Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Final Interview

Guys, the final interview is in ONE WEEK on June 4th. This is the last piece of information that NBC/USCIS needs in order to issue their determination. We’ve also been told that even though USCIS says they’ll issue it within 10 days, it’s usually a 3-4 day turnaround!!


How exciting is that?! So we’re now looking at getting our PAIR letter within a week of the embassy’s determination! As soon as we get our letter, we’ll update our agency so they can submit our case to court.


We went into this part of the process thinking we’d have 4-6 weeks of a “heads-up” if you will before traveling. After talking with our coordinator, it seems that Ethiopia is issuing court dates with little to no notice. Some families were only given a few days notification.


This is an awesome thing and kind of a bad thing.


It’s an awesome thing because I don’t have to pine for six weeks before actually traveling. I likely won’t have enough time to whine or cry or get all emotional about how much time it’s taking. Ha!


It’s kind of a bad thing because tickets will be a bit more expensive since we won’t have much notice.


But I still think the good outweighs the bad. My bank account may not agree, but who cares!  ;-P


So we’ve been advised by our coordinator to be ready to travel by the end of June. So we are doing just that. We’re working on getting the last bit of stuff needed for travel. We’re starting now so we can break up the cost of small toiletries, meds, snacks, etc.


I pulled out a folding table and set it up in our room so we can put our luggage and everything else travel related there. Mostly because I have a tendency to buy things far out, and then put them in random places…. I usually find them about 2 months after I needed them.


I even got a super head start on packing Bertie’s bag and picking out which clothes she’ll wear.


This is pretty big considering I’m generally a massive procrastinator. But this is exciting and long-time-coming, so that’s likely why I was able to stray from the norm. I’m sure it’s just a fluke.


This could be a bit smoother waiting until the 4th though... It’s already Tuesday, and we have a 7th birthday coming up on Friday and a preschool graduation on Friday night. It’s a “yay!” and “boo!” all at the same time *sniff, sniff*


And next week…. Well next week we’ve been chosen to be a part of something pretty exciting for us! I can’t share anything until Monday morning, but I’ve been dropping hints and teasers on FB and IG. I’ll definitely amp those up this week! So please check back next Monday! It’s exciting guys. HUGELY exciting!


BUT….. Here’s your little glimpse!

Last shot of the day. We started goofing off. 

Oliver licked me. Haha!

This is when I yelled "Ewwww! He licked me!" His face shows no remorse. Hehe. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Exciting news & one step closer!

We just got an email from the embassy in Addis. They’ve set up an interview with the “birth parent/relinquishing relative/other”. This is the final step before they issue their determination to USCIS back here in the states.

*cue squealing, screaming, and little bit of nervous breathing and staring into space*


We don’t have an exact date yet, but they could send their decision back here in the next week or two! As soon as that happens, we’ll get our PAIR letter within 10 days.


And then it’s only a matter of weeks before we travel. It’s getting close!

*cue squealing, screaming, and little bit of nervous breathing and staring into space*


And to be completely honest, we’re (or at least I) getting a little nervous. It's finally here... 



There have been a lot of changes for us in the last few weeks. Good changes. Changes we’ve been praying about regarding our work situations. So please help us continue to pray about these things.


Also, we’ve been given a great opportunity coming up in about 2 weeks. I can’t give it away yet, but it’s a pretty big deal to us. I know, I know – I’m being terribly cryptic, but it’s adoption/travel fee related. We’ll share some more information about it later this week/next week, with maybe a little “sneak peak”!


The embassy will email us when they’ve sent their decision back here to NBC/USCIS. As soon as they do, we’ll be sure to let you guys know!


Thank you guys for all your prayers!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The calm...

It’s been a week since our file was sent to the Embassy in Ethiopia. And man, am I itching for some news. We should be notified when the birth parent/guardian interview is set up.  So since we haven’t heard anything, I’m assuming it hasn’t happened yet. And it’s driving me crazy! Hahaha!
We’re so sooooooooo close! I’m praying that we get a speedy answer. There are rare cases that are approved and sent back within 2 weeks. Since we’ve been the rare delay throughout this entire process, I’m hoping we’re the rare acceptance here at the end.   :-)

We’re praying we get USCIS clearance soon so that we still make the cut off before the courts close at the beginning of August (normally around the 10th-12th).  
ALSO, we found out that as soon as we are issued our PAIR letter, Ethiopia will issue a birth parent court date, or in Bertie’s case, a guardian court date first. This is normally 3-4 weeks out.

Here's the kicker. Since this new PAIR process has begun, we WON'T know we're traveling for court until 1-2 weeks before our court date. 


