The only thing we knew was that God had impressed adoption on our hearts to the point we knew we needed to be obedient to at least start the process. We made an agreement that, even if the door closed, we would have no regrets about the money spent and lost pursuing adoption.
We prayed for wisdom and began researching countries. We felt God was leading us to Africa and had a few countries in mind related to poverty level, prevalence of HIV, and number of children who are orphaned. But we struggled with the question: "how do we chose?" One of the countries was the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In less than 2 weeks, God made it clear that He was guiding us to the DRC (formerly Zaire). We still laugh at the "coincidences" God packed into a very short amount of time, things we couldn't make up:
- learning one of Thom's BCM students had recently written a 200 page paper on the health concerns in the Congo
- another student reaching into his backpack at the BCM and recommending several books to Thom about the Congo's history
- learning a "friend of a friend" who was weeks away from completing an adoption in the Congo
- a reference to the Congo on our favorite TV show (just minutes after we had joked about if the show would mention the Congo)
- Thom being invited to have dinner with and hear a lecture given by a Congolese man at Vanderbilt and to attend another lecture given by a Congolese woman. (I'm not kidding!)
We started the process on October 26, 2011, by applying to the agency and began our homestudy a few days later. God has gifted Thom with great organization skills and our homestudy process went very smoothly! He organized all of our agency information and paperwork in a 3-ring binder, made copies of every form, and guided us through each step. We wrote and submitted very personal information and financial statements, had physicals, secured references, and were fingerprinted. We had three meetings with our social worker and turned in everything just before Christmas.
Our homestudy has been completed and approved by our agency. We have put forth our best efforts, but it is ultimately the Lord that deserves the praise and glory. We are so thankful for the way He has given us wisdom through Scripture and encouraged and strengthened us through other people.
His financial provisions have humbled us. So far, our fees have been over $6000. We were able to start the process with some money from our savings, but He has blown us away by giving us just what we have needed, just when we have needed it.
Friends and family members have purchased our "Hope" adoption t-shirts, Africa ornaments, and Ugandan necklaces, and given us gift checks at unexpected (and providential) times. God led my parents to hand craft earrings during Christmas. They had hoped to raise $500 by selling these and the Ugandan necklaces. God multiplied their efforts through the help of my sister-in-law, generosity of friends, co-workers and others. By Christmas, they were able to give us close $1500! Again, we have all been humbled with the generosity and provisions of God.
We are now entering the second phase of the journey. We are approved for "up to 2 children, ages 3-7." We have requested at least one little girl and will welcome with open hearts the child(ren) God has chosen for us.
Our agency told us we could receive a referral/match as soon as one month after the homestudy is approved. However, our wait for our child(ren) to come home could be as long as 12 months. We think about her/them often and pray for safety, health, and knowledge that they are known and loved by God. Our hearts are full of anticipation for what this journey will hold for all of us.
Our next steps will include:
Attending a required adoption education seminar next Saturday in Birmingham ($195-paid)
Apply with Citizen and Immigration Services for approval (I-600A) ($720)-will take up to 3 months
Biometric fingerprinting appointment ($85/person)
Sending dossier ("dos-ee-ay"; aka: multiple copies of all our paperwork, notarized) to DRC ($1800)
This phase will take several months. Hopefully we will receive a referral for our child(ren) at some point during this time!! We will continue saving, fundraising, and preparing to apply for grants.
As we enter this next phase, we are know and are thankful that "we" are not "doing" this. We are praising God in advance for the journey ahead, because we know He goes with us and before us and is faithful to lead us in His path, in His time.
"And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."