Obstacles

IMG_2280.JPG (Lovely picture taken after our 2 mile run through a sleet storm)

We had a day to remember on Friday. In my last post I told you how we had ONE paper that had not been certified. Well we had it re-notarized and mailed it to the Chicago county clerks office per the websites instructions. FOUR weeks later after many phone calls and messages I received a call that not only was our paper notarized incorrectly but they could not certify papers through the mail and we would have to redo it and bring it up to Chicago ourselves. Did I mention that they are only open Monday through Friday 8-3:30? With Nick and I working full time we would have to take time off to get there. A few weeks later my Aunt (who lives outside of Chicago) invited us up for the weekend. I realized this was my opportunity so I got my letter and took Friday off.

After crazy weather and traffic we made it to the city with 45 minutes until the office closed. It was sleeting, wet, and 38 degrees outside. Thankfully Evelyn was dressed for the weather but Nick and I were not. We were both wearing fleece jackets, jeans, canvas sneakers (Nick) and flats (Me).

After a mile walk in the cold we made it to the office where we were informed that our document was notarized “incorrectly” and we would have to get it redone. “Luckily” there was a notary a mile away (12 minutes) but we would have to hurry because they closed in 30 minutes. The storm was really picking up as we made our way to the notary. The sleet/rain/ice mix was blowing sideways and hitting us in the face, we were freezing, I stepped into a huge icy puddle, and Evelyn was crying because she wanted to get down and didn’t want her hood up. We started to run to get out of the storm and all I could think about was what a waste of time all this running was going to be because we obviously were not going to make it back in time and we should just give up and go inside and WHY COULDN’T SOMETHING JUST BE EASY FOR ONCE? I don’t know what happened at that moment but something clicked in my brain and my favorite mantra popped into my head, “it’s only time, it will go by”. I realized that we were already here, we still had time, and we needed to just get this done so we could move on to the next step and get our baby home. We made it to the notary, Evelyn ran around for a few minutes, we got our paper signed, and then we were back out into the ice storm. Nick looked over at me, smiled, and said, “let’s do this”. We only had 14 minutes left so we did what any rational family would do, we ran through the icy streets of Chicago with wet shoes, while getting pelted in the face by chunks of sleet, holding a screaming baby, and shouting “for Henry!”. Looking back, I’m surprised no one called the police on us.

We made it to the county clerks office with 6 minutes to spare. I had to use my inhaler twice and was losing feeling in my toes. But we did it, as a family, and it’s done. FINALLY.

Since that day I’ve been thinking a lot about how I respond to obstacles. Looking through this blog and other aspects of my life I realize that when something comes up that isn’t a part of my plan or my to-do list I sometimes just get so overwhelmed that I shut whatever that stress is out. Which is ironic because if I’ve learned anything in this process so far it’s that NOTHING goes according to plan in adoption. And while I wish I could say I’m getting better at dealing with that, nothing has wrecked me the way this process has. I am constantly disappointed by timelines, costs, or my own inability to just get things completed. It’s so hard to see other adopted kiddos or hear about another referral. I feel like I am letting all of you down when I can’t give you updates or have to say for the millionth time, “we’re still waiting”. For a people pleaser like me, this is so hard.

But, BUT. I can feel this process refining me. Working on my heart, my patience, my toughness, my faith. Teaching me to put my head down and run through the storm. And sometimes it hurts but I think it is also making me the parent my son needs and that is giving me the motivation I need right now. So I guess this is kind of an “in process” post because I have a long way to go, but I’m so thankful for this lesson.

If you’re still reading I love you, thanks for letting me speak (type?) from my heart it really means so much.

Love, Louise

Risk

Evelyn14)

 

You know those church signs that are supposed to motivate you to be a better person, but they usually end up being judgmental? Well there is one particular church in Champaign that always makes me roll my eyes but a few days ago, I saw their newest sign and it stopped me in my tracks.

“Lord, give us faith to risk love.”

That’s a pretty good prayer. I love it because I think this is applies to all forms of love whether it is friendship, dating, marriage, or children. Love is a risk. Opening your heart to another (big or little) person is risky because it makes you vulnerable. Sometimes when I watch Nick and Evelyn playing together I have to catch my breath because I love them so much that the thought of losing them is absolutely unbearable. But that’s the risk we take when we have people in our lives that we love isn’t it? Huge pieces of your heart are no longer safely in your rib cage, but out in the world, walking, driving, and playing by tables with sharp corners.

