Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Officially on the wait list!

It's official! We got our call Monday afternoon with our official waitlist number:


YEAH!! We are #69 on the boy list! I can't believe we are really on there now waiting to get THE call to know who our son is! The wait to get THE call is 12-18 months right now so we will be waiting for a long time but it's all in God's perfect timing.

Big sisters are also excited! When I got off the phone, Claire gave me the sweetest, biggest hug. It's so hard for her to understand everything but she's doing a great job so far.
They can't wait to kiss, hug, love.....

play, discover new things and be silly with their brother!
And sweet boy, we can't wait to see your face and know who God has for our newest addition to the Lewis Family!

It's really interesting how the wait list works. I love how our agency's waitlist is set up. There are three wait lists. One for boys, one for girls and one for siblings regardless of age or special needs parameters. There are a number of families who are on more than one waitlist so as soon as they get a referral, they come off all lists so there is movement either way. With having numbers, you see how fast things are moving along, you see progress, it makes it a little easier for us as we wait, etc. but they are not at all bound to the numbers. Just last week #16 and I think #40-something got their referral calls. I don't know what the details were but they have to look at so many things - what gender, what age parameters you are open to, if there is a special need, etc. I asked Toni who does the actually matching of a child to a family. She said that the special mothers (caretakers) at Hannah's Hope write a little blurb about each of the kids they are loving on/assigned to (the ratio is 3:1 so they know their kiddos!). The blurb gets sent to AGCI headquarters and then all the Ethiopian case workers read them through together, pray and discuss if they have a family who they think is the best fit for the child. She made it VERY clear that they are advocating and placing the child which is wonderful. Then they go to the list and see who has the lower number. They are very mindful and prayerful and I love knowing that they rely on God so much in placing each child. I wouldn't want it to be strictly because we're number 1. All that to say, we don't know what number we'll be when we get THE call but the more movement there is, the closer we get!

A few months ago we were given a gift certificate to County Line so Neil and I went out last night to celebrate! We hadn't had a date in such a long time so it was just what we needed.
County Line is a memorable place for us as we ate there the evening of our wedding down on the river walk!
The radiant expecting parents to be =)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dossier Sent!

***update: we got our call around 3:45 and we have one tiny revision to make! It is actually more of a recommendation but we will take their recommendation if that means it will be the best for us. They know what they are doing! We will get it sent off tomorrow and wait to hear back. Than we are on the waitlist!***

Wednesday was a HUGE day for us - we got our home study back from Lutheran so we could finally get our dossier sent! First it was making copies (my second trip that day) with the girls in the rain but nothing could bring me down!!

Here is the 132 paged stack (that's the original with two copies!)
After being asked a number of times what all we have been working on to be included, I thought I'd list it out so I can share and remember myself =)

- Power of Attorney x 2 - both notarized, one state certified
- Application letter - notarized
- Photocopy of both passports with notary sheet
- Passport photos
- Photographs of Family
- Photographs of home (internal and external)
- Homestudy - notarized
- Letter's of Employment - notarized
- Financial Statement - notarized
- Original birth certificates
- Original certificate of Marriage
- Medical letters for both - notarized
- Police Clearance for both - notarized
- Two letters of reference - notarized
- Obligation of Post placement reports - notarized
- 2 complete copies of everything above
- Appropriate Fees!

Despite the running around and rain, I was so giddy and nervous getting everything just so and ready to be sent off! After making copies, we met Neil at the post office so that we could get it sent the same day to get there in time to be reviewed on Friday. The lady probably thought I was crazy asking her to take a picture but I'm so glad I asked. After all the hours and time we spent with that paperwork, it was time to celebrate it's drop in the mail.
Could I have a cheesier smile?!
Claire also included something in the package =) She wanted to draw a picture of herself to send to baby brother's country so this is a replica that she gave me for my dashboard. It was too cute not to send so our case worker got a little gift in the package - hopefully it made her smile!
I was trying to think of something to compare this to and all I could think of is maybe in preparing and completing a dissertation. You spend months at a time compiling, revising, stressing, etc. for this moment when you finally get to turn it in to then be reviewed. Haven't been there myself =) but I think that's what I could compare it to.

Next step is waiting to hear if we need revisions - I have the phone right by me to get the call! They are in Oregon so it could come as late as 7 p.m. today =) As soon as we get any revisions made and back to them, we will be officially on the wait list and "paper pregnant" as many like to call it! We will then be working on our immigration paperwork and finger printing but that's nothing compared to what we have done.

