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!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To wait or not to wait?

I had an exceptionally domestic day today and it made me thankful for the activities that give me joy as the time passes by bringing us closer to being a family.  
I made some yummy baguettes and put them on our new, beautiful bread board.  (Thanks Jim and Will!)

 
SuJeong and I made this great quilt square (and subsequently another).  I think I'll make it a friend and turn them into pillows.  Not too bad for a first attempt.  (Thanks for the new sewing machine, mom.)

 
I was also able to get started on the Scrapbook portion of our Quilt Project with the first note that arrived from our good friend Liz from Trinity.

We've said from the beginning of this process that we would not get ourselves all caught up in waiting so that all we can focus on is WAITING.  Focusing on waiting can be dangerous because it takes our eyes off of WHAT and WHOM we are waiting for.  These little jobs like organizing the rooms of our house (which is how we spent our morning), baking or doing crafty projects are ways to keep our hands busy while our hearts keep praying that God will bring about the miracle of adoption for our family.  While we're not waiting, we are welcoming 2009 and trusting that this will be the year that we become a family of 4!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brazilian Consulate

To make all our documents presentable to the Brazilian courts, they had to be legalized by the Brazilian Consulate in NYC.  Documents had to be dropped off by 1pm, so after having them apostilled in Hartford, I sped south again on the highway, picked up James on a street corner where he was waiting for me, and headed down to New York.  We arrived in the city with enough time, parked the car, and scampered a few blocks to the consulate.  Security officers in the building gave us these very flattering ID cards and sent us up to the consular offices.
`

We signed in and received a number (I think "L" stands for Legalization) and sat down for about 32 seconds before we were called up to the window.  We handed over the documents, took our receipt and agreed to return the next day between 3 and 4 pm to pick up the documents.  


THE NEXT DAY... 12/21/08
We repeated the trip, but this time by train.  Kim had a day off school because of snow, and the rails seemed safer than the roads.  The consulate is only a few blocks from Grand Central Station, so we schlepped (not scampered) through the slushy, sloppy mess, hurrying to arrive on time.  We got our flattering ID cards...

...signed in and got a number and didn't even have time to sit down in a chair before our number was called.  Hand over receipt, watch clerk thumb through a tall stack of papers, pull ours out, attempt to thank clerk in Portuguese, and head back out the door.  Done.  

I really think this was the most smooth and efficient part of the whole adoption process so far.  


Delivery

Well, two of my good friends delivered their babies this week, and we did some delivering of our own.  

Here's James holding all three copies of our dossier on the train to NYC on December 19.  Notice the blizzard outside his window.  While beautiful snow was falling in CT, slush and slop were puddling up the streets of New York.  We covered and guarded our papers to keep our little family safe from the storm.

Here I am at Kinko's after photocopying the documents we picked up from the consulate.  We tucked them all into an overnight delivery box and mailed them off to AWAA.  The sweet clerk at Kinko's noticed the address on the box and wished us Happy Holidays and, "good luck with your adoption!"  

Now we're down to the last few hurdles before we can be a family!  The hurdles that remain are:
  1. AWAA reviews our dossier
  2. The translator translates everything to Portuguese (should take a week)
  3. The dossier goes to Brazil and we wait for Brazil to approve as prospective adoptive parents
  4. The Brazilian court matches us with waiting children
  5. We travel, co-habitate with our kids for 30 days in the state where they live, and finalize the adoption in a Brazilian court
  6. Then we come home and start figuring out what it looks like to be a family of 4!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I800A Approval

Good afternoon Kim, 

Congratulations, again!  Attached you will find the I800A scanned copy of the approval and the next step instructions that are sent with the approval in the mail.  The approval notice will be sent today in the mail and a copy also sent to your Adoption service provider.

Thanks for your patience and Happy Holidays!

________________________________________

Tia

Sweet Approver!

Kim,

I apologize for the delay today, our systems went down!  I'm approving you case as we speak!  Congratulations!!!!   I will hurry to scan your approval!

Take care and once again Congratulations and Happy Holidays!

___________________________________________

Tia

Click and Refresh

I spoke this morning with Tia, the adjudication officer assigned to our case at USCIS.  She has received the Homestudy Addendum and is reviewing it right now.  She has said that she will be finished approving our case before the end of the day! (she actually said "in an hour" 11:30.)  She even suggested scanning the approval notice and emailing it to me as soon as she's done.  (Can I get an "AMEN"?)
 
Turns out someone in my school is a notary, and the Secretary of the State's in Hartford office has agreed to take me as a walk-in since I only have one document to apostille.  The Consulate General of Brazil in New York extended their document drop-off hours, giving me enough time to get there tomorrow right after I'm done in Hartford. 
 
