Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where we've been so far

We wanted to catch some of you up with how things have started in this adoption process, and some of the very clear signs that this is what God wants us to do. I know that for those of us in the process (and probably for those of you who have already completed the process), this whole “Russia adoption” thing is just unexplainably frightening because we have absolutely no control over it. Russia changes its requirements almost daily it seems (ok, I’m exaggerating, but it feels that way), new paperwork needs to be submitted, hoops need to be jumped through, and everyone’s experience is somewhat different. On top of that, you’re ½ way around the world from your child, the language is craaazee, the culture is different, and then there’s this whole history that we have of Cold War conflict. All of this adds up to an experience that is difficult in any country, but seemingly more of a struggle because it is Russia.

So why did we decide we wanted to put ourselves through this? Good question. Steve and I have felt a calling to add more children to our family for a very long time. Once I finished my graduate work in 2000, we got more serious about the situation. After a couple of years with no results, we consulted a fertility specialist. After a whole bunch of tests, he basically told us that there were no real physical problems, we were just biologically old and the odds weren’t as good as they could be at this point. At this point, we had a choice between investing a huge amount of money into in-vitro procedures or adoption. We decided, after much soul searching, to pursue adoption. Since I have felt a really strong tie to Russia since taking beginning Russian language as a freshman in college (this is a whole different story that I’ll share later), and since I had been on a couple of mission trips where I had worked with kids who had aged out of the orphanage system and had felt a very strong connection to them, along with having good friends in our church who had adopted a little boy from Russia, we decided that we would pursue a Russia adoption. That was in late November 2005.

We began the process toward adoption in early 2006, began to assemble our paperwork, and then found out that Steve was being moved because of his job. Our agency told us that it would be best for us to start over once we were settled in our new home. We moved in June 2006, and that’s when the whole system began to shut down. In retrospect, this was probably best for us, since at this point I was still grieving the whole infertility situation. Setting up a new house, getting settled in a new church, looking for a job—along with the fact that Russia adoptions were just not really moving—really was a wall for us. We didn’t really get restarted until Spring of 2007. At that point we decided to step out on faith that adoptions in Russia would re-open, and that we needed to be ready for that to happen. We again began to assemble our paperwork.

In July last year, we went to church camp. Steve has been leading this same camp for the past 22 years, and the kids who come (7th-12th graders) have become family to us—many of our counselors are former campers. On the second night of camp, we asked for prayers for healing—I shared with one of our senior girls who was worried because she had been accepted to Notre Dame, but had no idea how she would pay for school. I (Carolynn) shared with her about our adoption, and how I was frustrated that nothing had happened. We prayed together, cried together, and just held each other that evening. That next morning she got a call from her mother that she had received a full-ride ROTC scholarship. That afternoon when I checked the news I learned that Russia had begun to re-accredit adoption agencies. Isn’t that just like God??

We came home from camp, believing that God had shown us that He was in this adoption. We made contact with our social worker and completed our Home Study by October. We started assembling our dossier, I (Carolynn) started a new part-time job at MO State teaching World History, and finally, by mid December, when finals were over, we had time to journey to KC to apply for INS approval. We were there on what would have been Steve’s Mom’s birthday, December 13.

Our agency told us that we probably wouldn’t hear anything from INS (I know, now it has another name!) until mid-February. We received our approval in the mail on the day before Christmas—talk about a Merry Christmas present! I had told Steve earlier that the only thing I really wanted for Christmas was for our adoption to move forward! God sure answered that one!

Finally, all of our documents were apostilled and off to our agency in late January. They arrived in Russia around the first week of March, and we sent off some additional paperwork for the region we had been assigned to (Izhevsk) in April. Now we wait. Our agency can only register one family at a time in our region, and we’re waiting in line behind something like 8-9 other families at this point. So really, we technically haven’t been officially Paperwork Pregnant all that long—it has taken us a long time to get here, though!

We will save the rest for later, since this is already pretty long. We just wanted to let you know not only where we are (and have been) in the process, but how God has walked every step of the way with us. Our prayers for all of you, and blessings for a great rest of the week!

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