So many of you have asked about the tangled mess of our pending I800 approval in the recent days! Thank you for that - really. We're astounded at how folks (virtual strangers and friends alike) have taken the time out of their own busy lives to check in on our progress toward Mei Mei. While we have certainly had our fair share of feeling helpless to "do" anything during the wait for progress, having folks come alongside us like this has been a wonderful distraction to the days of "no progress."
Here's what's the most recent update as of yesterday afternoon: (including a bit of re-cap)
On Thursday, January 31st, the Supplement 3 packet was sent to Immigration's "lock box" and our postal service tracking numbers indicated that it was received into the general Immigrations lock box in Texas on Friday, the 1st. Beginning on Monday morning, there has been a regular flurry of phone calls and emails from our agency to our Immigration Officer's desk. In that process, we found out that our case was turned BACK into the hands of the second officer to whom it was assigned. Seems that the first officer has been re-assigned and the third officer was only covering cases for the second officer as a temporary measure. The flu hits Immigration offices too - seems no one is immune these days!
Late Monday evening of this week, The Boss got notification that our paperwork was being forwarded from the general lock box over to the Adoptions department of Immigrations processing in Missouri. That was excellent news - we are in the pipeline!
In addition to our Social Worker "hounding" our Immigrations Officer daily (and with her permission), I've made contact with our local Congressman's district assistant. She's been amazing and so compassionate regarding the details of our case. Upon learning that the Supplement 3 had been entered into the processing system, she got busy and contacted the Colorado fingerprinting offices on our behalf to pave the way. It's now possible for Shaggy to get into their offices at the first possible date as a walk-in. Her advocacy on our behalf is so crucial AND so incredibly appreciated.
So, right now we are kind of in a new holding pattern. Once Shaggy arrives to his YWAM base in Colorado, he will go to the local USCIS fingerprinting site (about 1/2 an hour from his base) and walk in with both his official fingerprinting appointment invitation AND the letter from our Congressman. He's leaving Cambodia today and arriving in CO on Saturday. The Boss made contact with the leadership of the YWAM base and they've agreed to get Shaggy in to the USCIS office on Monday, the 11th.
Then we'll be in another holding pattern. (Heh. I know. So much "hurry up!" followed by a whole bunch of "wait!" to the average adoption journey. And this is by far NO LONGER an average adoption journey!)
Once Shaggy is printed, we'll need to "hound" someone (still working on who that would be!) to expedite the processing of the fingerprint results back to the Immigrations officer for the final step - that darned I800 approval we've been waiting for since January 16th. I'm working on a post will be a quick summary of what happens from I800 approval to Gotcha Day. Yes, we will finally be able to start visualizing an actual Gotcha Day once the I800 approval is finally issued!
All told, this delay is likely adding 6 or more weeks to our journey to Mei Mei. It's been very hard to sit back and be "okay" with those 6 weeks of additional separation from our little gift. Especially since we were at the "tail end" of the longest part of the journey and fully expecting to have the remaining steps fly by with our request for medical expedite in place. Talk about a crashing of expectations. In my efforts to be very real and honest about this journey, I'm going out on a limb to say that this has been a test of more than just our trust in His timing. It's been a test of our resolve, of our determination to keep focused on HIM as the author of our story (and hers). In many ways, it's been a test of our maturity - a refining of the skills He's grown in us over the many years of life experiences together. The tests (and to be fair, the rewards too) have come from the most unlikely places as we've tried to share the experience along the way.
Support and prayers from folks like you have really carried us more than we can even articulate here. We KNOW all the "stuff" of a solid faith journey. Living it daily, sometimes hourly when news changes or progress stalls, has been the focus. Choosing to act upon the truths that are in our hearts (that He is in control, HE is sovereign, HE has a plan, His timing is perfect, etc.) and then choosing to trust those truths has been bigger and harder than we expected. It's forced us to lean on HIM when we were too weary and sad to stand firm on what we know.
Yet through it all, He remains faithful. Unchanging. And very willing to show Himself merciful and mighty through the hands of those He's placed in our lives. Folks He's given to us to act lovingly on our behalf. Folks who have shown us "Jesus with skin on" in these recent weeks: Our social worker, the Immigrations Officer, our congressman's assistant. The friends who have offered creative and extraordinary measures of support or intervention. Strangers who sent gifts to invest into our Adoption Jar. All of it has been strategically placed in our path at His timing and by His grace to show us how very much He loves us. And how much He loves our Mei Mei.
Given the "mission" He's placed in my heart for my girl, I shouldn't be surprised that HIS plan for untangling the great big tangle of our yet-to-be approved I800 Immigrations process brought me right back to His love. His unchanging, all-consuming, new-every-day merciful love. It may be that I can only see it through that lens now, that it's almost completely untangled. But it's okay. He saw it and He knew what I needed in my journey to be able to see it too.