Monday, November 23, 2009

The Paper Pregnency Has Officially Begun!

Since we have decided to move forward without an agency, I started gathering as much information as possible on the process. I have been making so many new friends. They have been so helpful and encouraging. I feel like I have the dossier process for Rwanda pretty under control. It helps already knowing the lingo. Last week I began ordering a few certificates and filling out some paperwork. It is so hard not to just jump in with both feet. I am trying to hold back as much as I can but you know me. Once I have my mind made up, I have to jump!

We are continuing to pray that the funds for the adoption (that are so generously being given to us) will be available by January. From what we are hearing from agencies and other families, the process is going to most likely slow down before it speeds back up. Where have we heard that before? HAHA A representative from AWAA told me that there is a large increase in the number of dossiers they are receiving (it went from 1-2 adoptions a year to 17 in 2008. this year will probably be much larger) and the Ministry is not hiring any additional staff to process them. They are also still fine tuning their process which can increase the wait. So, we are getting as much of the dossier ready as we can so that when the time comes we can do a quick home study, medical exams and the USCIS fingerprints. This will hopefully allow us to get our dossier to Rwanda pretty fast. I hate the thought of all this time being wasted.

Great news for the families who recently received referrals. Most of them have posted today that they have passed their court date. This means that the adoption is actually already final! They are now allowed to post photos of their children on their blogs for the world to see! If you would like to see some adorable faces, check out that blogs on the side under Rwanda Adoption Blogs. Hopefully, in about a year it will be our turn!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going It Alone!

I have been doing a lot of research on Rwandan adoption. I am finding it much harder to get answers than with Chinese adoptions. There just aren't as many people out there doing it. I'm thinking that once we go through this process I need to become the Rwandan version of the Rumor Queen.

The biggest thing that I have learned about Rwandan adoption is that the country actually prefers to work directly with the families. There are no agencies licenced in Rwanda. The agencies with Rwanda pilot programs are just facilitating. Other than piece of mind...which is worth a lot in international adoption...there really is no big reason to have an agency work for you in Rwanda.

I have been on several blogs and forums talking with people who have gone through the process on their own and they have said that it is completely doable and actually preferred by the government. You simply complete your dossier, do a home study, file with USCIS and send everything to Rwanda. Then, you hire a Rwandan power of attorney and lawyer to handle everything on the ground there. Sounds pretty simple after having gone through the China process.

So, we are going to give it a try. It will save us thousands of dollars and hopefully make the process move a bit faster.

Here we go!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rwanda Referrals This Week!!

This week several families received their long awaited referrals from Rwanda. I think there are about 8-9 families who have received referrals from America World. I have links to several of them on the side of the blog. The top several under Rwanda Blogs just received referrals. Check out their great stories!

It just brought such joy to my heart and tears to my eyes reading all of their stories. This time around I know Exactly how they feel when they describe hitting refresh on their computers 100 times a day and finally...finally...having THE email! I know exactly what is spinning through their minds when they say..."We saw his/her face!" "He/She is perfect!" "We are soooo in love!" OH what a fabulous day! What rejoicing in Heaven! They will never ever forget that moment and feeling! The only thing that tops it is the day you actually get to HOLD that precious little child.

The way that it works in Rwanda is that you are sent a referral directly from the ministry in Rwanda. No going through the agency first. The families then have to wait for some paperwork and a court date in Rwanda. Once the court date happens, it is my understanding, that the adoption is final. At that point, you can freely post photos of your child on your blog for the world to see. Right now all these families are able to email photos to friends and family and hang them in every room of the house (I can guarantee this has happened in every one of these house holds already this week.)

HAPPY DAY to all these families!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bellies Are Growing

I have been thinking so much about Jack's birth mother lately.

Let's just say we are able to start the process in January and the 12-15 month time frame is still in place. That would put our travel sometime in the winter of 2011. That means that if Jack is 12 months old when we get him he is already conceived and would be born sometime this winter. We all know that time lines are in constant flux with international adoption but I can't help but think about this right now.

