Monday, December 31, 2012

WHERE IS OUR DOSSIER?

TRACKING OUR PAPERS- THEY ARE GETTING CLOSER!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

DTE

FINALLY! WE HAVE OUR DTE (Adoption language for dossier to Ethiopia). All of our papers are on their way to Africa this very moment! We are officially waiting on our referral for our baby! No more waiting for government documents, no more waiting for signatures, no more waiting for anything else! Just waiting waiting for the moment where we get to see our baby's photo and get all of the information about him/her.

During our waiting period, we still have lots to do! We still have to get our immunizations, prepare the baby's room and the house for the baby, and I am sure a long list of other things that will come up. If the wait is longer, we may actually have to have our FBI fingerprints, our form from Immigration, and our home study updated. I am praying that won't have to happen, but we have to make sure these documents stay current.

We are currently tracking our papers via FedEx. They are currently not out of the US, but I will be sure to let you know when they reach Ethiopian soil.

The current wait time is around 18 months, but they said nothing is certain. It could happen sooner. I am hoping since we didn't specify on gender it will help decrease the wait a little.

Please continue to pray for us as we are now officially in the REAL waiting period. Our adoption agency will be sending weekly emails of encouragement and updates. We will of course be keeping all our friends and family up to date. I am also very excited to write some blogs about topics I have been wanting to share about adoption.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas, Baby

Most of our post are to inform our friends and family about how the process is going, but this post is for Baby W.

Merry Christmas, baby!

This Christmas has been one of the best so far. Even though you weren't here with us, you were talked about, you received gifts, and you were prayed for by Aunt Janeece.  Baby, mommy and daddy don't know if you will be with us next Christmas, but we are really hoping this was our last Christmas without you. You already hold such a special part in the Woodson and the Jones family Christmas celebrations, and we can't wait for you to be here. We are all so excited about you coming home. Mommy and daddy sometimes wonder if you are even born yet. If you are, we are praying you were held, loved, and comforted this Christmas since mommy and daddy couldn't be there with you. If you aren't born yet, we are praying for your birth mommy and that she is being held, loved, and comforted this Christmas. We currently don't understand the circumstance of how you are coming to us, but we know that is all in God's bigger plan not only for your life but for our lives. We are praying for you and all the people who are currently taking care of you and who are currently in your life.  We know that these people love you too. You are so loved. We're going to end this letter, because well, you can't read but mommy and daddy wanted to document that Christmas 2012 you were already a big part of our celebrations. We love you.

Daddy always says he doesn't really have a way with words, but your daddy is very artistic (I hope you learn a lot of stuff from him) and I think this picture he took on Christmas Eve really says all he needs to say. Those are daddy's shoes in the picture with yours.

Merry Christmas.
Love,
Mom and Dad

Monday, December 17, 2012

USCIS APPROVAL!



Finally! After a long month of waiting for this document, it has finally made its way into our hands. This document was the last piece of information that we needed for our dossier (our big pack of papers that goes to Ethiopia). This piece of paper states that we have been approved to be fit parents in the United States, and it gives us permission to bring an immigrant orphan into the US.

Our dossier is currently at our adoption agency in Virginia. They are currently processing all our papers, and they are verifying that everything is correct. They want to make sure that everything is how the Ethiopian government requires it, so we don't have any major bumps along the road.

I AM SUPER EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THAT AS LONG AS THINGS GO AS PLANNED, OUR DTE (Dossier to Ethiopia) IS FRIDAY! YES! WE WILL BE TRACKING OUR PAPERS TO ETHIOPIA VIA FEDEX!

This is a huge answer to prayer because we were worried about the holidays slowing things down. We want to again thank everyone for their continual support. We love you.

We have had a few friends ask specifically what they could pray for as far as the adoption goes.
1. Please pray that our baby is safe, healthy and receiving good care while he/she is waiting to come home.
2. Please pray for us financially. Though we know we can support our baby once he/she is home, this process is extremely expensive, and we still have some very large checks to write.
3. Please pray for us to have peace and strength as we are waiting for our baby.

