We received a referral for a precious little boy, named Evariste, who is 3 years old. He will turn 4 in December. We are currently in Rwanda completing the adoption process. We passed court today, so he is officially part of our family! We will be naming him Levi, which means "we are united as one." Evariste will be kept as his middle name. Our process in Rwanda has gone very smoothly. We arrived on Sunday and met our son. We went to sector on Monday. Did court on Tuesday and picked up the ruling today (Wednesday). We also applied for the passport and To Whom letter (which allows us to keep him day and night) today.
This weekend we hit 15 months since our dossier arrived in Rwanda. I realized that I have not blogged at all in that time. Much has happened, lots of waiting, and many times that God has stretched us and used this process to help us grow. Looking forward to having a reason to blog again, hoping that soon we will be matched with the child God has always known would join our family. In the meantime, I'm updating photos of the kids, giving the blog a fresh look, and looking forward to the future with great hope!
We called the Embassy around 9:15 this morning and found out that they were open today. My dad was here about 10am and drove me to DC. I quickly looked through the dossier at the embassy and saw a stamp on the first page of each item and left. In the car I looked through in detail and realized they had stamped and initialed every page. I did find a few pages that were initialed but were missing stamps. I didn't realize it would be a problem. I then checked my email on my blackberry and saw a message from Tina (Mugisha Ministries) reminding me to make sure they stamped every page - what perfect timing! We were only 5 minutes away, so I went right back and got the missing stamps. I had debated if it was worth driving down or just waiting an extra day or two to have it mailed back to us. Now I'm so glad I went down and was able to get the issue fixed immediately. We got home in time to make the extra copies of the dossier and deliver it to Fedex to go out in today's mail! It will arrive in Rwanda on Thursday - this week!!! One big surprise was the shipping cost - $407!!! I wish I could have seen the look on my face when they told me the price. I was so shocked. I had no idea what international shipping rates were. I was foolishly expecting around $50. The second I got home I checked other carriers, wondering if I had made a huge mistake by using Fedex. I got online quotes from DHL and UPS for around $280 and the delivery time was longer (April 12 rather than April 8). Fedex had a cheaper rate of around $350 for delivery on the 12th. I did also have them package the dossier, so was probably a portion of the price difference. Anyway, I later found out that one major adoption agency sends all of their dossiers Fedex too, so I'm feeling okay and am so thrilled to have it finally on its way. It is so strange how you work so hard and invest all this time and money into compiling the dossier, only to be thrilled to be rid of it. I can't wait to know it is at the Ministry, that we "exist" in the waiting game. It is hard when you are putting so much effort into the dossier and yet have this strange sense of almost helplessness that the people in Rwanda don't even know a thing about you, have no idea that you are longing for your child. So, for a few days I'll be enjoying the sense of relief that I've done what I can do to move things along. I know myself enough to know that the waiting will be painful, but I plan to keep busy with projects. I'm starting to revise my original expectation that we'd get to travel this year. I'm still hoping for December, but am starting to think it will more likely be early next year.
We got a call from the Embassy on Friday that the dossier is ready to be picked up, so it took 10 days. I think that is pretty good knowing that there were 2 or 3 ahead of ours. We were told on Friday afternoon that they didn't know if they would be open on Monday, so we should call before we head to Washington... Okay, so this seems crazy to my American mind that on Friday afternoon they wouldn't be certain about Monday, but not so different from what I'm hearing about the way things work in Rwanda. I'm planning to call at 9am and head to DC if they are open. If not, I'll go on Tuesday. So, the dossier will be on its way to Rwanda either tomorrow or Tuesday!!!
What a wild 24 hours! Yesterday at 9:30am, I was in tears because there were more paperwork problems and it felt like we'd never get the dossier complete. Today at 9:30am, we were walking out of the Embassy of Rwanda after having delivered our complete dossier!!! I'll include the details that might be helpful for anyone delivering your own dossier. The authentications office opens at 7:30am. We arrived around 6:30am, which let us get into the city withalmost no traffic. There is a parking garage right under the authentications office building. We found a nice coffee shop in the same building, Casey's Coffee, while we waited for it to open. Around 7:15am there were already several couriers waiting inside the authentications office, so I guess they unlock the doors early. You get a number from a machine just inside the door. Then fill out a form at the desk area part way back in the room. At 7:30 they started calling numbers. You just give them the documents and sit back down. When they are done they call you back up and you pay. We had more than 15 documents, so I took 15 and Ron acted like a separate customer and took the other 4. Even though different people waited on us, when they brought the last 4 documents out to Ron, they told him we could have done everything together. He explained that we thought each customer could only do 15 per day, and they said they will make exceptions. We were out of there by 8am. We walked to the Embassy, about 1.3 miles and a very direct route. There seemed to be street parking near the Embassy, so you could drive there to save having to walk all the way back. We had a bunch of money orders to fill out, so we had a chance to talk with the man at the Embassy for a few minutes. He was very nice. At the end, we asked if it would be possible to pick it up later today. He explained that they couldn't do it that fast and pointed to other dossiers waiting to be finished, maybe 2 or 3 of them. He thought it might be done by the end of this week and said he would call us when it is finished. We were only there for about 10 minutes, maybe less. There was no form or anything. If you have your money order filled out, you basically just walk in, hand it to them and leave. So, now we wait...
