Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finally!

Our marriage certificate arrived today in the self-addressed stamped envelope that I had sent back on December 2nd.  I am thinking that maybe Charles, the guy at the OK county courthouse, was confused the two times I called him and he said they had been sent. The letter included was dated December 29th, which is the 3rd time that I talked to him.  I at least have them now!

So, tomorrow, I will be getting a money order for quite a bit of money so that the US government can allow our child to become a citizen of the United States.  One thing that is neat about their citizenship is, once we have done all of this prep work (I-600, Visas, etc) and we are on our way home, as soon as they step foot on US soil (aka the jetway of the airplane) then  they are a US citizen.  Tomorrow, I will send off all of our documents to the Department of Homeland Security down in Oklahoma City.  We will then wait for them to send us a letter for us to come and get fingerprinted. Then we will wait some more.

Another thing that happened yesterday is that AWAA approved our home study report. Amber then brought our official copies to us.  So, the Home Study is officially done!   So exciting!  

We are really now just playing the waiting game. 




Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Update

Our Christmas has been wonderful! The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect is if we had our new little one running around... Next year, oh, next year!  

This week has been not quite as productive as I thought it would.  Our home study as not been approved by AWAA yet (they have had it for over 2 weeks).  Amber really thought they would get it approved before Christmas but it did not happen.  Then, our marriage license that I sent away for on December 2nd still has not arrived.  I even called Charles down at the OK County Courthouse and he said he wasn't sure what happened to the first one so he sent another one.  That was over a week ago.  So much for the Priority Mail Pre-Paid envelope that I included with my request!  That leads to our immigration documents (I-600A) not being sent off yet.  I need to include a certified copy of our marriage license.  So, hopefully the first few days of next week will be a bit more productive!  

We hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas.  




Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fun Little Things

So the mailman brought something fun today. It is my second purchase for our new little one.  The first one is a Christmas present so I can't tell. The second is their stocking! I was able to find one that matched K & Cs (thank you ebay!). I am so excited!  I love to be matchy matchy and if I was unable to find one (they are from 2oo6) everyone would have gotten new stockings. But that won't happen because I found it!  

My sweet little daughter even said "Mom, when we know what the baby is we can get their name put on it."  This is a girl after my own monogrammed heart!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last Home Study Meeting

Today we had our last home study meeting! We have had 4 meetings in a little over a month. We talked with Amber about any questions that we had as well as the next steps that we need to start taking. 

We got the OK to send off our Immigration documents. This is huge for us.  It is also a long wait...it is supposed to be 60-90 days but it is looking like it may take longer than that if we judge on how long some of our other adoptive friends are waiting. Hopefully, the back log will get caught up and it will only take the time they say (wishful thinking for my impatient soul).  We will be completing that document and sending it off along with our money order in the next few days :).  One thing that we have found out is that every document is attached to money somehow.   

In the last week, we also have reviewed our actual home study report.  This is a short history of Ryan and I's life. It is interesting to see how Amber interpreted some of our answers about our childhood, marriage, children, etc.  All in all it was pretty accurate (I think it is supposed to be, yes?).  

So from here we are on the dossier side.  This is the governmental paperwork. We have gathered all but a few documents and have faxed them to our AWAA coordinator in Virginia for approval. All have been approved so far!  We lack 4 out of what seems 100s.   Once we get the other 4 complete, I will drive down (thanks Rande!) to OKC to have them all authenticated. For our friends in Ethiopia, they only needed one authentication document for their notaries. We get to authenticate each document (yes, all of them) that we had notarized.  This basically is saying that the state of Oklahoma approves of the notary who approved/notarized our documents.  O.K.  Then more stuff after that, but that is all for tonight...

As I look around my daily life, I am reminded of who is coming, who is waiting, who is wanting us.   As I type this, I realize that our little person in Africa is somewhat like Jesus.  Jesus is coming again.  Jesus wants us.  Jesus waits for us patiently.  In this season of Him, I rejoice in knowing that I will hold our little one soon as He will come back soon to us as well! What a glorious day both of those days will be.  




