Today has been a great day! We woke up to an email that said our Orphan Investigation has been completed! We checked our email daily, sometimes even multiple times a day, waiting for this email. It feels like we have been in limbo the past couple of months without really knowing when they would complete our case. Our poor case workers probably hate seeing our name in their inbox! haha!! So what this means is they have reviewed all of our documents, asked for clarification in many areas, interviewed who they thought they needed to, and finally passed our I-604 results to the NBC who will issue us our PAIR letter. Phew…BUT we are not done yet!!!! Once we receive our PAIR letter we will send the letter out for authentication and it will be sent to Ethiopia! Again….not done yet….once it’s filed with the courts in Ethiopia, the courts will issue 2 hearings. The first is a preliminary hearing that we do not attend, once that passes and the MOWCYA has issued their letter of recommendation the court will issue the 2nd hearing in which OUR family travels!! From our understanding the courts have been pretty slow (UGH), we hope they happen to speed things up and get families traveling quicker. The rainy season is approaching and typically the courts close middle of August through October. As long as we stay on track and make our first trip BEFORE August….we will not get delayed. We have been told that after we receive our PAIR letter, we may travel 2 months later. Please keep your fingers crossed for our family and every family involved in the adoption process. It is LONG, TIRING, and DRAWN out….but we know it will ALL be worth it!! We can’t wait to meet our sweet baby boy!! We’re coming for you!!!! xoxo
I know it has been a few weeks since my last post. To be honest, we really don’t have any news to share. We are still in the orphan investigation stage and I feel like we are stuck here. When I see the email from Ethiopia …a sense of panic comes over me. You want to open the email and you want to see Ethiopia in the subject, but do you really want to see the words “Request For More Information” AGAIN!!! NO! We are trying to hold on, but days roll into weeks and weeks roll into months. This is all taking much longer than anticipated, and to be honest, we have no idea when we will finally meet him. People ask me all the time when will we travel, it use to be that I would say May or June….now I find myself saying June or July and even that feels iffy. We really just hope and pray that the investigation will be finished VERY soon so we can finally move on to the next phase. (which is not a fast process either)!!
This week is our girls spring break, and due to the traveling to Ethiopia twice (somewhat soon) we decided to forgo the beach trip we had planned. Bummer for the girls, but also works out great because we are taking them to TN to meet up with a high school bestie! They know that we have to “save” to get our little one home, so they haven’t complained too much.
On that note, I decided to join a good friend in a journey to help cover the costs of our flights. Yes, I am still a real estate agent, no changes there loving it and doing well …however I am also a consultant for Rodan + Fields skin care, as a little side gig. What’s funny is I have really always been the type to say “that is not for me” or “I could never do that” the truth is, why can’t I? I LOVE business, I LOVE traveling, I LOVE design, I LOVE success, I LOVE providing for my family and others, I LOVE giving and most importantly I LOVE our girls and our son who is depending on us. So I said to myself, go for it and give it a try! Worst case, you have awesome skin care products and decide spreading the word isn’t for you, or best case, you love it and are able to cover flights and other adoption expenses! Either way, it is all with the best intension and passion to live and provide the best life possible! Life is short, we should all enjoy the journey and that’s what we are trying to do!!
We received a text message from our case worker that said “check your email”…..I just knew there had to be updated pictures!! I logged on and nope, there was a change request for the meeting scheduled in Ethiopia. I thought, surely she would not send me a text with an exclimation mark for a date change for the finder interview…… would she? So I refreshed the page and there was her email, updated pictures of our baby!! We received 3 new photos of our adorable baby boy, oh how I wish we could post them! He is truly the cutest thing I ever did see and NO, I am not just saying that! He is perfect in every way, he is more than we could have ever wished for, he is simply adorable. The girls LOVE their baby bother and can not wait for him to come home. Campbell said “he is SO cute, I don’t think he will ever be able to get in trouble.” She said “he just looks like he will be such a nice young man.” haha….oh the things that kids think of! Let’s hope she is right and since he is so cute, he will be extra good and never get into trouble!
We look at his picture multiple times a day, just in awe over him and what is about to happen to our life, his life and our family. We are forever thankful that we have been the chosen ones, we are truly so lucky!! I am happy to share our baby boy with you, however I am unable to post a picture online. Send me an email or text and I will gladly share!!
Please keep our little one and our family in your thoughts and prayers. We have a ways to go before meeting him and even longer before we can bring him home.
We are finally into March and another month closer to meeting our baby boy. It’s actually kind of strange to think back to our referral day, January 1st. It seems like yesterday, yet 2 months has already passed! Typically you receive updated pictures every 6-8 weeks, we are stilling waiting for some kind of update on our sweet baby, and although I try not to pester…. I remind them frequently.
