12/21/08 - Our Ethiopian Nativity

Mike and I had so much fun this weekend being creative and painting the nativity below! Mike came up with the idea about a week ago and even went online to look at Ethiopian clothing.

12/02/08 - Paperwork Update

We received word today that we are going to need to redo some of our paperwork - our physical forms and letters, our financial statement, our power of attorney, and Amy's work reference letter. There are either new forms or didn't need notarization before and now do. Oh, well - God's timing is perfect!

We also learned that our home study has been approved by our social worker Faith's supervisor as well as Duni, our old Family Coordinator at America World. Now it is being sent to DCFS for approval which should take roughly four weeks. Once approved, the home study is sent to USCIS and we wait for government approval.

Duni, our original Family Coordinator with America World, has relocated to Ethiopia with her family as of December 3rd. She will be overseeing the process there and we'll be able to meet her when we travel one day! Our new Family Coordinator is Nicole and she has already contacted us to say hello.

NEXT STEPS: Contact a notary friend to see when she can go to the doctor's office with us to notarize our physicals. Wait for approvals.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that Duni was able to approve the home study before leaving for Ethiopia. Praise also for Faith's dedication and hard work in the process. Pray that the approvals we need and the paperwork redoes would be accomplished quickly! We are ready to get our dossier to Ethiopia!!!!!

12/01/08 - Early Christmas Gifts

These cut little statues were hidden by my Mom on our entertainment center. It took us about a week to find them!!!

And my sister gave us this Santa on Thanksgiving!

11/18/09 - Home Study Update Is Compelete

We received an email today from our social worker Faith - our COMPLETED home study is on her supervisor's desk awaiting approval!!!! God's timing for completion of this step is now!!

NEXT STEPS: Once Faith's supervisor approves the home study, it is sent to Duni, our Family Coordinator at America World, and the DCFS department in Illinois. When met with all three approvals, it is sent to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and we wait for our I171-H form, which is permission from the government to adopt an orphan.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Huge praises that the home study is complete!! (Now we get to celebrate by going for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup dessert at Pizzeria Unos.) Prayer that the approvals would be quick to follow, particularly Duni's. Her last day as our Family Coordinator (she is moving to Ethiopia to oversee the adoption process there) is Wednesday, November 26th.

11/05/08 - Paperwork Update

The last of our paperwork (application letter, letters of reference, and photo pages) was faxed to Duni this week and approved! Amy did the almost done dance around the living room after receiving the email that all papers were fine as is. The only thing we have left to do (well, not really, but it sounds good to say that!) is eventually have our cover sheet notarized, go to Chicago and have all paperwork certified, and Fed Ex it to America World so they can take it to Washington DC, have it notarized and send it to Ethiopia!!

NEXT STEPS: Still waiting for that home study to be done.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that we are closer to the end than the beginning! Praise also for the support and encouragement that we have found by joining a Yahoo Group of America World families adopting/already adopted from Ethiopia. Amy is slightly addicted to checking it though, so please pray for her! Continued prayer for our home study to be completed and approved and that we trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding.

11/11/08 - Closer to the End than When We Started

A PAGE IS TURNED by Bebo Norman

A page is turned by the wind to a boy in curly grin
With a world to conquer at the age of ten
But as history unfolds and the storybook is told
He finds salvation but not at the hands of man
And the God of second chance
Picked him up and He let him dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, preparing him, the one
To hold him up when he comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun And now a man, here you stand
Your day has come

A page is turned in this world to reveal a little girl
With a heart that's bigger, as it is unfurled
By the language in her soul, that's teaching her to grow
With a careful cover of love that will not fail
And the God of second chance
Picked her up and He let her dance
Through a world that isn't kind
And all this time, preparing her the one
To hold her up when she comes undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And grown up tall, here you are
Your day has come

Beneath the air of autumn, she took him by his hand
And warm within the ardor, she took his heart instead
And high upon the mountain, he asked her for her hand
Just for her hand

