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Monday, January 25, 2010

Prayers

Oh I have so much to write about! But this is the topic that's most pressing on my heart right now so here's what I'll tell y'all:

My prayers have changed so much in just one week.

I've been praying for our child in Ethiopia since long before we ever knew he'd be from Ethiopia. But they were general prayers. Then once we knew we'd be adopting from Ethiopia I began praying for a specific child and that someone would be loving on him or taking care of him that day.  But now... my prayers have gotten much more specific.

I started doing some of our 10 hours of Hague-required training (Hague is the international adoption agreement between countries. Ethiopia actually isn't a Hague country but that just means some of our paperwork is different).  The first hour was about all the things that can go wrong in the adoption process. There's a lot but I'm okay with that. I think because I already have two children the urgency isn't as strong for me to hurry up and find another child... although I anticipate that changing once we actually have a referral for a specific child.  After that first hour, the next three hours were about all the things that can be wrong with your child: attachment issues, mental health/behavioral issues, physical problems... the list goes on and on.  I know our child will not be 100% healthy like my first two were... I have no control over prenatal care or anything that happens to him in his first months (or year) of life while he's not with us. And I know children don't come into care because they have wonderful loving nurturing families and environments... it's because they don't have those things that they need to be adopted.

My prayers have gone from simple "please God be with our little one today and with those who are with him" to "God please protect him from the trauma associated with abuse, neglect, and malnutrition."  I will continue to pray specifically for protection and strength for him during the year and however many months until we get to bring him home. I'm praying he will have divine immunity to the environment he's in and will have the strength to get through the trauma of being left behind by his family, of losing his birth mother, the trauma of having to leave his caregivers in Ethiopia, and that his little heart will still be open to accept the love that our family wants to pour all over him.  And I know that God can do all that.... I know that God can protect him from what he'll face over the next year and I pray God gives our family the resources to provide whatever he needs once he gets here in order to continue to overcome all of that.

I have a lot of praying to do.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homestudy Update!

Got a call from the social worker today... and we have our home study dates scheduled!! The first is Feb 1st (at her house) and the second is Feb 12th when she comes out to ours!!! I thought I'd feel more nervous at this point but I'm really just excited! She gave me a good book list too so I'm headed to amazon.com to buy some books!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

HOMESTUDY!!!!

This is happening faster than I had thought!!! I got an email from Judy, our wonderful paperwork assistant, at Gladney that they've submitted a request for our homestudy and we'll be contacted in the next 30 days to schedule it!!! Whoa! I thought we wouldn't do that until I had ALL the paperwork in! We have most of it done so I guess that was enough to proceed. I have butterflies in my stomach... nervousness and excitement that we've come this far in the process already!

The list from Judy of the things we still have left to turn in only has 8 things on it!!! EIGHT! And most of those I've already gotten started and am just waiting for phone calls to go pick up the paperwork! We started with approximately 38 different documents to gather (or government agencies to contact) and now I have a measly 8 things left on my current "to do" list. I almost don't know what to do with myself without keeping a million loose ends tied up in my brain! :)

The funny thing is that the sooner we get the process finished the more likely we are to have to wait longer for a child. We started the process when Allyn was only 16 months old and for us to say we want a child who is 18 months or younger I think we have to have Allyn be a year older than he is. Or wait longer for a younger child. But that's okay... we know that this process is about getting the right child at the right time and I'm just so excited to be moving towards the next phase and getting that Cassell name on the waiting list!!!

I'd start cleaning the house now to prepare for the homestudy but with my crazy kids I can't keep the place clean for 5 minutes! I'm thinking I'll be arranging for childcare for the day BEFORE and the day OF the homestudy just so I can get the house clean and keep it that way for 24 hours! ha ha ha!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adoption can't be good for the environment...

...just kidding! Well, kind of! I can't get over how much paper we're going through with adoption paperwork! And then we double it because of course we want to keep a copy of everything we send out just in case! Whew!

We mailed out all the documents in groups #1 & #2 to our adoption agency today! There are three main groups of documents so I'm very excited to get a lot of it in. It's funny to look at a stack of papers and know it's the result of doing some form of paperwork or consulting some government agency pretty much every day for about a month. I don't know if this means we've gotten things done fast or not because so much rides on how long it takes the US Gov't to process everything. Right now I'm stalking my mailbox waiting for my confirmation of receipt from USCIS that they got our I600A (Our request to adopt internationally). I used to stalk my mailman because I had ordered some cute cloth diapers... now I'm stalking him because I want a piece of paper from the government! :)

This experience is so different from my last two pregnancies. The minute you find out you're pregnant you begin being a parent to that child. It's odd to know I have a child out there somewhere who, for the time being, is not mine. And with a pregnancy, you have a pretty good idea of when that baby's coming. We're hoping for spring of next year but the reality is that we really don't know. It could be much longer. Or shorter.