Praise God for showing us how Good He is! 
 
(I'm trying not to hold my breath, or count my chickens, or get myself too hyped up.  You know, just in case.  Problem is:  I'm ALL HYPED UP!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quilt of 1000 Prayers--UPDATED AGAIN

**NEW DEADLINE**
My plan is to do most of the work of putting the quilt together during my February Break from school (Feb 14-21).  All fabric squares need to be in before then so they can be included in the quilts!

Here is an exciting way for all our friends and family to get involved in a special project for our children!  We're making a Quilt of 1000 Prayers, based on the traditional Chinese Quilt of 100 Good Wishes: 
"Bai Jia Bei," but we can't do it alone!  We need your help to make it happen.  

Instructions:
  1. Please send us 2 matching squares of 100% cotton fabric (new or recycled) 5" each.  (If you need our mailing address, please email me or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.)
  2. The squares need not be pre-washed, and may be embellished if you desire to do so.  Please keep in mind, if you decide to embroider or decorate, that the quilt will need to remain washable, and that we may crop the 5" squares down to about 4", so keep your decorations toward the center of the square.  
  3. Include a written prayer or message [we decided not to confine you to the elusive "enclosed" index card--be creative!] with a small piece of the same fabric attached to it--I will make these into a scrapbook.
  4. Please have it to us by the before February 14 so that we can get started on sewing the quilt.
  5. Also, please type a message or prayer into the comment section of this prayer post.  We're trying to keep a good record for our children.  Feel free to post a message even if you aren't able to help with the quilt.  The prayers are what matter.
Kim's Gram is an expert quilter and she has agreed to help us make the quilts--one for each child.  

Just as this blog serves to document the journey to our children and provide a record of our love for them since long before we knew them, we hope these quilts will be a way for our children to wrap themselves up in the prayers and love of so many of our friends and family members who have prayed them home and supported us along the way.  

Here are a couple examples of 100 Wishes Quilts to give you an idea of what we're trying to create:  Example #1, Example #2, or take a peek at our own quilt pages as they come in.

Two Small Stockings

Hanging above our fireplace are some Christmas stockings.  On the left there is one that James has used since his first Christmas, one my mother made for my first Christmas, and one for our guest SuJeong.  On the right there are two small stockings.  They have no name written on them and they are not nearly large enough to hold all the gifts I'm sure we'll want to fill them with some day.  They are there to remind us that there are 2 members of our family who are not home this Christmas.   Of course we wish they were here, but we did not hang the two small stockings in mourning.  We hung them in Hope.  

Each time we look at them we will remember to keep praying until the time is right for our children to come home. 
 


















Friday, December 12, 2008

Continuation

Got a letter in the mail today from USCIS.

Nope.  It's not the one we've been waiting for.  It's a paper copy of the email we got last Saturday requesting more information.  Bummer.  But not really, because in the time it took a letter to get here from Missouri, we got the whole thing taken care of.  I received a notarized hard copy of the addendum in the mail yesterday, so it shouldn't be too much longer before it arrives in MO.  I called to check up today and got our case worker Tia (not Anita any more) just before she stepped out for the day.  She recognized my name and told me that we should be all set to be approved by the time the addendum arrives--unless there's "a little something" that she needs changed by the social worker.  

Anyway, the point of this post is to document an answered prayer.  I pray frequently something that my dear friend Michelle has prayed for us:  that we will find favor with the people on whose desk our papers land and that those workers would be fresh and positive and eager to process cases quickly.  

Tia told me today that she wants to be efficient so that she can get us approved as quickly as possible and that "this work is really fulfilling."  I told her that that has always been our prayer for those who work on behalf of our family.  It may seem very small, but it is as clear as could be that this is an answer to prayer.  If God will answer this very specific prayer so readily, then how many other prayers are being answered outside of our field of view?  Surely He is faithful to protect our children, provide them with loving caretakers, use those caretakers to whisper words of Truth from God's Word to them, ensure them that they have a family waiting for them, and prepare them for a new life with us.

Praise God for the millions of ways He is at work, and for the small glimpses of His Faithfulness that He gives us when we need them!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Adoption Grants

One of the ways I've been whittling away at the big wait is by hunting down and applying for adoption grants. There are lots of lists of where to apply for grants on the internet, but most have seemed outdated or too broad (with lots that didn't apply to our situation). I don't know how many people other than our kids, our friends and our family will ever look at this blog, but I want to list the organizations I've found that give grants to people in situations similar to ours.