A page is turned in this life, he's making her his wife
And there is no secret to the source of this much life
When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again
Just a chance to somehow rise above this land
Where the God of second chance
Will pick them up and he'll let them dance
Through a world that is not kind
And all this time, they're sharing with the one
That holds them up when they come undone
Beneath the storm, beneath the sun
And once again, here you stand
And once again, here you stand
Your day has come

This is our wedding song, and who would have been able to imagine, when we felt led to start a family four years ago this month, the journey God would lead us on. For those of you who don't know the whole story or how God has been at work . . .

Our Baby Timeline

* July 17, 2004 - We are married! The following verse is engraved on both our wedding rings.
"A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

* November 2004 - We decide to try and start a family.

* May 1, 2006 - After 18 months of trying and a change in insurance companies and doctors, we begin infertility testing.

* June 2006 - We are told we are at a 0% chance of getting pregnant.

* July 2006 - We learn we can have surgery to help correct the problem and schedule it for the end of the month! One week later we get a call from the doctor's office: the insurance company won't cover the surgery until we've been on the insurance for one year, May 2007.

* October 29, 2006 - We are pregnant - a miracle!
"Every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17

* December 22, 2006 - At our 12 week doctor appointment, there is no heartbeat.
"The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21

* Early March 2007 - We are approached about a possible domestic adoption. After much prayer and a clear leading from God to step out in faith, we pursue the situation.

* Late March 2007 - We meet the birth mother, start working with Lutheran Child and Family Services and our social worker Faith to complete a home study, talk to a lawyer, and begin to purchase baby girl clothes!

* Good Friday 2007 - We receive some new and detailed information about the adoption, information that had we known from the beginning, we would not have pursued the adoption. After a week of intense prayer and a day of fasting, we receive guidance for what to do next - this is not the adoption situation for us.
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:26

* July 2007 - December 2007 - A situation arises in which we are able to apply for a $10,000 adoption scholarship. We decide to apply thinking maybe this, and money borrowed from family, is how we can pay for an international adoption. One of the requirements for the scholarship is a copy of the completed home study. For privacy reasons, our agency does not send out copies of home studies but Faith, our social worker, writes a detailed letter explaining that we have met all the requirements and do have a completed home study and would benefit greatly by being rewarded with the scholarship. After spending 6 months of asking if we can still be considered for the scholarship and never receiving a 'yes' or 'no' answer, we make the decision to no longer pursue adoption.

* February 29, 2008 - We attend a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and receive a flyer telling about an upcoming free America World Adoption Seminar. As we need so many hours of training to keep our home study active, we decide to attend and register.
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.'' Jeremiah 29:11

* March 8, 2008 - With bruised and hurting hearts, we attend the America World Seminar. We sit and listen and hear that God does not have a Plan B for our lives - only a Plan A. He is not surprised by infertility or orphans. We hear from couples who started with less money then us but stepped out to follow God's call to international adoption. Our hearts are ministered to.
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

* Early May 2008 - We begin to talk about and pursue an adoption from Ethiopia. We talk with both America World and Lutheran Child and Family Services and learn the agencies are able to work with each other.

* May 23, 2008 - Our completed application to America World is put in the mail.

* June 17, 2008 - We receive the cal - We have been accepted into the Ethiopian program!!

So, what have we learned in this process . . .
1. God has never nor will He ever leave us or forsake us.
2. the massive and empowering impact of prayer - that is the only thing that got out out of bed
some mornings.
3. God works good in all things always.
4. His plans and dreams are bigger than ours.
5. He comforts the broken hearted and binds their wounds.
6. He keeps His promises.
7. He hears and answers prayer.
8. He blesses His children.
Would we have chosen a less painful road to learn all this - defiantly. Would we be where we are today, deeply rooted in God and His word, in an ever strengthening marriage of three cords - God, Mike, and Amy - pursuing an Ethiopian adoption with barely any money but completely trusting in Gd to provide for all our needs - NO WAY! There is no way we would have ever considered an international adoption had we not already had a completed home study. So once again, God's dreams and plans are bigger than ours. And we will continue to trust and follow Him because the God of second chances has picked us up, and He's let us dance through a world that's unkind, all the while holding us up when we come undone, and beneath the storm and beneath the sun and in His strength, we still stand. Our day (for bringing children into out family) has almost come!

