Signed, Sealed, Delivered… (well, signed and sealed… almost there!)

Yesterday, I took our two forms that have to be county certified down to the Shelby County Records building and got those sealed (thank you, Matt May J.D. for all the help!) and then we sent them via FedEx to Nashville last night. They’re set to arrive in Nashville tomorrow and hopefully they will return to us by the end of the week or the beginning of next week. God has already provided in a BIG way this weekend, so now our total still needed to submit our dossier is only $960!!! Yippee!!! Thank you all for your prayers and gifts. 

I was talking to Matt’s step-mom this weekend and we were both saying what a humbling experience this is… to watch God work in your midst like this is truly a lesson in faith and an experience in miracles. Even on the hard days (and there have certainly been some of those! :) I am so grateful God chose to take us on this journey. 

As we prepare for Pumpkin’s birth, I’ve been working on some ideas for ways to incorporate EEOO into our newborn photo session. I hope they turn out in real life like they look in my head :) Our hearts are permanently woven with this country. I find myself wanting to learn everything I can about this culture, and I look forward to family trips there as our kids grow up. 

I’m also so excited about the quilt project, especially the idea of having something tangible that we can leave with EEOO when we go for our first trip. After I make it this fall, Matt and I are going to keep it on our bed so that it can pick up our scent. A lot of my adoption books say that it can be very disconcerting for internationally adopted babies when they arrive home because different parts of the world have a different scent. I’m hoping this will help our baby make the transition. We’d love for you to be a part of this project, even if it’s just a dollar. Trust me when I say that every dollar matters.

EEEK!!!

We came home from date night, and I stopped to check the mail. My heart skipped about three beats when I saw an envelope from the Department of Homeland Security. But I told Matt, “Surely it can’t be. We only did our fingerprints three days ago.” We opened the letter and I’m reading… reading… reading… trying to figure out if this is the form we’ve been waiting on… the last form we need to submit our dossier. I expected it to have I-171H really big at the top, but it didn’t so I thought, “This can’t be it. It couldn’t have gone that fast.” But then at the very bottom in what must be size 7 font… I-171H! This is it! This is the form and instead of it taking 6-12 weeks to get it took us FOUR WEEKS! Thank you for all your prayers, and thank you to our Lord for providing in such a BIG way!!! 

So, what now… I have to take our Power of Attorney form (the form that Matt and I sign saying we grant AWAA power of attorney privileges to act on our behalf in Ethiopia) and our Dossier Cover Sheet (which outlines ALL the pages in our dossier) to Shelby County Circuit Court to get certified (to make sure our notary is actually registered… she is! Don’t worry :) And then, we will overnight FedEx it to the Secretary of State of TN where it will be certified there and then we send it to AWAA and they send it to ETHIOPIA!!!! EEEEEEEK!!! We are getting SO close to being DTE (dossier to Ethiopia)!

Now, after we are DTE we will be waiting for a while (18-24 months is the current wait time) but when you are in the paper-chasing process it feels like you will. never. be. DTE so this is a HUGE HUGE HUGE step forward. And after we are DTE, we will be given our number and we will start moving up the list until we get to the top and they send us a referral for our child! (You think I’m exclamation point happy tonight… just wait until that day!) 

But the nitty gritty… we still need $1500 to submit our dossier. Our total due at dossier submission is $7700 and we have $6200 is our adoption fund right now! (That all important I-171H form costs $890… ouch, huh?!) We have already paid over $5000 towards our adoption, so God has already provided over $11,200 to date for our adoption and that’s since February. That is AMAZING!!!! I know this $1500 is nothing for Him! He didn’t bring that form to us in record time to leave us now. I know He will provide! If you can help us and make a donation, just click here or click on the button to the right. 

