Our Ukraine Timeline

For those of you who have been following along all along, are just joining us now, or who have no idea who we are but are trying to navigate your own adoption process, we thought it might be nice to share the timeline of our adoption process through Thailand in a simple(ish) list. I’ve definitely consoled myself in the past (okay, yesterday) by looking at timelines on other families’ blogs, so I hope that this is helpful to some of you!

December 1, 2013 – Learned about a Ukrainian child in need of a host family through our church’s orphan care group

December 2, 2013 – Were approved to be his host family

December 19, 2013-January 16,2014 – Hosted Vitalii. Sent petition to inquire about his adoption status to Ukraine with him on the 16th

February 19, 2014 – Receive official letter stating that Vitalii is registered for adoption in Ukraine

February 23, 2014 – Learn that we are able to simultaneously pull off both adoptions and commit to pursue adoption of Vitalii

March 26, 2014 – Completed home study revision

June 24, 2014 – Summer hosting of Vitalii fell through the night before hosting was to begin. It was a very difficult, uncertain time

September 23, 2014 – Received registration letter from Ukraine

October 1, 2014 – Received invitation letter from Ukraine to travel

October 13, 2014 – Jason traveled to Ukraine for SDA appointment/ first visit

October 21, 2014 – SDA appointment, matched with Vitalii

October 23, 2014 – Traveled to Vinnitsya to see Vitalii

October 28, 2014 – Vitalii signed his petition to be adopted

November 14 – December 3, 2014 – Jason returned to the US to wait for the delayed court date

December 8, 2014 – Court date. Beginning of 10 day waiting period

December 19, 2014 – Unification day! Jude Vitalii is a Camorlinga!

December 22, 2014??? – Obtain passport and travel to Kiev for completion of medical and immigration documents.

December 30, 2014 – The day that Ukrainian winter break begins. If paperwork is not complete by this date…. they will be there an extra week twiddling their thumbs.

Countdown to School: 7 days!

In 7 days, James starts 1st grade. He is excited, but I think I might have a stroke. To have spent such a long time waiting to have him home, safe, in a predictable, nurturing environment, only to then have to send him into the unknown under the care of who knows who, around who knows who, for the better part of his weekdays… I might be freaking out a little. This is largely because I remember my public school days and how questionable many of my teachers and influences were, but also because we are in a poorly performing district and our transfer attempts have not panned out. It isn’t the end of the world, but in the moment, it feels that way. Once Jude is home and we aren’t worrying about adoption costs, I look forward to not relying on public education. You’re all allowed to laugh at us when we find out there is a 3rd child in our near future.

Our second post-placement meeting was yesterday morning and went well. One more meeting in October before we can finalize the adoption and make things totally official. So close!

In Ukraine news, it turns out that one of the notarized documents in our dossier (which is in Ukraine now) was incorrect, so Jason will be resigning, re-notarizing, and returning to have a new apostille seal placed on the document. Thank goodness it is only one document, and thank goodness we still seem to be in good shape for meeting our Jason-travels-in-October goal. No new information about our boy, but we are trusting in the One that put him in our life.

Speaking of children that, according to many people, may as well have just been forcibly removed from their mother’s womb (How’s that for a seque?). I’m sick of hearing about it. Here is a great article exploring why you don’t have the right to murder a child REGARDLESS of where the child is in relation to your body or how large or small or dependent upon you they may be.

http://valleygirlapologist.blogspot.com/2013/11/identity-theft_4.html

Some Updates and a Hopeful Reminder

On the Ukrainian front

Jason has finished compiling all of the necessary paperwork for our dossier to Ukraine, so today we finished having the documents notarized, and Friday we will be heading to Los Angeles to have Apostille certificates attached to nearly all of them. After this step is complete, the entire dossier will be sent to over to Ukraine on Monday. Then, as we understand it, we wait. We have not heard anything new about our boy, but we are moving forward with all of the paperwork, all the while trusting that we have correctly understood God’s will for us to do so.

There are still days when we sit and stare blankly ahead, unable to conceive of a person treating the fatherless so wretchedly, but on the whole, we are hopeful and ready to battle. He led the grumbling Israelites, surely he will lead us.

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

On the Thailand/Home front

We have a post-placement meeting with our social worker – our second since James has been home – on August 5. After a few doctor appointments, we have also figured out that since the U.S. snagged his vaccination documentation, James has to get them all again. It is a bummer, but he has been fairly understanding, and thank goodness, because he doesn’t have a choice. His first American eye exam took place yesterday and fortunately, he doesn’t seem to need glasses.

Over the last two weeks, behavior has started to normalize. We aren’t kidding ourselves into thinking tantrums won’t return, but going this long without a marathon fit has been great. Jason suggested having a “write your name once for every time you hit or kick something” rule, and that, coupled with channeling anger/sadness into a stress ball, has nearly eliminated outrageous outbursts. Ah. Dear, sweet, silent dissidence.

