Wednesday, December 26, 2007

USCIS approval...again

We recently got back from visiting family for Christmas. On the way into the house, I checked the mailbox filled with Christmas cards and letters (which I love getting!). Hidden in the stack was a letter with hand-written addressing from US Immigration. Inside the envelope was our updated approval notice.
This is the third big USCIS renewal piece we have had to complete in recent months. The first two being updated fingerprints and then an updated homestudy back in the fall. So for the mean time, we are up-to-date with our US paperwork.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Fall FUNdraiser Sale-Update

Yes, that's cheesy- but we really did have a great time!
So this sale is really catching on! There were more sellers this go 'round than when the spring sale was held earlier in the year. It was definitely a success. Thanks to those who worked so hard to prepare the sale! Thanks to those who took the time to come shop to support us all and "to look after orphans and widows in their distress".

Here I am with a happy customer purchasing some urban hen wares.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Como se dice...?

We have been trying to learn more Spanish over these past couple years. I did take 3 or 4 years in high school. However, my senior year highest level Spanish course was taught by the cheerleading coach. We spent most of the year making posters and spirit sticks.
So...ever since our trip to Honduras in 2oo5, we have slowly been practicing and learning. Here are some good resources we've found that I wanted to pass along:
1. Edufone is a great little site that my hsuband has explored more than I have, but I get the podcasts called "Finally Learn Spanish" and they are great.
2. Behind The Wheel Spanish is an excellent investment. We purchased those as soon as we got back from HO and have listened to them in the car during commutes and road trips. (It's also much cheaper than Rosetta Stone, which we read was not the greatest for learning Latin American Spanish.)
3. Native speaking friends. Thankfully, we have a couple of friends from Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador that we're able to chat with every once in a while. It's a must. Plus it's fun! (and scary!)
4. La Charamusca is a podcast that I have listened to before. I think it is a talk radio show from El Salvador. Good to put on while cleaning around the house just to soak in the sounds of another language.

Monday, November 05, 2007


We're still waiting to hear back from USCIS on our renewal approval. (We changed a couple of things about our request and will have to see what they approve.)
And basically that's about it for now.

22 months and counting...

"Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you."
1 Thessalonians 3:11

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fall Fundraiser Sale

I'm going to be participating in a fundraiser sale for adoptive families coming up in November. You can find the when and where details here.
A percentage of the sales from my items will go to Orphan Advocates. (I've mentioned them before in a previous post.) "Orphan Advocates seeks to advocate on behalf of the international orphan for the opportunity to have a family, a home, an education, and a future." This organization will begin advancing their mission by providing assistance to El Salvador with the registration of orphans into the government's adoption system.
The lack of man-power is currently the number one wall between families and referrals from El Salvador!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Huevos and Hague

The other morning for breakfast I had scrambled eggs, a tortilla, and hot coffee. While I was eating, I couldn't help but wonder if this was what our child was having for breakfast, too! You never know.

Today, I participated in a phone call with a woman from the Hague Convention accreditation group. She wished to speak with a waiting family as part of her site visit with our agency. It was a brief interview where she asked questions about the process we experienced with our agency so far. She also talked aside with me for a minute, giving me tips and encouragement about entering into parenthood with a toddler as our first child.
I recommend reading the "Information for Parents" PDF on the Hague site. I realized I didn't know much about it so I headed to the Department of State site and found this pamphlet. It's a good place to start in understanding the history and purpose of the Hague. Our agency has already made noticable changes on their web pages that discuss adoption from El Salvador. The Hague will be ratified in February of 2008, so adoption agencies are gearing up to comply. I know El Salvador is doing the same. They are working to ensure that the processes are in the best interest of the children there. We are definitely glad about that!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

21 months

A couple of things...

USCIS renewal

We mailed off our homestudy update and paperwork to our local USCIS office last week. On our end of things, the homestudy update was an easy process. Once we figured out what was required by the USCIS, which was difficult to discover, it was just a matter of making copies and mailing out the paperwork.

Orphan Advocate
This organization has been developed to offer help for orphans. One way they are doing this is by assisting El Salvador in the registration of children so that they may be adoptable. There's not much information available yet, because the organization is in the earliest stages. But the vision is awesome!
Because it is new, the site is not 100%, but their blog can be found here.

We are in our 21st month of the process. Our paperwork has been in ES for 17 months. No update or news as to when our referral might come.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.

Psalm 146

Monday, September 24, 2007

Country notes

If you were keeping track of interesting facts about your child's home country, and that country happened to be El Salvador, here's what you might take down for your notes:

1. Flag:

2. Size: Over 8,000 square miles (about the size of Massachusetts)

3. Capital: San Salvador (which means "The Savior")

4. Year of Constitution: 1983

5. Dates of Civil War: 1980-1992

6. Most recent volcanic erruption: 2005

7. President: Tony Saca

8. Awesome thing to see: El Trifinio National Park- the location where El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala all meet

9. Awesome thing to taste: PUPUSAS!

Anybody else got something to add?...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Updates and renewals

It's time for us to update our homestudy and renew our I700 paperwork with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Our paperwork doesn't officially expire until November, but it was recommended that we get started with the renewal process considering the current long "lines" at USCIS. Updating the homestudy doesn't require a huge amount of work. It's simply communicating any changes in our family's information- new job, change of address, etc. I don't think much has changed for the Raines family, so this should be fairly straight forward.

And f0r those of you counting, current length of process: 20 months

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

How did we get here?

