Friday, October 30, 2009

An Exciting Update!

Tanis was given a contact by our lawyer in Lusaka--as a family that successfully adopted a child into the US recently. I emailed them and in a very quick exchange of emails I was given a phone number to call them directly. A unique situation for sure but I was able to pull out of their story things that could help us. They attributed the success they did have to working with KBF and Associates Law Firm in Lusaka (our attorney as well). One thing she did say is that she felt they were charging us too much as there really is no additional fees for siblings to be adopted, especially twins.

With that I stayed up late last night and called KBF. Our attorney was out of the office so I spoke to the lead attorney. He was very courteous and quickly said he wants to assist us in whatever way he can and his fees "are flexible" :) He told me to call him back Tuesday morning and he will have an answer for me on how much he can reduce the fees b/c he wants to go to the court and see if they will let him do one set of paperwork seeing as the boys are twins. That was good news!! So I'm asking you to pray that they will reduce their fees and we will hear this on Tuesday.

I decided to go ahead and file the I-600A with USCIS here in the States. It seems that while we are qualified to skip that step...it is causing confusion because the Consular in Lusaka has no experience with it therefore she is asking for us to do it the 'normal' way :) Easy enough. The packet is signed, sealed and sitting on my counter and when the children wake from their naps I will head out and mail it.

We were told we will be given the opportunity to rename the children at our court date in Lusaka. Yes this is something we have chosen to do. For a number of reasons actually. A name is something very special that we have given to each of our biological children. Great thought has gone into name each one. This is the one thing we can give our adopted children as well, have not raised them from birth but in this new beginning in their lives we can name them. A name that has great meaning in their situation of being adopted from Africa. A name that flows with our childrens' names. And the decision has been made that they will be all of the above, plus names of their own language. That has added a fun challenge to the mix of finding a name for our boys! We have been working with Tanis on this basically using the same methods we have in choosing a name for our bio kids. Meaning. Significance to us. Unique. Containing a Z. I think its actually easier doing this in another language at this point :) As we get closer we will announce the names but for now--they remain our secret.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where to start...?

What has been happening for the last several months on our adoption front? Ahhh. Where to start...?

We have both been feeling like we are "in the process" -- our lives are pretty busy and I will confess sadly we just have not put our children in Africa as priority. We both came to a genuine realization of this a few weeks ago:

It was a busy evening and Dean was on the laptop, I was cleaning the kitchen. I asked him to help me put the kids to bed. So he closed the laptop and we both went upstairs to get jammies, sippy cups and tuck 4 kids into bed. We came down and I resumed cleaning, Dean went back to the laptop. He opened the computer and said "Ok Jan...trying to send me a message?" Confused, I say "what do you mean?" He simply turns the laptop toward me and the whole screen is a picture of the twins. I had not touched the laptop.

That was all I needed. I stayed up late that night to call our attorney in Lusaka...only to find she no longer works there. Great. Her partner was rude and said "get us money and we'll talk further". Didn't sit well. So back to the drawing board. I googled more adoption attorneys in Lusaka. Made several unanswered calls. Finally one gentleman answers, just so happens I talked to him months earlier and he totally remembered me!

He seemed experienced in International Adoptions and one of the best parts was he was very excited about Tanis living in Zambia as he said she can be our "foster parent" of the twins for the required 3mths before they can leave the country!

I told him Tanis would be in Lusaka while waiting to fly out to Canada in late September and asked if he would be willing to meet her-and we set an appointment.

Tanis did meet with him and got a few documents for us to sign. She came and visited us early October for 5 days. It was so exciting to not only get all their medical records from birth but all all the photos from 5mths til now!

Let's fast forward to last night. I stayed up late getting the I600 file ready--long story but we were waiting for required documents from Zambia before filing with USCIS. Just out of the corner of my eye I noticed a note in the instructions about where to file. If we were adopting a child from certain countries we would file this document in the USA ... but if the country was not listed then it was to be filed directly in the country of the child's citizenship...at the US Consulate.

Ok. Thats kind of big. I was about to send it off then we would be waiting forever for them to not only get to our file but return it to us so we could send it to the proper place!

Last night I looked up the number for the US Consulate in Lusaka Zambia and called. Finally reaching someone he quickly said "Ok, I can help but now is not a good time to talk can you please call back at 2pm?" Meanwhile thats 4am our time...so I'm thinking NOOOOOOO...but I managed to keep him on the phone long enough to get an email address. He said at 2pm he would email me and by morning my time I would definitely have a reply with the details of filing the I600.

This morning I was excited to check my email only to find...no email. So even though it was now after 6pm Zambian time...I called. The recording said the US Consulate is now closed but if you know the extension please dial it now. I decided to do so assuming I would get the gentleman's voicemail. It rang. And rang. And rang. I think I was daydreaming when someone said "Hello?" that through me off!! After a few questions with a lady that was clearly American I found out I was actually talking to the Consular herself! She was so friendly and helpful! She pulled my email and promised that by tomorrow morning my time I would have an email with all the details laid out! When I got off the phone with her, she had already written me a brief email confirming that I would have a reply tomorrow and wishing us the best with the adoption!

This afternoon I got a call from Tanis (who is still in Manitoba for 5 more days). She was clearly excited and said she had GREAT news from the attorney in Lusaka today! Because of some naysayers doubting our attorney was legit, she had been advised to get references of successful international adoptions he has completed. He wrote today and actually gave us the most recent adoptive parents' names and email!!!

Of course I thought this was all too good to be true! All in a day no less! So I promptly sat down and wrote the man an email and in 2 minutes he had replied saying he was forwarding it to his wife, Amy, who could better help me! She then wrote me a detailed reply within 15 minutes! She is very excited because she just adopted their 20 month old Zambian baby boy in May 09 and said she only wishes she had someone who was just through it to give her direction. She gave me her phone number and we have set up to talk tomorrow afternoon on the phone. She said she highly recommends the attorney we are dealing with as they 'bent over backwards' to get through hoops for her!

I'm so on top of the world I could scream!! God has blessed us beyond belief and we believe He has chosen us to be the family for our precious little Zambian twins.

Please continue to pray for them and us and that this would go smoothly!