Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Fine Brick Wall

We seem to have reached a major roadblock in terms of our I-600a extension. This form is one we file with Citizenship and Immigration to be cleared in advance to bring an orphan into the country. We were approved over a year ago, but after a certain period of time the approval expires and you must apply for an extension. We did this in September. We know that our application was received -- we were smart enough to have delievery confirmation -- but from there its all a mystery. The process ideally takes about two weeks in our state. We should have received our approval letter (I-171h) by the beginning of October. Now it is the end of Decmeber and there is no sign of it.

I contacted them at the end of October and since that time have been told on a weekly basis that we are approved and our form is in the mail. About two weeks ago, when there was still no sign of our letter, I enlisted the help of our social worker. She is now getting the exact same run-around. They would not give her any information but to say that they would resend the form. Last week they even went so far as to confirm our address and tell us that the form was going out that day. Over a week later, we still haven't seen it. Their office is three hours away.

Nobody knows what is really going on. It is completely absurd that such a routine process would be so messed up. I almost wonder if somebody there doesn't like us for some reason. We may never know, but we need that form.

When a family is placed on the waiting list, the understanding is that they will have this letter in hand by the time they reach the top. With over 20 families on the girl's list, signifying months of wait time, its not a big deal to have the process done in time. It is, however, a stated requirement to have this form to complete the referral process. I'm not sure what this means for our case. I've been keeping our case worker up-to-date, so she knows we're trying. If it comes down to it, we will seriously drive over there and pick up the silly form -- that is, if they'll let us.

Would you please pray specifically for this form? Also that we wouldn't be anxious -- we really feel like we've hit a brick wall. As with our referral, we must essentially sit and wait through the holidays, because if things weren't moving at this government office during normal days, I can only imagine how difficult it will be to navigate during these next two weeks. Our social worker and case worker are also out of the office until the 5th. I officially hate waiting!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

"It was really the best Christmas present ever -- even better than hearing about our baby girl. I would gladly postpone our referral in exchange for that moment. I really would."

I wrote that yesterday (on our family blog) in response to my son's Christmas program. Little did I know -- or maybe I did know deep down -- that we weren't likely to get our referral before Christmas, that it really would be postponed.

We found out today that there is little chance of a referral before early January. I spent a significant amount of time grieving the loss of that hope this afternoon before I remembered what I had written yesterday. So ironic. Now, as I'm consciously choosing to move on and rejoice in the blessings of what I do have this Christmas, I realize that I really did mean what I said. The countless mountains that God has moved in the life of my son are a testament to what God can and will do in the coming year, and that reminder Sunday night was necessary to get me through the news of today.

Speaking of irony, consider what I wrote this time last year. And if that wasn't enough, there is this. I am simply awed by where God has brought us in just one year and humbled to think of what the next year might bring...starting in early January.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Ever heard of it? Well, I've got it. Its the fear of using a phone*. Calling on the phone, answering the phone -- both are very difficult for me. I've gotten better though. I still get sweaty palms when I call anyone other than my mother or my husband, but at least now I can call to make my own appointments.

So why this confession? Because I'm probably the only mommy-in-waiting in the history of our agency who has her husband as the primary person to call. Yes, indeed. When our blessed moment arrives, my hubby will be the first to know! So its HIS name I anticipate with such anxiety every time I check my incoming calls. It also makes matters more complicated since he does call for other reasons throughout the day -- so I never really know. But, considering the fact that I'd probably faint if I saw AGCI's number on my phone, it really is the better option. Even if it is really weird.

*I made this up. However, I have heard of other people with a strong aversion to talking on the phone, so I wouldn't be surprised if there actually is a term for it. Just like coulrophobia, which is the fear of clowns and another phobia of mine. I'm actually bothered by any masked or costumed character, which my hubby says is related to my fear of the phone because in both cases the other person involved is concealed. He could have something there. The irony is that in his younger days my husband spent a number of years performing as a clown on mission trips around the world. But that's a post for a different day....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Looking Forward

Looking forward to something really has its downsides. Its been about a week since we learned that we are just about as close as you can get to a referral without actually having one. And I'm hanging in there. Really. After three years on this journey, what's another couple of weeks? Trouble is that all isn't so rosy after that blessed moment of referral. And that's what's got me down. (And writing in sentence fragments, apparently.) Its like almost being to that last rest area before the most difficult part of the journey. For three years I've watched families get referrals only to then plunge into all manners of despair as they wait for court, wait for travel and/or experience lengthy delays, mistakes in paperwork, and even closure of of their country's program. Some have even lost their children before they were even able to bring them home. Adoption is like the longest pregnancy ever, followed by the longest labor and delivery ever...all for the price of a new SUV. And that doesn't include the emotional toll. I spend my moments praying for all these other families, their children, and their circumstances. With my own troubles heaped on top. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I've signed on for....

Lord, thank you for the blessing that I KNOW adoption to be -- help me to BELIEVE that ALL things DO work together for the good of those who love you. Grant me an extra measure of grace as I wait for that "rest area" and the journey to follow.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Can I Get an AAAHHH!?!