11/09/08 - Christmas Angel

We were shopping this weekend and stopped to look at the Christmas items (It is almost Thanksgiving after all!). We have an artificial tree for the upstairs second bedroom (our future children's room!) but don't have a tree topper and were discussing how nice it would be to find an African American angel. While looking at Hobby Lobby, we found the beautiful angel below (and it was 50% off!)

It will look wonderful with the ornament we have written in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia.

11/05/08 - Further Home Study Delay

Well the home study process is taking a little longer than we have expected. However, this is really the first glitch in the process, so we can't complain.

Lat week, we learned from our social worker Faith (who is so sorry this process is taking so long!) that we needed to have a Child Abuse check run on Mike in the state of Wisconsin where he was born and lived for a long time. Now read this next part tongue and cheek as that is how it was meant - Apparently, an FBI check, two fingerprints, and a police background check didn't quite cover everything!! So we faxed a request off to Wisconsin last Thursday. They will run the check and get the results to Faith. Our babies must not be ready for us yet!!

NEXT STEPS: Waiting, praying, waiting, praying, keeping a good sense of humor! We are also enlisting the help of Amy's brother next weekend to be our adoption journal photographer. We will be driving around Lake County so he can take pictures of us at various locations that relate to the adoption process so far. Be watching for those in a few weeks!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for all our friends who are in prayer over our home study. Faith is encouraged by that and has said she will take all the prayer that she can get! Prayer for us that we would have peace in the waiting time.

10/24/08 - Home Study Update

We received a call from our social worker Faith last week - she is on the fourth rewrite of our home study due to the continual changes needed by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Servives). She wanted to reassure us that she is working! So what does that mean for us? We need a completed and approved home study before we can do anything else in the process, so we are waiting! We are confident that all this will happen in God's timing!!

NEXT STEPS: We can finish up our photo pages and application letter for our dossier. We can also do research about agencies that offer international adoption scholarships (but can't actually apply until the home study is completed).

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for Faith's hard work and dedication! Pray that God's hand would literally be on our home study and that it would be finished (by the end of the month?) and approved (by the end of November?) soon, so we can send our dossier to Ethiopia by the end of 2008!

10/15/08 - We've Been Fingerprinted

We had our fingerprinting appointment this morning at 8am in Waukegan and were done by 8:30am! The lady working the machine was amused that I am a Cubs fan and Mike is a Packers fan!

NEXT STEPS: Faith, our social worker from Lutheran Child and Family Services, is putting the finishing touches on our home study. Then three people/offices need to approve the home study before it can be sent into the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). At that point, it will take 4-6 weeks for us to get our approval letter (the I171-H form) from USCIS which will be the last thing we need!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that we are one step closer to getting our babies!! Prayer that we would be confident of God's timing in the waiting for approval time frame.

10/06/08 - Fingerprint Date

We received a date for our fingerprints - next Wednesday, October 15th! We'll head to Waukegan for our 8am appointment!

NEXT STEPS: Keep waiting, reading children's picture books about adoption to decide which ones to add to our library, and praying for our Ethiopian children!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that even in the waiting times God is at work. Prayer that Mike will be able to get some sleep next Wednesday. We don't know how long the appointment takes and he has class at 1pm.

10/03/08 - Paperwork Update

We had our last piece of paperwork notarized today! Yeah, we are basically done with the paperwork chase!! Now all we need to do is write our application letter (to Ethiopia asking for a child), complete our photo pages (fun pictures of us and our house), and make a color copy of our passports.