Need a completed homestudy. No deadlines.

Must have completed homestudyApplications due April 17 and October 16.

4 reference letters required. $10 application fee.

$40 application fee. A fairly extensive application.

Quick and easy online application. Donation required.

Extensive financial information required.

Must have a child's referral. Applications due on the last day of each quarter.

Matching grants to help families raise support with family and friends.


--Links current as of June 2011

Monday, December 08, 2008

Feels like a Miracle

Well, it feels like I've been on the phone all day long, but I think our USCIS crisis is averted.  The agency sent us a description of the Brazil-specific requirements and the social worker sent us an addendum answering all the "deficiencies" USCIS pointed out. 

I even got an email from USCIS:

if all areas are covered in the addendum [and we think they are] this would make the case Hague compliant according to the regulations and would be approvable.

What I think that means is that we're all set, and they should approve us very soon!  This feels monumental, but I've decided that nothing else in this process will be monumental until we get on an airplane to Brazil.  I can't let my heart get all tangled up in disappointments about paperwork.  It's a distraction.  We’ll celebrate our milestones, but no more counting down days to something that isn’t meeting our kids.  Too much heartbreak.

 

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Deficiencies

Got an email from USCIS today: 

I have reviewed your case and below are the home study deficiencies, which will need to be addressed in the addendum home study. 

We'll just have to get on that, now won't we?  Here's the rest of it: 

History of Abuse or Violence as an Offender:  In reviewing your home study, we have identified that it does not include evidence that the home study preparerasked the applicant, spouse, and any additional adult household member whether they have a history of the following:  substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, or family violence, whether it be in the US or abroad even if such history did not result in arrest or conviction. This information must be documented in the home study.   In addition, please notate the applicant’s and/or any household member’s responses to the direct questions.  Please note that a single offense may constitute a history. If there is a history, the home study should also include the following information:

1. The dates of each arrest or conviction or history of substance abuse, sexual abuse or child abuse, and/or family violence; or,

2.  If not resulting in an arrest, the date or time period (if occurring over an extended period of time) of each occurrence and

3.  Details including any mitigating circumstances about each incident.

Each statement must be signed, under penalty of perjury, by the person to whom the incident relates.

 

Criminal History:  In reviewing your home study, we have identified that it does not include evidence that the home study preparer has inquired about any criminal history of the applicant, spouse, and adult household members.  Any criminal history must be detailed in the home study. If criminal history does not exist, this should be noted in the home study as well.

 

Country Specific Requirements: In reviewing your home study, we have identified that it does not include a statement of the facts relevant to the applicant’s eligibility for adoption in the indicated Convention country, in light of the specific requirements of that country. Please include this in your home study.

 

I hope this information helps. Once the revisions are complete please forward an electronic version to me for preview before sending the original out to the address below:

 

Department of Homeland Security


Oh, it helps.  Thanks Homeland Security.  

Really, since the last sad post, I've been encouraged by so many faithful friends, and am not feeling half as desperate as I was when I wrote it.  Sure, this is discouraging, but I've decided to go back to not waiting... just spending time preparing.  Counting down to anything builds up expectations that can't give us security the way continuing to Hope in the Lord does.  We're praying that this addendum can get written and submitted QUICKLY nonetheless.  I've asked the social worker if she can meet with us Monday.  Should be a quick interview seeing as the answers to all the above questions are straightforward and simple.

One other encouraging note--the email was sent at 1pm on Saturday.  They're working overtime!  That is good news.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

PRAYER REQUEST

Please pray for Anita M. and her two trainees who are currently (right now) looking at our file at USCIS.  100 days have gone by since USCIS entered our paperwork into their system--107 since it arrived at their office--and when I called today to check up on things, Anita, the officer assigned to our case, opened our file for the first time.  She was sweet and polite and very candid with me; she gave me 10 minutes of her time on the phone and answered several questions.  She also volunteered the information that she is training two "mentees" who will be learning how to evaluate cases by evaluating our case.  Trainees!  She asked me to give her another week and a half to finish evaluating our case.  

She glanced at our file while we were on the phone and noticed something that might turn out to be a problem with our homestudy and she has promised to call me on my cell phone by tomorrow to let me know if we will have to have our social worker do another home visit and amend our homestudy again.  Everything I've read says that we should not have to do that, but she seemed iffy about it.  So, she'll tell me tomorrow if I have to endure more interactions with our social worker.

