We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Spiritual Warfare

I am part of many adoption on-line groups.  I join them in the beginning to get a feel for what is going on in-ocuntry.  I stay to learn about agencies - which ones are reputable, and which ones are not.  That does not take very long.  The unethical ones have information posted about them constantly.  I linger to read people's stories.  Oh how I love to hear about each process from beginning to end.  One group I joined is called CAFEKids.  It is a Christian group for people adopting from Ethiopia.  I don't thnk you HAVE to be a Christian to join the group, but the point of the group is:  Talking about God is not only ALLOWED, but it is encouraged.  You don't have to put a disclaimer on your topic saying "mentions God", none of that.  You just get to freely express your journey - including God!

Recently one of the topics has been about the spiritual battle that rages once you commit to adoption.  After reading all of the stories, I would really like to share ours.  I truly believe that Satan takes offense with those who adopt, especially those who adopt in the name of God.  Or maybe just those who adopt who are Christians.  An orphan being brought into a Christian home to hear the truth of the gospel is a whole less likely to follow Satan than the orphan who does not get fed the truth.  It's also about obedience - God calls us to care for the orphan and the widow.  Those who adopt are carrying out God's desire.  Satan surely doesn't like that.

I truly believe the attack comes in many forms, and it is different for every family.  I am a saver.  I am very cautious with money.  Our monthly deposit into our savings account is viewed as a "bill" to me.  Our family is very financially responsible.  I wouldn't say I'm "cheap" or else we would not be on this adoption journey, but I am reasonable.  I'm not extravagant.  One of my biggest concerns is with money... not because we don't have enough, but because I want to make sure we spend wisely.  Satan knows this.  Satan also knows that we tithe every month... and if he can make life difficult enough for us, maybe we would skip our tithe in order to meet my need to save.

We made a commitment to adopt a LONG time ago.  We started the process nearly 2 1/2 years ago with an adoption from Vietnam.  We spent nearly $12,000 on that adoption (that never happened) and the country closed.  We did get some of our money back, but it was a pittance compared to what we spent.  Our agency was unethical and although our documents were filed in-country, there was NO WAY we could get a child because the agency was not licensed in the provence they sent our documents to.  We waited nearly a year in country before we discovered that.  Satan likely laughed.  God knew though.  After that, we decided to switch agencies and adopt from Kyrgyzstan.  We had to do an update to our home study, new immigration approval, and a TON of money on new dossier documents.  Right before were to submit to the country embassy, there was a slow down in country.  I was so afraid that the same thing would happen in Kyrgyzstan as did in Vietnam (with the country closing) that I waited.  Thank goodness we did, because our next step would have cost us around $8,000 and we would have lost ALL of that money and had no child..... Kyrgyzstan closed.

At that point in time, Tim and I decided to stop, take a step back and not decided what WE wanted to do, but decide what GOD wanted us to do.  God pointed us to Ethiopia.  We were also led to look at another agency.  One closer to our home state and who were a Christian agency.  Not one that said "sure, we are Christian", but one that even had CHRISTIAN in their name.  Not that a name says it all, but someone who is not a Christian, usually doesn't want to be called one, and it also limits the agencies audience - so we were comfortable with the agency and our case worker.

We started the process to adopt from Ethiopia in July.  Our dossier is now in country (whoo-hoo!!!).  It was completed in near record speed (God's hand).  Our immigration approval was completed in 2 business days (God's hand - this normally takes 6 - 8 weeks if not longer).  Our home study was able to be done in just weeks (God's hand).  I truly believe that if you go where God leads, you will feel the doors open, instead of trying to shove them open for yourself.

So, since we are where God wants us to be, Satan has no power - not in the adoption process.... but he knows my desire to live reasonably.  Since he can not attack the adoption process because God is working there - he has begun to attack us financially.  (I guess he forgot that part where God provides).  The first hit was with an issue under the house - CHING $6000.00 for a vapor barrier and dehumidification system (I swear you could like live under our house now it is so nice under there... but I digress :).  Next - six months after being told I have no issue with my right eye needing surgery, I start having vision problems.  I can always tell when I'm starting to have issues, because I get really bad headaches.  I called the doctor and made an appointment... sure enough, I need eye surgery - and due to some work commitments, I wasn't able to schedule it until after the first of the year (when I have to meet our deductable again) rather than this year (when it is already met) - CHING $$$ BIG BUCKS!!!  Finally, about a month ago, I was walking through the kitchen and the floor in front of the fridge felt strange.  I brought it up to Tim, but with the holidays and so much going on , we diidn't get around to calling someone about it.  We called about a week ago and yesterday a floor person came out.  They measured the moisture on one part of the floor 6% - very dry.  In front of the fridge - >60%.  The meter only went up to 60 and it hit that immediately.  The floor guy said we had a slow leak from the fridge and that it has damaged the floor.  So, we had to call a plumber.  The plumber came out and found the source of the problem.  The result.... we have to replace the kitchen floor.  CHING, CHING, CHING.  I guess the good news in all of it is that I never liked our kitchen floor and now we get a new one :)  Thankfully because of our wise spending / saving, we have been able to cover these expenses without the aid of credit!

In all of the talk recently about the spirtual battle that rages when you start an adoption, I really began to think.  It all started to make sense to me.  Maybe the devil doesn't realize though, that I trust in God to fund our adoption.  If we are reasonable with our money and tithe, He will provide.  He has and will continue to.  Rage on Mr. Satan - I've got God on my side!

In Christ (take that Satan),
Charity

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If you would be so inclined

Dear Friends,

I know over time I have asked for prayer, prayer for this, prayer for that, prayer for the adoption, prayer when I had to leave my family for a month to get Pearl....I'm sure I've asked.  Well, I'm asking again.  It's not for me... well, not really.  It's for Cameron - which I guess indirectly ends up being for me as well.  Anyway, I'm asking for him.

I don't share a whole lot about his life, outside of what happens directly within our family.  I guess this qualifies and if not, I'm going to share it anyway.  Last night I got a phone call that I knew for a couple of months was coming.  I was hoping that it wouldn't come, but it did.  It was from Cameron's dad.  Again, I don't share much about Cameron's life with his dad, or much about his dad at all.... I guess being divorced, it's really not my business to share - but again, I'll share this.  Cameron's dad lives in SC about 2 1/2 hours from us.  He moved here from Michigan about 4 years ago.  It was a good move because Cameron got to see his dad regularly.  Well, about three months ago, Cameron's dad lost his job.  As with everywhere else, the unemployment rate in SC is high.  He has been unable up to this point to find another job.  Tomorrow, he's leaving SC.  I won't go into the details about where he is going, because that's not mine to share, but the impact on Cameron will be great.  He's moving to another state and Cameron won't get to see him like he does now.  Right now he sees him about every three weeks.  It'll probably be three times a year if  he is lucky. 

Cameron is not the type of kid who is going to tell you when he is hurting - and he is definitely not going to tell his dad that it hurts him.  I know his dad is upset for having to leave.  No matter what I think of him, he loves Cameron - and more importantly, Cameron loves him.  That is exactly why Cameron won't tell him that it is bothering him.  I know my son though, and it will bother him.  It bothered me to not be near my family when I was an adult... why woldn't it bother a child?

Here's the kicker though... Cameron doesn't know about this yet.  I got the call last night.  I thought he was not leaving until next week... instead, he is leaving tomorrow.  Tim and I were planning on taking him to see his dad again on Jan 1st.  I was hoping his dad would tell him then and they would at least get to say good-bye (for now) in person.  His dad saw him last week.... and for reasons I don't quite understand, he didn't tell him - and now, he's leaving before he will see him again.  I don't want Cameron to hear something like that over the phone, plus his dad is fairly emotional about the whole thing right now, so that wouldn't help matter either.  I almost don't blame his dad, because I would not want to tell my child that either - but sometimes as a parent, you have to do things that you don't want to do, for the benefit of your child - for their well-being.  That being said, since it is apparent that his dad is not telling him, that task will fall on me.  His dad said he would call and tell him when he got settlted in... well, in my mind, that's not good enough.  How do I explain that he is not going to see his dad on the 1st?  I will have to tell him.

Please pray for comfort for Cameron.  I know he is worried about his dad.  Besides losing his job, he is having some health issues (probably anxiety related as a result of losing his job) and I'm sure that is bothering Cameron as well.  Last week when Cameron was with his dad, his dad had to go to the emergency room because of these issues.  I'm sure Cameron is struggling with all of this, and me telling him his dad won't be here anymore will just make it worse.

