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, 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!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Official

The first of our documents returned to us legalized by the Brazilian Consulate.  That means that this document is fully ready to be translated then reviewed by the appropriate Brazilian authorities. 

It is written on official Consulado-Geral letterhead:

It has 2 official Consular Seals and an official stamp:

It is signed by the official Consul-Geral Adjunto:  

And it has an official gold seal with raised letters and symbols:

And we are officially happy!  My favorite part of the packet, though, is the part that is least official.  A hand written note from the Legalization Department that has reminded me that God is answering our prayers and placing our paperwork on the desk of men and women who have compassion toward us and our children.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Can I talk about pregnancy for a while on my adoption blog?  Of course, I can!  Here is a true fact:  all of my friends are pregnant.  OK, it was an exaggeration, not a true fact, but it seems that my circle of friends is about to have a serious baby boom!  I counted today:  Kristy, Julia, Kusum, Colleen, Christina, Elizabeth, Pam, Jenette and Sara are all pregnant.  That's 9.  Am I missing someone?  I feel like there's someone else.  Hmmm.  (As of 9/23, the count is up to 10!)  (As of 11/1 we're up to a dozen!) (As of 12/1, we're at a dozen still, but 2 have already had their babies!)

I couldn't be more thrilled for all of them!  Jen told me the news today and I ran straight over there to jump up and down and hug her.  She gave me eggplant parmesan that she made a big batch of and then discovered it made her feel nauseous and she couldn't stand the sight of it in her house.  Yum!  Best eggplant parm I've ever had!  Elizabeth and Christina are both sick all the time, but you can see the joy in their eyes.  Colleen just got done being sick all the time and you can REALLY see the joy in her eyes.  Kristy and Julia have moved far away, and so I keep track of them and their growing families here in blogland.  Kusum has travelled across the globe while eating like a machine.  Pam and Sarah are new friends at Trinity.  

We're expecting too, you know.  It's just that we don't have a due date.  And James won't let me park in the Expectant Mothers' parking spot at CVS.  

Lately I've been feeling very expectant.  Any day?  Probably not, but sometime soon.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reckless Faith

I don't know how the sound of the words Reckless Faith sound to you.  Scary, unclear, heretical, thrilling?  I just got through reading this book by Beth Guckenberger and must say that it has struck a concert's worth of cords in in me.  

Beth Guckenberger uses the term Reckless Faith to refer to the kind of faith in the Living God that causes people to step out on a limb, or back up against a wall, or head toward the unknown because of the trust they have in the Lord and His plan for their lives.  

Another author, John McArthur (whom I haven't read yet) uses the same term to refer to the problem of Christians abandoning Scriptural doctrine in favor of feel-good faith experiences.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am talking about Beth's Reckless Faith that clears the way for Christ to show up and work out his sovereign plan in situations where (without taking the risk of trusting the unseen) I might have gotten in the way of God's plan.

I think I have that kind of faith in my mind.  Yeah, maybe it's even in my heart, but I'm not sure how often it actually informs my actions.  Intentions are easy, but actions are a different story sometimes.  I can easily say that we feel called to live abroad as servants to God's people in South America (or somewhere).  I can just as easily say that, "now is not the time."  After the kids come home, after the grant that pays my salary runs out, after the building is built.  I'm afraid we'll get stuck waiting for the right moment... and miss it.  We don't want to, but what if we're not focused in enough to hear His voice?

We had a great time eating lunch at church on Sunday with some new friends.  Justin, who works with James has been a great encouragement to him because of his faith in Christ and a similar call to do more for Christ through architecture.  Neither architecture nor education, nor any other noble calling can solve the problem of sin in the world.  We can minister to the broken from wherever God calls us to be, but only He can heal us and make us whole.  

Justin's friend Dave works with ChildReach Ministries and is designing and building an orphanage in Peru now that he's done with Architecture school.  We were so encouraged by these two Christians with Reckless Faith.  

Where will God take us next?  What will we discover in Brazil with our children?  We are so sure that he has big plans for our family and bringing home our children and beginning to grow together as a family are only the beginning.  It's seemed like an end for so long, but it truly will be a new beginning for all 4 of us.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Smooth sailing

How's this for a co-incidence?  As I was waiting for James to meet me to drive up to Hartford for our fingerprint appointments, Ryan, our family coordinator from AWAA called to ask how the process was going and make sure we'd been assigned an appointment for fingerprinting.  He gave us a few bits of new news that translate directly into prayer requests.
  • Since the CIS is still getting used to processing the new I-800 forms, about half of all adopting families in the US are being asked to have their social worker update parts of their homestudy.  We're praying that we find favor with those who review our case so that we receive approval smoothly and swiftly.
  • We've learned that the translation of our dossier will take place in the US, not Brazil as we had assumed.  The woman who will translate all of our documents (wholelifeonpaper) has been working with Limiar for a long time, and we're told she's "very fast."  In fact, there's a possibility that, depending on her schedule, she may be able to get started on our documents before we're 100% done gathering them.  If that works out, she would be able to start in on what we have already and then finish up quickly once we have our USCIS approval ready to send her.  We're praying that will work out smoothly too.
The fingerprinting experience couldn't have been more smooth today.  We arrived 20 minutes early for our 2pm and 3pm appointments and found the waiting room completely empty.  We filled out some forms and were processed immediately.  As we started the car to go back home and looked at the clock--1:59 and we were on our way!  

