Tuesday, November 20, 2012

small steps will add up

We have two meetings down, with our social worker, and two more to go, which are already "in the books" for next week! :)  Every little "meeting" I can check off, means we are one step, however small, closer to meeting our little one!
Here's a picture of the stack of paperwork we turned in yesterday.

As we were leaving today's meeting, I grabbed my purse, Shaun followed behind me and our social worker stopped us at her front door and said..."You know Mitchell family, I've never had a couple who on the first meeting turned in all but one of the items required for their paperwork...and I've been doing this for a while."
I smiled and Shaun laughed, and we walked to the car.  I couldn't help but think that if she only knew the desires of our hearts she wouldn't be the least bit surprised.  And, of course, she is dealing with me...and I work a bit differently than most; sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes not, but in this case it's working in my favor.  :)


Monday, November 19, 2012

Where we're at...

Hello Family and Friends,

Well, I have a week off of work, so that means that I have time to write. During the week, it's hard finding the time to write, as much as I want to and especially now, because Shaun and I have a second job, that's right a second job.  It's called a "paper-chase", in other words, collecting paperwork for our dossier and home-study. I heard it was a daunting task and I now see exactly what others meant when they said "daunting."  I keep reminding myself that every "daunting" moment I experience will be blessed, the day I'm finally able to hold my baby in my arms. The task of adoption is overwhelming and already I feel emotions that range from joy to sheer confusion and sometimes sadness...not for myself, but for the deep need of each of us to do our part and show love.  However, there is another feeling I have...and that is peace, peace in knowing that I am finally listening to the calling the Lord has placed in my heart. I don't know where this journey will take Shaun and I, but I know that we will be blessed beyond measures, more than we could of ever had imagined.  
I just can't help but give all the glory to God because he has worked in my heart and I am beginning to see his heart and the more I see his heart the more I want to do his will.  He is continuing to provide support for Shaun and I, and I see his hand in work in so many areas of our lives and others. I just love it. 

"Paper Chase"
Okay, switching gears now.  Going to update you on where we are at in the process and kind of give you an overview of the steps we will go through before bringing our baby home.  
Right now we are in the middle of our home-study, which means we are currently meeting with our social worker (four meetings in total, and the last meeting will be at our house, she interviews Shaun and I together, separately, & calls our references).  For the home-study, we have to prepare about 20 different forms of paperwork, ranging from financial statements, medical evaluations, written references, photos of your house, floor-plan of your house, employment verification...the list goes on and on. This part of the paper-work does not have to notarized, however, in the midst of working on our home-study paperwork, we are also working on our dossier paperwork. This paperwork is very similar to the the home-study paperwork, but the dossier paperwork must be notarized. Once our home-study is complete, meaning our social-work deems us "good, fit" parents, then she writes up a formal review on us that she will send to our agency.  At that point, we can then apply with USCIS (United States Citizenship Immigration Services).  It takes on average 30-60 days to be approved by the United States.  Once we receive our approval from USCIS, then we can submit our dossier paperwork to the courts in Ethiopia.  Once it's been submitted and approved, we are officially in the referral process.  Are you lost yet? Ha! ;)

Referral Time Period:
Referral time period is when you are waiting for the referral of your little one.  They are telling us, at this point in time, that the referral time period, for an infant, is between 12-15 months.  Then one day...we will receive our referral, via email.  They will send us pictures of our little one, medical information, and any background information available.  We will have two weeks to accept/decline our referral.

Passing Court:
1st Trip to Ethiopia
Shortly after receiving our referral, we will fly to Ethiopia, meet our little one, attend a court hearing, which will confirm our desire to adopt our child and begin processing all the necessary paperwork.
We will be there close to a week, then fly back, without our baby.  And, I'm already praying for strength and guidance for that day.
2nd Trip to Ethiopia
We will travel a second time, after the Ethiopian courts have approved our adoption. The main purpose of this trip will be take custody and bring our baby home to our family!!!! Praise God for this coming day!

So, in around about way, that is the process we are currently in, and the process that we will be going through. Realizing, however, that we are working with a 3rd world country and laws can change at any given moment.  So trusting in the Lord and flexibility in this journey is key.
Now, you kind of know where we are in this and maybe it will help to understand some "lingo" I may use and range of emotions, I'm sure I will write about.  :)

Today we meet with our social worker, for the first time, and I'm proud to say that we have all but one pieces of our paperwork to turn into her! Hallelujah!  It's been a long couple of weeks!
I have to say a special thank you to our family members and close friends who helped to write such beautiful letters of recommendation for us, not only beautifully written, but so quickly written. Big Blessing and big Thank you to each you, you know who you are. We love you.

Going to leave you with a video, that I saw on a friend's page, Jennifer Jones. It's by Audio Adrenaline, called "Kings and Queens".  And, it stars beautiful Haitian spirited children.
I can't wait to bring my "king" or "queen" home to us...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Ethiopia?

I've had a few people ask, "why Ethiopia?" I think it's a great question and I love when people want to know about our story and what lead us to this country, not that I have some grand story or long connection with Africa, but I do have reasons that I feel are worth being shared.
Before I start, I want to say that each person who adopts has there own reasons that lead them to that decision, whether it be domestic or international--each story that lead them to their decision is just as beautiful as the next.

We initially wanted to adopt from Haiti, stemming largely from our experience in Haiti and from years of hearing stories from my mom and dad. As I've said before, Shaun and I knew, early on in our marriage that we wanted to adopt and after looking into Haiti, we soon realized that we didn't meet all their requirements(each country has there own criteria that couples/individuals must meet to adopt) and not to mention the process was twice as long than other countries.  So, we started to look into other 3rd world countries, for Shaun and I this was important.  After seeing the devastation in Haiti, it was impossible for us to turn our backs on the deep need to help those who literally have no one.  To be honest, about that time I started to read blogs of those who had adopted.... and Africa was coming up over and over again. We started looking into Africa, and then agencies, and quickly realized the enormous number of children in orphanages, in Ehtiopia.  And due to this overwhelming large number of orphans, we could bring home an infant, which is something that is very important to Shaun and I, and there it was........Ethiopia was our place........is our place.

I created a short video to explain a bit more about our decision. Enjoy! :)