Friday, March 21, 2014

Travel prep call

Oh yeah. A call dedicated to nothing but travel tips and information about our trip?! It totally happened. And I’m even more excited about going to get our beautiful girl! Now that we’re only waiting on the PAIR letter (for real this time. Lol.), I can give you more details on our trips. Well, as much as we know so far.


This is our first of two trips. Our “court date” trip. She does not come home with us on this trip. I know, really sad. Don’t talk to me about her after we come home from this trip unless you want snot on your shoulder. Just kidding! But seriously….


Our little girl is not in the capital city of Addis Ababa. She’s in a small village in the north. About a  6-7 hour journey from the capital. On this trip, we’ll go to court in her region. Here’s a little idea of what it’ll look like when we land:


1.      Chill in Addis for a day

2.      Travel to her area – stay overnight halfway there

3.      Hang out with her and other kiddos at the orphanage

4.      Go to court

5.      Pray we pass court and they do not need additional information

-          If we pass court, she may travel back with us to the capital (please this one!) or follow us a few days later to our agency’s orphanage for children who have passed court

6.      Head back to Addis

7.      Fly home and wait for our embassy trip in 2-4 weeks


Of course, there will be some training, sightseeing, and market shopping thrown in there. KC and I – as coffee addicts that drink it all hours of the day or night – are most excited about the traditional coffee ceremony!


Here’s a video link


And some info from Wikipedia


While we get a day at the orphanage, we are not going to be spending time only with her. This is to protect her in case something weird happens at court and so that the other kiddos don’t get jealous. So we’ll have a lot of time with all the kids which I’m excited about. It’ll be cool to see how she interacts with others and give us a chance to see her true personality instead of being clammed up around weird white/brown people. Lol.


Our first trip will take longer than most families because her orphanage is so far away from the capital. Most of the orphanages our agency works with are within the capital or surrounding cities. So we’ll be there an extra day or two – probably a total of 6 days.


We’re excited that we won’t only be in the capital and about being able to see more of rural Ethiopia and travel where Bertie grew up. But longer days there means more money. Our in-country travel costs are tripled since we’ll be doing a lot of long distance traveling as opposed to only local trips. We’re working hard to come up with extra funds.  Therefore, if anyone needs their house cleaned, kids watched, dogs walked, etc., hit up the Collins clan! Haha! For serious though….. We aren’t above cleaning yo’ toilets.  😜


Even more exciting is that our first travel trip could be as soon as 8 weeks (if we get PAIR approval super-fast) or up to 14 weeks (if approval takes longer).


If you have any experience with international travel and have any tips, please email me! I’ve scoured Pinterest a hundred times, but adoption specific travel tips are few and far between. Any tips and advice would be appreciated friends! Our email address


Thank you all so much for everything! You are all so amazing.  <3



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One big step closer

Finally, this afternoon we are mailing off the necessary paperwork in order to file our I-600 with USCIS. *let loose a big sigh*


Here is a list of our items we have taken care of:


            - Updated home study mailed to USCIS

            - I600 form filled out

            - I600 form and cover letter mailed to BCSI – this afternoon or first thing tomorrow



Here is what we’re waiting on now:


□ Verification that our case has been received by NBC office at USCIS

□ PAIR approval letter from USCIS - anywhere from 4-12 weeks (praying for a shorter time)

□ Court date from Ethiopian Embassy – 1st trip

·         Then, we come home for anywhere from 2-4 weeks

 □ Court date from American Embassy – 2nd trip

·         BRING BERTIE HOME!!!!!


There are so few steps left, but each one takes time. I have no control over any of those items. And amazingly, I’m not freaking out. Lol. I am a serious procrastinator – like SERIOUS. I am arsty-fartsy, lets-do-it-tomorrow, I want my house to look “lived in”,  and a lot of times, I just go with the flow, whatever happens, happens kinda gal.


BUT there are times that I know things need to be done and done correctly. And that side of me loves lists and deadlines; loves research; loves knowing what’s next; loves knowing what’s next after my next step and so on and so forth. Haha!


I once took one of those “Which Side of Your Brain Do You Use Most” quizzes. It said I use mine 50/50. And I KNOW it’s true. Poor KC – I’m either “eh, let’s do it later” or “get it done right this second!”. I’m sure I wasn’t always 50/50, but years of paperwork for an adoption will do that to you.  ;) 


Anywhoooo! We’re close guys. SO close. I’m getting so excited! And, it’s been almost 6 weeks since our referral and I have not had a breakdown yet. *pats self on back* I’m okay with the timeline. I know that I’d love to see her home by the beginning of June. So, that’s what I’m praying for. I’m going to God with that. And if you don’t mind adding that to your prayer list, our family would appreciate it.


To leave you all, I’m going to do a little photo dump. Just pictures of our life while waiting for Bertie. It’s amazing how much life has changed. We can look to the future. We can plan stuff! We can have a vacation after 4 years!! And she’ll be there with us. The boys are dead set on visiting Disney World again with Bertie. Oliver is set on visiting the beach for the first time now that she’ll be here.


Enjoying the beautiful weather on a Sunday afternoon

Hunting for Bigfoot (the boys are in a Sasquatch stage right now haha!)

Our "bait"

From Bertie's Shower

Tag the bag (er, suitcase)

Her closet!

Can't wait 'til she's here.  :))





Monday, March 10, 2014

Changing the timing or changing us

Hello from the adoption battlefront. Okay, that may be a bit much, but some days it does feel like that.  :-D


We updated you all last week in regards to our USCIS re-fingerprinting appointment. They had closed the day of our appointment due to the weather – even after we traveled 2 hours to get there. When I called our NBC officer, she suggested we “walk-in” since they were closed. Otherwise, the soonest appointment was at the end of March.




