Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I found out that a family from the Netherlands has received a referral. This may not sound like a big deal but that fact that Nepal is basically operating without a government right now and they are still trying to move forward with intercountry adoptions shows at least some effort on their part. I continue to be hopeful that the 80 pipeline families will bring their children home soon. The last I heard, 5 have received visas and 3 have made it home. One of the families who have been stuck in Nepal has this website of their beautiful daughter. This woman is an AMAZING photographer, I encourage you to check out their website to see the beauty of their little daughter and the beauty of Nepal.
I submitted my fingerprints to the USCIS on Friday, December 10th. Since it's been about 30 below zero, my hands were really dry. The agent told me that my lines were faint due to dry skin and they might not accept them. Really? I'm in the system!! I asked her if they would check my prints against the ones submitted for the Nepal adoption and the ones submitted for my teaching license. They aren't even 6 months old! Anyway, if they happen to reject them, then they will set up another appointment for me to resubmit. If that happens, I will be exfoliating like crazy before the appointment!
A week before my fingerprint appointment I hit a road block. No, more like a brick wall. Without going into too much detail, my most promising options for funding the adoptions had the door slammed shut on them. Now, Literally, I had no resources to complete these adoptions.
I would love to be able to say that I was Susie Sunshine after hearing the news about my financial options but the reality of it was that I was a lot more like Bitter Betty. On crack. Seriously. Probably the closest I've come to a nervous breakdown, if that term is still even used. It was an ugly 2 weeks all the way around. It involved shouting matches at God (key word "at"), several meltdowns in public places - oh, hey mister, please don't stare at me while I wipe tears from my eyes and snot from my nose- I get it, but what I'm trying to do is get it together in the middle of the frozen foods aisle and you staring at me doesn't help!
I was on the verge of throwing in the towel because in my feeble human mind I felt two things 1) Desperate and 2) Hopeless. Not a good combination. Of course, I ran all the scenarios through my head, did I not pray hard enough? frequently enough? was I mean to someone? then I started taking mental inventory on my sinful self and concluded that I was not worthy to be a mother and that must be why. These are some of the thoughts a desperate and hopeless person like myself kept thinking. I tried to read my bible, pray, sing praise songs, asked others to pray for me, and it seemed like none of it was working. Each day I felt worse and worse. I knew I was in really bad shape when I watched "It's a Wonderful Life" and didn't cry once. You have to understand that I watch this movie every year, and every year, I cry. I needed some serious intervention.
I forced myself to participate in Christmas activities-I figured maybe, just maybe it will help get me out of this funk. I had been praying that God would give me a word. Any word. That if indeed I wasn't supposed to complete these adoptions, that He would give me peace about it. Or, if this setback is part of His plan, that he would encourage me because that's what I really, really needed. So far, I had been met with silence. I decided to put up a Christmas tree even though I was battling within myself about how stupid this tradition was, all this work just to take it down in a couple of weeks, who cares anyway, blah, blah blah. So, I put on Handel's Messiah while I decorated. Finally, a word. One of the songs really spoke to me. I can't explain it but I knew this was God's answer to my prayer. The song is from Isaiah 40:4
"Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain, then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together."
I knew that God was speaking to me- that He will make this happen. He never says how He will but always that He will. And, that HE will receive all the glory. Again, I had to take my hands off the wheel and put everything back into His hands. Slowly but surely, hope was restored. I feel like He cleared my mind and renewed my spirit. He has given my many ideas, of which I am pursuing gladly. Yes, it's a completely different path than I had imagined, but one that I feel is accomplishing His purposes. I will be able to share more details in the coming months, but for now I am completely trusting in this plan He has planted in my mind and again, He has brought me to that place of His perfect peace.
I can't thank enough those who have been praying for me. I know that it was those prayers that were sustaining me through that awful period of desperation and hopelessness.
The last verse I would like to share that He spoke to me during this trial is from Isaiah 40:11
"He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."
Posted by Kristen at 11:33 PM
Monday, November 15, 2010
So here's the latest and greatest on both Nepal and the Congo.
Posted by Kristen at 7:04 PM
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Let's just say A LOT has happened since the suspension of the Nepal adoption was put into place. It's crazy how the very thing that was so devastatingly sad for me turned into something so completely miraculous and beautiful. Before I go any further, I want to say that I am NOT giving up on the Nepal adoption of Sofía! Everything is still in place and I have not withdrawn from the Nepal program. I feel very confident that God is going to bring her home from Nepal. In HIS timing.
What I've been learning is that when you completely surrender to God, you allow him to work in ways that you could have never even imagined or dreamed. He has been working in my heart and in my life in crazy ways! As many of you know, it was absolutely heartbreaking for me when the US put the suspension in place for Nepal intercountry adoptions. I believe that he allowed me to go through that to come to a place of complete and total surrender. When I got to that place, he blessed me with an overwhelming sense of peace. I just knew that he was going to work it out so that I could bring Sofía home, but in his timing, not mine.
So there I was, in a place of peace, content to wait it out for her. Then, he started shaking things up again. A follow-up email with an agency that I had originally contacted a year ago when I was doing my initial agency/country search led to a month of email exchanges, phone conversations and TONS and TONS of prayer. There were many miracles and signs showing me VERY CLEARLY that God had his hand on my heart to do a concurrent adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). What's funny is that the more I resisted, the more he opened doors and brought people into my life that clearly showed this was the path I'm supposed to take right now. I admit that I was extremely nervous and resistant for 2 reasons. The first was obvious- I didn't think I could handle going through another situation that would lead to complete devastation like the Nepal adoption. My emotions were still too raw to think about going through that again. And from the practical side- I had no money! But, God had a different plan and a different idea for me. And all of it required me to trust absolutely in him alone. My case worker for the Congo adoption told me that if I surrender to God's will, he will move mountains to bring these babies home. Well, move mountains he has done! I can't believe how many things have fallen perfectly into place for this second adoption to move forward. Every day, something new happens that seriously, makes me giggle and think, "I can't believe this is my life!" He is moving on behalf of these children and I feel so blessed that I get to be a part of it!
