Friday, December 1, 2017

Here is December

First off, we know there are so many praying for us and we have really felt the support of so many around us. It is very humbling to have so many lifting us up in prayer and so many who ask frequently how things are going with this process. We can only hope that we can repay that and be dedicated to praying for our friends and family when they need it too.

 From now on, however, we've decided it's best to only update the public when we receive certain, positive updates. The progress is slow, sometimes painstakingly slow, and deadlines aren't always met or held as firmly as you might be used to. Most of the time plan A or maybe B, C and D all don't go as hoped.

It is feeling like we are "overdue" in this "pregnancy" and no day can been soon enough that we go. We will be sure to update you in the meantime but are looking to enjoy our family in the present until that call does come with our court date.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Current Status


We’ve had so much happen in the last two weeks, I’ll stop to update! Two weeks ago we were thinking about the next day with a lot of anticipation and excitement. The events that unfolded that week were nothing what we were expecting but so much more than we could’ve hoped for. Much of it is detail that is hard to explain or hard for those not familiar with the process in Ethiopia to understand—so we will just say this: God moved some mountains on our case and the end result surpassed and exceeded what we thought would get accomplished that week. That being said, during that week we probably hit a low in the process thinking everything was falling apart and not working out. At one point Troy asked me when the last time we got a phone call or email with good news was. Things are so unpredictable and always changing! In the end, we found God is trustworthy, as always, and His plan is better than ours.

We received a huge approval Friday of that week along with another huge step forward last week with the embassy. Currently we are waiting on two documents to be obtained (in Ethiopia) and a judge has said once those are brought to court (by 12/8) they would schedule our court date!! It seems within reach now and we are pumped up! We know from past experience though not to count on anything and that may not happen as they say. Considering the past few weeks of emotionally-draining ups and downs, we are kind of used to it but we know God can continue to amaze us by blazing the path before us.

On Thursday an agency representative will be travelling to try to get those two documents. We’d appreciate prayer for his success and that they will be accepted as sufficient to continue to setting our court date. We firmly believe we have already experienced a miracle and continue to embrace God’s timing for this process. She will be worth the wait for sure!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Monday

To let everyone know, Monday did not get anything accomplished on our case. We heard from our caseworker the news yesterday and there is nothing real negative that happened---just nothing happened. I won't go into details as they pertain to Samira's story but it isn't the news we were expecting to hear at all. We are still hopeful and if nothing else it has given us more time to pray. Please continue praying for us-they are retrying this Thursday/Friday. For now, we continue to wait.

Thank you for your concern and care for us!

Since I probably won't post until after we hear the outcome of Friday's [now, third] court date....Thursday is Samira's first birthday. I really dislike reading through past blog posts and don't, until Troy mentioned we've never said her name before last week's post. Well, guess I just dropped that there---we will be sure to explain why it is meaningful later. ;) We will be celebrating here in Michigan, although we were so hoping to spend her birthday with her.

Proverbs 3:5-6 -Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Big day Monday

We have been asked so much lately about progress on our case, which is so sweet of our dear friends to keep up with the latest news. It means so much to us that you think and pray for us often. For a few months there we really wanted to give more news than we had. Ethiopian courts closed for rainy season August-October, but are now reopened. We didn't hear much during that time and didn't expect to. Now though, we have a big day on November 6th! This is a court date happening for our case, but we don't have to attend. Many other things relating to our case are happening then that will either progress our case forward or not. We are praying for all details and logistics to work out so that the time Samira has to spend in an orphanage is not prolonged. We ask all our friends and family to do the same. It has definitely been a test of trusting in God and His timing over the last 6 months particularly. We have full confidence God will bring this to completion in His perfect timing.  She is growing up in pictures so quickly, it's hard to miss this precious time of her life. If you think of it, please pray for our case Monday. (Ethiopia is 6 hours ahead of our time) I will try to update promptly when we hear any news!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Highlight of our summer

