Thursday, December 30, 2010

Patty's Passport is Back!!!

Mail contents from 12/24/10:
  • Partners International child card update,
  • DM2 - Make your own Christmas Party present ($100)
  • Patty's new and improved US Passport!
So, when I made copies of my passport in November to be notarized as true copy documents, I made the mistake of sending off my passport before I took it to get notarized...which does not work, because the notary is notarizing the copy saying "this matches to the real document that is IN FRONT OF ME."  Anyhow, lessons learned, right?  We found a way around it, but I have been holding out hope that the passport would come quickly, and it has!  The funny thing is that I saw the mail and wondered "What is the US Government sending me today?" without a thought that this was my passport.  It only took 3 weeks!!!  And it was a WONDERFUL Christmas Eve present!

PS - Update on my last minute Christmas shopping. I learned via email those little boys LOVED their new clothes and their Mom was very appreciative.

Mail from 12/24/10

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FreeCycle - The Awakening

Not sure who else uses FreeCycle but the idea is that people won't throw things away that others can use, thus recycling, and everything is 100% free.  I like toparticipate by giving things away and once I got something for free (needed baby food jars WITH lids for a craft project) that I needed!!  Anyhow, the deal is if you have something you want, then you posted it, if you have something you don't want you post it, then you coordinate an exchange with other people that want or don't want it.  The person keeping the item is generally required to pick up the item, however, if they post they do not have transportation, then the person donating the item knows this ahead of time.  I have done both: dropped off items and I have put items on my porch for people before and it works out really well.

I saw last week a person post they needed clothing items for their boys, ages 4 and 10.  This was the only information given.  So I emailed her back and asked her what sizes her 4 year old wore and what items specifically he needed.  Her response was "he's small and he needs everything."  So then I got together 2 of everything of the clothing I had just taken downstairs, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pants, 2 coats, etc. etc. etc. and realized I needed a shoe size and emailed her back, his size was bigger than Dane's so I wasn't able to help with that.  Anyhow, I asked her if she wanted directions and she said "I thought you could drop it off."  So now, my impatience is growing because she wants something for free, doesn't tell me the size or what exactly she needs, she wants to make it hard to give it to her and now she wants me to spend 45 minutes to transport it to her...rrrrrrr...So Monday I tell her I can, but it won't be until the end of the week because my work schedule is insane and I don't want to go to her neighborhood alone after it's dark.  Tuesday, she emails and asks when I will be there.  I email back and let her know it will be Thursday or Friday.

So Thursday I can't make it and I go there on Friday after work and I email first to let her know what time I will be there and let her know I will leave it on the porch.  As I am driving there I pray for my attitude, because it's raunchy.  And then I kind of forget why I am cranky and get lost, but find my way humming along to Christmas music.  And I pull up to her house.  It's a VERY run down house with a very, very rickety ramp up to the house.  She's in a wheel chair excited and waiting for me.  I can see how her sons clothing is about 3 inches too short on him and why she was so anxious.  She told me how it would take her about 5 hours and missing a day of work to pickup the items and how much she appreciated my time and gifts.  I give her a big hug and ask her to email me if the clothes don't fit.

I got back into the truck and had overwhelming compassion for this widow and her children and prayed for them and their situation and asked for forgiveness for being so selfish that I couldn't have made time for her before this.

I went and picked up Dane and after he went to bed I was reading a book about reaching people where they are, and the thing that hit me the most is "reaching people will cost, it will cost, time, money, convenience, comfort and more, but this is what we have been called to do."  Ouch, and I remembered, this is exactly why I joined FreeCycle to help other people that have needs and are willing to ask for help. Wake up call!

And finally, I learned what I sound like when I pray generically.  "Dear God, I want something.  Please read my mind.  Patty."  and how frustrating that is.  By praying specifically He can recognize my specific request, and I can recognize that it's Him that delivers.

