Sunday, December 23, 2012

Home Study Starts

It's been a busy week, as is to be expected the week before Christmas. We were honored to host our awesome Sunday School class at our house Thursday night, and it was a blast.

Starting that morning, however, Becky and I dropped off the girls at school and headed to Troy. What, you say? The title of this post is "Home" Study...yes, our "home study" started in Troy. We spent over three hours talking with Sherry, the social work Lifeline and God placed in our lives. We first met Sherry a few months ago at the Lifeline orientation meeting at our church, First Baptist Church, set up by the amazing Birchfields.

During the visit, we covered a variety of topics, including: our relationship, family situation, work, children, motivation for adopting, and everything in between. Sherry filled us in on the voluminous paperwork we have to complete during this 3-4 month period.

It's comforting knowing the detail the adoption agencies, US government, and foreign governments go through in order to ensure the safety of adopted children. Becky and I don't see this deep questioning or mountain of paperwork as intrusive, but instead, we view it as part of the amazing miracle of adoption.

Imagine what Christ endured to see that we could be adopted into his family. This is so easy compared to that. As we finish up Christmas Eve Eve, remember that Christ came as a baby as the first step in our adoption process.

Merry Christmas to all our incredible family and friends!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Learning Process

We have just embarked on this journey, and we have already learned so much!  A few months ago we knew nearly nothing about international adoption, and even less about Colombia.  We still have so much left to learn, and we LOVE learning as much as we can as we feel like it makes us one step closer to loving on our precious child.

Yesterday, we had our orientation interview with our Colombia social worker, Beth, via conference call.  It was so exciting delving further into the process.  We already read over the gobs and gobs of paperwork, but really appreciated everything being laid out for us in layman's terms.  Our next small step is turning in some more paperwork and getting fingerprinted at the police station.  The next big step is the home study process.  The home study process consists of four separate interviews and will be over a 3-4 month period. Our first interview is a week from today in Troy with our social worker, Sherry.  

Once the home study is complete, the immigration step begins. From what I understand, this is essentially the US government telling us we are fit to adopt.  We will then be bio-metrically fingerprinted, and while waiting for approval will work on our dossier.  The dossier (dos EE ay) consists of a TON of paperwork, including information gathered throughout the home study, psychiatric evaluations and clearance, and documents like birth certificates, marriage license, etc.  Once sent to Colombia, it will be translated to Spanish.  After a certain amount of time, we will hear back from Colombia.  We will either be told that they need further information from us, need certain things clarified, or that we are cleared to adopt from their country!  We pray the latter is the news we receive when that time comes.  

The next step is so exciting!  We can either request a certain child from the Waiting Child list or Colombia will match us with a child.  This can occur immediately, or be months or even years.  Oh how exciting it will be to find out that Colombia has matched us with a precious little boy!  (There are more boys available for adoption, and we would love to add a boy to this girlie house).  The average time of this journey if 18-24 months.  Once matched, we will travel to Colombia for 4-8 weeks to meet our angel and bring him to his forever home!

Here are some facts that we have learned throughout the beginning of our adoption endeavors.  These facts are heartbreaking to say the least.
There are between 143-147 million orphans in the world.  We can't change the world, but we can change the life of one child, and give him a forever family!
Most boys that "age out" of the system become hardened criminals.  Most girls that "age out" enter the world of prostitution.  Every 2.2 seconds, another orphan ages out -  having no family and no home.  Every day, 5,760 more children become orphans. Children in Colombia become orphans frequently because of issues with poverty, violence, drugs, and high birth rates.

I want to close on a happy note.  We are telling our girls about their brother in Colombia, and obviously based on their ages their comprehension is limited.  However, sweet Lilly Grace has made up a song about "my brother in Colombia" and dances to her little ditty.  She also likes to show us where his car seat will be in our cars.  

John 14:18 - "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

God Bless You!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And the Paperwork Begins

We received the first official word back from Lifeline Children's Services today.

They received our application and began promptly loading us up on information (see photo). You know, just a couple hundred pages of reading material about how the beginning of the process will work.

Lifeline has placed us in the hands of an awesome, godly team to help us to the "gotcha day" and beyond. We can't wait to meet Beth (Colombia social worker) and Dave (head of international adoptions)!

Included in the material today was their Colombia Adoption Manual,Colombia Alabama Supplement, Adoption Policies & Practices, sample agreement, and the fee schedule. The latter is a significant investment but also an opportunity to let God stretch our faith.

From the start, Becky and I have asked God to use this journey of adoption to show us more of his grace and mercy and to continuous expand our faith. So far, He has definitely done just that, and we really haven't even scratched the surface. Please join us in this prayer.


Monday, December 3, 2012

How It All Began

Welcome!  I am very new to this whole blogging thing, and I am not sure how frequently I will update it.  However, we would like to share our journey in growing our family through adoption.  A precious gal in our Sunday School class encouraged us to blog our journey, so here goes!

I guess I should begin with some basics of our current family.  I, Becky, am the mom.  I am currently an RN in the Emergency Department.  Brent is the dad.  He is a political consultant and lobbyist.  We have been married for four years, and have been blessed with two precious daughters.  Lilly Grace is two years old, and Alex is eight months old.  Lilly Grace is a bundle of energy, and she puts her whole heart into whatever she is doing.  Alex is laid back, happy, and such an easy child.  We also have a little miniature dachshund named Lucy. 

Brent and I have casually talked about adoption in the past, but within the past two months the Lord laid it heavily on both of our hearts.  I was at work one Sunday, and I had this overwhelming feeling to talk to Brent about international adoption.  I came home from work intending to bring it up over supper.  I walked to the fridge to fix drinks, and saw that Brent had put a flyer on the fridge from church about adoption!  Over the next several weeks, in addition to prayer, we attended an adoption meeting at church, e-mailed several families that had adopted, e-mailed back and forth with Lifeline Adoption Services, and had lunch with the Birchfields - an amazing couple who are serving as our adoption mentors of sorts.  We also told our families, and they all were extremely excited and supportive!  We knew it was time to get the ball rolling.

The next big step was figuring out from what country we would adopt.  We wanted to go the easy route and choose a country that would be "easy", requiring the least amount of time in-country.  Thus, our first thought was Bulgaria.  The Lord revealed to us that His plan isn't always "easy," but he is Sovereign, and will guide us every step of the way.  We once again did more research, e-mailed with those at Lifeline, and then the Lord revealed part of His plan to us.  While sitting in my living room, I had this overwhelming sensation that our child will be in Colombia! My body was covered in chills, and my heart was racing. I texted Brent and told him to call me immediately!  I told him, "It's Colombia!!!"  He then told me that Colombia had been on his mind all day, and that he had been researching the country.  Talk about a "Wow, God!" moment!!!!  (Adopting from Colombia requires 4-8 weeks in country - much different than the cumulative week and half that's required in Bulgaria).

We have begun the paperwork, but this will most likely be a several year process. However, like I said - the Lord is Sovereign and we must trust His timing.  We have turned in our application, and Lifeline has contacted us to let us know that it has been received.  We will be hearing more from them this week and will keep you updated. We covet your prayers.  There is a huge chance that our child is already alive, so please pray for this precious child as well.  

God Bless You!