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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bring on the Panic

Okay, I have a confession to make: I have this weird anxiety thing... it's never been diagnosed (well, other than by me) but any time I have to share anything personal in front of a lot of people I have a mini panic attack.  This morning, Rob & I announced to our church that we're adopting and even though all I had to do was stand up on stage next to him while he did the talking, I had my crazy panic issue before we went up there.... seriously - lightheaded, heart pounding, palms sweating. It's ridiculous. I felt the same way when he announced we were pregnant with Riley & Allyn (and those times I wasn't even up on stage!!)

But you know what got me through? I remembered that this adoption is not about me. This isn't about completing our family or Riley and Allyn getting a little brother. It's about Christ and who He is and all that He has done for us. That's why we're adopting. Yes I desperately want another child and yes I can't wait for my kids to meet their little brother but this morning was about sharing our joy with our church family and asking them to join us in prayer for this next step in our journey of faith.  And in the end, all I want is that we can look back and know that we glorified God not only in the end result, but in every step along the way.

That's what it's all about for me. And I feel no panic when I let the peace of Christ take over because I know He is in every step of this process and already knows every setback and bump in the road we'll face. And He knows about my weird anxiety problem and probably laughs at me for being so self-involved. And if it takes a mini panic attack to remind me that this life is NOT about me then bring on the panic (and maybe I won't be such a slow learner this time).

So for you FABC folks... feel free to laugh at me since y'all know I really did nothing more than stand up there next to Rob... and feel free to give Rob a hard time for making me do it!!!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bagel Setback!!!

Y'all will not believe this... Rob wasn't able to do his fingerprint appointment with Citizenship & Immigration because he cut his finger on a bagel at church on Sunday!!!!  He had told me in the car on the way there that he'd had a nightmare the night before that the cut on his finger had caused a problem and I had laughed... but then it happened! I couldn't believe it!

But the good thing is that since he showed up & tried to do his appointment, they just wrote on his letter that he can come back anytime after it has healed. Had we tried to reschedule it any other way, we would have had to wait a month for a new appointment. At least this way he can go back next week when his finger is better. Sheesh! :)

We've had a few other small setbacks... some of our paperwork that we sent out for our Ethiopian dossier wasn't quite right so we'll have to re-do those. And I just learned that the FBI is taking longer than normal to process things so we might not get our clearance back from them as soon as I had hoped.  I'm praising God that we hired someone to help us with our Ethiopian dossier because she's the one who is double-checking everything and she has caught quite a few things I missed! I'm hoping this will increase our chances of passing court the first time when we finally have our court date in Ethiopia!

I wasn't very good about doing pregnancy pictures when I was pregnant with Riley & Allyn (mostly because I'm not good about being in pictures anyway) but I did have a few so I grabbed our camera at the last minute on our way to Citizenship & Immigration.  Obviously I forgot that government buildings are NOT places to take pictures. Rob says I shouldn't blog about what happened... so be sure to ask me about it next time you see me!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Letting Go...

Back in December I was complaining because I didn't like having so much control over the adoption process! That's when we were trying to pick an adoption agency.  Since then, I've had quite a bit of control over everything... I chose when to contact gov't agencies and when to have the homestudy (and how clean to get the house for the homestudy).  I was in control over how fast things were happening because it was up to me to get things done.

That time is now OVER!

This morning, I mailed the remainder of our documents off for our Ethiopian dossier, the last document needed for Citizenship & Immigration, and the last document needed for our adoption agency.

I now have NO control over what happens from here. We show up for our fingerprint appointments with CIS (Citizenship & Immigration) on Tuesday of next week and begin the next phase of the process: waiting.

We'll wait to get our FBI & CIS clearances. Then we'll wait for our Ethiopian dossier to be authenticated. Then we go on the official wait list... to wait some more for a referral!

For someone to likes to be in control, this is gonna be tough!  I'm actually okay with the waiting until we get a referral. Once I have a name and a face the rest is going to be really hard. For now, I'm cool with being patient. It gives me more time to pray for our child and for the process.

And now that I don't have so much adoption paperwork to do, I plan to enjoy having just two kids before I have to figure out how to wrangle three!!!! :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The latest... and my new search!

Here's the most recent adoption news on the Cassell front: final homestudy was Friday and it went really well. The house was clean clean clean and the kids (for the most part) behaved!  Now we're waiting 4-6 weeks for the actual typed up homestudy to be completed. At that point, we have to send a copy to CIS (Citizenship & Immigration) and a copy to the person who is helping us do our Ethiopian dossier.  After that... we wait! CIS says they take about 90 days to process our application once they receive everything. We go next week to get our fingerprints done with them so the homestudy will be the last thing they need to process us. Once Gladney gets all our clearances & we submit our Ethiopian dossier, we can go on the wait list!

I'm going to go on the record and say I think we'll be on the wait list by July. I'm hoping that it will be before we leave for our trip to Swaziland.  This is my scientific conjecture based on pretty much nothing! :) ha ha! I'm also 99% certain I'm wrong but I don't really know if I'm ahead of myself or behind! Anyway, that's my goal and there is absolutely nothing I can do to make sure it happens!

