Monday, July 30, 2012

Over 10 months in...

I wish I would've posted something on the 23rd as that was our 10month mark, but I'll be sure to do so on September 23rd as that was the day we officially began ALL of our paperwork. We got our signed and officially approved home study on Thursday! *begin the cheering and woohoo'ing* And today we mailed off our very first grant application. Please intercede on our behalf as Lifesong International receives our grant information in the coming days. Things have been slow in the work department for KC. And as many of you know, that is what we are using to fund our adoption. We've had a few fundraisers that have done well, but most of our funds come from his earnings.

We could really use God's provision as we are embarking on this last leg of our journey. We have a lot more due in the next 4-8 weeks than I had originally thought - blame that on my excitement haha! I just thought that our next 2 amounts due were split pretty evenly and they're not. A bigger amount is due this time with a bit smaller amount once we receive and accept a referral. I'm confident that God will provide in one way or another. Whether someone gives us a ridiculously large check or KC is bombarded with tons of eligible applicants - I'll be glad for either one!

We'll be sending off our USCIS paperwork in the next day or so. Just trying to get everything sorted out and organized! Then, we'll send our Dossier off to Little Rock to be state sealed. It's SO crazy to think that our paper chase is coming to an end! It's bittersweet: on the one hand, the paperwork kept us distracted; but on the other hand, it will be nice to enjoy life for a bit without worrying about deadlines. Lord knows we'll have plenty to keep us occupied in the upcoming months: Caedmon starting Kindergarten, Oliver starting pre-school for the first time, both of the boys are signed up for soccer, and a few other church related classes KC and I are hoping to commit to. I'm praying that will keep us occupied enough so we aren't thinking about our referral 100% of the time…. maybe only 80% of the time instead. ;)

Again, just keep our family in your prayers. Pray that God will continue to be glorified in our lives - because all of this, we could have never done on our own. HE deserves all the glory.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Home study and Dossier

Well I just spoke with our social worker Miss A, and she said that we should be receiving a copy of our signed and approved home study in the next day or so. PTL! Miss A also told us that we should be good to send our Dossier down to Little Rock to be State Sealed and made all official like. Talk about exciting! I didn't think we were to do that until we got our USCIS approval back - like 4-6 weeks!

So, I'm going to upload everything to the portal one more time tomorrow to be approved. Once we get the ok, we'll be able to send it down. As soon as we get our signed home study in the mail, we will send it off with our USCIS Orphan Petition. And that's it guys - that will be about 98% of our paper work that we have to complete. No more paper work! That should be its own little party! haha!

Now, that's all the good news. ;) The bad news is our second big payment will be due when we submit our Dossier to be state sealed; and we're not quite there yet. But I'm not worrying about it. I know God will provide at the perfect time. We do have one more fundraiser going on with Ordinary Hero. When KC and I found this fundraising site, we thought we'd just sign up and get a little bit extra to help with expenses. Then, I get an email 2 weeks ago explaining about the July grant contest. I had no idea that they did things like that! So, if you have a chance, please swing by and check it out. That grant money would really help as we are THAT much closer to bringing Effie home. Head over to and be sure to select Sandra Collins under the affiliate name when you check out. :)

This part is happening a lot faster than we expected! We (sadly) thought it would still be a month or two before we were at this point. Now that we're already here, we're SUPER stoked, but at the same time wondering how it's going to happen. God has already done tremendous things for our family, so I know that He'll pull us through this one. It may be at the absolute last minute, but I know He'll do it.

It's weird to be in this place of peace. Not worrying and tearing my hair out trying to come up with money at each and every turn. I can seriously say, that I'm not worrying. It'll happen. One way or another, it will happen.

Please say a prayer for us as we will also be sending out a few grant applications. We could only apply for a handful, but that is better than nothing. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and we prepare to start perhaps the hardest part of this process: the waitlist. At least during the madness of the paper chase we had something to keep us occupied. Once you're on the waitlist, there's not much you can do but, well, wait. But I know the wait is well worth it. As far as the timeline goes, I've mentioned it before, but it's completely up in the air. Right now, we're told the wait could be up to 11 months. So we could have almost one year of waiting ahead of us. It won't be easy. So please, keep our family in your prayers.

