Barlow Family - Haiti

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In Prayer, For...
  • the orphans in Haiti
    a smooth moving process
    calm during the transition
  • our kids -
  • Tynan & Tania in college
  • Ana working in Germany
  • Twins' homeschooling
  • the future "additions"
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Monday
Apr142014

early navigation of in-country adoption

BACKWARDS

is a good way to describe this adoption in comparison to our others.

Agency adoption??

We've never done an agency adoption...

YES it's true we adopted SO LONG AGO that we were among the pioneers of independent adoption in Russia with an organization called Christian Adoption Project. This time around the content is similar, applications similar, but the process is very different. That said we are extremely GRATEFUL for Diana Boni @ All Blessings International who has experience with processing the unique cases of American-Haitian residents who already have met & often have custody of their kids. She has been a huge encouragement & we will rely on her knowledge and in-country staff to get everything moving along here very soon.

Bonding & Attachment??

We DO know a LOT now about THAT. However in our situation this time around we have a 2.5 yr long relationship with & actually have PHYSICAL CUSTODY of Syndie BEFORE we have legal guardianship or have begun the actual adoption process. It is a strange thing, but we have been entrusted with her care by the only legal guardian that she has, since her mom died in the earthquake of 2010. TOMORROW we all traipse down to IBESR to get the guardianship paperwork started!

Language?? 

Last time we learned very basic phrases in Russian & then studied and picked it up in Russia and upon our return with our girls. Thankfully this time around we have a better grasp of the language prior to kiddos entering our home...that said we've been on a sudden increased learning curve with our 6 yo chatterbug! Opposite situations in this realm however are the fact that we'll be raising kids in their native country, native language, but an American culture household. We're currently all speaking Haitian Kreyol at home, except for Ted & I between ourselves. So we're not at all sure when to start the transition or integration of English language acquisition.

& COMPLEX 

is another word we use a lot here, but especially in regards to transitioning an older adopted child in their OWN home country.

Education??

Syndie is attending a local Haitian school...studying in Kreyol & French at present. She is behind her agemates and requiring specila tutoring. In order to be ready for 1st grade next year they say whe will have to work though the entire summer. At what point do we peel her away from the familiar & her native tongue to study in English & make sure that she will be at grade level in EITHER or BOTH countries that she resides in?

Friends??

Hopefully this one will work itself out in time, but this past week it has been one of our BIGGEST challenges. One of the few "friends" that Syndie has among our family community here, that bridge her present and past, is our friend Jessica's little girl, Phoebe Kate. In fact PK is the ONLY kiddo here that ever visited Syndie in her orphanage over the past few years. We are blessed to have the girls together enjoying Syndie's freedom to visit Phoebe Kate at her house now too! The reality is that they are at the END of their backwards adoption journey at last & Phoebe is FINALLY moving to the US for the very first time on Thursday. We are happy for them, but will miss them tremendously!!!

Syndie has verbalized NOT wanting to visit anyone at her orphanage and yet has a limited ability to communicate and get to know any of our friends' english speaking kids.

School is the only place where she can communicate freely with other kids right now, but that has presented  it's own issues. This past week a little girl from school, who is quite a bit older than Syndie seemed to have befriended her & came by to "visit". This turned into daily "play" time which was HOURS long...  We thought at first that it would be good for her since she isn't used to being an only child surrounded by adults. Slowly over this past weekend that has gone downhill. BY the end I found myself struggling with giving grace & wisdom & compassion to her and feeling guilty all the same!

I was always the mom who kept an ear out when friends were around to make sure everyone was playing well & communicating appropriately. With a Haitian schoolmate that speaks no english I immediately felt some what disadvantaged at knowing whether they were talking and playing nice.  I decided not to worry too much, but check on them frequently, assess Syndie's countenance & see if she seemed ok. That worked fine. Then a few red flags started going off.

Frist of all, Syndie came in every hour saying she was hungry and asking for something to eat...even though she had eaten more than usual. Next the little girl who was twice her size came out with Syndie's clothes on...a sundress as a top here,  pajama pants as shorts there... we entered uncharted territory as I tried to give caring guidance! How do you NICELY ask a girl who probably has very little, to take off & return your daughter's clothes that are 6 sizes too small? How do you politely change the subject for the 4th time when your daughter asks for food, when you've already fed two full meals AND several snacks during a playdate? How do you ford the waters of generosity & yet NOT undermine or disrespect a little girl's own family who you have (by the way) NEVER MET? Is it even appropriate to ask to meet her mom/family down the road? 

Unfortunately this particular situation got out a little more out of hand... Fun turned into an "agenda", trying to steal Syndie's clothes and lying about it... Sadly, in the end I had to send her home and let her know that Syndie would only see her at school.

