Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dossier Take Two

On January 16th we received news that rocked our world.  After 14 months into this adoption, just when we thought we were days from hearing of our scheduled court date, the SDA office in Ukraine very unexpectedly threw out our dossier.  What does that mean?  That means we get to do everything, all the paperwork, the home study, the background checks all over again and resubmit a new dossier.  Hours and hours of work, months of delay, and thousands more dollars.  Even our SDA appointment will have to be redone.  We are starting back at square one.  It would be impossible to describe our range of emotions over the last week and a half as we have processed this news.  Shock, grief, complete and overwhelming stress, anger.  I read a devotional in "Keep a Quiet Heart" by Elisabeth Elliot recently that echoed my sentiments, "Oh Lord, you wouldn't do this to me, would you??  How could You??"  Really, God, have we not endured enough obstacles and delays in this long adoption process?  It felt like we had just climbed Mt. Everest, the summit was in sight, and we got knocked all the way to the bottom.  I had neither the strength, ability nor motivation to attempt to climb this seemingly insurmountable mountain again.  But even in our grief and frustration God sent whispers of Himself into our lives.  On a Friday morning around 10am I received this discouraging news from our adoption coordinator, and two hours later our living room was filled with friends and family who spent an hour of their day praying with us and over us.

I was overwhelmed again (this time in grateful awe) as friends loved on us and our children, bringing dinner, buying us chocolate, giving my children Starbucks and cookies, sending notes of encouragement, calling to check on us.  The body of Christ is such a beautiful thing to behold! 
The Word of God reminded me that He is the potter and I am merely the clay.  I don't get to advise the potter.  
"Will the pot contend with the potter, or the earthenware with the hand that shapes it?  Will the clay ask the potter what he is making?…Thus says the Lord, would you dare question me concerning my children or instruct me in my handiwork?  I alone, I made the earth and created man upon it." 
Isaiah 45-9-11 (NEB)
God's ways are not our ways.  They are so far above our ways that we can't begin to understand them.  In fact, we aren't asked to understand Him, but simply to trust Him.  
Trust Me
Wait on Me
Hope in Me
Truly, God.  Have you not already spent enough time over the last 3 years teaching me that lesson?  Have I not learned this yet?

"Obviously, not."

In the days that followed, Jim and I had a lot to process.  Where do we go from here?  Of course, giving up was not an option.  But how do we move forward?  Do we stay with our adoption coordinator or look for a new agency?  Can anything be salvaged from our dossier?  How much time and money is this going to take?  Who can give us some answers?

We still don't have all the details as to why our dossier was thrown out.  In speaking to another adoption group, it really makes no sense that the SDA would do that.  But here's what we have pieced together.  Our facilitators in Ukraine were working to get the missing relinquishment document.  They had not been able to obtain it or a certified copy of it because it was too dangerous to travel to Igor's region.  Some of the documents in our dossier were beginning to expire.  The SDA was not confident that our facilitators would obtain this document in a timely manner and decided too many documents were beginning to expire so we would need to resubmit.  
As we weighed our options and prayed for wisdom on how to move forward we decided that staying with our facilitator team would be the most economical and hopefully quickest way to accomplish this enormous task.  
However, some things have changed in the last year.  Because Ukraine is adopting the Hague agreement we are now required to use an adoption agency, not a private consultant.  Our independent consultant now works under the umbrella of Hopscotch Adoptions so we hired them.
Unfortunately, the woman who ran the home study group we used last time was arrested for child trafficking recently so that group is now defunct.  Hopscotch also does home studies and we found out they would be willing to use our previous home study and update it.  Last night we had a visit from the social worker assigned to our case and within a few days we should have our updated home study.  
This year we are required to also get background checks and fingerprints on Ashley since she
will turn 18 in a few weeks.  

Updated USCIS approval to add Ashley
Updated medicals 
Updated employment letters 
Updated home ownership letter
New notary as our notary from last year is not renewing her commission
updated background checks on Jim, Ellie, and I
updated home study…...