So I've been sick for the last couple days. Totally out of it. But late last night I decide to check in on the AGCI listserve. Wasn't thinking that anything had happened. After the movement last week, I figured we'd have some down time. We were all just waiting for our official number updates. Oh, look, I say. Maria got a referral. How wonderful! Wait a minute. Maria is right before us. Maria was Number 4. If Maria got a referral, then we're like....

For the record, we did get our OFFICIAL number update today from our case worker, which is Number 4. That just means that there are three people ahead of us who haven't submitted their official referral acceptance paperwork. A family isn't removed from the list until that happens. So you can't OFFICIALLY move up until that happens. But, odds are we are indeed #1. At most #2. I think. Isn't that completely nuts??!!

God is moving and so are we...even if we aren't ready!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Someday Soon

I'll get to use this fabric that I bought over two years ago!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008



Okay, so I threw a hissy fit last night. Tears, nasty attitude, the whole bit. Now I'm eating a big ol' slice of humble pie. Ala mode.

Huge congratulations to Sunday and Kristi. Just in time for Thanksgiving!

A Thousand Years

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping in promises, as some understand slowness.... 2 Peter 3:8-9

The text refers to the Lord's return, but the truth is still the same when applied to any sort of waiting. Especially when the waiting feels like a thousand years....

(Could we really be Number 6??)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Going Batty

I am seriously going nuts with waiting right now. I'm not anxious, I'm just pulling my hair out! The Lord knew what He was doing -- doesn't He always?? -- when He pulled us from the 6-8 month wait of the Vietnam program. Its been at least three weeks since the last referral and it feels like an eternity. Makes me feel like a big baby. Baby? Did someone say "baby"?! Ackk!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Link and An Update

You may have noticed the image I have on the sidebar for a little girl named Abby. Abby is one of the children brought home through AGCI's Guatemala program. Not long after coming home, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Her story, shared by her parents on their family blog, is pretty remarkable, as is she. Her parents are true soldiers of God, as is evidenced by a posting on her father's blog today. I link to it here because it is such a testament of God's grace...a reminder we could all use daily.

There have been some significant miracles in our adoption circle this week: several families who were initially warned that their cases would likely not pass court due to the new processes did indeed pass. It was truly a work of God on their behalf. Some have been waiting since last spring. We are still praying for the families who didn't pass and for those who are waiting for court dates.

I am aware of only one referral (on the boys' list) these past two weeks, so those of us waiting are indeed truly waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I think I get spoiled by the huge floods of referrals that come through. During the dry times I simply go crazy. Fortunately, for this circumstance, life is ridiculously busy so I can't focus on the craziness for very long before something else beckons. Usually something in the form of one of my children.

We are supposed to be emailed our current, official waitlist numbers this week, but I'm thinking its probably not going to happen. Our dear case worker, Julie, is at this very moment in Ethiopia tackling a "day care" renovation, (I wish I could post pictures. Does anyone know if its okay to post the pictures of the day care?) some work at Hannah's Hope, and possibly fact-finding about the new policies, etc. Lucky! Not so lucky is Case Worker Christy, who is left to manage all her crazy waiting mommies as well as Julie's. Poor woman! Anyway, I'm handling the delay fine because we crazy waiting mommies are PROS at deducing our numbers ahead of time.

And that's all I've got to report right now!

PS I keep thinking about creating a blogroll of the many wonderful AGCI families, but there are just so many that I'm worried I would leave someone out. They are always such a source of encouragement to me -- they speak volumes that I cannot even express about WHY we are adopting and the blessings of growing one's family through adoption. Its on my to-do list. Really.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hope Deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick...

Such is the feeling of many families in the Ethiopian adoption program this week. We were informed that significant changes are being made in the way adoptions are being processed in Ethiopia. This is due to concerns about the number of children being adopted internationally and also an increase in efforts to ensure that all adoptions that are completed are done so in an ethical manner. The biggest effect this has on us is an increase in the time between when we get our referral and when we get approval to travel. (The timeline they were giving us before these changes was 3-5 weeks. They haven't said exactly by how much the timeline will increase, just that it will increase from the numbers they gave us before.)
The biggest hardship about an increase of this sort is that once you have your referral, you have a picture and a name...a face and a name to your child, whom you now have to wait possibly over five months more to meet, knowing that a lot of milestones are being passed and that your five month-old infant will be nearly a year old before you meet her. Many families facing this change already have their referrals and have been waiting a number of months already. Please pray for them!
I recall seeing these sort of changes taking place not long before the Vietnam program closed. After coming so far, I'm so worried that it will all be for nothing. Please pray for us too -- that we may hold on faithfully for the conclusion of the proverb....

...But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Referrals are coming so fast these days, I can barely keep up. If I've calculated correctly, we are Number 8 on the waiting list now. This is both incredibly exciting and a little terrifying. My husband compared it to having early labor contractions. (Which we've experienced, with our second-born. I had contractions from Week 26 to the very end, tempered only by medication and bedrest.) While we're so very excited to have our little one sooner rather than later, its really rather scary. We feel really unprepared! We've been encouraged all along by the truth that God's timing is perfect, but that was when we felt like things were moving too slowly. Ironic, isn't it?

