Our home study agency sent us a packet to update our home study several weeks ago, pending our approval for a concurrent adoption. I must admit the update will be much quicker than the original! The first time around our home study took about four months from start to finish. This time, hopefully one month will seal the deal.
Today, we returned to our family doc for a fun-filled morning of physicals and lab work. He was a little confused because he had already completed our exams - one year ago. We explained we're just jumping through the hoops because each adoption is time-sensitive and requires original documents.
After being poked, we headed downtown to be fingerprinted...again.
We'll return to the doc on Thursday to complete our medical paperwork -- then we'll buy our home study a one-way ticket to Kansas City and our social worker will take it from there.
We definitely feel like we have a good grasp on China's culture, people, history...so now it's time for an Ethiopia crash-course! I'll let you know what I discover!
Well, after much prayer and research, we came to a conclusion.
We know we will have a daughter from China. But we also know time is a precious commodity; especially when growing a family through adoption. So we decided to further investigate China's concurrent adoption policy.
After discussing the possibility of a second adoption, our agency has been able to assure us that our situation is prime for applying to pursue a concurrent adoption.
And today we received official approval to pursue a concurrent adoption from Ethiopia...and we are thrilled!!!
You may be thinking, "Why Ethiopia?" -- and God has brought us to this conclusion: "Why in the world not."
We have 2-2.5 years before we travel to our Chinese daughter, but, we will be able to complete our Ethiopian adoption in approximately 12 months from today. This time frame will enable us to safely meet China's 12-month requirement between adoptions.
We will move forward swiftly after the New Year and will post the details as they unfold. For now, we would treasure your prayers for smooth paperwork and someone to plant a money tree in our backyard (ha ha - just kidding, although finances will be complicated).
Blessed Christmas to you all!
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
…He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering
…he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
…he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
...yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering…
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied ;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Jenna's mom, Lisa, and I were discussing the increasing wait time, and she mentioned a detail I hadn't noted yet: they were LID in Aug 2005, and China is just now processing dossiers from Dec 2005. Do the math-- it has taken the CCAA almost a year and a half to process a little over five months worth of adoptions.
We had already been doing some research of our own to get a grasp on the reality of the wait time that we're facing, and it appeared that the CCAA was backlogged anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 applications. We wanted to believe these numbers were exaggerated but considering all the data, I'm sorry to say that I believe they are not...
The exhibit kicks-off tomorrow night, and we are so excited! Thurs, Nov 15th we're also hosting Adopt Talk; the community will have an opportunity to hear the family's stories in person, as well as ask questions about their experiences.
All the stories are absolutely miraculous! Our goal is to raise awareness in our community about orphans in our city, our state and our world.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
We're not too alarmed by the news though; over the past several weeks Vince & I both have experienced peace about the wait time. Initially, we began to research our options for pursuing another adoption, but were not convinced that was God's plan for us.
For some unexplainable reason, we're currently at peace with staying the course. We trusted God in the beginning of this process, and He has proven faithful -- we're not about to take matters into our own hands now!
We're not too alarmed by the news though; over the past several weeks Vince & I both have experienced peace about the wait time. Initially, we began to research our options for pursuing another adoption, but were not convinced that Was God's plan for us.
On another note, the CCAA has announced they will permit concurrent adoptions. This means we could pursue another adoption while waiting for Mayah. Initially, we were thrilled, but there are several problems. Most agencies and countries will not allow concurrent adoptions, regardless of what China permits. And, there must be at least 12 months between adoptions for families seeking to adopt children concurrently.
Another possibility is to pursue a special needs child from China. Although if we do this, after the SN adoption we'd have to start from scratch to adopt our daughter. We could have a SN boy in probably less than a year.
Please pray with us as we seek God's wisdom to stay the course or pursue another avenue.
Shortly after 7/31/07, China began translating our paperwork. The translation process takes an average of 5-8 weeks (so, we're currently in the middle of translation).
Along with our LID, we were notified of the current wait time: 22 months. AWAA seems optimistic that we should expect the wait to decrease sometime around May 2008. This will be exactly one year after China received the huge influx of applicants trying to beat the new adoption regulations.