So here is a summary of what's been happening:
- I am adopting a infant baby boy from the DRC
- Immigration paperwork has been filed
- The home study has been converted
- I'm in the process of completing my dossier which I anticipate will be sent to the Congo by the end of December at the latest (God willing).
- God has miraculously provided all of the money so far
- He is coming from a country where 6 out of every 10 children never live until their 5th birthday
- 400 children die A DAY from Malaria- a treatable disease
- there are 5 million orphans in DRC
- the DRC has been named the worst place in the world for violent acts against women and children
It's sickening that this is real life for many of the orphans in the Congo.
When I was praying and praying about this, 2 verses kept coming up:
"Those who plant in tears will harvest in joy" - Psalm 126:5
"How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension." - Psalm 147:5
I felt very strongly that God was speaking to me about my two great fears- first what may seem painful to me now, what's caused me many tears will in the end bring me great joy! And secondly, who am I to question how God will accomplish his plan for my life? Have I not seen already how he has come through time and time again? How he has provided everything I've needed so far?
I am so thrilled about these two little lives. I can't wait to meet them, to love them, to know their personalities and above everything, to see God's plan for their lives manifest itself.
Originally, I didn't plan on telling anyone about Baby Boy until I received a referral. However, as each day goes by, my love and joy for this little one keeps growing and growing, making it impossible for me to keep it a secret any longer!
Posted by Kristen at 12:05 AM
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Today I opened a very encouraging email! The first family of the 80 pipeline families received final visa approval!!! I was ecstatic!! You can read the small article here http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/10/candice-warltier-nepal-chicago-kathmandu-adoption.html
I think you can tell by the picture that she is one happy mama!! I think this is great news and shows forward progress from the US government. In terms of my specific case, it will still be a long road before it will be my turn. However, I am happy, happy, happy!! The other day I was reading and came across this verse:
"The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake." 2 Peter 3:9
I reflected on this for quite some time and realized that there are a million things that need to take place on the emotional, financial and practical fronts! With that said, I still have a huge sense of peace that God is going to bring her home in his perfect timing. And from the email today, it looks like that day is getting a little bit closer:)
Thanks for all of your prayers and support! Also, I can't tell you how much it means to me when you ask me how all of the adoption plans are coming and if there is any new news. Since I don't have a "visible" pregnancy, it means a lot.
Posted by Kristen at 4:49 PM
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Isn't she beautiful? I can't wait until there's a little face looking back at me that is mine:)
It seems there has been a little bit of movement with the "Pipeline" families- those who had received referrals for a child before the suspension was implemented. Several of the 80 families have recently received TA, which is good. It means that Nepal is still willing to work with the US. Some were fearing that Nepal would be angry with the US and stop the process on their end. I'm glad this is not the case. Those families now have 60 days to legally complete their adoptions. If they decide to travel and complete the adoption, it will be legally recognized by both Nepal and the USA. The problem is with the entry visa. The embassy in Kathmandu is no longer processing these cases for the visas and is sending the files to the US embassy in New Delhi. If the USA decides there is not enough supporting evidence for the validity of the child's status as an "orphan," then they won't issue the visa. Now the family has a child that is legally theirs, but not allowed to live in the USA. Don't get me started....
I had a lengthy conversation with my agency about my specific situation and afterwards, I still felt nothing but confirmation that I am supposed to wait it out. So, wait it out I will. I know that in the end, it will be so worth it! God has truly blessed me with an overwhelming sense of peace about everything. He continues to encourage me every single day. I know that ultimately, everything is in His hands and he will work it out in his perfect timing.
Thanks to all the people who have been praying and continue to pray for Sofía and me. I'm convinced that it is your prayers that are responsible for the peace God is giving me!
Posted by Kristen at 5:43 PM
Sunday, September 12, 2010
A summary of what I know so far:
Before the US implemented the suspension, there were 80 families who had referrals for a child. Of these 80 families, only a few had received their travel approval from Nepal. Of the few who had their travel approval, 12 made it to Kathmandu to finalize their adoption. Of those 12, no one has had their visa approved for the child to enter the US. Some of these adoptions have been finalized and are legally recognized by both US and Nepal governments; however, even though the child is legally theirs, if they can't get a visa, the child cannot enter the US.
The US embassy in Kathmandu can only approve the cases for the entrance visa. What has been told to the families is that all 80 files will be sent to the US embassy in New Delhi, India. The embassy there is larger and there are 4 options that can happen:
2. Request further investigation of paperwork/information on the child and the case
3. Issue a NOID (notice of intent to deny)
Option 1 = YAY!!!! In option 2 and 3, the PAPs (potential adoptive parent) can hire an immigration attorney to appeal. If option 4 is issued right away, there is nothing the PAP can do and the child must stay in the orphanage.
At first, this might seem like this is not good news. I feel differently. I've prayed about this A LOT and I have a general sense of peace. I think that this move is actually going to end up being a very positive move for the Nepal adoptions. I don't want to say why because there are 2 very influential organizations that believe that children should not be adopted out of their country, that in the case of Nepal, only Nepali citizens should be allowed to adopt Nepali orphans. Like I said, these organizations have a lot of money and influence and they are putting a lot of pressure on the US government and other first world countries as well.
I think the US government is trying very hard to make intercountry adoption with Nepal work. I know that Nepal is in the process of becoming Hague compliant and they want the intercountry adoption program to work. The US was the last country to implement a suspension. UK, Sweden, Italy, Canada and Germany, among others, issued a complete closure of adoptions from Nepal. The US waited and has only issued a suspension of adoptions of abandoned children. Even though the percentage is quite low, adoptions of relinquished and true orphans (death of parent) are still able to be processed. This is not the case with the other countries. I believe that the US is trying to do the best it can to verify that these children are indeed truly adoptable and at the same time, satisfying the complaints of the 2 organizations I mentioned earlier.
I wholeheartedly believe that Sofía will get here at the perfect time (even if I think that little turkey is taking the long way home!) and when she does, I will be able to see how perfect the timing really is.
