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Friday, April 30, 2010

WAIT LIST!

I had imagined this really cute post with a picture of our computer screen showing the email... and of course my camera battery died while I was taking pictures... and the extra battery apparently never got charged up either. Oh well... who cares because:

WE ARE OFFICIALLY ON THE WAIT LIST!!!!

I can't begin to say how excited we are! It feels just like when we found out we were pregnant (okay, maybe more like when we found out about Riley... Allyn was a bit more shocking and it took a little while before we were ecstatic about it. heh heh).

Here is the deal, because I know you all are wondering: we will probably wait about 10 months for a referral. A referral is a name, picture, and all the info they have on a particular child.  We have asked for a child born after August 2009 so that he'll be at least a year younger than Allyn. We've also said we are open to correctable medical conditions so our next step is to go through a big list and say which conditions we feel we could handle. Because of this, we could be approached with an unofficial referral a little earlier if it is a child who has some medical needs.

Then it will probably take 4-6 months from the time of the referral until we actually get to bring the baby home. There will be two trips to Ethiopia during that time. The first one for our court date (and we're still thinking of maybe bringing Riley with us on that trip) and the second trip is to bring him home!

Our prayers tonight are just ones of praise! Thank you God for getting us this far on the journey and for the opportunity to do this. We've learned so much about ourselves in the process and are so glad that God's continually challenging us and making us more like the people He wants us to be! And we pray for this child, who feels so real to us today... we pray that he can somehow feel that there is a family on the other side of the earth who loves him so much already!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Two New Updates

The first (and most important) is that I heard from Kate at KBS Dossiers and she thinks our dossier will be totally done by FRIDAY!! Guess who will be checking her email every ten minutes next week?  Once the dossier is done, Kate lets Gladney know so I'm just waiting for that "Waiting List" email from Gladney!

The second is... I opened an etsy store!! I have been thinking about selling some of the stuff I sew in order to raise money for our adoption! I did it last Christmas and raised about $1000 for Heart for Africa so I am hoping to be successful on etsy! So far I only have two things up but I have something cool and African-themed in the works so stay tuned!!  Here's the link: http://www.etsy.com/shop/yklj

Right now I'm just praying that the next post from me will be to tell you that we're on the wait list!!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coupons

This morning Rob left the Sunday paper on the kitchen table when he left for church (he leaves before the rest of us are up and we meet him for the 9:15 service) and so while the kids & I ate breakfast this morning, I started cutting coupons. And this is the conversation that ensued:

Riley: Mommy, why are you cutting coupons?
Me: Because it helps us save money
Riley: Is there a coupon in there for our baby in Africa?

It was a cute moment but it scared me a little because the last thing I want is for my kids to think we are purchasing a child! I don't think Riley's actually old enough to really understand much about adoption but I'm guessing he has overheard enough conversations where funding the adoption has been the topic. And I have to admit there are times when I wish I could clip some coupons for some of the fees! :)

I have had some adults question why we would be adopting from Ethiopia (some in nice ways, some not so much) when it isn't so costly to adopt a child here in the US (or have another biological child). I have a few answers for that. The first one is that we have prayed and prayed over this decision and have no doubt God intended for us to do an international adoption.  That does NOT mean I think God values international adoptions over domestic. Not at all. It just means that, for our family, international adoption is His plan for us.

The other is this: if I don't do it. Who will? I don't want to be one of those people who hears about tough situations and says "Oh I'll pray about that." I am not knocking prayer. Prayer is great. Prayer is powerful and I believe we need to do lots of it. But if that's all we're doing, we're missing the point.  I once heard Shane Claiborne (the guy from the Simple Way who fights poverty & homelessness in PA) say that when he tells someone about a need they have and that person says "yeah, I'll pray about that" then he knows he needs to keep looking to meet that need. I want to be the person who prays about it and DOES something about it. Praying for orphans in Africa is wonderful... parenting one will be that much more wonderful :) And I hope that we will be able to help contribute financially to others' adoptions in the future. And, of course, we'll keep working with Heart for Africa in Swaziland!

It has been a huge step out on faith for us to make a financial commitment to complete an international adoption. And we will be doing some fund raising and are praying that some people who aren't called to parent an adopted child but feel led to help make sure one finds a loving home will help us along the way. I know God will provide funding for this but I really hate that cost is even part of the conversation. It frustrates me that it costs so much because it's such a hindrance to families who would be willing to parent these children.

