Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tshirts Shipping Out!

Woo-hoo! The first batch of t-shirts will be shipping out tomorrow, July 1st, for everybody who has placed an order up to now. The orders received have been pretty much all across the board as far as colors and sizes, so we haven't run out of anything yet :) Thanks to everyone who has ordered! Some of you I don't even know, but I know you read this blog (or at least I do now), which is awesome! Thanks!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Getting Ready!

The past two weeks since we accepted our referral, have been full of "to-do's!" We pretty much knew we needed to kick it into high gear to prepare for the arrival of our little princess, since there is the possibility we could pass court and travel sooner than later. Here are some of the things we've been working on:

1. Putting together a "Family Welcome Album." Here is a glimpse of our first few pages... we are also adding in some stickers and a coloring page for FUN! Our agency allows us to send anything flat (paper-thin). It was fun to put together the album, but very surreal knowing that we are sending these things to our daughter on the other side of the world.

2. Growing a closet of "girly things!" Yeah, what a blessing this has been. Some generous friends from church started our collection with a bunch of clothes their little girl had outgrown, we then added a cute pj set as a gift from another friend, and a whole stock of cheap (but great) "finds" from a local thrift store. I am a 100% believer in used and hand-me-down clothes for kids... they just outgrow things way too fast! Sure, I love shopping for the new outfit for holidays or pictures, but for any other day I am happy to take the cheap and free stuff :)

3. Reading books. We ordered some books from Amazon (ones we've been meaning to get for awhile) and have now begun the process of filling our heads with helpful information. Here are a few that we just purchased, as well as a special book for Eli called "A Mother for Choco." Such a CUTE story - really helpful for "waiting siblings" in explaining the concept of adoption... in kid-friendly terms that is!


4. Fundraising. We sent out some support letters, have a garage sale planned for two weeks from today, and are selling some great t-shirts from our website: www.4africa4life.org. We have kids sizes available now, and we will begin shipping this week for everyone who has already ordered. THANK YOU! I also applied for two adoption grants this weekend. The grant applications take so long to complete, and typically there are tons of people who apply and not very many who receive anything. I'm not getting my hopes up, but at least we have a chance :) Please keep our fundraising in your prayers.

5. Dealing with USCIS and updating our home study. Fortunately - we THINK we are GOOD TO GO! Our home study agency amended our home study (for the 2nd time in the past week) to now say 0-4 years, so that we are still okay if we travel after our princess's 3rd birthday. We were able to reach a lovely woman at USCIS who found our previously submitted amendment and agreed to hold on to it, to swap out for the new one... this way we are not having to send two things to Addis Ababa (talk about confusion that would create), and we are also not having to pay a fee for requiring more than one amendment. We now wait for our next I171H approval... then we can truly breathe easy.

UP NEXT: Painting a cute girly bedroom and preparing for a garage sale!

1:00AM

I think I've completely lost it. It is now 1:00am and I just finished filling out a (long) grant application that is due by Tuesday. In order to not pay for overnight shipping, it must be shipped out tomorrow... thus the reason I am up so late finishing it tonight. This has been a crazy, productive, and busy week all at the same time! More about that later though, because I'm tired. Please pray for that we might be awarded some financial help through this grant. The chances are slim because so many families apply for grants like this, but we are still short in our finances, and this would be a huge blessing. No matter what though, we know God will provide. I always add that in, because it's true (and I have to remind myself of that). Whether or not providing through this grant is part of His plan, we will have to wait and see. But until we find out, we can rest in confidence that He is taking care of us and our little girl half-way around the world.

Monday, June 22, 2009

4 Africa 4 Life


My hubby has been working so hard to launch this website. We had the idea to start this site when we attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit back in April. Our goal is to promote awareness and advocate for the millions of orphans around the world. The site is still in its early stages, but CHECK IT OUT! http://4africa4life.org/ Oh, and we would love it if you would consider buying a t-shirt - hubby designed those as well... (we have had a couple requests for kids sizes and we're hoping to add a kids size soon!)

Back to the Paperwork!

This picture describes what I am feeling right now - I just want to give up on paperwork! Good thing I have the beautiful face of our little girl to stare at all day - my constant reminder to keep pushing through and not let "glitches" get me down.