A couple of weeks ago I read this verse:
"Be strong and courageous! Don't be afraid or discouraged... for there is a power far greater on our side!...We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!" - 2 Chronicles 32:7-8
I really believe that this is God's battle, not mine and anyway, there is nothing I can do but trust in him. He truly has given me peace and for that, I am very thankful. I know that He knows where she is, what her life circumstances are and I'm confident that he is watching over her.
Supposedly in October, the entire country of Nepal shuts down for festival month. So, whatever happens by the end of September will probably be the last thing I hear about the process for awhile.
Thanks for all of your prayers. I don't doubt for a minute that they are a huge part of why I have peace:)
Posted by Kristen at 8:26 PM
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The thing about faith is that it's hard. This week was hard. Fighting negative thoughts was hard. Trying to stay positive was hard. Struggling against doubt was hard. This week was a roller coaster ride of moments of feeling very confident that God is going to work it out to moments of feeling complete desperation. About midway through the week I stumbled upon this verse:
"Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless. With God's help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes." - Psalm 108:12-13
It was a reminder to me that I have to completely surrender this adoption to the Lord. I feel like I do, then I will find myself stressing out and worrying and I realize that I have not surrendered it. I can honestly say that this has been the most challenging thing I have ever faced in my life. This situation is completely out of my control and all I can do is hope.
The yahoo group I belong to has taken the bull by the horns in advocating for these Nepali orphans. I posted a plea on facebook for my friends to write letters to the Joint Council and the Secretary of State. Thanks to the many who responded!! Many of the group members have done the same so here is a list of people and organizations who have been contacted about this situation:
Hillary Clinton - Secretary of State
Former President Jimmy Carter (he has done humanitarian work in Nepal)
The head producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show
State Senators from across the country
Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) (They are a HUGE organization to have on our side)
Justice for Immigrants (founded and run by the Catholic Church)
EACH - Equality for Adopted Children
Various people at the US Embassy and USCIS
We are hoping that we make enough noise to get this situation resolved and the babies in their forever families! The main problem is that the US government thinks there are too many similar stories with the reports of the abandoned babies. Here is some background info so that you can understand fully why all of the stories are so similar. First, it is illegal to have premarital sex in Nepal. A pregnancy is an obvious indicator that someone has engaged in this crime. The women go to great lengths to hide their pregnancies since if found out, they will be deemed "unmarriageable" for life. This is a harsh punishment since the Nepali culture is a Patriarchal society. Therefore, once the babies are born, the women or someone they trust, puts the baby in a place where it will be found. Usually, these babies are days old. By Nepali law, the babies have to stay in the orphanage for 3 months before being able to be considered "adoptable." During this 3 month time period, the government runs ads in the local newspapers about the babies so that the birth parents can come claim them. The women go to great lengths to stay anonymous, therefore; the babies are never claimed. The US government thinks it's odd that the stories are all similar: found baby in textile factory, brought it to the orphanage. Or, found baby in pile of bricks, brought to police station. The US government doesn't have anyone trained in the Nepali culture in place to review these cases. This is very frustrating. So, any reports or information that the orphanage has about the babies is now considered "false" by the US and the investigation starts from scratch. The US is having a hard time not only tracking down the people who found the babies and turned them in but if found, getting them to give information about the baby. Our hope is that the US government will implement a plan that takes into consideration the Nepali culture and the sensitive nature of this problem.
Just this morning, I was praying asking God what I am supposed to do. Is it his will for me to adopt from Nepal? Is this a sign that it's a closed door? Should I continue holding out hope? I can't explain this incredible bond I feel for this baby I have never met. This adds to my confusion. So, I was praying asking that God would make it clear to me if I should continue on this path. This is the verse he gave me, no joke:
"He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump... He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother." Psalm 113:7, 9
I started to cry and felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I am sure that in the days, weeks, months, who knows how long, ahead that I will have moments of doubt. But, I can look back on this, surrender my fear and trust that He is going to come through.
Posted by Kristen at 12:00 PM
Monday, August 9, 2010
This weekend was rough but I have emerged with a sense of peace. Obviously, Friday was a disaster. After receiving the DOS announcement for the suspension of adoptions from Nepal, my mind went into overdrive. I belong to a Yahoo group that is only for potential adoptive parents with the Nepal program. There are about 400 members, from both 2009 and 2010. As you can imagine, the website started blowing up immediately with everyone's comments and information that someone heard through someone else that someone blah blah blah. According to what people have posted, they are jumping ship and trying to switch to a different country to complete their adoption. They are saying that Nepal is completely closed to intercountry adoptions and basically those who have not received a referral yet are S.O.L.
This did/does not sit well with me. I talked to my agency briefly on Friday but they were on the phone with the DOS trying to ascertain the situation and possible ramifications so they did not have many answers for me. My big mistake was tuning in to all of the hubbub on the yahoo group. Everything people were posting conflicted with what my journey has been so far. In response to all of this uncertainty, I went back through my journal starting in February from day 1 of when I started praying about specifically adopting from Nepal. I saw how God has had his hand in this from the very beginning. So many things have fallen perfectly into place, perfectly timed. I know that adoption is God's will for any believer. Throughout the bible, he commands that we take care of the orphan and widow. I believe that it is our responsibility to be involved whether through adoption, sponsorship or volunteering our time and resources. So on this front, I believe that my pursuing an adoption is God's will for my life. Now, how he is going to bring this to fruition is in his hands. Two verses smacked me in the face as I went back through my journal:
"So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he has promised." - Hebrews 10:35-36
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." - Hebrews 11:1
Everything I have been reading in the old testament has shown me that God provides for his children- but he also challenges their faith. His provision required that they took a step of faith. I am taking a step of faith in believing that I know God is working to bring this adoption to completion. I know it is God's will for me to adopt. I know that it was God who brought everything together in perfect timing so that my dossier was submitted by the deadline. Even though I don't have any answers or understand everything that is going on, I am believing with the patient endurance that somehow, God is going to work all of this out. I spoke with my agency today and they said that the suspension is for orphans classified as "abandoned." Those who were relinquished are still able to be processed through the normal adoption procedures. Presently, all of the referrals are for children who are classified as "abandoned." My prayer is that the Nepali government will implement thorough and sufficient documentation of those children who have been abandoned so that they may experience life with their forever family instead of life in an orphanage.
