“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

James 1:27

Our cell phone number in Ukraine is: +38 097 828 9477. We are 8 hours ahead of Texas time. We can receive text but cannot send them. You can also reach us by email at joniredding@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Change of Plans!!!!

I did receive the I-171H and it is on its way to Ukraine.  We are supposed to be submitted next week.  But, that might be changing.  During this crazy holdup with USCIS I have felt like there was a purpose.  The delays were so uncharacteristic that I thought God must be purposely delaying us.  I think He was and I’m starting to see why.  My sweet friend called me late Saturday night and told me about these 2 children that need a host family for the summer.  It is a 13 year old girl and a 6 year old boy.  The girl was hosted by a family here a couple of summers ago and everyone adores her.  Two of her best friends have been adopted by families here and these girls are so excited that she is coming.  We have prayed and prayed about what to do about this.  I think God is going to teach us so much through this hosting trip.  We are all really excited to see where He is going to take us!  Please be praying for us as we prepare our house and our hearts for their arrival!!!   Things in Ukraine keep changing everyday.  One day they say that they will close for 3 to 6 months and not issue appointments until they reopen (September?).  The next day they think they will keep issuing appointments throughout the ministry change.  So, who knows?  I just feel like this is such a wonderful opportunity for all of us.  When the girl was hosted before she did not want to be adopted because she has 2 older brothers and 1 of them was at the orphanage with her.  He has graduated from the orphanage now so I’m not exactly sure how she feels, but I think she hopes to be adopted.  So, I don’t know if we will be submitted next week or if they will want to wait.  I’m not sure how that works.  Does anyone know if we can be submitted now but request a date after the hosting trip?  I would love to travel in August or September, right after the hosting trip.  So, we will just keep trusting and trying to be obedient to what God is calling us to do.  This was a really tough decision for us.  We knew we wanted to do whatever God was leading us to do, but sometimes it is just so hard to know.  Anyway, I don’t think it is a good idea for me to post a lot of information about the kids on the internet, but I would LOVE for you to see their pictures!  They are just precious!  Just email me and I will email their pictures to you.  joniredding@hotmail.com

Monday, April 25, 2011

Word from USCIS

I just got off the phone with USCIS and they said we were approved on Friday.  The last email I received from our officer said that she would let me know as soon as she received the documents.  I never heard from her so I assumed she was still waiting for them.  It’s good news that we were approved but I had asked her to email me the document so that I could go and have it apostilled and mail it right away.  I just spoke with a supervisor there and she said that she will try to take care of that.  So hopefully, in just a little bit I will be on my way to Austin for my last apostille!

Monday, April 18, 2011

In the mail AGAIN!

I resent the documents today.  They are guaranteed to be there by tomorrow at noon.  I included every bit of information that I could find so they can get it to the right person this time.  Our officer asked me to send her the tracking number so she can be looking for it.  I really think she will try to get it done as fast as possible.  Now I will just wait.  I have been praying about this A LOT and I feel much more at peace with whatever happens. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

more bad news

We just got the mail and we got the documents that Jody overnighted back from USCIS.  When Jody got the document saying that there was no record of the arrest, he called our case worker and asked her where to mail it and what to include.  She told him where to send it and to send it to her attention.  He did that and sent the 2 documents.  She did not mention any other information that he needed so he just put the documents in the envelope and sent them to her attention.  Evidently that is not enough because the letter from USCIS said that there is insufficient information.  It said that they need "at a minimum, the name and date of birth of the applicant or petitioner."  Usually you would send additional information with the letter their request letter.  We didn't have one of those this time because our officer forgot to request it when she first requested the correction to the Home Study.  She emailed this request so there was no form.  If she had asked for the information all at once, we would have had the correct form.  But still, don't they use computers?  Couldn't they look up our name somehow and ask the officer if that was for her.  Couldn't they just read the envelope?  It was on a FedEx form which they mailed back to us.  Actually there were 2 copies of it.  Also, it is postmarked the 13th.  So, it took them 9 days to see that they didn't know where it belonged?  I don't know if I should overnight it again with an explanation of what has happened or call them or what.  We have called a couple of times and you get a recording or someone who reads some information to you and transfers you to a voicemail. Not very helpful.  I'm so exhausted and stressed from all of this.

Please pray!

Here is the copy of the email I received from our USCIS officer today:

The information that was sent, still has not made its way to my desk.  I am on the lookout.  If it does not come to me by the end of today I will send an email to the mail people and see what is happening with the correspondence.  I will also add that mail department has 5-10 days to get the correspondence out to the needed party. 

We overnighted it exactly 2 weeks ago and they received it on Monday the 4th.  Then our agency forwarded this email to me today:


I have just been informed that the State department of adoption (SDA ) will be temporarily closing for adoptions as of either June 1st or June 13th so that they can move offices and do a changeover to report to another ministry.  That might take around three months for them to move the office and get restructured and when they do open up again, they will have a new name.

