Thursday, September 13, 2012


Hello blogger world! It has been awhile. I don't really know why. When I first started thinking about it I assumed that it was because I couldn't think of anything to write. However, after a small emotional breakdown today, I have realized that it is because there is SO much to write, SO much on my mind and heart, SO many emotions that it is difficult to come up with the words to say.

I can't believe that I have actually been back to Haiti twice since my last blog. I traveled to Haiti in March of this year with two friends that also know and love our Makendy. I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet with the new director of the IBESR (Haitian Social Services), Madame Villedrouin, specifically about Makendy and our adoption process. It just felt good to have her see my face and hear my story. Her suggestion was to have us write a formal letter asking that Makendy be moved from his current location to a place where we would have more contact with him until we can bring him home. She also arranged for someone to take me to see Makendy which was a huge blessing because it is very difficult to get into the orphanage that he is currently living in. 

Makendy was doing well and was happy to see me. It breaks my heart spending time with him only to leave him again. I wish that I could help him understand why I cannot take him away from "that place". They do not allow me to see him for longer than about an hour. But, it is enough time to share hugs, kisses, snuggles, smiles and a few words. The most important being, "mwen renmen ou" (I love you). 

After my visit with Makendy the first thing I did was prepare the letter requesting IBESR move him to a location where he would receive better care in preparation for him to come home with us. Piece of cake, right? Write a letter and submit it! (This is the point when all of my "Haiti friends" chuckle because they know nothing is easy in Haiti :)  We soon found out that he couldn't be moved on our 
behalf until our official adoption dossier was submitted requesting our adoption of Makendy. (Just a small detail that was left out prior to NOW!!!) This would have been great if our adoption dossier had been formally submitted to IBESR. However, IBESR stopped taking new adoption requests from June 1st-August 1st. During this time they would be reevaluating things, working towards becoming Hague accredited and changing some of their guidelines. In the mean time, it is now September 13th, IBESR is STILL not taking new adoption requests, our Dossier is STILL sitting on our attorneys desk waiting to be submitted and our son sits, patiently in an orpahange.....waiting.

Why is so much time spent waiting? Waiting for paperwork, waiting for background checks, waiting for signatures, waiting for a phone call, an email, an update. Days, months and even years go by....while we wait. Children sit in orpahanges with empty bellies, sad and alone....while we wait. These children are missing out on nutrition, an education and a forever, loving family....while we wait.

I know....I am not a social worker, I don't work at an adoption agency, I do not know what goes on within the political walls of the adoption process. And, I don't understand all of the logistics that go into taking a child from a third world country and giving them to a forever family.

All I know is that I am a mom. Who loves and misses her son. Who is tired of waiting. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Until then......