Finally- I would like to thank everyone who has been praying for me and sending me messages of encouragement. I can't begin to even tell you how much your love and prayers supported me this weekend. One dear friend told me to not give up hope, that Sofía's story just got more interesting:) You have no idea how incredibly, amazing that moment is going to be for me when I finally get to hold her in my arms. That is the hope that I am setting my sights on; the promise for which I will patiently endure.
Posted by Kristen at 11:36 AM
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
My agency emailed me yesterday that the adoption process in Nepal is changing slightly. The USCIS now wants to perform the investigations on orphan status before the adoptive parents travel to Nepal. Currently, once parents accept a referral, they wait for travel approval from Nepal. Once in Nepal, the first part of the trip is wrapping up the legal issues on the Nepali side of the adoption. The second half of the trip consists of the USCIS conducting an investigation into the orphan status of the child before issuing the USA visa and paperwork to finalize the adoption. I view this change in procedure as a good thing for several reasons: first, it eliminates the possible heartbreak if once the adoptive parents are there and bonding with the child only to find that the child is "unadoptable." Secondly, it lessens the time spent in country while waiting for clearance. So now, once the adoptive parents receive travel clearance, it's basically sliding into home base!
Now onto the challenging things. I've struggled with how to deal with the financial part of the adoption and how much to share. According to all of the adoption books I've read and training I've done, you're not supposed to talk about costs. You're not buying a baby, you are paying for legal services in order to complete the adoption. My friend told me that her boss, who adopted a little girl from Guatemala, used to tell people that the baby was free, it was the shipping and handling that was expensive:) I will remember that one! Anyway, I've found that talking about money makes people uncomfortable, feel awkward and just plain weird. I've also found that, at least for myself, the stress of money is unlike any other stress.
From the beginning of this adoption process, I've prayed that it would bring glory to God, that people would see him in a different way; that they would see his amazing love and incredible power. So far, the battles I've encountered in this process have been about timing. And God has answered every single prayer. People have written notes of encouragement, emailed me prayers and others who doubt God and his love for them, have told me that they are starting to see him in a new way. Before I took the official plunge into the adoption process, I had major concerns because I knew I couldn't afford to pay for the entire adoption on my own. I prayed and prayed about this and continually heard God answer me that it's not about me, it's about him. This is his gig. He is orchestrating it from beginning to end and I get to stand by, watch and be amazed. Now, in the spirit of transparency so that he can receive all the glory when it comes to fruition, I'm going to put it out there. Please, please do not think that I am asking for money. I am NOT!!! I'm simply letting everyone in on what in my human mind, will be the biggest answered prayer. In order to complete the adoption and travel to get her, I still need $15k. I want those who are praying for me, those who are on the sidelines quietly watching, those who are doubting, those who've never seen God move mountains, to know BEFORE it happens that when God has his hands on something, he finishes it. I wrestled with whether or not I should disclose this information and was seeking advice from one of my girlfriends who has been praying with me since the beginning. This is what she said to me, "Absolutely you should tell! We already know God is going to provide it so you shouldn't deprive people of seeing how God performs miracles and you shouldn't deprive God of receiving the glory for doing this great thing!" love her!
As I've stated before, I've been spending a lot of time in the old testament. Talk about seeing God perform miracles! While praying about this, God gave me these two verses. King Jehosaphat was about to be invaded by a very powerful army, one that would clearly annihilate Judah. He sought God and implored God to save his people. This is what God told him:
"Do not be afraid! Don't be afraid by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's...You will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord's victory. He is with you, do not be afraid or discouraged." - 2 Chronicles 20: 15-17
How great to know that God is fighting this battle for me! I know that he is the creator of everything. And being a creator means he is creative! He made manna rain down from heaven when Israel was hungry; water rush out of a rock when they were thirsty; protected Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego from the fire so that not even the hairs on their heads were singed; he protected Daniel from the lions' den, Noah from the flood, parted the red sea to make a pathway, kept Jonah alive in a whale for 3 days before it barfed him up on shore.... I mean, he gets creative! I'm looking forward to see how creative he gets in his answer to this prayer:)
After God won the battle for Jehosaphat and the kingdom of Judah, they returned to Jerusalum praising him all the way. Their praises were so loud that the neighboring kingdoms heard them. It says,
"When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the Lord himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them." 2 Chronicles 20:29
I can't wait for everyone to hear how God answers this prayer! I can't wait for people to have reverence for him because he is mighty! I can't wait until I get to post that He came through AGAIN and is worthy to be praised!!!
Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement. I truly hope that you too, are experiencing God's love in amazing ways!
Posted by Kristen at 1:36 PM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Yes! I just received news from my agency that my dossier has been officially accepted by the Ministry of Women and Children and assigned a registration number and queue number!!! I am soooo excited! My queue number is 101! The queue number gives me a clear indicator of where I am in the dossier line. Let me put this number into perspective. For the year 2009, there were 3001 children adopted from China to the USA and 2277 children adopted from Ethiopia to the USA. I site these two countries since they are the most popular countries for international adoptions in the USA. So, in regards to my adoption, there are only 100 families ahead of me. I can't wipe the smile off of my face!!! She's gonna be here before I know it!!! God is so good:)
Posted by Kristen at 4:18 PM
Monday, July 12, 2010
Several people have been asking me if I've heard any news on Baby Sofía and the short answer is no. My dossier was shipped on June 23rd to Nepal. It is being processed and translated, which my agency said they expect to take between 6-8 weeks to complete. After this is completed, it will be sent to a matching committee. This is when the "fun" wait will begin since these are the people who are responsible for matching families with available orphans. Once it is in the hands of the matching committee, it could be 1 month or 6 months before I would get "THE" call. In the meantime, I have been keeping myself busy doing all of the things that I know I won't be able to do once she gets here, like....sleeping in, taking long walks with the puppy dogs, reading books for hours at a time, meeting my friends last minute for cocktails, indulging myself in reality tv (I'm a sucker for the Kardashian family:), taking naps, shopping, staying out late and pulling all-nighters, laying out by the pool, basically- being selfish:)
There are times when I get really anxious thinking about everything that still needs to take place before she gets here. I start to freak out a little bit and find myself once again, trying to control the situation and playing "what if" games. This is not good because it makes me crazy. If there was a class in worrying, I'm telling you I would get an A+! So, I've been trying to really surrender all of this to God and relax. I've been reading through the old testament and psalms the last couple of months. I never realized how interesting the O.T. was! God did some crazy things back in the day! One of the verses I read really struck me and I thought a lot about it.
