We are the Snyder family and ... we are different

This is the story of our journey to our daughter in Ethiopia. God is preparing our family for her and preparing her heart to come home to her family. We chose the difficult road of trusting and obeying God. It is worth every step!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011...oh what will you bring?


Christmas is over, the tree is put away and I don't think that ALL the goodies will ever get eaten.  It was a happy time but at the same time my heart still aches for the one who is missing.  Christian, 5 years old, wrote his list to Santa and at the bottom of his list was a Barbie for his sister.  It made my heart melt that he is also thinking about her.  As all our friends and family ask us about the adoption and when we might expect her all I can say is I hope she is here with us next Christmas, but there are no guarantees.  Sitting in the church Christmas Eve looking at all the families and all the little girls I dream of our little girl with a little red headband, white tights, black shoes and an adorable Christmas dress.  For those of you who know me you know how I am ALL about dressing up :)  It will be quite ironic if our little girl hates to wear dresses because I LOVE LOVE LOVE to wear them and will love to have someone new to buy them for (I don't think either of our boys would appreciate it if I tried to put a dress on them, lol).  Anyway, as we get ready for the new year I think about all the new things that happened this year and anticipate with much joy what God has in store for us in 2011.  I pray that there will be two trips to Ethiopia, the homecoming of our little girl and a closer relationship to God. 

A couple of posts ago I mentioned an article about Ethiopia adoptions and what's going on over there.  Well it seems that they are definitely cracking down because many of our families are not passing their court dates the first time around and some are even on court date #6 (please pray for those families).  The latest court dates for families who have received referrals are in March.  It's very disappointing for those families because there were no February dates assigned and that's just another month longer they have to wait.  The court date is only the first time you go and meet your child and they become legally yours, you still have to come home and wait for an embassy date before you can go back over and then FINALLY bring them home.  So families who got referrals in November are just getting a court date in March, that they may or may not pass first time around so won't be getting an embassy date till at least April if not May.  Oh that is such a long time to wait for your child.  Now here is the selfish reason I have tracked/obsessed over this in my mind:  if those families don't get to bring their children home till late spring then there won't be many referrals given out.  The transition home our agency has only holds so many children and the more children that are there the fewer new children can come in to be referred.  {sigh}  I think that the wait will be longer than I originally anticipated.  When I once "hoped" for a referral around Easter and to possibly be home by the rainy season reality is settling in that I just hope to have her next Christmas.  That may even be too idealistic.  It's okay though.  God has this perfect timing that I don't understand.  Why would I ever want to mess up the wonderful miracles He lays before us?  I will use this time to trust in Him, to do His work and to grow ever closer to Him but...my heart will still hurt for our little girl as we miss her birthday again, as we missed Christmas, as we will miss many many other things to come in 2011 without her.

Pray that all the paperwork for these families waiting for court gets submitted so their children can legally become theirs.  Pray that sickness will leave the transition homes so more children may be referred.  Pray that those families waiting for money will be blessed with what they need.  Pray that these children will be filled with God's love and the love that their families are waiting for them and crying tears over them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

the "rules"

We are certainly far down on the waiting list but this post from an adoptive mother seems pertinent to how I feel right now.  Read this post for a list of the "rules" about waiting mommas.  It will explain so much about me and my often times weird emotional swings (sorry Dustin).  It will also be even worse when we do get close and are "on deck", lol.

Last week while I was at church another adoptive mom asked me how things were going and if there was any news or movement.  Of course my answer tends to always be about the same, "no it will probably be 5 or 6 months, hopefully sometime next year."  She then asked if I was tired of hearing that.  As I thought about it sometimes I do get a little tired of answering that question but at the same time I welcome the question because one day I will be able to answer with new information.  So if you see me you can continue to ask me how things are going with the adoption.  When we see some movement I will be so excited to answer your question :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

today's just one of those days

You know how some days are just rougher than other?  Well today is one of those days...a rough adoption day for me.  Through this entire process I have remained loyal to my weepiness, obsessiveness and irrationality.  Today is no different.  Someone on the yahoo group posted an article talking about Ethiopian adoptions and how the government is cracking down on many orphanages, agencies and adopting groups to weed out any abuse going on in adoptions.  I have every ounce of faith that our agency works ethically and is doing everything they can to make sure that all the children are treated well and are truly orphans.  This is a good thing that they are scrutinizing unethical orphanages and making sure everything is correct.  I think though after Rwanda my heart skips a beat.  Some of the what ifs start to creep up.  What if they decide to shut down Ethiopia like they have done with many other countries?  What if we have to wait much longer than we thought?  What if we weren't supposed to adopt?  What if this is part of God's plan and I don't understand what He wants us to do?  What if...?  So today all I can do is to count on God being my sovereign God.  That His will and His perfect timing are all I need and to trust no matter what happens I will still love and trust Him.

The conferece call from AWAA posted today as well so I listened to that after I read that article.  There was definitely some good information in the call, but it still remains that really they can't tell us much because there are so many variables that are out of their control.  I'm still hopeful that we could get a referral this spring but also have to plan for not getting one until much later.  After the conference call I checked my blog roll and had to read the latest on the Ordinary Hero blog because they are in Ethiopia right now.  There is touching little story on there about a sibling group asking about their family in America.  Of course it made me bawl.  What doesn't these days?  If you have time check out their blog.  They have some great pictures and posts about their time while they are there.

As for me I will continue to go about my day doing laundry, cleaning and running some errands.  I will not let satan take over me with worry and doubt.  Thank you to the rest of the yahoo group for reminding me to stay grounded.  Media sets its own tone and we all know that it is to make money, not to tell the whole truth.  Hope you're having a blessed day and you're sharing that with others around you :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Last chance to win a massage

NEED A MASSAGE?  this weekend we had a fundraiser for the Maxwell adoption and didn't sell as many chances to win the one hour massage from Styltique in Burlington, Iowa as I wanted so I'm opening it up on fb and my blog.  For every $5 donation to my paypal you will get a chance to win and sponsor a puzzle piece.  just send a payment to megansnyder@mchsi.com with your name and phone number in the notes or special instructions box.  I will pick a winner on Friday.  GOOD LUCK!  If you don't live in the area why not just sponsor a puzzle piece or two.  I would love to be able to send them a completed 100 piece puzzle with a nice big check :)

To enter you can also post this on your blog or your facebook and leave a comment on here telling me where you posted it.  Of course you can also send a payment to my paypal, please leave only your name and phone number in the special instructions box, nothing else.  I will enter you in and draw the name Friday morning before MOPS so probably around 8:30 cst.  (sorry I don't have a button on my blog for you to just click and donate to, I don't know how to do that)

Thanks so much for your help and I look forward to a HUGE response!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

new numbers

You would think as obsessive as I am I would remember to look up our new waiting list numbers and put them on my post about being DTE one month, duh!  Well anyway, here are our new numbers.  So excited :)

Infant Girl


Girl over 12 months


Girl over 3 years

Of course these numbers are "unofficial" and one of them is because someone who was on our yahoo group's database we think is actually with a different agency, so that tells you how inaccurate this is.  That is not to discredit the amazing ladies who put this and our NAG list together because it is a lot to keep track of.  Great job girls!  I was of course doing some speculating because there are a ton of people who have court dates coming up this month and next not to mention lots of families who have received referrals and our still waiting for their court date.  Getting caught up from the two month rainy season takes a while but I think by the end of January the Ethiopian courts will be doing pretty well.  There are also quite a few families "on deck" right now that could get the call any day up to another month or two.  Five families on deck waiting for a girl over 12 months, 10 waiting on an infant girl and none for a child over 3, but who's counting :)  That means more referrals, yay!  I know I'm completely selfish in that because it affects SO many more people, but my sinful nature just can't help it.  Dustin was asking me what this means for our timeline.  How long should we anticipate?  He just wanted a simple answer and of course I went into "adoption mode" and gave him my whole theory breakdown.  His response, "so....still 5 months or so?"  Yes.

Continue to pray for all those that have their embassy appointments this week that they all go smoothly and will be able to bring home their children.  Pray for all those who have court dates this month that all the paperwork from all the right agencies will be present.  Thank God for resolving the Shiloh certification so that there is a better chance of passing court this first time around.  Pray for this fundraiser on Saturday that it might be a huge success.  God will provide the perfect amount for the Maxwell family, I know that He will.  Thank you! 




Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Month DTE

Ok so one month down and who knows how many left to go.  The first month wasn't too bad so i am looking forward to the next few.  I keep thinking there is so much spiritual maturity and growing that I need to do between now and then.  There are also lots of things I need to work on with my kids and just my parenting in general.  God is using this time wisely, I need to make sure I am too :) 

Dustin and I were talking about adopting multiple children again the other day when he struck me with something that made sense.  Darn it!  I hate it when he makes sense and then drags me into it as well.  Sometimes I just want to stay in my cloud of emotion and not see what actually "makes sense".  So anyway, Dustin was reminding me of how multiplication works when you let God do the math.  A couple we recently met mentioned forming some type of foundation to help local families afford adoption through no interest loans.  If we helped donate and form this foundation and for instance helped even 5 families adopt a year and they all adopted 1 or more children and we continued that even for the next 10 years we could help up to 100 children find forever families.  If even a quarter of those families helped other families adopt then the growth continues.  So in reality, us not adopting more children but helping other families would in deed help many more children find families.  Man it stinks when my husband is right, lol.

Speaking of helping other families adopt...if you happen to live in the area please stop by Great River Christian School this Saturday the 11th from 9-12am.  Missional Mamas is having another open house to sell bags made in Swaiziland, paper bead necklaces from Uganda to support orphan care as well as handmade cards, Gobena coffee and more.  I will also be there raising funds for adopting.  Please come by and help support us!

Now that my shameless plug is done I just want to say Happy OneMonthIversary to all my fellow DTE families!  With so many court dates and embassy dates coming up there will be movement soon.  I hear that after the first of the year the courts start to get caught up from the rainy season.  I know all of us look forward to seeing movement and are genuinely happy for all those who are finally bringing their children home or getting referrals.  Personally I am selfish and I know that it gets us that much closer, many of you are the same too ;)

Pray for all those court dates and embassy dates coming up.  Also pray for all those children waiting.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Homegoods

Ok so I just have to mention how much I would LOVE to be one of those bloggers that gets to test out stuff for free.  That is the best job ever!  The gals over at http://www.mamamanifesto.com/ got to "test" out a $50 gift card to TJ Maxx/Homegoods and you have to read her post about what she got with it.  She did an awesome job of bargain shopping for Christmas.  Anyway, go to their blog and read all about it.  Then you can enter for a chance to win a gift card.  Good Luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

sacrifices and blessings


With Thanksgiving comes the realization of all the things we've been blessed with.  In our adoption we have been blessed by Dustin's job enough that we have not had to fundraise to cover the costs and have been able to donate to others who are adopting.  That has really made me feel guilty as I read stories of other families scrimping, saving, and working diligently on fundraisers.  Then my husband reminded me that we have already sacrificed.  We sacrificed for two years living in a tiny 2 bedroom 900 sq ft house in the ghetto with our family of four.  All that time Dustin was able to get rid of our debt and save and we bought a house.  A house big enough to add more people to our family.  At the time we didn't even know it.  God had this plan worked out for us to scrimp and save for a child we never knew we were going to adopt.  So now I am feeling less guilty about not having to do so much.

We have talked here and there about helping other adopting families and what we can do for them.  Tonight God hooked us up with another amazing couple.  Two weeks ago at our Perspectives meeting we met a couple who have been to Ethiopia on a mission trip and still keep in close contact with people there.  It was amazing to hear their stories.  Tonight at another Perspectives meeting there was a couple who, in the car ride over, were talking about adopting from China or Ethiopia.  They have already adopted domestically and are thinking of adopting internationally now.  They mentioned setting up a foundation of sorts to help local adopting families who would love to adopt but simply cannot finance it.  Dustin mentioned to him that instead of us adopting more children that maybe we should be involved where we help more children by helping more families adopt.  I have been pressing Dustin about adopting either siblings or two unrelated children this time around.  Yes we would have to change some things, again, but it would be cheaper for us to do it now than to decide down the road we want to adopt again.  Plus I think it would be so nice to have an even number.  Two koreans and two Ethiopians would make for a nice balance in children :)  Anyway, God is talking to us through some different people right now.  It will be interesting to see where He takes us.

For anyone who happens to be in closer contact with me than just reading my blog I want to apologize if I go into "adoption mode".  Dustin has brought it to my attention that I may be a little over the top with my adoption talk.  So unless you REALLY want to know about our adoption, about adoption in general or what is going on around the world with orphans you may not want to ask me about it.  If you have already had that interaction with me know that I am just very excited and passionate about it and want to educate people about it.  I have found that the general public doesn't really know that much about adoption or the poverty and the atrocities going on in other parts of the world.  I certainly am no expert in any of this but God really has broken my heart for these people, for these children and sometimes the words literally fall out of my mouth.  I just can't help it.  So again I apologize and please let me know if I am going on and on and on when I'm talking to you.  Just do a quick change of subject, you don't even have to be polite about it.  I will understand what you mean.

Thanks for reading and keep praying.  Pray for our hearts, pray for ALL those families waiting (in whatever stage they're in) and pray for ALL those children who are going to bed hungry, cold and alone tonight.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

who is a smarty ants?

There's a great giveaway for a smartyants subscription.  If you have a beginning reader or a preschooler who's ready to get started you will definitely want to check out this program.  Click on this link to register to win.  http://doodlemedoo3.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

thanksgiving is approaching

As the holidays are quickly approaching I was telling myself that it will make this part of the wait go by so much faster.  Think about how busy we are around the holidays so that means we wouldn't really be thinking about the wait until next year and two months will have already passed.  Awesome!  Ok so why doesn't it work out the way I plan?  (btw sorry for the randomness of this paragraph but this is the way my mind works)  We went to a planning meeting for the Perspectives class that will be happening at Great River Christian school and met a couple who has done missionary work in Ethiopia.  She friended me on facebook so I watched a video she had posted and glanced at some of her pics.  Of course that made me think of our little one waiting for us.  Thanksgiving is next week and all of Dustin's family will be home.  All the cousins will be there, all but one.  This is another Thanksgiving that our little girl will spend without a family.  It will soon be another Christmas that she will spend in the orphanage.  It makes me sick that we won't have her home with our family.  I was also thinking about this in relation to being pregnant during the holidays and I think it so much different.  When you are pregnant through the holidays you just have this great excitement and anticipation of the new baby that will be there next year.  When you are waiting for your adopted child she is not warm and safe in your belly still absorbing all the sounds and foods of the holidays.  She is waiting in line for food at the orphanage, scrambling to get some sort of attention and soothing herself to sleep because she knows that no one is there to answer her cry.  Imagine if it was one of your children on the other side of the world in those conditions during the holidays...how would you feel?

Last week was a big week for "on deck" notices from our agency.  On deck means that you could be getting your referral call anytime although they still say 1-3 months.  There were no referrals given out last week but with all of the "on deck" announcements there should be a lot of referrals coming soon.  As selfish as it is I am really excited about other people getting referrals because now that we are officially waiting that means we get moved a little closer to the top of the list.  I am genuinely happy and excited for other parents getting their referrals, but secretly am selfish also.

Well this actually a fairly short post from me, don't expect it too often ;)  Be blessed and keep praying

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Africa


Our dossier is finally in Ethiopia!  I have been stalking our dossier since we got the official fedex tracking number and it arrived in Addis Ababa after traveling from Virginia to Newark, NJ (I thought it would never leave the United States) to Paris, France (where it hung out over the weekend) to a short stop in Dubais and now finally arriving on Africa soil.  We also got some papers from America World about entering the next "waiting" phase.  I have not had a chance to skim through read it all yet, but will do that sometime today.  I am just so excited to be to this stage after 8 months!

 Over the next few months we are really going to need some prayers.  We will need prayers during this waiting that we (and by we I really mean me) don't get consumed with this waiting.  We will need prayers for the finances to come through so that when we are ready to travel we will have funds in place for that.  We also need some prayers about the travel, Dustin and I are discussing (mostly me, he's pretty much done discussing) some different decisions we need to make about it since it is a two trip thing.  Pray for us to use this time to concentrate on Him, to do His good work and to glorify His name.

