Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Letting Go

I'm not really sure where to begin this post since we have kept this information mostly to ourselves up until now. We were advised from the beginning not to become too emotionally involved and not to tell anybody until things were more certain, which I see now was a very good idea indeed. Six weeks ago we were unofficially matched with a 17 month old little girl with a special medical need and today we were told that her birth family decided that they would like to try to raise her. My heart is breaking over this little girl I never even knew, but amidst the pain there is also joy. I rejoice in the fact that she will be with her birth family because in a perfect world that is where every child belongs. I do hope that they will be able to provide the medical care that she needs. I know I need to let go of my worry over her care and put her little life in God's loving hands. 

I have no regrets about our decision to pursue this child even though we knew things were a little uncertain (although her birth family taking her back was the one thing I was very sure would not happen!). I am sincerely glad for the time God allowed us to imagine what our life would be like with her and for challenging us to step out of our comfort zone to obey Him. Our eyes and hearts have been forever opened to the needs of this world and this will not be an end for us. Now for the process of letting go our dreams of parenting this little one and all the life changes we were prepared to make in order to accommodate her needs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Seven

I am hopeful this seventh month will be our lucky month! Never did I think that we would pass seven months on the wait list, but I already know it is going to be so worth every second of waiting. I can't wait to see that little face!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get Involved

Ways to get involved today:

 From HIV to Home give $5 a day for 5 days starting today, World AIDS Day, each day funds a different project serving orphans living with HIV.


AHOPE an organization that cares for orphans in Ethiopia that are HIV+, through them you may sponsor a child.

Compassion International AIDS Initiative offers comprehensive services that allow them to proactively fight this widespread disease one child at a time.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1st. If you are adopting from Ethiopia, chances are that your child's life has somehow been touched by HIV/AIDS. After hearing many personal stories and reading several books about this devastating crisis in Africa I cannot ignore it. Millions are dying of a disease that is so treatable. Moms and dads are dying leaving their children behind. Children are being forced to be parents.  Parents are watching helplessly as their children die before them. I feel so small and inadequate in the face of such an enormous crisis, yet I am compelled to act.

It is so easy to just sit back, do nothing and say this is too overwhelming for me to even think about let alone to make a difference; but I believe we can make a difference, even if we only reach out and touch the life of a single person we are making a difference. For some ideas on how you can help take a look at this blog of an adoptive parent and choose one of the 5 things she mentions to get started. I highly recommend the books There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children by Melissa Fay Greene and  28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolan, though be warned, they may change your life. Here in the United States we have been blessed beyond belief, will you share just a little of what you have been given and take a step toward action in honor of World AIDS Day?

"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
Luke 12:48


November: National Adoption Month

In honor of National Adoption Month:






Wednesday, November 11, 2009

6 and 30

I neglected my six month post so this is it. Six months on the wait list, not much more to say :)


Today is my 30th birthday, ugh. I feel officially old. I have been dreading this day for a while now, mostly because I am not where I wanted to be at this time in my life. My plan was to be done having kids at 30; but, for a variety of reasons I am not yet a mother. I expected to at least have a referral by the time I turned 30. Even as I write these words I am not discouraged. I know there is something amazing and beautiful at work. When I gaze into the sweet face of our child I will know that all this waiting was meant to be. If we had done things any differently we would never have the little girl who is waiting for us. If you pray would you please lift her up in your prayers, specifically her health and the transitions in her care.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Waiting

"Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait." -Paul David Tripp

I am in awe of His ways.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Current Stars of Our Household

Can you guess the song? (he actually does know more but won't perform for the camera, I think I've tried a dozen times)
video

This is what happens when we leave a chip bag unattended.
video

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Travel Ban Lifted

This is great news in the adoption world as well as for many others.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Five Months

The call did not come last week while we were on our yearly mini vacation to the North Shore. I thought for sure we would be celebrating our referral on this trip. I'm sure I didn't enjoy our hiking as much as I should have. One day we spent several hours out of cell phone range. The whole time I anxiously awaited our arrival back to cell phone land, in fact, I planned that we had to leave our location by 2:30 so that we could be back to our villa by 4:30 in case we did get a call. This kind of planning happens every day in my world these days.

