• Posted by Meghan on 05 Sep 2011

Well…today we met with a new lawyer for a consult.  She was recommended to us by a District Children’s Officer that had worked with an American couple that we know on their adoption from the Sally Test Center.  Mrs. Odede was very nice and had a lot of information.  She also knows the two women that we are working with at Little Angels and called both of them while we were in her office and she is going to see the DCO that we are working with this afternoon.  Also, she will be in Nairobi later this week and is going to take Susan (from Little Angels) to meet with the National District Children’s Officer in Nairobi who has to give us her final blessing before we can wrap things up with Eden.  She was quite surprised with all that we have done so far and was very impressed with our guardianship/custody and exemption orders.

Little Angels had asked that we update our home study from the US which was completed in 2009.  It’s not possible to do that while we are here and Little Angels is concerned that we won’t be given the go-ahead on Eden without the proper paperwork.  So, Mrs. Odede has recommended that we look in to getting another travel order for Eden (an extended one that lasts even until she turns 18) and then try to get a visitors visa with multiple entries to the US.  This would allow us to come home for the birth of Grace and stay until Grace is over 1.  While in the US, Mrs. Odede said that we can continue with the adoption process, getting our paperwork submitted with Little Angels and waiting for them to grant us permission to adopt Eden.  Then when we return we would have 3 months or less of wait time for the court proceedings to take place and then Eden would be officially ours.

There are several benefits to this plan.  One being that we could all be home together for Grace’s birth.  Another being that we could possibly get a custody/guardianship order from the high courts now and in two years (around the time the adoption is finalized), we would be able to get her I-130 visa since this is a hang-up with the USCIS office.  Finally, it would give us the best chance of being able to finalize Eden’s adoption without spending an extended amount of time in Kenya.

There are also some drawbacks.  This of course drags out the adoption process which we are eager to finish.  We don’t know that we would be able to get this visa for Eden to come back to the US.  And we would probably be gone for several months in the fall of 2013 which would be the beginning of Eden’s second year of preschool and Andy’s first year.  I hate the thought of disrupting their schooling, but I think I could home school them for one semester without them losing too much and they could start back in January.

Anyway, it’s a lot to think about and, as always, hinges on a lot of things going our way.  We need to get with our lawyer, Were, and come up with a plan.  Thankfully we have great prayer warriors out there and we know that God has brought us through so many obstacles unscathed already that we are up for whatever comes next.

On a side note, August was a rough month for us.  I told Ben I felt like it was our ‘hump month’.  We made it through August and I personally feel much better about things.  I can make it until October, and maybe even December if I have to!

  • Posted by Meghan on 18 Aug 2011

Well…it turns out the highlight of our trip to Nairobi was that we got good food at the Java House (I even had apple pie!).  Unfortunately, the embassy was not so great.  The man we spoke with was really very nice and tried his best to help us.  He’s the “adoption expert” but doesn’t have any influence on the visa process which is what we really needed.  He went to the USCIS office and they told him that our custody and guardianship order doesn’t count as legal custody because legal custody in Kenya can only be granted by a high court justice and our custody was granted by a magistrate.  He did suggest that we request the high court justice issue a letter or note with our final adoption stating that he/she suggests our custody/guardianship order from two years ago be viewed as legal custody.  Robert (the adoption expert) said that might help the USCIS people feel more comfortable granting us a visa.

He didn’t say that there was absolutely no way for us to get the I-130 visa in October, but he certainly implied that it wouldn’t be easy.  He said we could look to a visitors visa as a fallback, but that’s not guaranteed either.  We know that visitors visas are typically not granted to children who have already been adopted because there is basically no reason for the family to return to the foreign country.  The fact that we took Eden on a visitors visa before and came back and that Ben has work here and comes here frequently would help us, but we can’t count on being given a visa.

So…that leaves us with a big decision.  Do we continue with the adoption process now, wrap it up and hope that we can get one of the visas to come home before Dec. 1, or do we stop, apply for a visitors visa before we do the adoption and then come back later and do this all over again, knowing that we would probably have to stay here for 2 years?

Ben and I both feel like we really just need to get this finished.  We are tired of having it hang over us and tired of Eden not being “officially” ours.  We’ve worked so hard to get everything together to do the adoption now, we don’t really want to stop.  Also, the fact that I am pregnant is good incentive for them to let us go back…we won’t have such a good reason if we would come back to Kenya and try this again later.

It is very frustrating to feel like the US is battling against us and we’re so tired.  Tired of being away from our home and families, Ben is tired of working weird hours here, I’m tired of the rain, tired of the ups and downs…we’re ready to be home.

So for now the plan is to continue with the adoption, apply for the I-130 visa in October and if that is denied apply for a visitors visa.  Please start praying now for the process.  Especially that the USCIS would be kind, sympathetic, reasonable, etc and just grant us the I-130 visa.  We really appreciate your support and prayers!

  • Posted by Meghan on 12 Aug 2011

Caroline from Little Angels came to our house today for a home visit.  She arrived around 10:30 and went over all of our paperwork and watched the kids play for a bit.  Then we answered a lot of questions for our joint interview, had lunch, and then each did an individual interview and concluded with a quick tour of the house.  It went well and she seemed happy with the information we gave her.

As always there was a mix of good news and bad news.  She is going to try to complete her report quickly so that the committee can review (and hopefully approve) Eden’s adoption this month as they only meet twice a month.  She was not able to get the district children’s officer to write a letter, but she was able to experience some of the frustration that we have had with them and said she would include their lack of help in her report.

We have a few things to gather for her which we will hopefully be able to do this weekend or Monday and then she can proceed.  Overall, we felt very good about her visit and really appreciated her time and help as well as the information that she gave us.

On Wednesday we are traveling to Nairobi for the day to meet with someone at the embassy regarding Eden’s visa.  We are anxious about this meeting and hope that they are able to answer our questions and give us good news.  It all hangs on whether our guardianship order from 2009 gives us legal and physical custody and whether the courts had the right to give us guardianship.  I’m not exactly sure how we prove those things, but hopefully it will be clear to the embassy that everything has been done properly.  If they determine that everything is fine we can apply for her visa in October.  If they think that things are not correct, the 24 month waiting period would begin when the adoption is complete.

Please pray for safe travels for Ben and me, that the kids will do well without us for the day and that the embassy will grant Eden an immigrant visa in October!

  • Posted by Meghan on 19 Jul 2011

Our lawyer met with the district children’s officer today to discuss our case. Diana had reviewed our file over the weekend and wanted to talk about some things with Were. They met this morning and she told him she has no objection to us being granted the exemption! She will go to court with us on the 25th in case the magistrate has any questions.

After we get the paperwork finalized for the exemption on the 25th we can apply for the adoption! We are so thankful that God has worked everything out so perfectly and with such speed!  Thanks for all of your prayers!

  • Posted by Meghan on 11 Jul 2011

Well, we didn’t get the exact answer that we wanted, but darn close! The magistrate said that he doesn’t have a problem with granting us the exemption as long as the district children’s officer says that it is ok. For those of you that remember our dealings with the district children’s officer (Phillip) at the start of our process with Eden, you are feeling nervous, which is how Ben was feeling. The good news is that there is a new district children’s officer now who I’ve heard is very nice. Were is going to see her tomorrow and she just needs to either write a letter or come to court with us on July 25 to give the magistrate her approval. This does delay us from filing for the adoption right away, but all in all, it’s pretty good news! :-)

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