Those families who already have SDA appointments, will continue to have their assigned SDA appointment and No DELAYS are anticipated.  The SDA stated today that they will continue accepting dossiers until June 1st (or June 13th - I heard both dates as you can imagine all the facilitators were talking in the SDA hallways!).  Some SDA appointments may still be assigned if the dossiers are turned in within the next couple of weeks and for those who get dossiers turned in closer to the temporary closing deadline, they will be given the first appointments when the new SDA reopens in three (or four?) months.  A long shut down is not expected because the SDA moving offices stops domestic (within Ukraine) adoptions from happening as well as international adoptions so there is motivation to make the change of offices time period relatively short.

There may be some revisions to documents since the SDA is changing names but we are hoping that it will be similar to last time, in that if a dossier was turned before the shut down, they honored the paperwork and made those couples the priority for first appointments.  In case you are wondering, this has nothing to do with Hague, it's not on the table right now.  Families should continue having contact with their children and they will be able to host their children in the summer (again).

Our next submission date is the 20th but there is no way we can make that because I would have needed to receive the paper yesterday in order to make that happen.  If we aren't submitted in the next couple of weeks, SDA will be closed for 3 to 6 months and we won't be able to adopt until at least September.  I am just so frustrated with all of this mess.  It just doesn't make sense that we are being delayed on the US side of things.  If we can get our approval from USCIS and be submitted in the next couple of weeks, we could still go before the SDA closes.  That is what I'm praying for although I do know that my view of this situation is so limited.  Only God can see clearly what is to come.  I'm so tired of thinking about all of this.  My emotions are crazy - just like during pregnancy.  What if I have to keep doing this for another 5 to 7 months? I guess God will never give me more than I can handle.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Still not submitted

Unfortunately there is no news.  We overnighted the information they needed on Friday, the 1st.  Someone at USCIS signed for it on Monday the 4th  but as of this Monday, the 11th, the officer working on our case had not received it.  She said it was probably still in processing.  I will email again today to see if there is an update.  I hate bugging them, and I have a feeling that they hate it too.  It seems to make things take longer instead of speeding them up.  So of course we weren’t submitted yesterday like we hoped.  Who knows when it will be?  I know that God’s timing is perfect but I’ve been a little depressed about this delay.  I really wanted to spend the summer getting our family adjusted and now it is looking like we will spend a huge part of our summer in Ukraine.  Plus everything is so uncertain.  We need to plan some things but I don’t know when.  Jody’s district won their District Achievement Trip so we need to plan a weekend for that but we have no idea when we will be in Ukraine.  I need to RSVP to 2 weddings but I don’t know if we can make it or not.  Our friends who had their fingerprint appointment on the same day as ours are in Ukraine right now.  Oh, I wish we were there.  They had an experience just like ours – the little girl they were hoping to adopt was placed in foster care.  They have a referral for 2 little girls and they are traveling to meet them now.  These 2 girls are precious.  You can read about them on her blog and she even has the links to see their photos.  Check it out if you have time.  You can also be praying for them!
I have made some progress in the girls’ room.  We put in 2 twin beds and it looks really cute.  I cleaned out a bunch of stuff and tried to get everything organized.  I’m trying to do a room each week or so.  I’m dreading doing the little boys room but I think I will tackle that next.  They have so many toys and Cole loves all of them.  I don’t think anyone has as many weapons and costumes as he does.
Hopefully next time I will have good news!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another Delay/ New Submission Date

We have a new submission date – April 13th.  I thought we might get our immigration approval this week, but we ran into another problem.  I know that in a previous post about our Home Visit, I told about Jody being arrested.  You can read the story here or I will just summarize and tell you that he was arrested in 2002.  He didn’t pay a ticket on time and got pulled over again the day after it was due and there was already a warrant out for his arrest.  We didn’t think it would show up on his background check but we thought we should mention it to the social worker just in case.  So she wrote about it in our Home Study.  It didn’t show up on any of the background checks we have had during this process (3 total, I think).  The officer working on our case at the Department of Homeland Security emailed me yesterday telling me that we needed a court deposition and a written statement from Jody about the incident.  She said that she forgot to tell us that she needed that when she requested the corrections to the Home Study.  So, Jody had to go to the town where he was arrested and try to get a certified court deposition.  There is no record of the incident at all so they gave him a statement saying that.  He had to write a statement about what happened and what he learned from it which was not as easy as you might think – lots of sarcasm to weed out.  He had to have it notarized and then mail both documents to USCIS.  I am thankful that this time the officer let us know what we needed by email.  We didn’t have time to wait for correspondence in the regular mail.  Hopefully everything else is correct and we will receive our I-171h next week.  I need to get it by Thursday so that I can go to Austin to have it apostilled and so that it can make it to Ukraine by the 13th.  From our experience so far, this seems highly unlikely.  This 3 or 4 week delay has been so odd that I keep thinking that God wants us to stall for some reason.  His timing is perfect, I know.  But we sure are anxious to have our girl here with us.  I was hoping to have the whole summer for her to adjust and work on her English and then we could make a better decision about what to do about school in the fall.   Each day that goes by is another day in an orphanage for her – one more day without a family.  Oh, I just can’t wait to get her here!