As I was thinking about how I should update my blog, and then thinking about how not much has changed since my last update, I started looking through old posts. I realized...hey, there's a few things that have changed! So, here goes.
Update #1: Travel.
As things stand right now, when it's time to go get our little guy, we'll be in Korea for 3-6 weeks. Yes, it's a long time. But really, we're looking forward to the "forced vacation." We're going to have plenty of time to learn about a country that we've fallen in love with from afar. We're planning on lots of sightseeing, practicing our language skills (or having fun trying), and spending as much time as we can with the little boy we've held in our hearts for so long.
Update #2: We need a date.
Mr. DIY and I haven't had much time to ourselves lately. It's ok, because we genuinely enjoy spending time with our kids - but we also love us some "we" time! We've decided to leave our three munchkins at home with the generous and loving friends and family who have offered to be their stand-in parents while we're away so that they don't have to miss school for such a long time. We're pretty sure that having a month-long date can't be a bad thing. And our kids are super excited about getting to try out some new stand-in parents. I'm pretty sure we'll all miss each other desperately about one week in, but we'll have one amazing reunion once we're back!
Update #3: We're still waiting at Step 2.
It's hard to see from the outside, but from where we stand we're seeing things move in a steady stream. It doesn't mean that we've gotten to Step 3 (EP Approval), but it does mean that we think we're getting close. If you have no idea what in the world I'm talking about, see my last post.
Update #4: I may not be updating for awhile.
We are (hopefully) standing at the edge of what's going to soon be a tidal wave of activity, scrambling to find childcare every day for a month +, packing, and general freaking out. We're so happy that we've been able to keep people in the know about our process, but we don't necessarily want everyone on the internet to be in the know once it's go-time. Ya know? So if you'd like to stay updated, please keep in touch! Leave me a comment, or message me to let me know that you want to stay in the loop.
That's it for now, folks! Thanks for stopping by to see what's new; I can't wait until I can post a family picture with all 6 of us!
The learning curve on adoption jargon led to a disappointing misunderstanding. For those of you who heard that we have a date for travel (although we hadn't heard a specific date), we do not. However, Korea is now accepting EPs* for 2012 now, so we're going to keep waiting with the hope that our EP will be filed and accepted by the court soon.
Also, the process may be changing to where Jeremiah will enter the United States as a US citizen (this saves us more paperwork, lawyers' fees, and 6 months of waiting after we bring him home for him to become a citizen and to officially adopt him). It's encouraging news, but may mean a longer stay in Korea.
Whoever said the waiting is the hardest part of adoption...I'm sorry for doubting you.
What other wisdom can you speak into my life? I'm all ears.
*EP = Emigration Permit
And, we're back to the shorter trip!
This week we learned from our agency that the Korean authorities have decided to remove the requirement for a longer stay in Korea. This was an answer to prayer for so many families, as both parents simply couldn't spend that much time away from home. As waiting families, so many of us were on our knees in their behalf, asking that God would remove the requirement that would keep so many children from ever meeting and knowing the families who wanted them.
And He did! One caseworker told the family she's working with that there was no explanation for why they did it, which is the coolest way for things to happen because then God gets the glory!
For us, it's a relief that Dustin won't have to take unpaid leave from work, and to know that because they've removed the family court date, it should speed things back up and get us there faster.
But we're still planning on taking our kids with us.
It was just too much of a good thing to be excited about having them with us in Korea, knowing that this may be their only chance to see the birthplace of their little brother. They've been jumping up and down in anticipation, each for different reasons:
Micaiah can't wait to fly on an airplane - it will be her first time! She also doesn't want us to leave her for that long.
(After being in a plane for 20 hours, she may not think they're as great as she did when she was on the ground, but here's hoping she loves it!)
Kyler is just so excited to meet his brother. I have never seen this kid so passionate about something for such a long period of time. It is truly touching.
Derrick is just excited for the whole trip: to see Korea, to meet his brother, to spend two weeks in a completely foreign place. It's going to be quite an adventure!
We're all going to learn so much, and we're going to do it as a family. I cannot be more thankful.
My heart is ready.
One of the reasons I fell in love with the Korea program is that it's predictable.
We knew from the beginning what each step would look like.
Well, God knew from the beginning that each step would not look like what we thought it would look like.
We've recently learned that the 4-5 day required stay is quickly evolving into a 3-4 week stay.
We still don't know when we'll travel, but it means...
We really need to work on our Korean!
Our three bio kids are so coming with us. That's just too long to leave them behind!
Dustin will have to take an extra 2 weeks off from work - time that he doesn't have built into his vacation time.
Plus 3 more round-trip tickets across the ocean. Maybe we should take swimming lessons?