So I thought I was done Christmas shopping, but I've got two more boys to shop for.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Moment of Love

Today Dane had a dentist appointment that he was very good for and as a reward, he got to go to Jump-n-Party before returning to school.  It turned out we were the only ones there for a half an hour and Dane was having a great time.  Then he came over to me and he gave me a hug and said, "I wish my brother or sister was here with me now so they could have fun too.  We would be having so much fun.  I love him/her. I hope they get to eat their dinner tonight." Of course I told him I wish they were too, and how nice and kind that was to think of his sibling, and then let him run off to play while I balled like a baby.  I am so thankful for Dane's kind heart, and even though he really wanted to play with other kids this morning, I feel it was God's grace for us to have that moment.  Love you Dane Dane.  Love you Dane Dane's little brother or sister.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

United States Citizenship & Immigration Biometrics Appointments Set - 1/5/2011

Another day of exciting mail for us!  It's been wonderful getting all of the Christmas cards, letters, postcards and other correspondence, but the most exciting letters all week have been from the United States of America - Citizenship and Immigration Services.  They have approved our paperwork, and are now requesting we have our fingerprints done in the Federal Building.  Okay, so this is the part where you, I, and everyone else says, hey didn't you/we already do this?

Yes and No.

We had the FBI approve our fingerprints and clearances, and we did the fingerprints in September.  Well, shouldn't they still be good?  Yes, but this is the part where our government has some duplication.  In the State of Washington, for all adoptions, domestic and international, they require a Federal background check.  Believe it or not, Washington is one of the few states that does that.  So, the Federal Government doesn't expect the state to have done this done already, and they require the paperwork to be done by a USCIS employee.  Thank you God they have an office in Spokane!  Some people have to drive and stay overnight, but we are thankful this is not us!

Anyhow, this makes it look like we have about 70 days left before we will have the blessing of the US Government and then, oh wow, it will be time to go through all of the authentication, certification, translation & more.  What a wonderful early Christmas present!

Monday, December 6, 2010

USCIS - Application Received and Confirmed!!!!!

I opened up my email today to see something wonderful!!!

Dear Applicant/Petitioner: Your USCIS application/petition has been received and routed to the National Benefit Center for processing. Within 7 - 10 days by standard mail you will receive your official Receipt Notice (Form I-797) with your Receipt Number. If you have any questions please contact the Adoption Unit. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE

Where do we rank to get an email from the US Government? Okay, well there is the fee we are paying, but it just seems amazing to me that our government not only accepted the application, but responded so quickly. As I hear how many other governments work, I am thankful that our government cares enough to send an email.

The Hendricksons

Saturday, November 27, 2010

USCIS and Patty's Passport Update Complete!!!!

On Wednesday evening, we missed the FedEx drop by about 5 minutes, so we got the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services - Department of Homeland Security) I-600A (Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition) paperwork shipped.  This requires a notarized completed copy of the home study and copies of our birth certificates and marriage certificate.  But the cool thing (warning,  here's a dorky moment), is that I included a Form G-1145 - E-notification of Application/Acceptance.  So what this means is that when they receive the application, I will get an email/text and then when the application is approved, we will also get an email/text.  I don't know why I'm so excited that the government can email/text, but it seems like light years away from what other countries standards are, so I am thankful and excited for this!  When I called the USCIS Adoption office they were awesome!  Again, I got a live person and he gave me a run down of the process and timeline.  Approximately 90 days and then unless they require further investigation, we should be approved.

My passport expires in March, so I needed an updated ASAP. BUT...I needed the passport for my trip to the Caribbean, I had to wait until I got back and then had time to get some pictures that met the requirements. So I got a that off the in mail yesterday!

We are still working on the dossier paperwork, with the most difficult document to get is a copy of our deed of trust.  Thanks to the Countrywide's demise our mortgage was sold to Bank of America and somehow in the process, our loan documents were lost.  (Wait does this mean we don't have to pay our mortgage anymore?! lol!)  Anyhow, I have a copy of all of the documents BEFORE they were signed and notarized, but not after, so we may have to use an alternate procedure to come up with these documents.

