Saturday, June 16, 2012

8 Days and We're on Our Way to Bring Our Boy Home Forever!!!

YES, it is true...our flights are booked and in 8 days I will be leaving for Ethiopia for Embassy and to bring Fetinet Nikao home finally be a family of FOUR!!!!
Soon these two boys will be together forever as brothers!!!
On Thursday we got the email from embassy saying we were CLEARED and we were beyond excited but we didn't think that could be right because they didn't have our updated 171H yet.  It wasn't fully right, we soon found out we were cleared still but couldn't book an appointment until they got that form.  I called our USCIS officer and let me tell you how amazing this lady has been...getting us a fingerprinting appointment just in time, answering all my questions and putting up with my daily calls, she assured me they will have this form by THIS Monday and as well she emailed info over so they would know it was there.  She also made everything very personal and just was a blessing when I didn't expect it from a government official.  I then emailed the embassy (yet again) and they got right back to me, assuring me that as long as they had our form by June 22nd, we would be able to have our embassy interview during the last week of June.  So with airfare rising and flights getting sold out by the hour (literally) I booked our flights and got a nice surprise in that on the way there and back we have a short layover in Chicago so my parents and anyone else who can make it will get to meet Fetinet briefly and welcome us there :)  Also we ended up paying $1,000 less than expected!  God has just been doing miracles in our family's case lately and we are beyond grateful...really there are no words for all that has happened in the last couple weeks!  God is Good!

Now, here's where I need your help.......
This time around Jason will be staying home with Jalen to work and watch him but it is required through our agency that I have an adult companion to travel with me.  My sweet friend and Godmother to Jalen and Fetinet, Jen, is going to be my companion and while she is there she will also be providing physical therapy services to special needs orphaned children.  If she couldn't go, Jason would have had to, and we would have been buying another flight so I feel I need to help as much as I can to help her raise the money it is costing for her flight (not to mention she is missing a week of work just for us).  She was able to use some frequent flyer miles to get a few of the connecting flights covered but she still needs $1,757 to cover the rest of her flights. We have been doing this fundraising thing for a while and I know in the beginning I felt awkward, bad, weird, etc sending out emails and such to help us get the amounts we needed but I learned quickly that in every fundraiser and every donation that came in, God was using special people to make our journey and story just that much more exciting and really more glorifying to Him.  I have made life long friends with people I met through fundraising, and in each one, our story was shared, the need for orphan outreach was shared and more families have come to decide to pursue adoption, foster care or just have a different outlook on the needs of these children in general so money aside, so much good has come from it all.  Jen is new to this so she is back in that "feeling bad asking for money" stage and I want her to see that people genuinely like to help and if God places it on their hearts to help her, they will and if not, nothing is lost but who knows what will be gained from it???  SO, help me bless her and raise the money to cover her flights as it is a HUGE help to us and I know she will be a HUGE blessing to the children she will be working with while she is there!  You can donate via my paypal account, just use the button on the LEFT that says "Help Jen Get To Ethiopia" or contact me via email here and let me know how you would like to help. Thank you and have a wonderful Father's Day weekend!
Jen and I after PT school graduation (2009) and my little nugget Jalen in my arms :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Well we didn't get the magic email from embassy this morning saying we are cleared to travel but should hear some good news tomorrow.  We won't be officially cleared to travel because they don't have our updated 171H yet since we just updated our fingerprints yesterday...BUT we did get some, ummm pretty darn good news from news a few different people. All I can say is there must be a lot of people praying for us and God is listening because so many prayers were answered today and prayers that I haven't even been saying out loud simply because there have been a few other families that need the prayers more than us right now.

So, before 8am, I went from having an okay, no big deal, regular kind of day at work, but from 8am-10am it all changed and my day went to pretty near PERFECT!  I started calling the USCIS adoption line at 8am and was transferred to our officer who was quite possibly the sweetest lady ever!  This is actually the same lady who got us our fingerprint appointment when we were told we wouldn't even have our case looked at until July!  She immediately knew who I was and said she had my updated 171H sitting on her desk just awaiting the fingerprint updates which would be in today or tomorrow morning.  She also told me she could fax me a copy of the updated 171H as soon as she got it complete and I should get it today or tomorrow morning at the latest and then she would be sending it to the embassy in Ethiopia 2 day mail.  I had no idea they did that and was already to ask if somehow I could pay for expedited shipping, no need now!  So the embassy is closed on Friday so they should have our updated 171H in their hands Monday, Praise God for that HUGE step!

