Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

 Merry Christmas!  As you can see, we've been celebrating for the past couple of days!  More to follow later :)  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prayers Appreciated

While we are all sleeping tonight, our case will go to court in Ethiopia.  This is the first court hearing -- we do not have to be present for it.  Hopefully we will hear sometime tomorrow if we passed this first hurdle.  (yes, there is a chance that we may not pass!).  

If we would not pass our first hearing they could postpone the court hearing we are traveling for.  We will still travel, however.  If they postpone our hearing, we will give consent while we are there, sign something else, and then we would not have to appear for the 2nd hearing. (The reason parents appear for the 2nd hearing is to say that they've met their prospective child(ren) and agree that they want to adopt them).  We are praying that we pass this first hearing and our second one, of course.

Then, it ain't over yet!  After we pass court (which may take a few tries, but hopefully not), it is an estimated wait time of 2 - 4 months until we return :(

Here's the breakdown of what happens after we go over:

  1. An approval letter has to be received from MoWCY. (we need a positive recommendation) and hopefully this has already been received by our first court hearing.  
  2. The courts must give their consent
  3. We must give our consent (which we will do while we are there). 
  4. After we have 1, 2 and 3, they can submit to get our court decrees and birth certificate. (This typically takes several weeks).
  5. Then, after we have 1, 2, 3 and 4, we can request a Passport.  
  6. Next is the Embassy Physical.  Physical results must be back before we can proceed.
  7. After 1 - 6 is all done, with no errors and no requests for additional information, etc., we can be submitted to the Embassy!  
  8. The Embassy may take a few weeks to review our documents.  They may request more information, or they could approve the case right away.  (if they request more information, we could be delayed significantly).  
  9. If we are approved right way, the Embassy will contact us for an appointment, in which we will travel back over to Ethiopia.  I hear that sometimes we would only get a one week notice!!  
  10. Once we travel back over to Ethiopia, we will have our Embassy appointment and then it will take them 2 days (I think) to process E's Visa, then we are free to leave the country.

Sounds simple, right?  Those 10 steps take about 2 months+ to complete.  Where the 4 months or longer comes in is if any of those steps require corrections, more information or if additional delays are encountered.  So, you can see how quickly things can derail and pile up.  I have no idea if we are kept abreast of what step we are in.  I'm thinking not.

Please continue to pray for a clear path to bring E home.  If additional information is requested, please pray that we can get it quickly.  Please pray for the wisdom of those reviewing Elliana's case.  Please pray that Elliana knows we are coming back as soon as we can to bring her home.  Please also pray for our health, our safe travels and protection over our family at home!

We made it this far, and God's timing has always been perfect.  Four months is a long time, but considering how long we've waited, and considering how much we've been stretched, molded and shown God's perfect plan, we can do it!  It's going to really hard though, especially after we meet her, touch her and hold her.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support, prayers, emails, donations and love.  I can't wait to post pictures of Elliana (once we pass court).  You won't believe how beautiful she is!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Tree Pictures

This is our attempt to get a picture of Faith by the Christmas tree.  As the boys would say . . .  epic fail!

She's still a cutie, just a fast-moving one!  Plus, get a good look at her little piggy-tails, because you might never see them again!  I did it while she was sleeping.  They didn't last very long!   Maybe we will have better luck next time.

Donation Pictures

We are so grateful for everyone's generosity in bringing us donations (and funds to buy donations) for the orphanage our daughter is from and to the care home that she is currently in.  We even had 2 suitcases donated, so we can just leave them there!  We still have more stuff coming, so we will have to take those items on our next trip.  It took up our entire counter and bar area in our basement.  As you can see from the photos, we had a lot of stuff.  Over 150 pounds of stuff, to be exact.  We were able to squeeze it into 4 bags.  Our travel agent said she may be able to get us a waiver for the extra bag fees.  That would be awesome!  If not, each bag is $150!  If that is the case, we will probably squeeze them into 3 large bags and hopefully only need to pay for one bag.  (Brad and I get 2 bags each for free, and I'm thinking we'll probably only need one suitcase each).  So keep your fingers crossed!

Thanks again to our friends, family and friends-of-friends. Your donations will certainly be put to good use.  Please pray that we are able to get all of these donations through customs without any issues.  It would be a shame to carry them that far and then have them confiscated in customs.  I am, however, armed with a detailed breakdown of exactly what is in each bag.  Hopefully that will help.

Such cute little outfits of all sizes! 

Some socks, blankets, towels and onsies

Diaper Rash Ointment and lots of wipes

Miscellaneous medicines, etc.

14 packs of diapers

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Little God Moments

We are still in shock that this is finally happening.  Things honestly have been quite a whirlwind for the past 2 weeks.  I mean, we knew this was coming, but most of the things we have to do couldn't be done until now!  {if that makes sense} We have waited for this moment for so long and with such anticipation, but I honestly haven't really had time to sit and think about what we are about to do! Plus, this is Faith's first Christmas so I'm trying to do some of the same "firsts" that we did on the boys first Christmas and trying to make sure my big boys are ok too, all while preparing to go meet #4. Right now it's a juggling act, and we have a lot of balls up in the air.  All of those things happening at once can be a little overwhelming. I imagine once I get on that plane and have time to really sit and breathe and think, tears will begin to flow. 