Today we have officially been waiting for 5 months. I thought last month would surely be our month, but hopefully October will bring us the news for which we've been eagerly anticipating!

Here are a few pictures from our last (hopefully) vacation sans kids. This year we didn't hit the fall colors at their peak but it was still beautiful as always!

Wisconsin side of Lake Superior looking at Duluth, MN. I never knew Lake Superior had sand dunes until this trip!

St. Louis River

An overlook from up high, you can see Lake Superior in the back of the photo

Shovel Point

A large cargo ship that came into port as we were walking along the canal one evening




Friday, September 25, 2009

No News Yet...Maybe Today?

For all the blog stalkers out there, I just wanted to let you know that no we have not received our referral yet. Rest assured I will update this blog the moment I get a chance after we get our call :) I am still hoping that maybe we will get some news today and hopefully not next Monday or Tuesday when we will be in the middle of nowhere in Northern Minnesota (meaning possibly no phone/internet access as we will be hiking around the shore of Lake Superior). How awful would that be if we returned to civilization only to find out we missed the call and had to wait until the next day to meet our daughter?

Truthfully I thought we would have a referral long before this, and funny as it seems, now that we should be getting closer the waiting is getting easier. I'm not allowing myself to think about it all day every day, maybe that's just a coping mechanism. I do however think about all the different calling scenarios every morning and figure out how that works with our schedules. Sometimes I feel like it's never really going to happen and somehow they forgot to put us on the wait list. I know, strange fear since we've only been waiting 4 months 2 weeks and 5 days, but that is what is going around in my head these days.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Out With the Old In With the New!

We are finally saying goodbye to our huge beast of a piano to make room for our daughter. I'm sad to see it go, but the happiness of putting together a bedroom significantly outweighs it. Now I can finally start doing some painting and decorating to make it look like a real bedroom! Maybe everything will feel a bit more real then. It seems like I've been waiting forever to have my way with that room. We've been putting off getting rid of our piano until we could purchase our new one. We bought a digital piano because it is portable and we will be able to take it with us if/when we move to Africa.

Sorry for the bad photos...

Old piano, 800+ lbs: (note the edge of the crib/toddler bed in the photo)
New digital piano, 77 lbs :)


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Four

Today marks 4 months on the wait list or 17.5 weeks. Hopefully we'll get our call this 4th month.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

From Garden To Freezer

We love growing our own produce in our garden. There is something inherently satisfying about planting a seed, watching it grow through the summer, and finally serving it for dinner. This past week I've been busy using up our garden spoils and freezing them for the winter. I had to clean out our deep chest freezer earlier this week to make room for new things. The prize for the oldest item goes to the chicken drumsticks from 2006, I decided to throw them out.

Freezer contents from our garden this year:
-Garden vegetable soup
-Tomato soup
-Moroccan lentil soup
-Chili
-Zucchini bread x 3
-Zucchini muffins
-12 cups of grated zucchini (should make 8 loaves)
-Spaghetti sauce
-Pizza sauce (really a bad spaghetti sauce that turned out to be fantastic on pizza!)
-Pureed pumpkin
-Pumpkin seeds



We had three pumpkin plants and each one produced one pumpkin. I planted them just for the seeds because the birds and I love them. My goal was to save some money by growing our own. Since I've been in the saving money mode I decided I better not waste any of the pumpkin so I roasted and pureed it. I plan on using the puree for muffins, bars, cookies, and soup.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A belated three

Sorry for the lack of posts for those who check obsessively...Laura... We have been patiently waiting for just over three months now. I keep my phone near me at all times and everyday I think this could be the day! I'm only setting myself up for disappointment if that call doesn't come for months yet; however, I am optimistic that it will be sooner than later. Let's hope :)

Some big news around here is Travis has become a Master. Yes, he has finally earned his Master's degree after three long years. He has worked so hard and I'm very proud of him and so very glad that he is done!

