Thank you, friends, for your comments and emails and calls! Thank you for your many, many prayers! Thank you for being glad and praising God with us! You have helped us bear the weight of our last several months, and now you are helping to multiply our joy! You are a gift of God, and we are so tremendously blessed by each one of you!
Note: If you still have more questions after reading this update, please feel free to ask them, and I will do my best to answer!
Q: What happens now that you have your approval?
A: What happens now is a sense of overwhelming privilege as it all slowly sinks in. The grace and the goodness of God to us…! That He would have chosen us for this child, and this child for us…! All that He has done to bring it about…!
What happens now is that some of us randomly get big goofy grins on our faces, sometimes accompanied by head-shaking and laughing and “I can’t believe we really get to adopt her!”
What happens now is that no matter what we do to celebrate, it doesn’t seem like enough! We were already determinedly re-connecting as a family after a long season of strain. (More about that in a future post.) Believe me, excitement is running high at this house!
What happens now is that I watch our videos of Katerina at least once a day! I couldn’t bring myself to watch them at all during the whole time we were praying and hoping for approval. It was just too painful to look when I knew God might say “no.” We have four brief, precious videos, taken in March by missionary Sasha Bliss. Oh! Our baby Katie-bird is more beautiful than we had remembered!
What happens now is we-can-not-wait-to-get-our-hands-on-our-beautiful-child!!!
Okay, okay, I know that’s not really what you were asking!
Our officer, M—— D—–, had notified us by phone that she had approved our application [and congratulations, she was happy for us, and peace be with us!], so we have not received the actual document yet. We had enclosed a prepaid, self-addressed FedEx envelope with our application, but the online tracking shows that it hasn’t moved, so we’re not sure whether she’s using it or not.
Once we have that actual golden ticket in hand, we’ll need to have it notarized and apostilled, along with a few other stray documents. We’ll plan to meet up with Stephanie Carpenter, whose job it is to FedEx it to Toni, our adoption attorney in Bulgaria. At that time, some fees will come due, which the Lord has already provided for! Through so many of you!
The rest of our dossier was sent to Toni earlier so that she could get a head start on translating it for the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. The biggest chunk of translation work for a dossier is the home study, and she’s had ours since it was finished several months ago, so that she could have it translated ahead of time as well. From the time she receives the rest of our dossier, it shouldn’t take long for Toni to have it all ready for the MOJ.
Q: When do you go to Bulgaria?
A: From the time that the MOJ receives our translated dossier from Toni, our understanding is that it should be about two weeks until we have a travel date for our first trip. We are now praying that our dossier would be completely processed in Bulgaria before the middle of next month, because we understand that the Bulgarian government takes a summer recess during the last two weeks of July.
Either Toni or one of her helpers accompanies each adoptive family during their time in Bulgaria, interpreting for them, and acting as their guide throughout their entire stay. So our travel dates will partly depend on the availability of a Bulgarian facilitator, and partly depend on the availability of our dear friends who have offered to take our other children while we are away. Is it any wonder our children are eagerly looking forward to this?
The first trip is about a week long, and is for the purpose of meeting Katerina, aka “establishing contact.” Then we have to come back home and wait for the Bulgarian court process to finalize the adoption (which can take three to five months, but we will be praying for shorter). The second trip is also about a week long, and is for the purpose of obtaining her visa and bringing her home.
Q: What will Verity do while you are gone? Will you take her with you?
A: Verity will nestle safely within the circle of her big brothers and sisters as they stay at the home of our good friends. I’m fairly sure that their three oldest daughters might want to help take care of her, too. <grin>
I have continued to pump for her as well as for a friend’s baby, who is a little older than Verity. These friends know that some of the extra milk will be needed to feed Verity while we are away.
Q: Is it hard for you to wait?
A: This question has more than one answer.
To help put our wait into perspective, if we lived in Alabama and had used Lifeline to do our home study? We wouldn’t be finished just that part of the process until now! This weekend marks five months since we began the adoption process. We are so grateful to the Lord for moving this adoption as quickly as He has.
Now that we have our USCIS approval, the kind of waiting that lies ahead is different from the kind of waiting that we’ve already done. From now on, we aren’t aware of any major barriers. That doesn’t mean no obstacles can arise! But as far as we know, the rest of the process should mostly be a matter of waiting for governmental wheels to turn.
Yes, the waiting has been excruciatingly hard at times, but it is a good hardness like studying and practicing for a test is good hardness. It is testing, and it is also preparing us to pass the next round of testing, whatever and whenever that may be. Will we school ourselves to have patience, and more patience, and more patience? Will we persist in obeying Him when we are worn out? Will we have confidence in the perfect timing of God?
Q: Do you have any more plans for helping Katerina’s orphanage?
A: Hopes and prayers galore, but no plans yet! We just know that we cannot keep asking Sasha Bliss to travel there for us. It cost her about fifty dollars for bus tickets, and one whole day away from her young family. At this point, when we are actually there visiting, we hope to gather more information about what ways we can best help the children become available for adoption, as well as help to provide more grannies and therapy for the children.
In addition to small gifts for all the orphanage staff who have cared for our girl, we will definitely be giving another donation of money to the orphanage. This is not expected, but it is greatly appreciated and needed. It is typically given during the second trip, after the adoption is finalized. This is to avoid any hint of bribery, as it will come directly from us as the adoptive family.
Q: Whatever happened to the online auction fundraising idea?
A: We do not know the answer to that question. But if we ever learn it, we will surely pass it on to you!