Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The nearly un-crackable email

So, as I suspected we didn't get the approval letter in the mail by the date the USCIS officer anticipated we would - so I called to let him know (like he instructed me to). He agreed to email me a copy (thank freaking goodness), but he let me know that they are required to encrypt their emails and then send a separate email with a password to unlock it. I'll just skip to the end of the drama and say that after an hour of googling how to do this and attempting to open it we were finally able to open it. Mark had to download a program that would process it and open a prompt for us to put in the password. So! We got the blessed approval letter that we needed Chareyl to take down for our file! Praise the good Lord.

We were able to bring the approval letter to Chareyl's home (along with letter/pictures for Nelie, the little girl who we have the pleasure of sponsoring her education with Haitian Roots). Chareyl left for Haiti today and promised to follow up on our file (and each of the other families who are waiting for a referral). She did mention to me that she did receive a referral for another one of her clients that very morning! Not only does that make me happy for that family, but it is encouraging to me to see that referrals are being issued. Things have been a bit quiet on that front on the message boards.

The other thing that Chareyl told me tempered my prior frustrations with our previous email situation. Apparently Chareyl has a family who have a match ready for official referral, but they are waiting on the updated I-800a (just like we were). They needed Chareyl to take it down with her when she left, but it hadn't arrived in the mail. When they called to ask about having it emailed to them they said that they absolutely could not email it. I obviously don't know all the details about this situation...and perhaps USCIS was only willing to do this for me because I had to have things re-done because of their mistake, but either way I feel extra grateful that she has ours in hand. I'm sure this family will get theirs in the mail and be able to scan it to Chareyl to print in Haiti and it will work out, but it's just nice to know that ours is handed off and will for sure be updated in the next day or two.

I try not to hold my breath, but I'm hopeful that Chareyl will come home from Haiti with some sort of news for us on our file. I'm hopeful that we are close to seeing our daughters face. Not holding my breath of course, but hopeful.

In the meantime I'll be anxiously awaiting photos from Haiti while Chareyl and the Haitian Roots volunteer trip are down there. Knowing that some of these photos will be from the orphanage where our little girl is living...and that they are all being taken from that beautiful, heartbreaking island of her birth.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"All the wrong reasons"

Confession. I have a guilty pleasure. I watch the Bachelor. I know it's lame, but somehow brainlessly addicting. If you've ever seen the show you know the phrase "all the right reasons" (or "for the wrong reasons") is annoyingly over-used. So, in that vein I thought I'd use it here.

I've been losing sleep about the latest tiny step in our adoption process (getting our updated I800a approval in time to send to Haiti). Crying about it. Sometimes short tempered because of it. I realized recently that I was doing these things for "all the wrong reasons". I'm not really freaked out to tears specifically about if I'll get that document in time, or that if I don't that our entire adoption could be affected...I'm freaking out because I'm just tired. Tired of years of collective disappointments. Emotional about such an extended period of lack of control over something so important. Overwhelmed at knowing that 4 years and 4 months into the process I still don't know our child's face...and that once we finally do that we'll still have a heart-wrenchingly long journey ahead of us.

On Saturday we received our updated I800a approval letter in the mail. Hurray, right? I thought so. Then I decided to just read through everything to double check it (wouldn't be the first time I found an error in a government document during this adoption). Sure enough. The officer approving our document made a change/typo that could have caused real problems. Of course I couldn't do anything about it on Saturday and knew I'd have to wait until Monday to call about it (and hope they could get it fixed and back to me before Chareyl leaves for Haiti on the 15th). I was shaking and trying not to cry. Mark wasn't reachable, so I walked next door to vent to my dear friend Sydnie. She kindly listened to my frustrations and we talked through scenarios of how this could still work out. And I realized that I didn't like not having control over getting this document done properly now, but that I did know that it would indeed get done and all work out...and that somehow didn't help me feel better.

