Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our Adoption: The Next Steps

So many of you asked us "What happens next?!" since we shared our joyous news of being matched with Silas.  This is not a short answer, so I'm going to greatly summarize it with a list. You're welcome :)

- Right now, we're waiting for our government to give us immigration permission specifically for Silas...we're hoping to receive this by the end of the week or early next week at the latest.
- Once we receive immigration approval, we will receive our "Come get Silas!" date from the orphanage...also called Encuentro. This should happen approximately 3-4 weeks after approval, we're still looking at the tail end of October or very beginning of November.
- During these 3-4 weeks, we apply for visas for ourselves and for Silas through the Colombian consulate here in the US and Colombia.
- We pack and prepare our kiddos hearts and our hearts to go to Colombia!!!
- The first 10-14 days in Colombia will be our integration/bonding period.  We will take physical custody of Silas within a day or so of arriving and he will never leave our arms again.
- After the initial bonding period, Jacob will return home to the kids and work and Silas and I will relocate to Bogota, Colombia to wait for our court date (approx. 3 -4 weeks after the bonding time is over)
- Once our court date arrives, Silas and I will return to his region and appear before a judge who sign our adoption decree and he becomes a legal and forever Coleman!
- We mad dash to several appointments over the next few days getting visa medical exams and all paperwork lined up to leave the country.
- Our estimated in-country time is 5-7 weeks...I don't even want to talk about it right now. Please just pray with us that it goes super fast.

So we still have lots to do and prepare for before this is all over and we are home forever as a family of 6...but that day will come and all of this will fade away and it will all be so very worth it!

Keep praying with us!!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

SOLD - To the Highest Bidder

We're finally at the point where we can do our VERY LAST FUNDRAISER!! I said earlier last week, when I was telling you about the best phone call ever, that we still have about $3,500 remaining to raise before traveling in about 6-7 weeks to go get Silas and BRING HIM HOME!! (Sorry for all of the "all caps" but, y'all, I'm just so excited to be at this point :) )

Our very last fundraiser is going to be a Facebook Auction....these are so fun and I've participated in several both as a donor and as a bidder - and winner! Here's how it works.... 

Are you someone who...
loves to be crafty?
has their own home or online business like Etsy?
runs a business in town?
would like to purchase an item or gift card and donate it to the auction?

If so, and you would like to participate, we would LOVE a donation from your crafty-self or business or whatever donation you'd like to create for auction!

And we would love it if you know anyone who would like to donate to the auction - please share this information with them :) And, of course, when we start to advertise the auction in another week or so...share, share, SHARE on Facebook.  This could be a great way to get a head start on your Christmas shopping :)
I'll create a Facebook Page - be sure to "Like" and "Follow" to get all of the updates, pre-auction previews, and - of course - to participate or share our auction page!
We already have some great donations lined up...pillowcase and smock dresses, Woodhouse Gift card, amazing wreaths, giant inflatable rentals....just to name a few! well either arrange for pick-up or mail it item to the winning bidder!

The auction will start Monday, Oct 5 at 8 am and will end on Wednesday, Oct 7 @ 8 pm. A picture of each item up for bid will placed in an album on the event page, with info as to who donated - linking back to any business pages - as well as a starting bid amount. Bids will be placed in the comments section and all bids must increase by a minimum of $1. I'll use the "Facebook time" on each comment to determine when the winning bid was given. The winner will have 24 hours to respond or the next highest bidder will be awarded.
If you would like to donate or would like more information on donating, then just shoot me a message on Facebook or email me at jmacoleman@gmail.com.  We have about 20 donations so far...my hope is to have at least 30. All money raised in this auction with go towards the final expenses for our adoption. If we happen to exceed our remaining funding needs, anything extra raised will go towards comprehensive medical testing at the International Adoption Clinic in Birmingham once we return from Colombia...more on that later.

Thanks so much for continuing to read and follow along on our journey - he's almost home, y'all!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Can We Really Do This?

There have been numerous times throughout our adoption process tht I've just had to stop and ask myself, "Are we sure this is the right path? Is this my plan, our plan, or God's plan? And can we really do this....can we really survive this ridiculous process and move forward as a family of 6 in the end?"

That's just how my brain works - I have to think and analyze and analyze again. There are times that all of that analyzing leads to anxiety and worry and there are times when it just leads to more concrete thoughts and assurance. I love when God uses my children for assurance during times that all of that analyzing is heading towards anxiety and fear.

When we arrived in Tennessee on Saturday night, after getting the best phone call ever, I was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I sent my kids to church with my parents the next morning and just decided to have some quiet, alone time with Jesus at my parents piano....bc that's where I do my best stress relieving and reenergizing. 