Friday, November 30, 2012

JEFFREY

I really need to stop and just thank my wonderful husband, Jeffrey, for being by my side through this whole adoption process. I know we still have such a long journey ahead, but it is so much easier knowing I have such a strong man walking with me. I know he is going to be the best daddy in the world. 









Sunday, November 18, 2012

Our "Maternity" Photos

A few months ago, my dear friend, Kaitlin, walked into my classroom and told me she had a gift for me. "I bought you guys two photo sessions. One for before the baby comes and one when the baby is home." I was so excited and thought it was one of the nicest gifts someone could give us. It showed us that she truly understood our heart with this adoption.

Since Kaitlin gave us the gift, I have told many people, posted about it on Facebook and now have posted a few of the photos from the preview shots that the photographer posted the day of the shoot. Many people have asked us if this was something required for the adoption and why we were having to do these photos.

Yes, the government of Ethiopia and the United States have required us to send in pictures that included photos of us with friends and family, photos of our house and more, but this was not another thing to check off the giant adoption process checklist. We are not sending these photos to Ethiopia.

The purpose of these photos are to capture our excitement and anticipation for the arrival of our precious baby. These photos are to document that this baby was so loved and wanted and thought about way before his/her mommy and daddy ever brought him/her home. Just like a maternity photo shoot that beautifully captures an expectant mommy and daddy that are so ready to meet their baby, we wanted to do the very same.

We want baby Woodson to realize that this was not a second option, this was not just something we randomly decided to do. We want baby Woodson to realize that mommy and daddy prayed about him/her before he/she was ever born and that we truly feel that this is how we are supposed to start our family. Just as if mommy and daddy were going to get pregnant (which we plan to do one day) and we would want some to capture the baby growing in mommy's womb, we want to be able to tell baby Woodson, "As you were physically growing somewhere else, you were growing in our hearts here."

When I started to really think about maternity photos, I started to think about how you don't take a maternity photo when you just find out that you are expecting. No, you take a maternity photo when most of the time you are extremely uncomfortable, you are so ready for this baby to come, and you when you can see the end in sight. Though I may not look it, and it is harder for you to see this baby growing in my heart than in my belly, I am uncomfortable; I am so ready. I too have nights where I wake up and want this baby to so be here. Though I may not feel the same kind of labor pains, I assure you I am still having them. I hurt when I think about not being there for my baby when he/she is scared, hungry, or just needing held. Although I have peace knowing that I serve a God who is watching over my baby, I still long to be there. Yes, we probably did take these photos early if you look at the current wait time that is being projected, but we thought that sometimes images and photos can say more than words, and we want our friends and family to share this excitement with us. We want you to open your hearts and minds to the idea that there is a very little baby (or will be sometime very soon) in a place that is very far away that has totally invaded our hearts and our minds. We know that sometimes it is easier to connect with a baby that is growing inside a mommy's belly, but we pray that these photos will speak to you about who is missing in our home.

*The photos below are just a very small portion of the photos we took yesterday. We will be posting more when they are finished. We want to thank KW Photography for enduring the cold weather and shooting her first adoption shoot which we think was amazing. We also want to again thank Kaitlin for purchasing this photo session and photos for us since we would have no way financially been able to do this. 



 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Now What?

As many of you know, Jeffrey and I went to our FBI fingerprinting appointment today. This was very exciting for us! Once we receive this paper from immigration, we are ready to send all our papers to our adoption agency. All of our paperwork will be reviewed and translated; they said it usually takes about two weeks till they send everything to Ethiopia.

So many of you have been asking us WHEN? WHEN? WHEN?

Last week, I received some discouraging news through a conference call from our adoption agency. They said that the current wait time is 18 months once our papers get in country. As I heard this news, I began to cry. I feel like we are getting so close, but then this news makes it feel so far away. They said that things can change, but this is the current wait time for an infant. We are falling more and more in love with this baby everyday, and are so excited to finally see his or her little face.

