We have more quick movement on little Trenton's case, and we are so thankful!
I greet you from our rustic rental cabin at Lake of the Ozarks. We had planned a little 2 day family time before school starts for Lucas next week. It has been an eventful past week, as we added a little girl to our temporary care. We took her little brother in last month. We anticipate we will be helping this family up until school starts for their district. The kids are doing wonderfully considering their circumstance. 4 of the kids are outside with Ted doing cannonballs into the lake and I'm inside her with Sammy making sure he is getting a little rest (that will greatly enhance his ice cream experience later today).
We received our physical Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) letter in the mail on July 29th. We think we received ours so quickly because we live rather close to the national benefits center so it didn't spend as many days in snail mail. The next morning, I made a trip with all 4 boys to the capital of Missouri, Jefferson City, which is about 2 hours away from us to make sure everything that i needed to send with the letter was state authenticated properly. Considering I had to enter a state capital building with 4 crazy little boys I think things worked out rather well. I quickly returned home to organize everything to overnight a packet via Fed Ex to Washington DC where a courier that Holt contracts with named Ray would do some legwork for me. Ray spent the next few days authenticating my letter Federally as well as with the Ethiopian embassy. There is nothing remarkable looking about this rather sacred letter. No raised seal or obvious original signatures. It probably wouldn't be that hard to replicate if someone wanted to put their head to it, that is why all of the extra authenticating is necessary. There are specific numbers on it relating to my case that need to check out in a computer somewhere.
It was later that afternoon that I needed to pick up little girl as well. I thought surely I didn't have enough on my plate that day, that it meant total logical sense for another homeless child to move in. CLEARLY. I was a bit stressed. Stressed or not, all 5 kids as well as myself got the first packet to Fedex for its overnight journey to DC. Following a few days of authentication, our letter left DC in another Fed Ex envelope and just left the Fed Ex hub in Memphis, TN. It will arrive in Addis Ababa to our Holt contact on Monday.
Because we were able to send a copy of our clearance letter to the Ethiopian staff, we were looking forward to being submitted to court in Ethiopia to start the last half of Trent's legal journey.
I just received the email that we were officially submitted to Ethiopian court on Wednesday, August 6th.
SO ERIN, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??
It means this: We only have 2 more hurdles to clear before I am invited to fly and meet my son. One little setback is that the Ethiopian courts close every year for the majority of August and September for the rainy season. It is hard to do business in that time of year because it downpours every day. The power goes out and roads are washed out etc. It is hard for people to arrive for their set appointments, so they just close up shop to some degree each year and re-open when the weather is more likely to cooperate. We had the same thing happy during Ben's process in 2010 so we are used to this and expected it.
OKAY ERIN, I NOW UNDERSTAND RAINY SEASON, BUT WHAT WERE THOSE 2 HURDLES?
Ethiopian court will now go through our translated dossier from January and Trent's information that was already cleared by PAIR. Before Ted and I receive our invitation to come meet Trent and testify before the court that we want to be his parents, Ethiopia needs to
1: Re-interview the woman very central to his case (who was already interviewed by the US embassy a few weeks ago as part of his PAIR investigation) to make sure everything still is as she has been saying it was all along..
and 2: Ministry Of Women, Youth, and Children's Affairs.. who I will further refer to as MOWYCA (Colombian friends, think "Bienstar")has to write a letter to the court consenting to his adoption. I am not concerned that they will not consent to his adoption, as we already have a letter as part of his PAIR documents by the regional head of MOWYCA for his birth area to please be released for adoption and "preserve his life" (woah. HEAVY). it is just a thing that has to get to court in order for us to pass. Some of you remember, this is one of the reasons we didn't pass court on one of Ben's many court dates. Sometimes they are slow and it just doesn't get there when its supposed to.
In the good news I received this morning on court submission, our agency said that interviews for "important people in the case" are still taking place during the closure (YAY!!) so it is possible that part of things will be done before the court re-opens. I don't know, however, if MOWYCA is issuing any comments during the closure. We may have to wait until October for those when things re-open.
Once our authenticated PAIR letter lands in Ethiopia on Monday and our agency runs it over, and the interview is completed and the MOWCYA comments letter is added to our case... we will be invited to fly and meet our son.
A year ago TODAY I applied for the Ethiopian program, assuming I would be waiting a few years. Assuming we would do OUR thing. I didn't know he was sitting on a "find me a family" aka "waiting child" list for over a year. He had been sitting there all along, ready to go. All of this has happened sooner and smoother than we anticipated.. and we have been blessed in odd and unexpected ways financially to be prepared to take This on so quickly after bringing Sam home last year. All of those things added together tell me that Trent is supposed to have a Mom and a Dad and that he has been provided for this whole time. I have just been along for the ride, trying to be obedient as possible in the process.
I will be staying in between our court date and our final clearance from the Embassy. We anticipate I will be living in Africa about a month. Maybe a little more, but likely not less. Every one of those days will be spent snuggling Trent and learning to communicate with him. He has been in an orphanage for years. Of course, he had a mother and birth family at one point, but we don't know how much of that world remains in his conscious mind.
Ted and I were just talking in the car this morning.. how last Christmas I was finalizing our dossier, never dreaming that someone could be here before Christmas 2014. My mom tells me about how her pregnancy with me was so short in her mind because she was a bit in denial through most of it (I was planned ya'll, just not so close to my older brother as I ended up being). That is how I feel. I purposefully didn't emotionally engage in this adoption because I expected such a hard process with PAIR. I'll probably be on the plane in October and be in shock that all of this has happened. Clearly, Trent is supposed to be here, with all that should have been stacked against him. We don't think this is because we have been more obedient or prayerful or whatever than anybody else. I think God is very present in messy adoption situations as well (as we experienced in the past with Ben where we hit quite a few snags that tested my faith and where I put my hope). Some of my dear friends have hit every snag possible when PAIR first started and many of them received referrals many months or almost a year before mine in some cases and are just now coming home.
So it looks like we will be hanging another stocking on the mantle this year at Christmas everyone, because this little lad may be coming home SOON... and he will have the snuggliest fuzziest Christmas jammies EVER :-)