Praise God!! This day seemed so far away even 2 months ago! He has truly given us the strength and perseverance to get everything done =)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Unexpected Visitor

Look who showed up in our back yard yesterday?!

Isn't she the cutest?!

Rollo growled like never before so we looked out back and there she was. Both girl's were in love instantly (I was smitten as well!) but I told Claire "We aren't keeping her but we can help her find her family." So we got her some water, pet her sweet little head and watched her from the window.

I had to take a quick shower before work so off I went and just as I was getting out, I hear Claire wailing - "She's gone! She's gone!" She had slipped through the slotted fence into our neighbor's backyard. When I finally made it to the living room, Claire was laying face down by the back sliding door saying "I love you - I love You" over and over again. Wow - I haven't heard her that sincerely upset about something in a really long time. I just held her as she sobbed and even Eden came to comfort her with hugs and a concerned look.

Claire eventually calmed down and I explained that she probably went home so that her owners wouldn't worry about her. She was still so sad and enjoyed the couple of glimpses we got through the slotted fence of her sweet nose as she continued to visit the neighbor's dogs.
Called the neighbor to give her the heads up when she got home and ends up, the puppy is her daughter's! She was keeping her for the day so she wasn't lost after all. We really enjoyed our unexpected visitor and hope to see her visit again soon (with a collar and tag)!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Homestudy COMPLETE!

(Don't miss the sponsorship opportunity in the post right before this one! We are looking for tax-deductible donations for our Half marathon on Oct. 23rd. We would love any support you could give! Details are all in the post)

It's official!! Just got an email from our home agency saying that AGCI approved everything and they are sending notarized copies of the home study TODAY!! I can hardly believe it! We started our first home visit back June 21st so it's been a long road to get it all together with revision and one addition after another.

Our dossier (which is the big paperwork process for our adoption agency) is just waiting for the home study and it will be sent as soon as we get it. Our agency looks at dossiers on Fridays so I'm hoping to get it there by this Friday. That means we might actually be on the wait list by next week some time... I really am in disbelief because paperwork has been our evenings for the past 5 months. Our next paperwork will be USCIS paperwork for immigration and fingerprinting but it's not as extensive - expensive yes but won't be time consuming to complete!

Please say a prayer that we get our home study tomorrow so we can get the dossier in by Friday! Thank you all who have been on this journey with us!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Timeline

The past two weeks with our adoption has been going strong with getting all our dossier documents completed. We are now only waiting for our homestudy education to be mailed in tomorrow, our homestudy to be approved and returned so we can get it sent with our dossier. Our agency reviews dossiers on Fridays so hoping to have it all in their hands by Friday, Sept. 17th but more realistically, reviewed on the 24th. Hope to then be on the official waitlist the following week. They do say about 95% of dossiers need revision so hopefully ours will be a-ok when it arrives!

The past two weeks I've also been on our agency's listserv/yahoo group so I get a lot of conversation that is going on in the group. It's exciting to hear it all but hard too. There has been little movement due to the courts closing in Ethiopia in August and Sept. so there are a lot of people anxious about things getting moving again. Moving as in referrals and people moving closer to the top of the list - that #1 spot. There are times when you can be matched with your sweet one without being #1 - just depends on your parameters.

So... being in the listserv has kind of gotten us wanting to move things along at a quick rate because the wait is getting longer. The family who just got on the waitlist for a boy is starting at #62 when a family that we've been following since March started on the waitlist with #36 (they are now #11). The wait used to be 6-9 months for a referral meaning from the time you got on the wait list till you get THE call telling you who your child is. With the courts closing time of year, the number of families that are now using AGCI and the fact that AGCI works with one orphanage (I didn't know this when we signed up and just found out this is common), the wait is now predicted at 12-18 months. I look at our ticker and today is says we've already been on our journey for 5 months, 1 week and 1 day. Now 12-18 more months and probably then some....

Neil and I have been sad thinking it will be longer before we know who our little guy is. Wow - that seems like forever away... but as we will eventually be put on the list and see our number get closer to #1, we will be seeing other children be united with their forever families. While that is definitely something to rejoice about, I always come back to this sense of sadness that with our joy and rejoicing of bringing a child into our lives, someone else had to make that really hard decision for one reason or another and has had a tremendous loss and heavy grief. There is so much to adoption so many don't realize, see or want to acknowledge and that certainly includes us as we continue to grow and learn so much through this experience.

