The Joy of Rebecca

The Joy of Rebecca

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$11,830

Raised (USD)

Days Left: 68
Goal: $25,000

From Robin Forestal

To bring Rebecca home through adoption

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Update #10

10 days ago

Yes, that's right you read correctly: we are officially Rebecca's legal parents in Haiti!

Her passport has been applied for and there are only a few steps left which include last approvals from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) as well as the Department of State which will issue her the visa to come into the US with her Haitian passport. Once she receives her stamp at the airport she will officially be a US citizen and we will watch her for Certificate of Naturalization to come in the mail. That document is what new citizens use to apply for their US passports. Once she's here we are done with the million steps and forms and hoops. We will need to do regular reporting but we don't need to worry anymore about keeping our fingerprints current, our home study up to date or wondering if our applications will expire.

The last few steps to her arrival may still take 8 or more weeks but I'm hoping and praying it will go faster because there is a lot happening with our Forestal family these days. We received her Adoption Decree on January 15th and while it was one of the happiest moments of my life and one that I had been dreaming about for 6 years it was also one of the saddest days of my life. My brother and I made the tough decision to sign my dad into hospice in FL that afternoon. He had recently had surgery which he wasn't able to bounce back from and he passed away on the 18th. I did get to tell him about Rebecca's adoption being final and I hope that he was able to understand and know he "officially" had three grandkids even though I know he, like the rest of us, already felt it in his heart for these past few years.

The boys and I spent the entire month of January in FL between the hospital, rehab and funeral for my dad and then in IL for his celebration of life party. My work has suffered and I'm struggling to catch up now but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been blessed with some pretty awesome mom friends here in SC who are helping me with the boys so I can work and not need to stay up until 2 am everyday. We also found a house and hope to close in early March. I am really looking forward to getting Rebecca's room ready for her and welcoming her into her actual forever home. We've had a room for her since 2014 in our Chicago house as well as our apartment here in SC and now we have zero, ZERO, plans of moving again after we settle into our new address.

It is really exiting for me to write to you all again after just 3 short months and I'm hopeful the next one will be THE ONE! The one where we can officially announce her adoption and her gotcha day and share a photo of our entire family smiling together in the sun, in one house, in the same zip code, in the same state, in the same country...finally.

And as always thank you to all our friends and family who have supported our adoption and continue to support us in prayer, in friendship, and in love. We are truly grateful for each and every one of you.

Please keep praying for time to go by at warp speed these next few weeks! And if any of you moms are interested in sharing with me what 7 and year old girls like to wear, play with, read, etc, please get in touch with me because it's about to become our realty over here!!
Robin

More Info

Renand and I met in Haiti in 2008 where we were both working for a pediatric hospital and orphanage.  We loved to spend time together at lunch, on trips to the airport to pick up visitors and going to and from the orphanage on the bumpy road up the mountain. 

In 2010 Renand's sister had a baby girl, Rebecca.  Sadly, Rebecca's father had died in the earthquake 5 months before she was born and her mom hasn't been able to take care of her and provide for her. 

As a family we have decided that it would be best for Rebecca to come live with Renand and I in the US where she can have the opportunity for a great education and bigger horizons than what awaits her in Haiti.  Many people ask how her mom can do this and the answer is simply that she knows Rebecca will have a brighter future with us and that we are all blessed because God has been good to us in that Rebecca will still be with family.

Rebecca has been living with her 5 uncles in a 2 bedroom house in a suburb of Port au Prince called Delmas.   Can you imagine 5 men taking care of a baby girl?  She is going to turn out to be one tough cookie who can certainly hold her own. We have been skyping with her since she was 2.  We enjoy seeing her sing, dance, practice English with us, tell us about school and tell us her favorite things to do...one of which is jumping!  She started school early when she was 2 1/2 and when we would talk to her on a Saturday or Sunday she was always sad because she wasn't going to school that day. In Creole "M ale lekol" means "I'm going to school" and she would just keep saying that over and over again.   Our son, Ryan, and Rebecca have their own language and somehow manage to talk to each other when we are on the computer.  He gets very excited when she dances and sings and she tell him "I love you brudder."

The first time I met her was when she was 2 and I was in love with her immediately. We spent the short weekend playing peek-a-boo, swimming, coloring and just trying to understand each other. Later that year Renand and I both went to Haiti for Christmas and spent every second we could with her. The time flew by too quickly but we relished every little hug, kiss, cuddle, and playful moment together. 

Recently we moved into a new home. We need to show that we have ample space for Rebecca when we do the home-study and since she will probably be 6 when she arrives she and Ryan cannot share a room.  It is exciting to have a 3rd bedroom where we know she will be one day...but at the same time I long to see her in there everytime I walk by.

