Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Shower of Blessings!


On Tuesday I was blessed by some of my friends and colleagues at work. When they started to hear rumblings that we were getting closer to bringing our boys home, they decided they wanted to throw me a little party. They put together a very yummy pot-luck lunch, we looked at pictures of the boys and some of the other kiddos in the orphanage, I answered lots of questions, and then I opened presents! It was a small group, but we had a great time and they were so generous. We got a pair of perfect matching carseats for the boys, a few toys (matchbox cars, little people toys, legos), gloves for the boys fingers when they come home during the COLD winter, some gifts of money, and a few donations for the orphanage. They asked great questions and some of them offered some wisdom and advice. But, the very greatest gift they gave me was the gift of support. It was so great to have a group of people get together to celebrate our decision to adopt these two little boys. Knowing that they are encouraging and supportive is priceless to us.

In other news, Z and I are working on a plan for travel and filing our I-600. If we can get all the details worked out, I'll have news to share about that!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Dreams....and other news

Last night I got to hug and cuddle my Jellybean and Peanut. I held their hands, I listened to them call me mommy, and I kissed their foreheads. We talked about airplanes and about how it was ok if they loved their nannies in Ghana more than me because they have known their nannies longer. We talked about going to America and how it is cold there right now. It was amazing....


...and then I woke up.


I have dreamt about the boys before, but I've never had a "going to pick up the boys" dream before. I had lots of dreams before our court date of things going wrong (family members going to the orphanage to pick up the boys, paperwork being forgotten, the judge not granting an adoption order, etc.). Those dreams all ended with me waking up terrified that they might come true. But not this dream. This time the dream was good. This time Jellybean came running to me when he saw me and wrapped his arms around my neck (Peanut needed a little more coaxing, so he went to ask the nanny if I really was his mommy). This time I woke up and started to ache when I realized the dream was not real. I wasn't in Ghana, and I have not met my boys.

This morning I also woke up to some disheartening news from Anita. She has been trying to find ways for us to get to Ghana ASAP to pick up our boys. We've passed court, but the court documents aren't printed yet. We can't file our I-600 until we have the court documents. But, where to file the I-600 is causing us great angst. You see, we could file it in Ghana, but no one can guarantee how long it will take to process there. Surely it will process faster in Ghana than here in our local USCIS office, but perhaps not fast enough for us to get I-600 approval AND the boys' visas within 2 weeks (which is about the longest we can stay in Ghana). We can file the I-600 in our local office and wait for approval, then wait for the approval to go to the National Visa Center and then to Ghana, but that will add AT LEAST 2 months onto our wait (one month for local USCIS to process the I-600, and another month for approval to finally reach Ghana). We were hoping that we would hear that our agency could file the I-600 for us in Ghana, or that we could mail the I-600 to the office in Ghana for processing. But, we heard this morning that the agency cannot file for us. Our next option is for us to either travel to Ghana twice (once to file the I-600 and then to pick up the boys when all is done) or to travel to Ghana to file the I-600 and then have the boys escorted home. Either of these options will get the boys home sooner than filing the I-600 here.

The problem? Money.

Traveling twice will cost extra money. Granted, one of us could travel alone the first time to file the I-600, but it will still cost a considerable amount to buy airfare, stay in hotels, pay for transportation, food, etc. while in Ghana. And, this option means that only one of us will meet the boys on this trip. We've both had a kind of romantic notion of meeting the boys at the same time...that we would all become a family of four together. But, both of us traveling both times would be very cost prohibitive. We're estimating that the plane tickets alone will cost at least $1500 per person (though we may be able to find cheaper tickets, at least for the first trip over). If we both travel on the first trip, and then have the boys escorted, we will have to come up with the cost of escort ($5000). Yikes!

It seems strange to be at this point and have to start worrying about money. We've been hemorrhaging money during this whole process....a few hundred dollars here....a few thousand dollars there. But the truth is, we're getting to the point where we HAVE to pinch these last bits left and save as much as we can. We have the money we need to travel to get our boys, but we don't have the extra to travel twice or to travel and have the boys escorted.

It is heartbreaking to think that we might not be able to meet our boys for an additional two months (or more) because we can't come up with the extra $5000 it will take to either travel a second time or have the boys escorted. But, that's where we are.

