Here we go again!
For the last 4 months, when I've not been doing the photographer/wife/mom thing, I've been doing the paperwork thing. I knew when miss Liv turned 1 that we would be ready to focus again on our adoption- that's right, the one we started 3 1/2 years ago.
This step is often referred to as paper-pregnancy, and it is a pretty accurate assessment. The battles of the paperwork process are a thing all their own. It is the first step in the adoption process, but since we have already been waiting for 3 1/2 years, much of our paperwork has expired- so it was necessary to start over. And of course, since this is our second time doing paperwork, when the adoption agency said it would take 4-7 months to complete paperwork, I automatically thought, "yeah, but we will probably go faster". Ha! As if we were the exception. As if, Lissa.
At times, I have tried explaining where I'm at with paperwork, and in conversation peoples' eyes seem to gloss over and then they ask something like, "but you're almost done, right? And then will you get a picture of her?" Ugh. No, paperwork is not interesting. But it's all I've got to tell you about. YES, OF COURSE we want a photo of our child, but that won't come until much later. Please, please don't make me repeat AGAIN that we do not have a picture yet. I'm not mad about it- it's just how it works.
If there is one lesson I've learned so far in this adoption process, it's that THINGS WILL NOT GO LIKE YOU THINK THEY WILL GO.
The second lesson is: THAT'S TOTALLY OK, BECAUSE GOD'S PLAN IS FAR BETTER.
As I said earlier, we are now at the 4 month mark of working manically on gathering random pieces of paperwork. Most of this includes visiting state and government offices, ordering new birth certificates/marriage license (yes, NEW ones- the old ones will not do!), and some documents needed are a much bigger ordeal, such as our home study, financial records and getting physicals (finding a doc who was accepting new patients that only needed a physical took over a month).
Then there are notaries, state certification of documents ($), authentication of documents ($$)- and shipping those back and forth. Thankfully, we have piled up cash in a savings account as we've waited, so it's all been covered! (Thank you to ALL who have helped support us in this way. In stressful moments like these, it is a true blessing to just write a check for it!).
Very soon, our documents will be in China.
Did you hear that? I said CHINA.
That's because our daughter will be Chinese. :)
If you are surprised about that, you better believe we are too.
Guys, God is so good- and His plan is so good. I wrote a blog post when we first started our adoption process. Little did I know that when God set China in our hearts, and He knew that's where our daughter would come from. We just got there by way of Africa. :)
Here's the most basic explanation I can give of how we got here.
Almost immediately after our documents arrived in Ethiopia, referrals (when families are matched with children) almost slowed to a staggering halt. It was rare to see any referrals within our age and gender request, if any at all. There were rumors of Ethiopia shutting down to international adoption- their government even held meetings to assess the situation. Our government put new legislation in place in an effort to ensure more ethical adoptions- which is full of good intention, but for us and our agency, just meant more paperwork, more overall cost, and a longer wait for the orphan.
We trusted that the timing would be perfect and if we had a long wait ahead, that was ok. That's when Liv came along- whose story is its own miracle! We are so, so thankful for her and what she has meant to our family. I was 7 months pregnant when we got the call from our agency asking if we'd be interested in transferring to the China program. They were waiving some major fees (in fact, it was all the fees we'd already paid, and none we hadn't- so we would be at the perfect place to transfer without losing any money), and the wait times were much, much shorter. The only caveat was that it would mean adopting a child with special needs. Knowing we would be welcoming Liv very soon, it was just too much. We decided to wait.
So, after Liv turned a year, we were ready to revisit the idea of transferring. We called our agency again, and sure enough, the offer to waive fees was still available. But what about the special needs? Well, we did our best to gather all the information we could. In China, "special needs" is very different from what we perceive it to be here in the US. We went through a huge list of possible conditions- some of which were eczema and hemangioma (which is funny, because Liv has a hemangioma on the top of her head- so, been there!). We decided on the needs we were comfortable with, and began the paperwork process.
After making the decision to switch, I really thought I would feel relieved, but the truth is, I was just sad. Sad to say goodbye to Africa and the culture we'd spent so much time learning about and anticipating and the dream of having a beautiful brown face and dark curly hair. The process of sorting through those feelings deserves its own blog post later. My soul needs to write about that.
So, here we are! There are still a lot of question marks- we will not know which special need our daughter will have until we receive a referral from our agency. At that point, we will have a certain amount of time to research and consider that child and our abilities and resources to properly care for her. We are very thankful that we have some excellent medical resources here in Lubbock, Texas! Does this mean we are fully prepared? Nope. Will there be surprises? Absolutely. But we are trusting that God will provide for all our needs, as well as the needs of each of our children, just as He has throughout this entire process.
We do not have a quoted or set wait time, but because of our age/gender request, I'm estimating a 6-9 month wait from the time our dossier gets to China. It could be less. It could be more. There is no way we (or our agency) could know for sure. But we do know that the timing will be just right.