One of the most pressing issues is of course finances. We've been putting off fundraising endeavors, thinking we had all kinds of time. It was also a nice excuse because hubby and I are both big babies when it comes to asking for help, in whatever form it might be. (ex. Our eldest's school walk-a-thon. I barely got up the courage to ask the grandparents for donations, let alone anyone else!) I enjoy making jewelry and had big dreams of maybe turning a bit of a profit with it for the adoption. I don't think its going to happen. There simply isn't enough time in the day with two little ones, Bible studies, and the usual everyday crises. All is not lost, however, because we do have other ideas, probably to be unveiled in the next month.

The news of so many referrals -- and the corresponding realization that our little girl has likely recently been born -- also brings a twinge of sadness. It is no light thought to consider that such an availability of orphaned children implies a large amount of tragedy. When considering an international adoption, one is often plagued by much criticism about adopting outside one's own country. After all, aren't there children in need of homes in the United States? Certainly. And shouldn't children be left with their own people (ie countrymen) to be cared for? Of course, if it is feasible. When one considers the huge need in a country like Ethiopia, however, one cannot help but realize that there is a sense of crisis there. All these little babies being united with families who are able to meet their needs and love them...there are so many! And where else would they go? Okay, I'm done preaching. I don't know that I've made much sense anyway!

Let me just say that we are SO EXCITED to be a part of this journey. Next week I'll likely be posting about the painful slowness of the process -- next month will mark the third anniversary of our application to adopt -- but tonight is one of those nights when we're barely keeping ourselves from jumping on the beds. (Gotta be a good example, you know!) Number 8 -- YIKES!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Single Digits?!

Ack! After being so depressed this week over the adoption, I took a much-needed break from the online AGCI listserv and my obsessive blog-stalking. I didn't even check my email, because I knew our bi-weekly update from our case worker would be there. Tonight I finally gave in and checked my email...and found that there had been two more referrals! (And some long-awaited travel dates!) Now instead of being depressed, I'm about to pass out! I think we've reached single digits, baby!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Number - Official and Otherwise

We received our bi-monthly number email yesterday. It was no surprise to read that officially-speaking we are....

But we also know that, given this week's referrals, unless something goes awry, we are actually....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Time Out, Grumpy Bunny!

That's the name of one of my boys' storybooks. And that's what my husband told me when he came home to find me stomping -- well, more like thud-clomping -- around the house in a huff.
Why was I so flustered? Because one -- no, wait -- two -- no wait -- three* families received their referrals today!

But isn't that a happy thing, you ask? Absolutely! But when you read rumors of referrals on your husband's laptop downstairs, but don't know the addresses of the AGCI blogs by heart because they are "cookied" into your favorites on your own laptop, but your laptop is upstairs and meanwhile the timer for the brownies is going off and your toddler is literally hanging off of you -- and, oh, did I mention you're on crutches? -- so when you finally actually get upstairs you have to wait like forever for your laptop to start up, then one starts to go a little nuts! Okay, well, at least I do.

All that to say: HOORAY for Amy, Angela, and very likely Aubrey! And their respective husbands, too, of course. Many, many, MANY congratulations on your referrals!

We were told that THIS week would be the week we would get our OFFICIAL wait list numbers, which are only determined once all prior referrals are accepted/approved. We are pretty darned certain our new number would be 14. However, said number would very likely be obsolete before we even get it, because of these three* pending referrals! That would put us (unofficially) at Number 11, folks. Crazy, crazy stuff!!

*Still waiting to be corroborated. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun with Calendars

So, how long have we been in the Ethiopian program now? Long enough that one would think we would have heard that Ethiopia has a different calendar than us. Really. We never knew this.
Then, back on September 11th I started reading on adoption blogs -- yes, that's all I ever seem to do in my spare time these days! Its a sickness, I know. -- about that day being the Ethiopian New Years and that they are seven years behind us. Next, I come to find out that their calendar year has only ten months. How interesting is that? Confusing, too, I might add, because this plays into the calculation of the age of your adopted child. The people that know how to convert the birth date and age and all that business have my admiration, because that's just too much math for me! There are, however, handy online date-conversion calculators, one of which is here. If you have oh-so-much spare time like me, you can calculate your birth date according to the Ethiopian calendar. (ex. my birth date translates from 06/76 to 10/68) Or you can just use this handy piece of geographical trivia to amaze your friends.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Courts Opened Today!

Courts are open! This means that cases can be processed again. Families with referrals will have their cases go to court in Ethiopia. After passing the courts, they will be given travel dates. As families travel to pick up their children, more room opens up for children at Hannah's Hope. That means more families can be connected with their children-to-be. This is, of course, a very general description of what happens. Its much more complicated. (Referrals aren't directly and that simply connected to space at HH, but there is a bit of logic in it.) But, the opening of court is a reason for all in the adoption waiting process to rejoice nonetheless.

Speaking of waiting, we've passed the 3 month mark on the girls' wait list. When we first started in the Ethiopia program, we were given a 4-6 month wait time. Now its around 6-8 months, which is still incredibly short -- believe it or not -- in the adoption world. At the actual rate that things are going right now, we could very well receive a referral by 6 months -- but there are no guarantees. Everything seems so much longer though because we've been at this so long. All told it will be three years this Thanksgiving since we first applied to adopt. Ugh. Well, it goes without saying that God knows why the timing has worked like it has...and we already see the providence in much for it. But three years is still a very long time to be "expecting"!

