This is the place where we are have documented the road we have walked in order to adopt our four children from Brazil and the road we are now on as a family. We are keenly aware that adopting is not just a process we've chosen to go through, but part of God's plan for us and for our children. May He be glorified through the process and through our family!

Friday, December 21, 2007

First Referral

From the AWAA Weekly Update 12.21.07:

America World has received its first referral of a 5 year old boy for the El Salvador Program. ...Due to confidentiality we are unable to disclose the reasons, but the family referred the child did not accept this referral. America World will continue to work with the Office for Adoptions on this referral as well as for all families waiting to be matched with referrals. America World continues to advocate for this child as well as all of the children in El Salvador. In the new year, we will continue to partner with other organizations to assist children in being paper-ready to be eligible for adoption.

This is bittersweet news because, HALLELUJAH! El Salvador's new process for international adoptions works and there is now a small light at the end of the tunnel. But, how my heart breaks for this 5 year old boy. Offices in El Salvador close soon for Christmas and won't open until the second week of January, so no one will hear anything until at least then. We're praying that this will be the beginning of the opening of the floodgates of blessing for many children and many families. It feels like another step closer to our child.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Epistle

This week we sat together to write our annual Christmas letter. We took the opportunity to officially announce (to those live far away and might not have heard) that we are waiting to adopt a wonderful child all the way in El Salvador, whom God has chosen to be our son or daughter. We stated in the email that we hope next year's Christmas Card will be from a family of 3. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be!

It's hard to see Christmas arrive and know that our child is not in our home yet. We wish we could shower him or her with love and gifts and teach him or her all our holiday traditions and share with him or her all our favorite holiday memories... and create new ones. We trust the Lord that that will come even though our hearts already feel the empty spot our child will someday fill. We trust and pray that God has provided a safe and happy place for our child to begin their life and that he or she will somehow sense that we are waiting to bring him or her home.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

1000 blessings in one concert

A few weeks back, we were invited to Steven Curtis Chapman's "This Moment" concert in Bloomfield, CT by Shaohanna's Hope, an organization founded by the Chapman family to "mobilize the body of Christ to care for orphans." They asked us to come to the concert to help them by being the face of CT adopting families. When we accepted the invitation we found out that we would be going on stage with Steven Curtis Chapman so that the whole audience could see that a real, live, Christian family in Connecticut is preparing their home to love and accept a parentless child from far away.

What we didn't know was that Shaohannah's Hope was going to collect an offering that night that would be given to us... onstage... in front of 1000 people... as a grant to help us pay the last round of fees to bring our child home to us. We were stunned when we found out and overwhelmed to accept a generous gift of $4000 from the offering and Shaohannah's Hope. Around $2700 was collected at the concert, and was matched by Shaohannah's Hope. Before we left the stage Steven Curtis Chapman and everyone in the audience prayed for us and our child in El Salvador.

After the concert, we had the opportunity to follow Steven Curtis Chapman to his dressing room for some pictures and a wonderful chat about the miracle that adoption has been in his family's life, how God is working the same miracle for our family, and how God truly works the same miracle in each of us who comes to be adopted into His family through Jesus.

At least 1000 blessings in one evening!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Mural Completed!

Karen finished our child's mural today!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Study Time

The mural on our child's wall is nearly finished and we have been working on other home-improvement projects (a new kitchen floor and countertops) which will make our home more ready for the arrival of our son or daughter. This week we ordered several books about adoption parenting in an effort to prepare our minds and hearts more fully for the new roles we will have once we become a family. It is time to learn as much as we can so that we will be the kind of parents God wants us to be to our precious child. Our agency, America World, recommended many books including the ones we have begun to digest.

Raising Adopted Children: Practical, Reassuing advice for Every Adoptive Parent by Lois Ruskai Melina (Revised Edition)
The Whole Life Adoption Book: Realistic Advice for Building a Healthy Adoptive Family by Jayne E. Schooler
Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child by Beth O'Malley

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some more information

In today's mail, we found this letter from the US Embassy in San Salvador. Though short and obviously standardized, it contains some important information.

1. The embassy is on our side and works hard for adoption cases.

2. The wait for our child to come home may be longer than we had first thought (1-2 years, according to the embassy)

3. We now have contact information for more people who may be able to answer questions from different perspectives and keep us informed when we need information.

