Big Update

29 Jul

1024881240934401I have horribly neglected this blog the past 8-ish months (have I mentioned that I hate blogging?) but I’m forcing myself to sit and write an update because something big happened in our adoption process yesterday.  I know so many of our friends and family have been faithfully praying for us, especially the past couple months, and this is the easiest way to get information to everyone.  To help you all understand this stage of the adoption process, let me start by breaking it down in a concise timeline:

Almost 4 1/2 yrs ago we started the adoption process.  I’m a tinsy bit ready for this process to be done.

Nov 13, 2014– We got a referral for a beautiful baby boy!  We immediately accepted the referral and began filling out the “referral acceptance paperwork.”

Nov 15, 2014 — Our son turned 1 yr old!

Nov 26, 2014– Finally completed the paperwork and Fed-Exed it to our agency (Josh was overseas for work when we got our referral, so it took us a hot minute to get everything signed, notarized, etc).

—At this point we were launched into the PAIR process.  PAIR = Pre Adoption Immigration Review.  This means that the US Embassy in Ethiopia has our case file and is doing an investigation into all the documents to make sure everything is legit.  Once the PAIR process is complete, they are basically saying that they approve for us to move forward with this adoption.  They do this by sending us our PAIR letter.

—March 5, 2015 — Got an email from the Embassy notifying us that our PAIR process is complete and our letter will arrive within 7-10 days.

Mid March, 2015 — PAIR letter arrives and we send it off for authentication.

March 26, 2015 — Authentication is complete and our PAIR letter is sent to Ethiopia.  At this point we are waiting anxiously for a Preliminary Hearing to be scheduled.

May 5, 2015 — We find out that our Preliminary Hearing has been scheduled for June 1st.  YAY!  This is not something we attend.  We need to have a favorable hearing, then get the stamp of approval from MOWYAC before we can get a court date and travel to meet our son.  (MOWYAC = Ministry of Women, Youth & Children for the country of Ethiopia.  More often referred to as MOWA)

June 1, 2015 — Our Preliminary Hearing takes place and all goes well.  It was a “favorable hearing” and the court asks for nothing else from us.

—At this point, our case file is handed off to MOWA.  Our case is assigned to one of the five MOWA investigators, who will have the responsibility to look over our case and make sure everything is tip top.  Basically, MOWA is doing EXACTLY what the US Embassy just did a couple months earlier, just on a smaller scale.  Once they complete their investigation, they give their stamp of approval in a MOWA letter — or “court document” — and we can FINALLY be given a court date and FINALLY travel to meet our son.

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So, June 1st comes and goes.  The first few weeks I check in with my agency 2 or 3 times to make sure everything went well and there is nothing that MOWA needs from us.  They assure me that we had a favorable hearing and MOWA has not asked for any additional documentation on our case.  It is not unusual for MOWA to ask for additional documents or for clarification on certain aspect of a case file.  This makes the wait for a court date even longer but they did not request any of this from us.  Thank God!  MOWA works at their own pace and can be extremely unpredictable.  We really have no idea how long it will take them to review our case and give us the approval needed for us to get a  court date.  Months ago, I was added to a facebook group message with several other families who were at the same stage in the process as Josh and I.  We were all keeping each other updated and getting to know each other because we expected to travel together.  I saw each of these families have break-throughs in their cases and travel to meet their kids.  Some of them have even brought their children home already.

Each day that goes by, my anxiety grows.  Just before the 4th of July, several people from my agency who had prelim hearings on the same day as us (June 1st) receive their MOWA approval and were issued court dates.  Many of them traveled on the 4th of July to meet their children.  I was thrilled for them and sure that we’d be issued a court date the following week.  The first, second and third weeks of July came and went with no MOWA approval letter or court date for us.  I am becoming more and more distressed as I watch families who were weeks and even MONTHS behind us in the process, zoom pass us as they receive court dates, travel to meet their children, and bring their children safely home.  I am happy for them, but WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG FOR US?!  It’s hard to wait for something this important when you have no idea why you are being made to wait.  I felt like something must be wrong. I kept checking with my agency, who is consistently checking with MOWA about my case to make sure that there is nothing MOWA needs from us.  Our agency cannot figure out WHY MOWA has not completed our investigation and given us a letter.  They have asked MOWA specifically about our case time and time again and each time they are told, “Everything is fine.  NO we are not waiting on any other paperwork.  Nope, don’t need anything else from the orphanage, We just haven’t gotten to it yet — we’ll get to it soon.”

135477342301707The courts in Ethiopia close for the rainy season every year, which runs from mid-August to mid/late-October.  If we don’t get a court date before the closure, we will not bring Theo home before his 2nd birthday, possibly not even before the New Year.  A couple weeks ago, I get added to a NEW facebook group message with several other waiting families and we begin getting to know each other, believing we will all travel together.  All of these families, who were weeks or months behind us in the adoption process, have received court dates.  Most of them have already traveled or are leaving this week.

