Next Steps

After receiving the bad news on November 11th that our dossier was never submitted and several documents had expired, we rallied and got our new dossier sent to our facilitator on November 22nd.  She received it on November 27th, translated it, and submitted it on December 4th!

So what now?

Well, we're not completely sure (that's the nature of adoption!), but here is what we know...

Overall:
- in general, it takes 3 months from dossier submission to appointment date--the date we would go to Ukraine (if that timeframe holds true, that puts us there in March)

The Details:
- they will have a shutdown from December 10 - mid-January where they will not accept new dossiers, but WILL still be processing the ones they have (and they have ours!)

- in takes 3-4 weeks for them to check a dossier and register a family on the list of candidates to adopt (did you know that exactly 3 weeks from Dec 4 is Christmas day??  how cool would that be to receive our Registration Notification then?!)

- they will be off for the holidays from December 31 - January 8* (so this could definitely impact the 3-4 week timeframe noted above--our facilitator said not to expect to hear anything about our registration until mid-January--but we're still praying for Christmas!)

*Ukraine (like Ethiopia) is an Orthodox Christian country, which means that Christmas is celebrated on January 7

- after we receive our Registration Notification, it can take another 3 weeks to receive our Letter of Invitation with the date of our appointment (then we would travel to Ukraine to meet our boys and complete our adoption!)

How you can pray:
We believe that God still does miracles, and we are praying that we receive our Registration Notification by Christmas.  Will you pray with us?

Once we're in Ukraine, the entire process could take up to 8 weeks.  Ben plans to stay in country the entire time, so we are praying that we can afford for him to do that (cover his lost wages).  Will you pray with us?  If you feel led to give financially, you can use the AdoptTogether link on the right.

Thank you for continuing to partner with us on this journey!

the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad email

We got some bad news yesterday.  We woke up to an email from our in-country adoption facilitator notifying us that our dossier had never actually been submitted like we all thought.  She was incredibly apologetic and embarrassed, and even used words like "devastated, crushed." 

How it Happened:
Our facilitator trusted a translator that she has used for years to do his job properly, and he failed her.  Rather than submitting our dossier after it had been translated, he went on vacation (for a month!) and didn't alert her to some documents that were about to expire until he returned from vacation.  Now, several of our documents have already expired since it didn't get submitted back in September when we sent it over.

What this Means to our Timeline:
We are essentially 2 months (or more) behind where we thought we were.  So, rather than potentially traveling in late-December or early-January, we are now looking at March at the earliest.  It takes the wind out of me just typing that!  We selfishly want our boys home NOW!

Immediate Perspective:
When I read the first two sentences in the email that contained words like "this has never happened to me before," "I don't even know where to start," and "with a heavy heart, I need to inform you..." I honestly thought that we had lost our boys.  I thought that a mistake had been made, and that another family had adopted them, or that they actually weren't "adoptable."  So when I finished reading it and realized that it was only a paperwork issue, I was actually extremely relieved.

We have close friends who currently have kiddos STUCK in other countries because of governments deciding to close their doors for at least a year.  We have close friends who have experienced failed birthmom matches, infertility, miscarriages, and other devastating losses.  We have friends who have lost their kiddos to illness before they could even meet them in person.  So, in the grand scheme of things, this is not THAT BAD.  Perspective is nice to have.

Our Reaction:
We were understandably upset when we read the email.  I reached out to my mom and sisters for strength, encouragement, prayer, etc.  Their words were perfect for me, and because I know that their words can help some of you, I want to share some excerpts...

"Fume a little, cry a little, and run to Jesus"

"God is so good and there MUST be a reason for this. We may never know. But there is purpose in this, so really your only choice is to relent, relinquish control, release it to God, and just keep moving forward. Doing the next thing you know to do one step at a time - like the ant."

"Never, never, never give up hope!"

