Happy thanksgiving 2013

So grateful today, even as we miss her…

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Scars and struggles on the way

But with joy our hearts can say

Yes our hearts can say…

Never once did we ever walk alone

Never once did you leave us on our own

You are faithful, God, you are faithful

You are faithful, God, you are faithful

Happy Thanksgiving from the Pyles’ crew in snowy Ohio!

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and just like that…

Well, after our super exciting day on Monday, no sooner than the next day did we get some disappointing news.  We heard from our USCIS officer that they had done the initial review for our PAIR application and were sending us an RFE (Request For Evidence).  Basically, they want 3 additional documents/addendums (from Ethiopia) so things will be on hold until they can get those. 😦  It’s not anything big – they’re pretty nitpicky issues, but this is a new process so it’s not entirely unexpected until the ET staff learns what USCIS needs.  Still a bummer though.

We are hoping it won’t delay us too much as the ET process is still moving in the meantime – so we could still get their (MOWCYA) letter date while we wait for this one.  I know it’s confusing, I’m sorry – please feel free to ask us to explain it further if needed!

So after that little roller coaster of a Monday & Tuesday, I got a sweet surprise in the mail today–a drawing from my girl.  She asked another family to give it to her mom, so they mailed it to us when they got home. 🙂  I threw that baby right up on the fridge next to her picture – love it!  It’s really surreal to think that her little hands all the way in Ethiopia held and drew that picture, and now I’m holding it in mine.  She is so sweet – love her.

Thanks for your prayers – keep them up!  God continues to reassure us that he is in EVERY step, that he goes before us and he is in control.  We are so thankful for that.

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Submitted to court!!

I was pretty discouraged this weekend after weeks of no updates, so I spent a while in prayer asking God for some good news this week – well, he sure did deliver!  We not only got new photos and a PRECIOUS video of Sweet T (if you’re local and want to see it just ask me – I love sharing photos & video, just wish we could post them!), but some process updates too:

  • the biggie – finally SUBMITTED TO COURT in Ethiopia!! This opens our case with the Ethiopian government.  With the new process, we can be given a MOWCYA (Ministry of Women’s, Children’s, & Youth Affairs) letter date before getting our (U.S.) PAIR letter, but then will have to wait for our PAIR letter to get a court date.  I will definitely post when we get a MOWCYA letter date.  This is where they’ll interview the birth relative and hopefully write us a positive letter/recommendation for a court date – but they can also request to investigate further.
  • We also got a copy of our I-171H back in the mail – meaning our fingerprints were approved and our request to update our age range was also approved.  We’re now approved for 1-2 children, 0-12, healthy or special needs.  Obviously we’re just going for one child right now 😉

And… we took the boys to their passport appointments to take (hilariously cute) photos, and send off their forms!  We have decided to try to stay in between court and embassy, doing one long trip instead of two shorter trips.   It’s not 100% for sure, but if it looks like there are no major hold-ups with her case, this is what we’d like to do, so we’re preparing for it. We’re only able to do this because Jeff receives an extremely generous paternity leave from the bank – one of the major perks of his job.  We think it will really help T’s adjustment, as we will be able to have her with us after the first week, as soon as we pass court.  We’ll get to know each other in her home country before bringing her home to the craziness of America (and will have translators when she’s struggling with English!).  We also would love for our boys to see where she is from, get to know her culture, and be a part of the bonding experience there with us.  I mean, when else will we have an opportunity to spend a month or two as a family in Ethiopia?   The cost isn’t that much more, because we’d have to buy 4 plane tickets if Jeff and I went twice each – instead, it’ll be 4 tickets at once (and children’s tickets are less).  We’ll obviously have some in-country costs, but we really think it’s worth it for the experience and to help T transition into our family more easily.  We can’t wait.  {and as we told the grandparents… Addis Ababa (where we’ll stay) is pretty safe, and plenty of others before us have taken their kids too!}  The boys are VERY excited.  From what everyone says, we have a feeling we’ll fall in love with ET… 🙂

So what’s next?  Now, we pray for a MOWCYA letter date, and most importantly for our PAIR letter to be processed quickly.  Unfortunately we haven’t gotten any updates on that yet. 😦  Families who are at the TH this week say T seems to be in good spirits so we’re thankful for that–thank you for your prayers for her!  Keep them up!