NEXT STEPS: We'll fax the remainder of our gathered paperwork to Duni for approval next week.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that we were able to gather the necessary paperwork so easily! Praise that we are almost done with what they call the "paper pregnancy!" Pray that God would give us the words as we write our application letter.

9/26/08 - I600-A Form Has Been Filed

We received a letter from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration) saying our I600-A form has been received and filed! Now we wait to receive a fingerprint date. Once we have been fingerprinted and the USCIS receives our home study, they can finish the process and send us our I171 - H form. So what does this mean - we need permission from the USCIS to adopt internationally and that is what this whole process is.

NEXT STEPS: More waiting - for the home study to be finished and approved and for our fingerprint date.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that our paperwork was received safely and that this process is underway. We have been told approval is taking approximately 4-6 weeks, so please pray that is accurate (or even quicker) for us!

9/23/08 - Paperwork Update

We had some more paperwork approved by Duni last week! Almost everything is done - amazing since we began gathering documents only a month ago!! This is so God!! We had a small glitch with the notary stamp on our police reports - the stamp expiration date was before the adoption would have been finalized. So Mike stopped at the police station yesterday and they notarized it with a stamp that won't expire until 2010.

NEXT STEPS: We have requested a letter from our doctor in regard to a surgery Mike had last year and are waiting for it to come in the mail. We also need to have a financial page we completed notarized. Hopefully these two things will be completed by the end of the week.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: A huge praise for how God has moved in our gathering of paperwork. Please pray for our I-600A form as it should be arriving at the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) this week.

9/19/08 - Passports Are Here

Our passports came in the mail today - a week and a day after we applied - yeah God!! We are so excited, we have them sitting on top of the entertainment center and are imaging the Ethiopian stamp that will go inside.

NEXT STEPS: We are working on taking pictures of us and the house for our photo pages for our dossier. This is fun!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that our passports are here! Prayer that God would continue to be at work and covering the adoption process.

9/18/08 - I-600A Form in the Mail

We mailed our I-600A form this morning to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Office (USCIS) this morning! We need to be approved by the USCIS to adopt a child internationally (hence the form). They send us a fingerprinting appointment, evaluate our home study, and send us the I-171H form which is the acceptance form needed to proceed. It is taking approximately 4-6 weeks for this process.

NEXT STEPS: Faith needs to finish our home study, have it approved by 3 different people, and then she can have a notarized copy sent to the USCIS.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise the form is in the mail! Please pray that the approval of our home study is a speedy process as the USCIS can't process our I-600A form until they receive a copy of the home study! (Are you confused by all that!?)

09/12/08 - Paperwork Update and Other Discoveries

All of our paperwork we sent to Duni, our Family Coordinator at America World, has been approved! No changes needed! Praise God!! We have applied for our passports and are faxing some more paperwork to Duni next week.

We have also begun researching children's adoption and multiracial family books so we can expand our personal library collection. Stay tuned for our best picks!

We found an old PBS special on Africa and watched the section on Ethiopia. It was great to see the landscape, learn about some of their traditions, and even see the hotel where we'll probably stay as the host of the show stayed there!

NEXT STEPS: We have the certified bank check and needed paperwork for sending in our I6ooA form (to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS]) which we will be doing on Thursday! Our completed home study will follow in a couple of weeks. Then we'll get a day and time to be fingerprinted and hopefully get approval (the I171H form) quickly.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Huge praise that we do not need to make any changes to the paperwork we have already gathered! And another praise for some more online training classes our social worker Faith has guided us to. Please pray that the home study comes together soon and that it does in fact only take 4 -6 weeks (the last time frame we were given) to get approval from the USCIS as well as 4 - 6 weeks for our passports (the time frame we were given) to come.