On a whole different note about adoption.  A friend of ours from church that has adopted twice posted a comment about our message on Orphan Sunday on my facebook to which my husband didn't understand.  During our talk on Sunday I had mentioned how being "paper" pregnant was indeed very much like being pregnant.  I still got crazy hormones where I cry at the drop of a hat, I still have ditzy prego brain where for some reason I have forgotten "everything" and then she mentioned that often times you still get post partum but now it's post adoption blues.  I was trying to explain it to Dustin, but did not do a very good job at it.  With both pregnancies I never really experienced postpartum (although I thought for sure I would the last time cuz I was a complete wreck during the whole pregnancy).  The best way I could describe "post adoption blues" is that you have been preparing for this event for so long that you almost don't know what to do now that it is actually here.  Plus it is so overwhelming going from what your family was to what it will now be forever once you bring your child home.  I also think that it isn't always what you expected either.  Even if you have prepared yourself for attachment issues, bonding issues and anything else you have read in a book you are never really prepared for it when you have to live it.  Anyone who is reading this that may have a better understanding of this please leave me a comment.  This is all really just what I think it is, I may be completely wrong.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

obsessive much?

#28 is the number we are "unofficially" waiting for an infant girl from our agency

#14 is our number for a girl over 12 months


and #5 is our place in line for a child over 3 years of age.


Today our dossier is hanging out in Paris, France.  I wish I could hang out with it for a while :)  We are so excited about being on the "unofficial" waiting list, so excited in fact that I was stalking the person who updates the list online.  At least she understands the feeling about being so anxious.  Dustin is freaking out just a little because our number for the over 3 list is so small but I did assure him that most of the time that still takes several months to move along.  It probably didn't help that I told him about this great family from our agency that just got their call last night and they have only been waiting for 2 months.  Because we are requesting a girl I don't forsee us getting a referral anytime soon.  Which is really fine with us.  We still need some more time to prepare for her arrival and we need some more time to save funds.  This is the part where if you are a wealthy person just wishing they could do something with their money you write us a check for about $10,000 to cover travel expenses ;)

Speaking of money...Dustin had a very hard time writing the first check to our agency this summer.  This time around he didn't hesitate.  God has really given him more trust in this process and Dustin was happy to send this money off, eventhough it is about 6 times the size of the previous one.  Thank you again honey for working so this could be possible.  Our whole family really apprciates it.

Well it's the day before Orphan Sunday so if you happen to be in the southeast area of Iowa come on over to First Christian Church for our orphan campaign.  It may be quite entertaining (or quite painful) since Dustin and I will be speaking together for the message.  We are not worried about though.  We know God has provided us with more than enough to get through this.  Our hope is to encourage other people to not only feel the plight of the orphans but to DO something about it.



Friday, November 5, 2010

DTE

Okay so we finally got our piece of paperwork back, we finally got to send in our dossier (remember that is the important packet of papers for our adoption that I would jump in front of a bus for) and now we are finally DTEDossier To Ethiopia which means we are finally "expecting".  We are officially waiting for a referral that can take between 3-6 months.  Most of the referrals are about 5 or 6 months but there are a few cases where they get a referral sooner than that.  I would love to have one by my birthday in March, but am completely okay with it if we don't get it our referral till later.  Once we get our referral we will wait another 1-3 months for a court date where we will go over to Ethiopia and meet our daughter for the first time.  Hopefully we pass court the first time around and then we come home (or not) and wait for the embassy date which is usually 3-12 weeks later.  Once the embassy has researched to make sure that everything is legal with the adoption and there is no bribing, trafficking or anything else like that then we will FINALLY get to bring her home.  So, like I said earlier we are "expecting" if all goes well it should end up being the same amount of time as a regular pregnancy.

It feels so good to finally be at this point in our adoption when it actually feels "real".  The past 8 months of paperwork have something to show for now.  We are steps closer to our little girl.  I feel hope for the future, I feel like I can dream about her again.  This weight is lifted and now we start the next phase of waiting.  We will have to see if this waiting is easier or harder than the last waiting period.  I think it will be easier but I have heard that it is much harder.  If you see me in the next few months with tears streaming down my face or my head spinning off from anger, you'll know that this wait is harder :)

Sorry if this post is a little redundant, sometimes when I am so excited my thoughts don't organize well.  Who am I kidding, they don't most of the time anyway, lol.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I-171H approval received...again :)

Last time our I-171h was received we had very mixed emotions because Rwanda had just closed its doors to new dossiers and we still had no idea as to what we were going to do.  Well today is a whole different story.  First I have to tell you a little bit about how God was working on me today.  I was blog stalking as usual and catching up on my emails from the yahoo group and another adopting family just received their I-171H last night.  How exciting for their family.  I was truely happy for them and not worried about ours at all.  For me that is quite a big step :)  While I was in the office on the computer I heard the mailman come.  I thought to myself, "I am not going to rush to the mailbox but be still in my Lord."  I said a little prayer and then went down a few minutes later.  When I got the mail I didn't even flip through it (as I usually would frantically) to see if there was anything from the dept of homeland security.  So as I casually looked through it I did see a sort of official looking envelope and decided to go ahead and look.  It was from the dept of homeland security!  My heart began to flutter with excitement as I ripped it open and then had a sudden thought of "what if they need more info and this isn't it?"  Thank God it was.  My eyes welled up with tears and all the emotions I have been feeling for the last 8 months all came out from one sad looking piece of paper.  It was finally real.  This is the first time I feel like we're really adopting.  Once we get a number on the waitlist we will be official.

I had been thinking all week "what if it comes while Dustin is out of town?"  Of course it did.  I txt Dustin right away to tell him that we finally got it and that we could send in our paperwork.  He wanted to wait till Monday to send it in, but then realized that today was Thursday and not Friday.  Of course my mommy heart kicked in when he said he wanted to wait to submit it.  "ARE YOU KIDDING?!?!  THE ONE PIECE OF PAPER BETWEEN US AND DTE IS FINALLY HERE AND YOU WANT TO WAIT?!?!"  He quickly realized the errors of his ways and the dossier was sent off within minutes of his approval.  Thank you honey for easing my heart and providing us financially so we could send this in.

I never post pictures because I feel like we haven't had anything to post pictures of.  Well I finally have a couple of pictures :)


This is ALL the paperwork for our dossier


Here is the picture I made the lady at mailboxes,etc take of me
sending off our dossier





Pray that all of our paperwork is in order and that we will be DTE as soon as possible. I know God's timing is a miracle so whatever He decides is best.





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

praising God for the gift of waiting

Did I really just say that?  In my emotional ups and downs and all arounds during this journey I am finally starting to get to the place where I can say that waiting is actually a blessing.  Last Sunday we studied 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul boasting about God's good works and the devil ailing him with a thorn in his side.  Having that thorn in his side made him trust God more and bring him closer to God.  I am equating waiting and my impatience as the thorn in my side (or possibly USCIS could be the thorn too, lol) and they are bringing me closer to my heavenly father.  I am having to rely on Him more and learn what true joy in waiting is all about.  Satan is trying to drive a wedge between us and I rebuke him.  He will not stand in the way of me worshiping my God and building my personal relationship with Him.  Now the next time I am whining or crying about waiting, you absolutely have the right to remind me of this post and throw it back in my face :)

I would like to lift up some praise to God for answered prayers.  There are many families with our agency that have received referrals, court dates and embassy appointments within the last month.  It is awesome to see so much movement.  There have also been several new families who are DTE this month and have gotten onto the "unofficial" waiting list.  We are hoping to join that elite group very soon.  I don't know when, but I will wait joyfully for that time to come.  There are a couple of other families that are in the exact same waiting phase as we are right now.  It'd be pretty cool if we were all DTE around the same time.  God has all the details worked out, we just have to wait for his perfect timing to be revealed.

Another answered prayer is Dustin has been having great success at work.  He is such a good man to work so hard for our family; driving, travelling, selling.  Sales have been falling into his lap recently so he will be getting some bonuses that will really help out with our adoption expenses.  We have been praying about these expenses because we don't have it all saved yet.  The next few checks written will be quite large.  We have enough to send in our dossier but that's it.  With Dustin's bonuses we should have enough to accept a referral before Christmas (not that we will get one by then), but we will at least have the money there for when that time comes.  That means we will have the next several months to save the money for travel.  We are really hoping to not have to take out any loans or anything for this adoption.  We may have to rely on some donations or other things to help us along the way, but I know that God is providing for us so we should not worry.  God is so good to us.  We accept and appreciate all of the blessings He has poured over us.

