It was a quiet afternoon, which in this household is really quite something. With six children on the loose quiet afternoons don't typically happen. However, with Phillip volunteering to take the boys for haircuts, the girls napping, and Justus (the baby) snoozing in his bouncy - I did what any modern Mom does ~ get on the internet and veg out. Some may say it was an accident. Others will protest that it was a fluke. I, know otherwise. I know that I "accidentally" hit a link that would change our lives forever ... and that was all in His plan. I landed smack dab in the middle of a page full of beautiful faces. How I got there, I know not. I just know that when my husband and boys walked in - they saw me weeping in front of my computer screen. Soon they were weeping too. It was Reeces Rainbow's website. I was astounded that these children (most with Down syndrome, but all with special needs) were often given up at birth. If that wasn't bad enough, they were destined to a life in an orphanage, with no mama's arms of comfort or Daddy's tickling fests. No ... these children had the promise of being ripped from the environment of an orphanage - only to be transferred to a mental institution by the ages of four or five. Once there, eighty percent of those children die within the first year of being in what many of the locals call - insane asylums. Sickening. I looked down at my son, Justus - who was snuggled up in his warm blankets, making his chubby cheeks glow with a pink hue - and my stomach sank to my toes. You see, Justus also has Down syndrome. Here, in the states, he is promised a future full of thriving. In other countries, however; he would be an outcast - not worth any investment. So ... what would you do if faced with all of this? Seem to big a problem to even begin to help fix? Yes, I admit - it does feel daunting. However, my husband and I both went to bed that night very much burdened and prayerful. Could God be pricking our hearts to adopt ... internationally? Wow ... really? Well, if that was the case, then He needed to make a few things clear. Over the next several weeks we were in contact with the director of Reeces Rainbow and a social worker, just to see if this was even worth looking into. We prayed ... and prayed. God answered ... in mighty ways. We started selling things like crazy to come up with the cost for our homestudy. A few weeks later, we felt comfortable enough to make the big leap of faith ... to commit to Ivanna and Matthew. This is the blog dedicated to bringing them home. We have to work quickly due to their ages. They are very close to being transferred to the institution. We do not want that to happen. You can help us by praying. Please pass the word - feel free to put a link to this blog on your facebook, etc. Get the word out. We thank you in advance! Thank you Jesus for directing our steps and guiding us to Matthew and Ivanna. Thank you for allowing us to be apart of what James 1:27 illustrates as pure religion.
April - Phillip and Charrissa "accidentally" stumble across Reeces Rainbow website and are impacted
April - Praying God would supply provision - very next few days started to see tangible answers to that prayer
May 7 - Called and scheduled Homestudy for May 26
May 13 - Started adoption blog (hopeful) and wrote poem, "An Extra Leaf"
May 17 - Scheduled physicals and lab draws (May 31; June 5)
~ also ordered Birth certificates for Phillip and Charrissa
May 20 - Birth Certificates Arrive! Wow! ~ ~ ~ We also send Andrea @ RR an email stating our commitment to Ivanna and Matthew ~ ~ ~
May 22 - Notarized RR Disclosure and fax to RR
May 23 - Started filling out Homestudy paperwork - A LOT
May 24 - Sent off two checks to RR. One for committing and another for a love offering for the running of the ministry
May 26 - Met with social worker for first of two meetings and the beginning of our homestudy. Looks like we may be approved for three children!
June 4 - Lu finishes designing blog - Beautiful!!!
June 5 - Notarized CSP and four out of five POA's.
June 7 - Mailed CSP and POA's for apostilling. Ordered 3 Marriage Certificates.
June 10 - Received marriage certificates ... that was FAST!
June 11 - Passport Application and lab draws
~ also find out that there is NOT a notary at dr. office - so we reschedule to June 21 with a different dr. for medicals
June 14 - Completed 1.5 hours of 12 hours of online coursework for homestudy requirements. Also mailed CSP and four POA's to Eastern Europe!!!!
June 17 - Completed an add'l 4.5 hours of online courses
June 21 - Completed medical exam required for both the Dossier process and Homestudy process!
June 21 - Finished 2 add'l hours of online courses. FOUR more hours left...
June 23 - Finished LAST four hours of online courses!!! YAY!
June 28 - Scheduled LAST HS visit for July 9th.
July 3 - Charrissa receives passport!
July 7 - Phillip receives his passport!
July 9 - Homestudy is complete. Now just waiting for draft.
August 13 - Received final, notarized copy of Home study.
August 14 - Sent home study along with I-600A application to USCIS - a big whopping $830 check also went along for the ride. WOOOHOOO! Praying for FAST approval
August 18 ~ received 13 apostilled documents and will put those away for dossier.
August 18 ~ only have FIVE more documents to finish for dossier requirements!
August 19th ~ received email and text confirmation from USCIS that our I-600A was received via lockbox. praying for that approval!
August 20th ~ Receive I-797C receipt (I-600a application receipt, same as text/email)
August 26th ~ Receive Biometrics Appointment (fingerprinting) for September 21st. Sent email, hoping for expedite.
~~~~Also, we only have 3 more documents to finish for dossier (including our pending I-171H from USCIS)
August 30th ~ FINGERPRINTING IS DONE! Called USCIS to let them know. They said to call back in a week, as a case worker has not yet been assigned. Hmmm... I'll give 'em till Friday! ;)
September 2nd ~ Received letter from Senator Patty Murray explaining that she is more than happy to help look into our I-600A application process
September 3rd ~ Awoke to an email from our immigration officer ~~ WE ARE APPROVED! OUR I-600A IS APPROVED!Now we just await the I-171H in the mail. We now are FINISHED WITH THE DOSSIER! We will notarize two documents tomorrow and set out to apostille the dossier next week, with a goal to send it out late next week out of COUNTRY! YAY! PRAISE THE LORD!
September 5th ~ We decide to add a third child to our adoption. A "blind referral" in the same orphanage. A new CSP and Petition to Adopt is being prepared for notarization and apostille to send with Dossier.
September 10th ~ Received I-171H in the mail!!!! Now we notarize, apostille and prepare to mail the dossier to E.E.
September 13th ~ Finished notarizing and apostilling Dossier! ******DOSSIER IS DONE AND READY TO MAIL****
September 16th ~ DOSSIER EN ROUTE TO E.E.
September 20th ~ Dossier is delivered to E.E.
September 30th ~ Dossier is submitted to SDA for approval, and now we are awaiting a travel date....
October 19th ~ We received our travel date: October 28th!!!
October 26th ~ Left for E.E.
October 28th ~ Given two referrals - one for Matthew and one for Ivanna
November 1st ~ travel two hours to region, and met Matthew and Ivanna and said YES to adopting them. Started the paperwork for court. Court is scheduled already for November 11th because our Interpol is ALREADY CLEARED! WHOOOHOOOOOO!
November 10th ~ Courtdate ~ we are approved by the courts to adopt Matthew and Ivanna; Introducing Matthew Maxim Browning and Ivanna Marie Browning. Now we wait ten days for the court decree per law.
November 20th ~ Ten days is technically over, but must wait till next business day (Tuesday) to do any paperwork
November 23rd ~ Got new birth certificates for both children and applied for new passports. Now we wait four days (business) to get new passports and take them out of orphanage FOREVER! Getting soooo close....
November 29th ~ Gotcha Day! The day they are out of that orphanage foever!
November 30th ~ First embassy appointment for visas. Both children are given physicals by a doctor.
December 1st ~ Interview by embassy. Visas granted!
December 2nd ~ Matthew and Ivanna are HOME in the USA!