Monday, September 30, 2013

Cause List #3

Our third court hearing is tomorrow on October 1st. The daily cause list just posted. This time we are number 7 on the list. Praying that this is the final hearing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Third Hearing Scheduled!

It seems to be consistent that the court website updates around 4:00 PM eastern time the day after the hearings. I would know...I check it often enough! I got several emails, texts and phone calls throughout the day from friends and family wondering if we had heard any news. I was standing in the check out line at a Goodwill in Newnan, GA when I pulled up the website from my phone. My heart started pounding when I saw that our third and hopefully final hearing is next Monday on October 1st! We are flying through court at an unprecedented rate. I have not even seen Indian families go through this quickly. The rapid movement at this point may mean that the judge recognizes the special needs status of our children due to their age and sibling status. I am beyond grateful. We are now praying that this third hearing is the final hearing. If so, we could be traveling in four weeks! I think Jeff is in a panic, and after my hours upon hours of browsing online at salwar kameez and kurtas, there may not even be enough time to order them and have them arrive before we travel! Crazy!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Second Hearing!

The court website updated late this afternoon! We did indeed have our first hearing as well as the Irish families! Our second hearing will be tomorrow! The Irish families will have their hearing on October 3rd. This is the quickest turnaround time I've seen to date! Praise the Lord!

Another Cause List

I got an email from my Irish friend today informing me that although the court website has not been updated with the results of our recent hearings, my case is listed on the Daily Cause List for another hearing on Wednesday. I think this could mean one of two things: Either 1) Our case was not heard on the 23rd because it was so far down the list, Or 2) This is our second hearing. I asked our agent and she says it's most likely our case was not heard on Monday and was quickly rescheduled. However, she has put in an email to the attorney and hopefully we'll have some answers soon. This time we are #9 on the list. The Irish families are not on this particular cause list.

Court News!

I spent Saturday in south GA and brought the IPad along just in case the Parkisons were to FaceTime me again. I was so surprised to hear it ringing while I was visiting with my grandmother. It was so amazing to chat with Kelly from her hotel in India again and for my grandmother to experience some of the excitement. During this conversation, Kelly asked me if my court date had been scheduled. I said no, disappointed. Well, one of the Irish families had just informed her that both Irish families had been scheduled! I had not checked the court website in about 5 days, so Kelly quickly checked for me and happily announced that we had been scheduled for Monday along with the other families! Furthermore, we had been changed to a different court with the same judge that heard Kelly's case! Hooray for a good judge! I laughed and cheered like a maniac! So much excitement!!! How awesome that Kelly was the one to share the good news! Shortly after the chat with Kelly, I received the same good news from the Irish family and our agent! we are expecting this to be the first of three hearings.

Updated Court Website
Daily Cause List-- We are scheduled to be the 20th hearing of the day. The Irish families are #26 and #27.