We are in a time crunch to finish all the updates to our dossier by February 7th so we can FedEx it to Ukraine for translation.  Our USCIS approval will expire on 8/28/15.  If our dossier is not translated and resubmitted to the SDA with at least 6 months left until it expires, the SDA will not accept it.
We can file for an extension of our USCIS approval; however, you can't file for extension until you are within 90 days of expiration.  So either we get this submitted before 2/28 or we can't submit it until June.

Just when we thought we were getting close to hurdling all these obstacles a new one was thrown across our path today.  Ukraine will no longer accept letters from the SBI (state bureau of investigation) on background checks.  We must now obtain an FBI background check.  Unfortunately, the only offices that do these are in Ohio, Florida and Arizona.  After we receive a certified letter from this office, it must be mailed to Washington DC to be apostilled before it can be sent to Ukraine.  To mail our fingerprints to one of these offices, wait for a letter to return saying we have no criminal background, and then mail to it to DC and back would take several weeks.  Because we don't have time to wait, Jim and I are driving to Columbus, OH on Friday afternoon.  We will have our fingerprints done on Saturday morning and pay extra for them to process our letter that day.  Then we will overnight our letters to DC and hope for a quick return.

So here are some ways you can be praying for us:
1.  Pray for our employment letters to arrive from Florida (that's where our payroll company is).  Once we get them we must mail them back to FL to the Secretary of State to be apostilled.
2.  Pray for our marriage license to return from the Ohio SOS this week.
3.  Pray that we will be able to add Ashley to our USCIS approval by next Wed.  This is almost impossible to do quickly as there are so many steps to this.
4.  Pray for safety, good traffic, and success as we head to Columbus Friday for FBI checks.
5.  Pray that our FBI checks will come back from DC quickly.  
6.  Pray that we would be able to submit our dossier to Ukraine in time for it to be translated and submitted before 2/28.
7.  Pray for Igor's protection.  We have not been able to get word to him of these delays and we aren't sure how to do this.
8.  Pray that we don't get an ulcer from the stress of all this!

After our dossier is resubmitted we will be waiting 8-12 weeks for the SDA to process it and give us a court date.  Please pray this will go as quickly as possible.  

I want to close with a story of God's provision.
Last spring I was doing some major nesting in preparation for Igor's arrival.  In our Bonus room we have four 8x10 frames hanging in a row of our 4 children.  I realized I would need a 5th one for that wall.  I really love those frames and I didn't want to have to purchase 5 new ones.  I went to Target looking for another one, but was skeptical that I'd find it as it had been over 10 years since I purchased the others.  
No frame.
So I began looking at Goodwill Stores, but no luck.
I decided to ask God for this frame.  I knew it was a little thing for Him to accomplish.  Surely someone out there had also purchased one of these frames 10 years ago and would do some purging and drop a frame off at Goodwill.  I asked God to provide this frame.  My friend, Jennifer, found out about it and also began praying and looking for one.
Well, as the months dragged on and our adoption kept being delayed and still no frame, I began to get discouraged.  I began to link the finding of this frame with the assurance that God would give us Igor.  As time went by and God didn't give me the frame I began to doubt that he was going to give me the child.  
In my lucid moments I told myself, "That's ridiculous!  Just because God isn't giving you this frame doesn't mean He isn't going to bring Igor into your family.  He might just want you to buy 5 new frames."
I stopped asking for the frame and stopped looking.
Then one day I got a text from Jennifer…She found the frame!!!
She was visiting some friends and told them about the frame.  She had a picture of it on her phone and when she showed it to them one friend said, "I have that frame hanging up at home.  I'll be happy to give it to her."
When she told me about it, I was completely in awe of God's love for me!
He didn't have to do this. 
But He did, to remind me that He does love me.  He loves Igor.  And He hasn't forgotten us.
I asked Jennifer's friend to text me a picture of the frame, just to be sure it was the one I was looking for.  

It was.

And here's what it was framing on her wall…

So we will continue to battle in prayer for this child.

And we will continue to beseech the Father to Move this Mountain!