Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adoption Day

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Today was a very special day for our family!  We finalized Kepler's adoption here in the US!  My parents made the trip out to Port Townsend to join us and it was wonderful.  It felt so good to see the judge sign the decree!  Amos and I were a bit nervous because with Kepler's 2nd birthday came the wonderful phrase, "Um....no!".  He uses it even when you ask if he wants ice cream, a puppy and a ride on a tractor.  We were worried he was going to say, "Um...no!" to the judge asking if he liked his family!  But....he didn't.  Bless his heart!  She asked him, "Do you know why you're here today?" just as his eyes caught the teddy bears lined up on the bench (for adoptions:).  He answered her question with, "A bear!".  The judge laughed and said, "Yes, that too" and handed him the bear.  When she asked if he liked his family and wanted to be with them forever he shook his head yes (which he rarely does!).  It was the sweetest thing!




In addition to our wonderful adoption week, we enjoyed Christmas and a trip up to the mountains to see Kepler's first snow!  What a fantastic way to end the year!



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Immense Joy

I know it's corny to apologize for lack of timely updates every time I update my blog but I am sorry.  Life is truly moving so fast.
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Kepler turned 2 this month.  In the days approaching his birthday I kept thinking of his birth mom and how she must be thinking about him and wondering about what he is like now.  She hasn't seen him in over a year.  I pray God's presence surrounds her and gives her a sense of peace.  I hope she checks on the updates we send every couple of months. The pictures of him say it all:)  We celebrated his birthday at school this year by having him walk the earth around the sun 2 times and then blowing out his two candles.  His favorite part was blowing out the candles and having his friends sing Happy Birthday!









 He hadn't really had a lot of experience with gifts until his birthday but he got the hang of it when packages started to arrive in the mail each day!  This was really cute until he decided the package that Mama just wrapped up for cousin Cora for Christmas must be a gift for him!
Daddy and Mama took Kepler to The Lights of Christmas for his family birthday celebration.  We have gone to the Lights for 3 years thinking, "Some day we'll be taking our little one here." This year was the long awaited celebration.
It's really quite sweet to meditate on God giving us His son during the first Christmas celebration with our son.  It's been wonderful to tell the Christmas story to Kepler as well.  He knows who Mary,  "Beebee" Jesus and  Joseph are and he points them out on the coffee table as he plays by the Christmas tree.
At his 2 year check up he proved what we've all suspected.  He's healthy, thriving and catching up in height, weight and brain development.  We couldn't be happier.
He's asleep next to my while I write this at work.  The fact that I am able to take him with me while I work is not being taken for granted.  He absolutely loves his school and his friends and being with his Mama.  It's the perfect package deal and I thank God every day for planting the vision of this school in my heart long ago and bringing it to be.  We are so blessed by the community that we serve.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I am overwhelmed by Thankfulness this year.  A little over a year ago (Nov 9th, 2010) we saw our sweet Kepler's photo for the first time when we got THE CALL.  Two trips to Ethiopia and almost 5 adjusting months later and we are together for this amazing day giving thanks.
Things are going wonderfully.  Kepler is comfortable at school and home and we've fallen into a good routine.  He still cries if I hold another child but it isn't such a frantic cry as it was before.  He's learning that he belongs with us.  As great as things are going, we still have reminders that his journey (and ours!) is not over by any means.  One sad thing that he does is that he wakes up from his nap sobbing and wailing.  He isn't even really awake but he is so sad. It breaks my heart.  We think this is may be part of his grieving process.  Today I went in to get him and just rocked him in the chair.  He fell asleep on me for about 20 minutes.  This was a wonderful gift today.  I love snuggling with him and this was a wonderful reminder that Kepler so badly needed a family and we are it.  I sometimes forget about the miracle of his adoption when I'm up to my eye balls in potty time, baths, 5 meals/snacks a day and school.  Today was a gift.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be Kepler's mommy and Amos' wife.  Life is rich.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Steamboat Rock

Okay, the Kallen family has a secret to share... It's steamboat rock in central Washington.  I threw all our camping gear in the car and picked Amos up from work on Friday.  We drove to the Spring Canyon campground.  We found a great spot and set up camp and crashed for the night.  On Saturday morning we hiked to the TOP of Steamboat Rock.  When I saw this rock last summer, I couldn't wait to conquer it someday.  We did it as a family this summer!  It was AMAZING.  Little Kepler slept in the ergo part of the way up and then hiked on the top of it like a champ.  He's going to be a great hiker! 
                                            Can you guess why it's called Steamboat rock?!


Maybe half way up...
Some parts were pretty tricky but THIS is the kind of climbing I love!
I love these photos of Kepler and Amos.  They're so precious!  ...And yes, that's Kepler and I out on that rock.  He was pointing out the water to me:)
This trip is a MUST DO with your family!  There is amazing history that goes with this canyon and it's massive rocks are incredible.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We're back on!