So, it has been over a month since our trip to Haiti. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to write about our time there. I guess I have times when I just don't feel like typing or sharing my thoughts and feelings. However, I forget that this blog is not "all about me". It is about a journey, a child's life and hope for the future. My prayer is to look back at these posts someday, with Makendy sitting beside me, feeling grateful for everything that we went through to bring our boy home. Until then, the journey continues.......Our visit to Haiti in November took an unexpected turn before we even boarded the airplane in Omaha. Two days before we were to fly to Haiti we were told by a friend that the orphanage where Makendy now lives was not allowing any Americans to visit. We were devastated considering this was our sole purpose for going on the trip. However, after prayerful consideration we decided to continue with the trip and see what God had in store for us. We were also planning to meet with our attorney in hopes of laying out a plan to move forward with the adoption process. When we arrived in Haiti the first news that we received was that another missionary had gone to social services on our behalf to get approval for us to visit Makendy. What a blessing!!! When we arrived at the orphanage we could feel that we were being watched from all angles. People were not only cautious, but also suspicious. This orphanage is huge and houses almost 500 boys. As we got out of the car I recognized the faces of some of the boys from the Son of God orphanage. I glanced in all directions, hoping to see my sweet Makendy's face. We were escorted through a corridor and into the office of the orphanage director. He sat behind his desk with a very stern look on his face. He immediately began yelling at our translator and we knew that he was not happy to see us. We showed him our approval letter from social services telling him that he had to allow us to visit. He went on to tell us that we could not see the children because it did not fit in with his schedule. He handed us a note giving us permission to come back the next day. Needless to say, we were leaving feeling emotional and defeated. As we walked out of the office and back down the corridor towards the front gate, the halls were quiet and deserted. I glanced up for one second to see a small, fragile looking boy walking towards me. My heart skipped a beat as I realized that it was Makendy. I ran up to him grabbed his face, kissed his cheek and told him we loved him. As I watched his eyes light up I knew that God had given me this moment. Five hundred kids lived in this orphanage and God sent Makendy walking down that hallway at that one moment. He gave me that one kiss, that one glance,that one moment to give me strength to keep moving forward. It reminded me that there will be lots of difficult moments, difficult people, difficult things to understand throughout this process, but that we are not going through it alone. God is with us! The next day, when we arrived back at the orphanage, we were escorted to a different office. The man that we met with this time was much more pleasant. We sat and spoke to him about the day that the boys were brought to his orphanage from Son of God. He said that the boys were not in good health and that one child in particular was near death. He explained that this young boy collapsed shortly after arriving at their facility and they transferred him to the hospital where he stayed for eight days. We asked what the cause of this young boys illness was and his reply was "near starvation". A few short minutes later some of the Son of God children began to gather outside of the office. Someone must have told them that we were there to see them. The man that we had been speaking with peeked at the door and motioned for one of the boys to enter the office. As the door opened our sweet Makendy walked through the door. The man pointed at him and said, "this is the young boy that we thought was going to die". Every jaw in the room dropped and we all got silent. Mike and I looked at each other, tears filling our eyes. All we could do in that moment was thank God for saving our precious Makendy's life. We were blessed to spend about forty five minutes with the Son of God children. I was able to hug Makendy and read some books to him and his friends. My heart was full of joy to be holding Makendy in my arms, but I also felt the anxiety and sadness of having to say goodbye and walk out of that orphanage, leaving Makendy behind, again!!! I long for that day when we walk out of the orphanage, board a plane and fly home......together!

In Honor of Brave Moms

Over the last several days I have been thinking a lot about two different moms in my life. Both of them have encouraged me to be strong for my children and to trust God with our lives.

One of them just said goodbye to her eleven year old son who lost a brave battle with cancer. Many people wonder how a mom can live with losing a child. Having to watch your child suffer and then lose the fight is just unimaginable for most of us. I am sure that this mom has had many moments of strength through her journey. However, I can also assume that she has had just as many moments of brokenness. Where does she find her strength and her courage?

There is another mom in my life that has shared her journey of adoption with me. She and her husband have been on a long road of fighting to bring a daughter home from Ethiopia. They were matched with a precious baby girl that they named Hope. Since that time they have been through many ups and downs. Including the possibility of not being able to adopt her after they had traveled to Ethiopia thinking that they would be bringing her home soon. How do you live each day desperate to hold your baby in your arms?

Over the last several weeks I have been struggling with the answers to these questions. How does a mom say goodbye to her child? How do you live each day without the child that is meant to be in your family? How do we make sense out of bad things that happen?

As difficult as it may seem, we are not meant to understand. We are only meant to trust God, have faith in His plan and constantly seek answers in His word (the Bible).

This doesn't take away the heartache that comes from being human. It just makes life bearable and gives us the joy that only God can give.

I have seen this strength, this faith and this ability to trust God in both of hear moms. They are going through much different circumstances, however, they have both had God by there side throughout their journeys. I pray that God would help me to have their grace and strength during the difficult times in my life.

In Honor of Rhonda Sharp and Mary Shaul.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just to See His Smile

There is so much that I feel like I need to go back to. So many things that have happened in the past that complete our story. However, I am getting so bogged down feeling like I need to fill in every detail. Someday, I will go back in time. But, for now, I need to continue on our journey.

Right now, I am sitting on the train in Chicago. We have a six hour layover on our way to Haiti. (Yes, we are headed to Haiti!!! Mike, our dear friend Steve and myself.

After allegations of severe abuse and neglect the Son of God orphanage was closed down in mid October (this story will be its own blog someday). Several of the children went missing between the removal from Son of God and their placement at a new orphanage. We learned that the Son of God directors had been tipped off to the closing of the orphanage so they had time to flee with over 30 children.