As I am on the phone with our officer I receive an email from our case worker saying that although we didn't hear from embassy, she spoke to the staff in Ethiopia and they said the interview went really well.  Honestly I haven't even been worried about that in the least but to hear those words gave me chills and put a pretty big smile on my face.  Then she said we will be doing our travel meeting next Mon or Tues and with another family who is on our same timeline right now and of course it is a family Jason and I are friends with here in OK and have known for probably the majority of our adoption journey so it is pretty cool that we are ending this journey together!
Ashley and I getting ready to welcome another Dillon/Buckner family home with their son!  Soon all 3 of our boys will be home in Oklahoma!
So all this to say that as soon as the embassy has our 171H form in their hands, they will be able to clear us to pick our travel dates (pending the interview did go well, which I just know it did).  At that point, we will pick 3 dates and then they will choose 1 of  those 3 for us. My heart and mind is set on picking the dates of June 25, 26 and 27th so I am praying right now we are given clearance ASAP because that would mean that we would be leaving for Ethiopia on June 23rd or 24th....that is NEXT weekend, 10-11 days away!!!

Okay so if that all wasn't enough to call it a blessed day and move on and be ecstatic, with the good news, I then got some news that about made me break down and cry at work (which I try very hard not too because my eyes turn and stay red when I cry and that's not a pretty sight for a patient to see in their physical therapist for the first time meeting).  What was this news???  Well we have somewhere between $3,000-$4,000 left to save/raise for this adoption depending on what our flights cost but I have been at peace with the fact that after saving and raising over $31,000 that if we had to take out a loan for the remainder it would be okay. The message I got was from a family who means a lot to us, a family who has been very supportive of us and a family we just love.  The message asked how much more we needed because they wanted to cover the balance so we didn't have to worry about it.  After over 2 years of saving and thinking up the next fundraiser, I can't even express in words what it feels like to be FULLY funded!!!!  

So here we are really just waiting on a few things...embassy's full clearance, our embassy date, our final hours of required adoption education and our flights to be booked and THAT IS IT!!!!  Soon, very soon, I will be posting a blog from Ethiopia with my oldest son sitting next to me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Winner Is....

After 3 weeks, there were 171 tickets purchase by 33 different people, raising    $1,710 for our adoption!!!!

I placed every entry into a List Randomizer on and pushed the magic button and...................................................................................

The grand prize winner of the Kindle Fire is..................
 Danette Gallardo

The other winners of the other 10 prizes (shown on The Raffle Page) donated by some awesome friends of ours are as follows:

Patty Laramore:  One hour session with Courtney Folsom of Folsom Photography

Lari Hall:   A copy of Just Like You children's book (hard cover), autographed by the illustrator Hannah Harrison 

Mike McReynolds:  Large uni-sex Simply Love t-shirt ($25)  and  Africa Necklace ($15) donated by Lari Hall

Carla James:  $25.00 Gift Certificate to my friend Kathleen's awesome Etsy page

Kim Hill:  An Amazing home-cooked meal by the great Lauri Rowe 

Sandra Thron:  Thirty-One gift set:  URU thermal ($18), a zip-up pencil pouch ($10) and a mirror compact ($10) donated by Stephanie Coelho, Independent Director, Thirty-one gifts

Donna Chancellor:  A customized sandblasted rock with your family's name on it donated by Boadie Anderson

Gary Robinson:  $160 worth in trees/plants from a nursery in Ada, OK.  These will be delivered to you and include: Shumard Oak, grows to 60 ft, Red-Orange to Orange fall color, fast grower, full sun; Oklahoma Redbud, grows 30 ft, deep pink to magenta rose flowers, glossy dark green leaves, full sun; Knockout Rose, grows 3-4 ft, has double red flower, and is disease resistant plant, full sun; and Bloodgood Japanese Maple, grows 20 ft. purple-red leaves, red fall color, full sun).

Autumn Deason:   A day or evening of babysitting by the amazing Miss Avery Anderson!

Cathy Eaves:   One hour tennis lesson from Matt Folsom, a former collegiate tennis player and coach.

I will get your information to the donators so they can get your prize to you if I don't already have it.  Please let me know if you don't hear form anyone or have any questions.

Thank you to everyone who donated prizes, spread the word to your friends and family, bought tickets and prayed for this.  We were blessed greatly by all of you and can't thank you enough!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nearing the End of This Road...

