Thursday, January 19, 2012

there's no place like home...

I almost think it's easier to be out of the country than three hours away in the same state.

This trip is short comparatively speaking.  And yet being so close that I could drive home at any point and kiss my boys goodnight is awful.  I have loved seeing friends that I don't get to see very often and making sure my knowledge on the stuff I'm working with is up to par but it never fails that at random times during the day I catch myself longing for my husband and my son.  I love that we have Skype and we do that everyday.  And seeing my son's face light up when he sees and hears me on the computer is amazing.  But there is just nothing that can compare with holding him, smelling him (I promise that's not a weird thing), and snuggling him.  Four nights.  It's only four nights total.  And yet it seems like forever!

The part that is a bit daunting for me right now is thinking about my fall travel schedule.  Once July hits it seems I will be traveling internationally at least once per month through December.  Just the thought of this is overwhelming to me!  By that time Jack will be old enough to figure out that his mommy is gone and I will miss over a month of his life...AGAIN (not all at the same time, but still)!  By the time my kid is two years old, I will have missed over two months of his life...that's 1/6th!!  This may seem like no big deal to some of you but to me it's drastic.  Just makes me ponder on the ever wondering question "am I doing the right thing?"

I know that these trips and the skymiles I acquire with them are helping us build toward our tickets to Uganda so I'm trying to look at this in the most positive way possible.  But it doesn't help right now when I'm going to sleep away from my family one more night...and I'm pretty sure it won't help in the coming months when I miss an entire month of them this year.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thank you Dr. King

I always get emotional when I'm on travel and today begins a week of travel for me.  Instead of flying halfway around the world this time I'm just driving 3 hours north to our nations' capital.  If you were somehow unaware or aren't from America, today is a federal holiday, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (technically his birthday was yesterday but we celebrated today so everyone could have a 3 day weekend).

If you asked me what I did last year or the year before or the last 10 years on Dr. King's birthday I would not be able to recall.  Not because I didn't think it was an important day, no, I very much appreciate what he has done for our country. But I know that I have taken for granted this day for many years...maybe for my whole life.  And yet I feel it will never be a day I look past ever again.

As I was driving, I heard a song by The City Harmonic called I Have a Dream.  As part of this song, they play excerpts of Dr. King's speech and it was everything I could do to keep my emotions at bay (I was driving, remember).  I realized that this day would no longer be possible for us to forget, to look past, to take for granted.  This day, a crucial piece of our nations past, is a vital piece of our family's future.

We wade through this adoption process and are ecstatic to expand our family with our little James.  And yet it never hit me before that without people like Dr. King who sacrifice their lives for equality we would never be able to adopt James.  It would have been not only taboo but at one point against the law for us to invite a Ugandan child into our family as our son.

Would we, as American's, have gotten here eventually?  Hopefully, yes.  And we're still not where we need to be when it comes to equality.  But it is amazing to me that 50 years after Dr. King gave his freedom speech we will be bringing home our baby boy.  And our family will not only grown in number but in culture, ethnicity, and race.

So now I must say thank you, Dr. King.  Thank you for sacrificing your life for our family...for all the families like ours.  You are one of the reasons why James will help complete our family.  I can't wait to visit the new memorial in Washington, DC and pay my tribute!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Longing for Africa

I just want to say that if you're adopting, it is SO VERY CRUCIAL that you have a great relationship with your placement agency.  If you know anything about Ugandan adoptions you know that flexibility is key.  And for someone like me who likes to think she's in control, that's scary (wonder why God lead us to Uganda?).  We have known so many who are in the midst of some rough times waiting for consulate approval for visas or who have been denied them altogether based on how "orphan" is interpreted.  As soon as we started hearing of these issues we contacted our agency (Lifeline Children's Services) and were comforted to know that they have a great team here and in Uganda advocating for those children (and us)!

Last week we received word that our home study had been approved on December 23rd.  Once that was done, it was sent to us for a review (and to just verify the information) and then sent to our agency for review. (SIDE NOTE:  this is not normally necessary unless, like us, you are using an agency that is not in your state.  Because we are working with a placement agency based in Alabama, we had to find a local agency to do our homestudy.  We were VERY blessed to work with Tidewater Jewish Family Services who have given us amazing support through this process!)  Heather (our agency contact), received our home study for review yesterday, reviewed it, returned it to JFS for notarization, and sent us all the info we need to get it in the mail to immigration as soon as we get the notarized version.

It may seem like this part is happening very quickly but let me explain.  There are two reasons.  First, we cannot get on the waiting list for a referral until we have our approved I-600A which is our immigration form we must send to USCIS (along with documents like our home study and birth and marriage certificates and a check for $890).  And that approval process can take up to 3 months.  Second, remember how I said our agency is advocating for us?  Well, Heather and others from our agency are headed to Uganda for about 10 days to speak directly to the new consulate, work with the team in country, and meet with new babies homes for possible future relationships.  How cool is that!?!?  It's awesome to know that we are working with people who have been/regularly go to Uganda, know what we're dealing with, and aren't just "guessing" what the government (both US and Ugandan) want and need of prospective parents.

We are just excited that we will have a notarized home study in hand soon and that the next step is just around the corner!  We are also happy that because we will have a completed home study soon, we can now begin to apply for grants to help ease the financial burden of this process.  So excited that we are moving forward!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Living every day of 2012

Many very good friends of mine are expecting babies in 2012 and I have quite the mixed feelings about these amazing miracles.  Don't get me wrong, I am beyond excited for them!  And I do not envy them as my body is not yet ready for another pregnancy.  But I think the difficulty is the gestational period.  I know we could get pregnant right now and have a baby ourselves in 2012 but that is not what we have been called to do!  Our adoption "gestational period" is closer to 18 months. Sometimes it's difficult to watch people go through the process of having a baby and just sit there and wait for the next step in our process.  What helps is knowing we have our amazing little Jack here with us and get the joy of watching him learn and grow everyday.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to be unable to get pregnant or have difficulty trying.  For all of you out there, know that as I pray through this process I also pray for you!

Anyway, for us, we know that God is using this year to prepare us for whatever the future holds.  We don't know what this adoption will bring (hopefully our little James into our arms) or where we will go after this adoption is finalized but what we do know is that we have been given this year to prepare our hearts, our finances, our lives for His future.  This reminds me so much of that gestational period.  For me pregnancy was not this awesome time.  In fact, if you ask Justin, it was a very difficult time.  I am usually in control (or have the illusion of control) in my work, my home, etc.  With hormones, my changing body, and the impending birth I was completely out of control.  And yet I would have never changed the outcome.  We are given 9 months(ish) to help prepare us for the change of our lives.  And yet we cannot overlook every day of that time.  We have been challenged with preparing for the future of our family but at the same time we cannot miss the every day of 2012.  We will not have James in our family until 2013 but we cannot miss any day of our 2012 family.  Finding that balance is tough but this is what we have been charged with.

As I watch these new babies grow and be born all around me, I know James is either still in his gestational period or just now being born...and I hold on to his every days as we go through ours all while preparing for him to be ours.