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my guys watching the video of T – she tells us and her brothers that she loves us, so cute. The boys LOVED it. “Mommy, she loves us! She’s so cute! I love her, let’s go to Ethiopia!”

2 months (really) waiting.

Today marks two months since we accepted our referral.  In a lot of ways, I feel like it’s gone quickly (and that can only be the Lord), but in others it’s hard because we haven’t made a lot of progress.  However, we are feeling very optimistic now that our paperwork is filed!  We got a fingerprinting appointment (ours were expiring) that wasn’t until November 26th, so we attempted to walk in on Friday and they accepted us!  I have to say, the USCIS office here is efficient.  We were in and out in under 15 minutes for both of us – without an appointment.  Our family coordinator talked to someone at USCIS and they are estimating 6-8 weeks from submission (ours was accepted Oct. 29th) to receiving the PAIR letter.  After that, we can get a court date!  With the holidays, I’m hoping it flies by and we’re on our way to Ethiopia to be with our girl.

That’s the hardest part, I am realizing–there is a little girl on the other side of the world who doesn’t understand why her family hasn’t come yet.  We’ve had various friends from our agency check on her & love on her while they’re in country to pick up their kids (SO thankful for these families!), and we know she’s had some hard days.  A lot of tears and saying she misses us and just wants us to come (breaks your heart).  Thankfully they have a wonderful psychologist who she can talk to and I know that has helped her a lot.  If you would be praying for T’s heart and emotions, that would mean the world to us.  Pray that God would wrap his arms around her and comfort her during this wait, and that she wouldn’t doubt or fear that we won’t come, even though it has to be so hard to understand.

Last night we tried a different Ethiopian restaurant here in Charlotte and loved it too – such a fun date night and two months down!  I think we’ve found the place local Ethiopians go to, and our waitress was PRECIOUS.  She talked to us for a long time and kept adding food to our platter when we’d finish it off.  I told her how we’ve been trying to learn to cook a lot of Ethiopian dishes over the past year so that when our daughter comes home, we’ll be able to at least make her some familiar food when everything else is unfamiliar – and meanwhile we have fallen in love with the cuisine and seriously crave it.  She was so kind and told me when T gets home we should come in on a weekday and she’d give us cooking lessons in the restaurant’s kitchen!  I’d love to keep finding little connections and community in our city so T can hopefully hang on to some of her culture and language.

Praying for our daughter – thank y’all for praying as well!

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Orphan Sunday

It’s Orphan Sunday, so of course I can’t get this girl off my mind. We grieve for all she has lost and been through, but are so grateful that God has blessed us with the privilege of helping her heal. You may or may not be called to adopt (we know not everyone is!), but we all can pray about how to help these kiddos without families & how to prevent them from becoming orphans in the first place. A huge THANK YOU to so many of you who have supported & prayed for us along the way-we wouldn’t be here without you!

Here is a great post with ideas for how you can care for at-risk children.

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Halloween 13.

“Halloween is the BEST. DAY. EVER!!” -Lane Davis

Seriously, this day is so much more fun with kids. I love watching how excited they get as they run door to door and then hand out candy to the big kids at our house after they’re done.

Cullen asked me before we headed out if he could put candy in his pumpkin. Of course I said no thinking he wanted a head start-but he wanted to make sure he had treats to give his grandparents and friends when we saw them. Love his giving heart-reminds me of his daddy!

And this picture of Laner afterwards cracks me up. That HAIR! But why does he look like a teenager??

Good times, people. Good times.

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