"Breathe. It's God's breath. He's got this. Process the justified anger. But don't waste energy in anger. You need to keep your energy for your boys. Your love for them covers ALL of this. It will be okay. In fact, actually it already is. God's got this."

"I pray that God is getting ready to show you how faithful He is."

"I'm so sorry that this is catching you off guard--that's the part that really gets us. When things don't go as we've expected or been told they'd go. And it's natural for us to build expectations around rules, precedence, protocol, sequence....but really it's all so unreliable. And sometimes that's the best message to receive when the ground is moved right under our feet. The only thing we can truly plan around and rely on is God's love. And it's there, wrapped around you and Ben--and wrapped around His boys. And where there is Love, there is mercy and blessing and truth. You know what's real--your calling and leading to them. Hang on to that. While the agencies and governments are a necessary part of the process...they are NOT what will make this real. God spun a web of energy between y'all and these boys and that is the calling, the dream, the instant Love you followed and felt. Trust it. Know it.

As you do all of the things that must be done, keep your eyes focused on that web...that real connection...and not focused on the process and the people because they will fail you. Pray for them of course; and as they fail you know that all things work for the good of those who Love...Him, your boys, your girls, your calling. He will not fail you...and He will take the failures of others and turn them into great blessings."
 

Our Next Steps:
We are rushing to update 8 documents (yes, 8!) that have "expired" (a ludicrous idea that defies logic...so don't even ask how a marriage license or fingerprints can "expire!").  We are under a very tight time crunch now because the Ukraine doesn't accept new dossiers from December 10 - mid-January.  So, we HAVE to get our updated documents to the Ukraine before that December 10th closure or we'll have to wait for yet another month or two--not happening if we have any say in it!

Bottom Line:
We know that God is faithful and that He has NOT forgotten our boys (or us!).  We want to do nothing but glorify God with our response.  One of the challenges that my mom gave us is that we can use this experience to truly show Jesus' love, compassion, and graciousness to our facilitator who feels horrible about what has happened.  Yes, that's the least we can do!  We are all human and we all make mistakes.  God has forgiven us for much more, so of course we should extend forgiveness to her!  When we responded to her email with our forgiveness and understanding, she replied back with appreciation and thanks for "being tolerant."  I pray that when we meet her in person, we can show her even more of that.  

How You Can Pray:
Please pray for swiftness in our re-do's of these documents.  Specifically, our criminal background check in the state of Texas is meant to take 2 weeks to process--can you pray with us that the timeframe for that is cut in half?  Also, please pray for our boys' hearts.  Our middle son told someone recently that he would meet his family in 2 months.  My heart aches that it will now be longer than that, and I pray that they can understand that it's not for lack of us trying.  They are loved and they are wanted--pray that they know that.

Thank you SO much for walking this journey with us!

Worn

My life right now can be summed up quite nicely by the lyrics of this song by Tenth Avenue North (lyrics below).  And unfortunately, so many of my friends (several of them are also adoptive mamas) can say the same.  This is a very tough season that I knew was coming, but couldn’t stop from happening.  

Ben said it perfectly the other night:

“My body may be here, but my mind and heart are in a place I have never been, and for boys I have never met.  The crazy love of an adoptive father.”

Would you do me a favor?  If you are not currently going through a season of being worn, will you pray for us?  It’s a genuine need.  We need others to be on their knees for us because we just can’t do it right now.  If you’re willing, please pray for whatever God lays on your heart for us.

James 5:16 says: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

Thank you for going on this journey with us, friends.  We love you and need the support more than you know!

I'm tired 
I'm worn 
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing


I've made mistakes
I've let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world


And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn


I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Cause I'm worn


I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I'm too week
Life just won't let up


And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left


Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn


I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Cause I'm worn


And my prayers are wearing thin
I'm worn even before the day begins
I'm worn I've lost my will to fight
I'm worn so heaven so come and flood my eyes


Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn


I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Yes all that's dead inside will be reborn
Though I'm worn
Yeah I'm worn

Quick Update

Just a quick update on our boys...