I'll continue to keep you all updated even in the hiatus that is to come. My resolution was to post at least once a month - I'll be sure to stick with that. :)


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The DL on the Home Study Approval

Okay, so I quickly and excitedly posted last night about us finally receiving our home study approval. Today, I'm going to give you a bit more detail on how it happened.

I had just posted earlier Friday morning about us having good news and bad news. The bad news was, our home study still hadn't been approved. The good news was, we had our USCIS paperwork and Dossier all ready to go. It was about 3:50pm on Friday afternoon when I decided to post on our portal (our personalized adoption website) inquiring about the home study approval. I didn't think I'd hear anything back that day since it was already almost 4 o'clock. I got ready and left work at about 4:20 and headed home. To be honest, I wasn't even thinking about the home study. I was in Tontitown when my phone buzzed. It was 4:43pm I glanced down and saw it was a text from A - our social worker - and all I saw was 'home study approved'. I. Freaked. Out. I called her back because I wasn't 100% sure if that's what the text said. Well, it was. She was JUST as excited for us. She said she kept giving subtle hints to the International office asking if it had been approved yet.

So, I pulled in the driveway and KC came out to meet me like he does everyday when I get home. He opened my door for me and I was still talking to A and I kinda yelled 'It's approved!' Now, KC isn't the type that shows excitement, but man, he was excited! He yelled to A 'Thank you A!!!!' She laughed on the other line and said she was glad to be able to finally give us that news. We hung up and KC and I may or may not have danced a bit in the driveway. haha! We went inside and told the boys and explained what it meant. All they know is it means that we're closer to bringing Effie home.

We then tried to figure out a way to take a picture to tell everyone about it. After a lot of failed attempts at using my camera timer, KC astutely reminded me about the PicStitch app on my iPhone. He's also the one that suggested posting one word at a time. Yeah, he's pretty brilliant. So again, here's the picture we used to tell everyone:

One thing A also told us was we needed to sign the home study and then mail it to her supervisor to be signed. She mailed it out yesterday evening and look what came in the mail today!! HUGE blessing to get it so quickly! We weren't expecting it until Monday at the earliest.

Monday, we'll be sending this bad boy off to Tennessee! Once he signs it, he will send it to the office in Little Rock to be notarized. Then, it will come back to us and we can submit it with our Orphan Petition to USCIS. Once they receive it, they will schedule a time for us to be finger printed in Fort Smith at the USCIS office. Once we receive the official finger printing and the approved Orphan Petition back, we are ready to include it all together in the Dossier.

Once the Dossier is completely compiled, we send it to Little Rock to be State Sealed making it all nice and official like. (Are ya still with us? Haha!) Then, it's ready to go to Ethiopia and we can officially be waiting to be matched with our daughter! Guys, seriously - it's THAT close!

Now, as far as how long it'll take to be matched with Effie - that's up to God. The wait time right now for a child between the ages of 0-2 with possible special needs is up to 11 months. But I follow two adoption blogs - and one couple just received their referral after 19 months of waiting (but I don't know if they were open to any special needs) whereas another family received their referral after only 1 month (they were open to special needs). So, there is really no way to predict how long it will be.

But we're just trusting in God and waiting on Him. He hasn't let us down yet.   <3 

{P.S. Don't forget about our chance to win a $1,000 grant from Ordinary Hero to help with the adoption. Just chose Sandra Collins as the affiliate when you check out! }



Friday, July 13, 2012

Home Study Approved!!

At 4:43pm on Friday the 13th (07-13-2012), we got a call from our social worker A. Our home study had finally been approved!! And just about 8 days shy of our 10 month-iversary!

To say we were excited was definitely an understatement! Here we all ate sharing our excitement. Don't you love our creative way of taking a picture without an extra person? Haha! Perfect start to our weekend.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's in the wait...

I know this topic has popped up in almost every post on my blog. I talk about it a lot. But never realized why. I knew we were in for a long wait, I knew I had to be strong and remain faithful, but inside I was a mess trying to figure out why. Why have we waited 10 months? With nothing to show? No home study, no dossier, no official wait list placement. We are WAY past where we should be on the agency's timeline. By this point, we should be officially waiting to be placed with a little girl.

God gave me a verse in Isaiah a few weeks ago that just won't leave my mind - "Don't put your faith in the promises of men". Why not? Because you'll likely be disappointed. Point in case: we're 10 months in without even having our home study approved.