My main concern is, I don't want to be so busy in all of this, that I miss the little moments that may turn out to be big the God-moments...ya know? 

I can't even begin to tell you about the God-moments that have occurred in just one week in our home.  First of all, donations for the orphanage and care home have begun to flow in from our church family and friends, and friends of friends. It's really awesome.  We have a friend who works for a large grocery store chain bring us a huge box full of formula, diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointments and all kinds of goodies. A few others took the list and literally bought every single item on the list. We have many others who have items to bring as well and who have forwarded the list onto their list of friends!  It's really amazing!  And of course I couldn't resist the sales at the Carter's and the Osh Kosh outlets for some of the cutest onsies, tshirts and such!  I will post pictures soon!  I just hope we can take it all on this trip!  We are going to start packing it up and weighing it, etc. on Sunday!  

We also received a very generous check from friends who organized a secret fundraiser selling gift wrap, candles, home goods, etc.  They were able to make a 50% profit from the items sold.  So many people were involved in this endeavor, and we were completely oblivious to it. Again, such a God-thing and so amazing!  I don't even think I have the words to express our gratitude right now.  We are still in shock!

Then, we had a couple who visited our church for the very first time come up and hand Brad a check. We didn't even know them, but they heard that we were traveling soon to meet our daughter, sought us out, and wanted to contribute in some way. Again, that doesn't just happen.  

All of this in one week! God has certainly been faithful in His provisions for us throughout our journey. We can't deny that!   We have been very blessed with generosity from co-workers, friends, family and total strangers.  

That's why this blog is near and dear to me.  When we started our journey, we had no idea (and still do not) how things would turn out or how we would make the 2 trips and so many other uncertainties (not to mention a bio pregnancy in the midst of it all!).  We just knew we were following the path that God told us to take.  I know a lot of posts are just my random thoughts and ramblings, but I do not ever want to forget (after life gets even busier) the generosity, prayers, help and blessings of so many people throughout this journey.  I want E to know this too.  She needs to know how many people cared for her, without even knowing her face, and to what lengths they went to, to help bring her home. 

Everyone keeps saying how we are going to change her life forever, but it's really the opposite -- she's already changed us forever!  [I know this is similar to the quote from "The Blind Side"... but it's true!]  

More on Court, Embassy and Travel soon!  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's really happening

Wow. Time is flying by since we were assigned our court date.  So many little things to think about, not to mention ... It's Christmas. Good thing I typically work well under pressure. As I previously mentioned, we already have our flights, our accommodations, and this past week we were able to get our visas. (there was literally no line both times we went to the Ethiopian that was great).

I've come to the realization last week that, this is really happening!  I've tried for 2 years to guard my heart in case things didn't happen as expected, but now, I'm releasing my heart to this little girl who totally stole it the moment I laid eyes on her. It's almost like seeing my 3 bio babies for the first time on ultrasound.  All signs may say you are pregnant, but you don't really believe it, until you see them bouncing around like little peanuts on the screen.  It's at that point that you realize this is REAL and I'm going to be a mom!  That's where I'm at right now!

Last week we received an email announcing that she arrived at our Agency's care home. No more orphanage for her.  While I'm sad for her and for her nanny, I know she will be well cared for at this new facility.  This is a brand new facility that is bright, and cherry and clean.  She will have excellent care here until we bring her home. I do worry about how she is adjusting, but it's reassuring to know that many of her orphanage buddies were moved at the same time, so at least she will have some familiar faces. We are now waiting on some new photos of her in her new home.  Her next move is HOME with us!

Please continue to pray for her transition, our upcoming trip, and our 3 kids that we will be leaving home for a week.  It's going to be harder for me, probably more so, than for them!

I have lots more info and answers to some questions you all of been asking.  Promise to post more soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Yay!  We finally received our court date.  We will be leaving fews days after Christmas to meet our little girl for the first time.  There is so much to do and time will go quickly!  Luckily, we've already secured our flights, so that is done.  Now we are working on accommodations in Ethiopia. 

After that, Visas.  This will require us to visit the Ethiopian Embassy in DC again.  Heck, they are probably tired of seeing us!  At least we know where it is and we know to get there early before the huge line wraps around the building. 

We finished up our travel immunizations last month, so that's done... but there is so much yet to do, especially with Christmas coming.  We are thankful that we can spend Christmas at home with the kids this year and keep things semi-normal for them.  I know they are a bit anxious about our travels too.   

As always, God has been faithful and has orchestrated this trip beautifully.  We will have 2 days of down time in Ethiopia before our court date (and we won't be able to see Baby E on those days), so that will give us time to explore her country, buy presents, sight see, and take in EVERYTHING.   I think if our court date fell on another day, we would probably spend minimal time there... due to our kids at home, time off from work, etc., so this worked out great (although we are going to miss our kids at home terribly!!).   We've also connected with 3 other families from our agency who are traveling the same time as us, so it will be nice to meet and spend some time with them. 

Please keep us in and Baby E in your prayers.  They should be moving her to Acacia Village in a few weeks, and I'm sure it will be difficult for her.  Also, keep December 21st in your prayers.  This is our first court date (that we do not have to be present for).    Praying that all goes well there. 

Our heads are swirling with excitement!  We are going to meet our little girl.... finally!