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.