We know God's timing is perfect and we continue to trust that His plan is so much greater than we could ever imagine. Oh yes - easier said than done at times. He's already stirring so much within us so I can only imagine where we will be in 12-18 months time.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11

I looked back in my archives to see if I had written about my memory of 9/11 but I guess I didn't write it on here... I want to have it down so that my kids can read it as they learn about this infamous day...

I was a senior at LSU in Baton Rouge living in an apartment with Marie. That Tuesday morning, I had biology but decided to skip since it was an 8 a.m. class and our teacher was teaching straight from the lecture notes he had given us.
So I was sleeping in and the phone rang, it was a friend in S.A. who told me to turn on the T.V. - that was right when the first plane hit. As I was on the phone and talking with him, he told me of a car accident that he and Neil were in on the Friday before as they were driving to ACU for Eric's senior recital. They had rolled over in Neil's truck after Neil swerved to miss a few deer on a country road. The truck was totaled, Neil had gone into shock and rushed in an ambulance for the damage done to his arm. 3rd degree burns of road rash and 40 stitches. They were both blessed to be alive. I was an emotional wreck with the news that they had been through such a terrible wreck and the thought of losing them stirred up a lot.

Then, the second plane hit and they started reporting all that was happening. The emotional state I was in went up a few notches. We were all in shock - could this really be happening? What does this mean? As most, we were glued to the TV and radio. I later drove into school to get to my afternoon classes but most people were just looming in the halls talking about it all. I remember specifically that evening turning it off in disbelief and just simply saddened by seeing the destruction and loss.

9 years later we are still dealing with the turmoil of that day - thousands more lost - it's hard to imagine a day when we won't be in the midst of this "War on Terror". I think about the families and friends who lost loved ones that day - who have to hear all the media coverage every year. I pray they find healing. I pray that if they haven't already found peace and comfort through Christ, they come to know Him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Magic Time Machine

Last weekend my sweet childhood friend Heather came in from Austin to treat Claire to a magical evening! Me being the mother and friend, got to tag along! =) It all started with a big present waiting for Claire after she woke from her nap - that explains the major bed head! In the bag, a beautiful gown! Can you tell she was excited?

She had to put it on immediately to twirl and spin and notice all the detail. She especially likes the jewel in the middle, the long draped sleeves and special crown. I told her she looks like a queen!
Heather whisked us away to the Magic Time Machine - a restaurant in San Antonio that is decorated head to toe as a fairyland of characters - from movies, books, fariytales, etc. Every server is dressed up like a character. Our server was Alice from "Alice in Wonderland" and she had Claire convinced that the white rabbit was hoping around somewhere!
Here is Claire with her special magic potion drink =) It was a lemonade of whatever color you want that bubbles and smokes (dry ice) - Claire of course chose pink!
My princess and me - I can truly say there isn't anything much better than watching your baby discover and experience something new that she LOVES! She was just in awe of everything and taking it all in! Such a fun place for this age!
Claire with "Aunt" Heather - Thanks Heather for such a fun and memorable night! It's so special to have my girls have you in their lives!
Claire now wants to wear her dress for Halloween and be a princess - again!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day

The girls went to their first day of MDO today and they loved it! Claire asked all weekend when she was going and was so excited she couldn't get to sleep =) Here are the twinkies by the door - it's been pouring here today so no first day pics by the bushes:

That picture cracks me up because Eden's lunch bag is almost as big as she is! She insisted on carrying it herself!

Here is Claire's bag in her "cubby" outside her room.


Her teachers are Ms. Claudia and Ms. Charlette. She loves them both and ends up she knows a handful of kids in her class. She told me her favorite part of the day was snack because they had oreos - hmmmm.... not my first choice for snack for her but she loved it =) It'd be my favorite part of the day too! She told me about Mr. David's bible story and Music - she loves music!

Could she have smiled any bigger?! She closed her eyes in the first one so i said "Keep your eyes open!" - she's such a rule follower! She sits across from Sammy - her friend from neighborhood playgroup. SOOO glad he is in there and I get to see Kathy every week now!


Eden did well - I was super nervous about how it would go for her. As we walked into her room, a little guy was going ballistic right by the door. That didn't ease her at all but once we got in she went straight for the little play tumble things that she played on during meet the teacher. I put her stuff away, gave a quick kiss and left. As I was closing the door she gave me this look like "Where do you think you're going?" but she never cried. I stayed by the door to make sure =) When I picked her up Ms. Laura and Ms. Vicki said she did well and they might have gotten one little smile from her. Like I've said before, she's my observer! She loved snack and music, didn't eat a lot of lunch, didn't nap and gave me the biggest smile when she saw me. Overall she did well but hoping she might nap eventually. She was exhausted and napping right now!

