Thursday, February 28, 2008

Here's How It Went...Short Form...

So - I haven't the time to tell all that home study involved today, but just know it went well! I would share all the details, but we fly out in the morning to lead worship for a church in Alabama and I still have to pack! YIKES!

Good news is.... Billy not only made it home on time - he got an earlier flight out and made it home by 10:45 AM. Yeah! Great news is... our next home study appointment is Monday afternoon in Austin, TX. Greater news is.... our last home study appointment is Tuesday morning in Austin. (we're going to spend the night there). So, we're getting our home study visits done fast and that makes me HAPPY!.... Sad news is.... 1. Libby was NOT having the best afternoon while our case worker was at our home - but, oh well. 2. our case worker says it could take 4 weeks to get the home study report done and ready to mail out to USCIS.... long, sad, sigh... I'm hoping and praying things will move faster than that. We'll see.

So - I'm off to pack. We fly back to San Antonio Sunday night and then drive to Austin Monday and come back Tuesday. So, I may not get a chance to detail out the home study visits until after the last one.

Thank you so much everyone for all your awesome prayers and support!
Lots and lots of love,
PS - Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Belinda - our family just LOVES the 2 of you and Libby will miss seeing you on Tuesday (since we'll be in Austin). But she'll be back on Thursday!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2 Big Steps

Today I received my TX State certifications back. I'm glad I sent them early, because one of the docs was returned without a seal due to a problem with the notary seal. It was Billy's employment verification letter so I contacted our CPA and he's re-writing/re-notarizing the letter for me. Whew! At least we caught that early on and not in a last minute situation.

Tomorrow...... WE HAVE OUR FIRST HOMESTUDY VISIT!!!! Woohoo!!!! This first visit will count as 2 because she is doing our individual interviews. One prayer request - Billy is currently out of town and is supposed to fly into San Antonio at 12pm tomorrow. Our homestudy begins at 2pm. I'm going to do my interview first so that gives Billy a little extra time to get settled in - but I'm just praying that his flight won't have any delays!!!

Once this homestudy visit is done we'll know when our next 2 visits will be, then the social worker will have to write up the homestudy report. And then we send the report to USCIS so they can finish processing our info. The next step will be fingerprinting and waiting on the 171 to come in the mail. At that point we have the last few docs State certified then we make copies of everything and send it on to AWAA. They will have them authenticated by the USSD and then the paperwork will go on to the Ethiopian Embassy. Once it's been to all these places it will be approved by our agency and mailed to Ethiopia.

There's really no telling how long this last part of paperwork will take. It's really not dependent so much on me any more. It will depend on how fast other people do their work to complete it. That's no fun! Boo!!! But that's the way it goes. I have to give up control now ....sob...sigh...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What the Spirit Has Prompted Me To Pray

Dear Aria (and Aria's Prayer Warriors),

When I began the adoption journey to your sister, Libby, I was delighted that the Lord began to give me very specific things to pray over you. The smallest details, right down to her size, smile and beauty - to the deepest details of her character and future were important to Jesus and so He let me in on the ministry of praying over/for those things. Every specific thing I was led to pray for over her has come to pass or will come to pass. So my faith has blossomed even more in seeing His provision and promises fulfilled.

All that to say that the Lord, again, is sweetly detailing the beauty and soul of you in my heart so I can pray accordingly. Tonight I attended a "Friends of the Forgotten" meeting (by XTI). The "forgotten" are the unreached people groups around the world - "unreached" meaning people groups who have little to no access to the gospel of Christ. When it was time for our table to pray over a particular unreached people group we looked at our table display only to realize that our table's people group was the Argoba People of Ethiopia! Cristie Martine and Elissa Harrell were at the same table and one of them said, "What if Aria is from that people group and we are praying over them tonight?" Immediately I remembered that one of my joys in deciding to adopt from China and now Ethiopia is bc both are within the 10/40 window (where most unreached people groups in the world live). It is (and has been for quite some time) on my heart that the Lord would give me the honor of adopting children from unreached people groups so that salvation can come to those who have no other access to the Good News. So, you can only imagine tonight how I felt when I read about this people group and thought about you. I may never get to know what people group you are actually from, but I am praying that you would be from an unreached people group so that the Light of Christ can be passed on to you and we can pray together for your people as you grow.

