nwhannas

A Peek Into Our Family…

Moving Day Draws Nigh

Hi,

If they come to mind, our girls could sure use prayers late today and through tomorrow. M and C will be moving to a new foster home, as the one where they have been living needs to close.  Though saddened by a) another transition for them, and b) the fact that it drives me c.r.a.z.y. that they are moving to a home which IS NOT OURS, I am grateful. The new home is safe, and has a lovely foster mom (from reports of folks whose children have stayed there).  And, the same wonderful people at Feeding the Orphans and GMI are being so helpful in moving and settling the girls into their new digs.  This is especially important to us, because obviously we can’t be there to help them transition.

So much grief for two little girls who have asked for none of it. Ugh.

But…as always, there’s a lesson here, if we choose to see it:  Though things might not be going as I would plan, God is always near, and He cares for His children. Beyond blessed and thankful for the love He has for my family.

SDG!

p.s. and by the way…our appeal has been in since 8 September. waiting.

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Be Anxious for Nothing…

I don’t know about you, but when I get anxious, I’ve often been told something along the lines of, “Just picture the worst possible scenario.  Now.  How likely is that to happen?  How would you deal with that?  OK.  Now, what is more likely to happen?”

Well, it happened.  Our friends at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have revoked approval to classify our daughters as immigrants.  Worst.case.scenario.  We are, of course, shocked, saddened, angered, and in despair about this news, which means they’ve been denied visa approval.

We said before that we weren’t stopping until we had no further recourse. With bruised, broken hearts, and hopeful, determination, we’re appealing this decision.  We’re moving forward, as far as we can, knowing that this could very well end up with a devastating decision for all of us.  But that’s okay.

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They’re worth the fight.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Love you all.  SDG!

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Lessons From the Waiting Room

Hey there…I’m over here at my friend Jean’s place today:  Jean P. Sullivan:  Wisdom – One Crisis at a Time.  Jean is one of my favorite people in the world, and she humbled and honored me by asking me to post about what God is teaching me as I wait upon our girls’ homecoming.  Her story can be found here, and do subscribe to her blog.  She’s an incredibly wise, practical wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, and she’s less wordy than me. Holla!

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

P.S.  The latest news is no news.  I spoke to our very busy customs officer last week, and she said she might have an answer for us within a month.  So…there’s that.  Blessings, and thanks again for your love and support.  God truly sustains through our family and friends. xxxooo

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JUST FYI…

Hi,

We submitted our response to the NOIR to USCIS on June 9th.  Yesterday, I called and left a message for our officer, asking status re: our cases.  Received an email today from her, simply stating that our cases were “in queue for review” and that I should try calling back in a couple of weeks.

Okay, then.  Guess they won’t be home for Independence Day.  How about first day of school, anyone? 

Blessings to all.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support.  Feeling like the process is never-ending at this point, and re-adjusting our sails with each delay is tiresome.  But we remain so thankful for our girls’ new foster home and “auntie”.  

 

SDG!

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So, Doug Was In Ghana Last Week…

I won’t go into all of the factors re: why we sent him on this stealth and quickly planned/executed trip to Ghana, because there are internet trolls who don’t need to know every detail of our business.  But, that said, I also really wanted to give an update, because there is news (and more importantly, pictures) to be shared with you – our beloved #TeamHanna

Suffice to say, we had reason to believe that our girls’ living situation was not good, and was degrading rapidly.  As you can imagine, this literally pained us both and put our stomachs in knots.  Since the US hasn’t granted their permission to bring Mary and Comfort home (yet), we’re helpless to change as much of their situation as we would like.  Simply put:  We want to bring them home, but we can’t, so we sent Doug over to do the next best thing.   

Facebook and social media gets a lot of flack these days because of the artificial relationships and blah, blah, blah.  While I think this can be true, I also believe that God used these avenues to connect us to people who could help us with extricating the girls from their unsavory situation and worked with us to place them into an incredibly loving and positive foster home.  I will always be so grateful for the people who stepped up, and said, “Yes, I will be happy to help,” and “We are walking with you and Doug through this journey.”  