The past 2-3 weeks have been excruciating.  I just kept thinking…”God, what am I doing wrong? Am I not praying enough? Not submitted enough? Is my attitude wrong? Am I not trusting enough? What can I do to fix this so that you will answer our prayers?” I know that sounds ridiculous but at that point I had moved through every stage of grief and was at the point of bargaining.  I also needed someone to blame.  So why not blame myself?  So many people are praying for us and we are praying as well, but it felt like God was asleep at the wheel.  I’m not proud to admit that I had these thoughts but the struggle is REAL. When we needed God to move mercifully on our behalf, it felt like He was silent.

I was getting so extremely concerned that I actually started having nightmares. Early last week I had a dream that my 2 yr old daughter, Giselle, drown. It happened right in front of me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. We were enjoying a day at the lake with the family and swimming together.  She had a life jacket on and she sunk right to the bottom.  I went after her as fast as I could but by the time I brought her back to the surface it was too late.  She had drown.  The nightmare repeated itself three times. I felt so much powerlessness, unspeakable grief, and this deep sense that I should have or could have done something to “fix” it and keep her from drowning. It was awful.  A few days later as I was pondering this nightmare, I realize that it was a manifestation of what I’m feeling as I walk through this adoption process. Grief. Loss of control.  Powerlessness. Striving to fix something that is broken beyond repair.  I am concerned about Theo.  I don’t know what kind of care he’s getting at the orphanage, what kind of trauma he has already endured, or what it will be like to meet him and bring him home to our family. Some days I feel numb, other days my feelings are SO BIG that they explode out of me.  I know families who were given court dates two weeks after their prelim hearings, and others even sooner than than.  Yet our case has been sitting on someone’s desk since JUNE 1st for no apparent reason.  IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I am trying desperately to surrender to God and trust that His plan is for good, even though it seems like it’s harming us and our son. It’s so hard!

BUT WAIT, that’s not the end of the story.  Monday morning (yesterday), I’m finally coming to a place of acceptance.  Whatever the reason for us not getting a court date before the closure, I sure don’t understand what it is but I have to trust that God has a plan that is bigger than my pain.  Even bigger than my child’s pain.  THEN I get a phone call from my case worker with a huge update.  On Monday morning (yesterday), the MOWA office in Ethiopia called my agency’s office in Ethiopia and confessed to them that they had LOST our court document.  Yep, that’s right.  THEY LOST IT.  It has been lost for quite a while (weeks?) and they’ve been trying to find it.  So all this time that my agency has been checking with them about our case, instead of being honest about what happened they’ve said “Oh we just haven’t had time to get to that case yet”, hoping they’d be able to find my court document and get our case pushed through.  They finally decided to quit wasting time (since, you know, the courts will stop issuing dates in like a week) and fess up about what happened. Needless to say, I was shocked to hear this but also relieved to have a real answer as to why our case has not moved in nearly two months.

—So where do we go from here?  MOWA has scheduled for our court document to be redone next Tuesday, Aug 4th.  My agency is pressuring them to get this done sooner but we don’t know if that is possible.  Having the court doc redone will likely be a quick process and hopefully we can get a court date right away!  We are in the eleventh hour, folks!  We really need a mircale to actually get a court date before the closure at this point.  My case worker assured me that our agency’s staff and the MOWA personnel are working their butts off to get this all sorted out and get us a court date before the closure, but of course there are no guarantees.  We will have extremely short notice if we do get a date before the closure so I am getting packed and ready to go.

Thank you so much to everyone who has prayed for us.  Please continue to do so!  WE love you so much!

We got a REFERRAL and SUPERHERO CAPES FUNDRAISER!!!!

19 Nov

After 3yr and 9 months in this adoption process, we have finally received a referral for a precious boy!!!!!!  We are already falling in love with him and over the moon excited to meet him and bring him home.  More details to come about all that!

We are wasting no time and getting right into fundraising for travel costs. INTRODUCING>>>>
SUPER HERO CAPES! $20 each, flat rate shipping $5, no matter how many you buy. These will make great Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers! Super cute color for boys and girls! They will fit a child through age 10. If you are interested in purchasing a cape or two just leave a comment and I will send you a message with payment options. You can also email me here: annaktimmer(at)gmail.com

I hope to place two orders before Christmas, and we’ll continue ordering after that if there is enough interest!!!superhero

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!! THANK YOU!!!
These are double lined satin capes. And the superheros and colors we will have available are listed below:

