Monday, November 29, 2010

I should be...

I should be packing...I'm doing laundry. 

I should be filling out more paperwork (yes, there's more paperwork to do!)...I'm reading blogs. 

I should be making meals to put in the freezer for when we get home with our girl...I'm playing with a new cookbook software program.

I should be buying the rest of the Christmas gifts since we will be gone during the holidays...I'm looking at ads...and ipods, but that's for me for the plane.

I should be finishing the last of the name canvases I've sold...I'm playing scrabble online.

I should be boxing up the gifts I have to mail...I'm not.

I should be mending the 2 skirts I want to pack...I've decided which fabric to use.

I should be doing so many things to get ready.  We leave in less than 2 weeks.  I am frozen with too much to do!  I keep going from task to task, but not getting any of them close to being done before I flit away.  I wish I had a check list or a to do list to keep me focused.  I just don't know where to start.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A day for giving thanks

My family and I are staying with my parents for Thanksgiving.  My parents, 6 foster children, my husband, my 5 children and I are staying with my folks for Thanksgiving.  Last night I knew I wouldn't be able to find a quiet place to read the Word and to pray without disturbing someone and being interrupted a lot.  So, I set my alarm for 6 a.m.  I got up, got dressed, grabbed my Bible and notebook and got in my van.  I drove to McDonald's.  Too loud.  I drove to the local coffee shop.  Closed until 7.  Drove to the other end of town to Braum's.  Juuuuust right.  (Did mention that this is a really small town in the panhandle of Texas?  I went from one end of town to the other in 7 minutes.)

I went in and found a back booth and sat down.  I prayed for many, many things this morning.  I prayed that our first appointment notice would come while we were here.  We live 11 hours from this side of the family and I thought it would be neat if we could share this part with them. 

I've been slightly addicted to my emails lately.  I check them often as they are sent to my smart phone.  I checked it this morning around 11 and there was THE email!  We are to be in Eastern Europe on DECEMBER 16!!  I started screaming.  My family all came running because they thought something was wrong with one of the kids.  We will see her before the end of the year. 

In a very short amount of time I will be holding my little girl.  I am so overwhelmed.  I had trouble forming words for a good portion of the afternoon.  I am not thinking straight, but in circles!  So much to do!

Erin is handling the travel arrangements.  Thanks to the donations we have received we have more than enough in our family account to pay for our flights. 

What a beautiful thing, the day before Thanksgiving.  A day for giving thanks.  I have one more thing to be grateful for tomorrow...I'll be holding my girl in a matter of weeks!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Down Time

I have a confession.  I am grateful for the wait.  We are still waiting to hear when our first travel date will be.  We have been on such a roller coaster, running at 90 mph.  I mean, look at the time line!  That is crazy how fast it has happened!  I am glad to have some down time. 

Don't misunderstand.  I still check my email several times a day to see if there is any news.  But, right now I am content with the Lord's timing of it all.  I am praying that the news comes this week while we are with extended family.  And, knowing me, next week will be a completely different blog post.  "Freaking Out Emily" will be back. 

But for now, she's enjoying just being still.  Well, as still as you can be while packing a family of 7 to drive 11 hrs and spend close to a week with family for Thanksgiving.  As still as you can be with a family of 7, period.

PS--we have had word that the vote date has moved to December 14-17.  

Friday, November 19, 2010

Unringing the Bell

We still haven't heard anything about our dossier, a date that we will be allowed to travel, or any news about the vote.  Just wanted to get that said.

I was talking to a sweet sister in Christ, who is also my sister-in-law, yesterday about the beautiful faces on Reece's Rainbow.  She said she'll look at the pictures until her heart is aching then she has to get off.  I confessed that I have had thoughts of being a bit irradiated that I now know about them.  Now that we know about these children and their bleak future we are responsible for our actions with that knowledge.

I can't unring the bell.  I've seen their faces.  I know the future they face.  Why do they face an institution?  Because God made a mistake when knitting them together? May it never be! No, he made them the very way he always intended to make them.

