Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our first approximate Due Date!

For the first time in this whole long crazy journey, we have the closest thing to a due date we are ever going to get.

We have our visa interview scheduled for March 11th. If things go well, and she passes the interview (done by our POA in Ghana) they will give us a visa print date.

If we are blessed with a same week print date (as many recent families have been) she will be able to come home March 15th. Some families get a two week print date, so that would be the 22nd.

However, as with all things in this crazy process, nothing is guaranteed, and something in the visa interview could go wrong, or they could need more documents or something else, but we will be praying that it goes smoothly and she is home sometime in March!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Progress at long last!

Got a message today that Grace's passport is ready!!!!!

Next step is to request a visa interview. Once we have the interview date, if all goes well, we have a good guess as to when she will be home!

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Analogy for our Adoption Journey

In answer to our number 1 question: No, no news on Grace yet. Yes, still waiting on the passport. If I don't get any updates by the end of the month, I will send another e-mail to our adoption agency just to check on progress, but really, if there was news, I trust that they would tell us, which means there is no news, and we are still waiting.

As I was laying in bed last night, starting to drift off to sleep, I realized that I had an experience last year that very closely mirrors our particular stage in our journey to get Grace home.

I have long thought that a journey is by far the best way to explain the timeline of an adoption. Each family that adopts from any given country has a number of "landmarks" in their "journey" that they want to see before they come home.  But the time it takes each family to see the landmarks is completely unique and different. So, when people ask, "How long does the journey take?" you will get a different answer from each family because people traveled to those landmarks at different times and in different ways.

Anyways, so on our current journey to get Grace home, there is a memory from Summer 2012, when we did our Yosemite hike, that I think beautifully explains where we are at now. I took this account straight from my blog about that hike:

Here is the most heartbreaking moment of the never ending hike down- miles wise, we were past the point that we thought we could stop and catch the shuttle back to our car, we had been seeing more and more people on the way down, so we knew we were getting close, and then we came around a bend and saw this:

It was a bathroom, and we thought (at least my dad and I) we had made it! Time to sit, time to rest, time to ride the shuttle back and be done torturing our feet and our legs!

However... alas... that was not the case. We were still a mile from that point. A MILE. Worse... to get to that magical wonderful stopping place required us to continue to take the trail which now ...went... up... hill. I wanted to cry. I wanted to protest. I don't even know what I wanted, but my disappointment was great. But sitting there wouldn't take away the fact that for us to be done, we had to continue, even uphill. Again.

This was still a very populated area, so as we practically limped our way through that last agonizing mile, we watched happy families pass us (including little kids), and I wished I had a sign that said, "Don't judge me for my slowness, I have been hiking for the last 7 and a half hours." Almost five hours from when we started our "downhill" trail, we finally, blissfully, made it to the shuttle
I added the bold emphasis, as it is my main point.

We knew, when we started out the hike that it was going to be long, it was going to be painful and a challenge, but we accepted that. We knew that the that Panorama trail had uphill portions, and still decided to take on the challenge.

This is like when Blake and I decided to adopt. You can't read a book or personal account about adoption without knowing that it is a long, arduous process. It just is, and we knew that.

 The trouble, with both, is that basically, we were mislead. On the hike, we thought it was shorter, based on what we had read online, but the online accounts and the mile markers on the mountain itself were wrong (or at least didn't match my Garmin). With our adoption, we were led to believe that getting passports was fairly quick, and that her passport would be ready in January.

Here's my point- in both cases, I don't think it is the actual length that is the problem. I think it is a result of thinking you're at the end, only to discover you have more to go.

In August, I was totally prepared for the thought that she might not be home until summer 2013, and if we hadn't learned anything otherwise, I think we would be okay with the wait. The trouble comes with the fact that we thought that it was going to be quicker when we got our I-600 approved so quickly. By the way, this logic was not wrong, because many other families who got their approval at the same time have already gotten their children home (because they already had passports).

Our hike was long, but the worst moment was when we thought we were done, only to discover that it was another mile still, and the trail went up. This is the point that we are currently at in our adoption. We thought we were done, only to feel that we have another uphill portion before we can get our precious little girl home.

But there is comfort in this analogy too. On that hike, as exhausted and drained as I was, I kept going.

I started to dread every step, and only kept going because I knew that stopping wouldn't help anything, it would just prolong the agony. I had to continually remind myself that I could only be done if I kept going.

Seriously, like a mantra, I kept saying over and over again, "Keep going, then you will eventually be done," in my head.

We ARE moving towards getting Grace home, even if we don't see the progress, even if seems like we aren't moving. Each day IS one day closer to when we get the news about her passport. It will happen, as we just keep going forward. It might have seemed like forever, but we eventually made it to the shuttle. The hike didn't last forever. There was an end, because we just kept taking steps in the right direction.