The thought of a longer wait jarred me for a while, but James helped me realize that we will wait joyfully for as long as it takes to bring our child home. God has our child chosen for us and will bring him or her home when the time is right. I'm thankful for this news that helps us prepare ourselves better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Painting Begins!

Karen began painting the mural today! How exciting to see our world in vivid color!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mexican Vacation

(From the balcony of our house in Puerto Vallarta)

(Sitting on a traditional chair in Tlaquepaque, MX)

(Esther, Laura and Ana Rut with Principe)

We arrived home yesterday from a 5-day vacation to Mexico--Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Oh, how we love living in Latin American cultures! We were hosted in Guadalajara by a the beautiful Mora-Mañon family who made us feel right at home in Mexico's second-largest city. We stopped in many bookstores thinking of the empty bookshelf in our child's future room and bought our first child's first books: a Children's Bible and a World Atlas for Children.

Visiting Mexico confirmed our desire to raise our children knowing and loving many cultures and speaking Spanish. It also affirmed our desire to be a part of a Latin American culture and spend time visiting and living abroad. We have so many big dreams for our life and for our family! All are in the Lord's hands and he will carry us through.

Monday, July 30, 2007


As Karen began to trace the outlines of Europe, Asia and Africa onto the wall, we both began to see how big this mural will be. It made us think about how big the World really is and how diverse. I can't help but marvel at all the wonders of God's hand. And somewhere among the wonders of creation is our child who will someday, in God's perfect timing, be a part of our family.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The mural begins

Karen came over and spent a few hours starting our child's mural today. She'll be back soon to add continents and more details.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Letters from AWAA

America World sent our dossier to El Salvador on July 9, 2007 and we received these letters welcoming us to the Third Phase / Waiting Phase of the process to adopt our child. The papers are being translated now and will go on to the OPA (Oficina Para Adopciones) and then the ISNA (El Salvador's child welfare agency) and then eventually to the Comite de Asignacion (Assignment committee)

Dossier sent letter, pages 1 and 2

Waiting phase letter, pages 1 and 2

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Salvadoran News Link is the website of "El Diario de Hoy" a main Spanish language daily news publication out of San Salvador.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Photos from El Salvador

Here are some of the pictures that Christi took while visiting El Salvador last week.

Update from El Salvador

Christi Hicks, our family coordinator and AWAA's Latin America Program Director, recently returned from a trip to El Salvador. She met with several people who are integrally connected to the process of international adoptions. Here is her update. I highlighted some information that is new and promising as we enter into the "waiting" stage in which all is in the hands of the Salvadoran government. Of course we know that all of this is in God's hands, and this new information shows how He is at work and teaches us how to pray for adoptions in El Salvador.

Dear El Salvador families,
I can’t thank you enough for your prayers, thoughts, and even fasting for Susan and I while in-country. We certainly felt your prayers!!

We arrived on Sunday afternoon (June 24) and were able to go and visit some of the Mayan Ruins that lie just outside the city of San Salvador . It was great to see more of the culture and history of this beautiful country. Monday morning (June 25) we went to visit with the director of adoptions for ISNA (the child welfare agency) to discuss their process as well as gain a better understanding of their role as well as limitations. They have a database with all the information for the children, but lack internet in some of the outlying departments, such that there is a lag time in receiving and trading information between headquarters in San Salvador and the outlying departments.

Later that morning we were able to visit the Nun and the children in her care. For those of you that were in the process during the holiday season, these are the children you funded to buy shoes and school supplies. The nun again shared with me their vision for purchasing a property where they could grow their work with these children. They are currently licensed with ISNA to care for these children during the day, but then they have to return to their homes at night because in their current facility they cannot house the children overnight. Many of these children are from some of the poorest areas near San Salvador and have families that do not wish to care for these children or are unable to care for them. Without her program, they would virtually be homeless every day as they would be unable to attend school and would have no oversight during the day while parents are at work. Many of these families would like to relinquish their rights and entrust their children to the care of the organization permanently. However, unless the organization is able to purchase the sufficient property, they will only continue to be able to host a day program for these precious children. (I’ve included photos of many that were there that day). Please pray the Lord will bring the right contacts into their path for them to purchase this property and live out the big dream the Lord has given them for these children.

