While We're Waiting...

THIS WEEK IN THE ADOPTION REALM... We packed up a box of paperwork and gifts and shopped it off to the adoption agency in Alabama. The paperwork is to move things forward with USCIS (U.S. Immigration) now that we have been officially matched with the kids. This includes more I-800 paperwork for their immigration, as well as I-864 paperwork for each of them (which also does something with immigration - my head spins when I try to understand it all, so #iamthankful that PETER has been dealing with it all, filling it all out and telling me where to sign). The GIFTS are for the agency to send down to Costa Rica for the lawyer/social worker in country to deliver to the kids from us, so that will be our first contact with them. :) 

TRAVEL UPDATE... We still don't have an actual date for travel, but the agency is still talking August (early-mid), so we've started looking at house and car rental costs for while we're down there (without being able to book anything yet). The cost for that is coming up to approximately $4000 from what we can tell (based on the assumption that it won't take longer than 6 weeks in country - though it could take up to 8 weeks). 

FINANCIAL UPDATE... We received another $400 this week, putting us closer to our $20k goal. The timing of the gift was perfect, coming after we found out we'd been matched, and knowing that we're going to start shelling out a lot of money in the near future for all the final costs of the adoption (lawyer fees, travel expenses, in-country fees and expenses, etc.), so it was like God knew we needed a reminder that He is still in control of it all and we'll have what we need, when we need it. #WeAreThankful

RECEIVED: $12,136
REMAINING: $7,864or $8,300 -- after Fees.

AMAZON REGISTRY UPDATE... With the news that we had been matched, we also received 70+ pages of information (some old, some new) about the 5 kids. To reflect this info, I've added new items to the list now that we know more about their interests (like drawing/painting/art supplies) and sizes (like the fact that the oldest girl is 3" taller than Carrie!). It's so fun to get to know more about these kids and discover what makes them tick, what their dreams and goals are, and to think and pray about how we can best support and encourage them going forward. The registry now reflects that a bit better: http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/3FMEV8P5KVDOSNOTE: If you're friends with us on Facebook, we've been posting photos of every gift we've received in our "Virtual Shower" album - go on over and take a look as it's being updated on a regular basis! :) 

FAQ of the WEEK... "Who are the kids?"

Until we were officially matched, we'd been pretty quiet about names and ages, as it could still fall through. Now that we've been officially matched we're sharing a tiny bit more, but not much (like names or pictures) until we are in country and they have been officially adopted. However, for now I can tell you that "R" is 11 (almost 12 - and tall!), "S" just turned 8, "G" is 6, "C" (who is the "Little Brother") is 5, and "J" is 3 (almost 4). I can also tell you we've seen new photos and - bias aside - they are adorable. :) 


16 Years and Matched

Today, Peter and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary. It's been 16 years of adventure, but our biggest one is still to come...

Although there's still more steps and more paperwork to attend to (translating, reviewing, signing, and sending), another step in the process has been achieved as we are officially MATCHED with our 5 kids. The kids still don't know about us, but that should change within the next 2-3 weeks. 

WHAT'S NEXT...besides paperwork? Planning, travel arrangements, setting up housing in Costa Rica, making sure we have everything we need to take with us for the kids (clothes, toiletries, shoes, books, etc.). I've been able to hit up some great sales and score most of the clothing we need for all 5, but there are still some items on the registry (http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/3FMEV8P5KVDOS) that we could use. :) 

WHEN DO YOU TRAVEL?The adoption agency has told us August would be the earliest we would/could travel (as yet, exact date unknown). With 6-8 weeks of in country time, that puts us back in the U.S. towards the end of September/early October, just in time to shock the kid's systems with some cooler weather. :) 

FAQ of the WEEK

"Are you excited?"

Yes... no... maybe? That's a hard one for us to answer. The two of us have been talking/thinking/praying about this adoption since November 2012, so it's been a long time in coming. When people ask, our hesitant response or apparent lack of emotion might make it seem as if Peter and I are a little cold about it, but it's more like we've compartmentalized it so that we can focus on the steps, and not be overwhelmed by the bigger picture. Right now we're just walking through the process - one step at a time.

If you read the original story, then you know this was never our idea - it has always been God's plan. We are taking steps in obedience, but our willingness and excitement have also grown over the last 3.5 years. We're not superhuman, and we still have our moments of freaking out, but then we get new confirmation from God that this is HIS plan, and we move forward. We KNOW - without a shadow of a doubt - that God has called us to this, that He is writing this story, and that He is faithful to give us the grace, wisdom, peace, AND excitement that we need, when we need it. 



The Waiting Game - Round 2

ADOPTION UPDATE:We've apparently made it to the next round of "The Waiting Game" as wecontinue to wait for that official match to be made. Over the last week we've learned a little more about the process, and it now looks as if we might not be traveling until August due to government process delays in country (if you've ever dealt with bureaucracy before - U.S. or international - that won't come as a surprise). It's all in God's hands, His timing is perfect, and we are at peace.

FUNDING UPDATE:Thanks to several new donors, we are only $339away from our next big goal ($12,000), and just $8,339away from our TOTAL goal.  We received two checks in the mail this week, plus online donations, and as God continues to write our story we're beyond grateful for those He has included on this journey with us. 

