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.