Monday, March 29, 2010

Mondays are always hard.

I was just about to post about 500 words of whining, but thankfully I deleted it. Would you pray for us? Not that we would get our kids soon, but that we would yearn for God and not our kids. Our bible study is currently studying the book of Judges from the Old Testament where we see a cycle that repeats itself over and over again:
  1. Israel forgets about God and his salvation.
  2. Israel "whores" after idols.
  3. God sends disaster, usually in the form of slavery and oppression.
  4. Israel cries out to God.
  5. God sends a savior.
I feel like my life is repeating the same pattern through this adoption process, and it is a direct result of me idolizing my kids. It seems like the only thing that will make me happy anymore is getting to Colombia soon. And the only thing that depresses me is not getting to our kids soon enough. A lot of families talk about the "roller-coaster" of the adoption process, but maybe it wouldn't be such a roller-coaster if I longed for something all-satisfying and constant, like God, rather than something uncertain and fleeting. Then I would be like a tree planted by streams of water rather than chaff blown around by the wind.

Someday we will receive a travel date and I will be elated and say "God is good!" But "God is good" today, when we have no word or hope of getting to Colombia any time soon, because getting him is better than getting our kids.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

No date, no answers.

Nothing has happened this week. I am having the hardest of times staying positive and believing that we will ever get to Colombia. Today was the last day that we could have gotten a travel date, because the Embassy is closed tomorrow and then next week is Semana Santa, so most everything is closed down. So, that means we won't get a travel date for at least another week and a half. And that's just hearing when the travel date might be - not actually traveling.
Can you pray for us? Thanks.
Amanda

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I-800 Provisionary Approval Cabled to Bogota!

I spent 40 minutes waiting in the National Visa Center's call system today. I have called the NVC over 100 times in the past two days (mostly busy signals). It was all worth it to hear that our approval was sent electronically to the U.S. embassy in Bogota today! Our short-term mission is to get our kids before Easter break, when everything in Colombia shuts down for a week. I hope we make it!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Throughout this process, our friends and family have shown us tons of support and have asked us tons of questions. We often hear the same questions from everyone, so I thought I'd compile them all into a list in case you had the same questions but never asked us :)

1. Are the kids all siblings?
The kids are all biological siblings. In fact, I don't think many countries, if any, allow simultaneous adoptions unless they are biological siblings.

2. Do you know what happened to their parents?
Yes. All children who are without parents have been experienced terrible pain. One of our biggest responsibilities as adoptive parents is to help our children heal from this pain and see their lives in the greater context of God's saving work. For now, this is best done by keeping their history private. :)

3. Do they speak English? / Do you speak Spanish?
I recently learned from their report cards that they have English class in school and the older kids do speak a bit of English. We've been working on our Spanish, but we're still pretty hopeless when it comes to fast-talking conversation.

4. When do you leave?
Hopefully we will leave by the end of March! But things are taking so long, that we can never know for sure.

5. How long will you be there?
We don't really know as it really depends mostly on how fast our cases gets through the court system there. For some families, it has only taken three weeks. We know another family that was there eleven weeks. Most likely, it will be somewhere around six weeks.

6. How can we help?
Right now the biggest thing we need is prayer. The kids have one more major trauma to go through: leaving their foster family of four years. This has really been the only stable home they've had and they are very attached to them (which is good, but hard). Add on top of that the fact that they are leaving their country and culture as well. They will most likely be devastated to be adopted by us.
* Pray for their grieving and that they would be able to share/express their sadness with us.
* Pray they will learn to trust us as their new parents.
* Pray for their long term healing of all the suffering they've endured in their lives.
* Pray that the Gospel (that we are sinners saved by sheer grace alone), would be the ground for everything we do as parents. Pray that we would not find our worth in our children (or our success as parents), but that we would find all our hope and put all our trust in God, who rescued us from our sin and adopted us as his children by dying for us.
* Pray that our children would come to know God and trust him for their salvation.

Trip to Chicago for Visas

Amanda and I had to travel to Chicago this weekend to visit the Colombian consulate in order to obtain travel visas. It was way faster and way easier than I had anticipated. The Colombian Consulate is sooo small. It was fun though. They were playing Colombian music and they had a picture of my favorite Colombian president framed on the wall: Álvaro Uribe. The lady at the window flipped through our paperwork and told us to come back in thirty minutes to pick up our visas. Piece of cake.



For all you future/current Colombian adoptive families out there who want to know all the details of our application, here is everything we know.
* The consulate is on the 20th floor of 500 Michigan Ave (on the west side of the street). You'll need to sign in on the first floor with the security guard.
* The consulate is right next to the elevators on the 20th floor. Most people there take a number from the main window on the right. However, you will already have an appointment and do not need to take a number and should just wait by the window all the way to the left. We arrived 20 minutes before our appointment and we were helped 10 minutes before our appointment.
We brought with us the items found on the Colombian consulates website found here. I had some things to note for some of the items on this list:
* For the passport-type photos, we took the pictures ourselves using a white bed sheet as a backdrop (high tech, I know), then brought our camera's SD card into CVS. They have kiosks there with special software that will turn that photo into a sheet of passport photos. Passport photos are a little too large, however, than the stated 3cm square required by the Colombian consulate. But I just gave the sheet of photos to the lady at the window and she cut them down to size herself no problem.
* It says to have any non-Colombian documents apostilled. The only one we had notarized and apostilled was our "letter of purpose". We did not notarize or apostille our application. (I meant to ask about this while I was there because I doubt anything really needs to be apostilled. I mean, you're there in person with your passports. You could just wait and sign the thing in front of them, right? Isn't the whole point of a notarization to prove, in your absence, a document was signed by you?)
* The "proof of legal existence of the Adoption Agency in Colombia" was provided to us by Bethany, our agency. They got it directly from Ayudame, the orphanage in charge of our children.
* You don't need English translations for any of the Colombian documents.