That afternoon we met with the Procurador General. He was very warm, welcoming and greeted us as friends. He stated that one thing the country of El Salvador is doing to help decrease wait time is changing a crucial law. He said this law should be implemented in the next six months. What it would change is that children who are abandoned would no longer need to go through a lengthy one to two year process to be declared adoptable. This would become an administrative procedure that could take much less time, allowing the child to be placed with a forever home much sooner. Please pray with us that this law is implemented quickly so that these children will no longer be locked into the system.

Tuesday morning (June 26) we were able to meet with the Director of OPA (Office for Adoptions). She shared with us a few specific referrals for some children that are more difficult to place, such as special needs and older children (6-14 years old). I was very encouraged to see the files and the extent of the information they're offering. El Salvador is a member of the Hague Convention and it is going to great lengths to really comply with these standards. For this reason, of the files I saw, we will be getting extensive medical reports as well as psychological reports and background studies on all the children referred. Of the files they shared with us many are available immediately and she said that so far we have the best families being put forward and she would love for our agency to be able to accept one, a few or even all of these children. I have asked that any families having submitted dossiers that would be interested in hearing more about the older and special needs children available would participate in a conference call on Monday afternoon. At this time, this opportunity is only available to those families that have submitted dossiers to America World prior to the date we met with the Director. Please pray for God to open the hearts of families, regardless of whether they are America World families or others, for these precious children that long to have a family and a home to call their own.

Again, I can’t thank you enough for all your prayers and support for our time.
Christi Hicks
Latin America Program Director

Last bit of Certification -- Officially "Waiting"

Kim traveled to Hartford yesterday to have our approval form and a small handful of other documents certified by the Secretary of the State's office. All the apostilled documents were carefully packed in a FedEx envelope and sent overnight to AWAA in McLean, VA. (They arrived first thing this morning.)

Hopefully, the documents will be reviewed and forwarded down to El Salvador very soon.

That means that we are officially in the "waiting" stage of this journey. It could be as soon as 12-14 months from now that we meet our first child. We got an email this week from James' parents and spent some time with Kim's parents and both are so excited to meet their first grandchild. All of our friends at Trinity Baptist Church are excited and supportive too. Several of our friends have growing families too. Amber and Greg just had thier first baby, Sophia, Jill and Ben are expecting their first in October, Shannon and Matt will be parents in December, Kristen and Morgan will welcome their baby in January, and Heather and Pat will be parents in God's timing (hopefully soon!). Our child will have plenty of good company!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Yesterday afternoon we received our I-797C form in the mail from The Department of Homeland Security / USCIS (Customs and Immigration). The name of the form is "NOTICE OF FAVORABLE DISPOSITION CONCERNING APPLICATION FOR ADVANCE PROCESSING OF ORPHAN PETITION." Whew!

We read it through several times and had to send an email to Christi, our family coordinator at AWAA to interpret its legal-ese for us. WE'RE APPROVED!! The US government officially recognized that we "are able to furnish proper care to an orphan or orphans as defined in section 101(b)(I)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act." The exciting part of all this is that a copy of this form was forwarded to the US Embasy in San Salvador. El Salvador now has us on their radar!

That means that we are one very important step closer to adopting our child. I'll go on Monday to Hartford to have this form apostilled along with two or 3 others that need updating. Then I will send them to AWAA and from there they can all go to El Salvador to be translated and submitted! Then can come approval by El Salvador, Referral, Travel and FAMILY!

Praise God from whom all blessing flow!
Here is a copy of our I-797C Approval!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pre-Parental Counseling #1

Yesterday we met with Pastor Josh and Rochelle to talk with them about Parenting for the first time. We've asked them to sit with us periodically to discuss what they have learned about parenting, raising children who love the Lord, growing personally in our Faith, and keeping our marriage strong as we prepare to become parents.

During our first meeting we discussed:
  • Parenting a sinner--we are all sinners and need to parent in the light of God's grace and forgiveness
  • Letting go of our pre-conceived expectations for our child's life and letting them be who God created them to be
  • Being consistent in rules and discipline
  • Communicating carefully as parents
  • Giving a child the time and attention he/she craves before expecting him/her to be content to play independently
  • Super Nanny--parents have the ability and responsability to make changes when one strategy is not working
  • Parenting books--sometimes a helpful resource, but it's important to rely on our own parental instincts when making decisions about our family

We hope to meet with them several more times to glean as much wisdom from them as we can. We will also be seeking advice and wisdom from many other wise and experienced parents as we "wait" for our child to come home to us.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The World For Our Little One

One thing we want to show the world through our special and multicultural family is that the world is God's and we are His. Every human on this globe is created by Him as a unique part of His plan for the World. His plan is to adopt each of us into His family by His grace and through His son, Jesus Christ. The whole diverse world is part of His plan. We want our family to be a living testimony of the way that God brings us (who were far from Him) into his family--to be His heirs (Romans 8:12-17). As a symbol of the way His love encompases every corner of the Earth, we have decided to paint a mural on the wall of our child's bedroom wall--a colorful map of the world.