We also just celebrated 8 years of marriage! I love my husband and I'm so thankful God has put us together.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Two

Today marks the end of two months on the waitlist :)

Speaking of two, our niece Charlotte just celebrated her second birthday. My sister made a nice homemade bee cake for the occasion and Charlotte dressed in character as well.
Our other niece Emma turned four a week before Charlotte turned two. Here she is playing with her new horses while eating cake :) What more could you ask for on your birthday?


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christmas in June

One of the benefits of having slightly older girl cousins is that we will never have to buy toys or clothes. We are now the proud owners of The Rose Petal Cottage along with a number of other outgrown/unused toys. I really have no idea where this will fit in our house, but it's too cute to pass up :)




Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mmmm!! Is that good?!

The blog title wouldn't be appropriate without some birdies and since it will probably be many, many months before there is any adoption news, I thought I would post a little something for you all. For those of you who don't speak parrot, the post title is a translation of what he says as he is enthusiastically licking the ice cream.
video

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One down revised

The other day when I posted that we had been waiting one month, what I considered a month was 4 weeks. I guess officially it should be on the 6th of each month that is counted as another month. So anyway, now we have been waiting one month!!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One down

We have been on the wait list for one whole month now! How many more is anyone's guess...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Maybe a little too soon...it was a great deal though!

Yesterday we purchased our first item for our daughter! I hadn't planned on buying anything yet because I knew once we started buying things and had to look at them every day it would make the waiting all that much harder. I went to a few garage sales yesterday and just couldn't pass up a crib/toddler bed selling for only $10!!! Since we saved like $200 on a crib and mattress, we decided to splurge a little bit and bought a few bedding items to go with it. Hopefully our girl likes birds as much as we do :)




The dolls and animals are courtesy of grandmas. (The clothing I couldn't pass up because they have birds on the shirts.) Looking at this makes us so excited! It all actually seems more real now. We are going to be parents :) All this bed needs now is a little person to fill it. Perhaps it was a mistake to buy this so early on...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dossier


This is our authenticated dossier paperwork just before sending it in!



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Officially Waiting!!!!

Today is the day that we start our waiting for a child referral! I was surprised to get an email from our caseworker today saying that our dossier looks perfect and we are now on the wait list. Yippee!! I was not expecting it this quickly but what a nice surprise :)

We are waiting for a referral of one girl up to 18 months old or two sisters, one of which is under 18 months and the other up to 4 years old. More than likely we will end up with a referral for one girl.

I know everybody is wondering how long will this take. Right now the average wait time for a referral is around 8 months, so we have a lot of waiting ahead of us. After the referral we will still need to wait to receive a court date and then wait to pass court, which may or may not happen on the first try. Any prayers for patience would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CIS Approved and Dossier Complete

If you haven't figured it out already, today we received the long awaited, much anticipated I-171H in the mail! This is our CIS immigration approval form. After five long weeks of daily stalking the mailbox it is finally here, woohoo!!!

Today we ran around like crazy getting documents notarized and then authenticated at the Secretary of State. We had to come back home and scan the documents and assemble our completed dossier. Finally, we rushed out of the house to make it to FedEx just a minute before they closed. Our dossier should be in Texas by 10:30 tomorrow morning! I'm just praying that our dossier is done correctly. This marks the end of our great paperchase and the beginning of our waiting for a referral, though we are not yet officially on the waiting list.

Sneak Peek



Monday, May 4, 2009

Not an update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! You will be glad to know you haven't missed anything, but stay tuned...

Hopefully I'll have more to post tomorrow :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Almost Waiting

We have been fingerprinted a total of 3 times now! Well, actually I've been printed 4 times because one of the cards came back unreadable after 5 weeks of waiting for clearance. This time (Monday) at the USCIS office we were fingerprinted digitally, which was really quite fascinating and hopefully will result in better prints. Although several of my fingers had to be redone numerous times.