Many people have asked me why does this process take so long. The good thing is right now the government of Ethiopia is really trying to do a better job with their adoptions. They are trying to assure that the babies are going to good homes, and they are trying to give the parents with as much medical information that they possibly can. The bad news is that they currently do not have a very efficient way of doing what they are trying to do right. We are praying that they will come up with a more efficient way, and we are asking for you to do the same.

I know it is all going to happen at the right time even if it isn't necessarily when I want it to happen. God has a beautiful baby that is so perfect for our family and even though I hate to wait any longer, I know that all the waiting will be totally worth it.  

Please continue to pray for me and Jeffrey. Please pray for the government workers of Ethiopia, and most importantly please pray for our baby.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

amesege'nallo'

We want to start this post by expressing so much appreciation for all of you who have helped us in this paper chasing process! Some of you have written letters of reference, answered questions, helped us find documents, allowed us to use photos of you, ran errands for us, and so much more! WE CANNOT EXPRESS HOW TRULY BLESSED WE ARE TO HAVE SUCH WONDERFUL FRIENDS AND FAMILY!

This post is very exciting to write! Hence my obnoxious capital letters and exclamations! We are excited to tell you that our documents have been sent to US Immigration Services, and we are now waiting for their approval. Once we are contacted by the FBI and fingerprinted, we will received a letter from Immigration stating that we have the approval to bring an orphan into the US. As soon as we receive this letter, our dossier (massive stack of papers that go to Ethiopia) is ready to be sent to our adoption agency for a final approval and then translated. Once we send these papers, we are told it will be somewhere between 1-3 weeks before they are on Ethiopia soil! We are so excited to hear that our paperwork is coming to an end very soon!

We ask that you please continue to pray for our process because although it feels like we have been waiting for our baby since May, the real waiting doesn't begin till our papers are in Ethiopia. Jeffrey has encouraged me not to keep looking at this Facebook group page that I am a part of because it is very discouraging for me to see that some people have been waiting over a year since their papers were in Ethiopia. I am trusting that it will all happen in the right timing and not in the timing that I would like it to be. Every adoption case is so very different from the next. If you have ever been to a foreign country, you know that other places do not operate on US time.

Once again, we are so very grateful for all of the words of encouragement and support you have shown us. We couldn't have done this without you!   amesege'nallo'- Thank you in Amharic (Well, the pronunciation of "Thank You". The language uses symbols).



Just waiting on one document!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

NO MORE NOTARIZATION!

Wow! It has been a month since I last posted anything.

The month of September has been the month of getting papers, and having people notarize them, and going back and getting them fixed, and then usually going back and getting them fixed one more time! The great news is we are pretty much done with the major paperwork! Have nothing more to collect for ourselves. We are currently waiting on the notarized copy of our home study. It should be in sometime this week. As soon as we are able to pick it up, we will be shipping one of the copies along with a few other documents to US Immigration. This is when we petition to bring a foreign orphan into the US. Once we send the documents, we wait for the FBI to contact us about fingerprinting. Once we get the okay from immigration, WE FINALLY GET TO SEND OUR DOSSIER! Our dossier is a extremely large stack of precious papers that will be translated and shipped to Ethiopia.

The end of the paper-chase is definitely in sight! I can't wait for the papers to be on Ethiopian ground. This is when the real waiting begins. We will be put on a list and will be informed what number we are in the line to receive a referral. A referral is when we will be matched with a baby and given all of the information they have about her/him, and we will have the opportunity to accept or deny. The wait time varies so much, so we really have no idea. We requested an infant which is surprisingly a shorter wait time than a toddler, but much longer than an older child. We also did not request a specific gender which we are hoping will move us a long a little quicker.

We want to say a special thank you to all of our friends and family who have been so supportive of us in this exciting/terrifying/faith stretching/patience making time of our lives. We have received some awesome gently used stuff from the amazing ladies I work with and have also received an adoption photo shoot package that we are very excited about taking on November 11th! Thank you for your constant encouragement and prayers; we need them more than you probably know.