Okay, my blog has been out of commission since I got back from Ethiopia!  I'm so sorry but I just couldn't figure out how to post after they changed things around.  Thankfully, I wrote a little and saved drafts- I just published them today but they are my thoughts from various times in the last couple months since being home with Kepler.
Kepler is amazing.  One thing that just melts my heart is his love for people.  He has every right to be an angry, untrusting little boy but he isn't.  He smiles and waves at people and bops along each day as if the world is all okay and he didn't spend a year abandoned in an orphanage.  Love is a tremendous healer. 
We spent Labor Day at Alki beach.  He is in awe of kids on bikes so we decided to bring his bike up from the basement even though he is a little small.  To say he loves his bike is the understatement of the hear.  I think he would have slept with it:)

Grandma Audrey and her new hubby, Papa Matt, came for a quick visit last week!  It was so good to introduce them to Kepler!  Audrey was adopted and Kepler's story touched her heart in a special way.
Kepler started school this week!  He had joined me at a few camps this summer but he officially started his preschool career this past Wednesday.  He is the littlest in our class but he doesn't know it!  He joins the class for circle time and LOVES it when the autoharp comes out to make music!  He likes to insert himself into the boys' marble track work too.  He is doing fantastic!  He loves being with the kids and they love having little Kepler to "teach".  Here's his first day photo- his lunch box is half his size but he carries it:)



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Family Bliss




I can't believe we have been home for almost a month already. Time is flying! Kepler is doing AMAZING. He is moving on from us feeding him to doing more and more by himself. When I first picked him up from the orphanage he couldn't eat any solid food at all. In two months he is eating lots of healthy finger foods and starting to use a spoon! He couldn't crawl or walk two months ago and now he is walking all over (he rarely sits!) and crawls to get over sketchy areas like change in terrain. We are working on him sitting down and going down steps backwards. He just walks off them!
He is loving his Daddy more and more. Amos has been so patient while Kepler gets used to the idea of both of us meeting his needs. It was Mama, Mama Mama for a long time (which is exhausting) but he is going to Daddy (the playing parent!) more and more on his own. Daddy loves to read to him and talk with him. It's very cute.
We love to take little family adventures to the Downtown waterfront, Alki, the park, cousins house, Grandma and Grandpa's and this weekend...camping! We haven't been to the zoo yet because nothing thrills Kepler more than DOGS! We see them everywhere and it NEVER gets old. He says, "Dah!" and points. He has seen some pretty far away that took me some time to find! He also LOVES music. I know people say their kids like music but Kepler LOVES it. It's part of him. It feeds his soul:)
He is saying more and more words too including: bye-bye, ba-ba(bottle and shoes), Bum (bunny), up, mow (more), wah (water), Dan (Daddy), Mama (Mama and any picture of a human:), car and sometimes Cah (cat).
Kepler absolutely loves the school. He knows where we are when we park the car and he gets so excited bouncing in his car seat with anticipation. I think all the kids around is comforting for him. He loves social situations and having lots of people around. The school kids are FABULOUS with him. They have been waiting for him for so long! He has 7 mothers and 9 brothers at school. I caught him jumping on top of a little wresting match that broke out:)
Thank you EVERYONE for your happiness on our behalf. It means so much to us that so many people are as thankful for Kepler's arrival as we are!

Feeling at home

It feels so good to be home and be a family of three! No more single mom in a third world country for me! Kepler continues to amaze us. Amos and I keep looking at each other and asking, "Is this a honeymoon phase cause it's pretty awesome!?". He is eating like crazy. We asked his adoption specialist pediatrician about this and she told us to give him ALL he wants. And boy, does he want A LOT. She says that he will learn that food is readily available and slow himself down eventually. He sleeps really well too. He sleeps about 11 hours a night (12.5 last night!) and takes at least one, most of the time two, hour long naps during the day. He's pointing and laughing and starting to say lots of words including up, bye bye, ba-ba (bottle), hi, go, gog (dog), da-da (daddy), mama and more each day! He loves anything with wheels and enjoys stroller rides, bike rides in the ergo, parks, snuggle time, book time. We had family movie night last Friday in our jammies. We had popcorn and watched Harry the Dirty Dog storybook video. SO CUTE!


Kepler loves kids so we are headed to school for some summer camps this week! I really think he'll like it. I had to stop by my school earlier this week and he LOVED it. He was quite mad that we had to leave:) This should work out nicely!
Thanks for all your well wishes!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We're home!