Please pray for Cameron - and pray for me that I find the right words when I tell him what's going on.  It breaks my heart to have to do that.  Please also pray that I find a way to say the right words that encourage Cameron to talk to me about how he feels about the whole thing.  I know it will hurt him, but it's unlikely that he will share that.

Thanks for listening and thanks for your prayers for my Cameron.

In Christ,
Charity

Monday, December 28, 2009

After Christmas shopping

This morning Tim and I ventured out to the stores to do some after Christmas shopping.  It has kind of become a tradition for us.  Every year after Christmas, we go out and buy Christmas stuff for the following year.  Usually we hit the jackpot and get stuff at somewhere around 75% off.  This year, we weren't so lucky.  Maybe we waited longer last year - maybe it was closer to New Years by the time we made it out shopping.  All I know is last year we got small trees for each of the kids' rooms for 70% off.  A bunch of ornaments for each tree, some little decorative things, and of-course candles... I think all for 70% off.  I thought for sure, after the weekend rush, that things would be 70% off by now.  Nope... everywhere we went, it was 50%.  Some places didn't even have anything.  But, we still got some good deals.  I got a cookie tray that is absolutely beautiful.  The best part about it, is it isn't really Christmas themed.  I can use it year round.  It's something you could use for cookies / candies or something like that.  I love it. 

We bought another tree last year, so we have one upstairs that you can see through the huge front window, and then we have one for downstairs on the main floor that we put the gifts under.  So, this year we just had the tree upstairs with lights on it, but no ornaments.  I was going to buy ornaments for it before the holidays, but thought "why spend the money now, when I can get at least twice as much for the same price in two weeks".  So, I waited.  The tree will be full of ornaments next year.  I just bought colored balls.  All silver and then threw in a box of red to add some color.  It'll look nice next year.  I was looking for some lighted garland, but didn't find any.  Oh well....

My blog friend Lori asked about my camera.... no Lori, you didn't miss it... I never said which one I got.  I got the Canon Rebel xsi.  It's really nice.  Tim got it from godigital.com and it came with a huge accessory package.  If we bought it in the stores around here, we would've only gotten the camera and one lens.  For the same price we got:

the camera
three lenses
three filters
two tri-pods
a carrying case
two 8 GB memory cards
a USB card reader
an external removable flash

and probably some other stuff that I don't even know about yet.  As I'm learning how to use it, I absolutely LOVE IT!!!  If I had to rate it, I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.  Sure, it took me some time to learn how to use it, but I'm a novice.  I'm used to a camera where you just open the box, slap in a couple of batteries and you are good to go.  This is definitely not that kind of camera.  I kind of wanted it to be when I opened the package (only because I wanted to use it right away) but as I am learning how to work this, I'm LOVING it!  It definitely wasn't the cheapest camera in the world, but it surely wasn't the most expensive one either.  But it takes great pictures.  Probably they will be even better when I figure out what I am doing!  I guess the best part was that it really was a good package deal.  I highly recommend getting one off of the internet rather than in a local store.  It was brand new, in the original intact packaging, and delivered to my door within probably 5 days of Tim  ordering it.  And I love it.  I seriously can not wait to take it with us to Ethiopia..... I can just imagine the beautiful pictures I will get there.  Not just of my Sara Joy either!!!  I can't believe that this may actually be the year that Sara Joy comes home!!!

And to my dear blog friend Lori - I know you may not want to hear this right now, but I have to say it, because it is the truth - you are an incredibly strong person.  Your family has touched my heart.  Your strength and trust in God during this very difficult time in your life is amazing.  Your Matthew.... just precious.  My first born is my son, and I can't imagine him not being here with me.  I imagine you could never imagine it either... and yet you have to not only imagine it, but live it.  My heart breaks for you when I think about that.  No mother (no father) should ever have to endure such heartbreak.  I'm sure it's pain that I can not imagine.  I hope you don't mind that I linked to your web page - your story, how it unfolded and how it continues to unfold, is inspiring.  How you respond in the face of such pain is incredible.  It should be shared. 

Well, now that the after Christmas shopping is done, I pobably need to start thinking about just when is going to be the perfect time to bring down all of the current holiday cheer... uuggghhh - I really dislike that task.

In Christ,
Charity

Comments

It was pointed out to me by a close friend that she no longer has the ability to comment on my posts.  Does anyone have any idea why?

If you know how to get the comment link back, please let me know.  You can e-mail me at:

t_croach@sc.rr.com

Any help would be appreciated.

*****Nevermind... apparently now the option is back.  Not sure how it disappeared, or how it came back, but it is back*****

In Christ,
Charity

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Subject: Pearl

While the boys were on the bike trail and Tim and Anna were out working in the front yard on riding a bike with no training wheels... I figured out the very basics of my camera. Pearl was a very willing (or unwilling - just submissive) subject... and I thank her.
Here is a beautiful picture of my precious Pearl:


A beautiful picture of my beautiful Anna-banana


And Cameron:

Hamilton takin' a ride around the neighborhood

Look at those blue skies.... the house is much prettier with the flowers in bloom instead of the dead stalks still there.
Anna stopped quickly on her bike, and Tim toppled over her. Pearl quickly took the opportunity to pounce.
And finally, Anna on her bike. Nice flower stalks again... oh well, they are in the process of being hacked!!!

I seriously LOVE my new camera and can't wait to get creative with it!
In Christ,
Charity

Bike Rides and Cameras

Whoo-Hoo!!! I got my camera to work!!! I made a deal with Heather though, that I would pretend that it didn't work, so she could come over and we could spend some time together. It will be a long time before I end up anywhere without this camera. I have only learned the basic stuff, but already it ROCKS!!! I am so happy I got a new camera for Christmas and I'm so happy that I have it in time to take it to Ethiopia with us (which who knows when that will be, but at least now I am ready!!!). I have been snapping pictures all over the place.

Anna learned how to ride her bike today. She should have really done it this past summer, or the summer before, but she was not interested, so we didn't push her to do it. We did take the training wheels off last summer though and pitched them (which is probably why she was not interested in riding). Then recently, as I reminded Tim that we needed to work with her, he went out to check out her bike and the wheel was broken. A wheel costs just about the same as a new bike, so we just got her a new bike. We were already out shopping for one for Cameron, because somehow, his got stollen. He and Hamilton were going to go for a bike ride yesterday and they came back in the house and said that Cameron's bike was not in the garage. Sure enough, Tim went out and looked, and it was gone. So, while they were out looking for a bike for Cameron, Anna got a new one as well. It was kind of an incentive to get her riding as well.

Sure enough, she did it. I think Tim was getting a bit frustrated with her, but they rode over and over the grass and finally, she was able to do it. She rode the entire length of the front yard. Now grass is an easier surface to fall on... but it is actually hard to ride on grass. I think once she is done being afraid of falling, she is going to tear up the pavement!!! Cameron and Hamilton took off down the bike trail, and now Tim is off running. Me... I'm vegging out in my pj's figuring out all of the wonderful features of my new camera.

I guess now it is time to start looking forward to 2010. So, what do I want in 2010? Well, I've been thinking a lot about it, and will put together a nice, long post prior to ringing in the new year.

Off to play with the camera and download some pictures... I will share soon!!!

In Christ,
Charity

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

It has been a great Christmas Day. The kids were up bright and early this morning waiting to open their gifts from "Santa". Well, actually, Cameron was up bright and early as usual, but Anna had to be prodded out of bed. I think Cameron went by her room and made her getting up happen a little quicker than it would have happened on her own, but that is ok.

The kids really enjoyed opening up their gifts. Cameron got many new things that he really enjoyed. Anna did as well. We talked about what happened over 2000 years ago this Christmas morning. The kids shared their gifts with us and we had a good time together. I have some pictures (that I had to use Cameron's camera to take) but they are pretty blurry. I was hoping to use my camera, but I haven't figured it out completely yet, so I was not able to use it. I was able to get the lens on it, but I was not able to figure out all of the functions, so I was not able to use it. Heather is going to come over one day soon and help me figure it all out. The sad news is, the pictures weren't all that great, so I'm not going to post them. I'll post some Christmas vacation pictures later, once I get my camera working (or rather I find out how to work my camera).

After the kids took some time playing with their toys it was time to go and pick up Hamilton. He had time opening gifts with his mom this morning, and then we have him until New Year's Eve afternoon. Once we got him here, he opened his gifts and then the kids headed off to play. We played scrabble and now they are upstairs playing Madden football. Cameron won in scrabble, Tim came in second and Hamilton and I tied.

Last night we had a wonderful Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve service at church was wonderful. We sang a TON of Christmas carols and for the first time ever, they invited everyone in church who had a cell phone with them, to call friends and family who could not be with them at church that evening, and we sang Silent Night - first with the orchestra, and then finally with just our voices. It was beautiful. I'm not sure how many people received a phone call, but if one did, they heard some beautiful voices.

