Thursday, August 18, 2016

We're Still Waiting

Wait, and then wait again. Isn’t this the way of life? Nowhere are we promised an easy time just because we obey or come to what we believe is a capital-A Answer. But our Father waits too—both with us and for us. His Word says that He longs to be gracious toward us and show us compassion and mercy (Isaiah 30:18). “His steadfast love endures forever,” through all things, all the time, just like the psalm says (Psalm 118) [SheReadsTruth.com]



I read this devotional about "Waiting As Obedience" a few weeks ago, and it really encouraged me. I read it again today because I needed to hear it all once more. As the author says, “Indefinite waiting is the worst kind of waiting”. So far we have waited 1,651 days for our daughter. Kate was alive and waiting for us for 1,316 of those days. And today - after all that waiting - we still have absolutely no idea when we’ll be allowed to go get her.

I have tried so hard to stay faithful during our long wait. Most days, I think I’ve done a pretty good job (of course not by my own strength at all - but only by the grace of God). But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had some less than faithful days. There are times when all the grief, anger, and frustration catches up with me. I had one of those nights this week. I couldn’t hold back the tears, or the hard questions that grip my heart. I thought (and said) some things I’m not proud of. And unfortunately, I don’t know if any of my hard questions will ever be answered on this side of heaven.

But I do know that my daughter is worth every bit of grief, anger, sadness, frustration, and work that it has taken (and will take) to get her home. And I just keep holding on to that truth so that I don’t give up fighting for her. But today… fighting looks a lot like waiting. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. I’ve found that the longer you sit in “the waiting room”, the easier it is for bitterness to find you. I’m trying hard to fight that today… to not let bitterness take root in my heart. 

I don’t have any big teachable moment to share with you today… or any kind of revolutionary encouragement. All I have is a little bit of honesty for where we are. We are still working to prepare for our daughter - in FAITH that she is coming home. This week we hung the gallery wall in her room, picked up her glider, and soon we will finish her bed. We are continuing to “prepare the field for rain”… even when it feels like we’re in a drought and we just can’t see any clouds. I think sometimes, that's what "waiting with obedience" looks like. Just continuing to put one foot in front of the other. Continuing to prepare for your miracle, even when you doubt it will come. Continuing to be faithful even when you don't feel faithful.

Our hearts were completely convinced that we got approval on August 3rd. We had SO much peace that that was “our day” -  but sadly our agency never delivered that news. There was another Thailand Adoption Board meeting last night. So the next few days we will muster up another round of hopeful expectation - just waiting on a phone call or email with good news of an approval. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t getting harder and harder to muster up that hope. My heart is weary this week. Would you pray for renewed hope and faith for me? Would you also pray for redemption for our story? 

"In your waiting place, cling to the hope that God will not leave our stories unfinished or unredeemed. They may not look how we expected but, as with Ruth and Naomi, our story is His story. We can wait with hope, and we can trust and obey with confidence. Thanks be to God.” [SheReadsTruth.com]

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lanterns and Miracles

If you've ever seen the movie Tangled, then you're probably familiar with this iconic lantern scene. As the story goes, the kingdom's princess was kidnapped as a baby... but her parents never gave up on finding her. And so, every year on her birthday, the King and Queen (and everyone in the kingdom) send up lanterns with the hope of finding their lost princess. It's a breathtaking sight, and one that I'm sure many have wished existed somewhere beyond a Disney movie.


What most people don't know, is that this actually scene does exist in "real life". It is based on an historic Thai festival. Each year in Thailand, the people participate in Loy Krathong and Yi Peng on the full moon during the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar (usually in November). Loy Krathong is a festival throughout Thailand, where people release lotus shaped vessels (usually made of banana leaves and candles or incense) onto the water as a way to send away their bad luck, while paying homage to the water goddess. The Lanna tradition in Northern Thailand, however, also includes sending floating lanterns into the sky while making a wish or saying a prayer. There are literally thousands of lanterns sent up on this one night in Chiang Mai. As you can imagine, it is an extraordinary sight, and one I've always hoped to be able to experience.


