Entry #1: The Closing and Opening



So, that picture up there...it is a door closing and another door opening.  Honestly, I am just a blubbering fool over it all.  Over the loss, over second chances, over a story I never knew was being written, over the grace of a new path.  Humbled really. 
I need to take you back to October.  Dave and I traveled to Haiti with Global Orphan Project.  The trip was monumental to say the least.  For me, it was precious.  Just not sure of a better word honestly.  It was precious to my spirit and filling for my soul.  God was so gracious to me.  So gracious.  I was so guarded.  Fearful in many ways.  Not of my physical safety, but my emotional safety.  I wanted to protect my heart at all cost.  But all through the trip God was just gracious to me.  Giving me kids who needed someone to sit on the sidelines with them.  Women who allowed me to be in their day with them.  Singing.  Encouraging.  Graciousness.  But I also came home with many questions.  Things that I had seen were racing in my heart and mind.  Honestly making me wonder if adopting internationally was what we should really be doing.  You see, I saw Moms, Dads, and Aunts come through the gates of the orphanage to visit their family.  The orphanage wasn't full of kids who needed families, they were full of kids who just needed a place to be while their families figured life out.  Granted, that wasn't the story for every child, but it was for many of them.  I began to wonder if maybe our place was more in helping them figure out life rather than bringing their kids to my house.   
When I got back I called my case worker Kate at AGCI.  She had lived in Haiti and was excited to hear my experience.  We were on the phone for over 2 hours.  She heard me go through all of my questions, all my doubts, all my wonderings if we were in the right place.  I asked her hard questions about Ethiopia, the wait, the wait list, the referral process, the governments.  It was raw and candid.  Tears.  Frustrations.  Can I tell you how much I have adored each and every case worker at AGCI?  Adore. And the Executive Director, Hollen, is a force you guys.  A complete force for the orphan, for orphan care, community development, unity, and keeping families in tact.  But the reality is with Ethiopia, it is not what it was.  The truth is, it has become increasingly hard for AGCI to work.  To even bring true orphans to families who are waiting.  The corruption has grown making it hard for agencies wanting to operate in an ethical manner. That day Kate told me that they have matched 9 families in 2014.  Nine.  We were number 29.  The math did not escape me.  The wait was still a reality.  And the slow numbers were even more in my face then ever.  That night, I went on the internet to research adoptions in general.  To research kids who are just right now waiting.  Right now.  And then I just sort of curled up.  Probably not the best time for Dave to be away on business.  Ha.
The next day our agency sent out an email to all the Ethiopia families covering really most of my conversation with Kate.  They were encouraging families to move to another program.  The option to stay is on the table but the reality is striking.  You know when people say, I just want to pull the covers over my head and cry?  Well, I did that.  That afternoon, I told the girls to watch TV, I pulled the covers over my head, put worship music on my phone, and cried.  Cried over the injustice of it all.  Dave came home from work and we just cried together.  We were grieving a child we had longed for and waited for so long and felt as though we had lost.
The beauty of it all?  I had to ask the Lord, "did you call us to this place in order for us to just be where we are in our walk with you?  In our marriage?  For our eyes to have a new lens?  If so, then I say, so be it.  All is well with my soul".  I told Him just that...if the last 4 years were to get me here, then yes.  Thank you. 
But God.
Probably some of the best scriptures begin with those words.
"But God, being rich in mercy because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved.."
Ephesians 2:4
"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:26
He has led us through.  Dave and I spent much time praying, asking, calling agencies, talking with other families.  And we have seen God open another door.  Whispering to us, "it's not over".  So we are continuing to step in faith.  We have landed with a new agency that we love.  With a new country program that we are so excited about. 
South Africa
So what you are seeing above is our termination contract with All God's Children and our Immigration application for South Africa.  What does this all mean?  Here are a few steps:
1.  Apply to our new agency Spence-Chapin for their South Africa program- DONE
2.  Fill out acceptance paperwork-DONE
3.  Notify our social worker to have our home study updated and adapted to South Africa standards-DONE
4.  Get all our medicals updated-DONE
5.  Get Dave's employment letters updated-DONE
6.  Get background checks from Kansas and FBI-DONE
7.  Get Child Abuse background checks from KS, MO, and NE-DONE
8.  Have a home visit and meeting with our social worker- DONE
9. Have home study written, reviewed, and approved- DONE
10.  Mail home study, birth certificates, marriage license, and immigration application to USCIS-DONE TODAY
This has been done in under a month and a half.  To give you perspective, it normally takes about 4-6 months to do all of this.  I have been working hard and I am so very thankful for the people who have made this a priority to them as well.  So thankful! 
