Two days after our approval for adoption, I learned to crochet. Ironically, I have watched my grandmother do this for at least 35 years of my life. And not once have I learned how to do this.
So now it is time!
And wouldn’t you know – that of all the crazy things in the world – I am actually very good at it. I learned the basics quickly and was learning a new pattern by my 3rd meeting.
Yep, a little blanket completed in less than 2 weeks. Amazing! Especially as I am not crafty. Not. At. All.
So we placed this little blanket with a soft rabbit toy, a wooden car and a photo album of us into a box and shipped it to Ming.
I truly hope that he receives it soon and that it brings some comfort and familiarity to him during this upcoming time of transition. It breaks my heart how much he will have to lose before he can gain his new family.
But we are a family that understands loss, grief, healing and love. It all takes time. That’s what we are planning – to simply be parents for the rest of our lives. To walk through this and much, much more.
It’s a very exciting and overwhelming time here. We are taking many small steps to prepare. Steps to towards hope and discovery. It’s been a very long road. And now the journey truly begins…
Thanksgiving Day 2014 the President announces a moratorium on all international adoptions. Wow.
Just like that.
Amazing, isn’t it? How life just suddenly changes, stops, or surprises us…
Our adoption application to the National Adoption Committee was “next” so we were standing just outside the door.
So after some time (not much) and hopefully a bit of perspective, we decided to NOT give up… Not yet.
The adoption game is not over. We have until November 2015 to get a “referral” to adopt as Swedes. So we have decided to stay on our journey and not stop until our time is up.
However, we are changing our destination.
Next stop – China!
First, we fly back to Costa Rica for a bit more relaxation as our paperwork is processed for adoption from China. I need to surf a bit more and just escape.
Wish us luck. We need it.
Meanwhile, we begin this next chapter in life. Our family is now starting Project FlaMINGo.
We’ll keep you posted.
Nín hǎo China!
We have a tropical garden, listen to the ocean waves, pick bananas from the garden, and hear howler monkeys daily (not to mention a new little rooster nearby – ahum!)
Astrid is in a fantastic new school called La Paz and making new friends. Her English is growing phenomenally and she gets a bit of Spanish too!
We are also part of La Paz’s community and hope to meet many new families also in the many play dates to come.
It’s rainy season so there are very few tourists. Little commotion. Lots of mosquitoes.
Gunnar is in Nairobi having the adventure of a lifetime! We are proud beyond words and listen for all small details. His safari, camping adventure, school lessons and more info on why there are 3 girls to every boy there… It is a good year for him. He deserves this chance to be himself. To grow and live life to the fullest.
Ragna is soon on her way here. Astrid is talking about her constantly and planning to share her bed. Soon Ragna will start her big adventure volunteering around the world. How fantastic! What a great step of independence for her! We are so excited and proud to watch this new adventure. Again, we are proud.
Sigrid is just landing again from her whirlwind tour of Europe with some girlfriends from her Australia travels. She continues to travel and explore while contemplating life, her world, where she is and who she is becoming. It is amazing (and sometimes exhausting) to see all of her ongoing energy. We simply nod our heads in approval and admiration. And more pride here also.
Meanwhile, we are working and tweaking the business. Expanding and such.
I am fighting plantar fasciitis and focusing on me, my feet, my heart and my place in life. Attempting to look inwards. Never an easy feat. Thus, I take small steps in all areas… Careful to tread lightly and consciously in both my physical and spiritual awareness.
Jonas is taking Spanish and learning quickly. He’s also trying to dance salsa. Give him encouragement as he discovers his hips and such. It’s fun to both dance and watch!
Oh yeah. We are still waiting.
Nothing has happened.
We sent our papers in March to the adoption organization with the expectation of them delivering them to the National Adoption Committee in 30 days (as written in the protocol…) But, well, that didn’t happen. They have been backed up since last September. In July they asked for some additional info before transferring our application (we truly hope) to NAC in August.
We are just one of MANY families in a hold pattern. Truly there is nothing we can do.
Wait or quit. Those are our options.
Instead we choose option 3 – Pura Vida.
We will focus on the here. The now. The family we are. The family we are becoming. The family that continues to grow and love and strengthen with each day.
