The Waiting Game

So, now we are in what they call the “real wait” or the “long wait”, but I have to admit, so far it is going much faster than anticipated, and we are pleasantly surprised. Then again, let me also say that it took about two years to get a chunk of our funds raised and our home study completed (which often takes others 3 months), so moving “quickly” is like a breath of fresh air. We also realize the situation can change or slow down quickly, so we hold the timeline quite loosely.

They said the referral would be 2-3 months. It was 3 weeks. They said the biggest wait would be 8-12 months. It was 3 weeks! So, we’re on the next step!!

In case people are curious, here’s our current step by step:

  • Referral (est. 2-3 mths. Actual: 3wks)
  • Acceptance (June 15)
  • EP Submit (est 8-12 mths. Actual: 3wks)
  • EP approval (Current phase. Estimated wait time ~2 mths)
  • Travel! Court Hearing (wait: 2-4mths)
  • Approval 1
  • Travel! Approval 2 (wait: 1-2mths)
  • Custody

All that said, they told us to expect travel in 6-8mths or less!!

 

So, what are we doing in the mean time?

Here are the biggies:

CARE PACKAGES

We just sent little Gabe his first care package. We are now part of an awesome FB group of ppl going through the same adoption process, so we had someone hand deliver it last week. We got some super sweet photos of the little guy opening it on Monday.

It was really neat to involve the kids in the process. We went to Target and told the kids they could each pick out a toy for “Gabe Jireh” as they call him. Although they wanted to throw every toy in the store in our cart for him, Eli eventually selected a small soccer ball and Ana picked out a small Daniel Tiger family. We were told it’s good to send clothes, so I converted all his weights and measurements and we picked out a few articles of clothes. From what I can tell our sweet 15mth old should fit right between 18 and 24mth clothes (big boy 🙂 ) That afternoon the kids loved playing with the toys before mailing them to their little bro. (In fact, they loved the toys so much we decided to let Ana and Eli keep two Daniel tiger family members and send the three others to Gabe. That way we all have a small piece of the family). In addition, we were told that Gabe liked trains. So, Eli and Ana both gave him one train from their big train set.

We also included a photo album with pictures of us, our home, and daily activities. I had my Korean friend help translate so the foster mom can read it with him. We also added in a letter and few American chocolates as a gift for the foster mom.

All that said, it was super sweet to get a picture of him playing with our gift yesterday. Plus, Eli and Ana were able to connect with the photos too! Eli kept saying, “I gave him that soccer ball.” And Ana would say, “and he has Daniel Tiger. We have Margaret and Tigey.”  I have to be honest, I might have teared up just a bit to see his little fingers on our photo. That was likely the first time he has ever seen our picture.

I appreciate them staging such a sweet photo for us, and like our caseworker said, it makes things seem more real to see him playing with tangible items we had in our own hands just a couple weeks ago.


LEARNING KOREAN

My friend had me over for a Korean cooking lesson! We made kimchi fried rice and seaweed soup.  Anyone who knows me knows language and culture lessons + cooking = amazing day. YUM! 🙂

I’ll likely write a longer post on this later, but I have recently made a great Korean friend. She just moved to the States with her husband, who is getting his PhD at UW. She was looking for someone to exchange language and culture with and so was I. So far it has worked out great, and I’m slowly learning my alphabet and key phrases. I’m loving getting back into language learning (I’m sort of geek.) They have some VERY different sounds. But I’m chugging along and am hoping it will help me talk with our little boy and maybe alleviate a little stress. Plus, I’m super grateful for a new friend!


PASSPORTS AND PAPERWORK

We’ve continued our paper trail and have almost finished up on the US side. We are mostly waiting for approval on the Korean side now. In addition, I renewed my passport and we just received Eli and Ana’s passports in the mail yesterday! Woohoo!! (It was funny “renewing” Eli’s passport, as he was only 2mths old in his last picture. He is a pretty well traveled kiddo). Can’t wait to bring him back to Asia, even if just for a trip. Hopefully it will work out to bring them both with us. More in that later too.

 


That’s the update for now. Pleases keep this waiting game in your prayers. We are grateful things seem to be moving faster, but it also seems harder now knowing who he is. Also, keep the country of South Korea in your prayers, as you may have noticed some heightened tension in the news. We have been reassured that things seem stable for the moment, and are praying they stay that way.  You can pray for us as we prepare our hearts, lives, and finances and wait for our next call.

Cultural informant. Korean friends at the Amish store.

It’s been an interesting day. We took our friends Tehan and Junha to the Amish store today. They are Korean, and Kim has been meeting with Junha for a little over a month now for language practice. She is new to Madison and wants to learn English. And Kim (and I) want to learn as much about Korea as we can before our adoption. So it’s a fun and beneficial relationship.

Tehan and Junha are both new to American culture. They’ve only been married a couple years and don’t have any children yet. Tehan has been in the States for a while but his English is still just so-so. And Junha recently moved here and is wanting to learn more. They have Korean friends and go to Korean church, but haven’t had an opportunity yet to be around and practice with native speakers.

We really empathize with their struggles. I remember all too well that feeling- being in a new culture, not knowing the language, immersed in the culture but still too distant from it. We felt that in Indonesia. We struggled with the language. It was exhausting to talk to people. Exhausting to be social. But we also knew that was the ONLY way to overcome it. Dive in, head first.