REGISTRY UPDATE:  In addition to the monetary generosity of so many, we've been blown away by your giving from our registry! From essentials (simple things like underwear and socks), to practical items (like shoes), and fun stuff (brightly colored, {sneakily} educational toys and an ever expanding library of books for all ages) - YOU HAVE BEEN AMAZING!!!I am going to have to catch the UPS man one of these days, because at this point, it looks like we have an Amazon problem. ;-) 

NOTE:  As things change and we learn more or figure out what we need, I've been adding and removing items on the registry to reflect what we're lacking. For example, after studying a little more about what is culturally acceptable, we've added capris for the girls. And taking into consideration that we may now be coming home as the weather starts to change into autumn, warmer clothes have made their way onto the wish list as well.http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/3FMEV8P5KVDOSAnd that leads me to the...

FAQ for the Week! :-) 

"I have a ton of clothes from my kids, could you use them?"

Outside of "do you know their history" and "what happened to their family," this is the most frequently asked question we have received as we have gotten closer to the "finish line" of the adoption. I think the best way we have found to answer this is to give a tiny view into the background of our kids (without going into details).

In the orphanage - where some of our kids will have spent the majority of their lives - everything(from underwear to hairbrushes) is communal property. As Peter and I have been preparing our home (and closets) for them, several things have influenced our reasoning and played a role in our decision to say, "Thanks, but not now."

  • Our kids have spent their lives wearing clothes that belong to no one - we want them to know that these clothes belong to THEM, and only ever belonged to THEM. The younger kids will wear their siblings hand-me-downs for the rest of their lives, but starting out, it's all new.
  • They are coming from very little to the land of MUCH. It's going to be overwhelming, which is why we have made the decision to start with enough outfits for a week+, but not an excessive amount (to keep them from being AS overwhelmed, and because our closets just aren't that big!). 
  • Four girls - one room, one closet. Need I say more? ;-) 

CONFESSION:  While talking about this topic with a friend of mine (and mom of 5) last week, and sharing that I didn't want to look like a snob when I turned down people's offers, she told me that I didn't need to apologize for our decision. That it was just the first of many that Peter and I would be making as parents that some people might not understand (and might even really disagree with), while others applauded. In the end, we had to do what we felt was right for our kids and our family. That doesn't mean it won't change over time, but right now that's what we have decided.

SIDE NOTE:Two individuals that we know reached out to us to ask about toys as well. One offered "like new" Melissa & Doug toys that her grandchildren no longer played with (and matched items on our registry), while the other offered a bike that his son used for "about an hour" and then never rode again, complete with training wheels. In both cases, we said YES to their offers because the toys were like new, included all their pieces, and were similar to what we had registered for. Point is - it's a case by case basis. :-) 



WE'VE BEEN APPROVED. Officially. Finally. We are rubber stamped to adopt 5 children between the ages of 3 and 13, boys and girls, by the children's services of Costa Rica. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means that we've officially entered into the "matching" phase of the journey. They look at us, they look at the kids who are available, and then they decide if there's a potential match. This is normally the part that takes time - with some people waiting a year or longer to find a match. We are unusual in the fact that we knew about this specific set of siblings long before we were actually approved to adopt from Costa Rica. While we've spent the last 4.5 months praying & planning for them, they've known NOTHING about us. 

THAT'S ABOUT TO CHANGE. Once the formalities are out of the way (Costa Rica child services says, "would you like..." and we say "yes..."), these 5 siblings will be informed of our existence and they get the option to get to know us. If everyone agrees to the plan, then we have about 6-8 weeks to work on getting time off (minimum 6 weeks of in-country time), planning for travel, and MORE paperwork. If we don't hit any hiccups, that would put us in Costa Rica around the end of July. 


 We get this question a lot, and I keep forgetting to talk about it here. Yes, we have seen their files (& their photos), HOWEVER, until they are officially adopted (so not until we're in Costa Rica, and possibly not until after we are home), we aren't sharing that information. It's still a possibility that this set of siblings could fall through (unlikely, but possible) and we'd be back to waiting for another match, so until it's a sure thing - mums the word. :-) 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR FAMILY? Yes, Peter and I know their history. But one of the best pieces of advice that we have received during this process actually came from another couple we connected with (through the "magic" of the internet - and God's perfect timing!) who adopted 5 siblings from South America. 

They said to us, "When people ask, we tell them that our children's history is not OUR story to share - it's theirs. If they choose to share it with someone, that's THEIR decision, not ours. We don't want anyone to look at our children, and judge them for the choices of their biological parents.

That made a whole lot of sense to us, so unless it's someone directly involved with our kids (like a physician or legal guardian), it's become our answer as well. :-) 

WHAT DO YOU NEED? Honest answer: If we're traveling in 8 weeks, we'd love to be a whole lot closer to that $20k amount. :-) After YouCaring takes out the percentage for processing credit card payments, of the $11,271 given (none of which we've used yet), we've received about $10,400.
If giving money isn't your idea of helping - the Amazon registry is public, you can search for "Peter Koens" or "Carrie Koens" (or click this link: http://www.amazon.com/registry/baby/3FMEV8P5KVDOS), and then look at the list in order of PRIORITY (High to Low) to see what we most need.

And - whether you give to the fund, send a gift, or are simply following this story God is writing - PRAY. There are a lot of changes coming up, a lot of decisions to be made, and a lot of wisdom needed. If you'd like to join this journey in prayer, we'd welcome it. :-)