It seems as I grow older that time passes more quickly. It is hard to comprehend that the baby that was placed in my arms in the wee hours of the morning five years ago today has grown into 40 plus pounds of pure spunky boy! Oh how thankful we are for you!
Josiah, you keep us young and laughing. You are a joy to our entire family, and we cannot imagine life without you. They say that the more children you have, the less attention the younger ones get. I’d like to think that far from that being the truth of the matter, you have not just two parents who think you are amazing, but a big sister and two big brothers who adore you as well, and are some of your biggest fans. We are all so glad you are part of our family!
These days you love music. You love to hang out with your two big brothers in the room you share together, turn up whatever song you are listening to nice and loud, and sing and dance your heart out. You also love Legos, Wii, and writing little notes to me which you seal in envelopes and tuck into little hiding places for me to find.
You are enthusiastic about almost everything. When someone gives you a gift, you unwrap it and exclaim over it with unbridled happiness.
You are BRAVE…braver than I’d like some days! You learned to do a backflip off the diving board this summer at our neighborhood pool. You will try just about anything, talk to just about anyone, and when you are hurt, cry very little.
You are AFFECTIONATE…maybe the most cuddly child we’ve had so far. Even at age 5 you will still sit in our laps to be hugged and snuggled. You give hugs freely and generously to your circle of family and many friends.
You are LOYAL…you are convinced that your siblings and cousins are your best friends in the world and you love them dearly. You tell us that your “Brudder, Nicolas” is your very best friend. You talk about your baby sister who is going to come home from Ethiopia someday, and how you cannot wait to meet her, and how excited you are to be a big brother.
You are OBSERVANT and CHARMING and DEAR…on most days, you will size up whatever outfit or accessory I am wearing and tell me, “oh Mommy, you look SO pretty today. I love your dress.” Or, “oh look Mommy how you painted your nails so beautifully, I like them!” You are also fond of telling me that someday when you are all grown up, you will buy the house next door, so that you can live close by to me forever.
No matter where you live someday, or how grown up you get, in my heart you will always be my “Little Jo” and I will forever be so amazingly blessed to be your Mother.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Josiah!
Last Tuesday we received an email from our caseworker at Gladney with the opening line….
“Congratulations, you are now Gladney approved!!!….”
This is HUGE progress, and means that our adoption agency and all the power vested therein has officially approved our full adoption application, home study, etc. From what my adoption friends tell me, this approval means we can officially say that we are “paper-pregnant” for our little girl! We are so excited! (Be sure to look for a little counting “Ticker” to show up soon on our web page.)
Currently we are waiting on US Customs to approve our application for our I-600A forms. This the biggest piece of red tape that remains between us and a spot on the waitlist in Ethiopia. What is an I-600A, you ask? Good question!
I found this sweet little explanation on an International Adoption Website which is pretty reader-friendly. I just love the ending note “Keep in mind that processing your I600A may take as long as 90 days – if everything goes smoothly.”
Jay and I are learning that expecting everything to go smoothly really isn’t very realistic in general in the adoption world. Rather, it is best to assume that things will happen when they happen for a reason, and that ultimately no waits, lags, mistakes, or even oversights on anyone’s part is going to thwart our being matched with the little girl chosen for our family. Which is not to say these lags or delays are going to be easy or pleasant; after all, there is a tiny little girl waiting at the end of all this, and we’d love for her to be with her new family sooner rather than later.
For now, we are thankful for receiving our Gladney approval, and excited about the next steps in our process!
WARNING: Super-Long post to follow!
Please note: this entry should have been posted mid-August. I have been waiting to download a few pictures from Nicolas’ camera that I wanted to include with this post. Jay has a fancy way of tagging various pictures from various family cameras (our kids each have their own) and I cannot begin to understand his system, nor did I want to make a mistake and erase prior photos (as I have done before when I attempted to download any pictures except the ones from our “adult” camera!)
So forgive the delay…this news is truly about 5 weeks old…but I wanted to document it nonetheless!
I figured that after I mailed our adoption application and supporting paperwork along with much of our dossier paperwork in mid-July, that there would be a lull in adoption activity and progress for a bit. Well, I was wrong.
Gladney, God bless them, wasted no time in scheduling our homestudy: 10 days after they received and processed all our paperwork, one of their caseworkers, Bethany C was here at our house conducting our home study. By way of aside, this home study just happened to take place in between three separate visits from various out of town guests, so it was a WHIRLWIND of a week for us here at House of Horne!