The girls are now in a foster home which is a couple of hours from central Accra, and which is in no way, shape, or form a convenient location.  However, they are now:

  • In a home with a young woman who is running a street ministry for young women, especially those who are pregnant/abused, in dire situations.  She is also caring for a beautiful babe who is severely impacted by some cranio-facial issues, and is in the midst of being adopted.  She has opened her heart and mindset to caring for these girls until we can.
  • In a home with a Ghanaian Auntie working with the foster mom to provide love and support.
  • In a home with beds and regular meals.  
  • Near a school to which we have enrolled them. Doug was even able to talk to the headmaster re: the girls, and they will be happy to receive M and C.
  • Near a clinic/hospital.
  • In a home with a wifi hotspot so that we can communicate not only with their care-taker, but with them!
  • In a home where, in less than 24 hours, their foster mom noted a rash, and started medicating them.  Additionally, she also began de-worming meds.  Wouldn’t it be great if they could actually get nutrients from their food and grow?
  • In a home where they are already making paper chains, doing other crafts, and learning about being part of a family – this includes a chore chart.  If they make their beds and sweep their room each day, they get a Pepsi at the end of the week.  Could you die at the simplicity and wonderfulness of that?
  • In a home where Jesus’ name and His love for them is spoken into their lives.  
  • In a home where they are known.

The upshot of all of this is that the girls are in a fantastic place, for now, and we are grateful.  But the trip, while it had its highlights, was not always sunshine and roses for Doug. It was hard, hard, emotionally and physically exhausting work, and it included another brutal good-bye with Mary and Comfort.  However, there were some fun times in addition to being with the girls.  During the week, he was in communication with the director of the local orphanage.  This gentleman was intrinsic to the entire mission of moving the girls, and the foster home is an offshoot of this orphanage.  So, Doug had opportunity to hang out a bit with the children and staff at the orphanage, and made good friends with one of the older boys who works there.  The reason I mention this is that one of the pictures is from this orphanage.  One day, he brought ice cream to all of the kids.  Looking at his face as he handed it out, I just see such gentleness and love.  I get to be married to this guy – 24 years next week! – and our kids get to call him dad(dy).  Oh, and one more thing.  Mary called him, using her foster mom’s phone (he had gone back to Accra, but was visiting the next day), and said, “Daddy, do you think you could buy me some socks and shoes?”.  So…he did.  Because daddies buy shoes for their little girls. 

OK.  As promised here are your pictures. 

Thank you for your unending support, encouragement and prayers.  May the US grant us Visas very soon!

SDG!

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We’ve Made A Decision

After months of agony we’re no closer to bringing home our daughters than we were on October 1st, the day of their visa interview.

We have been going back and forth with our case and whether or not we think we can win it, and spoke to #LegalTeamHanna yesterday to discuss and decide upon a course of action.  What’s nice about our team is that one of them is an adoptive mom, so she was willing to have an “offline” chat with us re: our big feelings and fears and what to do if we lose our case, etc.  What a gift to have someone who not only sees the legal picture, but sees our heart’s desires and can empathize with them.  She understands perfectly the fact that our lives have been in suspended animation in many respects in the last year.  She gets it.

The legal team is agreed that there are many cases which were “worse” than ours, and those kids are now home with their families.  They do not see this as hopeless, based on the cases they’ve worked with; however, they’re not blowing sunshine, either.  We are mos’ def’ in between a rock and a hard place.   They have laid out their thoughts re: a best course of action for Doug and me to bring Mary and Comfort home.  However, it’s nice because we all feel like we can shake hands and walk away from each other with our heads held high, whether we choose to move forward or not.

It’s a lot to think about.  But here’s the thing.  Under Ghanaian law, M and C are our daughters.  Period.  That means we’re responsible for their care unless we relinquish them.  So, if we choose to relinquish them, we’ll need to find a suitable placement for them to live and to go to school.  In Ghana.  We’re not ready to send our daughters to another orphanage or to a foster family right now, when they have a family who loves them in WA.

