The Home Stretch!!

That’s right, we have entered the “home stretch” of bringing Ruthie home!!!!!

We received the I800 approval. We received the Article 5 letter. We have been assigned a Judge. Now we are just waiting for the judge to assign our court date!! A court date! We have finally made it! The court date will determine when we can travel. We will be able to spend 5 days, morning and afternoon, visiting with Ruthie before we go before the judge.

Our adoption hearing could take about two hours. I’m not exactly sure what all will happen during that time, but I do know we will both have a chance to speak. And we will be questioned by the judge as to why we want to be Ruthie’s parents, what we can offer her, and why being with us would be better than where she is.

I have never been before a judge before and honestly, I am kind of stressing out about this. I mean she holds our families future in her hands. Please pray for us in this. That the judge would be understanding and we would speak clearly on Ruthie’s behalf. AND for peace and calm for me!

We are ready to paint and set up Ruthie’s bedroom. Now if Mommy could just settle on the colors that would be great! 🙂 We have been blessed by a friend who posted on her local sites looking for toddler bed donations. She has found both the toddler beds we needed! Such a relief to not have to find the funds to buy them or the time to search them out.

We will have Ruthie’s bedroom ready for her, but also a bed in our room for her. Remember Ruthie has never had her own room and everything around her will be new and probably scary. We anticipate she will need to be close to us for awhile and want to be available to her whenever she would need us, just like bringing home a newborn.

We still need to buy a new carseat for Ruthie and one crib size mattress. And than just pack!

We are wrapping up a couple ongoing fundraisers. If you are interested we still have several of our Hand Painted Eggs available, Monogram Ornaments, Caterpillar Magnets made by Big Brother, and a BIN Auction on Facebook.

Stay tuned for TRAVEL DATES!!!!

 

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Apostilles and Big Cities

So much has happened this past week! With our home study being approved we jumped head first into finishing paperwork for our Dossier as well USCIS.

Our I800a was mailed last week and we received notice that it has been logged for processing! This is the application to request permission from US immigration to adopt a foreign child. We have to be finger printed again and than wait for the approval letter. The whole process is supposed to take 4-6 weeks.

The boys and I went to Madison to pick up our Apostilled Wisconsin documents. I did not google the address for the Secretary of State’s office. I thought it was near the lake. Nope! Right on the square! 😦 Now, I love the capital building! I think it’s a beautiful building and have always enjoyed walking through and around it. Just not with two small children by myself. We arrived on the square right at lunch time. It was crazy! We made a few laps before finding parking on a side street. The meter used all my change. It’s about 90 outside, Mouse is trying to sleep, and Moose is tired. I hauled the boys (with the help of GPS) to the right building, up to the 10th floor, to find out they are closed for an hour. I didn’t have enough change to cover that long in the meter so we had to leave. The boys were happy with the McDonald’s chicken nuggets they got as a special treat though.

When we got back to the square I had to find a parking garage because I was out of change. That meant a longer walk for a sleepy Moose. With the help of GPS we found the building again, got our paperwork, and headed back. Only this time we got lost. Thankfully, people in Madison tend to be friendly. After some help we found our way back to the car and headed for home.

I thought that was an adventure. Until we went to Chicago to get Illinois Apostilles!

SO grateful that was Jason and I and not me with the boys! The Secretary of State’s office is in the heart of Chicago, near Macy’s and Trump Tower. Finding a parking garage was a feat. And then it ended up costing $32! For less than two hours! We got our form filled out to Apostille 15 documents only to find out they no longer take credit cards. We had to go find an ATM. We got back with cash to find out Illinois didn’t like how two of our forms were filled out and wouldn’t apostille them. Since we had driven two hours for this they said they would wait for us to go get them re-notarized and come back. Again, SO glad Jason was with! They gave us a map and sent us on our way. I was so lost! I have no idea where we went or how we got back. Now we are praying and hoping that these new notaries will be acceptable as they are NOT what our adoption agency gave us to use.

All that to say, our Dossier should have arrived at our adoption agency this afternoon. And if everything is ok with the new notary will soon be on it’s way to be translated for submission to the LCA.

You may have seen that our finance page jumped a LOT this weekend. We paid $890 in fees to USCIS last week with our I800a application. We had to pre-pay our home study agency for our Post Placement visits. We had already paid for four visits with our initial fees, but our daughter’s country requires seven. Those three extra visits were another $900. And also $9,228 to our agency for fees due with our Dossier.

And that will lead me into my next post about our Trike/Bike-a-Thon Fundraiser. 🙂

Oh, Happy Day!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!!