In the attachment department, we are still working. There are so many ways that our family of three has become attached and loving. Generally, it feels like we have found a new normal. But we are still working on clarifying our role to him. No, we aren’t just the next in a series of caretakers. No, all of the women at the orphanage were not your mothers, also. No, not every adult is safe and okay to hug. For that reason, please understand if we have to cut in. Please understand if we have to pump the brakes and ask for a step back, or if I lose my temper when you try to discipline/help him while I am already doing so. It’s still essential that he asks us for everything first, and that he learns the three of us are set apart in a special way from all other people. It has only been three months, so the solid foundation is not yet in place, but we are getting closer.

Thank you for your prayer and support and patience.

Lifesong Matching Grant and LEGOS!

Are you on Facebook? Stop by the grid fundraiser to show your support, pick a number and wait to see if your family won an awesome trip to Legoland (or at least 4 annual passes, which is still REALLY cool). If the grid is filled, our matching grant will be completely met, and that will be $8,000 (minus the prize cost- still REALLY cool) for bringing home our boy. All donations will need to be sent to Lifesong with our family name and number (4544), and the details can be found in the group description.

Thank you for your continued prayers and participation in the crazy journey God has planned for

 

If you’re happy with him you can have him.

Today consisted of heading to the DSDW board interview and the US Embassy to apply for James’ visa. Thankfully, the board interview went well and they granted us approval to take him home. They asked questions about schooling, our jobs, whether we are prepared to care for him when the “honeymoon” period is over (how much longer do you all think we have? Want to take bets?) and asked him which of us he likes best. He told her he likes us both equally, which has been his answer each of the three times he has been asked that question. Imagine our relief!

The interview ended with one of the women telling us that “if you are happy with him, you can have him,” and that was basically the official blessing from Thailand. She didn’t say it in a way that was meant to be offhanded, but it did sound a lot like someone might give away a puppy. We left the meeting in pools of sweat, but also very relieved. James was very polite during the meeting but spent much of the morning dazed by the activity and formality.

The visa interview went well, though we discovered upon arrival that we couldn’t bring our backpacks in the embassy (we seriously had to go ask some shopkeeper to watch our bags for us and thank goodness they did), and then discovered the embassy credit card system wasn’t working, so Jason had to run to find an ATM. They told us that James’ visa will be ready to pick up at 3pm tomorrow, which is AWESOME, since it means we will be on track to fly home as planned. Thank you, God.

Once we arrived at the hotel, all three of us collapsed onto the ground and made exaggerated sighs of relief. The day was trying and the trials were compounded by the 104• temperature, James’ confusion (too many people, too many transitions), my super-fantastic cramps, and Jason’s extremely unpleasant gastric disturbance (those are the most polite ways to describe what was seriously the worst day health-wise for both of us).

Tomorrow afternoon is James’ goodbye party with other kids from the home. We are praying that he has a good time and that it will be a day of closure and joy for him. Now, we are off to the pool, because the boy is a fish (that sinks like lead) and they told us we can have him.

WE ARE GOING TO THAILAND!

I briefly considered writing this entire post in capital letters but figured that would get old for you pretty fast. It is finally time. We have finally received the OK to book plane tickets and make solid plans for travel. We are finally going to meet James.

God has been incredibly faithful during this time. So much has happened during our wait. Basically the whole gamut of human experience has been experienced by our family and close friends (can I get a weary amen?), and through it all we have seen the Lord’s grace and mercy and perfect timing unfold. We have obviously complained (too much, right?), and been impatient, and been unable to comprehend what goodness could possibly result during those times, but we were never abandoned. At no point were we left to our own devices to divine the next step. Looking back through older posts, and reflecting on the journey that took place independent of this process, I am so comforted and so aware of the abundant, undeserved gentleness that has been afforded to us. God is good.

And now we get to meet our son.

We’ll leave during the second(ish) week of April and return around the 28th, with the highlight of the visit being the 17th: the day we meet James! Fortunately, we know what it feels like when a child is COMPLETELY unimpressed by us and thinks we are the most terrifying people on the face of the earth during the first meeting (Thanks, V!), so we don’t have lofty expectations of how that meeting will go. Our prayer requests moving forward are going to be for safe travel to and from, wisdom about how best to meet James’ needs during the first days, and that we would be constantly aware of how incredibly huge this transition will be for him. He didn’t ask for this, he didn’t choose us, and there is a good chance he has no idea what a massive life shift he is about to experience. He has every right to be REALLY displeased. We have been asking God to prepare his heart for this and I am hopeful that this will be the last significant trauma he experiences at his young age.