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! It feels like Christmas in my heart tonight! :) 

Threads of Hope

I’m really excited to tell you about a brand new project I’m working on to raise funds for the adoption. I have a deep love for quilts, particularly ones with a story. On L’s new big girl bed, she has the most beautiful quilt my Papaw’s mom made. My Mamaw gave it to me last year at Thanksgiving and I knew I wanted it to go on L’s bed. I’ve wanted to try making my own quilt, and I had the thought to make one for EEOO. I’d love to take it over there when we go on our first trip and leave it with our baby when we have to come home while we wait to get our child’s visa. I know it’s going to break my heart to meet my baby and then have to come home without him or her, but this way our child will have something to hold every night made with love. 

And this is where you come in… I fully subscribe to the belief that “it takes a village” especially when it comes to adopting. So many people have prayed for us, bought t-shirts, donated stuff for garage sales and encouraged us on hard days. I want this quilt to capture the love of not just Matt and me, but also all our friends and family who are walking this journey with us. 

So, here’s the deal. For every donation we receive from now through October, I will add a square to the quilt in your honor. If you’d like to give us a special piece of fabric, I will certainly use it, but if not, then I’ll choose a pretty one and add it to the quilt. The donation amount does not matter, $5, $10, $100… we are incredibly grateful for every penny. I hope to finish the quilt in November. (How good a sleeper Pumpkin is will determine that date :) Please help us spread the word about this project. Anyone can donate. There is a button on our blog that will take you to a secure site for donations and all money goes directly to our adoption fund.

And I will also make a list of email addresses with everyone who donates and send you a picture after we return from our first trip to Ethiopia so you can see how you helped an orphan find his or her forever home.  

Thank you so much! 

Prayer Request

We would greatly appreciate your prayers that God would expedite our fingerprints’ journey through the Memphis office of the USCIS. We have our fingerprint appointment in the morning and it looks like it can take 8-12 weeks after that appointment to receive our I-171H back. This is the last form we need to submit our dossier. I would very much like to submit our dossier before I go to the hospital to have this baby which is just 8.5 weeks away! 

If we don’t get to submit before then, I trust God’s timing and know it is perfect. But I know it would give my heart rest to know that our dossier was one its way. Thank you for praying with us. 

More Shirts

We’ve had several requests for another t-shirt run since we ran out of our original order. So, if you’d like to order one, go here and select your size(s) http://www.customink.com/signup/15wet9to

Shirts are $20 each, and are available in child and adult sizes. We have $1500 left to raise before we submit our dossier to Ethiopia and about 6-12 weeks to go to raise that! (We’re hoping it’s closer to 6 weeks so that we can get on the wait list sooner :) Thank you for helping us reach our goal! 

Dolls

Image

You’ve all probably heard that my daughter’s favorite phrase for a long time was, “Mo, mo babies!” She loves baby dolls and sleeps with 3-4 every night. Recently, we’ve been wanting to get her some baby dolls with darker skin so that when EEOO comes home, he or she would see baby dolls with a similar skin tone to his or hers. One thing I love about young children is that they have no “stigma” attached to skin color. Another reason I think God calls us to have “faith like a child.”

L’s birthday was last week, and my mom got her this doll that I wanted to tell you about. It’s from a company called Hearts4Heartsgirls.com. They have six dolls (similar in size to the American Girl dolls), but each girl is from a different country (India, Belarus, Laos, USA, Mexico & Ethiopia.) Mom had heard about the Ethiopian doll and knew she wanted to get one for L. The dolls are beautiful and very reasonably priced (around $30 and available at Target and Toys R Us), and a portion of your purchase price goes to support World Vision efforts in that particular country. L loves her doll Rahel!

In other related news, we got the rough draft of our home study this morning. I reviewed it and sent our social worker a couple changes. I am praying that this will be finalized next week, so that we can send in our I-600 form next week as well! Would you pray that with us? Thank you!

USCIS

A little update from us… 

Our home study is just about finished. Well, actually we’re all done with the meetings and paper work. Our social worker is just finishing the actual writing of the home study. We hope to have a rough draft in the next couple days that we can look over, make any adjustments needed and finalize! 

