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!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Our Way

All our bags are packed, we're ready to go, we're standing here outside the door, we hate to wake you up to say goodbye...

We're leaving on a jet plane, see you when we get back again!

Dear friends, thank you for your many, many prayers over this long journey.  Tomorrow morning early we depart for Brazil!  It's hard to believe it's really here, and we cherish each and every one of you and thank you for your support and love.
Love, James & Kim

Dear Maynara, Abraão Lucas, Luana & Brayan, our lovelies, we'll see you Wednesday!  We can't wait to scoop you up in our arms!
Love, Mãe & Pai

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frenzied Pace

Life here is moving at a frenzied pace as we prepare all the last-minute (hallelujah!) details for traveling to Brazil.  Packing, shopping, fingerprinting, paperwork for our jobs, paperwork for the adoption, paperwork for medical insurance, cleaning, organizing, visiting with friends we won't see for a while.  There are loose ends everywhere and we're doing our best to tie them all up... or pass them off to others who might be able to.  Then in the middle of all that, we get an email from our agency that sweeps us off our feet and reminds us what's really, actually going on here:

Just to share!!!  I got a e-mail saying that the kids are all excited,  
all they talk about is their "MOM and DAD."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

24 hours later

24 hours ago I was struggling to keep hope alive.  And now I have pure adrenaline running through my veins and I can't believe that it's actually happening.  In a little over a week, I'll lay eyes on my children.  And hug them all.  And tell them...  I have no idea what I'm going to say to them.  What do you say?  Is there a Hallmark card for this occasion?  


I only have a week to think of something far less cheesy.  

It's hard to imagine how it will feel to meet our children after all this time.  It's hard to know exactly what we'll be like as a family or what we should do during our first day as parents.  For the moment, my plan is just to soak it up, love them as much as I possibly can, and hug them a lot.  

This journal has documented the whole journey toward our children and it will continue to document the events of the next couple months.  We are glad that the friends and family that read this are praying for all of us and supporting us through it all.  Everyone tells me that I'll be too busy being a mom to journal here, but I think we live moments more fully when we write them and when we know we are going to write them.  I think we see more beauty in each day when we commemorate it by photographing it.  I think it will be beautiful to see how we all grow and change and how God knits our family together.  

Stay tuned, the best is yet to come! 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Guess who's Almighty?

God is!

He did it!

We'll meet our children next Wednesday!

Praise Him because He is alive and well!

Wednesday, November 4!

Hope, Expectation and Anxiety

It's the beginning of another Monday morning and we are filled with hope, expectation, and a healthy bit of anxiety as we wait to see if THIS could be the week that brings the news of when we will meet our children. We start this day knowing that only God can do this for us and all our hope is in Him. We start this day filled with anticipation and confidence. And we also start it with memories of the many Mondays we've started this way, and ended feeling deflated and disappointed.

Our case officer at USCIS (God bless this amazing woman!) assigned us appointments to have our fingerprints taken in Hartford. First available date: November 11. She recommended that we take the appointment card and walk into the office this week and explain our situation and hope for mercy and flexibility. As long as they have our recent fingerprints on file, USCIS should be able to process the approval update before it expires while we're in Brazil.

It looks like LIMIAR finally has the electronic copy of the Acordo and Lino is taking it to CEJA today so that they can make up the final packet that the president of the CEJA needs to sign and send to the courthouse.

The pieces are coming together. We will get to our children. We will be a family and God will be glorified.
We just have to remember to breathe.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Finishing Touches

Depending how things go in the next day or so, we could be bidding farewell to the beginning of a chilly CT winter and heading south to the start of a warm Brazilian summer and a whole new life in the next week or so.

Of course, there are a bunch of IF's floating around, but IF everything were to go smoothly, we could be meeting our children in the first week of November. IN A WEEK!