The day began with despair, as I discovered a problem with one of our medical reports and the doctor was not in his office today. I felt like this would never come to an end - we would never have all of our documents here and correct. Thanks to my wonderful husband, who encouraged me to not give up, the day completely turned around. My police report arrived and it was notarized, even though just yesterday the police officer told us that it was mailed but would not have been notarized. As I was getting ready to head out the door to Harrisburg for certification, my sister noticed one of our documents was missing the notary's stamp. So, with a last minute stop at a notary, I made it to the Department of State building before they closed and got all of the documents certified!!! It was a very stressful, rushed day but so exciting. I was so hopeful to get it done by today because Wednesday is the only day we could go to DC this week and it is working out! We are leaving at 4am to be at the authentications office when they open at 7:30.
This process is so full of ups and downs. This week was mixed with discouragement and new excitement and anticipation. I'm having a terrible time with these final police reports that we need. Last week dragged by, hoping they would arrive by Friday. Ron's finally came on Monday, but mine did not. I waited one more day, counting the minutes until the mail arrived, but no letter. I called the state police again, got a really nice person this time, and they said my letter was mailed, but there was no record that it was notarized. They apologized and said it might still be on its way, but they would send another just in case and would take care of it right then and get it out "today." So, I'm back where I started, looking at the clock every few minutes until mail time to find out if it is here. I get so mad at myself for not noticing this mistake with the police reports before - and it is even more frustrating in the midst of the slower timeframe for getting approvals and referrals. With each day, I keep wondering how many more dossiers are arriving before ours. Tonight I saw pictures from a referral - two adorable sets of feet (since they can't show the whole picture until the court date) and it reminded me why we are doing this. It is so easy to get caught up in the process and the idea of the child out there seems so vague, and then in an instant it becomes so real again. I cannot imagine the emotions I will feel when I see that referral picture, since I cry at everyone else's. I won't be able to stop myself from holding my breath until the mail comes tomorrow, but I'm going to keep thinking about those little feet...
We are a family of six, living in Pennsylvania, on a journey to adopt a child from Rwanda. Rwanda is a small country in eastern Africa. We can't wait to see how God works through this process and how He uses it to touch our family and others.
November 4, 2009 - Began to seriously talk about adopting
November 15, 2009 - Decided to adopt from Rwanda (planned to use an agency)
November 16, 2009 - Ordered birth certificates
November 17, 2009 - Amy got passport photo, started Hague training, picked up marriage certificate
November 18, 2009 - Decided to adopt independently
November 19, 2009 - Received Amy's birth certificate, applied to Mugisha Ministries for assistance with independent adoption
November 20, 2009 - Finished Hague training
November 23, 2009 - Approved by MM, Received Ron's birth certificate, Called local home study agencies
November 24, 2009 - Mailed Amy's name change passport application (expedited), Mailed childline clearances, Mailed Amy's birth certificate to VT for certification, Delivered signed home study agreement and scheduled home visit
November 26, 2009 - Mailed I-600A to USCIS
November 27, 2009 - Completed educational DVDs for home study
December 1, 2009 - Discovered I-600A was mailed to wrong USCIS office (result?)
December 3, 2009 - Received Amy's certified birth certificate, Amy's physical and lab work
December 4, 2009 - Ron's physical
December 5, 2009 - Received Amy's passport
December 7, 2009 - Home Study Meeting, Received childline clearances, Ron's lab work
December 8, 2009 - Fingerprinted for Home Study
December 9, 2009 - Mailed 2nd I-600A to the correct address, my Sister's (Alison McLennan) dossier was mailed to Rwanda
December 10, 2009 - Picked up notarized medical reports
December 11, 2009 - Original I-600A returned in mail (yeah!), received fingerprinting results for home study
December 17, 2009 - Received home study draft and emailed corrections to social worker
December 28, 2009 - Received receipt for I-600A from USCIS
January 8, 2010 - Received notice of receipt of I-600a by Philadelphia USCIS office
January 12, 2010 - Received fingerprinting appointments from USCIS
January 27, 2010 - USCIS fingerprinting done
January 28, 2010 - Overnighted home study to USCIS
March 5, 2010 - Received I-171H!!!
March 8, 2010 - Doctor Visits to get recently dated medical forms, called state police to request notarized criminal background report (frustrating mistake!)
March 15, 2010 - Received Ron's notarized police report
March 16, 2010 - Called state police again to check on Amy's missing police report
March 23, 2010 - Received Amy's notarized police report, took documents to Harrisburg for certification
March 24, 2010 - Drove to Washington DC, had documents authenticated, delivered dossier to Embassy of Rwanda
April 2, 2010 - Rwanda Embassy called to say dossier is ready for pick-up
April 5, 2010 - Drove to DC to get dossier, Sent dossier to Rwanda via Fedex