I have been working with an aide from Senator Stadelman’s office trying to get our Home Study out of DCFS. When I called this morning for an update (there was supposed to have been a meeting last Wednesday) his aide did not sound very optimistic. He did assure me they were doing everything they could and would update in a day or so. To say the least, I was very disappointed. Again.

I talked to our adoption coordinator to see if she thought we had a chance of marking our home study as urgent as Ruthie is quite small for her age. She was more than willing to try. We had a conference call with our social worker. I feel bad for our social worker. You could tell she was at a loss of how to help and she’s getting calls from upset families wanting her to do something. Basically after the DCFS meeting last week they were told to just wait it out. I know she is doing what she can and I appreciate that. The only real hope she could offer though was that it seems getting a Senator involved is only thing working.

So I left that call crying. Wow, this is an emotional roller coaster! And I don’t do roller coasters! I like the teacups and those swings that go up and around. But you find me in line for the Batman at Six Flags, tried it, it didn’t end well.

And than Sen Stadelman’s aide called back…

Are you ready?

DCFS approved our Home Study and the letter is in the mail!!! Thank you Jesus! The answer to so many prayers from SO many people!

I was finally able to call Jason with good news, the best news for now really.

Hopefully by the end of the week the notarized home study and approval letter will be in our hands. As soon as that happens the boys and I will be headed to the post office to overnight that to USCIS for immigration approval. I’m pretty sure I will be stalking the mailman this week. 🙂

While making dinner for the boys I received a call from DCFS. The man said he was newly appointed to oversee the home studies. He received the complaints I had sent to the Governor and thought he should probably call and make sure I knew our home study was approved and in the mail. I have been thinking no one was seeing my emails, letters, or phone call messages. I’m happy to hear I was wrong!

I know at least three other families who are still waiting. Please prayer for these families and that their Home Studies come this week as well. Since I don’t have permission to share their names, please remember the D, S, and C families who want their children home.

Petition is on it’s Way!

I have a mug of cards with verses on them. Every few days I pull out a new card and put it on the cupboard by the kitchen sink so I can see it and memorize Scripture while in the kitchen. The card I pulled out this week is James 5:16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Will you please join us in prayer, earnest prayer, about these home studies?

I mailed the petition to Governor Rauner today. There were 113 signatures when I printed it. I can not tell you how encouraged and uplifted we were by the support of so many friends, family, and strangers. Hopefully this petition will get the Governor’s attentions and hopefully he will understand the importance of this bill and it’s affect on so many children’s lives.

We are confident the bill will be signed. We are praying it is soon (like in the next week or two). If it is signed soon and home studies are released it will still be a possibility for Ruthie to come home this year.

Praise God this bill, HB 3079, has passed the House and Senate!

Praise God that the adoption process will be a bit easier for Illinois families in the future.

Praise God we are day by day getting closer to having our little girl in our arms.

Pray that the petition reaches the right people at the right time.

Pray that the Governor is understanding and willing to do what he can for Illinois’ waiting families.

Pray that those home studies are released soon (like I said, we are praying for this week or next).

Pray for us as well as the other families who are waiting and working so very hard to bring our little ones home.

Hurry Up…And Wait…

I have heard this saying from other parents in the adoption process. I even thought I would enjoy this phase. After all, it means a break from thinking about paperwork, tracking down documents, stressing out about getting something wrong on a form, just a nice calm break. Oh was I wrong!

Yesterday we finished out Hague required training. I must admit we learned A LOT! And our plans of how we envisioned doing things when Ruthie comes home have changed. For one, we had planned to put her into preschool shortly after coming home so she would not be missing out on the therapies that she needs. We have learned that is not in her best interest or ours as a family. We need to keep her close to Mommy and Daddy for awhile so she can form an attachment with us. Therapy can wait.

We also filled out a “rough draft” of the I800-A that we have to submit to USCIS in order to be approved as international adoptive parents. We can’t actually submit the form until our home study is complete and approved by a one women position in Springfield. (PLEASE pray that this happens quickly!) Illinois is one of only three states that requires this step and if you ask me, it seems pretty pointless.

So, here we are, at wait. Wait for our home study to be finished, wait for our WI, IL, and Fed clearances to come in, wait for the approval from Springfield, wait to be able to submit the I800-A. Wait.

I don’t like waiting. I tend to be impatient and I always want to know what is happening and what I can do. Ask Jason, I want every detail of everything. I drive him crazy when we watch a movie together. I want to know what is going to happen with each character and the outcome from the beginning.

