DTE?

We are supposed to be DTE today.  I don’t know if we are actually.  I didn’t want to be a nag, so I waited until 3:30 this afternoon (4:30 eastern) to email our family coordinator.  She wrote back quickly with this response:

“[Agency Representative] is sending out the DTE email to you right now as it should be FedEx’d to Ethiopia this weekend!”

I never got that email, so I don’t know if that means we are DTE and didn’t receive the email or if something happened and my dossier is sitting quietly on someone’s desk in Virginia.  I’m trying not to worry.

In other news, USCIS has cashed our giant check, but no fingerprinting appointment is in sight.  I overnighted the documents to Texas (as instructed) where they cashed the check and then mailed the documents to the USCIS office in my home town (please wait 7-10 days for delivery).  I think I could have just delivered it myself and saved a step, but that’s not how it’s done.  

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While Waiting

So, here’s my list of stuff to accomplish while waiting for #3

1. Prepare Lulu’s big girl room.  I’m not ready for her to transition out of her crib, but it’s almost time.

2. Go to cool big city for fingerprints and do fun stuff.  Stop for Ethiopian food afterwards with the kids.

3. Take the kids to the zoo.

4. Go to a play.

5. Read books on adoption book list.

6. Read a book just because I want to read a book.

7. Clean the refrigerator.  Lament the fact that it will be filthy again within weeks.

8. Touch up paint in my boys’ room.

9. Take the kids to play in the fountains at JV park.

10. Find an attorney to complete our readoptions; find the money to pay for it.

11. Find a new home for the photo albums currently living in Lulu’s room.

12. Make a tomato basil tart and pistachio torte.

13. Have a long conversation with a friend on the back porch.

14. Remove clothes from the kids’ closets that no longer fit.

15. Sell all my extra stuff in a garage sale.  Convince friends to help.

16. Get Lulu’s hair cut for the first time.

17. Refinish the deck.

18. Take more videos of my kids.

19.  Have Lulu’s hair professionally braided.

20.  Buy clothes for my big boy.

21.  Spend a weekend in our hometown.

REFERRAL!!

Okay, maybe it is silly, but I am ecstatic!  Today we received our referral, a sweet 2 year old boy called M who was referred to us for the first time on March 19, 2010.  It is so, so good to see pictures of him, to see him clean, dressed, and gaining weight.  I hope he feels safe now.  The poor little guy has bounced from orphanage to transition home to orphanage over and over again.  It’s nice to know that this is the last place he will live before he comes to live with us.  I so hope that our dossier will arrive in time for us to get a summer court date.

Entering Waiting Phase I

So, our paperwork arrived promptly in Virginia yesterday.  Our family coordinator says all is in order, so it will be authenticated next week and we will be DTE on 6/29.  My sweet little boy is still not ready to be referred to us.  They are gathering up required documentation, completing medical exams, etc., so it will be awhile before we are submitted to court.  This does give us time to get our I-171H completed.  I’m planning for a fun day when we get fingerprinted in the fabulous city with a stop at an Ethiopian restaurant.  I might be able to convince Matt to let us stay overnight.  Lulu loved it the last time.  So, I hope to have a referral within 4 weeks, but it is looking less and less likely for us to have court before closures in August.  This is hard for me.  We need time, time to get Lulu’s new room ready, time to continue to bond with Teme (who has only been home 6 months), time to declutter the closets and make room for another little boy.  At the same time, court after closures will put us in Ethiopia in the fall again and leave me off work in the fall again.  I’ve been off two Decembers in a row (peak pediatric season), and I think it would be best if I could work through our busy season this year, at the very least to give my partners a break.  Never mind the fact that I want my little boy home now.  I’ve been waiting for him already almost 2 1/2 years.  It is time to wait. The only way I can bear waiting is to keep busy.  I’ll post a list of projects and activities I hope to accomplish before #3 is home soon.

Dossier and USCIS

Happily, I sealed two envelopes today.  I picked up our home study this morning from our social worker and took it, along with the rest of our documents, to the Secretary of State’s office downtown.  My documents were authenticated in about 30 minutes.  I passed the time making copies at the library nearby and drinking an iced chai at the coffee shop next door.  My husband picked up a money order for our USCIS fees, and then the kids and I headed to the post office.  We sealed up two envelopes, whispered a few prayers, and sent them off, one to our agency in Virginia, and one to the USCIS office in Texas.  Both will arrive at their destinations tomorrow before noon.  The dossier will be checked out carefully by our family coordinator and then taken to Washington D.C. for authentication.  When this is complete, it will be shipped to Ethiopia, translated, and presented to the MOCWYA office with our court petition.  Our dossier will be shipped either on 6/29 or 7/6, even though I’d hoped it might make it out this week.  Ten to seventeen days feels like such a long time.  In the meantime, we await an appointment for fingerprinting and finally, our I-171H which we must have prior to court.  Lord, bring my boy home.

God has this

I don’t know why I worry about things when this is our third adoption.  We never set out to adopt three kids.  We only planned on one, but here we are, about to send our paperwork for #3, only 6 months after bringing #2 home.  We have seen clearly how God has intervened in our adoption process each time, and yet I still worry, maybe not quite as much, but I catch myself trying to estimate our DTE date and court date and embassy and ultimately homecoming, as if I have any control in the matter.  It is stressful and arrogant, to think that I could dictate the arrival of a child.