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you- Jesus
There are troubling reports out of the Gaza Strip, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern nations. Islamic terrorists are targeting Christian residents and forcing them to convert to Islam under threat of death. This coerced conversion to Islam violates international law and is simply unacceptable. We must stand up and speak out on behalf of freedom for these Christians. Please read the form carefully and declare your membership with the ACLJ by signing our online Petition to Protect Religious and Human Rights.
Petition to Protect Religious and Human Rights
Ms. Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
We proclaim to Christians of the Middle East that we support their religious freedom and the protection of their human rights. We cannot sit idly by while terror reigns in the Middle East and the persecution of Christians and forced conversion to Islam continues in Gaza, Egypt, and other Islamic nations.
We, the undersigned, in solidarity with the persecuted Christians in the Middle East, pledge our unwavering support and strongly urge you to provide a full investigation to protect these citizens and work to safeguard their religious and human rights.
Our team spent the afternoon with a student SBC sponsored. Her family cooked lunch for us...actually, a feast. It was the equivalent of a Thanksgiving meal in the US. We were honored and humbled by their generosity!
This is a student who had received a scholarship. Her eyes filled with tears as she thanked us for paying her tuition. Chinese culture is typically unemotional, so it was a special moment to see her soul so deeply moved.
This Wednesday Vince & I decided to finish the task. We had previously been undecided about continuing to paint the walls 2 colors...would it make the house less marketable should we sell?? We finally came to the conclusion that we didn't care. This is where we live, so this is where we're preparing for our daughter. 'If' we sell, we'll deal with that later...one day at a time.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
On another note, it's never easy to say good-bye...as a matter of fact, I prefer not to say it at all! (Suppose that could be traced back to one of my personality flaws) But this past Tuesday I couldn't escape it. I had to hug a neck, and say good-bye. Some very close friends of ours here in Springfield, MO moved to Texas. Might I mention one of the most southern cities in Texas, Corpus Christie. We will miss Scott and Lori and their children, Caleb & Anna. Like Vince, Scott is a minister ( and, might I add an excellent Bible teacher). It's always a blessing to connect with 'spiritual' soul-mates, and the McDonald's are definitely that!! We'll miss you!!
This morning headed to my Wednesday shift at the Pregnancy Care Center, I made my usual Starbucks pit-stop. As I was leaving, coffee in hand, I crossed paths with blonde-haired mom and her beautiful Chinese daughter, happily perched on her hip. Not allowing one moment for sadness to sink in, I prayed, "Lord, I know you didn't let me cross their paths accidentally...and since you are a merciful and loving God, I'm going to assume you allowed us to cross paths so that I would be encouraged."
God honored that prayer.
Vince beat me home this afternoon, and as I entered the kitchen, he called out from the living room. He said he had something I needed to see....(could it be?).....I tried not to get excited, but instead strolled over to the couch, where he handed me an envelope from USCIS!
Finally, our immigration approval has arrived!!
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44-45
Almost two Sundays ago, a young couple and dear friends, approached Vince and I after worship and placed an envelope in Vince's hand. Though I was near-by, I only caught the end of the conversation. They mentioned selling something and wanting to share their profit for our adoption. Wow! I felt the tears well up...because, I must admit, I was beginning to feel forgotten; until that moment.
Things had been so frustrating because we're still waiting for immigration and we also had three documents returned because they were notarized incorrectly. We're so ready to get our paper work to China so we can relax...we really expected it would be there by now. God knew our hearts were breaking...he intervened and renewed our hope!
What a blessing this couple has been! They shared with us a significant amount of money that I'm sure they could have used for a million other necessities, but instead, they saw our need as priority. Wow, again. It's so amazing to see God's people in action: exercising enormous faith, and sharing sacrificially!
There's a passage in the Old Testament where King David declares that he will not give to God what costs him nothing. I have now seen what that looks like.
But let me tell ya about last week's fiasco...