As luck would have it, last Fall the House Mom at our Children's Home in Thailand got married. (This is the Children's Home we established through our nonprofit - not the one where our daughter lives). We were invited to the wedding, and with the use of sky miles, we were able to attend. Somehow, the dates corresponded perfectly with the Lantern Festival - and we were thrilled to be back in Chiang Mai in time to participate.


We met up with our friends Jesse and Jenny who live in Thailand (and who are also adopting from Thailand) so that we could all experience the evening together. We talked, laughed, and looked in awe at the beautiful sight surrounding us. With each hour that passed, more and more lanterns filled the air!


Finally, we decided to send up our own lantern for our little "lost princess" . Rusty and I wrote a note to our daughter on our lantern, then lit it and began praying for Kate as it filled with hot air. When it was almost too hot to hold anymore, we pushed it up into the sky and held hands - hoping to watch it drift out of sight.






Unfortunately... it came crashing down into a group of strangers! Luckily they caught it, and pushed it up into the air again. It struggled... and we thought we were going to see it crash into the trees and burn. Suddenly the crowd (of a couple of friends - but mostly complete strangers from ALL over the world) began to chant. "Go, go, go!" You could see them all holding hands, waving at our lantern, clapping, cheering, and praying it would make it! Together we all willed it to make it over the trees, and at the last moment - IT DID!  Once it was out of sight, I turned around and burst out laughing.


"Isn't this just like our adoption?!" I asked Rusty. "We wanted it to be this beautiful thing... we hoped it would go as planned... but instead, our hopes almost crashed into the ground! Our adoption has been so much harder than we expected. It took the help of a few friends - and even some strangers all over the world - cheering us on and praying for us to keep us going the past 4+ years. And ultimately, it was by the grace of God that we "made it over the trees" without crashing and burning." (It takes a village, right friends?)


I am grateful though, that in the end the lantern for our little "lost princess" did make it high into the night sky. And after we sent it up, my friend Jenny and I sent up another special lantern. On this one, we wrote the names of all our friends waiting for children - through adoption or infertility. Then we sent up the lantern with another prayer... for a miracle for our families, and each family represented on the lantern. (That one went up without a hitch! haha!)



Well let me tell you friends.... I am convinced that 2016 is a year of miracles. Jenny and I wrote 9 names on that lantern. 2 of them are friends of hers I do not know... but I do know that out of the remaining 7, one has been matched with a child, one has brought a child home via adoption, one has seen renewed movement in her adoption after years without it, and THREE friends - three of those precious women we listed - are pregnant with MIRACLE BABIES without the use of fertility drugs (one after waiting for 10 years!)


And now, here we are, waiting and believing for our miracle. If you've been following along, since we were matched in April we have been praying for August travel dates. We were told from the beginning that the normal travel timeline would be November at the earliest - but that it could also very likely be a year or more before we would travel to get our daughter. We were told about all the approvals that had to happen before travel, and that many families have been waiting 10 months for just the first approval (Article 16). And yet, we felt God was speaking "August" to our hearts.

I know it doesn't make sense, but I also couldn't shake this word. And though everyone may think I'm crazy, I decided I'd rather be wrong (or even crazy) than be faithless! So, for the past 14 weeks we have been standing in FAITH, believing God for this miracle. We have hoped, and prayed, and prepared... and asked our friends (and perfect strangers too!) to pray and believe with us. And unfortunately, we have seen 6 Thai Adoption Board meetings pass without our approval.


We are down to the wire friends. Tonight is the 7th Thai Adoption Board Meeting since we were matched with our daughter. If there is any hope of us getting August travel dates (even August 31st!) then our approval has to happen tonight. Not only do we need a miracle for approval tonight - but we will then need a few more miracles to get our other approvals (US Immigration & US Embassy) to go through faster than usual as well!