Sunday, December 7, 2008

This week..

So the kiddos are in bed so that will have to be the next post!

Just wanted to give an update what should happen this week...
1) Get our Home Study Report from Amber
2) Send away our Immigration Documents (will take 60-90 days to return)
3) Faxing more documents to Terra for our Dossier (she approves them so we know we got them right before we send them all to her officially
4) Get our certified copy of our marriage certificate via mail


On another note, we have decided to request one child.  We were thinking of requesting a sibling group but after much though and prayer, we have decided to request one child in our dossier. We are going to leave our government paperwork to say one or two children just in case there is another little one in Rwanda that is a sibling to our little one that we see once we get there.  That way we will have the official paperwork done if that does occur.   I do believe that we will be adopting again after this first time but it will be down the road. 

I am still so excited about this process.  I know that the waiting time will be hard but my heart is so happy with the thought of our child joining our family.   I can't wait to hold him/her for the first time and feel him/her close!  

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

3rd Home Study Meeting Done!

We just finished up our 3rd Home Study meeting with Amber. It went really well! I was able to give her lots of notarized documents and we finished up our interviews.  We had a couple interview today and then Ryan finished his personal interview.  We were a little "scared" about the interview process from what people had told us...but it wasn't bad at all.  We were both pleasantly surprised by how easy it actually was.

Amber will now complete our home study report and plans to have it to us by next week.  We will then be ready to send our Immigration forms to the government. This process takes a long time, we are talking 60-90+ days of waiting for someone to complete our forms.  Once we receive these forms back, we will send our dossier to AWAA. We do have most all of our dossier complete.  We lack only a couple of items which I will get ready this week.  So the waiting time has begun.  We will wait for our home study report, then for our immigration documents, then for our authentication documents, then for AWAA to translate and approve, then for the Rwandan government to approve and match.

I know that this road will be long but am ready to start the waiting. Every day that we wait just brings us that much closer to our child being home!  Thanks again for your prayers and support during our journey! We appreciate all of you!

Next post...Kaylee and Cannon's view of our adoption

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crazy Love

In our Lifegroup we are reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Ryan and I have both previously read this book before but it is nice to read it with a new set of eyes.  We highly recommend this book to anyone!  It really makes you look at your priorities in your life and see how most of us have it all backwards.  I will gladly send you a copy (free) of this book, just leave a comment and we will get it to you.

So, I was reading today and Francis challenges the reader to take some time and think about this truth:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet of nations.  Jeremiah 1:4-5

Have you thought about this?  God has known us and what our lives hold since before ever....He has called us to be "prophets of nations." What does that mean to you?  Does that make you want to change the way the world works? Change the way you live your life?  It gives me an overwhelming sense of determination to do what He wants me to do.  

Francis goes on in the next paragraph saying:
"Ephesians 2:10, which tells us that we were created "to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  That verse is meant for me and all others who have been "saved by grace through faith."  My existence was not random, nor was it an accident. God knew who He was creating, and He designed me for a specific work."

This is exactly how I feel right now.  God has a plan for me and my family.  God knows what we are supposed to do.  I am saved by grace through faith.  My existence has a purpose.  Now, it is figuring out that purpose.  I do believe that my purpose is to be a mother. To be a mother to my biological children as well as my Rwandan child.  I would have never thought that this was to be so.  However, I am overjoyed to be able to do this.  My heart is overflowing and my cup is full. What an honor it is to be able to show God's love in this manner. To the child that is mine as well as to all those who know us and see us.    

If you are struggling with what your purpose is, there is one simple answer. PRAY. Pray for God to show you HIS purpose for your life. Pray that God use you in whatever way HE sees fit. It probably will not line up with what you think your purpose is but His way is the right way. It is overwhelming to see this unfold right before your eyes.  Have faith that He will show you....because He will. It may not be in your time, it will be in HIS time.   

