People who have gone before us say this is a tough wait. I'm glad the holidays are approaching and we'll be busy with lots of festive activities.
Lots of you have asked what's next and what our time frame is. We don't know anything for sure, but here's an educated guess. We're currently family #5 waiting for a referral for our gender/age range. We're thinking it could be 3-5 months before the referral. Then a court date is scheduled (usually 1-2 months after the referral). Once we "pass" court (sometimes it takes a few tries) we travel a few weeks later. So, we could be traveling as early as this spring or later like summer or fall. Things have moved quicker than expected thus far, but that doesn't mean that trend will continue.
We'll post again when we have new news! Until then, we'll be waiting patiently!
It's strange that we have no more to do. No more notaries to get, no more documents to seal, no more decisions to make ... we just need to wait. And pray. And pray. There's so much to pray about! There's a good chance our son is in the process of transition. That he's already at the orphanage or going through the process of being orphaned. Hard to imagine. Hard to know what to pray for! So, we're asking God to give him his daily needs. We're asking God to somehow prepare his heart for the huge transition he's going to be making soon. We're asking God to surround him with people who love him, care for him, protect him. We're praying we'll be ready as well. We know God is faithful, that He loves #3, and has a fantatic plan that we get to be apart of. There are so many unknowns, but God is good and we're trusting in Him!
Hoping to update soon! :)
On Monday I'll take all of our notarized documents to the Department of the Great Seal (yeah, that's really a government office .. who knew??) to have all our documents sealed. Then we'll bundle them all up, and overnight them to The Assistant Stork (I'm not making this up) in Washington DC who will hand deliver them to the Ethiopian Embassy & the Department of State to be translated & authenticated. After that, our documents are sent back to our agency, to be sent to Ethiopia. Surprisingly, this whole process takes only about 1 week.
So, the bottom line is this, in about 2 weeks time we'll be officially waiting for our referral (the picture, medical history, etc of our child). The next step will be finding out WHO he is! Our part of the work is almost complete, and we'll be waiting for THE moment everyone talks about. The picture!
It's all becoming very real. It's all a little scary. But it's exciting too. We're moving forward and praying with each step.
We'll keep you posted!
Once the Golden Ticket arrives, we still have lots more waiting to do ... waiting for the dossier to be translated and sent to Ethiopia, waiting for our referral (a picture and medical report of our child), waiting for a court date, waiting for a travel date, etc. So, my title of this blog "waiting is hard to do" will most likely become a common theme over the next 6-9 months!
We have a few more details to take care of in our dossier packet. We both need to get 6 passport pictures taken (even though we already have passports?!?) and submit our final book reports. Other than that, we're just waiting.
I've been reading a book "There is No Me Without You" by Melissa Fay Greene. It is a breathtaking story (true) of a woman in Ethiopia who, not by any plans of her own, begins to take in orphaned children. It also includes a fair amount of history on Ethiopia, the AIDS pandemic and other interesting topics. The book ends with several chapters on updates of kids who were in her orphanage, and are now with their American families. The book had opened my eyes to the extreme conditions these kids are faced with each day ... with the amount of loss they've faced in their short little lives. It is truly a desperate situation for so many. It gives me a very real sense of urgency. In 2005 Ethiopia had almost 4.5 MILLION orphans, with only 1.400 being adopted by families abroad. How is it even possible to imagine 4.5 Million children with no one to love them, no one to tuck them in at night, no one to explain the world to them, no one to treasure them. It's unimagineable. If these were US Children how differently we would react!!
On a lighter note, our basement is almost all cleared out and we're ready for construction to begin. We're going to be adding another bedroom, a bigger rec room & a snack bar area. I've been busy picking out carpet, cabinets, paint colors, furniture, etc and now we're just waiting for the dust to fly! I have a feeling my patience is going to be tested in lots of different ways over the next months.
There's a small spot on the form we can fill out to request a new appointment. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they have mercy on us and give us another appointment quickly ... hopefully they don't hold it against us and schedule us sometime in 2009! It says on the form if we don't show they'll consider our application and all other documents "abandoned". Quite a word!! Anyway, I guess we'll just have to wait and see ... we're getting pretty good at that. I'll express overnight the forms back to the USCIS tomorrow requesting a new date...
Tuesday, arrived quicker than we had hoped. We set the alarm clock Monday night and woke up ready to go early Tuesday morning. Noah started 3rd grade at a brand new school. As much as I wanted to continue to take him, he was so excited to ride the bus. He's felt very deprived over the past few years that he had to WALK to school and his friends got to RIDE. His friend's moms tell me they're jealous of Noah ... I guess even at such a young age kids want what they don't have. Anyway, Tuesday Noah hopped on a bus to Pine Ridge. He admitted he was a bit nervous, it's never fun being the youngest in the school, but the day went well and he's going to be just fine. Ella began 1st grade which means all day, every day. She had an excellent first week. I thought she'd be exhausted but not Ella ... she's wondering if it's Monday yet so she can go back. She's made lots of new friends already, and loves her teacher. Friday at lunch time she cried a bit and told her teacher she missed her mom ... how bad is it that I took that as "good" news?!?
