Monday, September 21, 2009
Today we received a notice in the mail from the National Benefits Center (USCIS) that they cannot complete the processing of our I-800A until we complete and submit several revisions to our homestudy (while our homestudy states the dates and location of our initial homestudy interviews and home inspection in 2007, it only states the date of our study update and does not state that we were interviewed in our home and that a follow-up home inspection was completed (although they were). It also fails to state the country-specific eligibility requirements for Bulgaria). I am not sure how we missed these things in the many reviews and revisions that we went through before we received the final copy of our homestudy (or if we were just lucky enough to be assigned to a very particular NBC officer), but receiving this notice was another scream-into-my-pillow moment for me. Will we ever catch a break!?!
We have 45 days from the notice date to complete and submit the revisions. If we do not submit the additional information within 45 days, our application will be denied and we will have to resubmit our I-800A and all associated fees. Fortunately the revisions are minor and we should be able to complete and submit them with time to spare.
Despite this minor setback, I have been impressed with the efficiency of USCIS in processing our I-800A application thus far. We received our fingerprint appointments less than two weeks after submitting our application, were fingerprinted a week ago and received our "Request for Additional Evidence" this afternoon. I am hopeful that, once we have submitted our revised homestudy, we will recieve our approval just as promptly (I know, I am putting a lot of faith in USCIS, but so far, they have not disappointed).
In the meantime, we are waiting for the Adoption Committee's final ruling in regards to "D" and are still waiting to receive "Sophia's" file as well. I must admit that I am beginning to feel very weary. The process to bring the boy's home was a whirlwind, but there were not near as many ups, downs and in-betweens as we have experienced thus far with this adoption. Some days it takes every ounce of faith and strenghth that I possess to hold on to hope, but I know that our children are in Bulgaria and that the Lord's plan for our family (as well as His timing) is perfect.
As always, we appreciate all of the prayers and support from each and every one of you and look forward to the day when we can finally share some good news with you!
Friday, September 18, 2009
"To all who suffer—to all who feel discouraged, worried, or lonely— never give in.
Never allow despair to overcome your spirit.
Embrace and rely upon the Hope of Israel, for the love of the Son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow, and gladdens every heart."
(For full transcript click here.)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Nikita would lay in his crib, rocking back and forth on his hands and knees all day long. During our 4 weeks in Ukraine, we never once saw him smile. He was tiny, depressed and, every day, another day closer to his 4th birthday when he would be sent to an institution where he would likely spend the rest of what was sure to be a short life. Our hearts ached for this little boy and from that point forward he was in our every prayer.
Several months after returning home with Evan we received a phone call from a sister from church. She informed me that she knew a family that was interested in adopting a child from Ukraine and wanted to know if she could put us in touch. I was excited to share our experience with this family and within a few hours I was on the phone with Jill. During our conversation she told me that they were hoping to adopt two children, a boy and a girl, younger than their daughter, who was six. My mind immediately turned to Nikita (who just happened to have a twin sister, Nastya). I told Jill about Nikita and Nastya and directed her to Reece's Rainbow where their pictures and descriptions were listed. A few days later, Jill called to tell me that they had committed to adopt the twins. We were over the moon that Nikita would be coming home to such a wonderful and loving family and we were humbled that our Heavenly Father had used us as instruments to help make that happen.
Last October, the Pierce family traveled to Ukraine to bring their children home. Unfortunately, they learned prior to traveling that Nastya would not be coming home to them. Another family had stepped forward to adopt her while the Pierces were gathering their paperwork and, due to Nikita's special needs, the judge had granted permission for the twins to be separated. Although devastated by this news, the Pierces moved forward in faith and accepted a referral for another beautiful and spunky little girl, Kristina.
In November 2008, Keith (Nikita) and Kristina Pierce came home! What a blessing it has been for us to be close enough to see them regularly and to watch them transform through the love of a family. The tiny, malnourished, sad little boy that we had known in the orphanage has blossomed before our eyes. He is active, happy, loving and making huge strides in his development every single day.