We are thrilled to know we will bring Rebecca to join our family and raise her as our own but we need help. The law in Haiti used to be that married couples could not adopt until they had been married for 10 years - yes even for family adoptions.  That law changed in late 2013 and we started the official process. We had prayed the law would change and we knew the costs of the adoption. We didn't know that we would not qualify for many of the adoption grants and loans  because we are family.  We are also doing everything we can to help prepare Rebecca for the transition when it happens including keeping her in a good school where they teach a little bit of English, and paying for her English tutor who spends 1-2 hours with her a day after school during the week. Each of these things alone does not seem like much of an expense but when it's all added together it quickly becomes a lot.

To help fundraise for the adoption costs I've been selling bracelets made by parents in Haiti. This organization provides jobs for parents to help keep their families together and not need to separate their children into orphanages or for adoption.  They make bracelets and I sell them - we split it 50/50. This helps them keep their families together, helps us bring ours together and its a win-win! 

We are grateful for any generosity you care to share with us. And look forward to sharing our story with you as it progresses we thank you so very much! 

We have been very prayerful through the past few years and we ask that you add us to your prayers that our family can be united quickly, safely and soon!  Thank you for visiting our page.

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
10 days ago

Update #10

Yes, that's right you read correctly: we are officially Rebecca's legal parents in Haiti!

Her passport has been applied for and there are only a few steps left which include last approvals from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) as well as the Department of State which will issue her the visa to come into the US with her Haitian passport. Once she receives her stamp at the airport she will officially be a US citizen and we will watch her for Certificate of Naturalization to come in the mail. That document is what new citizens use to apply for their US passports. Once she's here we are done with the million steps and forms and hoops. We will need to do regular reporting but we don't need to worry anymore about keeping our fingerprints current, our home study up to date or wondering if our applications will expire.

The last few steps to her arrival may still take 8 or more weeks but I'm hoping and praying it will go faster because there is a lot happening with our Forestal family these days. We received her Adoption Decree on January 15th and while it was one of the happiest moments of my life and one that I had been dreaming about for 6 years it was also one of the saddest days of my life. My brother and I made the tough decision to sign my dad into hospice in FL that afternoon. He had recently had surgery which he wasn't able to bounce back from and he passed away on the 18th. I did get to tell him about Rebecca's adoption being final and I hope that he was able to understand and know he "officially" had three grandkids even though I know he, like the rest of us, already felt it in his heart for these past few years.

The boys and I spent the entire month of January in FL between the hospital, rehab and funeral for my dad and then in IL for his celebration of life party. My work has suffered and I'm struggling to catch up now but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been blessed with some pretty awesome mom friends here in SC who are helping me with the boys so I can work and not need to stay up until 2 am everyday. We also found a house and hope to close in early March. I am really looking forward to getting Rebecca's room ready for her and welcoming her into her actual forever home. We've had a room for her since 2014 in our Chicago house as well as our apartment here in SC and now we have zero, ZERO, plans of moving again after we settle into our new address.

It is really exiting for me to write to you all again after just 3 short months and I'm hopeful the next one will be THE ONE! The one where we can officially announce her adoption and her gotcha day and share a photo of our entire family smiling together in the sun, in one house, in the same zip code, in the same state, in the same country...finally.

And as always thank you to all our friends and family who have supported our adoption and continue to support us in prayer, in friendship, and in love. We are truly grateful for each and every one of you.

Please keep praying for time to go by at warp speed these next few weeks! And if any of you moms are interested in sharing with me what 7 and year old girls like to wear, play with, read, etc, please get in touch with me because it's about to become our realty over here!!
Robin

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
4 months ago

Update #9

It never fails to amaze me that when I look back in my messages that its been a full 6 months since I sent an update about the adoption. What? That’s too long for updates about Rebecca and that’s exactly how I feel everyday when I wake up and wonder how much longer she needs to wait to hear the words “we are coming to get you sweet girl.”

BUT

This weekend I found out we have been issued an Authorization Letter! I waited to send this out because the agency wanted to actually see the letter in their agent’s hand before getting our hopes up. Well, its true!

The Authorization Letter is important for us for a few reasons. Primarily because it’s the last document we needed from Haitian social services before we can get all the court approvals and rubber stamps. Secondly, it’s a big deal because we have been waiting on this for 6 months and it means they accepted our petition to skip the socialization trip. That trip happens for adoptive families to meet the child referred to them and a social worker would observe and then write a report saying it’s a good match, or not. But since we know Rebecca and keep in regular contact and financially support her already we petitioned to skip that. And then never heard anything. And then still never heard anything. So that’s why this letter is a really big deal. It means we are finally at the step where basically they pass documents to the courts for signatures and then we go get her. There’s a lot of steps involved in this and at least 4 levels of court but for the most part what I’m giving you is the summary.

