Friday, March 26, 2010

apparently i have nice fingerprints

...or so I'm told. Jon and I went to the Homeland Security office in Tukwila today for our USCIS fingerprint appointment and when I put my finger on the little screen the lady goes, "Ooohh, you have very nice fingerprints!" I did not know there was such a thing, but hey - here's hoping that nice fingerprints get processed faster.

My advice to those who haven't done this yet: bring a book. We had to wait over an hour and the only entertainment is the closed captioning on CNN. Which, incidentally, made me realize why I do not like watching the news: 90% of the words spoken on a newscast are totally meaningless repetitive cliches. As opposed to the stellar quality of TV programs I typically watch... but for some reason I prefer the meaningless cliches of creepy-V-neck-wearing Simon Cowell or stressed-out teenage moms to those of polished news reporters. Go figure.

Anyway... we are officially watching the mailbox for our I-171H and praying that God will show us which child he has for us. Our hope is that there will not be a delay between receiving the I-171H and accepting a referral!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

fingerprint appointment

Today we received our fingerprint appointment notice from USCIS! This is a huge answer to prayer for a few reasons. Not only is it exciting because it brings us one step closer to a referral, but the fingerprint appointment date is the best possible date we could have hoped for. Jon has a business trip to Northern California in 2 weeks, and we were concerned that our appointment would fall during that time. We had been praying that it would be scheduled after he got back, but God did one better -- our appointment is next Friday, before Jon leaves on his trip. God is good!

After the fingerprinting we will be waiting for our homeland security approval (i-171), which is the final piece of documentation necessary for us to be ready to accept a referral. Thanks for your prayers!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MoWA re-opened!

We got word from Ethiopia yesterday that the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Oromio has finally re-opened! MoWA is the government agency that issues the necessary paperwork for a child to be legally cleared for adoption. The Widow and Orphan homes operated by YWAM have continued to take in children, but have been unable to place many of those children for adoption due to the MoWA closure. Now the way is cleared for these children to be made "paper-ready" for adoption. One of them may be a future Ballast... we'll see! We are especially excited for the families who are all ready to go and have just been waiting for MoWA to open -- can't wait to hear good news of new referrals coming soon.

No new updates on the change to the court procedures... please keep praying. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

deuteronomy 10:18

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18

This is the God we serve: defender of the defenseless. I am holding on to this truth today, in the midst of news from Ethiopia that breaks my heart.

The courts in Ethiopia have made a shocking change in their adoption policy: they are now requiring families to be present for all court cases. Signing power of attorney is no longer acceptable - families must travel to Ethiopia to be present in court. Parents must also be present at the Embassy appointment, which can happen anywhere from 6-10 weeks after passing court. Families who already had court dates have now been told to assume their date is postponed. Those of us earlier on in the process have no idea what this will mean. Our desperate prayer is that in-country representatives for adoption agencies will lobby successfully for a reversal of this policy.

We received an email with the above information an hour ago, about the same time that our agency director posted this update on her work in Ethiopia. [I highly recommend reading it. Yes, right now. I'll wait.] Reading about the incredible kingdom work that Joy is participating in while she is there makes my heart break even more over this additional road-block between children and their adoptive families. It is so frustrating... I have much more to say about my opinions on international adoption law, as well as how it may or may not be affected by media coverage of international adoption... but I'll save that for another post.

For now will you please pray with us:

1. For in-country adoption representatives to find favor with Ethiopian officials and convince them to reverse their policy change, to the benefit of waiting children and families.
2. For the families who already had court dates and now have no idea what is happening or when their children will come home.
3. For our process - that this change would not have a negative impact on our adoption journey, and that God will make a way for our child to come home in his perfect timing.
4. For the fulfillment of God's promise in Deuteronomy 10:18 -- that He would move powerfully in Ethiopia to defend the cause of the defenseless.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the shotgun approach

Our awesome agency director, Joy Casey, is headed to Ethiopia again this week -- please keep her in your prayers! Check out the YWAM Ethiopia blog to see updates from her trip over the next few weeks.

If we had already accepted a referral by now, we would have put together a package for Joy to take to our waiting child... But we are not at that point yet, so I came up with another idea that Jon dubbed "the shotgun approach." The boys and I spent a morning this week making cards for Joy to take to the children she visits. Maybe, just maybe, one of those cards will end up in the hands of our child... Its a long shot, but still fun to think about. Either way, we had a great time making them and hopefully they will bring smiles to sweet faces.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

really real

One of the things that excites me about becoming an adoptive family is the connections we will make with other families like us. So far this has mostly happened through the blogging community - many of the other families who have adopted from Ethiopia through YWAM have journaled their experiences online, giving us the opportunity to follow their stories through the process.

This morning I read an update from a couple that just accepted a referral - a beautiful 2 1/2 year old boy and a sweet 4 month old girl will be home with them in a few months! I was filled with joy and excitement for this couple, and wrote this response to their news:

Praise God! We rejoice for these 4 lives, held by the hand of our loving God from before birth, each taken on their own journeys that began apart but will begin again together. May God bless all of you from now until you see one another's faces, and on through the years for generations to come.

When we started following this couple's story they were just a few weeks ahead of where we are today. The fact that they now have pictures in their wallets of the little boy and baby girl who will soon be their children... it is overwhelming and almost surprising in a way. There is a bratty little part of me that has been whispering, "You're not really adopting. You're just filling out a bunch of paperwork and paying a bunch of money, but nothing will actually come of it." Watching families do the same things we're doing and then be rewarded with the smiling faces of their babies... its like spinning on my heel to face that little bratty nay-sayer, putting my hands on my hips, and saying "See? So there. Now go away, nobody likes you!"

Despite the doubts of my inner brat, this is real. Before we know it, the words of joy and congratulations I wrote to R & J will be spoken to us. It's going to happen. We really are adopting!