Jeffrey with new book to read to baby.
I have some exciting blog post (thoughts on naming a baby who already has a name, meeting birth mother, traveling twice to Ehtiopia, and more) I want to share with all of you once we start the actual waiting process, but until then I just want to keep everyone up to date on the part of the process we are in right now.

We love you.

Rachel

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How is the adoption process going?

As much as we love being a family of two,WE CAN'T WAIT TO BE A FAMILY OF THREE!
        Jeffrey and I are so blessed to have such awesome friends and family who want to stay updated on how the adoption process is going. I am sorry I haven't posted lately, but summer is over and real life (going to work, taking two classes, grading, and planning) has returned. Here is what has happened since we last posted.
        Tomorrow, I am going to review the home study draft. As long as everything looks good, I think it will be sent off for approval and then our home study we will be complete. We are still waiting on Jeffrey's doctor's letter and physical forms; I am growing very impatient with them. It has been almost four weeks since we were in for his checkup. Next week, we have to attend adoption training Wednesday night and all day Saturday. We have already done 10 hours of training, but the state of Illinois won't accept it. It is frustrating having to spend more time and more money on something that will probably be the same thing we have already completed, but we have to do it.
         I am trying to stay positive through all of the bumps along the way. Once our home study is complete, we have to wait for the FBI to contact us; we have to be fingerprinted again by the FBI. Even though I sometimes feel we are going much slower than I want, I can see our papers going to Africa in hopefully the near future. Once our papers reach Ethiopia, the real waiting begins. I am ready to start the real waiting.
          The other day, I found myself being a little jealous of a pregnant woman in my class. I wasn't jealous of the fact that she was pregnant, but the fact that she knew exactly when her baby was going to arrive. I know my baby will be in my arms at the right time, but sometimes I struggle with the unknown. I feel my heart growing for this baby who I don't even know yet. We guess if it is a boy or a girl. I think it is a boy; Jeffrey thinks we will have a girl.
           I hope this fills you in a little bit. I wish I could say that more has happened, but as we have told you before this is a long process. Thanks for taking this journey with us. HOPING TO HAVE MORE EXCITING NEWS SOON! We love you.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Home Visit

Home visit was a success! Besides the fact that Atti (our 3lb yorkie) wanted to growl at the social worker the whole time, our home visit went very smoothly. Thankfully, we were able to leave our office the way that it currently is and not change it into the nursery yet. We just had to show that our house was large enough for our baby, safe, and clean. Many people think the home study is just a one visit thing, but it is so much more than that. The home study is basically a huge document that tells the state of Illinois, the government of Ethiopia, and everyone else who has to approve us who we are and every little thing about us. It is more of a short biography if I had to describe it.

Our home study is currently being composed. We are still are waiting on Jeffrey's doctor's exam, and Jeffrey's employee letter (YEAH! JEFFREY GOT A NEW JOB!) This past week has just been a whirlwind. We have been praying and believing that Jeffrey would receive a full time job in time to submit it to the home study and literally the week that we need it, the job comes! We truly believe that this adoption is something that we are supposed to do, and we have just stood in faith that God would provide and make a way for all of it to happen. There are so many instances already where we have just had favor, and can see God working on our behalf.
We are all brushing up on our knowledge of Ethiopian culture.

This week, we also completed CPR training. Besides Jeffrey hitting the infant's head on the table while practicing the choking exercises, we did quite well =) We really did learn a lot, and I am glad that we had to take the course. I feel like we are becoming better parents through all the reading, classes, and discussions we are taking part in. I knew that it would be different to adopt an orphan from a third world country, but we are beginning to realize things that we never really thought about. Our baby will have never slept by himself/herself, so sleeping in a quiet bedroom may not be the best transition. Our baby will not have experienced many of the sights, smells, sounds, etc that many American babies face everyday; we must be careful not to send our baby into sensory overload. Although we are also hearing many statistics about institutionalized children and we don't want to be ignorant or unrealistic about our child, we also want to be praying and believing that our child will adapt to her/his environment quite well and that she/he will be healthy and safe while in the orphanage.

