Sunday, January 31, 2010

Prayer List

I know a lot most of you are praying for our baby and us, so I thought it may help to know what we're praying for ourselves.

1. First and foremost we pray for protection over our baby and his/her mother.  This means both physical and spiritual protection.  These two things are probably the biggest influences on our unborn/newborn child.  20% of all children die before they are 5 and the existence of witch doctors is still a common thing throughout a lot of Africa. 

2. Right now, we are not specifying a gender.  That is just a decision and responsibility we can't handle right now.  We want the child that God has for us and if we need to specify a gender for that to happen, we just need His direction, which is what we pray for constantly.

3. We've heard countless stories about paperwork being lost or not going through correctly, so we continually pray that our paperwork will have favor whether its with the US or Congolese government.

4. Aside from praying for direction and for our baby, our biggest desire is to be the best parents to our child.  Now, we know that everyone makes mistakes, which we understand.  We just want to be the best parents possible and that may require some growing while we wait for our baby.  And if that's the case, bring it on.

5. No matter what our plans are, God's are perfect.  We strongly believe that we make our plans but God directs our steps so we are committing this entire process to Him.  We know his timing is better, no matter what that means and we want to truly and honestly believe that even if it means things take longer.

I know there's a lot listed which could possibly take up someone's afternoon, but if you have a second in the car or while in line at the bank we'd appreciate a little prayer.  And now that you know what we're praying about, we can come together in agreement and believe that no matter what this process ends up looking like, its going to be God's plan.

Thank you all, we love you very much.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Home Study Beginnings

I just got a call from our social worker that will be conducting our home study and she received our application and down payment, woot!  We set up our first meeting for this Thursday (Feb 4).  She asked about coming to our house but I managed to escape that.  She made sure to mention "I am going to need to visit your house once".  I told her, "I know" but what I really want is a little more time to finish up some things.

My wonderful mother came over this past Saturday to help do touch-up paint but unfortunately we weren't able to finish it in time, but she just called me and is coming again this Saturday.  What a great momma!

Another step towards completion are our new blinds.  Yes, you heard me right, no more towels covering our windows!  They are just so nice and easy to open.  We ordered them online and they pretty much came the next day.  We got "Mulled Spice" and "Brown" but somehow they interpreted that for Lavender, which is what we got instead of two spiced ones.  Thankfully, I can return these to the local store and hopefully they will be able to reorder some.  Cross your fingers.

I am still working on completing paperwork between doing my homework.  I have finished my autobiography, but Eric is still working on his and our Congo Essay is almost finished.  I tend to get a lot done when Eric has plans and I don't on a weeknight.

I had to run some errands at Target today so I decided to walk through the baby section looking at strollers, car seats, bedding, etc.  It was actually a little weird.  A part of me wanted to get all excited and giddy, but the stronger emotion was impartial, at least I think.  I'm not exactly sure.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am definitely interested in these things.  I think it may just be a defense mechanism to save my heart if this process takes longer than we are told.  That is really the problem, you need to prepare yourself to have a child and be a parent in 6-9 months but at the same time, guard your heart enough that if it takes 18 months you don't end up being bitter.  This is something we pray about a lot, its a very tricky balancing act.

We thank all of you so much for all of the prayers your sending our baby and us, we are very excited to being him/her home to meet everyone  :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feeling Like the Tortiuse

Now that the whirlwind of initial paperwork is over, things have been going slowly but steadily.  Eric and I spent most of the time before and after church working on our home study questionnaire.  This is about 6 pages and also requires us to write an autobiography 2-4 pages long.  We each have our own questionnaire.

Along with that, I have some paperwork from MLJ to fill out.  This paperwork doesn't need to be submitted anytime soon, I just have it for when it's needed.

I have also been corresponding with the person in charge of our education at MLJ.  We went back and forth a few times via email and she finally decided that we do not need to have our phone conferences right now, which means I am continuing to work on our Congo essay.  I am going to try and get Attaching in Adoption from the library this week, maybe I can work on my report too.

So what it comes down to is filling out a lot of paperwork, none of which has a deadline. 

I am just waiting to hear from our social worker (for our home study) to set up a first meeting, which could be anytime after she confirms the receipt of our application and down payment.

I know what Eric feels like when he works on set now; a lot of running around and hurrying and then a lot of waiting.  We're just being patient and trying to remember that we still have a lot of stuff to do and are going to be glad for the time we have to get it done.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork

Every time I think I've caught up on paperwork, more arrives.  It is great that we are making such progress, but there is no light at the end of our paperwork tunnel right now.  I need to be and am very thankful, because I know once its done, all we will do is wait.  And then, I'll be wishing I had paperwork to complete.

We sent in our corrected paperwork from earlier this week.  Hopefully there won't be any problems with these.

MLJ (our adoption agency) sent me round two.  About 30 pages detailing requirements for our home study along with everything required for our "adoption education".  Hague (the authority on international adoption law) requires that every couple have at east 10 hours of education prior to traveling.  This includes classes (in our case, phone conferences since we won't be driving to Indianapolis), an essay on our country and several electives.  I am going to be reading books and writing reports to finish our required education time.

