The Home Stretch

We were able to get our embassy appointments today! They are June 14th for paperwork dropoff, and June 18th for the interview. Technically, they are not appointments for us, they are for the kids, and we’re not even present. Then we will travel 2-3 weeks later. There are several other things that need to happen between now and travel.

  • The kids have their medical exams.
  • We (and by we, I mean Ken) finish off our vaccinations.
  • Kids are issued their travel visas.
  • We are issued a letter of invitation to travel.
  • Travel plans are made.
  • Our visas are issued.
  • Plane tickets are purchased.
  • Pay a ginormous amount of money for all of the above.

I think the funniest part is that we cannot make buy plane tickets until we have a visa, but we cannot get a visa without submitting our itinerary for travel from the airlines. Make sense?

But most of all of that happens in between the embassy appointments and travel.

So what do we do between now and then?

Get ready for two kids to join us!

I must admit, given our previous unsuccesfful attempts at adoption, we’ve procrastinated on the actual purchasing of “the stuff,” meaning booster seats, clothing, bedding, toys, books, etc. A part of us won’t believe it’s really happening until we actually get across the U.S. border with them. But considering that they are actually ours, and we’re now just in the process of getting them to the U.S., I suppose we should get our act together and stop procrastinating and get ready for these kids to come home!

Holy Roller Coaster Batman!

After the exciting news a few days ago about passing immigration, we were hit with several successive pieces of information that took the wind right out of our sails.

First was the new rule that we could not ask for an embassy appointment for our kids until we had passports for them. Previously, the wait for the passports had occurred during the wait for the embassy appointment. It’s been taking many families about 6-8 weeks after getting immigration approval to get their passports, and it’s also been taking about 6-8 weeks to get an embassy appointment. So the processes had been concurrent, until about 2 weeks ago. Now they’re sequential.

Then came the news that there was a new rule about how many embassy appointments could be scheduled. They’ve just changed it to 2 per week for the immediate future until a new employee can be trained. Total. For all agencies. Besides our agency, there are likely more than a dozen other agencies who are also requesting embassy appointments. So while appointments had been scheduled 6-8 weeks out, with the new decision to only process 2 per week, the timeline would likely and quickly grow. Perhaps by months. It wasn’t just a slow down. It was a near stop.

So yesterday we realized if you add the 6-8 week wait for passports to the already 6-8 week wait for embassy appointments, which is getting longer every day, and then tack on getting visas, we realized that we were looking at adjusting our timeline from around 2 months to at least 5 months. It looked like it was quite possible that we wouldn’t have our kids home by Christmas. AGAIN. (They were supposed to be home last Christmas.)  

BUT THE KIDS’ PASSPORTS CAME IN TODAY. Our embassy appointment has been requested, and we should find out Monday when it is. Then we’ll have a pretty good idea of when we’ll be travelling to get them!

I cannot tell you what a gigantic relief this is. I couldn’t even explain how bleak things looked until about 2 hours ago. What had gone from elation from getting immigration approval had gone to absolute despair realizing that we had been caught by rule changes and policies that just came up in the last few weeks.

Now we’re back to elation!

Praise the Lord! Thank you so much for those of you who prayed, who didn’t even know how very much we needed prayers. Our kids have to be some of the most prayed-over children on the planet! Thank you!

So, What’s Next?

As it turns out, April 20th may indeed not be the worst date of the year. In fact, it was the date that our case was approved. I think that was God winking at me and redeeming the date. I had been so certain that immigration approval would come on my birthday that I was genuinely shocked when it didn’t.

Turns out, I was right! It just took a few days to find out!

So where do we go from here?

We’re currently waiting for our kids’ passports.

Once the passports are received, Embassy appointments are made for the kids in the DRC. Appointments are currently being scheduled approximately 6 weeks after being requested. Then visas, which usually take just a few weeks to iron out.

Then we travel.

But everything now hinges on getting our kids’ passports. They were applied for a while ago (we’re not sure exactly when because our agency does it), as others in our group on the same timeline have already received theirs, but not us. Some are saying that they think that siblings are taking longer to process because of increased child trafficking in the DRC. In general, passports have always been processed quickly until the last few months, when things have really slowed down. Some have been waiting for passports for months. It doesn’t seem like they are processed in any particular order.

Sigh.  

The other important new development in the process is that starting at the beginning of May, embassy appointments are going to be scheduled further out because of a change in personnel in the embassy. So our timeline may be stretched out even further, the longer it takes to receive our passports.

So, when do we travel? I know it’s what everyone wants to know. But that’s still so hard to pinpoint. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is. The DRC in-country process is known for being very unpredictable. If we got our passports tomorrow, I would guess 2 months. But every day we wait increases the wait exponentially.

So: Would you all pray for our kids’ passports? Pray that they come in soon, and that they are free from errors. Most of all, pray that God would make the way smooth for us to go get our kids and that He would hold them until we can!

The Best Worst Day of the Year

My birthday makes me nervous. And it actually has nothing to do with getting older, but more my birth date.

Most people wouldn’t even notice that April 20th is historically a really bad day. But because I remember the date for a different reason, I take note of what happens on that date. In fact, the New York Daily News said this, “In terms of world history, it would be hard to compete with April 20 for the title of Worst Day of the Year.”

So, it’s not just me.  

Did you know that all of the following happened on April 20th?