So yeah, coupons would be nice... but in the end the dollars have nothing to do with all of this. There is a Cassell baby in Ethiopia somewhere and we'd just like to bring him home. If you had a child out there somewhere you'd do all you could to bring him home, too. :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Adopting is not a race...

Will y'all please remind me of this?

Here's why... I have this bad habit. I stalk other adoption blogs & look at the timelines down the sides of their blog pages. And I count days/weeks/minutes/whatevers from one event to the next and then compare it to how long it has taken us.  It's purely for informational purposes, I promise... until last night! Last night I noticed that one family went from getting their CIS approval to being on the wait list in FIVE DAYS! FIVE DAYS!  5!  F-I-V-E!  That means if my employer letter hadn't been messed up maybe we would be placed on the waiting list this week. But it won't be so for us because I just got the new employer letter TODAY. And it still has to make its way to NY to our dossier service and from there to somewhere in NC to be authenticated and possibly one more stop before our entire dossier is done. (Praise God for the dossier service because I don't have to do any of that part!)

argh.


And in the spirit of having the wrong attitude... instead of celebrating that I have that final, completing document in my hot little hand today, I'm lamenting the fact that it got messed up in the first place and that it took so long (17 days, not that I'm counting) to get a new one. And Fed Ex is closed on Sundays so I can't make Rob go there tomorrow & mail off our package. And I promise I am resisting the temptation to overnight the package on Monday, although I'm sending Rob to mail it because I don't think I'll be able to resist the temptation once I'm standing at the Fed Ex counter.


Okay, here's the part where I gain some perspective.  Our agency has a cool quote on some of their paperwork: "The right child at the right time." I believe that. I really do. I know God is in control of this whole process and the fact that we won't get on the waiting list for a few more weeks (I hope I'm over-shooting here but I really have no idea) doesn't change anything. But when you have so little control over the process it's so hard not to stress about the tiny things you can control.

A friend of mine who adopted from Ethiopia told me this week that when she thinks back to the time they were going through the adoption process it doesn't seem all that long.  She said that while holding her beautiful daughter in her arms.  I can't wait to be looking back. 'Cause right now everything seems looooooooong.

When our CIS approval came we were so excited and I was throwing Allyn into the air & catching her again to make her laugh (and get her excited since she had no clue what the rest of us were excited about). And I kept thinking about how our next  baby might be around her age when he comes home and what it will feel like to be holding HIM in my arms. For now I'll just have to be content to dream about it.

My prayers today sound like this: I've been praying for patience for the past few years, Lord, and boy are you giving me an opportunity to gain it. Thank you thank you for the privilege of going on this incredible journey.  I really can't wait to hold that child in my arms but I know that now is not the time. Please hold him for me until I can do it myself. And please grant me your grace and peace until that day comes. Oh, and by the way, thanks for the two AMAZING little ones you have already blessed me with... if there's anything that will make the time go by more joyfully it's those two!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

APPROVAL FROM CIS!!!

Want to know some words that will make me cry? Read above!  Tears of joy for me today! Approval from Citizenship & Immigration!!!  I can't believe it already came!!!  So I am just waiting for the new employer letter (with that all-important RECTANGLE) and I can mail it all in to the person who is helping us with our dossier. Then soon after that we should get word that our dossier is done and we can go on the waiting list!

I've been praying that we'll go on the waiting list by July... to be potential able to get on it by May is absolutely amazing! Praise God!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To Africa times THREE!

Here's what I've had on my mind a lot lately:

I'M GOING TO AFRICA THREE TIMES IN THE NEXT YEAR(ish)!  

Yikes!  What am I thinking???? Do you know just how far away Africa is? Okay, actually I have no idea how far away it is but I know it is FAR.

The first trip is not adoption-related at all. Unless you count the fact that I'm going to help children who have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland.  We leave July 26th!  Three months from now!!!  Rob has been active with Heart for Africa for the past few years and I was thrilled at the chance to travel to Swaziland and join him in working there.  That was before I knew I'd be going to Ethiopia twice. As of right now I am still planning to go to Swaziland but I'm praying a lot about it. It's just that leaving Riley & Allyn THREE times to go out of the country really freaks me out. I just spent my first night away from Allyn a few weeks ago and she was just across town!