We also had a chance to meet our new friends the Schrotenboers from Michigan who were also picking up their visas. They were so encouraging to us. Things are taking a lot longer for us than other families (including them), but Becky told us it was worth the wait because we'll have four precious children waiting for us. Thanks guys! See you in Colombia!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A story about Drew.

I received this e-mail today from Jill... get ready to think that God is good!

"Hi Amanda & Ed...

I have a quick story to share about God's goodness:

I think I mentioned to you on Sunday at HCC that Drew started a piggy bank for Sebastian so that you guys can go on a family vacation someday. We don't give the boys allowances or anything, so saving money takes a while for them. This morning I think there was a grand total of $1.48 in the piggy bank.

Then...

I do daycare for a little boy named Henry (9 months old). His parents are friends of mine from when I worked at New Life. Sandra (Henry's mom) used to work at World Relief which was in the same building as New Life. Anyway, a few weeks ago when Sandra was dropping off Henry, Drew started telling her all about his new friend Sebastian and how he is going to come to America soon. Then Drew showed Sandra the piggy bank he has for you guys and told her how excited he is to be saving money.

Then today...Sandra and Bill came in to drop off Henry as usual and they pulled Drew aside and gave him an envelope marked "For your friend Sebastian's family". They told Drew how excited they were that he wanted to save his money for a new adoptive family. If you can't already tell, Sandra and Bill are THE SWEETEST people. Drew opened the envelope and inside was $100. Drew couldn't believe it. He was so excited. He shouted "this will be enough for us to go to the waterpark with Sebastian and his sisters someday!" :)

So, all this to say - we are praising God for His continued provision for you guys and your beautiful children. And now because of this piggy bank, Drew has been blessed to see God work and answer prayer too. God is soooooo good!"

Isn't that awesome??!! I needed to post this story because God is showing how good He is to us and I need to recognize that. Drew - you have an amazing, faithful heart. Thank you! We can't wait for you to meet Sebastian and for our families to go to the waterpark together! Thanks to the family that donated the money and thanks to Jill and Cor for helping to bring joy to our family!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I-800 approval!

We got our official approval from USCIS today! Yeah! Now that approval gets overnighted to the National Visa Center, who scans the approval and then e-mails it to the Colombian Embassy. The Embassy then writes us an "Article 5" letter and then that letter is taken to the orphanage who tells us we CAN COME!! Now, I bet that sounds like it should take about 2 days, because it sounds like that to me, but it probably will take 2 or 3 weeks. But still! As long as we don't run into problems with the Easter holiday we will be with our kids in less than a month!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Long line of Leberts

Thanks to Molly Piper for giving us a new title to our blog! She said she couldn't stop thinking about the Caedmon's Call song, Long Line of Leavers, every time she thought about our new family all being together. So cute! I had to put it on our blog! We can't WAIT till we are a long line of Leberts!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another I-800 setback: missing documents

Our USCIS case worker emailed us today to tell us we're missing three documents. Two that Bethany just forgot to send, and another that Bethany never had in the first place: an English translation of a document from Colombia. It was never translated. They just sent the Spanish version hoping it would fly (it didn't). The last time we had something translated by our representatives in Colombia it took seven weeks. So I did some digging to see what was required for translations for immigration documents. It turns out, anyone can translate a document for the I-800 so long as they certify the results under penalty of perjury. So, I did what any parent would do in my situation: I used google translate and translated it myself! Oh yeah! So now we'll only lose a day or two instead of a week or two.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

More good news today!

Wow - it's been a big afternoon! Ed just got off the phone with our case worker at USCIS. She gave him a call and it looks like she will finish up our case tomorrow! (After she and Ed talked for half an hour, she did mention that she would have finished it up today, but they talked too long!) She still has to have a supervisor sign off on it, so it probably won't get sent to the NVC till monday, but this is VERY good news!
Yesterday, the person Ed talked to said that it would take a "miracle" to get our case done by the end of the week. What do you know? God worked a miracle for us and for our children! So, maybe miracle of miracles we could still get to our kids by the end of March - whoo-hoo!

Good news on the grant front!

We got notice today that we received a Caring Connection grant from Bethany!! Bethany - you are awesome! God you are awesomer! We are SO blessed!

We are still planning on selling one and/or both cars so if anyone is in the market for a CRV or Corolla, let us know! :)

Also, we had our travel meeting with Kristina, our social worker today. It was nice to see her - we like Kristina so much! I don't think we learned much new, except for that she's trying to convince me that we don't need to bring so many clothes and a fine piece of advice in, "if you can't peel it, don't eat it" in regards to fruit. I said, "EVEN STRAWBERRIES??!!", like I couldn't imagine a worse fate. I guess we'll survive.

Yeah - we're getting closer!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

No caseworker yet.

Ed called to check on our USCIS approval today and they told us that our case is "on the floor", but has not been assigned to a case worker yet. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't dissapointed. I think this means that the chance of going in March even is small. I am happy that I can now stop checking the mail everyday, because I now know that our approval is not in the mail and probably won't be for at least a week (at the earliest). We'll keep waiting and praying for things to move quicker.
Our children feel so far away. It's very hard.