Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trenton update: I say "PAIR!!!" you way "waaahhhh??"

Okay adoption junkies, it's time for class. What is this "PAIR" that I keep speaking of? It stands for:


aka PAIR. Back in the olden days, you would get a referral. Wait around weeks/months for all of your "stuff" of your file and kiddos to be put together and submitted to Ethiopian court. For Ben in 2010 this took 2.5 months. Then you receive a court date. For Ben, that was 4 months post referral to appear before the court in Ethiopia. At that time you hope that all of the stuff is at the right spot at the right time for you to pass. This was when Ben's process went all wonky and we were in limbo for another 6 months before we finally did pass 10 months post referral. In his case, we were submitted to embassy quickly after, and just happened to "clear" quickly. For other families in recent history, that wasn't the case. They would go through the entire process with Ethiopian court, only for the US Embassy to find fraud in their case and deny the child a visa to the USA (as should happen when fraud is found, but how heartbreaking for all involved).

It was after those fraud issues occurred that the United States decided to shake things up last year. Now, with PAIR, all of the investigating is done BEFORE things are submitted to court. My dossier and all of Trents stuff are sitting in Ethiopia right now at my agencies office, waiting for the magical "PAIR" letter, which states that the USA found no fraud and green lights for all. That investigation is what is happening right now for Trent.

I was able to get through to my immigration officer a week ago Monday to verify that she did indeed have my file, and that I would be ever so helpful in any way I could should she need anything or have any questions. It is normal(about 80% of the time) for folks to receive an "RFE" which is a Request for Evidence. I have received 3 in total in my adoption experiences for a few tiny little things that held things up and resolved. I spoke to her on Monday July 14th, and she said that I was on her stack for "this week". woot woot.

I woke to an email the morning of July 16th that my documents had been uploaded to the US Embassy in Ethiopia (Embassy in Ethiopia is always at work when we are sleeping folks!). There was fist pumping. This means we didn't receive an RFE in our first round and passed through!!

Our I604 "investigation of orphan status" had begun!!

Then a bit of a downer. I awoke to another email on Thursday morning, informing me that 2 documents would need to be amended. These were small fixes and nothing to be alarmed about... they don't smell of fraud etc.. just an Ethiopian vs American calendar issue (Ethiopia runs off of the Gregorian calendar which is 7 years behind us. One doc said it had been issued in 2006 rather than 2013). So right now, an important interview of someone close to his case as well as those 2 documents are being worked on by the staff in Ethiopia.

Please continue to keep his investigation and his little self in your prayers. We hope to see some movement in the weeks to come either with the interview or these documents being resubmitted.

Thanks ya'll :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trenton Eskedar Sibley.. waiting for pick up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia :-)

***I wrote this a few weeks back....*****

So I get to greet you today in a moment of peace :-)

Ben fell asleep on the couch. Sammy is resting in his space. Lucas is watching a horrible super hero movie he earned and if I tell you the name you will judge me.

I just ate a rather awesome mango that made me miss Bogota.

You know what else? I'm PREGNANT... Sibley style :-) and I DIDN'T TELL YOU.. unless I did in person and shoved adorable pictures of my 4th son in your face over the course of the last few months. I see that my last post was in February while we were still caring for one of our little people with Safe Families. At that point we were fighting for this guy, but we didn't have our "yes".

So.. getting back to this whole pregnancy thing :-)

A matter of days after turning in our dossier on 1/10/14 we were looking through the Ethiopia "waiting child" list with our agency. Sidebar: we should be, like, BANNED from doing stuff like that. There he was, little man, smiling back at us from the screen with a description that wasn't exactly a "big seller". Severe delays. Possibly deaf. Incontinent. Nonverbal. According to their description he wasn't doing much but sitting on the floor at 4 years old... but there was this thread of friends of mine on our agencies Ethiopia facebook group that had met and played with this child.. and he understands. He plays. He walks. He even runs a little bit. It is entirely possibly that this child's mental delays and physical issues are consistent with a person that didn't get at all what God intended for the first 4 years of his life. He was abandoned early on and obviously disabled since. What is unclear at this time is whether the disabilities are an actual brain injury, or what the human body does when its needs are not met in any way for a prolonged period of time. So there we were.. confronted with this little person who had already been on a website for almost a year.. where anyone in the continental United States could have volunteered and fought to be his Mommy.. and he fit the paper we wrote.. that had already been approved and was on its way to Ethiopia already.

We looked at each other and we took a deep breath.. and we wrote the letter. The last time we "wrote the letter" we got Sam.