In other news, 4 of us Forestals have already relocated. I’ll be happy to send you our address if you want it but I’m not going to put it on the general message here because I don’t want my address on social media. We are staying in a short term rental until we figure out the lay of the land and where we want to put down roots. There are so many places to explore and get to know and I’m up for the adventures with the kids this fall. Renand starts his new job this week so we are settling into what will be our new schedule.

There is a school I’m interested in that does a French immersion program, which would be wonderful for all three of the kids. There is another highly recommended STEM magnet school that has a lot of other factors that would be great for all the kids. Riley started gymnastics and he’s a regular Tigger on the trampoline and loving every minute of it. We were still swimming in the pool up to last weekend and all the people in our complex thought we were crazy for swimming when it was so cold…80 degrees. Take that, fall.

The area we are in is rather diverse and has a ton of transplants. The guy who served my pad thai yesterday was from Chicago and has been here 15 years. A lady in my book club is originally from Seattle and our neighbor upstairs is from CT. Another guy in the building across from us is from TX and our friends from the pool are from mid-state NY. The downtown is really nice and has bricks down Main Street with lots of cute stores and foodie places. There’s a festival almost every weekend somewhere so there is lots to do. Sadly, we have not found a pizza we want to reorder but that’s what we expected. We are sticking with our Bobby Flay pizza crust thanks to the recommendation from my friend Cara. And now we will be on the hunt for a good falafel sandwich and a good gyro sandwich. For just two weeks we have figured out where to shop and are super happy that Costco is only 10 minutes away. Its farther distance from our house than when I was in Chicago but much quicker to get to because of less traffic. I was so excited when I paid the ticket in the parking garage downtown last night and it was only $6.50 for the 7 hours I was parked. My friend didn’t know if I my exclamation was happy or sad. I laughed and said it’s definitely, definitely a happy sound!

Our door was always open in Chicago and the same is true here. We love visitors so please feel free to add as us a stop or a full destination, anytime! There is so much so see here and between here and Atlanta and Charlotte. The kids and I are always up for adventures so please come anytime.

Thanks again for all the support and encouragement we’ve been receiving as times drags on like molasses in this adoption story. I’m hopeful the next update will be much sooner and with much more exciting news that should come with glitter and balloons and horns announcing the big day!

I apologize for any duplicate messages you might receive - I want to make sure not to leave anyone out of our exciting updates and that might mean I send to you from two different places if I didn't catch the duplicates. Please feel free to let me know and also let me know if you want to be removed. I don't want to become known as the adoption spammer!

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
10 months ago

Update #8

What? What? What? Yes! It's true....WE HAVE A REFERRAL!!!
I real, true, bonafide referral letter from IBESR social services in Haiti that specifies WE, Renand and Robin are adopting HER, Rebecca!!!

This part of the process is a big, big deal. It also is the beginning of a what will still take a long time, most likely into 2018. But nonetheless, it is the document we have been praying and waiting for since September 2015.

Next steps will include our formal acceptance letter and then filing some paperwork in the US. We will most likely be one of, if not the last family to file the old paperwork for Department of State. We have been "grandfathered" in since we have been in the process for so long. Everything about this process, our family and our beautiful girl are exceptional! Rebecca has great things to do in this life and its starting with the way we are being brought together.

We are still hopeful we can skip the family socialization trip in order to move things along. The boys talk about Rebecca as if she's here, saying: "My sister would love this dinner" or "Rebecca would like to play this game with us" and lots of other cute things all the time. It will be a super happy day in the family when they actually get to tell her in person and not over the phone or by voice messages in whatsapp. I have a wonderful friend in Haiti who visits Rebecca, gives her gifts from us and also helps provide medicines that she needs for her skin. It has been wonderful to talk to Rebecca as she opened a doll a few months back. She loved the doll but she especially loved the TicTacs (of course!) and the music they make. She is growing so fast and is so smart. She can read and write and she loves sing and to make all kinds of music with her uncles who adore her. I've uploaded her photo - she looks so much like Renand...in fact his whole family looks alike!

Now it may actually be possible that she will be with us toward the end of next school year and the kids could have the summer together and then start school all at the same time. We've been delaying one important thing while the adoption process plays out. So now once Rebecca comes home with us we are going to be moving out of IL. We think we may land in Greenville, SC but the idea of living even closer to the ocean is still appealing. We are open to any suggestions or contacts if you want to share ideas!

This spring I have been anxious to see the new flower buds and the leaves appear on the trees. This week our new skinny tree in the front yard sprouted leaves, finally. It was the last one on the block to bloom. We also noticed this morning that the rainbow chard we planted is starting to grow and spread. Ryan often talks about rainbows, and God's promise. He asked for rainbow cake for his 4th birthday last week. Now that we received our call from ABI about the referral letter I feel like all these things have come together: New life, new spring, new chapters, rainbows and the promise of God's love...and the official document that our girl is going to really be ours!