Even the longest adoption processes eventually end with the child at home (with the exception of programs closing, like Russia, keep those families in your prayers). I do sometimes think about if she will be home for Easter, or Fourth of July, or the Orange County Fair. But even if she isn't here for those things this year (which would be sad) she will be here for them another year. We have plenty of time to make memories with her, because she will eventually be home.

I no longer make predictions on when she will be home. I will sometimes say, "I hope she is home by ___." But I honestly have no idea. The fact that the passport process has taken this long is unexpected, and I think it is partially due to apparently a new part of the passport process (if I understand correctly). She will be home, someday. I even have faith that when that precious, amazing day comes, we will look back and say that it was the perfect day. At this point, we just see an uphill, after an already long hike. So if we sound tired of answering the question, it is because we are tired of asking that question ourselves.

One step at a time, one day at a time, we are getting closer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

To my daughter

Dear Grace,
    It has been six months since we learned about you. It seems like you have been part of our lives forever, but in truth, it has only been half a year since we knew of your existence. But in that time, you have become far more than just a name and a picture to us, you have become part of our family.

    We were so excited to finally tell our agency yes, that we wanted a child who was waiting for a family. We were so nervous as we waited the anxious month before we were told that yes, you would become ours. We were so ready to begin the journey towards getting you home.

     You have brought so much joy to our family, even though your dad and I are the only ones who have had the pleasure to meet you. You were loved from the moment that they saw your picture, and heard that you would one day be coming home to us as our daughter.

      October was a month of joy, as we learned that far away in Ghana, you legally became ours. You were officially no longer without parents, and we rejoiced so greatly on that day. November and December were a whirlwind. We loved getting to spend those four short days with you, though you likely have forgotten by now, we haven't. As you grow older, you may not ever remember that time, but we look forward to showing you pictures, and sharing with you how much it meant to us.

     I don't know how much they told you in the orphanage during this time, and I don't think you will ever be able to tell us. But in December, we thought you would get to come home really quick, and we were so ready for that. Nothing would have made us happier than to welcome you home in January, show you your room, your clothes and your toys.

    Grace, there is so much in your life that I will never be able to explain. I don't know why your biological mother felt that she couldn't care for you. I don't know why you were in this orphanage for eight months before your name even came up on a list to be able to be adopted. I don't know why it appears, that for now, God's plan for you is to stay there a little longer.

    But, there are many things that I do know. I know that God has a plan for your life, and he has had a plan for it since the day you were born. I know his plans are good, and that in the midst of all those things that I don't know, it was all part of the path for you to become part of our family. I know that though we may have missed your first steps, and your first words, we will be there for you on your first day of school. I know that while we couldn't read to you the first year of your life, we will be there with you as you learn to read. For every moment, every second that we are missing now, in the first few years of your life, we will make up for it by being there for you for more than ten times that long as you grow up.

     While I wish desperately that you were here, now, or that we had news that meant that it was just a week or two away, I know that most of us don't remember anything under the age of three. So we will remember this wait, and these months, but I hope that as you grow up, it will seem to you like you have always been with us. 

      I pray for you daily. I pray that you are loved while you are there. That you are cared for, and well fed, and healthy. I pray that all of the paperwork which keeps you from us gets finished quickly, and that God's will and timing will ultimately determine when you come home.

  Know that long before you felt like I was your mom, I was. And as your mom, I love you and miss you, and can't wait to see you again.

                                                                                                     - Mom

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tortillas and Soap Substitutes

In our on going quest to save money, and cut costs where we can, this week we made our own tortillas (actually the second time we have done this, but I forgot to get pictures the first time).
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They are surprisingly easy, and have very few ingredients. After we combine the ingredients, we roll them into little balls, let them sit for twenty minutes, roll them out, and then just cook them like pancakes!

Tortillas aren't super expensive to start with, so I don't think it saves us that much money, but they are very tasty, and there is a certain sense of accomplishment in making them yourself!

The other thing that we have made, though haven't tried yet, is our own dish soap substitute. I had seen online lots of easy, green cleaners that you can make, so I had decided that as we run out of our current supply of cleaners, we would make our own!

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This recipe is extremely simple. You take lemon peels, simmer them for four hours in water, then leave them to soak in the water overnight. In the morning you strain the peels, save the water, which smells lemony and supposedly has the lemon cleaning qualities in it. Then, you combine it with baking soda, and use that to wash your dishes.

We have gotten as far as the step before baking soda, so we aren't sure how effective it is yet, but I will be picking up baking soda on Thursday, and seeing how it goes! I am hopeful!