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We are thankful

We are thankful that we have begun this journey. We are thankful for supportive friends and family. We are thankful that God has chosen us to be parents once again.  We are thankful for the little soul that waits for us an ocean away.  We are thankful for encouraging words. We are thankful for the Trinity. We are thankful...









Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another great meeting

This afternoon we had our home study #2.  It went great!   Amber interviewed Ryan and I separately and also interviewed the kids.  The kinds of questions were: describe your strengths & weaknesses, describe your spouses' strengths & weaknesses, talk about your childhood, how do you cope with stress, etc.  She asked the kids the adoption: how did they feel about the adoption, what things did they think would change one the adoption occurred, how they felt about having a sibling that may not look like them, etc.  The kids answered honestly...I was trying to eavesdrop from the other room :).  

We will meet again next week to give her the rest of our paperwork, have a couples interview and then Ry needs to finish his individual interview. Boy is he a talker!  I got my interview done in 20 minutes, he went for 30 and is only 1/3 of the way done :). I am sure that there will be diagrams and pie charts by the end of this... (those that know him well are laughing right now!)
He says that he is just a better communicator than me...we all have our good qualities, right!

Our homework for this Thanksgiving is to finish up our autobiographies, financial statements and get copies of our passports and marriage license.  

We are thankful for all of your prayers during this process. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

They did it!

The kids had their physicals today and they did great!  Thanks to a little bribing from mom (aka a surprise from Walmart) they didn't cry when they got their TB test.  I was very surprised that they did so well.  Now, they did hide under the table until the nurse came in but quickly got up when she came in the room.  Cannon did say that it just felt like a mosquito bite.  Kaylee said that it did hurt but she still did great.  It was a little stingy when I got mine so I wasn't sure how they would react.  I am very proud of them!  Tomorrow we have another home study visit to do our individual interviews.  

Over the last few weeks, we have been contacted by several families who are in the adoption process from Rwanda or have adopted from there.  Be sure and take a look at the blogs that I have links too to see these precious families.  What an amazing story it is to see God's love in the face of these children (both the biological and adopted kiddos).  Their lives have been changed, their eternity changed.  Isn't that inspiring?  

In my quiet time on Friday, I was reading Proverbs 3.  Verses 5-6 say:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you, which path to take."
These versus mean so much to me, especially in this season of my life. Ryan and I have changed so much emotionally and spiritually in these last few years.   We are learning to depend on and trust God with everything that we have and everything that we do.  We don't know God's will. We just have to trust that He will take care of us. And He will just as He has since before we were born.   

More to come tomorrow....




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on the meeting today

Our first home study meeting is complete!  We met with Amber for almost two hours going over all the information. There is so much that we need to do and alot of it has to be done at certain times. We gave her probably half of the paperwork and we will work on the other half.  She explained the difference between the home study packet and the dossier packet. The home study is a snapshot of us that she uses to complete the home study report that she will include in the dossier. The dossier is all of the information that the Rwandan government will need from us.  

We also did the home tour.  That was very non-eventful. She just looked in the rooms and that was about it!  I think it is more to ensure that we have enough space for a child.  

Next Tuesday we will meet to have our individual interviews as well as interview with the kids. She talks to the kids about their thoughts on this process. So that will be interesting to hear how they vocalize to her what they are feeling about the adoption.

Another thing Ryan and I are working on is deciding whether to get one child or two. We were talking about getting a sibling group.  Amber helped us think through this process.  We will just need to be broad in our requests. She said that this will make the matching process go faster as well.  So we have specific wording that we will need to use in our dossier.  Since we will be broad in our request, we really don't know who we will get.  One or two, boy or girl, then ages (3 months to 3 years).  So it will be so exciting to see who God bring us. I envision the day that we find out who we are matched with to be like finding out the sex of our babies in the ultrasound room.  We will see how many and what kind!  That would be so neat even if it was twins!  Amber did say that AWAA has had a few twin sets come through but they are rare.  

Today was a great day!  I feel so at peace with this process which is totally not like me since I am kind of a planner :).  I know God is with us and I love the calmness that I am experiencing!  

