Saturday, January 31, 2009

Off they go...


Last night our family did the first of our adoption fundraisers.  We prepared our fundraising letters to go out in the mail!  

We had so much fun getting our letters ready. I thought that this would be a good project for the kids to get involved in.   So we had:

Batman, I mean Cannon, the stamper



Kaylee the stuffer

Mom and Dad did the folding

We all had a great time preparing to bring our new Smith home!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A very productive day!

Today was a great day!

We go the kids off to school then began our dedicated adoption day. By dedicated, I mean we had 2 important things to do for our adoption process. We headed down to OKC. Our first stop was the state capitol to visit the Secretary of State to get all of our notarized documents (all 23 of them) authenticated. This means that the state says that our notaries were all true notaries (not frauds, expired, etc). This cost us $478 dollars. It seems that Rwanda needs each document authenticated. Ethiopia, on the other hand, just needs one document authenticated for the packet which is $20. So this would explain the range that they put on the adoption fees sheet ($20-500).

So we left our precious dossier documents with Pat and she told us that they would be ready sometime after 1pm. We then headed to Target (yeah!) and did some perusing. After Target we went to Coits for some yummy lunch! If anyone is in the OKC area, I highly recommend Coits, it is a childhood favorite! From Coits we headed to the Department of Homeland Security. We had a 12 o'clock appointment to be fingerprinted. We arrived early and waited until the 15 minutes before window arrived. We were making our way into the department when a lady stopped us and said "you have to come back when the light is on". Ryan and I both visualized a red light saying "ok, come in". We went ahead into the department and were met by the security guard, Elijah. He proceeded to tell us that the building didn't have electricity and we should come back in "a couple of hours."

Great! So, we decided to go wait at a local Panera. We waited until a little after 1pm then headed back to the department. Thankfully, the electricity ("lights") were back on when we arrived! We then waited for almost an hour before we were finally called back. Once we were called back, we waited in another line. I noticed a smell and couldn't quite place it. Then as we came closer to the counter, we noticed the "Orange Tuff" (the knowledge of owning a janitorial business) on the counter. We cleaned our fingers with it in preparation for the prints. Then we were called back to another room that had computer finger printers. They put our fingers (separately of course, meaning Ryan on one computer and me on the other) on these glass pad things and then our prints magically appeared on the computer screen. It was pretty cool to see! Then we were done! The finger printing to all of about 10 minutes.

Then we headed back to see our friend Pat at the capitol. She handed me our now authenticated dossier documents and we were on our way back to Stillwater. We had such a productive day and got to enjoy each others company ALL DAY! That doesn't happen very often (spending all day together and then enjoying it :).

Now we wait. We wait for the approval from the US Government to say that our adopted child can become a US citizen. The paperwork says this should take 6-12 weeks. We will see how long it actually takes!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From the mouths of babes

I asked the kids a few questions about adopting. I typed exactly what they said for their answers....they make me giggle!  K & C are just so sweet!

Kay's thoughts on adopting:

1.  What are you most excited about with our adoption?
"Getting a new brother or sister and how it helps in the world."

2.  What has been your favorite thing so far?
"The Home Study because Amber asked me a lot of questions and I really liked being interviewed."

3. What do you want to teach your new sibling?
"Stuff I have learned about Ancient Rome and the Wild West and just like everything I have learned that is really cool."

4. When do you think our new baby will be here?
"In June or July."

5.  Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?
"I don't know."

C's thoughts on adopting:

1.  What are you most excited about with our adoption?
"I think I am gonna get a brother so I can wrestle. I can't wrestle with Kaylee so I can wrestle with a brother."

2.  What has been your favorite thing so far?
"getting a brother"

3. What do you want to teach your new sibling?
"spanish and english"

4. When do you think our new baby will be here?
"tomorrow, no in spring"

5.  Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?
"a boy"

6. A thought to our new sibling:
   "I want to get you soon because I really want to get a brother or a sister!"



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Visitors

When I started this blog, I thought it would be a great way for family and friends to keep up with our process and our family.  There are 3 things that have happened that have been such a surprise and such a blessing!

1) We have made new friends through our blogging. We have found other families who are adopting from Rwanda.  What a blessing this is to see people who are a few steps ahead of us or who are a few steps back!  We are a family!  Even though I probably will never meet these families face to face (even though that would be great!) I really feel a connection with them!  So hello to all of our fellow adoption families!

2)  We have had lots of visitors from all over the world read our blog.  Ryan and I were in such shock when people outside of the states where our family and friends live visited.  There have been visitors from the majority of the states.   Then we were in even more shock when other countries started showing up!  We have even had someone from Rwanda visit us!!!! That is so exciting! The countries so far that I know of are: Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Pakistan, Iraq, Canada, Belgium, Russia, Spain and Chile!  That is just incredible.

So what I am asking is, if you are a regular visitor of our blog, leave a comment. Let us know how you found us and if there are any questions that we could answer for you.  I am just curious and I promise not to bug you!