After almost 3 weeks in Addis Ababa and over 30 hours traveling, we are so happy to be home! Kepler was AMAZING on the airplane. He slept, played, smiled, ate and snuggled as if the plane were our home:) The poor kid was juggled from one plane to another to another. I wonder if he thought we live on planes... He seemed okay with it as long as Mama was there. This means SO MUCH to me! Amos met us at the gate and met Kepler for the first time. People looked at us and smiled as we hugged and cried. It was the sweet homecoming that I've been dreaming of for almost 3 years. When we came down the escalator our family and friends were there to cheer and cry and celebrate with us! People made signs and carried banners- it was AMAZING. I heard traffic was horrible getting there- THANK YOU to everyone that made the trip or tried to but couldn't. It meant so much to see everyone just as happy for us as we are! We were presented with a "big check" that said our TOTAL airfare was covered in full. Can you believe that?! Amos and I are blown away- this is a HUGE blessing!!!! We feel so blessed and loved by you all. Thank you so much.
Kepler sat in his car seat like a pro (quite different from standing in a taxi in Ethiopia) and was content and happy all the way home. We explored his new home with Daddy and pointed and smiled and looked at everything. He loves Amos just like I knew he would! Amos and Kepler have something so special. We put Kepler to bed and then I took a HOT shower and went to bed. Kepler is adjusting to the time difference so he woke up after an hour and a half. I patted him back to sleep and returned to our bed exhausted. Amos slept in Kepler's room on the floor and reassured him whenever he woke up (a few times during the night) so I could sleep. What a HELPFUL, caring, sweet husband I have! We all were up at 5AM on this beautiful, warm and sunny 4th of July weekend. We had breakfast, played and then went for a walk to the neighborhood park all before 8AM:) Kepler and Daddy are sleeping now while I take this time to write you all and keep you up to date.
We love you all and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you've done to support us on this journey!
Hugs to everyone! Pictures to come soon! I have to unload and unburry everything!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Get Goin'!

Tickets are booked! I leave this Friday, the 10th in the evening! Can you believe it? I can't. I'm a little nervous that we are going to get stuck again... It has been the pattern lately.... Too bad though because I'm getting on a PLANE! Airfare was a lot more than we expected. I've been watching prices and they jumped about $600 in the last two weeks or so because of summer. However, our tickets are purchased. We are so thankful for Cindy, an American in Addis Ababa who is letting Kepler and I stay with her for 2 weeks. Not having to pay $1000 per week at a guest house made our airfare purchase possible. Fwew. I got scared last night thinking about all the unknowns. I hate unknowns. I've been there before but this time I'm staying with someone I don't know. I'm in charge of contacting the orphanage and the adoption agency over there. This means I need to buy a phone and get it working so I can contact Amos and our attorney. It's a bit baffling but I'll do it! I'm just so excited to take custody of Kepler and snuggle with him for a few days and then bring him back to Amos:) My return flight is set for the 24th but this may change. Check out Amos' facebook to see date and time:) Everyone is welcome to meet us at Seatac to welcome us home:)

Monday, June 6, 2011

YES!

Okay readers, hang onto your seats! We are booking tickets to Ethiopia tomorrow!!!! I tracked down the woman who was working on our case at USCIS. She didn't know she was supposed to be working on our case, of course. She was great however and got on it right away. I talked to her twice this morning and the last time she was finishing up our fingerprint transfer request. It was too late to get it in the mail today but they are going out tomorrow! They will arrive at the National Visa Center in 2 days (Thursday the 9th) and be cabled to Addis from there. When I talked to our lady officer, she said everything looks good and my fingers won't be needed in the States any longer! When I talked with our agency this afternoon, they said that our case officer is the BEST and if she says she'll get it done, she will. We are free to book tickets and travel!
It's a tiny bit of a gamble because they could get lost in the mail or something but it's a small chance. They are on their way to the embassy and I'm on my way to Kepler in a couple days!!!!
I'm coming Love!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

You would think we would get used to this....waiting.

We are still waiting on our fingerprints to be cabled to Addis. The request has been at the USCIS benefits center for 11 days. I emailed asking about the status of our case 5 days ago. We haven't heard anything yet. Supposedly, they have to respond to our email in 48 business hours....um...that's about a WEEK! I'm going crazy to be honest. To watch another family come home with their little one is so hard. I'm scared that since we did a walk in appointment for our fingerprints, they don't know what to do with our stuff. We don't fit inside normal procedure and I'm afraid our stuff was stuck in the miscellaneous pile for a rainy day. I'm going to try to call tomorrow to see if we can pay to expedite our stuff. I don't know if they'll let us. I read on their website that this is sometimes an option. At this point I would give my right arm to get our stuff to Addis so I can get on that plane and bring Kepler home. I thought we would have Kepler home by mother's day and that came and went. I hope father's day doesn't come and go to with Kepler being an ocean away.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good Progress

Ok! That's what I'm talking about! I talked with our agency today and found out that 2 of our needed documents have been turned into the embassy! This leaves our updated fingerprints. It's hard to explain but I'll try:) We went to USCIS and did a walk in refingerprinting on May 6th. This is not how they usually do things so our fingerprints didn't get sent onto Ethiopia like I thought they did. I assumed that since they had our case number and our other fingerprints were sent without request, this set would be too. They weren't. So last week I filled out the form requesting them to be sent to Ethiopia. I had to snail mail this form along with copies of our fingerprint appointment slip, case number and the LAST copy of our homestudy to Missouri (yeah, I know?!). I tracked the package and saw that it arrived at their office last Thursday (May 26th). As of today, they have had it for 3 business days. Our agency said that stuff can often times sit on some one's desk for 10 days before it actually gets sent on to the National Visa Center where they cable it to Addis. I sent them an email today asking about our pending case. I hope to hear something back tomorrow. I'm a little nervous because we didn't follow the steps the way they wanted us too but all the stuff should be there. I'm hoping we will get word that our stuff is forwarded to the National Visa Center soon. I'm ready to go but I can't get on that plane until I know that our fingerprints are in Addis and they won't need my fingers again in the States!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Feeling more hopeful today