Thinking outside the box here.
We'll need to figure out where to stay, how to get around, and what to eat with 3-4 kids in tow...in a city of 10 million...where we don't know the language. No big deal.
A faith-growing opportunity if I've ever seen one.
New sights, new sounds, new language, new foods, new brother.
Bring it, Korea.
It's been awhile since we've heard news on how adoptions are progressing in Korea. Too long, in my opinion (I'm feeling opinionated today).
Last I knew, the families who submitted paperwork by November of 2011 were processed, but then everything came to a halt.
(We sent everything on March 23, 2012.)
There's a new requirement for families involving a court date, but nobody really knows what that means for the timeline. I've read that it may add some time to the wait, since it means that judges are looking into each specific family as part of the process. This adds time for the obvious reason that more work means more waiting (for us and other waiting families), and also because it's a new step. Which means it's never been done this way before. Which means there's going to be bumps in the road, or it could be really slow-going if they try to get it right the first time around.
So I feel like a pregnant woman, 36 weeks along, who hears the news that her body has added new requirements to the labor process. "It may not happen as quickly as we'd hoped," says the doctor, "and you may have to carry this baby another few months longer - or more."
At which point I vent my anger by punching said doctor.
This is followed by a quick and heart-felt apology. And anger management classes.
I do have to say that we are TRULY so thankful that Jeremiah is with a foster family who loves him so very much. He is safe. He is well taken care of. And honestly, we are blessed in the waiting because God is still at work - both here in our family, and in Jeremiah's life. I know it because we've prayed it - every single day.
When I was in elementary school, I wore ugly blue tight jeans that were rolled up to reveal rolled-down socks. Pair those with a huge tie-dye shirt and some enormous bangs, and you get a girl who entered the awkward phase of junior high a few years early (although I blame part of that mess on the 80s). That girl also listened to Steven Curtis Chapman. A lot. And this was back when Christian music was comparable to a B movie. But I was rockin' that look, lovin' those songs.
I did eventually grow out of the awkwardness that defined me for a good four years. And I left Mr. Chapman far behind. So it wasn't until we attended the Christian Alliance for Orphan's Summit VI in Minneapolis that I realized I'd thrown the baby out with the bathwater - or, more appropriately, I'd thrown a really amazing Christian singer out with the big bangs.
We had the privilege of hearing Mary Beth Chapman tell the story of adopting - three times - and then losing one of their daughters through a tragic accident. I saw Steven Curtis and Mary Beth with grownup eyes, heard his songs with grownup ears, and cried many tears for their loss, but also tears of joy for the work that God has done through tragedy. Show Hope is a big part of that work. (Read Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman to hear the rest of their story.)
Last week, Dustin and I opened a letter from Show Hope and shed tears together again.
Show Hope has awarded our family a $4,000 grant in our adoption of Jeremiah.
Exactly what we need to finish our adoption expenses.
The financial portion of our journey started with a grant from Lifesong for Orphans and ended with a grant from Show Hope. The in-between was filled to the brim with support from our family, friends, and our church. God is good, my friends. He is so, so good.
While we can't say we're done, we're on a different phase now than we were in February, when we first saw our son's face. I guess you could say we've traveled in faith, we've finished that part of our journey, and now we can get off the bus.
We'd love for you to pray with us that we can get on the plane in the fall of 2012 to bring Jeremiah home. God is faithful, and will complete what He has begun in His good, good time. What an amazing privilege to hold our great Father's hand as He takes us to Korea.
Two years ago, almost to the day, we learned about Both Hands at the first Summit we attended. We knew right away that, if we ever needed to raise funds for an adoption, we wanted to do that through Both Hands.
Summit VI, Minneapolis
A year later, we sent off our application requesting to do a Both Hands project to raise the funds needed to bring Jeremiah home. A few weeks later, we received a call from Aimee and JT from the Both Hands Foundation.
And last weekend, with 25 volunteers, 13 gallons of paint, and tons of love, we completed our Both Hands project.
The Both Hands Foundation staff watched the above video in their staff meeting this morning, with tears in their eyes. Their tireless work to help bring orphans into families and to meet the needs of widows has gone far beyond their reach, through the outstretched arm of our Father.
Tomorrow, we leave to attend our third Summit
. To be refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened to continue in the work God has called us to, both through our family's adoption of Jeremiah and through Adopted by Grace, our church's orphan care/adoption ministry. There, we will receive required training for our journey to adoption and beyond; and we will have the opportunity to thank JT and Aimee in person for all of their support, prayer, and encouragement.
Another chapter has ended.
Another step closer!