It was then that I realized that I was getting all freaked out/emotional over this document for all the wrong reasons. I wasn't really upset about this document - it was just representing years of collective disappointments, frustrations, hiccups, change-of-plans, and lack of control over this difficult journey. I realized that then and verbalized it - I'm just tired. This is such a long, difficult process. I know it will work out, and I know it will be worth it in the end. I just want to at least be to the next concrete step closer to being done and having her home.

Somehow recognizing that I was putting all those years of emotions into frustration with this one tiny step helped me worry a little less about just that document and put things into perspective. It didn't resolve the emotions (and my eyes were a faucet of tears that wouldn't turn off during church the next day), but at least I was being more realistic and honest with myself about my emotional hysteria over that document. Later on Sunday, Sydnie came over with her daughter Ellianna and gave me something (along with a thoughtful card) that she said they'd been meaning to give us for a little while now. Ellianna's set of little girl Disney books (mostly princesses). It was such a sweet gesture and meant so much to me.

Here is part of what her sweet card said: "Here is a little reminder of what you are working hard for. I  always hated when other women said it, but it is true - it will be worth it..."

Of course I love these books. I love that Ellianna wanted to give them to us for our little girl. I love that Sydnie recognized the "right reasons" why I'm so emotional right now, that it's not just about this letter - and that I needed some encouragement and solidarity right now. This meant so much to me, and I know that each time that we read one of these to our little girl someday that I'll be reminded of her bearing my burden with me.

By way of wrapping up where we are on that document - I did call USCIS and was able to talk to the officer who approved out application. After some discussion he agreed to fix the application and get it in the mail yesterday. We are hoping that it will get here in time, and if not he said that he will see if he can get approval to send an encrypted email copy to us. So! Here's to hoping it comes in time, and that it was done correctly. Here's to praying that Chareyl is able to deliver it to our file at IBESR and that we don't have to wait much longer until that approval letter is referenced before issuing an official referral to us for our child. So we can see her face. Hold her. And begin to know her. Because we certainly already do love her.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tears with glasses

Sometimes I cry and am not completely sure why. That happened to me today. I called Mark at work to try and talk through it, but he wasn't available (totally understandable)...so I'm turning here instead.

Maybe I'm crying from relief. Perhaps it's gratitude. Perhaps it's from being overwhelmed at how long and unpredictable this journey is. Perhaps it's because I dare have hope that I'm getting closer to meeting our little girl...or perhaps it's out of fear that it could still be so far away.  Either way here's what happened:

I've already shared here about our decision to raise our age parameters on our paperwork, the mistakes/delays that have occurred (like they always seem to) in this seemly easy update...and the self imposed urgency that I've felt about having this document in hand for our adoption worker to hand deliver to our file in Haiti when she goes there in 2 weeks.

This morning I decided to follow up on our application. I needed to know if it was out of the realm of possibility for it to be processed, approved, mailed, and received in the next two weeks or not. Sometimes things can take weeks or months for the government to process and I had no idea. I didn't want to be checking the mail every day for the next 2 weeks if it wasn't a possibility, so I decided to draft a follow up email (after all it was a really good thing I did that the first time I sent this application in, right??)...then I decided to just call.  So I said a nervous little prayer and called.

I gave the man on the phone all the info on our application and he pulled it up. He cheerfully said, "Oh! I'm actually the one who processed your application. I approved it last Friday, so it shouldn't be too long before you receive the approval letter in the mail." .... Say what? Good news? Wahoo! I thanked him, wished him a good day, and hung up before the tears started.

I think I first was crying from relief and gratitude. Then start tears of hope, then fear about hoping too much, then about how long this process has been, then at how lonely this can feel to be crying about this over so many years. I know that I still have so long to go {more tears}, but I am just so anxious to be able to put a face to this child that I already love, long for and weep over. I want to hold her and know her. I want to have a face to show others who this is that I long for and already love. {more tears}

Sometimes I cry and it's just not that simple as to say why. It's all those reasons.

And now that I just got eye-glasses I know not to let the tears flow down and puddle in the rims. I'll just take them off and let them fall. For whatever their reason.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Day of remembrance...and hurry up and wait!