I spoke with our agency today. They had just got off the phone with our agency over in Addis. They said that they have had requests for our missing pieces before and they are hopeful that they can get our missing items into their office by the end of this week or next week. This is such good news. On Monday, we were looking at no timeline but possibly months... it sounded very grim. However, a two week delay is FAR better than a two month delay! Here we are hoping again. It's very weird but I think it's safe to say that you can't stop someone from hoping. After this most recent excitement being dashed I told myself to stop hoping so it didn't hurt so bad when bad news came. I REALLY tried to take today's good news in stride and not get excited but it didn't work. My heart jumped in my chest and I called Amos right away. There are no guarantees that our stuff will come in by the end of this week or next week but it gives me hope that someone thinks it can be done:) And even if it doesn't come in, this new hope gets me through the day.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I don't even know...

I hope you all don't think I'm cranky and mean but I have a favor to ask. Please don't ask me how things are going or who's fault this all is. I have no answers. The embassy can choose to pick on any one's case and ours has things that don't meet the standards. What we don't have could take a long time to get. This, again, isn't a matter of just slipping it in and saying, "Oops sorry we forgot that!". It's dates and spelling that should have been filled out more completely by various people. The agency has to go back out and find those people and have them REDO forms. They get mad because they feel the US is too picky (and I agree!) so they don't get right on it if you know what I mean. It requires sending requests for documents and then waiting for them to come it. God only knows how many weeks it will be.
I'm not getting on a plane on Friday. The embassy specifically told me not to.
I'm enraged, sad and empty. The sucky thing about all this is that life goes on. I have a school to run, dinner to make and a pet bunny to feed:) I'll be plugging along but it would make it easier if you don't ask any questions or try to offer something helpful to say because I'm constantly fighting tears as it is.
Thanks and hugs to all you supportive, loving friends. I'll just be in my hole until this ends.

Insane

We got word last Friday that our case was submitted! That was so exciting. However, Amos got an email this morning from the embassy saying we need 3 more things. Can you believe it?! It's random stuff and it doesn't even really matter if I list them or not. This whole process is so ridiculous. I'm fuming. The email from the embassy specifically says, "Tell the family NOT to make travel plans until they hear from us...".

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wow.

Okay all you eager beavers who like to stay on top of what's going on with our adoption...
After getting word from the embassy that we should submit yesterday, I got an email this morning from our attorney asking me to quickly scan and email our I-864W and visa. I was so confused because I was told to fill out the I-864 (no W) and my scanned visa was emailed to the agency months ago. I yanked Amos out of bed at 6AM and told him we needed to fill out another I-864 and scan and email all 8 pages along with my visa (again). We knew that we didn't get it to our attorney in time to be submitted before the embassy closed but there was nothing else we could do. I got a call from our agency today saying that the embassy screwed up. They wouldn't allow us to submit without a I-864W (which is not relevant to our situation) and Amos' visa (that doesn't exist because he didn't travel to Ethiopia with me in February). Our attorney was livid and our agency got all fired up because the embassy has been doing this with families often lately and it doesn't make any sense. So.... the lady at our agency is going to stay up late tonight and call the embassy in Addis to let them know that they are insisting on papers that aren't relevant and don't exist. She is going to ask them to let us submit today because it was their error that made us miss our deadline.
On top of that, the embassy is all booked up with the massive flow from the 800 MOWA cases that just recently got shoved through with our case. They are having to book embassy appointments a couple weeks out instead of a couple days.
I still plan on traveling to Ethiopia next Friday or around there because we are getting so close and these stupid little things will get sorted out. I just may be there a few more weeks than planned.
Seriously, I am not surprised by anything anymore. If this was a different situation and we weren't trying to bring our little guy home, this process would be hilarious.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh YEAH!!!

I got an email from the embassy this morning when I got to work! You should have been there! I screamed and jumped up and down in my office:) It basically said, "Tell your agency to bring your case in on your next submittal day (Thursday). We asked for this new document but we will not deny your case without it." CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! So... there is a possibility that the person reviewing our case could ask for more documents but we are on our way! It usually takes about 3 or 4 days to hear from the embassy whether or not our case is approved or not. If we hear on Tuesday (which is when most of my friends have heard) that our case was approved, I will fly out on Thursday or Friday of next week (26th or 27th). I WILL FINALLY GET TO TAKE CUSTODY OF KEPLER! So, we wait again...until Tuesday:)
I cannot tell you the joy I feel right now. Nothing can take away my happy! I'm going to Ethiopia and I'm coming home in a few weeks so we can begin our new life together as a family! Take that!
Amos is so excited too. He will be meeting his son for the first time in a couple weeks:)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Last Effort

We heard back from our attorney in Addis today. Apparently he requested this missing information months ago. The hang up is in Kepler's home region. Kepler comes from a very remote farming village. Attempts to meet up with government officials have all failed. When our agency tries to set up appointments, government officials don't show up. I guess this has happened a couple times. It boils down to the fact that I won't be able to do much from here OR there. It's been 13 weeks of waiting. There is no telling if our missing document will come in tomorrow or in another 13 weeks. It's a bit scary to think that I may not see Amos for months if I hop a plane.
I had emailed the US embassy earlier this week and they said that as of January they asked agencies to include this new documentation in the court process IF POSSIBLE. Amos and I are sitting down to email them back asking if we can be excused from this rule because we have done everything we possibly can do to get them but with no success. In the past, I have heard back quickly. My hope and prayer is that they will let us submit without these documents and we can be submitted this Thursday. Please pray that the person reading our email and the one looking over our case at the embassy has compassion on us and lets us through!