We've said it to everyone we know and we've prayed the same words 100 times--the desire of our hearts is to have our children home with us soon.  We long to embrace our children and our new life as a family.  We want for them to be safe and sound at home with their mom and dad.  Knowing God is in control makes me feel safe praying for miracles like kids at Christmas realizing that only He can take care of such a request.  It's safe because it's honest and it's from my heart and I trust that whether the answer is "yes" or "no" for my Christmas miracle request, our family is safe in His hands.  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Next year

 This weekend we went to The Big E (Eastern States Expo) with some friends.  That means that we spent the whole day looking at farm animals, riding carnival rides, enjoying a prarade, admiring crafts and handiwork from all around New England, and eating fried food on a stick.  I also couldn't shake the idea that next year we'll experience this annual outing in a whole new way--as parents.  I don't know what the world will look like from that new perspective, but I can imagine how much fun it will be to show our kids new things and share new experiences together:  like corn dogs!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Are you nervous?

 A new friend asked me today how the process was going.  I told her that this week (Tuesday, I think) I sent all of the documents in our dossier to the Brasilian consulate in NYC (and one document to the consulate in Atlanta) to be legalized.  They should return to us within a week or so and sit waiting in our file box until we receive USCIS approval.  Then is one last round of certification and one last, big, fat FedEx envelope addressed to Brazil.

She asked if that meant that we could meet our kids "any time" after that.  I supposed that it does.  Then she asked if I was nervous.  

Nervous.  I don't think that's an emotion I've ever felt during this whole process.  I've felt excited, hopeful, impatient, disappointed, ready, peaceful, worried, sad, brokenhearted, affirmed and encouraged, but it has never occurred to me to feel nervous.  Could that be because of how sure we are that God called us here?  Could it be because the wait has been so long and we just feel the anticipation of finally holding our precious ones?  Could it be because we don't yet fully realize what our life will be like and how quickly it will change forever?  Could it be because of the many, many, many loving friends and family members we have standing by ready to support us as parents?  Maybe all of the above.  

I told her that I hadn't felt nervous yet, but that I'm sure there would be moments of frenzied, panicked nervousness when we are trying to get everything ready before getting on a plane to Sao Paulo, or butterflies in our stomachs while we wait to meet them for the first time.  

Every time I've ever been nervous before a presentation or speech of some sort, I am reminded of what someone wise once told me (I think it was my mother), "The nervousness means you care."  I'll embrace it if it comes... but I know it won't last long.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What this blog is (not) about

This blog is NOT meant to be:
  1. A lifeless play-by-play of a process called adoption.
  2. A place to vent about our frustrations related to waiting for our children.
  3. A soapbox for our personal agendas.
  4. A preachy-preachy sermon.
  5. A commercial for our adoption agency.
This blog is intended to:
  1. Document our adoption journey as part of our (and our children's) life story.
  2. Grow into a document that shows our children how deeply we loved them since long before we knew their names.
  3. Keep our friends and family posted about the details of the journey.
  4. Reflect the love of the Father toward each of His children.
  5. Testify to God's faithfulness from the minute to the cosmically grand.
This post is a reminder to myself of the goals I have for this journal.  It is also a reminder to any readers that, though fingerprints and government approvals and paperwork are a part of adopting, they are by no means the most consequential.  I remind myself frequently that adopting is not about paperwork, it is about our children being a part of our family.  Even more truly, it is about the Creator of the Universe loving his creation so much that he would reach into it and ordain families to be together... and people to be together with Him:  not separated because of our sinsick nature.  We have always desired that God use our family as a living snapshot of His love for us and the way in which he adopts us as sons and daughters through the sacrifice of His own Son.  

That is what this blog (and our family) is about.  


We're moving right along.  We received our Fingerprint Appointment Notice from USCIS today--September 16.  My heart floods with joy every time there is evidence progress toward our beloveds.  Getting fingerprinted is somewhat bothersome since we must both appear in Hartford, at 2pm, on a work day, when we know that the USCIS has our fingerprints on file since just over a year ago, and we've already paid the hefty fingerprinting fee once before.  But the hassle doesn't even feel like a bother since it's what we must do to (someday soon) become mother and father to our precious children.  Easy.  In fact, the more of these little tasks we accomplish, the nearer we are and the more anticipation we feel.  James mentioned the the other day how his arms and heart ache to hold our children.  That reality is closer than it has ever been.  

Tonight at our Tuesday night small group meeting we began our Bible study with an ice-breaker question as usual.  This week's was, "If you could have dinner with any person living in the World today, who would it be?"  As I fumbled to pull out a compelling celebrity name, Christina rescued me from my floundering and came up with an answer that saw straight to my heart--my children.  Not a singer, a politician, an actor or talk-show host.  Nope.  The people I most desire to sit around a table with are probably 4500 miles from New Haven, but couldn't be nearer to my heart because they are my babies.  There's nothing I desire more than to have them close enough to share a meal with.  

As I begin a new school year this week, I have the continual impression that this is the school year during which everything will change for our family.  Lord willing, this will be the year we become parents.  Though the wait has been long (and may be longer still), I am encouraged in my heart and by so many friends, that the time has never been nearer.  We feel like we've been waiting for our children forever.  Indeed, it has been around 3 years since we started on this journey with dreams and questions and plans.  (That's a long pregnancy!)  But we are not weary yet.  We have just enough patience to get us through to the next milestone and enough hope to keep going no matter what.