All of this in hopes that we will someday be blessed to join another small being’s family. To come to their world, their life and their culture. To join them.
Meanwhile, we are learning to adapt here. It is a beautiful life. One must simply keep their eyes open.
Love to all! Call us! Email! Stop by!
The news from Little Angels Network is, “The file will be submitted tomorrow (Friday). A lot of our files were still pending at the committee and we did not want to submit more before the backlog was dealt with. Now that they have dealt with most of the back log from last year, we feel more confident submitting the files.”
So that is good news!
Back to packing so we can go to Germany and then Costa Rica…
Today we heard from Kenya. Not the BIG news, but a step forward – we hope!
They have asked for additional information for our adoption application such as our divorce decrees and a Letter of Motivation.
Sooooo, in the middle of packing to move to Costa Rica, I had to rearrange my day to:
- Search the attic for the divorce papers which I packed away long ago – but still have, thank God!
- Frantically write a kick-butt Letter of Motivation – see below.
We don’t know if our adoption papers have been formally given from Little Angels Network (LAN) to the National Adoption Committee (NAC), but we hope so!
As 3 other Norwegian families were approved and notified today, I think this is a good sign.
Let’s keep the hope alive.
Letter of Motivation for Adoption
5 August 2014
We, Jonas and JoEllen Nordström, do hereby declare that both of us have always dreamed of being parents. Before we got married, we both told each other of our hopes to one day be parents together. We dream of providing a loving home to our large family.
We both love children and know how they bring much joy and happiness to daily life and our family. Before we had our biological daughter, we had already discussed adoption as an option as we planned for many children.
Our original family plan for additional children failed when our long-anticipated son died shortly after birth. As we are now infertile, we have a strong motivation to adopt. We are unable to have biological children after 5 miscarriages during the past 4 years and an emergency operation to remove an ovarian cyst. However, we have not given up on our dream.
We know personally that families are built in many different ways, and adoption is one of the positive ways of uniting with our child. We are very comfortable with adoption and promise that we as a family plan to love the child that we adopt as completely as if the child was born of us. Our entire family (Jonas’ older children and our soon 5 year-old biological daughter) longs for a sibling and playmate. We are all waiting eagerly to meet them.
We are also very close to our extended family members and friends who will love the child that we adopt from Kenya and fully accept the child as a family member. Adoption is a great option for becoming a family. We are so thankful for the opportunity being given to us by the government of Kenya to not only adopt a child but to also learn the culture of our new family member by living in Nairobi. In fact, our son is now traveling independently to study at the Swedish School in Nairobi in anticipation of being present for his new brother or sister.
We promise to always love, care, educate and equally provide for this child as our own. We realize that adoption is not the same as having a child biologically. This child will have an additional culture, a unique background, and a former family. We promise to embrace this and help them to understand their history and life story. We will never neglect, harm or abandon the child that we are fortunate enough to adopt.
We have the necessary resources of time, love, energy, and financial stability to raise another child. We promise to love them unconditionally for a lifetime. We wish to build a healthy and trusting relationship which will allow our new child to fully experience the blessings of a forever family.
Ultimately, adoption is more about the child than us. We are committed to providing the necessary foundations for a healthy relationship and a positive outcome. Difficulties will not change our commitment or love.
Thank you for your kind assistance, consideration of our family and dedicated care of our future family member.
Families are being created slowly but surely now. The NAC approved 4 different families in April (woohoo!) and now we are witnessing other families receive news of their new child (barnbesked). It is warming and uplifting.
Dare I say it –
And yet we also see that there was another terrorist attack in Nairobi last week. The warning levels from the US and UK embassies have increased and 5,000 UK tourists returned home. Not to mention all UK tours from 2 major companies were cancelled until October.
Not so hope inspiring.
As we attempt to grow our little family, we must also protect ourselves during the process. To put ourselves in a place where we can grow. To allow our worlds to expand without intentionally playing with fire. I say intentionally because as I have learned, you can NEVER fully protect your child from life. You are never really in control.
Try as you might – You. Are. Never. In. Control.
Tomorrow our papers go to the NAC. It is an honest wish that they would take ours off the top of the pile…ha ha! To get a fast approval and a real timeline of what’s in our future.
