Monday, February 25, 2013

Baby Sam's Dossier = On The Move!!

After getting my FBI clearance back 2 weeks ago (and sending it off to Washington for an apostille and getting it back).. we were ready to send all of our originals up to MN for a double check. Everything left me in the hands of Fed Ex on Wednesday the 20th for an overnight trip to Marcia with Friends of Fana MN to take a look.

Take a look at that sweet book!

Yes, I made a table of contents. I appreciate clarity and consistency!

Lucas was there for me to take the final picture before I left for Fed Ex. Ben would have been there, but he was currently unconscious and we wanted him to stay that way.

Marcia gave everything I had the "OK" and everything is on the way to FANA via Fed Ex as we read! Now mind you, we are sending everything somewhat prematurely. Technically, a requirement of the dossier for FANA is the I797 immigration clearance. This is USCIS letting Colombia know that Ted and I are cleared to bring home a little person that will turn into a citizen. We fingerprinted weeks ago, and should be getting this clearance for them any day. In the meantime, we are sending everything on its way so that they can start translating things and lining them up with Sam's file for us.

In other news, we got our loan approved today to handle travel costs.. which is a good thing since we weren't exactly planning on adopting a child in the first part of 2013 :-)

Please keep our immigration drama with Ben's name change on his Cert of Citizenship in your prayers. I sent it in for routine change last fall, but turns out it takes 6 months to do and I need it to obtain his USA passport. Prayers that the State Dept who issues passports will work with me with ALL OF THE FILES of other proof I have of his citizenship. I'd like to put that little boy on a plane.

Lastly, I leave you with two people that "helped" me write this dossier over the course of the past 3 months. By helped, they went into the basement and hit each other with plastic bats.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Pictures of Sam!!

So one of my dear friends just happened to travel down to Fana to pick up her little girl on Jan 3rd. We didn't know yet whether Sam would be hours when she left, so I didn't send any treats with her.

So after she had been down there waiting for sentencia for weeks and weeks, she was able to go back to Fana for another meeting and was able to sneak some fresh pictures for me!!


So, as much as I adored getting new pictures of him, that made wanting my paperwork done so much harder!! At that time, I was still worried that my FBI prints were going to come back rejected again, or that they would just take forever. Those things are so stressful because you can't track them and in MO we can only have the rolled ink type done. Scary!!

Luckily, those beautiful things came back almost 2 weeks ago and we were able to get them off to Washington DC overnighted for a special federal apostille. They came back on Wednesday and I was able to finish the dossier with the exception of the final piece of paper approving our I800a with immigration.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

November 28th: The Email from Fana

November 28th was a Wednesday. It was the week after Thanksgiving. Our homestudy was rolling along in process. All of the stuff that you send out for was sent, and the appointments needed had already been made. Fingerprints and all of that had commenced.

So it was a wednesday night, I think Ted was on the 10-8p shift. I was still pretty sick with a nasty head cold, as was the majority of the rest of the worship team, so Cliff had cancelled rehearsal for that night. The boys were in the basement playing and I was cooking/cleaning/doing whatever I do while getting ready for kids dinner.

An email came through from the special needs coordinator for Friends of Fana MN with some information on a little boy.. and from my standpoint things looked good, but I definitely needed Ted's thoughts. I had to wait for him to get off of work!!!

The pictures looked a little something like this...

Preciousness is he not???!!

He called me right away when he got out. He came home. He read the medical report... and of all things.. WHILE MAKING A SANDWICH.. as if we were discussing whether or not I should get the oil changed tomorrow.. he says "Write the letter." So.. I took a deep breath and verified "Just to be clear, you are saying that you want this little boy, and to write the letter." Ted: "Yep, write the letter. The situation isn't going to get any better than that!" So then I made peace with the fact that I was willing asking for 3 little boys under the age of 5. On my own free will.

So I did. I sat down Thursday morning and wrote a 3 page letter stating why we are the best family for Sam. I had to run over to Ted's work for him to sign it, and then we scanned it and emailed it off to Crossroads in MN to send to FANA on our behalf.

Then we waited, not sure if we would be selected for him or not... and kept working on our papers. It was the holidays, and we chose not to tell our family in the event that another family was selected. We thought that news would come around mid December before everything closed down for the holidays. It is Colombia, the world stops in December for the holidays and I should have known that. Christmas came and went, and we looked forward to January when the committee would start meeting again. All the way, I was still working on the homestudy and finalizing it, as well as sending out for everything in the dossier I was in control of.

Finally, January 8th, we got an email that we were approved to continue to pursue Janer Rocha Torres.. and we have been ever since! We were finally able to share with our families 6 weeks later :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

So you're adopting again? Already? From where?

November 2012
Yes.. we are adopting again.. and how the story of Sam unfolds is rather amusing.

After attending the Friends of FANA Minnesota fundraising gala last year in July.. my heart began tugging to tie our family again to FANA. I don't regret stepping away from the classing "two normal healthy infants" plan most FANA families work with. At the time we were considering our 2nd child, the wait with FANA was years and years long as the Hague was a relatively new process and the kinks were getting worked out. We were new to Kansas City and weren't sure how to execute an adoption with FANA while NOT living in Minnesota anymore. Fana only works with handful of placing agengies around the world and Crossroads in MN was one of them, and now we didn't live next to them anymore. Ethiopia worked for our desires for our family at the time and we went with it. I digress.

