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Pura Vida Costa Rica

Living the “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica now.

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!

And adoption…

Oh yeah. We are still waiting.

And waiting…

Nothing has happened.

Nothing.

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!

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Officially waiting!

Today our adoption file was officially submitted to the National Adoption Committee in Kenya.

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…

Letter of Motivation for Adoption

Hippopotamus YawningContact made!

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:

  1. Search the attic for the divorce papers which I packed away long ago – but still have, thank God!
  2. 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.

Starting a new chapter…

We are moving to Costa Rica!

We are starting yet another new chapter in life. A chapter that will simply unfold as we travel the path and create the story. Life truly is that way – it’s just that right now we are setting our compass in a whole new direction.

Personally, I feel the need for space – a huge pause – from Sweden. This little bubble of “perfection” (The Borg as I like to call it when in a funk) has me way too confused and frustrated. I need to escape. I need to see a more diverse world with a variety of people, interests, and real adversity. I am tired of hearing luxury problems (of which I am jealous) and kitchen renovations. I want Astrid to live in a world where an iPad and mobile phone are not on her very sincere 4 year-old wish list. There are so many things from which I simply need a break. So back out into a more real world…

Now we have officially booked our new home in COSTA RICA! Check out our new home HERE! After you take a look, let us know when you are coming to visit! We will stay in this home all of Sept and Oct.

Nordström Family Update:

We have enrolled Astrid in school at Guanacaste International Academy.  Here she will attend school in both English and Spanish. Plus, they have a half-hour of combined German and French Daily. (Why not!?) She will learn chess on Fridays. A fantastic environmental and experiential education. Woohoo!

Jonas has researched volunteer work in the region. We hope to see plenty of sea turtles and other wildlife.

JoEllen has found both a surf school and yoga center. It is TIME! Time to be strong and get back to the ocean! Time to focus energy on the inner and less on the outer world… Time to rebuild from within…

Gunnar is flying to Nairobi independently to attend school at the Nairobi Svenskaskolan. We are sooooo proud of him. He has decided to journey out into to the world on his first big adventure – SOLO! We hope to catch up with him soon as a family. Until then – “Good job, Gunnar!!!” As my first adventure was at 17 to Sweden and the USSR, I know how amazingly eye-opening and life-changing this can be. His determination and independence really shines! He is becoming such an amazing young man.

Ragna is also off on her first big solo adventure. She will volunteer with PeaceWorks. She will spend 9 months traveling around the world volunteering. Currently, Ragna is considering Costa Rica (so we can meet her there!), Tanzania (not far from Kenya!) and another program in Asia. WOW! How fantastic for her. It feels like this is the independence that she so needs and desires in life. I am sure she will shine.

Sigrid has just returned from her own big adventure to Australia with her boyfriend Fredrik. You can read a bit on Sigrid’s blog as she continues to add travel writing to her repertoire. Now she creates her next chapter in life. We don’t know if that is school, work or more travel…or a combination of all 3. All is yet to be determined. It just feels as though she got a much needed break. And that is great! Now, I am waiting for all the fantastic stories and pictures from Oz!

Kenya adoption remains on hold. No news. Meetings from the National Adoption Committee (NAC) are unannounced and unconfirmed. We think our papers are in the hands of the appropriate people but we have no confirmation. Barnens Vänner’s phone calls and emails are supposedly unanswered when/if made to Little Angels Network (LAN). Who knows what is going on? We don’t.

What we do know is that families are slowly being approved and this past month we have seen several Swedish families get their referral. We hope to join that group within the next year.

However, we have decided not to simply sit in limbo.

We choose to set sail on a new adventure.

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. – Bertha Calloway

Kenya Update for Adoption May 2014

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.

Last (?) papers on their way to LAN!

So, thanks to some help from a friend and our selves last week we could get both the document of infertility and our updated passport copies stamped by N.P., Swedish Foreign Ministry and the Kenyan Embassy. To do that in one week equals the speed of light in adoption land….(“adoption space” would probably fit the speed of light better…anyhow). Send off to Barnens Vänner who received them yesterday and…

Today we got confirmed they have been sent to Kenya!!

So, we hope, hope, hope that these papers will complete our dossier and LAN can hand it over to NAC soon after they have it. Then we just hope to hear no more news about rejections, but about a positive result from the NAC/LAN meeting where NAC don’t implement any new “rules” for us already in process, which seems quite unfair.

Well, my son is asking about what is happening and when we are leaving (as he is looking forward to studying in the Swedish School this fall) and one of the older daughters is planning for visits during the year and volunteer work. Look forward!  / (posted by Jonas – will soon learn how to post from own account)

Next stop Kenya…

ElephantThe 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!

 

News from Kenya

DSCF0078

NEWS!?!?! Good, bad, what…???

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 .

Adoption Application – What’s in it?

Adoption Application

Papers…

papers…

papers…

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

9. References

  • 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…

We’re waiting.

Planning.

Dreaming.

And even…

Dare I say it?

…hoping…

Ups and downs while waiting…

Adoptees New Room Picture

We’re waiting for you…

We submitted our papers to Barnens Vänner (21 Feb) and they quickly sent it to Little Angels Network. It has officially been received in Kenya as of 28 February.  So now…we…WAIT.

There is no communication until there is a decision.

So…we…wait…

Today, I saw a horrible post on Facebook of a family who is adopting via DanAdopt who has been REJECTED. They have previously adopted from Ethiopia but have been rejected by the National Adoption Committee in Kenya. As of right now, they have no idea why. UGH!

Astrid has asked again and again, “But Mamma, what if they say no?” And I have responded, “If they say no, then I will just keep loving on you everyday. We will stay here with our friends and chosen family. We will be OK. If we get to adopt another kid, that is a bonus, but we are OK.”  So now…to let that sink in further and further…

Yes, I suppose we are ok without adopting. But I would really like a super, wonderful surprise. A bonus! A happier ending…

Life is not bad. Life is good. We have our family, our friends, our home and such. We have sooo much. We have also lost our son and our previous dreams of that family. Now, we are trying to simply cling to hope.  To happy surprises and days where we hear Astrid laughing with another.

Maybe we will get this. Maybe we won’t.

Of everything that has happened, I have learned that there are absolutely no guarantees. We simply do the best with what we have. What we have is amazing. My only hope is that we can share this with another child who also longs to be part of a family.

The journey continues…

Here’s a song that has come to mean so much to me over the past 3 years…    The Promise by Tracy Chapman

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