Sledding at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving!
It's snowing like cats and dogs today and Dane and Kevin are measuring everything they can find in the house (it's amazing how a measuring tape can keep a 4 year old excited for so long!).  Another big thing to note is that it's Kevin's 32nd birthday today, Happy Birthday Kevin!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Home Study Complete!!!!

Sunset in Maui - June 2010
Well, I just received the email, it's done, really!  The home study is done!  Yet one more thing to be thankful for.  So today, I will be getting 4 notarized copies of one of the most difficult and important documents of this process.  Hopefully I will have a second post by the end of today saying the USCIS paperwork is on it's way to Texas for immigration approval!  Thank you for sharing in our excitement!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

Well, our homestudy is semi-complete waiting for our agency to approve and then it will be ready to go.  Unfortunately in the whirlwind of scheduling conflicts, we will be paying the higher fee, as the paperwork will not be in the mail tomorrow to the USCIS.  Even if the miracle of our paperwork would have been in place, it snowed almost 6 inches here last night, so the time to get around time to make this happen and the possible safety issues would not have been worth it.  Plus, based on what the FBI had told us before, we didn't even think we would be this far today, so we are still ahead of the previously revised schedule!

A friend and I were talking about her adoption(s) a while back and whenever I am disallusioned by the delays I think about something she said, "God's grace and mercy to put our families together is based on HIS perfect timing."  Knowing that this "delay" is really His provision makes this wait even more worth it than it already is.

I thought I would share some pictures for those of you who aren't able to enjoy the snow in Spokane.
Yesterday, as we prepare for the Winter Storm Warning

This morning, as "we" react to the Winter Storm.  This makes it look like Dane has done all the work, LOVE IT!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

FBI Clearance Received!

How many times will I receive a letter from the FBI?  I keep pretending it's really from Thomas Gibson! :)
It seems like our first ultrasound, so I thought some pictures were appropriate!
Thomas Gibson - FBI - BAU - Criminal Minds

And note the date, this is Aunt Aimee and Cousin Gavin's birthday, so it looks like we were all blessed this day!
And now to drive this and another letter up to our social worker so we can put a finish on the home study and get the INS approval in the mail before the fee goes up on Tuesday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FBI Clearance On It's Way!!!!

So after an extra couple of days in the airport that were unexpected, I opened my email this morning to see "Inbound FedEx shipment from FBI"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I should have the FBI Clearance in my hands today!  So we will be ready to move forward to the next step hopefully by the end of the day!

Praise God!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back from the Caribbean...

I am back from the Caribbean and had a fantastic time, from Puerto Rico, Antigua, St. Thomas, to Tortola, it was a fantastic time.  My roommate and her friends were the best and I am so glad I got to meet them (can I get a holla from the ATL?). :)  There were people from Australia, to Greece who attended and our teachers were amazing, including the infamous Heidi Swapp and Stacy Julian!

As we left Tortola, the most amazing rainbow was on the side of our ship.  You could see it from beginning to end (and for the record, there was no gold and no leprechaun at either end...I had the zoom lens out to check it!).  What an amazing reminder of the promises God made to Noah, and such a blessing, because about 2 hours later, that all changed.  

My fears of heading to the open ocean during or right after Hurricane Tomas were not unwarranted, as there were 20+ feet waves and we were "rocking and rolling" the entire trip.  I can't say enough about the REI Seabands!  There was one sad moment where a gentleman slipped down the stairs in the pool area (the water was moving so much it was dumping out of the pools and making the floors very slippery) and he cracked his head open.  We had to head back to St. Thomas to get him medical attention (127 stitches + cat scans) and this along with the bad weather later made it so we weren't able to get to Nassau and there were no other ports we could make. 