After the service we went to a Christmas celebration at Heather and Neil's house. Heather's mom and dad were there, and we had a great time together. I think Heather's mom has adopted me as her second daughter. She, Heather and I sat and laughed all night. Mostly we were laughing at Neil. I guess second we were laughing at me. Not WITH me mind you, but AT me!!! It's fine. If I can dish it, I need to be able to take it. Someday I will tell the stories that Neil blesses us with every visit. He has a story for at least one thing, every time we are there. It usually involves a food item. Someday I will tell the stories, but he made me promise I not broadcast it to the entire internet.... So, I won't. But someday, we will hear the Mimi3 (I'll explain that sometime later) story about 1 - beans, 2 - the truffle sniffing pig 3 - the goat Larie' that provided milk for mimi3 and was turned into a purse...... A RED purse.

Speaking of the red purse - it is absolutely wonderful. I love my new red purse. I'm going to get the perfect little wallet to fit into my purse and get rid of all of the extra junk that I don't need in my current purse. Heather is such a sweetie for finding me the red purse :)

Heather also got me a tacky pair of socks. Heather and her mother like to wear strange socks. I'm a solid, boring sock person. They make fun of me, and I make fun of them. Heater's mom has this pair of Birkenstocks that are hideous. I know that sounds terrible, but her mom knows that I think they are crazy ugly. We laugh about it. Anyway, they thought it funny to get me a pair of ugly socks, that I really do not feel obligated to wear. I returned the favor though. I had the kids help me look at every store for the two ugliest / tackiest pair of Christmas socks and purchased one pair for Heather and one pair for her mother. The sad thing is - they WORE them. Heather's mom will probably wear them with her ugly shoes!

Heather and her family have a Christmas Eve tradition which was our last night gathering... it is fondly called Tea Cart. It has grown beyond a tea cart and sometimes it is themed. We are blessed as a family to have been included in tea cart this year. I'm hoping that we will be able to participate in years to come.

To Heather and her family (mom and dad), we are happy to be part of your lives and you are wonderful, wonderful friends. We are looking forward to ringing in the new year with our family again! (Heather, your mom and dad are MORE than welcome to come and ring in the new year with us - please invite them for us).

Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends. Merry Christmas to Sara Joy who is not with us yet. We love you Sara Joy and can't wait to find out who you are and when you will come home!!!

In Christ,
Charity

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I would like to start by wishing everyone who reads this a wonderful Christmas eve and day! If you happen upon this, and don't know the true meaning of Christmas, then I would hate to miss the opportunity to tell you what it is all about. It is about more than presents, Christmas trees and decorations. It's even about more than having family around. Truthfully, it's about more than just the birth of Christ. It's about the birth of the savior. The one who yes, was born on this day, but also who died for us! To save us from our sins.

I heard a church service recently that put it very simply:

"Hark the herold angel's sing
Glory to the new born king
Peace on Earth and mercy mild
GOD AND SINNERS RECONCILED"

Christmas is about the reconciliation of sinners with God. It could only happen through our Lord Jesus Christ - and the miraculous birth of Christ in a manger to the virgin Mary started the whole reconciliation process.

I need to spend more time this Christmas remembering that. Remembering what it is all about.

When I was young, I used to think that Christmas was all about the presents, the Christmas lights, Santa and snow. Thank goodness that is not what it is all about, because here in South Carolina, we have no snow, there are lights on the trees, but I've come to learn that Santa is not real and that the presents can disappear - all it takes is losing a job, having a family member sick or a multitude of other things. Thank goodness I have learned the true meaning of Christmas - it's all about Christ and the process that started the day of His birth.

Tonight we will go to our Christmas Eve church service, and afterward we will go have a Christmas Eve celebration with friends. While the food will be good, and it will be great to be with friends, I hope when I come home tonight, I spend some time thinking about what it really is about.

Today was the first day of a much needed Christmas vacation. We aren't doing a whole lot of anything, but spending time with family and friends and getting some things done around the house. The kids will open their gifts tomorrow morning and I'll watch the smile on their faces as they open their treasures. I love watching kids open their gifts. Anna will put reindeer food out for Santa's reindeer and in the morning she will surely have a story of how she woke up and saw Santa peeking in her door, or heard the reindeer on the roof. It's not so bad to let a kid be a kid. Tonight though, as we are in church, they will hear (as they do every year) what it really means - - that even without the tree, the gifts or Santa, there is still Christmas. Christmas came before all of that. I wonder if we'll celebrate Christmas in Heaven? I wonder if we celebrate our birthdays in Heaven - 0ur physical birthday? Or maybe our spiritual birthday? I'm not sure, but I look forward to finding out.

Tomorrow I will try to capture pictures of the kids. I got my Christmas present a bit early... I got a new camera, but I'm still trying to figure it out. I currently can't manage to get a lens on it, or take a picture. Heather will help me with that tonight though. Surely I will have it figured out by the time we make our trip to Ethiopia to get our little Sara Joy.... which is the reason I wanted it in the first place. Hopefully this is our last Christmas without our little girl.

Heather - if you are reading this... the apple pie is made (still warm and smells YUMMY), the spicy dip is warming and some crazy socks are coming your way for you and your mom!!! We're looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with your family.

Merry Christmas to Tim, Cameron and Anna! I love you all very much.

In Christ,
Charity

Monday, December 14, 2009

Color Blind

Sometimes it is the post that defines the title, instead of the title defining the post... as was the case with this post. The title was written after the fact.

It has been confirmed....

12/14/2009 2:09 pm With delivery courier.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Our documents are now officially in the same country as our daughter! How cool is that? To me, that is WAY cool! I honestly didn't know if we'd be at this point by Christmas. I didn't know how long our immigration approval would take, but that was approved in RECORD time. And now, here we are. I'm amazed. I'm excited. I'm full of anticipation....

While I am all of those things, I still stand a bit reserved. We have been here before. Not exactly *here*, but in a very similar situation. Dossier in country and nothing ever came of it. Then we got close to dossier being in country, and couldn't move any further forward because of country changes. So, while we are here again, and full of excitement, we are still a bit reserved.

When I was in the process of adopting Anna, I guess I was a bit naive with regard to the adoption process. I announced my decision immediately, and everyone waited with me for a year to get my paperwork done, to send it off, to get a referral, and then to go and get my baby girl. With the many unsuccessful attempts to adopt recently, it's been a bit more quiet. Very few people know - only close friends and family. I've been down the road of having to explain to person after person why we don't have a child home with us yet. It's difficult. Especially when the person doesn't understand the adoption process. There are so many questions.... where did all of your money go? Doesn't it make you mad that you spent so much money and didn't get a child? Why can't you get your money back? Why don't you just adopt from here? or here?

More than money, for us, it is lost dreams. I pray that our Sara Joy is not another lost dream. I don't think she will be though. God led us here, and God will see us through this. If HE means for our daughter to come from Ethiopia, then she will come, and nothing will stop the process. If in the end, we don't have a child - God has given me peace with this process. Strange but true. No matter what happens, I feel as though God wanted us here, now, going through this process. I want nothing more than to bring home my daughter.... but it's real nice to be walking through where God wanted you to walk at the same time.

I really have been very cautious about how excited I get about this process though. With Christmas right around the corner, I have every reason to want to get Sara things. She will eventually be home and I want her to know that we were thinking about her, before maybe she even existed. She is our daughter in our hearts already... why not buy gifts for her. Well, I've held myself back. I don't want to be disappointed again. I did pick out a very special doll for her though. She will have that. She got a "black" baby doll. I'm not sure if that is the right term to use, if it is offensive or what would be the right thing to say, but that is what she got. Anna got an asian looking doll. Here is the best part though.....

My kids don't see in color. Really, they don't. I brought Sara's doll out. Anna asked why Sara got a doll and she was not even here. It would have been from "Santa", but I quickly explained to her that her dad and I got the doll for Sara, because even though she is not here with us yet, we wanted to remember her on Christmas. I turned the box so the doll was clear through the front of the package. I asked Anna if there was anything special about that doll. Now in the past I've tried to get Anna asian looking dolls, but sometimes that is not possible, so she ends up with a white baby - so mind you, the majority of dolls she has ever looked at, are white. I asked her if there was anything different or special about this doll than any of her other dolls. She looked closely at the box. She said,

"She has a blankie"
"She has a pacifier"
"She has a bow on her head"
"Oh, she has tiny little shoes"
"She has food she can eat"
"Look, she even has extra clothes"
"She has a small teddy bear that she can play with"

She never mentioned that the doll had dark skin. I think of all the things I have done wrong with my kids, I think the one thing I have done right, is help them not see color. Thank goodness for that. It's not that I don't want her to recognize the differences... but it shouldn't be the first thing my children see about someone. I want them to see past the color of people, and see what the person has to offer, independent of color. I want my children to be color blind, and for now, it appears as though, they are.

