Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Disappointing Developments

Sadly, we have to share that the week of December 5 we found out we lost our referral.  It took us and our agency by complete surprise and could not have been anticipated. It only happens very rarely that a family would lose a referral but it has happened.

When we first found out it was heartbreaking for us. Very quickly we had adjusted mentally to what was going to be our new family of 6 and all that would change. We had many hopes and dreams for “M” and had hoped she was meant to be in our family. God very firmly closed that door (or should I say slammed) and it is clear to us she was not who He has planned for us. During the week as we digested the news I thought of a quote Troy keeps in front of him at his desk. It is “What do you want now? vs. What do you want most?” I realized what I want now is to be anticipating a little toddler girl, a little sister for Harlyn, celebrate Christmas riding on that joy of the referral, buy some headbands (oops already did!).…you get the picture. What do we want most? What we want most is that God places the perfect child for our family with us, one who is without a family, that we do His will in this process and that He guides it. When I compared the two I realized how shortsighted we can be, how shallow and how much we would miss if we chased after what we want NOW.

There were very few details for us at first, just some facts that were hard to swallow. Not knowing the details probably made us question if it was best for her or if this was some mistake that could possibly/miraculously be undone. 5 days later we received additional information about her circumstance that gave us a complete change in perspective on the situation. It brought us peace, relief and comfort. It was such a blessing to get those details we thought we’d never know and always wonder about. We don’t feel we deserved that but are thankful to our gracious God for supplying a look “behind the scenes” of what He is doing. It’s amazing how one email relieved this burden of sadness, disappointment and loss.

In summary, Harlyn said it best when I overheard her tell someone our news boiled down to, “Sad for us, good for Meskerem” :) Telling Harlyn had to be about the hardest and seeing her cry with genuine sorrow over losing “M” as a little sister was disappointing to her. She still just doesn’t understand why we don’t have direct access to her to “tell her we love her” but I think she understands the big picture. I pray that when God completes this, her faith will grow more than she even shows now and that she will see Him as the never changing, promise-keeping God that He is. His promises are what we’ve relied on and have gotten us through the sad moments and days.

We continue to pray for God’s perfect timing in this and know this was necessary to bring us to the next little Avery. Now we are back on the waiting list just like before we got the referral. Because of this falling through, our immigration approval has since become a concern. Without explaining it, please pray that the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services will hear us out in expediting our case so that any referral we receive will not be delayed because of our paperwork. We are at the top of the list for another referral and we never know when that call will come.

Thank you for your continued, prayers, concern and inquiries about this process! It sure has been a rollercoaster but we’re hanging on to our Rock, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Hurry up and wait"

"Hurry up and wait" is the phrase used by an adoptive mom who gave me advice over the phone in the last weeks. That's so true---we need to be ready at any given time, with no notice to jump into action. Once we have that thing mailed or chased after a document, then we have to sit and wait.

Many have asked us "now what"? Waiting is the name of the game for now! After referral, I mentioned we overnighted our documents to immigration. They still have them and unfortunately requested one document we don't have. Please pray this paper can be sent to us quickly. It is held up at immigration while we wait for it. It needs to come from the orphanage "M" is at. That was disheartening to have a slow down on the very first step but with God all things are possible!

The fun news we were given is that someone from our agency is travelling to Ethiopia this weekend to encourage movement on cases and she will be visiting "M". We had the opportunity to send her a small package. Off we ran to get a little baby photo album with pictures of our family (hopefully we will be less scary to her!) and a little lovie bunny. Here is a picture of Harlyn and Lawson giving it some love before we shipped it off.

Or maybe they both wanted to keep it........
It was just what we needed to feel like she wasn't half a world away and that she'll get to hug it not long after we have!
 The wait after referral is hard, much harder than before. She is often on our minds and we can't wait for the day we can go meet her. We are soooo thankful for this little girl who will join our family and are still basking in the awe of how our family will change.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is GOOD; His love endures forever" Psalm 106:1

Sunday, October 30, 2016

2 years 10 months and 22 days

I was mentally writing a blog post to update for about 3 months but considering our latest news, I'm scratching that lame update! We have exciting news to share! On October 13th we got the call we've been waiting 35 months for. I will document our day, reactions...etc. more for our own records than for others.