I can be honest in this blog, right?  This is the very first moment that I have felt the impatience, frustration, exasperation and exhaustion that so many adoptive families have told me were recurring themes of their adoption process.  It has been just about two and a half years since we started this process by choosing an adoption agency, and something about my conversation with Anita M. today walloped my spirit somethin' fierce.  I'm trying not to wallow in self-pity here, but the truth is that if it really takes her another week and a half to finish reviewing our case--even if it's approved after that--we probably won't get the official letter until the week before Christmas, leaving it nearly impossible to notarize, certify and legalize it before the first of the year.  Meanwhile, another Christmas goes by during which our children do not know that they have parents waiting for them with all their hearts.

There have been headaches, time crunches, and days during which I felt like a chicken running around with its head cut off, but there have been few tears shed about this process so far--it's a process--anyone can wait one more day, right?  Well, at the moment I can't muster up any hopeful sayings to re-inflate my sagging heart.  

So, pray.  Please pray as you read this that Anita M. and her trainees will catch the vision that their work is worth far more than paper-pushing.  Pray that they are motivated by the true fact that in their hands they hold the hopes and dreams and futures of children and families.  Pray that the true gravity of what they do each day will motivate them to work quickly and with purpose for all the families whose lives sit in manila folders on their desks.  And pray that after reading our papers carefully, they will be able to confidently approve our file.

I haven't forgotten the purpose of this blog.  I am writing even these tearful words and pleas for prayers for them.  They need to know that our hearts break each day we're not with them and that every delay feels like an eternity to us and that our family is not complete until they are in it.  I think it's good that they see the hurt along with the hope.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Names

I like Brazilian names.  Almost every one I hear sounds sweet and beautiful in my ear looks like candy to my eye.  As so many of my friends are getting ready to have babies in the next few months, names are on my mind.  It's the question everyone asks--do you have a name picked out?  We continue to wonder what our children's names are.  

When the mind starts wandering into prayerful daydreams of our children and what they do each day as we wait so far from them, it's easy to wonder what their friends call out to them during games of soccer or tag.  It's easy to wonder how it will feel to whisper their names as we tuck them into bed at night or how it will feel to see their faces and read their names for the first time.  

I love to read this list and feel like I know their names.  They just sound so melodic to me.

Girls’ Names

Adriana Jovita Elsa Quixada
Agacia Juana Elvera Raquel
Aidia Juanetta Elvira Renata
Aislara Juanisha Elvita Rica
Alameda Juanita Elzineia Ricarda
Alandra Julia Ema Rocio
Alanza Kaba Emesta Roderiga
Alazne Kachiri Emilia Roldana
Aldonza Kaiala Engracia Romana
Alegria Katryny Enrica Rufina
Alejandra Kay Enriqua Sanderlei
Alejandrina Laura Erendira Selena
Aliane Lia Fabiana Senalda
Ana Ligia Faqueza Senna
Andira Linez Fe Senobia
Aparecida Luciana Felepita Senona
Arika Lucina Felicita Serafina
Aurinha Ludimilia Fernanda Serena
Beatrisa Luisa Flavia Sevilla
Beatriz Marcela Genoveva Shoshana
Belen Marguarita Gerarda Sibelia
Belinda Mariana Ginessa Sierra
Benita Mirelli Giselli Silvia
Bernicia Monique Gitana Simona
Bethania Monize Gloria Sintia
Blanca Nade Gracia Socorro
Carolina Nalda Graciana Solana
Cassia Nana Graciela Soledad
Celia Narcisa Gregoria Soledada
Celina Natalia Guillermina Stefania
Claudenize Natividad Iara Suelita
Claudia Nelia Idoia Susana
Cristiana Nelida Idolina Teresa
Damita Nerea Idonia Teresita
Dani Neta Iemanja Trella
Deiene Neva Ignacia Ula
Deina Nevada Igone Ursulina
Delcine Nicanora Iracema Valencia
Delmara Nicolasa Irasema Verdad
Denisa Odete Iris Veta
Desideria Orquidia Isadora Vicenta
Dionisa Paciencia Isaurides Viviane
Dita Palmira Jacarei Xalbadora
Dolores Paloma Janaina Xalvadora
Dolorita Pascuala Jasone Xandra
Domenica Pastora Javiera Xaviera
Dominga Patricia Jimena Xevera
Dona Paula Jisa Xeveria
Dorbeta Pauleta Joana Xhana
Dorotea Pia Joaquina Yanamarie
Drina Piedad Jordana Yesenia
Duena Pilar Jorgelina Yoana
Dulce Placida Josefa Yolanda
Dulcina Priscila Josefina Zaina
Edeli Pura Josilene Zamora
Eliana Pureza Josune Zandra
Elena Purisima Jovana Zanetta
Elina Quela Jovena Zanita
Elisa Querida Jovina Zelia
Eloisa Quinta


