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Changing direction!

Project FlaMINGo So the door to adopt from Kenya is closed.

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.

Curious?

We’ll keep you posted.

Hejdå Kenya!

Nín hǎo China!

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The Waiting Place…

SeussSo the NAC meeting was cancelled in November. Oh joy.

And how we have longed for some good news.

For a better chapter.

For a new beginning…

But this week marks 2 years since our world changed through tragedy and carelessness.

Life changes in the blink of an eye.

You simply never know when, where or how.

And you pray that it will be for something good…

 

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

Meanwhile, we are practicing Pura Vida… We are trying to stay in the moment.

Tranquilo.

Y espero…

And we are in a good physical location for that. But the mind and heart wanders…

and wonders…

and waits.

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!

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

Jumping Off…

ChimpWe have decided to “jump ship.”

We’re gonna go AWOL. That is, we are going to jump off our standard “life” path for awhile.

Our house is rented as of August 10 and Gunnar flies on the 15th to Nairobi to start school.

Meanwhile, the girls are adults and creating their own ways in life…

Soooo we (JoEllen, Jonas and Astrid) are going to simply run away for awhile!

And now we have a luxury problem – WHERE?

We realize that we CAN actually try to physically run away from it all (ha ha! I wish…) which is how I have been feeling for the last year and a half.

But more importantly and realistically, we can run TOWARDS a new life chapter. To consciously choose a new unknown path in life. And that is what we have decided to do!

Germany, Czech Republic, France, Greece and then – who knows! Perhaps South or Central America…South Pacific…Southeast Asia…Tanzania…? We haven’t decided, but we will keep you posted.

If you have a wonderful suggestion – send it. We will do some adventurous travel and then find a homebase with preschool for Astrid. I am thinking it would be great to learn Spanish while doing some yoga, surfing and diving… That’s my dream life.

KENYAN ADOPTION UPDATE:  As of right now, we have been told it is best to wait until we are officially approved for adoption by the NAC before we come to Kenya. Gunnar has decided to go ahead with our previous plan to arrive in August. He will live on campus in a spare room while we seek approval. So we are following the rules and waiting (patiently – ha!) to have the adoption chapter of our family life begin. IF it does… (Cross your fingers / Håller tummarna!)

Life has no guarantees. We have laid the best of plans, but…

“The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”

Murphy’s Law.

Guaranteed.

It’s a fact.

KENYAN ADOPTION STATUS:  The adoption process in Kenya is starting up again. There are still numerous families whose lives have been on hold for over a year now. Sad and scary, especially when we think of the children’s lives that are also in limbo during this time… However, there are also those adoption applicants whom I call the “lottery winners.” These families applied in January and March of this year and have already been approved and referred at lightning speed to their child. They will leave this month for their adoption adventure and family connection. Which is wonderful!

Takes your breath away!

And makes everyone in the adoption line green with envy…

As I continue to lurk with many others in the online adoption forums and addictively check my emails or others’ post updates for news, I realize that I am wasting time and energy. My life has already been on hold and “paused” for too long now. It is best for me, my family and my child(ren) that I invest this energy elsewhere.

Find passion again.

Create a spark in life.

Inspire myself and others (especially those most important to me).

Wow – A huge, vague goal! Something that I hate to hear from others and rarely allow myself to indulge in. So it’s best I fix this. Take some time defining this goal so it is real, tangible, measurable and achievable. I seem to excel with this type of process – at least historically.

Time to do it again.

So – we’re packing our bags and jumping off for awhile…

Well, about a year or two…

Stay tuned.

Kenya dreams…

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 –

hopeful…

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.

 

 

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)

JoeTheRat

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