To see the child that we would be blessed to have.
However, it will be 2 weeks before news begins to slowly spread regarding the results of the May meeting. As far as I know, it is always a closed meeting. There is no public space where we can read the results. (Imagine – a website that simply put the notes, decisions and results online so that all could publicly read…wow!!!)
And yet, talk here has also started regarding a different path… Jonas wants to consider Zambia. A land that we have not heard about so much in the news… Is this because it is “safer” or because they are being ignored. I don’t know. I only know that we are so “close” and yet we know nothing. It’s something that takes another leap of faith…or is it simply running from the scary, unknown…? I’m not sure.
Those of you with advice, insight or general opinion…you are welcome to share with us. Comment or send us an email. Feels good to talk about it…
For today, I am praying for a fantastic meeting on behalf of the NAC tomorrow. I truly hope that the children of Kenya will quickly find their forever families. That the families will be blessed with their amazing new child / family. That a little love will grow in this very sad world we often encounter.
Personally, I feel like there is a child out there that IF they were to become our family – would be a perfect match. They have suffered a huge loss of their original family. And we have lost part of ours. So there is an understanding and love that is amazingly strong… I just hope that it will happen.
As all our paperwork has been sent to Kenya now, we sit in anticipation and planning. All prospective adoptive families are seeking information so I am sharing this “official” newsletter info that we received (and translated via Google). Perhaps to see that communication with NAC is going forward will be of some comfort to all. Keep the faith!
LAN sent an Easter greeting with information that NAC held a meeting on 18th March and that all applications reviewed at the meeting were approved. However, none were sent from Barnens Vänner. NAC also approves the annual authorization applications from both foreign and domestic adoption agencies, which were reviewed during the same meeting. April’s meeting was scheduled for today, Tuesday, April 29.
Barnens Vänner’s Representative Visit / Journey to Kenya
Lisbeth met with representatives from AC and BFA and had a great trip to Kenya. A general task at similar trips is to provide information about Sweden and adoptions; that our
families are well prepared, investigated and equipped to accommodate a child.
Visit to the Children’s Department in charge of families living at Diani Beach
• The employees take their task very seriously and want to be sure that it is a good solution for the child to be adopted abroad.
• If families live three months on the coast and then move to Nairobi it creates extra work for the authority; they then must speak about how the child has adapted and must do additional home visits to ensure that they provide an accurate assessment to the court.
• They find it disturbing if families contact them in order to speed up their work; they want to have 21 days in which to submit their observations. If a family calls often it can
cause the family to be perceived and judged as unsafe. That some families on the issue of why they have chosen Kenya answer “because it goes fast” is perceived as negative; families need to be able to justify it in another manner. For example it is important to convey that Kenyan adoption is an amazing way to convey the child’s culture of origin to the child (and the surroundings).
• They also point out that families should not compare themselves; each process is unique, both based on the adoptive family and the child to be.
Visit to the Court in Mombasa
• Both lawyers and judges met during the visit before the Court and all were positive set to work with international adoptions.
Visit to the Children’s Department in Nairobi where NAC meeting is held
• Josephine Kemunto Oguye of the Childrens Department and secretary of the NAC informed BV that they have many foreign adoption applications, which means that it can result in prolonged waiting times.
• They also discussed the new guidelines to limit the number of applications by introducing infertility certificates, prioritizing childless couples and that applicants should not adopt a third child to the family.
Visit to the Embassy
• It is important that families should closely follow the security when they are in Kenya by Embassy website and in the news.
Visit to the LAN (Little Angels Network)
• LAN has extended its collaboration with orphanages; about 35 of which about 15 are working with international adoptions
• LAN has a social worker employed in Nyeri, one in Mombasa, two employees in Kisumu and 12 in Nairobi. In Kisumu and Nairobi, both social workers and other office workers . In Nairobi ‘s example, Maureen is in charge of hosting, ie the practical with accommodation / transportation.