Well I guess summer officially just started but I think this one takes the cake for the next few months. When we told our good friend the news of our referral back in April she replied and said "My parents are going to Ethiopia in June!" (they attend our church also) I immediately asked if there would be any possibility of them visiting our sweet girl. (I mean how many people do you meet travelling to ET not for an adoption??) We both checked - us with our agency, her with her parents and it was a "go" from both ends. Now, just because they were in the same city didn't mean it would be easy for them to get to her or to arrange. I'd like to leave this part out but I must be honest--I dropped the ball. I never found out their travel dates and in the first few days of June I checked in with said friend and said "So, when do your parents leave?" They already had-June 1st. I was so mad at myself for not making work of it earlier and getting a care package together. I decided I was not beyond begging and asked for their email anyway. It was a long shot but I was going to take it! She also warned me that they had a very full itinerary and weren't really in control of their schedule. Funny thing with Ethiopia is the government can shut down their internet any time they choose. While they were there the internet did go down for a spell. So, email communication is spotty at best and I wasn't sure they would ever receive my communications. It turns out they did and replied! They weren't in the city for most of their time there from what I understood but would be flying out their last day there and would maybe have a chance to visit her then. No promises, no guarantees. That was all I was asking and it gave me a sliver of hope!

On our end, our agency wanted to set up a visit accompanied by their employee in Ethiopia and arrange it with the orphanage. We didn't know what would happen so earlier in the week before Father's Day nothing was set up. The day before they would arrive in the capitol city we received an email forwarded from their son in law where, in the email to family they mentioned trying to visit the Avery's baby! Also, they mentioned their laptop battery dying. I jumped on trying to arrange with our agency but just had no information to go on. I'd send emails to them in Ethiopia not confident at all that they'd get any. In the end, our case worker did get in touch with their Ethiopian contact and had him clear it with the orphanage and gave us the thumbs up. As you can imagine, Americans can't just show up at an orphanage asking to see a child.

Last Saturday morning my friend sent me a text saying "They saw her!!!!! 47 pics!!!!!" Happiest text I ever received!! It may top the list of best Father's day gifts for Troy too! When her parents arrived home we found out their side of the story and they will tell you it was miraculous how this all happened. They had been trying to reach the orphanage all week they were there and would never get an answer. 2 hours before they got there Saturday Carol thought there was no way this visit was going to happen. Then she said things just started falling into place. People picked up their phone, got her to the correct contact, they got a taxi, and made the 40 minute drive! Over the phone the orphanage contact said now wasn't a good time because our little girl was sleeping and they wouldn't be able to hold her or take pictures. Thank goodness they said they'd come anyway and take a picture of her sleeping. When they arrived they walked in her room and there she was (we have it on video) sitting up in her bumbo seat just as alert as ever. We may have another social butterfly here! She was not looking sleepy and was ready for visitors! So, we were able to see dozens of pictures of her, her orphanage and room, etc. These grandparents got to hold her and love on her for us. They must have emailed us from the airport and let us know a few details but most meaningful to us was that they could touch her and prayed a blessing over her. Just hearing the news they did see her really solidified it my mind that she was real! Half a world away but she was real! Up until now we've really only had 1 picture of her so it is so fun to see the pictures side by side of her at 3 months and 7 months. This is huge for me to actually have content for a baby book too. You know how monthly pictures of your bio kids are so popular (and I did it too), well what do you put in a book for a baby you didn't see their first year? Anyhow, I said before we knew if this was all possible that if we got new pictures, it would make my summer. It sure did! We are over the moon about it and cannot thank the Whites enough for their efforts on our behalf. This will help propel us through the next months of waiting. We are still pinching ourselves at the timing of their trip, the location...etc. Praise the Lord, He has been so good to us! We are eating up every detail they've shared with us about her, her environment there and the country as a whole. Sunday morning I received an Ethiopian scarf from Mrs. White which is a sweet, tangible reminder of our girl. If you can't tell we are feeling so blessed by this whole situation and are over the moon about it.