Boys’ Names

Adhmar Jose Felix Reymundo
Adilson Keris Ferdinando Reynaldo
Adolfo Laurencio Fermin Ricardo
Adriano Leandro Fernando Riel
Agustin Leon Fido Rio
Alano Leonardo Filipo Romano
Alanzo Leonel Flavio Ronaldo
Alarico Leonides Florentino Rosario
Alberto Leopoldo Florinio Ruben
Alejandro Lisandro Fonzo Rudi
Alexildo Lonzo Francisco Rudolfo
Alfonso Lorenzo Franco Rudy
Alonzo Lucas Gilberto Rufio
Aluino Luciano Gustavo Sancho
Alvar Lucero Galtero Santiago
Alvaro Luciano Gaspar Santos
Alverio Lucio German Saturnin
Amadeo Luis Geronimo Saul
Amado Mapi Gervasio Sebastiano
Arlindo Marcio Gervaso Segundo
Bartoli Marcos Gil Selmo
Bartolo Matheus Gilberto Sencio
Bartolome Mauro Gregorio Senon
Basilio Mayara Gualterio Serafin
Bastian Miguel Guido Sevastian
Blas Natalio Halturen Silvanio
Bruno Natanael Hamilton Silvano
Caio Nataniel Heribert Silvio
Cassiano Nemesio Heriberto Siro
Cedro Nestor Hernan Teodoro
Cenon Nestorio Hernandez Teyo
Cesar Nicanor Hernando Thiago
Cesario Nicolas Hilario Thyrso
Cesaro Niguel Hildson Timo
Chan Noe Homero Timoteo
Charro Norberto Honorato Tito
Che Normando Horado Tobias
Chemo Octavio Huberto Toli
Chico Oduvaldo Hugo Tomas
Ciceron Oliverio Humberto Tonio
Cidro Oranjinho Iago Toro
Cirilo Orlan Ignacio Turi
Danilo Pascual Ignado Ulises
Denilson Patricio Ignazio Urbano
Diego Patrico Ilhem Valentin
Dinho Paulino Inocencio Vicente
Dino Paulo Jabuti Victor
Djavan Pedro Jacobo Victoriano
Domenico Placido Jago Victorino
Domingo Platon Jaime Victorio
Donato Ponce Jair Uluiru
Donzel Porfirio Jairo Vitor
Duardo Porfiro Javier Wanadi
Duarte Reinaldo Javiero Wanderlino
Edson Rogerio Jax Xalbador
Edvaldo Ramon Jeremias Xalvador
Eduardo Ramone Jerico Xavier
Efrain Raoul Jeronimo Ximenes
Fausto Raul Joao Yago
Federico Renaldo Joaquin Yoaquin
Feliciano Renato Jonas Yulius
Felipe Rey Jorge Zacarias
Zenob

Vote for SCC!

http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Most-Inspiring-2008/vote.aspx

Steven Curtis Chapman has been nominated for Most Inspiring Person of the year on a Web Site called Belief Net.  It includes all faiths, so it is awesome that Steven is being considered for this honor so that Christ can be honored!  You can vote once per day, so come on everyone....VOTE!  Above is the link to the voting page.  Thanks!

We feel a strong connection with the Chapman family in our adoption journey.  Remember this?  And this?  

The latest in waiting

Waiting is all the rage.  All the cool kids are doing it.  You should give it a try.  

While I was waiting today, since I didn't have anything of note in my mailbox (except a birthday card for my darling husband!) I decided to call the USCIS Hague Adoption helpline to find out what's the latest on our nearly 100-day application process.  Here's the news:

*Our case has been assigned to an adjudication officer.
*The sweet woman who answered the phone asked me, "Would you like to speak with the officer assigned to your case?"   "Um, yeah!" quoth I, just as I did when James asked me to marry him--as if there was any other option in my mind!
*I got her name and left her a voicemail.  Let's see if she calls back!  

And now I'm waiting again.  Seriously, it's an up and coming fad.  You really should jump on the bandwagon before it fills up.  :o)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Praying for our Children II

Maybe I shouldn't need so many gimmicks to remind me to pray for my children, but here's another one I ran across.  I think it helps to have a specific focus for the day.  Hopefully it will keep me from praying selfish little prayers like, "When, Lord?"  

Monday = Mate
Tuesday = Talents
Wednesday=  Wisdom
Thursday = Trust
Friday = Faith
Saturday = Salvation 
Sunday = Sanctification

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Still...


