Friday, May 9, 2014

Thoughts on the NFL Draft ... from a Mom

Thoughts on the NFL draft from a Mom:

As I watched the draft last night, waiting like the many other friends on my FB stream to see where ol' Johnny Football would go - I read the status's of my friends - some lovers of him, some not so much a fan. As a Mom who admittedly had NEVER sat down to watch a draft, this time - I was watching. Ol' Johhny (or maybe an almost 14 year old precious boy) somehow had convinced me that this time - it was worth it! 

And as I watched - I was overcome with emotion watching each kid get called up by their future (team). Their tears, their hugs, their pats on the back took my breathe away.  Behind all those kids, I envisioned a Mom.  Each of those kids a someone's "Canyon".

 Each of those boys maybe started out in flag football, maybe a league like the "Bulverde Texans" where they daily went through a grind of conditioning, drills, tacking and more.  I wondered if they'd spent hours in the hot sun, wore themselves out in exhaustion and puked on the way home from practice because they drank too much water -  too fast.  I thought about how they must have ventured into the Middle School years - enduring long summers of TAC conditioning, each morning in preparation for the next year's season.  Behind them was surely a Mom who drove them to and fro with diligence - sometimes sticking around in the dead of the heat because she wondered how in the world her kid could handle it -  just standing there watching him in the August Texas sun was too much for her.  She worried ... Lord, please protect him.

 They must have gone through the grind of "athletics" and football conditioning and waited in anticipation to see if they'd be chosen for the "A" team or the "B" team.  Then, after MANY early morning practices of rolling out of bed at 5:15 to get to school - they finally took the field proudly wearing their schools colors. 

Their Mom's showed up each week - hot or cold she must have been there to see her boy!  No doubt, I am sure she would burry her head in her arms with each hit and tackle and her chest would swell in pride as the intercom once again would speak her sons name after an awesome play he'd just had. She must have cheered him through each yard - celebrated each touchdown and at the end of each day, washed his stinky clothes.  They did this - year after year. 

She listened to her young boy talk of dreams of playing college ball, and the pipe dreams of even the NFL.  Deep inside she probably wondered if her kid had what it took to really go that far - but she listened in his excitement and supported even a seed of the dream.   She might have even quietly prayed that if he didn't ... that the Lord would gently let him down so the fall wouldn't be so far.  For sure, it didn't really matter if they did have the goods in her eyes - because that boy always knew that that Mom was his number one fan and in her eyes - he was the star of every team and every field he walked on.

 That same Mom might have listened to the world talk negatively of athletes and the "dumb" jock stereotypes - dismissing that that same kid was in GT, had straight A's, was a NJHS member and loved Jesus with all that he was.  Surely they weren't speaking of HER kid!  She might have wished that the world knew the heart of her boy - the one that was born with a place inside him that was carved out with a special place for sports - something that even she didn't understand at first.  Ya see, she learned along the way as she raised that boy, watched his diligence, watched him shed blood and tears, watched the relationships he'd build, listened to the coaches teach him about integrity, character, work ethic and what it means to be a TEAM - that sports were far more than about ability - in fact, she would learn that ability came second only to heart ... the very part of the heart that the ONE who created him had etched. 

I wondered if as her boy's name was called last night - did she weep for joy and praise the Lord that he answered that boys prayers ... that had become secretly, hers.  She must have been a mess as she realized that that young boy, who once had a dream - had done all that was necessary and the Lord had allowed that dream to come TRUE!   I wondered if when she closed her eyes last night did she do so smiling.  After all, she finally got see that all that work had paid off - he was chosen!  Every one of those men - has a Mom and as a Mom of a boy who has a heart with a carved out place for sports - the draft took on a whole new meaning. God even created the athlete - from the womb of a Mom - and CAN use him for HIS GLORY!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

You are wanted ...

"Why did she abandon me"?

These were the words uttered out of a small framed 6 year old little girl.  As her Daddy walked along side her on a sweet "pajama" walk, these words of his young girl took him off guard.   He had known there would be a day she would ask more questions.  He had known there would be a day that telling his little girl that "God grew her in another Mommy's tummy" would not be all she needed to hear ... would not be enough for her curious heart.  He had prepared for this moment and yet, still, it had hit him like a 100 bricks.  Gulp, the lump in the throat appeared.   Where in the world had she even heard the word "abandoned"?