I see several main reasons why people don't adopt.  There are a dozen more I'm sure.   
  1. They are in love with their own gene pool.  As parents, they are more interested in what they will make together than what God could bring into their family.  
  2. They don't understand the theology of adoption.  We are adopted into the family of Christ, joint heirs with the Messiah. (Ephesians 1:5) 
  3. They're scared.  The media has made adoption appear like birth moms return every day to get their child.  That actually happens very rarely.  Adoption is by far the scariest thing I've ever done.  But, having my first child was pretty scary too.
  4. The timing isn't right.  Maybe it is or maybe it isn't.  Maybe you are waiting until everything is perfect, you have every last penny, you are done having children biologically, etc.  Truth is, it's never the right time.  And sometimes waiting means you simply wait too long.
  5. Money.  I'm not going to lie.  The money is like a mountain that's peak is hidden in the clouds.  You can't see the top.  I spent a lot of time scared of the money.  I knew I could get the paperwork ready.  But, I couldn't just "come up" with the money.  I was scared.  God provided, and provided, and provided.
Some families have real reasons why they are not adopting.  I am not dogging anyone here.  Just my observations.  There are some real things you can do to help these little ones. You can sign up to be a prayer warrior for a waiting child.  Alice had a family praying her family would find her...and we did! You can help get information out about the work Reece's Rainbow is doing to help special needs orphans.  Or you can help raise money for their adoption grant.  Alice has around $600 in her adoption fund that we will be able to use once we have a travel date.  Someone gave to her.  It was there before we even knew about her.  On my side bar I have a Christmas Tree where you can click to go see Reece's Rainbow's annual fund-raising event.  You donate $35 and you get an ornament of a little one to put on your Christmas tree.  The goal of the Christmas angels is to raise $1000 for each waiting child.  You can hold garage sales, host a blog, sell items you've made and give the proceeds to a little one's fund.  Maybe a family that wouldn't normally be able to adopt could with a little help.  Some kids on the website have grants of $20,000!  That's amazing.

Here are some adoption blogs that are doing what they can to get the word out.
These are just a couple.  I know there are more, I just ran out of time to find them.  
Sorry, you can't unring the bell.  You've seen their faces.  Now you're responsible for that knowledge, too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More information about the vote

Every week Reece's Rainbow has a chat to help answer any questions adopting parents might have.  Last night was the first time I have joined it.  I usually forget.  Plus, remember, I haven't really thought beyond getting the dossier submitted.

I learned a couple of things about the upcoming vote.  1)There is NO set date for the vote.  I can't remember where I saw that date and now I can't find my source. 2)Since we were submitted already chances are that any vote won't effect our adoption.

I am so relieved and excited, but my heart is still in knots for those that haven't been submitted yet.  I am praying that this doesn't delay anyone or cost more for them.

We haven't heard anything about a date for a SDA appointment.  I am not expecting to yet, either.  I am praying that we get the notice next week when we are with extended family for the holidays.  I think that would just be so neat. 

Believe me.  When we know you will probably hear me might Alice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Vote

The Eastern European country where Alice is currently living has decided to have another vote concerning foreign adoptions.  The date they have set for this is Nov 24.  If this passes and their President signs it, it will stop all adoptions.  Maybe temporarily; maybe permanently.  I have no idea how this might effect us and little Alice.  I am praying that if the vote passes and a moratorium in put in place, that at least the adoptions that are in progress will be allowed to complete the adoption process.  There are 70 families in different stages of adopting 100 children from Reece's Rainbow.  This will have a major impact.  All of these children have some kind of special need and many have urgent medical needs. 
"IF they do indeed put a moratorium in place, we are advocating HARD with Congressional Leaders, the US State Dept, the US Embassy in (Alice's country) and our facilitation teams on the ground there in  (Alice's country) to make sure the voice of these children is heard, and that the parliament there understands the life-altering gravity of their decision to impose a closure, even for a short period of time. Even under the guise of improving the process or moving towards Hague compliance, this would be nothing short of a human rights violation, to prevent the adoption of those children with special needs."  statement from Reece's Rainbow Director Andrea Roberts

I'm not sure how worried I am.  When I start to think about getting things ready and prepared, I stop..."just in case."  I don't think that's the right way to go about it.  I think I should be moving ahead with preparations.  So, I guess I am worried.  I know God is in control.  I know that he has moved mountains for us.  I know he will only do what is the very best for us.  I guess I'm just a little scared of what that might look like.  I just wanted to put this out there.  For prayers on these little ones' behalf.  For a record to show Alice all that happened while we were waiting for her.  For myself.  