And speaking of expecting, if all goes as it has in the past, we should be receiving our THIRD and final -- hopefully! -- FDL in the mail this week. Pray that they corrected that silly mistake on there, because while it won't make or break our case, its just one more unknown that could bug some official somewhere and prolong the process. Yuck.

We should also get our official, updated wait list number this week. We're pretty confident that we're Number 14, but only the Powers That Be (ie. Julie) know for sure!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Prayers for Abby

So while I'm sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I've been following the blogs of other AGCI families. The ones I really love to read are those who have brought little girls home -- because someday that's going to be me, but I also enjoy those of folks who are still enduring the wait right alongside me. And then there is the Riggs family. I've been following their blog for months now. The Riggs are true examples of what it means to parent and grow your family in obedience to God even in the face of adversity. One of the children they have adopted -- a little girl named Abby -- was fairly recently diagnosed with leukemia. Since her diagnosis, there has been no end to the trials this family has had to endure. This week in partcular has been particularly heart-wrenching. Please, remember them in your prayers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bring on the Referrals!

In one crazy week, there have been at least 3 refarrals of little girls and at least 2 baby boy referrals. Potentially, that would move us up to Number 15 on the wait list. I can't believe how much movement there is right now. At this rate, especially once the courts open in a few weeks, we may have our referral by New Years!

I think it might be time to get serious about our fundraising! Yikes!

Our congratulations to Autumn, Melissa, Kami, and Shannon -- and the other mommy whose name I don't know! We are rejoicing with you!

EDIT: Since I posted this morning, there has been another referral! Congrats to Bethany! Gracious, we're like up to Number 14 now! (Unofficially!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moments of Gratitude

It may seem odd to feel such a strong sense of longing for a child you've never met or even seen, but strangely enough, its very real. I guess when God moves the heart to adopt, He also starts to build that bond from the very beginning. That being the case, the long months of waiting can really take a toll on a mommy-to-be. Ethiopia has a court closure for the months of August and September that results in two months of little to no movement in the adoption world -- and I am really feeling burdened for those who are so close to uniting with their child, but are stuck in limbo. A fellow AGCI blogger chose to create a lost of 25 things for which she is grateful, in the hopes that others would join in. (I really need to create a blogroll of all these wonderful families who have adopted or are adopting. It is such a blessing to have a way of connecting with them! Hmm...maybe I'll make that my #1!)

25 Things for Which I am Grateful Today (in no particular order)

1. Other adoptive families who encourage me, inspire me, and pray with me
2. My son's school
3. Time with my youngest son
4. The uncharacteristically beautiful weather we're having here in Washington State
5. My husband's job
6. My best friend and biggest fan -- my husband
7. The health of my family and extended family
8. My home
9. The luxuries of food and clothing
10. My parents and extended family
11. Our church and the friends I have made there
12. My mentor and Bible study partner
13. Our crazy pets
14. Living near the mountains AND the ocean
15. Our cars (and the money to fuel them)
16. The ability to read and write
17. Being spared the agony of limbo in the Vietnam program (we changed programs just months before the closure of adoptions in Vietnam -- in ignorance of what was about to happen)
18. How quickly we've moved up the waiting list! 11 spots in 2 months? Not bad!
19. My quirky brave eldest son
20. My goofy sweet youngest son
21. Our "baby sister" (as the boys call her) who we will meet someday soon
22. The burden of my son's autism (I stole this idea from Sunny too, because its soo true. It is quite simply amazing how the Lord refines us and draws us near in our suffering.)
23. The folks at Children's Therapy Center
24. Dr O and Dr K, who helped when nobody else could
25. My precious Jesus, Who is teaching me every day what it means to love Him

With that said, bring on October!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Number

We got our update phone call today. We are officially number....

How is that for exciting?! And I really needed some good news today. I was really surprised. I was guessing we'd be closer to 21 or so. This means that five families have accepted some sort of referral in the last month. Some families are waiting for a boy OR a girl, some are waiting for a toddler girl, some may opt for a waiting child (older, sibling group, or with special needs). Ironically, the wait can get longer as you move up the list because as you get closer to the top, preferences are getting more specific. But for now, #18 is a pretty darn good place to be!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Adoption and John Piper

Stumbled across these today, after first reading a quote somewhere out in the blog world:

A short video commentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgNXQ2CazUg
(For you Valley folks, he references Ephesians!)

And for those with more time, a longer read: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1991_Adoption_The_Heart_of_the_Gospel/

Adoption and the Church

My mom sent me the link to this powerful posting on adoption by Albert Mohler on his blog: http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=1504 .

I often feel embarassed to bring up our adoption because I don't want to be seen as bragging, like I'm proud of doing some good deed. In truth, being obedient to the call of adoption had very little to do with our decision to do so in the beginning. We were just interested in having more children and were open to the idea of doing so through adoption. (While it is not impossible for us to have more children biologically, given the difficulty of my second pregnancy it is not a very desirable option.) The fact that God commands us to care for orphans -- at home and abroad -- only serves to affirm that we are doing something right. He's the only One to whom we have to answer and it is our hope that He will find us faithful.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


After admiring our renewed FDL, we discovered that it still referred to the agency AGCI was partnering with for the Vietnam program. Oops! USCIS is going to have to redo it. Julie assures us that it shouldn't be that big of a deal. We're just relieved to have discovered it BEFORE we really needed the document. We have plenty of time on our hands (in terms of the adoption -- not in our REAL life!) to have it fixed! Whew!