Monday, May 16, 2011

It pays to know people

I had a firm discussion with our agency today. I told them the Amos and I NEED to know the exact steps required to get us to embassy. We also want to know which of those steps have already been done and how close we are rather than holding our breath every Thursday just to hear "Your documents haven't arrived but he's on it". I want to know if this is something I can travel to Kepler's region to get to speed things along.
While this was all taking place I had also been emailing a friend of a friend who happens to live in Addis. She got back to me today stating that I don't need to worry about a time limit. I can stay with her until this whole thing is sorted out! Seriously?! I was so excited because this means I can go, take custody of Kepler and stay with a kind American who works a lot at a hospital and is welcoming me into her home with open arms. She even said, "I won't even know you're there. I work a lot but I have a cook, a guard and a housekeeper. It's much easier than life in Seattle." This is HUGE because now I have time to spend with Kepler and a place to stay for FREE while all this document stuff gets sorted!
We may be buying tickets this weekend depending on what our attorney says about our case in the next couple of days!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More drama

We were not submitted yet again last Thursday. It has been 12 weeks since court and almost 4 weeks since our case was denied at embassy due to lacking details on the occupation and address of the witness to Kepler's birth mother's testimony in our case. We were so angry and heartbroken last Friday to hear AGAIN that we were not submitted. One thing that makes us so mad is that our agency is not giving us any information on what is taking 4 weeks to get done. We are told the same thing every time I call: "He's on it." , meaning our attorney is on it. I have very little confidence in this because if he was truly 'on it' we would be getting some information about the process or what is hanging it up.
Amos and I wrestled with all the facts and info that other adoptee parents have given us about their cases, the process and our agency. We have decided to put me on a plane this coming week. If we are not submitted again this Thursday I will be on my way to hire another attorney to work our case. A friend who was stuck in Ethiopia for 4 months had to use a third party attorney to get her and her baby home. She said that this other attorney was able to do in 2 weeks what our current attorney couldn't manage to do in 4 months. What we are hearing over and over again is that our agency is wonderful if you have no problems. If you are one of the cases on the conveyor belt that just moves along, you're good to go. However, case after case where people ran into issues with paperwork or extra stuff that needs to be done are shoved to the back burner. All of a sudden the lady at the agency is never available and you are told to wait and wait and wait. We're done with being put on the back burner and I'm going over there to get this done so we can bring Kepler home! Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Just to let you know...

Hello Friends and Family,
We are breathing much easier now that we are waiting for the call with current fingerprints:) I will be caught up in a crazy rush to hop a plane to get to our little guy in a couple weeks so I thought I would let you all in on our plans for Kepler when he first arrives home.
We love you all and are so thankful for your support in our adoption. Everyone is welcome to come to the airport to welcome us home when Kepler and I (and Alison!) get off the plane. This will be a tearful, happy celebration and I would love to see you all there as we embark on this new adventure of Kepler's arrival into our family. You all will get to see Daddy Amos meet his little guy for the first time!
When Kepler first arrives, we are going to hide out at home a bit. The only life Kepler knows is the SOS EE orphanage. Adjusting to Amos and I and our home is going to be a big deal. As lovely as it is for him to have a mom and dad and home, it is completely new to him and will be very stressful. We want to give him calm time to adjust to his new life with us. When we feel he is getting comfortable, we would love to have company or visit you. You are welcome to play with him and talk to him but we are going to ask that you leave his feeding and emotional comfort to us. This may seem silly but Kepler needs to learn what parents do. He needs to learn to trust Amos and I to meet his physical and emotional needs:)
Thanks for understanding!
Hugs to you all!
Emelie

Friday, May 6, 2011

A load off our minds

Wow. Yesterday I had this idea to camp out at the USCIS office and beg for mercy. Amos and I went in early this morning to try to get fingerprinted. Usually this process takes months. You fill out a request form and mail it in. They mail your appointment slip to you in a few weeks. Your appointment is usually 3 weeks- a month out. You go get fingerprinted and they mail you an approval notice. We did it in ONE DAY! We had to get past the front desk lady, the guy who handles "special cases with no appointment" and the guy who ultimately decides if our case is important enough. Amazingly, we were allowed in to wait for someone else to not show up for their appointment. And bless their hearts, someone didn't show up and we got to go back and get fingerprinted!!!
This means that we have until August (when our I-600a expires). This is a load off our minds because we were out of time. Now we can wait more patiently and do things by the book. I'll get to visit Kepler for a few days before taking him and there is still hope that I will get to meet his birth mother in their home village.
Thank you God! And thanks for the prayers everyone!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One more week

