Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Written Court Orders!

We received the surprise of our written court orders today in our email inbox! We are so excited and thankful that the orphanage can now apply for our children's lnd!an passports! Once the passports are issued, we will be permitted to travel to get our children! The end (which is really the beginning) is in sight...AT LAST!!!

I sat in tears as I read the court orders. The nine-page court document recounts the journey that has brought our path in the U.S. and our children's path in lnd!a to a crossroads. It tells of their abandonment and destitution. It states what is known and not known of their biological parents. It tells about our marital history, our current life, our status in society, our house, our biological children, our desire for more children through adoption. It lists 49 specific documents that we submitted through our dossier and the hoops we jumped through to be deemed worthy to adopt children. And for our dear friends who wrote letters of recommendation for us--your names are mentioned in the court order, too! In one of the paragraphs, the document states these sweet words: "If the said children Ajay and Smita are given in adoption to the applicants Nos. 1 and 2, then they will get parental love, warmth, affection, and better future and accommodation also. The said children will be taken care of by the applicants as if it being their biological children, they will get better education and their future will be bright." I can't wait to give them the love of a family and a bright future!!!

While waiting outside for Ansley's bus to arrive, my thoughts turned to Ajay and Smita's biological parents. Oh to have a glimpse of the mother and father that created two of the most beautiful children I have ever seen... What hardships and sorrows must these parents have faced in their lifetime to bring them to the point of abandoning their children? My heart breaks for them. I do not judge. I pray that God will put a supernatural peace in their hearts in regard to these two children. May they somehow know that their babies are loved and cherished. I praise God for the blessing of two new children into our family and thank Him in advance for equipping us with the tools we will need to restore our children from any heartbreak or sorrow that they have experienced. Please pray for all six of our hearts as we prepare to meet each other and join together as family!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Travel Visas!

Our Travel Visas arrived today! The visa issuing process through Atlanta took 16 days from mailing off our applications and passports to receiving them at our home. Not too bad at all! Jeff received the five year tourist visa that he requested...but I got UPGRADED to a ten year tourist Visa. Wonder how that happened? Haha! I'll take it. One more duty checked off the list!


"Disposed" sounds like an awful word, but when your case is in lnd!an court, it's a cause for CELEBRATION!!!

Our "fourth" and final hearing was held on October 15th. We were the fifth out of five cases scheduled to be heard that day. The website updated around 4 PM Eastern time and our renewed status stated DISPOSED which means we PASSED COURT!!! Our adoption is FINAL!!! This was very unexpected because I had been told that the judge would not be hearing any cases this week due to training. We had also been warned that our case may have to start completely over due to a new judge taking over our case. I expected the website to update with yet another hearing scheduled for us. Although we had four listed hearings, it is very likely that one hearing date never happened due to bad weather. An hour before the website updated, I felt very anxious. I had spent the morning watching the new videos of the children. It was very clear based on Ajay's questions and body language that he is SO READY to come home to a family. The longer the wait drags on, the more I fear his heart will be broken. But thank God for the answered prayer of passing court! We are now looking at a four week wait before travel...potentially. It usually takes about two weeks for the written court orders to be received by the orphanage, then two more weeks for the children's lnd!an passports to be issued. After that, we will be approved for travel! God is so faithful!

Another Family United!

Airport reunions for adoptive families are such a sweet thing to witness! My dear friend and her newly adopted daughter finally arrived home on Wednesday around noon! It was so heartwarming to see her biological children leave the so-called barrier and race to their mother and to see little L remember her daddy and go straight to him! I loved seeing the siblings interact with their new sister! After two long years, their family was finally united!
After the airport, we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch--L's first meal on American soil! While at the restaurant, K transferred six videos that they had taken of Ajay and Smita while at the orphanage onto my computer! Words cannot begin to express what a treasure these videos are to us! K also took the time to share more about where our children are living right now.
Before we parted ways, K gave me this beautiful elephant wall-hanging from lndla!!! The details are amazing! I could not believe how well it matched my decor. She really did a great job picking this one out! I know exactly where I'm going to hang it, too. I have been searching for months for something to put in the hallway connecting Ajay's bedroom to his bathroom. From that location, it will also be visible from the living room. Perfect!!! It was so sweet of my friend to think of me!
We are so thankful that there is one less orphan in the world! Our children, who shared a home with little L, will be able to see her again one day soon. God is so good!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Applying For Travel Visas

We've been hearing word that the new agency (BLS) in charge of issuing travel visas is very slooooowwww. We decided to go ahead and get the application process underway so that if we are delayed, it's not due to something that was in our hands to initiate. There is a new lnd!an Consulate in Atlanta, so our original plan was to schedule a walk-in appointment for our applications to speed up the process. However, they were not taking appointments for a couple weeks out. In the end, we decided to mail our applications to the consulate to get the process underway. The packages were officially mailed off on October 2nd. If things do not progress in a timely manner, we can always drive up there to put some pressure on them. Once they open the packages and get us logged in, we should be able to track our progress online. The application paperwork was quite confusing. We decided to go with the five year tourist visa, because the ten year visa was not showing up for us. Hopefully they are not sticklers for the rules because Jeff was photographed wearing a white shirt on a white background which was a no-no, and one of my ears is covered by my hair. Rules, rules, rules. The scariest part is that we are separated from our passports during this process. Hurry up travel visas!

Court Continues...

