The final grant application is ready to mail tomorrow. Sweet mother-of-pearl, that was a lot of work. Praying for favor.
I was able to walk in to our local USCIS office (three miles away, thankyouverymuch), wait for a whole five minutes, and get fingerprinted this afternoon. Vince will get his done soon, hopefully with a similar wait.
Some cool people I know ran in the Kansas City Marathon this past weekend for a really good cause--For the Silent. Some other cool people I know ran simply because they are gluttons for punishment love to run.
Getting our dossier to China is my marathon. And I've been feeling lately like I'm just not going to make it to the end. If you saw me at church Sunday morning looking all loopy and distracted and emotional, it's because my brain was roiling with the details of my to-do lists and some recently-encountered glitches in our adoption process. (Easily fixable glitches, I might add, but that didn't stop me from getting all worked up about them.)
I read these verses the other day:
...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross...Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
For the first time I put the emphasis on the word "us," as in, "the race that is set before US." We each have need of endurance for a race that is individual and unique. I needn't try to run anyone else's race, at least not in the exact same way. As I fix my eyes on Jesus, He perfects me and equips me for the life He's called me to lead. And I look to Him as a model of perfect perseverance, knowing there is a great joy set before me. I woke up this morning with a fresh resolve to remain. at. peace.
People with their minds set on you,
you keep completely whole,
steady on their feet,
because they keep at it and don't quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
because in the Lord God you have a sure thing. (Isaiah 26:3-4, The Message)
And now for the nitty-gritty details...
After talking to my friend Carolyn, who is also adopting a child from China, I discovered that the notary wording on our medical forms was wrong and would get rejected by the Secretary of State. This led me to the realization that several other documents would have been rejected for the same reason, had I already had them notarized (I hadn't). I am so thankful that God gave me the heads-up on this now--so that I don't have to go back and have a bunch of documents re-notarized. I did have to return our forms to the doctor's office this morning to have them notarized correctly, and they are now safe and cozy in my adoption paperwork file!
More good news: We got our fingerprint appointment notices!!! The odd thing is our appointments (V's and mine) are 13 days apart. But we live two miles from the USCIS office and plan to walk in ahead of schedule (maybe this week?) to speed up the process.
Upon returning from the doctor's office, I wasn't all that surprised to see those notices in my mailbox today...just a little token of God's love for me.
I came across this video just now--a friend shared it on Facebook. My husband and I attended college with Jason Upton; in fact, Vince shared an apartment with him briefly, many years ago. In this video Jason shares the story of his (closed) adoption and his recent interaction with his birth mother. I really don't have adequate words to convey the beauty and power of this redemption testimony.
I went to retrieve my son from kids' church this morning and noticed he'd been given a dollar bill. "Mom!" he said. "We each got a dollar bill!"
I asked him what his lesson was about. He replied, "We worship God when we give. So I'm giving you this dollar to help pay for the adoption."
Well, what could this mama do except break down crying in the church hallway? I knelt down to hug my sweet little man and thank him for his precious gift. Not so much the gift of one dollar, but the gift of a glimpse into his generous heart--the heart of an almost-six year old boy who, to the extent that he can, GETS it. Gets it that adoption is a sacrifice. Gets it that mom and dad are spending their money to bring home a son. Gets it that this boy will be his very own brother, and that adoption will be our family's new reality.
He also gifted me with seeing some fruit from my labor, my husband's labor, the labor of faithful men and women at church who teach my children about Jesus. Today's lesson was walked out in a practical way, and I am filled with gratitude and JOY.
We received a very official-looking (well, not just official-looking...I mean, it is an official notice from the Department of Homeland Security) document in the mail just now. I was excited to see it, knowing full well it wasn't anything super important. Even though it does say "THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" across the top in dollar bill font.
Surely you're thinking what I'm thinking: How can I obtain access to this dollar bill font for my own personal use?
So what is it? Just a notice that the D. of H.S. has received our I-800A, a.k.a Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. Now that they've received it, we wait for another notice by mail of our fingerprinting appointment. This could take several weeks, I think. Then we get fingerprinted at our local immigration office so USCIS can continue processing our application. Several weeks after that, we will receive notice that our application has been approved. Then we add this notice to our dossier. This is actually the very last document we need for the dossier...so there IS an end in sight, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Hence the title of this post. There are days when this adoption feels quite real. Like, this is happening. Like, we are going to China NEXT SUMMER. Like, nine-ish months from now.
But most days it feels completely surreal. Many of you have asked how the adoption is going. (Thank you for asking!) And I say it's going just fine! (Which it is.) But I know it can't seem real to you, either. This is the stage at which we're still mired in paperwork, the bulk of which is behind us, thankfully, and we inch steadily closer to the monumental milestone of sending our dossier to China. It's possible we could have our dossier in China by late November...almost certainly by Christmas.
And then? We wait for a phone call from our agency, telling us they have a file for us to look at. A file containing information and photos of a little boy who just may be our son.
And when we say "yes"? This will all seem very. incredibly. REAL.