05/30/09 - Where in the world is our dossier now?

It's in Europe!! Here's a recap:

May 29, 2009 - 12:22 PM: Shipment information sent to FedEx

May 29, 2009 - 7:40 PM: Picked up, HERNDON, VA

May 29, 2009 - 9:32 PM: Left FedEx origin facility, HERNDON, VA

May 30, 2009 - 12:36 AM: Arrived at FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN

May 30, 2009 - 2:21 AM: Departed FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN

May 30, 2009 - 5:39 AM: Departed FedEx location, MEMPHIS, TN (not sure why there's 2 departure times!)

May 30, 2009 - 10:46 PM: Arrived at FedEx location, PARIS, FRANCE

May 30, 2009 - 11:47 PM: Departed FedEx location, PARIS, FRANCE

05/29/09 - Where in the world is our dossier?

Here's the first leg of our dossier's (all our paperwork) journey:

Ship date: May 29, 2009 Destination: BOLE SUB-CITY, ADDIS ABABA ET

May 29, 2009 12:22 PM, Shipment information sent to FedEx

May 29, 2009 7:40 PM, Picked up, HERNDON, VA

05/29/09 - GREAT NEWS!

12 months after first applying to America World ...
11 months after being accepted into their program ...
10s of thousands of prayers by us, our family and friends, and our Yahoo Group ...
9 awesome small group members who have encouraged and prayed us through the (for us) 9 month paper chasing process ...
8 (+1) completed Biblical character murals on our future children's bedroom walls ...
7 seasons of waiting: spring, summer, fall, winter, joy, sorrow, and trust ...
6 months from completed home study update to CIS approval - the I171-H form ...
5 years (almost) after being led to start our family ...
4 days between America World receiving our paperwork, sending it to Washington DC to the State Department and Ethiopian Embassy for authentication, and picking it up ...
3 pounds (nearly) of paperwork FedExed to America World a week ago ...
2 times completely gathering our paperwork and 2 trips to Chicago to get 2 pieces of paperwork certified ...
1 Amazing and Mighty God whose good plans for us have always been to adopt 2 children from Ethiopia ...
WE ARE DATE TO ETHIOPIA (DTE)!!!! That means our paperwork is heading to Ethiopia today and we are officially on the waiting list for our children! By this time next year we probably won't have traveled but we should know who our children are! PRAISE GOD!!

05/26/09 - Paperwork Arrives at Our Agency

And now, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story:

May 26, 2009 6:59 AM At local FedEx facility HERNDON, VA

May 26, 2009 7:48 AM On FedEx vehicle for delivery HERNDON, VA

May 26, 2009 10:09 AM Delivered!

Nicole, our Family Coordinator at America World, called and left a message Tuesday saying everything looked good and that our paperwork would be on its way this week to Washington DC to be authenticated!!

05/23/09 - Where is the US is our paperwork package?

We - okay, Amy - has been going to the FedEx website, typing in the tracking number, and waiting like a little geek to see where it is in route to McLean, Virginia! . Here's its path so far!

May 21, 2009 3:54 PM Picked up LIBERTYVILLE, IL

May 21, 2009 9:16 PM Left FedEx origin facility WAUKEGAN, IL

May 22, 2009 2:18 PM In transit MEMPHIS, TN

May 23, 2009 3:35 AM Departed FedEx location MEMPHIS, TN

May 23, 2009 7:17 AM At desk sort facility DULLES, VA

05/21/09 - Our Paperwork is on Its Way to Virginia!

We headed back into Chicago this morning after purchasing a ten ride pass for the train (figuring if we didn't buy it, we'd need it and if we did buy it, we wouldn't need it!). We made the same mile walk as last week and arrived at the Secretary of State Office of Index building on State Street. Mike prayed before we got into the elevator and headed to the 10th floor.

We were momentarily excited to see a different person behind the glass plated window and counter, thinking we might have a chance at using our first dossier cover sheet (the one they wouldn't certify last week). But our excitement wained as the same women who had problems with the wording on our paper last week, took the first woman's place. But Amy had a plan - she would keep her head low (so as to avoid being recognized), pretend like she had never been there the week before, hand over the two pieces of paper, and ask for regular certification for both pieces. This was Plan A, mind you, and plan B, C, and D were in place as back ups if needed. However, they weren't needed because our papers were taken, we were charged four dollars, we waited approximately five minutes (expecting at any minute to hear, "There's a problem), Mike's name was called, and we received our certification (which by the way is a piece of paper verifying that the notary who notarized our paperwork is a recognized notary public in the state of Illinois and stamped with Jesse White's signature. And what does a notary stamp on our papers do? It verifies that indeed it was Mike and Amy who signed the papers!). Mike whispered, jokingly, as we walked out the door, "Run!" The following picture was taken down the hallway from the office:

This would be Amy giving an exuberant thumbs up! Note the fun bag she is carrying - it was a gift from one of her preschoolers, Owen (and family), who left recently for kindergarten. The note on the card said that Amy would need a bigger purse this year! And in a little over a year this bag will hopefully be going international!

We snapped the picture below on the train ride coming out of Union Station. Mike, in his wonderfully gifted creativeness, is planning to Photoshop the Chicago skyline in the background out the window!

After arriving home and getting the rest of our paperwork from the dinning room table, it was off to FedEx!