Life isn't about color... life is about people. It's important to embrace the differences in people of different color, but it shouldn't be what distinguishes them. I can't wait to embrace my Sara Joy.

In Christ,
Charity

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kinda like.....

It's kinda like being a small child and watching Rudolph travel the globe on Christmas Eve delivering gifts to children. Something like that. Maybe a bit more exciting, because with this delivery is the start of a new life. A new life for a child who needs a family, and a new life for a family who would love another child.


12/11/2009 9:24 pm Transit through DHL facility
Leipzig, Germany

6:48 am Depart Facility Cincinnati Hub, OH

3:16 am Processed at DHL Location. Cincinnati Hub, OH

2:05 am Transit through DHL facility Cincinnati Hub, OH

12/10/2009 10:07 pm Depart Facility Washington - Ronald Reagan National, DC

10:05 pm Processed at DHL Location. Washington - Ronald Reagan National, DC

7:24 pm Departing origin. Washington - Ronald Reagan National, DC

2:48 pm Shipment picked up Washington - Ronald Reagan National, DC

Without getting too excited... this is where we stand! Our paperwork is ON THE WAY TO ETHIOPIA!!!

I wonder if our little Sara Joy has even the smallest of thoughts about the new life she will embark on. I wonder if she has any clue that her mom and dad are waiting for her. I wonder if God has created her. I wonder if God has spoken to her heart - telling her to wait, He is with her, but mom and dad are coming. I wonder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who would've thought

Not me, that's for sure! I asked for record turn around time for our immigration approval, and believe me when I say I got it. Tim came in tonight with the mail from today. He said "Why would I be getting something from homeland security"? I dropped what I was doing and said "gimme it"!!! He jokingly said he would open it, because it had his name on it. Oh no.... I handled ALL of the paperwork, I would get to open this! I figured it would be some form saying that they received our application, had our fingerprints and they would be processed in a timely fashion.

Instead what I found inside that lovely envelope was our approval form!!! How wonderful is that? God must've opened a door for a reason! I think that is something that only God could manage to assist in. We just went to the immigration office to be fingerprinted EXACTLY ONE WEEK AGO. Then there was Thanksgiving in there. Literally, we were in the office 7 days ago!!! We have our approval!!! I said it before and now I will surely say it again - SC USCIS office is the BEST!!!!

We are now officially DONE!!! I will contact our agency tomorrow, send them a copy of our approval, and EVERYTHING is now COMPLETE!!! Seriously, how exciting is that! Truly exciting!

Now, we wait. Thank goodness there are the holidays and things like that coming up. It will make the wait go a bit quicker. I can't wait to see the face of my daughter. I seriously think that God has control of all of this. Who ever heard of a turn around time of 7 days? We were there last week Wednesday and the approval date was Monday. And remember, there was a holiday in there. They approved it in basically one or two business days!!! Maybe our daughter is born and God moved this along so we would be paper ready in time to go get her. Maybe she has been born and we needed to be ready quickly so she would not get older and outside of our approved age range. Whatever the reason, I thank GOD for making this happen so quickly. Finally, my part is done and I can now sit back and wait for my daughter. (probably one of the hardest parts, I know!).

Celebrating in SC!!!

In Christ,
Charity

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Today was the day that Heather and I were tackling together... BLACK FRIDAY!!! I was tempted last night to just say that we shouldn't go. I hate dealing with crowds and I was sure that there were going to be lots of them today! I even e-mailed her last night and said if she didn't want to go, it wouldn't hurt my feelings terribly. Well, she wanted to go.... and I'm so glad that she did. WE HAD A BLAST!!!! Heather and I have not gotten to spend a whole lot of time together since the kids were done with football. We miss our Tuesday evening practices and our Saturdays at the grid iron. So, today, we were spending time together. And we were going to have fun doing it.

First we went clothes shopping for the kids. Got some great deals and wandered around a bit. Then we decided to head to Sam's. We ended up with a TON of stuff. I found a lot of great deals on stuff for the kids and for some other family members (the husband-type of family members who can read this blog and find out what they got!!!). So, I will keep that to myself.

That took us probably over an hour there. So, after that, Heather looked like she was going to pass out, so we decided to go get something to eat. We had a nice lunch together and then went to drop some stuff off at home, to get ready for wave 2 of shopping. In the meantime, we called Heather's mom, to see if she wanted to run out with us. She did, so we stopped by and picked her up and went out again.

This time, it was toy shopping. We had a GREAT time together. Heather and I were laughing so hard, I nearly had an accident!

We always joke about my "black hole" purse. You put stuff in it, and let me tell you, you can put a LOT of stuff in it. The trouble is, you will never find it again. It's not that remarkably big, but things get lost in there! I swear there are small villages down at the bottom of my purse! The thing about my purse is, that Tim got it for me when he was on a business trip in Italy. So, I have a true, fine Italian leather purse. And when he bought it, he asked me if I wanted a big one or a small one. Well, of-course I had to have a big one. I have so much junk to carry around. Actually, 90% of it, I'm sure I don't even need, but I never go through it and get rid of things. Anyway, I told Tim to get me a big purse and he did. Not many men will purse shop in Italy, but Tim did. I feel bad now that I call it the "black hole" but truly, it is. He even sees things get lost in it! But now I have decided I need a smaller purse. One like Heather's that is so cute. It's perfect. It fits over your shoulder so nicely. It's a size where you couldn't make it heavy if you tried, because it is not big enough. And it's a nice red color. I just love it. So, I looked for one of those. I carried hers around to see if any were as comfortable as hers, and they were not, so I put them all back. I have decided, I don't need a purse like Heather's... I need Heather's purse. She was a bit reluctant to turn it over to me though :( Maybe because it is HERS!!!

Heather, if you read this (and I know you will :) I had a great time today. We need to do stuff like that more often!

Tomorrow we are actually spending time with Heather and her family as well. Neil had made plans with Tim to watch football together - the big championship game or something like that. I don't know. All I know is that a bonus to them watching the game, is Heather and I spending the day together again!!! It's feast or famine with our time together. We are in the feast mode right now!!!

So, black Frday wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I got a lot of christmas shopping done, and the stores weren't all that bad. Maybe we will make it a Christmas tradition for Heather and I to go shopping together.

In Christ,
Charity

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and family! There is so much for our family to be thankful for this year... so very much! Unfortunately, we will not be with all of our family this year, as that would be near impossible, but we wish we could be and are thankful for each and every person.

Personally, I am thankful number one, for my salvation. There have been so many avenues of my life that have been difficult to navigate - and sometimes I found that I couldn't... I just had to drop anchor and sit. Where would I be without the anchor of my salvation? What rock would I cling to when the times got tough? It's never easy to sit and weather the storm, even with Christ as your anchor, but trusting in him makes it bearable. Trusting in Him helps you come out on the other side transformed.

I am thankful for my family. I'm thankful that I have a great husband and healthy children. I'm thankful for the country I live in, for the warmth of my home and for the wonderful food that will be on our table tonight and every night. I'm very thankful for my job, even though it can sometimes be one of the storms that I am weathering. I'm thankful for my friends - the ones who are always there for me to depend on, who will weather the storms with me, or stand in the sunshine and celebrate wonders with me. They know who they are and I love them... they are always there. The ones who you don't see or talk to for months, but when you see them, it is like no time passed.

I'm thankful for our chance to have another daughter. We look forward to meeting her and bringing her home!

Speaking of our daughter.... we made it to Immigration yesterday. Tim and I headed out bright and early and made it to Charleston by 10:00 am. That was great, except our appointment was not until 11:00. So Tim asked "What do you want to do for an hour?". Well, I really wanted to just get my fingerprints done and get back home. It would be nice to be home earlier and get a jump start on all the things that needed to be done. So, I suggested just going in, telling them that we were early, but could we get in line anyway. It couldn't hurt, right? I mean the only thing that could happen is they would say no, and we'd wait an hour.

So, we went into the office. We explained to security that we were early, they asked for our fingerprint appointment paperwork, and they checked our identification and let us in. We went back to the fingerprint area, and we were the ONLY ONES THERE. We were in and out in 20 minutes and were on our way home before our regularly scheduled appointment time. I've said it before, but SC USCIS is the best! Now, I'm just praying for a quick turn around time for our I171-H. In the past that has been turned around quickly for us as well!