There will be other post where we are going to go into more details about our transition home, and how we will need the support of family and friends to understand that bringing our baby home will be different than bringing a baby home from the hospital, but it isn't time for those post yet. What we ask you to do now is to continue to pray for us and for our future child. We are growing more in love each day with a child that we do not know, have not seen, and who may not even be born yet.

We thank God for what He has done, and what He continues to do on our behalf. We are humbled and amazed that we are going to have the opportunity to raise a child that did not come to us through my womb, but absolutely came to us through our hearts.

Psalm 37:4 "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart's desires."

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Visit

Jeffrey getting fingerprinted
Our first visit with the social worker was yesterday, July 27, 2012. We had requested a certain social worker due to a friend's referral, but they assign you to a social worker. We were so pleased with the social worker we were assigned to work with. Susan not only knows a lot about international adoption, but she adopted her three children internationally. It was nice to know that the person working with us had went through a similar experience. She did tell us that adoption is much more time consuming and challenging then it use to be. I figured so, because I have spoke with many older people who have adopted children which are now my age, and they make it seem like it was an easy process.

We were first interviewed (I don't know if that is really the right word, but I kind of feel like that is what we were doing) together and then she divided us up and asked us things individually. I honestly thought the questions that we were asked together were more challenging than the individual ones. We were asked things like what have our biggest fights been over, what have been major stresses to our marriage, how do we deal with conflict, what attracts us to each, etc.

I wasn't sure how soon she would be coming to our home, but she is coming this Friday. Saturday we are taking a CPR class at Children's Hospital. We have such a long journey ahead of us, but it is nice to know we are making progress.

Just so you have idea of where we are, none of our paperwork has even seen the country of Ethiopia. We first have to get everything approved by the state of Illinois which we are finding is one of the most challenging states to work with. Apparently, Arizona is a tough one too. Once we are approved by Illinois, then everything goes to Virginia to be translated and approved by our adoption agency. Then it is all shipped to Ethiopia and the nothing but waiting starts. It feels nice to check things off our list daily, but the mounds of paperwork just don't seem to end. So many people have been asking us why adoption is so expensive and we are learning how easy the expenses add up. $100 for fingerprinting, $50 for CPR classes, $32 for photos (Walgreen ripped us off!), $10 TB test, $20 copay for doctor exam, $300 for application with social worker, alone none of these things cost that much but do it all in a week, and you start to apply your faith. We already live on a tight budget, but we believe that this is something we are supposed to do, and we know it will all work out. We have some big checks to write in the next couple months.

Please be praying for Jeffrey. He has had two interviews this past week, and both of these jobs would be full time, better pay, and benefits. This would be so much better than what he has now. He went to a second interview for one, and he is going on a second interview for the other Tuesday.

Thanks for reading and following our story. We will keep you updated!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation

We are currently in Delaware spending the last day of vacation visiting family. As we told you in our last blog that we were waiting for the social worker to contact us, but she was on vacation. Of course, she is now home and ready to meet with us, and we are hours from home.

We will arrive home late tomorrow night. Next week, we both have doctor's appointments to have our medical exams done for our home study and for our dossier. We both have to meet with the social worker individually, and then she will come visit our home and speak with both of us. We are hoping we can have this all done before Rachel goes back to school. This is the last big thing besides the FBI finger printing that has to be done before we can send everything to Ethiopia. We are also still waiting on Jeffrey's birth certificate so please pray that it comes soon! We just have a minor things besides passport photos (we already have our passports but we still have to get passport photos).

Even though we were on vacation, we didn't stop thinking about our baby and Ethiopia. We found the Ethiopian flag at Rockefeller Center, and we also took Rachel's picture with a ticker on the street that has the name of last emperor of Ethiopia on it. We did some research and like many leaders, he did some good for Ethiopia and for Africa, but he also wasn't the best man in the world either. From what we quickly read in an article from New York Times, he was a a greedy man who did a lot of things to better himself and not his people.