So, we’ve decided to fight until we’re clearly told that we MUST relinquish them.  Because that’s what we do for our kids.  We fight for them.  We know that we couldn’t live with ourselves if we gave up before we were absolutely told we must – we’d always be asking “what if”?  We have until June 9th to put our response together.  This may or may not mean another trip to Ghana for Doug.  And it all may end with our girls not coming home.  But we’re gonna try.  To my local framily:  The beginning of May is the first anniversary of when we met the girls, and the 16th is our first anniversary of the adoption.  I apologize in advance for my fragility and distractibility during this whole time.  I have not been the best friend in the world. Doing my best to compartmentalize and be in the moment with those who are home, but part of my heart truly beats in Ghana.

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Love you all.  SDG!

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DaddyComfort

Daddy and Comfort – January 2014

I hardly know what to write, but I want to write something because you all have been riding this wave with us, and I want to share.  It’s just…

The news isn’t good. That’s about the long and the short of it.

Despite our best efforts to refute the questions of the NOIR (See this post to refresh your memory), we have failed to pass with US Customs and Immigration.  The upshot is, we have less than a month, unless we are granted an extension, to answer their questions presented the amended notification of intent to revoke (NOIR)  our daughters’ immigration status, which we received late last week.

We immediately contacted #LegalTeamHanna, and we are putting together our game plan re: how to address this NOIR.  All of us are also talking very openly regarding when we think we have reached a state of futility, and when/if we need to surrender and grieve the loss.  We are trying as hard as we can to be realistic in our expectations.  We’ll fight tooth and nail for as long as there is hope of a win.  But we’re processing the very real possibility that, due to many circumstances beyond our control, this adoption will fail.  We believe we will be at these decision points sooner, rather than later–which, I suppose, is ultimately a good thing.

We are not ready to concede just yet.  But Doug and I are about as threadbare as you can get, while still trying to keep things as functional and happy as we can for the children who are here.  Not posting the dates here because…internet…but Doug is going to be taking David very soon on his graduation trip, and I have decided to run away from home, too.  Jenny and I will be off the grid, soon, as well, with the only goal being…rest.

Thank you so much for your prayers, words of concern, and care for us all. I sure wish I had happier news to post.  Maybe soon.

SDG!

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Mistakes? I’ve Made a Few…

But career choice isn’t one of them.  

Doug and I have read, re-read, suggested edits, and read again, the brief written for our case from #LegalTeamHanna.  

Can I say?  I was never meant to be an attorney.  Never been clearer to me than right.this.instant.  I mean, I can give a good argument, from time to time (ahem), but statutes, appendices, and reasonable probability, OH MY.  Taking a moment to be grateful that there are those people who enjoy the above and thrive in presenting their knowledge of the law.  I think our team has done a fabulous job with the information Doug gathered, and after one more look-see by all of us, we’ll be sending the brief on to USCIS (Customs and Immigration) early next week.  

At this point, we’re finished.  Doug and I are comfortable that, inasmuch as we were able to do so, we have covered every bit of ground, uncovered every truth, and answered every question re: the girls’ orphan status to the best of our abilities.  

Now, we wait.  Of course that means, I’ll wait a couple of weeks, and then will begin pinging our adjudicator just to see how things are going. You know, for the sake of good follow through.  ;)

#TeamHanna loves you all.

SDG!

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Tiny Update, and a Request

Hi,

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated, because…well, we’ve simply been waiting on legal Team Hanna to rock this crazy awesome brief, filled with all of the info Doug collected while in Ghana, which will help set the captives children free. Yes, I might have a teensy bit of the flair for the dramatic.  They’re not captives, but they’ve been our daughters for n.i.n.e. months, now, and we’re tired of waiting.