So, after our fingerprint appt, we ate a late lunch with the kids and then ran a few errands. We got Anna a few new church dresses and a pair of new shoes to wear with them. She got her first real pair of "heels". You know, the little shoes with the wide heel and about 1/4 inch heel. It's just another sign that my baby is growing up! After a late lunch, no one was really hungry for dinner, so we did some stuff around the house and decided to turn in early with a movie and popcorn.

We watched "My Sister's Keeper". If you like to cry, that is the movie to watch. I cried a good bit of the movie. Cameron and Tim were apparently iin a "no crying contest" becuase Cameron kept asking "Tim, are you crying yet?" Every time Cameron asked me, I sniffed and said "no". Ummmhhh, he knew otherwise! It was a good movie, but a heartbreaker!

I made a chocolate pie last night for the kids and this morning I'm up to bake a fresh, home made apple pie. Denis loves it, so I thought I would make it for him. Mom's bringing the pumpkin pie. I'm looking forward to a nice turkey dinner with my family today. I hope everyone else has a wonderful thanksgiving and has as much to be thankful for as I do.

In Christ,
Charity

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good News from Switzerland

Hello from Switzerland. After a very long day of flying, we finally made it here on Sunday morning. It was a long, long day, but we are here. We had our first day of conferences as well. About 12:00 today I hit a brick wall and was about ready to fall asleep during our conferences, but managed to stay awake until lunch and got up and walked around. I skipped lunch because I was feeling awful, so I came back to the hotel until the afternoon session and just checked my e-mail and things like that.

So, here is the good news..... when I came back here for lunch and checked my e-mail I had an e-mail from our agency. All of our dossire documentation had been received at our agency and the last piece of information was being sent out today for state authentication. It would then be delivered to our agencies courier who would take it to the Ethiopian embassy in Washington. From there it will go straight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia!!!! It could be sent there as soon as Thursday!!!! Whoo Hoo!!! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.

What good news to receive so far from home! And today, I needed some good news!

Excited in Switzerland,
Charity

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of-course it would happen

Well, here it is... the day I need to leave to go to Switzerland. After a week of praying I would wake up with an unmistakable fever, body aches and all that good stuff - nope... healthy as a horse! Knowing me, my timing will be WAY off, and I'll get the fever while I'm in Switzerland and not be able to get back home!!! I so badly wanted to get out of going.... but to no avail. I'm off in about an hour.

So, this morning, I'm packing my stuff to go, and I was messing around with Pearl. She knows something is up, and she must sense that I am going somewhere, because she WILL NOT leave my side. She is lying under the computer chair right now, because she has to be near me. Anyway, as I said, I was packing my stuff to leave, messing around with Pearl, and I took one of my hair scunciis and put it over her muzzle. She was batting with her paws at it, and we all got a good laugh out of it. Well, she finally got it off of her nose and started running around like a freak with it. I told her to stop and Tim grabbed her collar. Well, that was the end of the scuncci.... We can't find it anywhere, and I'm sure she ate it. Not sure how she could have done it so quietly, but seriously, it is nowhere to be found. She didn't cough or gag, but it's gone. How could she have just swallowed it??? It's so...... dry. So, now as I leave, I get to worry about my poor puppy. It's my own stinking fault though. I was the one fooling around with her. Didn't think she would EAT the scuncci though. I just thought we would play with it together.

Hopefully it does not make her sick. She has not been sick one day since I've had her. Hopefully it will just come out the other end and there will be no issue. Let's hope. I know it is a LOT of money to retrieve things out of dogs... so here's hoping for a quick exit of my hair bow from Pearl's body!

Off to Switzerland..... four airports and about 20 hours and I will be there. Thank goodness the company flies us business class. Here's to no more travel for me for a long time.

In Christ,
Charity

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The day has been saved!!!!

I exercised patience. Yes, me. The impatient one.

I resigned myself to mailing the form back to immigration to get our fingerprint appointment rescheduled. I was so much so resigned, that I sealed the envelope. Tim and I were going to run out at lunch and mail it (since there is no mail tomorrow) but instead just decided to drop it off at the post office before picking up the children tonight.

Then I went to meetings. When I came back to my office I had an e-mail from our adoption agency (I had told them of my needing to reschedule) with contact information for immigration. Seriously, there was a phone number - AND - a name. So, with a name, there HAD to be a human associated with the other end of the receiver. And there was ....

This particular lady was VERY helpful and managed to arrange my NEW APPOINTMENT over the phone! So glad I waited to mail in that form. We have our fingerprint appointment on November 25th!!!!! Then we just wait for approval!

My agency is the best! So very helpful! And now I can relax as I go to Switzerland - knowing my appointment is scheduled. Still don't want to go to Switzerland though :(

In Christ,
Charity

Calling Immigration

Have you ever tried to call your local immigration office? I did this morning. It was a call that was not meant to be. First, I thoroughly read the document that was provided for our fingerprint appointments. I overlooked the part that said to rearrange appointments, you need to make a copy of the current form for your records, and mail the original back. No, I didn't really overlook it... I was just ignoring what I read. I figured that if instead, I made a phone call, we could arrange it all over the phone and it would save both me and the Immigration office the postage required to make the new arrangements via mail. (Couldn't they just e-mail me or something?).

There was a phone number on there for problems / questions regarding your form. Well, technically I did have a problem / question regarding my form. The problem was I would be out of the country at the time of the fingerprint appointment. The question was, would they change it for me. I am fully aware that the instructions for taking care of that were included... but technically I DID have a problem / question :) Also, it said that if you did not show up for your appointment then you will be considered as to have abandoned your application. There is no mail tomorrow due to a holiday, so what if my request to change my appointment didn't make it there on time and my fingerprint date came and went and they considered my application abandoned? For that reason, I will just CALL!!!

So, I called. Multiple times I called - because it kept hanging up on me. When the option I needed was not available - like all skilled automated phone system manipulators know - I hit "0". this would surely get me to a human being. Nope - that got me an invalid entry message and an additional reciting of the 9 long options that I did have to choose from, none of which matched what I needed. So, I tried multiple numbering sequences "press 2", "press 4", "press ANYTHING". Finally I got to something that asked me to enter my case number. After finding the case number, I entered it. Well, it seemed as though my first three letters were invalid. Please enter again. So I did. Invalid. Enter again... invalid. Three strikes and you are out. Obviously the phone system thought I didn't know what I was doing so it kindly said "good-bye". The system was right. I did not know what I was doing. I was doing whatever it took to get a human on the line. I don't think a human can be reached ever. Even though it says that they are there to assist me from 8 am to 6 pm... I'm not sure it is true. I dialed every number sequence imaginable and none of them led to a human.

So, I give up. As sad as it is, I am having to follow the instructions and mail the form back in, hoping it makes it there on time and my case isn't considered "abandoned".

Have I mentioned that I DO NOT want to go to Switzerland next week? This is reason number 126 why I do not want to go. It made me miss my fingerprint appointment.

If anyone from immigration is reading this blog - thank you for turning around our documentation so quickly. I understand SC is one of the best immigration offices to go through with regard to turn around time. I truly appreciate that. How about leaving me a comment though and letting me know the secret to getting a human on the question / problem line. I won't tell a soul, I promise!

In Christ,
Charity

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Jackpot

Well, I hit the Jackpot today.... well, sort of. There was no money involved, but it felt like it. I was almost as excited as I would be if I won the lotto. Finally, after weeks, even months of waiting, the mailbox contained good news today. not just one piece of good news, but four.

Let the record show that neither Tim nor I are criminals. We have a certified letter from the FBI to prove it. We have no record. Shocking. They told us that last year and the year before too. Not sure what took them so long this time. Anyway, the coveted documents are finally here. Two envelopes, one for me and one for Tim giving us the clearance we need for Ethiopia.

But the excitement didn't end there. Also in the mailman's stash today were two envelopes from the Department of Homeland Security, inviting Tim and I to participate in yet another fingerprinting opportunity. This time at our local USCIS office in Charleston. I was so excited..... until I opened the envelope and discovered the date of the invitation. It is for next week. Why the disappointment? Most people would be excited that it was so soon. Well, where will I be next week? Switzerland. Not sure the company will give me a quick flight home to meet with the people at the USCIS office. So, tomorrow morning, as soon as they open, I will make a phone call and see when I can rearrange the appointment for. I imagined this would happen with Tim and I both being out of town so much lately. But, when we didn't get anything last week, I thought we were clear until I came back. I thought for sure all the paperwork would come while I was gone and then the invitation would be for sometime after that. But nope. It's while I'm gone. I've never had to re-arrange the fingerprint appointment before, hopefully it is not too difficult. Hopefully we will get another quick appointment.