9/08/08 - Various Paperwork Faxed to Duni

We faxed some of our paperwork (our birth certificates, marriage license, proof of health insurance and life insurance, Amy's employee letter, Mikes' physical, and our police department records) to our America World Family Coordinator today! Duni will look them over, answer the couple of questions we have, and let us know if we need to do anything differently with them.

NEXT STEPS: Amy will be going for her physical this Thursday and Mike is going to the Lake County courthouse this Friday to gather some needed paperwork. We are both going to the post office Thursday to apply for our passports.

PRAISE AND PRAYER REQUEST: Praise that everyone we have talked with as we gathered paperwork has been so NICE to us and always wish us the best of luck, Please pray that we are on the right track with our paperwork and don't need to make too many changes and that our passport applications are processed quickly!

9/06/08 - Home Study Training Complete

We have finished the 10 hours of training required for updating our international home study! The training was wonderful!! We reviewed the whole paperwork process, specifically talking about how our child(ren) will enter the United States and what kind of visa they will receive (an IR4). There were several discussions on keeping the adopteed child's homeland culture alive in our family. There were two different panels - one group of adult international adoptees and one group who have recently adopted internationally - who spoke and shared about their experiences. A lawyer explained the whole readoption process, something not only recommended by our agency but required by us because of the way the adoption happens in Ethiopia. A doctor and therapist spoke about delays related to early orphanage life and shared many strategies for helping the children. And best of all, we met a couple from Lyons, Illinois adopting from Ethiopia whose marriage and adoption journey is virtually identical to ours - is that God at work or what!!!

NEXT STEPS: We will mail/fax our certificates to our home study worker Faith and see if she needs anything else from us. If not, she will be able to finish writing our home study in the next few weeks!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for the couple we met at our training - we already know our children will grow up playing with each other! Please keep the orphanage and caregivers who are loving on our child(ren) in your prayers.

9/02/08 - Gathering Paperwork

We have begun the process of gathering necessary paperwork for our dossier! (A dossier is a file of paperwork that will eventually be sent to Ethiopia) We went online last Monday night and ordered our birth certificate and marriage license and they arrived UPS on Wednesday. We were not home but were when they were delivered the next day. That was pretty easy!! (We are hoping the other paperwork will be too!!)

NEXT STEPS: Mike will be stopping at the police station on Wednesday to ask about getting our police reports. Amy will be calling health insurance and life insurance poeple to obtain necessary paperwork. Both of us have asked our employers for our letter of employment. We have a couple of questions to email Duni, our family coordinator, but then should be able to write our application letter as well as obtain our three letters of reference.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for a great long Labor Day weekend where we got to read through and talk about adoption and multiracial family articles. We also talked about how camping will one day be different - Daddy will set up the tent and campsite while Mommy plays with the kids, Mommy will get dinner and breakfast while Daddy plays with the kids, etc. And with the addition of one or two car seats, we'll need to take two cars! Praise also that Duni was able to check her email and answer a notary question even while she was on vacation. Continued prayer that our home study would be quickly completed, reviewed, and approved and that we would be accepting of God's timing!

8/23/08 - Completed Online Training

We have completed our 8 online training hours required by America World! We learned tons about the whole process from beginning to middle to end of the adoption and then some! We also saw many great video clips from adoptive parents and adoptees which gave us great insight into the process.

NEXT STEPS: We have 10 hours of training required by Lutheran Child and Family Services that we will attend the first Wednesday and Saturday of September.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for all the information and insight from the online training - it helped us answer questions at our home study meeting! Prayer for safe travel to the training in September and that Mike makes it to work on time that Wednesday.

8/21/08 - Meeting with Our Social Worker Faith

We met with Faith this morning to update our home study for an international adoption. She went through our previous home study, updating ages, years of employment, etc. Then we had to answer some new questions mainly why Ethiopia and how will we raise a child of another culture and race. We have a few papers to complete, sign, and return, but nothing requiring too much work. We also were able to have the question about when to send in the I600A form into USCIS - end of September!