By receiving the information form MLJ, I was able to contact our Home Study provider and start their side of the process.  We are working with a group out of Rockford and our social worker has just been marvelous.  She is always so quick to respond to my email inquiries.  And believe me, I am pretty needy when it comes to this stuff. 

I got a large info packet from her too.  This one contains a long questionnaire that includes a 2-4 page autobiography about each of us.

Needless to say, we will be spending our Sunday mornings at Panera working on what else....paperwork.  And because our home study has officially begun, we are spending our Saturdays finishing up those things we have put off until now.

Good news, I ordered blinds yesterday!  So soon we won't need our beach towel bathroom "curtain".  Yeah!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Second Try

I received word that our agent got the email we sent Friday, except it wasn't complete.  We forgot to sign something, date something else and the pictures we took....didn't work.

So we will be off to Walgreens to get passport pictures instead.

Hoping to send in the corrected version tomorrow morning.  But our agent did send some education and homestudy information.  I'll be going through that over the next couple of days to see what the next step involves.

Hopefully we will learn from our mistake and these little mishaps won't happen again.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Starting Gun has Fired

After submitting our initial application, contracts and payments, we are now finishing up round two of paperwork.  Eric and I spent most of the evening Thursday finishing up the application for the Congolese government along with writing a "letter of intent" explaining why we want to adopt one of their kids.  To put the cherry on top, we had to take one of those, oh so cheesy photos of ourselves and sent it along too. See....

It was all ready and waiting Friday morning so Eric could scan and email it to our adoption consultant from work when I get an email stating that he doesn't have the cord to download the photo. now we had to do it after work, which means our consultant won't get it until Monday which also means we won't get the next round until next week.

This isn't too much of a problem; it’s just that I don't have any free time during the week between work and school.  My hope was to get her response Friday so I can work on it over the next two days.  But alas, it just won't be.

Other than loads of paperwork, nothing really has changed.  Our home study is really kicking us in the butt to get the house completely finished.  All the paint touch ups that I have put off can no longer be ignored as well as our "trendy" curtains (i.e. towels/blankets over windows).

The coolest part so far is the awesome response we've gotten from our friends and family.  Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive.  The Congo application asked if the child will be well received in to our family and we answered with an instant YES!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big News!

Dear Family and Friends,

We have some exciting news we want to tell you about!  While we would love to talk to all of you in person, in the interest of efficiency we begrudgingly resorted to the dreaded mass communication. It’s a bit lengthy, but after reading we think you’ll understand why we chose to include so much detail.

As of this past week, we have officially begun the process of adopting an infant from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This is a desire that has been growing in us over the last couple years, but until recently we have been unsure of when the timing would be right. For many, the idea of not having a biological child may elicit a degree of sadness, but for us it is a feeling rather opposite. Although we are not opposed to having bio kids, we both care deeply for children born into destitute situations and this has motivated us to adopt internationally. Although we both have felt “ready” to start our family for some time (surely this sounds hilarious to those of you with children), it was not until recently that we learned that we qualified to be adoptive parents through the Congolese program.

We plan to move through the adoption program as quickly as possible, which could be in as little as 6 months but up to or over a year.  We have chosen to adopt an infant between 0-3 months at the time of our referral, which means they will most likely be 3-6 months by the time we bring them home.  Currently we do not have a preference of gender and we’re still praying that God leads us to make the best decision for our family.

Our passion for adoption stems from a number personal experiences, which we believe have readied us to make this decision. Throughout the scriptures Jesus has a lot to say about taking care of orphans and widows, and while we know that everyone is called to contribute differently, these verses have done much to shape our worldview. Above all we have chosen a Congolese adoption for this reason, not simply because it‘s a program for which we qualify. For us, the situation in the DRC is too dire to ignore. The country is currently considered the most dangerous in Africa, and many years of war have left over four million children orphaned. A large portion of these kids will inevitably become child soldiers and sex slaves. Seventy percent of all females in the DRC are violently raped at least once in their life. Knowledge of facts like these have repeatedly reaffirmed and impassioned our decision.

Last week, we drove to Indianapolis to meet with the African Adoption Coordinator at MLJ Adoptions, one of two stateside adoption groups working in the DRC.  She was very professional and informative which put a lot of our fears at ease. MLJ Adoptions is Hague Accredited, which is an international organization purposed to help agencies, families & children through international adoption.  The Hague Convention basically established international adoption law.  All of this information solidified our decision to work with MLJ. We have also been getting loads of advice from the members of an Adoption Support Group we’ve been going to at Mars Hill. They’ve been a wonderful support and help.

Although we are certain of our decision, there are many unknowns ahead for us. Issues of funding and expense will of course be a legitimate concern, but perhaps our biggest challenge will be emotional. This is going to be a life changing decision that not only affects us, but will also be affect our family and friends.  We want and need your support through every step of the adoption process, but more importantly we will need your support once we bring our baby home.  We understand that we are creating a multi-racial family and are prepared to face the challenges that will come with that.  We hope that you can understand how important this decision is for us, and we’re hoping that you’re willing to support our family just as if we were having a biological child. More than anything we ask for your prayers.

Thanks for taking the time read up on our ongoing story. Yeah! We’re going to have a baby!