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hooray! Praise the Lord! We got our Favorable Determination Letter this weekend -- we were out of town, so I'm not sure exactly which day it came, but we're talking less than two weeks since our fingrerprint appointment, people!
This is the document that essentially gives us pre-approval to bring an orphan home. It needs to be completed before we can accept a referral, the significance at this time being that when our time finally comes we already have everything in place!
And now back to waiting....

Monday, August 18, 2008

AGCI Picnic

Saturday was our annual regional AGCI picnic. It was for all the families in the area who have adopted through AGCI, are in the process of adopting, or are interested in adoption.

While I was excited to mingle with other families, I was anxious -- me? anxious? never! -- about the idea of meeting new people and bringing our boys into such an uncertain environment. After all, our case manager AND social worker would be there -- what if they saw what a unfit parent I am?!

As is often the case, however, we ended up enjoying ourselves -- even if my husband did have to force me, like the big baby that I am, to start conversations with complete strangers. The boys had a blast in the swimming area, which was enough distraction to keep them from uprooting/flooding/otherwise destroying the picnic area. We met many very nice people who are also in the Ethiopia program and exchanged information so we could keep in touch. (I am hopeful that we will actually do so, unlike the old summer camp ritual that never comes to anything!)

If nothing else, we got a picture with our case manager, Julie, (left) that will be nice to have to show our daughter someday...and not just as proof of her brothers' goofiness! And, no, I am not pregnant. That's just the beauty of a poofy shirt combined with a wiggly child.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wait List Update

We got our wait list update for the month and we are...still #23. I think we would have moved up because there was a family moved off the girls' wait list this month -- they choose to accept a 2 year-old boy instead! -- but for a turn of tragic events. Remember the baby girl with special needs? A family was all set to bring her home and help her through her surgeries, but she unexpectedly passed away due to some unforeseen health complication . In circumstances such as this, the family is returned to the wait list and placed at the top. When we received word of this the email actually said that if we had a problem with that or needed further explanation we should contact our case worker! I can't imagine being upset with such a move for that poor family! They essentially lost their baby -- before even bringing her home! My heart hurts for them. And I pray that they find healing and are able to be united with another child, if that is what they wish to do. So we didn't move up the list this month -- I really am okay with that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Fingerprints

After weeks of wondering what had become of our packet sent to USCIS, we received notices for our fingerprint appointments! According to our social worker, it is safe to assume that we are approved (pending clearance of the fingerprints) for our renewal of our Favorable Determination with Citizenship/Immigration. This will save us about $600 and a whole lot of paperwork! The appointments are set for the 11th of August, at a location about 20 minutes away. Once the prints are processed, we should receive a new letter of approval and then all we need to do is wait. When our referral comes through, we'll be good to go!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Paperwork Update

We got word today that our dossier just made it back from being authenticated in Washington DC. It will now be sent to AGCI's contact in Ethiopia. She will look after it until we are matched with (and accept) a referral. At that point I would assume it would probably move into the court system there.

Two weeks ago we sent in a request to USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration) to have our approval extended and also to be approved to adopt from Ethiopia rather than Vietnam. We were extremely fortunate when we did our Vietnam dossier to be able to hand-deliver our CIS application and have our digital fingerprints done on a walk-in basis. Since then, the policies here in Washington have changed and we had to do it all by mail, requesting that they set a time for our fingerprints to be taken*. Last time we were approved in two weeks. This time we are at the mercy of the system. I know I'm just spoiled though, because most other states don't have the availability of walking in to take care of this part of the process. There is a good chance that it may take a few months this time around. Fortunately we technically don't need to have our CIS approval in hand until we have a child referred to us, but it would sure be nice to have everything in order.

That's all I have to report right now, which is actually good since we have plenty on our plate for the time being....

*These fingerprints are different than the ones required for our dossier. I don't know why the different government agencies have to each have their own fingerprint process, but hey, that's government for you!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2 Weeks Later

We are number:

Now, before you all get excited about how quickly the list seems to be moving, keep in mind that the Ethiopian government officially shuts down over the next two months, due to a national holiday of sorts. That means things are going to slow way down. Its still going to be at least four months, but likely six months or more before we reach the top. BUT in this house, we are never ones to scoff at progress!

Friday, June 27, 2008


We are officially number:

On the waiting list for a girl!

We did it!

We mailed our dossier in yesterday! Praise the Lord!

I wrote a long and heartfelt post soon after about how it feels to finally reach this point after three years...and promptly lost it all. The resulting agony made me unable to attempt it again until now.

I feel like I can finally get excited about our adoption now. This is a milestone in the process that has eluded us for so long. We were so close with the Vietnam adoption process, only to have to turn back for a time. Everything that follows this point will be uncharted territory for us!

It seems like most of the process so far has taken place in the quiet background of our life. There isn't a whole lot of drama to be found in paperwork and notarizations. Also, I know I have avoided talking about it much due to the assumption that most people probably think we're crazy, given the chaos that is our current family life. As to that, all I can say is that I have come to believe that God likes to keep us right on the edge of what we think we can handle so our only choice is to rely on Him. Or something like that.

