Monday, September 16, 2013

Strength will rise as we wait...

Things on the adoption front have been seriously quiet.  

Which had me in a quite a funk-a-dunk and gave me way too much time to building worry, anxiety, and allow bad thoughts to swirl in my brain.  Negative thoughts.  Worry?  Did I mention worry?  

Here's a look at what has transpired since the last timeline I posted
(new developments are in red):

March 17th-Officially decided to adopt again
March 17th-25th Explored and prayed over all adoption options (domestic, international, foster)
April 27th-Reviewed country choices for our first placement agency of choice, All God's Children International (AGCI) in Oregon
April 28th-Submitted free pre-application for All God's Children International-chose the Philippines
May 1st- Began working on gathering medical letters in support of Jeremy's stable health
May 2nd-Touch base with our homestudy agency Special Children Inc. (SCI)
May 7th-Jeremy's personal medical letter sent to AGCI
May 14th-Confirmation-alll medical letters have arrived at AGCI, approved by social services department, but still encouraged to choose another country-we choose Bulgaria
May 31st-Touch base again with SCI
June 7th-Phone call with Deb, our social worker/case worker at SCI (we used her with AJ's adoption too!)
June 8th-(Our Anniversary) SCI Homestudy Packet arrives
June 14th-Announce to family and friends we are adopting again!
June 20th-Creation of our Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser on GoFundMe
June 20th-First puzzle piece donation made!
June 20th-Submitted formal application and fee to AGCI
June 21st-Received initial call about a little girl in Bulgaria who needs a home through another placement agency-Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) in Michigan
June 24th-Received official referral information for Mimi
June 25th-Submission of referral documents to pediatrician, ophthalmologist, University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic, PT, SLP, and Vision Specialist
June 27th-Accepted Mimi's referral
June 27th-Letter of Intent specific to Mimi signed and notarized
June 28th-(AJ's birthday) Announced Mimi's referral publicly
June 28th-Mailed Letter of Intent to Secretary of State in Madison, WI to be apostilled
July 3rd-Received apostilled Letter of Intent from Madison
July 5th-Mailed apostilled Letter of Intent to AIAA
July 5th-AIAA Packet with Formal Application arrives
July 8th-Letter of Intent is received at AIAA
July 19th-Confirmation that Letter of Intent is in Bulgaria with the translator
July 23rd-SCI Homestudy visit/75% of required documents, including formal application and fee are submitted
July 25-27th-Operation Mimi Rummage!
July 25th-Formal application, fee, and other forms sent to AIAA
July 30th-Officially place our application on indefinite hold with AGCI and inform them of Mimi and AIAA
July 30th-Confirmation from AIAA that Letter of Intent is at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in Bulgaria
July 30th-MOJ requests POA, Declaration, and Personal Statement to be completed and submitted ASAP
August 7th-Dossier packet received via email from AIAA

August 22nd-MOJ sends urgent request for Intermediary Agreement to be completed and submitted the same day

August 23rd-Manual Fingerprinting (Round 1) completed and sent to the FBI for clearance
August 28th-MOJ approves our application and documents submitted thus far.  
Dossier is now required to be in Bulgaria within 6 months from this date, by February 28th.

September 28th Operation Mimi "Apps & Bids" Adoption Fundraiser
Homestudy report completed
Apply for adoption grants and loans
I-800A Apply to USCIS for Immigration Approval & Obtain Fingerprinting Appointment DateDigital Fingerprinting Appointment (Round 2)
Wait on immigration approval of I-800A immigration application, called the I-171H (30-90 days)

Dossier documents sent to Madison for apostilling Dossier put together and sent to AIAA
Dossier sent from AIAA to Bulgaria
Dossier logged in at the Ministry of Justice (takes 2-4 weeks from arrival)
Travel to visit
One month lapses
Travel again to pick-up-Mimi!

We are on pin and needles waiting for our homestudy report.  We are stuck.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Stuck.  

We received word in August that we were "pre-approved" by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice.  Wahoo!  What we didn't expect was that the "6 months to complete your paperwork" changed.  We were given more time.  Instead of 6 months from the Letter of Intent (June), it was now 6 months from this pre-approval.  So this gives us til February.  Which, has become a blessing because 1) we still don't have our homestudy 2) we have not applied for immigration approval which could take 3 months to process and approve.  We were given more time.
We also received word in August that we would not be receiving anymore information on Mimi until we travel to visit her.  I do believe my heart broke when I read that email.  We are learning, in process, how vastly different this adoption is from AJ's.  It's given a whole new meaning to the word diversity in adoption. 