The Pierce family will soon be moving away, but we thank our Heavenly Father every day for bringing them into our lives and for being an answer to our prayers for this little boy! I still have to pinch myself when I see him standing in front of me, laughing, running and playing. This little boy who I worried might never know the love of a family, is HERE, right here, thousands of miles from where we first met him, thriving and happy and loved. Isn't our Heavenly Father amazing!?
Keith is not the only child from the Artemovsk Baby House that we have had the privilege of seeing come home to their forever family. Ava, Igor, Daisy, Nico, and Katrina have all found their forever families as well:
Friday, September 11, 2009
Yesterday I awoke to a feeling that something just was not right and I felt on-edge all day long and could never quite put my finger on it.
This morning, as I received the news from our facilitator that another family had submitted an application for "D," I realized that the dream and the unsettled feeling may have been Heavenly Father's way of preparing me emotionally for this news.
As is my routine most days, I woke up this morning and, before waking the kids, I checked my e-mail. There was a message from our facilitator. I quickly opened it and as I read through it I felt like someone had kicked me right in the stomach. Our facilitator informed me that, the day that she filed our application for the girl's, the other agency (the agency who has had the girls files since the beginning of the year) had also filed an application. This was not the news that we were expecting to receive and it came as a blow.
Technically, because the other agency is in physical possession of the file, their application takes precedent over ours. However, because this agency has had the file for longer than the allotted 2-month period and because the Ministry of Justice has personally contacted them and asked them to return the file every week for the past five weeks, there is a very small chance that the Adoption Committee may rule in our favor (since we would've filed our application MONTHS ago had the other agency returned the file on time).
At this point we have several options. The first option is to withdraw our application for "D." There is a part of me that feels that this would be the best option. Certainly not because I do not want to bring our girl home (because I absolutely do with every fiber of my being), but because there is another family out there who is probably just as excited and anxious to bring her home as we are and who likely loves her just as much. I am sure that this family knows nothing of us or of our desire or our struggle to bring her into our family and that part of me cringes at the thought of putting another family through the grief that we have experienced today.
But then there is another part of me. . . . the part that has grown to love this little girl, who I have never met, just as deeply and completely as I love every one of my other children, the part of me who has ached to bring her home and hold her in my arms, every day for the past seven months. . .that wants to fight for her because I feel so strongly that she is meant to be our daughter and because, if this other agency had returned her file when they were supposed to, we would not be in this situation right now. There is a part of me that feels that, if we back down and walk away, this agency will never have to answer for their actions and someday, another family may find themselves in the same position that we are in, experiencing the same loss, the same grief.
What is the right answer? At this point, we are not sure. The decision lies in the hands of the Adoption Committee and, while there is a small chance that they might rule in our favor, there is also a very good chance that they will not. The consolation is knowing that, no matter what they decide, "D" WILL be coming home to a loving family, even if that family is not ours. And of course we know that, ultimately, the Lord is in charge and His will will rule and all will be as it should.
In the meantime we are still waiting to learn of "Sofia's" status (her file has also been with this other agency since the beginning of the year and, as of last week, had not been returned) and have also requested the information of several little girls whose files our agency is currently in possession of.
While there is still much uncertainty, there are a few things that we DO know. We know that our children are in Bulgaria (we have received that witness MANY times), we know that we will bring home at least two children (again, this has been very clear to us), and we know that, whoever we bring home, whenever that may be, will be exactly as our Heavenly Father intended it.
Many tears have been shed today and I am sure that there will be many more. The grief that accompanies the "loss" of a child, even a child you have never met, can be crushing, but our hope is strong and we will continue to move forward, placing our feet on whatever path the Lord would have us walk.
I would like to take a moment to publicly thank the countless friends and family who have offered their love, support and encouragement throughout this process and to express our gratitude towards our Heavenly Father for blessing us with such incredible support. On this most difficult day I received countless phone calls, e-mails and even a special visit from my wonderful friend Jill, complete with hugs, chocolate, root beer, cherry pie and roses. We could not do this without your support and so we hope that you know just how deeply we appreciate each and every one of you!