Besides getting our fingerprints on Monday we went to the Secretary of State to have 14 of our documents authenticated. Authenticated means that the Secretary of State acknowledges that the notary who notarized the document is indeed a notary with an active commission. Wouldn't you know it, 4 of the documents had problems! The notaries had written their commission expiration wrong. All I can say is it's a good thing we did a trial run before we are in a hurry to get things done. We will go back to get the remaining documents authenticated once we receive the I-171H.

I don't have an accurate time estimate to receive the I-171H (immigration approval), but I'd like to say it should be around a month, give or take a bit. In the meantime we are busy tying up loose ends with our dossier. It's mostly complete. Besides the I-171H, we have to finish writing our letter to the Ethiopian officials stating why we want to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Every time I start this letter my mind goes blank and I have no idea where to even start. I have started writing this letter so many times. It is such an important thing and I don't want to mess it up. I've had since July to think about it and now it's really the last piece we need to finish.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fingerprint Appointment

Wow that was quick. We just received our immigration fingerprinting appointment! It's only two weeks away! This may move faster than I thought...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's next?

I've been asked by several people what comes next. We are currently waiting on our immigration approval (the I-171H) which should take three months or so. Our homestudy had to be corrected and resubmitted to immigration last week so that set us back once again. We are now waiting to get our fingerprinting appointment with USCIS. Hopefully we won't have any more setbacks in obtaining our approval.

After we receive the I-171H we will take all of our dossier documents to the Secretary of State to be authenticated. Our completed dossier will then be rushed to Gladney and from there it will be sent on to the U.S. Dept of State to be authenticated and then to the Ethiopia Embassy for the final authentication. From the Embassy it will be forwarded to Ethiopia. Finally at this point we will be put on a waiting list for a referral of a child. Any questions?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Progress!

We are now officially Gladney approved! After what seems like forever, things are finally moving along. Homestudy done, I-600A complete, and Gladney approved!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Immigration Approval Here We Come!

Finally an update! Our homestudy has been approved and sent off to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). That means our countdown to immigration approval begins. I stated in my second post that it could take up to six months; however, upon my most recent visit to the USCIS website I found out it is currently taking three months or less for processing times!! Yipee!!! Finally some good news. Now that the homestudy is finished, Gladney will look at our whole file and decide if we are officially approved to adopt through them. What a long process...

Speaking of long processes, in their monthly teleconference, Gladney stated the average wait for a referral is now 6.5 months, the timeframe to receive a court date is 1-3 months after referral, and then 12 weeks until the actual court date. Hopefully we will be on the waitlist for a referral in early June.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

AHOPE

AHOPE for Children is an organization that serves HIV positive orphans in Ethiopia. They have two children's homes in Addis Ababa that care for children that do not have family to care for them. Many of these children are now finding permanent homes through adoption. AHOPE also has a community outreach program that makes it possible for orphans to stay with their extended relatives and in their own communities by providing medical care, food, education, and more. Since we are adopting from Ethiopia, this issue is very close to our hearts. A t-shirt has been designed to bring awareness to this orphan crisis. Please join us. Your $10 donation for a shirt can feed a child at AHOPE for a week! The following is a post from the AHOPE blog:

There’s a movement growing. Everyday in the Western world someone’s eyes are opened to the orphan crisis that’s ravaging the developing countries. The problem seems so large and we seem so insignificant. We can make a difference though. By raising awareness we foster a community and as a community we can provide. We’re asking you to help us in creating that community.

World AIDS Orphan Day is May 7th. The AHOPE Store has developed a t-shirt to commemorate this day and the community of supporters that are growing year after year. Please join us in raising awareness. It’s simple. Order our newest t-shirt from the AHOPE Store for a $10 donation. (All proceeds go towards care of the children served by AHOPE.) Wear your shirt as often as possible, and especially on World AIDS Orphan Day. It will serve as a reminder to your community. It may even create a dialogue. That dialogue could open someone’s eyes. You might inspire them to do more, give more. We are asking you to join us in creating a community that is committed to orphan care.

