Tuesday, April 10, 2012

6 months in

We started our adoption journey in September of 2011.  A little over 6 months later, here we are in full swing; the initial application paperwork is done, our homestudy has been finalized and sent to Colombia, the psychological evaluation (that took 7 weeks to finalize) is complete, we received our Gladney approval, and we recently started our dossier.  Even though we sometimes felt like we would never get here, a lot has been accomplished in 6 months.  Up until this point, we've had a "to-do" list a mile long and time has zoomed by.  Now, things are slowing down and there's not much left for us to do but wait. 

 Gladney introduced us to a service called "KBS Dossier" which we've decided to use for peace of mind.  This service will ensure that all of our dossier documents are prepared correctly and relieves us of the stress of what is known as "paper-chasing."  We have a few things left to do like, getting fingerprinted at USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and getting a notarized medical report form stating that we are each in good health.  KBS will compile all of our documents and have them verified by the secretary of state from which the documents originated.  Once all the documents have been verified for authenticity, the dossier will be sent to Colombia.  This could take up to 6 weeks to complete.  With that projected timeline, Colombia would receive our dossier the week of May 14th.  Further timelines are dependent on Colombian officials.  There's really no way to pinpoint how long it will take for our dossier to be translated and accepted.  Once our dossier is accepted we will receive an official referral containing medical history, current medical conditions, background information, and any other information beneficial for a physician's recommendation for adoption.  Once we receive the official referral, we have 2 weeks to make a decision.  During this time we will seek a professional medical opinion about the health of our children.  Based upon the recommendation of a physician, we will either accept or decline the referral.  Once we accept the referral, we will receive a court date and make plans to travel to Colombia.

Meanwhile, our homestudy has already been sent to Colombia in an effort to match us with children quickly.  Our caseworker will be communicating with personnel in Colombia to locate children that match our specifications.  Although it is possible for us to have limited information (pictures, ages, names) in the coming weeks, we will not be at liberty to share this information until given permission to do so.  Even though it's extremely difficult for us to contain our excitement about finding out who our children are, it's even harder to imagine knowing who they are, but not being able to share it with the world!!! We always imagined feeling relieved to get to this point in our journey, where we didn't have a million things to do.  But, now that we're here, we wish we had something to keep us preoccupied!  Waiting truly is the HARDEST part!

Thankfully we have the Lord with us each step of the way, teaching us patience and calming our restless spirits.  Gladney has also given us what they call a "tool kit" to help prepare us for what life will be like as adoptive parents.  Now that things have slowed down, we'll actually have a chance to read all of the wonderful information they've provided.  We've also recently been given the names of the 4 orphanages that Gladney works with in Colombia.

Our children will be coming from one of these four places! Everything is becoming more real by the day.  The excitement is building and we are more eager now than ever to see their faces.  We feel privileged to be a part of something so big and are secure in the Lord's promise in Philippians 1:6  "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Although we understand this scripture to refer to the security of our salvation, we know the Lord is faithful in ALL things.  We're confident that He will make ready the path for us and provide every thing we need to complete this journey... this good work that He began!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bountiful Blessings

2 weeks ago, on the weekend of March 24th and 25th, God reminded us yet again of His faithfulness! Our home church in Laurel, Mississippi (Bethlehem Baptist Church) hosted a fundraising event on our behalf. The event included a live auction, a bake sale, BBQ plates, popcorn, snocones, music, and games on Saturday and an adoption emphasis Sunday service. God truly surpassed our expectations and the event was a huge success!

Teresa Chancellor
Dava Thomas

These 2 ladies were the ones who made this wonderful weekend a reality. We are forever grateful for their hard work and dedication to helping us bring our children home! 
WE LOVE YOU, ladies!

There were countless people from the Bethlehem family who volunteered their time and goods to make the weekend a success. Auction items were donated from members of Bethlehem as well as businesses and individuals in the Jones County area. There were over 200 items in the auction!

