Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New pictures of baby Jacob!

We received some new pictures and video of Jacob in the mail today! He is so cute--as I'm sure you will agree. haha Molly says he is "the cutest baby I have ever seen in my whole life!" She can't wait for him to come home. :)

We have not heard anything from Detroit CIS. They did not respond to the email I sent about our fingerprints not needing to be re-done. We are just waiting to get something in the mail from them--and have no idea when that might be. In case you're wondering why we don't just ASK them for info, we don't because they get very bugged about it. They do not 'allow' people to request information on the status of their paperwork.

Enjoy the pictures of sweet Jacob! I wish you could see the big smiles he gave us on the video!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I love red tape...NOT!

ugh... We got a lovely packet in the mail today from the Detroit Immigration office (USCIS). I knew it could not be a good thing. It wasn't. They returned everything we had submitted, saying they didn't understand what we wanted to do. HUH???

We had mistakenly sent the wrong amount of money (for one set of fingerprints, rather than two). Instead of picking up the phone and calling us to request the additional money, they just sent it all back with a rude comment.

We actually have fingerprints on file with their office that will not expire until July.

I decided to email them today (you cannot call because they convienently do not have a phone number available). I asked if we needed new fingerprints to submit the paperwork, and they emailed back that we did not.


So...let me get this straight. You rejected our paperwork because we didn't send enough money for fingerprints that we don't even need?

Yep. Ya gotta love that logic.

I had not gotten an answer from them before the post office closed today, so I sent everything back--including the fee for fingerprinting, just in case it was needed. I explained that we had current fingerprints, though, and shouldn't need new ones. I suppose this will confuse them.

We are praying that they don't get confused again, and send it all back to us.

Our agency told us today that they expect our paperwork and Jacob's to be all done in Guatemala in about one month. We would probably be waiting a few weeks for a visa appointment--but basically, Jacob will be ready to come home in approximately 6-7 weeks.

Detroit USCIS 'could' get our paperwork done by then if they do not make us re-do our fingerprints. Could you please pray with us that they go ahead and process us with our current fingerprints?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

God moves mountains

God has been moving mountains for us today! First though, I want to share with you how He encouraged me last night.

All day I was so discouraged over the thought of having to do all that paperwork over. Where would I get the energy? ugh. Despite the lethargy toward the paperwork, my mind was racing with all that needed to be done. I had made many phone calls but was not able to speak to anyone and was forced to leave mesages and wait for a response. This frustrated me even further. Worst of all was thinking that baby Jacob would be stuck in Guatemala while we waited for approval from the US Government. I knew that I should be trusting God, but despite my attempts to tell myself to do that, I was a bundle of pent up energy.

I needed to spend some time with the Lord. After taking the kids to Awana last night, I planned to put a praise CD on in the car and sing at the top of my lungs. ha. Praising God always gets my focus where it belongs--on Him.

I grabbed the nearest CD and popped it in. It was a CD I had used to practice some Christmas music for church. The second song was the one that inspired the Christmas poem for Jacob--about Jesus being "One Small Child' who was sent to redeem the world. I knew God was reminding me not to get side-tracked in the mire, but to press on and keep my eyes on the goal of getting Jacob home.

The next song came on and by then I was just smiling.... It was a song that was about Mary, called "When Her Eyes are on the Child." Some of the lyrics are as follows:
There's a mother....
And she's traveled very far
But she's not thinking about her journey now
There's a baby in her arms
And when her eyes are on the child, she finds all the strength she needs
All the struggles and the trials just turn into perfect peace
She can even stop and SMILE when her eyes are on the child.

God is so good! It felt like a hug from Him and a gentle reminder that He had everything under control.

This morning I started making phone calls again. The first one yielded results as I was able to connect with our homestudy agency. The director had gotten my email and phone message and her wheels were already turning about the best way to help. She was very frustrated with the situation at Immigration since our paperwork was still current. However, because of that, she is able to update our homestudy very easily. And...she said that we would not have to get all new police clearances, physicals, etc. Everything we have is still current. Praise God!! Our social worker was too busy to handle it this week, so the director said she would have to figure out which one of her workers would have time to help us.