Thank you God for revealing new things to me that bring me closer to you.  Thank you for your many blessings on our family.  May we be blessings to those around us in your name.  I pray for all the families who are waiting, waiting for paperwork, waiting for referrals, waiting for court dates, waiting for embassy clearances.  Please give them peace about it, calm their hearts, lift them up.  I pray for all the nannies, doctors, embassy workers, case workers, lawyers, judges, agency staff and all the others that make these adoptions possible.  Watch over them and the important work they do.  Thank you Lord, all these things I ask in Your name, I give them up to you, I surrender to you.  Amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

oh uscis, how i loathe you :)



Well i was really praying for a miracle this past couple of weeks.  I was praying that God would move USCIS like He does mountains and that we would get our I-171H back on Friday, send in our dossier to arrive at AWAA on Monday and be DTE this coming Friday.  Well that's just not the way God has it all planned out.  Friday as I was running errands, I txt my husband and told him that God was telling me to be still and wait patiently on Him.  My husband called me and asked me what that was all about.  As I was running errands I had my usual radio stations on, either KLOVE or AIR1, and as soon as I got in the car they recited a verse of waiting.  Well then the song "For those who wait" came on the next time I got in the car.  Then as I was driving to the bank a different scripture about being still in the Lord and waiting patiently was recited.  "Okay God, I get it!  When I get home the I-171H will not be waiting in the mailbox.  Continue to wait patiently for God's plan is not our plan.  He has it all worked.  Wait patiently!"  God was preparing me so that I would not be devastated when I checked the mailbox.  It did not ruin my day or put me in a bad mood but I was still disappointed.  When I talked to my husband he did not believe me when I told him I was waiting patiently.  Must have been my clenched teeth and snarled tone.  Guess I'm still working on that :)

Orphan Sunday is only two weeks away.  We are very excited about it and are hoping to see some change in our congregation.  We would love to see people's hearts reaching out to children around the world and in our own community.  My husband and I have been asked to speak that Sunday so we are going to try and get it together fairly soon so the pastors can look over it and give us feedback.  We discussed it today and decided that my husband would be better about talking about our personal story and the more emotional stuff.  I am much better suited for the numbers, statistics and fact based commentary.  I won't cry as much if I am spewing off factual information, I will cry if I have to say anything about our journey of adoption and/or faith.  No one wants to be the blubbering fool up on stage who can't speak because of the tears streaming down her face, I certainly don't like to show a lot of emotion in front of people.  That is probably the reason God has made me so weepy during this process.  God is always pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me grow, man it is hard to be obedient!

Tonight was the very first prayer time for our agency yahoo group.  Someone came up with a marvelous idea that we should all pray together at the same time on the same night of the week.  There is such power in prayer.  I anticipated it all day and was very eager when it finally turned nine o'clock.  Several people posted their prayers on the yahoo group, I just said mine aloud.  It was nice to know that there are many other families out there praying the same prayer and all lifting up our heavenly father together at the same time.  God has been working a lot of miracles in our group.  I pray that He continues to bless all of us, all of the children and all of the facilitators and others whose involvement is crucial in this process.  Please pray for all of these people as well.  Thank you my friends for continuing to lift us up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

and the two become one

I just posted yesterday and generally I don't have enough to say about our adoption two days in a row because there just aren't enough new things happening with it. Anyway, my dear husband has spent the last five days in Florida at a Christian skate conference learning more about his journey with Jesus and how to reach out to the young men he mentors. Compassion Intl. co-sponsored the event and had a table with children to sponsor on it all week as well as several presentations. Dustin talked to one of the compassion people about some things and passed by the table several times. Well the last day he could no longer ignore the cry of the children on that table. He really wanted to pick someone from Ethiopia since that's where we are adopting from because he wants to be able to visit them when we are there. As he searched the table for Ethiopia he spotted a boy there in the middle of the table...our new son. He will never come to live with us in America but he will always live in our hearts and we will provide for him no different than if we adopted him. Natnael is 11 years old, in fact his birthdate is just two days after Dominic's due date, he goes to school and he likes to play volleyball. It's amazing to see God work through our family even when we are a thousand miles apart. It is funny because Dustin and I didn't communicate with each other at all on Friday and then he read only the first paragraph of my blog Saturday afternoon because he had already signed up to sponsor this child. I was planning on researching from which organization to sponsor a child but hadn't done anything yet and Dustin had already done it.

God's power continues to humble us.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

guilt

The Schwann's man came to our house this week and I bought a few delicious items from him. If you have ever bought it you know that it is NOT cheap but it is quite yummy. Anyway, my total was close to $30 and as I wrote the check I couldn't help but feel a wave of guilt rush over me. $30 on a few food items for my family to enjoy could be the money for a child to eat, go to school and get medicine for an entire month. Wow! Guilt! It physically made me feel sick to my stomach to think about it. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are nervous, scared or when you have done something wrong? Yes that awful feeling. Today the boys and I are going to sponsor a child. We are going to look online and decide from which organization we are going to pick. We have sponsored a child in the past, but I was not diligent about sending correspondance or extras. This time WILL be different. Whatever child we decide to sponsor will be no less a part of our family than the little girl we will be bringing home. My heart did not hurt for the children as it does now. It was something we did because we knew it was good and that we should, but my heart was not in it. This time things will be different. Not everyone can or wants to adopt a child, but you can sponsor a child, give to those in need, pray for them and help support others who are helping the children. Those who help are not saints, they are just sinners who are being obedient to what God already tells us to do.

On another note, there have been several posts on my blog giving thanks to God for answering prayers. He just keeps doing it. There are several prayer concerns on our yahoo group and God seems to be checking them off one by one. It really is such a testament to our faith in Him. God has also been answering small prayers for me. It's so funny because this week I was thinking about how much I really need to hold someone's baby. Just to comfort them and cuddle them. You know how that feels. Well I had forgotten that this week is MOPS and I work in the young two year old's room so Friday I got to go play with the dozen of two year olds. Now granted they aren't babies, but they are still cute and sometimes baby like. It must have been a tough morning to be two because almost half of them were criers that morning. Several times during the morning I had two in my arms as well as one on my leg and a couple just around me in case I put the two down and could pick up someone else. While I was at MOPS I received a phone call from a couple at church asking if I would watch their baby today. She is more than a year old now, but still definitely a baby. How good is our God to provide me with just what I needed. The bible tells us to ask...and ask I shall.

We got confirmation that the USCIS did get our paperwork on Tuesday as it was anticipated. Continue to pray that they will review it quickly and that we will get our I-171H back next week. It is the one piece of paper standing between us and DTE. Continue to pray that we will be DTE this month! Please pray for all the families that are travelling and will be travelling for their children. There is a friend of mine in Eastern Europe right now meeting their four year old boy with downs syndrome. She doesn't have as much money as she needs to stay there for the couple of weeks. If you are reading this blog please take a minute to go to her blog and donate at least $1. Many of you are adopting yourselves so I know money is tight, but we all have $1 that we can give to another momma who is trying to bring home her son. Thank you!
www.thejoyofwhatis.blogspot.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

great giveaways

The Shubin family is giving away a hat or t-shirt or ugandan bead necklace. check out there blog and help support their adoption by buying a t-shirt or making a donation. http://thisshubinclan.blogspot.com/

www.mycrazyadoption.org is also giving away 2 mission trips to Ethiopia if you buy one of their t-shirts. this is an amazing giveaway. we will be purchasing a couple of these for christmas presents :) hint hint

Disney (warning: lots of exclamation points in this post)

Our poor children are the kids who never get to go anywhere and have never been to Disney World. We thought about taking them last fall because they were at a good age to go. With such a big age difference between the boys Christian being 4 he would probably still remember it and Dominic being 10 he would still enjoy it and have fun. Well we ended up buying a house last fall, so no Disney. Then I thought oh we could take them the next year, which would be this year, and now we are adopting so again no Disney. Orginally I was going to call this post "Sorry Disney" because there is no way that we will get to go next year either because we will be travelling to Africa to get our daughter. For three years life has happened and Disney has been put on the back burner. Now if you have read my last post you will know my amazement of what God does in our life as well as the lives of others who follow Him. On the AWAA yahoo group some families decided it would be great to have a group of AWAA Ethiopia adoptive families go to Disney World in 2012 together. That is something that I never even asked for and God has provided an opportunity, WOW! What could be more amazing than taking our family of 5 to the happiest place on Earth with other Christian families we can identify with? Now of course we will have to save more money to go, but I just can't imagine a better way to go to Disney than with people we have been on this adoptive journey with for well over a year.