"For He divided the sea and led them through making the water stand up like walls! In the daytime he led them by a cloud and all night by a pillar of fire. He split open rocks in the wilderness to give them water, as from a gushing stream. He made streams pour from the rock making the waters flow down like a river." - Psalm 78:13-16
When the Isrealites were running for their lives from the Egyptians, they must have been really discouraged when God led them to the red sea. I tried to imagine myself in their shoes and I'm pretty sure that I would have thought that God had a sick sense of humor. I mean, he led them to the edge of a sea! Talk about a dead end! I would have been so scared, frustrated, disappointed and angry that I trusted him for what? to lead me to a dead end? But, God had something else in mind. Not only did he part the red sea so that their escape route would place them safely on the other side, but he also took care of their enemies in the process by allowing the sea to swallow them up! When they were walking through the desert, nothing but sunny skies and a big old cloud leading the way. At night, a fireball. And when they got thirsty? no problem. Just use your staff and bang on this rock and guess what? Better than Evian comes pouring out! Even when Jesus fed the 5,000, all he had was basically a can of Chicken of the Sea and a loaf of Wonderbread. But every one of those 5,000 got fed. Then it hit me. God likes to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. I know that in my mind I would have never of thought, "hey, let's make this rock pour out water so we can drink! or Let's part the red sea and then drown everyone who tries to follow us!"
I bet God has a lot of fun taking these ordinary things and making them extraordinary. But I noticed something else too. Not only did he provide a way out for them, but he also challenged them in their faith. I mean, think about it. You're standing on the edge of the sea and it parts creating two gigantic walls of water. And he wants you to walk through it. It took some serious faith on their part, not to mention nerves of steel, to take those steps. It's not like they were just crossing the street... it was MILES of walking through that corridor of water walls. When I think about that story it reminds me that not only is God going to provide for me everything I need to complete this adoption: the rest of the financial means, travel plans, time off from work, legal paperwork, etc., but he's also going to challenge me and my faith in him. When I catch myself doubting or starting to worry, I remind myself, "From the ordinary to the extraordinary!"
Thanks to everyone who is praying for Sofía, me, and this whole process. Your support means more than you know:)
Posted by Kristen at 7:42 PM
Thursday, June 24, 2010
When I started the paperwork process for the adoption in March, my goal was to have everything done on my part by June 1st so that my dossier could be sent July 1st- the date La Vida told me they wanted to send it. So from the beginning I have prayed that it would all get accomplished. I got the official email today that my dossier was shipped to Nepal yesterday, June 23rd! God has been so faithful to make sure that everything was accomplished in record time. I laughed when I read the email because if you remember, my original fingerprinting appointment for the USCIS was scheduled for June 23rd! Ha Ha! God had some very different plans:)
I also received a letter from the Bureau of Consular Affairs (I feel so official getting all of this governmental mail:) that my petition for Sofía's adoption has officially been given a case number and has been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Maharajhunj, Kathmandu!
The next steps will be for La Vida's representative in Kathmandu to review my dossier and obtain a "guarantee" letter from the U.S. Embassy- I'm thinking this should go smoothly since I already received the letter that they have already sent my petition to the embassy. The guarantee letter verifies that my immigration information and fingerprint information have been forwarded to the U.S. Embassy. Once they receive the guarantee letter, my dossier will be officially submitted to the Ministry in Nepal. I will receive an email when this happens.
Looking back over the past couple of months, I feel like I can't even comprehend how faithful God has been to me. It's absolutely amazing to see all of the prayers he has answered. I was reading in 2 Chronicles and this verse jumped out at me:
"...just as the Lord promised." 2 Chronicles 6:10
I think it's easy to just read over it and not really think about what it means. I wonder how many times I've read verses and not really grasped how faithful God is and how mighty he is to get things done! I know that he cares greatly for orphans and widows and mentions many times in the bible how those who care for them will be blessed. Well, I can attest that I have been so blessed since starting this adoption process. Most of all, my faith has grown incredibly! I've gotten to know God in a way that I've never known before and he has not been disappointing! And, I think one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is that when I completely surrender to him, he will take care of it and get it done. With that said, I have a complete sense of peace as I enter the next phase. From what I've read on other adoptive parent blogs, the waiting is hard because there is no tangible thing to do. I'm sure that there will be times where I am frustrated and anxious. My hope is that I will be able to look back at all he has done and simply trust that his timing is perfect and that I will get baby Sofía at the perfect time. Like I said before, he has not disappointed!
Any and all prayers are thankfully welcomed!!
Posted by Kristen at 10:52 AM
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Today I was moved to tears. Tears of joy. You see, today God answered a very important, secret prayer that I have been praying since February. As I've stated before, Nepal only allows 10 dossiers per each authorized agency to be submitted each year. When I first contacted my agency and spoke with them about my desire to adopt from Nepal, they informed me of all of this. I felt an overwhelming sense that God meant for me to adopt from Nepal and more importantly, that it wouldn't be the long, drawn out process of many countries' adoption procedures. My agency secured me a spot on the 2011 dossier submission and put me on the "waiting" list for 2010 with the hope that maybe Nepal would allow more dossier submissions than just 10.