Process/Timeframe:  On September 17th, our agency director sent our dossier to our in-country facilitator and we wired the money for the translation of the dossier.  When we first started the process (in April), the estimated timeframe from dossier submission to travel was 1.5 months.  Unfortunately, there were layoffs in Ukraine that have caused the process to slow down a bit.  Most families are now seeing a 3 month timeframe from the date they submit their dossier to the date they travel.  If that holds true for us, that would put us in Ukraine around Christmas!  We are still praying for a quick timeframe, but trusting that God's timing is truly perfect (easier said than done).

Telling the Boys:  We are hopeful that the orphanage director will tell the boys about us soon (receiving the dossier has been a trigger for other families).  We did find out from our facilitator that she told the boys they had a family pursuing them (she said she had to ask them to make sure they wanted to be adopted and wanted to move to the US) and in her words "they WANT to be adopted!!"  She said they know nothing about us personally--just that a family from the US is pursuing them.  That gives us a better peace of mind, especially considering...  

More Friends Being Adopted:  As many of you know, there is a couple from Alabama who is in Ukraine right now adopting 2 boys who are friends with our boys.  They have been staying in the orphanage for the past 3 weeks while the court process has taken place, and have spend a LOT of time with our boys.  As of last Friday (Sept 20th), they passed court and their boys are officially theirs (in Ukraine)!  That means that they are moving out of the orphanage today and taking the boys into Kiev while they finalize all of the remaining paperwork (new birth certificates, passports, and Visas).  With more and more of our boys' friends being adopted and leaving the orphanage, we are SO thankful that they at least know someone is coming for them!

{Try to even imagine what it might be like to be an orphan getting closer and closer to "aging out" and not knowing if a family is ever coming for you.  Can't even imagine!}

Choosing to be Grateful:  While it has been extremely tough to have 3 of our kiddos across the world from us, we are choosing to be thankful!

- We were blessed to have 3 straight weeks of getting frequent pictures and updates on our boys from the couple from Alabama!

- Our boys know that a family is coming for them!

- We know that they want to be adopted and move to the US!

- We have connected with several families (most in Alabama, one in Chicago) who adopted boys from the same orphanage--boys who are close buddies with our sons!  And we are already making plans to go visit them once the boys are home and settled!

- We have connected with the Honorary Consulate of Ukraine who is here in Houston and excited to offer help (language classes, culture classes, connections with other Ukrainian teens, etc.) when our boys get home!

Praying for a magical Christmas for our family!

Eden at 3!

Our baby girl turned 3 years old today!  Here’s her long overdue “scrapbook” installment...




Lots of Love





























- You absolutely LOVE your family ("lub you" and lots of hugs and kisses)
- You like to be in mommy’s lap (“sich-ee-wap” means “sit in your lap”)
- You can make your sister crack up laughing in a split second by making a silly noise, silly face, etc.
- You can also make your sister burst out crying in a split second when jealousy or anger takes you over (luckily, this doesn't happen very often)
- You face-time (call with a video on our iPhones) with Rah-Rah at least once a week--you love your Rah-Rah!
- You love spending time with Grandma and Grandpa on Wednesday nights while Mommy and Daddy go to small group--you squeal with delight, do a dance, run up and give big hugs when they walk in the door!
- You talk about your family members who we don’t see as often like Nina and your other aunts, uncles, and cousins—even your dog cousins!
- Your teachers (church and MDO) often comment on your sweetness—we LOVE to hear that!