The good news is, progress has been made! I am going to take a leap of faith and say that my guess is that the SC USCIS office is going to turn around our I-171H in record time and that we are going to have everything for our dossier submitted to our agency by year end! That would be so great! It may be pushing it, but here's to hoping! Wish me luck with updating our appointments...

In Christ,
Charity

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Final Football Game

What a beautiful morning for the final game of football! I'm going to really miss Saturday morning football, because that was time for Heather and I to spend together. I'm sure we will come up with another way to spend some time together. The kids had a great last game. The team was nearly undefeated 7 wins, 1 loss. Today the final score was 49 - 0. Cameron scored the first touchdown! He was thrilled (so was his mom!).

Technically Tim comes home today. I say technically, because his plane does not touch down in Florence until 11:30 pm, so it will be after midnight before he gets home. I bet he is ready to be home and not have to travel for awhile. I on the other hand have to leave on Saturday for just about a week in Basel. Oh how I dread work travel. I would give just about anything to get out of going, but I can't. I'd just much rather be home with my family!

I thought for sure that I would hear something this week regarding the adoption. I am going to call the FBI (AGAIN!!!) on Monday and find out where our criminal clearance is. It has been there for nearly six weeks. That is crazy. I did get a letter from the department of homeland security this week. I ripped into it expecting a fingerprinting invitation, but no such luck. Just a letter from them telling me that they had gotten our application. They could have saved themselves the postage because I already knew that. They cashed my check! Maybe there will be something in the mailbox today... I can only hope!

In Christ,
Charity

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin project

I finally got my camera memory card to work and to load onto the computer. So, I was finally able to load the pictures of the crafts that the kids and I made over the weekend.
While Tim was gone this weekend, the kids and I decided we would do a project. We did them on Sunday.... I know Halloween had already passed, but as I pointed out to Cameron, we could be considered 1 day late, or 364 days early for next halloween. Aren't these little pumpkins cute. I got the idea from my friend Heather, and she kindly told me how to make them. I fell in love with them. I can't wait until we can put them out on the front steps next halloween! I also wanted to make them because I wanted to see how difficult they were. I have some ideas for Christmas (this Christmas, not NEXT Christmas) and wanted to find out if it was worth planning on making them. I think it is. I think they turned out so cute! Here they are:

While we were making the pumpkins, I also finished up the letters for Sara's room. I had them done some time ago, but didn't like how the J and the Y turned out, so I bought new ones and made them again. I think the end result turned out really cute for her room. So now we have a room, a name.... just no Sara Joy. Not yet anyway.
On the adoption side of life, we are still waiting. Still we have no FBI criminal clearance - kind of ticks me off, but what can I do???? Call again? That never gets me anywhere! We haven't received a fingerprint appointment yet, but hopefully that will be coming soon! I received an approved copy of our home study yesterday. I will file that away in my huge adoption binder. One more thing done and off of the list of things to do!
I really dread this part of the adoption "paper chase" because I feel as though it is so out of my control. I have done everything I can do, now I just have to sit and wait on others. I really don't like waiting on others. I always think this part is the worst... but then I recall when my dossier was complete and in China when I was adopting Anna. Looking back, I'm not sure what was the worst: the paper chase and all of its delays; the dossier complete and in country waiting for referral phase; or the having a referral but waiting for travel phase. They are all bad in their own special way!!! Gotta love International Adoption! It's all worth it when you get the child God had waiting for you in the end. That is what keeps me going, that is what makes you press on!
Hopefully I will have some good news to share soon!
In Christ,
Charity

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween

My prayer is that this time next year, we will have another little one to dress up and take around the neighborhood to indulge her sweet tooth. For this year though, we had a great time celebrating with Cameron and Anna.
Tim headed out to Switzerland again halloween morning, so it was just me and the kids. Cameron had football in the morning (which they won 25 - 0). He went with the White's. Then he came home, we made some lunch, did some work around the house, and then prepared for the evening festivities. We were headed over to the White's house to go out for an evening of fun with their kids. First we ordered pizza (so the kids would have plenty of energy to go out on their mission) and then herded them up and headed out.

All the kids, ready to go out (from L to R: Anna, Cameron, Kailee, Christopher, Cameron (yes, there are two of them) and Joseph (a friend of Cam and Christopher)

Cool house
Cameron and Christopher
Father and Son (not planned by the way)


Anna my little cheerleader
(wearing make up which won't happen again soon!)


Cameron

You could not have asked for a more perfect halloween night. I guess in my mind it could have been a bit cooler, but it was very nice. I remember halloween nights up north in Michigan where you had to wear so many layers over your costume that no one knew who you were. If you didn't, you would freeze to death! This was a bit nicer, for both the parents and the kids. It was nearly a full moon and a very clear, warm night, so the kids had a blast! They got a bunch of goodies, so they were thrilled!

Today the kids and I are hanging around the house. I need to get their uniforms pressed for school next week. We are also trying a new recipe for dinner tonight (ooohhh, Cameron the picky eater is thrilled!!!) and are making a project. It should be a lot of fun. Hopefully dinner will turn out well. I'll let you all know!

I really do hope that next year our little Sara Joy will be here to celebrate with us!

In Christ,

Charity

Friday, October 30, 2009

How can it be?

How can it be, that I am still waiting for our FBI criminal clearance? Since we submitted our fingerprints, we have completed two home study visits. Our immigration application was sent to USCIS, our homestudy was approved, it was then approved by SC DSS, it has made its way over to immigration to be married with our immigration application... and STILL NO CLEARANCE. I have called the office several times, and if I'm lucky enough to get a person on the line, I get several responses. My fingerprints were received on Sept 29th. Ok, great. It is now over a month later. Another time I called, they said they were received on Sept. 29th, and they were entered for processing on October 16th. Can someone tell me what the difference is between being received and being entered for processing? Neither date means that they are being processed, because someone kindly told me that they still have not been processed? This week, a lady told me that she was putting our information up the chain of command to get them done, because they were for an adoption. She said someone would contact me that same day or the following day. That was yesterday. When I called yesterday, they said they didn't know what I was talking about and no one called me because they probably didn't have the information to call me.... What information? My phone number???? Because it's all over the application and the personal letter I wrote them explaining the need to get these done quickly. MULTIPLE modes of contact were given to them. They then asked me if I indicated on my paperwork that it was for an adoption? Ummm.... YES!!! They asked me if I put a deadline on there? Ummm... YES!!! A lot of good that did me. My deadline was 2 weeks. It has been almost 5 weeks. She could only tell me that they were still not processed. BUT... I was welcome to call back and check on them at any time. FOR WHAT???? I don't want to call and check on them. I want them done! I want the whole world to know I am not a criminal and committed no heneous crime. Actually, I don't care if the whole world knows, I just care that I can prove it to my agency who can then prove it to Ethiopia. Then the question... do I have a child waiting? What difference does it make? I would have loved to have lied and told them yes if I thought it would get me my documents sooner, but that would be wrong and I would just encounter some other road block because I'm convinced God is in control of this. So, I did the right thing. I told them the truth. I said I do not have a child waiting at this time, but the child that is waiting for me, is dependent on this document. That truth probably added another two weeks to my wait time :) Oh well. Sometimes I wonder though - am I being impatient, or is this something that I should be pressing and pursuing? I was not rude to the lady.... I probably did sound impatient, but I feel like I'm being given the run around, and at some point I felt like I was lied to... the whole going through the chain of command and helping me get it done. Even that lady said that adoption applications should be handled quicker. But there seems to be no evidence that anything was done on our behalf. So, we continue to wait.


I have two outstanding documents... this and our immigration approval. Should we place a friendly wager on what will come first? My fingerprint appointment for immigration or the fingerprint clearance I sent in over a month ago? One would think the fingerprint clearance. My guess.... the fingerprint appointment for immigration. I truly hope I am wrong!

I guess I am done complaining though. I'm looking forward to this weekend. The kids and I are going to have a weekend of fun activities. Tim is leaving again for a week on Saturday, so we will be having fun on our own again, but still we will be having fun. Cameron has football again on Saturday. After that, in the evening we will head over to the White's for pizza and then trick or treating with the kids! It will be fun to do that with friends. Sunday the kids and I are making a neat project. My friend Charlene is going to come over and make some things with us as well! It should be fun. I'll post pictures when I am done. They are a neat pumpkin project.... late for this year's halloween decorations, but EARLY for next year!!! 364 days early to be exact :)

The kids and I are going to try some new recipes while Tim is gone. We are going to do some baking and who knows what other fun stuff we will do. If our recipes are good, we will try them out on Tim when he gets home :)

Watch for pictures of the kids in their halloween costumes! I really hope they have a good time!