Today Noah had a 3 hour football scrimmage. His team met up with 3 Hamilton teams. He played both offense and defense ... and did a great job. The coach has him playing center, and Noah has been rising to the challenge. In the picture below, Noah's the one in red with his hand on the ball. His first "real" game is this coming Saturday.
Anyway, the perfect house came along, only a little sooner than expected. I made a really low offer on it in June and they accepted! Yikes! The thought of working on a run down house in the middle of a beautiful Michigan summer was less than appealing, but I forged ahead anyhow. About a week after our accepted offer our realtor called with some "strange" news. Someone wanted to make us an offer on the house we were going to buy. "OK", I said, "bring it on". Long story short, it was a good offer, I didn't have to pick up a paint brush, and we could close a month later. As of today, the house is no longer ours and I made a nice little profit for a month's work of "work".
Paul and our realtor say it's "beginner's luck", but I'm not so sure. I'm going to start house hunting again; I may have just found my new career path :)
Lots of thoughts went through our mind ... what if it's broken?!? No more boating, no more golf, work will be a whole new challenge, what about the rest of the summer??? We reluctantly cancelled with our friends, quickly got a babysitter and headed over to the ER. Much to our relief, Paul's leg wasn't broken but it was beat up pretty bad. He left the hospital later that night with crutches, vicadin & 3 other meds. Not a great combo for a fun weekend ahead! My parent's had the kids Friday night and our planned romantic evening alone turned into watching the Tiger's with Paul's leg high in the air. Saturday we were able to go to my aunt's house to visit with our Dutch relatives that are here from the Netherlands. Sunday was back to normal; almost.
We have round II of our homestudy tomorrow. They need to interview us seperately. We're not sure why ... but I guess we'll find out :) Last night we attended a transracial/transcultural training. It was really informative and made us realize how very "white" we are! We were able to hear from a few black adults who were adopted into white families when they were young. It was so helpful to hear their perspectives and have them share some of their journey with us. It's clear that we're not just adding another child to our family, but we're learning and embracing a whole new culture as well. It's going to be a challenge, no doubt about that, but we're excited to see what God has in store for us.
We've also been doing a LOT of reading (6 books are required), filling out paperwork, asking for favors from friends (we need 6 reference letters in all) and asking our Drs, police force, insurance agency, accountant, neighbors, teachers, county clerk's office, etc... to all vouch for us. It's a long process but thank goodness for a great agency that knows what they're doing.
We're taking it one day, one signature, one form, one meeting, one notary at a time and are hopeful that a year from now all this running around will be forgotten and we'll have a new little boy to love and care for.
One more note ... I REFUSE to believe that AUGUST is almost here. We have a LOT more summer left, and I for one am not going to be thinking about the back to "s" word for at least a few more weeks!!
Last fall we got a phone call. A friend wanted us to join him and his wife on a trip to Africa. We had been contemplating doing something “missional” for awhile, but nothing felt like a good fit. When Peter called, we knew it was from God. I don’t say things are “from God” very often, because in my life the voice of God has never been booming. It’s usually still, small and I have to really listen to hear it. With Africa, though, it was loud & there was no denying the message. We knew without a doubt God wanted us to travel to Africa with Peter, Shawn & Mike. We weren’t sure why, just that God was leading us & we were willing to follow.
Noah played an awesome game. He was 4 out of 4 with his hits. He had 3 RBIs (for those of us "non baseballers" that means he scored 3 times). He caught 2 balls in the field for 2 outs; and got 2 runners out on the plate. We like to think that had there been an MVP he would have been in the running :) 20 other parents probably are thinking the same thought about their son!
It's so fun to see him so passionate for something he loves. As his parent, it's a joy to watch him concentrate so hard; to give it his very best. It's cool to see him work so hard, and then see that hard work pay off. We're proud of him for so many reasons. The fact that he loves baseball is just a bonus!
Last week's schedule included Noah's basketball camp, Ella's gymnastics, Ella's cheer camp, & a few afternoons by South Side Pool. This week hasn't been any slower paced; Noah's been at Hope Soccer Camp from 9-3 each day, while Ella is still doing gymnastics and has added swimming lessons. We had my family over last night for dinner (Happy Father's Day Dad!) and playgroup at the park this afternoon. We're hosting a "Yea! It's finally Summer!" party Friday night with a group of friends and their kids. Saturday will be fun too ... the annual badmitton tournament at the Linns. Paul and I have been up late many a night this week strategizing on how we can get that trophy BACK into Hoekstra hands :) This Sunday has officially been declared "Boat Day!!" and I think Paul already has the beer on ice. We're planning to meet a group of friends out on the beach, but I don't dare tell Paul the forecast doesn't look so great ... if it rains I'm taking a nap!