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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Elusive Finish Line!

So ... I feel like we've been running a marathon these past few weeks, and just when the finish line is in sight - they move it, and they keep moving it! Really - we are holding up amazingly well despite all of the last minute changes.

Today, Duni called to let us know that MOWA was able to pull all the paperwork together, but the judge was overbooked and could not review the case today. So somehow, we were slotted in for a court date 6 days from today. There has been a little confusion as to whether that date is Aug 4 or Aug 6 (counting the weekend or not) - but regardless, it is boldly highlighted on the calendar and we look forward with hope and great anticipation to hearing good news - and being able to share pictures of our 2 sons for the first time!

We're off to the last regular season soccer games of the year - tournaments start this weekend. Go Cheetahs! Go Dragons!

Monday, July 28, 2008

An Ember of Hope!

I can hardly believe it's true - but there is still an ember of hope glowing brightly and about to burst into flames! Earlier today, I received a phone call at work and glanced at the caller-id. The 703 area code signalled that it was a call from our adoption agency. I answered, welcomed Duni home and thanked her profusely for her hard work and perserverence - she then explained that she had "good news and bad news". (The bad news ...) She did appear in court on Friday and was again declined for a new court date.

(The good news ...) However, the judge inquired about medical issues for any of the kids, and she was able to present 4 families with doctors' notes in their case files. (These were for mild medical issues in the past.) The judge then asked her to acquire the needed recommendation letters from MOWA (Ministry of Womens Affairs) and then he would approve the adoptions.

Essentially - this is exactly what happens at a court date. MOWA reviews the paperwork and then issues a recommendation. At the court date, the judge reviews the information and then approves the adoption. Duni has secured a committment from MOWA and expects the judge to approve the paperwork tomorrow. She said it is likely that we will travel one week after the next travel group!!! (That's sometime in late August!!!!!!!!!!!)

Amazing news and we are waiting hopefully and prayerfully for Duni's phone call tomorrow. As I write this post - it is 5 am in Ethiopia and a new day is dawning!

Also - we sent care packages and photo albums to our boys with the Ducommun family, who will be arriving in Ethiopia with the next travel group on August 8. Hopefully we will arrive shortly after to bring our sons home!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Still Waiting for News . . .

Thanks for checking in with us. Duni appealed for an earlier court date today but we have not heard anything from her today. There is always the possibility of a power outage or no internet connection. She may even be on her way home already. We have settled on the knowledge of an October 8 court date and if it gets moved up we will be thrilled. But as of today - no news.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Waiting ...

We are still waiting for final news on a possible court date before the courts close from Aug 7 - October 7. We received an email from Duni today saying she did in fact appear in court on Tuesday and was given a court date of October 8 for us. (This is one day after the courts re-open.) She appealed for an earlier date on Wednesday and was declined. She appeared in court today, and was again declined. She is planning to appeal a 3rd and final time on Friday. Please pray for a miracle change-of-heart for the judge and safe travel for Duni as she returns home to her family.

I am amazed at Duni's perserverence. We are truly blessed to have her working so hard on our behalf. Regardless of the outcome, I am able to rest easier knowing that she did everything possible for us.

We also received news that 3 families who had a scheduled court date for today - PASSED!! Congratulations to the Cox, Moles and Ducommun families who will be travelling to Ethiopia in early August to bring their kids home. Waiting families will be sending packages with them to be hand-delivered to our kids at the Transition Home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No News is ... No News

Still no news from Ethiopia regarding court dates. In her last correspondence, Duni said she would contact us Thursday morning. So we hope to have news tomorrow ...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Waiting for News from a Distant Land

As I write this post, it is nearing 7:30 am in Ethiopia and Duni will be appearing in court to appeal court dates for families that have had referrals since late May and early June. Today, families were issued court dates for when the courts re-open in October. Duni is appealing that decision on Wednesday and we pray she will find the right words so that the judge finds favor with her request.

Several families with later referral dates were told today that the courts were overflowing as the court closure nears and that it is not possible to get a date before the closure. It sounds like she is making a final appeal for families that have been waiting the longest. We should hear something from her by late Wednesday or early Thursday. Until then .... we wait .... and hope .... and pray.