In Christ,
Charity

Friday, October 23, 2009

USCIS

I'm hopeful that our USCIS (Immigration) fingerprint appointment will be coming soon! I checked on-line today and the check cleared that we had to send in with our application! Whoo-Hoo!!! Hopefully that will mean and invitation for fingerprinting soon! Strange though, that I just sent that out last week and there is already progress with it, however we still do not have our FBI criminal background clearance that was sent in, in September! How frustrating is that!

One small step forward. That is how I have to look at it.

I'm hoping that our fingerprint appointment does not come at a time when either Tim or I are out of town. Tim will be home tomorrow, but then has to leave again for a week next Saturday. Then he comes home and I leave the following week for a week. It'll all work out, I'm sure! God is in control of this and therefore it will all work out perfectly!

Just had to share my exciting news with regard to the Immigration process. I can't wait to get the I171-H. That will be a wonderful day!

We're getting closer and closer Sara!!!

In Christ,
Charity

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cameron's glasses

Cameron got his new glasses today. They look so good on him, and he looks so handsome in them! Here are some pictures of Cam in his new glasses!
Anna didn't get glasses, but she still wanted her picture taken... so here she is in her PJ's!
I remember the day I got glasses. I was so excited, it was like Christmas and Birthday all wrapped into one! I wanted glasses SO badly. Lucky for me, I get to spend the rest of my life wearing some form of corrective lenses! Cameron is right now telling me about just how clearly he can see everything now "I can see every dot of everything on the floor". Maybe he needs to put that to good use and vacuum :)
We are off for a somewhat restful night. It has been a long week and we are ready for Tim to come home!
In Christ,
Charity

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Crafty???

I don't consider myself very crafty or very creative. I have almost no creative bones in my body. My sister got all of those genes from my parents. She can draw, she can paint, she can "craft". I can do NONE of these things. I can paint a room, but that's about it. In terms of creativeness, I am EXTREMELY lacking. So, I posted the picture the other day of the letters I got for Sara's room and as I stated, when I bought them, they were white. Just plain white. They looked nice being white against her walls, but I think as I mentioned, I wanted to add a little something to them. Her bedspread has a section with polka dots on it. Her sheets are the same polka dots.

The other day I made the trip to H0me Dep0t to find paint to match the polka dots on the sheets. I came home with three colors - a light blue, a pink and an almost grape purple. I got the little sample containers of paint. They ROCK!!! Anyway, I bought a round paint brush and thought I could make nice little circles out of it.... as long as I practiced for a bit! Well, after trying with the brush, I knew it was not going to work. I had to find something round that I could use to make the circles. First I tried a pencil eraser. I dipped it in the paint and then tried it on a sheet of paper. Not only was it too small, the eraser kind of distorted the shape. So, I set the project aside and thought for awhile. Finally today I came up with a great idea. I used the head of a large nail! It worked PERFECTLY!!! It was almost the same size as the dots on the sheets. Now, that is my kind of crafty. I did two of the letters today. Here is a picture of one of them.... what do you think? I think it turned out perfectly and looks almost like the pillow case it is sitting on! I am so pleased with how it turned out! I'm hoping I can get them all done and have them back up on the wall before Tim comes home.
By the way, my sister just turned 40 two weeks ago. Last weekend she ran her first marathon ever. She ran the Detroit marathon and after running in it, qualified for the Boston Marathon. My sister ROCKS!!! I'm very proud of her for being able to do something as exhausting as that!!! I know I could never do it. Not only is she creative, she can run too! Congrats sis!
In Christ,
Charity

While Dad's away, the kids will play

The kids and I have been taking it easy a bit while Tim has been out of town. Normally we have so much on our plates, it is just go, go, go all day long. With Tim out of town, we remain closer to home and have more time just relaxing and playing around together. Normally Tim and I are working on projects, or have sports things to go to, are running around doing errands, things like that. I guess that is one benefit of not being able to drive, we spend much more time at home :)

On Sunday the kids and I carved pumpkins. Well, we carved one and we have two more to do. Actually, it was more like I carved and the kids watched for a bit and then went off to play while I finished. Neither one of them wanted to grab inside the pumpkin and pull out the gutts. I loved doing that when I was a kid... not so much now, but I loved it then! They wanted nothing to do with it. It was "too cold and felt too squishy". So, I ended up doing it. I forgot to get a picture of it though... I'll take one tonight and post it later.

That same day, I was getting the kids' uniforms pressed for school this week. The kids wanted to play around me, so they asked if they could build a fort in the bedroom. I said sure. This is what they came up with. It was a pretty nice fort. I think Pearl even managed to get in there once. Most of the time was spent with her just watching the kids though. They also had a "store" set up in our closet. They lived in the tent and worked at the store. I had to come to the store to buy "treats". The only things they sold were: popcorn, candy and pop. Thank goodness I like all of those things. Here are some pictures of the kids working the store and Cameron and Anna in their tent:

Cameron making sure the store inventory is correct

Anna peeking out of the tent: Cameron and the tent:
Pearl overseeing the activities (AKA "sleeping"
The whole tent:

The kids also decided that they wanted to "camp out" Sunday night. Normally I would not let them do that on a school night, but for some reason, I thought "Why Not"? I was planning on camping out in Cameron's room, as the heat is working upstairs and was not working on the main floor. The kids wanted to sleep in our room though, so understanding it might be a bit cooler, they decided this was the place they wanted to be. So, they camped out on Sunday night. Here are some pictures of the kids getting ready for bed:
Cameron all snuggled up:

Anna ready for a good night's sleep:
Pearl wishing she could be snuggled up with one of the kids, but instead sleeping on her mat. Doesn't she look pathetic?

Here's one final picture of the kids enjoying their tent. They really did have a fun time making it, and it kept them occupied while I was getting things ready for the week.

As much as we want Tim to come home, we are enjoying our time together.
As for the adoption, we are getting very, very close. We are still waiting on our FBI clearance and hopefully we will get that soon. All of our other dossier documents are complete. We are awaiting an invitation from USCIS to get fingerprinted for our Immigration approval, but hopefully that will happen soon as well. The good thing is, the immigration approval is not part of the actual dossier, so the dossier can be sent without it. We just can not get a referral until we receive it. I'm sure that will not be the time-limiting step anyway! So, that is where we are now. Hopefully we will get all of this behind us soon and advance to the "waiting" stage.
I am so ready to be in that stage!
In Christ,
Charity

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Family Fun

Our family has really grown to love the White family. Today we had another wonderful afternoon with Heather and Neil. They really are two wonderful friends to both Tim and I. I really do believe that God arranged for our families to meet at this very time for a very specific reason. Heather is a wonderful support and source of relief for me. She is easy to talk to, does not take herself too seriously and has an amazing attitude. She makes me laugh. We just have a really good time together. Neil and Tim I think were somehow separated at birth. They have a whole lot in common. It's actually fun for me to see the relationship that is forming between our families.

Today Cameron and their son Christopher had a football game (lovingly coached by Neil and Tim) and the kids won again. Currently they are undefeated! After the game they came over to our house for dinner. We had a great time. We just sat around chatting, eating and enjoying one another's company. It was nice. The great part is, the kids get along wonderfully! They have a great time together and all get along well. Anna is stuck right between their youngest son and daughter and Cameron and Christopher are really close in age, but truthfully, they all play together well. They seem to have a lot of fun together. I really enjoy our time with them... I'm not sure what we are going to do when football ends :(

Tim leaves for Basel tomorrow. I really do have a wonderful husband. Not only did he help me all morning this morning, getting the house ready for company to come over, but he is out tonight doing some last minute grocery shopping for me, to make sure I have everything I need for me and the kids for the week. He truly puts us before himself, and I love him very much for it. He always makes sure we are good. I have plenty of people here who would be willing to help us out in a pinch, but it is good to know that my husband does his best to make sure our needs are met while he is away.

Speaking of that... funny thing happened this weekend. We needed to turn on the heat (finally) the other night, and surprise of all surprises... no heat came out. Fortunately, it is not too cold here right now because the heating repair person could not make it here until Monday. Tim was not real pleased with that, but what can you do? I was worried how I would manage, trying to get here to meet the repair person and all that good stuff, but as always, when Tim can't meet our needs, God provides someone else willing to step up to the plate and help us out. Hopefully by Monday night we will have heat again!!! It's not really as bad as it sounds, we do have two heating units and the one for the upstairs is working perfectly fine, so none of us would ever freeze to death, it is just pretty uncomfortable to not have heat in the main part of your house. But again, hopefully it will be taken care of on Monday.

