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.

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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.

Lord Willing: The Time We Didn’t Get What We Wanted

I should have been using that expression more frequently.

“Lord willing.”

But here we are, 5 days after our (host) son should have arrived and 2 days after we learned that he will not be coming this summer, barring the miraculous. It seems our plans and prayers were not in line with His will. However, (thank goodness there is a “however”) it seems we are catching glimpses of what His will may be, and we are grateful. Saddened, and frustrated, and hopeful, and PISSED. And grateful.

So, here is the story with as much detail as I can really give in such a public way, so that you can be praying alongside us for our boy:

Rather than being placed on the plane to come stay with us for the summer, he was shuttled to a camp. There is one person that caused this horribly disappointing thing (for our boy, and for us) to happen. He can potentially interfere with the adoption and we have reason to fear that outcome. Please pray that our sons’ hearts would be protected (especially our (host) son), that this person would be dealt with swiftly, that Jason and I would be ready to step up in whatever way we can, that we can protect future children and families from this person, and that the adoption would be successful. Ultimately, we are praying for good to beat evil in this battle.

This has opened our eyes (wide, WIDE) to the urgent need for advocates and families willing to defend the fatherless. We knew it existed, but now we are on fire. So, please, please, please consider how you might begin to or continue to care for orphans-

otherwise Jason and I will have to adopt roughly 200 kids and live in a shack.

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

Expiring Paperwork and other Expected Hair-pullers

We were reminded (read:learned) last week that our US immigration paperwork expires on December 27th. This is a typical issue for families with long wait times and means that we must have our homestudy renewed. Homestudy renewal entails putting down a chunk of change (naturally, right?), being live scan fingerprinted again, showing proof of employment and finances again, enduring the frustrating process that is medical paperwork again(yay! another TB test!), sitting down with our social worker again, and signing several other pieces of paperwork that reaffirm we are who we say we are, still, even a whole year later.

In SOMEWHAT related news, we are praying that we will be able to pick up James in November and blow off all of these deja vu dealings. Jason spoke to a woman today who has a ministry over in Thailand and has been struggling to gain approval to adopt an orphaned girl that she met during her stay. She recounted that she knew the girl’s parents, they passed away, she expressed desire to adopt the girl and was told that since no paperwork exists for the child, she is not adoptable. How broken is this world?

Dear family and friends of prayer, would you pray with us that God would move these mountains if it is His will, both in our case and this orphaned girl’s case? If it is not His will, would you pray that we can shake some of the frustration that comes along with this sort of news? Would you ask Him to empower the other woman to care for this little girl, red tape be damned?

Another Reason the Video was Awesome

There is one thing lately that has become very apparent about the adoption process; if viewed from a particular angle, it makes you desperate for heaven. ‘Desperate’ in the “on your knees, begging that today would be the day that Christ returns” sense of the word. It’s been two years for us of planning and dreaming and praying and waiting and joy and sadness and doing well and failing, and in the last few weeks, I think I’ve finally started to see things with a better perspective.

How could this adoption story not remind us of our own adoptions through Christ, by which those of us who trust in Him have been saved from the punishment we know we deserve? Out of so much brokenness, He is redeeming the situation and knitting us together with someone we haven’t physically met.

When we received the video of James, a realization brought me great excitement. I had been dreaming about what he might sound like, how he might walk, what makes him smile, and so on. I had read his paperwork and seen photos, but it isn’t quite the same, right? Hearing him and seeing him was so much better than I could have expected. It was incredible. How much more incredible will it be to touch him and talk to him and look into his eyes?

And how much more so with Jesus?

How much more incredible will that be? We read His word and talk to Him and receive leading from the Spirit; how much more to actually touch Him and walk with Him and see Him with our own eyes? I can’t really begin to fathom it, but seeing the connection in essence of waiting to meet our son and waiting to meet our Savior has made me desperate to know.  I love this renewed and expanded excitement. I’m thankful for the ways adoption has drawn us closer to God, through prayer and community and so on, but I’m also thankful for the ways that adoption provides clear parallels to our relationship with God.

Encouragement in the Waiting: Videos, Photos and a Drawing

"Eeeeek!" said Danielle.
“Eeeeek!” said Danielle.

I didn’t mean to get you too excited about the “videos and photos” part. Sorry, still can’t post anything online.  BUT I can *tell* you about the videos and the photos and we can totally show you the drawing he sent to us.

So, before I jump ahead, the reason we have these wonderful new glimpses into the life of the person who is our son is because of a generous couple that previously adopted from Thailand. They returned over the summer to the TRC (with their own, now 18 year old, daughter from the TRC) and offered to take photos and video of the children waiting on being united with their family. We are so incredibly grateful to them, and will be expressing that in no small way when we send them a thank you card. The blessing of receiving these things….. I just can’t describe. Jason and I look forward to being able to someday do this for other families.

So, there were around 30 photos and 4 videos on the disk we received. He is wearing the shirts we sent(they fit fairly well, that makes him a 4/5), flipping through the album(it looks like he has already thrashed it, the cover is gone – sorry Tucker parents – and after watching the way he was wrenching those pages, it’s not a shocker), looking closely at the picture of us wearing matching shirts, talking about how he wants a cat and pointing at the picture of Dresden, and being a wonderfully wiggly child. He sang a couple of songs including the Thai alphabet(that alphabet goes on for daaaays, my goodness) and a mother’s day song, recited his numbers and drew diligently as the camera rolled on. He flashed a winning smile as he tried to coax the gentlemen to let him hold the camera.

Numbers and his name and the universal smiley sun
Numbers and his name and the universal smiley sun

In the video and one of the photos, he makes the “I love you” sign and smiles into the camera. When I first saw that photo I just started to bawl(rumor has it Jason did, too, but don’t tell him I told you). It was so much of what we had been praying about(shy of him actually being here): seeing his smile, hearing his voice, wondering how he felt about the prospect of me and Jason being his parents, wondering if the shirts fit and if he actually looked through the album. Learning that he likes cats, likes to sing, enjoys the show Ben 10(??), gets along well with other kids, enjoys school and excels…… that is all icing on the cake.

Today was such a blessing. God’s timing can be hard but it is always good.

Missed Birthdays, Waiting and Hope

What does one do while they wait for their son, as birthdays pass, as holidays march on, and as day after day their inbox provides no news?

Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

Psalm 25:4-5
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry

Psalm 62:5-8
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God;he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

Romans 5:3-4
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Hebrews 6:15
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

It is so easy to become discouraged, but we are also so grateful to know that we don’t have to *stay* discouraged. We are able to move from that place of melting into the couch, doggedly refreshing our inbox, to a place of thanksgiving for the amazing things we have already witnessed and a place of hope for the amazing things that we will someday witness.

When James’ birthday passed, we sent him a card. It was so hard to pick one out(it is our first birthday gift! No pressure!!) but we settled on Superman because he is an outstanding orphan role model, and what little boy doesn’t like superheroes? The card came with a little wristband and we did our best to translate the words so that it would be easier for him or one of his attendants to read it. No word on whether he received it, or liked it, or hated it, or anything, but I pray that in some way receiving it helps him to feel loved by us already, and that he was able to celebrate his 6th birthday with increased joy.

photo (2)

In other news, did you see this? Our friend Sara Lucero and her husband have decided to adopt an infant domestically! We are very excited for them, and she started a blog about their process. Last week, she added a post in which she allowed me to answer a few questions for prospective adoptive moms. In the future, she will have other adoptive moms do the same! Sounds pretty great to me!

The interview