Friday, May 30, 2008

PRAYER ANSWERED!!!!!! - WOW, THAT WAS FAST!

Thank you, Jesus, for hearing our cries and the prayers of all our friends and family! Thank you friends and family for praying!

Last night, BEFORE I received the dreaded email, I was cleaning in my husband's office and came across a scratch piece of paper I had lost. The paper had a number for USCIS that I received when my first set of fingerprints did not clear. This morning, my brilliant friend Cristie was praying for me and all the sudden God gave her an answer to my dillema. She called and said I should contact USCIS and see if my 171 clearance from our 2005 adoption paperwork would serve as clearance from all the other cities I had lived in. If so I would only need the SA police dept. clearance and I already had one from my dossier.

I called the number from the scratch paper. She gave me another person's name and number. That person no longer worked in the adoption division and she said that the only way the public could talk to the adjudication officers in the adoption division was by email. I told her that my last email did not receive a reply for 3 weeks. She understood and took me seriously. She told me she would hand deliver a message to Mrs. Torres (the adjudication officer) who could make a decision. Thirty minutes later Mrs. Torres called my house and said she would accept the fingerprints/171 from 2005 and all I needed to do was come to the office, swear in, bring an id, and bring the SA clearance letter. She asked me to come in today. That's what I did and by 11AM this morning I was done with the required paperwork and she said I should have my 171-H sometime next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!!!!

I believe I was supposed to meet Mrs. Torres. I want to ask all of you to be praying for her. In 2004 she lost her youngest child to a heart problem. She shared some of his story and started tearing up. She is so tender and she has been through so much. I don't know if Mrs. Torres knows Jesus, but I do know how to pray for her and I now have a way to keep in touch with her.

Jesus - You have been so good to us and now you have answered our prayers again! Your faithfulness is astounding! Thank you!

Blessings,
Cindy

Thursday, May 29, 2008

PRAYER NEEDED!

Dear friends and family -

I have an urgent prayer request. As you know, I've been waiting for my 171-H since we were first fingerprinted on April 15. Later that same week I had to be re-fingerprinted bc my prints were not clear. The guy who re-fingerprinted me said that was not unusual and the second prints always go through.

On May 9th I submitted an email to an address given on the SA USCIS site for those doing international adoption. I was requesting information on the status of my 171-H because I thought I would have had it by then. I never received a reply. But a few days later I had a friend who works for USCIS check on things and the clerk at USCIS said my paperwork was cleared by her and headed to the adjudication officer - which is a basic review of the clerk's review and then a 171-H should be mailed to me.

Tonight, however, I received an email reply to my email request (from May 9th). The reply - first of all is - oh - 3 weeks after I sent my request. Second of all - it's signed by NO ONE. And third of all it stated the following:

"Cynthia's fingerprints have been rejected twice. She will be scheduled to come in for a sworn statement. She can start working on Police Clearance Letters from every city she has lived in for 6 months or more (no matter what age)."

WHAT?@!#*&!&

As you can imagine I'm in a total state of shock and a weird panic. I've NEVER been in trouble with the law. I DO NOT want to have to get police clearance letters from the 6 cities I've lived in in my life (as it takes time and money and is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY BECAUSE I'VE NEVER DONE ANYTHING WRONG CONCERNING THE LAW other than a basic trafic ticket or two which were paid and taken care of. AND BECAUSE I'M STINKIN' TRYING TO BRING AN ORPHAN HOME - HOW SUSPICIOUS CAN THAT BE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Why hasn't USCIS sent me a letter or given me a phone call? The first time my fingerprints were not clear they told me in 2 days time. Why have I waited 6 weeks for them to tell me my second prints weren't clear? Is this a joke? Why didn't the person who wrote the email sign a name or give me a number to call. WHAT IS GOING ON!??????

I am TOTALLY aggravated, confused, sad, FURIOUS!

Please pray.

Okay - so it's the next morning now and I have a better perspective. God can solve this and He will. I may have to do a little extra work - but so it goes. Our friend, David Guion, sent me an email with three posts from other adoption blogs. In each blog the families were going through horrible circumstances in which it was obvious Satan was attacking. Their situations were FAR MORE difficult and even personally tragic compared to this small paperwork issue. That helped put some things in perspective. I needed a front-end alignment - although I know that was not what David intended. His encouragement and reminders were a God-send.