Seven years ago today the devastating earthquake struck Haiti. A country which was already the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Hundreds of thousands were killed, millions displaced to already disparaging conditions. Destruction and suffering like I can scarcely imagine. Today we remember.
...However!  When remembering this I also honor the strength and resiliency that Haitians embrace. A country that rests proudly on a heritage of being founded on the first successful slave rebellion to result in independence. And while Haitians have continually been dealt a difficult set of cards to play the game of life with...they manage to push through with grit that is beyond admirable. So today I join those around the world in remembering the tragedy of what happened 7 years ago today, but I also honor those who survived. Those who push through struggles, and those who find a way to have hope amidst every reason we may see not to. I honor you Haitians today also.

Now, while it's difficult for anything to sound of importance after that...I also know that if I don't write some sort of adoption update while I'm on the blog now that it won't happen until who knows when. So! I can at least say this. Adoption is like those people driving who floor the gas and speed up to a red light just to sit and wait. You're in a hurry to get to your destination (meeting & bringing home your child), and you never know when driving fast might get you through a green light just in time...but more often than not you speed up to hit a red light just to sit and wait forever while you watch people speed by going the other direction.

I've been doing the hurry up and wait thing for years now, but I still put the petal to the metal anytime I have the chance. I never want to look back and think, wow...if I had just done this step faster then ____. So! The most recent example is that a couple weeks ago we got our background checks and home study update done and rushed to get it sent to USCIS with the associated fee. I included the necessary government form allowing them to notify us electronically (either by text or email) when they received and began processing our application. I knew our application had been received (because of tracking on the shipment), but we kept never receiving this notification. So, finally I started contacting people to see what was going on. I didn't want to wait weeks to find out through the mail if there was a problem. Long story short...our application was rejected because the processing fee we sent wasn't enough. They had just updated their fees and our application was postmarked 5 days too late. So it was rejected and being sent back to us. Grrr.

So, yesterday I went and cut a new cashier's check (for the right amount), filled out new paperwork and took it to Mark's office for him to sign, put in another copy of our homestudy and overnighted that bless-ed package again to USCIS. I've never overnighted something and I must say...there is really a sense of immediate gratification! Our package was already signed for today at USCIS! Sweet. Because I sent it directly to USCIS and not through their lockbox facility (that sorts, screens, and mails applications on to USCIS) - I wasn't able to submit the request for electronic notification. I weighed that with the benefit of shaving off time and chose the latter. I'm praying that we're able to get our updated approval letter back in time to send it with Chareyl when she goes to Haiti next month.

Now whenever I get our previous paperwork with rejection letter in the mail (in the next week or two), we will at least be that much further along in the approval process with our re-submission! Now we just wait and hope.

Hurry up and wait!  Hurry up and wait!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January blues

I had a wonderful Christmas season, punctuated with spots of sadness and anxiety. I continue to struggle with relinquishing myself from worry over things I cannot control. I know that worrying about our little girl won't keep her safe, or get her home faster...but sometimes it seems that the emotions are beyond my reach to control. The Christmas season managed to make me feel those spots more acutely than normal. I can only assume that our daughter just spent her second Christmas in an orphanage again. That contrast just seemed so stark each time that I saw my boys enjoying the light and magic of the season. There were a couple times that I saw a bright spot though...one of which was that another adoptive family visited the orphanage and furnished a delicious meal for the whole orphanage. They said that the kids' plates were all clean and they loved it. I also happened to see an article about Glenn Beck partnering with Operation Underground Railroad (amazing organization). While visiting Haiti with them he stopped at Foyer de Sion and brought Christmas gifts for all 121 children at the orphanage. So - he brought our daughter a gift. I don't know her yet, but she is still there...and other people are still caring for her while I can't yet.