Preparing Hearts

The Parkisons were scheduled to arrive at the orphanage on Friday, September 20th,at 10 AM India time to get their precious daughter. We received an email from our agent the night before stating that the orphanage would not be able to hold our children back from school as requested to meet the Parkisons due to scheduled exams. They said the Parkisons could return in the evening to meet our children. While I had no doubt that they would do everything in their power to meet our children and deliver the gifts we had sent, I worried about this possible scenario because returning to the orphanage would cause confusion for their new daughter. At that point, I was not planning on them meeting my children at 10 AM. Before bed at 1:30 AM eastern time, I prayed that God would just work this situation out for the good of all involved. This was an amazing opportunity for A and S's hearts to be prepared for our coming, but this was little L's day to be joined with her family...her emotional security had to be the top priority! Around the time that I was praying, God was working it all out on the other side of the world! My children had not left for school yet when the Parkisons arrived at the orphanage. They received their sweet daughter, then there was time for them to meet A and S before the children departed for school at 11:30 AM!!! Thank you Lord!!! Sometime between 3 and 4 AM eastern time, I woke up to a Facebook message from Scott saying that they had met the children and attached was a photo! I could not believe it!!! I immediately woke Jeff up and we just gazed at the photo. Could Not Believe It! God worked it out! They were able to take photos and videos of the children for us! They gave the gifts to our children and showed their photo books to them! Kelly pointed out "Mommy, Daddy, Sisters" on all of the pages that contained photos of us! Kelly showed them the photos of their bedrooms, and they nodded their heads. When A and S saw the pages that had photos of all of the framed pictures of them that are in our home, they got VERY excited! That was so good to hear! Kelly is not quite sure what all they understood, but hopefully they will be able to put the pieces together and that they understand that we are their family. Kelly gathered valuable information for us. She took measurements of the children--It looks like A will wear size 6X or 7 even though he is 10-years-old. It looks like S will wear a size 5 or 6 even though she is 9. They are teeny-tiny. As a comparison, our 9-year-old petite bio daughter is 4 inches taller than 10-year-old A! Kelly said that the children were attentive and had good eye-contact and physical coordination. While they were being video-taped, the director kept giving orders of what to sing or do next. That made things a little awkward for the children. She said the children were very compliant. The most shocking news of the day is that my children do not speak a lick of English! We were told that they attend an English Medium School, that English is the third language they are learning, and that they can speak two-word sentences in English. Well.... they did not even respond to the word Hello! "No English!" "No English!" This is what their caregiver kept saying over and over again when Kelly would try to speak to them. Ha! I am so glad to know this information now and not the day we arrive at the orphanage. We went into this adoption assuming that they would not know any English, so this has to be okay with us. Learning this information now will give me the opportunity to TRY to learn some key words and phrases in their language to make our transition smoother. I will also be looking for a good translator app.

A and S hold up their arms to show their new bracelets that were handmade by their sisters!
Kelly shares our photo books with A and S!
I was so excited to get two FaceTime sessions with the Parkisons later in the day! It melted my heart to see them with their new daughter! They took this time to share details of their trip to the orphanage, uniting with their daughter, meeting our children, and they played video footage of A and S for me!
Today was such an amazing day and it was so good for my heart! I felt like I was floating all day long! So many unanswered questions were answered and fears were laid to rest. I have been re-energized for the remaining wait. It was reassuring to see how good they looked...clean, happy, and healthy. To know that trusted friends were able to spend time with our children and to make them feel special is just priceless. We are so grateful to the Parkisons for taking time out of their special day that they've dreamed of for over two years to give us this gift. Families in the adoption world know what a treasure this truly is... We just hope that we can do the same for other waiting families in the near future!

To read more about the Parkison's Gotcha Day and their time with our children, click here. Below is a little from their blog about A and S:

"Soon Ajay and Smita arrived. They sang a song for us, and just stood there with beautiful smiling faces. They were so precious and I was so excited it worked out for us to see them. We were able to hand deliver some gifts from their parents and sisters. It was very special! One of my favorite moments was when Ajay walked in the little room he walked right up to Lyla and patted her cheek and she smiled. I was happy because they know each other, because we will definitely be seeing them again in the future. I think Ajay will be an excellent brother. Smita seems like a leader and she was very thoughtful of her brother, making sure he saw whatever she saw or that he had candy too. They are going to fit right in with the Carrolls."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Amazing Race To The Airport...Haha!

Today was a great day! I drove up to my parents' house in Atlanta to meet up with the Parkisons. Their big travel day finally arrived! After they handed off little ones and parked their car, I got the honor of driving them to the Atlanta airport where they caught their first of three flights that would take them to their daughter's city in lnd!a! We made a pit stop at Walgreen's for last minute goodies for their little girl--nail polish and coloring books of course! We grabbed lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then cruised to the airport. K and S are so much fun! It was amazing to experience their excitement at the beginning of their travel. There was a whole lot of talking, a few tears, and TONS of laughter! I know the Parkisons will be friends for life! Tucked away in one of their suitcases are our gifts for A and S. Our agent sent a note requesting that our children be kept "home" from school on Friday so that the Parkisons can meet them. We are praying that the right people received the message and that they do not forget! It will be a dream come true for us if they are able to receive the albums and meet the Parkisons!
Last minute treats for their daughter!
Love this girl!
Ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime!
Getting ready to bow up in lnd!a! Haha!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Special Delivery!