  That girl ... is mine.

  These moments are ours.

Our almond eyed girl is full of questions.   It started around 5 when I found her in her room in tears.  When asked what she was crying about, she confided in me that she missed her "birth Mommy" and didn't know why.   The pain was real.  The ache was big and for me - I found no greater joy than sitting and holding her and telling her how thankful I was that she was "Chosen" for us.  I found no greater joy than validating her pain and sorrow.  I found no greater joy than letting her know that while I didn't understand her pain and sadness ... that if I let my mind imagine what that must feel like to not know your birth Mommy and to miss her so much - that the truth was, I think it would feel like too much to bare.  I also had the privilege of letting her know that she could always share her sadness with me and I would do whatever I could to share in it ... though I understood that I would never truly know the depths of it.  Her greatest loss in life was one of my greatest blessings.  There is such irony in the world of adoption.  Without trauma and tragedy - I wouldn't know this beautiful girl.  I am "thankful" and "Joyful" to be able to sit and share in these moments - the same moments that are a result of a trauma and loss that leaves my little girl's heart with gaping holes.   I "celebrate" referral days with sweet precious memories stored in my heart of how amazing it was to finally see her face.  We celebrate "Gotcha Days" with gusto - the day we finally held our baby girl... the same "Gotcha Day" that must have been the most terrifying and confusing day for that same baby girl.  The Gotcha Day that inflicted one more "Trauma" in her life is a sweet moment that we have hung as a canvas picture in our home.   UGH!

During the past two years, my girl has begun to question her identity and with irony, I will tell you that not only have we embraced that - but we have enjoyed it!  It's moments like these that take my breathe away.   It's these moments - when she opens up her little heart and tells us her greatest secrets and fears ... that let's me know that this girl will be alright.  What irony in that!

As we put her to bed one night, she began to cry.  Asking her what was the matter ... she confided that she was sad and thought a lot about her birth Mommy.  Together, the three of us sat in her bed - Mommy, Daddy and our beautiful girl.  She shared openly her heart and then she said "can I show you something ... can I tell you a secret"?  Getting up, she climbed out of her bed and opened her drawer full of socks.  Digging for a bit, she returned with a stack of papers and with a gleam in her eye - she began to open them, one by one.  She began to read to us the letters she had written and the pictures she had drawn for a birth Mommy she missed and longed to know.   Together, we sat and talked together about what it would be like if the Lord did allow us to meet her one day.  Together, we dreamed!

On that day she asked about being "abandoned", her Daddy told her about a government and the policies that might have led to her mother choosing to place her to be found.  A week later, my girl returned from school with a picture she had drawn.  Showing me her art, she began to explain the 4 people in the drawing ... her birth Daddy, her birth Mommy, she and a "brother or sister".  Turning over the drawing, she read aloud "Dear Mommy, is my sibling a boy or a girl"?  Putting the pieces of the puzzle together, she had come to the conclusion herself that if her birth Mommy had left her to be found - and that a "one child policy" might be the reason ... then she was the second and that meant she had a sibling.  WOW!

My girl longs to know "Who" her birth Mommy is.  We all do.  We might not ever know that information.   The likely hood that this will happen is very small.  And so ... often I take my girl to the scriptures from Psalm 139: 13-16 for comfort "For your created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, When I was woven together in the depths of the earth - your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  
I have done this a hundred times and yet one night ... it's as though those same scriptures truly began to come alive.
As we sat on the floor reading her kids bible, the story shared this same passage.  She had been asking lots of questions over the week about her birth mommy and us not knowing who she might be.  She had shared in that week that she wished and prayed that one day - the Lord would take her to China and let them meet.  I had always responded that the Lord knows her ... even if we do not.
On this night, As we read her story and this passage - she stopped me suddenly.  Looking over at her, her almond eyes had become as round as two quarters.  Clinching my arm she said "If he saw me and knew me when I was being made in my birth Mommy's tummy ... then he DOES know who she is"!!
It was as though in those moments that the scriptures we had read 100 times were being read for the first time.  In those moments, the Lord had opened her heart and her mind and they became the truth she needed to know.  She looked up over the pages of her story and said "I'm going to memorize that one" ... and she did!

