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!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

break down

Well I broke down and bought something for the "baby". Dustin and I have just started calling her that eventhough we know she won't be a baby, but we still call CJ the baby sometimes and he'll be 5 this July so that's the way we are. My kids' school had a garage sale this weekend that I used as an opportunity to get rid of some stuff and use all the proceeds towards our adoption. I didn't have all that much but my mom and my mother-in-law also donated a couple boxes of stuff. The sale went quite well, I asked for a free will donation and didn't price anything. People were mostly very generous and I also sold a few of the bracelets I made. Anyway, one of the other ladies at the sale had a little kitchen she was selling for $5. It was in perfect condition and I just couldn't pass it up so I brought it home. Dustin knows me too well and asked who it was for. As I tried to dance around who I had bought it for he asked if I bought it for the "baby", of course I had to admit that it was for her and he just smiled. Christian also asked who it was for when we brought it in the house and said, "is that for our sister?" Dustin told him he could play with it and CJ rejected the idea because it's for girls. It's not even a pink one it's actually very neutral and non-gender biased, he's so funny. So one of the other moms I know from school who has adopted two girls from China said it best when we were talking about the process of adoption: shop for hope. Buying things for the promise of a child gives you a sense of hope that they will join your family soon. I am trying very hard not to buy too much because I know it will be at least a year before it will get used. If you are a deal finder though you know that when you find a good one you just can't pass it up because you probably won't find a deal like that again, or at least that's what we tell ourselves:)

So last week not only did we have our first homestudy visit but the kids got their physicals, had to get tb tests and we had our first Rwanda conference call. I already blogged about the homestudy and the physicals but haven't said anything about the conference call. I didn't learn a ton on the conference call but I did get a better more realistic timeline of when to expect things to get done. I was quite ambitious in thinking that we could get a referral by Christmas. Not that we still couldn't but I'm not going to be anticipating it by any means. The wait has gone from 4-7 months for a referral to 7-9 months after the dossier has been received and even after the referral it will still take 2-4 months to travel. So in reality we would be extremely fortunate to travel next March, but more realistically we would probably travel next May or next summer. Now I'm hoping for a wonderful Mother's Day present next year. I also found out that it will take a little longer to submit our dossier than I originally thought. At first I was hoping for June, but we have to have everything approved by our agency, notarized, then sent to the secretary of state to have it authenticated and then sent back to our agency before it gets sent off. So now it's looking more like July before it will get sent off. It will take at least a couple of months before they look at our dossier in Rwanda which then pushes us back to September or October and then another 7 months after that could mean March or April before we get a referral and then June before we actually get to travel. It seems like such a long time but everyone I have talked to says that while you're waiting it seems like forever but once you get them home that time doesn't even matter. Another person pointed out that the waiting is part of God's perfect timing and that he is orchestrating a plan for our family. That definitely makes the waiting easier, I do know that He has a perfect plan for us so I will continue to just wait for it to be revealed. God has also really blessed us recently financially through Dustin at work and continues to bless us through small fundraisers. Imana Ishimwe (praise the lord). We pray that God continues to bless our family so that we can afford to bring home our little girl when the time comes and we also continue to pray for her country, her orphanage and of course for her. I know God is watching over her and preparing her to be a part of our family. Murakoze (thank you)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homestudy visit #1, check

We had our first homestudy visit today at our house with Jan from Young House. It went very well and it was very casual and laid back. She just asked us some questions about our family, how we grew up, about the boys. We talked about Rwanda and why we want to adopt and just some other general things about the adoption. It was nice to know that she had adopted a little girl from Guatemala so she understands the difficulties of adoption during the process and afterwards with a daughter of a different race. We have our next meeting with her in a couple of weeks, she also has to interview Dominic because Rwanda requires anyone over 10 living in the home to be interviewed. So far so good on the homestudy front, should be done in May. We will just be waiting on our fingerprints to get back. After that we have to get it approved and notarized and authenticated. So much legal paperwork, sigh.

The boys also had their physicals today and I got mine finished up. Unfortunately the boys had to get tuberculosis tests done, Dominic did very well but CJ was a whole different story. He cried and had to be held done to get it done. He also had to get a lead test done for kindergarten which they were nice enough to just prick his finger. He didn't even shed a tear when that one happened. We have to remember to go back on Friday so they can check the test, I was sort of glad that Dustin and I didn't have to have the test done :)

I have really appreciated the new friendships that God has placed in my life through this adoption and through church. My new facebook friends going through Rwanda adoptions themselves have been so encouraging this week when I really needed it. I have also made friends with a new lady at church who has helped teach me how to make bracelets. It is always nice to get to know someone new, she also doesn't live too far and has a daughter that goes to the same school the boys will go to next year. The bracelets I'm making are just some fun little beaded bracelets that say mugisha and murakoze on them. I thought it would be neat to include a little kinyarwanda to make a connection with Rwanda for people. I also made some brochures with info about Rwanda, orphans there and a little about our family. I thought that people might be interested in what it is that we're doing and what their money is going towards. Of course since we don't have a particular child in mind we can't make the connection with pictures or details of the actual child, but this is the next best thing.