3) If you are finding our blog because you are thinking of adopting yourself or are in the process, welcome! I have found such comfort in looking at adoption blogs.  So please feel free to look back at where we have been! I would like for you to leave a comment too! Let us know where you are adopting from or where you are thinking about adopting from. We are a family! We will add you to our prayer list! Let us know if you have any questions too!  

I know that God is leading all of this.  He has been here with us since before the beginning! I love seeing Him work in this process, even with the blog!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Part 1: It Came

Just a few short hours ago, I was on Facebook and put this as my status:  "

Ashley Bertram Smith


Then, we were on our way to take Kaylee to piano when we checked to see if the mail had come. Right there in my stack of bills, invitation, junk mail, they were there. Two envelopes addressed to Ashley Bertram Smith and Ryan Wayne Smith. They just happened to be from the Department of Homeland Security. I squealed with delight (yes squealed!) when I opened them to see that we have our appointment for our fingerprinting/biometrics!  Our appointment is in 2 weeks!  Yeah for us!  

I tried to call Ryan to share my excitement but he was in "a meeting" a didn't answer. So, I then called my friend Bridgette and got to share my excitement with her!  Little steps like this are just so exciting! I see God working in this journey! I didn't expect this this soon but here it is :). So hopefully that will mean the rest of the immigration process will go quickly as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

another week

Two weeks down!  We are still waiting to hear from immigration.  We know this process will take a while so we really waiting for a letter telling us to come get our fingerprinting done.  Step by step, right!  We did get a letter and a receipt for the Department of Homeland Security so I know they have our paperwork which is a great place to start!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reflecting...

The last year of my life has been CRAZY!  It has been turned upside down and inside out. God is working in me in ways that I would never have imagined.  I was so comfortable in my before life. I had the house, the car, the activities, the friends, the family. Everything (I thought) was just right.

Then God started working in my heart. Is this really what life is all about? Is this really how I should be living?  Is status quo really what I should be striving for?    I fought God on this and tried to keep all of the things that I had in place.  I was comfortable, why change.  But God kept working.  And working. And working.  Ryan and I took a hard serious look at our lives and decided that we weren't living the way we should. Our priorities were not what they were supposed to be.  So over the last year plus some, we have been rearranging our lives to be that of what they should be for God.  This has been an incredible experience. 

I see God working in us every day.   We have made the obvious changes first (house, activities, etc).  Then we moved on to the bigger things (adopting :) and using our resources to help others.  Making these changes, both big and small, have been so rewarding to me.  I see God on a daily basis in my life. I take more time to be with Him.  I make Him a priority. I pray more.  I thought that this would all be enough.  However, I have an aching in my heart still. I sit here and think is what I am doing enough because it doesn't feel like it.   

I attend PLACE at my church this weekend. It was a conference to see where my PLACE is within His ministry determined by my personality, spiritual gifts, abilities, etc.  I am so grateful to now know these things about myself.  BUT, now I am in more turmoil as to what I am supposed to do with my life. I have all sorts of thoughts and ideas in my head to where my life will lead next.  I want to do more, I desire to do more, I need to do more.

This week in our chapter of "Crazy Love", chapter 6 is opened with a paragraph from "The Pursuit of God" by AW Tozer.  The first few lines of this paragraph sum up the battle that is going on in my heart and head.  
" O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace."

I know that the time will come when God will let me in on His plan for me and my family. I can't wait to see what is in store next.  And since I am a planner, I would prefer to know asap!  The anticipation is killing me!









Wednesday, January 7, 2009

1 week waiting





One week down of waiting for our I-600 approval. This is a 6-12 week wait! 
 So week one is under our belt!

Here are some interesting facts about Rwanda:
Average Life Expectancy: 49.8 years
Literacy Rate: 72.7% can read!
Border Countries: Burundi, Congo, Tanzania, Uganda
Industry: cement, agricultural products, small-scale beverages, soap.
Agriculture: coffee, tea, pyrethrum, bananas; livestock.
Exports: coffee, tea, hides, tin ore.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

I mailed off our immigration paperwork on New Years Eve.  Yeah! I am so excited to get that off.  So the counting begins....

I have had several questions about how long our entire process will take.  AWAA, our agency, says that this process should take 10 months.  Now, that is not a guarantee.  It could take less than 10 or more than 10. It is truly in God's hands.  We began this process in late October.  The first part (homestudy) took only 5 weeks. The rest of the time will be spent waiting.  Waiting for our immigration paperwork to be approved and sent to us and then waiting for the Rwandan government to match us with a child. Our family hopes that it this waiting time will be quick. We are all so ready to have a new little Smith around.  

God is so good. I know that he has our child chosen for us.  He knows how many hairs are on their head. He knows that they will be a perfect fit for our family.  He knows that they BELONG to us.  He knew all of this....before time began.  Mind blowing, isn't it.

We have all been adopted, believe it or not.  I was reading and this verse really spoke to me.  We are all orphans without Jesus.  Jesus went through all of the "waiting and paperwork" to have us be a part of Him.  I am so glad that he adopted me :).

Ephesians 1:4-8
 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.