Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Answer Days!!

We received our appointments for our fingerprinting for our immigration papers in the mail today. Once USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has this info., they can process our application and give us the final piece of paperwork that we need to send our dossier to Ethiopia!!!

We also received a sizable check this week toward our adoption expenses. It is so exciting, obviously, to get closer to being able to pay required fees. But equally, if not more, exciting is the encouragement of seeing others sacrificially step out in faith and join us in this adoption journey! Our God is so good, and we are privileged to be serving Him!!

Psalm 145:1-3
"I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Amazing Story

There has been a lot of controversy about this new movie and it's negative portrayal of orphans and adoption, but that is not why I am posting this article(click here to read article). I read it this morning on American World Adoption (our adoption agency)'s blog and was in tears. It is an amazing story, and makes me so anxious to meet and hold our Ethiopian child(ren) (Lord willing!!).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shout for JOY!

It seems there are many days in life, and especially on this adoption journey, that are spent trusting, praying and, yes, . . . waiting. The waiting days are hard, but necessary. Praise the LORD for the answer days!

We received word last Monday (9/13) that our final home study had been mailed to us! We received that the next day, making it just one day shy of 11 weeks total from start to completion for our home study. But it's done!!

Also that same Monday we received an unexpected escrow refund check in the mail from our mortgage company for a little over $400!

The day we received our home study in the mail, I was able to put it with our USCIS application in the mail. I also emailed another family in Indiana who has adopted from Ethiopia, and they had a much shorter wait for their form to be processed than the estimated 6-12 weeks. No guarantees, of course, but after how long our home study took, it was just encouraging that there's at least a possibility that we'll get that form back sooner rather than later!

And I called last week to find out the cost of having our dossier authenticated by the Secretary of State's office. The lady I talked to informed me that there is NO CHARGE for this service, so the money we had budgeted toward that cost can now go toward our next set of fees!

I spent every moment I could find last week filling out grant applications and gathering the needed information. I had no idea there was so much information and paperwork involved with applying for grants! I have a few loose ends to tie up, and then we should be able to get the applications in the mail early next week. Obviously there are no guarantees that we will receive any grants, but now that we have our home study completed, we at least qualify to apply for some. We are trusting the Lord to continue to provide as He leads, whether that's through grants or other means.

Joe took the teens to The Woodlands Camp this week, so the kids and I spent Monday through Thursday with Joe's parents at their house. It was a lot of fun for the kids, less worry for Joe knowing we were there, and definitely made the kids' "daddy-less" week go a little faster. So that's why it's taken me until now to update our blog with these wonderful answers to prayer!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Time Line??

Probably the one question we get most often in regard to adoption is what the time line is and where we are on it. So, I am going to try to explain that, along with an update of where we are currently in the process.

Our adoption process officially started with application to our adoption agency. The estimate for total time is 14-24 months from the time you apply until you are home with your child(ren). Of course that can vary greatly along the way for a number of different reasons. Once we were accepted into their Ethiopia program, we began what is called the "Paper-chase" part of the process, also called "paper pregnancy". The estimate for completing this phase is 4-6 months. There are a number of different documents that need to be collected during that time, including the home study. Once we have collected all of the needed documentation, together it is called our dossier, we send that to our adoption agency to review and send to Ethiopia for translation and their consideration. At that point, we are waiting for our referral, usually for several months. The referral is information, usually very limited, on a specific child or children that are a potential match for our family. If we choose to accept the referral, a court date will be set in Ethiopia, usually a few months after that. Once we pass court, we will plan our trip to go get our child(ren). There are some things to be completed while in Ethiopia, but I don't know the specifics on that. Once we are home with our child(ren), they are officially and legally ours, but there will be some things still to follow-up on such as post-placement visits and re-adoption (having to do w/ name change, etc.).

So, that's the general time line. Where we are is in the paper-chase. We have all of our paperwork that is possible for us to have completed at this point - in fact, we have for several weeks now. We are still waiting on our final home study. We applied for our home study at the end of March, but they didn't schedule our first appointment (official start) until the end of April. At that point their estimate was 7 weeks to complete the home study . . . it has now been 10 1/2. Once we have our home study, we can immediately proceed to the next step which is an immigration form that has to be applied for through USCIS. The estimate is that it will take 6-12 weeks to receive our approval. Once we have that form, we can take our paperwork to the Secretary of State for authentication and it is ready to go to our adoption agency for transmission to Ethiopia.

Of course, there are fees and costs all along the way in this process. The Lord has been so good to us and, so far, we have not had to delay any of the steps due to finances. We have the money order already for the USCIS form and enough in the bank to pay for State authentication. We will then need $7,200 in order to get our paperwork sent to Ethiopia. We do not have that amount yet, but have a small fraction of it saved. If we get to the point where our paperwork is completed but we still do not have the total $7,200, we will have to wait until we have it in order for our paperwork to go to Ethiopia. After that, I believe there will be no fees until the referral stage when a bigger portion of the fees and travel costs will come up. We sincerely desire to follow God's leading in all of this, and we know He is faithful to guide us, and provide if He continues to lead us down this path.

For those of you who are praying for us, we are always in need of prayer for our faith and wisdom. We also request your prayer in regard to whether we are able to adopt 2 siblings or a single child. We desire to adopt to siblings, but that is rare within the age group that we are adopting. So, when the time of referral comes, if there are not siblings available, we need wisdom to know whether to go ahead and adopt a single child, or wait for siblings. My personal prayer is that God will either grant our desire for the siblings, or change my desires to match His.