Pictured above - a few favorite photos from our weekend on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The kids spent hours searching for agates in the cold waters and found MANY "keepers". The rock polisher will be working overtime the rest of the summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Looking for a Miracle

We just spent a long weekend on the north shore of Lake Superior. A fantastic weekend in a truly grand location. I have tons of pictures to share but my camera battery is still charging for the download and I have urgent news to share on the adoption front.

Today I received an email from Duni, our adoption agency Representative, who is diligently working on our behalf in Ethiopia trying to secure a court date before the court closure on August 7. Initially, she was optimistic and confident that she would be successful in securing dates for families with referrals. But it looks like we may have missed that tiny window of opportunity by a day or two. Here is Duni's email to the 10-12 waiting families - she is requesting specific and urgent prayers.

Dear Families
I thought I would update you on what is going on as I know you are all anxious and also, after knowing the situation that you may pray specifically. As you know nothing happens the way or on the day you plan it here [in Ethiopia]. I was hoping I would have some solid information for you by today but nevertheless there is some progress. I will be appearing before the judge tomorrow to hear when your court date will be. They are no longer issuing dates for before the closure. I am 99% positive that I will get a date for sometime in October. My plan is to go back to court on Wednesday and appeal. Your children don’t have anything life threatening so I don’t have a major excuse to appeal nor is there any reason for the judge to grant it. I am going to try anyway. I am asking all of you to pray for God’s favor and for the judge to show us some kindness. You shall hear from me, whatever the outcome, by Thursday morning. ~Duni

No matter the outcome, we will set our minds to be at peace with the situation, knowing that Duni has done everything possible for us. I cannot share specific details about our sons or pictures until we have a successful court date. If our court date ends up being in October, it will most likely be November before we can travel to ET to bring them home. I am saddened to know that our oldest son was brought to the orphanage in October of 2007 and that he may not be home yet in October 2008 - with his family here who is waiting to love and protect him. He knows about us and he knows we will be bringing him home as soon as we possibly can. I pray it is sooner than later. I'll post again as soon as we have news.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The 3 AWAA families with a court date scheduled for today, were re-scheduled for July 24. Evidently, some of the paperwork needed from MOWA (Ministry of Women's Affairs) did not arrive on time. So these families continue to wait on pins & needles as the court closure inches closer. For us and the other waiting families, it feels like our window for a court date has squeaked a little bit tighter. But with Duni in Ethiopia right now, petitioning the courts for a date before the closure, I am still hopeful. We would like to bring our sons home sooner than later. But whatever happens, we will wait patiently for the plan to unfold.

We just received an email from the Gibson family. Despite the errors on their court paperwork, the AWAA team was able to get things corrected and the Gibsons are flying home and scheduled to arrive in Branson, MO at 8:00 tonight. I imagine there will be a big celebration at the Gibson household!! We look forward to hearing more about their trip. The Gibsons delivered "care packages" to our sons from us.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Good News

A "dossier" is all of the information and legal documentation that must be gathered and submitted for an adoption. It includes all birth and marriage certificates, background checks, fingerprints, employment statements, tax returns, and a Home Study conducted by a social worker. After all of the documentation is gathered, the home study is submitted with an adoption request to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). The approval form from USCIS is the last piece of the puzzle and many families (including us) wait for months on pins and needles for this government form to arrive. Then the dossier is considered complete - and you are officially "logged in" and waiting for a referral. Our completed dossier arrived in Ethiopia on November 21, 2007.

Originally, we had requested to adopt 2 children between the ages of 0-6. When we first received news about our older son, he was 6 years old - and then shortly after, he turned 7. So we needed to seek an ammendment to our home study and get another approval from USCIS. Great - more paperwork and more waiting. We updated our homestudy with a request for 2 children, ages 0-8, and submitted that paperwork on May 12. Yesterday (July 12), we received the much needed USCIS approval form!!! Now our paperwork is complete again and another puzzle piece clicked into position.

In addition - the Schmidt family was able to greet the Raymer family at the airport, so we know they have arrived home safely! And we have heard from the Gibsons in ET. They are battling some serious issues - exhaustion, depression and fear - but Zoie seems to be doing better and hopefully they will be able to return home early this week. Duni has arrived in ET and will be petitioning the courts on behalf of the remaining waiting families to secure a court date!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Good News from a Distant Land

We just received word from one of the travelling families that they are home and all is well. Sarah Ord (who adopted a 2 year old boy) just posted an email to our adoption chat group to let us all know that they have arrived safely and to give us a brief update. Here is a small excerpt from her email...

