I have a son.
I am a mom.
I am the mom of a seven year old boy.
He's beautiful and lovely and I don't know very much about him yet but I'm pretty pumped to be his mom and I can't wait to learn every detail.
On January 13, 2014, we officially accepted our referral for IC and he turned from an imaginary figure in my mind to a real, living, breathing little boy.
He has likes and dislikes.
He has a story. (We won't be sharing this because it belongs to him and only him.)
He has the most beautiful eyes and a cute little toothy grin. And he is stuck to the wall on my desk, where I look at him as I fill out paperwork.
Yes, the paperwork continues. If you thought there was paperwork before the referral phase, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
No really. We have to redo much of the first paperwork because of the time gap in between. The last two weeks have been filled with doctors' visits and form-filling. Lots of visits to Fed Ex. We have a home study visit tomorrow to update more things. I can't even begin to describe all the paperwork.
But before all the paperwork, we celebrated:
|The dinner where we wrote his name on a cork and celebrated together before anyone else knew.|
Lots of celebrating! With friends, by ourselves. So much celebrating. After all, it's been almost three years and lots of tears to get to this point!!
Then we went shopping! We have a care package headed to our little guy through a traveling family next week. What do you put in a package for your son you've never met? A little of everything!
That green, shiny thing? It's a photo album of us and the pups. He will eventually know what we look like. And he's already been told we exist.
You: Oh my gosh! Where's his picture??
Me: Well, he's not legally ours yet so I can't share his photo on social media. But ask me in person and I'll jump at the chance to show you his cute little face. He couldn't be sweeter.
You: Wow! So, what's his name?
Me: OMG we LOVE his name. But, again, I can't tell you. Not yet. When we are legally his parents, I will be happy to shout his name from the rooftops but not yet. And even then I'm not sure it will be on the blog. For now, let's still call him IC, shall we? That way we all know who we're talking about. I know he's not imaginary anymore. But just go with me on this one.
You: Does he speak English? Do you speak...what does he speak?
Me: He doesn't speak English! He speaks Amharic. We do not. But we are excited for the adventure!
You: What are the next steps? Is this real?
Me: It is real! We filled out our referral acceptance paperwork, signed on the dotted line, and paid our referral fees. It's super real.
We've actually already done some of the next steps if you can believe it. We were told earlier this week we've been submitted to court in Ethiopia. We also submitted a 40 page packet to USCIS (the initial-laden name for Immigration) to be submitted to PAIR. PAIR stands for Pre-Adoption Immigration Review. They will look at all the documents and investigate. When they've gotten the information they need, they will write us a letter and send it over to Ethiopian court. When court receives the letter and writes their own letter, they will summon us over for a court date.
You: Wow! So will you travel soon?
Me: Probably not "soon" per se. Immigration is, thankfully, very thorough. But thorough also means slow. We don't expect to hear from them for a few months and when we do hear, we expect it to be requests for more documents. But someday, Lord-willing, they will plow through all that paperwork and tell us we have the all-clear!
You: OK. So then you bring him home?
Me: Not so much, no. Then we travel, meet him, hug his neck, and go back to the US and wait for the embassy and immigration to clear him. We'll sit on the other side of the world, as his legal parents, and wait for someone to stamp our paperwork to go get him. I'm not sure I'll be entirely pleasant to be around during that time. But God could gift me with abundant grace. I hope that's the case.
You: But I thought immigration was clearing him now?
Me: Yes. And then they have to wait for some documents and clear him again. Tricky but true.
You: So, but really, when will he be home?
Me: I have no idea. Have you ever wanted something to happen really badly but were afraid to name a date you thought it would happen for fear it wouldn't happen on that date and then it would rip your guts out and splatter them out on the pavement of disappointment? That.
You: Overdramatic much? OK, new topic. Where are you financially?
Me: Well, because of the Lord's faithfulness and your generosity, we had all the money we needed for the referral fees. We also think we are covered for the first trip. That will clean us out and we'll need another $5000-$7000 for the second trip fees but we are trusting God has it when the time comes, depending on plane ticket costs. We know He's made it all happen so far and we're so excited to see what else He's up to!
So there you have it. We don't know when he'll be home. We don't know when we'll meet him. But we are so excited and we can't wait and we are praising God for His timing and His faithfulness.
You can pray in the meantime!! Pray for IC to remain safe and healthy. That his heart will be prepared to meet us and for ours to meet him. Pray for speedy and accurate processing of paperwork throughout the next steps by immigration and by the Ethiopian court.
And of course, would you thank God on our behalf? He's mighty good.
WE HAVE A SON.
(still not used to that!)