The Kenyan Visitors in Stockholm
Josephine Kemunto Oguye from the Children’s Department and the secretary of the NAC was in Stockholm a few weeks after BV’s visit to Kenya. The journey from Kenya to Sweden was to be with the EurAdopt. During her speech at EurAdopt she mentioned that Kenya is revising their guidelines for adoption, that they aim to make it 70 % domestic and 30% foreign adoptions. But she also mentioned the respect for the applicant families’ longing for children, and the “extra miles” they go to adopt when they cannot have biological children. Josephine also mingled with Swedish adoptive families who adopted from Kenya, visited MIA and the social services in Stockholm . She was very positive about all she had to experience and will share this new knowledge with her colleagues.
• Barnens Vänner has introduced infertility certificate requirements for future families who want to adopt from Kenya and that single applicants only are considered for children with special needs.
• Two new applications were sent to Kenya since last time. Both families have a child already.
The NAC in Kenya has set forth new “rules” / guidelines for processing adoption applications such as ours. Online people are talking about Kenya adoption rejections, a long wait time, and fear that it could be worse. It can be worrisome. So today we spoke with our representative to get some firsthand information regarding US and what is happening now. I can say that I feel better.
I am not a fan of relativity with regards to emotions. I would rather say that I feel confident or good, but for now I feel better. Could be nerves in general here…
Anyhow, for all those other families who are waiting just like us, here’s the scoop!
The new committee is meeting once a month. They are working to catch up and she believes that they are sorting through papers in some sort of chronological order.
There was one family rejected within LAN. They did not receive a reason why. Therefore, LAN is in communication with NAC to receive additional information. To receive a rejection without an explanation is not acceptable. They will try to resolve this asap.
The new guidelines are being implemented. However, this month there will be a meeting with LAN and NAC to discuss when they can implement such changes. The families that submitted their dossiers prior to the new committee were in compliance with the active rules/regulations. Thus, LAN’s goal is that a deadline be determined. It is vital for LAN to be able to maintain professionalism with the families they represent. This will be the objective of their next meeting.
LAN will also emphasize the impact such delays have on the children waiting within the orphanages. Again, the emphasis as always will be the chidren. It is important that decisions and actions be made that focus on the best interests of the children – first and foremost. (When I hear this, I always feel more confident with the organization. Yes, as waiting families we can be frustrated. However, as long as the children are best being served, we can remain a bit frustrated.)
It is not common that the entire NAC committee is replaced. Most times there are board members who remain and assist with the transition. This predicament is new and is a result of the election and new governing power. The theory is to avoid any corrupt members remaining. (I have no knowledge of this being an issue but it could be. Who knows…)
Yes, there is a meeting in Stockholm for the European adoption organizations. There are families who have adopted from Kenya being invited in to share their experience. We were advised that it is not a public gathering for families waiting to adopt.
As for us, they are expecting our papers. They will hold our dossier until the infertility certificate and new passport copies arrive. (We hope to pick up these copies with stamps from Notary Public, Foreign Ministry and Kenyan Embassy stamps on Friday.) They will then collate them and submit in May’s meeting to NAC. They stated that they hope our file will come forward in June or July. I think this sounds WAYYYYYYYYYYY too optimistic but it was good to hear anyhow.
We were told that we can go ahead with our plans to move to Nairobi in August. That LAN will meet us and assist with housing regardless if we have received our papers for an adoption. They will still need to approve our home and such so we will simply go forward as planned.
Lastly, Barnens Vänner have not had any rejections as of yet. (AND let’s hope it stays that way forever!) They feel quite confident that LAN is very good at identifying any concerns with paperwork before submitting it to NAC. So…let’s just hope that stays the same for now and the future.
Overall, there wasn’t a huge change in information. However, it always feels best to get the information as directly as possible. Too much chatter on the forums and groups online creates a lot of worry. (And I am sure that I will still watch for information like a hawk there!) But let’s hope that this whole back-up and delay is temporary. Let’s pray that NAC gets the support, strength and direction needed to resolve the problems so that more children can find a home.
We know how it is to lose a child. I hope that we will be able to help a child who is also overcoming such a loss… Together we will become family!
Today we finally heard some “unofficial” news from Kenya regarding us and the ongoing process.
It’s not particularly uplifting so we will continue our application / search and hope for something good.
