Thursday, February 25, 2010


Our I-600A is on its way! (The I-600A is an application requesting clearance from Homeland Security to adopt internationally.)

I picked up our finalized homestudy this morning, took it straight to the UPS office and sent the I-600A, homestudy, and copies of our birth and marriage certificates to the USCIS office. One morning of "hurry up" and now several more weeks of "wait." In a few weeks we'll receive a fingerprint appointment card, at which point we will make an appointment to get fingerprinted by USCIS, then more waiting until we receive the I-171H which means we are cleared to adopt! Our agency director told me today that it is usually 2-3 months between mailing the I-600A and receiving the I-171H.

Receiving the I-171H is the green light for being matched up with our child, which means that in 2-3 months we may have a face, a name, and a story to connect with the love we already have for our child.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 days

...since our fingerprints came back and we still don't have the homestudy in our hands. We are waiting to hear from our agency that it is notarized and ready to be picked up.

The hardest part about international adoption so far has been managing my expectations. Something tells me I might say the same thing a year after placement... :)

**Update: Just got an email, and we can pick up the homestudy anytime tomorrow! It will go straight from my hands into an envelope and then to the UPS store to get sent, along with a few other documents, to Homeland Security. We're excited to keep checking things off the list...

Friday, February 19, 2010

our fingerprints came back!

Good news! Our agency finally received our fingerprints back from the FBI, which means our homestudy is officially complete and we can mail it (along with a few other documents) to Immigration. They FBI had told our agency director they expected to have them back by February 26, so they actually came in early! What a happy surprise. Now our documents go to Immigration, then Immigration will send us back a fingerprint appointment card so we can go get our fingerprints done (again) and have them sent (again) to the FBI. Yeah we don't get it either, but we'll jump through whatever hoops necessary to get one step closer to meeting our child!

Monday, February 8, 2010

what we will miss

My friend Kari gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last week. They named her Haley Paige (I'm thrilled). A few days after they got home from the hospital we stopped by to meet Baby Haley. She is perfect and pink and cute as a button.

I loved holding her, all swaddled up tight, noticing her soft ears and tiny eyelashes, velvety cheeks and red lips. Joy and thanksgiving welled up, praise for God's good creation... but an unexpected pang of sadness came too. It was one of those experiences (of which I know there will be many more) where things I have known in my head suddenly fall through the ceiling and land with a crash in my heart.

Of course I know that I have missed my child's birth. I didn't hold him that day, didn't wrap her tightly in a pale pink blanket, didn't kiss his button nose. But, as I have shared before, there is a world of difference between knowing something in a factual way, and feeling that truth in your gut. I have considered what my child might grieve - the losses of family, language, and culture - but I suppose I will grieve too, not only on behalf of my child, but also for what I have missed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

this is really about that

First thing this morning I packed cereal in plastic baggies, put milk in sippy cups and took the boys on a walk. The air was bright and fresh with dew; you could still feel the sunrise. Those are my favorite winter hours.

We have had unseasonably warm weather here for several weeks now, so as we walked through our neighborhood we took stock of all the signs of early spring: cherry blossoms, tulip shoots, blooming rhododendron bushes. It was beautiful, but sad too, because I don't think winter is over. Next month will probably not be kind to these springy things. Later, while the boys napped, I wrote a little 'stream-of-consciousness' poem about it. Then I read it back to myself... and realized that it was about more than flowers. It was about our stage of the adoption process.

Here is the poem:

More Than These

It is early February, but you wouldn't know it.
Four straight weeks of April weather and nobody knows what to do,
least of all the rhododendrons.
What is it like, opening a bloom and knowing
four weeks from now its pistil will be frozen to a broken petal?
Do you do it just because you can?
In February it is joy and beauty, early and lovely
but with a bright sadness;
March will surely kill it.
Why don't you leave it alone today?
Tuck it tightly in the bud,
safe and sheltered until true April sunbreaks tease each blossom
from the wrap, in good time.
That's not your way.
Your ways are not our ways.
Is there love in the coming freeze? Surely you love us more than these.

At times I feel a bit like that doomed rhododendron blossom. As I read the profiles of waiting children and see their faces, an unseasonable warmth makes me open up and (even though I know better) fall in love. It may be months until I have any business falling in love. In the weeks ahead, a bitter cold may come -- a child I love may not be mine. It is not time... but I feel so ready. And in the midst of all of this, God still is love.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

left hand, please say hi to my friend right hand

Alright, I know I said I was done complaining (and I am! really!) so please file this in the category of "humorous musing" and not "complaint."

OK, unless I am missing something, this is where things currently stand: We went to the police station in November and got fingerprinted. We sent those fingerprints to the FBI. They were supposed to send them back in a few weeks; we still don't have them. When we get them back, we can send in our homestudy (and a few other documents, including the fingerprints) to Homeland Security. They will send us back... a fingerprint appointment card. We make an appointment with US Immigration to get (you guessed it!) fingerprinted. These fingerprints are sent to... (yes, really) the FBI. Then they send them back to the local office and Homeland Security issues us a clearance to adopt.

Ahhh gotta love it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

397, 398, 399...

As much as I've heard over and over that international adoption requires patience... as much as I've tried to be prepared for the waiting... as much as I know that God is in control of every aspect, including timing... sometimes it is very tempting to just stomp my feet, shake my head, and yell, "WHY IS THIS TAKING FOREVER?"

And the really pathetic part is that we are truly at the beginning of the waiting. But I think that is what makes it all the more frustrating -- realizing just how far we still have to go. Our fingerprints have not come back from the FBI, the MOWA office in Ethiopia is still closed, and we just got an email saying that the average processing time for the Homeland Security clearance paperwork has recently jumped from 2 weeks to 2 months...

I could throw a little fit, but you know what? It wouldn't make me feel better. And you know what else?

It's Going. To Be. OK.

I mean, it's understandable that I'm excited and impatient for this process to move along, but honestly where's the fire? We don't have a timing crunch, there are no external circumstances putting pressure on our process -- my toddler-like patience level is really the only thing mucking up the flow. And so...

I shall cease and desist from all whining and grumbling, and commence counting my blessings. Here are a few to get me started:

The two sweet-cheeked rough-and-tumblers in the bunk bed upstairs.

Walking this journey with a husband who loves me (even when I'm whiny).

An incredible agency that is committed to loving, helping, and uniting children and families.

An agency director whom I trust and admire working tirelessly to bring my child home.

A longer wait means more time to raise money.

Many warm and beautiful Ethiopian families in our area with whom we hope to connect.

The knowledge that, whoever he or she may be, our child is in God's hands and on the road home.