You’re a Beauty!


























































- You are tall, with long legs!
- You have beautiful hair with tight, soft curls—you are so patient with Mommy as she styles it
- You have favorite hair bows (“ha bows”)—cute little clips with a fabric flower on them
- You have a “style”—you are usually wearing skinny jeans with a cute t-shirt or leggings with a girly skirt and top; you like fun socks and your Toms shoes or your purple sandals
- You enjoy feeling "pretty" and will go show Daddy anytime you wear something extra pretty or have a new hairstyle

Chatty Cathy
- You need full and honest communication about your day (is Daddy at work or home; is this a "school" day, home day, church day, or going out day; etc.)
- You are very animated as you "re-tell" stories of what happened to you
- Your vocabulary is growing so fast!
- You are polite and use your manners ("peese," "thank koo," "koose me")
- You show your defiance toward us by ignoring us when we call your name—we’re working on that J
- You ask for help when you need it (“uh hep me”)
- You picked up a funny thing from Grandma…when you see any baby (usually Jacob or Callie), you smile at them and say in a loud voice “heh-wohhhhh!”

Sleeping/Waking Up





















- You still go to sleep easily, but either Mommy or Daddy MUST sing to you as we tuck you in ("ing!")
- You still go to sleep with your lion and lovie (lion is a small webkinz stuffed animal; lovie is the blue blanket you've had since we brought you home--Aunt Jenny gave it to you)...and of course, your beloved paci [as of today, you are paci-free!]
- You know how to work Netflix on the iPad like a pro, so that is your wind-down activity at the end of the day (“i-pah”)
- You know that you only get your paci at naptime and nighttime, so our routine when you wake up is to put paci in a basket on your dresser--you kiss it and tell it "bye!" [as of today, you are paci-free!]
- You start every day with a gummy vitamin (“vi-min”) and a cup of milk (“muck”)
- You give Daddy a "wet willie" (wet finger in the ear) every morning that he is home to wake him up--you prep your finger by giving it a long lick, then you get up on the bed, crawl over to him, and stick your finger in his ear--he obliges by being "surprised" every time!

Eating




















- You are a great eater, but can get distracted very easily at the table, so we have to remind you to take bites and keep eating
- You are a carnivore—you LOVE meat!
- You are not a picky eater at all, and we love that you love veggies and fruits, too!
- Your favorite healthy snack is a mandarin orange (Cuties) and you love to peel them yourself!
- Your favorite “treats” are M&M’s (“eem-eem’s”), peppermints (“pop-mees”), and Jolly Ranchers (“joh-ee-rah-ers”)!

Activities



















































































































- You love to sing and dance!
- Your favorite song lately is “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
- You love playing games on our iPhones and are quite savvy with technology!
- You are still an outdoor girl at heart--you love exploring our backyard for bugs, rocks, flowers, etc.—when you find a bug, you ask for help to touch it (“touch it, touch it!”)
- You have an outdoor kitchen where you spend lots of time mixing up all of your finds with water
- You love Disney princess movies and books
- You love sitting with Mommy as she puts on her makeup--you have your own set of brushes and makeup, too!
- You love going over to Grandma and Grandpa's house--you especially love driving Grandpa’s truck, fishing, feeding the turtles, swimming , helping Grandpa with chores (stacking wood), picking oranges off the neighbor's tree, helping Grandma bake, reading books, riding your horsey (rocking horse that says "neigh!"), and really anything with Grandma or Grandpa!

Our Big Girl

















































































- You completed potty training boot camp (3 days in panties with Daddy as your coach) like a champ when you were 2 ½ years old!
- You are "miss independent" and can put on your own shoes--often on the wrong feet, which is adorable! (you try to put on other articles of clothing, and are very close to doing it yourself!)
- You are such a big helper--with laundry, dusting, putting items in the trash, weeding the flower beds, etc.
- You love helping us get Callie up from her naptimes--you'll get in the crib with her and play for a bit and then you'll help by throwing her dirty diapers in the "stinky" trash can [and for the last 3 days, you and Cal now share a room!]
- You really like helping Mommy cook or bake! We give you your own bowl, spoon, measuring cups, and some ingredients and you go to town! You like to use the toaster oven as your pretend place to cook your ingredients. (you and Mommy both wear aprons--yours has a monkey on it!) 