We want our baby to know that before he or she was even born we loved them so much and thought about them all the time. We also want to educate ourselves on Ethiopia, so we can do our best to teach our child his/her culture. We want our child to be proud to be an American citizen, but we also want our child to be proud of his/her African heritage.

We will continue to keep you all updated on the home study process. Please pray that everything goes smoothly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Social Worker

Our last post was mentioning how we are currently in the process of waiting for the social worker to contact us. Jeffrey contacted them on Monday, and they told us that the adoption social worker would be on vacation till next Monday! We have been trying to do the things that we can to prepare for the home study. We are trying to do little things around our house. I have been trying not to think about how nothing has really moved in a while. We are still gathering and creating information that we need for our dossier which goes to Ethiopia. Even though the home study process is taking a little longer to get started than we planned, we will have almost everything ready to ship off when it is complete.

Please keep us in your prayers. The other night it really hit me hard that my baby who may not be born yet is not going to have his/her mommy and daddy at the beginning of his/her life. I just began to weep as I thought about this. Oh how I can't wait to meet him/her. Even though we haven't met and he/she may not be born yet, I am falling more in love everyday. This baby is already a huge part of our lives and I can't wait for them to enjoy it with us.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

BREATHING

Just to keep you all up to date, we are currently in the process of waiting for our social worker to contact us. We have submitted all our paperwork to them, and they should be reviewing it. As any mommy who is concerned about her baby would do, I contacted them and made sure they had received the papers. The office assured me that they had, and that they will be contacting us soon. The social workers are the ones who perform our home study. The home study is a key part to the adoption process. We can't submit our dossier (all our papers to Ethiopia) until we have been approved by our home study. We have been told the home study process can take up to a month. They interview us in their office twice (I think) and then they have to visit our home twice as well.

While we are waiting on the social workers, we have been very busy collecting all sorts of documents- Life insurance forms, birth certificates (Jeffrey's is still on its way! It is challenging to get an overseas birth certificate), marriage license, photos, letters, and lots more! We are actually doing quite well! We just need a few more documents and we will be to the point where we just wait to send it all after the home study. I know that I am going to really have to practice patience in this whole process. It is hard having to wait on others to do their work, and you can't do anything about it! BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE Even though I am not going to physically deliver a baby, I am beginning to think a Lamaze class wouldn't be a bad idea! I'M JUST JOKING, but seriously deep focused breathing might be good.

So this is where we are now. Waiting but still breathing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

FATHER'S DAY!

Father's Day was a very exciting day in our journey! We celebrated Father's Day with Rachel's family on Friday night because Lynn had to work 16 hours on Sunday.  We celebrated Father's Day with Jeff's parents on Father's Day. Both families are really excited! We wanted to let them know soon, because one we need their encouragement and support and two they are smarter than us, so we need them to help us find all our documentation =)

We are blessed to have our families behind us. As you can see from the pictures, we put the sonogram of Africa in their Father's Day cards.
Jeffrey's mom and dad
Rachel's mom and dad

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

WE HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED!

On Friday, June 8, 2012, we were officially accepted into the Ethiopia program. We couldn't be more excited! We have a very long process ahead of us, and ask that you pray for us through this time. We are currently setting up our home study with a social worker. We have tons of paper work that we have to collect to complete our dossier which is all of the papers that will go to the Ethiopian courts. The purpose of this blog is to keep you informed on where we are in this process. We want this to be something our friends and family get to experience with us. We honestly have no idea when our baby will be in our arms. There are lots of things that we are required to do, but there are also many variables out of our hands. Thank you for your love and support. We don't want anyone to feel pressured to donate, but we have setup a paypal account where all of the money that is donated will go towards our adoption. We are also going to have a few fundraisers throughout the adoption process to help cover expenses. We truly appreciate all of your love and support.