Our family has no illnesses. We have no financial burdens. Our marriage, our ministry, our home, cars - all doing fine! And up until now this adoption process has been a breeze. Something was bound to happen at some point. We are incredibly blessed - beyond measure. In the good times AND the bad - He is God alone. He is on His throne! And in that I have peace and victory.

I'll let you know how the USCIS story turns out. Still praying it's not true, somehow.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Time to Let Go and A Time to FIGHT!!!

I'm about to start fighting!!! Yes - God is sovereign and that IS my comfort... believe me! But do I have to be okay with the fact that the USCIS office has taken 6 weeks and counting to simply review our prints, sign a paper and put it in the mail??? I get that I will get Aria at just the right time... but I don't think that means I have to be okay with injustice. We are law abiding citizens trying to bring an orphan home. How hard is that to approve? I NEVER imagined it taking this long. It did not take this long when we were waiting for Libby.

I have a friend who works with/for USCIS. He checked on things for me over a week ago (for which I am incredibly grateful!!). He said the paperwork has to be reviewed and approved first by a clerk and then by an adjudication officer. He talked with the clerk and she said she had approved it and it was on the desk of the officer. I was happy to hear that, but now I am just aggravated that an officer is just letting it sit on his/her desk. More than a week later - still nothing....

Okay - so that's my vent for the day!

Cindy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sad News

Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria, was killed today when struck by a car driven by her teenage brother in their own driveway. Maria is the Chapman's 6th. child and their 3rd child adopted from China. Steven and his wife have been such incredible supporters and leaders in the international adoption community. The article about Maria's tragic death can be found at:

http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080521/TUNEIN/80521174/1005/ENTERTAINMENT

Chapman family - you are in our thoughts and prayers. What a difficult, tragic experience. Our hearts are carrying your burden and we will keep you lifted up to Jesus. May He comfort you in this time of deepest grieving. Maria was BEAUTIFUL! And your family has been such a beacon to the church - a call to rise to the occasion and be what Jesus calls us to be - lovers of orphans and adoption. So many families are blessed by adoption because of your willingness to draw us in to your story - God's story. Maria will continue to be an inspiration for so many more!

Also in need of urgent prayer - It is becoming more and more evident that the enemy is attacking international adoption globally - SIGNIFICANTLY! As many of you who followed our journey to Libby know, China has been slowing down their adoption program to almost nil over the last several years. China - having been the biggest international adoption program for quite some time - was the one country that allowed adoption agencies the financial capacity to keep their doors open to other international programs. The enemy was/is specifically slowing down China because it affects ALL international adoption agencies and programs. Adoption agencies across the country are closing because China's program is too slow to keep enough funding for agencies to continue.

AWAA (our agency) is having it's own share of troubles in light of China's slow down. But they are doing everything they can to cut back costs and make it work. Still, AWAA is dependent upon our prayers and the work of God.

Ethiopia is currently experiencing severe electricity outages. These outages are causing problems in communications and court dates that affect those adopting from (or being adopted from) Ethiopia. When this information was made known to me I immediately thought of something my friends, Larry and Terry Singletary, shared with me. Larry and Terry were missionaries to the unreached people group called the Karamajong in northern Uganda. They served there for 10 years - enough time to recognize some consistent patterns of the enemy. Every time they were on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough the enemy would begin upping the battle by taking away their ability to communicate with the outside world. Phones, Internet, satellite radios/phones and electricity would come to a halt. I believe this is what is happening in Ethiopia. You see, Ethiopia is the only international adoption program that's on a significant rise. It has the potential of being a "China" for international adoption agencies. So it makes sense that this is where the enemy would target the next stage of battle.

What I ask is for you to PRAY - not specifically for our future daughter (although she is certainly affected by this situation) - but for international adoption world wide. The estimated number of orphans in Ethiopia alone in 2005 is somewhere between 4 and 6 million. Can you imagine? And that was 3 years ago. The numbers continue to rise. What a grip the enemy has. But we have a chance to go to battle for them; first in prayer!!! Everything else is in vain without prayer. Second; by supporting international adoption and international adoption agencies/organizations (particularly those who understand adoption to be the heart of God) - in word AND DEED! (GIVE FINANCIALLY OR ADOPT!).