NEXT STEPS: Our paperwork will arrive in Virginia at America World, our international agency, on Monday. Hopefully, everything will be in order, but if not, we'll fix whatever is amiss. Once all paperwork is complete, it will be sent to Washington DC for authentication by the U.S. State Department and the Ethiopian Embassy. After that, our precious package is sent over the Atlantic Ocean and we will officially be "Date to Ethiopia" (DTE) and on the waiting list for our children. This leg of the paperwork journey should take approximately 2-3 weeks and referral time (when we receive a phone call saying they have children for us) is ranging from 7-11 months.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: All the glory goes to God for our success in Chicago today! It was a much nicer walk back to the train station as well as a joyful ride home! Please pray that there would be no problems with our paperwork.

05/14/09 – First Attempt to Certify Paperwork

We need two papers, the Power of Attorney and the Dossier Cover Sheet, in our dossier certified (this means that look at the notary signature and verify it is a legal notary). We got directions to the Secretary of State Department of Index office in downtown Chicago, rode the train downtown, had plans for fun pictures and lunch at Subway, but it was not in God’s plans for this to happen on this day. They refused to certify our dossier cover sheet because it lists documents that were issued to us by a federal court (our birth certificates, wedding license, and divorce degrees). Amy didn’t even make it out of the office before bursting into tears. This problem was certainly not anything we envisioned when we left that morning. And after talking with our wonderful Family Coordinator at America World, our international agency, she couldn’t understand why this happened either as they follow directions from the State Department. But God was not surprised by this day and we take comfort in knowing that He uses all things to work together for good for those who love him.

NEXT STEPS: We have a different cover sheet that we will get notarized early this week. Then we will head back downtown on Thursday to try again. Best case scenario – a different person will be working who will not have a problem with the dossier cover sheet and will certify it. Worst-case scenario – They still have a problem with the paper, so we would show them the revised one that they hopefully will certify. Then they’ll have to certify Amy’s birth certificate, our marriage license, and Mike’s divorce decree separately and Mike will have to drive to Madison to get his birth certificate certified. Unthinkable scenario – They won’t certify either of the dossier cover sheets. Then Nicole, our Family Coordinator at America World, said to call her so they could explain the problem to her.

PRAISE AND PRAYER: Praise God that He is bigger than all these challenges!!! Pray that whatever happens Thursday, we feel God’s peace and react in a godly way. Also pray that we get to take our cheesy pictures because that will mean our papers are certified!

05/07/09 – Small Group Prayer

This was beyond amazing! This picture was taken right before we prayed over our dossier (the collection of paperwork sent to Ethiopia). This packet of paper is covered in a prayer bubble of incredible strength and love. Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ prayed for blessing of the papers and grace from the people who would look through it as well as for our future children and for us. There was many a teary eye when we finished! NOTE: We are missing two members in the picture, one was ill that evening and one was taking to picture. We are planning to “restage” the shot soon.

05/07/09 – Next to Last Paperwork Step

This is our good friend Mary (Amy has known her for almost all of her life!) notarized the last of our paperwork! Mary said she was so honored to be able to help out in our adoption process and we are so touched by her willingness to come to our rescue. In addition to notarizing these last papers, she made a trip to our doctor’s office in March to notarize the physical forms and doctor’s letters that had to be redone.

Unexpected Surprises

Over the past month we have received some unexpected surprises. First, Amy was able to visit a library that was having a book sale of older children’s books in order to make room for new ones. However, as she is a preschool teacher, she was able to pick some books out for free! (She was probably supposed to use them in her classroom, but it never specified that anywhere, so they came home with her!!)

Next, we were given some beautiful prayer and songbooks from Sue, a friend at Amy’s work. There are beautiful prayers and poems and fun songs with motions to go along. We can’t wait to teach the songs and motions to our children! Mike also received a gift from someone at work – a pack and play! They knew we were adopting and were done with it so passed it on top us.

Last, these two coloring books arrived in Amy’s mailbox at work one day, a gift from her kindred spirit friend Tracy. These will be coming on the plane to Ethiopia with us!

We are so blessed to be loved by so many. Their, what I’m sure seems simple to them, is a kindness and blessing to our hearts.

5/01/09 - Our I 171-H Form Is Here!!!!!

Amy went to the mailbox this Friday only to discover a letter from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Now we have received two letters from them in the past. Both were disappointing, telling us what was wrong with the wording of our home study, and both address's were hand written. This envelope looked more official - Mike's name could be read through the envelope opening and there was no hand writing. Amy walked into the room where Mike was doing homework and told him we had received something from USCIS. We prayed before opening the envelope and then proceeded to spend about 5 minutes looking through it to figure out what it was!! The second page held the word congratulations, but we were expecting to see the letters and numbers "I 171-H" emblazoned across the top of the page!! After a moment, Amy noticed in the lower left hand corner in the teeny, tiniest font - I 171-H form. This is what we have been waiting for since February - the form that gives us federal approval to adopt internationally!!!!! Peels of excitement and dancing around the house followed!!!

Amy pointing at the I 171-H letters - the camera couldn't focus close enough to get a picture of them - they are that small!

NEXT STEPS: Redoing several pieces of paperwork, getting them notarized, traveling to Chicago to get them certified, praying with our small group over what will be our completed "dossier," Fed Exing it to our international agency in Virginia where they will authenticate it in Washington DC and send it to Ethiopia!! Then we will officially be in line for a referral!!

PRAISE AND PRAYER: This is answer to months of prayer! And praise God for the peace Amy has felt over God's timing in the past two week - He would bring this form to our mailbox not one day sooner than His appointed time. And He will have us DTE (Date to Ethiopia) not one day sooner than His plans. And the two children He is preparing for us will be referred to us on the day He established before He created the world. Please pray that we are able to do all we need to by Friday, May 15th and will be at Fed Ex that afternoon!