Thank you for your prayers.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You are NOT going to believe this

I mailed the dossier for translation last Wednesday.  It got there on Friday, I checked.

I received an email late last night that the translation was done and the dossier was hopefully going to be submitted today.  I was shocked!  I woke up 3 times last night and rechecked my email.  I was afraid I had dreamed it and that email wasn't real.

I mean I had prayed that it would happen that way because the department of adoptions in Alice's country only accepts dossiers on Thursdays.  I had asked the Lord that we get submitted this week.  I knew what I had been told - that it usually takes a couple of weeks for the translation.  So, even though I had prayed these things, I was prepared for submission to not happen until next week.

I got an email this morning telling me that our family's dossier has been submitted TODAY!!  (I know this is going to be a shocker) I cried.  My mother-in-law, 2 sisters-in-law, my niece and one of my daughters who were with me when I read the email, came running to see what was wrong.  Nothing was wrong.  It was right!

The Lord has preformed miracles with this adoption.  Just when I think I know what's going on, when I think I can wrap my brain around him...He gets SO much bigger.  Who am I that he would take notice of me?  Who is Alice that he would move mountains of red tape and stretch out time for her? 

I hadn't even let my brain go beyond the dossier and getting it submitted.  My sister-in-law asked if I had given much thought to the other children and where they'll be going while we're traveling.  No, I hadn't let myself think that far.  I had just finished the dossier last week!  I feel like there's so much to be done and to get ready.

So, what's next?  We wait for our SDA appointment.  Getting that could take anywhere from 2-6 weeks.  And to be very honest, I have no idea what to expect.  Part of me feels like we should expect 6 weeks and plan for 2.  The way the Lord has been pulling out the stops on this...I'm speechless.  I know that he has a timing going on here that is so much bigger than what we can see.  So, we wait...again.  At that appointment we will formally accept the referral for Alice.  We will then see her full medical appointment and be able to visit her.  Get to meet her.  Get to kiss her.  Oh, what a day!

The the next big question.  How close are we to the $24,000 required to get her?  If everyone gives as they say they are going to (I'm not doubting anyone, I just am giving that qualifier) then we are very, very close.  That's another miracle!! 

I know without a doubt that God will provide that last bit.  Do I know how.  Nope.  But, how can I waver in my faith of his provision now with all that he has done?  I've said it once, I'll say it again.  Want to build your faith?  Adopt.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear Alice

Dear Alice,

What a week we've had!  You have no idea how much we've had to do to get everything done for you.  We mailed off the paperwork to get us to the next step in bringing you home.  The paperwork was a lot of work, but the last 2 weeks were terrible!  You're so worth it.

But, now I have a problem.  I used the paperwork and the busy work as a way to take care of you.  I can't tuck you in at night.  I can't take you on car rides just yet.  So, I did paperwork.

Now, it's gone.  And even though I haven't met you in person yet, I miss you.  I miss doing something, anything, for you.  I miss the bright yellow folder that was my "paper baby".  I chose yellow because it seems happy and light.  I used to think I looked forward to the wait.  I would have time to read about Down Syndrome.  Read about what natural remedies I will be able to use to help you stay healthy.  I'm doing those things.  I'm making things to sell to help raise the money to bring you home.  By the way, your big brother Tom thinks that it costs $500 to get you and can't understand why we don't have that much to go get you.  He also thinks every time I leave the house it's to get to see you.  Wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy?

I used to read other adoption blogs for encouragement.  But now they just make me want to hold you even more.  I've stopped reading them for now.