I'm having one of those days where my heart is just aching for those two little boys.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Starting Discussions

Surprisingly enough, my last blog post was the topic of some really great discussion over on my friend Anita's blog. Check out the discussion going on in her comments section here.

The blurb from my post that Anita responded to was the following:

"I will never think that our boys were "meant to be with us"; to do so would mean that I would have to believe that they were "meant" to lose their birth family, that they were "meant" to leave Ghana and everything they know."

While I totally back up that statement (hey, I wrote it), I feel like maybe I should explain what I mean just a little bit. I have heard many adoptive parents say that their child was "meant to be in their family", that they "were meant to be their child all along", or some variation of those things. I don't think that there is inherently anything wrong with any of those statements. I just don't feel like they are the right statements that I want to use to describe my relationship with our boys.

I may someday feel like our boys were "meant to be with us", but I never want to SAY that. Ever. So writing it in my blog is my way of reminding myself that I never want to use that language to describe my feelings. To me, saying that the boys are "meant to be" in our family means that they were "meant" to lose all they ever knew in Ghana (including their birth family). I always want my boys to know that I recognize the grief that they experienced - the grief that is inevitable in an international adoption. I would never want to minimize their grief by saying that they were "meant to be" in my family.

I never really thought that my little post would generate a discussion on "God's Plan" for these kids and for adoption. In fact, I never even thought about that at all when I posted my ramblings. But, the discussion is valid, and certainly worth thinking about. Do I think it is God's plan that our boys lose their birth family and birth culture? No, I don't. Do I think that it is God's plan that we found our way to adoption and eventually to these two boys? Absolutely.

Conflicting, no?

I think that God has lots of contigency plans. If His original plan isn't carried out, He doesn't abandon us. We are given an infinite number of "do-overs" in our lives where we are given the opportunity to make things right (or as close to right as we can get). I think that Z and I are a part of God's contingency plans for the boys.

I have heard in several places that there are no "accidental adoptions". I absolutely believe that is true. This process is a tough one, but I believe that God has His hand in every little detail (even if it wasn't His original plan for Jellybean and Peanut).

I know, clear as mud, right?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hard to Understand

(I began this post with plans to take it in a very different direction, but alas, I went with the flow. I will, someday soon, write about what I was originally planning to write about today - birth families.)

The whole idea of adoption is difficult to wrap my head around sometimes; and if its difficult for me, I know that its difficult for friends and family members watching us go through it to understand. Z and I do NOT think that the boys are "lucky" to be adopted and come live with us. If anything, it is quite the opposite. We are the ones who feel blessed to be chosen to raise these two precious boys. We have been granted the biggest gift anyone could ever bestow on us, the gift of not one, but two lives. And with this gift comes great responsibility; Z and I want to raise the boys in a way that will make our families proud, in a way that honors their birth family, and in a way that honors Ghana.

I will never think that our boys were "meant to be with us"; to do so would mean that I would have to believe that they were "meant" to lose their birth family, that they were "meant" to leave Ghana and everything they know. The world is a harsh place sometimes; it isn't fair and balanced. The best case scenario for our boys would be that they could continue to live in Ghana with birth family members who love them and can afford to take care of them. They would receive an education, they would receive proper medical care, they would grow up to become men who can offer something to their communities, and they would never know that we existed. But the truth is, our world does not operate on "best case scenario", or any of the next few "next to best case scenarios" on the list. Instead, due to circumstances outside their control and outside our control, our boys ended up in an orphanage in Accra. Even the very best orphanages in the world are no substitute for a family.

I wish we could change the world. I wish that we could find ways to put safety nets into place so that families falling through the cracks could be caught and kept together long before orphans are created. I wish orphanages weren't necessary. I wish that domestic adoption programs were in place all over the world and that children could be placed into loving families in their country of birth. But the truth is, the orphan crisis is simply too big for many countries. Families in many countries in Africa are already over-extended. They have already taken in all that they can; and there are still children becoming orphans every day. Somehow, the problem needs to be fixed at the source. International adoption at the end of the process is not a fix.

Ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ridding the world of malaria, building communities up to end poverty, and building diplomatic relationships around the world to end and avoid wars are fixes and that's where we NEED to make a difference.