In the past few weeks, I discovered a new song on the radio station I listen to - "You are wanted" is the title.  Each time it came on, it was as though the Lord would speak right into my ear and say "This one is for your girl".  The song begins with the lyrics;

From the day you were born and took your first breath
You opened your eyes and in came the light
He was watching you

But all of your life, you couldn't shake the lies in your head
Saying you're a mistake
Oh, but you were made

By a God who knows your name
He doesn't make mistakes

You were wanted ...

The song is awesome.  Be sure to listen to it.  Anyhooo.  One day, as the song came on, I turned to Maliah in the car and pointed at her "This is your song.  I want you to listen to every lyric ... God wants you to know these things".  Sheepishly she grinned trying to hide the delight she had in being made the center of attention.  She listened and didn't say much.  Each time we got in the car, that same song would come on (not so ironically).  Each time, I would point to her again and say "Here's your song".  
Days of this went by.  Then, on Monday morning as I drove to drop her off at day camp, it came on again.  This time, however, she pointed to me and said ...

"This song is for me.  It says you want me.  It says I'm not a mistake.  It says - God wanted me too"

Something about that moment.  Something about the confidence in her words.  The Lord is working on my girl's heart.   When He says in the bible that He'll make beauty from ashes, that He'll turn our sorrow to joy and mourning to dancing ... it's true ... IT. IS. TRUE.  

My girl is going to be o.k.  

You can hear the song "You are wanted" here.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Good Field

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  The owners servants came to him and said "Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field?  Where then did the weeds come from?"  
"An enemy did this"  he replied.  The servants asked him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?"
No, he answered, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters; First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."  
Matthew 13: 24-29

As I sat on the front porch today overlooking our front yard, my mind drifted to this passage.  A year ago this week, we moved into our little hill country gem.  When we first closed and arrived here, we knew the home needed some work to make it the way we wanted it.  For one, the landscaping and yard had been greatly neglected.  There was no real grass to speak of.  Brown and burnt up from the hot July sun for certain - but more than that, we learned it really had never been watered in all the time the last family lived here.  The previous owners had laid a foundation of Burmuda grass - we could tell, but without the right care it hadn't survived or thrived.  The middle of the circle drive had actually been used to park a vehicle or two.   The land in the center was beaten down and quite compacted.  Anything that was growing there were weeds.

As I looked out on to this today ... my mind drifted into thinking how much that green grass resembled our lives.

Humor me while I try to describe the ramblings in my head ... 

First,  our spiritual life is so much like that grass.  Left unwatered and unattended, it dries up.  We can even lay the foundation of good grass (accepting Christ), but unless we fertilize, water and care for it - the runners of that grass will never sprout and we will never see the fruits of that foundation. If the  roots of that grass never deepen, we will be left with dry, brittle ground.  Once we do begin to water and care for the grass (time in the word and with the Lord) , a crazy thing begins to appear - weeds begin to appear first - or at the very least, become much more noticeable.  Our lives are the same.  As we grow into relationship with the Lord, we begin to realize how much sin has crept into our lives.  The behaviors and things we once thought were o.k. (because they are by the world's standards) all of a sudden begin to stand out.  It's not pretty ... why must the weeds appear first?   If a sin and stronghold has been allowed to sit on our grass (remember that parking spot), the land becomes even more dry and harder.  As does our hearts.  It takes quite a bit of water and time to even begin to see the runners from the grass around those spots to send out it's shoots and begin to fill in those spots.  It may also take outside help ...  dirt filled with extra nutrients and fertilizers creates a space filled with good soil for those runners to grow.  The process can be tedious and long.  It may seem like they will never fill in.  For us - a year later, we still have bare spots that lack grass.   Each night, we water.  We fertilize, we spray weed control and we tend to that grass.  It doesn't happen over night and to be honest, the process is costly - but worth it!   With time, as the grass begins to take root and grow deeper roots, the weeds in our lives (and that grass) begin to be choked out.  The healthier the grass is - the less weeds we begin to see.  Healthy grass and deep roots create even more runners and with time - those bare dirt spots begin to fill in.   The fruit of all that work is a beautiful and lush yard for all to enjoy.

As I sat staring at the green grass in front of me, I was reminded of the many weeds in my own life.  In college, I said YES to the Lord.  I accepted him into my heart.   Since that time, I have grown dry and brittle patches over various periods of time.  I have noticed that when I haven't watered, fertilized and tended to myself through time with God's word, through worship and community with others who share the same heart - not only has my grass grown dry and brittle, but big empty spots have appeared.