The odds are stacked against us... but we are praying for a miracle anyway. I've seen this quote show up at least 5 times during the past few weeks, and I think it's very appropriate for where we are tonight...

"Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle - it is miracle in its first state. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility." 
- LB Cowman

Friends, our situation is absolutely impossible in man's eyes... so that means we are in the perfect place for God to show up and show out! Tonight, around 8pm CST the Thai Adoption Board will begin to meet. They will meet through the night... most likely until around 5am our time (Thailand is 12 hours ahead of us). This is our last chance for August travel dates. We need our Article 16 approval TONIGHT!


Will you join us in praying for a miracle? Matthew 17:20 says, "if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."  Well tonight, we need some mountains to move. We need every mountain that stands between us and our daughter to move out of the way! We need for our file to be presented, and we need for it to be in the right person's hands at the right time. We need favor, and APPROVAL, and a speedy release of our paperwork to the US.

Tonight, I will be dreaming of a dark sky filled with faith, hope and prayers (instead of just lanterns). Please join us as we wait expectantly for our miracle. We are looking forward to the day our little "lost princess" is HOME!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

My Crown

For the past 5 years, I've had the honor of speaking to all of the Miss Alabama contestants at the annual Miss Alabama Pageant Luncheon... just hours before a new Miss Alabama is crowned. Each year, I share a little bit of my story about how the Miss America Organization and the Miss Alabama Pageant impacted my life. On June 11th, I had the opportunity to share with them again. This year, I decided to share the full story of why I stopped competing in the Miss Alabama Pageant (and it turns out, that difficult decision ultimately led to our adoption!) So I wanted to share with all of you here, what I shared with those contestants a few weeks ago. Here's an excerpt from my speech that day...


I have always loved pageants. I actually competed in 45 pageants over 19 years before I "retired". I started competing in this program (the Miss America Organization) because it was my dream to be Miss Alabama – and then Miss America someday. I got the chance to pursue that dream twice – once in 2004 as Miss Gadsden Area, and again in 2005 as Miss Auburn Opelika Area. I loved it. I loved serving my community as a local titleholder. I loved everything I learned during my years of service, the scholarship money I earned, and the sparkly crown I got to wear. I loved the friendships I made, and I loved this week each year at Miss AL. But after my 2nd trip to Miss Alabama, I began to hear a still small voice inside my heart – calling me away. (Now I knew this had to be the voice of God, because I do NOT walk away from rhinestones and sequins willingly ya’ll! I would still wear a crown everyday if it was socially acceptable!)

There’s a worship song that I really identified with at that time. The lyrics are “we fall down, we lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus”. I felt like God was literally asking me if I would lay down my crown. 


It took a lot of prayers and tears, and months of God prompting my heart, before I chose to be obedient. I didn’t want to give up on this dream, but God was making it clearer and clearer to me that He had a different plan for my life. I was brokenhearted. But I knew that I had a choice to make, and I chose to be obedient (even though I had no idea where this path would take me). 

In 2007, God’s plan became a little bit clearer.  The fact that I wasn’t competing anymore, meant that I could say yes to a mission trip to Swaziland, Africa – the EXACT week of the Miss Alabama Pageant. So I did. And while my friends were putting on their 5 inch heels and glamorous evening gowns, I was sitting in the dirt with some precious orphans halfway around the world. 

It was on that trip that I met my husband, Rusty - whom I absolutely would have missed, if I’d still been competing at The Miss Alabama Pageant. That was also the trip where God burdened my heart for children in need… which led my husband and I to create a charity that would help orphans and vulnerable children around the world. It’s called The Sound of Hope, and for the past 6 years we’ve helped provide consistent holistic care for more than 200 children in 4 countries. But my story doesn’t end there... because this new path God put me on also led me to Thailand.