Z and I are adopting two beautiful little boys. Someone please tell me there is hope for the other 999,998 orphans in Ghana. Someone please tell me what will happen to the MILLIONS of orphans all over our world who currently have no hope of finding a new family. Those of us who live comfortable lives in safe places need to understand that there are others who are suffering. And we should not be comfortable with that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Transitioning


We have officially begun the transition from a 2-person partnership to a 4-person family. Last night Z sold his little truck, saying goodbye to the days of throwing fishing rods, the inflatable boat, or kayaks in the back and heading off to the lake. Now if we want to do those things, we have to be a little more careful to get them into the back of the van (which means whatever we throw back there has to be at least a little clean and dry).

But now both Z and I have vehicles that the boys can ride in safely. And we have a mini-van, which will be great for long road trips to Grandma and Grandpa's house!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Whirlwind Trip to Texas

I'm still catching up from our 4-day trip to Texas! Z's oldest brother got married over the weekend, so we spent the weekend in Texas enjoying the warm weather and excellent company (how'd I get so lucky to marry into such a great family?!?!)

Driving from Iowa to Texas (and back) makes for a lot of time sitting in the car. Perhaps this was training for our LONG flight to Ghana to pick up our boys?!?! I will say, though, that our drive was filled with lots of good conversation (Z and I got more chatting in than we usually have time to do) and we listened to two interesting audio books. What did people do before audio books??

I will leave you with some photos of the wedding...


YAY! Kiss the bride!




Z's family...What a good looking bunch!


Me and my hunny...


Wedding Cake


Groom's Cake...check out the cute strawberries!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Season of Giving


It is getting close to the Holiday season again, and that means that its time to make that Holiday shopping list and get to work! Soon we'll be shopping for that perfect "it" toy for the kids, or finding the perfect sweater, or the perfect tie, or the perfect jewelry box for our loved ones. It is a season of pulling your family close and realizing how blessed we all are.

But...all over the world there are people who are less fortunate than we are. And this should be a time of year that we remember them, too. There are kids all over tho world who will not receive special gifts, special meals, or special clothing. The holiday season will pass for them without tangible evidence that it existed.

For those of you who are wondering what you can do to make sure that a child gets something special for the holiday season, I urge you to visit the website for Adoption Advocates International. AAI is the agency that we are using to bring our boys home and they are also an agency that is known for working hard to make a difference in the countries they work in. They are in the midst of their annual holiday donation drive and they (and we) would appreciate your help. For $20 you will provide a gift and new traditional outfit for a child in either Eban House (Ghana) or Layla House (Ethiopia). The money will also be used to fund a holiday party for the kids and to make sure that the orphanage staff in Ghana and Ethiopia also receive a gift.

Please take the time to visit Adoption Advocates International Donation Page to make a donation. If you would rather send a check, it can be sent to Adoption Advocates International, 709 S. Peabody Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362. If you do not have an extra $20, that's ok, too. Feel free to donate whatever amount you are comfortable with.

Friday, November 2, 2007

God Is Great

We were not the only family to pass court today (scroll down if you haven't read that post yet). Renee and her family have been waiting just as long as we have, but they've had even more delays along the way. Earlier this week they received hopeful news that they were headed to court on Friday, but found out last night that they were delayed again. Little did they know, God had a plan and was getting it all worked out behind the scenes. This morning they received the good news that they passed court, too!

Their two boys and our two boys are very close and it absolutely warms my heart that they all officially entered their new families on the same day!

The Happy Dance continues!

Stop by Steppin' Heavenward to give a big congrats to Renee and family - they have a lot to celebrate today! Today is a glorious day in our two households!

Uncovering the Secret

...Pause...

Not long after our last court date was cancelled, I talked to Anita and we decided that she wouldn't tell me when our next court date was until it was all over. But, it turns out that Anita can't keep a secret so I knew ahead of time! ;)

So, I've been keeping a secret these last couple of days. We've had a court date scheduled for TODAY!!

The news?
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WE PASSED!!!!

Z and I are parents to two adorable little boys!! Now we just need to work on getting them home!!

More info to come - I have phone calls to make and emails to send!

...Resume Happy Dance...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

One Step Closer

The boys now have their passports! We are one step closer! We are still waiting to pass court, but we are hopeful that will happen very soon. I'll keep you posted!

Check out our boys' adorable faces! (I did a little editing to protect the innocent...but I left their first names so that if you were curious about what Jellybean and Peanut's first names are, you can find out!) Remember, you can click on the picture to make it bigger.