Our family coordinator is off duty for 3 weeks for her wedding & honeymoon, so we've been assigned a temp coordinator for the mean time. Except for immigration, all of our paper work has been ready to submit to AWAA for several weeks.
Before our FC took off, she suggested we go ahead and send AWAA our paperwork for initial processing. And we did, but...I sent everything to the wrong person AND forgot to make copies of our original documents. That's a pretty big deal since I've been working on papers for 6 months, and if Fed-Ex were to lose them...oh, I can't even stand to think about that!
Anyway, our Fed-Ex made it to AWAA, and was located by the appropriate FC...thank goodness! But one problem was discovered, my OH birth certificate was county certified with the wrong date (06, instead of 07). Everything is time-sensitive! After several phone calls to OH (state and county) it has become evident they will not be able to help me in this lifetime, so I have to pay an agency to handle it for me, quickly. It's really not a big deal, it just stinks to pay for someone else's mistake...wow, suppose that's every-day life!
It's impossible to contact the immigration office, so we'll wait it out a little longer, but if we get no news soon we'll get a congressman involved.
America World is working diligently to prepare for the older orphans Summer Camp. The camp is schedule for mid July and we are in need to families to sponsor a child to attend this camp. Cost is $250 per child to go to camp. Please pray for the children who will attend this camp as well as for the America World staff and the fundraising needs.
For those who wish to contribute, checks can be made payable to AWAA. Please write “China camp” in the memo line.
There's ALWAYS a way for ANYONE to make a difference!!
What a unique Mother's Day gift to honor a special mother in your life!!
It is a snuggly blue-jean quilt. A sweet friend of ours, Karen Durden, made it. She was feeling inspired during the ice storm back in January...or, maybe bored.
Mayah will love it!!
Expected approval time is about 5 weeks, but we've seen both extremes since Jan. Once couple from church rec'd their approval in 2 weeks, but another had to wait 4 mons. oh my! Sooner, than later, would suit us just fine since the wait time to receive a baby referral keeps increasing.
Despite increased wait times, our agency has been such an encouragement! The agency staff has set aside Apr 23-25 to fast and pray...below is their declaration and requests for prayer...we'd all appreciate your prayers, especially over the next 3 days, as well:
In recent years, our agency has asked our community to fast and pray on certain occasions - in hope and expectation that God would change the hearts of adoption officials for the best interest of orphans. We are writing to ask you to join us again as we fast and pray from April 23 -25, 2007; if you cannot join us on these dates, please see if another time works with your schedule.
In the past we have seen God work mightily as we have fasted, prayed,and sought His direction and guidance. We greatly appreciate your prayers for our staff, prospective adoptive parents, adoption officials in the U.S. and abroad, and, most importantly, for the many waiting children in need of a family.
Just as Esther and the Jewish people prayed and fasted and had a ruling overturned, our prayer is that the policies preventing orphans from entering families will be changed (Esther 8:5-8).
Another passage that has been an encouragement to our agency is from the prophet Isaiah-showing us the hope that God can do new things-and providing a way through terrain that seems impossible:"This is what the LORD says-He who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters... See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." -Isaiah 43:16 & 19
Specific Issues in Need of Prayer:*
To decrease the wait time for referrals from China and El Salvador;*
To allow more orphans in China to be listed and available for adoption;*
For paper chasing China adoptive parents who need to reach their May 1st deadline;*
For adoption agencies to be accredited in Russia;*
For the hearts of leaders in the field of adoption to make decisions in the best interest of children - and not to be motivated by personal greed, ambition, or national pride.
We are praying boldly and in faith-as Jesus taught us in Mark Chapter11: "Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen,it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." -Mark11:22-24
This would also be a great time to ask your church community, fellowship groups and bible studies to pray together for orphans waiting to be adopted. For those who can join us in prayer and fasting from April 23- 25, we appreciate your support, prayers and faithfulness.