By means of another update, I've been toying with the idea of slightly increasing our age parameters for some time now. Some information I've collected over the last couple months (paired with lots of thought and prayer) nudged us to slightly increase our approved home study age parameters. That also means getting an updated USCIS approval letter. We have the updated home study (had to wait for new background checks to come in before it could be done...luckily neither of us have become criminals as of late), and as of yesterday USCIS has received that updated home study along with our update application and processing fee. I was hoping to get the new approval letter in time for Chareyl to take it to Haiti herself next month when she travels there, but it may take a miracle for that to happen. I just may ask for that miracle. We'll see if it's in the cards I suppose.

All I know is that our orphanage has a specific child that they have been attempting to paper ready (that's all they've told us about her), but they didn't know if they would be able to get her papers done before she aged out of our approved parameters. There's no way to know if we will eventually be referred this specific child or not, but we are at least in the process of raising our age parameters slightly so they now will read "0-24 months at time of referral" (and then tack on around a year to that before she'll be able to come home) - so she'll likely be close to 3 when we get her home. Even if this little girl isn't referred to us, this gives a more realistic age range for the orphanage to be able to paper ready a child to be referred to us as it takes around a year to do so from whenever the child comes into their care.

As I already said, I have felt the sting of wanting to know our daughter more acutely over the holidays this year...but I think that was also balanced by the joy I experienced with our boys this time of year too. Now that the holidays are done I find myself pining for her more than normal. It's like I'm experiencing all my emotions more intensely lately...including those January blues.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Prayers & fasting instead of passivity

I don't have the time right now to delve into much of the emotional background of things right now (and I've learned that if I wait until I do to wright things down...it won't get done).  So!  I will just say that I had an epiphany (which sounds much less impressive when I explain it) recently.  I'll explain it briefly (well...briefly for me anyway):

Being over 4 years into our adoption process we are well aware that we have to be patient and "wait well" during this process or it will eat you up.  We know that things will work out how and when they are supposed to, but sometimes I feel like I am just supposed to keep my head down and just patiently wait it out.  I recently had the impression that, at this time specifically, that I need to be proactive instead of passive in our waiting process.  This sounds ridiculous since there is literally nothing that I can do to help things along...until I realized that there was.

I believe that faith is a principle of action and power and that when put into action faith can replace the fear, worry, or anxiety that I often feel during our wait.  I also believe that my Father in Heaven hears my when I pray and wants to bless me if I just remember to ask Him in faith.  So as simple and elementary as it sounds...my epiphany was that I need to be proactive in our adoption process by strengthening my faith, petitioning my Father in Heaven to watch over our little girl and to help those in Haiti who are processing her paperwork for us to be matched to her.  I also realized that I needed to be willing to be vulnerable and ask those close to me who would be willing to join me in this process.

My belief is that there are big things that need to happen with our little girl's paperwork and that we need the power of God and the angels of heaven to assist us in making this happen how and when it is supposed to.  I may not know any of the specifics...but I know my Father in Heaven does.  I may not be able to help anything progress this process...but He can.  I may not know who our child is or when we will be able to meet her...but He does.  I may not be able to sooth and comfort my soul...but He can.  So, yesterday I joined some family and close friends in fasting and praying for these things.

I yearn for the day that I can fill this photo frame which for years has sat empty waiting on my dresser...but until then I am choosing to actively replace my worry and yearning for information with faith.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Not our turn yet...and worse.

I've had some communication with our adoption worker and neither of those 2 pending referrals are ours. She clarified that IBESR will request our second IBESR fee/match payment just prior to them issuing a referral, so we actually will get a bit of a head's up that a referral is soon. It didn't used to be that way. I think that's a good thing (as long as it isn't forever of me being glued to my phone before the referral actually does come). While I am so anxious to know our daughter's face, I do believe that it will happen when it is supposed to. I will move forward with faith in that.

In much worse news...the death toll in Haiti has surged up to 572 as of this morning. Unfortunately I'm sure that will still rise. Of course I don't want to see loss of life like this anywhere, but this happening in a country that I've come to love so much makes me even that much more sad.

Now if people in our country will just take this hurricane seriously as it heads our way...