Friday, July 31, 2009

3 Days

"Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act."
Psalm 37:5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 Days

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Phillippians 4:6-7

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5 Days

We would appreciate anyone who will commit to praying every day, for the next five days, for our August 4th court date. Technically, our court case will be heard sometime after we are sound asleep Monday night, as Ethiopia is 10 hours ahead of the U.S.

Due to the timing of our court date being right before the annual court closure in Ethiopia, it feels like a "high stakes" gambling situation :) Should we not pass, we would not be given a new court date until October at the earliest. Only about 60% of adoption cases "pass" in Ethiopian court the first time they are heard. What are the reasons for not passing? Well it could be anything from a piece of paper missing (due to the many government agencies that handle our paperwork and the many hands it goes through), a judge being out sick, electrical outages (which are far too common), running out time to hear all of the cases scheduled for that day, the birthparent not showing up, and the list goes on. If we do not pass court on August 4th, it doesn't mean that we will never pass court. It just means we will not be able to travel to bring our princess home as soon as we would like. We will be back in the "waiting game."

Fortunately, although the whole scenario does draw quite a comparison to a high-stakes gambling situation, we know that is not actually the case. We know and believe that God is in control of everything surrounding our court case. Though it would be difficult to have to continue to wait if we don't pass, we would have the assurance that God's hand is in it. He loves our princess more than we do, and His plan for her life (and ours) will prevail. He knows and understands every detail of what is happening with our daughter and this adoption process, far better than we ever could. He has proven faithful in this process so far, and even in delays and glitches we already have experienced. We know He will prove faithful again. Please join us in praying for our court date, praying for our princess, and praying that God's will prevail in all things.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." Ecclesisastes 3:1

Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Our Princess, With Love

Turn your volume way up for this one... we're putting this in the mail tomorrow :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Video: Eli sees new pic of his Sister!

Yesterday I took a little video footage of us showing Eli the new picture we received of our daughter. He was so cute about it :) You also may notice we mention the name "Mikayla" in the video... we went back and forth on deciding whether to just use her given name or to give her a new name. We knew we definitely wanted to keep her given name "A" (I'll post it after we pass court) as part of her name, and ended up deciding that we feel it is significant to give her a name from us as well. We chose the name Mikayla, after her daddy's name - Micah. We felt that giving her part of her daddy's name was a symbol of our new "covering" over her, as her forever parents and forever family. She will always be part of her birth family and her heritage, but she will also always be part of us. We plan to use both names with her while she is growing up, and then later in life she can choose which one she wants others to call her by. So, without further adu... here is a little video for your enjoyment...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Court Date, and an Update!

Today was full of great news! We received a new court date of August 4th, exactly two weeks away. Fabulous. We also received an unexpected update on our little princess! We got a new beautiful picture of her... still no smile, but someday we'll see it. She is just a gorgeous little girl, we must admit! Eli enjoyed looking at the new picture too, and noted that she is wearing a different color shirt :) In addition to the picture, we received a court document from Ethiopia pertaining to our daughter's history which was helpful for us in filling in a few "holes" from past information we have gotten. AND, we got the news that she has been moved from the Durame care center to the care center in the capitol city - Addis Ababa. This is exciting because other families who travel there to pick up their children in the next couple months will be able to hug and play with her for us :) Yeah! We love her so much already, and just want to be there now to scoop her up and bring her home. All in all, a great day :) Now we wait and we pray for a successful court date on the 4th! Travel could be as early as the very beginning of September if we pass...

Monday, July 20, 2009

USCIS - NVC - Embassy

So, once we received our I171H approval from our local immigration office last April, it was supposed to go to the National Visa Center, and then sent to the Embassy in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, so that our daughter could be given a visa when the time comes to bring her home. Apparently after the NVC... we have no idea where it went. This is a little dilemma I have been working on during the past couple of weeks. To complicate things, we had an addendum done to our original approval in order to account for the older age of our daughter, so now that addendum needed to be included in the mix as well.