The next few months will likely pass without any excitement, in regards to the adoption of course. This is fine, since our lives are pretty full this summer. As referrals come in for other families, we will slowly move up the waiting list and will hear occasionally where we officially stand. (There is a message board where many mommys-to-be keep an unofficial list of where folks fall. This is based on the limited information that we do get about eachother. In the adoption world, there is little knowledge of what is happening with other families. Things are kept confidential to the extreme. I technically cannot post a picture or give out the name of our referred child until I have her -- and her visa -- in my hands in Ethiopia.)

Once we finally receive the name and information of a referred child, we will have a short amount of time to consult with a pediatrician trained in working with internationally-adopted children and to pray a whole lot before we submit our decision to accept the referral. We have the choice to turn down a referral, but I believe the result is moving back to the bottom of the wait list. (??) If we accept a referral and then change our mind, Ethiopia has the policy that the child is deemed unadoptable forever and we would never be able to adopt from the country of Ethiopia again. Heavy stuff.

Upon acceptance of a child, our file would move into the court system where the end result would be the declaration of the child as officially -- on paper, at least -- ours. (As I said before, we cannot really claim her as ours until we are leaving Ethiopia with her and her visa.) We will then be assigned a date to travel to Ethiopia.

For now, we wait. I will still occasionally post if there is anything of interest to be shared or if I need to vent about how long everything is taking or about how other mommies are having babies in a predictable length of time and why didn't we just decide to do this the old-fashioned way, etc.

Oh, and we need to start fundraising. More on that later!

For now, we can just celebrate the fact that the hardest part is done!

Monday, June 2, 2008

All Clear

Hooray! My fingerprints cleared! Our homestudy is done and can be sent off to the adoption agency ASAP!

Waiting on one more reference letter and our dossier can be sent off too!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Are we there yet??

Nope. Not yet. I thought I would post, however, to tell you all where we are right now.

We are still waiting on my latest set of fingerprints. Everything else in our homestudy is done. And nearly everything else in our dossier is done. We will be getting letters from our local police department tomorrow (more background check stuff) and have to take a few photos of our house and ourselves and we will be done, done, done!

I verified that the prints made it to the FBI a week ago, so it should be about another week before the clearance (please, Lord!) reaches our social worker.

In the meantime, we have actually put our name on a list to consider a certain baby girl with correctable special needs. This was not something we had even considered going into the adoption process, but God has really been working on hearts, and obviously our current situation, to take on things we never thought we could. Anyhow, we are sort of the back-up family to be considered for this particular child, as there is another family interested in her who is further along in the process than we are, which gives them priority over us. Should they decide to "pass" on the opportunity, so to speak, we may have the chance to look over her information and decide if we want to move forward. That is, unless another family further along shows interest. So complicated! Anyway, the odds are pretty slim right now, which we knew would be the case, but the possibility is there. It goes without saying that we believe God has the right child waiting for us as we are waiting for her, so we are doing our best to be patient!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In Light of Current Events

I wait.
Dear Lord, Thy ways
Are past finding out,
Thy love too high.
O hold me still
Beneath Thy shadow
It is enough that Thou
Lift up the light
Of Thy countenance.
I wait --
Because I am commanded
So to do. My mind
Is filled with wonderings.
My soul asks "Why?"
But then the quiet word,
"Wait Thou only
Upon God."
And so, not even for the light
To show a step ahead,
But for Thee, dear Lord,
I wait.

-Elisabeth Elliot

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

This is what I received for Mother's Day:

Its from Junk Posse, hand-made jewelry with an adoption theme, by Tracy in Colorado. Isn't it fun?

In other news, we found out today that my fingerprints were rejected...again! It is so discouraging. This means I have to go through the whole resubmission process again and another 2+ week wait. Just when we thought we were getting somewhere!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Career-Ending Injuries, Fingerprints, and Garage Sales

Our homestudy is done! Except for my FBI fingerprint clearance. For some reason the resubmission still hasn't cleared yet. As soon as it shows up though, the homestudy will finally be finished.

We're still polishing off the last few items of our dossier -- we hope to be done by the end of May.

In other news, we attempted to take over a paper route as a means of raising funds. It was short-lived, however, as the action of throwing papers threw out Allan's back for three days following our first delivery! So that job went the way of my Dairy Queen career in college, which lasted all of two days. Fortunately Allan has a few other ideas he might try....

We will be having a garage sale soon, probably in conjunction with several other members of our extended family. I believe it will be Memorial Day weekend. I'll post more details later!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Hand of Providence


What more can I say?!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Dossier Explained