Why am I so excited about South Africa when I was questioning ethics in International Adoption?  This is kind of a loaded question, but I cannot tell you how amazing this country is when it comes to being child centered.  The need is there.  There are children who need families.  South Africa has a system in place that comes alongside families to reunify them if possible, a foster care program, a domestic adoption program...once those avenues have been exhausted, the child is released to inter-country adoption.  Only 2 American agencies have a program in the country.  Because South Africa isn't planning on growing their inter-country adoptions.  They want to grow domestically.  But they need families for some of their kids that may be considered "unadoptable" in SA.  We feel proud of the work they are doing in country and we feel proud to partner!
What are we waiting on now?
Once Immigration gets our paperwork and processes, they will send us a fingerprint appointment.  We will head up to the USCIS office that is up by the airport to get fingerprinted.  It is really an exciting thing..haha.  Remember four years ago when I went to take a picture because I was so excited to get to that step and a few police officers took my phone?  Yea.  They mean business in Government buildings.  Haha. 
Then once they have our fingerprints they will process those and send back to us our I-171H form.
While waiting on our form we will put together all the documents that SA requires that is called our "Dossier".  And let me tell you people, I have that completed.  The gal at Spence Chapin (our new agency) said she's never seen anyone do things so fast....yea....you've got that right.  So as we wait for the form I will send stuff for her to double check that I did correctly.
  Once we receive the I-171H form (this form gives us permission to bring a child into the United States), then we can go to Topeka and process all our documents in our Dossier.  We have to have them Apostilled.  I will explain that if you ever need to know.  Haha.  So if anyone wants to road trip to the capitol with me one day I would love a car buddy. 
THEN, after we get all those docs apostilled then we mail it all to South Africa. 
I need to take a breath.
After that we wait to be matched.  Our parameters are for 0-5 years of age, boy or girl, and SIBLINGS!  Dave agreed and I checked that box so fast before he could change his mind. Ha.  They say to get matched could take 6-12 months from submitting your dossier but they have seen faster then that.  We aren't looking for fast.  We are looking to be obedient and we have learned that waiting is just part of that process.  I am so thankful for how quickly all of this has gone because my heart really needed easy. 
So thank you friends.  Thank you for investing in our story and following.  It hasn't ended.  But this really was what caused me to change the blog up.  I didn't know what to do with 838 for a while.  And the truth is, I don't have to do anything.  It will always be the place that got me to where we are now and I am thankful. 
Exciting things to come.  Sad things to leave behind.  Maybe you can relate?  Have you watched some doors close this year that were heavy to close?  That took some obedience to shut?  Are you walking through a new door tentatively?  Unsure of what it will look like because of disappointment in the past?  I am your sister.  I am with you in it.  What I do know? 
God is good.  He is trustworthy.  He isn't finished.  He will finish what He begins
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  1. Joy mixed with sorrow... But, always, always Hope. I know how hard it is to walk away from a country you've come to love and a dream rooted in your heart but I also know how it feels on the other side. After all of the twists and turns and ups and downs. After God shows up again and again and again. You have summed it up beautifully in this post. God is using this time - these four years- none of it is wasted. He has worked in and through your family on this journey and it has been breathtaking to watch from the sidelines. You have walked in such grace and with an unshakable faith...you have stopped to look around and behind, encouraging and loving and believing for so many other families in the wait. I am grateful for you and excited for you and I am up for a road trip to Topeka if needed anytime!! Love you, friend!!

  2. Oh my goodness, I had no idea of all of these changes! Sarah mentioned that Ethiopia adoption might be closed. I'm so sorry for that loss, but am very excited about your South African journey! A boy, a girl, or both! I love the New Year for this reason! We have no idea the changes and the amazing things that might happen this year! Congrats on being the fastest paperwork filler outer! You are amazing!