Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oh, I-171H, how you ail me

Evan and I have been waiting for a letter from the USCIS for our federal fingerprinting appointment that will result in the last piece of paperwork necessary for the Dossier- the I-171H. This piece of paperwork is often referred to as the "golden ticket" because it grants permission from the U.S. government for you to bring in a person from another country into the U.S.

I did receive a packet in the mail yesterday from the USCIS office, but it was a rejection notice. Thourghout the process, we have been sure to cross every "t" and dot every "i" and the one piece of paperwork that you wouldn't want to make an error on is this one because it takes so long to get the I-171H from the federal government. Well, we forgot to sign the application. I know there has to be a greater purpose in this because this kind of oversight is not like us at all.

When I called the USCIS office, I made sure that we have everything needed to resubmit and Evan zipped to FedEx and overnighted our corrected packet to the USCIS office in Texas. While I was on the phone with the lady from USCIS, she said the timeframe we are looking at to get the I-171H is 75 days! This is way longer than it has been. If this is truly the case, we won't be able to submit our Dossier until March or April. On the heels of the news that the wait time has increased, this is a tough pill to swallow.

I still hold to the fact that all of this is in God's plan, and His timing is perfect. However, the waiting is so hard. Please pray for things to move faster or for God is bless us with peace with a longer wait time.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beauty from ashes

"To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory." Isaiah 61:3

I pray this over all who mourn the tragic loss of life in Newtown, CT. I first heard of the horrific events while at school, in the 5th grade classroom where I teach. As many of you, I could not fully absorb what was happening. It was only later that the reality began to sink in- beautiful children, like my students, taken. 

Perhaps it's too soon to hope for beauty, but perhaps not. Over the years, I've had the privilege to teach many wonderful children, and last year in particular I taught an exceptional girl. She is not exceptional because of her intelligence, beauty or maturity - although she possesses all of these traits, she is remarkable because of her generosity. Last year, she and a friend started making jewelry and sold it to benefit a local animal shelter. Over the summer, she and her cousin had a lemonade stand and used the profits to buy cookie dough. She made cookies and brought them to residents at a local nursing home. She sold the rest of the cookies to buy her mom a gift. She kept nothing for herself. 

I told Corynne about our adoption when she came to visit my classroom before school opened in August. Since then, she has sent several emails updating me on her life and events and asking about how the adoption is going. Recently, we met for a "coffee date" today with her mom to catch up, and she proceeded to ask questions about the adoption and how things work, and then she told me about how she has been fundraising on my behalf. Corynne and her mom (who was in tears) explained how Corynne made a jar with a picture of the Ethiopian map on it, and began collecting money since we first talked about adoption. She gave all of the money she earned (did not keep a penny for herself), sold some of her toys, and took a special offering at church to give to our adoption. She then went into her book bag and handed me a crumbled wad of $20s. It took everything in me to fight back the tears (although I totally lost in when I got to the car). I truly witnessed a piece of Christ in that moment. Her joy in giving me this gift was astounding.

Through our adoption process we have witnessed more beauty, faith and generosity than you can imagine, and Corynne is a beautiful part of this story that only God can write. There is undeniable evil in the world, but today I was reminded today of the beauty.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Days of Christmas

I feel very fortunate to be married to a wonderful Godly man. He is kind, respectful, a servant, and has a strong desire to be Christ-like. To show my appreciation this Christmas season, I decided to do 25 Days of Christmas.

How does this work? I made up 25 cards and wrote a message in each. Each day is centered on either encouragement, a small gift, a service, or an activity we can do together. I hung up a red ribbon and got mini clothes pins at Michael's, and each day a new card is put up.

Thus far, the 25 days have been a hit! In addition the experience blessing Evan, it has also gotten my heart centered this holiday season.

Monday, December 3, 2012

An update- where are we now?

Well it's been a while. So, let me give you a bit of an update. We have finalized our Home Study, and we had it written that we are requesting one child 0-2 years either boy or girl. However, we had it also written in the Home Study that were are approved for 2 children 0-2 years. What is the difference? If there comes an opportunity and a need for a home for two children under two, we are approved to take them, but at this point it is not our formal request.

Since we received our final Home Study, we mailed off one copy to USCIS to get our federal fingerprints. These result in the last piece of paper work that needs to go in our Dossier. Although that sounds simple enough, getting the fingerprinting appointment and resulting clearance letter from the Federal government can take 2 months. SO, please pray that it goes faster!

We also found out to day that the murmurings of a longer wait time, is confirmed. Rather than the original projection of 18-24 months wait time (after Dossier submission), we are looking at 24-30 months. Even though I knew it was coming, why do I still feel so down? It's difficult staying encouraged during this time.

What I do know however, is that we have raised enough funds to cover Dossier submission and program fees. We will amp up the fundraising efforts again as it nears our travel time......2 and a half years from now. Thank you all for your continued prayer and support.