A million thanks to everyone who has supported us up to this point. We could not have made it this far without your friendship and prayers!!

Now we ask for prayers that before too long we will have another update to share!

https://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
over 1 year ago

Update #7

Tonight I looked and it has been 9 months since I sent an update about Rebecca and the adoption journey we have now been on for over 2 ½ years. Originally I thought there must be so much I can update you on. Nope. Not really a story of advancement to say the least.

Last year on September 23rd Rebecca dossier (packet of information) and our US dossier had been submitted to IBESR (social services in Haiti). And I’m happy, sad and irritated to say that this current September, 12 months later, her packet has been turned in…again.

Unbeknownst to us early this year IBESR was giving our agency a very hard time about Rebecca’s residency. She is still living with Renand’s brothers in the family home in Haiti. IBESR was insisting that she needed to be in an orphanage. Come on! Our agency fought it and fought it, stating proof and laws of Haiti that it wasn’t necessary for a child to be removed from her current home with family, put in an orphanage, just to be removed again and placed with family. Ridiculous. Adopted kids go through so many breaks in their lives – break from parents, break from country, break from cultural norms, break from familiar food, break from weather, just to name a few. Why would anyone think another break from family needed to be added?

After going around and above the person insisting on this frankly, stupid, request by IBESR they have approved that she is at home. But of course because so much time had passed, the Haiti home study had to be redone again. So visits to her home, interviews with those she lives with, interviews with her mother, interviews with Rebecca and then finally lab work all had to be done over again.

So what does that mean now? It means that we are again hopeful to receive a referral letter soon from IBESR. That letter states the Renand and Robin are approved in Haiti to adopt Rebecca. Then basically that paper needs to get approved by several different levels of courts and then finally they tell us to come get her. Hopefully along the way our agency will be able to argue a case for us to try to finish the US paperwork along the way concurrently with the Haiti papers being rubber-stamped.

We are still looking at several months, if not a whole year.

And it pains me so much to write that, re-read that and let it sink in. Rebecca turned 6 in May. Look how cute and grown up she is in the photo! Two years ago I had hoped she would be here by the time she was six. Now my prayer every day is that she will be here by the time she is 7. I pray she can get her and have the whole summer with us to play and get acclimated, to have some language classes and to get to know her brothers. I’d love for her and Ryan to start school together next year in the fall. I am humbly aware that God’s plan and my plan for my life are not usually in sync. You think I would learn by now not to even make plans! I still am prayerful that maybe my prayers will be answered in a way I ask this time. But if not, I know there is a reason and that reason may or may not be revealed in time. I just simply want my family all in the same place and to start making memories in person instead of just over the phone and on Skype.

To make matters even more complicated, the longer the wait goes on the unsteadier the social and political climate are also becoming in Haiti. There have been several shootings and robberies and car thefts just at NPH alone in the past few weeks. As scary as that is, it’s even scarier to know that they do not seem to be targeted because this is happening all over the city in Port au Prince and the surrounding suburbs. Volunteers at NPH are not allowed out after dark and no one is supposed to be alone when off the campus grounds. People are getting robbed coming out of banks again and its highly likely people inside are tipping off the thieves outside when someone visits the bank. A Spanish nun was shot and killed in her car in daylight after she visited the bank. She was well known and this was a big surprise to everyone. Haiti is coming into an election season after barely functioning since the failed elections last year with only an interim president. The interim president promised to find the money for the elections in the national treasury but the parliament has been in gridlock. Also there is a real possibility that in November money will no longer be allowed to be transferred between the US and Haiti because the US threatened to end money transfers if Haiti doesn’t clean up its act to end money laundering. Apparently there is a huge thriving Venezuela-to-Haiti-to-US drug trafficking route and Haiti lacks the anti-money laundering laws (or concern for it). So that would mean we can’t wire money each month to Haiti for Rebecca and we will need to find a visitor to take it for us each month. And that won’t be easy with few people I know traveling down there because of the increased violence. So the saga of the struggle of Haiti continues…

This month we have a friend visiting from Haiti whom Renand worked with in the orphanage and has known since his younger years. We’ve been working on language skills for me and its been great for the boys to listen to her speak with Renand and absorb some of what they are saying. We’ve tried to speak to Ryan in Creole since he was born but we do not do it regularly everyday. I used to teach him Creole words alongside the English words before he could talk. When he would sit in his chair I would say, “sit” and I would say “chita” so he could learn both. With Riley, as with many second kids I’m learning, I didn’t stick to it like I had hoped. But our friend talking in Creole with him is great for him. Ryan is talking a mile a minute and is so inquisitive. Riley is just starting to speak and can say about 10 words. He will quickly catch up to his big brother. And when Rebecca comes I know they will be able to communicate as all kids do through playing. Ryan and Riley are both so kind and loving and I can’t wait for them to wake up in the morning and say “hi sister” to Rebecca as they say “hi brother” to each other.

