Thursday, April 30, 2015

two forward, one back

We are still waiting with bated breath for the good rumors we keep hearing from DRC to come to fruition. We are well into the third week of hearing amazing, life-changing rumors that would change the adoption crisis for the better, but so far we have heard nothing official from DRC.

I don't use the term "crisis" flippantly here. The constant checking of my phone for emails and alerts has reached an all-time high, and when I turn in for the night I am usually at some sort of new low as a result of silence out of DRC. It is a constant struggle to remind myself that God is completely in control and, as my dad reminded me, when He says the Word, our girl will come home.

Meanwhile, we have made slight progress and experienced slight setbacks on the paperwork side of things. Our Letter of Invitation is done, which means we can soon apply for a visa for Brad to travel over and file our I-600 paperwork. Also, my now-good friend, Layne, at USCIS tells me that our I-600A extension has now been approved after our submission of a new home study in response to an RFE (Request for Evidence).

This means that if our stinking adoption paperwork from DRC didn't have errors in it, Brad could be traveling over to file paperwork and hold our little girl VERY SOON. BUT, alas, we are still waiting for an error to be corrected on her birth certificate, which will then have to be translated again. (It had the wrong date, for goodness' sake.) And today, while looking at the 14-page I-600 form I have to fill out, I noticed that her adoption judgment has three different dates of birth listed for her, all in different places throughout the judgment. So, I'm guessing correcting that will put us back at least another month in the wait. So frustrating that I can't just take care of the errors on my own and not wait for other people. But such is life, I guess.

And that's where we stand. (Meanwhile, I have a slight dress obsession now that I know two little girls are coming my way soon. We are going to need more closet space.)


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

surprise

We got some news on Monday, but it wasn't news from DRC regarding our adoption.

It involved this:





That's right, kids. Not only do we have a daughter in DRC, but we also have a daughter in my belly.

Surprise. (For real.)

She'd better keep her head on a swivel when she makes her appearance in late August. (Or in late July at the earliest--we hope--depending on how this pregnancy goes. Brecken set the precedent with a rather dramatic and early entrance!)

She is kicking away as I type this, and I'm racking my brain with ideas about how life will look with four kids, ages four-and-under, and WHEN both of our girls will get here, and WHERE we are going to put all of these tiny people (only two total bedrooms upstairs, people).

And then the thought (often) crosses my mind that we will probably get the call that says, "Come get your daughter from DRC and bring her home!" and Brad will leave the USA and I'll go into labor within the hour. Because that's how we Lotz's welcome kids into our family...with as much craziness as possible, it seems.

But don't worry about us if it gets crazy this summer and our family is spread across the nations collecting our children to bring them home all at the same time. We are ready to have them all together (and we would welcome any news that suggests Clementine will join us SOONER rather than later).

A little craziness never stopped us before.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

dream a little dream

I held her last night, in my dream.

One of our agency workers was holding her, trying to calm her down because she was just SO SAD.

She cried and cried and cried.

I heard her crying.

I went around the corner to see if I could help, not knowing if she would want me as Mommy or not. (She hasn't even met me, after all.)

She reached out.

I took her from the worker's arms. I cuddled her, I snuggled her and spoke to her. And she stopped crying.

I carried her all over our home to show her our pictures and rooms and toys.

She was as content as Brad is after Christmas pie.

And so was I.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting

We were supposed to hear something Tuesday of this past week, Wednesday at the latest. We expected good adoption news, possibly even great news. I reinstalled Facebook on my phone and proceeded to check it exponentially more than usual to make sure I didn't miss an announcement.

No announcement came. There were rumors of an announcement. There were PLENTY of rumors, actually. They were rumors that kept me checking my phone, email, Twitter, and Facebook. (You don't know "crazy" until you meet an adoptive mom who is awaiting some elusive announcement or information about her daughter. It was like chasing a hundred-dollar bill attached to a string being pulled by DR officials. I would take a step forward for a closer look, my hand would be ready for action, then--boom--the bill would be pulled farther away, out of my grasp.