I will never forget the night that we found out Makendy was one of the missing children. The thought that we might never see him again was so overwhelming. I remember curling up in a ball and crying out to God. "Why our little boy! Why these children!" I prayed that wherever he was, it was better than what he had just come from. I knew that even though we did not know where he was....God knew. However, I still wept for the little boy that I, so badly, wanted to hold in my arms and protect from the evil in this world.

A few weeks went by and I was amazed at the number of people who told me that they were praying for Makendy and all of the children from the Son of God orphanage. One afternoon Mike received a call from our friend Matt. Matt has been in Haiti for weeks now, relentlessly fighting for the missing children. He told Mike that he had located Makendy. Makendy had NOT been one of the children that was kidnapped. He had actually spent a few days in the hospital because he was sick when they removed him from the orphanage. Matt said that he was doing much better, had gained a little weight and was even going to school. What a huge answer to prayer!

So, here we are now, on our way to Haiti to connect with the new orphanage and see our precious Makendy's face. We have been told that the new orphanage is not fond of Americans so our time with Makendy will be very limited. However, just to see his smile will be enough for me!

These last few weeks have been a huge test of faith. I know that this journey is FAR from over. I know that we still have huge obstacles to overcome. I will still have moments that I just DO NOT understand. I will have times that I want to scream out to God in anger, disappointment, fear and exhaustion. The one thing that I can lean on is the fact that God is with me on this journey. His heart aches for Makendy, just as mine does.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nothing is impossible with God!

Mike and I returned from our trip to Haiti and began our home study. This would be the first step in the long and grueling process of adopting Makendy.

As I began researching Haitian adoptions I realized that this was not going to be an easy process. We spent weeks contacting adoption agencies all around the United States and received the same response each time. They could not help us.

Following the earthquake on January 12th, 2010 Haiti closed all adoptions. American adoption agencies were not taking on any new cases because they were doing all they could to fight for those families that had already been matched with a child and were now being told that they could not bring them home. I read heart breaking stories of people that were within days of bringing their child home when the most devastating natural disaster in history hit Haiti.

Along with the effects of the earthquake on adoptions in Haiti we also quickly realized that we had another huge hurdle to overcome, we did not fit within Haiti's guidelines to adopt. We were told that these guidelines were very tight and strict. They read that you could not adopt unless you had been married over ten years, you were over 35 years of age and you did not have any biological children. Well, we "passed" the first two, but we had our four children at home that made up our family.

The frustrating thing for me was that these guidelines were written over thirty years ago. However, because of the corruption and lack of stability within the Haitian government, they had never been changed. Most American adoption agencies would not take on families that fell outside of these guidelines. However, I found several blogs from families that HAD been successful at adopting children from Haiti. I knew in my heart that it was going to be a long road with many hurdles to overcome, but I also knew that nothing was impossible with God.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Where do we go from here?

After returning home from my second trip to Haiti I told my family all about the quiet little boy named Makendy. I didn't exactly know why my heart still ached for this little boy, but I couldn't get him out of my mind.

My husband, Mike and I spent many hours talking about Makendy and what our purpose was in his life. Mike began to fall in love with a little boy that he had never even met. This is when we made the decision to travel to Haiti together so that Mike would have the opportunity to meet Makendy.

As much as we looked forward to experiencing Haiti together it was a tough choice to leave our four children at home and travel to a third world country under turmoil. We had some people that were very critical of our decision and this began to eat away at me as we prepared for our trip. Were we being irresponsible? Were we bad parents? Were we blindly taking this step and not thinking about the consequences? Well, this is when I learned a great deal about my faith and about Satan.

I began questioning my faith because Satan was using people that I know and love to challenge me. No one ever said that being a believer in Jesus Christ was easy. So far, these were some of the most dark and difficult times in my spiritual journey.

As I fought through the spiritual battle going on in my head, I realized that I needed to shut off the noise and listen to my heart. God placed Haiti on my heart many years ago when we began sponsoring a little girl from World Vision. God opened doors for me to go to Haiti and minister to the people there. God placed a little boy from a Haitian orphanage in my life. And, now, He was nudging Mike and I to travel back to Haiti so Mike could meet Makendy, the little boy who stole a piece of my heart. This was not our
timing or our plan. It was God's timing and God's plan.