Another thought of that passage is that this parable that Jesus is teaching does not refer to unbelievers in the professing church but rather the field in his message is the world.  He is talking about the people of the Kingdom living side by side with the people of the non-believing world.  Although the Kingdom will seem to have an insignificant beginning, it will eventually spread throughout the world.  Although when we arrived a year ago, we could barely see small blades of the once planted Burmuda grass ... with a lot of attention, watering, nurturing and taking care of - that grass has grown deeper roots, spread it's runners and now, there are far less weeds and that lush green grass you see is slowly taking over.

 So the question is, as a Believer in this world, are you brittle grass that lacks proper care?  How are you caring for your roots?  If you aren't, the weeds will take over you ... and the area around you.  You won't be effective and there will be very little evidence that you exist.  But - if you tend to your grass properly, you might find that your grass will grow thick, the weeds will be smothered out and the Kingdom of heaven will expand all around you.

Get to fertilizing and watering!!  What are you waiting for?   Have some great ideas to make those roots grow deep - do share.  I'm always looking for new fertilizer.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

On a Mission ...

missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service ] The word "mission"  derived from the Latin missionem (nom. missio), meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send".[3] The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach in his name.

Today, I sent out a missionary and indeed, as the definition holds - he's heading out to to evangelize, minister in service and through his acts of love and kindness (and only use words when necessary) will preach Jesus's name.   This missionary is 13!  This missionary is my precious boy - Canyon.  

This isn't his first mission by any stretch of the imagination.  He first stepped into the field right here in San Antonio, Texas.  At the very young age of 7, Canyon began going with Doug and I each and every Tuesday night to spend time with a group of Somali Refugees that had been settled here in San Antonio.  We worked with a wonderful ministry under the leadership of some of the most amazing cross-cultural disciplers and teachers I know.  During those two years and with each teaching - each example, Canyon would soak in every single word.    Each week, we'd show up at an apartment complex that, if one didn't know better, you'd thought you'd been taken right into Somalia itself.   We loved it!  Canyon loved it!  Canyon would show up each week on the field and hit the ground running ... literally.  He'd play soccer until his legs could barely keep up, sing worship songs with a bunch of rambunctious kids and at the end of their "play" time, the boys group would sit around a tree and Doug would teach a lesson about our faith to our special friends.   We, followers of Jesus, had the awesome opportunity to share our faith with our Muslim friends and to learn of their faith/comparison to ours as we honored them during times of Ramadan etc.  

I will never forget one week during the summer when we were working hard to get school supplies gathered for all the kids.  As we prepared each bag, I asked Canyon "why are we doing this"?  He gave me the token  Sunday school answer "Jesus says so" .  I grinned - of course he was right ... but what did that mean?    Digging further I asked him, "But WHY does he say to do this"?  Canyon, whom has shown to have a faith far beyond his years from a very early age began to think a bit.  During his time on the soccer field he had befriended a precious boy named Hassan.  Hassan was older than Canyon but for some reason - had a true affection and affinity for him.   Most of the boys were much older and bigger than Canyon (though he could definitely hold his own on that field) and Hassan had seemingly taken to becoming Canyon's defender and protector each week.  They had created a special friendship very quick, one that held a special place in Canyon's heart.  
So ... as he began to think, I began ask questions of Canyon and his knowledge of scripture.   sharing with Canyon that Hassan was of a different faith, one that worshipped a God named "Allah",  I began to ask Canyon of  Jesus's response in John 14:6  and with eagerness he began to recite, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.    "Exactly," I told Canyon.  "And if this is so, what does this mean for your friend, Hassan, who worships another God"?   Canyon's eyes began to water and tear.  In that moment, the scriptures and truth came alive for him.   The words began to jump off the page and in that moment, my 7 year old son realized that it wasn't about a wrote "Sunday school answer" but about a life ... one that he had learn to love!   Canyon began to learn and understand that through his friendship with this young boy, that maybe - just maybe the Lord would give him a chance to use his words and tell him about the Jesus he knew.  But if he didn't, he also learned that that was o.k. ... because in the end, Canyon was being Jesus just by bringing HIM with him each and every time he stepped on to that field.  We prayed his friend would see a glimpse of him and we prayed some day, Canyon would have built enough foundation to walk him right over that bridge!   