But the other day, KC and I had a long conversation about it all. I told him that as frustrated as I am, I have this odd calm inside. Like totally unusual for me. I'm normally a duck on water - calm on the surface, but under the water, I'm going 100 miles a minute. But the last few weeks, it's been completely different. Before, if I heard bad news or no news I'd just break down cry; I'd be sad at first, then it'd develop into anger and frustration. But as I've been trying to remain in a constant state of prayer, I've seen how much better I have accepted bad news. And we've received A LOT of it the last few weeks.

· After we spent money on getting the A/C in the van "fixed", we found out it was an even bigger problem. As in, over $1,000 to fix sort-of-problem
· After we thought we had the car fixed, we found out it's still leaking oil pretty bad (for unknown reasons) and all the windows (save the driver's side) have come off the roller things and are being held up precariously by bright blue and white polka dotted duct tape (none of that plain silver stuff here! hehe)
· Sunday night, KC got into the van (after spending alllllll that money to fix the A/C) and the fan wouldn't work in the front. It blew cold air from the rear vents, but was acting funny in the front - only working sporadically. So that is another repair to tack on.
· We thought the home study would be approved last week, but it still hasn't and we've not heard much as to why.
· Work has been a little slow for KC lately, and the one check he did get, we used to fix the van instead of putting it towards the adoption.

What did I do when I heard all of that?
A. Curled up in the fetal position and cried
B. Shook my fist in an exaggerated manner towards the heavens screaming at the top of my lungs whilst KC tried to restrain me
C. Simply smiled with KC as we realized something: Life may be hard, but God's peace is the only thing that has gotten us through it all.

Answer: Well, I seriously contemplated doing A & B (yes, together) and probably would have a month ago. Haha! But KC and I honestly just shrugged and said we'll replace the cars after the adoption, and whatever the reason is for the adoption delay, it's in our favor.

As we continued our conversation we totally realized that through 2 completely different circumstances, God taught us both the same lesson. It's in the wait. Vague? Yeah, I know. But it was clear as day to us. We're trusting in Him and in His timing. Not ours. KC was taught this lesson at the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011 through his time of joblessness. He felt completely worthless in not doing the job that a man is supposed to do: provide for his family. And folks, it was rough. I never once doubted KC and God's plan - but KC did. But as soon as he accepted the time of waiting and released that control, God gave him a verse. The gist of it was, I will provide for you suddenly (that was the actual word in the verse. suddenly). An hour later my brother-in-law came by with a job offer. And through that job, we are paying for the adoption. God chose to teach KC by taking away the one thing that He created man to be: a provider.

And my lesson? The adoption. The mother in me can't stand the fact that I know that I have a daughter out there and that each delay puts the distance between us further and further. This has been ongoing since last Spring. I'm fine when everything is going smoothly and is on track. But as soon as there's a kink, I freak out. The 2 verses that God has consistently brought to my attention to remind me of this are {Philippians 4:6-7 Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus} and {James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.} Want to know what else is totally awesome? KC gave me both of these verses to read one day but in a different version. It took me a minute to realize they are the 2 that I have on each side of my desk. That I look at them every. single. day. KC was as excited as I was. It's amazing how God does that.

You know, this adoption, this job, it's not of our doing. As much as we think it is sometimes. And God has to remind us of it every once in a while. I'm not in control. I can't do any more than I'm doing now. God was and is preparing us through this time of waiting. For what you might ask? We aren't completely sure. We've been given a glimpse of what our future looks like and have had lots of confirmation on it. But all we know, is we are continuing to be made whole. You don't grow when life is easy and things are a breeze. You grow when you have to fight to make it to the top of that mountain. And as much as your mountain may feel like Mount Everest as opposed to the Boston Mountains here, YOU ARE GROWING! God is preparing you! You may not see it now, but you have to choose to see the joy and the beauty of every situation. The joy and beauty of my situation? Seeing KC and I grow closer and stronger in our marriage, seeing the boys get excited over meeting someone with "dark skin like Effie!", in knowing that one day I'll be holding Effie in my arms. Even in the midst of the difficulties and setbacks, I still have to hold on to my joy and my beauty and remember what it is I'm waiting for.