February 3, 2015 § 11 Comments

We have been HOME together now for 7 and 1/2 months, the same amount of time we were stuck in the Congo. Fifteen months ago today we flung open the screen door to our hotel room and welcomed our precious little girl into our arms forever. She was worth several long years of what seemed to be an endless winter season in our lives, snowed in with the uncertainty and despair that international adoptions hold. But we always held on to HOPE and tried to trust God’s timing. We knew all along that she must be something pretty special for us to have to go through everything we went through. And now, finally, she is ours and we are completely enamoured and ensconced in just being together!


 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12



Pre Travel Prep

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Over the past couple of years I have been scouring the internet for useful adoption information and like our resident squirrel, have been collecting and storing away these ideas & lists in my little “tree den”.

Here is a conglomerate to-do list that I’ve made that is useful for up to 2 months before you travel to pick up your kits & pups (baby squirrels:) Planning the timing for international adoption can be artful, so take a look at the list and see if you can knock some of the list off as you wait.


2 months prior to travel:
_      Vaccinations (Yellow Fever required for DRC)_      Fill prescriptions

_      Check the expiration date of your passport

_      Child and pet care arrangements

_      Arrange for someone to mow grass/remove snow

_      Get travel insurance

_      Get maps

_      Set monthly bills to auto-credit or pre-authorized-debit

_      Make all necessary online purchases (give yourself up to 6 weeks delivery time)

_      Write down PIN codes and passwords to credit/debit cards etc, and store them in a safe place in your home or leave them with a trusted friend/family member.

_      Leave photocopies of visas and passports (including your child’s) along with photocopies of travel insurance, flight itineraries and your hotel reservations with your emergency contact

_      Make some freezer meals

_      Load ipod/smartphone/tablet with music, audio books, ebooks and children’s games/apps


BesideTheWillowTree, etsy.com

BesideTheWillowTree, etsy.com

2 weeks prior to travel:

_      Order new (2006 bills and newer) unmarked American cash from your bank ($100s for lodging, $50s for groceries and larger items at the market, $20s & $5s most helpful for everyday)

_      Pay the rent and other necessary bills

_      Hold or forward delivery of snail mail, newspapers and magazines (or arrange for someone to collect it regularly)

_      Balance your bank account

_      Submit any outstanding health insurance claims and set up direct deposit

_      Call airline or go online to choose your seats (back row best for travelling with young children)

_      Unlock your credit card for use in other countries

_      Register with Foreign Affairs (Registration of Canadians Abroad, http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration)

_      Install car seat

_      Cut extra house keys

_      Collect care packages from other AP’s in your area to take to their children

_      Print off the International Adoption Travel Packing List (coming soon!) and purchase all necessary items (medications, etc.)

_      Start packing 


Immediately prior to travel: 

_      Wash the dishes

_      Laundry

_      Empty all trash cans

_      Yard work (mow grass, tidy up yard, put out garbage)

_      Plant care

_      Empty your fridge of perishables

_      Store away things that are easy to steal (electronics, jewelry)

_      Unplug electrical stuff

_      Turn down (or up, depending on where you live) the temperature in your home

_      Turn down the temperature on your water heater

_      Confirm airline tickets

_      Install/recharge batteries

_      Clean out your wallet

_      Leave expensive watches and jewelry at home

_      Hide and/or handout a house key


Now excuse me, I have some Pre-Travel Prepping to do!






October 23, 2013 § 4 Comments

“The state or period of partial darkness between day and night; the dark part of twilight.”


Coffee and Jesus. Our two lifelines right now.

Coffee to cure the zombie-like state that occurs from staying up through most of the night to catch communications with contacts in Congo. (They are 7 hours ahead).

And Jesus—-well, He is the man, and a must.

We are in between day and night right now; The sun is yet to rise, and the night bird sings her song.

There is no confirmation yet of whether we will receive an exit permit (issued by DRC authorities for adoptees to leave the country) for Hoo-Z, but there is hope for those who have had their child’s visa & Bordereau Letter (very important paper issued by the DRC Ministry of Gender & Families and stamped by various officials) issued prior to the September 25, 2013 cut off date. Us!


The circumstances are still obscure, so a tinge of twilight is what we will go on.

We applied for our travel visas and are starting to pack…it is enthralling to think that this time next week we could be waking up in a hotel (coincidently called “Sunny Days”) in the capital of Congo with OUR daughter!

Until dawn,


The Band of Adoptive Moms

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am very proud to be part of a special group of women who are tough as grit with hearts of gold—I’ll call them The Band of Adoptive Moms.

Although we are virtually connected and for the most part have never met in person, we share a bond like no other. We also share virtual hugs, drinks, high fives, tears and rants—on a daily basis—as we fight to bring our darling hooz home.

Never “judgy” but ever supportive and encouraging. These women would give a kidney or grow a moustache if it would get their kids home quicker. Daily defeats just make them all the more resilient. They may (most certainly) get knocked down, but they always bounce back up. Unstoppable they are!

Down The Clown

We have been through hell and high water together and one day down the road when we all have our babies home with us and have finally gotten ourselves together to arrange that play date we have been planning for years, we will embrace (probably for several minutes) and then share a knowing look. Words won’t be needed any longer, just smiles, and the knowledge that we understand each other. We are also aware of the new set of difficulties each member of the Band now faces. Whether it be hair care, attachment disorders, malnutrition, grief, night terrors, language barriers, the list will go on…but it doesn’t matter…after all we have been through—we feel we can handle anything.