Poor Syndie was a trooper & said that she understood, but I struggle with knowing that this may be the norm when it comes to her trying to have local Haitian friends. And so the BIG changes in her life ensue and the valley of separation that we knew would be inevitable from her old life begins to grow wide and rocky and deep. If it wasn't for the joy, the hugs and seeing her SOAK up love & touch like water to one in a desert, I would grieve more with her...SHE would grieve more too. But I didn't see that on her face at the end of the day, just the smile and giggles of a well nourished, well rested little girl who is BRAVELY learning a new way of life and just feels GOOD!

Tuesday
Apr082014

reposting: Postcards from Haiti...

 

Because I just can't DO JUSTICE to Haiti as well as this myself, I wanted to post recent links to a blog series, by J.C.Schaap, that I have been enjoying & that hits it square on...

Postcards from Haiti (i)

Postcards from Haiti (ii)

Postcards from Haiti (iii)

Postcards from Haiti (iv)

Postcards from Haiti (v)

Postcards from Haiti (vi)

Postcards from Haiti (vii)

 

Hope you ENJOY another glimpse into life here in Haiti....!!!

Happy Tuesday

Wednesday
Apr022014

Ministry Projects: the incubation & birth of yet another "organization"

With all that has come up opportunity wise this past month it is still a little hard to put ALL of the details down in one blog post on the subject of starting up a ministry organization.

Since we have International Hope & Heritage at the wheel of a 501(c)3 that is in overall alignment with our own ministry goals, values & calling, you might wonder why we would even bother?

These are some of our thoughts behind the idea...

God has laid on our hearts a specific mission statement & orphan care philosophy that relates to our work here in Haiti. At the same time, we have multiple ongoing projects in development and more anticipated.  Logistically having our own official "non-profit" organization that is working in partnership with IHH seems the best way for us to go for a variety of reasons.

It will allow us to host and maintain an independent ministry/organization website as a platform to explain our projects better and to share our vision of orphan care through the facets of prevention, stabilization & reunification.

Since our unique ministry is still in early development stages, we have a long way to grow. We'd like to go ahead & lay the groundwork for long term missions here although we do intend to keep or place everything possible in the hands of Haitian leadership.

Eventually we would like to be open to receiving grants from partner organizations, especially in the case of maternity care which is generations away from being self sustaining. In that case, we may be required to convert over the ministry organization itself, to it's own 501(c)3 to have access to those granting organizations that would require direct donation to the projects. 

Another reality is the fact that we may be required to create a Haitian foundation or non-profit at some point and it makes more sense for that to be our independent ministry vs IHH having to go through the steps and expense here.

Ultimately, we feel that over the long run, having a separate organizational entity will help keep us on our unique course and provide both accountability and a specific identity for the ministry as we grow.

As you see, this remains a percolating idea, but one that we are spending a lot of time & energy on at the moment. Please continue to lift us up in prayer as we seek God and round out the details of this foundational step for our work here even further over the next few weeks!

Wednesday
Apr022014

Ministry Projects: Maternity Care

While I wish that I had ALL of the details to share on this current project in development, what I DO have to share is quite exciting!

For several years I have been in communication off & on with Nadene Brunck, the founder of Midwives for Haiti. Initially it was for imformation I needed on a mock up midwifery care grant-writing project for a course I was taking at the time. Over the past year she has been a wise voice on my journey into maternity care here as well as my plans for midwifery school, which God willing I'll begin in the fall.

While I had already hoped to meet up with her while she was in Haiti this past month, the circumstances took a turn. We arrived in Hinche without the list of specific questions that I had in mind and instead just absorbed our experiences at the local hospital where MFH provides clinical experience to their students. We soaked up rural life in Haiti and we talked about all that we had on our hearts and then listened to Nadene and her co-workers do the same. It was more information than we could process in 2 days, but we've kept the line of communication open on how we might work together and bring more Haitian babies into this world safely and keep their moms healthy & alive to care for them.

Last week a great opportunity rose to the surface & Nadene & I began discussing my taking leadership of a project that her organization just can't get to at the moment. 

Opening & managing...A BIRTHING CENTER!!

Hopital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) is located up north in Deschapelles. It has been providing care and saving lives in the Artibonite Valley for nearly 60 years.

While it is a project still being "hatched", the idea is that our ministry will partner with HAS & Midwives for Haiti (MFH) to start a free-standing birthing center on their campus compound. While they do already provide maternity care, it is more than they can handle. They have been asking MFH to do open this center, as they would like to move all of the low risk births there for the skilled birth attendants to provide care & focus on hihg risk maternity cases in the hospital. They would also like to have a MFH training program at their location eventually.