But there are those IF's to contend with. IF the Acordo (sent to the wrong address by the US Consulate in Rio) is/was recovered by Lino and brought to the right place, our court date could be arranged this coming week... with enough time to prepare the children for our arrival.

IF the court date is scheduled later than the first week of November, we may very well run into some significant delays since our USCIS fingerprint approval expires in December and we must complete the adoption before they expire. IF I hadn't forgotten to sign one of the pages on the application to extend that approval, we'd probably have nothing to worry about, but since I did... we may end up having to wait around here for our fingerprints to be renewed before we can even request a court date.

IF we don't travel before Christmas, we'll have to get new visas for ourselves since they are valid for entry up to 90 days after they are generated--December 23.

I'm trying very hard to keep it together right now since neither one of us can bear the thought of another delay (or series of delays). And do you know what I think? I think that only God can make this happen. Doesn't it seem like the kind of set-up He would love? Everything looks impossible, and just as we begin to lose hope... the only One who can make a miracle happen... makes a miracle happen. And everyone knows that it wasn't thanks to me, or James, or any government or agency. It was only thanks to God. Let's pray for that.

In the meantime, while we wait to find out how things go with all these IF's... we're putting the finishing touches on the house.

The girls' room got some cheery decorations.  They make me feel happy every time I walk into the room.

The boy's room is all set with clothes in the drawers and toys on the shelves... 

... and a desk from Tio Ben.         Warm coats waiting in the closet.

Monday, October 19, 2009

O Acordo esta pronto!

O Acordo esta pronto!  The Acordo letter is ready!  As far as we know it was mailed to Curitiba from the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro today (or maybe it will be tomorrow).  In any case, they said that our agency would have a digital copy tomorrow and CEJA only needs a digital copy to proceed to the court.

The court social worker will decide how much time the children need to adjust to the reality of being adopted before we can come meet them.  Usually a week, but it could be more or less depending on the social worker's judgement about our situation.  We should (probably) know by the end of this week and could (possibly) be Brazil-bound in a couple weeks from now!

Could it be that we are really just one step away from being together with our children?  After all that has happened, could we really be just a couple weeks from being parents?  Lord, have mercy and let it be so!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Step of Faith

I don't know how much faith I have in this process right now.  OK, I do, and it's close to zero.  However, I do have faith that God has brought us safe this far and will bring us safely home--with our children.  I do have faith that these faces are those of our sons and daughters and that there are big things in store for all of us.

Here's the update:  a LIMIAR representative was able to successfully submit the payment we owed to the US Consulate in Rio de Janeiro today.  It was a solution 2 weeks in the making for us and probably 2 months in the making for the other family who will likely be traveling at the same time as us (to adopt a sibling group of 5).  Whew.  Now all that remains is for the Consulate to send the Acordo letter to CEJA, who must notify the court so that Lino can request a court date for us to receive custody of those beauties up there.  (Aren't the amazingly beautiful!)

Just one major step left before we know when we can take that long-anticipated flight to the south of Brazil.  So, why can't I calm down?  Where's the peace?  I'm walking around feeling like I've just had 8 cups of coffee (and it only takes one to make my heart race, my hands shake and my body twitch).  I want to say, "this could be the week!"  But I honestly think it would be easier to convince myself that this adoption will never take place and we'll be waiting forever than to step out in faith and believe that it really could happen this week.  I'm getting palpitations just thinking about it.  

Will you do it, Lord?  Will you do it now?  What could possibly glorify you more than to do it right now?

I talked a while back about the battle between flesh and spirit.  It's a sticky place to live.  And I'm stuck.  Heart knows everything will turn out OK, head doubts it strongly.  Head wraps around the reality that we are almost there, heart is afraid to believe it and risk being bruised.  Heart trusts God and his timing, head can't imagine what would make then better than now.  Head trusts that our agencies are doing everything they can, heart just wants to buy plane tickets.  Heart only wants to embrace our darling beloveds, head knows we must wait.  Head loves that so many friends desire to encourage us, heart just wants to see it all end begin.  Head/Heart...Heart/Head...See what I mean?  