Our caseworker called while the kids and I were at Harlyn's homeschool class. This is our original agency that we began this process with in 2013.  I was expecting her call because she had left a voicemail the day before that I was slow to call her back and never ended up connecting that day. She seemed upbeat on the message but also emphasized that we really needed to talk (usually our correspondence is via email). We had spent August updating paperwork that was expired in preparation of coming off "hold" from having Lawson.  Just before this call we had a little hiccup with a required document that was causing some concern with an expiration that was approaching. We had been in the thick of trying to get this next set of documents out and I had some questions on forms.  I figured she was calling regarding something about that form that was holding up the next step. I stepped out of Harlyn's class, dragging Asher with me along with my thick file with forms in question.  I'm glad I got to an isolated place because what she said next floored me. I answered and our caseworker said "Laura, we have a referral for you--this is your referral call".  I imagined this moment for years now and honestly it didn't play out as beautifully as I thought it would. My first instinct was I felt sick, like really sick to my stomach, shaky, nervous. I was in the middle of a morning of school during my first year homeschooling, my 4 year old playing at my feet, my 8 month old down the hallway. Most likely my kitchen sink at home was full of dirty dishes and we probably left late. You just never know the moment when that call will come! If I thought it'd come when I "had my life together"---that was laughable. We were completely surprised. In August when we had our home study visit with our caseworker I think she tried to hint it could go "very quickly" before we got a referral but couldn't say they were working on one for us until it was official. That hint did tip us off to stop thinking this adoption was way far out time wise though.
Back to the phone call....she asked if I would like the details right then or if I'd like to wait for Troy. Of course, I needed to be with Troy before we'd hear it so we agreed to call her back if Troy could come home for lunch. I don't think my brain could've handled the information at that moment anyway. With the shock and sudden feeling of being unprepared, my mind was whirling. Troy thought I was joking when I told him what the call was about. I reassured him I would NOT joke about that. He was sharing those same feelings of incredulity. So, we had to wait about 3 hours until we were home and together to call our caseworker back. My mind was going crazy thinking about how our life was about to change in one phone call. I had recently been reading in Proverbs and on the drive home, all I could do was repeat Proverbs 3:5-6 over and over "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Troy and I were pinching ourselves although we felt nervous and anxious we kept saying "This is what we've been praying for!".
Our referral was for a sweet GIRL. It was pretty emotional and heavy hearing what they know of her life story. There are a million questions we have and so little information. We do know she was loved by her birth mother and we will forever pray for her and the sacrifice she made. It really hit me-- the loss side of adoption while hearing about her. For her, for her mother, our gain is their loss. So we learned about her and then were emailed all the documents they had in her file along with a picture! She just turned two last week. That moment of seeing that little face was one we'll never forget. We sat the kids down and told them about her and their reaction was priceless. Harlyn and Asher were so excited to hear it was a girl!
We took the next 4 days to pray about it and confirm this was the child to say yes to. Our agency gives us time to accept a referral but families have the option to decline it.
We were so overjoyed but really spent a lot of time in prayer that weekend. Early on we felt peace about it and can only explain that she was the one we've been praying for since we began this process. The following Monday we accepted the referral. Shortly after we received a few more documents along with a more recent picture of her! I thought I had memorized every detail of the last one and now we had one with a child who looked totally different! Hair grew in a few months, she filled out and was smiling! Also, we found out her second birthday was the following day. We had an estimate of age before but now we had an official birthdate to use!
The next day we overnighted the first step of the paperwork needed to get our court date. Every day counts now that we try to get her home. It will bounce back and forth between the U.S. Immigration and Ethiopian Embassy a few times before that court date will be set. We will have to travel to Ethiopia for a court date and to pick her up. The timeframe is uncertain and different for everyone. The average wait is 5-6 months.
Thank you to all our friends and family for praying for us and asking us about the process so often. It means so much to us to see our circle of friends come around us and support us. Her little face will have to power us through the next months until we meet her! It's so fun to finally have a face in mind when we think of her, pray for her and talk about her.
We have just been overwhelmed with thankfulness to the Lord for His faithfulness through all the ups and downs and for allowing us this privilege.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Two Adoption-Related Reasons we are VERY merry this Christmas

We are excited that there is new news to share! Our original agency, AAI, had a great month of referrals in November. So much so, we’ve moved up the list to number 9! We aren’t actually eligible for a referral until August of 2016 because of the biological child we’re expecting but we are last on the wait list. AAI is so optimistic they are even adding families to their wait list. By bringing on new families, AAI is committing to working in Ethiopia for a longer time. This is great reassurance for us considering how shaky things were this past May. We have a picture of our family two Christmases ago in which we were #69 on the wait list. That is a crazy thought how things have changed since then, in more than one way!