Soon, my girl.  Our paperwork is being translated in to the only language you have ever heard as we speak.  After that is submission to the government in your current country.  More waiting.  Praying.  Preparing.

Our savior speaks of our future home in his word.  Jesus tells his followers he is going to prepare a place for them.  That this world is not their home. 

I think about you and where you are now in that orphanage.  It is not your home.  Although you've never lived any where else and it feels like the entire world to you.  There is someone preparing a place for you.  It is so much better than anything you've ever known.

Don't grow weary where you are.  Don't be sad because you don't have a mama to hold you.  Remember, I'm preparing a place for you.  One with brothers and sisters.  A home with lots of people to hold you, read to you, and watch out for you.  A home with many rooms.  If it were not so, I would have told you so.

Sleep well, my girl.  I miss you. 


Thursday, November 4, 2010

What a blessing it is

Yesterday was a trip.  Yes, I meant that pun.  It was controlled crazy.  Which was different than my real life which is usually just the crazy.

I only brought two of the middle kiddos with me.  Oldest kid had a sore throat, youngest kid had an upset stomach, 2nd oldest had to stay behind to help take care of the sickies.  My beloved worked from home so that in case of an emergency, there would be an adult around.  It felt very strange to be leaving my sick children.  I didn't like the feeling, but couldn't put off Alice another day.  Thankfully, I had a healthy kid to take care of the other kids.

We left our house around 8. We went to Bucee's in Gidings.  Just in case you don't know what that is, it's the cleanest gas station and C-store I have EVER seen.  It's awesome!  I allowed the kids to get a drink and a bag of chips.  Yes, I know it was like 9:30 in the morning.  So, what?  It wasn't donuts.  The kids thought they had died and gone to heaven.  They talked about going back to Bucee's all day.

The dossier, a CD of hymns, and a bag of chocolate covered pecans and salty cashews.  The post-it note sticking out is where the background checks are supposed to go. 

Am I weird that I took pictures of the dossier and all it's adventures?  If the answer is yes, then maybe skip the next sentence...and the rest of the pictures.  I also talked to it as though it were Alice.

When we got to Austin we went back to the DPS.  So, to date, we've had our fingerprints taken by the FBI, DPS, Department of Family Services, and immigration.  I can't help but roll my eyes at that statement.  Nothing to say, just rolling my eyes.

I was so excited to have those background checks.  It was like getting the last piece of the puzzle.  I wanted to jump!  I did a little, but I don't get very high off the ground.

I went to Office Depot to make copies of the dossier for our records.  I was so nervous that the copier would eat one of the papers.  I stood in front of the copier for a while getting the nerve to do it.  But, when an 8 year old girl and a 6 year old boy have been sitting still for the 2.5 hours in the car and the 20 minute drive around town the motivation to move finds you. 

Next was the apostille office.  I had been there before in August.  But, it was now 11:45.  I didn't know if they closed for lunch.  I wanted to get this done!  So, I prayed and drove as fast as I legally could.  (read that as I didn't want to, but figured a ticket would slow me down more than the speed limit).  When we parked, parallel-mind you, we had to pay the parking meter.  I must say, I don't know that I've ever done that before.  So, I grabbed some change and thought I would take the time to snap a picture of the children doing it.  Then I remembered we were in a hurry and started yelling at the kids to RUN!  Halfway across the street remembered their book bag to keep them quiet.  But, was too afraid I'd run out of time to go back and get it.  How insane does that sound?

 Yes, I know C looks crazy in this, but I didn't have time to redo it!  I had a deadline to meet!  For the record, she was trying to get out of the way, whatever, let's go!

We rush into the apostille office and there is a man being waited on before us.  So, we sat.  Caught our breath.  Wished I had taken the time to grab the book bag instead of the above picture.   The kids had sat still and quiet for about....that long.  They are older and know when mom gives "the look" so it didn't take much to settle them down.  Praise God.  My nerves would NOT have handled too much.  The lady said I had to group all the same notaries together and make a note of how many of each I had.  I looked at her like a deer in the headlights.  The dossier has to be in a certain order.  I had gone over that order many times.  She wanted me to do what?  Excuse me?  I did as asked.  Without question.  Without grumbling.  Out loud.  20 minutes later we had our apostilles. 