1 = Superman (Red on top & Blue underneath)
2= Superman (Blue on top & red underneath)
3 = Batman (black on top & yellow underneath)
4 = Robin (red on top & green underneath)
5 = Flash (red on top & yellow underneath)
6 = Captain America (blue on top & red underneath)
7 = Spiderman (red on top & black underneath)
8 = Green Lantern (Green on top & Silver underneath)
9 = Batgirl (black on top & fuchsia underneath)
10 = Wonder Woman (red on top & blue underneath)
11 = Spidergirl (Purple on top & pink underneath)
12 = Supergirl (pink on top & silver underneath)
13 = Iron Man (Red on top & Yellow underneath)
14 = Thor (Red on top & Black underneath)
15 = Hulk (Green on top & Purple underneath)

Also, I’ve have an Etsy shop, the proceeds of which go straight to our adoption fun. I would love for you to check it out and share with friends.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheBloomingWillow…

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child

2 Apr

I cannot take credit for the post below.  I read it on another adoptive mom’s blog but it was so well written that I wanted to share it here.  I identified with so much of this (I bolded the parts that were exactly our story as well).

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.

I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.

I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.

I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.

Protected: More News on the Eth. Adoption Slowdown and a Call to PRAYER

4 Mar

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Reasons for the long wait

17 Jan

On the first day of every month our adoption agency let’s us know if we’ve moved any spots on the waiting list.  Some of you may remember that when we got that email in August, we had moved 16 spots in one month!  It was amazing.  Since then, we have only moved one spot on the waiting list.  There has been a major lag in referrals these past five months.  One reason for this is because the courts in Ethiopia close for the “rainy season” which spans from August to October.  Many families in the adoption process are getting discouraged, antsy, frustrated and wondering if this long period of “silence” is a sign that yet another country is closing it’s door to international adoption.  It’s hard to wait. I get asked all the time why the wait is so long, how much longer will we be waiting, if there are so many children needing families, why does the process have to be so hard and take so long?  

To answer some of these questions and bring encouragement to families in process, our adoption agency posted this explanation on their facebook page today.  It’s very informative and clear so I decided to repost it here instead of trying to explain everything in my own words.  

There are lots of questions about why infant referrals have lagged, and if it has any relation to the recent rumors of a closure in Ethiopia. I figured I would address these questions in a new post in order to reach more of you. Not all referrals have stopped or slowed down, but since the majority of our families are requesting infants it sure feels that way! Most orphaned infants come from rural areas, we don’t see a lot of abandoned or relinquished infants in the larger, or more developed areas of Ethiopia. When a child is abandoned or relinquished the process for adoption starts at the local level. Adoption Agencies do not receive documents for a child until the child’s documents are approved, and the child has been deemed eligible for adoption (which also means that the child has no other options). Rural areas in Ethiopia do not have Regional Authority, which means that once the child has completed the local process, the Regional Government then needs to verify the process. This is an extra step when a child comes from a rural area, versus a child from an area where the local government has regional authority. Since the majority of orphaned infants come from these rural areas, the process before referral is slightly longer. Referrals slowed from these areas when court and government offices closed for the rainy season. Once these Government agencies reopened in mid-late October, Federal MOWCYA had imposed new requirements for the local process. Anytime we see new requirements in the process, we experience delays. Meetings, training, and other adjustments are made, and there is a lag in the process for those children who are in process. We have experienced these adjustments to the process, and delays many times. However, when you add rumors of a closure it adds stress and panic to the process. What always gives us comfort in the Ethiopia Adoption process is the Ethiopian Government’s constant improvement to the adoption process. Although we tend to view delays as problematic, or threatening to the adoption process, it is very much the contrary. Why would the Ethiopian Authorities make appropriate and necessary changes to a naturally imperfect system if they planned on shutting it down? Why would they impose extra checks and verification to a child’s orphan status unless they were striving to improve the ethics of adoption in Ethiopia? Referrals always ebb and flow. Some months we see many referrals, while other months are slow. This has been a long stretch for infant referrals, and we understand the concerns some of you may have. The new step in the process imposed by MOWCYA, is an additional verification to ensure that the child has no other options for support. Previously this was verified by one of the Government agencies in the local process, either the local Court, or the local MOWCYA. Now MOWCYA has organized a committee of five Government workers from the local Government to verify cases. This committee will review the child’s circumstances, and determine if the child has any other options for support before being approved for international adoption. This is a great improvement in the adoption process, and further assurance that the Ethiopian Government’s concern is that adoptions are completed ethically. Unfortunately, this can result in a delay or hiccup in the process, as it is viewed by the many waiting families. What we do know is that there are many children in process. Their document process has been returned back to the local Government for committee approval, and it will then go back to the Oromia Regional Office for final approval. After which, we should see many referrals again. We are working closely with the Orphanages that we partner with to provide them the extra support that they need during this time. They have many children in their care, and are working diligently with the local Government to get their documents completed. The local Authorities are receiving pressure from the Orphanages to get the process moving, as facilities are filling up with children in need. Prayers are needed! Especially for those who are caring for these children, and those who are responsible for verifying each child’s circumstances and determining what is best for the child’s future. 