Kim's friend Karen has agreed to work with us this summer, using paintbrush and paint, to give the world to our first child. She is a 4th grade teacher at Kim's school and is also a muralist.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Message From AWAA

We received this message today from Christi, our Family Coordinator. Some good news, and some more work to do. A couple documents need to be fixed up, but the good news is that the agency is processing us along with the others who submitted their dossiers prior to May 31. This is a blessing because families who submit after May 31 will have to pay a new International Program Fee. Since they granted us an extension, we will not have to pay this new fee.

Hi Kim,
In reviewing your dossier there were a few things that need to be amended.
1. The psychologist's license CCOO had a scratch-out. Unfortunantly you'll need to redo this.

2. The power of attorney dates do not match up. It shows that it was completed and notarized on the 21st but then the date for your signatures is the 22nd.
Let me know if you need me to send the originals to you. Otherwise if you want to just complete those 2 pages and send it to me with your I171H you'll be all set.

In regard to the request of the extension, I had already granted that to your family so you all are counted as before the 31st deadline.
God bless,

Christi Hicks
Assistant Eastern Europe Program Director
Latin America Program Director

America World Adoption
6723 Whittier Avenue, Suite 202
McLean, VA 22101
Toll Free: 888-ONE-CHILD ext. 124
Direct Line: (703) 891-3145
Fax: (703) 356-8973

(KJV) Romans 8:15 For ye have not received
the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have
received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we
cry, Abba, Father.

Click here for more information on AWAA's new
El Salvador Program, Ethiopia Program, or Kazakhstan Program.
This message may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the addressee or authorized to receive this for the addressee, you must not use, copy, disclose or take any action based on this message or any information herein. If you have received this message in error, please advise the sender immediately by reply e-mail and delete this message. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Fullton Family Album

Here are some of the pictures we included with our Fullton Family Album that will be submitted with our dossier to El Salvador.

Expectant Mother and Father

Enjoying time together

Our child's future bedroom

Our home

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Almost Official

On June 1, we copied and organized all of the documents for our dossier. We squeezed them all into a FedEx box and sent them off to AWAA's office in McLean, Virgina. The stack was over 2'' tall and just barely fit into the box.

A: Copy of Passport Photo pages for husband and wife
B: Birth Certificates
C: Marriage Certificate
D: General Physical Examination
E: Copy of Physician’s license
F: Police Department Record
G: Proof of Income (Employment Letters)
H: Photo Copy of USCIS I-171H (Keep the original)
I: Home Study
J: Copy of agency license and social worker license
K: Copy of America World’s License
L: Psychological Evaluation
M: Copy of Psychologist’s license
N: Letter regarding psychologist
O: Power of Attorney
P: Agency Post-Placement Commitment
Q: Agency Recommendation
R: Guardianship Statement
S: Photo Album
T: (2) Two copies of every page of A-S & U on this sheet**
U: Letters about medications (placed after Physician’s license in dossier)

We sent all these in except for letter H. We went on June 2nd to have our fingerprints taken. Those need to be processed by the FBI and then the Dept. of Homeland Security can approve our application and USCIS can pre-approve our child for a US visa. Once that document arrives, we can have it certified and our documentation will be complete. It will be reviewed by AWAA, sent to El Salvador for translation, and then submitted to the Salvadoran "Oficina Para Adopciones" who will eventually approve us and send us a referral--our child!

One more big step closer.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Monumental Week!