I mentioned at the end of the last post a bit about steps that need to happen before she can come home--there is still much to happen that is out of our control. Really, since we mailed the PAIR documents April 13th it has all been out of our control. We get asked all the time "When are you taking her home?" If we knew that answer, we would share it but we don't! The process with Ethiopia is not predictable and we can never know when it might be. One thing that makes us think it will for sure be into this fall is the annual rainy season court closure. That happens approximately Aug-Oct and all court proceedings are delayed until after that. We are hoping that when the courts open back up we can get our court date and by then our Federal approval will be granted. We can really only guess though and place it in God's hands.

For now we are enjoying pictures of our little growing girl who is just so precious!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Long awaited news

It seems like I always start out saying how overdue this update is. There is no exception with this one! I'll try to keep it as brief as possible because almost 3 months have passed and the news changed weekly, if not daily since March 29th. I originally started an update but as I was coming upon 2 pages of typing I decided I needed to give a bigger picture update and drop some details. (they are amazing though!)

After losing the referral in December the holidays were hard and especially January. Looking back the time was good for us to mourn that and to be ready for what was in store for us. In the end the separation of the two was good for us. It was an exercise in trusting God though!

Yes, we have received another referral (match with a  specific child)! The call came on March 29th and was completely a God thing timing-wise. I was literally standing at the capitol when the call came getting the final seals on our updated dossier we had been working on for 7 months! It was a great feeling to be getting that finalized and an even greater feeling getting that call! Other amazing circumstances happened that led me to bringing our documents to the capitol that day rather than a week earlier that ended up being a blessing for us time/money/effort-wise to do with updating a form. That day we heard some details about a precious 4 month old baby girl they had for us! We have been falling in love with her ever since that moment! We were a bit surprised that it was a girl and so young! Our caseworker sent us her file to review and decide if we would accept the referral. The kids and I zoomed from Lansing to Troy's office where we saw her picture for the first time. Let me say, she is beautiful! We cannot share any photos via the internet until our adoption is finalized but I usually have some on me! She was born in November and is exactly 9 months younger than Lawson. That fact gave us the chills when we saw her birthdate.
As far as details of her life go, we are carefully guarding that for her someday. As she grows and she knows it we can gauge what is appropriate for her and others to know but we feel she should be the first to know. So sorry if you ask, we won't give out many details right now. We are so thrilled we get the opportunity to adopt her.

We did take a few days to pray about this child and obviously accepted it. Good thing we got that dossier done because it was time for more paperwork! We sent that off quickly before a spring trip our family took and we were riding high on the news. That week of paper chasing had answers to prayer --we would be told some document had to be translated and we might not receive it for a couple weeks and then it would show up in our inbox the very next day. Other things fell into place in a timely manner and it turns out we didn't delay a day if we didn't have to. While on vacation we received the news that on April 21st Ethiopia suspended all inter-country adoptions indefinitely. It was a wet blanket to say the least. Not much information was given as to why and how long it could last but it was concerning. Our agencies were taking it very seriously. The month of May passed with a lot of news but not really any change in the status. One thing we saw over and over is how much our U.S. Embassy and government officials were doing to advocate for us. We were so appreciative and humbled to think that they would fight so hard for maybe 200ish families.(those already matched with kids) There were emails we received from the embassy multiple times a week and also the State Department as well as many conference calls. We did a lot of praying and asking God for a miracle! How sad to think of the orphans caught up in this along with families who are just itching to take their kids home! The U.S. government was primarily advocating for "priority families" which are any that had already been matched with a child (referral) before April 21st. So that's us! I'm not sure we'll ever have firm answers explaining the suspension but it appears as of the last 2 weeks of June, it has been lifted? It can be frustrating being at the mercy of another government but we need to respect their processes. We are just relieved that we are seeing good movement there currently! This international adoption stuff is crazy! Or at least in Ethiopia...you never know what you're going to get! We are thankful God has been with us through it all, never changes, and always keeps His promises!

Our case has even had some movement and we have already had our first court date scheduled for July 26. This court date is not for us-we attend the second court. Right now we wait for those along with a Federal approval that can be terribly slow to get. We still have a quite a few steps to do to bring her home but we are praying it is in God's perfect timing. We are boldly asking God to bring her home this fall. You may join us in that! :) I really want to celebrate her first birthday WITH her.

I'll save our happiest news this month in another post-coming soon!

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!