Happy Easter from our family to yours! We've had a lot to celebrate this Easter ... most importantly, of course, the resurrection of our Savior. Our beautiful, healthy daughters. Our family - both here in the US and across the ocean in Germany. The many friends (and some strangers!) who have touched our family with their love and support over the last 8 weeks. And most recently: some very encouraging developments in the adoption process.
On Friday, we finished our dossier update. MUCH faster than we had anticipated. As a matter of fact, when we first started interviewing new agencies 2 months ago, quite a few of them told us that we might have to start the whole dossier preparation process from scratch ... which took us 6 months and an insane amount of time the first go around. So you can imagine our relief when we found out that our new agency was able to actually keep out dossier in Ethiopia (where we had it transferred to their in-country offices from the offices of our now-closed agency) - and after a thorough review, identified just the documents that absolutely needed to be updated. We got that list about 3 weeks ago, and even though it looked like there were actually less documents to update than we had originally feared, there were still some very time- and labor-intensive steps, like getting our home study addended, getting a new state-wide criminal clearance for both of us, updating all of our financial documents with our most recent tax return .. just to name a few.
Even though we got to work right away, progress was slow at the beginning, and just a week ago we were discussing with our new case worker the chances of getting our update done before we leave for our trip in a couple of weeks. Then on Monday, our home study addendum came finally back and everybody just kind of sprang into action! We got very busy proof-reading and then notarizing and state-authenticating ... and by Friday, all of our updated documents were on the way to Washington, DC (again) - where they will be authenticated on the federal and embassy level and will then be shipped directly to Ethiopia, where they will join the rest of our dossier for an completely updated copy. This means that as far as the process goes, we are now more or less exactly where we were before our first agency filed for bankruptcy ... and to have made up all the losses as far as paperwork and the general process goes in less than 2 months is certainly much more than we even felt we could hope for at the time. Of course, we have relatively little idea how close or far away we are from receiving a referral (other than that it should be relatively quickly) and we're also a ways away from actually having recovered our financial losses ... but we're back to a good place.
Now ... I won't lie, these two months have been extremely challenging. They have taken an immense physical and emotional toll on us personally and as a family. There was a lot of doubt and heart ache and disappointment and soul-searching. Aside from trying recover emotionally from such a big blow, there was the physical strain of hours and hours of extra work. It's hard to imagine or even explain just how tedious and labor-intensive it is, but between the dossier updating and grant-writing and all the other details involved, I think we've spent 10-20 hours a week on this since it happened ... and that's on top of our various jobs and small children and crazy busy lives. And even though our dossier update is now done, there are still many little and big obstacles to overcome ... and unfortunately, it's been a little bit of two-step-forward, one-step-behind process.
But one thing I am holding on to this Easter Sunday: Two months ago, our hearts were broken and our hopes were crushed when our former agency filed for bankruptcy, and everything we had invested into our adoption up until that point seemed to have been lost. Now, just a few weeks later, we are at a much better place than we could have possibly hoped for at that time. The outpouring of love and support alone from people all over the country (and Germany) alone is something that we will never forget. And somehow, I am starting to believe that when all this is said and done and our son is finally home, we will look back and realize that more good things happened than bad, and that gives my heart so much hope.