Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our Voyage So Far

As we begin a new year it seems appropriate to reflect on our adoption voyage so far. It all really started back in 2010, when we decided our family would not be built through biological children, but through children already in the world who needed a family. We were new to the world of adoption so we began researching our different options: domestic infant adoption, foster care adoption, and international adoption. It did not take us long to decide that international adoption was the best fit for us and where we could do the most good. After researching all of the different adoption programs, we settled on Russia because it was a well- developed, stable program (at the time), where we would be able to bring home a 2- year- old boy after just a one year process. We knew we would not be able to adopt until we paid off a couple loans so for two years we waited and read about the Russian adoption process.

By the time we were financially able to adopt in 2012, we came to the conclusion that Russia would not be a possibility for us due to their insanely expensive adoption fees and multiple required trips. This was a little sad and stressful for us, but it turned out to be a good thing because Russia closed their doors to adoption shortly later. We quickly decided to adopt from Africa because, honestly, it is the cheapest place to adopt from. Even though Congo was a pretty new program, we chose it because it would allow us to bring home a young child in a year and it required only one trip there. Also, we thought if we are going to adopt from Africa, we might as well adopt from the poorest nation in the world. In the spring of 2012 we sent out our applications to our home study and international adoption agencies. Our agonizingly slow home study was the only thing we got accomplished that year.

2013 was a year of short bursts of excitement and progress surrounded by long stretches of discouraging delays, with some fundraising and large adoption fees sprinkled in. In February we accepted Roland's referral and in April our adoption was approved in the Congo court {He was officially considered our son}. In May we received some information that allowed us to hope we would be able to bring Roland home that summer. It was just a slim chance, but I really thought things would work out for us. The situation did not turn out how we hoped. After that crushing disappointment, a lot of my optimism in the process faded away. However, time went by and gradually progress was made. In November, Roland was issued his immigrant visa, the very last step before bringing him home. Unfortunately, this happened during the exit permit suspension so about 75% of our joy and excitement about his visa was sucked away. In the year of 2013 we were able to complete the entire international portion of the adoption. Even though we completed every step, jumped through every hoop, paid every fee, proved ourselves to be fit parents time and again, we are still not allowed to bring our son home. It is a pretty big let down after a long year of praying, paperwork, and waiting.

I started this blog exactly one year ago. As I wrote my first post, I remember feeling disappointed in the lack of progress up until then, but excited to start the new year. To be honest, I am not looking forward to 2014.  It sickens me to think that the adoption is extending into anther year and I predict it will be a year filled with not- overly- hopeful waiting. There will be no paperwork to fill out until Roland's visa expires in May. The exit permit suspension is expected to last until September and there is no certainty as to when children will actually be allowed to leave after that.  There will be absolutely nothing to do except wait and hope that Congo will eventually allow it's adopted children to come home. We're praying 2014 will finally be the year a child will be brought into our lives and Roland will finally have a family.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Christmas Getaway

Instead of brooding at home over celebrating another childless Christmas, Matt and I decided to take a mini trip and make the most of our time alone together. It was nice to get out of town and see and do some new things. Even though we were quite busy the entire time, Roland was always at the front of our minds. During almost every activity, we talked about what it would be like if he was there. That little boy is so much a part of our family and we haven't even met him yet.

On Christmas day we drove up to Spokane with Yukon (we boarded Copper because we did not think he would be warm enough sitting in the car while we were out doing things). We were suspicious of the roads, but we arrived uneventfully. That evening we got dressed up for our fancy Christmas dinner at the Davenport Hotel.

 On Thursday we drove over to the Coeur d'Alene Resort for lunch and an eagle watching lake cruise. Every year hundreds of bald eagles migrate to Lake Coeur d'Alene during the week of Christmas because of high concentrations of fish.

The Coeur D'Alene Resort

The view from our table at lunch- not too shabby.

We then bundled up and headed out on our cruise. The weather was nice (high close to 40 degrees), but it felt pretty chilly out on the lake.

The on- board biologist said we saw around 175 bald eagles. I don't know if I personally saw that many, but I saw a lot. In the pictures, look for their distinctive white heads. I was surprised to see how  many eagles would share one tree.

The lake was surrounded by a wide variety of houses, from sinking shacks to beautiful mansions.

This is a mansion from my perspective, anyway.
Cruising back to the resort

By the time we got back from the cruise we knew the daylight was dwindling so we hurried across the world's longest floating boardwalk (which can be seen from our lunch view photo).

On our way back to Spokane we stopped at the Post Falls Park to let Yukon stretch his legs.

When we got back to the car the first glow of sunset began. 

As we drove back to Spokane, we enjoyed one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.

Our little Christmas trip also served to celebrate our 8th anniversary (we are just so efficient) so on Thursday evening after dinner we stuck to tradition and watched The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit have become our anniversary movies as they always come out at the same time.  (Our wedding was Dec.30 and now we are forever stuck celebrating it right between Christmas and New Years, as if there already is not enough celebrating going on.) We're hoping we will be in need of a babysitter for our 9th anniversary while watch the grand finale of The Hobbit.

Before driving home on Friday we stopped by Spokane's Riverfront Park and took the Skyride over Spokane Falls. It was a fun little ride that I look forward to taking Roland on when he's older. Sorry the pictures are not great- the windows were icy and smudgy.

And that pretty much sums up our short, busy trip. It was good for us to get out of the house and "do" Christmas different this year. It was fun, but we are definitely hoping next Christmas will look vastly different. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Bleak Year

A couple of days ago officials from the Congolese government met with various embassies about the exit permit suspension. They now estimate the suspension will last a year (before they stated it would last "up to a year"). The suspension began last September so it is expected to last until Sept. 2014. My hopes of travelling next spring are pretty much squashed. There is also a real possibility that Roland will not even be home in time for Christmas 2014. They warned us that they do not have any timeframe for when they will begin issuing exit permits again after the suspension ends. That is a bit unsettling. I also find it hard to believe that they will just start issuing exit permits again after stalling adoptions for another 9 months. Once the ball stops moving for that long, it seems unlikely that the Congo government will do the work to start it again. I am nervous that this temporary exit permit suspension will turn into a permanent ban on international adoption in Congo. It looks like 2014 will be a difficult year of waiting for a child who I am not entirely convinced will ever come home.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A quick update before Christmas

I realized I haven't posted anything in a month so I figured I should write something. It turns out there is very little to say when your adoption is entirely complete, but you are still not allowed to bring your child home. Our one little bit of news is that our adoption agency is working together with the other adoption agencies to try to decipher and accommodate the wishes of DGM (who is responsible for issuing exit permits). There are things in the works, but I probably should not post about the details as it involves international issues. Please pray with us that these efforts will result in something positive in the new year. Today I made an appointment to get our Hepatitis A booster shots. When we got our first shots back in May, we were sure we would be travelling well before we would ever need the booster shots. I guess optimism doesn't get you very far in the world of adoption.

This will probably be my last post before Christmas so I wish you all a very merry one. If you are among the fortunate people who has their children with them, hug them tight and never forget what a precious gift they are and remember what a true blessing it is to have your family safe and sound together for the holidays. If you are like us and will be celebrating Christmas with your child on the other side of the world, I pray God fills your heart with peace and patience and hope.