After we get that finalized, we start working on getting approval from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). Funny story, Matt and I were watching The Proposal yesterday and when they showed Margaret and Andrew (Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds) going to get the fiance visa they showed a sign for the USCIS. I had never noticed it before, but I sure do now! We have to fill out this form called an I-600 (Petition for Orphan Request) and send it in and also get another set of fingerprints done that will be run through several more checks. 

While that is going on, we have been getting the rest of our documents ready for our dossier. If you decide to adopt, a notary will become your very best friend… I’m blessed because one of my very best friends is a notary! Liz to the rescue! 

And one more thing if you should feel God calling you to adopt… I know it’s scary to think about the money. I know that feeling so well. But we have seen God provide every single penny we have needed, and I know He will continue to provide as we move forward! Please don’t let the high cost of adoption be the reason you tell God no. He will provide! And if you ever need someone to talk to, please contact me! I would love to talk with you and pray for you! 

Wrapping up our Home Study

We are just about finished with our home study. We are waiting on our background checks to come in from Alabama (apparently, they are slower than Mississippi & Tennessee and you have to have background checks done in every state you’ve lived in for the past 10 years). We’ve completed both our physicals and we’re just waiting for those to be notarized and then the home study is complete! Yippee!!! 

Next, we start compiling additional documents for our dossier. Almost all of these documents have to be notarized so notaries are becoming our best friends :) Because of the length of time for our adoption (around 2 years from Ethiopia) all notaries have to not expire for at least two years. That complicates things a little! 

I had a hard week last week. I’d like to blame it on pregnancy hormones, but in reality, I’m sure the culprit was that little demon called control. I was having a hard time just trying to figure out the finances of everything. Paying for a hospital delivery, maternity leave and trying to raise the funds to submit our dossier this summer. Even though I KNEW I was grasping for control when I needed to trust, I just couldn’t let go. Faith is a journey, not a destination. 

The BIG sale!

WOW! I am still having a hard time finding the words to describe how God provided through this garage sale. First, I just have to make some public thank yous because these people are our cheerleaders, our encouragers, the ones who keep us going on the hard days… 

To Beets & KayKay- (aka Matt’s mom and step-dad) thank you for ALL your help and support with the sale. Thank you for treating us to yummy meals when we were too tired to cook. Thank you for giving L a fun weekend while we were busy with the sale. Thank you for the entire U-haul full of furniture PLUS another trailer :) And thank you for your unending support & encouragement. 

To Stephen & Jess- there just aren’t words. You’ve given in every way possible and I’m not sure we would be on this journey today if it weren’t for your story of the beauty of adoption. Thank you for giving up your house, your garage, your weekend, for buying lunch and paying a ridiculous amount for that little Mickey Mouse toy ;) Our family is forever changed because of your friendship. 

To Brian & Robyn- you will never know what an impact your donation of furniture and boxes and boxes of other stuff meant to our sale, but when you meet our baby one day I hope you will know that you were a very big part of bringing him or her home. 

To Doc & GranJan- (aka Matt’s dad & step-mom) thank you for the generous donations and clearing out the storage unit for us to sell! Thank you for loving us and encouraging us along this journey. 

To Paul & Heather- thank you for unloading and reloading and unloading and reloading so many times. Thank you, H, for tagging one million items and for praying over the armoire :) 

To Rob & Amber- thank you for also unloading tons of furniture and for tagging, for selling and for praying :) What a cool thing we got to experience when we saw God answer our prayers within seconds of praying. 

To Matt & Mary Jane- thank you for braving the doctor’s office to go notarize my physical! and for all your help with garage sale both before hand and on the day of. 

To Liz & Ryan- thank you for your donations of furniture and to Lizzie… thank you for answering my teary calls and reminding me that God didn’t bring us this far to leave us now. And thank you for understanding all my pregnancy hormones and emotions ;) 

To Eric & Karen- thank you for all your help beforehand and for your sweet email of encouragement Saturday morning. 

To Heath & Shannon, Jacob & Jana, Ryan & Lauren, Drew & Melody, Beth, Kelly, Van & Megan (hopefully, I’m not forgetting anyone) THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATIONS! We had SO much stuff to sell, and that’s all because of your generosity!