My husband and I lived in Thailand for almost 4 months back in 2011, setting up a new Children’s Home for The Sound of Hope. We absolutely fell in love with the country, the culture, and the children. We fell so much in love, that we began the process to adopt a child from Thailand. And for the past 4 years I’ve mentioned it up here, in this little speech – how we were still hoping, and waiting, and praying for our little girl.

Well friends, THIS year – I get to make a very special announcement. After more than 4 years of working and waiting and praying – we are finally matched with our beautiful little girl – Kate Suwichada Jackson.

Now – here’s where the story gets really good. We chose to name our daughter Kate, but we wanted to keep her Thai name as her middle name too. Suwichada is her given Thai name. Of course, before we officially decided to keep it – we called a Thai friend to ask what it meant. Now imagine my surprise, when our friend informed us that Chada means CROWN.

My daughter’s name literally means crown. So when God asked me to lay down my rhinestone crown all those years ago… He knew that He had a much more precious crown in store for me.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I went on to tell that room full of exceptional young women that God has an extraordinary plan for each of their lives - no matter whether or not they left with a crown on their head that night. And that is absolutely true. I truly believe that God has "exceedingly, abundantly" more in store for us than we could ever imagine... and my story is living proof of that.

There are so many things that have confirmed that this little girl we were finally matched with is absolutely our daughter... and the meaning behind her name was the one to top them all. For those wondering, a "chada" is actually a specific type of ancient Thai crown. It's worn by Thai royalty (the King, Queen, Prince or Princess, specifically) or by a Thai performer playing the part of royalty in a classical dance. So not only does our daughter's name mean "crown" - it is specifically a type of crown worn by royalty. So all those nights we prayed for our "little princess" - we were praying for a daughter with a name that means "royal crown". How fitting!


I haven't even held our daughter yet... but when I look at her photo, into her beautiful face, I cannot imagine missing her. To think that all those years ago, in my stubbornness, I could have held onto a cheap, rhinestone crown and missed out on her?! I can't even fathom it. I am so grateful that I was willing to hold my (small) dreams in an open hand - because it gave God the opportunity to take them and turn them into something much bigger and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sweet Kate, you are my most favorite, most beautiful, most precious crown! I cannot wait for the day I get to hold you in my arms, and tell you just how valuable you are to me! I would have been thrilled if I'd been crowned Miss America all those years ago... but that happiness doesn't even come close to the JOY I feel in knowing that I get to be your mommy. I love you baby girl!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Introducing Our Daughter...

Today is our little girl's half-birthday. Kate is officially 3 and 1/2 years old. I can't tell you how difficult it is to watch the months pass by as she continues to grow up without us. As much as we wish we could be celebrating this milestone with our daughter (since we have missed all 3 of her actual birthdays), we did want to at least mark the day by sharing something special.



About a month after we were matched with our daughter, we received some additional photos of our beautiful little girl. This is a rare gift that we did not know we would be blessed with. Many families only get their referral photo when adopting internationally, but our sweet Kate is at a wonderful, well-staffed, Catholic orphanage, and they document the children's lives with both photos and reports. So we are blessed to have a few priceless photos of her from 20 days old, until now. It is hard to watch her grow up in these pictures, knowing that we have missed so much... but at the same time it is such a gift to be able to see how beautiful she was at each precious stage of her life!


So today, on her half-birthday, we would like to introduce you to our daughter...




[We still are not allowed to publicly share photos of our daughter, so this is a password protected video. If you are a family member or friend, you are welcome to contact us for the password. We ask that those with the password please do not post this link on social media, or share the password with strangers. Thank you for understanding!]

The song you'll hear while watching is one that is very near and dear to our hearts. We have thought of "Mine to Love" by Dave Barnes as "Kate's Song" since we first heard it live at one of his concerts several years ago. To be able to see her photos set to this song after so many years of waiting is a very special thing. We hope you enjoy the song, and the photos of our beautiful little girl! Please continue to pray for a miracle of August travel dates. We are so anxious to hold her in our arms!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The In-Between

A few months ago, God started whispering to my heart that we would be traveling to get our daughter in August. Not one to keep good news to myself - I started by sharing it with my husband, and then my brother and sister-in-law. Then after we got matched, I shared it with the world via my blog (and literally every person who has asked about our adoption in person!)