This has been a busy week of dossier-building. In fact, we've felt a little bit like we've been "chasing" papers, an adoption-lingo word we have never really liked. Our Psychologist dropped off his report, Kim took part of a day off work to pick up our homestudy report, and everything got sent off to the Department of State to be certified. Carrying that package of documents to the FedEx/Kinko's to send it to Hartford felt monumental. One important step closer to being a family. . . many more steps to go, but each one is in God's hands.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting Ready

We have completed our psychological and physical examinations and soon Doreen, our social worker, will come to our home to do her home visit--the last component of the homestudy process. That means we are finishing up some overdue home projects and starting to get "baby's room" looking like a room. (Later on, we'll focus on making it look like a baby's room... and even later on, we can work to make it our baby's room.) For right now, it just needs to look like a room. Somehow, since it was an unused room, it gathered all the tools and extra stuff that got used or moved around while we worked on remodeling the bathroom in February.

We have told almost everyone we know about our plans to adopt our first child from El Salvador and have received overwhelming support and prayers from our friends and family as we move through the paperwork process. We are approaching the start of our "year of study" while we wait for our child to be referred to us. We will be studying about
  • parenting
  • being a Godly family
  • strategies for raising a bilingual famliy
  • attachment and bonding
  • El Salvador and Latin America
  • Salvadoran traditions and cooking
  • Latin American cultural resources in Connecticut
  • ...and loads more!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

El Salvador News Link

This seems like it could be a good website to help keep updated on everything that's going on in El Salvador.

Vice President Escobar of El Salvador

On April 10, James left work a couple hours early and we hopped in the car and headed north toward Providence, RI for a lecture at Brown University. (1. Brown's announcement) The lecture was given by Vice President of El Salvador, Ana Vilma de Escobar (2.Wikipedia).

We learned a little bit about how the Salvadoran government has worked to improve their country since the end of their civil war in 1992. The Saca/Escobar administration, in particular has worked since 2004 in areas such as education, economic development, infrastructure and communications improvements, social welfare, and, as Escobar put it "empowering Salvadorans." (3.Brown Daily Herald article)

El Salvador is a special country for us and will only become more special in the months and years to come. What a treat to hear directly from one of its leaders about its progress in the last 15 years!


Not at all impatient

We are nearing the end of our time of gathering documents for our dossier. This week we have appointments for physical examinations and psychological evaluations. Then all that's left is
  • the home visit by Doreen, our social worker from Catholic Charities (
  • applying to USCIS for "Advance Processing of Orphan" ( with our completed homestudy report.
  • The USCIS (Citizen and Immigration Services) should then send us an appointment for fingerprinting.
  • Once they approve us, we can send the whole dossier to America World ( to be translated and submitted to El Salvador.

The the waiting begins. We have decided, though, that we will not be idly "waiting." Instead we will inaugurate our "year of study" about El Salvador, Parenting, Biblical parenting, Parenting adopted children, Raising bilingual children, Hispanic communities and events in New Haven and everything else that will get us as ready as possible to be and to raise a family.

That year will also be a year of prayer. (This has already begun.) We will dedicate ourselves (along with our families and friends) to praying for our child, his/her caregivers, his/her birth parents, the orphanage where he/she is living, the country of El Salvador, and our own preparation to be parents. Already, I feel sure that our child is alive in the world, on his or her own journey toward his/her home and family and our hearts. He or she is growing every day and learning new things. We trust that even as the Lord prepares us to receive our child, He is preparing our child to transition into our lives forever.

Our family and so many of our friends are already praying for us and our little one and supporting us through this journey. We all can hardly wait to meet you!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Opening Day

This is our first post on our new blog. This will be a place where we record our long journey to adopt our first child from El Salvador.

We made the decision to adopt in the summer of 2006, but God decided long before what our family would grow to look like. All of our efforts to gather documents and prepare our hearts and hour home for our child are done with love and the confidence that in God's perfect timing, his Will will be done in our family.

We want to post our milestones here so that our friends and family can be in prayer with us about our child and his or her long journey to our arms and so that each step of the process will be documented for our child to see what the journey looked like from our end.

Our process toward finding our child began in the summer of 2006, but began in our hearts long ago and began in God's plan from the beginning of time.

Summer 2006--We came to the decision to adopt a child from Latin America and began searching for an agency. We settled on America World Adoption Agency ( and their El Salvador program.

November 2006--Our application to AWAA was accepted and we officially began to build the large dossier of documents necessary to adopt our first child.

January 2007--We started our homestudy, meeting about once a week with our social worker and gathering documents to help her write a report about our family and hour home.

Here in this place we will record the rest of our journey. We hope to include significant events, stories and photographs as we wait for our little one to come home.