So, you probably want to know the total, huh? Well, God certainly provided in a BIG way! Saturday, through selling stuff and donations from generous people (some family and friends, some total strangers) we received…

$3,697.75 towards our adoption!!!!! We were overwhelmed!!!

When Stephen brought me the calculator with a figure over 3K on it, I just started crying. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to every single person who helped us get ready, who came to help us sell and who came by and bought stuff. We need $7,700 to be able to submit our dossier this summer and this garage sale got us half-way there!!! 

When I was doing my priority time this morning, I was reading John 8 where the Jews basically call Jesus a liar because they don’t believe He is the Son of God. And it occurred to me… when I doubt that God can do what He’s told me He will do, I am in essence calling Him a liar. Why is it so much easier to worry than it is to trust? Because worry places the control with me whereas trusting places the control with God. I just encourage you that if God has called you to do something but you are worried about the financial aspect of it, consider this… it ALL belongs to Him. Every single bit of it. And like my best friend Liz has to remind me of over and over… He didn’t bring us this far to leave us now. This is His calling and His mission that He has let us be a part of. And it’s all for His glory and His alone. He has provided every step of the way, and I know He will continue. 

One last God story… Saturday morning the crowds were thinning out and we had ONE piece of furniture left… and it was a BIG one. This huge armoire that was in great condition but it just hadn’t gotten a lot of lookers at the sale. Amber, Heather and I decided that we were going to pray specifically for that piece to sell. Amber asked Heather what she would do if the next person who drove up walked straight over to the armoire and Heather said, “I’ll wave my hands like this.” {Insert a very comical rendition of a very tired Heather at a gospel worship service :)}

Seriously, less than 60 seconds later a truck drove up and a lady got out and headed STRAIGHT towards the armoire. She opened the right door, then the left. Paul, our top salesman, headed over to talk to her. She said she was interested in the armoire and a couple other pieces. She said she needed to go talk to her husband in the car. While she was gone, Paul told us what he was going to offer her all the pieces for, but he didn’t even get to make his offer because when she walked back up she said she would take it all for a certain price that was MORE than Paul was going to ask!

God provides!!! 

 

Progress… slow & steady :)

We are nearing the end of our home study, wrapping up our physicals and still need to fill out the form for our FBI clearance and fingerprints! Our in home meeting with our social worker is scheduled for early May, and next weekend April 28th we will be having our huge garage sale to raise funds for the adoption. We have had a ton of furniture and other large items donated and we are SO grateful!!! 

We are also excited because our church (Highpoint Church) just started a four-week adoption class led by one of my most favorite friends Jessica Stancil. Last week’s class was so helpful and encouraging. Adoption is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is a hard journey, and while it might seem like bringing your child home is the end of the journey… the real journey is just beginning… the journey of parenting this precious child to love God and love people. 

Matt and I have been working through our required reading, and we are learning a lot. With our daughter, we were training her to be independent from an early age. Training her to be able to fall asleep on her own and self-soothe, things like that. But with this son or daughter, we will be training this child to trust us, to depend on us. Knowing that it is highly probable our child will come from an orphanage there will be issues of neglect and deep grief that our child will be working through. (Note: the orphanage workers are usually wonderful care givers, but because of the sheer number of kids they are responsible for it’s just physically impossible for each child to get much, if any, one-on-one attention.) This changes the way we discipline and train this child. We are learning a lot, and we’ve been referred to the Empowered to Connect blog/conference from multiple people, so this is a resource we will be leaning on a lot. 

So, that’s where we are right now. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other (with a few inevitable steps back too, I’m sure). Specific prayer requests: for baby EEOO, for our birth mom and birth dad, for their protection and that they would know the love of our Lord and Savior. Please also pray that we would be able to know the birth mom (and birth dad’s) names and as much information as possible about them. From talking to other adoption mamas, this is so beneficial to the child. 

Thank you SO much!