When Nicholas and I started this adoption process two (!!!!) years ago, we had no idea where this path would take us. But we had faith that our goal of expanding our family through an international adoption would happen. And from the moment we made that decision little pieces of our hearts went over the ocean, in search of our next love. Many families that I have met say that the waiting game in adoption is God’s way of “preparing your heart”. And I guess I never liked that sentiment because I had no idea how to do that. How do you prepare your heart for love? A juice cleanse? Jumping jacks? But as I look back at our journey I realize that I didn’t have to do anything. God has been doing the work of preparing my heart all along. Each time we talk about our son, our hearts ache a little more for him. Every time someone asks where we are in the adoption process we have an opportunity to share our love along with our story. We know that the process isn’t perfect, we know that it will probably get harder before it gets easier, but we have committed ourselves to risk loving this child (and all of our children) and know it will be one of the best decisions we have made together.

I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and challenge you to risk love today. Whether it’s telling someone you love them, inquiring more about foreign or domestic adoption, adopting a pet, or just rekindling love with someone you know. Take the risk, it may be uncomfortable at first, but keep risking anyways. I guarantee it will be worth it.

Evelyn13

 

Process Update: We are THISCLOSE to sending our dossier. We were actually about to put it into the mailer and send it off last weekend, but I decided to check one more time and noticed that ONE of our documents hadn’t been notarized correctly so it wasn’t certified by the state (I may have cried and drank a GIANT milkshake to cope). So now we are back to the waiting game. We’ll get this sent off eventually right?

lg

What’s happening

photo (1)

(our dossier binder, a little beat up and sitting on our dining room table)

So to sum up what I mentioned on Facebook and give you all a little update, we got a grant to cover the biggest chunk of our adoption expenses- sending our dossier to Ethiopia and accepting our referral once we are matched (hooray!). We are waiting for one more little piece of paper (a letter from our police station stating we don’t have a criminal record) and then after what feels like a million years we can send our dossier off to our agency where it will be translated and sent to Ethiopia. They will review it and began the process of finding a child that needs a forever home with us. There is not a perfect timeline but it can take anywhere from 2-8 months to be “matched”. Once they find the right match, they will send his pictures, family information, and medical history to us and we can choose to accept or not. Once we accept we will have to make 2 trips to Ethiopia about 8 weeks apart. The second trip will be when we actually bring our little guy home. We still have (five!!) plane tickets to buy and our final payment to the agency once we accept our referral, but we feel are so much closer.
To keep ourselves busy and our eyes on our goal we have decided to have another fundraiser. We wanted to make this one a lot more relaxed than our last one. So we are having an ice cream social! But, because Nick and I can’t do anything small, we have teamed up with our favorite chef and friend Avon Morgan and will be making a variety of ice cream and popsicles and setting up giant lawn games like Jenga. I’ll be posting the invitation later today, but I think it is going to be a pretty amazing time. We love seeing family and friends and this will also be a great way for you to meet Evelyn if you haven’t yet. Can’t wait to see you all soon!
Love,
Louise

Guts

It’s been 51 weeks since I’ve written a post and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how much has changed in our lives since then. We got our immigration paperwork back on August 29, 2013. The final piece of our dossier. We didn’t have all of the money we would need to submit it (about $8,000 in total) but we just assumed that I would have plenty of time while I was on maternity leave. 12 days later our daughter Evelyn Ferraro was born.

{7d97e1f6-0d65-4299-b1ef-bfddd0b3e8ae}_3

Becoming a parent for the first time changed my life in ways I expected- less sleep, more stress, so.much.love. but there were also changes I didn’t expect like, husband +tiny babe= heart exploding, feeling so much love from family and friends, and trusting myself enough to know I could actually do this parenting thing. What I really wasn’t expecting was the “decision” I made one night not to have any more children. I decided (without Nick) that pregnancy was too hard, gaining and losing weight was really hard, and raising and saving money and the whole adoption process in general was simply impossible (do you hear the tiny violins?). Besides why would I want to have any more (adopted or biological) children anyways, when I had one “perfect” baby girl?

So, maybe that was just my body’s way of not getting pregnant again? Maybe it was the hormones? Lack of sleep? But 6 months later I finally feel like I’ve come up for air. I realize how ridiculous that thought was. I’ve wanted to adopt a son since I was 15. Even before I considered bio kids. And recently every time I see a little Ethiopian face or hear about adoption I can feel the pull and know in my guts that this is the right thing for Nick and I. Besides, siblings are seriously the greatest gift my parents could have given me. Nick and I both consider our siblings our best friends and I know that I would regret not giving Evelyn the same opportunity for that relationship.

IMG_3992

 

2760_4855097275501_655092921_n

So where are we now? At the same place we were in August. One completed dossier and completed immigration paperwork. “Paper-ready” so to speak. And $8,000 to save/raise to send it off to Ethiopia. After that, we wait to be matched with a little boy, a son, and a brother for our baby girl. We have a lot to do but a renewed passion to get this completed and bring our little guy home. Your support means the world to us and we can’t wait to share more updates with you all!