I'm surprisingly calm as I right this latest entry in the world of adoption delays. I think God knew I was on the edge of insanity- maybe this is the coma I've been hoping for:)
Amos called the agency today to find out if we were submitted to embassy. We weren't. The paperwork from Kepler's village didn't come in. We found out that there is a chance that the embassy will allow our attorney to submit our case on Friday since we had to submit a day early due to a Muslim holiday on our usual submitting day. We'll see. There is a chance they won't let us and there is a chance that our stuff won't be in by Friday either. If that is the case, we should get submitted next Thursday. I know you are all saying, "But wait! I thought this was the last possible day to submit?!" It is if I want to go to Kepler's village and meet his birth mom (which is VERY important to us!). However, if we aren't able to, we will write to her. It just might HAVE to be that I fly out as soon as our paperwork is submitted and pick up Kepler from the orphanage without any visits and then go to the embassy the next day. Hopefully they'll work with us. We've heard that they are very accommodating once your stuff is submitted and you are in the country.
We also found out this week that 4 weeks ago all the kids at Kepler's orphanage got the chicken pox:( Poor baby- wish I was there to put socks on his hands and snuggle him:(
Prayers and more prayers please...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It got worse

Even thought it's been a few days since our saga got worse, I am just now getting to blogging about it. I think I have officially cried ALL my tears out. I can now see clearly enough to type this:) The paperwork we overnighted got to our agency in time but it was the WRONG paperwork. They were supposed to send us an I-600 and they accidentally sent us the I-600a form. I felt so bad for the poor girl that rushed it to us quickly and made the mistake. She felt horrible. That is something I would have done! Anyway, when we found this out we looked at the overnight times for mailing and the days we have left to get it to Ethiopia before we run out of time. There weren't enough days unless we got them the paperwork that afternoon. Amos and I jumped in the car and drove from Seattle to Banks, Oregon. The staff stayed until we arrived there at 3:30. We handed it over and took a picture together:) It was really nice to see the lovely faces of the folks that we have talked to on the phone for 2 years! 10 minutes after arriving in Banks, we left Banks and headed home.
This last week has been unbelievably difficult. I had to squeeze in business quarterly taxes during all of this as well as track down our missing business checks that were supposedly mailed to us weeks ago. I was thankful that someone blundered and forgot to mail them rather than someone was out there writing checks from my business! I was feeling a lot like Job this week. It feels like we are running to try to catch a boat and someone keeps throwing things in our path that we have to jump over and go around.
Even though we know that the paperwork we needed to get in should get there on time, we have NO IDEA what is happening in Ethiopia with the missing paperwork that needs to be in our file before we can submit to the embassy. This is the hardest part.
I feel like I don't have anything left. I'm numb and empty.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Update

Our newly required paperwork arrived in Oregon at our agency's office yesterday afternoon after spending $25 to overnight it to them! I always wondered who would spend $25 on mailing a letter that could just get there the following day for $1.45. Now I know, they make their money off of emergencies:) Our agency will DHL it over to Ethiopia. Our attorney is still working on gathering our missing items. I feel like I'm going to start sweating blood with the prayers I'm praying begging God to put people where they need to be so we can get our stuff submitted to embassy next week. This is going to kill me. This week has been the WORST week of my life. I'm hanging by a thread from day to day hoping to hear that our stuff has arrived at our attorney's office. We have one more Thursday to submit on before it's too late and our fingerprints expire and we have to go backwards for months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ups and Downs

I don't think my heart can take this anymore! We heard that our paperwork was complete 2 Fridays ago and was being submitted to the embassy last Thursday. We were elated thinking I'd be getting a call this last Monday to tell me that I was to get on a plane. When I called the agency, they explained to me that our paperwork was taken to the embassy but turned away due to 2 missing items. The missing items were the "witness' occupation and address". That means that Kepler's family's neighbor's address and occupation were missing from our file. CRAZY! So, our attorney sent requests for this info but last we heard he hadn't received it yet. It is such a downer in general because I was thinking I was going to get Kepler. However, on top of that, we realized that our fingerprints (required for US embassy) will expire on May 23rd. That's less than a month away! We need a miracle to get this paperwork in and our case submitted by next Thursday so I can hop a plane and HOPEFULLY make the embassy interview before our fingerprints expire. This is the only way we get get him home without updating our home study (which took MONTHS) last time.
This was a HUGE blow. Poor Amos is sad too but he has had to deal with me bursting into tears throughout the day for a few days. It's just awful.
I know we've been asking people to pray throughout this adoption but we NEED your prayers now. Things need to move FAST for us to make this appointment in the next couple weeks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thank God!!!