A few hours later I got a call and a very sweet voice on the other end said, "Karin...I handled some of your paperwork last summer. Do you remember me? Joan called me this morning and I told her that I already knew you! I am not busy this week and I can have this done by tomorrow. I am also planning to go to the office tomorrow and I can get this all notarized and sent off to you. I am the perfect choice to do this for you this week. I already have your homestudy on my computer and I can just go in and make the necessary changes"

Yay...GO GOD! :) Our homestudy agency is located across the state and they have social workers all over Michigan. It was no accident that the only one available already had our homestudy on her computer!

We still needed an employment letter since Jeff had changed jobs and also proof that Jordan had been to the doctor. It can take days to get that verification. I typed up a letter and emailed it to the Human Resources director at Jeff's company and within the hour, she had put it on letterhead, signed it and emailed it back to me! Our doctor's office normally takes days to get me copies of anything but they, too, had the paperwork ready within an hour. WOW!

We should have everything sent off to Homeland Security on Monday. We are going to pray that our approval is completed by the time Jacob is ready to come home.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Some good news...some not-so-good news

The good news first... :) Our agency emailed us today to let us know that our paperwork was submitted to PGN on January 30! :) So exciting!! This is where our paperwork will be looked at with a fine-toothed comb. The time in PGN is variable--but the average time to wait is 1-3 months.

Now the bad news... grrrrrr.... When we adopted Jordan, we applied to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for approval for TWO children. Our current approval states that we ARE approved for TWO. When we started paperwork for Jacob, we had to send a special form, homestudy addendum and money (of course), to Homeland Security so they would send a copy of the approval to the US Embassy in Guatemala City. This notifies them that we will be adopting a child from Guatemala.

Today, I got a letter in the mail from them saying that rather than allow us to do this, they want us to submit a brand new application (why do they have the form and instructions for doing it the other way then???) I am not a happy camper. The difference is this: with the first option, we only had to send the homestudy addendum and a fee. By having to submit a brand new application we will have to do:

*Criminal background checks at the local police station
*New doctor's physical's for EVERYONE in our ENTIRE family!!! (yes, 9 physicals!!!!) This is a Michigan requirement for a homestudy approval. We do have a co-pay, but $15 x 9 is still a chunk-o-change.
*Letter from Jeff's employer confirming his job/salary, etc
*Child Abuse Registry check
*All new homestudy (at least $1,200, plus time filling out info for the social worker)
*Another big fat check to Homeland Security for $550
*travel to Detroit for both Jeff and I to be fingerprinted (another $70)

It normally takes us about 2-3 months to complete all the above requirements. It is time-consuming and has us running all over town and to Detroit.

I can only liken it to being told that in order to take your baby home from the hospital after giving birth, you will now be required to spend another 35 hours in labor with no pain medication. Oh--and you WILL be charged double for your time using the delivery room.

Maybe the next thing to come in the mail will be a letter comfirming my reservation at the Nut House. :)

I'm sure that God will meet our needs financially and emotionally regarding this latest turn of events. It is not the end of the world...but it IS very frustrating and energy draining.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Guatemalan process

The Guatemala adoption process is quite a bit different than the China process. China has a centralized system run by the government. Guatemala has a system that is handled by a combination of government officials, judges and attorney's, which makes it more variable than the somewhat predictable China process.

We are about half-way through the wait for Jacob--we think?? It could be longer if there are any problems with our paperwork. We were recently given the DNA results of Jacob and his birth mother. They are a match! We are currently waiting for the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala to review the DNA paperwork and issue an approval for us to enter the final phase of the process. That phase is called PGN. This is where they will be going over our paperwork with a fine-toothed comb. It normally takes 1-3 months to move through this phase, depending on whether or not there are problems with our paperwork. We think we did everything correctly, so are hoping not to have to re-do anything!

Baby Jacob is living in a hogar with about 12 other babies who are waiting to be adopted. We have some video of him there and he looks happy and loved. We tried to put it on a YouTube for you to see on this blog, but sadly, the format was incompatible with YouTube. Drat....

Our adoption facilitator, Melissa, is in Guatemala right now and has promised to send us some pictures and video soon. Yay! We can't wait to see how our little guy has grown in the past few months!