IMG_3924

Love Always, Louise

Moving

On Wednesday I started writing a post about my frustrations. With our timeline, our dossier, and our whole adoption process so far. And then I came home to our completed home study. A packet of papers we’ve been waiting 7 months for. And felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders.

This packet means we can send in our immigration paperwork (which we did yesterday!). And allows us to apply for adoption grants (which we are doing today!). Within a matter of hours we went from having no timeline to “omg- we-can-turn-in-our-dossier-once-we-get-this-form-back, we need to MOVE”. But I froze up with the reality of what this all means. So I procrastinated and looked through my Pinterest board for a little inspiration. These were the two helped the most. “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” And the completely disgusting but very helpful, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. I was letting our stack of paperwork totally overwhelm me. So I did what I do best, organized the shit out of it. The massive pile of papers that littered our dining room table is now contained in binder with individually numbered, plastic protected pages that correspond with our list of required documents. I now catch myself looking through it to admire my organizational skills and to see what still needs to be done. We’re about 3/4 of the way done and should be ready to go when our immigration paperwork gets back. We are so motivated to get this done because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And we can’t wait to get there!

Change

When we started this adoption process we knew it would test our patience, our faith, and maybe our sanity. We’ve waited 6 months for our home study to be completed (a process that normally takes 2-3) and are now witnessing a lot of changes happening in the DRC that have brought many new cases screeching to a halt. We have had some bad feelings as we continued to move forward but thought there were no other options. When Nick wrote this post we were contacted by an adoptive mama whom I truly admire (both for her parenting style and honesty). She has had her two babies home for almost a year and was kind enough to share their agency information with us. This agency checked all of our boxes, except one. We would have to switch countries. With our heart being in one place for so long the thought of switching seemed too hard, too unfair. And yet, the more we learned more about this country and it’s children the more we felt drawn to it. After much research, praying, consulting with family and the agency director we decided to make the switch. We signed with our new agency yesterday and will be adopting a little boy from Ethiopia in the next year or so. This decision was not easy and it was not about our timeline but what we feel is right for our family. Hopefully in a few years when we are ready to adopt again the DRC will be more stable. Until then we are super excited about this change.

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

When God closes a door He opens a window.  Louise and I have been praying that this is the case with our adoption, and have quite the update here.  This will be a long post so just a warning Wall of Text Incoming!

First window to open, our home study should be completed this week.  Our caseworker from Illini Christian Ministries (ICM), said that she will finish it the moment she receives our last recommendation letter, and our letter was mailed last Thursday.  So that is good news right?  Yes, correct, good news… However the first door closed when we received news from ICM two weeks ago that they are getting Hague accredited, and they will require all adoptions to proceed through a licensed agency.  Louise and I are working with an independent lawyer group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and they do not qualify as an agency.  ICM told us that they were going to finish the Hague accreditation in October of this year, so Louise and I decided to just do whatever we could to finish our adoption before then, and therefore not have to worry about finding an agency to work with.  This was a short-lived goal, because the United States Embassy in the DRC announced that same week that they will be conducting an investigation into every adoption from the DRC, which takes about 3-6 months. This will be great for the                 country, as it will ensure ethical adoptions and less corruption. However it pushed us past our October deadline. That is two shut doors and one open window if you are counting.

Louise and I chose to do the independent adoption, because we did not trust either of the two agencies that were working out of the DRC when we started this process.  One of the agencies was priced at around $25k for the whole adoption process, but after reading individual reports about experiences with that agency we decided that it was not an ethical organization.  The second agency did not break down the cost of adoption, but was priced at $40k for the adoption.  With such a huge disparity between the two agencies, and no empirical evidence from the second agency that the money would go to the children or into their pocket we looked into independent adoption options.

Now with our timetable being stretched from 6-8 months to 12-16 months we have to find an agency, or start from square one.  This is where I think God has possibly opened another window, because the director of ICM suggested we looked into an agency that she used to work for and has just started a pilot program in the DRC.  Louise contacted them last week, and their director is currently out of the office until the 13th, but the price is around $24k.  This price does not include our cost of travel and stay in country to pick up our child, but is reasonable, and they have an itemized list to show where the money goes.  Louise and I talked it over and believe this is our best path forward.  We obviously have some vetting to do, but are praying and staying hopeful.  Thanks to some wonderful donations, the barn-dance fundraiser, and a garage sale we are currently at $6013.75 raised.  For those of you who care about the financial side of things that means with travel costs, we are 1/5 of the way to our goal.  We will post news about different fundraisers soon, and sorry it took so long for me to write an update.