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!
Things are happening! We're nearing the end of the Waiting Road, and now have to prove ourselves by passing the Five Steps of Sanity.

We were notified of EP Prep on June 10 - one step down! A week ago today, our file moved on to the Submission stage, and now we're waiting for our EP to be approved by the MOHW, at which point MOHW will notify ESWS, who will notify AAC, who will then notify us...but this is all very complicated and like speaking a foreign Adopting-From-Korea language, which may just leave you scratching your head and shrugging your shoulders. We have seen these symptoms in family members.

I think I have a better way.

So, as you can see from my professional-grade drawing, we're definitely making progress (it's weird to say we're making progress when we actually have nothing to do with the progress happening right now). We're on Step 2 in my fancy diagram, waiting for, drumroll please, Step 3!

I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, it's time for another Korean language lesson.
Early mornings are a sweet time for me. I wake up at about 5:30 and stumble out the door with my walking shoes on; as I walk, I pray. I talk to God like He's right there with me, listening to every word I say - because He is. And I talk to Him like He is the Creator of the entire universe, and has the power and authority to move mountains - because He does. In both of these areas I have my doubts, and I prayed this morning that God would increase my faith, and He already is.

As I talked to my Father-God, I poured out my heart. I've been so frustrated over the last week or so, and I realized this morning that it's because I have these grand plans that I want God to be a part of, and He's so slow to join me. Typing that out is like smacking myself in the head over and over. Which is normal for me. I often don't realize how ridiculous and self-centered my heart is until I take the time to really ask God to reveal it to me.

This revelation brought to mind a tweet I saw recently from John Piper:
“Ah, stubborn children, who go down to Egypt, without asking for my direction." Isaiah 30:1-2 Forgive our God-obliviousness.
God-obliviousness is a good way to describe the way I try to run my world. And I know in my heart, because I'm saturating it in God's Word each day, that this is the most foolish way to live.


A wave of refreshment and the lifting of a crushing burden.

I love my walks! So, back to the walk...I decided to take a longer route home this morning - one that brought me up on a dam and around the back side of my neighborhood instead of straight to my house. I have never taken this route before, but I was pretty sure I knew where I was going. (insert knowing laugh here.)

So I walked behind the houses that border the desert, and trekked toward the dam. It was in full view from where I was, but I couldn't quite make out the path through all the mesquite and cactuses (here's a nugget of gold from someone who studied grammar in college: cactuses is the preferred plural of cactus. Not cacti - although that's still correct). My desert walk turned into a little bit of a hike at this point, and involved a deep arroyo, a dead end, and a really steep hill filled with dead bushes of some blackish, menacingly thorny look. And LOTS of turning around.

BUT. I had been released from a burden that I'd been holding onto for several days, and I felt GOOD. I was even smiling as I got to the next obstacle and had to do an about-face.

And I thought: this is what I do! I make all these plans, and I start off toward some destination I have in mind when God hasn't told me to go there. At least, not yet. I run into obstacles and steep hills and have to turn around, go back to where God wants me to be, and wait for Him. "Those who wait on the LORD..."

There's comfort knowing that all of this is part of God's plan for my life. That He knows when I will try to run ahead, or look for a shortcut, or get lost. And He uses all of it. Not a speck is wasted.

Because if it didn't take me that long to get to my destination, I would have missed this:

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 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.
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.

We are now officially less than a week away from our Both Hands project - hold me back! I am so ready to knock the socks off of this work day (and thankful that the weather forecast is calling for cooler temperatures; I tend to wilt in the heat) and believe with all my heart that everyone involved will be incredibly blessed through this endeavor. I'm not the most organized person in the world, so while I'd like to say that I've got everything figured out to make Saturday's project go smoothly, I mostly have visions of paint rollers and potted plants floating around in my head. But they make me feel like I can do this! (This type of strategy usually works for me, so I'll continue to work with it.)

(The above topic is taking up a good 60% of my brain)

On a separate note, we were alarmed today when we learned that South Korea's crazy neighbor to the north is threatening
to reduce Seoul to "a pile of ashes." We emailed Regina, but she told us that there isno earthly way possible to speed up the process, and so we'll continue waiting and hoping that this is yet more propaganda from the North, and that God will protect our son and all those in Korea.

(The above topic is taking up a separate 35% of my brain)

And on a separate separate note, we learned today that we'll soon be receiving a video of Jeremiah! Some of the caseworkers from our adoption agency went to Korea and were able to meet, spend time with, and video the children their families will be adopting!
I am beyond excited about this. I treasure the three pictures we have of our son; to have a video...well, we'd better put it on our computer because I plan on wearing out that disc!

Here are the notes that were taken during the visit with Jeremiah:
  • sits well
  • stands with support
  • moves holding onto furniture
  • crawls fast
  • good baby
  • "Mama"
  • likes cellular phones
  • easy baby :)   (happy face mine)
  • foster sister loves him
(The above topic is taking up a completely separate 85% of my brain. I'm a little overloaded right now.)

My brain is busy these days, but in spite of that we managed to finish up 2nd grade science for the year - the beginning of the end of this year's homeschooling! The kids and I continue to have a blast working through school and spending every day together. It hit home with me in a new way recently that this phase of our lives is quickly coming to an end, as Derrick will be going to a private school next year. I'm reminded to truly treasure these days. We are all so blessed to have each other. I can't wait until all four of our kids are home.

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.)