As the time drags on slowly while we wait for Rebecca to join us people have continued to ask how they can help. Here’s my short little list of things we currently need:
Prayers
American Airlines frequent flyer miles
Donations to Rebecca’s adoption fund (https://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca) Kids books in Creole and English that we can send to her now and also start to build her a library of books she can read when she gets here. (https://smile.amazon.com/registry/giftlist/36O4YCWE2C625 )

The fall is upon us and I hope, hope, hope, and pray that 12 months from now I will be able to send you a photo of our entire family going out to pick apples or pumpkins where we look like one of those families on an Old Navy commercial wearing long sleeve fleece sweatshirts.

Thank you so very much to all of you for your continued support, interest, prayers, laughter, gentle reminders of God’s presence and loving encouragement of our family.

Love,
Robin and the other R’s

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
about 2 years ago

Update #6

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

The boys are both asleep and it's quiet here (a very rare thing!) and I'm caught up on work for now and reflecting on the past few weeks. These days have been filled with lots of play time with Grandpa while he's here for his visit, listening to 2 year old Ryan sing lots of Christmas carols and watching 11 month old dancing machine Riley, making a birthday cake for baby Jesus, passing a terrible cold back and forth, seeing Santa at the mall and getting excited for him to visit us, and of course spending blessed Christmas days with our family eating and playing games.

I have to admit that even among the joy of watching the boys, there is a strong sadness and longing undertone for me. I miss my mom terribly this year. I wish she were here to see these babies growing up too fast. I wish she were here to see the Life-Book I made for Rebecca to help here with her transition. I also wish she were here to help us when all of us are sick at the same time. I have often thought of how she used to rub my forehead when I was sick - while I try to comfort my sick babies. My great friend Michelle reminded me on Christmas Day that I waited a long time for these babies and that being a parent means being tested in so many ways including physically, spiritually, mentally, faithfully and much more. She's right and I'm truly blessed by several wonderful women like her who give me the gentle reminders and advice that I miss from my mom.

As I watched the boys this year I am getting so anxious for Rebecca to be here with them. We are hopeful that will happen sometime in 2016 and the agency said that is probably a realistic estimate. Our packet and Rebecca's packet were both submitted to IBESR (social services) on September 23rd (which also happens to be the day my mom passed on to life in Heaven which I took as a sign she is helping us in her own way). Adoptive families in Haiti refer to IBESR as the "black hole" because it could be one week or it could be one year. The agency has said the average time is 17 weeks but there are some families who have been waiting over 2 years. Since ours is a family adoption we hope this will work in our favor.

From the beginning we planned on going as a family to pick up Rebecca to bring her home. However Haiti is not so stable these days. There is a lot of uncertainty due to the political climate and violence is up and down. NPFS, the organization I work for, has had to deal with a kidnappings, robberies and shootings among other things just in the past 6 months. Now we are considering leaving the boys home when we go to get her. We are also hoping we will only need to be gone for 2 weeks when we go to bring her home.

Rebecca is growing up so fast and I feel like I'm missing it. My brothers-in-law are so wonderful to her and they send us photos whenever I ask. She looks so much like her mom, who also looks so much like Renand! Last time she and Ryan spoke on Skype they sang songs to each other and even though they have no idea what the other one is saying we can tell how excited they are to communicate.

We are truly thankful and blessed by the support shown to us from so many wonderful friends and family. Every bit has helped and we couldn't be more grateful for the kindness people have shared with us. We of course are still trying to add to our Rebecca fund because it seems the costs are never ending, but we are also excited to accept American Airline miles to help us get her home.

We continue to ask for prayers for this whole process to move along smoothly and quickly, for the safety of Rebecca and Renand's siblings in Haiti and for patience for all of us involved!

Thanks for reading, supporting and sharing. We wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year filled with love and all good things.

Peace,
Robin and all the other R's.

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
over 2 years ago

Update #5

Hi everyone,

Tonight the kids were in bed at the same time and I thought I'd take a few minutes to send a quarterly update about Rebecca's adoption.

Our paperwork in the US is officially completed and we received our letter from USCIS about 6 weeks after I sent the last update! Our paperwork is now in the process of being apostilled (verification of notary signatures) at the IL Secretary of State and then translated in French. This should only be a few more weeks. Once this is complete our packet and Rebecca's packet are entered together to social services in Haiti. This is what could take a week or a year. But recently I learned that the person, yes one person, who was handling this paperwork for all adoptions in Haiti has recently had 10 new people added to her team to help the paperwork move along more quickly. The average time for clients of our agency has been 17 weeks so we are praying for that time frame and not a whole year. Once the approval from Haiti social services is issued it will hopefully be just a few more months after that where we can go get her.