I have also been led to pray specifically these words - that you would be "exquisitely beautiful inside and out", "a girl who enjoys pondering the deep things in life, but who lives a life of action that flows from those thoughts", "passionate, prophetic and bold as a lion, but gentle, wise and patient", "compassionate and full of love", "joyful", "full of peace", "protected and released from the spirits of abandonment, rejection, disease, infirmity, rebellion, fear, and insecurity", that you would "bond/attach to your daddy, mommy and big sister with complete ease", that "you and Libby would be as iron sharpens iron and be given passions and gifts that compliment one another". These are the major things the Spirit has been compelling me to pray for, but there are (and will continue to be) more things revealed to me that I will post later.

A few of the things I'm praying for that are just my personal requests are: 1. a quick, smooth adoption process. 2. for you to be no more than 10 months old when we arrive in Ethiopia. 3. for Libby to receive you with love and understanding as there will be many changes at that time 4. for me to really enjoy this time with Libby before adding you to the family 5. for Libby to bond even more with her daddy as the time approaches to receive you so that as I am being more attentive to a your needs Libby is satisfied with her daddy's attention and guidance.

Love you Aria!

Friday, February 22, 2008

I decided....

To UPS the TX documents I have so far to Austin for TX State Certification. I thought about driving to Austin on Monday and doing it in person to save a little money, but when I mentioned that to Billy he said - "no, I don't want you driving there while I'm out of town. Just spend the few extra dollars to get it done." And I said, "OK!!!". So they're off.... how fast will they return with that beautiful gold sticker????

Thursday, February 21, 2008

SC State Certified!

Received a UPS! package today. Our SC documents are State certified!! While I don't have all my TX documents gathered yet, I think I'm going to send the ones I do have on out for TX State certification. It will actually cost 2 extra overnight shipments (1 there, 1 back for now and then the same later for other docs), but I will have the assurance of knowing that the docs I have prepared so far are all accepted and certified by the State. Any of you adopting families think that's a good idea? Or should I just wait until I have all the docs??? Let me know by tomorrow!!! (no pressure!)


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Heart UPS!

UPS ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And so do the KY and VA state certification offices! I overnighted our papers to each of these states on Saturday. They arrived in the State offices Monday and they were apparently sent back out by Monday afternoon bc they both arrived on my front porch today! I went back to UPS today to overnight another package and the UPS guy asked, "did your other docs already make it back?"
"Yes," I said with glee.
"D*** that was fast," he muttered.
See - even the UPS employee was impressed! Seriously, when we did all this for the China adoption it never went this fast. The only thing moving slow is the home study process and that's both because they require us to finish all hs paperwork before our first meeting and because of our traveling schedule. But hopefully once the visits start that will go quickly as well.
This is kind of fun. I'm in a race against time to see how fast this can get done. My type A self is enjoying the rush way too much!

Our notarized life insurance proof arrived today as well. And we sent off our marriage cert and my birth cert for SC State certification (by UPS, of course!) today too!

Things left to do: home study visits, paper for social worker to sign, 1 reference letter, 171H and fingerprints, along with TX State certifications. Small items to finish include - passport size photos and one more page for family photos - oh, and Billy needs to sign his passport and I have to make copies of it. I keep forgetting about that one.

We're still in Cuero, TX for an event. We drove home today to pick up our packages and then drove all the way back. Tomorrow is our last day and we'll drive home tomorrow night and sleep in our own wonderful beds! Yippee!


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Marriage License Finally Arrived!

I checked the status of our marriage certificate order today on-line and it said that our marriage license was pending to arrive in the SC department that would fulfill the order. I was so confused when I read this because I ordered the cert. on Feb. 4. I was also concerned bc with our last adoption the thing that held us back was that our marriage certificate got lost in the mail. I decided to wait until Monday to check further into the status situation since we had to pack and head out for an event this afternoon, and I asked the Lord to work the situation out and deliver the license soon. Once the car was packed we headed out and Billy decided to stop and check the mail. And there it was - our Marriage License! Thank you Lord! What a wonderful answer to prayer!

I think the only documents left to obtain are: 1. Home study report 2. Proof of Life Insurance Letter 3. One reference letter 4. A doc/agreement that my social worker has to sign 5. Our 171 6. Our passport photos. (of course, all docs have to go through certifications/authentications too).

During our drive tonight I started wondering how long our wait for Aria will be. With the China program we had a timeline and even though the time line changed we at least knew where we were in line for our baby girl and we also knew the referrals would arrive each month around the same time. So far, I don't see that it works that way for Ethiopia. I can't seem to figure out if referrals come every month and if so what general time of the month. I don't know what the normal number of referrals is when referrals do come. And then there's the factor that we're asking for a girl and that puts us in a slower line. Anyway - I know that the Lord's timing is perfect and I trust in that. But my heart hopes, yearns for this to go quicker than our China adoption did. Family and friends - will you pray with me for a quick and smooth process to Ethiopia?

