Let's bring the past few months of this blog up to speed:
In July, we found out that our agency's sole orphanage had not been sending nearly as many referrals as in the past (with zero referrals most months), so they were looking to start working with 2 additional orphanage systems within the country. They were very optimistic about these additions to their network, and as a waiting family we were excited about it as well. We had our home study updated mid-July and all other necessary documents updated, signed, and notarized as well.
The first week of August, I sent all of our updated paperwork to our case worker to be entered with the Ethiopian courts. When I emailed her to make sure she received it, I got a very unexpected email in response. Our case worker, who had worked with us for the past two years, was no longer with our agency! I was completely confused, angry, and frustrated - I had just spoken to her over the phone the week before! Without going into many details (especially since I don't know all of them), our former case worker is now "exploring new opportunities" and we were given a new case worker (Shaysee)...we were a little skeptical of all the sudden and unexpected changes, but obviously things were completely out of our hands, so we set up a phone conference to "meet" her. Our conversation with her could not have gone more smoothly! Thank you, Lord! She is an adoptive mother herself, and had/has total empathy for our situation and knows how hard waiting can be. This abrupt change in our process has truly been a blessing. She has been extremely available for us, and has been so willing to give us any information she has about our own case or any information about (current) Ethiopian adoptions as a whole...this has been a recognizable difference from our previous experience, and for that we are extremely thankful.
Mid-August, our agency received 4 referrals from of one of the new orphanages! - We were not one of them, but we were told that we were moved up to #2 on the waiting list! We were obviously ecstatic, especially when Shaysee informed us that this new orphanage, Abenezer, would be sending 3 referrals every month to Dove! Finally some anticipated movement in our wait! She couldn't guarantee that we would be one of the next 3 referrals, because of requested age ranges, genders, etc, but we now knew that we were getting close to "the call."
September came and went with NO referrals to Dove...we were a little disheartened, as was Shaysee and Bonnie (a new program director at Dove), so they decided to go to Ethiopia to talk with the orphanage directors at the 2 new orphanages to help their staff streamline the referral process. Let me tell you, JT and I loved this new "let's make a change" attitude our agency had taken on! They left for ET the last week of September and were there for a little over 2 weeks. When friends or family would ask what our case worker was going to do when she was there, we would joke and say "hopefully she's bringing some kids back for us!" :) Little did we know how true this would be!
When they returned, they sent each family a lengthy email documenting their time there. This included information on visits with each orphanage intake center and transition home, as well as their appointment with the US Embassy. During their appointent with the Embassy, they were made more fully aware what the Embassy requires to finalize each adoption so that families may bring their children home in a more timely manner. In their email, they informed us that while there, they received 4 more referrals, but they could not call the matched families yet because they were waiting on some additional (necessary) paperwork for each case. Unbeknownst to us, we were one of those families!!
On Monday (Oct 22) about 8:50 pm, we received "the call" that ended our 20 month wait!! :)
JT had gotten home from work around 8:30, had just gotten out of the shower and I was putting some clothes away in our room when the phone rang. He said, "Maybe it's Dove." - I shook my head and said, "No, it's too late for them to call." SO glad I was wrong! It was Shaysee, telling us that we had finally been matched with our two sons! The moment was incredible, one that I'll replay over and over in my head and in my heart. She asked us to go to a computer, which we GLADLY did, and she sent us the sweetest pictures of our 2 sons! They are so sweet and so handsome - but you'll have to take my word for it, as we can't post any pictures publicly yet...this is killing me!! I'd LOVE to share them, but I have to respect the contract we signed with our agency (& ultimately their birth country). For now, trust me...they are so stinkin cute! :)
We have decided to change their names (there are so many different schools of thought on this, if you want to talk about why we've decided to do this, we'd welcome any private conversations), so from now on we'll be using their adoptive names:
"Carson" turned 1 year old on September 28, and has big beautiful eyes (which also look a little mischievous!)
"Noah" is 10 months old and our case worker said he is such a happy baby, always smiling.
Since we were one of the families matched when she was there, she was able to interact with both of our sons, holding them, rocking them, playing with them (for us). It was really special to hear of her firsthand encounters with both of them. I'm so thankful for her trip to Ethiopia and for the time she spent with our boys on our behalf. Currently they are both at different orphanages, but Noah should be transferred soon to the transition home where Carson is being cared for. This home will be where we will meet them and where they will stay until we bring them home. They are both pretty tiny, so please pray that they will receive the proper nourishment they need to help keep their little bodies strong and healthy. Shaysee comforted us by telling us how impressed she was of the transition home and each intake center facilitated by Abenezer. She said the nannies LOVE the children in each home and are very diligent about meeting their needs. This news was so reassuring to hear, so wonderful to know they are in caring hands until we can bring them home.
|Sending our Referral Accteptance letter - I don't think my smile could've been any bigger!|
Our acceptance letter was received early this past week and was forwarded on our attorney in ET, who will be working on our behalf to get us a timely court date. According to our agency, courts dates are being assigned pretty quickly and she is hopeful that we will have a date sometime this month! We told her that we'd be ready to leave in a moment's notice if necessary! :) We absolutely cannot wait to see, hold, cuddle, and kiss them! They have been worth the wait and we're already in love.
Over the past 2 weeks, we have not stopped thanking God for these little guys. He has shown that He is faithful, He has never left our side (even when we strayed from His), He deserves all of our trust. As we wait for a Court appointment, and then the subsequent Embassy appointment, we know He is caring for our sons and unbelievably loves them more than we do.
Thank you so much for all of your prayers, support, and encouragement over the past 2 years...it was been worth the wait and we can't wait to share these precious boys with you!