God is already at work, has been for quite some time for my little M.  Most recently, my husband and I have been concerned about where we would find the funds needed to adopt him.  We had to hire a consultant to complete a background investigation prior to the adoption (expensive, but money well-spent), and we are working with an agency that is much more expensive (though also more reputable) than our previous one.  With two small ones in diapers and daycare, we just weren’t sure where the money would come from.  We will need about $10,000 this week to pay fees to immigration and our agency for the dossier submission.  My husband prepared to take a loan against our home to make up for the difference between our bank account and that $10,000.  Today, we received a check from our state for $7600 that we did not expect.  Last year, we filed our taxes and claimed the adoption tax credit for our state.  When we received our return, it came with a letter saying funds for the tax credit had been depleted, and we assumed we would not receive the money.  It appears the state paid it this year, with interest.  That plus $16,000 that we are awaiting from this year’s federal tax return (including the adoption tax credit), and we’re nearly funded for this adoption.  God is good.  He surprises me with his provision all the time.

Our home study was completed today.  I’m going to pick it up tomorrow morning and take it with the dossier to be authenticated downtown.  Our I-600A will be in the mail tomorrow morning, and hopefully, we’ll be fingerprinted and receive our I-171H soon.  I’ll seen the dossier to our agency just as quickly as I get it back from the authentication office, and I hope we’ll be DTE by the end of the week.  Chances of having court prior to court closures in August are pretty slim, but I can hope. God can do anything.  Surely, whatever he chooses will be best.

Where is our home study?

Well, the home study is currently in the hands of our family coordinator, who must proof the document and determine whether it is everything it needs to be.  If it is worthy, it goes back to our social worker who signs and notarizes 3 copies, then rushes to meet me somewhere in Springfield so I can have my recently-sanitized hands on it as quickly as possible.  I’ve thought about leaving work for this.  We still also have  this little matter of the post-placement commitment, a document that the agency signs promising to provide post placement reports on our family following the adoption.  I asked for that item weeks ago, and it must be signed by the director, who lives in St. Louis.  Shall I kidnap a notary, drive to St. Louis, and stalk this dear woman until it is properly signed?  After that, we still have to seal all of the documents before we can mail them.  I’m thinking this needs to be done on Thursday if it will be done at all this week.  There could be a few hiccups with the sealing as well. If the notary isn’t perfect at her job, the documents will be rejected, and we have to have them done again.

If signed and sealed, I can mail them on to Ethiopia.  I really want to do this done before the end of the week!  I also am waiting on one document in addition to the home study for our I-600A application.  I don’t think I’ll rest until we have a more solid timetable (i.e. a court date).  Pray for us and little M.

Waiting

This is the point when the paperchase leaves my control.  We are waiting on a notarized copy of our home study and a notarized post placement agreement, both of which must come from our agency.  That’s all I need.  Once I have those documents in my hands, we can have them authenticated and send them on to Ethiopia.  Hopefully, a court date follows shortly after, and we’ll be on our way to bringing our third child home.  I want so badly to get these documents mailed so that we have some chance, though slim, of passing court before the courts close in August.  The six weeks that the courts are closed are agony for those of us who are waiting.  I want my boy home.

Another little thing

We learned yesterday that our agency will allow us to send our dossier to Ethiopia without the I-171H.  This means our dossier can go to Ethiopia so we can start the court process without having to wait on USCIS for approval.  We will still have to have the I-171H prior to our court date, but that isn’t often a problem.  I’m hoping we’ll be DTE by the end of the week!

Victories

This weekend has been filled with victories of many kinds.  Here’s my list.

1. My little M now lives at our agency’s transition home.  He is safe, secure, and waiting for us.  <insert ridiculous amounts of joy and smiles wide enough to make my cheeks sore here>

2. The Great Vaccine War of 2012 has ended, and we won.

3. My friend and colleague gave birth to a healthy precious baby girl.

4. Matt and I enjoyed an evening out and received complimentary bread, mango lassis, table side hand washing, chai, and balloons at a fantastic little Indian restaurant.

5. I made a pilgrimage to Whole Foods to stock up on Lulu haircare products and I am very satisfied with her springy and shiny curls today.

6. I attended an international medical missions conference filled with passionate physicians, nurses, students, accountants, and pastors.  I left encouraged, inspired, still certain of my calling, and itching to formerly file an application for long term service.

7. I met a representative from the missions organization that I aspire to join, and he is not a physician but a math teacher.  I introduce my husband, also a math teacher.  I am glowing in possibilities for our family’s future.

8.  A friend’s daughter survived a serious car accident with miracle upon miracle.  She will have a long recovery but already testifies to the greatness of our God.

9. A missionary friend who has been in the U.S. recovering from a serious bout of malaria is now returning to Zambia to continue her work.

10. We celebrated the birthdays of my three brothers and my husband with grilled kabobs, roasted potatoes and asparagus, and cake.

11. Our home study is now complete, just awaiting a few revisions and approvals, and our I-600A will be mailed off so we will have the last piece of the dossier.

Eleven is my favorite number, so I will stop here.  It has been a lovely weekend.