What Makes You, You







  



















- You are such a loving and kind little girl—you wave at everyone, and even blow kisses to many—but you save your smiles for those you are most comfortable around…and we love that!
- You are a girly-girl in SO many ways! (princess dress-up, wearing skirts that twirl, etc.)
- You have picked up a bit of your mama's need for tidiness (which we love!)--for example, we recently turned to walk out of your room and you insisted that we go back to pick up a few puzzle pieces that Callie had been playing with
- You can spot the "bad guys" in every Disney movie you watch and will yell out "ba guy!"
- You LOVE finding the moon every night!
- You like talking to Jesus--especially to thank Him for our food at meal time (we all hold hands, close our eyes, pray, then say "Ahh-men" loudly together as we raise our hands)
- You will mimic Mommy in the car while we listen to worship music and raise our hands and sway them back and forth--such a sweet time for me to see you worship our Lord!
- You do not like to “perform” for the camera—maybe partly defiance, but mostly just your personality (which is fine by me!!)...but you still give us your silly faces!


 
We love you SO much, Edeneku Lee Huss!  And we are SO proud of you!

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

We are SO thankful to all of you who have contributed to our adoption fund so far!  As of today, we are approximately $6,000 away from reaching our goal! 

As promised, every $30 contribution made to our adoption fund from August 22 - today at 3:30pm gave you a chance to win a 42" TV!

We used Excel to track everything and used the "random" function {=INDEX($A:$A,RANDBETWEEN(1,COUNTA($A;$A)),1)} to do the drawing. 

There were a total of 6 families represented in the drawing, and 62 total entries.  Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And the winner is...




Congratulations, Blake & Amy McCartney!  Looks like I'll be loading up the TV before I head out of town in a bit!

Thanks again for all of your love and support in bringing our boys HOME!

A Final Push!

We are so incredibly grateful for all of you who are partnering with us to bring our boys HOME!  We can't wait to tell them how many people love them!

With our travel date drawing near (hopefully sometime in October!), we want to do one final push to get to the fundraising finish line (check the thermometer on the right for a current tally)A generous friend donated a brand new (in the box) 42" TV for us to use to raise funds for our adoption, so how's that for an incentive?!

For the next 2 weeks (now through Friday, September 6th), every $30 contribution to our adoption will give you a chance to win this TV!

Here are the details on the TV...
LG 42" LCD 1080P HDTV (model number 42LK450) - retail value is $600
















Here is the "fine print"...
- Everyone is eligible to win (except Ben & Lauren Huss, of course).
- You can make your donation by cash, check, or online (click on our AdoptTogether link on the right).
- We'll use the same Excel random number generator formula as we did for the iPad mini drawing to determine the winner.
- If the winner doesn't live in the Houston area, we're going to ask you to pay the shipping fees.

Thank YOU for helping us bring our boys HOME!

Got It!




We received the coveted I-171H, Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition in the mail today!



"It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan(s) as defined in Section 101(B)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act."



Translation: 
The USCIS reviewed all of our documents (a TON of documents!), ran our fingerprints through their systems, and gave us their stamp of approval to adopt our boys!

What this means for our timeframe: 
There are some specific documents required for the Ukraine that we could not begin until we received this FDL document.  So, we can now request our employment verification letters that will list our most recent pay information, then get those notarized and sent to Austin for apostille.  Those things will COMPLETE our dossier!

Once our dossier is sent to Ukraine, it's approximately 1 month for them to review our dossier files and issue our appointment to come to Ukraine.  We will likely have 15 days notice for travel.  We are praying that we will be in Ukraine by sometime in October!

We are a BIG step closer to bringing our boys HOME!!

Click here if you want to check out more of the answers to questions about travel, etc.

Must-Reads

Many of you have asked how you can support Team Huss during our adoption journey. 