First, we enjoyed a wonderful weekend spent celebrating our newest family member, Baby Jacob, on the occasion of his baptism, and saw a TON of family:
On Sunday, my folks and the rest of the crew went home, and we changed a few sheets, washed a few towels, and got ready to welcome our dear old friends, the Moores for a few days of catching up after living on opposite sides of the country for 10 years now. Here’s a few of them…
The Charlies’ Angels:
and with the boys added in:
The day after we said goodbye to the Moores, we had our homestudy (more on that in a sec).
And starting the day after our home study, we were blessed by a weekend visit from a fellow “adopting from Ethiopia family”, the very fun crew from It’s Almost Naptime:
Well, back to the home study:
The actual home visit and interview process lasted much of a day, and mainly consisted of a lot of questions and answers about us, our family, both immediate and extended, our parenting, and our own childhood experiences, as well as our views and attitudes about adoption. It was helpful both to Gladney in determining if our family was a good candidate to adopt a child from Ethiopia, as well as to us in giving us a lot of information about the adoption process.
I was so glad to learn the level of care before, during and after the actual adoption that Gladney gives to their families. We chose this agency both because they are local, and because they have an excellent reputation and wealth of experience, and so far we are truly happy with our decision and feel they have been amazingly supportive to us. Here is a picture of us with Bethany, our social worker from Gladney, whom we thoroughly enjoyed spending the day with:
Another encouraging part of our homestudy was learning that within a five mile radius of our home live an abundance of families who have adopted or are in process to adopt children from Ethiopia. We already know a few of these families, and look forward to meeting more. How amazing to know that our future daughter will have the blessing of growing up in close proximity to other children from her birth country.
The one other outstanding piece of our dossier that we had to handle at this stage was our FBI fingerprints. We actually need to be fingerprinted twice for our adoption process. This first set of prints goes to the FBI offices in West Virginia where they conduct a thorough background check for any sort of criminal record. We had been told to expect the processing and return time for these prints to take 12 weeks plus.
It has been on my to-do list to complete these prints since mid-June, but finding a weekday day when Jay and I could show up at the same police station during business hours proved challenging (he works quite a ways from home). And life has just been busy. We finally made the time on August 6th, the day before we left for vacation to get these prints done, since Jay had the day off. Friday afternoon, in the middle of packing for our trip, we dragged all four children down to the police station at SMU and for the first time in our entire lives, got fingerprinted!
Here’s my handsome guy getting ready for his fingerprinting:
The printing process:
And then it was my turn (love the little face peeking through behind us)
I dashed into the FedEx office at 8:57 that evening, just 3 minutes before closing time and popped those prints in the mail to the FBI. Less than 7 hours later, at 3:45 am we hit the rode for Alabama and I figured we wouldn’t hear anything more back on the prints till at least October. None of our friends have great stories to tell about the lag time on their FBI prints. One set of local friends who are in process to adopt from Bulgaria had their prints returned after 10 weeks of waiting this summer, only to learn that the FBI couldn’t read them much less process them, and they had to be redone. They are still waiting to hear back, bless their hearts.
So imagine my shock when a mere three days after arriving home from the beach, FedEx knocked on my door with an important looking envelope. I just knew it was our fingerprints being returned to us with orders to redo them; at least, I told myself, it only took them a few days to let us know they were unreadable.
But no….when I opened the envelope there were two stamped and sealed FBI approvals. Shocker. I literally began shaking, I was so stunned. It had been less than 12 days since we mailed the prints: and 6 of those days were spent in travel back and forth to West Virginia. I called Jay, still shaking, to tell him we had FBI approval.
Jay is fond of saying that this adoption process is not a race, and that given all the different factors and pieces that need to fall into place, patience will be a blessing throughout. He is so good about just resting in the knowledge that God will orchestrate events such that our paperwork and approvals come through at just the right time for us to be matched with the little girl that God has chosen for our family.
Those prints didn’t need to come back as quickly as they did to prove anything to me, but I cannot begin to communicate what an encouragement it was to have them processed so lightening-fast!
The next big milestone we are waiting on is for Gladney to officially approve us to adopt. Our home study report has been sent for review and revision, and hopefully in a few weeks will be complete. After that, we will be Gladney-approved, and able to move on to the next step of this process! Hooray!