In another post on a later date I will list some of the specific things I am praying over Aria that you may want to join me in prayer for - but tonight, the timeline is what is on my heart.

Thank you!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Aria's Room!!!

This week has been a little slower - and that's a good thing because I am super tired from the hustle and bustle. As far as paperwork goes - I faxed some dossier docs to Duni (our family coordinator for AWAA) and there's only one on which I had to make a correction. I've corrected it and now we have to have it notarized again. Aside from that I'm still waiting for our marriage license to show up in the mail. I emailed my request for a notarized letter from our life insurance company for proof of life ins. and that should arrive soon. I found out Billy's birth certificate does NOT need county certification -so I'm sending it off for state certification tomorrow. As soon as my marriage cert arrives I can send it and my birth cert to SC for state certification. Other than the above items I'm waiting on homestudy visits to take place. I received a call from Sarah (our social worker) today and we've set the first homestudy visit for Feb. 28!!!! It's all downhill from there - well, as far as paper work is concerned. The wait usually ends up being the hardest part.

I'm trying to figure out how the wait works. With China, referrals came out each month and you knew where you stood in line. With Ethiopia it seems each agency has a different way of doing things and I haven't figured ours out yet. When we finally send our dossier to Ethiopia (oh, please let that be rather soon!) we'll have a better idea of how the process works.

Until then - enjoy the pics of Aria's room. Our friend, Larry, painted the room earlier this week and the room came together beautifully! I LOVE IT!!!! Still want to find some special artwork or pics for the walls and still have to move the changing table into the room, but for now - it's done!

Peace out!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Sending Home Study Packet Today!

Fire inspection is finished and physical exam forms are in my hands! All items for our home study packet are finished as of today! The 3 references we need are sent seperately by our friends, so today I can UPS our papers for home study to AWA-TX!!! That means that our social worker can finally schedule our home study visits and we can move on in the process!

Also, we notarized several docs for our dossier packet today. Tonight or tomorrow I will work on getting Billy's birth certficate mailed for county certification. His birth cert is from KY and it's one of the few states that require county certification.

On the move!!

We're Home and I Made Things Right!

We returned home this evening at a decent hour so I just couldn't help getting on-line and fixing my technical errors. So - how do things look??? I'm very happy to have all the pics/lists/info back up - and - if you haven't noticed already - I added a few lists including our home study checklist (which is almost complete!) and our dossier checklist. I will get the links up to other AWAA family sites this week sometime.

Tomorrow is our fire protection inspection. It should be a breeze. I'll also be picking up our notarized physical exam forms and then Billy and I will take some other docs to get notarized in the afternoon. We're making GREAT PROGRESS!!!

Aria - your soon-to-be-parents have become seriously pro-active in their journey to you!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Made a Boo Boo

Tried to change my template today and it deleted all my pictures, time-lines, lists, etc. We're out of town and I don't have my own laptop so I'll have to wait until Monday night to fix things....

Frustrated with technology,

Monday, February 4, 2008

Baby Steps

Today I received the dossier info I needed! And my dossier packet from AWAA arrived in the mail as well! YEAH!

Today Libby and I drove to Alamo Street to pay our fees for our Environmental Health Inspection. It was fast and easy - hope the inspection goes that way. I should receive a call in a few days and will schedule the inspection appointment then.

I realized today that although I have extra certified copies of our marriage certificate from Libby's adoption, I'm still required to have a new one. Ordered one on-line today.

Finally figured out all of our residential history. Going back 10 years is an awfully difficult process for someone with a memory like my own. Only vital, current info sticks. All other things are forgettable. Anyway - after a little research I got it figured out.

I finished our reading agreements, copies of birth, marriage, drivers license and ss numbers, etc. I finished the sketch and mearsurements of each room in our house, and I'm getting ready to take all the requried photos of the outside and inside of our home.

I'm a little stressed about proofs of insurance and copies of life and health insurances. Those are areas Billy is more familiar with and I'm not sure how difficult obtaining all this info will be.

Honestly, although I've finished a ton of the "gathering of info" I'm feeling overwhelmed today by the amount that still has to be tackled. UGH!!! Boo Hoo!!


PS - Aria, you're worth it all and more, baby. Our friends Elissa and Kyle just received their referral (from China) after a VERY long wait. Hearing their excitement on the phone reminds me that whatever the wait, the Lord knows and has already determined the moment you will be handed to me. Libby and your mommy and daddy are extremely excited to know who you are. We talk about you often and enjoy wondering what perfect angel God is designing to fit into our family. Love you princess! Mommy