It was done.  I felt like I had lost 20 pounds.  My dress size didn't, however.  Just sayin.

I met up with some dear, sweet friends for lunch.  These are the type of friends that totally refresh you and soothe you.  They didn't do anything special or out of the ordinary, for them.  They are just like that naturally.  It was perfect.  I was nervous about the day, so I'm pretty sure I talked the whole time.  I do that when I'm nervous.  I brought the dossier with me because it was out of order and I couldn't ship it until it was back in order.  I laid it out on the table and they helped me get it back into order.  I just so happened to bring the check list with me that had the order on it.  I hadn't meant to bring it and, in fact, got irritated with myself for doing so.  Boy, I was glad for that mistake.

From there we went to the UPS store.  $160 later, my dossier will be in Alice's country by tomorrow!! 

The UPS guy just threw the papers in the envelope.  Hey!  Don't you understand that that is my baby?  I didn't say that out loud, just in my head.  Didn't want him calling the crazy police.
Yes, I know I took another picture of the dossier.  The guy at the UPS store didn't even blink when I took pictures of it.  I must not be the only one out there.

It's done.  It's out of my hands.  I've been working so hard on this, I'm sort of feeling a big displaced.  Now, before suggestions to help fill my time are given, I've got it covered.  Thanks.

God has been so gracious to us.  I wanted to say that he's gracious to us all the time.  If the paper work hadn't come in, if we had missed the deadline, if we don't raise all the money, if we don't come home with Alice Faith.  God is still gracious to us.  God is good.  Not just when things of this world go according to what we deem the right direction.  This adoption is God's will for our family.  We are doing it to bring a little one into our home so that we may share the gospel with her and Lord willing have another arrow for God's kingdom.  It doesn't matter what things pop up or try to stop us.  We have the Ancient of Days on our side.  Who can be against us?

What a blessing it is.  What a blessing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

If you will forgive me

I really want to fill you in and give you the wonderful details of today, but I am worn plum out.  I will do that tomorrow.

But, I want to let you know that the dossier is on it's way to Eastern Europe.  It should be there Friday. 

Tomorrow, I promise, details and pictures.  Tonight, early bedtime for me.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

My mama used to say that I was a cat on a hot tin roof when I just sort of flit from place to place.  My mind seemed to be about 10 steps ahead and my body was struggling to keep up.

That's what I feel like this morning.  I had a hard time sleeping because I kept dreaming I forgot a piece of the dossier.  I woke up like lightening this morning, but I was shaking from nerves.

I almost skipped my prayer and Bible reading time.  I just have so much to do I don't want to forget anything!  But, I didn't.  I prayed for today.  I prayed for Alice.  I prayed for those on my list.  I thanked him for all he has done.  I worshiped him.  I stopped shaking.

I read the Word.  My mind started to focus and settle.  I started breathing again.

What a glorious God we serve.  His presence, his thoughts, his love is like a healing balm.  He is a mighty fortress.

I have about 5 places to go in Austin today.  Will you pray for me?  Although I am less anxious than I was this morning, I'm still ready to be done and I want to be just right.  I will update when I get home this evening.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Doin' the Texas Two-Step

I grew up in a small town in the panhandle of Texas.  We learned to do the two-step in school PE.  It was a big deal.

Why am I telling you this, you wonder?  I'm prone to ramble.  But, today I have a purpose for my rambling.

We are going to Austin today...and...tomorrow!  That form I mentioned takes 24 hours to come back.  So, Erin and I have to both go today for a zip over (stopping in Giddings for breakfast) fill out the form and zip back (stopping in Giddings for 2nd breakfast)(what, you don't eat 2nd breakfast?). 

I won't be able to apostille until tomorrow.  BUT, Andrea at Reece's Rainbow gave the translators the go-ahead to begin the translation process on our faxed dossier.  That means we made the deadline! 