  • 1889: Hitler was born. (And frankly, I blame him for all the drama.)
  • 1914: Ludlow massacre killing 25 men, women, and children during a coal miner’s strike
  • 1920: Tornados kill 219 in Alabama and Mississippi
  • 1961: Bay of Pigs invasion failed
  • 1978: Korean Air flight 902 filled with civilians was shot down over the Soviet Union
  • 1984: The Good Friday Massacre, an extremely violent hockey game, was played in Montreal. (Okay, so this wasn’t technically as massacre, but I had to give props to the name.)
  • 1985: The FBI raids the compound of The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord in Arkansas (an event which was suspected in leading to the Oklahoma City bombing)
  • 1999: Columbine High School Massacre
  • 2007: Johnson Space Center shooting
  • 2010: The explosion that led to the massive Gulf Oil Spill

There have also been a couple of close misses, which I found out about on April 20th: the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound, which killed 81 people; and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168. Both of these occurred on April 19th. I attribute this to poor planning or leap year miscalculation.

Fortunately, this year, April 20th seems to have come and gone without much fuss. A doctor’s appointment, babysitting a contractor as he worked on our dishwasher, grading an EKG exam, and watching hockey. The Predators even pulled out a win against the Red Wings to move on to the next round of the NHL playoffs. I celebrated with a birthday dinner of my favorite dishes that my favorite food truck, Riffs, happened to have on their menu. 

It was almost as if April 20th was a good day.

But I’m not fooled.

🙂

Our File, Part 2

I dreamed last night that we received a letter from Immigration today.

When I opened the mailbox, indeed, we received two letters from Immigration today, one for each child. No huge news, just that they received our file on April 5th and are processing it. So there’s nothing more to do than just wait some more. And pray for our paperwork to be found without fault. And wait. And pray for the officer who is reviewing our file. And wait. And pray that we will not go absolutely crazy with all the waiting while our children wait in an orphanage in Africa.

Our File

Our file was sent to immigration over a week ago, and I know that by now, it is sitting in a pile on an officer’s desk.

I know that he or she has a lot of things to do today. I know that they have a lot to do on any day.

I know that they might feel overworked and underappreciated.

The pile of endless paperwork, paperwork, paperwork must get discouraging at times.

After all, they never see the faces of the families that are brought together. They never get to hear “thank you,” or see the tears of joy that come from their work.

They just see hundreds of pages of paper. Names. Birthdates. Court orders. Certificates. Tax records. All day. Every day. Overwhelming. Endless.

So today, I’m praying that whoever that immigration officer is, that God would bless them immensely today. That as their hand brushes against our file, that God would give them a vision: a vision of two small children in an orphanage, of two parents with empty arms, and the hundreds of people who are praying those children home.

I pray that as they process our file in the next few weeks, that God would give them inexplicable joy. I pray that they would catch a glimpse of what it means to give these two children a future, a family who loves them, and an eternal hope. I pray that our file would be more than a stack of papers, but a beautiful story in which they play a critical role.

We’ll never meet this officer. Chances are, we’ll never even know their name. But God knows them deeply, and knows what they need in their life today to find joy and fulfillment.

And I pray that God would allow our file to be a part of their joy and fulfillment today.

 

A Red Bus, a Rainstorm, and a Cause to Be Remembered For

I am a sucker for all things orphan. From the time I was very young, I was heartbroken for children in the world who didn’t know the love of a family. So when our campus e-news mentioned a week ago last Friday that the Red Bus Project was coming to our campus on Friday, I was all in!

Red Bus Project is a double-decker bus, converted into a thrift store to raise money and awareness on college campuses about the plight of the orphan. Caleb Chapman (fabulously talented son of Steven Curtis Chapman) travels with the bus and performs with his band CALEB to draw more attention to the bus.

So we grabbed some food truck cuisine, and set out for the Quad on campus to enjoy an evening picnic. As the opening act and our meal was wrapping up, the sky began to drip scattered raindrops — but not enough to be concerned about.

The band was setting up on stage when all of a sudden KABOOM, it began to POUR rain. We all ran for cover, as they announced they would move the concert indoors to the lobby of the student center. Many people ran for the cover of their dorm or called it a night, but we decided to stay and head in to the student center.

So all of the professional equipment that CALEB had brought on tour was reduced to a couple of acoustic guitars, most of a drum set, and their voices. No microphones. No speakers. The only lights were office lamps behind them.

And it couldn’t have been any better.

And if you looked really closely, you noticed that there was a family sitting in the corner, with a mom, dad, and two little girls. They were soaked, just like the rest of us. Then Caleb called up the dad — his dad– to sing a song or two.

So Caleb Chapman handed over his guitar to Steven Curtis Chapman, who did a couple of acoustic songs to perhaps the smallest audience ever, with no mics, lights or fanfare. Just a bunch of people who came out to support the cause of the orphan.

When Steven sat down after his songs, Caleb admitted he had just asked him to sing so that he would tune his guitar, and we all had a good laugh. Stevey Joy Chapman even got in on the act and communicated her own message (by whispering in her dad’s ear, who “translated”) about how she was once and orphan, and we all needed to help more orphans like her.

Caleb’s concert was awesome. We enjoyed every minute of it, and knew that bringing it inside to a smaller venue only added to the authenticity of the cause.

We got the chance to hang out and talk with Steven Curtis Chapman about our kids after the concert. Of course we showed him pictures and celebrated our most recent paperwork breakthrough. He hugged us both and wished us continued blessings in our journey.

We genuinely hope that someday, the Chapman family will not be remembered as much for the Dove and Grammy Awards, or even the music that they perform. We hope that the Chapman’s lasting legacy will be the voice they have given to orphans around the world. To find out more about their work in caring for orphans, check out their organization Show Hope and their latest adventure The Red Bus Project.