Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I woke up 36.  Doesn't feel any different than when I went to bed last night at 35!

Everyone of these ladies is one of my neighbors.  They are so special to me!  We live in a great neighborhood, but one of the things that makes it so great is the friendships we have built.  We have so much fun!  Our kids are all friends.  The older kids look out for the younger ones - they all love (and sometimes hate) each other.  All of our friends are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little girl.  Two of the ladies pictured above have girls close in age to Imani - that means instant best friends! 

Today is a sort of sad day - it was the day that I had worked in my mind that we would arrive in Africa to pick Imani up.  How sweet would that have been to have her "gotcha day" be the same day as my birthday? 

We are making progress though.  The "unofficial" progress is that our facilitator has the last document and has applied for her passport - BUT we have not seen this document, nor do we have a date as to when the passport was applied for.  That information is crucial in determining our next step.  We still have to decide

1. File i600 in the States while we wait for her passport, then schedule embassy appointments once we have approval and passport, then fly over together when visa is issued


2. Have Rob fly over to DRC and file i600 in Congo and attend Embassy appointment all at the same time and then I would fly over 2 weeks later

At this point, we just want to get to HER!  We worked out the budget and it will cost almost exactly the same to make two trips, so cost is not an issue.  We feel very strongly that both of us need to experience Congo for Imani's sake later on.  We both want to have had the experience of having been there so we know.  Hopefully, the decision will be made in the next couple of days.

A couple of weeks ago I posted something on my facebook page about taking a leap of faith.  I'm finally ready to share what that was!

I have decided not to return to my position as Office Manager at the medical practice where I currently work.  God has made it abundantly clear to me that I need to be home - not just for Imani, but also for our family life in general.  One of our sons is having some major troubles with school and then adding Imani to our family, the overwhelming stress I've been under the last couple of months (in addition to the adoption stress) and my general change in life perspective over the last year has combined to make for a pretty clear cut decision.

This is the biggest leap of faith I've ever taken because it has to do with my money!  I don't know how things are going to work out, but I know that no amount of money is worth the stress and the havoc my family has been enduring.  I'm comfortable with the decision, although, definitely a little scared because I have no control right now, but mostly, I'm excited.  Excited that I will be able to give my family what it needs - my presence.  My presence is so much more important than any of the "things" that my paycheck buys for them.  At the end of my life, I will not be counting the "things" I bought, but my family and friends that I did life with.

I'm ready for the next chapter to begin.....the one that has a little girl in it and the one where I am less stressed out! LOL

Oh, and this is another reason I love my neighborhood - this was done by ADULTS and not by teenagers!  And no, this is not my house!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I'm trying to post more to the blog;  it doesn't make for a good blog if it doesn't have regular updates, now does it?  So here is where we are;  we are still waiting for the Act of Adoption and the application of her passport.  Since we are still waiting, we have had to make some tough decisions based on the scenarios that may play out.
1.  If we get word soon that the Act of Adoption has been received and the passport has already been applied for, then I will fly over by myself and file our I-600 in country at the US Embassy.  Filing it in country vs. here in the states will shave about a month off the process, which means one less month for Imani in the orphanage.  I would stay for about a week shile getting some paperwork finished, meet and spend some time with Imani and then fly home.  Christy would then fly over several weeks later once the passport has been received to get the exit letter and bring Imani home.  Not the preferred option but the fastest.
2.  If the passport has not been applied for then we will file the I-600 here stateside and wait for it and the passport to be approved;  then both of us would travel together to go get Imani.  Chances are I would still have to leave after a week and Christy would stay until the exit letter is ready, probably an additional week.  With 3 boys, both of us simply cannot be gone longer than a week, so I'd rather Christy stay with her and have that time to bond.  Plus, it might look a little strange and actually may cause significant issues while attempting to travel back if it were just Imani and I. 

So, we are trying to wait patiently for an update so we know which scenario we are dealing with.  The facilitator (the lady that runs the orphanage) was back here in the states for the past two weeks so it's likely that nothing got accomplished in her absence, but we'll see. 

BUT...on a brighter note, we do have some exciting news that we will be revealing soon...

Keep the prayers coming...and thank you!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Expectations, Frustrations and Delays

Since we've been keeping this blog, Christy and I have made an attempt to be as transparant as possible in regards to our thoughts and emotions in hopes that those who come after us in their adoption journey may find some comfort and insight into what to expect in the days, weeks and months to come.  If you've found this blog and are prospective adoptive parents, this post is written with you in mind.