NEXT STEPS: We plan on completing the paperwork, signing it, getting it notarized, and sending it back to Faith by the end of August. We also are able to begin gathering documents for our dossier.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise for the SUPER visit with Faith and her excitement for us! Prayer that we would be able to finish the paperwork and get it in the mail by Labor Day. Prayer also for our home study - it has to be approved by 4 different people/agencies before we get a copy for our dossier.

8/14/08 - Amy Learns Something About Email Attachments

Amy went back to the email we received from America World which included Ethiopia and Dossier Guidelines attachments and discovered something interesting - when there are lots of attachments to an email, you can scroll up and down to see them all!! So she discovered about 16 pages of forms and instructions and printed them all out! Oops!!

NEXT STEPS: We will be meeting with our social worker Faith next Thursday, August 21st to begin the process of updating our homestudy. At that time we will also talk with her about the I600A form we are waiting to send in. We are hoping to finish our online adoption training for America World by the end of this month.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise that we handled the email attachment mix up with a sense of humor! Prayer for our meeting with Faith next week - that everything would be quick (as quick as possible) and relatively painless! Pray also that we would not have any computer problems as we are trying to finish our online training.

7/29/08 - Ethiopia Information

"It would be sad if all people ever thought about when considering Ethiopia was famine." (Ethiopia by Carol Ann Gillespie)

Before we even received our acceptance call from America World, we had checked some Ethiopia books out from the library just in case. Since then, we have been reading and learning a lot about this fascinating country! Below is some of the information we discovered and the misconceptions we had when we began researching.

We knew it was in Africa but we weren't exactly quite sure where until we looked at a globe!

The middle of Ethiopia is made up of the East African Rift Valley (a crack in the Earth). The lowlands, the northern and eastern borders, are hot and dry. The northwest and southeast highlands are cool and wetter. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city and where we'll fly in to, is located in the highlands as is Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile River. As you can see from the pictures below, Ethiopia is not all desert, as we originally thought! While there is dry desert land over parts of the country, there is also grass and forests where their is amble rainfall.

We have a Milwaukee Zoo Pass and have visited the zoo several times this year. As we look at the animals and maps of where they live, we always look to see which ones are in Ethiopia. Here is a partial list: lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, and crocodiles.

In the highlands, the average temperature range is 61-72 degrees with 50-70 inches of rain a year. In the lowlands, the average temperature is 80 degrees with only 20 inches of rain a year. In comparison, Chicago's average yearly temperature is 49 degrees, rainfall is 35.82 inches, and snowfall 38.7 inches. Just a bit of a difference!!

The yellow represents religious freedom. The green represents fertile land. The red represents the lives given up to protect the country. The blue circle represents peace and prosperity. The star's points are all equal to represent the quality of all Ethiopians. The shiny rays represent a bright future!

* Ethiopian is not quite twice the size of Texas.
* It is one of the first Christian countries in Africa and today about 50% of the country are Christians.
* Many believe coffee beans may have first grown here (and been eaten by some sheep who then wouldn't fall asleep!).
* Ethiopia has never been colonized.
* There are over 3 million orphans in the country. Total popoluation 67 million.
* Only 10% of the land is suitable for farming.
* The official language of Ethiopia is Amharic (am-HAYR-ik) which is related to Arabic and Hebrew.

7/15/08 - How the Blog Got Its Name

We've been asked about the title of our blog - God's Plan A for Mike and Amy. So in case you don't know the story yet:

When attending the America World seminar in March, there was a video presentation by the founders. They spoke of how God was not surprised by orphans or infertility and how He has no Plan B, this is all part of His Plan A for us. This so helped to heal the many hurts in our hearts. And that is how we picked the name for the blog!