We have made numerous attempts in Ethiopia to verify information concerning the meeting with Parliament, and we have not been able to confirm that there has been a meeting since the last meeting which was reported by Allafrica.com. We will continue to check on this, and keep you all informed. We have communicated the rumors of a closure with several Officials in Ethiopia, and have found no reason for concern. We certainly do not dismiss how hard the wait for a child is on a family, and understand how situations like this add stress and uncertainty to an already stressful process. We are praying for you all daily! We stand behind, and support the Ethiopian Government in their efforts to provide ethical adoptions. We love each of you, and appreciate your support to each other during the adoption process.

Online Auction Fundraiser

13 Jan

My sister and I are collaborating on an AWESOME adoption fundraiser — an Online Auction on Facebook.  This is your official invitation!  Come one, come all.  Invite all your friends, neighbors and family.  We’ve got over 175 items and there’s a little something for everyone.  You can check it out here:

Online Auction Fundraiser 

My sister and brother-in-law are also in the adoption process and have already been matched with two precious girls from the DRC.  We are hoping to raise enough through this auction to pay for her court costs and our immigration fees for renewing our fingerprints with USCIS.

There’s a huge variety of items and more will be added in the coming week.  All items are represented by a photo on our auction facebook page.  To bid, simply comment on the item’s picture how much you want to bid.  The auction page is public and open to anyone.  All items will be mailed to the winning bidders so it doesn’t matter where you live!  Feel free to invite your friends and family if you see things they might like.

Here’s a little sneak peek of some of our items…ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Let’s Recap

18 Dec

Because it has been a trillion years since I’ve written consistently and we have been in this adoption process for SO FREAKING LONG (2 yrs and 9 months, baby), I thought it might be helpful to do a little recap of our timeline.  Here is a concise report of what has conspired over the past three years of our adoption journey…

Jan 2011 — Josh and Anna start researching adoption agencies and international adoption programs.

Feb 2011 — An agency is chosen (Children’s House International) and our first email is sent to our Social Worker.

March 2011 — First home study meeting and decision made to adopt from Uganda.

July 2011 — Home Study Complete

Aug 2011 — Immigration approval received from the Dept. of Homeland Security (USCIS).

Sept 2011 — Dossier sent to Uganda

Nov 2011 — We left our agency (CHI) and started working with Lifeline Children’s Services.

Feb 2012 — Referral recieved for a 10 month old girl from Uganda!

April 2012 — Lost the referral.  Due to some big policy changes in the Uganda adoption program, Josh and I decided God was closing that door for our family and switched to the Ethiopia program.

May 2012 — We start redoing all our paperwork and our dossier for Ethiopia.

Mother’s Day 2012 — After much thought and prayer we decided to try and get pregnant while in the adoption process.  We knew we had a long wait ahead of us and wanted to start our family.

Summer of 2012 — Garage sale adoption fundraisers and lots of paperwork to get our dossier ready for Ethiopia.

August 2012 — Ethiopian Dossier completed and sent for authentication.  AND we find out we’re pregnant (exactly 3 months after going off birth control)!

Sept 2012 — Dossier arrives in Ethiopia and we are officially added to the waiting list.  We’re #84 and are told it will be an 11-12 month wait.

Sept 2012 and following — Waiting, waiting, waiting and slowly moving up on the waiting list. Each month is different and we have no idea how things will progress. Some months we move zero spots, others as many as 16.

May 2013 — Giselle Rose is born!!!!!!!!!  We are completely in love!  Still aching for and anticipating the addition of our adopted children.

June 2013 — Ethiopia announces another change in policy and the institution of the new PAIR process (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review).  This new procedure will lengthen the time between receiving a referral and taking your first trip to Ethiopia.  After being matched with a child, instead of bringing them home in 3-6 months, it will now take 6-8 months.

July 2013 — Home study expires and has to be redone, along with FIB fingerprints (the fingerprints are only good for 18 months, HS for two years).  More money paid out for these services simply because of the fact the the adoption process is taking so long.

Sept 2013 — a year has passed and we are still on the waiting list, not even close to the top.

Dec 2013 — Still waiting….. we’ve moved to #28 on the waiting list and things are moving slowly.  I expect it will be at least 6 months before we receive a referral, then an additional 6-8 months before we bring our child(ren) home.  Also we’re notified that our fingerprints for Immigration will be expiring in March 2014 and we need to start the process of getting them renewed…..this will cost another $900.  :o(

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!   That’s kind of how I feel about this long long long loooong process.  More on that later….

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