Anyway, fast forward to 2012 and we are sitting there in the banquet hall, listening to Patti Bertsch give a report on the special needs and older children that had been placed and were currently looking for families in 2012. At that time, Ben was only 2 and Ted had only graduated a few weeks prior. There was a little 2 yr old girl flashed up on the screen.. and I found myself playing the "what if?" game for the next few days. She received a letter of intent right away from a family and it became a non-issue, but it did get make making phone calls to figure out if an adoption from FANA to Missouri was possible. It was during the fall, that we generally agreed as a couple that child #3 would be coming from FANA and have some sort of "special needs" situation. We weren't intending to start this paperwork until mid spring 2013 due to finances and clearing debt. We are just getting done with 9 years of college and medical school and 2 international adoptions, all of which we are paying on by the way.. in addition to normal people bills.

So we sat on that for a bit and were at peace with it.. but then when we thought about the "special needs" climate and families in the past, it seems that the kiddos always become available.. and then families sit on it pondering it.. and THEN they start their paperwork (which takes a minimum of 4 months, I have yet to get it done faster). All the while, that little person is sitting down there while people get their junk done. That was something I didn't think I could live with. Yes, it is possible that a little person could become available while we were working on things, but at least everything was already in process and they weren't sitting down there just because Ted and I didn't feel like starting a homestudy. So then we sat on that for a bit.

In early November, I felt like God was telling me to go ahead and get the ball rolling with Holt Intl down here (our homestudy and placement agency for Ben) and Crossroads in MN (our agency for Lucas and the placing agency for FANA). We had to get them "married together" in a sense. Holt for the local MN requirements and homestudy and Crossroads as the FANA liason and placing agency. Both are Hague agencies and seemed happy to work with each other! That took awhile to make sure all of that was rolling. So we settled back into the game in November, and were looking forward to finishing a dossier and getting it to FANA and returning back to our normal lives. We though MAYBE a little person may came along sometime in the next few years that fit our homestudy.

Then, on November 28th, we got an email.

Worthy to Shine

In May of 2012 I got a call from my girlfriend Carrody, asking if I would consider being more involved with Worthy to Shine! This was exciting stuff.

The girls of Worthy to Shine had been writing for at least a year and had already brought their dream of this ministry to life in January of 2012 with their first retreat for young women at Deerbrook Covenant Church. At that time, I was still up to my eyeballs in dealing with Ben, as well as some other personal issues at the time. It wouldn't have been a good time yet for me to come on board, as I was still healing from some things in my private life. By May, however, much healing and moving forward had taken place, as well as a lot of growth. When the girls tapped me to be part of this team, I was so excited to share what God brought me through in my 20's!!

I could (and do) write pages and pages of information on Worthy to Shine, but in a nutshell.. we provide 2 day retreats for young women 7th grade through 12th grade in the Kansas City area. We focus on who God says they are. We look at who the culture says they are, and how beauty is defined. No, this is not one of those cheesy church girl retreats. It is well done. It is culturally relevant, and we attack what is going on in the lives of young women with honesty and a bit of charm if I do say so. Our next retreat will be at Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee Summit in June 2013. Whether or not I will be able to preach at this retreat is yet to be seen, depending on what baby Sam needs of me in Colombia.

One of our logos..

My lovely headshot.. it was WINDY that day.. surprised the hair isn't at a horizontal angle sticking out from my head.

Please visit our website! It's good stuff :-)

World Travels of 2012

So with all the excitement of Ted getting done, and being more settled in the groove of having two kids, we did a LOT of traveling in 2012. Perhaps a bit too much actually. I could write pages and pages on such events, but since this is a summary of what happened, I'll save that for my journals I can ready later.

The nutshell:

March 2012

Ted goes to Colombia with Medican Ministries International

Ted traveled to work off of a boat on the Amazon river and was based out of Leticia, Colombia for 10 days in March. Following this trip, he was asked to sign on as the Medical Director for the amazon branch of MMI. We plan to have a long term partnership with this group in the next few years as a way of culturing more long term relationships in missions, and also as connection to Lucas and Sam's birth countries. Here are a few photos of the excursion.

Yet another in March 2012

Erin co-lead a trip back to Haiti with the Global Orphan Project. This was a smaller team from our home church, Deerbrook Covenant as well as with a larger church in the area, Lakeland Community. It was a nice transition to get "trained in" with a different intention on this trip.

May 2012

Then we completely changed gears and gave ourselves one of "those" vacations that many normal Americans take from time to time. This was a celebration of surviving 9 years of Ted being in some sort of college and our first major getaway together without the kiddos. It was much needed and a big blessing. Given that we will soon have 3 boys under the age of 5, it probably won't be happening again for awhile. It was wonderful. We had tans. We ate big breakfasts.

Back to Haiti again with The Global Orphan Project in July 2012

Erin headed up her own team in July that consisted of folks from Missouri, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. We had a wonderful time, yet again. Auntie Breann was able to come with me this time!

We traveled to San Antonio, TX for Labor Day as well as to Tucson, AZ to visit aunti Laurie for Thanksgiving (fresh home from the war for the last time we hope!)

I nearly forgot, but we sent Ted to Uganda with Medical Missions Foundation based out of Overland Park, KS

We did to more than just fly all over the place in 2012, but that is a different post :-)