Last Wednesday night I went to life group and noticed my ladies wearing my adoption shirt or brown to support me:) Not only that, they all announced that they were giving something up in order to remember to pray for Kepler, our paperwork and us. This touched my heart in a deep way. Some ladies chose to give up wearing jeans, Starbucks, sugar, facebook, earrings etc so they would be a bit uncomfortable and remember to pray for our case. God heard our cries of desperation and answered our prayers. This morning I got an email from our agency and found out that all of our paperwork is gathered and it's on it's way to their office. While they still need to confirm with our attorney, it looks like our case will be submitted to the embassy this coming Thursday! Thursday is the only day we can submit. The embassy has 72 hours to review, accept or deny it and then we get a travel date! Thank you God, and thank you ladies who gave up some precious things on little Kepler's behalf. I love you all!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Frustration

First of all, I apologize that my blog is a ranting diary. I read other blogs and they are all sunny and positive. I feel like this process brings out the crazy mad in me! I called our agency today to find out if our case is supposed to be submitted this week. I was told that they just got a list of additional documents and information that needs to be included before we submit our case to the US embassy. Apparently the embassy let agencies know a couple weeks ago that they would be asking for additional info but they didn't tell them what info they will be needing. I have a feeling that our stuff has just been sitting around waiting for a list of which additional documents will be needed. Well, they got the list and I guess our attorney has sent out requests for the additional documents but he hasn't received them yet therefore he cannot submit our case. I think it would be safe to say that we have the WORST luck when it comes to adoption. Some people absolutely fly through this process and others get stuck at every turn. There are folks worse off than us, I have to admit. Our friends haven't even passed court yet because they are waiting for a letter from the MOWA still! It's certain that NOTHING in the adoption world is fair. So here we sit, another week goes by where our stuff hasn't moved. On a positive note, Kepler's nurse send me an email today with a picture of kepler! It's the best photo we have gotten! It was very sweet for her to do this because she really doesn't have to and I don't think it is the easiest thing to do from Ethiopia. Their Internet speed is slow and it often takes a few tries for things to go through. It was a huge blessing to see his sweet face this morning on my computer screen but it made me a little sad to know that he is aging without us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's been 6 weeks since sitting in the court house in Ethiopia. It's been 5 weeks since we passed court and have been waiting anxiously to hear that our paperwork has been gathered and submitted to the embassy. Every Thursday (the day our agency can submit cases) is a 'hold your breath and pray' day and every one has yielded no word. It makes me crazy to sit here and wait on a time line that is supposed to be 5-8weeks between court and embassy. Every day that goes by, Kepler grows and misses out on one more day of being home in our family. To everyone out there who says to think positively, I say, "Okay, it's one more day closer to him coming home." However you look at it, and believe me, I've looked at it from EVERY angle, it still ends with me being sad that Kepler is half a world away because of legal crap. Just one more rant. What is with people flying through the process? NO hitches, glitches or bumps. Sometimes I want to throw myself on the ground and kick and scream that people are cutting in line! :) But I don't for Amos' sake. I think that would scare him more than my emotional break down crying sessions. I just heard from a friend today who was in the same court hearing as I was. She called our agency today to find out what was going on and found that the embassy is now requiring more documents and hers are missing. My heart breaks for her and my mind scrambles with all the possible scenarios that could be holding up our paperwork. I will call tomorrow to see if there is any news but I have a feeling it will be the same answer, "Just hang in there- it will happen. It's just a matter of time." Or maybe I'm too scared to call and find out that our paperwork is missing... And then after that I will hold my breath and pray again that our stuff is submitted this Thursday and we'll hear something by Friday...or Monday....or the next Thursday....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Auction Was a Huge Success!







The auction yesterday was a huge success! We had so much fun talking with people, showing photos and watching our friends bid on neat stuff to support the push to bring Kepler home. After it was all said and done we raised $1520.oo! This is amazing! I did a horrible job of taking pictures at the actual event but I pulled these bidding items out of the trash to record a little of the auction:( There were so many other things that I didn't get on the camera! Thank you to everyone that came, donated and bid. Little Kepler has no idea how much love and support he already has:)

Hugs to EVERYONE!

Now....if we could just get a call telling us our embassy date.... Keep praying!

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Waiting

It's been three weeks since we passed court and a month since I've been back from Addis. As exciting as that is, I'm ready for the next step. I swear, every step is so drawn out...it's incredible. We were told after passing court that it would be a few weeks before we heard when I travel again for the embassy appointment, for Kepler's visa. When I talked to the agency today, she said that our stuff could be submitted this Thursday but we won't know until the Friday or Monday after it's submitted. From that point, the US embassy could take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks to 2 months to process our paperwork and assign us an embassy appointment. THIS IS KILLING ME. I need this to take less time. All I do is think of poor Kepler sitting over there, not with his family and us sitting here without our little guy. It's awful.
Please pray that God's hand goes with our paperwork and this all gets sorted out sooner rather than later. I can't take much more. I hope God knows this...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Parents Day


We passed court sometime this week! Our agency called and notified us that Ethiopia is working on getting Kepler's birth certificate for our embassy appointment! This means that we passed court and someone forgot to let our agency know:) I'm okay with it though because now it feels like we took two steps! We should know in a few weeks when I travel again for the embassy appointment and bring him home!!! I can't wait to enter this door again and take him with me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm home