We wrote the letter and we waited. We called. We annoyed. We even learned later on that the reason they didn't return our calls at first was because they thought I was a crazy person (having already 3 little boys and at the time Sammy home for less than a year) and they needed to verify with the Missouri branch director that I was indeed NOT insane.. and that we really did have the logistical ability to parent a child with significant disabilities (which, by the way, they had already APPROVED ME FOR.. but people seemed to forget that part?). Then once the dialogue of the committee process got rolling we jumped through more hoops. For the 6 weeks this all dragged on I did get a bit annoyed.. I did. It was 6 weeks his case wasn't moving and we and he were paper ready for it to do that. In hindsight, I get it. Many adoption agencies in the past, and even present, let good hearted people bite off more than they could or should parent.. and it sets them up to fail. They needed to make sure that I knew what I was talking about and I knew what I was asking for. My response to their question about what the first year home with Trent would look like? "It's going to suck.. it's going to suck bad. I am going to go into a hole and think I"ll never come out (but I will). My husband and I will be ground down to the wire and 1 kid will regress and emotionally grieve, one will have super sensory behaviors and poop himself, and another will give up sleeping until he feels more secure.. all the while this little guy will lose it all and need/qualify for every therapy under the sun." It is going to be WICKED ya'll.. but it's the last international adoption of a young-ish person. Ted has the education, the insurance, and the income to ensure this kid will get everything he needs. We already know how to navigate the special needs systems of KC. I will always be home and I will advocate.

We raised our hands to be what we have always prayed to be and that is that we will "show up, on time, and equipped" for what God asked of us. After a year of sitting on the WC list, it was clear that no one else was coming.. let alone someone who had already turned in paperwork and was committed to what was to come.

I still remember looking in the mirror, taking some deep breaths, and reminding myself that this child may never get better. His brothers may be making his life choices for him if his brain doesn't heal. We may be never be able to go to normal family gatherings or vacations if his needs are severe.. not only were we confronted with a choice that could drastically change the dynamics of our family forever.. but we aren't doing it for free. His fees are the same as my other "normal healthy" individuals.

WHO DOES THAT??!! Apparently us... and what did God do for me?.. when I wasn't "perfect" and I was in my mess and a circumstance. He didn't wait until I was within the bounds of what normal people easily love (normal, healthy, controllable little ones). He got in and got His hands dirty and He works with me. We do life together.

Finally, On MARCH 10th, 2014 we got our "YES" from our agency and our referral immediately the next day. We are about to have "twin" Ethiopian boys.. with about a 30lb weight difference at this point.... His estimated birth date is fall of 2009 (6 months different than Ben on paper) but we will be advocating to have it changed. He is so tiny and so delayed and it was such a guess to begin with.. we want him same age or a teeny bit younger than Ben.

I wish I could post pictures here, but if you remember with Ben's adoption that that is a "no no" in Ethiopian process until you're all done. Sigh. I know.. but I can show them to you elsewhere if you haven't already seen :-)

Trenton Eskedar Sibley, currently 4 1/2 years old and hanging tight at 29lbs in Ethiopia will hopefully be coming home late fall 2014 or early spring 2015.

So why did we wait until today of all days to "go public" with this information? A little thing called PAIR.

This stands for Pre-Adoption Immigration Review. After all of the drama in Ethiopia a few years back.. where people would clear the Ethiopian portion of the process and be submitted to the united States Embassy for their visa to be issued.. well it happened that the USA would investigate cases, find fraud, and then that family loses their child because a visa would not be granted to the USA. As of last summer, the United States launches an investigation BEFORE all of this happens. They require a stack of documents now from the birth region to be submitted before they start their investigation. The problem last summer, was that all of these things were very new to Ethiopians.. and Trent was born directly on the border of Sudan where things are extremely unstable.. and the the roads are washed out.. and there is pretty much no electricity let alone internet. We knew when we said "yes" to Trent, that we could be waiting for these required documents to be completed for a really long time. Some families that got referrals last August didn't even get to this point until Jan and Feb of this year!! Some of them 6-8 months after referral where their case went absolutely nowhere. We didn't want to go through that publically. We decided that we would wait to share it with the world until we had that stack of papers in our hot little hands.


Last night looked something like this:

Our PAIR documents came through yesterday.I jumped up and down in my living room. We processed them last night, and our I600 and supporting documents are now on the way to the lockbox in Texas. From here he is "on the grid" with immigration. Local immigration will comb through it. They will likely want something redone or extra evidence submitted (called the dreaded "RFE" for Request for Evidence). We don't want that, but about 75% of people get them. Then once we get that fixed and they are happy, everything is sent to the embassy in Ethiopia where the US Embassy launches their investigation and re-interviews everybody to make sure things are legit. When we get notice that the investigation is complete, we will have A GIANT HUGE MASSIVE PARTY because that means our PAIR letter is on the way. That gets authenticated in DC and sent directly to Ethiopia to be combined with our other papers and presented to Ethiopian court.. then they invite us to travel as the last piece of the evidence for Ethiopia. We pass court. We come home for about a month while they run around getting all of his new Sibley documentation done.. and then we are back on the plane for the pick up :-)

As you can see, we still have a lot of hoops to jump through.. but we have just gotten PAIR documentation in 3 months time and that was one of the biggest wildcards we didn't know wouldn't cause us to be still be in the same place months and months from now.

We love you little Trenton Eskedar.

PS if you are on our Sibley mailing list, you will be getting a magnet with his face and info on it so you can pray for him every time you open your fridge!!!

***** Okay back to live time. Documents were received 6/18 at the TX lockbox and we are waiting our officer on the case to begin his investigation. Pray that all will be well, and if it isn't, that it will be easily fixable. Until we hear more, we hang tight and we pray for his health and his development. We will be there as soon as we can little man. Godspeed.