Those years helped shaped Canyon greatly.  He had and still has a great appreciation for our friends who spoke into his heart about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and what it meant to be involved in cross-cultural discipleship.  
Those years, were also pivotal in his life as we moved from one international adoption to the next.  To Canyon, he began to see and understand that our obedience to adopt wasn't just about becoming a brother, gaining a daughter or a son - but about bringing the Nations right here into our home.  Canyon is on a mission - daily!  At 13, he is a missionary - right HERE!  

During our time of working to adopt Zebene, we had the awesome JOY of bringing both Canyon and his oldest sister with us to Ethiopia.  What a joy it was to see him step off of that bus each day and right back into the field he had come to love during those two years.  He was unintimidated and unhindered.  He played soccer with gusto ... just as he had done before.  He loved big and served big.  Canyon and Dakota would step into each orphanage and transitional home and not see an "orphan" or a 'need", or a "religion".  They saw people, of all faiths, and medical backgrounds for who they were.  They saw  - relationships - and other kids who just wanted to play and needed love.   Watching them was beautiful.  It was natural, honest, pure - and simply - Jesus in a small pair of tennis shoes.   As we were leaving Ethiopia and boarding our plane on our last night there, I turned to find Canyon's eyes filled with tears.  Taken back by his emotion, I asked if he was o.k.  Canyon quickly responded "I have never been to a place where the people have so little and yet - have so much JOY ... I don't want to leave".    At 11 years old, that kid had nailed it.  He saw JOY amidst places where the "world" would see sorrow or much need.  Canyon caught glimpses of what it truly meant to be content in the spirit and have joy amidst all things.   Canyon saw Jesus in their faces and he yearned to not let go.  

So, today, I sent that same boy off.  I've seen him on the field in San Antonio, Texas, in our home and in Ethiopia.  This time, however, I send him ALONE (well - not really - he's with one of the most amazing teams of youth leaders and parents I know)!  We won't accompany him this time.  This time, this trip ... it's all HIS!  As I send my boy out to be a disciple of Jesus, I rest in the peace that Jesus is the one guiding him and protecting him.   I also am giddy excited to think back to each experience before and see how much it has shaped Canyon.  I am certain that while Canyon and his team will bless the church and people they are working/partnering with .... that Canyon will come home even more blessed - maybe a little more refined, maybe a little changed by what the Lord will do in his heart.  

A missionary on a mission ... to Mission, Texas!  

Friday, June 7, 2013

The new "PAIR" process for Ethiopia

If you are keeping up with Ethiopia adoptions then you know things are constantly changing.  This is the case for any sending country, really.  This information was given by my agency recently to Associates (those of us who put on seminars etc.).  It was also sent to our families currently in process.  I thought I'd put it out there in the event you are with another agency that hasn't fully explained this to you yet, you are researching and learning the ins and outs or if you are a praying soul who is willing to continue lifting this program and the children waiting for families to the Lord.

Here goes:

Earlier this week, we shared a blog post (USCIS Implements Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) for Ethiopia Casesregarding some changes in how USCIS and Ethiopia will process immigrations approvals for adopted children.  USCIS hosted a call yesterday to discuss the implementation of the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process.  America World staff participated in this call to learn about this process and how it will affect the Ethiopian adoptions. While the call did provide new information, there are still details that we will not know until the process is completely implemented. 
In the new PAIR system, USCIS will review and provide a pre-approval of immigration eligibility to the adoptive family on behalf of the child that they desire to adopt.  This pre-approval has been referenced as the PAIR letter.  Starting September 1st, it is expected that the Ethiopian government’s Ministry of Women’s Children and Youth Affairs will require each adoptive family to have a PAIR letter prior to submitting a recommendation letter to the First Federal Instance Court . Please see below to get a comparative view between the current process and the soon to be implemented PAIR process.

Current Process

PAIR process
Family accepts referral

Family accepts referral
In-country staff obtains referral agreement between the agency and orphanage

-In-country staff obtains referral agreement between the agency and orphanage.

-Family submits the I-600 form and supporting documentation (including but not limited to the referral agreement, translated and Amharic documentation on child’s background history and clearances, and family’s documentation) to the National Benefits Center (NBC) lockbox in the United States. 