Hello friends and family!
After 30 hours traveling, my feet hit ground in Seattle yesterday. I thought 24 hours to Addis Ababa was hard....30 on the way back was horrid.
However, I met our little Kepler! I got a call from our coordinator on my way from the airport. She said, "Welcome to Ethiopia! Would you like to meet your little boy this morning?". I eagerly said, "Yes!" and after literally dropping our bags at the guesthouse, Andrea and I hopped in a van and headed to the orphanage. Kepler was sleeping when they brought him into the waiting room to me. I took him, held him and kissed him and looked at his little hands and toes. He is beautiful. I was glad he was asleep because I was exhausted. I just held him and marveled at the fact that I was finally holding him in my arms. He woke up and was startled to see a strange white woman looking at him. He started to cry but was happy to be snuggled up on my shoulder. The first two visits were similar. He was very cautious and observant. He tried to avoid looking at me but was content to have me snuggle him.
After visiting with him twice, I headed to court on the 21st. We rushed up 6 flights of stairs at very high elevation in a packed court house. I felt sick as we were told to sit in a room and wait. It was at this point that I learned that Kepler's birth mother was most likely sitting in the room with me. This was horrible. I was totally unaware of this and not prepared. All the adoptive parents were looking around trying to figure out who was their child's birth parents while the Ethiopian women scanned the white faces to see who would be raising their child. I cried there in that room thinking about how those mothers felt. At this point, our attorney called me out into the hall to tell me that Kepler's biomother could not find transportation to the court hearing so she would not be there. My heart fell. I gave testimony to the judge and presented the power of attorney on Amos' behalf. After leaving the court house I was assured that Kepler's birthmother would come into court the following Monday. I asked if there was any way to help her get there and I was told very clearly that we are not allowed to help in any way. It is illegal. Kepler's hometown is quite a distance from Addis so it costs money to travel there. She relinquished Kepler because she doesn't have any money. I have hope that she will make it to court on Monday however. I feel like the fact that she took him to a receiving center rather than abandoning him and the fact that she called into the court to explain her absence speaks a lot for her. Please pray her her, especially this week.
My last visit with Kepler was amazing. His nurse let me visit with him longer than usual and in a room by ourselves. He fell asleep on me and then woke up and remembered me. He started studying my face and interacting with me!
Saying goodbye was so difficult. I missed Amos so bad and was excited to go home and see him but now my heart aches for Kepler knowing he is far away.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Getting ready to go!

I am so excited! Andrea and I leave for Ethiopia in 5 days! Did you read that?! 5 days!!!! I can't believe I get to meet our little guy in a week! I was really freaking out (to the point of tears!) yesterday because there is so much to do and everything has to be perfect. It is very overwhelming. I do know that next Monday when I get on that plane I will be able to relax and know that I have done everything I could in my power to prepare for this trip. If our taxes aren't done, I'll just have to settle with leaving those lines blank and worry about it when I get back.
When I booked my airline tickets I heard that folks are booking their second trip (the take home trip!) about 4 weeks after their first trip! That is about HALF the time we are expecting! Wouldn't that be the best surprise ever?!
We got new pictures today. Kepler either has a fever or just had his face washed off because he is all shiny and his shirt is wet:) He got a hair cut too! He looks so sweet. I can't wait to hold him!
We've had quite a month of baby showers and prep. Amos and I feel so loved and blessed by good friends:) It's happening! He's coming home soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Pictures!!!

We got new photos of Kepler today! He is getting big without us! He actually looks more babyish to me than the last photo. I really think that last photo didn't represent him. He looks more like Kepler this time:) He weighs 9.6 kg, is 70 cm tall and his head is 45 cm. One really good thing is that his PCR-HIV test came back negative. His hair is longer and he is sitting in the famous blue picture taking chair again!
I got a DROID yesterday and this is so good because even though I can't use it to make calls from Ethiopia next month, I can take high quality photos and videos while I'm playing with Kepler!
I just finished ordering his photo album for my first trip. I actually ordered 2 just in case we don't get it back:)
I can't wait to post pictures on here after we pass court next month:) Hold tight for a few more weeks.
A couple things that are in the making: I have two baby showers coming up! One is next weekend and the other is on Feb 5th. Also, we are having an auction/rummage sale in mid March to raise money for the last trip. I am excited for this because 8 weeks is a quick turn around to raise another $3-4,000.
Bless you all a hundred times and thanks for the prayers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Updates...

Okay folks, things are rolling now! The biggest news is that Andrea Beaty is joining me on the first trip! This is a huge relief. I was very scared to get off that plane in Africa all by myself. I am so thankful to her for sacrificing work, money and time to go with me. It means the WORLD to me. She will travel on my flight, pray with me and take pictures of me meeting Kepler for the first time:) I am so excited!
I am running around like a mad woman trying to get our 2010 taxes sorted out and filed before I leave in a month! It's kind of a crunch! This all has to be in order before I travel because Amos is not going.
We are expecting new info and photos of Kepler this week! It's Christmas in Ethiopia so everything seems to have halted. I can understand but I do need someone to go to work so we can get pictures and a guesthouse booked! :)