This means ticket prices will likely be much, much higher since we won't have much of a heads up. The best time to buy the cheapest tickets is about 6 weeks out. 

It will be similar when we go for our embassy trip. Not much notice anymore. 

BUT, on the flip side, our agency is exploring the possibility of 1 longer trip. The time between our court date and embassy date is much shorter now too!

So there's good and bad to it. The mister and I are going to do our best to pump over even more to help offset those costs.

I'm trying my best not to freak out over finances and work. May is a crazy month with birthdays and end of year stuff at school, but June should be a better month for saving since we won't have pre-k costs. 

I know Gods got this, but it's easy to get caught up in all the big stuff. 
Please keep praying for us – for multiple reasons. We’re working overtime to add extra to our account and still make it day to day.
Please pray for me as well. I’m in this last-phase-burnout-mode, and my brain feels like it’s taking a vacation. DEFINITELY got some serious mom-brain going on. 
I’ll update you as soon as we hear anything, but I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging for too long. I know many of you are just as excited and anxious for news as we are. You guys are the greatest.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

And it’s off!!!!!

A little backstory for you:
I called USCIS this week to see if they had received the Request for Evidence our agency sent on April 24th. As of Tuesday, they had not. Our USCIS/NBC caseworker suggested we resend it as “it’s likely lost in the mail”.
I called our agency to request that they resend it Express Mail. Our coordinator told us they received a letter that it had been received and we should give ituntil Friday. KC and I agreed.
Yesterday, I called and left a voicemail for our caseworker to let her know I’d call her back on Friday or Monday to see if they found it. KC and I figured our file would be sent over next week at the absolute earliest. We were kind of bummed, but it would only set us back a week or two, which is really nothing in the grand scheme of this whole process. Ha!
And then this morning, I check my email and see this:
From: "Addis, Adoption"
Date: May 8, 2014 at 9:00:36 AM CDT
To: "Sandia Collins"
Subject: Notification of Receipt of PAIR Filing from USCIS
Yeah. I honestly think my heart stopped for a few minutes. I instantly thought, uh, no friggin’ way! I just talked to her Tuesday and left a voicemail yesterday! It can’t be… can it?
So before I got too overly excited or told my husband, I immediately called our coordinator at Bethany only to remember that Miss J is off on Thursdays. Boo. SO I call our local social worker to see if she can get me one of the other Ethiopia team members and she gives me an email address. To which I forward the email with the question of “Does this mean what I think this means?!”
Miss C’s reply?
{Yes your case has gone from UCSIC onto the Embassy in Ethiopia for their investigation of the orphan status I-604. Big step, good news!!!}
I immediately forward the email to KC and text him to call me. He calls me and, much to my excitement, shows the proper level of enthusiasm at this BIG step. Pretty much the last BIG paperwork step before we travel!
Here’s our final steps:
1.       The US Embassy will take 2-5 weeks to make a determination and issue our PAIR letter
2.      We upload our PAIR letter to our coordinators at Bethany so they can
let the Ethiopian office know to get us a court date – those are normally 4-6 weeks out
3.      We travel for 1st court date
4.      We come home and wait for Embassy court date – those are normally 2-4 weeks out
5.      We travel for our 2nd court date
6.      WE COME HOME WITH BERTIE!!!!!!!!!!!
Guys. Guys. GUYS. This is HUGE. I honestly freaked out and was shaking I was so excited. It’s been SO long and I cannot believe it’s finally here! For those trying to add it up, at the absolute earliest, we could travel in 6 weeks. That would put us around June 20th. At the absolute longest, we could travel in 11 weeks. That would put us at July 24th.
God has been so good to us, and we’ve been clearing so many hurdles so much quicker than we thought. So, we’re praying we’re traveling at the end of June! We are ready to meet our baby girl!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Updated Timelines

So exciting news about timelines!

We thought once our file was in Ethiopia, it's be 6-12 weeks before we got our PAIR approval and another 4-6 before we traveled. 

Turns out, we're IN the 6-12 weeks now! As soon as NBC/USCIS sends our file to Ethiopia (which we hope happens this week), it'll take 2-4 weeks for them to make a determination. We'll receive our official PAIR letter within 10 days of that decision. 

As soon as we get our PAIR letter, our agency will let ethiopia know we're ready for court! The court date will be scheduled about 4-6 weeks after we get the letter! 

I'll call our caseworker at NBC/USCIS tomorrow to see where we're at. 

Sooooooo we could be in Ethiopia within TEN weeks if everything goes smoothly. 

Yeah, KC and I are freaking out a little too! Please pray for swift decisions to be made and no more snags. Guys, we're so incredibly close!! ❤️ 

Photo courtesy of What To Expect When You're Expecting (of course!)