Our friends have passed court and will be traveling very soon to pick up their daughter at the orphanage! They have offered to deliver gifts to our children from us and to take more photos of the children! It has been eight months since we have gotten photos! Unless someone hand-delivers packages to the orphanage, it is almost impossible to get gifts to our children due to the high cost of taxes. It will be an amazing opportunity and huge blessing to have trusted friends deliver these gifts and meet our children. Also, it will be a step in preparing our children's hearts for when we come for them. We are so excited that someone we know will be stepping foot into the orphanage! There are so many questions that we have, and due to the language barrier, our questions have remained unanswered. My friend and I have both daydreamed of how this meeting will take place. Praying hard that things go according to plan! I quickly created two photo albums for A and S last week when we knew that this opportunity might arise! Also, the girls picked out some hard candy for the children and made them friendship bracelets. We decided that it would be a sweet idea to take a picture of the girls holding the candy so that A and S could see that it was a gift from them. A's photo album busted in half late last night and all the pages fell out. Fortunately, the store reprinted another album within two hours for me. I made a mad rush to Walgreens at 11:30 PM to pick it up. Whew!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Once NOC was issued, I allowed the preparations to resume. The rooms are not complete, but they are getting there. It feels good to be doing something... Note the lack of leaves on the trees in the first few photos. Those were taken in January before we realized we were s.t.u.c.k.


Our case arrived at the local court on August 13, 2013, and was registered on August 14th. We are going on five weeks without a court date being scheduled for our first hearing. That is very concerning as we continuously seem to experience delays anytime our case is in the hands of our children's state. We have discovered how to follow all of the court cases online, so I am back to obsessively checking the internet over and over again hoping for news. The Irish families were registered in court about two weeks after us, and they have not seen any movement yet either. Our assigned court does not seem to have any movement on any cases at all. It's like a black hole. We do know that our attorney is pushing our case and has spoken to the judge, so hopefully we will make it to the top of the judge's pile soon. We expect to have three hearings over a time frame of three months. Time will tell...


One would think that word of the ARC approval would have been cause for relief and celebration, but it had the opposite effect on me for some reason. I experienced several weeks of health problems--heart palpitations, hyperventilating, headaches, toe going numb. It was a little scary, but the symptoms have gone away, so I guess it was all related to anxiety. The thought of going through another long wait with the NOC absolutely terrified me.

Fortunately, we were blessed with an immediate approval by CARA. Our case arrived at CARA for NOC--No Objection Certificate--on July 23, 2013 and we were approved on July 24, 2013. Our orphanage received and signed the NOC on July 30, 2013, and we were given the good news on July 31, 2013. The Irish families received NOC on the same day as well! Our paperwork is traveling together from agency to agency! Receiving the No Objection Certificate means that lnd!a does not object to our adoption, and the children are ours. They cannot be given to another family! Next step is court in the children's state.

THE WAIT...SARA Nov. 2012-July 2013

I can't even believe the title of this post. The Wait. One looooooog wait in a list of many waits. SARA.

Our paperwork went to SARA--State Adoption Resource Agency--in November 2012. A new step was added to the process that my friends didn't have to go through...either because they were working with a different state, or because they were slightly further in the process. But we got stuck in it. Each SARA has an ARC--Adoption Recommendation Committee--who scrutinizes the cases before issuing an RC--Recommendation Certificate, after which it goes to the federal level--CARA--Central Adoption Resource Authority--for NOC--No Objection Certificate. Confused yet? Because our children are considered special needs due to their age and sibling status, this should have taken 15 days, but it took 9 months. We don't know all the reasons for the wait. It took awhile for them to receive the Article 5 letters, and the approval cannot be made official without that...then our RIPA's (Registered lnd!an Placement Agency, AKA orphanage) license expired and had to be renewed (are you kidding me?!?)...then the kids had to get a medical done by the civil surgeon...then it was issued, nope false alarm...then it was issued, nope another false was one thing after another.

This time was HARD. During these months, I watched all of my friends bring their children home. Their children were home and we had not even been given approval at the state level, let alone the any point in time, an lnd!an family could have taken our children from us as they have priority over Americans. In January, we began to prepare for the children. We found beds for the children (even drove to Nashville to pick up one that we found on Craig's List) which we started painting, we started working on their rooms, we started purchasing their clothing...Preparations were in full swing, and there was still time for them to be home by spring if lnd!a would have honored the timelines! By February, I knew we were stuck. By March...well, I don't even remember much about the month of March. Usually my calendar is booked, but in March I did one cake, one social event, one consignment sale. That is it. I slept a lot, prayed a lot, and checked email obsessively on the rare chance that we would have a message from our agent. After March, I snapped out of my daze. Instead of wasting entire months away, I wanted to make a point of enjoying the present and treasuring my family every day.