It was about 12:15 and I was in parents kitchen getting lunch ready, waiting for everyone to get back from church. At this point, I hadn't had a chance to talk to my parents bc the kids were around and my brain was just all mushy from overload the day before, but after my quiet, piano music filled morning with Jesus, I had worked out a plan to let my parents in on our news and potential decision. As I stood there over the stove, I thought, "Can we really do this? Can we really expect our children to learn sign language so they can communicate and have a relationship with the brother they've prayed so hard for? What if they just don't want to???"

Within seconds of having those thoughts, which are legitimate concerns when you're adopting a deaf child, my mom walked through the door and said, "Mist, I can't wait for you to hear what the girls got to see at church this morning!"

Right behind her were Anna Beth and Lynnsie - excitedly telling me about the "girls that were singing with their hands and it's so cool and it's called sign language and Gram said you used to do sign language when you were younger so can you please teach us, mommy?!"

You guys....I can't even make this stuff up. I was frozen in place with tear filled eyes and I just smiled....a. big, knowing, and understanding smile....and I said, "I would love to teach you."

By the end of the week they knew most of their ABC's in sign language and soon after, we learned of our favorite ASL resource for children, Signing Time. This resource is amazing and was created by a mom who had a daughter who was born deaf. Over the last 8 months, we've checked out videos from the library and watched the episodes available on Netflix. It's been amazing to watch the kids pick it up so quickly! 

The experience my girls had watching the youth girls "sing with their hands" was an answered prayer in so many ways...

1) It immediately answered the questions of my heart - yes, we could teach our children sign language so they can communicate and have a relationship with their brother

2) It introduced our family to one of the most beautiful songs with lyrics that are full of truth...the song is by Lauren Daigle and it's called How Can It Be?

3) It allowed us to introduce sign language to our children and begin to teach them, without risking their hearts to attaching to a little boy that we had no guarantees from the orphanage that they would allow us to adopt. 

We are so thankful for all of the ways that God has assured us these past few years and especially these last 8 months, but this one - by far - is my very, very most favorite :)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Best Phone Call Ever!!

