Wednesday, November 19, 2014

One Year Ago

One year ago, Marcus and I stuffed 1.5 pounds of paper, 8 months worth of work, and our dreams of expanding our family into an envelope and sent it across the ocean to Ethiopia. Our dossier has been there for a year now, meaning that we have been on the official waiting list for one year. We are still waiting to be matched with our son, a little boy between 0 and 3 years old.

One year ago, we went to celebrate "Officially Waiting" at the Blue Nile Ethiopian Cafe. This past weekend, we went back there with our church small group to celebrate our one year "Wait-aversary." As things continue to move slowly in Ethiopia, we wonder how many more years we will have to go back to that little cafe without our son. Looking at current trends and estimated wait times, it appears that we could celebrate 1 to 2 more anniversaries of "officially waiting" for him. We have no doubt, though, that it will be worth the wait. 

One year ago, God answered our prayers to expand our family with two kinds of hope: the hope of bringing our son home from Ethiopia and the hope of meeting another child - the one that caused those two pink lines to appear on the same day that our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia. We are so thankful for our baby girl, and we are thankful for the hope we still have of meeting our son someday. God brought our daughter into our lives at the perfect time. (Go figure, God's timing is perfect.) Per adoption requirements, we know that we cannot be matched with a child in Ethiopia until after the end of February, when our daughter is 6 months old. Looking at estimated wait times, we wouldn't have been matched before then anyway. So really, it changes nothing about our adoption process...except for the fact that he will have 1 more family member to love on him when he arrives. 

Last week, we heard rumors (for the second time this year) of Ethiopia threatening to close its doors to adoption. Thankfully, this time, they proved not to be true. It is our prayer that Ethiopia will remain open to international adoption for the next several years. We continue to pray that our adoption will progress quickly and that someday soon we will be able to meet our son. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Waiting on Him

She's here! Eliza Mae was born on August 21, weighing 6 pounds 15 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches long. She is 2 weeks old today! Marcus and I are overwhelmed with love for this tiny little person. We had been waiting on her for 40 weeks and 2 days. We watched my belly grow as she grew. We saw her wiggle and move within me. We saw photographs and videos of her throughout those weeks. We had an estimated date to look forward to, to count down to, and now she's here! Pure love.

We are so excited and happy to welcome her into our lives, but we are still waiting on one more family member. We are still prayerfully awaiting the arrival of our son. However, adoption is different. There are no real signs of growth or development that I can actually watch. There are no photos yet or due dates to estimate arrival. There is just a stack of paperwork in Ethiopia and a timer, counting up the number of days we have been waiting. (Our paperwork has been in Ethiopia for 279 days now!) After my 37th week of pregnancy, I felt like our baby girl would NEVER arrive! I joked that she would most likely graduate high school within my womb, but deep down I knew that we had, at most, 4 more weeks until we met her. Oh how I'd love to know how many weeks or months or years it will be until we meet our son.

How I long to hold him like I hold her. I long to tuck him in at night. I want so badly to make sure he's taken care of, and I desperately want him to know that he is loved. That he has been loved and wanted for 17 months now, which may even be longer than he's been on this earth. 

Unfortunately, expected wait times for referrals (when we are matched with a child) keep increasing. When we started this process, estimated wait times for a healthy infant or toddler was at 24 months (once paperwork arrived in Ethiopia). We have seen that wait time steadily increase over the last year and a half. Current estimated wait times are now at 36-42 months. Part of the increase in wait time is due to a relatively new adoption policy called the PAIR (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review) process, which went into effect about a year ago. 

The PAIR process is good in that it protects adoptive parents and children. This process determines eligibility for adoption (declares orphan status of a child after a full investigation) and ensures approval for immigration before an adoption is finalized. What it really means is that a child you have adopted: 1. actually needs a family, and 2. he or she will not be stuck in their country due to an inability to immigrate into the United States. There are heartbreaking stories of children who have been legally adopted, but who are unable to live with their new families due to issues surrounding these things. While I wholeheartedly agree with these precautions, the PAIR process is somewhat difficult for me in that it adds extra paperwork and extra time to an already lengthy adoption process. We have heard that there are only 4 ladies in the country of Ethiopia who process these forms for the PAIR process. As you can imagine, paperwork is backing up, causing increased adoption timeframes. I know, I know: patience. This process is a step in the right direction to help ensure more ethical adoptions in Ethiopia. 