Rumors went something like this: "There will be an important meeting today to discuss the Exit Letter Suspension." "The meeting might not happen." "The meeting happened and it was good but we have no further information." "Information will be released soon." "My friend has read a letter that was drafted after the meeting containing undoubtedly good news." "There will be an announcement in one hour." "There will be an announcement at the end of the DRC Congressional session tonight."

Until finally, "maybe there will be an announcement Monday."

And then the entire group of adoptive parents who were hearing the rumors vowed to eat terribly all weekend as a coping mechanism. I may or may not have just filled up on a chocolate strawberry-banana-topped sundae. With fudge on top.

So we wait--again--for an announcement, or at least another round of rumors to keep the hope alive.

And while we're at it, we might as well wait for Clementine's birth certificate to be changed, since it was written wrong originally. Just one more thing to wait for in this adventure.

And while we wait for that, we might as well wait to see if we get a Letter of Invitation to enter DRC (to file documents and/or to bring our girl home, if all goes well). Based on information from our agency, hopes are high that kids will come home SOON.

But for now, we hope that tomorrow will be the end of the waiting on many fronts, and we know with certainty that we will have at least one question answered, but that's a question I can't even share with you yet.

Monday, April 13, 2015

more questions than answers

I was fulfilling nursery worker duties yesterday during our church service, but I heard Brody made it into the sermon because of his propensity to ask "why" at least a thousand times during dinner.

The kid does know how to exasperate the question-answer game. One time in the car, I was so tired of playing answer-girl, I told him I just couldn't answer any more "why" questions at the moment. He responded with, "What's a why question?" And thus continued the eternal questioning.

I can't blame him for being curious or wanting to understand everything around him better. I have my moments of questions, too. Mostly, I ask those questions of God. "Why is this adoption taking so long?" "Why do you allow the innocent to suffer in sickness or death?" "Why are some people so blessed with access to clean water and medicine while others have no way of even helping themselves?"

I have no answers for those questions except what the Word has revealed to me, mostly through difficult situations. God is always good, He loves us, and He makes all things beautiful in his time.

Right now there are plenty of questions floating under the surface for our family. They aren't particularly hard or thought-provoking questions; most of them revolve around timing and our own curiosity. We continue to hear GREAT things (although still word-of-mouth news rather than official announcements), which we hope means that adopted DRC children will be joining their families in homes very soon. This great DRC progress has come alongside the great adoption progress on a personal level, as we are officially Clementine's family.

So, we have some great news about Clementine, and we have some potentially great DRC adoption news that we hope to hear very soon, and it leaves us wondering WHEN and HOW all of this will take place.

When will we be able to file our I-600 (still waiting on I-600a extension and a birth certificate correction)? I am hoping to file sometime in early May, but that may be optimistic. How will we file it? (We had planned to travel to DRC to file, but that may change based on new info regarding I-600 processing priorities.) Will we both travel to DRC to get her? How will she react to us? Where will she sleep? Will she do better with the boys in their room? What will the boys think of her? We pray for her every night, and we talk about her and see pictures of her often, but I'm not sure that they understand "sissy" will be in our home and part of our daily lives soon.

On top of adoption stuff, we have another large and exciting iron in the fire at the moment, which leaves us wondering if all exciting things will be happening at the same time. (They probably will, as they seem to do with our family!)

I have sorted through many different scenarios regarding the timing of these big events, trying to make some sort of plan that will accommodate several different scenarios. I don't have to know the answers to all of my questions, but it sure would be nice to have some sort of clue about how it all might go down or what to expect. (That's me...I like to know so I can plan.)

We will for sure know more next week. We hope to know more tomorrow, and that seems to be a continuing theme in this, one of the last legs of our adoption journey.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

full of miracles

Last week, I shared my prayer for a repeat of an Easter miracle we experienced exactly four years ago.

I think it's safe to say that God heard it. I know God always hears our prayers, but He answered so clearly this weekend that His involvement cannot be denied.