This much conflict inside of one person is just plain exhausting and the funny thing is that there's nothing I can do about it.  I resolve to let my spirit rest in God's sovereignty, and immediately flip-flop into mental anxiety.  

We serve a Holy God.  That means that He is so completely other that nothing we can do makes it possible for us to wrap our minds around how other He is.  As someone said in an episode of House recently, "It would be easier for penguins to imagine quantum physics."  But we try, and it honestly comforts me to know that "if we knew everything God knew, we would not question His timing."  (Inspiring theological quote from a dear friend and past-elder of our church.)  His reasons might be because He's not through with us, or perhaps He's not through with the children yet, or maybe He's not through with one of the many observers of this long process.  We can't know, but in the meantime, He keeps throwing us morsels of encouragement, like the last bit of this post by our dear friend who is also waiting to adopt her children from Colombia and giving God the glory in the waiting.  

Here's one last thing I know for sure.  In the moment we first embrace our children, none of the anxiety or frustration or disappointment or uncertainty of the last bunch of years will matter.  It will surely disappear.  And guess who gets the glory on that day?

Monday, October 12, 2009

In My Dreams

Though I did not actually see any of them in my dream, I dreamed about my kids the other night. But whether they made an appearance or not, it was clear that they were the central characters and the main people of importance. Such is the story of my life when I am awake these days that I guess it is not surprising they have seeped into my unconsciousness!

In the spirit of 21st century digital communication between continents through satellites, in my dream I was getting ready to travel to the International Space Station to receive a bit of adoption-related information transmitted up from Brazil and then personally retransmit it down to the appropriate party in the United States. Although I was never really clear on what the information was, it was quite evident that it was critical to this adoption process, and I absolutely knew for sure I would be leaving on Tuesday! (Perhaps that has something to do with my flying to Calgary on business this Tuesday.)

It is not a general habit of mine to remember any of my dreams, and this is only the second time since finding out about our kids in March that I have any sort of dream memory about them. (In the one other flash of a dream I have in my memory, I was playing soccer with Abraao Lucas as he laughed and laughed at my Portuguese. Not in a make-fun-of-way, but in a smiling, 7-year old filled with a joy for life way. It was really quite a beautiful moment.) As with all dreams, it felt so incredibly real in the moment, and it was clear to me that I would do anything for my children. I would wait for them, fight for them, do anything to get them--I would take a trip to outer space if it meant having them home.

Sometimes I wish I dreamed about my kids more often. Who knows the number of times I have gone to bed looking at their pictures or thinking about them, hoping for such a result. But it doesn't really worry me that I don't. After all, I daydream about them so much that perhaps my subconscious needs a rest to think about something else at night!

Although waiting "a few more weeks" always seems like an eternity in the moment, in view of a lifetime, it is so small. I know in my heart that we will meet them soon, and that in God's perfect timing, all our dreams, and more, will come true.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Solving the Snaggle

It's not always easy being the first in line for something that's never happened before. Since the US became party to the Hague Convention on International Adoption, all the rules in inter-country adoption have changed. So have all the forms and procedures and expectations of timelines. It feels a lot like ever time we complete on step and get to the next, we're greeted by surprises followed by scurrying around to meet the new requirements. The snaggle with getting our visa fee to US consulate in Rio de Janeiro was no exception, once again, we've been in good hands with AWAA and LIMIAR working out all the details. It was sort of a frantic and convoluted process, but it seems like everything is working itself out.  

We wired the payment to LIMIAR's account on Monday and it's spent the week winding itself down to a former LIMIAR employee in Rio who has an appointment to submit it on Tuesday.  (Americans in Rio celebrate Columbus day too!)  We're told that our agency has been in communication with the consulate in Rio and has requested that they get everything ready for the Acordo (Article 5) document so that it can be submitted as soon as the payment is received.  They've also requested an electronic copy as soon as the document is created so that LIMIAR can give CEJA a heads-up that it's coming.  Hopefully, that will  speed up how soon Lino can go to the court to request an appointment for us.  