Marcus and I find hope in knowing that we are not really waiting for an estimated wait time to pass or a person to process paperwork. Ultimately, we are waiting on The Lord and on His perfect timing. He already knows when things will be set into place, as it has already been prepared beforehand. He even knows the number of hairs on our son's head. (Luke 12:7). Thankfully, our son's days, like our days, were formed before he was even born:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

We continue to trust in Him to continue to bring our family together. 



Monday, May 26, 2014

A Sister

It's a girl....and a boy! We are looking forward to welcoming our baby girl, Eliza, into the world in August! We are also looking forward to welcoming our little boy into our lives someday soon as well.

Because a six month difference is required between the time both children enter our home, we know that we cannot possibly receive a referral from Ethiopia until at least February 2015. Our baby girl will be here in 12 weeks! She will be six months old in February. 

Based on estimated wait times for our adoption, February would still be early for us to receive a referral for our son. By then, our paperwork will have been in Ethiopia for 15 months. We were given an estimation of 24-30 months once our paperwork arrived, but we know God is not restrained by time.  We also know that He could have a longer wait time in store for us. By February 2015, it will be two years since we began our adoption journey and since we began praying for our little boy. We will continue waiting and praying until God orchestrates the events that will allow us to bring him home.

As I stare at my ever-expanding belly, I can't help but think about our son. Because we have requested a boy between 0 and 3 years old, it is impossible to know many details at this point. Is someone else's belling growing with him right now too? Maybe. Has he already been born? Maybe. When we pray for him, are we really praying for a man and a woman who have not met yet? Maybe. As I feel baby girl's little kicks, I can't help but wonder: Will she have a protective older brother? Or will she be a loving big sister? Will our children end up being in the same grade?

We are looking forward to the day when these questions will be answered, as we know that God already has it prepared for us. We absolutely cannot wait to see how He works it all out! We thank Him for these blessings, and we continue to pray for our son and our daughter.  





Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy Anniversary

It has been 1 year since Marcus and I signed our contract with the Ethiopian adoption program and mailed our first payment to our agency. At that time (and still now, at times), I was convinced that we were a little crazy. We did not have money in the bank to fund this adoption....who am I kidding, we didn't even have a house of our own! We had been married for 1 year and 9 months, and we had moved to a new city only 6 months before. Yet, we still felt like God was telling us that it was the right time to start our adoption journey. We still firmly believe that God has laid adoption on our hearts. 

Throughout the last year, we have seen God do some amazing things. We were able to purchased a house. By God's grace, we have had enough money in the bank to make every single adoption payment. We made it through the mountain of paperwork and home study visits, even while moving into a new home. During this last year, our Dossier made it across the ocean and into the hands of coordinators IN Ethiopia, putting us on the official waiting list! (We have now been officially waiting for 113 days!) We prayed fervently for months when Ethiopia threatened to shut down international adoption, and we rejoiced when the country decided to remain open to international adoption. We have seen hundreds of people rally around us with support and prayer. (Thank you so much. It means more than you will ever know.) So many others have decided to encourage us or share personal stories about how adoption has impacted their lives. In the last year, we have prayed for and fallen in love with a little boy that we have never met, never seen...who may not even be born yet! We have also fallen more in love with our Savior as we have seen and experienced the parallel between earthly adoption and heavenly adoption.

Throughout everything, we never doubted God, but we also know that we don't deserve everything that He has poured out on us over the last year, and we are truly grateful. This last year has not been easy, but it has been worth it. During the last year, our Faith and Trust has grown immensely as we continue to realize that nothing, including this adoption, is within our control. All we can do is give it to God and know that He will bring our son home in His perfect timing, if it is His will. We know that, no matter what, this journey has already been amazing, and it is one that we were meant to take. Here we are, 1 year later, with another baby on the way, and we are still so sure that this is how God has led us to build our family. We know we have many months left in this journey, but we cannot wait to see how He leads and provides in this next year. Maybe this will be the year that we will meet our son!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Waiting X 2

The day our paperwork arrived in Ethiopia was the day that Marcus and I found out that we were expecting ANOTHER child! We will pick up one child from Ethiopia (at a date still to be determined), and another child will join us along that grand adventure. Yes, we're adopting....and I'm pregnant! Our expected due date is August 19, 2014.

We are beyond excited to grow our family in both of these ways, as both have always been on our hearts. We are so thankful for God's blessings upon our family. Our latest blessing will change nothing about our adoption process. We will just have to update some of our paperwork over the next several months. (I never thought that I would be so excited to do MORE paperwork!) Our agency supports concurrent family building, and our social worker has given us approval for 2 children. We will continue to wait as normal for the referral of our son.