Thanks for reading, please keep praying for our family.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Well it's been about a week since the last time I updated and not a whole lot has changed around here. Our homestudy had to get rescheduled for this Wednesday, so that gives me an extra couple of days to make sure we have as much done ahead of time as possible. I went through our dossier tonight and there are really very few things that we need to do with it besides completing the homestudy. Once that is done and approved we have to get everything notarized and then send it in to AWAA for approval. I feel like we could have this all done and a referral by Christmas...and then I read a post from a new friend who is adopting from Rwanda and I realize that is such a pipe dream. She just had her first meeting for her homestudy tonight and was reassured that the process through Rwanda takes 13-19 months from start to finish. As she said, "it's hurry up and wait". Since we officially started March 1st than that definitely puts us to next Easter and maybe not even until next summer, ugh! I feel a little discouraged right now, but I know I just need to stay focused.

To help my focus I am making some fun little bracelets to sell at the Grimes Home Extravaganza this Saturday at school. They are just plastic glow in the dark bracelets that say murakoze (thank you) or mugisha (blessing) that I'm going to sell for $5. Sure it won't be paying for our plane tickets or anything, but at least it will help and it makes me feel like I'm doing something for the adoption. It's also really nice because the boys are helping me make them and they are having fun with it. It also makes them feel like they are involved with the process. Dominic said something to me the other day that made it very clear to me that he sees this as something daddy and mommy are doing. There's definitely a disconnect between him and the adoption. I need to come up with some more ways to make them both feel more included in this and really get excited about it.

Another thing that is keeping me going are the new friendships that I have formed via facebook. We are all in similar stages of our adoptions and are all using AWAA with the same family coordinator so far. Since America World likes to send groups there is a very good chance that we will all get our kids at the same time. Last year there 9 families that all went together. Right now I am getting to know 3 other ladies and it's fun to chat about stuff that no one else gets.

I've got more bracelets to make and at the rate I'm going I may collapse before I get them done. Continue prayers for our boys that they may find the same joy in this adoption that we do and pray for speedy processes for all of the families adopting right now. Murakoze - thank you

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

homestudy here we come

YAY! I'm so excited for those of you who have been following our blog I have been whining about not starting the homestudy yet and I finally got a phone call today. They apparently wanted to check out our references first, which I can understand. Our first appointment is next Monday and she said that they usually take about a month or so to complete. She said that she hasn't received our fingerprinting back yet from where it was that she had to send it, but she knew that it would take a while and thinks probably sometime in May we will get that back. I have my physical at the doctor's office tomorrow and the kids have theirs the next week. Things are really starting to get moving, again YAY!

I hope the doctor is ready for me tomorrow because I have lots of questions for him. We just go to family practice so the kids and I have the same doctor. I want to ask him about getting shots to travel, if he knows anything about international adoptions, if we need to go to Iowa City to an international adoption pediatrician, just all kinds of things. He better have blocked more than 10 minutes for my appointment, lol. All these stories I have been following talk about the physical and developmental delays that come with being institutionalized and all the parasites and sickness that come along with it also. Well at least when you first get your child and bring them home. Hopefully when I talk to the doctor tomorrow I can get some of those types of questions answered so that we'll be prepared. Everyone says that you should see a doctor while you're still in Africa so you can get the child started on treatment and then get them to a doctor when you get home no later than 2 weeks. I'm sure once we get our referral and travel dates that I'll be making an appointment for just a couple days after we get home. There's no sense in putting off something like that.

There's really only a few things left to complete in the dossier now so I'm feeling more confident that we can have it sent out by June. I am feeling a little unsure of the notarization though, only because I have absolutely no idea how that works. Fortunately a good friend of mine happens to have a mother that does it and said she would be willing to notarize our papers. Hopefully she can sort of walk me through all that entails because I don't really understand how they notarize the physicals and financial statements and all that jazz. Anyway, it's feeling so much closer. This summer and fall will basically just be waiting and not so much stress of getting paperwork done. I know that there will still be things that need to be done but really most of that isn't until you get your referral and that's when the craziness starts. It would be a true miracle and testament to God if we were able to bring home our little girl for Christmas, but I know it's not about our timing or my impatience :) God already has a little girl picked out for our family that will be a blessing unto us. I continue to pray that God will keep her safe until we can come and get her and pray for her country as well. Please join me in those prayers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

birth certificate

Well I finally got my new birth certificate in the mail. From the Hague training online it said that you should order at least 2 or 3 of them, which I just found out the other day. Hopefully we don't need more than one original. Turns out when you're adopting you have to have recent originals of your birth certificates and marriage certificate within one year of filling out your paperwork, very strange to me. I have noticed that there are lots of things in the adoption process that don't seem to make a lot of sense to me but I know that there are reasons these regulations are in place. Some dishonest person along the way messed it up for the rest of us and now we have more and more red tape to go through. Don't they know we just want to bring our little girl home and love her?

