Thursday, September 12, 2013

REFERRAL #2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have accepted a referral for a beautiful 10-year old deaf girl! That's right, we are adopting from Ethiopia again!

"Wait, how did this happen?" you might ask. "Another adoption????"

Yup. :)


So it has been exactly 25 days since we considered/decided/filled out 100 pieces of paper/accepted a referral/started our homestudy/started our dossier. That's right. It only took 17 days for me to have my HS (at least on my side) almost complete, as well as half my dossier. :) That's AFTER reapplying to my agency, filling out that paperwork and having a meeting with my social worker for approval, requesting my girl's file, and accepting her file and all the paperwork that's gone along with it, I've also recorded and edited a fundraising video, and made up a care package for her. We are on FIRE. :) The paperwork doesn't even scare me this time around. In fact, it's way easier. My goal is to complete everything in record time. Like, I'd like it done in two weeks total. Probably three is more reasonable, but we will see.

So. I guessing you're wondering how this all came about.

A month after we brought Levi and Zahria home, a 12-year old deaf girl showed up on the Waiting Child List through our agency. She was in the same situation that Levi had been in; no language, no education.....basically no hope. I remember feeling SO bad for her and wishing someone would go get her. We prayed for her and then we basically forgot about everything except trying to raise our kids.

In April, she started showing up in my life. People were messaging me about her, tagging me in comments and posts on our agency's Facebook page, and the families visiting Ethiopia were constantly talking about her. I started thinking about her again and praying for her. Sometime in May, I started crying about her. I would think about how alone she must feel, how sad she was (getting teased and picked on), how insanely horrible it would be to not be able to communicate or express your feelings. I would come home from work or an errand and just cry. This was happening every two weeks or so pretty much all summer. I was heartbroken for this little girl.

Then, 25 days ago (Sunday, August 18th), I was at work at 4am. Halfway through my shift, I felt this need to go online and check her Waiting Child List profile. I almost didn't do it; after all, I had the short paragraph that summarizes the basic facts of her life memorized. Why read it again? But something (obviously God) was pushing me to open the page. I clicked and scrolled down to her picture. (Her picture that was listed looked so sad.) I read through her description and basic information and then did a double-take. There, at the bottom of the paragraph, were TWO VIDEO LINKS. I've been involved with this agency for the past four years and I have NEVER seen a video link. It's always, "For a video of this child, contact your Family Coordinator for permission."

I sat there for a few seconds, frozen. I was scared to open the video. I think somehow I already knew. Clicking that video would change me. Nothing would be the same.


I clicked the link.


A blurry video took over my screen and I saw the outline of a child, struggling to sign the Amharic alphabet. Then the camera came into focus and this precious little girl was staring directly at me. I'm talking, RIGHT. INTO. MY. SOUL. Those beautiful eyes spoke straight to my heart. "Mom. I'm trying so hard. Come get me."

I started freaking sobbing. I mean, SOBBING. Tears streaming down my face, in the middle of work, I lost my heart to that little girl. I was sobbing so hard that my friend across from me started crying, and she didn't even know what was going on. I logged off from my work and just sat there, bawling my eyes out. There was no doubt, no hesitation, no wondering if I was being overly-emotional. That was my child. My daughter. And she was lonely and sad and trapped on the other side of the world. And I hadn't known it. She'd been sitting there, waiting for me, and I had no idea. I was broken.

I left work and drove home. Poor Abe was sleeping peacefully when I barged into our bedroom crying and woke him up. Between sobs I said, "We. Have. To. Go. Get. Her," and even in his sleepy state, he held me and listened while I told him what happened. I cried hysterically for about three hours, while Abe just listened and held me. The poor kids woke up during this and after being assured that no one had died and everything would be okay, they went to the livingroom and watched a movie.
 
Around 9am (I had to be at church by 9:30am to interpret), Abe said, "I think this is God telling us to go." "We CAN'T," I cried, and listed four or five reasons why it was impossible for adopting her to work out at the time. "I have to go to church; we'll have to talk later," I added and blindly left the room and went upstairs. The second, I mean, the SECOND I hit the top step, my phone buzzed. I had texted a neutral party earlier asking about their opinion on possibly starting a second adoption for this little girl, and the text was from that person. The text said, "I say go with the child on the waiting list." It was like God himself came down, stood in front of me and said, "GO." I turned around, went right back to Abe and said, "Okay. Let's go."

We went to church and strangely enough the message was about facing your Goliath (impossible situation) and knowing that the fight isn't in your hands. David fought and killed a lion and a bear with his BARE HANDS. So he totally trusted God to help him again, and to take down Goliath. David was unafraid in a scary and impossible situation. He only had to look back at what God has already done in his life to know that the future was secure. My ears were burning as I interpreted. Clearly, the whole Levi and Zahria situation was our lion/bear situation. And now we were facing a Goliath. I looked at Abe and we rolled our eyes. Obviously God had had this message arranged just for us on this specific day.

 (To listen to the message about David, click here.)