I didn't share this information with anyone for several reasons. One, I didn't want to hear any negative feedback. International adoption in and of itself is such a complicated issue that I didn't want to provide any more avenues for people to express their doubts. I knew from the beginning that this would be a journey of faith. I wanted to keep my sights set on God working it out so that I would be able to get approved for the 2010 submission. I didn't want to add anything that could potentially discourage me or make me waiver. Secondly, I really believe there is something special about secret prayers. It's an extremely intimate experience between you and God. I really treasured that!
So, in terms of deadlines and the paperwork process, God has come through in record time! I have been so blessed to see him work out all of these details all the while surprising not only me, but others involved with this process as well. I enlisted two prayer partners, Kristen and Jill, from the very beginning to support me in this process. They were key to many of the early answered prayers! When I received the immigration approval in record time, Jill said to me,"I wonder what God has anointed baby Sofía for in this life that he is working so hard and so fast to get her out of there!" And two days later, my friend Jen was leaving an owners meeting from Crossroads church. She called to tell me about all of the updates of their mission work in India with the girls who are involved in the sex slave industry and how now it's moving into Nepal. She told me how happy she is that Sofía will never know that life. It brought me to tears for many reasons. Obviously because I am so thankful that she will never be subjected to that. But also for all those girls who won't get out, who will watch as their parents-the people who children should be able to trust most- hand them over to sex traffickers. It makes me physically sick to my stomach. I am so thankful for IJM, a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning public justice systems. The work they are doing is amazing, life changing and bringing hope to the oppressed. If this moves your heart in any way, check out their website www.ijm.org
Last night I had my first dream about Sofía. It was awesome! I could see her so clear and when I held her in my dream it felt so real! Today my agency called me and told me they sent me an email that I needed to read asap. I asked if it was good or bad- I liked to be prepared:) L. told me that she thought I would think it was good. really, really good. Apparently, one family of the ten dossiers for 2010 has to put their adoption on hold until next year due to some personal issues. La Vida offered that spot to me! Of course I accepted! And, my dossier is being sent to Nepal Tuesday, June 22!!! Call me crazy, but I think she is going to make her way here sooner rather than later:)
I was reading in Chronicles about all of the crazy battles David fought and how God guided him to victory each time. This verse really stood out to me:
"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done." - 1 Chronicles 16:8
So maybe I'm not letting the whole world know, but I'm letting my whole world know that it is God who is responsible for this adoption coming through to fruition! He is the one who is making it happen!!
I can't thank you enough for all of the prayers and encouragement that you've sent my way!
Posted by Kristen at 2:28 PM
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I had a bit of a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" moment on Friday. I was leaving for work and checked my mailbox on the way out. Lo and Behold! The Golden Ticket! The Almighty I-171h form! Woo Hoo!! That piece of paper is the last, but very important piece that I have to submit before my dossier can be sent over to Nepal. It is the period to my 2 1/2 month long paper chase! I am officially DONE with papers! uh, at least until I am in Nepal! And one very special little baby is going to make that paper chase enjoyable:)
As I reflect back on that last couple of months, it blows my mind how faithful God has been to me. Every step of the way He has been there, following through on his promises and encouraging me all the while. I feel like He has given me such a great gift- that I have a journal full of answered prayers. I'm sure that I will be reading back through these as I endure the "BW"-Big Wait- and find comfort knowing that He is in control and that his timing is perfect. I know that Sofía is going to get here exactly when He wants her to be here. I stumbled across this verse the other day and it couldn't be more true:
"You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our Savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail distant seas." - Psalm 65:5
I'm entering this next leg of the adoption process full of hope. Not that I don't have a longing in my heart everyday to be able to hold her, but I truly feel God's peace in all of this and the day that I do finally get to hold her will be oh, so sweet!
thanks for all of your support and prayers! They are invaluable!
Posted by Kristen at 11:06 AM
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
"Come and see what our God has done, what AWESOME miracles he performs for people!" - Psalm 66:5
Well- not only did He answer my prayer, he did it in record time! I was able to go and submit my fingerprints to immigration on Friday, June 5th. I left school in the morning, drove downtown to the immigration office and was the first client of the day! Everything took maybe 10 minutes. Then I drove back to school. I called my agency to let them know everything was completed on my end. Pretty uneventful.
Monday rolls around...lalalalala....last teacher workday. I'm at our annual "end of the year I'm so glad it's summer!" party when I see that I had a missed call from my agency. I immediately called them back. They told me that not only did the USCIS accept my fingerprints, but they have processed my I-171h form and that I should receive it in the mail by next Monday. Huh? are you serious??? Literally, a less than 24 hour work day turnaround? This is supposed to take 4-6 weeks to process! My prayer was could I please, please have it by June 30th so I could overnight it to my agency. I was expecting that I would be waiting until the last possible minute! My agency informed me that they have NEVER had immigration approve something so quickly! I submitted those prints on Friday morning and by Monday afternoon, the USCIS accepted and processed everything!! My agency was baffled and in disbelief; I was laughing, almost crying! God showed off! I was laughing because I remembered when the whole fingerprinting appointment debacle went down and I got that original sense of peace (after a whole lot of anxiety!) I wrote how I was excited to see how He was going to pull this one off. Well, He did! And, He made the U.S. government look super efficient in the process! I am so thankful and overwhelmed. I can't believe how seriously, every single thing has fallen perfectly into place. God really does have his hands all over this adoption process and is orchestrating it perfectly!
My agency will also get a copy of the I-171h form mailed to them. It looks like my dossier is going to be sent out the 3rd week of June after all! After that, the "Big Wait" begins.... should be fun. not really;) My goal is to keep busy. really, really busy.
Today I prayed to God and asked him if he would give me a "due date" since I don't get to experience the whole pregnancy thing. A date popped into my head almost immediately. I told my mom so we will see if this ends up being from him or if it's my own psycho-head games (those who know me, know I am really talented at these!). I also told my mom, just like a due date is not exact, maybe it's a two week window time frame.... we will see:)
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me, for Sofía, and the whole adoption process. I wonder what God was doing in that orphan officer's heart that made her process all of this so quickly...I prayed that God would bless her in her life. It's really amazing to me to think about all of the people who are involved in this process, many of whom I will never meet. Nevertheless, I know that God is working in their hearts and my prayer for them is that through this adoption process, somehow, someway, they would experience God's love for them in a way they have never experienced before. He is good. And he loves all of us with an everlasting love.