There was a moment after this on our cruise where we were passing by Haiti and people were complaining about how much this change in itinerary stunk.  I agree, it wasn't ideal, but putting this gentleman's life first really was more important, but the reason I mention Haiti, is that Hurricane Tomas hit them hard. What we felt and experienced on the ship was nothing like the impact they experienced.  This country that has been through so much this year, just got hit by a hurricane, an life-shattering earthquake, already stricken by an insane amount of poverty, starvation, disease, etc.  Most recently having issues with cholera, and people on this EXTRAVAGANT cruise ship 1-2 miles from Haiti at the moment were whining about one less beach.  I started falling into this trap, but as I looked at the map of where we were, this was a monumental moment for me.

Do I take the blessing of another day to scrapbook with beautiful views, knowing that our fellow passenger got the medical attention they needed, or do I get upset that things didn't go as originally planned?  I chose to go to almost every show, movie, comedy show, dinner, snack bar, pool party, bingo, drawings, etc. etc. etc. and think about all of these options I had.  And then I focused on the options I have everyday of my life and how blessed I am. 

It has been said that poverty can be best defined as a lack of options.  I praise and thank God that my options are plentiful and I pray for the injured passenger, those in Haiti and around the world without the lack of options living in poverty.  Please let God show them see the rainbows before the storm and help them recognize God's promises for them and let me never forget His presence.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

FBI Fingerprint Slowdown

Well, getting ready for my big Caribbean trip today, I decided I would call the FBI and see if our fingerprint approvals would be processed while I was out of the country, but as it turns out, they are taking 12 weeks to process instead of the 6-8 weeks we had thought.  Since everyone is blaming the economy for everything, I bet it's the economy. :)

We will have to go through this process twice because WA State requires the FBI Clearance for home study approval (great for domestic adoptions!) and then the INS requires this for the immigration process for international adoptions.  This is the only thing holding up our home study and the only thing holding up our INS application is the home study, so this technically puts us two-three months behind where we thought we were.  All with one phone call.  I am waiting for the day where progress in this process does not mean two steps forward 10 steps back.

The great news, when I called the FBI, I spoke to a person and they reviewed the status of my request within 10 minutes!  I was actually surprised they didn't put my on hold or to voice mail, so that was nice and the gal who answered was most helpful!  Also, this will give us more time to get our dossier letters updated and modified so I can relax this week and focus on other things.  And of course, this is one less thing for Kevin to do while I am gone!

Practice makes perfect, right?  I may possibly be the most patient version of myself by the time this kiddo gets home... :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dane's explanation of where babies come from!

Why Adopt?

The reason Kevin and I have chosen to tell everyone about our adoption by first announcing Dane's a big brother is two fold.  First we wanted a day to enjoy people being happy for us before the awkward questions/concerns started AND we want to change people's perceptions about adoption.  Dane is a big brother, right now, even though none of us has met his little brother or sister. God is unfolding this miracle to us day by day, and we hope to share this with you.  As part of the adoption process, we have had to write biographies of our life and talk about our motivations to adopt so here are some excerpts on why we have chosen this method to expand our family:

  • It's the right thing to do, 
  • A family is what you make of it, not how you make it, 
  • God is calling us to live out the Gospel by doing for this child what he has done for us: accept us for who, when and where we are.
  • James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 
  • Living in the United States, we are blessed beyond belief.  Our (America's) understanding of poverty, AIDS and other diseases and injustices is inadequate. Someone needs to defend the fatherless, and Kevin and I feel God has called us to this. 
  • It has been estimated there are currently 147 million orphans worldwide. While we can't change the world, we can change OUR world for ONE.
We are very thankful for all of you who are supporting us through this process.  We have been "expecting" about 4-5 months and are probably a year out from bringing our little one home. 

Please pray for his/her health and safety, his/her caregivers, political stability in Ethiopia and for our patience through this process.