’ll never be able to understand any of that. I still look at him and can’t fathom what he went through just to survive to the day when we first met. He was four years old, sixteen pounds and I dressed him in 18 month onesies. I’ll never forget the first pair of shoes I gave him, a pair of brown tennis shoes with two white stripes. He basically wore them to bed. He was the goofiest looking kid and could barely run because he was so weak and small. But, he has radiated this light of joy since that very first day.

I have to believe there’s a reason to all the hardship. Nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. Even now, at such a young age, Loveson makes an impact every where we go. The way he cares for people; the way he fills an entire room with his jokes and energy; the way his hips move; the way he will randomly just yell at me, “I LOVE YOU” – I can barely stand how much he has impacted my life nor can I stand the fact that after all this time he still is not legally mine.

I hate that I have no say in this. His parents still have the rights in how this story ends. I hate how broken the system is, not just for Loveson, but for all the kids in Haiti. I hate that I can’t pull together a whole army of people to testify for Loveson and how he should be a part of our family. I hate how every mama instinct in me feels, knowing I can’t do anything about this all except trust it will all just work out – which is just crap sometimes. I feel like a bratty teenager when I say that, but it’s true. All of it’s just crap and I don’t know why it has to be so hard!

Somehow, though, God does…He really does…I don’t just say this to wrap up a long blog with words that can leave us feeling better. He does stay faithful. I don’t know yet the ending to our adoption story. I know God didn’t call us to adopt or form our family in the untraditional way He did or provide for us in all the millions of ways He has for this to end up not working out. There’s a reason for all the crap, whether its a generational curse that goes back to the voodoo threats made against Loveson as a baby or Satan’s way of trying to defeat us and make us give up. We recognize that and continue to move forth, in faith, that God will pave a way to the completion of our adoptions.

Welcome to life in limbo. It’s complicated here.

Like I mentioned yesterday, we have decided to move forward with Webert’s green card application, which will give him residency status in the States and allow him to travel back and forth more freely. This was a hard decision for us to make as we still have these unfinished papers in Haiti. We continue working with two trusted social workers in Haiti who hope to meet with Loveson’s family before the end of the year to advise them to move forward signing the papers. If the papers do get signed, I may have to make a trip to Haiti by myself in order to get the papers signed by a judge and the thought of doing that without Webert about scares the crap out of me, but if that’s what it takes, I’ll do it. We may just have to wait until we go back next summer to do anything at all. We aren’t sure! It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but we think it was the right one since Webert’s visa expires next fall and we needed to prioritize that.

Again, we like to keep things stressful and complicated!

So, if you could just pray. Pray that Loveson’s parents would have a change of heart and decide to sign the papers. Pray Webert’s green card application can go through quickly so we can make plans to travel back to Haiti for the summer vacation. Pray our summer vacation would result in finished adoptions!