-NBC will examine all the documentation and either issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or move forward with the Embassy’s portion of the approval process. 4-6 weeks expected timeline for completion.

-Once the initial NBC review is complete, the US Embassy will complete the I-604 investigation of orphan status (may include birth relative or finder interview at the US Embassy in Addis if applicable). They gave a 4-6 week expected timeline for completion.

-Once the I-604 investigation is successfully completed, the PAIR determination will be completed and approval letter will be issued.
In-country staff submits family's case/match to court, which includes submitting the family and child's documentation in addition to the matching agreement

In-country staff submits family's case/match to court with the PAIR approval letter
6-12 weeks after court submission, the initial MOWCYA/birth parent court date takes place

No Changes
At this court date, MOWCYA aims to complete a favorable or non-favorable letter regarding the match.  This letter is then sent to the Federal First Instance Court.

No Changes 
Once the MOWCYA/Birth parent court date has taken place and a favorable MOWCYA recommendation letter has been submitted to court, the court subpoenas the adoptive family to court.

No Changes
Trip 1: The adoptive family court date is typically 2-4 weeks after the initial MOWCYA/birth parent court date. 

No Changes 
The family fills out and submits the I-600 form to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during their court trip.

The I-600 has already been completed and will not be filled out by the family while in Ethiopia.
-In-country staff obtains post-court paperwork (court decree, new birth certificate, and passport) for the child.  Additionally, the child's Embassy medical exam is completed.  This process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

-This information is all submitted to the US Embassy. The Embassy completes an I-604 investigation of orphan status . This process takes days – 3 weeks to complete

-In-country staff obtains post-court paperwork (court decree, new birth certificate, and passport) for the child.  Additionally, the child's Embassy medical exam is completed.  This process typically takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

-This information is all submitted to the US Embassy. The Embassy completes a final review of the case to ensure post-court paperwork matches documentation submitted with family’s I600 application. We are hopeful this process will just take a few days.
Trip 2: Once the US Embassy reviews and approves the I-600 application and finishes the I604 Investigation, the family can travel back to Ethiopia to obtain a US Visa for their child. Current families are travelling back for their 2nd trip close to 4-7 weeks after they pass court.

Trip 2: Once the US Embassy completes their final review, the family can travel back to Ethiopia to obtain a US Visa for their child. The timeline for travelling back for the second trip may be a bit shorter, closer to 3-6 weeks.

  • Will timeframes lengthen due to this change?
·        Yes, based on what USCIS has noted, it looks like there will be at least an additional 2-4 months between referral and the initial court date.  There may be a decrease in the amount of time between passing court and the 2nd trip by a week or two.  Current and future timeframes:
·   Current: 8-14 weeks between Referral Acceptance and travelling for court::  under PAIR the timeframes will likely be 16-26 weeks
·   Current: 4-6 months between Referral Acceptance and coming home:: under PAIR the timeframes will likely be 8-10 months.
·        Unfortunately, this could likely elongate the time between dossier submission and referral depending on the amount of extra time we are holding children in our Transition Home between referral and adoption finalization.  If the Transition Home is full, we will not be able to bring new children in.
  • Will the PAIR letter need to be authenticated?
·        We are not sure yet whether or not MOWCYA and the Ethiopian courts will require this letter to be authenticated/certified.  It is likely thought that authentication of this letter will be needed.
  • Will this turn the process into a one-trip process?
·        At this time, we do not feel this will allow for a one-trip process due to the timeframe between court approval and visa approval still taking roughly 3 to 5 weeks.  Because the US Embassy wants to do a second review after a family passes court, and as the post court paperwork will still take a few weeks to complete, the second trip will not be easily condensed into one trip as we hoped.
  • Is the I600 different than the I600A?
·        Yes, these are two different forms.  The I-600A is filled out during the paper chasing stage of the adoption process and is not associated with this change.  This new PAIR processing affects the I-600 process which is typically submitted while the family is in Ethiopia for their first trip.  However, now it will be completed in the United States at the time of referral.
  • Will this cause fee increases?
·        America World will continue to doe as much as possible to keep fees low for families while also providing the services needed for children and families.  Depending on how much additional time children need to stay in the Transition Home due to the new PAIR review, this could cause a need for the international program fee to increase. 