Posted by Kristen at 8:10 PM
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Yesterday I woke up in a really bad mood. I wasn't feeling well and I wasn't feelin' "it." How quickly I lost the peace that I had yesterday. All day that stupid bad mood followed me like mosquitos on a summer night. Every time I got "bit" I got more irritated. Everyone driving was more idiotic than the last; there are turn signals for a reason people! There is a passing lane and a slow lane for a reason! Every single errand I had to run, something happened that made me roll my eyes and sigh with disgust. How are all these people so stupid? How am I the only one who gets it? I kept trying to pray but I could not shake this bad attitude! Finally, I was at the bank standing in line (after someone cut me off in the parking lot!) waiting to go next. As the person in front of me leaves, I get ready to step up to the teller and she tells me, "I'll be with you in just a moment," and goes and helps the 2 people in the drive- thru. UGH!! Hey! I went to the trouble to park my car, walk my butt in here, stand in line, and wait my turn .....then it hit me. Wait. All these annoying incidents were little tests of my patience. What is my attitude going to be while I wait? Am I going to be patient? Am I going to choose to be happy while I wait for God to work out all of this stuff? I started to laugh out loud because I realized what a jerk I'd been all day and that I completely failed God's quiz for me. O.K., I get it. I need to have a good attitude. That is the one thing that I do have control of so I might as well have control over it!
I went up to the next teller and managed to sincerely smile at her and thank her when I left. I still wasn't feeling that great, so I went home and decided to take a power nap to clear my head. Phone off, fan on, shades down.
Woke up feeling a lot better. Love when naps do that! I checked my phone and saw that I missed a call from La Vida. Dang! I checked my voicemail to find out that they were able to get in touch with the orphan officer at the Cincinnati USCIS branch. They told La Vida that they had some openings this Friday, like, in 2 days Friday, and that I could come down and get the fingerprints done. This would give the USCIS 4 weeks to process the I-171h form instead of 7 days.
God came through.
He did it.
And taught me a lesson.
I read the verse Psalm 34:5-
"Those who look to the Him for help will be RADIANT with JOY; no shadow of shame will darken their faces."
So, I wasn't exactly miss sunshine but I am realizing that when I surrender things to him, he does come through. And, I can be radiant with joy while I wait for him to do it! I'm such a stupid human sometimes, freaking out and taking on burdens that I have absolutely no control of the outcome. It is slowly sinking in and I'm learning to really trust him, consistently.
The last verse I read last night was Isaiah 49:23 -
"Those who hope in me will not be disappointed."
I'm going to really try and focus on this and be radiant with joy while I wait for him to complete the second part of the task I asked him to do- get the I-171h form processed before June 30th. Hopefully I'll get an "A" on this next test!
Please keep me, my attitude and the processing of the I-171h form in your prayers! Also a shout out to Anthony, for God moving in his heart and working it out so I can get my fingerprints done early!
Posted by Kristen at 12:07 PM
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
So, today I got home and what was waiting for me in the mail? I'm sure I'm in the minority of people who get excited to see a letter from the Homeland Security! Finally- the appointment for immigration to get my fingerprints done!! Yahoo! I've been waiting and praying for this! Almost there! YES! the second to last step! Once I get my fingerprints, all I have to wait for is the I-171h form, clearance to adopt an orphan and grant her USA citizenship! I tore into the envelope and scanned through the document....wait a minute. wait... a... minute. JUNE 23rd???My dossier is supposed to be sent out the 3rd week of June! This is not good, not good at all, um, I feel like I just got punched in the stomach. O.k., breathe, Kristen, just breathe. mental calculating of dates+ government bureaucracy = FREAKING OUT! don't cry- just don't cry, keep it together - do NOT give in to the emotions! Call La Vida. They need to know the date of the appt.
LV - "Thank you for calling La Vida"
Me - "Hi- this is Kristen. Can I talk to L?
LV- "Hi Kristen!
Me- "I got my appt. today in the mail
LV - "Yeah!!! (cut short by me)"
Me - "It's on the 23rd! I'm trying not to freak out!
LV - "Can I put you on hold while I talk to our USCIS person?"
several minute hold
LV - "Kristen? I want to prepare you, but we can't do much on the end of moving up the fingerprinting date. Once you do get your fingerprints, we can try to get them to process it faster... Just try and relax. We can hold your dossier until 7/10 even though we would feel really good about sending it out by the 1st of July."
Me - "um, ok. I will be praying hard core for this to happen!"
Hang up the phone. What do I do, what do I do. The cut off for 2010 adoptions in Nepal is July 15th. If my dossier doesn't make it there by then, I have to wait until April of 2011 to submit it.
O.k. so, I did what I always do when I start to freak out about all of my little "what if" scenarios that run through my head. I got my journal and went back through and read how God has not only been there every step of the way, but has answered every single prayer I've had about this adoption. Reading through my journal reminded me that God has his hands all over this. A verse He recently spoke to me through is Hebrews 3:4
"Every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything."
I know that God is the one who is building my family. What I know even more is that this whole adoption is not about me and what I can do, it's about God and what He can do. It's about His plan for baby Sofía's life, it's about his mighty power to get her here, it's about his love that's changing people's hearts and minds and thoughts about race and ethnicity and transracial adoptions, it's about his love for orphans and providing for them, it's about a girl learning that God is faithful, that he does follow through, that his promises will be fulfilled, it's about the fact that He knows exactly where Sofía is and that his timing is perfect, it's about God supplying all my needs and getting it done. In the very beginning of the process, I had some moments of weakness and doubt. I really couldn't believe that God would work it out to allow me to be a part of this little baby's life- that He would entrust her to me. So, during a prayer when I was really questioning and asking him, "are you sure God? me?" He answered me with this verse:
"God can do anything, you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit deeply and gently within us." - Ephesians 3:20
So, I'm clinging to this verse- understanding that God is working in all of the hearts of all the people who are involved in this adoption some way or another. He's moving people into the right places at the right times so they can play their role in this process.