Here is her little cubby with her name (Yes, I'm THAT parent taking pictures of names!)
Had to get another picture before we packed up to go home so I could get one of their outfits =) Their shirts say "Nuts About You" with a squirrel. Mr. David was trying to get them to smile!


Eden wasn't sure about Mr. David - this picture CRACKS me up! That's a look of question for sure!

So over all a great day! They will go Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 -2 p.m. I only taught one lesson at Stevenson today but talked to the other classes to recruit. I had some time so I got our car registration done and then came home to work on lesson stuff. Got three more students so my schedule is almost full =)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Meet the teacher & Austin

Thursday was a big day for us! We had meet the teacher for both girls - they start Tuesday and will go to their MDO program twice a week while I teach my private voice lessons. I was SO glad Neil came with me because we had to wait in line for about 35 minutes just to get in. Claire asks everyday when she is going back. I know she will be just fine and can't wait. Eden on the other hand - she's has a hard time warming up but she will adjust. I am really nervous about her going because she was with Stef and Jed all last year. First school program for her... this Mommy is going to need some tissue!

Here are the big girls with daddy - I LOVE this picture!
Dad went with Claire to her classroom and I went with Eden - Here she is kind of warming up pointing to a turtle =)

Making their first art project while meeting the art teacher! (while they were doing this I got a call from our home agency telling me that they got our LA paperwork - PRAISE GOD! I prayed SO hard that morning because I knew I'd have to call and followup again if it didn't get there that day. Thank you to those who prayed for that to come after what we went through to get it!)

After meet the teacher, it was off to Austin to get out power of attorney paperwork state certified at the Secretary of State office. On the way, we stopped for lunch in San Marcos and met up with my sister, Jennifer for some yummy Wendy's! OK - not really yummy but fast and cheap! We were off again and our errand only took us about 10 minutes. Although we had to drive, it was the easiest part of our paperwork by far! Our dossier is now almost complete - it should be completed by the end of the week which is pretty incredible. Now we just have to come up with our fee that goes with it! =)
Here is Neil and the girls outside the office with our paperwork!

We were right across the street from the Capitol so we took a look and a quick pic!

Then it was off to mike and Heather's for a quick visit. We made so really great sloppy joe's and some great time together! We left around 7 for home but before we did, Mike got a few updated shots of our family for our dossier. I LOVE them and it took about 10 minutes!
Now here are the really good ones!! Being SILLY!



Oh this girl can pose!

Eden was so cute trying to pose like her sister! I had to help her prop her chin up with her hands

It was a long, rainy trip home but worth everything we got done! More importantly, we got to spend time with family =)

Playgroup

Back when Claire was just about 6 months old a handful of moms from church started a playgroup - I believe it was consistently us, the Zorns, Greens, Gibbins and Miles... It has grown so much over the past few years and what an INCREDIBLE blessing it has been to our family! We have met once a week and the kids have truly built some strong friendships through our group along with the time most of them spend together at church. We are just about to start BSF this year so last week was probably the last playgroup we will be going to this year (unless I don't get my call the next couple days!) Oh, we'll be there for the holidays =)

I wanted to share our last summer hoopla at the Harrison's neighborhood pool. It was a great time and the kids had a blast! Thank you to everyone who has made this group part of our support system! I tried to get everyone who was there - sorry if I missed anyone:

Ethan, Claire, Colby, Zach & Ayden
My water baby lovin her some giraffe
Lauren and Katie
Once again, my water baby lovin some orca
Jenny and Heather with Ainsley and Haven - Heather was visiting for the first time! So great to have them with us!
Kristin and Christina
Jayden - look at those blues
Me and Wee
The Gibbin boys couldn't get enough of the whale slide - even little Lachlan! Here is Jonas:
Reef
Sweet Ellie
My Claire Bear
Eden and Isaiah - they have quite the crush on each other but only on Eden's terms!! Isaiah is always hugging on Eden and she's sometimes lovin it and other times running away! These two are SO cute together!
Katie and Karen
Playing
Claire and Rebekka match in their Tinkerbell and friends swimsuits
Rylan
Lachlan
We missed those who couldn't be there with us!