Today we traversed the long and smelly road to El Paso to have our fingerprints taken (we're getting good at this!). After we located the plain little building in El Paso and filled out a short form (I'm so thankful now for those!), we waited for a few minutes before we had our fingerprints taken - digitally. I felt world-class. I mean, fingerprints, yeah. No big deal. But digital fingerprints? We're officially in the fingerprinting big leagues!
We took the kids with us, of course (because all fingerprinting aficionados do this - it's good for them to be cultured), and after we were done we visited a nearby park. I don't think there's anything as fun as a new park for our kids, unless it's a new park with their dad around to show them the ropes.
After we'd worked up an appetite, we all piled into Dustin's Back-to-the-Future car and drove to a Korean restaurant we'd found online before we left home. It was delicious, and since there were very few people to serve, our waitress struck up a conversation with us about all things Korean food. When she learned we were adopting from Korea and would be traveling there, she gave us all sorts of interesting things to try, on the house! Even the kids were excited to see what Korean water, kimchi, and Korean dumplings tasted like. Afterwards, they all decided we should make going to Korea a family trip. They'd better start saving up their allowance!
The kids sampling kimchi noodle soup. Their varying degrees of chopstick success can be measured by two indicators: the amount of noodles on their chopsticks, and the expressions on their faces.
Dustin treated us all to Krispy Kreme as a way to end the day.
If you want a glimpse into how hilarious our life is, watch the video below.
(And no, this behavior was not due entirely to the sugar - it's a pretty common phenomenon.)
In spite of the fact that I am perpetually 10 minutes late to everything, I like to get paperwork done on time. We've been pretty diligent in doing just that, and in sending in every check needed when it was due. Nobody's had to wait for us, and it's been a nice feeling to know that.
God has clearly shown us the adoption road, and we want to walk well and not falter.
And when it's time to wait, we want to wait well.
We've received several emails this last week from Regina, our caseworker, regarding our place in line. She told us recently that we were number 7 in line, and she let us know this last week that, while we are currently at number 5 in line, the three families ahead of us in line will not be ready for their referrals for a few months. So that leaves...drum roll, please...us!
After reading the email, we looked at each other (with HUGE smiles on our faces) in disbelief, both of us wondering how we were going to come up with the remaining $18,000, but more than that, so completely excited that everything was finally happening.
I'll confess, we thought about shortcuts. Should we borrow from a bank? After all, if anything is, adoption is a cause worthy of borrowing money for! Or maybe borrow from our inheritance (with our parents' permission) with the intention of paying it all back?
Maybe remember that God is on time, and that He has a child picked out already for our family - a child who will be ready for us exactly when we are ready for him. Because sure, it's possible for us to borrow from people and then spend years paying for the child who will be so worth it. But if God has been so faithful to provide everything we've needed up to this point, it would be foolish for us to assume that we have to take the rest into our own hands.
I read a story once of a man named Edgar who runs an orphanage in Mexico. He and his boys had run out of food, which wasn't unusual, and he sat down with them to pray. After they prayed that God would provide for their needs, Edgar had a choice: either he would go out and ask friends and neighbors to give them any extra rice and beans they had on hand, OR he would wait for God to answer his prayers. And keep praying.
After they were done praying the first time, the littlest boy piped up and said, "What kind of food does God deliver?"
Edgar smiled at the boy and said, "God desires to lavish His riches on you. Let's see what He provides.," They prayed again. Again, the little boy spoke: "Do you think...Will God bring us...meat?"
The faith of a child: to ask for the best in their time of need.
The man challenged that little boy to believe that God heard them as His children, and to ask again.
The same day, a man had flown into Monterrey, Mex. for a business convention. He told Beth Buckenberger, author of Reckless Faith, that he had lots of extra "product" that was no longer of use to him. Beth, embarrassed, told the man that she had forgotten what his business was, and he explained that he represents a meat company, and had brought choice cuts for potential vendors. Beth, connected to several orphanages in the area, said yes, of course she knew of people who could use it! She called Edgar and as she explained, he whispered, "Praise God!" and then turned away from the phone and shouted the news to his boys, that the Lord's response to their prayer was on its way over!
And the boys at Edgar's home ate meat that night that would make a king jealous.
That man could have prayed, and then gone out on his own to do what needed to be done. But instead, he stayed on his knees in a room full of children who had the faith to ask for the best.
God likes to be asked for what we need.
So even though a small part of me - a part of me that's getting smaller every day - would like to go out and ask every bank in town what rate they could give us on an adoption loan, I'm going to tell my soul to be still.
I'm going to keep praying, and I'm going to ask my children to pray with me. Because they know how to ask for the best, and I have a God who delights in giving it.
"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so provie to be my disciples." - John 15:7,8