I think that the reason I have been thinking about her so much lately is because we have several friends who are pregnant and due between February and April of 2010. Whenever I am with them, I can't help but think about how old she is and how much her belly has grown. I am watching my girlfriends go through pregnancy and it seems like I am seeing Jack's birth mother at the same time. It is so awesome to have this visual connection to her. I also love the fact that Jack will already have little buddies waiting for him his same we already know is a boy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Red Guard and Interahamwe

Those of you who really know me will be amazed at the fact that I have read 2 books in a week. Crazy! They have been 2 fantastic books that I just couldn't put down even when Emma was crawling all over me. I know...I'm horrible.
I must be honest that I don't know an incredible amount about Rwanda and the genocide. I watch Hotel Rwanda when it came out and cried through the entire thing but that was pretty much all that I knew about the country.
When we started the process to adopt Emma from China, I devoured every book I could get my hands on about Chinese culture, adoption, women, history, foot binding, the Cultural Revolution, etc. It was the only thing that I could do over the 2 years of waiting that made me feel like I was connecting to her and her birth family. I also wanted to be able to have a clear understanding of how things in China had gotten to where they are today. Reading the struggles of Chinese women made me have such love for Emma's birth mother. It made me feel like I could understand where she may be coming from or what may have led her to the point of placing Emma at the gate of the Xinyu Orphanage.
I want to be able to have that same connection to Jack's country and his birth family. So, I am trying to educate myself as much as possible on Rwanda, its history, and its people. This is difficult, however, since just about every book out there is about the genocide in 1994. I just don't know how many books I can read about this. I read about a lot of horrible things that took place during the Cultural Revolution in China but I don't think I can handle this in such volume. The details are just horrendous.
While reading, "Left to Tell," I found several similarities between the Cultural Revolution and the Genocide.
1. The radio was full of propaganda fed by the government.
2. The president of Rwanda was convinced that any Tutsi with family outside of Rwanda must be collaborating with the rebels. This is just like Mao saying that anyone with connections to foreign countries was considered a spy or a class enemy.
3. In Rwanda, President Habyarimana's political party organized a youth movement called the Interahamwe (means-those who attack together.) When reading this, I couldn't help but think about the Red Guards. This was a group of young students who followed Mao Zedong's every command. They destroyed temples and books. They mocked, tortured and killed anyone they deemed to be "black" or the enemy.
4. An unfathomable number of people were killed in both countries. It is estimated that 1,000,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during the genocide in 100 days. That's 1 MILLION people killed in 100 DAYS. That is 10 THOUSAND people per DAY! In China during Mao's 26 year regime, it is estimated that around 60,000,000 people were killed. That is over 6 THOUSAND people per DAY! Everyday...for...26 YEARS!!!
And the rest of the world did NOTHING in either situation! Did we learn nothing from Hitler? Do we really have to keep allowing this terror to happen over and over again before we learn? Why don't we see the signs? It's all there. We just need to stop thinking so much about ourselves and our lovely, comfortable lives in America and start opening our eyes to the rest of the world.
If you want to read an incredible story about the power of prayer and forgiveness, read "Lived to Tell." Immaculee's story of surviving the Rwandan Holocaust is unbelievable. She goes into detail what those 100 days were like as a Tutsi woman. You will cry through most of the book but you will not want to put it down. It will change how you pray and how you forgive.

From Ashes to Africa

Since we can't actually start the adoption process yet for Rwanda, we have been trying to use the time to learn more about the history and people of Rwanda as well as African adoption in general. We are finding it difficult to find many books on adopting from Africa. With China, they were jumping off the shelves of Barnes and Nobel. Well, Matt found this one and we are so glad that he did.

"From Ashes to Africa" is the story Josh and Amy Bottomly and their journey to Africa. They book goes back and forth between Josh and Amy writing so it is a very quick but powerful read. They are very honest about their struggles with infertility. It brought back many memories that I had put way back in my mind. Without giving away the whole story, they end up adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia. The way that they talk about adoption and God's command for us to take care of the orphans of the world seemed to fan that flame that is already inside of me. I am so thrilled that we are adopting again. This is what God has commanded us to do.

Halloween Fun

I can't believe that this is Emma's second Halloween already! How time has flown by since last May when we first held her in our arms. I wasn't going to buy Emma a costume this year because we have my niece Sidney's Snow White costume from when she was 3. But, we went to the Disney Store the other day and the Mulan costumes were on sale marked down from $55 to $15! I just couldn't resist. And, I'm so glad that I didn't. Emma has worn her Mulan costume everyday since Saturday and even asks to wear it to bed. She walks around the house saying, " I love my Mulan costume Mommy! I love it!" I'm so glad you do little Miss Emma Rain!