Today has been a bus day on the AWAA yahoo group. The courts in Ethiopia finally reopened last week so they could start to dole out some court dates for families waiting with referrals. They had already sent out a few for the end of this month and then all of a sudden decided they were going to close court that day. AWAA met with them last night while all of us in America were sleeping and convinced them to honor the court date. Another answered prayer. There were also several other court dates given to waiting families, several referrals and several that were DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) today. What an awesome day for so many families. As for our family we also had good news. Yesterday I found out that we would have to get our physicals done on another form AGAIN! This is the 4th time we have had to do this and the last time it took a month for the doctor's office to get it right. I dropped off the papers yesterday afternoon and they had them done for me this morning. Unbelievable! Our case worker got our homestudy complete, signed, notarized and ready to go so I also picked it up this afternoon. With the completed homestudy I went straight to the post office and sent it along with our change of country form to be mailed to the USCIS. That is the last piece of paperwork we will wait on before sending in our dossier. God has been answering a lot of prayers lately so I am praying again that USCIS will be quick with our new I-171H. It will get there on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday, Columbus Day, Really?) so I am hoping to get it back the following week. Please pray with me that we will get our I-171H approval back that following week and that we will be DTE this month. Pray this with conviction and hope that God hears our prayers and answers them.

Okay for those of you following along I will give you some adoption lingo definitions:

AWAA is America World Adoption Agency and is the agency we are using

I-171H is the approval you have to have to bring an orphan into this country so that they will be a US citizen when they get here

dossier is ALL the paperwork that gets sent to the adoption agency, then to the embassy, then to the country so you can adopt. it has your birth certificates, marriage certificate, physicals, proof of insurance, homestudy, and everything else you can imagine

DTE is when your dossier lands in Ethiopia and you will finally be given a number to wait in line for the desired age and gender of the child you are requesting and then be given a referral

referral is when they match you up with a child, send you a photo and the medical history and you can either accept or deny it. if you compared it to pregnancy you would think of it as the sonogram

court date is when you finally get to travel and meet your child for the first time. after you pass court the child is legally yours.

embassy date is when you go back over to actually pick up your child and bring them home, it's anywhere from 3-12 weeks after the court date. the embassy has to investigate the background of the child to make sure everything is right and then they will approve it and you can go home.

Well I think that's it for now. Thanks so much for continuing to follow our journey. Remember to continue prayers for our family, all the other families who are waiting, the children and the people who watch over them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

God answers prayer

In just the last week or so I have finally been able to let go of some of my anger, frustration and grief through this adoption process. I have found actual hope and joy again so that I can pray confidently to God. Well it just makes such a difference. I have prayed for several families charging the Lord to answer these prayers and little by little they are being answered. Some may say they are insignificant and some may say they are a coincidence, but I know that my God answered my prayers. I am still praying for some very specific things for our family and know that God will continue to answer my prayers as long as I continue to pray with trust and confidence. That being said any additional prayers would be wonderful. Please pray that we will be DTE this month. That means that our dossier will get sent to our agency, be approved and be sent to Ethiopia. Also pray that we will get a referral ridiculously fast. We have enough money to submit our dossier but we do not have enough money to accept a referral or to travel so we will be relying on God's great plan to get us through. If we get on the waiting child list and get a referral very quickly then we will definitely be needing God to provide for us, but this is what I am praying for. Having to swallow our pride and let God be God may be what we need. So to all the prayer warriors out there please pray these very specific prayers for our family.

Recently we have also tossed around the idea of staying through the waiting period instead of coming home and then going back for a second trip to Ethiopia. There are a few other people who have done this and are doing this. It's hard to imagine going to Ethiopia to finally meet our little girl that we have been hoping and praying for and then leaving her there for several weeks. We still haven't made any decisions about this and are continuing to pray about it as well as gather information. Depending on all the details it may not be any more expensive than 2 trips, we'll see.

Anyway, this post was mostly just to give praise to God and tell everyone that He answers prayer. There's no need for the rocks to cry out because we're crying out his name.

Orphan Sunday

Hey everyone-

Many of you who are avid blog readers will already know that Orphan Sunday is November 7th. We are only about a month away. A family that just brought home their twin daughters from Ethiopia not too long ago are helping to spread the word and are trying to get more people involved. They are also doing a great giveaway. For your chance to win and find out how you can help orphan awareness check out her blog.

http://jonandamyg.blogspot.com

Thanks!

apparently i don't know how to make the link so it will take you there, i tried and then it wouldn't show up so now you'll just have to copy and paste. any of you fellow bloggers who would like to give me a tutorial on how to do that i would certainly appreciate it :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

actually encourage

Yesterday we got our new family coordinator assigned to us, Christine. This is our third family coordinator since we have started our process with AWAA. I joked that they were taking so long to assign us a fc because they were drawing straws to see who got stuck with our family. I send a lot of emails with lots of questions and lots of attachments. I still have not received notice if ALL of the documents I sent them earlier this week have been approved or not. Hopefully next week we will though. Today we got the rest of our documents notarized and our passport photos done. I have made three copies of everything and they are all put in order ready to go. Once this homestudy update comes in we will be ready to send in our dossier. From what I have read we can go ahead and send in our dossier while we are waiting for our updated I-171H. That means we can be DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) sooner. I should be making a trip up to Des Moines next week to get our things authenticated, woo hoo!

I am feeling very encouraged this week. It feels like real progress is being made. Today I prayed confidently that my God will work miracles so that we will be DTE this month. I am praying with hope. It is so wonderful to have this feeling again. My heart has really been changing over the past couple of weeks. In fact, the song by Fireflight "For those who wait" has really spoken to me in this grieving process. God used the tone of the song, the music and the words to help me during that time. I have heard the song a few times in the last week or so and every time it came on I would just about to turn the car off or just got in the car when it was ending or the radio would get static. God was telling me that season of grieving is over and to move on with a happy heart, an encouraged hopeful heart. While I still appreciate the song and still appreciate the meaning it may not "describe" me right now. In a couple months when we are experiencing more peaks and valleys it may speak to me again:)

We are looking forward to having our last meeting with our social worker next week. Dustin is not looking forward to writing a "big" check when we send in our dossier this month and cleaning out our savings account. It will all be worth it though. The treasures we hoard on this earth are nothing compared to the treasures that we will hold in the future. Pray that things will come together and God will provide for the rest of the money. We will need more money to accept the referral and then even more to travel twice to Ethiopia. Even the vaccinations before we go can cost around $800. There are many small expenses that will be adding up along the way. God will provide for us.

Again, pray that God will work miracles with our paperwork and that we will be DTE in October. Pray that God will provide financially for the rest of the adoption because after the dossier is submitted we will be starting from scratch. Pray that we continue to grow in our faith and understanding for God's plan. Pray that we will get outside of our comfortable box and change the world.

Monday, September 27, 2010

glimmer

Today was the first day that held a glimmer of hope in months. I was getting together some more of our paperwork and got several things accomplished. It all started with getting Dustin's third employment letter in the mail. The first one we got had his salary on it which does not match our financial statment because it doesn't show his commissions. The second had no amount of money on it which is why we had to get another. So the third came today with the correct information on it and hopefully will be approved by our agency. The unfortunate detail is that Dustin's headquarters are in Atlanta, GA so it was notarized there. Georgia happens to be one of those lovely states that you have to have it certified in the county before it can go to the Secretary of State and get authenticated. I just learned that tonight as I was trying to find the address to mail it to, bummer :( I also have to get my employment letter redone because mine does not have my income on it as well so I contacted the home party business I am self-employed through and they gave me a very quick and detailed letter that I emailed to AWAA and will hopefully pass. Now of course that headquarters is in Idaho so we will also need to send it to that Secretary of State to be authenticated. When you live in Iowa having to send things out of state is certainly not my fave. It just means more time that it will take to get done.

Have you seen the glimmer of hope yet? It's coming...I promise. I also picked up our post placement agreement and proof of life insurance today. Dustin and I will be getting our passport photos taken this week and then the only things we'll be waiting on are our homestudy and I-171H to get updated. That's it! We are so very close to being done with paperchasing. I am really really really hoping that we will FINALLY be able to send our dossier into AWAA in October. That will truely be a miracle. Did you see that? That was my glimmer of hope. I emailed our agency a ton of different documents to approve so I might actually get to go to Des Moines this week and get everything authenticated. That would be AWESOME! This is probably the most productivity I've seen in our paperchase for a couple of months and the first time I've let myself get a little excited about our adoption in a few weeks. Please pray that this glimmer will grow and that God will work His miracles to make the rest of the paperwork go quickly and smoothly. I am finally ready to hope again. I even let myself look at little girl things again. For the last few weeks I wouldn't let myself even think about it because I was so far lost on the hope of ever getting her. I am ready to give God His glory and let Him be the ruler and creator. God has our little girl wrapped in His arms and will give her to us just at the perfect time.