I was recently looking back through some of our old posts and I came across one where I said I would write a little more about how we came to be waiting parents for a child from El Salvador. It's actually interesting timing for this post to take place. You see, two years ago this month we made a trip to Honduras to spend some time with a missionary and his family and participate in their amazing work. The ministry, called Providence World Ministries, specifically works with widows and orphans (although everyone who comes in contact with that place is affected). It was during our trip that we felt confirmation to go forward with what we'd been researching and thinking about for the past couple years- having children from Latin America.
When we came back from our trip, we connected with the only agency we knew to be working in this very difficult-to-adopt-from country. Turned out, we were a little too late. The agency was no long accepting any "test families" to complete what will be some of the first, agency regulated, Honduran adoptions. However, it was mentioned that El Salvador was opening up and we later learned that 1 final "test family" was needed for this new country. Sign us up.
That was back in January of 2006. (See my husband's inaugural post.)
So there you have it, for the most part. That's how we got here. Now, if we could only get there...

Friday, August 03, 2007

A little taste of El Salvador

Last night, we had a cookout with a new friend (who is from El Salvador) and her parents and brother. The family members had flown in for the weekend to stay with their daughter here in Tennessee.
We had a blast practicing our Spanish. We found ourselves understanding quite a bit of what was spoken. For me, I'm just not able to say what I want to say as quickly as I want to say it. (That's probably not such a bad problem to have!) But it was good. It was a special thing for us. As we were leaving, Senora hugged me and with her sweet Spanish said, "I'll wait for you in El Salvador."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

18 months

We're hovering around the 18 month mark in our wait for our child. It is still unknown when we will receive our referral, so we continue to press on into the coming fall.
We have learned more about the actual process that is taking place in El Salvador. I've been updating what we've been doing during the wait. Time to talk about what's going on down there. (Now don't quote me on this but from what I've read, in combination with what we've been told by our agency, this is how things are happening.)
There are two major government agencies- The OPA
(Oficina Para Adopciones/Office for Adoptions) and ISNA (The Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Children and Adolescents). The OPA investigates the circumstances of each child's situation and searches for relatives who may choose to care for the child. Once adoption is determined to be the best option for the child they are deemed "adoptable" by the OPA. This process can take up to 2 years. (A new law aimed at decreasing this time was passed very recently!) At this point, the child "goes before" a special matching committee. The committee reviews the files of a handful of nominated adoptive families and selects which family receives a referral for the child.
Our paperwork is currently in the hands of the OPA where they can nominate us at any time to go before the matching committee.

Psalm 9:10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Quilt for nino

Just started working on the boy quilt made of greens and blues. Here's a sneak peak.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quilting Bee

On Saturday, some friends threw a quilting party for me! We all met together at Harriet's home and started quilting our girl blanket. Everyone added stitches and we finished about a quarter of the quilt. It looks so sweet!

Katie Jo, Beth, and Lindsey basting the quilt to the frame.

Jennifer and Michelle basting.

Melissa and Danielle carefully stitching away.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Fundraiser event

I was able to participate in a fundraiser sale for adoptive families this weekend. I sold some handmade items from my business, urban hen. Thank you! Thank you! to everyone who came out.
There were 5 other families represented at the sale. We all had a great time. It's fun to prepare in sort of a different way for our children!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thinking about God

He touches the mountains, and they smoke Psalm 104:32 He scatters the frost like ashes Psalm 146:16 He leads forth a constellation in its season Job 38:32 He stretched out the Heavens by Himself Isaiah 44:24 He placed the sand as boundary for the sea Jeremiah 5:22

How precious are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Psalm 139:17

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Yard Sale

This weekend we had a yard sale. The weather was beautiful! Thanks to the donations and help of friends, we were able to make some extra money to put towards the last leg of our adoption.
God is good to provide sweet, gracious friends through His church body. Thanks to everyone who gave!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Getting a little help

This is Berkeley's own little way of helping us get things ready for our child.

(By warming the quilt squares before I sew them together?)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

14 months

It has been a while since we last posted. Although nothing has really happened, we seemed over due for something of an update.

We are still looking forward to expecting a referral sometime this summer. Now that the weather is turning to spring, it is feeling much closer. We did find out that once we do get our referral we will probably travel to El Salvador within 1 and 3 months. I have a hunch that once we get that picture, it is going to be a whirlwind of a wait! Right now we are simply reading a lot, thinking a lot, and praying a lot. In the next couple of weeks we plan to start clearing out our child's room a little more and begin to live with the idea of it being another person's room. We've also been listening to more Spanish podcasts and cd's. So with that, Hasta luego!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cena de El Salvador

This past Saturday, we had an El Salvadoran dinner party. I attempted to make some authentic food. It all turned out to be pretty tasty!

This is the beginning stage of the semita. The recipe called for making "worms" to go on top of the dessert. (I've gotten pretty good at this skill from teaching preschool.)


Friends...with clean plates!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Dossier Approval

Our dossier has made it all the way through the approval process in El Salvador. We just got a call yesterday from our coordinator informing us of this milestone. There are several "gates" each dossier must pass through until it is finally approved. Once approved, it gets passed on to the office that assigns referrals to families. That's where we are! It's SO exciting!

(<- These are our "We're so excited! What are we doing!" faces from yesterday.)

What does this mean?
We have NO idea! Being a test family, we are one of the first 2 or 3 families our agency has ever brought this far, and so there is no history to compare our process against. There are no guarantees; there are no norms.
So...we wait. We wait some more, but with a new excitement and more wonder at God's timing and control. He speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets (Psalm 50:1) and...
He picks out our child.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Un ano

1 year ago today we were approved for our adoption through AWAA!
We were talking this morning about how it has really gone by quickly. It's easy to think: "We've been waiting for ONE whole year and what do have to show for it?" But it has been such a good waiting time for us, so far. And so we were quick to remember how gracious God has been to build our family as HE wills.

And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.
Psalm 39:7