Thursday, June 24, 2010

En Route...

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!!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Secret Prayer

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

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!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Golden Ticket!

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!


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

He came through Part 2!

"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.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

He came through! Part 1

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!



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Providence...and I don't mean Rhode Island!

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.