First, I checked in with our local USCIS office to ensure they received our amended home study. They had, so they sent out our NEWLY UPDATED 171H approval - both to us, and to the National Visa Center. They also forwarded our original 171H approval to the NVC, just in case. CHECK!

Then today, I called the National Visa Center and asked if they had received our updated paperwork. Fortunately, after being placed on hold a number of times, I was able to get confirmation that they received it AND that it was all being sent electronically over to the Embassy in Ethiopia TODAY! Hooray! CHECK!

Finally, I emailed our agency to ask them to check again with the Embassy to verify that everything is in order so that it will not hold up our travel dates. They will check-in with the Embassy next week, in order to give the paperwork time to get there and be accounted for.

Let's hope and pray! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Postponed

Tonight would be the night I would be staying awake, praying nervously that our case would pass court in Ethiopia and we would legally become the parents of our little girl. But, due to the recent MOWA closure, all we know is that our case will not be heard tomorrow and it is postponed until.......???? Since hearing of the MOWA closure last week, I have been stocking my email every day waiting for the email from Holt giving us our new court date (and hoping it's soon!). But so far, no news :( The bright side in all of this is that there are rumors flying around the Ethiopian adoption community that they federal high court in Ethiopia might remain open for the entire month of August, and might possibly remain open through the entire rainy season this year. Either way, it would provide a greater chance for us to be assigned a new court date sooner than later. So, tonight I will go to sleep knowing I won't hear about the outcome of our court case tomorrow, but praying that maybe we will hear about newly assigned court dates!

Oh, and on another note... we are still working on our USCIS "mess" to try gain confirmation that the Embassy in Ethiopia has a copy of our 171H approval. That is how our daughter will get her visa to travel home with us, so we won't be approved to travel over there until our agency has confirmation the Embassy is in receipt of that approval form. It's been kind of a nightmare to deal with for several different reasons, but hopefully that will work itself out within the next week.

And to our dear sweet little princess... we think about you every day and just can't wait to bring you home. Your big brother is so excited and continues to ask us when we will meet you. We know God's timing is perfect, but it's so difficult to be patient sometimes. We look at your beautiful face each day in your picture and pray that God would bring you to us very soon! We love you!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Garage Sale SUCCESS!

Despite the fact that we held our garage sale on quite possibly the hottest day of the summer in thePhoenix area so far this year, and despite the fact that we only got two hours of sleep the night before, we had a FABULOUS day! Thanks to the numerous donations given by many friends and family members, as well as the offer of a great sale location (my parents house), we raised twice as much money this morning as we thought we would!! It has been truly incredible to see the many ways God has provided for us financially in the past month. We still have a little ways to go, but have no doubt the money will all be there when it needs to be. Sometime soon, I plan to write a longer post about the financial side of our journey and hopefully encourage others to step out in faith and do what God has called you to do (whatever it may be), fully trusting he will give you what you need to complete it (finances, time, strength, patience, etc). Needless to say, this sale was just one more testimony of God's faithfulness to us. We are blessed to be surrounded by people who love us and want to support us in this journey to bring our daughter home. From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.

Here are a few pics from our exciting day...





Thursday, July 9, 2009

Disappointing News

Although it hasn't been confirmed, "word on the street" is that we will likely NOT be having our court date next Friday after all. :( The day after receiving our court date, we found out that the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) in Ethiopia, decided to suddenly take a break for two weeks for "training." Although MOWA is not the court, they have to submit a recommendation for every case that goes through court as to whether it should pass or not. Without MOWA, the courts basically can't process adoption cases. We have heard that their "training session" will last for 2 weeks. The other unfortunate news is that the courts in Ethiopia will be closing in 3-4 weeks for the rainy season (this happens every year). The courts are then usually closed for the months of August and September - no cases are heard. At this point, we do not have "official" confirmation that our court date will be postponed, but we are pretty certain that is the case. The thing we are praying and hoping for, is that we will not be postponed until after the court closure... as that would mean October(at the earliest) before another court date would be assigned to us. We are hoping they might somehow still be able to hear the cases that were previously scheduled, prior to the closure. Our agency is working on gaining more information regarding this sudden turn of events from their staff in Ethiopia... so in the meantime, we just wait. I have been reminding myself that God is in control, everything happens for a reason, and His timing is perfect. Hopefully we'll hear something tomorrow from our agency, so we don't have to wait through the weekend wondering about it. Fortunately, we are having our big garage sale this weekend, so we will not have a problem staying busy and not dwelling on it too much. Your prayers are appreciated!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Court Date!!