Well - now I've gone and done it. I heard a word from God... a word that will require a crazy miracle... and then I spoke it out loud (like a crazy person). Now here I am in the in-between. I've got my word... but I don't have a miracle yet. And let me tell you... the in-between is a very uncomfortable place to be.

You start out in this place in full FAITH - while the voice of God still feels almost as if it were audible. You do faith-full things... like buy clothes, plan baby showers, and start working on a room. You might even turn down a job or two for the Fall (because you are convinced you'll be traveling in August of course!)

And then time passes... and 5 Adoption Board Meetings happen without your approval. And you start to doubt. And you start to wonder. And you start to feel the fear set in.... "What if this doesn't happen?! What if I was wrong? What will people think if we don't travel in August? What if they think I'm crazy?"



Sometimes I forget that you have to FIGHT to be FAITH-FULL. It's an active thing, this "taking every thought captive" sort of life. I let myself feel guilty and ashamed for those fleeting doubts recently, until I re-read an old journal entry I wrote several years ago (just after we started our adoption) about Phil 4:7, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

In that journal entry, I wrote about how guard is a verb. It's something that happens actively - not passively. This leads me to believe that doubt is a pretty normal thing (just part of a broken world I think)... and usually, it manifests as logic (because operating in faith has always seemed foolish to the world!) but God uses His peace to actively guard our hearts. Which means He is always at work - always on the job! We just have to be willing to listen.

I have seen God show up on hard days in this "in-between" lately, with specific truths to guard my heart. At just the right time, the right verse will pop up into my mind or show up on social media. On just the right day, God will give me a song that will encourage me.

But even with the encouraging verses and songs, it's easy to think I should fill this time doing things that will help bring Kate home. Somedays I wonder if I should be fasting... or fervently, tearfully praying (all day every day). I wonder if this will somehow be my fault (did I pray enough?!) if we don't get travel dates in August. But then I think about how I didn't ask God for August... I felt like He told me August on His own. So why would I beg Him to do something He's already said He would do? After all, Hosea 6:6 says God desires mercy (relationship) not sacrifice. And do I really think that I can control whether or not Kate comes home? (Do I really think I have that much power?) Or do I need to trust that God is in control - not me?

This realization helped me see that a lot of this "in-between" time is best spent learning to trust Him more. If I know God loves me, then why can't I trust Him?

I was talking to my husband about it all recently - in light of how we want Kate to love and trust us. I told him...
"If I took Kate to school one morning, and told her that we would get ice cream after, then I would want her to trust that I would do what I said (because she knows I love her). I would hope that she would spend the day excited about the treat waiting for her after school... never doubting it would happen. I would *not* however, want her to worry, or stress, or be fearful that I wouldn't actually take her for ice cream.  
I also wouldn't want her to call me 15 times that day and beg me by phone to take her for ice cream (when I already said I would). And I wouldn't want her to skip recess or lunch to write down all the chores she was willing to do in return for the ice cream. I would want her to enjoy her day.... rest, play, and be happy, knowing the treat I promised was waiting on her. "
I am trying to figure out how to fulfill this myself. If I want Kate to trust me someday... then I'm quite sure God wants me to trust Him. And most of all, I think He wants me to trust His love for me (and it's not the kind of love that requires fasting or tears or begging or bargaining or days filled with worry. He doesn't require sacrifice like that, and he doesn't delight in seeing us fearful or tearful.)

And so... in this in-between time I am working on that. I am fighting to take every thought captive... watching as God gives me the truth I need to actively guard my heart... and working hard to trust Him more. I have never felt this much peace about a word from God before (despite what logic says!)... so I am fighting to stay in a place of FAITH... to actively HOPE... to focus on things unseen (Heb 11:1). It is not an easy place to be - it is actually quite scary to think "what if I'm wrong" with so many people watching our story unfold. But you know what? I'd rather be wrong than be faithless. 