Rebecca turned 5 on May 11th last month and I'm still hopeful she can get here before turning 6. If so, we can at least have the summer together before she would start kindergarten in September 2016. I've recently learned that the Chicago Public School, Sayre, that I thought was our neighborhood school is not. But that doesn't mean I can't petition to get her into Sayre by advocating for her to get into their ESL program because it is a language arts school. The hard part is that I can't advocate for a child who is not here yet and she can't test into any program while she is in Haiti. We may be at the mercy of the CPS system for the first year or two and after that we will see how it is going.

Ryan and Rebecca continue to have cute conversations when we are able to speak to her on the phone or skype. Ryan includes her in a lot of our family conversations and has recently been saying "Becca too" just like he does for the Riley when we doing something.

The support we receive continues to make us feel so very blessed. Thank you all for everything you have done and continue to do to help us in the process. We have good friends who have slowly been building a wardrobe for Rebecca so when she gets her we won't have to go out and buy her a whole new closet of clothes. This is making all the difference for our future budgets!

Please feel free to ask us any questions. I'd like post a little Q&A on our blog at https://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca# for anyone who has specific questions.

Thank you again for all your support and please keep us all in your prayers as we enter into the "waiting game" of Haitian adoptions.

Love,
Robin, Renand and all our R kids.

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
almost 3 years ago

Update #4

Hi everyone,
I can hardly believe how fast time is flying by. I wanted to send an update and let you know what's been happening with us and with Rebecca's adoption.

Rebecca's paperwork to become an "orphan" is almost complete. I think they are working on getting a signature or two from a judge and then her packet will be ready. We have all our paperwork filed with USCIS (immigration) and we are waiting on the official approval to adopt letter. Please pray for that for us because if they reject it we will have to start over and refile including the $900 in fees again.

When we receive that it will get put with our packet for Haiti, translated into French, and then sent to Haiti where the agency will put our packets together and present them to the social services agency in Haiti. At that point we could wait 1 week or 1 year, there's really no way to tell. We are still praying that because we are a family adoption that may work to our benefit and we won't have to wait as long.

With the new rules each agency is allowed to present one family per month. But we are an exeption to the rule because we are family adoption and don't need to count as part of the quota for the agency...so we have that going in our favor!

Rebecca is growing by leaps and bounds she is shooting up tall and really looks like a young girl now and no longer a baby. She is still obsessed with school and would prefer to go there on the weekends too if they would let her in the doors. When she and Ryan talk to each other they are still able to find a way to communicate even though Ryan is just starting to speak well and Rebecca only has a grasp on a few English words and phrases.

I also wanted to share, for those who do not know yet, that we welcomed Riley George into our family on January 24th. He came into this world calm as can be and seems to have the same laid back personality that his big brother does. We called Rebecca right away and she was happy to know there was another brother. I'm excited for her because this means she will really be the princess (or queen!) of the house when she gets here because she is the child who gets her own room!

Thank you to everyone helping us along the way from collecting clothes, to giving us reference letters, referrals buying bracelets. We were truly blessed and overwhelmed by the amount of support we received at Christmastime from those contributing to our Rebecca fund. We couldn't get to where we are without any of you!!

Please continue to ask me questions - it's my favorite thing to talk about!

Happy Spring!
Love
Robin, Renand, Rebecca, Ryan, and Riley

https://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
over 3 years ago

"We're on our way..."

The best words one can read from the agency facilitating the adoption: We're on our way...

I was so excited to get the email confirming that the agent in Haiti has started the process to prepare Rebecca's dossier. We are counting on Renand's brother, Maurico, to get the various family members to appointments, run around for paperwork and still get to work and get paid without missing too much work. This week Rebecca and her mom will be meeting with the agent, with social work and with a psychologist. Please pray for them that they can get to each appointment with no problems and that the details can go smoothly. When these appointments are all finished Rebecca's papers can officially be turned into IBESR. That is when the waiting begins.

We have made an appointment to get our psychological evaluation and I've started double checking that we have all the papers we need to complete our dossier with ABI in Kentucky. It's amazing how much information is needed. I won't bore you with the details.

I'll be receiving the Apparent Project bracelets in the mail this week. Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing. I'm selling the recycled paper bracelets made by parents in Haiti who are working hard to keep their families together. The bracelets are $10 each and we split it with the parents. Contact me on facebook, send me a message, text me, email me or call me if you are interested! I can mail them to you for an additional $2. Here's the link to the website to learn more about the company: www.apparentproject.org

Thank you again for your prayers and support!
Robin

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
over 3 years ago

Home Study: Check! Now onto the Haiti part...

Hi everyone and Happy Friday!

I'm really exited to send this update about where things stand with Rebecca's adoption and let you know that we have finished our home study here in IL with Lutheran Child and Family Services. We are officially approved to be adoptive parents. Phew!