My freaking out has subsided and I feel really good. God doesn't lie when he promises to give us a peace that transcends all understanding. I have huge peace in my heart. I'm actually excited, excited to see how he pulls this one off! Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be God. Probably 99% of the time, I would hate it. but, the times when He gets to do things like this, pull off crazy little miracles, come through, provide and encourage....that's gotta be fun!
Any prayers for this situation, for Sofía, for me:) would be more than welcome! I truly believe that one day we will be able to see the spiritual side of things. It's gonna be really cool to see how all of our prayers have changed situations, governments, hearts, and lives.
Thanks so much for all of the support and encouragement everyone has given me. It really, really helps.
Posted by Kristen at 6:16 PM
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Hello! I have started this blog in response to many people wanting to know what's going on with my adoption journey. Lame-O that I didn't think to start it sooner, so I will try to remember all of the really cool things that have happened along the way! And, the picture is a Nepali baby-just to give you an idea of how beautiful the Nepalese people are! O.K. so here it goes...
Adoption is always something that I have thought about and have been open to pursuing in my life. Way before Angelina Jolie made it "hip" to adopt internationally, one of my best friend's step sister adopted a baby girl from China. Her story was amazing, heartwarming and made a huge impact on me. I remembering thinking at that time that I would love to adopt internationally. I've always wanted to be a mom and I didn't care which avenue I would take to get there. That was about 10 years ago....so, last year I started researching everything I could find out about both domestic and international adoption.
One of the first questions people ask me (besides, 'where is Nepal?') is, "Why not adopt domestically?" I'd like to say that I think all forms of adoption are amazing. Each has its' own advantages and disadvantages. For me, domestic adoption had more disadvantages in regards to my situation. Being a single woman, my chances of a birth mother choosing me over a married couple was slim. That meant that I would experience a longer wait time for referral and less chance of getting an infant. I really want to adopt as young as possible, so that was my main criteria in determing from where I would adopt. So, that led me to Nepal! Nepal is one of very few countries that allow single woman to adopt healthy infants.
Another question people ask me is, "How are you going to do it being single? You have 3 dogs!" As sad as it is, I'm not sure if people are aware how many single parents there are who do this every single day. I have seen several of my friends first hand deal with single parenthood and because of this experience, I am entering this eyes wide open. I struggled with this concept for awhile, wondering if it was responsible to adopt as a single parent. I spent many hours in prayer over this and continually I heard God ask me, "Is it responsible to leave them on the street? Is it responsible to leave them in the orphanage?" Any life a baby will have with me will be a million times better than a life in an orphanage. So, I said "yes" to the dream I felt God put into my heart and started on the road to adoption. I officially sent my application into the agency I chose at the end of February, 2010. Their link is at the bottom of the page- check them out! They formally accepted me as a client right around the big 4-0 birthday- BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER!
So, the last two months I have competed in the Great Paper Chase and I won! I can't believe how quickly I was able to get everything together, copied, double notarized, 4 viles of blood taken, (I am free and clear of all communicable diseases! Some I don't even know what they are!), FBI clearance, child abuse clearance, 15 hours of training, letters of reference (thank you! you know who you are:), HOME STUDY!! that's a thesis all in of itself, employment verification letters, autobiography, tons of photos of me and my house, plus a gazillion more papers. Too bad the post office isn't an airline because the miles I logged there would have gotten me a free ticket to Kathmandu! Seriously, everyone that I've come into contact with needing one thing or another from them has been extremely helpful and encouraging. Sofía is going to have a lot of field trips to take when she gets here! Everyone asks me to please bring her by so they can see all of the chaos paid off!
As of today, my agency has received my completed home study and will submit it to the USCIS. They will contact me so I can give ANOTHER set of fingerprints and process my petition for Sofía to be a US citizen when we arrive back to the states. This is a major piece of paper!! La Vida wants to send my dossier the 3rd week of June so if anyone is praying or wondering what they can pray for- please pray that the immigration paperwork will be processed without any glitches (I've heard stories of people's fingerprints being rejected) and that I would receive the I-171H form before the 3rd week of June. La Vida has until July 1st to send the dossier for me to be considered this year before the July 15th cutoff. They can't send the dossier without that precious piece of paper so any prayers would be welcomed!
I just realized that I didn't answer any questions about timelines or how Nepal's process works. Once my dossier gets sent over, the Ministry of Women and Children will process all of the papers. Then, it gets sent to the family matching committee. These are the people who decide which babies go to which families based on criteria outlined in their dossiers. I have requested a girl age 6 months to 30 months. This was the youngest age group I could choose. After I receive a referral and get "THE CALL," I will have 15 days to have her medical info checked out by a physician. Once I formally accept the referral, they will start working on processing the paperwork in Nepal. The adoption will be finalized in Nepal. They are estimating that after the formal acceptance of a referral, I should receive travel permission 6-8 weeks later. They estimate that I will be in Nepal for a 2-3 week duration, finalizing all of the paper work. Now, with all of that said, there are two very important things to remember: 1) I have no idea how long I will have to wait between submittal of my dossier and receiving a referral and 2) Nepal is a third world country and we are dealing with a 3rd world government so any of these time projections could change. I just keep praying that God will give me patience and I'm trying to take it one day at a time...can't you just hear schneider now! No seriously, when I first started this whole process, one of the verses I felt God speak to me was Romans 8:25
"But if we look forward to something we don't yet have, we must wait patiently and
I felt like God was telling me that I will be waiting, but- I can do that confidently. There is no doubt in my mind that it's God's will for that little baby to be my daughter.
I do have a ton of cool stories of how things have worked out. I'm going to try and post some of them as this keeps going.
Thanks for reading this and for all of the support and encouragement I've received so far. You have no idea how much that means to me!
Posted by Kristen at 1:13 PM