One of my favorite quotes in college was from Oswald Chambers. "Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes." And my old boss used to say, "We believe in doing things that will fail if God doesn't show up."

So here I am. Completely helpless unless God shows up. Trusting. Hoping. Believing (or trying to at least) - and learning more about a God who loves me (and my daughter) more than I can comprehend.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Worth It

A few months ago I was having what I call a "really hard adoption day" when God popped this song into my head. It's an older song - one that I haven't heard of thought of in years. So when it came to mind, I pulled it up to listen to it. (And I'm so glad I did!)


As it began to play, I was immediately overwhelmed with God's presence. I picked up my computer, walked into my daughter's room, closed the door and began to worship through tears as the words washed over me...

I don't understand your ways 
Oh, but I will give you my song 
I'll give you all of my praise. 
You hold on to all my pain 
and with it you are pulling me closer 
and pulling me into your ways. 

Now around every corner 
and up every mountain 
I'm not looking for crowns 
or water from fountains. 
I'm desperately seeking, frantic believing 
that the sight of your face 
is all that I'm needing. 

I will say to you... 
It's gonna be worth it, 
It's gonna be worth it,  
It's gonna be worth it all, 
I believe this. 
It's gonna be worth it, 
It's gonna be worth it,  
It's gonna be worth it all. 


God spoke so clearly to me that day through this song. He reminded me that all of this waiting... hoping... aching is going to be WORTH IT - because our daughter is worth it! She is worth every hard day... every bit of work... every moment of waiting. One day when she is in our arms, we will know for a fact that she was worth it all! (And now, having seen her sweet face, I can already tell you that is true!) He reminded me that someday, when she is safe and loved - here in our arms and in our home.... someday when she knows how much Jesus loves her and that He has a plan for her life... all this will be worth it!

But then... God took it a step further.

God reminded me of who I was when I started this process - and of how far I have come in the past 4+ years. He reminded me how much I have grown... how much my faith has grown. (And how that growth will make me a better mother to our sweet Kate when she is home!) He reminded me how much I have learned about Him... how I have seen His character in new ways... how real and true His faithfulness has become to me through this journey. And God spoke very clearly that this is why it our journey is ultimately worth it.


I do not believe for one second that God is making us wait for our daughter because He wants to teach me something. I do not believe that a loving God keeps mommies and daddies away from their babies... or leaves babies waiting for families in an orphanage. That kind of injustice comes at the hands of men - not from God. My God is a loving Father who sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6)... who gives good gifts to His children! (Matt. 7:11 & James 1:17) But I do believe that He is a redeeming God - one who does not waste anything. And I believe that He will take the brokenness and injustice that exists in the adoption world (because my goodness - it should not take so very long to become a family!) and He will use it for our goodness and His glory. And so, I know He has been using this wait (and every painful moment in it) to bring me into even closer relationship with Him.

And someday... when I get to heaven and see His face, I will know that ultimately THAT is what has made this wait worth it all.

So friend... whatever it is that you're waiting on... whatever it is that you're going through... you can trust that He is there for you, right by your side, drawing you near to Him in the waiting. And however hard your season is right now, please know that He will not waste one moment of it. If you let Him, He will change your heart in incredible ways, and show you more of Himself and His love than you've ever known. Someday, I promise, if you open your heart - you will see that this season was worth it, dear one. Hang in there, and lean in to what God is teaching you. It's gonna be worth it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What's Next?

Now that we have finally been matched with our daughter (which we are thanking God for every day!) the #1 question we are getting is... "so, when do you get her?" Our quick response is, "We're praying for August!" Unfortunately, the complete answer isn't that simple. So I thought I'd write a blog explaining what is next in this process.