Now the home study document gets sent to DCFS for red-tape processing and then we will send it to USCIS (US Immigration) to be added to our file. Next Renand's brother, Fritznel, starts working with the agency in Haiti to get Rebecca's dossier ready so she can be "matched" with us when the rest of our international paperwork is complete with our agency All Blessings International (ABI) in Kentucky.

Tonight we spoke with Fritznel and Rebecca. We told her we are one step closer and this was the conversation, all spoken in kreyol:

Rebecca: Does that mean you will come get me tomorrow?
Renand: No dear, but we are getting closer, we have a lot, a lot, a lot of paperwork to do before we can bring you home here.
Rebecca: Fritznel will you come with me?
Fritznel: No, you will go to live with Renand and Robin and Ryan in their house, but you can talk to me on the phone and skype anytime.
Rebecca: Well, if you won't come...will Robin still paint my nails when I live with her.
Fritznel: Yes.
Rebecca: Ok. I love you! (This part was in English!)

I love the 4 year old perspective and the obvious importance of manicures and pedicures! When we talk to her on the phone she gives us little sentences in English that she is learning and always asks to talk to her brother, Ryan. I know it will be a transition for her but we are grateful that we have been able to dialogue with her about the transition since she was 2 years old and hopefully that will help when the time comes to pick her up and bring her home with us.

Because Haiti is now a Hague ratified country for adoptions they have been changing a lot of their paperwork and requirements. We are fortunate that ABI thinks we will not be delayed by all of this since we are an inter family adoption and they still look very favorably on our type of situation. So I am still prayerful that she can be with us by the end of 2015 or at least very early in 2016.

Of course we want her here as soon as possible but we also are adding another baby to our family because I am due late January with a little one who we think is a girl! The agencies both agree that we should move the Rebecca pieces along as quickly as possible but we also want to allow some time between the new baby's arrival and her arrival. Mr. Ryan will quickly become the middle child next year but we think he's going to make a great big and little brother. He's a very relaxed and easy-going kid....he obviously gets that from Renand!

As with any long process we find we more and more fees or costs as we go. I'm going to be doing another bracelet fundraiser with Apparent Project from Haiti. This is the non-profit who creates jobs for parents in Haiti to help them support their families and keep them together while offering their hand-made bracelets to people like us as fundraisers. We split the proceeds and its a win-win for their families and for ours. I loved the variety of bracelets we had last time and I think these can make great Christmas/holiday presents, stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts. Please let me know if you are interested. The bracelets are $10 each and can be shipped for another $2. You can read more about this wonderful project here: www.apparentproject.org.

I can't end this without sharing with you how blessed we feel by the enormous amount of support we have received from so many of our wonderful family and friends who have helped us afford our costs so far. We haven't had to take an loans yet and that is almost unheard of. I'll be applying for grants now that we have a completed home study but I know there are a lot of deserving families in the running for each of those. Our website https://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca has been a great tool for people who want to give online but I have been asked if we accept checks instead of going through the website and the answer is yes! I have the ability to add to the total amount on the website so its always up to date about how much we have raised so far and completely transparent.

Some of our friends, who are truly like family, have been more than generous that I don't even know how to start to thank you. I keep praying that one day we will be in the position to be able to help other parents in situations similar to ours and that we can help them build their families as you are helping us build ours.

Please feel free to share any advice or insight into international adoption if you have it - I'm always willing to learn more! Also please share this with anyone who may be interested. Finally of course let me know if you want to be removed from the list.

I hope you all have a great weekend and hopefully next quarter I can share not just one step but several!

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Robin Forestal posted a new update:
over 3 years ago

Rebecca and Ryan's first playtime!

It's hard to believe we have already been to Haiti and back. Renand and I have traveled back and forth a few times together but this was a new experience for us as we had Ryan with us for the plane rides there and then we added Rebecca right away when we arrived. It was so wonderful and surreal to have all four of our Forestal family together finally after one year of Ryan being with us! Rebecca was dressed up and waiting for us when we arrived at her house. I could hardly believe how much she has grown. I expected it but still was surprised - she's no longer the baby she was when we saw her at Christmas 18 months ago! She was shy for about 3 seconds and then she ran up and hugged us and was ready to go stay with us for a few days. She and Ryan were checking each other out for awhile and didn't really know what to do with each other.

Once we arrived at the Villa Francesca Hotel, the hotel behind the NPH St. Damien Hospital where we stayed the first night, they started to warm up to each other. Rebecca was really, really, I mean really, excited to open the suitcase of clothes and treats we brought for her. She kept double checking if they were for her. We didn't bring a lot of toys because clothes, shoes and books were higher on the list. But I did get her a princess Tiana barbie...that she could absolutely care less about! She loved the microphone shaped bubble wand that we brought (by accident!) and she spent a good 30 minutes interviewing Renand and his friends just like she was a little journalist.