I’ve heard a saying that if you are going through hell, keep going.

disney quote

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

It has been most difficult news to swallow for my Band that the DGM has suspended issuing exit letters for all adoptive children that did not have their visas prior to September 25th. We were lucky enough to have our daughter’s visa as of September 18th. In a time of such devastation for my friends, they were somehow able to sincerely rejoice with me. I weep for them and their children that may not be able to come home to “mama” & “tata” for another year now.

Friendship doubles your joy and divides your sorrow. ~ Unknown

Needless to say I feel very blessed to have these wonder women in my life and I so look forward to that play date in the park when we can all meet F2F!

You know hoo youz are, XOXO









October 4, 2013 § 4 Comments

 As I sit to write I can hear the rhythmic tick-tocking of two of my clocks. One in the kitchen and one in the living room. They seem to be two-stepping to a tune unsung. The significance of each second goes ultimately unnoticed as seconds turn into minutes, and minutes morph into months.



Timing has effected us big time throughout this adoption process.

When we first started the process, things were going quickly. People were completing the process and getting their children home in under 1 year. We were within 2 months of submitting our paperwork to make this type of timeframe. (Well hoo ever really knows, right?) Then things came to a screeching halt for referrals. And we waited for over 648,000 seconds for a referral. That is more time than the whole process was previously taking.

Plot Twist


The last couple of weeks have been very eventful for us. Let’s take a close look at our timeline:

09/20/13 – Two weeks ago, this Friday, our daughter’s visa was approved by the Canadian Embassy (CIC) in Nairobi. 

We start making travel plans.

09/21/13 – The very next day Islamic militants claim the lives of 67 people in a terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi.

09/23/13 – On Monday we receive notice that the CIC is closed and will only resume working at a minimum. One of their staff had been tragically killed in the attack.

09/24/13 – Our documents miss going out in the weekly diplomatic mail to the embassy in Kinshasa due to the closure.

09/27/13 – The DRC Immigration authorities announce they are suspending issuance of exit permits to adoptees. This means that we will not be able to bring Z home yet as she will need this exit letter in order to leave the country. According to the inter-country adoption notice, this suspension is for 2 weeks up to 12 months.

*Wide spread panic amongst those in the DRC adoption process.

10/03/13 – Our agency sends out an email saying that they are not advising any of their clients to travel due to the suspension.

It has been 2 weeks since we got word that we are set to go. What a wild 2 weeks! So currently we are still getting our travel plans in order in the hope that this ban is lifted, or that cases that are as far along as ours will be let through.

Two weeks to 12 months is a pretty vague timeframe. Is there any way at all that we can make good on more waiting (we were so close!) ?

True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Squeeze the day,



Palm Springs

September 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

We wanted to take off one last time before we would have to relinquish our passports for our DRC travel visa applications. Palm Springs proved to be the perfect 5-day getaway, just a short 3.5 hour flight from Edmonton: Guaranteed good shopping (vintage shops and outlet malls,) sunshine (sunny 300+ days a year) and 100 degree temperatures in September.


The resort city is an oasis of palms situated in the Sonoran Desert of California. Early spanish explorers referred to the area as “the palm of God’s hand”. Charming analogy.

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, California

Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, California

I’m intrigued at how resilient these palm trees as well as other desert vegetation are to the drought-like conditions of the area. Things grow–and thrive–in these conditions!

Us at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Us at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offered elevated views of the valley from 8500 feet above the desert floor. The rock face up the mountainside was painted in God’s own graffiti with a spectrum of colourful lichen.


Tramway views of the lichen

Tramway views of the lichen

During this adoption process I’ve been reading a daily devotional called “Streams in the Desert“. I’d recommend it for anyone going through tough times or for those who just want to dig their roots in deeper. The devotional draws out strength from scripture, is adorned with beautiful prose, and provides “water” to a weary soul with its graceful and encouraging entries.

Coincidently, tomorrows reading is about the yellow lichen…

“It is a remarkable occurrence of nature that the most brilliant colors of plants are found on the highest mountains, in places that are the most exposed to the fiercest weather. The brightest lichens and mosses, as well as the most beautiful wildflowers, abound high upon the windswept, storm-ravaged peaks…which shone in the sunshine like a golden wall protecting an enchanted castle. Amid the loneliness and bareness of that high altitude and exposed to the fiercest winds of the sky, the lichen exhibited glorious color it has never displayed in the shelter of the valley…”

Poolside bliss, sunnies and frozen coffees aside, Palm Springs was all we had hoped for and more. It was metaphorically a stream in the desert just when we needed recharging for the next leg in our journey. Let it begin!



Get Glad!

September 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

I wonder if there is an equivalent word to “Bridezilla” for an AP (Adoptive Parent) going cah-razy during the eleventh hour of the pre-placement period.

This is how we are feeling about our agency!

^ This makes me think of how we currently feel about our agency.

There is much high pitched incomprehensible banter between Jamie and myself and other APs these days. A passerby might see flailing arms and angry tears (the kind that spurt straight out) and loving sighs and tears of gladness (the kind that gracefully roll) all in the same short conversation. That would be  just another set of wired APs doing their thang.

We are experiencing equal bouts of excitement and angst: We could be with our daughter right now, but we can’t. There is more paper and forms to fill out and more waiting for approvals from the powers that be—just to travel!  BUT, we hope to be on a bird by the end of October.

UrbanBirdandCo - Etsy

UrbanBirdandCo – Etsy

Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars. – Gilbert Parker

Almost there,


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