Friday, May 24, 2013

Our Dossier is Finished!

Our documents arrived from Olympia today!

I was all ready for them after creating the family photo pages to include with all the rest of the documents!

Here is what we have worked so hard to put together over the last 4 months!

What you see there is:
Home Study
copy of passports
miscellaneous boring documents
5 sets of FBI fingerprints, apostilled in Washington DC
More boring documents
A commitment to doing follow up home visits after she's home
Photo pages with photos of our family, home and activities:

Now we are waiting to get an appointment to have our finger prints taken for the I800a (immigration application), which we will have to drive to south Seattle to get done (not going to be fun now with that bridge in Burlington gone).

After that, we will be waiting. Waiting for what?  Waiting for our "referral".  What's a referral?  In the world of adoption, it is the invitation - the invitation to travel to meet your child!  We expect this will happen sometime in July or August.

So, now it's time for some nesting - home projects to get done while I have time to do them!
I included an entire sheet of photos for Esther as it shows that we have dealt with nearly everything that Priscilla has and will experience.  It also shows that we value her as a large part of our family and is not seen as a burden but as a delight and a blessing to our family.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Second Trimester....

I find it very interesting how similar adoption is to pregnancy.  When you think about adoption, it's like the time when you aren't pregnant yet, but hope to be/plan to be/think you might be pregnant soon.  When you commit to a child, it's like a positive pregnancy test.  When your adoption plans are interrupted it's like a miscarriage - you grieve for the child you won't be able to adopt.

We committed to adopting Priscilla back in January.  I liken the last 4 1/2 months to the first trimester. The going it tough, and there's nothing to show for it.  You are working so hard on something you can't put your hands on.  You're tired all the time and there's always more to do than you have time or energy.  Then, you finally reach the end of this first trimester - the home study arrives!

We are now entering into a new phase of our adoption, the second trimester if you will.  We are waiting to "see" our little girl.  The hard work is done, I'll have more time and energy to function from day to day.  I have a list of projects to accomplish before she joins our family.  I'm sure, just like the second trimester in pregnancy, there will be days that it will seem like this isn't really happening.  Life will seem"normal" and there will be very little to remind me that we are adopting.  Except for those occasional little reminders, similar to those precious first kicks/movements, like getting our fingerprints done for the I800a, and submitting our dossier. I'll need to prepare and plan.

In about 8 weeks we will get to "see" our "baby."  To me, this will be very much like the big 20 week ultrasound (only better as we'll get to hold her and love on her!).  But it will be the first time we truly lay eyes on her.  At that point everything will seem so much more real.  Our hearts will be bonded with her and it will be SOOOO hard to walk away and not "see" her again for so many, many months!

After that, we'll be in our last trimester - the hardest part.  There will be so much to do to prepare, as I know I will be unable to accomplish much of anything once she is home, for months even.  We'll get her bedroom ready, get clothes for her set out (we'll know her size by then).  We'll have more paperwork to submit to finish the adoption.  But, mostly, we will be waiting.  Anxiously waiting.  Praying for her to stay strong, to remain healthy.  Each day will seem longer than the last.  Going "overdue" due to delays in the red tape/legal process will be excruciating.

Once everything is ready and the time has come, Daryl will take me to bring her home.  We'll leave our other children, and come home with their new sister.  Then everything will slow down, we will focus on our new blessing and keep tight for a while.  Time to bond, time to learn about her.  Time to allow her to adjust to her new world and new time zone (so like a newborn that is on the wrong time frame, awake all night, sleeping all day!).  Keeping exposure to anything outside our family to a minimum as we care for her and bond to her.  Taking her to doctor's appointments to make sure she gets the best start here as she can.

And, eventually, finding a new normal for us. I always find it takes at least 3 months to find a new normal after having a baby, but as I get older, it has taken longer and longer.  With Carese it was nearly a year. With Priscilla, it may take that long as well.  Our friends and family will need to be loyal and patient as we go through the process of making Priscilla a part of our family.  But it will all be worth it.

But, there are many ways that adoption is so very different from a pregnancy.  While we are waiting, our child is in an orphanage on the other side of the world, spending most of her day in a crib.  Not receiving the therapies, medical care and proper nutrition that she needs.  No amount of my eating right or being careful to guard my health will help her.  Granted, if I'm eating right and working on my health, I will be in better shape to care for her, but it doesn't help her right now.  When an adopted child joins the family, they are not a clean slate.  They have been damaged.  They have learned to cope in ways that a baby should never have to cope.  They have learned to never expect their needs to be met.  They have learned that crying does not bring about consolation.  They have learned that at night, there is no one to care for them, they are on their own.

And, unlike pregnancy, it is not 9 months, give or take a few weeks. It's more like a year, give or take a few months!  A year that YOUR child is not in your arms but living in a cold, sterile environment learning to rock in place to self-console instead of sitting in my lap, in my arms, rocking in our purple princess room.

So, when is our "due date"?  We really have no idea.  Sometime next winter.  October at the earliest, January or later if things don't go well.  Another winter in an orphanage for a little girl who has battled pneumonia 4 times in her first 3 winters.