We experienced some confusing times during this wait. It reached a point where we weren't sure if God wanted us to fight for our children...or if He wanted us to be still and allow Him to fight for us. Unbelievable potential contacts seemed to be coming out of the woodwork...congressmen, foreign business tycoons, high-ranking government officials in our children's state. I was angry and excited all at the same time that we might be one of those cases that would have to fight to get our children home. (Google the "Stuck" documentary by Both Ends Burning.) I did not want to fight... I wanted to love my children's birth country and have pride in their state. None of that panned out in the end, and thankfully, things eventually moved without our interference. One thing that became clear through the confusion is that this adoption is bigger than me and my desired timeline. I am a tiny speck in a much larger story. There are so many individuals, families, organizations, officials and more tied up in this process. The wait doesn't make sense now, but I trust that when we look back when the adoption is complete, that we will see a fuller picture of how God's timing was perfect. Already I can see that if our process had completed in the spring, there are three more families who have children in our orphanage that I would not have met. There are congressmen that would not have heard our frustrations with the Hague. We have had valuable time to mentally prepare our girls for real hardships that we may face when the kids come home. During this wait, our girls have developed a real desire for their siblings to come home, and they have experienced true excitement in preparing for them.

Even though this time seemed dark and dry with no end in sight, God revealed himself to me throughout the weeks. It seemed like every day I opened my Bible, He would have an encouraging word for me. Some that I clung to are as follows:
Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will."
Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Mark 11:23-24 "Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
God was merciful in that while the wait in SARA was long, the weeks did fly by. Not sure how that worked, but I am thankful for it.
During the wait, we found two new amazing contacts--two families from Ireland who were also stuck in SARA! These families had been stuck for over a year! Our children are in the same orphanage, same state, same SARA, and their agent is the person who my agent is umbrella-ed under...What are the chances of THAT!!! We were able to share information with each other during the SARA process to get a fuller picture of what was going on. We were all three approved by the ARC around the same time-- July 2013. Praise the LORD! We thought this day would never come.

Remembering While We Wait: July 27, 2013 PARK WITH THE PARKISONS!

One of the most amazing parts of our adoption journey has been to experience the way that God has brought people into our lives just as we have needed them. God used our baby to plant the seed of adoption in our minds, God used Xavier to tug at our hearts and lead us to international adoption, God used Tiffany to explain the adoption process and to lead us to Jenny, Jenny connected us to the world of lnd!an adoptions and led us to our agent. God physically moved us from Atlanta into the middle of an adoption community just as three other families were also contemplating and choosing lnd!an adoption. We have had the amazing blessing of walking this process together. And now as I am writing this, there are new families entering the process to make a total of eight lnd!a adoptive families in our community. Having a supportive crew like this is nothing short of a miracle!

So about a year ago, God connected us with another incredible friend. Our agent told us to contact K because she was a genius at fundraising and she would be able to give us ideas to raise money for our adoption. K and I made a connection right away, and it felt like we had been friends forever. K is quite an amazing person--She is a former Miss South Carolina beauty queen and has also competed in the Miss America pageant. Speaking of amazing, K also competed on the reality TV show The Amazing Race--season 7--which happens to be my favorite season of all time! She and her teammate made it to the final episode, and they were one of two teams that I really wanted to win! How crazy is that! If someone would have told me that a random contestant on that show would come into my life years later and become a dear friend, I would have been so surprised! Anyway, the most amazing news of all is that K and her family are adopting a daughter who happens to be in the SAME orphanage as our two children! I almost cried when I found out! At that point, we were one year into the process and did not know of anyone else who had or was adopting from our orphanage (except our agent over a decade ago). Despite the support of our local friends (whose children were ALL together in the same orphanage), we felt a bit isolated in this part of the adoption until we met K. What a sweet connection! K and I have talked LOTS on the phone over the past year, but in July, we finally met each other in person! Her family was passing through from the beach headed back to their home in TN, so they stopped and stayed for the night. All of the Columbus friends knew K from our online support group, so she got to meet them in person as well. We had a picnic at the park which was loads of fun. K was also reunited with Jenny, who happened to be a childhood friend who had also connected her with our agent! Tanwar, an lnd!an soldier taking classes at Benning, joined us as well. For dessert, we had cupcakes and ice cream to celebrate Smita's 9th birthday. After the picnic, we crashed G's house and hung out in her playroom until 2 am. G had just brought home her little daughter from lnd!a and wasn't able to leave her house, so we came to her! I love these ladies so much!