Mike and I, along with two friends that have been to Haiti before, traveled to Haiti at the end of November 2010. This would be my third trip to Haiti in a year. Our time there went well and we were able to spend some quality time with Makendy. It didn't take long for Mike to say that this little boy belonged in our family. This is when I realized that Makendy was a Lempke. He was not just an orphan who stole
my heart with his big, brown eyes. He was our son. Given to us by God!

It was then that the real work began. Where did we go from here???

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

His name was Makendy.

After returning from Haiti in March I had a lot of healing to do. My heart was broken and it effected many aspects of my life. The emotional drain on me was almost too much to handle. But, God did not take me to Haiti, break my heart for His people and then leave me to wither away. He broke me and then He started putting me back together, one day at a time.

In July of 2010 an opportunity arose for me to participate in an orphan care trip to Haiti. With support from my husband and children I packed up and headed back for an eight day trip of ministering in a Carrefour orphanage. I was very excited about this trip because we were going to be staying in the community that we would be working in, which was much different from our first trip.

When we arrived in Haiti we were taken to a nice little apartment on the streets of Carrefour, Haiti. The house did not have running water, air conditioning or even a toilet. However, we were living among the Haitian people and we would have the ability to build trust and true relationships.

Bucket showers with cold water, a cockroach infested outhouse, warm water to drink, sleeping mats on the floor, dripping sweat 24 hours a day......most people would be very turned off by these things (they are not my favorite things in the world either ;) However, it is hard to explain, but these things brought a sense of comfort over me.

I woke up the first morning excited to see what God had planned for us. I could have never imagined what I was about to walk into. We loaded up our day packs and walked down the street to the Son of God orphanage. Walking along the rocky, trash lined street I began thinking about the little faces that I was about to see. Would they be happy, hopeless, joyful, desperate. I could feel the anxiety building inside of me as we got closer to the orpahange. I was trying to be strong for the two college age girls that were on the trip with me. We approached a tall, green gate that closed the children off from the outside world. Our AIM leaders led us through the gate and into a small courtyard. "This doesn't look too bad", I thought to myself. Then, we walked into a very tight, dark hallway. I immediately got a chill down my spine as I felt a sense of evil. I cannot begin to explain this feeling, but it is something that I will NEVER forget.

The dark, tight hallway led to a larger courtyard. We came through the door to see children sitting everywhere! Most of them had a look of pure hopelessness on their faces and were either naked or crying. I saw huge, swollen bellies from lack of nutrition, open wounds seeping with puss, babies sitting on a filthy ground with no diapers on. It was a sight that I could have never been prepared for.

Our white faces brought lots of attention to us. Some of the kids clung to us for attention while others hid behind bigger kids out of fear for the unknown. Most of the children simply wanted to be held, snuggled, given attention.....things that all kids yearn for. As I snuggled a precious little baby in my arms I couldn't help but notice a little boy sitting on a bench across the courtyard from me. I didn't know what it was about him, but I instantly felt a tug on my heart when I looked at him. Maybe it was his big, swollen belly. Or, his bones protruding from his skinny body. Or, maybe it was his huge, empty, brown eyes. It wouldn't be until months later that I would realize why this little boy made my heart ache.

I handed the baby off to one of my friends and walked over to this fragile looking little boy. I said "Bon Jour" (the way to welcome people in Haiti) and I received no reply. After a few minutes of trying to get some response from this little guy I decided to just leave him alone. After a few difficult hours at the orpahange it was time to leave for the day. The sense of evil and darkness that I had stayed with me for the rest of the evening.

The next day we arrived back at the orphanage and I found myself looking for the quiet, sad little boy from the day before. Each day after that was the same. I felt a desire to seek him out and try to break through the wall that he had built around himself.

During our last day at the orphanage I spent the whole time sitting by the quiet, mysterious little boy. As I sat and watched the other missionaries play games with the children I felt a light touch on my hand. As I looked down I saw a tiny, dark hand laying on mine. I slowly took his hand in mine and we sat quietly. As my time came to an end at the Son of God orphanage the children began singing a song of thanks to all of us for coming. I sat there with tears streaming down my face and the next thing I knew the little boy, whose hand I had been holding, climbed up into my lap and began to sob. For a brief moment I just sat, holding this fragile little boy in my arms.....never wanting to let go!

Leaving the orphanage that day was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Something about that little boy had made it's way into my heart. Something about him was different from all of the other precious kiddos at Son of God. Every ounce of my being felt a love for that child.......his name was Makendy.