Waking up to emails from Ethiopia is exciting! We have now crossed into the PAIR stage which means we are moving in the right direction. During this stage they find the birth relatives or “finder” of the child and set up an interview. I was thinking this would take a while, however we received an email that the interview with the “finder” is scheduled for March 11th! Once they are done with the orphan investigation they will email us and we will be issued a PAIR letter! We have been told the PAIR process can last anywhere from 6-8 weeks and the letter takes another 1-2 weeks. We really have no idea when we might travel, it all depends on when we actually receive the letter, and how long it takes to file the letter with the Ethiopian courts.
Waiting really is the hardest part. Not knowing how he is, what he is able to do and not do, is he crawling or has he started walking, how has he changed since the day we saw him Jan 1, does he receive attention daily or is he left in a crib, does he know he has a mom and dad, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and lots of friends cheering for him and waiting to love on him? So many things go through our mind as we sit and “wait”. We can’t help but think about what the next two months will bring, and the amazing journey we are about to embark on. A quick thank you to our friends and family who continue to support us.
Well… we really don’t have much to post. We are just in the “process” and are doing the necessary steps to get us one step closer to meeting our son. Last week we received a letter asking for RFE’s (request for evidence) which at this stage is quite common. They were needing some items in our documents translated, so our agency is taking care of that. Aron and I went to the doctor last week and started our first round of shots for travel. We still have more to do, but we are on track and are making sure we are prepared and ready to go. We also have the necessary prescriptions just “in case” we get sick while out of the country. Anyone who knows me knows….that is absolutely my worst fear!
At this point the hardest part is the unknown. We have asked for updated pictures and have yet to receive them. Our agency asked for them again a few days ago, I am hopeful to receive some soon. The orphanage where our little one is staying is a newly acquired relationship for our agency. That makes it tough because we are unable to connect with past families and get inside information and tips. We just hope all is well and he is loved and cared for until we can bring him home.
I thought some of the images below were interesting. Adama is where the orphanage is located and I hear we will experience multiple coffee ceremonies per day! Travel tips are always welcome and extremely helpful! Hoping to have some more exciting and positive news soon!
Just a quick update to let you know where we are at. We officially accepted our son and sent our acceptance packet to our agency. We also had to wire over our foreign program fees, and send in a few other documents. Once our agency received all of the docs, they requested the Contract of Adoption from the orphanage. This typically takes anywhere from 1-4 weeks. We have completed this step and are now on to the next! yay! The Contract of Adoption was received which means our agency will then Fed-ex overnight our I-600 to USCIS who will forward to NBC for PAIR review.
PAIR is a new step added that is the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review. We will be assigned a PAIR officer who will review our case, this typically is when they might ask for RFE’s (requests for evidence) which is very common. This is where things could slow down some, from what we have heard. Every case is different, pray that we don’t get many RFE’s. That would most likely mean submitting more documents etc. Once we get through the RFE’s our case worker will submit our case to the US Embassy for the I-604 Orphan Investigation, which could take a total of 6-8 weeks. Once we get through this step, USE will email us to let us know they have completed that step and have forwarded the I-604 results to NBC who will receive and send us our PAIR letter. The PAIR letter is somewhat like a golden ticket! That is what we need to be able to get filed with the Ethiopian Courts. Once we are filed with the courts they will issue us 2 hearing dates. The 1st one is a preliminary hearing, which we will not attend. This is where the final consent is given to the court. Once the preliminary hearing has passed the MOWCYA will issue their letter of recommendation and the court will then order a 2nd hearing date in which we will travel to give our consent. This process could take 1-2 months in total to complete.
So as you see….we still have a ways to go, but each day brings us a bit closer! Fingers crossed that we don’t have many RFE’s and we have a smooth transition through each of the necessary steps.
Have a great week everyone!
As we are making our way through another week, we still have no idea what to expect “timeline” wise. I know we are waiting on a document to be sent to our agency, once received, they can send our packet to Ethiopia. In the meantime, we have continued getting the girls rooms switched, and once completed we will finish the baby’s room.
It has been a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions running through my mind since our referral day. What will it be like when we travel? How do we NOT put a drop of water in our mouth so we don’t get sick? Will he be afraid of us? Will he understand that we will always be proud of him and never ashamed? How often will kids make comments to the girls about their brother being different? How as parents do we handle that? How do we learn as much as possible about his heritage in a short amount of time, while in country? We know it will not be easy, but it will be worth it. For years and years and years, we have waited for the moment that we would be able to say “you will no longer be alone.” To know that he never spend another birthday alone or holiday alone, is to know that we are finally nearing the end of our journey. We are coming for you son!!!
Whew!! What a crazy holiday season it has been! We knew we were close to a referral, but like I said in the last post, we didn’t know what that would mean for receiving “the call”. Everyday you watch the clock thinking okay, is it too late for referrals to come today? What time is it in Ethiopia? I wonder what the cut off time is?! Then, by 5:00 I decide today is not the day, so we go about your business and look forward to the following day.