Well 90 days have come and gone and I'm told by a lovely gentleman at the Hague Adoption Convention customer service center that we're "one of the next several dozen cases to be looked at by an officer."  While this information was somewhat less that helpful, the 800 number I called to get this tidbit of pseudoinformation has real live people on the other end and they are quite willing to help in any way they can.  If you call the general USCIS customer service number, you get someone who tells you that if your application is less than 180 days old, they can't look at your file.  They also tell you that the only ones who can tell you about your case are the people at the field office your application was submitted to--and no, they don't have the field office's phone number, and the number listed on the field office's website is the same one that can't tell you anything unless you call the field office.  

The USCIS Hague Adoption customer service number, on the other hand, is answered by  people who are perfectly willing to look at one's file and answer as many questions as you can throw at them.  In case anyone who reads this is adopting internationally and is waiting for USCIS approval, this contact information has been very helpful:  nbc.hague@dhs.gov or 1-877-424-8374.  They service anyone who has filed an I-800 or I-800A.  I found it here, on the USCIS website under the "adoptions" heading. 

In the meantime, I guess we're still waiting.  Maybe before Thanksgiving.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Praying for our Children

Since I started blogging, I've become quite an avid blog-reader.  I have 45 blogs on my Google blog reader and I check up on them every day.  Some are friends near and far, some are businesses or entertainment blogs, some are bloggers with similar interests, and many are adoption stories.  My darling husband noticed my habit getting a little too consuming and issued me a challenge to put God first by not allowing myself to spend time in my blogs until I've spent time in the Word.  (A wise, wise man is my husband.)  I decided to take him up on it, and I've got to say that it's been just the right combination of motivation, habit and scheduling.  

Well, in the midst of this new shift of priorities, I read Bring The Rain and discovered another great way to nurture the habit of focusing my life on Christ.  They're calling it 7x7 Prayers.  

Since I don't know when my children are waking, dressing, eating, coming and going, bathing, going to bed and sleeping, we've decided to pray these scripture-based prayers for our kiddos as we are doing each of the daily tasks around which they are centered.  Starting today.

1.  When they wake up: "Let the morning bring (child's name) word of your unfailing love, for she has put her trust in You.  Show (her/him) the way (she/he) should go, for to you (he/she) lifts up her soul." (Adapted from Psalm 143:8)

2. When they are getting dressed: "Therefore, as God's chosen child, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Lord, help (him/her) bear with others and forgive whatever grievances (he/she) has against others.  Help (him/her) forgive as the Lord forgave (him/her).  And over all these virtues, help (him/her) put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Adapted from Colossians 3:12-14)

3. While they are eating: "Teach (child's name) the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Teach (him/her) that (he/she) can do everything through him who gives (him/her) strength." (Adapted from Philippians 4:12-13)

4.  When they go out of the house: "(Name of child), do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Adapted from Romans 12:2)

5.  While they are taking a bathLord, give (name of child)  clean hands and a pure heart, and let (him/her) not lift (his/her) soul to an idol or swear by what is false. Let (him/her) receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God (his/her) Savior.  Let (him/her) be part of the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Adapted from Psalm 24:4-6)

6.  When they are going to bed:  "The Lord Your God is with you; he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, be will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

7.  While they are sleeping:  "I pray that (name of child) will do everything without complaining or arguing, so that he/she may become blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which he/sheshines like a star in the universe as he/she holds out the word of life-in order that he/she may boast on the day of Christ that he/she did not run or labor for nothing." (Adapted from Philippians 2:14-16)

The countdown

I've told myself from the very beginning of this process that countdowns were dangerous and could only serve to distract me from what's real and eternal and to disappoint me when (not if) things don't go as planned.  I've been thankful many times that my heart has not been tied up in expectations and timelines and I think God has planted such a hope in our hearts that we continue to be confident in His plan for our family and positive about the outcome of this long adoption process.

Even so, you've read the title of this post, and you're wondering what the countdown could possibly be all about.  I'm allowing myself this one countdown indulgence.  The processing time for USCIS to approve I-800 applications is 90 days.  One friendly gentleman at their customer service center said it's usually 75 to 90 days.  While I'm still fully aware that the notice we get from USCIS could be a request for more information and documentation, rather than an approval right away, the 90th day is this Wednesday! (I know because I counted 3 times to be sure.)  That means that I'm hoping (reeealy hoping) that we'll get some good news in the mail this coming week.  It also means that I've checked for mail twice today.  