Then we travel.

That's right.  There are just 2 steps left in the process:  1.  the consulate sends the Acordo to the CEJA and 2.  Lino gets us a court date which lets us know when we can TRAVEL!

Even though I've been feeling emotionally spent and somewhat numb lately, nothing makes me smile like looking at the smiling pictures of my children and imagining life with them here with us.  Even so, it's hard to get emotionally excited about the impending trip because we don't want to put our faith in man-made timelines and guesses.  We've learned that lesson.  Even though everyone says that it's hard to imagine a scenario that would keep us from being in Brazil before the end of the month...  there are lots of things we can't imagine.  

Sure, there's a lot of waiting and it hurts.  But, as an adoptive mother told me today, "It'll be the best thing you've ever waited for!"

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What to do about a little Snaggle

Well, until today things had been moving along quite nicely.  And then we hit a snaggle.  

Here's the story.  The US Consulate in Rio received our USCIS "Provisional Approval" and needed to process a form called DS-230 "Application for immigrant visa and alien registration," a 4-page form with a $400 processing fee.  Once this form is approved, then the Consulate will write up the "Acordo" document (aka "Article 5") which allows Lino to go make us a court date to meet our children.  The consulate used to process this form after the finalization of an adoption but have changed their policy and now want it completed before they issue Article 5.  (This is a smart policy change because it eliminates the risk of finalizing an adoption and then not being able to get the children out of the country with their new parents.)  However, here's the snag:  they will only accept payment in person.  ...  right.  We can't go to Brazil without a court date, and we can't get a court date until we hand the consulate payment in person (or have someone do it for us).  In other words, we must pay in person before we arrive.  In other words, we're stuck in a policy that doesn't make any sense.

Our agencies (AWAA and LIMIAR) are working their tails off to try to figure out a solution, but have been unable to find one in the last week or so.  We have offers from 3 friends to connect us with their personal and/or business contacts in Rio who might be able to make the payment for us and are following some of those leads.  We also have many suggestions that we contact our Congressperson for some help.  I guess I'm not sure how the government could help me with problems with the government.  Even so, I left a voicemail for Rosa DeLauro.  

It's overwhelmingly tempting to just get plane tickets and take care of this mess ourselves.  We've been encouraged not to do that because no one really knows how much time will need to pass between getting this payment made... and the creation of the Acordo document... and the day our court appointment will actually happen.  I'm not sure how spending an extra 2-3 weeks in Brazil is a bad thing, but we do understand how it would make travel arrangements difficult--not knowing a start date means not knowing an end date and difficulty booking return tickets.

Thinking back over the last 3+ years, I realize that just about NOTHING has gone as smoothly or quickly or easily as it should have.  Just about EVERY step of this process has turned out to be unpredictable, delayed, or difficult.  Of course I know that God has the timing in His hands and that I will see how perfect it is someday, but after more than three years of working and wanting and praying and striving and jumping through many many hoops, I am at the end of my strength and I feel like it's time for something to go smoothly.  

The most encouraging word I've gotten during this latest round of frustration came from a LIMIAR parent whom we met at the reunion this summer.  He said, Soon you will be looking backwards on all these delays and they will be your war stories about how you battled for the lives of your children....AND WON!

It's hard to stay positive and keep trusting God's plan when our desires seem to be thwarted at every turn.    It's not a selfish desire, is it?  I don't think it's a sinful one.  Will our family ever come together?  Lord knows.  

Friday, October 02, 2009


I've been meaning to post about this for a while, and since it's so delayed in coming, we're using new technology to document the generosity of a dear friend from church who came over with a pickup full of bicycles and helmets for our growing family.

Bicycles! from kim fullton on Vimeo.