I have been reading through David's prayers lately..."Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you--you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you I cry all the day." (Ps. 86:1-3)

"Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been a shelter to me, and a strong tower from the enemy." (Ps. 61:1-3)

David's prayers fill up the Psalms, and many of them are begging God to hear him. I have no doubt God heard every one of them, but it wasn't always clear to David that God was near. My prayers have felt a lot like his, although I have to say that I am no Brave David.

My prayers, though, were very similar to his in some ways. "Hear me, God." "Hear us, O Lord, as we cry out to you. I know I am crying out in the company of hundreds of other adoptive parents who long to have their families together in the same house, at HOME. Lord, please hear our petitions."

And Thursday, we got an even greater glimmer of hope. Friday carried in with it full spectrum of hope, and although we still have no concrete news to share regarding DRC adoptions, hope has replaced what had become an ache in our hearts.

I emailed our agency rep to check on some things Friday. We knew the corrections from our court documents were finished last Wednesday, and I wanted to know how quickly our translations (from French to English) would be completed. When our translations are complete, the next step is to file our I-600) Our agency rep said translations often take one to two weeks to get done, depending on the internet connections and the power situation in DRC.

I tried to be patient, knowing that--again--this was out of my hands. Two weeks seemed like a long time to wait, particularly when I knew that things were seeming to stir in DRC.

But Easter morning, I checked my email out of habit before I eve got out of bed. "Your translations are done." Translations took only four days.

We are almost ready for the next step, and the timing is becoming critical, almost comical. (We still have to wait on an approval of extension of our I-600a, which literally would have JUST expired if not for an extension.  You'd better believe I have already emailed the USCIS to check on the status. Once it's extended we can file our I-600.)

Not only can we smile and revel in the miracles of Easter and all that it means for us as Christ-followers, but we can also revel in the fact that we are now several steps closer to having our Sweet Clementine home with us. Miracle upon miracle.

I have prayed for God to get the adopted children home to their parents faster than we can ever imagine, and I hope these are the first indicators that it's going to happen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Good Wednesday

We received a few tidbits of good news today related to the DRC adoption situation, which reminded me of the great adoption news (miracle? maybe.) we received on Good Friday four years ago

First of all, yesterday we learned that President Obama discussed the adoption situation with President Kabila (President of DRC). From what I gather, Obama is seen as a hero of sorts in DRC, and the fact that he has used his power to address the situation personally with President Kabila may be extremely impactful. (An official readout from the call is here.)

A Congressional conference call yesterday also indicated that Michele Bond (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Bureau of Consular Affairs) found sympathetic ears regarding the adoption crisis during her recent trip to DRC. The leaders she met with agreed that the children should be with their adoptive parents, and she said that she is hopeful that there will be good news coming soon. 

Secondly, today our agency stated that they were hearing rumors out of DRC that a letter to lift the Exit Letter Suspension (set in place in September 2013) is on the desk of a very powerful person in DRC. The rumors suggested that there plans for getting children home in a specific order (grandfathered cases, then cases through court before the suspension, etc.). The fact that there seems to be a set plan for getting children home in a somewhat defined order is even more encouraging than the fact that someone is thinking of lifting the suspension, because it's something we've never heard before. I am now praying for that specific person on whose desk the letter (supposedly) sits by name, and I remain hopeful that he will sign the letter and set the wheels in motion to get kids home to their families. 

Lastly, our DRC court documents have been corrected!! They are now being translated, and while we wait for that, we need to decide whether or not to file our I-600 in DRC or just mail it in from the States. We have heard that filing in DRC takes less time, but it takes 2-3 months to get all of the approvals we would need to travel to DRC and file there. Therefore, it's possible that amount of time in planning a trip could negate the time saved when waiting on I-600 approval. (And traveling to DRC twice, once to file and once to get Clementine, would obviously cost more money.)

That's what we know. Please pray that this Suspension is over VERY SOON.