Please pray with us that our paperwork will sale through all the red tape.  That we can go get our precious little girl in October rather than January or later.  Pray that she remains healthy.  Pray that we can make all the needed preparations in our home for her.  Pray that we will be healthy for our traveling to meet her and to bring her home.  Pray for our family as they prepare to hold up while we are gone.

But even more.....

PRAY that others will see the needs of these children to be adopted!

EVERY life is worth saving.  These children will NOT be OK if left where they are.  Unlike children in need of adoption here in the US, they are not in homes.  They are  not receiving therapies to help them grow and learn.  These children face a death sentence if they are not adopted.

If you are pro-life, then you should consider the plight of these precious children, loved by God, who desperately need a home.  These are children abandoned because they are not perfect.  But in God's eyes they are perfect.  In God's eyes they are worth every penny, every sleepless night, every sacrifice of time it takes to bring these children into a home where they can be loved, cared for and taught of the ultimate adoption.  That they can be adopted by God Almighty and be His child.

Adoption is the ultimate outreach to a sinful word.  Adopting is being a missionary, an evangelist.  An adoptive family is a physical manifestation of the spiritual reality of salvation.

If you can't adopt, the support adoptive families through prayer and financial giving.  If you can't give financially, give some physical help to a local adoptive family.  And everyone can do this - advocate for children who are waiting for their forever family to find them.  Share the plight of these forgotten children.

If you think you can't adopt because you don't have the money, I say "pshaw, that's nothing."  I know because we have experienced God's provision in a way that astounds me every day.  If God is calling you to adopt, He is MORE THAN ABLE to provide such an easy thing as money!

Plus - did you know that there are 3 children listed right now who have enough money in their Reece's Rainbow Grants to nearly pay for their entire adoption?????

Check them out:

Nolan is almost 10 years old
He has been transferred to an adult mental institution
His life is in imminent danger
But he can be adopted!
He has over $15,000 ready and waiting to be used
for his adoption!!!
Can you save him?

Iris has over $16,000 to use for her adoption!
She loves to care for the other children in her orphanage
Here's is a blog post about her:
This country is fast -
most children are home in 7 months!

Maria is an 11 year old sweetie pie!
She has $15,000 for her adoption
Are you her momma???
She's in the same ORPHANAGE as Iris
(hint, hint, hint!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Red Letter Day!

Today two things we have been waiting for have happened within hours of each other!

Our Home Study is Completed!  


Our Matching Grant has arrived in our Reece's Rainbow FSP!

But first, the final numbers on our funding!  When our matching grant began, we estimated that we needed around $21,000 to complete the adoption from that point forward.  We set our goal of raising $10,500 to use for our matching grant.  Our matching grant also matched the value of items donated, so that kind of made things a little complicated, but it all worked out so amazingly well!  Our matching grant was for up to $14,000 (half of the entire cost of the adoption, including expenses we had already covered).  

So here's the totals:Monetary donations/commissions earned (FSP or directly to us) = $10,476Value of items donated for auctions/sold & proceeds sent to us = $3193

Total of Matching Grant - $14,000

Notice that - they rounded up! Astounding!

So, in summary, we are fully funded.  We even have extra funds in case our projected costs are less than our actual costs (especially for plane tickets)
We also found out last week that the process for filing the dossier has changed slightly, speeding things up.  Before you had to first apply for the I800a (application to immigrate a child), and then once you have the I800a approval, you would include that in your dossier and send that off.  Now, you send off your I800a and dossier as soon as they are ready, and then send the I800a to join the dossier once you get the approval!  This will save 4 - 6 weeks of processing time!  Good thing I've been steadily working on the dossier items!

Right now I have the I800a completely ready, just waiting for signatures and that Home Study, and I also have everything for the Dossier ready, waiting for signatures, notarization and then off to get apostilled.  Once everything is notarized/apostilled I can send in the Dossier.  This should mean that I can send in the dossier by the end of next week if all goes smoothly!

And that means that we will be traveling to meet Priscilla sometime around the end of July or August.  Her birthday is August 5, so would you pray with me that we will be traveling the week of her birthday?  Her birthday falls on the Monday, so in all likelihood, if we travel that week, we would meet her on her birthday!  She would probably have no idea of the significance, but when she's older, it would mean that she did not spend her third birthday alone!

We also did some re-arranging in the girl's bedroom as Elizabeth didn't like sleeping in the bunk, and having a bunk above Esther's bed made it nearly impossible to get Esther in and out of bed without putting your back out.  So here's some updated photos of their bedroom.  Carese sleeps in the white crib, Priscilla will sleep in the brown crib, and Esther sleeps in the bed to the right of the brown crib, and lastly, Elizabeth sleeps in the bed next to Esther's bed.

That's another project I have to tackle this week - I almost forgot!  I have to make up new photo sheets to send in with the Dossier showing our home and our family, or should I say "her home and her family!"

So, we have made it over the biggest hurdles - the home study and funding for our adoption.  Isn't that amazing!  From here on out it will be mostly waiting, waiting and more waiting.