Found out this morning that our adoption case will be heard by the high court in Ethiopia next Friday, July 17th! Things continue to progress much quicker than expected, which is AMAZING but also keeps us in a state of shock. :) We have to remind ourselves that this is real and if we pass court we may be bringing our little girl home as soon as August or September! YIPPEE! The reality of the situation though, is that many families do not pass court the first time their case is heard. Many end up passing on a 2nd or 3rd court date. We are so blessed to have received a court date prior to the closure coming up, but now I feel very nervous about not passing. It's hard not to get my hopes up, and to think that failing court would mean waiting through the closure. Ugh. But, let's not dwell on that! Let's dwell on the awesome fact that we have a court date and that we JUST MIGHT PASS! :) Please pray for us and for our court case throughout the next 10 days. In the meantime, we have a HUGE garage sale in the works for this Saturday, so at least that will keep me busy over the next few days! Woo Hoo!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Singing Angels

Today we received a beautiful email from a fellow Holt family who just returned home from Ethiopia with their little girl. Mike and Magan visited Holt's intake center in Durame, which is the location where children come into Holt's care for the first time - whether they are relinquished or abandoned (a rural area located about 125 miles south of the capitol). The children are then moved to Holt's care center in the captol of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, one parents are assigned a court date or pass court. When we travel to Ethiopia to bring him our little princess, she will already be in Addis and all of our interactions with her will take place there. However, we too hope to take the trip down to Durame to see where she came from and learn as much as we can about the first years of her life. Needless to say, at this point we know that she is still in the Durame intake center and thanks to Mike and Magan we know that she is one of the many "singing angels" who reside there. Magan wrote: "In Durame, your little girl was in the room with the children that were singing. I cannot write this without tears in my eyes. To hear the children sing was the most beautiful thing I ever heard in my life. It will echo in our hearts forever." Due to the fact that there are currently 71 children being cared for in the Durame location, they were not able to personally see or speak to our daughter, but it is still absolutely amazing to picture her there, ministering as a beautiful singing angel. What a highlight to our weekend, we are so grateful for this little piece of information.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Movie "Orphan"

I am re-posting this from Holt's blog... I viewed the trailer for this movie and it definitely struck me (as an adoptive parent) as quite offensive. It's media attention such as this (though seemingly innocent) that give people a negative portrayal of adoption, especially of adopting older children who make-up a large part of the population of children needing families. If, after doing your own research, you feel the same, I encourage you to add your name to the petition Holt mentions below (it takes about 5 seconds of your time)...

We at Holt International want to inform our constituents about a movie entitled “Orphan” scheduled to be released in July by Warner Brothers. We are concerned about media depictions that demean or degrade children. We are especially alarmed about the movie’s negative portrayal of adoption and children in need of families.

As adults we have a responsibility to speak out and advocate on behalf of our children. Many people have already contacted Warner Brothers with their concerns, and at least two groups have developed petitions to respectfully protest the messaging of this movie. One group, Orphans Deserve Better, has developed a website to mobilize efforts against the film. Please review their petition’s information and include your voice among those who are making it clear you do not support the movie “Orphan.”

Warner Brothers has already responded to initial protests about the movie and made efforts to remove some the offensive language from the movie’s original trailer. In response to pressure from adoptive parents and other concerned individuals, Warner Brothers has removed the line: “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own,” from recently released trailers. However, it remains unclear whether or not the line was removed from the movie.