Again, we do not know many more details about what this will look like but wanted to share what USCIS noted on the call with you.  This will go into effect starting September 1st; therefore families not submitted to court prior to September 1st will be under the new PAIR process. Please note, each year we see the Ethiopian courts close for close to two months during the end of summer/early fall.  We suspect they will likely close August 6th through early October of this year; however the dates have not yet been made official.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shhhhh! I have to tell somebody - before I burst!

We're doing it again.  We're having another baby.  We are so so excited!  Not all of the family knows just yet.  In particular, one soon to be 11 year old is about to get the surprise of her life.  She's begged and pleaded for this baby.  She has promised that if we do have another baby, she will help take care of her, feed her and more.  After much time and prayers - we've decided it's the perfect time to give her some added responsibility and decided - what the heck, let's do this thing while we're still young enough!

So ... after much research and time, we received a message about 6 weeks ago that she had been born and a few precious referral pictures.  Though none of the photos are of the highest quality - they never are.   We could still tell she was adorable.  After looking through her information and staring at her sweet face - we decided to say YES ... oh my gosh - you would have too if you had seen that sweet newborn nose!

Yesterday, I got an update picture on her.  She is adorable.  She's supposed to be home ... get this ... just in time for Dakota's 11th BIRTHDAY in a few weeks!  Go God!

Would you like to see a peek.  PLEASE PLEASE don't tell anyone ... especially my blonde, blue eyed girl.  We are about to blow her socks off and give her an 11th birthday surprise she'll never forget!


HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Did you really think I was crazy worthy enough to add another child?  I mean, I adore those two little pistols blessings born of my heart - BUT - this time, we've decided to go a whole new adoption direction.
My parent preparation has been researching crate training, bell training, potty training, heart worm meds, and x-pens.  And, here's the best part.  I hear, that when you love on a puppy ... THEY LOVE YOU BACK!  I. AM. SO. EXCITED!  Seriously!

Coming Soon to a Home near You.  (Surprise - this is your gift pics - are surely to come!)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Where did you see Him this week?

What a crazy week it has been in the world!  First, the horrific bombing in Boston.  In a place where hard work and perseverance is celebrated with a finish line of victory and triumph, the enemy misplaced all of that with choas, destruction and loss.  Surely, however, he didn't think about how the spirit of Love is always bigger.  The stories of beauty and the kindness of strangers has prevailed in the news.  God always gets the glory!  His Love always wins!

Next, the tragic blast in West, Texas.  This one hit way too close to home for me.  In college, I may or may not have dated someone who is from that very small sleepy town and spent more than my desired weekends looking at cotton fields, checking for aphids and riding around in a red pick up truck with a few stops at the Czech bakery just for fun.  Of course, those weekends wouldn't be complete without the softball tournaments at the Knights of Columbus Hall that included their fare share of Keg's - followed up by Sunday Mass to forgive all those sins.  Small towns are funny places I learned - places that are like today's version of "Cheers" ... where everyone really does know your name.  In any case, this week was a week of wondering over many people who touched my life during that time including that gentleman who now is married, with children and still calls West/Abbott home.  Since I don't make it a point to keep up with old flames, I can only pray that the Lord protected he and his family, extended family and the many friends that I once called mine.  But, alas, once again - in the midst of such tragedy, the beauty of God's goodness has been seen in the stories that are continuing to unfold.  Even in the loss ... He is there.
Love always wins!

Add to my week, I was down with the most awful stomach bug.  Literally, that little booger took me out of the game.  Stuck right between those two events ... what made for one depressing week.
My little highlight, my amazing husband who took care of my kids, fed everyone, did laundry and made sure I got what I needed.  He even went to the store for chicken noodle soup ... bless his heart.    The store ... Not his favorite chore.   God is too sweet to give me such a love.  See!! Love always wins!

As I drove down the highway of 281 today, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the beauty of bright yellow wild flowers that overtook the median of the road.  Literally a burst of color that only could be created and perfectly displayed by a God who knows that in the ugliness of the world ... he still wants us to know of his beauty.
I so wanted to stop and take a picture of those flowers, but the image in my mind has gotten me to think of the other beautiful images he has given me throughout this week.

Indeed, love always does win!  I have so much beauty around me.  Here's just a few of some sweet and beautiful moments of my week.  What about you?   Where did you see his fingerprints and beautiful displays by his hand?

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

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