After we are approved by USCIS, I promise I will not be counting days on my calendar any more until we know the day when we are going to get on a plane to meet our children in Brazil.  I'll get re-focused on God's perfect timing and I'll spend more time praying for my children than checking my mailbox.  Maybe I'll even stop telling myself we're waiting to adopt.  I resent the word waiting almost as much as I resent little adoption countdown tickers.  I'll stop waiting, and keep on living, preparing, reading, praying and hoping.

After we get the letter.  


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Clarity

We had a great conference call today with our family coordinator at AWAA, Ryan, and our contact at Limiar, Luciana.  There was one main question we wanted to have answered:  what will the process look like once our dossier is finally submitted to Brazil.  Here's what we've learned:
  • Once our USCIS approval finally arrives, the translation process will take about a week.
  • Our dossier will be sent to several different Brazilian states where we will be approved by the State Judiciary Commission of Adoption (CEJA) of each state.  Luciana says this step usually takes about 3 months. 
  • Then once we're approved, the courts look for a referral for us that matches our requests (a 2-child sibling group age 6 and under).  This could be a couple months or a year, depending on available children and the other families on the waiting list.  We're told that requesting siblings is favorable, and being flexible with our age range would make our application even more favorable--and make the process go quicker.  This is the most unpredictable part of the process.
  • Limiar has access to information about waiting children (most of whom are older than the range we're requesting right now.)  Luciana will share this information with us within the preferences we give her.  Meaning, if we are open to considering larger sibling groups or older children, she will pass those referrals on to us to consider.  She stressed that we are the only ones who can discern whether a a specific child is our son or daughter.  There is no pressure or obligation when we review a referral.
  • If we identified our children through Limiar prior to the court identifying them for us, the process would change a bit.  Not sure on the details there.
  • Either way we go about it, once we accept a referral, we will have to request the Brazilian court's approval with a petition to adopt our children.  We would also begin the process of applying for our travel visas.  This could be only a few weeks after accepting a referral.  
  • Limiar and AWAA will walk us through what documents need to travel with us when we go to Brazil.
One mindset has really been changed--my attitude about referrals.  I've always imagined the moment we received a referral as the magical moment when God would reveal who our children are.  It seems like, in this process, a referral is more of an opportunity to seek God's will for our family.  

There are some pros and cons about this new understanding.  On the PRO side, every time we've seen names or lists of available children, I've been driven to my knees to pray for them and their situations. On the CON side, my heart breaks every time I see the names and stories of children who have lived their lives without a family. On the 2 occasions we have seen the names of waiting sibling groups in Brazil, we have been brokenhearted, but sure that God wanted us to keep waiting for the children He's picked for us.  

Tonight we have a serious conversation about whether we want to keep waiting and let the courts send us a referral, or whether we want to flex some of our expectations and start taking a look at some of the waiting children.  


Thursday, October 23, 2008

One more day

I've spent a good amount of time this past week talking to good friends who wise and encouraging.  It's good for the soul to have such good friends.  One got me thinking about surrender, the other, sovereignty.  

What if God asked me to give up this adoption process, could I surrender it?  It's all His after all.   I like to think that we heard His call when He led to Brazil.  In fact, I think that most days I leave it all in His hands.  But there are days when I'm tempted to worry, to fret, to make frenzied phone calls or scurry busily about trying to get something accomplished on my own.  There are corners of my heart that want to hold fast to this process and our family's future as if I could make it happen myself.  Truth be told, the moments that the unsurrendered parts of my heart take over my emotions an my actions are the moments of most unrest.  I need to surrender it all and trust that even if God's plan is different than mine (i.e. kids by Christmas, or even by spring), it's a perfect plan.  Surrender.

And sovereignty.  It will be so amazing to see, when this process is over and we just get to be parents, how God planned out every bit of it.  I'm sure it will be so clear that He has orchestrated every moment.  I have it imagined as 2 pieces of paper--one on which we've mapped this journey step by step, and another, a piece of vellum or tracing paper, that will be laid on top of what we've seen with our eyes all this time connecting all the dots and revealin the Fingerprints of God.  Won't it be great to see even a little fraction of that in the faces of our children?  

It's hard to wait sometimes.  But I think we can wait one more day.  Anyone can wait for a day, right?  And then, after that, we'll just wait one more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This is an empty mailbox

My mailbox is empty too.  Still no USCIS Approval.  Somehow running straight for the mailbox every day hasn't sped the process along at all, so far as I know.  Stopping home "on the way" back to work after running school-related errands didn't speed it along either.  I'm thinking about calling CIS to find out what the status is.  Maybe tomorrow.  They are closed for today.