 

Right at the end of church another person came over to interpret the music so I went and sat next to Abe. He reached for my hand just as I was sliding into my chair and whispered, "I want A****." ("A****" is another little deaf boy we found on our embassy trip last year.) I whispered right back, "Okay," and we burst into laughter right in the middle of church. Apparently we are just going to adopt a million deaf tweens/teens and for some reason that was hysterically funny. But that's a story for another day. ;)

We went home and I spent all afternoon filling out the application to our agency. I called my old family coordinator and left a voicemail. I emailed the intake coordinator. I emailed our social worker. I wrote out a list of forty or so reasons why are our family should be approved to view the file for our little girl.

And then I waited. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon we finally heard back. (Anyone who knows adoption time understands that three days is an eternity.) We had been accepted back into the program.

Long story short (I never do tell a short story, do I?), we had to talk with our agency and social worker regarding why we were qualified/ready/prepared etc., to view the file and that went relatively easily. I mean, I work with words for a living. Give me a chance to explain something to you and I can probably convince you to see my point of view. And my lawyer-like OCD tendencies get me compliments (I took it as a compliment anyway! ;)) like this from my social worker, "When you go after something, you cover all your bases." Anyway, we got her file Thursday afternoon. I called them right back and told them we wanted to accept it. You're supposed to have two weeks to do the official review and acceptance. I had it done in two hours. They emailed me a stack of paperwork. I signed/filled out/completed it and sent it back, along with all the money in our bank account. Friday morning we got confirmation. As far as referrals went, she was ours! (Not legally yet though; we have to go through court for that.)

Saturday all day I did paperwork. Sunday morning I interpreted church again. This time the message was about Elijah and how God led him to Kerith Ravine and Elijah had to TOTALLY trust/depend on God. His life was in danger and he had nothing. God sent BIRDS to feed him every morning and every night. Elijah didn't get enough food for a week, or even a day. He had nothing stored up. He simply had to depend on God to care for him, one step at a time. Oddly enough, God is showing us that He is caring for us during this crazy adventure too. Our savings account had literally to the DOLLAR enough money for our application fee, homestudy fee, referral acceptance fees, post placement and agency fees and USCIS (immigration). Like, to the dollar. And in total dependence and trust in God, we put everything we have into this little girl. Because we know it's what we are supposed to do. And crazily enough, we aren't worried. God's got this and we just need to follow. He has proved Himself before to us (not that He even needed to, but it sure makes following and doing something that seems totally crazy a LOT easier!) and we are just GOING.

(To listen to the message about Elijah, click here.)



So what happens now? Well, basically we need to do our homestudy and our dossier done in two months. Usually this paperwork takes about eight months. But because we already have a referral AND because there is a new PAIR process being implemented at immigration (USCIS), we need to move as fast as possible. PAIR is basically an extra investigation to make sure that the U.S. side approves of the match BEFORE the family goes to court in Ethiopia. It's supposed to help protect families and children.....but it also adds up to three months of waiting before you can get a court date. Meaning it could be 5+ months before we travel. It all depends. Not cool. And then the wait time between our court and embassy trip could still be three months. Again, NOT COOL. Anyway, back to paperwork. I have spent the last three weeks moving as fast as possible on it. Like, every day all day. As far as my end goes, my homestudy paperwork is done. Even all the online trainings that we had to redo (12 hours each). Seriously, that was cruel and unnecessary. I'll never get back those brain cells. And I can't justify my precious time, and much less hundreds of dollars to hear things like, "Your child may have emotional and/or behavioral issues," and "Try to keep your sense of humor. Sign up for a joke of the day through email." I'll tell you where the joke is at. Anyway, our trainings are done and so almost everything else. I am just waiting on a few things to arrive by mail (letter of employment, new marriage certificate, etc.) FBI fingerprinting, child abuse clearance, financials, everything. Of course, I need my social worker to do the actual visits and write up. But my side is DONE. First visit is tonight, as well as our 12-month (it's a little early) post-placement visit for Levi and Z. As far as my dossier goes, it's all done except for the same paperwork I am waiting for in my homestudy, plus we have to drive to Albany to get it state certified and everything. And I need to file with USCIS for my I-171H but I can't do that until my homestudy is done. So just waiting on my poor social worker and then my I-171H and fingerprinting approval and THEN we can start the long wait till court. Is your head spinning?

So let's talk about our girl. :) I wish I could share information about her, but I can't. I CAN say that we will be naming her Natalie, and that is how I will refer to her from now on. :) We were so blessed to get some pictures of her already, and we are totally in love. She looks very sassy. :) Abe says he bets her personality is a lot like mine (oh boy! ;)). We even got a video clip and although she doesn't have language, she's going on and on about makeup, jewelry, hair, clothes, and shoes. I started laughing my head off. That is so. my. child. THEN we got two more pictures; one of her in a group photo where everyone is smiling and she is making a kiss face, and one where she is rocking some aviators. Definitely an Ethiopian carbon copy of me. I love it.






                    I can't wait to post a picture of Natalie and me with sunglasses and kisses! ;)




 I also spent three days making a fundraising video for Natalie. You can view it on the bottom left, here. Please share it!!!


Thanks so much for all your love and support. :) Stay tuned!