To piggy back on that thought.... I'm also (kinda sorta) considering taking the kids with us to Ethiopia on the first trip. All the "touristy" things happen on the first trip - like the cultural dinner and going to see the Abyssinian Lions and stuff like that. We would only have scheduled visiting times with our newest child so I'm wondering if there's any way we could swing it with all the kids.  I must add that anytime I've even hinted at this to my husband he looks at me as if I have four heads.  Have I mentioned that he's much more rational than I am?

But then I remember what it was like to fly with Allyn to Cape Cod last summer. Ugh.  We had to buy Riley his own seat since he was over 2 but we actually needed the seat for Allyn! My kids' personalities could not be more different. Riley is pretty chill. He's content to sit on your lap & look at books or watch a movie.  Or  not. Whatever.  Allyn, on the other hand, is so unbelievably independent that her little self is not happy unless she is sitting in her OWN seat, holding the book BY HERSELF or being in charge of holding the movie ON HER OWN! I don't know that I have the heart to torture her (or the other passengers) for 18-20 hours of traveling.

So that leads me to my latest idea: maybe we just take Riley.  He'll be somewhere around 4 1/2 when we go so he'll be old enough to know what's going on and would be excited to meet his new brother. I think he'll remember the trip (Allyn most certainly wouldn't.)  And it might be nice for him to get some alone time with his parents before he has to share us with (yet another) baby!  And then Allyn could get some special one-on-one time with whoever it is that is keeping her while we're gone. She rarely gets individual attention so that might be nice. Is that mean to leave just one behind?  And (not to be morbid) but what if something happened to us while we were gone? If something happened to Rob & me at least the kids would still have each other but I wouldn't want Allyn to lose her parents AND her big brother.  Nothing's going to happen, I know this.  But I'm being honest on this blog and that is honestly what enters my mind!

I just don't know...  and luckily I don't have to decide anytime soon. But if you have any ideas/advice/thoughts on the matter I would LOVE to hear them!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More details...

First of all... HAPPY EASTER!  Christ is Risen and that's the best news I've heard. period.

My update for this week is actually pretty big! I have some more details about what we're likely to expect over the next year or so!

On Thursday we had our first phone conference call with our caseworker at Gladney.  We had listened to the monthly conference call the night before so we didn't really have too many questions - we've got a handle on what it will look like to take two trips to Ethiopia now.  But the cool part is that our caseworker mentioned that she didn't think it will take CIS (Citizenship & Immigration) 3 whole months to finish processing our application! She said usually once they get the homestudy they take about 6 weeks to send out their clearance! And their clearance is the last thing we're waiting for to go on the waiting list! (after I get a new employer letter with a rectangle on it, of course... ha ha) Very exciting! Watch out wait list, here we come!!!!

The other big detail that's coming into focus is the age of our child. As of right now, our paperwork says that we can take a child from 6-18 months at the time of referral.  We didn't know how long the process would take and we really just would like a year or so between Allyn and the next child so we were guessing when we said 18 months. After talking with our caseworker, we learned that we can actually write on our paperwork that we'd like a child whose birthdate is after 8/2009 (A was born 8/08).  It is so awesome to see how our adoption agency really has the best interests of the child and the family at heart. They also encourage 1 year between the youngest child and the new child and said they are happy to work with us on that. I had been thinking that you either fell into the "0-12 months" or "13 months plus" camp and it's nice to know that you don't have to fit into a particular check box!

Another aspect of this that we have learned is that because we are open to a child with a correctable medical condition, we may be approached earlier with a potential referral.  That means they'll call us and tell us about the medical condition but with no other info about the child and we can talk with our pediatrician and decide if it's a condition we can handle. If it is, then that can turn into a real referral where we get to see a name and a face!

So here's how my prayers are shaping up this week: Praising Him for pushing my focus away from paperwork toward the thought of a real child at the end of this journey, asking for persistence & strength once we're on that loooooong, no-news waiting period, and prayers for this child, who was born after August of last year, that he'll come to our family as quickly and smoothly as possible.

And, of course, for mercy for my remaining major appliances! :)