If I could, I would have this song playing in the background for this whole post. It is what has been in my head ever since I got the email from our director today. Yes, friends, we can officially say...we're in the final countdown!
This morning our director was able to successfully submit all of our paperwork to the US Embassy in Port Au Prince. Ahhhhh......what a huge relief and a huge celebration! 2 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days in. Finally, we are at the last major stage of this adoption! All of our papers were done and waiting for a corrected passport, which we got to see a photo of last night on a separate email from our director. It was a beautiful sight. Today, while at the Embassy for another family's visa appointment, she delivered our precious cargo into the hands of the American government. Normally, this would bring great relief knowing that the US side of things had a bit more predictable time lines, but now with the government shut down, this time line is also completely unpredictable. It is living proof that the delays and effects of government decisions that hold up adoptions are not JUST on the Haiti end of things.
If all was "normal"--meaning not in a government shut down--the typical time frame for most lately has been about 6 weeks from entering the Embassy to taking their child home. As much as we were hoping for that, with the shut down, we need to realistically be planning on more. They are still processing visas within the Embassy, but we have heard from reliable sources to expect much longer delays with that processing. This is hard to hear, but what else can we do? Well, pray, of course!
We are praying that God would use this shut down to our advantage instead of to our disadvantage and miraculously move us through the system much faster than we are planning on. He alone can do that for us. Otherwise, we are at the hands of the workers there in Port Au Prince and trust that God can do big things through them. We are praying that God would simply show His favor on all of these last steps.
So, what are those last steps? What happens in the Embassy and what still needs to happen to get Nora home? Basically, we are waiting for them to go through all of our paperwork and approve Nora for a US visa, which we will find out via an email from the Embassy. That email will tell us we are approved and will let us know that we will get another email in the next few days afterwards letting us know when Nora's visa appointment is. This has typically been scheduled about 1-2 weeks out from that email. Once our director takes Nora to that appointment, she will be granted a visa which takes 2-3 days to print. After that, all we need to leave the country with her is our exit letter from IBESR (Haitian Social Services). This typically takes just a few days as well to get. So, after we get that visa and exit letter, we can fly home with her. We will plan our take home trip only after knowing our visa appointment date.
Please join us in praying for all to go smoothly despite the shutdown and for miraculous speed through this remaining leg of the journey.
As far as our little princess...did you hear she turned 2 this last Monday? Oh, she was so beautiful in her special birthday dress and crown! See for yourself...
We got a lovely message from Mary letting us know she had a fabulous day of playing with balloons, eating her heart out of cake (which she wasn't quite sure of), icing (which was amazing), as well as popcorn, candy, and orange pop! I can't share photos of all the little ones at her party because of privacy issues, but oh how I wish I could! They were adorable in their name party hats all sitting around the table together. Our director was there to play with Nora and celebrate the day with her. She even brought over a few pictures the kids had colored for her. There is a picture of them looking at Lily's drawing specifically. There is much love shared between the two of them. We got an email from Mary again the next day letting us know the special day had wiped our sweetheart out. She took 2 big naps the following day! Here are a few more photos I can share...
As much as we wish we could have been together on this special day, we also know it will not be long before we can celebrate together. Until then, we had our own special evening of celebrating our little girl's life with going out for pizza and then having our own cake and ice cream at our place. The kids and Micah were just a "bit" hyper that night as you can see in the photos. We sent the photos as well as a few videos down to Nora so she could see us celebrating her. Last year we thought we would be together for this birthday, but I think it's pretty safe to say this was the last one we'll celebrate separate from each other!