The second fun development is that we mailed our second dossier to America World, our new agency, on Monday! It has already been hand delivered to the State Department and is scheduled to be mailed to Ethiopia early January. Having that stack sent out is a great relief. There were so many technicalities we had to comb over or ask people to redo! Thanks to all our friends who helped us with certain documents included!

 (our adoption paperwork files are getting thick!)
(Troy was the driving force behind getting this paperwork done this fall)

(Ready to overnight our envelope!)
(Yay for mailing day!)

Four months ago we didn’t know if it would be possible for us to complete an Ethiopian adoption but today we are much more hopeful of it being a reality! We still know there are so many variables that can change but our God is the same. He has been faithful to us in the waiting of the last two years and will continue to be faithful. We trust in Him for the timing and completion of these adoptions.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Announcement and Status

If you’ve seen me lately, you might be questioning the status of our adoption. The reason for those of you who aren’t seeing us regularly is that we are expecting a baby in February! We are so excited for this new addition and anxious for his or her arrival!

That being said, our summer has brought a rollercoaster of adoption news and any given month, our plan may have changed.  We are still passionately pursuing international adoption from Ethiopia, so much so, we have two concurrent adoptions going!  It is too hard to break down that decision but I am pleased we took a few months to make our decision after our current agency, Adoption Associates (AAI), announced their sad news in May.  AAI’s Ethiopia program is still open and they are cautiously optimistic. The future is still very uncertain for their program which is why we decided to continue there, but also start the process with another agency.  Since we have the paperwork done with AAI and fees paid, it doesn’t hurt us to stay on their wait list to see if it will result in a referral.  In addition, as of September 1, we began another adoption from Ethiopia through America World Adoption Agency (we’ll refer to them as AWAA or America World, not to be confused with AAI).  Both agencies have approved us to have two adoptions going at once and AWAA in particular doesn’t let our pregnancy affect our progress in their program. 

How many kids could you be adding to your family you ask? We don’t know! We’re willing to let God work that out as well as the timing of potentially 2 adoptions with biological children mixed in there. AWAA is a large agency and has hundreds of families on their wait list. At the current pace adoptions are being completed in Ethiopia, they estimate the wait time will be 5-7 years. That is why we are starting this process now, knowing it may take that long.

Currently what we’re doing is just kind of sitting with AAI-playing the waiting game (still) and now trying to complete our dossier for AWAA.  We really want to get this paperwork done for AWAA before the end of October which will be tough but keeps us constantly working at it.

We hope that is the least confusing way to explain what’s going on in our adoption world right now!  Thank you so much for your thoughts, inquiries, and prayers for us these last few months. We are sticking with it but realize we have a long road ahead of us. With God all things are possible, that includes our adoption!  J We are putting our trust in Him who knows how He will build our family in the coming years.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

New information

We are overdue to update our friends and family on what is happening with our adoption! Here it is!

 In April our Immigration approval came up for renewal. It was two years old! We can’t believe we started this process that long ago! The renewal didn’t require too much, just paperwork and a home study update. During that update we did change some of our criteria. At the rate Ethiopian adoptions are happening we felt we needed to open up our age range a bit. As a result, we are now approved for a child up to 2 years of age (which is actually 2 years 11 months) and are willing to accept a sibling set. (up to 2 children)

In the middle of that update we received very shocking news that has affected our adoption since. Our caseworker informed us that our agency, AAI, was most likely completing their current cases with referrals (=not us) and then exiting work in Ethiopia as quickly as possible. They feel with the current difficulties with adoptions in Ethiopia the problems are insurmountable and cannot sustain their program at the pace it has been operating at. Their hands are tied as well as their representatives. I won’t go into more detail here but if you have questions, feel free to ask! Our agency highly encouraged the waiting families to find another program to adopt through or other plan but they cannot guarantee a referral in the future. The bottom line is AAI feels the future of adoptions in Ethiopia is bleak and our doorway into Ethiopia seems to have a time limit.