A few folks (not just Amy!) have asked about the dossier, so I thought I would explain that a little bit more. The dossier (doss-ee-ay) is the collection of documents that is compiled and actually sent to the country from which you are adopting. Typically, once approved by the adoption agency, the dossier is translated into the appropriate language and sent overseas. The child's country reviews and, hopefully, approves the dossier and sets the applicable process in motion for assignment of a child, or referral. In most cases, a dossier is also compiled for the child by the government. This would include as much information as is available about the child, medical records and history, and any necessary release forms from living relatives, I would assume.
The adoptive parent's dossier includes your homestudy approval documents, medical clearances, financial statements, letters of reference, criminal background check clearances, etc. The documents required in a dossier vary by country. When we joined the Vietnam program, we were told that we would have one of the easiest dossiers to complete. (It wasn't terrible, but I couldn't imagine what a more complicated dossier would be like!) Upon joining the Ethiopia program, we discovered that even "simpler" dossiers existed! Many of the documents required are the same between countries, so we actually have a few of these already "done" from our Vietnam dossier. They just need to be updated since so much time has passed.
Speaking of time, many people grumble about the length of time and the amount of paperwork required for an adoption, domestic or international. It IS frustrating and tedious, to be sure. Yet, I think about what I would want to happen if, heaven forbid, one of my biological children were to become an orphan. I would hope that should some stranger from another country wish to adopt my child, that that person would have to provide some serious proof of his or her ability to take care of my child! So, to a certain degree, it is all understandable and I believe it is definitely worth the time and effort!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

And Yet Some News

Phew. I had my fingerprints redone today and sent them on their way to the FBI...again. We were also able to FINALLY send off all the remaining homestudy documents. Hopefully our social worker can process those while we wait on the fingerprint clearance.

Yesterday we received the terrific news from AGCI that families can now be placed on the referral waiting list -- THE List, the list you wait on until they assign you your child -- as soon as their completed dossier is accepted by the agency! Prior to this, families would have to wait for approval through Immigration and the Dept of Homeland Security to be placed on the list. This would mean up to an additional two months wait, just to be put on the list to wait some more. With the rate that the Ethiopia program is currently moving -- that is, slightly slower than before but still faster than most other programs -- our agency now feels comfortable putting folks on the list while they are waiting for Immigration/DHS clearance.

Since we already have approval to adopt a child from Vietnam, we only have to submit a Change of Country form for Ethiopia to be reapproved -- hopefully! That means that when a child becomes available for us, we'll be all set to go that much faster. Now we just have to finish our dossier...while we wait on those fingerprints, of course.

Monday, April 14, 2008

And So It Goes

Well, phooey. We were all ready to send off the last of our homestudy documents when we received word that my fingerprints were rejected by the FBI as too smudged. This means I have to wait to receive new fingerprint cards from our social worker, head to the police station to have the prints redone, then send the prints off to West Virginia for the FBI to process, and wait for word that this set was approved and that I have clearance. All this will take at least two weeks. We are on an incredibly fragile timeline as it is, for reasons that would take forever to explain, so this is a frustrating detour to have to take. Please pray that everything goes smoothly this time!

In the meantime, our case manager travelled to Ethiopia for two weeks and just sent out a slideshow of the kids in and around the Home there and of some of the families who also travelled at that to unite with their children. I wish I were allowed to share them, but alas, a whole bunch of confindentiality laws come in the way. Anyhow, it was bittersweet to see these beautiful children. As the process drags on, I feel more and more like I MISS my little girl, even though I don't even know her yet. Yet, it brings me hope to see the children -- it reminds me that someday I will have a picture of a little girl that will soon be my daughter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Whose Timeline?

"I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see, because this broken road is Your will for me." - Jeremy Camp

A phrase that is commonly thrown about in the course of the adoption process is "timeline." What is the timeline for adopting from this country? What is the timeline for the payment of fees? What is the timeline for this paper to be processed? What is the timeline for the wait for a baby girl as opposed to a baby boy? And so on.

Sunday morning, in the course of his Easter sermon, one of our pastors spoke of God's timeline in regards to Abraham. God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. (Gen 17) He didn't tell them how long it would take. They were already elderly, so they must have assumed it would happen sooner rather than later. It was already a shock that it would be happening at their age to begin with. Abraham and Sarah had also already taken it upon themselves to speed up God's covenant promise to Abraham of countless descendants (Gen 15), by arranging for Abraham to father children through Sarah's maidservant (Gen 16).

Our pastor's point was that Abraham, considered to be one of the great men of faith, didn't trust God's timeline and it brought great sadness to his household -- not by God's hand, but by his own. This struck me as such an important piece of truth to hold onto as we stumble down the road of our adoption timeline.

Will I trust God's timeline or will I try to hurry things along so I can feel in control? When I read updates on other families who are that much closer to bringing their children home, when I rejoice with a tiny bit of sadness as other women continue to have children biologically in a predictable 9-month timeframe, can I have faith that the timeline God has chosen for us is the best possible timeline for our family -- including our baby girl? It is my prayer that I will and can!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slow Going

We haven't gotten too far into the process and we are already experiencing frustrating delays. The homestudy portion, which we had first believed to be one of the easier steps since we had most of it already done, is dragging on longer than expected. Spring breaks and staffing issues present roadblocks out of our control.
Our medical forms are done, as well as our home visit. We are working on getting reference letters and our financial forms completed. Today we attempted to get our fingerprints done for processing through the FBI, but the police station was understaffed on this particular day (!) so we need to try again tomorrow. All that said, we still hope to have our portion of the homestudy updates done by the 1st of April. At that point, our social worker will need to compile the documents and send them to the adoption agency for approval. Only then will we be able to tackle our biggest hurdle, clearance through Immigration and Homeland Security.
Phew. Please continue to uphold us in prayer as we struggle to keep this momentum while tackling everyday life!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things I Ponder in my Heart

A few evenings ago as I was falling asleep, I found myself praying for our little girl. It occurred to me that, should we follow the timeline as it is supposed to go, it is quite likely that our baby girl is in utero right now.* This thought was heady enough for me to contemplate, but then I began to think about her birth mother. With a great deal of sadness I realized that if indeed our baby was within her mother's womb at this time, there would come a day when something tragic would happen that would result in her being separated from her mother and placed in an orphanage. It is awfully strange to think about, because in a sense we already know that something very heartbreaking has to happen for this little girl to become ours. What a sobering thought!