The items included clothing, art work, children's furniture, hand bags, hair and tanning services, 
cleaning services, 
toys, home decor, fitness equipment, tools, outdoor furniture, jewelry and our favorite item, a portrait of our children painted by our sweet friend
"Worth the Wait"
painted by
Abbie Thomas

The event was enjoyable for all who attended and for us it was a weekend that we will never forget. We were blown away by the generosity of our Bethlehem family as they bid on item after item. We were truly touched as they demonstrated their love and support for us.
Rod Smith, Auctioneer

our nephew, Carter with our friend's daughter,  Sofia

we appreciate all of our volunteers for supervising the kids' play area

 thanks to all of our bidders!

The Sunday service was a celebration of our own adoption into God's family and also included testimonies from families at Bethlehem who have adopted children in need. 
We shared a little about our journey thus far through this video

With the Lord's blessing, we were able to collect $13,000 over the weekend!!! We are so encouraged by the outpouring of support from our Bethlehem family and will never forget how God provided in such an enormous way. We are currently about $12,000 from our goal, but we believe God will provide, just as He's provided thus far.  The miracle of our circumstance is that we began this adoption with $300 and God has given us over $26,000! He continues to affirm in our hearts what we believe to be His calling. We firmly believe that when it's His will, He always makes a way. So, we go to bed every night trusting Him for the remainder of our expense and for the strength to raise these children in a way that is pleasing to Him. We covet your prayers in the remainder of our journey, for it won't be long before these children are no longer an idea, but a reality. They are counting on us to continue this journey, no matter what obstacle stands in our way. We have to accomplish this work, because 3 souls depend on it!

One of the ways you can help our children come home is by purchasing one of our Tshirts. Our T-Shirts that read "This shirt helped an orphan find a home, what did your shirt do?" are $15.00 (plus shipping/handling) and can be ordered by mail. Just click here to download the order form. By purchasing a T-shirt, you will personally invest in the lives of our children! When has your $15.00 ever done so much? (If you live in the Baton Rouge area, contact us by email theminyardadoption@hotmail.com for ordering information) Make all checks payable to Bethlehem Baptist Church, memo: Minyard Adoption.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gladney Approved

On February 2, a member of our Gladney team came to our home to complete our Home Study.  Blaine and I had anxiously anticipated this day since the start of our adoption process.  Of course, I was obsessing over the details of the house and spent hours cleaning to make sure everything was in it's place.  We had heard horror stories of Home Studies where the social worker had come in and searched every cabinet and closet!  We also worried about the questions they would ask, and wondered if we would know how to answer them.  Imagining the worst, we were very nervous about this day approaching.  But, despite all of our irrational fears, the day was quite pleasant.  We talked over lunch and then spent a few hours sharing stories about our family life with our Gladney friend.  She asked questions about our childhood, and what our families were like.  We also shared stories from our dating life, and how our marriage has been for the last six years.  The purpose of the day was to get to know us and our family, so that Gladney could present the most accurate description of our family to the staff in Colombia, who would be matching us with our children.  It was also intended to prepare us for the reality of adopting three children at once.  We talked extensively, both together and separately, about our expectations and desire for three children.  Blaine and I both understand that adopting three children at once will be a challenge, but we also believe this is something God will equip us to do.  After about 4 hours of talking, our friend from Gladney flew back to Fort Worth to write up the official Home Study report.  We were relieved to have completed another milestone in our process, but anxiously awaited our official approval to adopt internationally.

6 weeks later................
we received our official approval from Gladney in the mail!!!

 We have applied for Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) approval and are awaiting our appointment for fingerprinting. This is basically approval from the U.S. government to adopt internationally.  Our next step is to begin our dossier (gathering of birth certificates, marriage license, and other documents required by the Colombian government).  Once our dossier is completed, it will be sent to Colombia for translation.  Colombian officials will then review the dossier and either approve or deny us.  We anticipate this will take approximately six weeks.  With that estimation, we should receive word from them in mid-May.  Typically this would be when we would receive our referral (names, photos, and medical information of the children) but in our case, they are sending our Home Study ahead of our dossier in an attempt to match us more quickly.  We still won't receive the official documentation (medical information and backgrounds) until the dossier has been approved.  But, it is possible that we could receive photos, ages, and names of the children before mid-May.

We covet your prayers as we continue this process.  Time is winding down, and there is much to do.  Pray that God would continue to guide us each step of the way and that most importantly He would put His hand of protection on our children until we can bring them safely home.