Thursday, October 09, 2008

Message to our Children

Dearest Ones,

Someday you'll read this and I wonder what you'll think.  I'm trying to fill these pages with all the love I have in my heart for you, but somehow I'm sure it's not enough.  You'll need more than just these pages.  You came to us because of a loss you and your birth family suffered, and that is a loss you will always have beside you.  You have not always been ours, but I believe that there was never a day when we were not miraculously linked.  Sometimes I don't feel like I'll have enough to give you to make up for all your hurt.  Will I be able to help you pick up all your pieces and mend them together to form the Whole children God wants you to be?  I will do all I can, every day, and pray that that will be enough.  

Your Mama

Thursday, October 02, 2008

All things work together for good

I have the distinct impression that God is working on more projects in this world than I can wrap my mind around.  I hope there comes a day when I can clearly see the threads of His sovereign plan weaving tightly in and out of every inch of the universe and praise him for the perfect tapestry He's created.

The  papers will not be able to be translated early because the translator had a personal, family crisis and had to fly to Brazil (Lord, hold her up).  Big changes are afoot in our church (Father hold us together).  James is working toward his license (God, give him strength).  

So many questions (Jesus, be our strength).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What it feels like

My friend Julia is one smart cookie.  I always enjoy her perspective on things.  She's an out of the box, colorful, fashion designing, eco-conscious, astrophysicist, soon-to-be mother of 2.  I've been wishing a lot lately that I'd gotten to spend more time with her while she was here in New Haven--she's recently moved away.  
In a recent comment, she asked,

I've wondered what it felt like to prepare for motherhood when you're growing your family through adoption... It's always great to hear your perspectives.

Her comment has made me think a little more carefully about what I write here.  Often, I write to chronicle the process of growing our family through adoption, but I don't always take the time to talk about what it's like on the inside of my head.  Truth is, adoption probably makes up more than 50% of my thoughts every day and at least that fraction of our conversations at home.  It's also true that many of those thoughts and conversations are about practical details--I'll copy the birth certificates if you can get them notarized at work, then I'll pick them up and mail them off.  Or else they're dreams of the future--When the kids are home, won't it be great to speak Portuguese with them, or take them to this or that museum, or travel here or there?  

Since this is the only growing-into-motherhood process I have experienced, I have nothing to compare it to, it seems perfectly normal to me, and therefore Julia's question is not an easy one to answer.  I've read a bunch of books, talked with professionals in the field and people who have been through it on the parent end and on the child end.  I've taken an online course on international adoption.  As a couple, we've talked about issues of language, culture, naming, discipline, school, work and faith.  Even so, we're sure we have no idea what life on the other side of that miraculous moment will look like.  We don't even know how old our children will be.  How can we know how to prepare?  Sometimes it feels like we're walking in the dark toward the edge of something unknown.  All we know is that this question-filled darkness is peaceful and we're sure that the newness on the other side is something that we will drink up and learn to navigate step by step.  

I think that when getting ready to be a parent, one's mind can never be prepared, but you know you're ready when you're heart is prepared.  

Does it sound like we're prepared?  

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's Official--Update

The rest of our documents arrived Legalized from the Consulate in NYC.  In order to see if our translator has time to get started on our documents right away, I need to scan them and send them to AWAA.  The super-smart copier at church made short work of scanning all 49 pages off our dossier that will make a few more inbox stops before it lands at the translator's desk.  We're hoping her schedule is free enough to get a jump on translating our mountain of documents.

In that same sprit of translation, I shall attempt to translate the Consulate's Legalization statement which is affixed to each and every one of our documents! 
Armed with three and a half units of Rosetta Stone completed, I think this is what it says:

Recognized as true, by appearance, the signature, on this document, of Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State of Connecticut, United States of America.  And,  wah, wah, wah, I sign and fix this Consulate's seal.  It is legalized by the signature of the consular authority, according to article 2 of Decree number 84,451, of January 31, 1980.  The legalization of this document does not imply the acceptance or approval of its contents.

And armed with 2 years of hands-on learning in the field of international adoption lingo and processes, this is what I think it means:

By the power vested in me, I declare that this document is officially usable in Brazilian courts and I agree that all its previous seals are legit.  Brazilian judges will decide what to do with it once it lands on their desk.

Now we must continue to pray that God will follow these documents with His mighty hands and speak to the hearts of those who process them.  We must pray for favor in the eyes of the US and Brazilian governments.  And I continue to pray for miraculous swiftness in all the transactions that remain so that our children will arrive in our arms at exactly the right moment (which, if you ask me, would be sometime around Christmas this year).  God is Mighty!