Gotta run - going to go spend some more family time with my family before my husband leaves us for a week.

In Christ,
Charity

Thursday, October 15, 2009

From High to Low

Life truly is a roller coaster. I mean seriously. There are times when I feel as though I am on top of the world and nothing could get better, and then the very next day, it all falls out from under me. It's not really all that bad, but it's not the high I was on yesterday and I am a bit nervous with what is to come.

Today Cameron and I both had eye appointments. There was good news and bad news in there. Bad news I guess for Cameron - he needs glasses. So, we picked those out for him today and he will get them in about a week. I'm not surprised he needed them, but glad we got it taken care of. The good news for his eye appointment is that he is showing NO signs of my eye condition. It is thought to be autosomal recessive in me, in which case Cameron is a carrier, but would exhibit no symptoms. (One good gene from his dad, one bad gene from me and you need two bad to have symptoms). I still worry a bit about it because they have not yet identified the gene that causes my form of RP, therefore they can not do conclusive genetic testing to determine exactly how I carry it, and therefore if Cameron will get it. At his age, while I was extremely near sighted, I exhibited no typical symptoms. The doctor said though, that he was not concerned with Cameron as there are no symptoms or retinal changes in his eyes. Good news! I will still have it diagnostically tested later, but will wait until he is a bit older.

As for me, it was not good at all. Six months ago I went and had my eyes examined as it was a year since I had my first cataract surgery. Six months ago I did not need another cataract surgery. Today I was scheduled for surgery in December. I'm not thrilled about it, but in the end I'm hoping it will have some positive impact on my sight. I knew it was coming as I am very in tune with my eyes and knew that there had been changes recently. Cataract surgery is not "risky" for most people. In fact, it is a very common surgery. I however, have a compromised retina, therefore I am at high risk for surgical complications. My right eye is my strong eye and contributes the majority of my visual field. I had my left eye done 18 months ago and was not real worried because it contributes so little to my overall sight. Today though, it was my right eye. I'm very nervous because even though the probability is small of something going wrong, is is slightly increased for me, and the consequences for me are HUGE. Please pray with me that things go well. The surgery will beon December 1st. I'll be a bit nervous between now and then and will be anxious to see after the surgery is complete. God is in control and has given me peace with the decision to move forward with the surgery. Whatever happens is within His will. I will pray for the best but live with whatever outcome.

On a more positive note, I did find out today that are fingerprints for FBI clearance were indeed received by the FBI on the 29th of September. I was told they would be processed in a "timely fashion". I think that has already passed :) No, not really, but I am a bit impatient. Tomorrow will be three weeks since I sent them. I know they got there sooner than the 29th... they probably were just not logged in until then. I'm just glad that I know that they are there and we don't have to get fingerprinted again. I was beginning to wonder.

If I could ask that you pray for me, for the surgery and for peace in the wait, I would really appreciate it.

In Christ,
Charity

Monday, October 12, 2009

More Good News....

Man, I am just full of good news today. First, we get to go on Wednesday to meet with our social worker and review our final homestudy draft! Then, as I was inquiring about something else, I asked our social worker about immigration approval. Come to find out, I don't have to wait for the final approval of the home study to submit the immigration application! This saves me (and my daughter!!!) some time! I was going to have to wait for it to be approved (signed) by the agency, and then sent to SC DSS for approval, and then it is forwarded to immigration. BUT, this way, I can do the immigration application and get a fingerprint appointment scheduled. In the meantime the home study can be getting approved locally. Also in the mean time I can get the FBI to figure out if Tim and I ever committed any henious crime and approve us!!! I'm a bit irked with them right now.

Speaking of fingerprints and criminal background checks... all that good stuff. I am all for making sure parents have a suitable background before handing them over a child. I mean, it is one thing to be able to biologically produce a child, the parents make that choice. But to voluntarily turn a child over to someone, you should be sure that they are not going to harm the child and can provide for them. I am ALL for that. But is there really any reason that I need to pay a TON of money for immigration approval (which will expire...why???) and even more needlessly, once I get fingerprinted ONCE, why do I need to do it again???? SEVERAL TIMES at SEVERAL DIFFERENT AGENCIES??? Can't they all just work together and agree somehow that 18 months from now my fingerprints will remain the same? I mean, unless I cut off my fingertips, or burn them with acid or something like that...they are going to be the same. And I have bigger issues if they happen to be different. I mean, I have a degree in science, but even if I didn't... I know that your fingerprints do not change. You can identify me with the ones that I had as a baby. Oh well.... it's all part of the fun (and expense!!!) of international adoption. And since I've done it at least 5 times now, and have only successfully adopted one child - I must have determined that it is VERY well worth it. With Anna I had to be re-printed once. We then had to be fingerprinted two times (once for Vietnam and then once again because our fingerprints expired while waiting to adopt from Kyrgyzstan). Neither of which led to a child. Now here we are at fingerprint session number 5. Hopefully this one will result in our daughter. That is not to mention all of the fingerprint appointments we have had locally... the police station knows us by name and we have no criminal record. I'm not even sure they check anymore because we have them write us letters so often :)

I am praying, praying, praying that things continue to move slowly. Tim and I really do deserve a break with regard to the adoption. I am so dying to meet my daughter!!! Maybe tomorrow I will tell the story of the emotional rollercoaster of today. For now though, I have kids that need their mom!!!

In Christ! (Keep praying for us in HIS name!!!)
Charity

Whoo-Hoo!!!

I contacted our home study / adoption agency today and our home study is written. Tim and I are heading up Wednesday morning to meet with the social worker one more time and go over the final home study!!! That will be so wonderful when that part is behind us! When our home study is done, we can submit our immigration application. We will then only be waiting on the immigration approval and our FBI criminal clearance for dossier completion!!!! I have this massive checklist - one for home study requirements and one for dossier requirements and when I get something completed, I highlight it in green. Both are nearly completely GREEN!!! How exciting is that???!!!???

Now if only the FBI would respond to my pleas BEGGING them for information!!!

I so enjoy clearing each one of the hurdles that brings me closer to my daughter.

In Christ,
Charity

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sara's room and football

Our family had quite the busy weekend this weekend. We had Cameron's football game Saturday morning - but before that, we tried to get a little shopping in. We made it to Kohl's and Target looking for a bedspread for Sara's room. We were having a very difficult time, seeing as how I decided to paint the room prior to finding a bedspread for it. Again, if anyone would like some room decorating advice, NEVER - I repeat NEVER paint a room prior to finding a bedspread that matches it. I don't care how much you love the paint :) What a chore that was! Not only that, but I had it in my mind that I wanted a bedspread with dragonflies on it. When I told Tim that, I think he doubled over in laughter. We would be lucky to find something that matched the walls period - not to mention narrowing our selection even further because I wanted DRAGONFLIES on it. Needless to say, the dragonflies did not happen! But we did find a nice bedspread for Sara's room. I also wanted to put her name up over her bed. We found these letters and I thought they were just perfect for a little girl's room. Sara's bedspread has polka dots on it, on one part, in various colors, and I'm contemplating putting polka dots on the letters. I may just do one, see how it looks, and if I don't like it, then I will just replace that one letter. I think it might be cute though. I've still got LOTS more room decorating to do, but here is our start of the room. We are picking up a lamp tonight, and a mirror for above the short dresser (which is not in any of these pictures). In the end it will turn out very nice. I'm not decided as of yet what I'm going to do about curtains. It will take me some time to decide on a color, or to go with just white.Cameron had a flag football game on Saturday, so we were all out at that. They don't really keep score during flag football (although Tim and Neil who are helping coach report a score each week and have declared the team undefeated). Cameron's team won again this week. Cameron is really developing some good football skills from playing both regular tackle for "B" team at school and playing flag football as well. Plus, it is a lot of good exercise. I didn't get any really good pictures of the game, but here is a great picture of Pearl watching the game. She looks thrilled, doesn't she?
Tim leaves for Basel this weekend, so we will be spending some time this week getting ready for him to leave. He is there for a week, home for a week, back to Basel for a week, home for a week and then I leave for Basel for a week. Fun travels at the Roach household! Tim doesn't mind the travel.....personally, I could do without it!

This weekend we are having Neil and Heather over after the kids' football game. It should be a lot of fun. We always have a good time with them!

I contacted our social worker today to see where we are with our home study. I'm getting very anxious with the holidays coming up, and the delays that will cause - I'd really like to get everything done soon! I know we will have to wait on immigration approval, but I'd just like one more thing to check off of our list to get done! Hopefully I will hear some positive news back from her today! Please keep us in your prayers as we try our way through this process again!

In Christ,
Charity