Our file will be sent to the NAC next month. With the current backlog, I doubt it will be reviewed so we will submit further documentation regarding infertility and our reasons for adopting since we already have one living biological child together and 3 bonus kids. We’ll also send information regarding Kasper’s death due to medical negligence and hope that we get a bit of sympathy.
Anyhow, we just got this information from the Swedish Friends of Children regarding the NEW “rules” of NAC:
Update from the visit to Kenya
NAC is composed of ten members, including doctors, lawyers, representative from the State Department, and representatives from NGOs. Common to all members of the Committee, they have experience working with children.
Every third year members in the NAC are replaced. Autumn 2013 were all members exchanged as a result of new government. The new committee is in a learning process, it takes time before they have found their approach.
We have received indications regarding the following, however, we have no official communication from the Authority to us or our partner organizations directly :
– NAC meets once a month, as previously
– Max 10 applications for inter-country adoption is approved per meeting
– Childless couples have priority
– NO to adopt a third child
– Infertility certificates shall be included in the dossier . The reason for adoption must be clear. NAC wants to understand why you want to adopt a child from Kenya, and if one can smoothly get biological children, they are not a priority.
– An update to the consent investigation (home study) is required if the investigation is over a year old when the file is sent to Kenya
Waiting times at the NAC
With the current situation it is very difficult to know how long our applicants must wait before NAC can get an answer. NAC has many applications waiting for answers and they have not yet had time to go through all the applications received from October 2013 onwards.
Our partner organizations will ask for a meeting with the NAC to get a clarification of the guidelines being implemented.
Applicants who have a priority of NAC may continue to send their documents to Kenya.
Non-priority applicants may contact their respective administrators for a discussion.
We can in the current situation not give any details for specific cases as we must await approval from the NAC .
137 pages in our application! That is the result.
But what is IN the adoption application?
Just to give you a quick peek I am copying our
Adoption Application Cover Page / Index
to our completed adoption application:
LIST OF CONTENTS:
1. Recommendation Letter from Swedish Friends of Children, International Adoption Society
2. Form for Enquiry on Prospective Adopters
3. Passport Copies of Family Members
(We have 7 different passports…)
4. Photo Pages (11 pictures on 6 pages)
5. Birth Certificates / ”Extract of the Population Register”
(We have 7 people to document, including Kasper’s birth and death. Each doc is multiple pages. Plus, my American one!)
6. Marriage Certificate
7. Medical Certificates –
- Medical Particulars of Prospective Adopters
- Results for HIV Tests
- Results for Urogenital tests
- Specialist doctor certificate
8. Social Enquiry Report –
- Home Study Report
- Reference – Deputy & Mrs. Jakob Ström – Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs
- Reference – Dr. & Mrs. Isak Svensson – Uppsala University
- Reference – Dr. & Mrs. Björn Herrmann – Uppsala Academic Hospital
- Certificate of Financial Situation / Pre-adoption Classes
- Rev Christoffersson – Minister
- Mr. Anders Bretz – Friend
10. Guardian Affidavit –
- Guardians’ Letter of Consent
- Guardians’ Passport Copies
- Guardians’ Marriage Certificate
- Information About Guardians
11. Report on financial means –
- Report on Financial Means
- Bank – Confirmation of Assets
- Insurance Certificates
- Specification of Salary
12. Certificate of Employment
13. Religious Affiliation – The Church of Sweden
14. Extract of the Swedish National Police Board / Background Check
15. Consent for Adoption
16. Adoption Procedures
17. Explanatory Memorandum
18. Undertaking by Foreign Adopters
19. Undertaking by Foreign Adoption Society
20. Copy ”Information on Adoption and Swedish Citizenship”. The original letter which is notarized has already been sent to Little Angels Network.
Respectfully submitted by Jonas & JoEllen Nordström in cooperation with Barnens Vänner
The application is not so difficult as it is simply challenging. It’s a game of finding, collecting, stamping, organizing and sending all the right pieces of the puzzle. For those who love to sort papers, it is quite fun as it includes good, old-fashioned printing, collating, and envelope stuffing.
The hard part is the wait afterwards. We’re told to expect no communication. The old, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” Or as they say in the military, “Hurry up and wait.”
So we’re following orders…
Dare I say it?