For those of you who do not know the process of adoption in Ethiopia I am going to start by briefly explaining (if you already know you can skip this paragraph:-). Once you are matched with a child (or children in our case :-) you go before the Ethiopian court and the court finalizes the adoption on the Ethiopian side. You then set an appointment with the US embassy for them to "approve" everything. That is the last step before you bring them home. In order to set the embassy appointment you have to have a document from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services department called an I-171. This form is a result of the USCIS investigating you and determining that you are indeed "fit" to be parents and do not have any "skeletons in the closet". Most families adopting have all this paperwork done before they even accept a referral. In our case, because things went so fast, we did not have it done before our referral. Since our kids were "paper ready" and we had our dossier done we were able to go forward with our court date and we passed the first time on June 4th. We originally had an embassy appointment set for July 15, but were unable to keep it since we were still waiting on the I-171. Each agency has an embassy day and our agency's day is every other Thursday so each time we miss an embassy appointment we have to wait 2 more weeks for the next one. Currently the next day we are scheduled for is August 12th.
We had emailed the lady over our case back in June to see if she knew how long it would take to receive our paperwork. She emailed us back and said she had our file on her desk with a huge stack on top and she didn't give us any clue about a timeline. Brent decided last Wednesday to pull that email back up and realized that she had included her phone number, sooooo...he called her! She said that she remembered corresponding with us and that she had forgotten about us and that we were still at the bottom of the tall stack on her desk. She said she would read our file that night and if everything checked out our approval would be sent out on Friday. We called again on Friday and she confirmed that YES, we did check out and YES, our I-171 was being mailed that afternoon. We have since talked with Sue, our wonderful agency director, and she has confirmed that we are still penciled in for the August 12th embassy appointment. What that means is....IF we get our I-171 in the next couple of days and IF the National Visa Center has also received it THEN we will be traveling in less than 2 weeks! Needless to say, we are in a manic scramble trying to get all the plans nailed down and get everyone ready for traveling to Africa and starting school while we are gone.
Currently, I am full of emotions: excitement, anxiety, fear, sadness at missing my kids first day of school and joy that I am about to meet my 2 new kids. Brent memorized Isaiah 41:9-10 last week and it has been a HUGE encouragement for us:
9 "I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
God is so good. He provides all our needs and does uphold us with His "righteous right hand".
I will keep you all posted the next few days when we get the official "green light" to go ahead with our travel plans. Regardless, we will be leaving in either 2 or 4 weeks. We really appreciate all your prayers!