Ryan, being the ever friendly small fry that he is, wanted so badly to share with her and play with her and Rebecca couldn't be bothered by him. I'm sure some had to do with the fact that she's 4 and he's 1, and also that their language barrier is a bit of a blockade, and also mostly because she's used to being all by herself and the princess of the house! They cracked us up a bunch of times with their jealousy. She would catch me holding Ryan and then barge into my lap and try to knock him out. Then she would just kiss my face and tell me how much she loved me until Ryan was no longer paying attention. He had no idea what she was up to.

The second day we went up to the mountains to stay at the St. Helene orphanage where Renand grew up and I volunteered. I had a lot of work to do because it was the end of the month so I spent much of the 3 days locked away in one of the houses where I could access the internet. Renand and the kids spent tons of time walking around and playing with all the kids at the orphanage. Rebecca also had to see the doctor in the clinic because she had a rash. It cleared up right away with hydrocortisone cream and daily baths with the dove soap we brought. She had this last time we saw her, though not nearly as bad this time, and most likely its due to the quality of the water that she uses for bathing. It's pretty common in Haiti - even if you buy water, like our family does, you run the risk of it not being completely treated to the highest of standards. After just 2 days her skin looked so much better and she said it didn't itch anymore.

One night when Renand got stuck at the top of the property in a downpour, Rebecca and I sat in our room and took photos of each other. I taught her how to use the camera and not put her finger on the flash or in front of the lens. She loved taking the photos and looking at them right away...which of course always leads to a faster dying battery. We also colored a little bit and played with the stickers in the sticker book we brought for her. She lined the stickers all up and down her arms and legs and just laughed and laughed and laughed. She also tried to teach me how to tie her hair in the muslin blanket that we had for Ryan. She's pretty talented for 4 and did a much better job than could do.

I think one of the best times we had this trip was when we took an afternoon visit with some other visitors to a restaurant called Rustick. It's a restaurant/bar/hostel that has been made totally out of recycled products from the earthquake. The lights are all made out of prestige beer bottles or wine bottles and the whole thing looks like something a Haitian-Swiss Family Robinson would have made. It was just awesome. They had a great appetizers that we shared and a live band that Rebecca and Ryan really enjoyed dancing to. The guitar player let them both strum a few strokes on his guitar when they were finished. We finally got a family portrait while we were there and just like any classic family photo we don't have a single one out of 5 shots that all of us are looking or that a certain 4 year daughter doesn't have a ridiculously silly smirk on her face!

While we were in Haiti we spoke to the man who is in charge of the creche (orphanage) who would be responsible for the paperwork in Haiti. I was very disappointed to learn that not only would we be charged the $15,000 standard fee but also that we had to pay an extra $2,000 because Rebecca is a pre-identified child. I was hoping we would only be required to pay 1/2 of that because she is already living with our family and would not be moving to the creche. We decided as a whole family before we filed any papers that we never have Rebecca leave living with our family in Haiti before coming to us. We agreed that if that was ever to become a necessity that we would stop all process. Thankfully this man does not require her to live there but he said he would prefer it. I politely told him no thanks to that option. He also said he thinks its a requirement for the children to live in the creche by the US anyway. I told him I'd check into it. It's not a requirement - of course, confirmed by our agency in Kentucky.

Anyway I have been extremely stressed out over this additional money that I thought we'd have to find because I really don't want to have to get a second job outside of our home. I also think it would be much harder to finance $17K instead of $7.5K. And I like being with Ryan during the day and we planned for me to be able to be with Rebecca for her transition when she gets her. SOOOO yesterday I got some great news from our KY agency. We are going to use another one of their partners in Haiti who will not charge us the child care fees so we will only be required to pay $7,500!!!! This has been a huge weight reduction on my shoulders this week. I still worry about how we will come up with all the money but worrying about 1/2 the amount is easier than almost $20K.

We have our first home study appointment on Monday and Lutheran Child and Family Services here in River Forest. It will take until about mid-September to complete our home study to get all the papers collected that we need for our dossier to turn into the Haitian government. But we are finally moving along at a steady pace. And after our home study is complete I will be able to apply for grants and loans and hopefully can piece it all together in the next year.

As I sit here looking at the photos to post on this site I keep smiling about how much fun we had together and how very deeply we miss her now more than ever.
Every morning when Ryan and I stand in the bathroom brushing our teeth he looks up and waves to Rebecca's photo on the mirror and says hi to her. I'm glad that the 6 months I kept saying every morning "say hi to your sister" is paying off now that he connects the photo to Rebecca. I can't wait for the day they wake up and run into each others room to say good morning. One day that day will come. One day much sooner now than it was 1 year ago.

Thank you for keeping up with us! You can help us reach our campaign goal on #Fundly! You can donate as much or little as you want. Check it out: http://naf.fundly.com/the-joy-of-rebecca

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