We chose to do an independant adoption for various reasons;  the primary one being that at this time it doesn't appear that the US agencies have the necessary contacts on the ground in Congo to do a relatively quick adoption...relative being the operative word since the timeframes vary wildly.  That being said, if that was the #1 reason, #1a was that we wanted more information and control during the process.  Indpendant adoption allows you to be intimitely involved in every step of the process, but it doesn't come without it's own drawbacks as well.  More information and more "control" aren't always a good thing, as we've found out.  Case in point;  we are currently waiting on the final Act of Adoption paperwork to come through so that we can apply for her Congolese passport and go and get her.  One document....One.  How long does it take to get one simple document, especially considering all of the judgements have been made and she's legally ours?  A simple stamp?  A one-page letter?  Being an American, you're used to things being done in a timely manner with order and fairness...not so in other parts of the world.  It's not First In, First fact at many times it seems like First In, Last to know what in the world's going on over there...but the simple fact is that things don't work as quickly or as efficiently in a third world country as they do here.  That's a tough pill to swallow. 

Expectations are a hard thing to have in the adoption world, simply because they are almost always wrong.  We expected our case to go smoothly, we expected to be receiving constant updates on our child, we expected that because the first several steps of our journey went quickly that the rest of it would too, we expected fundraising to be a lot easier, we expected our life here to continue like clockwork during this process...we were wrong on all accounts.  As we tend to do, we had things built up in our minds about how our case was going to be the one that didn't have any problems, that our case was going to be completed in record time, that the date we picked six months ago to be travelling would somehow hold true.  Turns out, our case is just like everyone else's;  we're not the fastest, but we're not the slowest either.  We've had some speed bumps, but nothing like other's have had to deal with.  Our case is just your plain, simple, run of the mill adoption case...and I think there's a huge lesson in humility in there somewhere.  So, our case is still right on track time-wise and we've reset our expectations;  now we are planning on traveling somewhere around mid-March. 

I mentioned earlier that going independant allowed us the ability to have more control over our case.  I now laugh at that notion because once your homestudy is done, once the paperwork and fingerprinting for your I-600 is done, and once you've sent your money in there is absolutely nothing you can do but wait....and that's not control, that's the opposite of control.  Again, huge lesson there in waiting and trusting that God is taking care of it. 

As I try and take a step back from our situation and look at it from a thousand-mile view, I realize that almost all of our frustrations stem from our lack of faith, where we fall short in believing that ultimately He is in control and that things will happen when He allows them to.  We have been tested and stretched in our faith so much during this process that at times we weren't sure how we were going to make it through, but it's apparant to me now that He had a lot of work to do in us in a short time to prepare us for this awesome responsibility we are about to take on.  We've been forced to re-examine what's really important and adjust our lives accordingly.  We've also been told that once we are home with her, none of this will matter anyway, so we're trying find some comfort in that as well. 

Adoption is hard, plain and simple.  Once it's been imprinted on your heart to care for the orphans of the world, it becomes tremendously burdensome to have to wait to bring them into your home, where they'll be safe and loved.  You quickly develop deep feelings for a child you've never even met, to the point that it hurst just as much as if it were one of your biological children waiting for you in an orphanage overseas.  This is one of the things we didn't expect, to love her as much as we do, and it will be for you too.  But stay the course, it will be so worth it. 

Dreaming of her "Gotcha Day"


Monday, January 7, 2013

Quick update...

Ok, just a quick update.  We are currently waiting on the final final final Act of Adoption document from Congo so that we can apply for her Congolese passport.  We expect, and have been expecting, to get that document any day now, and once we have it the passport process takes anywhere from 2-4 we are planning on the 4 weeks.  I say that we have been expecting the Act of Adoption because we've been told since Dec. 18th that it would be next week...any day now...should have it tomorrow...etc etc etc.  To say that it's been nothing short of frustrating waiting for this single piece of paper would be a lie, and even though our process has been happening at a very quick pace in the adoption world, it doesn't make it any easier.  When your normal pace is A and their normal pace is B, the disparity between the two can become quite stressful, even in something as wonderful as this. 

So, with all of this being said, we have found it prudent to start looking into airline tickets and travel arrangements.  Now, the ticket prices are about what I expected...maybe even a little less...but the travel time is what's kinda got me shell-shocked.  We're talking about a 35-40 hour travel period depending on which flights you take, this having the longest layover at about 3 hrs and with some flights being as long as 8 or even 15hrs in the air!  Now, let me set a mental picture for you...I'm 6'3"...and 6'3" and long airplane rides don't jive, know what I'm saying?  This should be interesting.  We've also started talking about hotel arrangements and meal plans and such;  essentially we will be staying at an old monestary now turned hotel for the duration of our stay, which is convenient because it's centrally located between the marketplace and the U.S. Embassy. 

That's all I've got for today;  praying the letter arrives very soon so we can check that one off the list...not too many more things on the list, actually.  Act of Adoption, Passport, travel...getting close!