Please be in prayer for our little one(s), for his/her parents and for the individuals caring for them.  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Home Study

We start our home study in less than 48 hours!  Wednesday at 9:30 we will begin this process! I have organized our mound of paperwork into two accordion folders with tabs (are you surprised?).  I have read it all and signed where I am supposed to sign and have handed it over to Ryan to do the same.  

I asked Amber what all we need to have complete by our appointment and she said whatever you can.  So I will be going back through to see what else I need to do for then.  I started my autobiography last night.  We have a guide of what we are supposed to discuss but man is it hard.  Who knew writing about myself would be difficult.  It is hard to decide how much detail to put into it.  I don't want to note everything little thing but also want it to be enough.  I will see what Ryan puts in his then may revamp mine :).

Another fun note, I don't have TB!  Boy was I worried (hee hee).  We will see if Ryan comes up positive or negative tomorrow. He goes in for his physical then. The kids will go on Thursday. 


Well, I will let you know how Wednesday goes! 


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Appointments & Family Coordinator

We have scheduled lots of important appointments this last week!  We are having our first home study visit next Wednesday, November 19. That is so exciting to me to be able to really begin the process...so far we have just signed our names and sent $ :).  

Then the entire family as times to go get our physicals and blood work done. Mine is tomorrow morning :) The rest are next week.  I can only eat until midnight tonight (my appt is at 9:30) so after this I am off for a snack!

We also were assigned our Family Coordinator today.  This is our main contact at AWAA and should be with us through our dossier process.  Her name is Duni and she is actually from Africa. She is over the Africa program currently at AWAA. We are excited to have her.  She has already shown much knowledge in our questions! 

Some other exciting news..our friends Rande and Casey (see blog roll) got their state notarized dossier back today. So now they just need to send it to AWAA then it is off to Ethiopia. Congrats you guys! 

Be praying for us over this next week as we start completing lots of documents, meeting with Amber (our home study person) and going to our appointments!  Pray for our child too....  

Now I am off to get something to eat...there is probably a cookie around here somewhere! 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Background Checks, Physicals & Home Study, OH MY!

Happy Saturday!  We have had an eventful end of the week with our adoption. I have mailed off our background checks which will take approximately 4 weeks to be returned.  According to Amber, our homestudy person, this is the document that takes the longest.

We have also scheduled our first home study visit.  Nov 19 will be our initial meeting with Amber.  We have lots of paperwork to fill out before then!  I printed off the packet and was like "wow"!   We will meet 4 times over the next 6 weeks. AWAA likes for us to do our dossier at the same time as our homestudy so hopefully both will be complete before Christmas.  

The entire family has to get physicals.  We also all have to get TB test.  I had that in high school and remember it burning. Like fire to be exact. The kids will not be excited about that at all!  I am debating whether to tell them ahead of time.  I am wondering if they could do it simultaneously on the kids.  I know when one starts screaming the other will run towards the hills!  

Please pray for our child.  That they have clean water to drink and food in their bellies.  Please pray for their mother, father, family. We don't know if they are even born yet.  This process has me in AWE!  It smacks me right in my face with FAITH.  I bought a sign today at Hobby Lobby. It says "Faith is not believing that God can, it is knowing He will." 



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lifewater

We have more exciting news at our house. Ryan has been accepted to become a trainer for Lifewater!

Can you imagine not having clean water to drink, bathe or wash your clothes in? Or a working toilet? There are millions of people across our world that do not have this luxury. Unsafe water makes people and childern sick. 6,000 children die every day from the results of unclean water. 6,000 babies people! That makes my heart ache...

This is what Lifewater does..they train people to educate, implement and fix. Teams go to Africa, Asia and South America. They educate the people on the hazards of unclean water. What good is a well if the people contaminate it? I had never thought of that before. Then they teach them how to maintain the wells that will be or have been drilled for them.

This is an amazing program and I am so proud of Ryan for becoming involved. At our church, we are encouraged, no expected, to GO. GO show the people of these nations that God loves them and cares for them. GO spread the word of Jesus Christ. GO help people that need it. GO LIVE SACRIFICIALLY FOR THE MISSION. We are all capable of this, we just need to make the choice.