I will start a resource list on this blog soon - ways you can get involved. But for now - My first suggestion is to give directly to America World as I know their hearts, their hard work and their love for rescuing orphans. My second suggestion is to visit sites that already list reputable resources. For example - Tom Davis, the author of "Fields of the Fatherless" and "Red Letters" has many resources (including his own organization) listed on his site and even in his books.

But let me end with this: PRAY!!! Pray for the Chapman family who is so in the forefront of the international adoption cause that, I believe, the enemy targeted him and his family today. They will need so much prayer during this time. Prayer for protection of their hearts and minds as they struggle through the most intense grief possible.
And PRAY some more!!! - Picture your own children at the age of 2 or 5 or 10 walking around in complete poverty with no parent or family member other than siblings younger than themselves that they are now responsible for; no food, no bath, no bed. No clean water, no shelter from the rain, no love. Only dirt, pain, loneliness, malnutrition and hopelessness. Let that picture sink deep into your heart and be affected by it - enough to DO SOMETHING about it for the MILLIONS of orphans in this world. If we, as Christians, do not pray more AND do more there is something terribly wrong with our hearts.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Great Vacation, But No 171H

We had a great vacation - go to: http://www.followthefeet.blogspot.com to read about it and see some cute photos and I didn't think about the 171 at all (until this morning as we packed to head home.) But upon arriving home (and passing the 5 week mark of waiting) there was no 171H in the mail. I don't remember it taking this long for our China adoption. I can't figure out what takes so long to review a doc, print a form and mail it! Hello! I just read on a YG that one family just finalized their homestudy 3 weeks ago and they already have there 171! So jealous - (just a confession). Anyway...

God gave me peace to not worry about it over vacation. He will give me peace to wait the next stretch.

Maybe tomorrow....gotta keep hoping!

Cindy

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Going on Vacation!

Well, no I-171H showed up this week and we head out tomorrow for vacation, but I am at COMPLETE PEACE about not having the desired paperwork in my hands. Over the weekend the Lord gently put my heart at rest in His presence and promises and again today He reminded me that before time began He already decided the day we would meet Aria. Nothing I or anyone else does will change that. His sovereignty is my comfort!

For the next four days I will be taking a long, deep breath of salty air while I hold hands with my sweet hubby and watch sun sets. I'll be writing some thoughts in a journal to my sweet Aria as the wind breezes by. I'll be running 4 long (for me, at least) humid miles in the Beach to Bay Marathon with 6 way-better-in-shape-friends (this part may or may not be the best part of the weekend - we'll see...). AND - I'll be beholding a beautiful, golden-skin Chinese girl building sand castles as the waves roll in with wonder in my eyes, peace in my soul and unmatched joy in my heart! I am blessed!

Thank you all for your prayers. The Lord heard and answered in His own glorious way!

Cindy

Thursday, May 8, 2008

All I Want For Mother's Day Is A I-171H

That's all! Please, Please!!!!

All kidding (but I'm really not kidding) aside, we leave town next Thursday for a vacation and I really want to go without wondering if the 171 is sitting in the mail box. I would REALLY REALLY LOVE to find it in the mail this weekend so I can take it to Austin first thing Monday for State Certification and then fedex that baby to AWAA. Then I could seriously relax on our vacation.

This Saturday will be 3 weeks of waiting and I truly didn't think it would take this long. I just want to be officially waiting for a baby instead of a document. Aria - I want you home like yesterday!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ethiopia Featured on Operation World Today!

Operation World features a new country almost every day for the purpose of prayer. It lists answers to prayer, new prayer needs and facts about the featured country. Yesterday and today Ethiopia is featured. Our friend David Guion sent us the link and encouraged us with the thought of people all over the world lifting up our future daughter's homeland. Here's the link. Read about Ethiopia and learn how to pray for this special country!

http://www.operationworld.org/country/ethi/overvw01.html


Lastly - Saturday marked 2 weeks of waiting for the 171 - maybe just maybe it will show up this week!