After seeing what one little t-shirt can do you might be inspired yourself. If that’s the case be sure to check out the World AIDS Orphan Day website. Here you can find further information on this grassroots campaign and how to organize an event in your area. The campaign was founded by FXB International in 2002 and continues to grow year after year.

The new t-shirts images, designed by 13-year-old Isaiah, are shown below:




To order your shirt, please visit www.ahopestore.org. For orders of 20 or more please contact Marissa Baker at store@ahopeforchildren.org. Thank you very much for your support of AHOPE!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Story So Far...

For those of you who are interested: (for those who don't care just skip to the last paragraph to see where we stand as of now)

We have been thinking about adoption as a means to expand our family for a number of years now. We feel God had placed it on our hearts to provide a home and a family to children who have no family and no place to call home. Our journey into international adoption officially began last summer when we applied to an adoption agency. About a week after we sent in our application we were asked if we would be interested in a baby that was to be born in two months (actually on Travis' birthday)! It would be a domestic adoption of a biracial baby girl and they were asking all of their Ethiopia families if they were willing to think about adopting this little girl. So far no one was interested. We immediately said "Yes, we are very interested!". We hung up the phone and started to figure out how we could come up with $25,000 in one month. Our hearts were torn when we realized that this was not yet meant to be, but for a little while we felt like we had a daughter out there. Heartache #1.

After this first bump in the road we started working on our international dossier which is the collection of documents that will be reviewed by government officials, judges, orphanage directors, etc. in order to evaluate our ability to be good parents. In another post I may go into more detail on this process in order to vent a little frustration! We had our first homestudy visit in September. Towards the end of September we decided that it was in our best interest to switch to a different adoption agency even though that meant starting the whole process over from the beginning and extending our adoption timeline. Heartache #2.

In October we decided to switch to Gladney. Money wasn't rolling in as we had planned it would be and so we had to wait...and wait...and wait until what seemed like forever. Well six weeks certainly seems like forever when you think you have your timeline all figured out! I initially had this perfect timeline in my mind and I was naively thinking that we would have one of the very few smooth adoption experiences. Every day we were waiting and saving money I felt like precious time was slipping away from us, taking us further from being united with our daughter. Heartache #3.

At the end of November we were finally able to move forward and take the steps necessary to officially apply with our new agency. We also mailed out our I-600A to USCIS which is the paperwork needed to approve us to bring an orphan into the US. I figured that Iowa would have a pretty quick turnaround for the approval (the I-171H), afterall how many Iowans are there adopting internationally? It turns out I was very wrong! We learned that it could take possibly six months to get immigration approval!!! Six months, that's longer than our anticipated wait for a referral! We cannot even be put on a waiting list for a referral until we receive the I-171H. So much for my timeline... I am no longer making any predictions. Heartache #4.

Although all these setbacks are frustrating to say the least, I do believe that God has perfect timing and we will end up with the child or children that are meant to be ours. I am certainly learning much about patience.

As of now we are waiting for Gladney to approve our homestudy. Once our homestudy is approved we send it to USCIS to complete our I-600A. Then our wait for immigration approval officially begins. Once Gladney approves our homestudy and has the finalized copy they will look at our file and application and decide to approve us or not to adopt though their agency.

If you made it through this entire post I am impressed! Thanks for caring!

Hello Blog World!

We are finally starting a blog about our journey to bring our daughter home from Ethiopia. I have been enjoying so many other people's great blogs and have been procrastinating putting one together myself (mostly because I couldn't come up with a good blog name). We'll have to see where this goes. I make no promises to update frequently! We hope you enjoy following along with us through the roller coaster of international adoption.

Travis and I have been talking about adoption for a long time and finally found ourselves in a place where we can hopefully afford the outrageous sums of money needed for an international adoption. We are also trusting God will provide for this financial need as we feel He has lead us to the decision to adopt in the first place.