For months now, I've been feeling like we would travel in August. Even before we got matched, I told Rusty that I had this feeling that God was up to something big. I told him (and my brother and sister-in-love) a few weeks before we were matched, "I think we're going to get matched soon, and I think she's coming home quickly!" August has been very much on my heart.

I've felt this so tangibly, that we even turned down a photography job for the first week of September, because I am convinced we'll be in Thailand then. I have never felt so sure of anything - which is interesting, because I haven't had a clue about any of the timing thus far in our adoption! But saying out loud, "We are traveling in August" feels just as real to me as saying, "the sky is blue." The crazy thing is... nothing about this is logical.

Our agency has been telling us since we started this process 4 years ago that the time it takes to travel after matching is typically 6-12 months (or longer). The bigger, more popular agency is saying 10-15 months right now. I have never heard of anyone getting travel dates faster than 8 months. And yet here I am - praying and believing for a 4 month window. I know it seems insane... but I just can't shake it. I have such peace about this! And I know that my God is BIGGER than any timeline, and that He has the ultimate authority over every list of approvals. So we are praying and believing and preparing for August!

So... what's next? 



Article 16 (First Approval)

The next thing we are waiting on is our Article 16. This is a document, approved by the Thai Adoption Board, that says that we are allowed to adopt our daughter. One thing that is different with most Thai adoptions, is that the government agency presiding over adoptions (the Thai Adoption Board) doesn't see the adoptive parents' file, or the child's adoption file, until after matching. (I know it seems backwards, but it is just their process - and we trust that our orphanage director has all our paperwork in order!) So once they review our file and our daughter's file, they will approve our Article 16 (also called an adoption decree or "first approval").

This can take a long time. I know families that have been waiting for 9 months already. The reason it takes so long, is because the Thai Adoption Board only meets 2 days a month - typically the first and third Wednesday of each month. One of those meetings is happening right now - as I type this! So we have asked all our friends and family to pray through the night tonight that this will be our meeting! Again - we know it will take a miracle for this to happen so quickly for us, but we believe that God is at work in this. We recently found out that our Orphanage Director will be at this meeting in person, so we are hopeful that will give us some favor!

USCIS I-800

Our next step is filing some forms (and fees) with the US Immigration office. We have already filed our I-800A - which was the approval for us to adopt a Thai girl, ages 0-3. But once we have our Article 16 and Kate's file, we will need the US Immigration office to approve us to adopt this specific child.

DS-260

Once we have our Article 16 and I-800, we can file the DS-260 with the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. This is (from what I understand) a form asking them to issue our daughter a visa to come into the US while we are in Thailand taking custody of her.

Thai Adoption Board Dates

Once we have our Article 16, Immigration approval, and Embassy approval - then we can schedule our travel dates and a date to appear before the Thai Adoption Board in person (the same people who approve our Article 16). This will be an interview after we take custody of Kate, and our final approval before leaving Thailand with her!

Post Placement Visits, Finalization in Alabama, and Finalization at the Thai Consulate

We are hoping to stay in-country with our daughter for 4-6 weeks after the Board Meeting to allow her time to adjust and attach. But once we are home, we're still not done! Many countries allow international adoptions to be final once the child is home on American soil - but not Thailand. (Honestly, while this is a lot more work for us, I do believe it is done out of love and concern for their Thai children! They want to be sure it is a healthy placement before things are finalized.) And so, we will be required to do 3 post placement visits with a social worker, more paperwork, finalization in a court in Alabama, more paperwork again, and finally a trip to the Thai Consulate in either Washington DC or Chicago to completely finalize our adoption in the eyes of the Thai government.

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So that's it! That's the (basic) run-down of what the rest of our process looks like. We still have a lot of paperwork, prayers, preparation - and unfortunately, waiting - do to. But we are confident that God has His hand on this process, and that our daughter will be in our arms soon!

Thank you to each and every one of you who are standing in FAITH with us and praying Kate home!

"Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for,  the evidence of things not seen."
 - Hebrews 11:1 -

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