Honestly, we were pretty blindsided by this news and emotional about it. Here we thought the long wait would be our challenge! After the shock wore off and we could think clearly about what comes next, we really felt God’s peace.  The time we’ve taken has given us some perspective. We know that God still has a plan even when it seems to have gone awry. Our hearts are still tied to Ethiopia and the estimated 4.6 million orphans in that country alone. We know God will “work for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28) and He is moving is unseen ways.

Verses we have found comfort and encouragement from:

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Philippians 1:6 “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”

Our agency gave us a June 1st deadline to decide what we would do-- continue in the Ethiopia program, fully aware of the risks and unlikelihood of referral, withdraw, or transfer to another of their programs. The third option isn’t feasible because for various reasons we don’t qualify for any of their other programs beside domestic. About half of the families on the waiting list removed themselves from the Ethiopia program or transferred elsewhere.

What we decided based on the information we have currently is to buy ourselves a bit more time. Now our deadline is July 31st to see what happens in the time until then.  We have been encouraged by the number of families travelling this month from our agency and others. The likelihood of us starting with a new agency after July 31st is pretty high but we just want to be certain that it is the right move for us. You can pray for us as we seek God’s will as we continue forward and for confidence in what we decide.

With all that being said, we are number 17 now.  Thank you, sincerely, for those of you praying for us through this. Please continue and pray for a miracle in Ethiopian adoptions!

<3 The Averys

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

One year in

This month marks one year on the wait list for us, so that calls for an update! We have moved very few places because there have been almost no referrals since early 2014. There are many reasons for this but mainly the holdup is in Ethiopia. We have known the situation there for a while but honestly it’s been pretty hard to swallow. Our agency sent their founder, head of the program and executive director there in October to talk to key contacts and get a feel for things in Ethiopia. The overall impression is that this slowdown we’ve experienced since earlier in the year is the new pace of things. International adoption is continuing in Ethiopia and the head of the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children’s Affairs (MOWYCA) has stated there is no intent to close international adoptions; however it is a last resort for their children.  Improving the integrity of the process is important and it is good for their children to stay in their culture if possible but the downside is the kids who are waiting without families for so long.  Our agency now estimates our timeline to be 3 years wait time until referral. People have asked us if there is another adoption route we could go and there are, but we are committed to Ethiopia. Ethiopia has really grown in our hearts and we are calling on God to bring this to completion. Our child will be worth the wait!

I looked back at the last blog post and kind of laughed at myself and how positive I was. We, very smugly, thought we’d be super-star adoptive parents and this wait time would fly by with no complaints from us! Very soon after joining the wait list we were drawn into the ups and downs of waiting parents.  An email with good news lifts our spirits, rumors fly about bad news dampen them…..it goes like that each week or month with shifts in the climate of Ethiopian adoptions all the time! That is what we couldn’t have prepared for even when it is a well-known fact that international adoption is unpredictable and really, uncontrollable. The only thing getting us through, reminding us of our calling, is constant conversation with the Lord. We pray for a miracle, for lots of referrals, for His hand working in Ethiopia, movement even when we can’t see it, for patience, the Ethiopian officials, and the birth family….the list goes on. At times we didn’t know what to pray because no movement seemed to be happening. This is when we feel like our dear friends have stepped in on our behalf—in prayer and in encouragement. It is so uplifting to us when people randomly tell us they were thinking of us or ask for updates. A big thank you to all those who are praying for us/our child! We’re convinced we need to “pray this baby home”.  Right now in the waiting period it is all we can do.

We know that God’s timing is perfect but there are days when we are aching for our missing family member. God is using this time to refine us as parents and Christ-followers. God will see this to completion and His faithfulness is unending.  One day, I’m sure we will look back on this period of time and think how minor it was because of the blessing of our child.

On a lighter note, if you ever get the chance to enjoy Ethiopian cuisine, we highly recommend it! On National Adoption Day and the day after our official 1 year on the wait list, we had friends take us to Altu’s. Altu’s is an Ethiopian restaurant near us and it did not disappoint! Our friends navigated the menu for us (having two adopted from Ethiopia, they are the experts!) and we just really enjoyed the flavors. Injera is a spongey sourdough-like bread that we used to pick up the meat and vegetables. We had to do it Ethiopian style, of course, and shared platters and didn’t use utensils. It was a pleasure and wonderful to learn more about our future child’s culture! We will be celebrating there in the future often.

On a final note, we’re number 44!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ways you can pray for us:

God’s hand on our baby’s situation


Peace with God’s timing of our referral

Regional directors in Ethiopia (signature required on documents)