Today there is not much to say except that I am feeling a little overwhelmed and a little frustrated. There are a lot of baby steps in this process and I just want to get to the baby (figuratively speaking).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

sent off I-600A

I filled out our petition for an orphan form and sent it off to the USCIS. When we get our homestudy done then we will send that to the USCIS as well. I had been waiting to send it all at once but noticed on several people's blogs that they had sent their's before their homestudy was finished so I was glad to know that we could do that. It seems like anything that you have to depend on the government to process always takes a while so if we can get it started than that is one less thing to wait on in the future. Dustin and I still don't understand why we have to get fingerprinted for that by the federal government when we already got fingerprinted for our homestudy. I'm pretty sure I don't remember getting fingerprinted with a background check when I was pregnant with either one of our boys :) I told Dustin that I was pretty sure we have to get fingerprinted at least two or three times during the adoption process. There is also a new law that we will have to have another background check done while we're in Rwanda before we can return home with our little girl. So much red tape to get through. Well one more piece of paperwork done and sent in.

My parents called me and said that they completed the paperwork sent to them by the homestudy agency. Of course they gave us glowing reviews. I wonder if we get to read any of the letters our references send. Probably not, but it would be sort of interesting to see what they have to say. I just can't wait for the homestudy to start!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

it's been a while

Well I feel like it's been a while since I have updated our blog. It didn't seem like there was much news to report but as I read the last post there have been a couple things that have moved along with the adoption. First, I would like to say that we got approved to use our local homestudy agency thanks to the nice people at America World for letting us. I know that it is there policy but it is so nice to use our local agency and not have to pay for someone to travel down from Cedar Rapids. With that said, I personally dropped off some of our paperwork to the homestudy agency since I didn't realize that had to be turned in before we even start. I figure if I turned it in myself I didn't have to wait for the post office and if there was anything I had forgotten I could just fix it right then. There were a couple of things that I had to fix so I am glad that I went down there. The coordinator down there also needed the contact information for America World to talk to them about the requirements. I haven't heard from them at all yet, I turned it in last Thursday, which is making me a little nervous. Good news is though that I talked to a friend of mine tonight and she said that she had gotten something to fill out from them about them being one of our references. So now I am confused because it seems as if they are moving along with it but we still haven't gotten an appointment for our first meeting. I just want to start this and get it over quickly. I will feel so much better when all this paperwork is done and we are just waiting on a referral. I know I won't be patient about the referral but at the very least it will be out of our hands and it will be so much closer to bringing home our little girl. This is when I have to keep reminding myself that it all comes in His perfect timing and to continue to have faith.

We have gotten a couple more things done. I completed my Hague training today and got the certificate of completion printed out. Dustin also received his birth certificate last week and applied for his passport this week. I finally got my W-2 printed out from Maurices which means we can get our taxes done. Dustin also got his proof of insurance and policy information. The government also changed the I-600A form that needs to be submitted and approved before we can get our child so I have the new form printed out. I emailed our fmaily coordinator some questions about it and she emailed me back some great help with it. I did forget however to ask her if we can submit it now even though our homestudy is not complete. I should have that filled out this week and if we can get it submitted this week that would be even better. I have heard that it can take a couple months for that to get approved. I'm pretty sure we have to be federally fingerprinted for that and I have no idea where we go to get that done. We did get fingerprinted at our local jail for the homestudy but from the sounds of it we will have to be fingerprinted a couple more times. The family that is in Rwanda right now also said that there is a new law and you have to get another background check before you can leave Rwanda with your child. I believe it is an American rule that just came into practice. They are waiting for their clearance from that before they can return home. We are praying that they will make their Friday night flight.

I feel like I have so many questions right now. It actually makes me physically sick to my stomach when I think about all that needs to be done. I just don't want to screw it up. I already have a place in my heart for our little girl and the thought of her having to wait any longer makes my heart ache. I pray for her most every night. I pray that God looks after her and the people taking care of her. I pray for the government officials in Rwanda to have kind hearts and to continue working hard to make a positive difference. I pray for our government that they might not change any of the legalities of adoption unless for the better. I pray to trust God's plan for us. I pray for our children that they may understand the expansion of our family and welcome their sister as if she was always a part of it. I pray for all the other families going through this decision and this process and all the children who are alone and hurting tonight. Dominic said it best tonight that people in America have so much and they are spoiled. He's such a good boy.