First of all....let me just say that God is good. On the hardest and longest and most frustrating days, He is still and always good. Nothing changes that. He does incredible things in His perfect timing - whether we like it, agree with it, or understand it. He is God and He is good.
Our adoption in 2015 didn't start out very well when we found out in January that for the past entire year, we'd been on the wrong waiting list in Colombia. There were many unknowns - how long would it take to fix this? will we be put at the end of the correct list or put where we should be after waiting an entire year? what is our real number on the waiting list? At first, I was discouraged and down right ticked.  But slowly, I remembered it's His timing and the waiting list number just doesn't really matter...#1 or #301....my son would be my son when the Lord knew it was the right time to bring us all together. So that was the end of that.  However, we never found out what our new waiting list number was, because...
On February 14, 2015 at 8:30 in the morning I got a phone call, and then a text when I missed the call, from our social worker, Beth. She "casually" asked me in the text to give her a call - she just had a quick question for me.  But it was Saturday morning and that meant something big.  I called her and she said she asked me how open we were to a child with hearing loss. I told her we were open to a child who had minor hearing loss all the way up to complete deafness. That's when she told me she had the file of an almost 2 year old little boy, with profound deafness - did I want to see it? I told her sure - send it to me and when Jacob woke up, we'd talk about it.
The thing was - I was in the middle of packing me and the kids to go to Anna Beth's Upward game, then hit the road to Tennessee for a week because it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans and this is just what we do. And when we do that, we get trapped....I mean iced in....at my parents house bc the Ice Storm of the century always comes through when we're there for Mardi Gras. You're welcome, teachers and school kids of West Tennessee :) And Jacob was still asleep because, as a police officer, he works pretty much non-stop during Mardi Gras. At this point he'd been asleep about an hour and a half. I decided to wait until 10 - letting him sleep until the very last minute before the kids and I had to leave.
I woke up him and when he was just barely conscious, I said "Beth called." He was fully awake at that point! I gave him the quick rundown and showed him little man's picture - and that's when I saw it.  The new daddy look. As scared and unsure as my heart was after what we'd experienced not a year before...I knew that God was leading us to this sweet boy. I sent his info, in Spanish, to my friend who lives in Colombia and speaks Spanish and she called to give me a summary of his history and needs. Everything was clear cut and after a lot of prayer, Jacob and I decided to submit a Letter of Intent to his orphanage.
And that's when things got excruciatingly hard on our hearts. But we continued to trust and the Lord continued to show us that this was the boy we were supposed to pursue, to love, and to desire to parent.  For the sake of time, here's a quick timeline of the past 8 months:
Feb. 15 - LOI submitted
March 30 - Dossier finally mailed for transfer from ICBF to orphanage
April 14 - Happy birthday, little man!!!
April 23 - Dossier finally arrives at orphanage (because Colombia mail....)
May 7 - Orphanage loves us, but wants us to redo some things in our dossier 
May 21 - Orphanage finally tells us what they want us to fix (because Colombia....)
May 21 - June 4 - we mad dash every filling out forms, notarizing, and mailing off for apostille in Tennessee & DC
June 24 - everything's mailed back to social worker in Alabama, who immediately sends it on to Colombia
July 9 - we leave for a much needed weekend trip to see our very good friends, the Woods, in Georgia
July 10 - social worker calls and tells us orphanage received our updates, but now wants us to update our FBI clearances, physicals, and proof of employment letters (also notarizing and having apostilled)
July 15 - get started on all of these updates
July 21 - everything's in the mail, straight to Colombia
July 29 - everything arrives back to the orphanage after going through translations by our in country rep
July 29 - 30 - they meet every Thursday, at some point, so we could hear any time Thursday or Friday on their decision...we hear nothing
August 6 - 7 - we hear nothing
August 13 - 14 - we hear nothing
August 20 - 21 - we hear nothing
August 22 - Jacob leaves for 3 weeks of national guard training; we had decided that if we weren't matched by the time he left, we would have to withdraw our LOI, but when that week came, neither of us felt a peace about that...we decided to wait until he got back and if there was no news at that point, we would withdraw. We had the support of our social workers on this decision, as well.
August 28 - my phone rings at 6 pm...."Beth @ Lifeline" on the caller ID
"Hey, Misti!! This is the best phone call ever because it's official!! They just called us to tell us you're so perfect to be his family and they love you and they officially matched you today!"
You guys....I was standing in my friend, Mary's, front yard while she and her husband were inside fixing dinner for the kids and I and another friend and her family.  I couldn't speak. My heart was about to explode. Every time I opened my mouth I just started crying even more. Big, giant, happy tears. All of the frustration...all of the fear of having to walk away...all of the grief and pain we felt every single day - especially Thursday and Friday - for the past 8 months completely vanished. Because he was now our son. Forever.
Thankfully, I was able to get through to Jacob immediately and tell him, but we decided to wait and tell the kids together when he got home...so for TWO WEEKS I had to keep this secret! We told a few close friends and our families, of course, because I surely would have exploded if not :)
So what happens now? 
Our immigration paperwork arrives in DC today and that should take about 3 - 4 weeks, then we will travel about 3 - 4 weeks after that....so hopefully we will travel the end of October/early November. Jacob and I will both go for the initial bonding time of 7 - 10 days and then he will return to work. Our kids are in school and we've decided it's best for them to stay in their normal routine since life is going to be kind of upside down for a little bit. I'll stay another 2 - 4 weeks after Jacob leaves finalizing everything. I'll write more on that process later.
Our family continues to learn sign language.  Since our son is profoundly deaf, American Sign Language will be his way of communicating.  We've been learning several signs through the incredible children's video series, Signing Times, but our kids didn't really know why we were doing it - they thought it was just for fun.  And I'll be writing an incredible God-story blog on that in the next few days, too.  But now Jacob and I will be doing a 25 DVD ASL curriculum called Learn and Master ASL...I'm 3 lessons in and it's amazing!
We apply for the very last grant that we qualify for and do our very last fundraiser...a Facebook Adoption Auction! I'll be sharing more information on that later, but a quick summary - we're asking for donations from anyone who is crafty, has a business in your town, Etsy store, work from home business, or would like to donate a gift card or item and we will auction them off through Facebook and the highest bidder will win! We still have about $3,500 left to raise or be awarded in grants and we are still trusting God as He has provided everything we need so far.
We finish up all training, apply for visas, book our flights and hotels, and wait for the day when I can hold my son, Silas John Coleman, forever!! 
If the timeline works out as quickly as it can, Silas and I should be home by Thanksgiving!!
Please, please, please join us in prayer for Silas - that his heart would be prepared for all of the change that is coming his way in the next several weeks, that everything now will move quickly and smoothly, for our kids as they prepare to be without us for a few weeks and welcome home their little brother, for Jacob's mom who will be coming to stay with our kids while we're gone, and for Jacob and I - as we prepare for the incredible honor and blessing it is to be called mommy and daddy by this sweet, precious little boy.