The next day, K and her family came to church with us, then to the Taj Mahal for lnd!an buffet! YUM!

Another highlight of their visit was that her husband and Jeff got to spend time together and they hit it off! They are keeping in touch by writing each other on email, too. I'm so excited that Jeff has a new friend...these adoptive dads need someone to confide in, too.

We had been hoping that it would work out for us to travel with the Parkisons. As soon as their case would stagnate, ours would move forward...but then theirs would move and ours would stagnate. It is very clearly looking like they will travel before us as our case has not progressed in five weeks. As disappointed as we are that we won't be going with them, we are thrilled that they will finally be united with their daughter. We are praying that they will be able to meet our two children and deliver gifts to them for us! Other than being there ourselves, I can't think of a more exciting thing to happen!

Remembering While We Wait: January 22, 2013 ARTICLE 5 TIMES 2

We woke up to our Article 5 letters for both children via email from the U.S. Embassy in D3lhi! The letters were issued on January 18, 2013.

Article 5

An adoption within the scope of the Convention shall take place only if the competent authorities of the receiving State –

a) have determined that the prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suited to adopt;

b) have ensured that the prospective adoptive parents have been counselled as may be necessary; and

c) have determined that the child is or will be authorized to enter and reside permanently in that State.

Remembering While We Wait: May 12, 2012 MOTHER'S DAY !ND!AN STYLE

We felt sure that our children would be home by springtime, but not so. As with all other holidays, our children were on our hearts and minds on Mother's Day. Mother's Day turned out to be a special day. The day before, we found out that the Chief Minister of our children's state was giving a speech live via satellite to 18 U.S. cities on Mother's Day. Atlanta was included in the broadcast. We called the cultural center where it was going to be shown and spoke to one of the leaders of the organization. He invited us to the speech and to a Mother's Day picnic that would be held at a park a few miles from my parents' home. On Mother's Day, we drove to the park to attend the picnic. We drove past the location once or twice staring at the hundreds of Indians and had to build up the courage to walk down the hill to the party... We were the only people that looked like us, and it felt more awkward than being in Kuwait. Ha! Right away, we found Mr. Patel, and he was so gracious. He introduced us to all of the Samaj leadership, gave us a tour of the kitchen, and taught us about the traditional foods of his culture. The president of the Samaj was very welcoming and offered to help us with our adoption by making phone calls to officials or whatever else we needed. Being that we were stuck at the state level at the time, his offer brought me to tears. We ate grilled corn squeezed with lime juice then rolled in Indian spices, drank chai tea, and watched boys playing cricket. We absorbed the culture and dreamed of our children, showing their photos to everyone we met. Most were very receptive of our children and excited about adoption. After the picnic, we left our children with Granddaddy, then drove to Tucker to attend the Chief Minister's speech at the Samaj. We were the only white people again...probably the only ones who have ever stepped foot in the Samaj. We seated ourselves in the back, but they quickly moved us to reserved seats in the front...gracious and hospitable once again. The speech was in Hindi, so we did not understand a word, but it was very interesting to see what a dynamic speaker the Chief Minister is and to observe the reaction of the audience. Afterwards, a couple gave us a synopsis of the speech in English and answered our questions. We were about to leave when we were offered another plate of hot traditional food. They were amazed that we could tolerate the heat of their food! Haha! We've been building up tolerance. The food was AMAZING. As we were finishing up our food, Mr. Patel told us that a news reporter wanted to interview us for TV Asia to get our impression of the speech. He had told the reporter about our adoption, and we were allowed to speak about that on camera. Another door opened to share our story with the was a great ending to Mother's Day.