Last week I worked hard to gather the paperwork needed for our home study amendment and immigration approval amendment. We need both of these amendments due to the fact that our daughter will likely be three years old by the time we bring her home, which is older than our original approval for 0-2 years. We spoke to our social worker, and had her write the amendment to approve us for ages 0-3, since we figured that would "cover" us until she turns four. However, after this was ALL completed, and ALREADY sent to USCIS... we find out that we actually need the approval to say 0-3.5 or 0-4 years. Apparently, if your child is one day past their birthday, you have to be approved beyond that age. I only knew to ask about this thanks to Michelle and Norm (THANK YOU for posting about that - it saved us from dealing with this later which could have been a disaster). When I talked to our agency this morning I told them that they really need to give more directions about being approved for "over the age" because we would have never known. They apologized for not being clearer in their intial communication with us, and did clarify that we will have to re-do everything. So, here we go again... :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

WHAT?!?!? REFERRAL?!?!?

Absolutely amazing news in the Hutchison household... WE GOT A REFERRAL!!!!!! This was totally and completely UNEXPECTED. After all, we were #18! And it has only been 2 months since we submitted our dossier! We are over-the-moon excited... here's the story...

Since Wednesday, I have been on a work retreat at a cabin up north, without cell phone reception or internet access. I thought to myself on my drive up there how ironic it would be if our referral came during the one week that I am "unreachable." I called Micah using a calling card on Wednesday night, but it ran out of minutes while we were talking. He didn't have the chance to tell me that Stephanie (from Holt) left a message for us around 4:30pm that day, saying she had a few questions and wanted to "check on our adoption process." It's probably good he didn't get a chance to tell me that because I might have been tempted to drive all the way home :)

Since the calling card was out of minutes, I figured I would just talk to Micah when I returned home on Friday. But Thursday evening, the cabin phone rang. I left the phone # to the cabin with Micah so he could use it in case of emergencies. When the person who answered said my husband was on the phone, I was wondering if something bad had happened. Here's some of the conversation that followed, to the best of my memory...

Me: Hey what's going on?
Micah: Were you planning on calling me tonight?
Me: No, the calling card ran out, remember? Why what's going on?
Micah: Well, we had a phone call today... from Stephanie at Holt.
Me: (stunned silence) Uh-huh...
Micah: She is wanting to know if we would consider adopting a child slightly older than two years old.
Me: (still stunned) Uh-huh...
Micah: They have a little girl who will be 3 years old in September, and they really want to place her. She said if we are willing to adopt a child older than our original preference, then they will be giving us her referral.
Me: (absolutely shocked, with my co-workers all staring at me) :)

We chatted awhile more (and I then called him again later when everybody was out at the campfire and I regained my composure), and decided that Micah would go ahead and call Stephanie in the morning to tell her to send us the referral information. As you can imagine, I couldn't WAIT to get home! I shared the news with my coworkers and they were so excited for us. They all listened to me blab on and on about it, and were so GREAT in allowing me to process the news. I went to bed that night dreaming about our new little girl.

On the drive home, my coworker pulled our car over into a parking lot as soon as we had cell phone reception so that I could get on the internet and look at the picture of our beautiful little princess. She is adorable. I completely teared up because she looks so sad in her picture, and all I want to do is hug her and bring her home. Unfortunately, we can't post any pics on websites (Ethiopian government doesn't allow it) so you will only be able to see it if you live close enough! We also cannot post her name, but she was named by her birthmother and the name/meaning are so special to us. We will definitely keep her given name as either a first or middle name. For the purpose of this blog I will just call her our "little princess."

The bad news is that it would be close to impossible for us to be assigned a court date prior to the Ethiopian court closure in August/September, so we likely will not pass court or travel until later in the fall. The months ahead will be so hard as we wait to bring her home, but we know God's timing is perfect and He already knows the plan. Little did we know in starting this journey, that His plan was different from ours... but we know His plans are always best, and we move forward trusting in that completely.

So Little Princess... we will come for you soon, we already love you!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Waiting Game

Well it's been awhile since I posted something on here, but to be honest... not much has been happening! Last I heard we are still sitting at #18 :) The good news is that there will be large number of families traveling during the next 6-8 weeks (a group actually just left today). So with all of those beautiful children going home, I can only imagine that a large amount of new referrals will trickle in over the summer months... maybe one of those will be our new son or daughter??? Work has been really busy the past few weeks with the school year winding down, so that has kept my mind off the wait. I'll have some time off starting next week, so it might be a bit harder to maintain the patience but I will try! We are at least going to spend a couple days having an "in-town" vacation at a nice hotel in Phoenix or Scottsdale. We are saving money this year by not actually going out of town. The great thing about an "in-town" vacation where we live, is that the hotels substantially drop their rates in the summer due to the fact that nobody wants to visit the Phoenix heat. So that means rock bottom prices for us to stay in a nice suite, have a free breakfast, and spend a couple days relaxing poolside. Yeah!