On February 28th, Jim, Ellie and I headed to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) building in Durham to do our biometrics fingerprinting. This was the last hurdle we needed to jump in order to obtain our approval from the US government for the adoption. This event was surrounded by many answered prayers so I wanted to journal about how we saw God working. (Hopefully, for Igor to read one day). Getting the appointment itself, on the day it was scheduled for, was a blessing. We knew that once the USCIS office in MO received our homestudy they would assign us a date to be fingerprinted. This could potentially be a challenge, as we would need to pick up Ellie from Liberty University in order to have her fingerprinted as well. When I called the USCIS office, I found out that Jim and I were scheduled for February 28th, and Ellie was scheduled for March 4th. I asked if they would be willing to move Ellie to February 28th and they were very happy to do that for us. This date was perfect for our family for many reasons...Ellie doesn't have classes on Fridays, so I could pick her up Thursday night and she wouldn't miss class. February 27th was Daniel's birthday so Ellie was able to come home on his birthday. On Feb. 28th we had plans to head to the beach that afternoon to celebrate Daniel and Ashley's birthdays and now Ellie would be home and able to come with us. Thank you Jesus, for all those little blessings! Our adoption coordinator, Tonya, told us to call USCIS a few hours after we were fingerprinted and ask if they would be willing to FedEx our approval to us. This would allow us to receive it 2-3 weeks sooner. Tonya told us that about 60% of the time her clients are assigned to an officer who is willing to do this. So we had friends and family praying with us that week that God would show us grace and give us a sympathetic officer.
I called USCIS on Friday afternoon and asked to speak to our officer. I had my list of reasons ready for why it was imperative to move quickly and get our dossier to Ukraine ASAP. When I was connected to our officer I simply said, "I was wondering if you would be willing to FedEx our approval to us if I give you our FedEx account number." And right away the kind gentleman said, "Sure, that shouldn't be a problem." No begging, no pleading, no long list of reasons necessary! I was ecstatic when I got off the phone! Yay God! Thank you Thank you Thank you!! Now we should hopefully have our approval on Saturday, or Monday March 3rd at the latest. But when we got home from the beach on Sunday afternoon....no package. All day Monday...no package. I called back to USCIS late Monday afternoon to speak to our officer again and see if he had been able to turn in our approval. He told us he turned it in Friday afternoon. He also mentioned that they were having a bad snow storm there and only half the staff was working. So hopefully we would receive our FedEx package on Tuesday. Tuesday came....no package. By now we were checking our FedEx account online and could see no record of anything being shipped. I even called FedEx to speak to a live person and see if they could locate it. No package. I called back to USCIS and spoke to our officer two more times that day. He told me that he had put a search on it. He also said that he has to speak to his supervisor, who then speaks to the mail room. The mail room reports back to the supervisor who then reports back to our officer. He told us that usually, by the time he hears anything, the package has arrived. By 5pm Tuesday there was still no package. I was getting worried, frustrated, questioning what God was up to. I asked a few friends to pray with us that the package would show up. They started praying. I continued praying. As I was sitting in the living room praying and agonizing over what had happened to that package I heard a truck rumbling down the street. I looked out the front window, hoping and praying it was the FedEx truck, but it was the UPS truck instead. UPS?? We need the FedEx truck! Please God, send the FedEx truck! I think I would have run out and hugged the FedEx driver if he had showed up at that moment. I remembered Ephesians 6 and tried to pray with my armor on. I took up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. I went over verses in my mind about God's character. He's sovereign, He's powerful, He omniscient...He knew where that package was and He would deliver it in His way and in His timing. Later that night after dinner, I headed out to the garage for something and stepped on an envelope that had been left on our mat. I bent down to pick it up and noticed it was a UPS envelope. My heart began to beat faster as I read the return address...Department of Homeland Security!! What??!! Could this really be our approval?! I tore open the envelope and sure enough....It was!! God, in His sovereignty, had delivered our approval. But he wasn't bound by the means I had been praying for. He answered my prayer, but He decided to use UPS instead of FedEx so it would be unmistakable that He was in control here. I am still mystified as to how UPS made that delivery instead of FedEx, but it fills my heart with joy to know that my Savior hears my heart cry and answers the deeper desire...not just the prayer of the moment.
So last Wednesday, March 5th our dossier was FedExed to Ukraine. We heard from our adoption coordinator today that it has been received and will be translated, hopefully this week. And then we wait and pray, asking God to keep the doors of adoption open throughout the unrest in Ukraine until Igor can be rescued! As we continue to pray for this process to move swiftly, our deepest desire is to know Jesus more through this. To see His power and glory on display. Thank you for praying with us!