THE SEARCH:
I have learned that it is REALLY hard to find a good African-American doll! I had no idea!!! Granted, I have absolutely no experience in doll shopping in the first place. Riley got one for Christmas a long time ago from my wonderful friend Susan and she did all the hard work trying to find a "boy" doll!!  This time I was trying to find an African American boy baby doll for Allyn to put in her Easter basket and really thought I'd just "pick one up somewhere."  Nope. It's really hard to find one!  At Toys & Co, there were only two African American dolls period and they both were girls. Then I fell in love with "Jim Ray" a Cabbage Patch Kid on their website only to find out he costs $50 (we don't spend that much on Christmas presents for the kids and I'm  not about to spend it for an Easter basket gift!!!).  So the search continues.  Babies R Us online has an African-American baby cabbage patch kid for $20 but the store here in Greensboro doesn't actually carry it.  What is wrong with us!?!?! This is ridiculous!

Soooo... want to join in the search with me!?!? Let me know if you find or have found an African American baby doll, preferably a boy!!  And I'll keep y'all posted on my search for Allyn's new baby!! :) Maybe she needs her own blog for that!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just a little update!

Every time I try to convince myself that this process is not really moving along any faster than normal, something happens to make me feel like it's going fast!  I had just convinced myself that the USCIS (Citizenship & Immigration) wouldn't schedule our fingerprinting appointments until after they had received the final copy of our homestudy and SUDDENLY Rob & I get fingerprint appointments in the mail!!!! And they're on the same day at the same time! We'll be headed to Raleigh on Feb 23rd so that the government can "capture our biometrics" (sounds kind of painful! ha ha). And Gladney has let us know that our homestudy should be complete about 10 days after we have the final homestudy visit at our house (which is this Friday). So we should be able to send them a copy of the homestudy not long after they do the fingerprints! Then it takes about 90 days to process and hopefully after all of that.... we'll have permission from the US Government to adopt internationally.

We have a few little things left to do for our Ethiopian dossier, like getting passport pictures made but we're pretty much through with everything that we had any control over! HOORAY!

Please pray for us on Friday morning... final homestudy visit! The social worker comes to our house, meets the kids & talks with us for about an hour. And there's little chance the kitchen will be done so I'll have to find a creative place to put our dirty breakfast dishes since we still won't have a sink or a dishwasher! But I don't really care - I'm just so happy that the final homestudy day is almost here!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Challenge

This is going to be hard to write about but it's so much on my mind that I just can't shake it. And I am almost embarrassed that this is a challenge for me.  Here's the deal: we don't have very many friends who don't look like us and that needs to change before I can be a good parent to a child who doesn't look like me.  I'm talking mainly about race but it's applicable in quite a few ways.  And honestly, this is something I want to change about myself regardless of whether we would be adopting or not.

I don't know how it happened. In Texas, I had lots of friends of different races/backgrounds/sexual orientation and lots of opportunities to meet people of varying background.  When we first moved to North Carolina, I remember commenting to Rob about how I actively missed my Latino friends in Texas because I didn't have very many here.  And now I am about to have a child of color... from Africa... and yet I haven't figured out a way (in the 4 years we've lived here) to broaden my social circle to include friends of color. Pathetic.

My challenge isn't to become open to the idea of being friends with people who are different from me and it isn't to work on any kind of underlying racism that I feel. Instead it's to stop being lazy and meet some new people. I live in a culture where it takes a little effort to do that.  I think in the South we're still very segregated. And I hate that. But up to this point, I'm guilty of perpetuating that segregation because I don't go out of my way to leave my little convenient social circles. And I'm mad at myself that I haven't done anything before now. I have no excuse.

I want ALL of my children to have great adult role models in their lives. And I want some of them to look my kids and I want some of them not to. For all three kids.  And this is a value I hold dear... but I've failed in my parenting thus far to provide that in a strong way for the two kids I have with me now. And I really repent of that.

And plan to change it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homestudy Part One.... DONE!

We met with the Gladney person who does their homestudies on Monday morning this week to do the interview part of our homestudy! And the night before that we got to go to a Pot-Luck dinner for families in the area who have adopted from Ethiopia (or are in the process).  What a great two days! The dinner was wonderful and it was so nice to meet some other people who are doing the same thing we are (and all of whom were much further ahead of us in the process).  I'm definitely looking forward to meeting with them again!

I thought I'd have some really insightful things to say after the homestudy but I just feel glad that it happened!  I learned some important things about ways to prepare our family, friends, and church for the arrival of our little one. It will be different from when we had our other two and I'm praying people are understanding.

The second part of the homestudy happens next week when she comes out to our home & gets to meet our crazy kids! :)  After that point, everything that we had control over is over. That's a weird feeling.

So here's what happens from here:
When our homestudy is complete, we have to get a copy of it to CIS (Citizenship & Immigration) and then they'll contact us for a fingerprinting appointment (they call it a biometrics appointment which sounds very CSI to me!!!!).  Once our clearances all come back and we have sent off our Ethiopian dossier, we get to go on the wait list for a child.  I have no earthly idea how long that might take.  When we first started, we heard that it takes about 8 months to get all your paperwork done. But we've gotten our part of it done pretty quickly so I'm hoping that means our government won't drag its feet about processing all our stuff!

I am actually looking forward to just being on the wait list. I know that will bring a different kind of stress but right now I'm looking at it as a restful time for our family. We can relax a little knowing we've done what we can and that God is in the details and we will find the right child at the right time.

Someone please remind me of that when we hit month four of being on the wait list and I'm getting antsy!! :)