First of all, thanks for asking!  Seriously--we get overwhelmed with gratitude when we think of how many of you are lifting us up!  It is truly a TEAM effort!

So, back to your question...

Honestly, the best way to support us is to pray for us.  And the best way to pray for us is to truly understand where we are coming from.  And the best way to understand where we are coming from (outside of actually adopting internationally yourself!) is to educate yourself by reading some of the articles that we've read and watching some of the videos we've watched.

(and no, we won't ask you to write a "book report" like we had to on some of these!)

Here is our "must-read" list (we didn't want to overload you...but if you want more, we're happy to send more!):

- Advice from an adoptee about adopting an older child (click here to read)

- Trauma doesn't tell time (click here to read)

- What both of us are going through during the waiting stage (click here to read)

- 7 Insights and 7 Gifts - Dr. Karyn Purvis (click here to watch)

NOTE: Dr. Purvis has a very "ooey-gooey-ness" to her, but she is extremely knowledgeable and has dedicated her life to kiddos from hard places.  She is very well-respected in adoption networks, and we have learned a LOT from her (and will continue to learn more when the boys get home).  You can watch any of her videos or read any of her books to learn more about attachment, connecting, etc. 

Want more?  The Tapestry Ministry in Irving, TX has a TON of free resources for adoptive families (and they work with Dr. Purvis), so click here if you want to learn more!

Thank you for loving us!

Red Tape

Ben and I returned home from a weekend out of town with our family to find this in the mail. 



This is what you could call "red tape."  One of the MANY barriers that we have to knock down to get our boys HOME.

Government Agency #1 - Secretary of State's office from The State of Texas
The document on the left is from the State of Texas and is a "notice of deficiency" on one of our documents that we had to send to them for authentication.  It's a copy of our doctor's medical license that we had notarized in front of the doctor (i.e., a notary traveled to our doctor's office with us to notarize it).  What our Secretary of State is saying is that the phrase we used on it is off by a few words so we have to re-do the entire thing.

Translation: make another appointment with our doctor, get calendars coordinated with a notary for that appointment date/time, re-do the signatures, make more copies, send it again to Austin, and wait for them to authenticate it and send it back.

Bottom line:  more money...but worst of all, more TIME

Government Agency #2 - USCIS office from the US Dept of Homeland Security
The document on the right is from the USCIS and is a "request for evidence" on our home study that we had to send them as part of our I-600A application (to be able to adopt).  They said that our homestudy failed to have the exact words stating that our social worker asked us if we had previously been rejected as a prospective adoptive parent or been the subject of an unfavorable home study.  This is ridiculous on so many levels, including the fact that the home study did specifically state that we previously were approved and adopted Eden in 2011.  Oh, and the other thing they said they needed is something that's actually already included in our home study.  Seriously.

Translation: email our social worker and ask her to add this phrase to our home study, print several more copies and have them notarized, send 1 of those notarized copies to the USCIS to fulfill this request, send 2 of those notarized copies to the State of Texas for authentication (which we had already done with our now "outdated" homestudy), wait for them to authenticate it and send it back, and wait for the USCIS to process this new homestudy and (hopefully) approve it.

Bottom line: more money...but worst of all, more TIME

I'm not gonna lie--Ben and I were in a funk all night after receiving these requests in the mail.  We feel like we're in the "dance" of 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.  It's SO hard to not have all of your lovies under one roof! 

Then I read this during my brief quiet time this morning...

















This is what it says... (emphasis mine)
"Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."  Then why ask?  The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God.  If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God.  The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with our Lord in prayer.  We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God's grace.

Ben and I have to remind ourselves that we went through many hurdles and a ton of hard times during our adoption of Eden.  However, now that we look back, we can see His PERFECT timing of bringing her home (like, seriously--PERFECT). 

Bottom line:  We have to remember that it's not about usIt's not even about our boysIt's about God.  We want HIM to be glorified through us.  No matter what.