Ok so if at the end of the week you see another post that is the exact opposite of this one...don't be surprised. I seem to have a doomsday twin that likes to take hold of me and make me think that the world is crashing down around me. I'm trying to hold her off but she often times rears her ugly head. For now I will keep my glimmer :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

staying positive

I have heard that if you act with positivity that you will actually trick yourself into being positive. That is my goal with this post tonight. I feel like for the past couple of months all of my posts have been on the verge of sending people off to stab themselves in the neck just to rid themselves of the pain of reading my debbie downer posts. Do you see the positivity yet? jk. Anyway, I thought I would switch it up with something more upbeat.

This week we received 2 out of the 3 reference letters we need, we should get the other one next week sometime. Yay! Since Dustin got home from Atlanta we also got our AWAA agreements all signed and mailed off today. I also dropped off the post placement agreement for our social worker and she possess the speed of light (at least in adoption world) and actually had it signed, notarized and ready to pick up by 4:00 on the same day. Her poor father had a stroke a couple of weeks ago and is going to have surgery next week so we won't be able to meet to finish up our homestudy till at least the week after next, kind of a bummer. On the bright side that will give me more time to make sure the rest of our paperwork is done and correct. Please pray for her father and for their family, I know it has been very hard on them. Dustin's third employment letter is on it's way from Atlanta right now. We are praying that it will suffice so we can send it back to Georgia to visit the Secretary of State's office, be authenticated and mailed back to us. I am still struggling with my letter.

If any of you fellow adoptive bloggers have some knowledge on this I would be most appreciative. I am a home party consultant and we listed my income on our financial statement. Technically I am self-employed so would need a notarized letter from a CPA. I happen to have a friend who is a CPA and has already written a letter for me but it has to have the amount of money I made last year on it, which it does not. For her to enclose my income on the letter she would have to also attach a statment saying that her firm doesn't hold any legal responsiblity verifying the information disclosed, blah blah blah legal jargon blah blah blah. So my problem is what do I do about a letter? Do I just take that off the financial statement and write a letter of unemployment? My husband told me to contact the company, which I haven't done yet. So again any thoughts or anyone who has had to do this and has suggestions I would appreciate anything.

Our oldest son had his 11th birthday today, too too old. He's becoming such a young man :) The other day I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he told me that he's been thinking about it for a couple weeks now and has really noticed all his blessings. He has already been given so much and doesn't really have anything he wants. My husband asked if he wanted to donate the money we would have spent on his birthday to something or someone else. My son researched a couple of sites and found a family adopting from Ghana that he wanted to give to as well as little goody 2 shoes. We bought him a t-shirt and a couple of necklaces, hopefully he will get them next week. He is very excited about them and about helping out other families adopting from Africa. We are so proud of him. Of course we still got him some stuff that he needed and liked and he got some other great presents from friends and family. He will also be going to the local arcade/game complex with a couple friends tomorrow to help celebrate. Overall I think he had a nice birthday that was low key but still good. We are so proud of him thinking about God and thinking about other people.

I have been thinking more about missions and praying about it. There has been no clear answer about it yet, so I continue to just wait and pray. God is working on something big, I just don't know what yet. Our family has signed up for crop walk this year. We are very excited about it and need to start getting sponsors. The money raised goes to feed people in our own community as well as around the world. I have been scared about asking people for money, it's just not a fun job, but I also know that there is no reason to be afraid when we are being the hands and feet of Jesus. You...me...we...can all make a difference!

Hope at least one thing in this post made you smile :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

little signs

I asked God to send me some signs to let me know that we are headed the right direction. He sent me a couple little ones, or at least I'm hoping that's how they should be interrupted. We got our approval email yesterday that we have officially been accepted into the AWAA Ethiopia program (the day after I prayed, I mean really prayed). We have some papers to send back to them before we officially get started again. I haven't heard back about our homestudy so hopefully I will hear back from her soon so we can meet next week and she can get it re-written. We still need to get our passport pictures, proof of life insurance, employment letters re-done, 3 letters of reference and get all the agreements signed and notarized. I would like to say that most of that can get done next week. The only things we'll be waiting on are our homestudy, I-171H and agreements that need to come back from our agency. Please say a prayer that our dossier will be ready to send to AWAA in October. Pray really hard, pray confidently. I am finally ready to hope again.

My new friend Mel was doing a great fundraiser online for homemade glass pendants. I ordered two and got them just the other day. They are both awesome and I will be wearing one of them ALL the time. The other I got for a gift, not sure who yet but Christmas is coming up. If you want to check them out another blogger is doing a fundraiser with them on September 27th to help bring their little boy home from Ethiopia the website is http://www.etsy.com/shop/sarahstreasurebox I also got my t-shirt from www.intothestreetsofethiopia.blogspot.com/. I absolutely love it! You should def check it out and check out the $6 for 1 challenge they're doing, it's such a great cause.

God answers my prayers not with big billboards (although that would be great) but with tiny moments and "coincidences". Every sermon and bible study seems to be God telling me something that I need to work on in this process, something I've been struggling with. Someday soon I will be jumping up and down and so filled with God's joy that everyone will see.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

guarded

It has been a while since I last posted because I haven't felt like there is much to report. Well there still isn't. While others are well on their way to transferring over to the Ethiopia program, we still wait for our official approval. We haven't been able to meet with our homestudy agency yet and all the other paperwork that I can do right now is out of my hands. So for now I am unexcited about where we are in the process. Talking to a new friend of mine who is adopting from the Ukraine made me realize some of the reason for my lack of enthusiasm, eventhough it was not a subject we talked about but it was something that came to mind in the midst of our conversation. I have not let the wall around my heart come down to accept Ethiopia.

Dustin and I are still mending our wounds and guarded against the possibility of something else happening in our adoption. I realize that God has given us Ethiopia as part of his plan and that's why it took so long with some of our other paperwork. If we had gotten our paperwork done sooner than we would have made the cut off date for Rwanda. God is leading us this direction, but I refuse to let myself get my hopes up about it so I don't get hurt again. A fellow blogger who uses the same agency as we do and has now switched over to Ethiopia posted about how fast God is working now because she asked Him to. The bible tells us to ask confidently and God will answer our prayers. I tried to pray last night but knew it was futile because my prayers were not said confidently and with conviction. They started out with "I want" and they were followed up with a feeling of doubt. What if God does not answer my prayer? So far I haven't found any strong signs that Ethiopia is where we are supposed to be. Nothing has happened to make me say that this is the clear path we are supposed to be on. I know that Rwanda was just a clue to lead us to adoption and clearly that was not meant to be, but where is my sign that Ethiopia is definitely where we are supposed to be? Where are my unexplained miracles that guide us to Ethiopia?

An adoptive mother at church told me that she has a good feeling about Ethiopia. She had also told me numerous times before while we were in the Rwanda program about her family having to switch countries and how it turned out to be the best. Maybe God is using her to tell me Ethiopia is the place our little girl will come from. Maybe God is using her to encourage my heart so I can be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Maybe I need to let go of this questioning and just let God do what He does best. Maybe God is telling me that I'm not ready yet and I need to continue to wait. Maybe...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

God does not fit in a box

Dustin heard a sermon on the radio yesterday about how the devil is constantly attacking us. It spurred a conversation between us about how so many Christians never talk about the devil or evil spirits, only the warm fuzzy Christian stuff. I personally think it's because many Christians believe in God, but don't necessarily believe in the devil. Anyway, Dustin brought up a very good point about how God has a big plan for each one of us and the devil likes to trip us up with the details. God's plan for us is to adopt. The details of what country, when it will happen, who it will be and so on are all vehicles that the devil uses to try and break our spirit away from God and question His authority or our faith in Him. I have been trying to overanalyze all these little things that happen with the adoption and figure out the reason and the meaning behind all of them. I am essentially trying to figure out the God of the universe who breathed life into me and put Him into a box. Our God does not fit into a box. When Dustin told me the devil is in the details a great weight was lifted from me. I believe God is who He says He is and I believe I am who God says I am, He told us to adopt. Period.

On another note; We formally sent an email to our family coordinator at AWAA saying we withdrawl from the Rwanda program. We also had to send another applicaton to be accepted into the Ethiopian program, wierd but whatever. In the meantime she sent us the Ethiopia dossier guidelines and hopefully much of the paperwork will transfer over. We (and be we I mean mostly me) will start getting together the new paperwork so that when she tells us we have been accepted into the new program that most of it is already done. My heart is feeling much more at ease about this whole process now. I am not so antsy to get it all done as fast as possible because I know there are ALWAYS delays.