New Years Eve came and went. We celebrated with friends and had a great time. We told each other we’ll have our son home in 2015! We spent New Years Day with great friends and decided to watch the movie “Blindside.” It was an awesome, awesome movie!! After the movie ended, around 1:30 in the afternoon, the kids were all playing when my phone rang. I looked down, saw my case workers name, and jumped up to run outside to take the call!! I knew there would be no other reason she would call us on New Years Day. She asked about our holiday, and I rambled about the movie we just watched and how great it is, and that she is calling right after it ended…… blah blah blah.
I have no idea what else we talked about really. The one thing I know is that she said “well, we have your referral!” She proceeded to say something like they don’t have everything ready to send us due to it being a holiday, but they have the essentials and she just couldn’t wait any longer to tell us! Uh huh….okay…..get to some of the info!!! She told me that he is 12 months old and his birthday is Christmas Eve!! Awwwwwww!!!!! She said he is a healthy little boy and simply adorable. After the call, we received the PICTURES and some information about him. We can’t share his picture online until we pass court, but I will say….he is truly adorable! It was an amazing moment as we logged into my email and for the first time laid eyes on our beautiful, beautiful son. The email subject was YOUR REFERRAL!
Aron and I reviewed his information and of course we accepted the referral!! We’ll now begin all the necessary paperwork to continue on with the adoption, prepare for our trips to Ethiopia, and everything else in between, which is a TON! We immediately started figuring out the rooms, who will share with who, switching closets, cleaning out the bonus room, painting his room, and prepping for his arrival! We have a lot to get done in the next 4 months or so, and everyday we will work at completing our list.
Travel – we have to travel twice. What we know is that trip number 1 can be 4-6 months after receiving a referral, but for most families it has been 4 months. We will have about a week or less notice to plan the trip, get our flights etc. so really, there is no planning at all. After the first trip we come home and 6-8 weeks later we return to get him and bring him home for good, again there is no notice and therefore, no planning which is why the travel is so expensive. So, with the travel and the cost increases that just went into effect (in November) we need to get back to fundraising. We’ve been so fortunate to have the help of everyone during this journey. Be on the lookout for our next fundraiser coming soon!
We are thankful, we are excited and we can’t wait to meet our little guy!! Thank you so much everyone for all of your support and encouragement, we appreciate it!!
We can hardly believe we are almost into the new year! How can we already be through Christmas and heading into 2015? When I think back to winter break as a kid, it felt like we were home for months and months and months! It’s crazy how quickly time passes the older we get. The girls had a great Christmas, Santa was good to them and it was fun celebrating with friends and family. Our oldest turns 7 today. Wow…..again, where does time go?? She is so sweet and has such a huge heart for helping others! We would have never dreamed that we would still be waiting for a referral, but we are, and today we celebrate another birthday without him home. We are thankful though, for the time to grow as a family, prepare (or try to) for what’s to come, and educate the girls about our journey.
I cannot say what number we are, but we are VERY close. We have no idea what that means, it could be days, weeks, months or years. International adoption is very unpredictable, so timing is always an unknown. Our family is just waiting, and we hope our time comes soon. 2014 is coming to an end, but it’s not over yet!!!
Hope everyone is enjoying time with their family this holiday season! We are off to celebrate a very special little girl’s birthday!
Whew! The paperwork fun continues! I called our agency yesterday, (whom I love by the way) to make sure they had all the necessary paperwork and nothing was outstanding. As our case worker opened our file she noticed we did not complete the recent update! Huh? We were confused because we did complete a recent update for our updated home study, new medicals, new fingerprints, new employment letters etc etc etc….. How could we possibly need new medicals again (notarized), new good conduct letters from the local police (notarized), new financials (notarized), etc etc….. AHHHHH- So of course with us being so close now, we don’t want something like missing paperwork to slow things down. Needless to say, we have been running around, making calls, and doing whatever we can to get this done quickly! We have since learned that the home study is a separate update from our agency update, so the papers/forms have to be originals for both. Things slowed so much for so long that this wasn’t a necessary step, now that things are moving…..it is back in place and all families have to complete it.
Although this is taking a lot longer than we ever anticipated, we know it will all be worth it in the end. All the tireless nights gathering the mounds and mounds of paperwork. All the trips to Charlotte to get fingerprints and background checks. All the people you have to inconvenience along the way for letters of reference, donations and support. All the hours you spend on the phone to gather more information for your HUGE mounds! All the emails, calls and texts into our fabulous agency (West Sands Adoptions) with a thousand and one questions!:-) We now know it WILL all be worth it, as it is finally becoming full circle! We hope and pray everyday that we receive the best gift this Holiday Season!
More to come….