The logical explanation of this is:
When AJ was in the orphanage in Guatemala, the attorney who owned the orphanage was his guardian.  Therefore, it was her call as to what we received in regards to pictures, medical updates, etc.  I called the monthly pictures my 30-day fuel.  Most of the time, the pictures came monthly.  They made me cry and smile simultaneously.  They helped us feel connected to our son and gave us fuel to keep forging ahead.

In Bulgaria, the government is the guardian of orphaned children.  Information is released for referral purposes only.  When we visit her, we will spend time with her and her staff at the orphanage.  I am talking HOURS people, not a quick stop.  Hours over DAYS. They will observe us with Mimi.  We will get to ask all the questions I have saved on a word document that keeps growing in word count daily.  Until then, we treasure the information, pictures, and videos we have thus far.  They are precious and we know we are blessed to have so much information on her.  

Bulgarian's government guardianship is also the reason why we cannot share her with all of you.  This piece of her story is sometimes the hardest-in the moment.  She is so REAL.  I can assure you of that.  However, there is a piece that seems to be missing.  I'm not allowed to send her photos to have them printed anywhere.  Tomorrow will include a trip to Target to purchase a new color cartridge for the printer in the closet.  She's in our hearts, so she's going to be on our walls.

And, as if this needed a cherry, we are not allowed to send her a care package.  I had prayed for the right song to sing into some stuffed animal so that she could hear my voice.  The word "hear" holds such meaning to both of us for so many reasons.  When AJ was in Guatemala, we were allowed to send him a care package.  One.gallon.ziploc.bag. Somehow, I shoved a baby photos album, rattle, onesies (plural), and a lot more into that bag.  I was hoping for, at the very least, the ziploc experience again.  When I asked the question, I knew the answer.  But my heart still needed confirmation. Stupid heart.

While in the midst of our homestudy requirements we were required to complete a certain number of hours of adoption education/training.  This process rocked both Jer and I.  We heard a lot we already knew, have, and continue to experience.  But we also learned a lot that made us go, "Ohhhhhhhhhh!"  It caused a lion in me to awake and process some feelings regarding AJ's attachment process and how it has gone well, had its struggles, and how it still continues, 6 years post-adoption.  AJ came home at chronological age 13 months-assumed age due to orphanage care 7/8 months-arrived home and evaluated at a newborn level.   Mimi is most certainly not going to be at any of those stages.  She is a toddler.  And that, well that makes me ache for her.  No child should spend the bulk of their early years, ANY YEARS, in an orphanage.  I digress...

I am processing feelings of knowing full well this precious love, whom we love already, will probably not love us at first sight.  She might hate us.  

She will push us away.  Of this I am certain.

She will go through trauma of leaving the only thing she's ever known besides a hospital and doctor's visits and be thrust in the arms of this weepy loving couple who want to dote on her.  Dote, shmote.  The reaction begins quickly.  AJ reacted, and so will she.  The grieving begins sooner than later.

And the only thing I can do, half-way across the world is pray for her sweet soul.  Don't misunderstand me, prayer is POWER. But my Mama heart wants to pray with her living, breathing sweet being in my arms.  

When things are quiet, motionless, and even stagnant in this process, it is so easy to become discouraged.  To question.  To lose faith.  To ask the question-why are we doing this?

And then I remember that this was no accident.  I had a conversation with God telling him I was putting our family's future in his hands and the next morning my husband woke up and said he was ready to adopt again.  Days after announcing our adoption plans we receive a referral.  I create a puzzle fundraiser, the first of many fundraising ventures to bring our baby girl home, staring at the screen, terrified to hit "POST".  I do, and God provides through our amazing family and friends.

We are waiting.  While that is incredibly hard, He is building strength in us while we wait.  Perhaps this quiet time is to encourage us to cherish this time as a family of 3.  Perhaps it is to prepare AJ, as best we can, for his world and our world to be rocked when we become a family of 4.  Perhaps its to give us time to prepare Mimi's bedroom as it is now a requirement for our dossier to have photos of her completed, ready-for-her room.  Perhaps its to allow us time to gather the funds needed to bring our precious girl home.

Even though my heart doesn't want to wait, I know it is with purpose that we wait.

**Mimi has her own playlist-some of you have been asking me what's "on" her playlist thus far, I've posted it in the right sidebar.

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