Each week that gets closer to us having our son home is almost (ALMOST) bittersweet!  I think like everything when you are with something so long and know a certain lifestyle for so long, it becomes sad to kind of have to say good-bye.  This may be encouraging for those of you waiting right now, although you are ready for things to move forward and get your referral, meet your child or bring them home, enjoy every minute because soon it will be over and you may not know what to do with your self.  I can say I am SO looking forward to having our boy home, as well as being done with crazy paperwork, late nights, fundraising, planning, and worrying and just be a family without feeling like I'm on a timer to have family time and also get adoption work in. 

Because it has been over 2 years since we decided to start this Ethiopian adoption, it is all we know now.  We juggle full time jobs, t-ball, softball, church, life group, an orphan ministry, birthday parties, family trips and needed family time with adoption stuff (paperwork, education, fundraising, blogging, emailing, planning, budgeting, post office trips (many of them) and preparing the home for a new child).  Anyone that knows us, knows us as the family that is always on the go, always busy and never resting.  Although we have become accustom to this lifestyle and I know I may sometimes look back and grieve that we no longer have it, I am VERY much looking forward to JULY!  With the exception of some home study updates and little things adoption finalization related, it will be completed, t-ball and softball will also be over and I will be on a leave from work for 4 consecutive weeks and then likely 2 weeks around when school starts.  During this time I will be enjoying my family and working with our 7 year old Ethiopian son on learning English, and just bonding with him and allowing him and Jalen to bond as brothers.  I will continue to blog because it helps me keep a "journal" and feel accountable knowing someone is reading it...hopefully :)
my sweet Jalen at t-ball
Right now we are looking at being in Ethiopia the last week of June to bring our son home.  No definite clearance or embassy appt yet but we do have the final step, the birth parent embassy interview next week and then we will be cleared soon after! A bit over 2 weeks left (likely) in this journey that started over 2 years ago.  We are wrapping things up now, final education requirements, final funds needed, the final trip planning and preparation and final touches on our home and our son's new bedroom that he will share with his brother Jalen who is beyond excited to get him home!
the boys room, almost complete!
Thank you for praying for us, please keep praying us out until the end.  God has been gracious to us and we have been blessed by Him through so many of you and look forward to seeing how He uses us to bless many many more people! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Birthday Wishes

Last week was quite eventful and I am praying that this week continues.  Tuesday we were submitted to embassy, Wednesday we got an email saying part 1 of the orphan determination was cleared and on to part 2, Thursday we got an email saying part 2 was cleared and they were ready to schedule the birth parent interview!  This in the past has taken weeks and it took DAYS!  So now we are praying that the interview gets scheduled in the next 2 weeks and we will be right on track to be in Ethiopia again THIS MONTH!

So tomorrow is my birthday, not a big one, but 1 year after the big 3-0 and although it isn't a "big number birthday" I am praying it is big in a different way.  So my specific birthday wishes are:
    1.  I get an email stating the birth parent interview has been scheduled and is within the next 1-2 weeks
    2.  That we receive news about an adoption grant we applied for to help off set some of the rest of the needed funds.
    3.  And the biggest prayer is that I will be on a plane on June 24th headed to Ethiopia to bring our son home forever!

In the mean-time this week is also coming with other eventful things that I am very much looking forward to and will help keep my mind from constantly thinking about dates, times, flights, and all that consumes it right now.  Tomorrow night my sweet husband set up a dinner with a bunch of friends at our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, Tuesday Jalen has his T-ball team pictures and Jason has a softball game, Thursday both of my boys have games (t-ball and softball) and Saturday our wonderfully supportive, loving, amazing and God given friends are throwing us a shower for Fetinet, what a fun week ahead :)

In other news....
The Raffle Fundraiser is still going on and right now our total needed is down to $6,435.  You have 6 days left if you want a chance at the Kindle Fire amongst other prizes and the winners will be drawn on Saturday, June 9th!

and check this out....Our of our good friends is also doing a wreath fundraiser for us so if you would like one of her "All Season Shabby Chic Burlap Wreaths"for  $30  (includes: 1 burlap wreath with 5 seasonal flower pins for Valentines Day, Spring, Patriotic, Autumn and Christmas. If you would like to purchase one, please contact my sweet friend Leanne.  Leanne is writing a book that you will get to read one day but for now, you can read about her on her awesome blog