I just can't wait to meet him. I dream of him and of introducing him to his big brother & big sister and I smile just thinking about the joy it all will bring. I'm trying not to equate this stage of the process with being pregnant just because of how long it will take but it's hard not to feel the same way I did when I was first pregnant with my other two. Those feelings of expectation, joy, hope, and a little bit of nervousness (how in the world will we wrangle 3 kids!??!) just won't go away... and I'm betting they'll tag along with me however long the process lasts.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Making Progress!

Melkam Gena!! Merry Christmas! Yes, I know the date today but yesterday was Christmas Day in Ethiopia!! :) I wonder how (and if) our little one celebrated the holiday and I pray he was loved on in a special way.

We're mailing our I-600A to the USCIS today! Whoo hoo! And of course everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about, right? ha ha. Welcome to the new language that is "Adoption speak!" The I-600A is our official request to the US Gov't for permission to adopt internationally. This is actually the very first thing you're supposed to do in the process. We got behind because the state of Texas decided to lollygagg (spelling?) about sending us a certified copy of our marriage license. It'll be followed by getting fingerprinted by the USCIS (US Citizenship & Immigration Service)

You know how in the movies the CIA and FBI and other gov't agencies always seem to be at odds and don't share information with each other??? I'm starting to think there's a grain of truth to that! We have to be fingerprinted by the FBI (we were supposed to do that yesterday but I got sick so now we have to wait till Tues...blah). You would think that the USCIS could just call up the FBI and ask them for the fingerprints... nope! I don't mind though... it makes me feel kinda important! Plus I hear technology has advanced and I won't leave with inky fingers because it's all computerized now... amazing :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Trust

If there was any one thing that worried me or held me back about the adoption it was funding. When we first learned how much it costs to adopt internationally, I immediately assumed that it just wasn't for us to do. But we kept praying about it and couldn't let it go. We've made some financial plans and are hoping to do some fundraising and we should be able to do it on our own... or so I thought.

God has some other plans sometimes. I'm always learning to rely on Him rather than on myself (I must be a slow learner). Every since we decided 100% to start the process, a billion expensive things broke in our house. Our entire kitchen floor and cabinets/countertop have been torn out due to a broken dishwasher, my dryer broke, and now we need a plumber to come fix the shower in the main bathroom. Oh yeah, and we had to buy a new computer!

I have absolutely no doubt that adopting this child is what God wants us to do... so why would I think I wouldn't need to lean on Him to make it happen? He's not going to give us this giant undertaking and then say "Good luck... see ya at the end of it all!" But He also knows I love to rely on myself and show off just how much I can achieve. I'm just like Riley - "I can do it all by myself!" This is my lesson in humility. The glory and the credit for this adoption happening all go back to Jesus and I'm actually glad for the little financial reminder I'm getting right at the beginning of it all!

Whatever happens through this process, I want to honor God in all aspects of it. I may get frustrated (I'm certain I will) but I'm glad I serve a God who won't hesitate to remind me of where I stand in the situation - right in His hands.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Expectations

I'm trying not to have any expectations about this adoption process but boy is it hard! I keep dreaming of this child and trying to place some kind of time frame for how long we'll be waiting! I got an email from Edna Gladney and thought I'd share a "typical" timeline with y'all

It takes about 8 months to complete all the paperwork. Basically we have to be approved by Gladney, by the US gov't, and the Ethiopian gov't. Needless to say, there is A LOT of paperwork involved in all that.

Once we have those approvals, we'll be on the wait list for a referral. We'll be waiting for a child between the ages of 6 months-18 months (ish). The current wait time is about 4 months.

Once we accept our referral (which is an actual child presented to us), we have about 1-2 months to wait for a court date. That happens in Ethiopia and we don't have to be there for it. At that court date, the judge there approves the adoption and it's official (well, part-way official).

Then it's typically 2-6 weeks after the court date that we get to travel to Ethiopia to meet our child.

So if you add that all up, we're looking at maybe 16 months or so. Of course that can change in a heartbeat but I wanted to give y'all an idea of what we're looking at!

We've been meeting some people around here who have adopted or are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, including Riley & Allyn's new pediatrican! That was a really exciting thing to have happen, since I was really really bummed about our old pediatrican leaving!

I wanted to write more but Allyn's up from her nap! So that's it for now!