When the Parkisons were at the orphanage on October 1st, the director kept trying to tell them something about the court cases. He was trying to communicate something to the affect that a new judge was going to replace Judge Parmar this week (or next week?) and that he hoped there would not be problems, but he would go speak to the judge. I was confused as to why he would be concerned because my third (and presumed final) hearing was that same day. Anyway, sure enough, when the court website updated two days later (slight delay due to Ghandi's birthday), we were disappointed to see that our third hearing was not our final hearing and that a new judge had indeed taken over our court case. A 4th hearing is now on the books for October 15th. The Irish families will have their 3rd hearing two days after that with the new judge as well. It is not clear why we are having extra hearings... It is possible that one or two of the hearings were "rained out," either figuratively or literally (it is monsoon season) and the judge was unable to make it to court. I'm not sure if we'll ever know. However, looking in the court archives from 2011-2012, there have been other families from Austria and U.S. who have had from 6-8 hearings. That's a bit unsettling to see. Our agent said that there is always concern when a new judge takes over because no one knows if they are adoption supportive yet. At least we have another hearing scheduled relatively soon. Praying fervently over here!
We received that disappointing news on the way to the airport to pick up S.Parkison on his return trip from India. We appreciated that timing because he boosted our moods again. We loved hearing about his adventures in India and stories of his new precious daughter. We hung on every word as he talked about meeting our two children again. When we were talking about the FaceTiming session he asked if I had a missed call on the Ipad. I said no, but grabbed it to check and see. And YES, there WAS a missed call from a very long number. It turns out, it was the Face Time number of our orphanage director! Haha! When they tried to FaceTime with me, they first tried from the IPhone of the director! So now I have his number, and somewhere in his phone, I'm sure that he has mine. That may come in handy! Haha!

We got S settled in at my parents' house to recover from traveling before he was to reunite with his other children the following morning. I got this picture of the guys. I'm so glad that Jeff has found a new friend in S!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FACE to FACE for the first TIME (FaceTime)

Our friends, the Parkisons, have returned to Ahmedabad to get their passport issue straightened out. After seeing the orphanage director again yesterday at the passport office, they were invited back to the orphanage for cookies and tea today! They were given a tour of where their daughter had lived and had the opportunity to see our children again along with several others who are being adopted by friends we've met online.

Because I stayed up past midnight last night to see if the government was going to shut down, I went back to sleep after the kids were off to school. Well, around 8:30, my cell phone started ringing and I shot up out of bed... It was a Facetime from the Parkisons! As soon as I answered, I saw my children on the screen! I had to turn on lights and move to a different room so that they could see me clearly. As soon as they saw me and I started waving and saying "hi," they got really huge smiles! Kelly prompted them to say "Hello Mommy!" several times! They were SO ADORABLE! Then I said, "Hello, Ajay!" "Hello, Smita!" They were very excited when I said their names! I was able to show them their bedrooms. Smita's mouth dropped open when she saw her bed! She was in awe! I could hear Kelly saying "sister" to explain that she would be sharing a room with her sister. At that time, Mr. Pandit came over to the camera to say hello! He seemed very friendly and reassuring that we would be there soon. I told him we were excited about coming to get the children and thanked him. Then I walked across the house to show Ajay his room. His room was a little messed up with Jeff using it as a makeshift classroom last night, so I had to throw stuff off the bed real quick and replace the pillows. He seemed excited, too. I tried to find a camera or the Ipad to record everything, but I was so flustered I couldn't find them or get them to work! Found my camera, but the batteries were dead! When I was searching, the kids either saw the Ipad or the computer monitor. Anyway, they said, "TV! TV!!" Wait till they see the BIG TV when they get home!!! Haha!!! I introduced the children to Willow! They laughed when they saw him and loved it when I made Willow wave his paw at them! We spent a minute blowing kisses to each other. Kelly had to show them what to do... then they did it over and over again. At one point, Smita turned her head to look at something behind her. Ajay tapped her to bring her attention back to me...his expression was like, "Look! Mommy is still blowing kisses! You better pay attention!" Scott told me that the kids had held hands the whole time. So Sweet!!! Toward the end of the call, the children stood next to Kelly so I could see how small they are! They looked like they came up to her waist, but I can barely remember because I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience! They turned the camera to the man who was making this possible...they have been staying with an American family who lives in Ahmedabad, and they were using his phone as an internet hotspot to be able to Facetime. The children and I said "Bye" to each other over and over again, waving and smiling. I told them that I would see them soon and that I loved them. I know they did not understand that part, but it felt so good to say it. They will understand soon.

I was able to Facetime again with the Parkisons once they left the orphanage. Scott and Kelly shared again with me how excited the children were during the Facetime session. Scott said they were GREAT and that they were READY to come home! They said that Ajay and Smita are really good at repeating English and their articulation of English words is clear. The comprehension is not there, but they should learn English quickly. I think when the Parkisons first got there, Ajay and Smita were standing on a balcony and saw them and waved with excitement and recognition. Kelly said that they might be a little confused because they had wondered if the Parkisons were back to take them home. Kelly had the director translate to them that they are not their mom and dad...they are friends of their mom and dad. I think it was after that conversation that we Facetimed. Hopefully they understand. If not, they will make the connection when they see us.

It was amazing to see their excitement and happiness. I love that I finally saw full-blown smiles with teeth! I think I might have the happiest Indian children ever! We were all three just about to burst at the seams! I really believe it is going to be a glorious first meeting when we get there! It will be more excitement than fear of the unknown.

I am so grateful to Kelly and Scott for all that they have done to prepare the hearts of Ajay and Smita for our coming and for answering so many questions for us. As frustrating as their passport issue has been, it did not come as a surprise to God. I am amazed at how this extra time in Ahmedabad has allowed them to develop a rapport with the director and enabled them to have a tour of where all of our children have lived for so many years. They have been able to gather valuable information and pieces of the puzzle that make up our children's past. The following families may not get the privilege of a tour, so for the Parkisons to have received this is a blessing for all of us.