"My sweet boy just fell asleep on me as I am sitting here - he has bonded to us so well -what an answer to prayer. He doesn't ever want me to put him down -my back is breaking but I am blissfully happy. We did not have a picture perfect plane ride - Elijah threw several temper tantrums made worse when I tried to pick him up, fought sleep ( successfully) and then things went downhill as they do with very tired 2 year olds - needless to say, we are so thankful to be done with planes! As soon as he fell asleep - the last 3 hours - he woke up to be a happy boy the rest of the day. He has a sweet and funny personality. He jabbers constantly and has the cutest poochy lips I have ever seen inmy life. We feel so blessed and can't believe for a minute that we only met him 5 days ago - he is a perfect fit and I feel like he's been our boy forever."

"In short, Ethiopia was indescribable. We experienced so much in so short a time. I know we haven't even begun to process it all. ... I know this sounds redundant, but the love these kids have in their lives is incredible. It starts at Kids Care [the orphanage], to the TH [Transition Home] and all the staff in between that comes in contact with them. Rachel, Fortuna [the nurse] - they both bend over backwards to help in any way."

I was so thankful to hear from Sarah on the chat group - and then shortly after, I received an email from her with PICTURES of our boys! Unbelievably thoughtful of her - as I am sure she is exhausted and yet she is downloading pictures for waiting families. What a treasure!!!

Normally, waiting families would have received a few pictures and an update from Rachel on Friday, but because she has been so busy with the travelling families in ET this week, we won't receive our 2 week update until next week. And then, I get this wonderful email from Sarah with GORGEOUS pictures of our 2 sons.

I wish I could share - but again, we are not able to post pictures until after a successful court date. But trust me - they are adorable with the biggest, dreamiest eyes and sweetest smiles. I cannot wait to have them home with us! Thank you Sarah!!! Now we hope for good news from the Raymers who should be arriving home, and the Gibsons, who are still in ET dealing with some worrisome issues. I'll post again when we receive news.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Encouraging News!

I think pictures make a blog more interesting. And since I can't post pictures of our sons until after a successful court date, I am dipping into the photo archives for favorite family memories.

Recent happenings: Emme played soccer like a "tiger" on Monday night to help her team to a win, Maea scored a goal to help her team to victory on Tuesday night, and we caught our 3rd teeny tiny turtle which means the turtle tank is officially back up and running.

The encouranging news? I spoke to Duni today, our adoption agency family coordinator (who is originally from Ethiopia) and she indicated that securing court dates for ALL of the waiting families with referrals is her priority. She is flying to Ethiopia on Friday to personally coordinate paperwork and be the face-to-face contact with MOWA (Ministry of Women's & Children's Affairs) and the courts. She has had direct communication with an official at MOWA who has emphasized their cooperation in securing court dates before the courts close. This certainly is no guarantee of success - but it is definitely encouraging news! Duni has an intense passion and drive to unite orphan children with loving families and whenever we have a conversation, she is unflagging in her optimism! I so appreciate having someone of her caliber working hard for us!

For the families that are currently in ET - The Raymers and Ords had successful embassy appointments today and everything is in place for their return to the U.S. The Gibson family continues to wait for news of the court proceedings from earlier today. Please continue to pray for the Gibsons and for Duni as she travels to ET to secure court dates for waiting families!! If we can secure a court date in late July, we would most likely be travelling to Ethiopia in late August to bring our sons home!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Families in Ethiopia

There are 3 families in Ethiopia right now and today was "Gotcha Day"! Gotcha Day is the first day families meet their children. Typically, they spend a few hours at the Transition Home to meet their children and get acquainted. It must be an absolutely surreal experience. Meeting these little strangers that will soon become your most familiar family.

The Gibson family met their 4 month old daughter. The Ord family met their 2 year old son. And the Raymer family met their 2 sons - ages 5 & 7. Our entire chat group has been stalking their blogs and emails all day in great anticipation of hearing the highlights and seeing pictures from this very important first day. You can view the Gibson's blog here and the Raymer's blog here. The Ords do not have a blog.

We are still waiting and praying to be granted a court date before the courts close in August for 2 months. Please continue to pray for a court date in JULY for us and 8 other AWAA families with referrals!