Thank you to my husband for helping to calm my heart and thank you to him for working so hard for our family and continuing to put away money for this adoption. XOXO

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I-171H approval received :/

Before school we took a little trip up to Des Moines to get our fingerprints done. If you have followed our blog you'll know that I was sort of frustrated when we had gotten our appointment because it was over 4 weeks away after we had already waited 3 weeks just to get the piece of paper with our appointment on it. Anyway, I have been following many other people's adoption blogs and it seems that USCIS was taking their sweet time sending out the approvals. Most people seemed to be waiting around 2 or 3 months for it. Well we just got ours in the mail yesterday, how crazy is that!?! It was approved 1 week after our fingerprint appointment, wow! Now if this had happened a week ago I would be jumping up and down and so ecstatic that we received it so quickly, but because it came 4 days after the cut off date for Rwanda's adoption processes closing I don't know what kind of reaction to have. I know that there is a reason God didn't want us to make the deadline and that He has an awesome plan in store for us. The problem is I need a manual to lay it all out for me. Can God just send me a "for dummies" book that has the plan spelled out with who, what, where, when and how? I feel like I need a billboard sign from God right now cause I'm so confused.

Well in light of getting our I-171H we thought that we really need to make a decision as to what we're going to do. Are we going to wait for Rwanda, are we switching countries, are we switching agencies, so many questions. We've decided to stick with our agency and switch over to the Ethiopia program. I know there are quite a few other families that will be doing the same thing, but we think it should be around the same wait time as we originally thought Rwanda was going to be. The cost is a little more than Rwanda but it turns out pretty much every other country is. There are several things in our dossier that will need to be changed and we will have to get our I-171H changed to Ethiopia. Hopefully it won't be too much and I'm hoping that USCIS will be just as quick to process the change as they were our original application. God apparently has a bit of a sense of humor also because he sent our approval on the Saturday of a 3 day weekend. I can't get a hold of anyone or do anything with it until Tuesday, God knows I'm a high strung type A personality control freak! So far now I try to calm my heart and relax, which really means me running a lot to help burn off some of this excess craziness going on inside of me.

This is still a bit of an adjustment to switch countries. We had learned so much about Rwanda and become so connected to that country, I feel like we're cheating on it, lol. So now it's time to learn more about Ethiopia and raise awareness about the issues over there. I have been trying to find Ethiopian adoption blogs, stories and videos but my heart still has not caught up to my brain. Perhaps after I talk to our family coordinator and our social worker I will feel more connected and ready to focus on the adoption again. Is it Tuesday yet?

Monday, August 30, 2010

processing

If you have been following my blog you know that I am a control freak who can be completely obsessive compulsive about things. All good qualities I know, lol. Anyway, in light of the recent news about Rwanda adoption processes my anal retentive ways have kicked themselves into high gear seeking out other options. Now the problem with this is that I am not trusting God and trusting what He is telling me. I am try to know more than God. We all know that never works because we never know more than Him and then when bad things happen we wonder why. So today I have really been taking a backseat to my emotions and to my natural bent and trying to slow down with this whole adoption thing. Dustin and I had a nice little talk that really has confirmed what God has been telling me recently. Sometimes I can't tell if it is God or if it is just me thinking it's God and using it to my own will so I wasn't sure. We are meant to go on a mission trip to Rwanda, not to adopt from there. We are definitely meant to adopt. Last night I awoke with a feeling that if we try DRC (congo) that we will fail because there is a third place God has in place for us. I don't know if it's out of fear about DRC, adoptions are still very new to that country and I don't want to get hurt again and neither does Dustin. Today Dustin said he felt like we're led to take a mission somewhere in Africa while we wait and that he didn't want to rush into DRC.

I have always struggled with letting go and letting God. Every time I finally let go, and I mean REALLY let go, God blesses me with what I need. This is no different. I just tonight was finally able to say to Him that this whole situation is His and I can't do it. His will be done no matter what. I knew I had really let it go because that sense of calm and peace washes over me that I certainly don't have when I'm clenching onto things. Now the hardest part is to just wait. My heart is broken for this little girl that I thought was ours. We are grieving this loss and I know other people won't understand it, unless you've adopted or if you've ever had a miscarriage. It's a loss of something that you never really had, of a person you never got to know, but it is very real.

So far now I would not consider us in the adoption process any longer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rwanda adoptions are closed

Well the good news is God answers prayer. I asked God to open up more people's hearts to adopting and especially from Rwanda. God did that! I asked God that he might look after all the orphans in Rwanda. He's doing that! Now here's the paradox...God does not always answer prayer exactly the way WE would like Him too. Here's what I mean by that: There are so many families that are wanting to adopt from Rwanda that there are over 100 dossiers waiting to be approved in the MIGERPF office. Rwanda is in the process of becoming a Hague Convention country which means that they have to adhere to all the International rules of adoption to make it harder to exploit children. These are both great things! This also means because of the high number of dossiers and the certification Rwanda is shutting down their adoption processes to any new dossiers as of August 31st.

I know that God has big plans for our family, He has been revealing that to me lately. I don't know if that has anything to do with the adoption or not. Anyway, I also know that God has promised us a little girl in Rwanda. Reading my bible and paying close attention to stories of couples waiting for the children God promised them has really been helping. Today after the news about Rwanda I opened my bible to Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. It's a short verse that I can use as my mantra during these difficult times. I am disappointed but am still faithful to trusting and obeying God. God's plan is so much greater than I can ever fathom.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

fingerprinting done

Well we went to Des Moines yesterday to get some adoption stuff going. Our federal fingerprinting appointment isn't actually until next week but we were told you can go in anytiime to get them done. The catch is that they still won't process it until your appointment date. At the very least though we were able to get it done without having to drive the 2 1/2 hours there for our appointment at 8 am and the kids are not in school yet so we didn't have to worry about getting them to school and having someone watch them afterwards. While we were at the state capital getting our fingerprints done we decided to get most of our dossier documents authenticated by the secretary of state as well and got a couple more copies of our birth certificates just in case. It only took a couple of hours to get it all done, but sitting in an office waiting is never a fun chore for the boys. Oh well, they knew that we would also be taking them to the zoo to add some fun to the day for them.

They had received free zoo passes from the library reading program and were just dying to use them. It was a great day for the zoo, the weather was absolutely beautiful. Both the boys had fun feeding a giraffe, feeding the goats, watching the penguins get fed, watching the sea lion demonstration and checking out all the animals. We spent over two hours there which was just enough time to keep them busy without seeming like we were there all day. We even saw some friends of ours from Burlington up there. It was really nice to chat with them for a little while as the kids continued to roam the petting area. Overall the zoo was great fun and we were all glad we went.

After the zoo we went to dinner with some friends of ours who live in Ames. We met them in Urbandale for sushi at a place that we have never heard of before. We were trying to use the gps on Dustin's phone, needless to say we turned around several times before we got there. I am not a navigator by any means which is not good when you're in the passenger seat trying to be the navigator :) We did make it there a few minutes early and had a very nice dinner with them. It's so exciting because they have already adopted one little boy domestically last year and are in the process of adopting three more from the Congo. They have also really gotten their church excited about the ministry of adoption and several other families are adopting as well. I love it when God's work is infectious like that. I would love to see our church grab hold of adoption, but know that if that's to happen it needs to start with us getting the word out.

So Dustin is always very aware of how other people look at our family and especially when we go out of town because it seems like more things come up. We always tease poor Dustin as just being "the white guy" because our boys don't look much like him but clearly look more like me. There were several times during the day that Dustin was assumed to not be a part of our family where he had to tell him that he was with us. It's sort of funny and sort of not all at the same time. It was also sort of funny because when we were at the federal building getting off the elevator we looked sort of lost as to which direction to go. The woman on the elevator asked if we were looking for INS which we just said yes, eventhough we were actually looking for the Dept. of Homeland Security (USCIS office). We knew they would be down the same way. After we got in the office Dustin and I started to giggle because we thought how funny it is that she assumed we were looking for the immigration office. It makes me think of what kind of reactions we will get once we bring home our little girl and add another race to our family. I think people will be thoroughly confused by the white guy, asian lady, two asian boys and a little african girl. Just something to think about.

