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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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.

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!

Paperchase

Any of you who have ever worked through an international adoption know just how frustrating the paper chase portion of the journey can be.  This is our third adoption, and we are not immune to the difficulties in building the dossier.  Today I had our family coordinator look through the documents we’ve gathered thus far.  One has already been rejected because the signature date does not match the notary’s signature date.  It’s Matt’s medical exam, so he’s got to have his physician do it again.  Those who make rules about what belongs in dossiers clearly do not understand how difficult it is to get a physician and a notary in the same room at the same time.  I’m a physician, and I fill out paperwork and write letters all day long for my patients.  It sucks my time like a vortex.  I hate the thought of asking my husband’s kind physician to do it twice.  I’m off to pick up my completed medical exam tomorrow, and I won’t be leaving there until I verify the signatures, notary stamps, dates, and letterhead, is all completely correct.  Documents can be rejected if the notary’s commission expires within two years (two years!), if the notary only recently became a notary, if the dates don’t match, if there is white out of any kind on the document, if it isn’t on letterhead, if the notary statement isn’t worded just so.  I know all of these things, but I am not the one signing all of these documents, so I am powerless to fix it.

Dear Beth Moore blogged something recently that I found useful.  You can read the entire post here, but this is a little snippet of Beth quoting Charles Spurgeon.

“the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us”

I have to remind myself of this all the time.  God is responsible for getting M home, not me.  God has the power to do it, not me.  I am blasting through paperwork and adoption education and notary signatures, but I am still powerless.  If I give myself any credit, I reek of arrogance.

Clearance!

Praise the Lord, M is ours, well, almost.  Our sweet M’s clearance was issued last week, which gave me a whole new sense of urgency about completing our paperwork and getting our little man home.  Our consultant recommends we get our dossier to Ethiopia (DTE) as soon as possible.  I spent most of my evenings last week organizing paperwork, sorting, signing, and filling out autobiographical questionnaires.  I have almost every required document in my possession for the dossier.  I’m waiting on my medical exam, my live-in college student’s exam, police clearances, and the home study.  I also need the home study to submit our I-600A to USCIS in order to get our FBI fingerprinting appointment so we can receive our I-171H, which is also required for the dossier.  I’m guessing that at best, it will still be a month (if the I-171H comes quickly) before we will be officially DTE.  After that, we will have to wait for M’s official referral, our dossier to be translated, and a court date.  Even with everyone involved working as efficiently as possible (which seems unlikely in Ethiopia), I expect that to take 8-12 weeks at a minimum.  The courts will close from August to October.  It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll get through court before then.  If it happens sooner, it will be truly miraculous.  Even after court there is an indeterminate period of waiting before we will have our Embassy appointment to bring him home.  At this point, I have done everything that I can.  We notarized every document in our possession yesterday, and we had our first home study meeting.  I hope we’ll have our second meeting tomorrow, but I’m waiting to hear back from our college student who is moving in next week.  She will need to be present for the visit.  I hope to get good news back from our adoption coordinator next week.  She will be reviewing our documents to ensure they meet requirements of the U.S. State Department and of the Ethiopian government.  I hope they are all adequate and none have to be redone.  I am HIGHLY MOTIVATED to complete this process efficiently.

God is good.  He can do anything.  I have the pleasure of watching him work to bring my M home.

A Gift in Faith

My husband is a man of faith. Generally speaking, he believes God.  Last year for Mother’s Day, he bought me a blue topaz necklace and earrings, Lulu’s birthstone.  For Christmas this year, he bought me a sapphire necklace, Teme’s birthstone.  This year for Mother’s Day he bought me two sets of earrings, one opal and one yellow topaz.  We don’t actually know when M’s birthday is yet.  It’s sometime between October and December, but we just aren’t sure.  His documents have three different dates in three different months.  I’m hoping that information will be clarified some when his orphan investigation is completed.  We don’t even know if M will ever be ours, but my husband is believing in faith that I’ll be able to confidently wear one pair of these earrings soon.

So, here are the choices.  Any guesses?  Matt is rooting for October, but I’m rooting for November.

We had a nice day today.  I had to work this morning, so I visited 5 newborns at the hospital and wished each of their mothers well.  I caught the end of our church’s service, chatted with a few friends.  Matt made lunch and I worked on some Bible study while the kids napped.  After they woke up, we went to the park, ate a PB&J picnic, and let the kids run silly for two hours.  We arrived home in time to read a few stories, snuggle the kids up in their jammies, and put them to bed.

Getting ready for the fire hose

Ever have the feeling that a fire hose has been placed in your mouth and will be turned on very, very soon?  Our little M’s clearance letter is on the desk of the director who will give the final sign off which will launch him into the category of being adoptable.  We don’t know where he will go yet though.  It will be one of two places.  In one location, he will still be ours, referred to us still, guaranteed to come home with us once this is complete.  In the other location, there is no guarantee that we will receive his case.  He could be referred to any agency who then could refer him to any waiting couple.  I want him to have a family so badly, but truly, I want it to be my family.  Tonight I am blasting through an application with an agency, wishing I knew exactly how much my 403b is worth today and how much I still owe on my car.  There are just a couple of little blanks left.  After that, we need a home study update, fingerprinting, and the final dossier documents. I’m demanding letters of reference from all of my friends, and I am desperate to have them notarized perfectly on the first try.  I will not be responsible for holding up this adoption.

Please join us in prayer that little M will indeed be cleared and that once he is cleared, we will secure his referral.  Pray for us as we enter this process again, so soon after we left it before.  We love this little boy so much.  We’ve felt incomplete without him all this time.

News Junkie

So, I feel silly writing this because I am not officially even in the adoption process at this moment, but I still have “adoption brain.”  This little boy consumes me, my little M, who still lives in Ethiopia, who I hope one day to adopt.  Anyone in the adoption world knows that as you move through the process you become a news junkie.  Every little piece of information provides a little high, a little hope, and the longer I go between hits, the more desperate I feel.  I’ve waited on little M since October of 2009, and my last bit of news was on April 13th.  That particular bit of news gave me hope that I might have more news within a week or so.  It’s been almost a month, so I am way overdue for my fix.  I don’t want to behave like a junkie, so I don’t email my adoption consultant incessantly or leave hundreds of messages on her phone, but I check my email constantly, desperate to receive a message, a “no news yet but we’re still working on it,” a note to let me know that my little M hasn’t been forgotten.  With no news, I become increasingly hopeless, withdrawn.  I leave dirty dishes on my counters, don’t bother cleaning the floor under my toddlers’ chairs, nap when I should be swiffering or reading or planning some sort of super-mom creative activity for my kids.  I read other adoption blogs, hoping that another family’s news might somehow cause our own case to move forward.  I am unmotivated, lazy, and overwhelmed with wondering how my oldest child is doing, potentially at the expense of my younger two children.  I’m crazy to want M home now.  If he were here now, we’d have two 2-year-olds and a 20-month-old, so much more than I think that I can handle, but still, I want him home.  I want to rock him and kiss him.  I want to feed him milk and chicken and bananas and strawberries instead of the rice and water he eats now.  I want to introduce his sister and his brother and see them wrestle and play.  I want him to ride a tricycle in my back yard and slide down our big slide into the grass.  I want him to have a family.

So again, this comes to trust.  Do I trust God to take care of my child when I cannot.  Do I trust him to work out the details of this boy’s homecoming even when I have no news.  Can I stay sober and wait with confident expectation for God to bring my little boy home?