KC and I headed down to their office and they were able to squeeze us in! I joke it’s also because I helped the office translate in regards to a sweet couple there to renew their residence card. Tehehehe. KC told me “We sat in the wrong spot” (right by the window) because I kept getting pulled in to help translate. But I didn’t care. I was happy they squeezed us in!

So yippeeeeeee for good news!


Fast forward to this afternoon. We get an update from our coordinator. We’re still waiting on some paperwork from Ethiopia in order for our coordinator to submit our case for review and PAIR approval.




Our agency also received  update timelines in regards to PAIR approval. Are you ready for this? Are you sure?


The shortest processing time was 86 days. The longest processing time was 229 days. The average was 125 days.




That means, IF we’re on the shorter waiting end, it could be mid-May before we take our FIRST trip. We were hoping to take our second trip by the end of May to bring her home.


Not gonna lie, I let loose a BIG. GIANT. *SIGH* and a boo hoo hoo.


But luckily that was out of my system pretty quick. I think I’m handling cruddy news better each day!


I’m thinking most of those delays were due to the government shutdown and the holidays. So maybe the time will be shortened now that all that is over with. But, I’m also praying that God does something like this:


“What? 86 days? 125 days? Psh, nah. Here guys. How’s about 40 days?”


That’s what I’m praying for! Haha! And KC, being the sensible, level headed man that he is responded to my suggestion with this:


“We will pray that He either changes the timing or changes us. Lol”


To which I so cleverly replied:


“Lol. The former would be thuper duper exthiting!” (thank you She’s The Man)


Anyway, this has been a day full of good news and bad news. And yet, KC and I were able to take it all in stride. I’ll accept whatever He does – changing the timing or changing us. That doesn’t mean I don’t pray for one over the other.   😊


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What will you choose?

Something, somewhere, has gone wrong for the millionth time.


·         Your kid gets sent home with a note (for the third day in a row) for disruptive behavior

·         Your youngest smashes his face into a doorknob and now has a shiner on his cheek

·         Bad  weather + schools close = a frazzled mom with less PTO time in her bank

·         Your dog escapes again

·         Changes at work mean more work time for less pay

·         Bad weather + 2 hour drive in said bad weather + overnight stay in different city + closed USCIS office = 2 frazzled parents with less money in their pocket and PTO time in their bank

·         You’re pants are too tight because (in the wise words of Gru) “sometimes [you’ve] eaten instead of facing [your] problems”


You get it, I get it. Sometimes, things go wrong; they don’t happen the way we want or when we want. And today. After discovering the next available USCIS appointment was March 19th, I yelled at God. Well, first I cried THEN I yelled. Not out loud or anything, people at work would’ve thought I was crazy! (er, crazier!)


But in my head. I couldn’t help but yell “SERIOUSLY GOD! Enough. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” (if you know me, you know exactly how I said that “Gah”)


But then, I realized in all the things that have gone wrong, there are so many more that have gone right. 

No matter how many times I tell myself that the bad is seriously starting to outweigh the good, that couldn't be further from the truth. 

The bad won't last forever. The delays, the additional paperwork, the processing times... Those will all pass. 

Don't get me wrong, it stinks to still have to go through all of this. But, we know who she is! I have a picture. It's real. There's a little girl waiting on the other side of all this red tape. 

I want her home. And I want her home now. I mean, who wouldn't?!

But we've crossed the threshold from CRAZY HARD WAITING to CRAZY WAITING. I think that's bearable. So far it is. 

So I'm choosing to keep the blessings at the front of my mind - nothing else. Because if you don't keep things in perspective, you'll allow all those bad things to take up residence in your mind, and once they're there, they won't want to leave. 

Take the time today, and make yourself find one positive from today. Only 1. But I bet if you think, you'll start to come up with more. 

Choose joy. 

Whether you're tired of hearing this phrase or not, it doesn't change the fact that it holds truth. 

Choose. It's your choice. Dwell in the negativity or delight in the positivity. 

It's your choice. 

Me? Well, He delights in me, and I know I delight in Him. ❤️






Monday, March 3, 2014

Why we're doing this....

Saturday was 60 degrees in Northwest Arkansas. Yesterday was 20 degrees and we we're hit with ice, sleet, snow, thunder, and lightning.

The mister and I had our last fingerprint appointment at the USCIS office in Ft. Smith - about 45 minutes from our town. We called up my sister and asked if she'd stay the night so we could drive down and stay the night. We didn't want to miss our 8am appointment. 

It took us over 2 hours to drive the 59 miles to Ft. Smith. But we made it. We got up early to make sure we'd get there on time. I'd like to throw in that I kept checking the USCIS local offices website for closing a, as they normally post there. 

KC and I got to the office. 

No one was there. He suggested I check the closings on the local news' website. 

Yep. There they were. Closed. Not even a delayed opening which seemed more logical since it wasn't as terrible out there as it was in NWA. 

So, we turned around and came home. I cried in the car. We'd just wasted time and money to drive down early so we wouldn't miss it. 

We were both pretty upset. I just wanted something to go smoothly. Anything. 

We drove in silence for about 20 minutes.

Then, I pulled out my phone and found the video from the day we got "The Call". I started playing it and KC looked at me. I told him "I needed to remember why we're doing this." 

That improved our moods. It doesn't mean it doesn't bite that they closed. It doesn't mean I didn't cry. It just means we now have a face to look at when the process gets hard. 

I edited the video, and I've attached it here for you to watch. I cry. KC tears up. It was emotional. You've been warned. Haha!