7/14/08 - We Have a Family Coordinator

We received word last week from Duni, our Family Coordinator at America World. She called and spoke to Mike as well as sent an email introduction with dossier requirements. Duni is traveling in Ethiopia until July 25th so the questions (nothing major) we have for her will need to wait until she is back. She sounds very nice and is excited to work with us!

NEXT STEPS: We will be beginning the online America World adoption video/class this week and hope to finish it by the end of July. We also plan to fill out all but two questions on the
I-600A form (we have to ask Duni about those two).

PRAISE AND PRAYER REQUESTS: Praise that the list of required paperwork for the dossier does not seem to overwhelming at this point and prayers that it would continue to not seem overwhelming as we begin to gather it!

7/8/08 - Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Not really anything new to report in the process, but we thought we'd add some answers to questions we've been asked a lot!

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? Our whole adoption process should take hopefully only a little over a year. America World estimates 4 - 6 months for the paperwork process. However, we only need to reopen our homestudy and update it to international standards. So maybe this time will be shorter. Right now referrals from Ethiopia are taking about 7 - 9 months form the date the documents arrive in Ethiopia.

WILL WE HAVE TO TRAVEL? We will travel to Ethiopia for about a week! America World sets up everything - plane, hotel, transportation, most meals, and translators. We have heard nothing but rave reviews from families about how well everything is taken care of.

DO WE KNOW IF IT WILL BE A BOY OR A GIRL? We had the option to request a boy or girl, but have no preference so we'll take whatever God has planned! We requested a child between the age of 0 and 2 years old. We also said we would be interested in adopting a sibling between the age of 0 and 3 years old. Once again, we'll be excited for what God has planned!

6/25/08 - Paperwork is in the Mail!

Contracts and other paper work signed and sent to America World along with first payment fee.

Placement paperwork signed and put in the mail to Faith at Lutheran Child and Family Services to sign and return to America World.

NEXT STEPS: America World will assign us a Family Coordinator to work closely with us to complete the next round of paperwork as well as help us fill out the I-600A form: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. We will met with Faith in August to begin the process of opening and updating our home study for international adoption and take a 10 hour class about international adoption.

PRAISE AND PRAYER REQUESTS: Praise for all the joy and excitement of our friends and family - you have no idea how much that means to us. Prayer that God would continue to go before us, that we are blessed with an amazing Family Coordinator from America World, that Faith (who has left on vacation) would be able to quickly sign and return the paperwork to America World, and that we wouldn't have to wait to long to send in our I-600A form (it takes 2-3 months to process the form).

6/21/08 - Introductory Packet from America World Arives

Our first packet of paperwork arrives from America World and is sitting on the counter when we arrive home from camping the next day! Inside is our contract and several other pieces of paperwork to sign, some sent back to America World and some to our social worker Faith at Lutheran Child and Family Services.

We are super excited as we read through everything!

NEXT STEP: Read through the packet of information and sign and return needed papers within a week.

PRAISE AND PRAYER REQUESTS: Praise for the packet arriving earlier than we thought it would! Praise that the information is so well organized and the overview of the program is laid out in a easy to understand and at this point, not overwhelming way! Pray that we are able to meet our goal for getting the paperwork in the mail.

6/17/08 - We get the call!

The call from America World came this morning to Amy at work!! (They thought they were calling the home phone number.) She started shaking and crying when she heard the word "Congratulations" and really had to focus on the rest of the conversation. After getting off the phone, Amy called and left a message for Mike at home.

It is an amazing, surreal feeling! We are floating on air and smiling all day!! This is really happening! Now we can begin reading the books about Ethiopia we checked out from the library.

NEXT STEPS: Tell and call friends and family to share the news!! Wait 10 days or so for the introductory packet of information to come from America World.

PRAISE AND PRAYER REQUESTS: Praise, praise, praise for our acceptance into the program!! Prayers that God would continue to go before us and clear the path for this whole process. Prayer also for the caregiver watching over our child(ren) in Ethiopia.