We are happy to announce that a few weeks ago we accepted a referral for a 6 month old little boy from Ethiopia. Of course, I can't post pictures here until we've passed court. But let me tell you, friends, there are dimples involved. :) Just. Wow. Ridiculously cute.
We received our referral the day after my mother's surgery to remove a pituitary tumor. I was spending the day in the surgical ICU with her when I got the call. We opened our referral in the ICU waiting room at the hospital. (We couldn't do it in the actual ICU because kids aren't allowed in there and we wanted Jena to be present when we opened it.) My brother was in town for my mom's surgery so he was able to record it all for us, which was special. And my sweet mother, in a lot of pain and discomfort after major surgery, was still able to "ooo" and "aww" at the precious little boy's face when I ran back into the ICU to show her. :) It was, like many of our experiences, imperfectly perfect. And imperfectly perfect is what we do best.
There is a new game afoot in the Ethiopian adoption process. They call it the PAIR process. This essentially reverses the order in which documents move through the system. (USCIS/embassy investigation first, then the Ethiopian courts.) We are among the first families to attempt the PAIR process. Therefore, no one really knows exactly what to expect as far as timelines. Early estimates increased the wait time dramatically. But recently it's looked a bit more hopeful. We are submitting our PAIR documents today. The first big step! After that will be the birth parent or finder court date. Then our adoptive parent court date when we will travel to Ethiopia see our little guy and appear in Ethiopian courts. Last up is a second trip to Ethiopia to visit the US embassy and to bring him home. So as you can see, we still have a lot of big hurdles. We are likely still months away from our first trip. But as always, we're hopeful.
Some of you may be wondering what happened with the referral we've been waiting on for over a year. Nothing happened with that referral...and that's the problem. If you'll recall, we initially received two referrals. We lost the first one 6 months later, you can read about that here. The second one, was a matter of getting local court clearance. This never happened. Our agency lost confidence that this would be completed any time soon, or even that it would be completed at all. We've asked them to let us know if this child ever becomes available for adoption with the release of the local clearance. They've informed us that they don't expect that to happen for a year or years, if at all. But they have agreed to inform us should that occur. Through it all, we do have a peace about losing this child. We continue to pray over him. For his life, for his future, for his daily care. We know his life story isn't over.
For now we're taking it one step at a time, praying that our PAIR documents move smoothly and quickly through our government, allowing for a smooth process through the Ethiopian courts. Feeling blessed and grateful as we move forward, we wait with bated breath on the edge of our seats to see what God will do next.