Some sweet friends have asked for a bit of instruction about how they can be helpful during the first days, weeks and months of transition, so I’ll post some things that I’ve found useful in the next day or two for you to check out if you’re interested.

Thank you for your faithful support. You’re fantastic.

(The timeline from start to present)

 

Our Thailand Timeline

For those of you who have been following along all along, are just joining us now, or who have no idea who we are but are trying to navigate your own adoption process, we thought it might be nice to share the timeline of our adoption process through Thailand in a simple(ish) list. I’ve definitely consoled myself in the past (okay, yesterday) by looking at timelines on other families’ blogs, so I hope that this is helpful to some of you!

October 31, 2011 – Realized we were “ready” to grow our family through adoption and that it would probably be through Thailand.

November 7, 2011 – The Defending the Fatherless Sunday that solidified in our minds we would adopt an older child.

November 27, 2011 – Adoption application to WACAP completed and submitted.

April 30, 2012 – Homestudy through Partners for Adoption (now closed) completed and reviewed.

May 10, 2012 – Received approval packet from WACAP, accepted to the Thailand program.

July 9, 2012 – Dossier completed.

August 24, 2012 – Dossier sent to Thailand / USCIS application (immigration) submitted.

October 5, 2012 – USCIS (immigration) approved.

October 18, 2012 – Received child referral of James from the Thai Red Cross (TRC) / had an international adoption doctor consultation.

October 19, 2012 – Letter of Intent submitted to TRC.

December 15, 2012 – February 28, 2013 – Thailand rejects initial Letter of Intent, and a second appeal is made (thanks for rallying, troops!).

March 7, 2013 – TRC approves our family. We are matched with James!

April 8, 2013 – Sent over an album of family/friends/home photos and gift to James.

September 14, 2013 – Received first video of James, photos and a drawing he made.

October 17, 2013 – Received official “child match documents” from TRC, began renewing our home study (it was set to expire) and immigration and finished travel vaccinations

February 19, 2014 – Received copies of James’ birth certificate and other documents, as well as the To Whom it May Concern Letter. Submitted 1-800 form ICPC (more immigration paperwork).

February 23, 2014 – Notified that US government is processing ICPC.

March 10, 2014 – Received provisional approval of ICPC.

March 14, 2014 – Received notice that Visa paperwork was wired to embassy in Bangkok. Completed and submitted DS 260.

March 20, 2014 – Final processing in Thailand before we are invited to travel. Article 5 issued.

March 26, 2014 – Received committee meeting date!

April 10, 2014 – Travel to Thailand.

April 17, 2014 – MEET JAMES FOR THE FIRST TIME

April 18, 2014 – James begins staying with us.

April 23, 2014 – Attend DSDW matching committee meeting; get his passport and visa.

April 28, 2014 – Return to US.

2014 – Four post placement reports at 2, 4, 6 & 7 months (Thanks, California).

???? – Adopt in US court.

???? – Finalize adoption with Thai consulate.

The Adoption Process for Thailand
The Adoption Process for Thailand

“This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.”

-John Fawcett

A Lot and Not a Lot – One Month Later

If this is a paper pregnancy, are these contractions?

James

A few weeks ago, we received James’ birth certificate and documents that detailed the termination of his birth parents’ rights. Reading the story and seeing in black and white that his mom had relinquished rights was very hard (even though we knew that had taken place before, it just became very real and very, very sad) and both Jason and I had a difficult time imagining all of the hurt that is wrapped up in this situation. James’ history, the details of it, are something that we won’t be sharing freely, out of respect for him. That sort of thing is his to share at some point when he is ready, and we will just keep things very general if asked.

Receiving the documents indicated that the “To Whom it May Concern” letter (AKA the letter we have been waiting on for like a year) was on its way as well, and we were informed that it arrived today! This means we can have a more firm expectation (rather than total guesswork) of traveling by/in April to pick up our boy. *big sigh of relief* Granted, the political climate is turbulent, and a lot can happen in two months, but our case worker seemed to think this would be a reasonable timeline.

Between now and then, our i800 form is being submitted to the US, the US will approve and send that to the US embassy in Bangkok, the US embassy will send that to the DSDW, some other paperwork needs to be given to someone during this time (thank goodness our case worker knows what is going on), and then, once the TRC is notified, we get to choose a travel date and go. Please be in prayer, if you choose to, that our patience tanks would be refilled, that James would be well cared for and safe in the time that remains, that the violent unrest in Bangkok would result in good progress for the Thai people and that everyone involved in the processing of orphan paperwork around the world would HUSTLE.

Bangkok, Thailand

JV

Due to the nature of Ukrainian adoption/hosting policies, we will need to share any info on JV in person. Just ask 🙂

Thank you, dear friends and family.

Kiev, Ukraine