"She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hand to the needy...She watches over the affiars of her household and she does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed...Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Most of you remember Vince and I made a trip to Cleveland, OH last fall to say good-bye to my Grandma Farner (although I will see her again). She was the most unique woman I have ever known, even as a child I was stuck by her hard-work, compassion and inner strength. Whenever I'm feeling discontent with who I am and my place in this world, I often remind myself that Gram wasn't just a lady I knew, but that I carry her very essence in my genetic make-up. And, once again, I am emboldened to live a life that makes a difference.
Gram may not be watching the world from her front porch, but she is still continuing to leave her mark on this terrestrial globe. Her home has since passed on to a new owner, but not without, in Gram's fashion, touching the life of someone seemingly insignificant.
My Dad contacted me several weeks ago when Gram's house sale was pending to let me know he intended to split his inheritance among the boys and me (THANK YOU!). Life will always be consumed with bills and needs, but at this point in our life, Vince & I have a very unique need...our adoption!
God's timing couldn't make more sense...the legacy of Gram and her home is continuing to influence those who are 'poor & needy'. In just a few short weeks, proceeds from the sale of her home will be wired to the government of China, helping to pay the ransom of a forgotten orphan.
I can't wait to tell this little girl about her great-grandma! And that although Gram wasn't here when she came home to the US, Gram in her own special way, still made sure she was able to come home!
Today she'll interview us about adoption and inspect out home. We expect it will go well...all the AWAA people have been so encouraging and helpful every step.
We were given some very useful info, and got to meet some other adoptive families. A social worker taught the basics for parenting a child that has been neglected/abused. It's heartbreaking to think that even at such a young age, life events can be so traumatic.
Another plus from the week-end was that there were more families adopting from Ethiopia than China. We were told that many families were actually switching from the China program to other countries because the wait for China is so long. Maybe that will work in our favor since we're going to stick it out with China.
We also turned in all our home study paper work on Saturday. Yesterday we received a phone call stating that all our paper work had been reviewed and approved for the next step. At this point they will compile all our paper work into a report, send our social worker to review it with us one last time, then send it to the VA for official approval. After that, we head back to Kansas City to apply for Immigration.
This Saturday we're headed to Kansas City to attend an all-day seminar. It's provided by our agency and is apart of the home study process. I think most of the topics will include intercultural adoption issues and meeting special needs of adopted children. I'm looking forward to the education, as well as meeting other adoptive parents in our region.
Our last pending item is our 06 tax return.
By the way, don't ever schedule a visit with your Dr. unless you're actually sick! Vince and I had to have a whole host of tests (blood, vision, hearing...) to complete our physical evaluation, and since all tests were elective on our part, you guessed it---ouch!!! I'm still in shock! Oh, well...at least our insurance is compliant with adding an adoptive child to our policy. They're even willing to waive the 'pre-existing condition' policy. We thank God for that, because in the long run coverage for her will be more significant than our one-time visit!
Our next step will be to send our completed home study documents to AWAA for review...they'll make sure we crossed all our t's. Once our paperwork is approved by AWAA, then our social worker will visit us, again, to complete the actual home study. After which her paperwork is submitted to AWAA, so they can make sure she crossed all her t's...Finally, we'll apply for Immigration.
We've both been assiged five books to read regarding adoption, so that will keep us distracted when we enter the 'wait' phase.
We started our home study this week. Our social worker came Tues to get us started on our 'paper chase'. (She had been stuck in MI over the week-end and came home to no power on Mon, but still came to see us Tues...what a big heart!) We went to our Dr. on Thurs to begin our med eval and hope to compete it next week. We are also writing our autobiographies and collecting a ton of documents...3 different background checks, new birth/marriage certs, employment/financial verification, and on and on...
We have another home visit and a seminar to attend, but the home study process should be finalized by the end of Feb. Then we apply for our immigration approval. The home study and immigration should be completed by the beginning of April, then we send our paperwork to the Chinese embassy (US) for approval. After that, all we need is translation and then our papers are off to China.
We are getting more and more excited now that the ball is rolling! Please pray that all our papers are completed correctly the first time so there will be no delays.
Vince & I are still completely hopefull...we know that it was God who put this idea in our heart and that in His time and in His way He will bring His plan to fruition!