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!

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.