While I DREAM of starting community birthing centers throughout the country, I couldn't ASK for a more nurturing situation to learn and grow and gain my first birthing center administrative experience in, while I attend school. 

The birthing center will be staffed by two nurses with obstetrical specialty that have recently graduated from MFH's World Health Organization approved skilled birth attendant training program. I will pitch in with supportive patient care when I am onsite & the rest of the time oversee the details of operation.

We are hoping to get things moving by summer, so watch for more news on this upcoming project & details on the many ways that you can help support it!

KNOWN Ministry/Project NEEDS:

I AM currently looking for MIDWIVES, L&D, Mother/Baby and NICU RN's who might be interested in working in Haiti either for a short -term trip, or partnering with us as long-term ministry field staff. 

I am ALSO looking for a clinical site in the U.S. to complete my CNM skills requirements in 2016. It does seem early, but the school recommends finding a clinical site and preceptor before you even begin!

Again, thank you for your interest & support of the work that God has laid out before us-

Rebecca 

Wednesday
Apr022014

Ministry Projects: Business Incubator #1

As most of our friends, family, ministry partners...& readers know, we are proponents of addressing the orphan population in Haiti in 3 ways: Prevention, STABILIZATION & Reunification. Well JOB CREATION is a big part of that! While there are plenty of places to get "trained" in job skills here in Haiti, it really doesn't matter if there isn't a JOB to be HAD. It's simple logic.

While we would typically like to be primarily creating jobs for moms & dads in impoverished situations to be able to provide for their children, our first business as ministry project is an outstanding opportunity that ends up being a little different than that. 

You may not know, but both Ted & my brother, Bob both have backgrounds in IT. IN fact they worked together many years ago in Sacramento in UNIX system administration. Ted went on to specialize in IT security and upper management in several well known companies. Bob became a developer/programmer and now owns his own business solutions firm. While Ted & I have had several brainstorming sessions on business development that included the area of computer programming we had never discussed it with Bob or pursued it here while doing business research & development up until now. When our situation changed last month, Bob contacted us with this message: "I recently had thoughts of whether starting a training/outsourced software development office in Haiti might be useful...I've been thinking about this for a couple weeks and haven't figured how it might all work but your email made it seem like a good time to start talking about the possibilities..." 

The POSSIBILITIES???!!!

Ted has just spent the last month looking at those & has found incredible resources at every turn. He has interviewed more than a handful of individuals with those skills, in fact one just returned to Haiti after completing his Master's Degree in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship in Computer Science. When they stumbled into each other at the local technology school, this young man shared with us later that he was at his low of discouragement that he had this degree & no jobs to be found after several weeks back home. The school is FULL of hopeful youth, who have very little likelihood of making a decent living in their chosen profession after graduation.

So, we are working together with Bob & his company FastFoundry to develop a small nucleus of programmers that will hopefully be the beginning of a larger company before long and eventually give birth to an entirely new industry here for Haiti.

How does that apply to ORPHANS? It's a very good question & the answer is multifold:

1 - It changes the local economy! More workers with living wages means more consumers for the small businesses where at-risk parents are usually trying to earn an income. 

2 - This will be developed as a Haitian "social enterprise". None of us are trying to gain anything from it, so all profits will be funneled into other ministry opportunities such as businesses that DO create jobs for at-risk families or maybe even a form of long term sustainability for maternity care.

3 - Part of the business model will include extensive training. We intend to develop a transition program component that will allow prospective youth that are aging out of their orphanages to go through a program that will prepare them for a job in this field. 

4 - It allows us to go through the steps to creating/incubating our first business as ministry here in Haiti and to learn the ropes while working in an arena where Ted already has experience & connections. 

We will update this post or add new ones as things continue to unfold.

WAYS to partner on this MINISTRY/PROJECT:

- Provide a laptop ($600 each x 4)

- Provide a monitor ($200 each x 4)

- Provide basic office furniture for an initial employee ($250 each x 4)

- Cover initial start up monthly expenses (x 3 months) 

- Initial internet set up expense ($250)

- Donate computer equipment (Mac, MacBook, iPods, iPads) for app development projects

- Donate solar panels for steady power source

- Design & programming professionals to assist with training 

- Business ethics & leadership training/seminars

- Long term ministry teammates (Haiti based) for youth transition program &/or business management development.

PLEASE contact us directly to discuss project partnership, ministry opportunities further or to arrange for actual item donations: tenmilliontoes@gmail.com

Project financial DONATIONS can be made to International Hope & Heritage (IHH) with "Haiti IT Project" in the comments section. 

Thank you for all of the ways that you walk this road with us -

Rebecca