I'm  planning on taking a week off from the internet once I have the I800a and Dossier submitted, but I'll update the blog if anything important happens.  I've been spending WAY to much time online since this adoption started, and we have so many project around here that we need to get done during this waiting period, since after Priscilla comes home, projects will take a back seat for a long time!

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement through these past few months, and we appreciate your prayers that this next step will go smoothly as well!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Astounding Final Tally (well, mostly final)

Wow, Tuesday was incredible.  Well, actually, all of last month was unbelievable.

But before I go into details, I have not had time to tell you about the conference call with the doctor for the University of Washington Adoption Medical Clinic.  He was very encouraging.  He enjoyed watching Priscilla's videos and got a kick out her little personality.  By the end of the conversation he told us that he had no reservations about how we would handle caring for Priscilla when she comes home.  He gave us some questions to ask when we go to see her the first time in order to better prepare for her medical needs when we bring her home.  He even told us that he believes that Priscilla will thrive in our home and under our care.  The phone call was absolutely so encouraging!

I have crunched the numbers.  I am waiting on just a few Facebook Auction winners to pay, and for a the checks for the proceeds from the parties to arrive.

Just as a reminder, when we were offered the matching grant, the two limits were donations being given by the end of April and a maximum matching grant of $14,000.

Here are the preliminary total amounts donated to our adoption in the last 5 weeks:

Reece's Rainbow FSP Grant - $4560 (before Paypal fees taken out)
Cash/in person donations - $1015
Commissions on Amazon Sales - $89
Paypal Donations during April - $913
Spaghetti Feed/Silent Auction Donations - $3198
April FB Auctions - $616 (all but 4 winners have paid, so this is approximate)
Party Commissions - $193.00
Checks coming for Waldorf Doll's sold - $180.00

When we started out 5 weeks ago, we had approximately $21,000 in adoption costs still to cover.

That meant, that with the matching grant we needed to raise $10,500.

Did you add those figures up???

$10,764 was donated!

I know, no way! Right?!

Also, if you remember, that I shared that we would need $6,000 in order to prepare and submit our dossier, and that we would not have access to our Reece's Rainbow Grant (which is where the matching grant is going) until after our dossier is submitted, approved and we have been invited to travel.

Well, readers, it looks like we will reach that goal.  Right now, we have just shy of $4,000 in our savings account (after transferring the money needed for the I800a application), and we have over $1,000 in our Paypal account that I have not transferred yet.  We still have a few hundred dollars coming our way in the next week (proceeds from parties and the sale of the Waldorf dolls and a few FB auctions).  Since then, we have actually done some preparation, so we no longer need all $6,000 in place, it's more like $5,600. With a little of our personal funds, we will be able to accomplish this easily!

Five weeks ago, $14,000, $10,500 and $6,000 were numbers that I was working with, and every single one of them seemed so out or reach.  It just didn't seem possible.  Humanly possible that is.

But my God is so much bigger and better than I could have imagined.  He took those numbers and showed me that NOTHING is impossible with God.

Lastly, we have doubted.  Others have doubted.  Some have expressed their concerns to us in person (and their concerns are mostly valid!).   There have been so many times in the last few months where we have thought to ourselves "what in the world are we doing."

 Well, God has over and over assured us that this is His will for our family.  Priscilla is our child, born on the other side of the world, but our child.

God doesn't limit Himself to using people who are capable, strong, and have plenty of resources.  If He did, He wouldn't get much of the credit.  He chooses people who are incapable of doing what He is asking, unless He steps in and equips them to do His will.

Voddy Bachaum talked a lot at the Home School Conference about the fact that God doesn't require something of us without enabling us to do it first.  Our pastor has said "His Commands are His Enablings" (or something like that).

God has taught us through this that He is more than able to meet our needs - all our needs.

Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable.  These are words that I using far too often of I went to the thesaurus to increase my vocabulary.

Astounding, Bewildering, Marvelous, Spectacular, Staggering, Stupendous, Astonishing...words only begin to describe how I feel right now.

I hope you are as in awe of what God has done as I am.

Life will seem quite dull after this month.  Well, life is never dull around this house, but you know what I mean!!

Before I end, please pray for the Browns and Gemma.  I had the blessing of meeting Maria, Gemma's mommy, at the home school conference this past week.  I was able to see the many photographs and videos that she took when she went to visit Gemma in January - Gemma is beautiful, but she needs to come home as she is not receiving the care that she desperately needs.  They have been waiting for over 3 months now for a signature from the government in Priscilla's country (Priscilla and Gemma are in the same country, but different cities).  Some families who have gone to meet their little ones after the Browns returned home have already gotten their signatures and invitations to travel.  This is very discouraging for them.

Please pray that the Browns will get their signature first thing after that government resumes (they are on holiday all this week).  If you can, stop over on their blog, Carry Your Light and give them some encouragement by commenting on her blog, or better yet, donate to their FSP, because as you can see, they have received very little financial help for their adoption.  They also have an Amazon search button that you can use to do your shopping and help them bring Gemma home!  But most of all, pray for this family, that they would be encouraged and that they would be going to bring Gemma home soon!!!!

Carry Your Light

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