One of the unique requirements of adopting from Ethiopia is that if any birth relatives, which may even include the birth mother, are known and accessible, the adoptive parents are required to visit them. Obviously, this presents a wonderful opportunity to make connections, take photographs, and build memories that will be so important to creating a life story for the adopted child. It is also meaningful to the birth family to have that momentary connection, never knowing what the future holds. For me, however, the idea of this meeting holds a great amount of trepedation. As a mother, I simply cannot fathom giving up my children and can't comprehend what it would feel like to do so -- and then to meet the couple coming to take my baby away....

These thoughts cause me to look beyond my own "selfish" motives when I think of adoption. It is so much bigger than the transfer of a child from one home to the the next. It is so much more than finally getting the baby for whom we've waited so long. I ache for her mother and what she must go through -- things I cannot possibly understand. And I continue to pray...for all of us.

* Infants are available for adoption between 2-4 months, depending on the circumstances. This would be their age when they are assigned to you. Adding on the months it may take to travel, the youngest an infant would possibly be when brought home would be 4-6 months. We are probably asking for a child 6 months or younger at the time of referral, which means she could be up to 8-9 months when we bring her home. If, for example, she is 9 months when we bring her home, and we do indeed follow the 12 month timeline until we bring her home, her mother would be about 7+ months pregnant right now. Of course, only the Lord knows what He has in store for us!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A New Beginning

Those of you who have known us for a while know that we have longed to adopt for over two years now. It began as a leap of faith, especially as our youngest son was only 6 months old at the time, and it has continued to be a leap of faith all along.

The first thing we needed to tackle was country choice. Two years ago we chose Vietnam. This was not an entirely worry-free decision, as my father and many others have unfortunately had their lives forever altered in connection with the country of Vietnam. Obviously, this was through none of their doing, nor that of the child we would be bringing home, but we worried none the less.

For nearly a year we worked toward this end, filling out piles of forms and paying a whole lot of fees. We took courses over the internet and read stacks of books. And we traveled three hours south to visit the agency, three hours north for our homestudy interviews, and three hours east to have our fingerprints processed through the Department of Homeland Security!

Just before we were to send out our final packet of documents, our dossier, we began to realize that there were pressing issues we needed to take care of at home. (See my other blog.) Recognizing that we could not continue with the adoption, both emotionally and financially, while we came to terms with our son's disorder, we put it on unofficial hold. It was an incredibly difficult decision, but one that we prayed over quite fervently.

This past Christmas, not long after I wrote of the sadness I still felt for halting the adoption, I believe I finally started to accept that God's timeline was not my own. Perhaps that was the step that I needed to take because shortly thereafter we felt God prodding us to start again.

During the time of our absence from the sphere of adoption, I watched from a distance as the wait times for a child from Vietnam got longer, the procedures got more complicated, and the future of adoption from Vietnam get somewhat uncertain. I also noticed that our adoption agency, All God's Children International (AGCI), launched a new relationship with the country of Ethiopia.

AGCI serves not only orphans in the adoption process, but also those who are left behind. One of the ways they do this is through the establishment of homes for orphaned children. They have had homes of this kind in several countries over the years, bringing services both to the children and to pregnant women in the countries they serve. The children are cared for by what they term Special Mothers, who give them consistant and personal care. It is from such a home that the children being adopted from Ethiopia through AGCI would come through.

Excited at the prospect of this new program, we sought God's guidance as to the possibility of switching countries. We were motivated also by the shorter wait times offered by the Ethiopia program. Were we to restart the Vietnam process (which we would have to do because so many of our forms would have expired) we would still be waiting over a year just to be assigned a child. It would be additional 6 to 9 months before we could travel to pick her up. To adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia, the wait would be about 6 months to be assigned a child and about 4 months until travel.

After lots of prayer and discussion, I am excited to say that we have indeed launched ourselves into the Ethiopia program. There are many things which have had to be redone and money to be redirected, but there are also many things which thankfully we have not had to redo. We are currently updating our homestudy -- with a home visit scheduled for next Saturday -- Yikes! After that, we'll spend the next month/month and a half completing our dossier. Once we submit our dossier and we are reapproved by Immigration, we will be FINALLY put on the waiting list for our baby girl!

The purpose of this blog is mostly to keep everyone updated regarding where we are in the process of the adoption. However, a significant portion of time in adopting a child is spent WAITING. So, I will probably be on here from time to time posting my thoughts and feelings about this whole crazy undertaking, prayer requests and reasons to be thankful, and no doubt a few complaints. (And I promise the posts won't always be as long as this one!)

The theme of my life lately, though, has been one of hope. I have hope that my God will carry our family through our journey with autism. And I have hope that He will bring home our little girl.