On another note, I have been much more accepting about where we are in the process. I am no longer as depressed as I was and I am looking at things in a whole new light. For everyone who prayed for me, thank you! There are many reasons for our waiting and it will be an adventure to see what those are as the next year unfolds.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

it's getting better

Several people have reminded me in the past week or so that eventhough my pain of longing for our little girl hurts there is another mother with an even more sickening pain. The pain of losing a little girl. Those reminders have turned my focus off my own feelings and onto our little girl's birth mother. I don't know if she has already given her up or if she will be giving her up, but I do know that I can pray for her. How selfish am I for being angry and frustrated over this? I am now praying over our little girl, over Rwanda and over the decisions her poor mother has made or will have to make. That pain is so much greater than the pain I have been feeling. Thank you to those who are helping me keep things in perspective.

On another note, we re-signed all our notarized papers last night with the help of a friend from church who happens to also live just around the corner from us. I noticed that the notary stamp on our police reports expires in March 2011, which I originally thought would be fine but because of the delays in Rwanda will probably have to get those redone again. Thankfully our notary from church doesn't expire until 2013 so that should give us plenty of time. We were planning on taking a trip up to Des Moines tomorrow to get our fingerprints and certification done, but have decided to postpone until Monday. If the weather is nice we will try to work in a trip to the zoo while we're there, dinner with some friends and maybe some shopping too :) The word is that eventhough we can get our fingerprints done earlier they won't actually process them until our appointment date anyway, but at least this way we can get it done on our own time instead of at 8:00 on a Monday morning.

This will be our last little family excursion before school starts on Thursday. I have mixed feelings about the kids starting school. I am glad that they won't be bored anymore but I am also sad that they are getting older and I won't get to spend as much time with them. It will be exciting for them to go to a new school this year, I hope that they make some really good friends there and that they love their teachers. While they are at school I need to find my motivation to get some things done. There are several adoption grant applications that are awaiting my attention and the gym has been bellowing my name for several months now. With the kids in school there are no more excuses! I also have a new foundation to be part of that will hopefully be requiring some of my attention and keeping me busy. This year since I have no preschoolers I decided to volunteer in moppets watching the kids of MOPS ladies. It is a ministry that I have been blessed with for the past few years and will be repaying that favor so other women can also be blessed with the opportunity to go. Now hopefully next year when we get our daughter I will be able to go back as a MOPS mom, but if not I will just continue to serve in moppets.

Please continue to pray for our family. I told our youngest son this week that he would be in first grade and would be 6 years old before his sister would come (he just turned 5 july 7th). He has been anxiously awaiting her arrival. One blessing is that since we will have to wait so long, we may be able to save enough money for the boys to go to Africa with us. God has this whole plan worked out and one day I will get to see the work He has done. Please pray for our little girl, for Rwanda, for the people at the Home of Hope and for our little girl's birth family. Mugisha ishimwe (God bless)

Friday, August 6, 2010

letting go

Yesterday we had another conference call with our agency. The news appears to be that because of the increase of adoptions in Rwanda and the current political situation that the wait time to expect a referral has also been increased. When I once hoped we would get to take our little girl to Kansas for our niece's graduation next year is now turning into hope that we will have her home by next Christmas. In the past month my hopes and spirits have fallen, and now with this news I know it's my time to let it go. The reminders of God's plan have not been enough for me, I have not truely given up control of this over to Him. It's time to let her go and giver her to Him. I don't know why it's so hard for me to do this. I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do and that God will protect her, but it hurts me so much to do it. I feel a great sense of loss instead of the hope I should feel.

We continue to wait for our biometrics appointment. We need to get some paperwork redone so I can submit it to our agency for approval before we get it all authenticated through the state. I will work on that this weekend or next week. Rwanda elections are Monday which is also the same day as a new friend is moving close to us with their little girl they just brought home from Rwanda last December. Please pray for all of the families who have been waiting almost a year now for any word from Rwanda. Pray for continued strength for me, I really need it. Thank you so much for following my blog, but if you see me please don't ask how the adoption is going. Right now I just can't handle it. Each member of our family will celebrate two birthdays during this adoption process. That's a long time. God's work is not done yet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

PTL

This post is dedicated to the Walser family who just got their referral for a little girl from Ethiopia last Wednesday. They needed to have $8300 for the referral fee by Friday August 6th in order to keep the referral. Praise The Lord as of last night (only 4 days after referral) They raised over $8500! God is good all the time. When we can't, He can. They started with not more than $100. Wow, it made me cry to think of all the people that they didn't even know who contributed so they can bring home their little girl. It's jut so amazing!

Friday, July 30, 2010

just some stats

According to the state department only 16 children were adopted from Rwanda last year and in the last 5 or 6 years only 49 children have been. There are approximately 150 orphans in the Home of Hope orphanage we are adopting from and almost 1 million orphans in Rwanda. Wow! When we started this process I knew that the adoption program in Rwanda was not very old, but those numbers are staggering. Please continue to pray for more adoptions from Rwanda and pray that they make it easier and faster for families to adopt.

I was also checking on our agency's website and it is somewhat disheartening that the last update on the Rwanda page is from May and doesn't actually have anything to do with Rwanda but is just a notice about an adoption conference. The last thing posted on the Rwanda page that actually has to do with Rwanda is from February. Again sort of disheartening. Pray that the families who have been waiting more than 9 months now for any word from Rwanda hear something very soon.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

word from uscis

Dustin and I have been getting very antsy about our I600A application and why it was taking so long to get our fingerprinting appointment. I mention these next few comments in the previous post so it will sound redundant, but I can't help it, sorry. I (being slightly obsessive) was thinking that something wasn't filled out properly, that it got lost, or that something else I hadn't thought of was holding up progress. It did not help that another family in Indiana not only turned their application after us and had already received their appointment, but that they have also gotten their fingerprinting done all in the same time it took us to just get our appointment notice. By the way, we did get our appointment notice in the mail today. FINALLY!!!!! I thought I would be so relieved when it finally came because then I could stop obsessing about it and relax a little. Nope. Turns out that our appointment is not scheduled until August 23rd, almost 4 weeks away. The only way to possibly get an appointment sooner is by writing a letter to the department in Des Moines and if they happen to have something sooner they may reply to you with a different date. Otherwise, if you don't hear anything from them you are just expected to show up on the initial scheduled date. So, if it takes another 3 weeks after our fingerprinting to get our I-171H approval then we are looking at mid September. It seems to take around a month or so (although every time I say stuff like that it actually takes us twice as long) for the dossier to get to Rwanda once it's submitted to the agency. Once upon a time I dreamed of possibly, I knew it would be a long shot, of getting a referral by Christmas. HA! I will be amazed if we get one by next summer. So if you see me, please don't ask me how the adoption is going. Because it really doesn't seem to be. Did I also mention I am very grumpy and depressed right now? My heart hurts so much right now, it physically hurts inside my chest to breathe without any hope.

I know that God has perfect timing. I know that He does! In fact, earlier in the week we learned about November being National Adoption Awareness month, November 20th being National Adoption day and November 7th being orphan Sunday. Dustin and I would really like to do something special for it. I was thinking about doing some sort of picnic/potluck for all adopted families in our area as well as anyone interested in it. Maybe having a speaker and some games and crafts for the kids. It got me to wondering if it is part of God's plan for us to reach out while we wait. I prayed and prayed and a calm came over me to obey and work in His timing. We wait to help others. Is a day like today another confirmation of God asking me, "did you not say that you would obey and wait?" I did Lord. Bring peace over my heart so that I may be a blessing to others. It's not all about me.

Please continue to pray for our journey, for our struggles. The elections in Rwanda are closing in, please pray for peace.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

feeling sick

Sometimes reading other families' adoption blogs is such a blessing to me, other times my slightly obsessive personality should not read them. Tonight I found many new blogs that were of great help and interest to me. Then I read one that I have read before and in fact communicated with the couple. They already received their appointment for federal fingerprinting just 5 days after they sent in their I600A application. Great! How awesome for them. On the other hand we turned our homestudy in on July 8th to join our application and have heard nothing. It makes me literally sick to my stomach. I feel phyically sick because then I think that there must be something wrong with our application, that I must have failed to fill something out properly, that there is something wrong the homestudy, that I have now caused our process to go on longer. Did I mention my obsessive behavior? All I can do is pray that in God's own timing it will get done. I need to use that as my mantra everyday.

Pray for patience for me. patience, patience, patience. trust, trust, trust. faith, faith, faith. obey, obey, obey.