But this, I have no control over this. A women posted Joshua 1:9 on Reece’s Rainbow’s facebook page last week. I wrote it on my kitchen marker board to give me a constant reminder. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

During this time of waiting we will keep trusting God has gone before us to make a way, we will continue to pray for our little girl (God has been doing amazing things with her development), we will push forward with fundraising so we have the finances when it comes time to send our Dossier ($14,000), we will be encouraged!

And we will wait.

Current Fundraisers

We have a few fundraisers going right now. I am so excited for each one.

Our little girl has a Prayer Warrior from Reece’s Rainbow who has now become our Family Warrior. Judy has designed a shirt that works for anyone. It says “Bent, but NOT broken!” on the back. This saying has personal meaning to Judy making it even more special to us. The shirt is available in a variety of sizes and styles including women’s, youth, long sleeve, and sweatshirt.

https://www.bonfirefunds.com/help-the-ballard-family

My cousin, Courtney, has also started a shirt fundraiser. This one has a country outline with their flag colors on the front. The back says “God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patience and faith but it’s all worth the wait.” Oh so very true and a reminder we constantly need!

https://www.bonfirefunds.com/help-the-bellard-family

Little Moose and I still have eggs available too! This was super successful in the beginning, Thank you to everyone who jumped on board when it started! Here is the info on the eggs.

Over the years we have purchased decorated eggs from artisans in the markets while in Lith. Zack and I have painted our own version of their painted egg. During “trial and error” I learned that using real eggs was going to be a bad idea, we broke several. So we have chosen wooden eggs with a flat bottom so they can sit up and be displayed.

Each hand painted egg has a number 1-50. To purchase an egg, let me know what number egg you would like, that is also the cost of the egg.

Example; egg #2 is a $2 donation, egg #42 is a $42 donation.

Zack is very excited for his sister and wants to help, eggs 5, 15, 25, 35, 45, and 50 were decorated by him.

For every egg purchased your name will go into a drawing for a carved egg from the capital of our daughters country.

The available eggs are 17, 19, 23, 26, 27, 28, 31, 33, 34, 36-44, 47-50

Original Women + Reece’s Rainbow = Changed Lives

Ok, I have been anxious to write this post since Friday!

Our church, Rockford First, just had it’s annual women’s conference last weekend. Side note, it was AMAZING! I think the last number I heard was over 2,600 women from around the country attended this year! The speakers were awesome. Have you ever heard of Bob Goff? I highly suggest looking him up.

To get to the point of my post today. Original Women started a thing called ‘In it for good’ last year. We were encouraged to take these cute little jars home and work on filling them with $200 before this years conference. The money would then go directly to the organizations Original partners with; Mercy Ministries, She Rescue Homes, and Zoe International. Over the years we have heard from speakers representing those organizations. The changed lives and hope restored to hurting and broken women and children is amazing. It is a privilege to be able to be a part of these organizations.

Friday during conference I was in the Family Room because Little Mouse was with me. There were a bunch of other women with little babies watching the live stream of the conference. Jen Deweerdt started talking about Down Syndrome and all the kids with special needs who were waiting for adoptive families and a new ministry that Original Women was partnering with. I knew she’s taking about Reece’s Rainbow, a friend had just mentioned it. And here I am in this little room with a bunch of moms I don’t know and tears pouring down my face. But I didn’t care, I was only thinking of my sweet baby girl.

So here’s the thing. Three months ago I had no idea Reece’s Rainbow even existed. Now, not only are we preparing to bring our daughter home, but over 2,600 other women are aware of these sweet children and that there IS something they can do.

Can you imagine! Over 2,600 women were introduced to RR in one day! How many lives can be changed if even a small percentage of those women do something?

Maybe some will be led to adopt…Less orphans, more children with loving parents and hope.

Maybe some will give…Financial help for families in process.

Maybe some will be Prayer or Family Warriors…Encouragement for families adopting.

Maybe some will be Guardian Angels…Awareness for children…leading to their family finding them!

Maybe some will tell a friend…Anything is possible!

I can not wait for next years conference! I can not wait to hear about the changed lives through Original and Reece’s Rainbow. I can not wait to be able to say, “this is my daughter, thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and financial support”. I can not wait to share RR with other women.

We have an FSP (Family Sponsorship Program) set up on RR that people can contribute to our expenses to bring Ruthie home. I have added a link to my blog.

I am hoping that at next years conference there will be a booth set up for Reece’s Rainbow. And you can bet that I will be there sharing our story and encouraging other women to Be Brave and step Past the Wishing like we did.