Click here for more information about Lifewater. You can sign up, donate, educate yourself.

I hope my child has clean water....

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Paperwork & Books

We got our email this  morning with all of the first round of paperwork that we will fill out. Most of it consists of our rights as adoptive parents, how we will treat the child, AWAA policies and procedures, etc. There is also an online training course that we will take.  We plan to do that tonight after the kiddos go to bed!  We will mail the paperwork off tomorrow morning then our home study can begin.  

I was looking in Kaylee's backpack this evening.  She has checked out a book from school that is titled "Rwanda: A Question & Answer Book."  This made me smile as I pulled it out of her bag. She says that she checked it out because she really wanted to know about her new brother or sister's culture.  Such a sweet girl. I think she is excited as we are!  

Monday, November 3, 2008

Approved!

AWAA called just a bit ago to tell us that we are approved! We will receive emails tomorrow that will have our paperwork to start on.  Yeah!

Waiting

I called Bethany at AWAA this morning at let her know our decision. Now we are waiting for a call back to let us know we are onto the next step. She said that would either  be later today or tomorrow.  Then we will start the paperwork!  I will post when we get the call.

Some facts:
Households below the poverty line: 59%
Religions: Christian 80%, traditional African 10%, Muslim 10%
Official Languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English
HIV/AIDS: 13%

Friday, October 31, 2008

Decisions....

We received a call on Wednesday from AWAA.  We needed to make a decision. We needed to decide whether we wanted to stay with Rwanda or change to Ethiopia.  You are probably asking "why would you need to change?"  There was an issue listed on our application that made our situation "risky." Since Rwanda is new, they aren't sure how the government would react.  We could get through the home study, send off our dossier and then be rejected by the Rwandan government.  Or we could not be rejected. This was the decision that we had to make.

Ryan and I have spent the last 3 days praying, talking to people with AWAA, and also counseling with people that we respect their opinion.  Tonight, Ryan and I worked through all of the counsel that we have been given. We trust that God has used these people to let us know His will. We have decided to stay with Rwanda. God has picked out our child and we will get to them.  If we end up being rejected by the government, then we trust that means that our child wasn't ready.  Then we will start the process in Ethiopia.  

So we are calling AWAA on Monday morning to let them know our decision.  From the call on Wednesday, we are approved we just need to pick our country. So we should get our packet the first of next week so the next step will begin!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some News

Not the news we were waiting for but great nonetheless!

I had asked Amber, our AWAA contact, what the time frame for the adoption process would be. On their literature, they list it as 10 months.

Here is Amber's response:
This is the word I received from the main office on the Rwanda wait time... "3-6 months, though I expect this to continue to increase." Wow, huh????



We are just so happy about this response! Just think, we could have our new little one here next spring or early summer! That is a crazy thought!

We still haven't received our approval letter. Amber said that she sees us in her system though. They will call us then send an email that contains our packet. Good thing I know this because Kaylee and I have been staking out the mailbox!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Memory Verse

This was K's memory verse this week for church. I thought it is definitely applicable to the road we are starting on.  God has a plan for us, a purpose.  

Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1


Thursday, October 23, 2008

5 Days Down

We have 5 days down out of the 10 day wait before we get our acceptance letter.  They say 10 business days....so just a few more days to go.

A sweet story form Kaylee...
After we told the kids about the adoption, Kaylee and I were driving to OKC to see Pappy.  This is what she said:  "Mom, it doesn't matter that my sibling will be brown. God loves us all the same."  This statement from her is a sweet reminder that God is in charge.  I know that we will have issues come up with our child being a different race than we are.  However, God is in charge and will help lead us through these times.  I know he will give us the right words to say!

Facts about Rwanda:
1.  Kigali - the capital - is the city in Africa most frequently visited by American Christian Rock Bands and stadium-filling Evangelists coming to convert Rwandans to Christianity (despite the fact that almost everyone is Christian already). 