We’ve been told that our brief should be ready within the next couple of weeks, and after that, it will be submitted to USCIS (Customs and Immigration).  Honestly, it’s taking a bit longer than what we were thinking, but we’d rather wait the few extra days/weeks on this end to make sure we have the strongest case possible, than to hurry things along, and have a weaker case.  After the brief is received, I’ve been told that anywhere for 2-5 weeks (so, 5 weeks) is the probable time frame for their review of our paperwork.  And then?  Well if when we pass, then we’ll request visas faster than you can say, “Let’s get these girls home to their family!”  I’m not going to talk about what happens if we don’t pass, because I don’t believe it will happen. 

So…speaking about legal immigration, this brings me to a request.  The Barkemas are a family, who have been through the ringer with trying to legally bring home their son from Ghana.  We have become friends through a Ghana Adoption Facebook group, and they have been very supportive and helpful with Doug’s trip to Ghana, since they had previously traveled to Accra to seek answers for their son’s case. They have heard no progress from our government re: moving his case along, despite numerous attempts to find out information.  Moses was 4 when they started the adoption.  He’s now 6, or very near it.  At any rate, they are gathering signatures to bring him home.  To sign, you simply go make an account (2 min, tops) and sign the petition.  There is NO obligation for you to do this, but I wanted to spread the word, as they are looking to get 100,000 signatures to bring him home.  If you are interested, and want to hear more of their story, please click here.

Blessings to you all.  Thank you all so much for your love and prayers.  SDG!

GJH

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Mission Accomplished

His bags are packed, and he’s on his way home.

Whose?  Those belonging to the precious man whom I married, who could seriously give lessons on selfless love.  I know, I’m bragging.  But it’s true, and it’s my blog, so I’ll brag if I want to…brag if I want to.

The mission, which we chose to accept, was to go to Ghana in search of all of the information we needed to bolster our case to prove the girls’ orphan status (according to US definition of what it means to be an orphan with living parents).  We chose to send the logical, calm, even-tempered (unless the Hawks are playing :) ) one.  The flightier one stayed back, kept the home fires stoked, prayed, and helped out with emails/information as much as she could.

The emotions on both sides of the globe have been raw and so wearying.  This trip has seemed longer than so many of the same length–perhaps because of the stakes at hand.

A glimpse into his the day-to-day business of his trip (you folks who have done this will hear a familiar ring tone):

He made his way to an interviewee.  Interviewed that person with translator/investigator help.  Took notes on his laptop.  Sent notes to legal Team Hanna, and waited for an affidavit from them.  Then, he or our POA presented the affidavit for the person to sign, in front of a notary.  Rinse.  Repeat, times eleventy-hundred.

Not to mention…

  • The heat index for my amphibious spouse was in the high 90s/100s.  Can’t wait to do his laundry. Ha!
  • Pictures, videos, and time spent with not only our girls, but with two little boys whose families are caught up in the battle to bring them home.
  • Email updates back to waiting parents, adoption agency, and legal team.
  • Meeting with potential foster care folks.
  • Phone calls with Ghanaian officials re: some of our paperwork for the girls

The best part?  He got to spend a weekend with Mary and Comfort.  They probably had their first visit to a market, first KFC (Mary is a fan – Comfort deferred), and first trip to get ice cream.  Both girls were fans.  The Disney Dad/Mean Mom cycle begins again. ;)  Also, after they were bedded down on Sunday night, he couldn’t sleep, so was able to watch the Denver/New England game via Satellite, and saw the last part of the Seahawks/49ers game before drifting off to sleep.

The worst part?  Saying good-bye to his girls, and w.i.l.l.i.n.g. them to trust that he will be back soon to bring them home.

Lord, let it be so.

If you pray, I’d love to ask for specific prayers for safety/health for the girls (and the other kiddos at the orphanage), and for Doug’s re-entry into life in Seattle/Boston.  He can’t possibly unsee all he has seen/unfeel all he has felt–not that he should–but I’m praying that he’ll be able to compartmentalize it all to the degree that he must as we continue to fight to bring them home.

Special thanks to those of you who have sent texts, emails, and given hugs of encouragement, called, and private messaged me on FB.  So grateful for each one and for all those upholding us in prayer.  I am humbled. xxxooo

SDG!

Gretchen

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