And so when Junha reached out via Craig’s list wanting a friend, someone who could help her navigate American culture and language, Kim responded. Kim has met with her a few times, and like I said so far it’s been very helpful. We have lots of questions about Korea and could use a translator, and Junha is super-motivated to practice her English and learn American culture.

Today’s excursion was, of all places, the Amish community north of where we live. Junha had heard of the Amish and was curious. So we met at our house, had some breakfast, and drove to the Amish grocery store, furniture shop, and bakery.

Her fascination and excitement for such simple things was really cute and refreshing. She got excited about corn fields and cows. We pointed out the small towns we passed through like Wyocena and Pardeeville. And she nearly flipped out when we passed by a couple of Amish buggies. She had a lot of questions. It felt good to be around someone who didn’t take these things for granted but found them genuinely unique and interesting.

I could tell the grocery store was a little overwhelming for them- so many aisles and items, all in English…. And on a Saturday it was quite busy. All the conversation can be overwhelming. Again, I can sympathize. The furniture store was less busy, and we introduced them to angel food cake at the bakery.

It was a really fun day. I like being on this side of the culture. All too often I find myself at odds with American culture- like I don’t fit in or belong here. But days like today remind me that yes, this is where I’m from, and no, it’s not a struggle for me to be here. Not how a foreigner feels. Not how we felt as foreigners in Indonesia. For once I could be the cultural informant. For once I could help out a visitor who needed a little help. I’m really quite happy to do it. Like I said, I remember the feeling, and I remember the people who helped us when we needed it. It’s a debt of gratitude that I am happy to pay to others who need it.

MATCHED!

The last few months have been a whirlwind. Basically, since our last blog post we finished a big work project, completed an intensive course, started to get settled into our home, joined a church, Josh switched jobs, switched placing agencies, finished our home-study, and got a referral. OH AND THIS JUST IN… ACCEPTED A REFERRAL!!

Last week we got the phone call we’ve been waiting years for. “We have a match for you!” Our caseworker continued to fill us in on a sweet little boy and offered to send us his full write up and photos. She asked that we send his info off to a medical adoption clinic for review, pray about it, and give an answer in the next two weeks.

It’s an odd feeling having someone just email you a photo of your potential son. On the one hand there’s excitement and joy. But on the other, there’s also a sense of sadness and pain for the birth parents. There’s hesitancy and frustration in the wait but elation in what may come. A roller coaster for sure… but in all I’d say there is great assurance and peace. The more we talk about this little guy as a family, the more we can’t wait to have this him join us!

For those who are curious, he is a super cute Korean BOY. He has big dark eyes, a sweet little nose, and round cheeks. He just turned one in May. He appears to be extremely healthy which is a great blessing from the Lord.

We received a photo June 1 with all of the info. We just got an updated picture and measurements on Monday when we verbally accepted. They’ll keep sending us photos and measurements every month until we are able to travel. At this time we are not sharing his photos publicly online… but feel free to ask us in person and we’ll be happy to share!

Yesterday we took a huge load of paperwork to a notary and today we sent in our official acceptance!!

So, what comes next? THE REAL WAIT.

We’ve been waiting all this time for this wait. haha. We have submitted the bulk of our next steps paperwork and will wait for approval and clearance on both the US and SKorea side. This will likely take 10-16 months. Then we’ll take two trips to SKorea and on the second, God-willing, will be able to bring him home. I know the wait is long, and it’s something we’ve had to wrestle through, but we believe it’s worth it. In the meantime we plan to send packages, apply for grants, and learn some Korean.

I received a book the other day, called The Bridge that Love Built. Its words have been reassuring to me, reminding me that even if we can’t see him, experience his first steps, hold him, hear his laughter and his cries, God can. Even before we knew who he was, God has been with Him and us every step of the way, aligning our paths, and continuing to do so. It helps me rest knowing that he is in the Lord’s care even right now while we wait.

 


 

In other news, we had to take a trip to Milwaukee on Tues to report to immigration for our I-600A. We made a trip of it by visiting cousins and going to the Milwaukee Zoo. As you can see- lots of fun and totally wiped out the kids.

 


Looks like it’s been a bit since we’ve posted (although our facebook page is usually up to date and we sent an e-newsletter). See below for a more through rundown.

In case people are following our crazy timeline:

Mother’s Day (May) 2015: Started adoption process. Emailed friends, researched, interviewed, chose an agency.

Feb 2016: Applied to Lifelink & their SKorea program. (Josh suddenly got an amazing job!)

Feb-Aug: Saved and Fundraised like mad. God provided.

July: Lifelink Madison closed down (our home-study agency). Switched to LSS for home-study

Oct-Jan: Trudging away at our home-study. Moved. Delays. Waiting. Got ready to send in everything.

Jan 2017: Lifelink Intl (our placing agency) closed. Switched to Dillon Intl.

Feb-April: Revised paperwork. (A few more delays) Josh gets another awesome job.

April 5: HOMESTUDY APPROVED. Sent to SKorea

JUNE 1: REFERRAL!!

June 12: REFERRAL ACCEPTED!!!

*Next up:  Wait on Emigration Permissions (10-16 mths)

Changes Just in Time (March eNewsletter)