Ethiopia only requires a 6 month difference between the time children enter your home, but not in their ages. (I can't wait to find out how close these two little ones are in age!) Based on the estimated wait time for our adoption, 24 to 30 months, we will have no issues with Ethiopia's requirement. If the adoption process goes faster than originally anticipated, our waiting phase would be put on pause before receiving a referral for a child. It would resume, though, as soon as our baby turns 6 months old, and we would be eligible for a referral again.

We are now counting down the days until we can bring BOTH of our children home. Which of our children will be our oldest? Marcus and I cannot wait to see how God weaves our family together.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

I thought about naming this post "The Blue-Winged Goose has Landed" (appearantly this is a bird common in Ethiopia, according to my google search), but I was afraid the excitement might get lost in translation. Our Dossier arrived in Ethiopia on Wednesday! It will now be translated and will remain there until we receive a referral for a child. We will soon have a family coordinator who is our contact person in Ethiopia!


To celebrate the fact that months of paperwork was out of our house and our hands, we went to The Blue Nile Ethiopian Cafe in Kansas City. We had such a great time experiencing a small taste of Ethiopian culture with some of our friends. It was also neat to talk a little bit with the owner of the cafe, who is from Addis. We will definitely be going back there. If you have not tried Ethiopian food, we highly recommend it! (Be prepared to eat WITHOUT utinsels!)




Now that everything has arrived in Ethiopia, we get to WAIT. Let the countdown begin...or should I say count UP...since we really don't have a "due date." Because of Thanksgiving, our Dossier was not able to be mailed to Ethiopia until 12/6/13. Our agency has been gracious enough to count our official start date as 11/29/13 though. (We sort of got to cut in line a tiny bit!) This is the date that we have started counting up from.

We have now been officially waiting for 17 days to be matched with a little boy between 0 and 3 years old. The estimated wait time that we have received from our agency is around 24-30 months. It seems like such a long time to wait to meet our son, but the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. Lately, the weeks seem to be passing like days. (So in that case, it's only an estimated 130 "days" to wait- I like the sound of that much better.) We know that God could choose to bring him home sooner (or even later) than this estimated time frame though, and we trust that His timing is perfect.

While we're waiting, we're continuing to pray.

We are praying for our son. Most likely, he has already been born, and he is living somewhere in the country of Ethiopia. We pray that he is being loved and cared for, despite any tragic circumstances that will ultimately bring him to us. Marcus and I are praying for the family that might have a difficult decision to make in regards to his life, and we are thankful for them. We are praying for our son's health and safety. 

We are also praying for the country of Ethiopia. We know that when dealing with governments, especially foreign governments, nothing is ever guaranteed. We are praying that the government remains stable there and that the adoption partnership between Ethiopia and the US continues to remain in good standing. Marcus and I hope and pray that the new adoption requirement (the PAIR Process) leads to more ethical adoptions in Ethiopia.

For now, we wait...and we're really excited about it. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On Your Mark...Get Set...




Isn't this the most beautiful stack of papers you have ever seen!?

After months and months of paperwork and unofficial waiting, we can finally say that we are ALMOST on that real waiting list! I know, it seems anticlimactic, right? But today we reached an important step in our process! 

Today we carefully followed the 50 step (that's only a tiny exaggeration), partially bolded, multi-bulleted, sometimes italics and underlined, outline to ensure that we got our dossier in the correct order with the correct items bundled together. Today we carefully made 2 copies of all 40 official documents that have taken us almost 6 months to compile. Today we carefully wrote a check that drained our accounts for the 3rd time this year as we continued to remember God's gracious provision throughout this entire process. Today we prayed over a stack of papers that represent so much more to us. It may have taken us a little longer than expected to get to this point (due to the government shutdown and various other circumstances), but we know that each setback and delay is part of God's perfect timing. Today, we cannot contain our excitement!

Everything is now packaged up and ready to be mailed to McLean, Virginia tomorrow! Once it arrives there, it will be checked and rechecked by our agency for accuracy (as if my OCD tendencies haven't forced me to check it enough already)! It will then be taken to the State Department and Ethiopian Embassy for additional authentication. (Yep, all of our stuff will be EXTRA authentic since original copies and notarizations are not quite enough!)

Then...drumroll please...within 1 to 3 weeks, it will finally venture across the sea to Ethiopia! Once it is processed in Addis, we will be officially waiting! (Cue girly squeal and giggles.) Little by little, our wait will actually begin getting us somewhere! We've never been so excited to wait in our entire lives. It's like we are finally tall enough to ride the biggest, baddest roller coaster, and now all we have to do is wait in line...for many, many, many months!

Stay tuned: the next update will mean that our wait is OFFICIAL!