I've been meaning to write this post for a while and knew I could keep putting it off...but now we are finally at the stage that it is all relevant. Many people ask what is happening and when Elliana will be home. This is, from our understanding, the way things have been moving along and what will happen in the near future:
We received and accepted our referral on December 28, 2012. Elliana G. was 2 months old at the time.
|When I upload this picture it is right side up! You'll just have to turn your head:)|
This is a beautiful canvas from Grammy and Papa Adams for Elliana's room
On February 26, 2013 we had preliminary court. From my understanding, this court is for the birth parents, when applicable, to appear and relinquish rights. In the case of an abandoned child with no birth parents found, the person who found the child appears to testify as well as the director of West Sands in Ethiopia.
In the preliminary court, the child is declared an orphan. The judge, director of West Sands, and MOWA (Ministry of Woman Affairs--which is equivalent to our human services type of organizations) go over the paperwork and make sure everything is correct and that no one is opposed to anything in the adoption.
We had our court and have not heard word about it in one whole week! Looking at the calendar today, I couldn't believe it has only been one week since then. Everything seems like so much longer than it really is in this process!! Our agency told us that "no news is good news" and the next thing we should hear is that the MOWA letter is ready, and that should be within a couple weeks.
The typical timeline for families between preliminary court and their court date to appear in Ethiopia is 2-8 weeks. What takes place during this time, we are not completely sure. I can say that the timeline is definitely different for each family and that our agency can't give us any exact dates, but they did say it should be soon! :)
When the MOWA approval letter is ready, then our agency will call us to give us our court date. We need to arrive in country before court and the most recent families from the agency were only given a two day notice before leaving! It all adds to the excitement :)
When we travel, we will get to meet Elliana before court. Then later in the week we will appear before the judge and it will all be made official!!!
The hard part though, is that we will only have custody of her in Ethiopia. We will not be able to leave with Elliana. A lot of important things have to happen between our first trip and our second trip to bring her home.
The director of West Sands will prepare all of the documents that need to be submitted to the United States Embassy. The US Embassy will require there to be additional medical appointments and testing, an orphan status investigation, and the preparation of her passport and her birth certificate before Elliana can become a US citizen. Once all of the documentation is gathered it will be submitted to the US Embassy to review and make their determination. All the things that must occur are good and beneficial. Basically, the US Embassy has to satisfy their needs that Elliana is truly an orphan and won't recognize our custody of her until we get US Embassy clearance.
So we will return home with full hearts but will have empty hands. The time frame they give between court and Embassy submission is 2-8 weeks. Once we are submitted to the Embassy, we know we are close but we don't quite get to jump on a plane at that point. We have to wait for full clearance before scheduling the second trip.
In the second trip, Brent will go to Embassy and have an interview with them. (the plan right now is that I will stay home) They will then issue Elliana's travel visa and she will be ready to come home forever!
|Doesn't everyone love baby feet? So thankful for this photo sent to us!|
(well, we got the entire photo--but I'll just show you what I can!)
Anything can happen in international adoption, and we would ask that you continue to pray for the process to move ahead smoothly and to completion quickly. We wait with great anticipation, but we wait with great peace knowing that God is in control and not one detail is out of His plan. We do pray that it would be His will to have Elliana home in our arms before summer!!