I am so humbled that the Lord has worked these miracles for us and for Alice Faith.  I had a blog post already written about us not making the deadline and having to start over.  It's not that I'm a pessimist, quite the opposite really.  I just didn't want to be angry or resentful at God for not doing as I had asked.  Because, who am I to ask anything of God?  I want his will-on earth as it is in heaven.  So, I was ready to do as he asked.

But, his plan was for this to happen now!  His plan, as I know it right now, is for us to make the deadline.  I am so honored that he has allowed us miracle.  And, yes, I see this as a miracle.  The money raised, the forms brought in, the timing.  This has his super-natural fingerprints all over it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I have great news, good news and bad news

Great news:  Our immigration permission was faxed today!  After being told they don't allow faxes and that we're only allowed 1 copy and since ours has already been mailed out we couldn't have another one.  Weird.

Good news:  Our dossier is done at the proof reader's.  We had some minor mistakes that have been easily fixed.  By the way, one was the medical form.  Yep.  I had to redo that form...drum roll, please...6 TIMES!  Can you see why I don't want to miss this deadline and have to redo the paperwork?

Bad news:  Not really ALL that bad.  We have to have one form completely redone.  One that has be done in Austin.  Really, it's an easy fix and I'll need to be there anyway for the apostilling of the paperwork.  At first I thought it was going to take a few weeks.  But nope.  This time tomorrow, I should have that form in my shaky and grateful hands, have made a copy of the dossier and sent it by Fed Ex it to Alice's country.  Whew!  And enjoying some Austin brewed kombucha.

It will feel like a huge weight off my shoulders.  Then the waiting really begins.  I used to think I'd be scared of just sitting and doing nothing for this adoption.  What a silly girl I am!  I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to do to fill my time.

Here's where we are now...

I called USCIS on Friday.  That's the United States Customs and Immigration Services.  I got the number from our dossier prep team with Reece's Rainbow.  I wanted to get the name and number of the officer on our case so I could ask for a timeline.  I wasn't going to harass the woman, just kindly ask.  And stress the importance of the date.  Gently.  I promise.

I spoke with a very nice woman, Officer H, that told me our case was being handled by a back up officer.  They are very behind and have brought in extra hands.  The back up officers don't take phone calls or emails.  Of course not, I thought.  Officer H told me that they had just gotten our case on Thursday so it would be 30 days before we heard anything. 

Ok, I thought.  There's God's answer.  At least I don't have to wait everyday, hoping.  I can move on and get started on the redo of the paperwork. 

Officer H then said, "Well, it says your case is with a supervisor."  What does that mean?  "It usually means a decision has been made."  But, she couldn't find me anymore info.  So, she took my number and said she would call me back when she knew more.  I had heard that same from a different officer 2 days before.  I wasn't holding my breath.

20 minutes later, Officer H called me back to let me know that we have been approved!  (That's great news because it means that we now have permission to bring Alice Faith home to this country.)  She told me that it is extremely unusual that a case would be approved after only having it for 24 hours!  I was so excited!  I told her that if she were with me I hug her neck and give her a big kiss!  She laughed (I think she was glad to be several hours away from me). 

We will have our form in  7-10 business days.  When I emailed our team at RR, she said that yes we can still send it to Alice's country, but they can't guarantee we'll be submitted by the Nov 25 deadline since we will be missing the Nov 1 deadline.  The SDA (the government agency that handles adoptions in her country) will accept dossiers every Thursday up to Nov 25.  We still have to have it translated before it can be submitted.  It will depend on how many submit and how many are in front of us.

But, how can I worry about that?  God has performed miracles, I think.  He has provided money and time for this to all happen as it has up to date.  Does that mean we will automatically be submitted?  No.  It means that he has worked supernaturally.  We may still not make it by the new deadline.  So what?  How can I fuss when he has given so much.

Thank you for your prayers and for asking me about it.  Sorry it took me 3 days to post about it.  I was emailing our team back and forth so I would have all the info before I passed it along.

I've been praying that our sweet girl would have an extra hug or get held just a little longer each day.