2.  Fried grasshopppers are a delicacy in Rwanda, but you have to keep the lid on the pan while you are frying them alive, or they tend to jump out. 

3.  50% of the population of Rwanda is under 18.  

4.  Rwanda is well known for its Gorilla population - as popularised in the book and film Gorillas in the Mist

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How we think we got here

When Ryan and I look back on our lives over the last few years, we are amazed. We can know see God in every aspect of it.  You don't see the big picture when you are in the daily grind.  It is hard to see it when you have laundry, dinner, kids activities, jobs, etc.  Here is how we think God put all the pieces into place to start this journey.  First of all...boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy and girl get married, boy and girl have 2 little kids, then....

Summer 2003: Internal strife of Sunnybrook. We made a commitment to stay at Sunnybrook and converted our college student memberships to regular memberships.  We went down front on Sunday with PA to do this.  Ashley Weichbrodt was in the crowd but didn't know us.

Fall 2003: We are invited  by Ashley Weichbrodt to join Drew & Kim Henderson's Lifegroup from church. Ashley's son went to Kaylee's school and she thought she recognized us  from going down front at church so she talked to her LG about it and they asked us to be a part of their Lifegroup.

September 2005: Jake & Erin Moore joined our Lifegroup. They moved to Ethiopia in January 2006 to be missionaries.

March 2006: New Orleans/Hurricane Katrina Mission Trip with the Sunnybrook Youth for Ryan.  This was Ryan's first mission trip.

October 2006: Ethiopia Mission Trip with Sunnybrook Ministers & Rande Butler.  After Ryan went to New Orleans, he really wanted to go on another mission trip.  Some of the church staff were going to Ethiopia to support Jake & Erin and they asked Ryan to come along. Ryan fell in love with the continent of Africa.  

March 2007 - Summer 2008: Ryan has gone on several mission trips (I think we are up to 9 or 10).  This is his passion.  He loves helping people as well as getting to know others along the way.  His compassion to helping others is truly inspiring for me.

October 2007: Ryan goes to Catalyst with a group from Sunnybrook. He is truly changed. He struggles to figure out how we need to change so that we can better serve God in our lives.  I have the same realization...is this it? Is this what we are living for? New house, new car, etc...we both want to do something different but don't know what it is.

Late Spring 2008: Rande & Casey Butler asked us to serve on their adoption committee. They are adopting a little boy from Ethiopia.  Rande has a blog that she started.  I love reading their blog and she has other adoption blogs connected to hers.  I have spent countless hours looking at the adoption stories of people and their children from Ethiopia.  Seeing the faces of little ones who were once orphans is just awe inspiring. 

Summer 2008: I feel a burning in my heart to adopt a child.  I have spent so much time looking at other people's journeys and researching international adoption.  I truly feel that this is what we need to do.  I talked to Ryan about it early September. 

October 2008: Ryan and I decided that we do indeed need to do this! We fill out the application and send it in!  

So that in a nut shell is our journey as we look back.  So many pieces had to fall into place, for this to be possible.  God is amazing at his plan!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our journey begins.....

Who knew this is where we would be!  God has a great way of continuing our story without us even knowing.  Ryan and I have decided to adopt a child from Rwanda. 

We thought our family was complete. We had always said that we wanted 2 kids and we were blessed with K and C.   However, a few months ago, the desire to adopt was placed upon my heart.  I was so scared to tell Ryan...I thought he would for sure say no.  But he did not!  Instead he did his "research" and came back a few weeks later with a "I told Rande we are thinking about adopting."  This blew me away!  And from there we have started the process.  We completed and shipped out our application last Tuesday and got a call from AWAA on Friday saying that our application was complete and they were sending it to the next department!  We should hear back in 10 days. Then we start our Home Study. The home study should take approximately 6 weeks.  

A few facts about Rwanda:
Population: 10.1 million
Has the largest population of orphans in the world
Is know as the "Land of a Thousand Hills" 

Next post...
Looking back, putting the pieces together to see how we started this journey