Lately I have been so busy updating everyone about Aaron's surgery and recovery and upcoming PT, that I thought it was about time to let you all know where we are in the adoption process. For those of you who are new to following our blog or just hearing about us adopting again, I wrote about our beautiful Marina here.
We finished our homestudy at the end of March and have been steadily working on getting our dossier together. Some of you who had followed our adoption process with Julia and Aaron may remember the fiasco we had getting our mortgage document notarized. Well, this time we decided to get started with this early on. They still took forever and messed it up once. But we did get it done right, even though it was still one of the last documents we got back. You will find it amusing that the error they made was one of the same errors they did the last time. The document they sent us was not an original. It was obvious that a person in one department signed it, faxed it to another department to "notarize" it (without having witnessed the signature), and sent it back to us with a big line down the side, indicating it was faxed. And looking closer you can see that the signature is a copy. They are not too smart. And it's not legal!! Anyways, I called (and tried to be as patient as I could) and prayed beforehand that I would get someone on the phone that could understand what I was about to explain to them and be able to send us another one promptly. Praise God, He answered my prayer. The woman said she would personally see to it that it got done properly and that she would overnight it to us when it was ready. We had a correct document in one week. Last time it took them 5 or 6 times to get it right. PHEW!!!
Up to this point, we still had not received our letters from USCIS with dates to get our fingerprints done. It seemed to be taking longer than usual. Just when we were about to start looking into it, the letters arrived in the mail. So this past Thursday we went and got our prints done and amazingly our approval came back in ONE DAY!! We quickly got it notarized this morning so Steve can drive to Richmond on Monday morning and get everything apostilled. If all goes smoothly on Monday, our dossier will be complete and ready to go!
So far, we have been able to cover all of the adoption expenses. It has amounted to about $4,000. We have Marina's grant fund button on the blog and are very grateful for the $410 we have received, without even asking!! Thank you so much. We have hesitated to specifically ask for donations, as we have been unsure about how much of the adoption expenses we will need help with. There seemed to be so many variables. We had been unsure about what Shriners was going to expect for copays/coinsurances for Aaron's surgery. Not only is Shriners known for its exceptional medical care for cerebral palsy children, but also for their ability to provide medical care free to the patient. We assume this is possible because they operate largely from donations. But due to the struggling economy, we have recently found out this may not be the case. We are anticipating that we may have to pay the copays/coinsurances for all of Aaron's pre-op visits, the operation, and the many subsequent follow up appointments, on top of all the expenses we have incurred in traveling back and forth to Philadelphia so many times.
Another variable was being unsure of the timing of our travel this summer. Now that our dossier is almost complete and we know about when it will be submitted, we have a better time frame of when we will travel. It looks like the referral appointment dates are typically 6-8 weeks from submitting the dossier. This would put us traveling in late July/August when airfare and apartments costs are expected to be high due to the world cup soccer tournament and the summer olympics.
And the last variable is the tax credit for the adoptions of Julia and Aaron we thought would be helping us immensely with all of this. We filed our tax return back in January when we were first praying about adopting Marina. For some time we had been thinking that the best thing to do with the forthcoming tax credit from Julia and Aaron's adoption would be to prayerfully consider adopting another child. The timing of it seemed almost perfect as we came across Marina when advocating for Valentin right around when we would be filing our tax return. We knew in our hearts that God's plan was for her to have a family, to be part of our family. And so we assumed this was how He was going to make it happen. But back at the end of March (2 months after filing), we received a letter from the IRS stating that they were going to take 45 days to review our tax return. After this 45 days they stated they would either deposit the tax refund, ask for more information/clarification on our tax return, or deny the refund. We still have not heard a word from them requesting any additional information or anything! And it has been well over 45 days. We have absolutely no idea when this tax credit will come to us. From what we hear, many others who have filed for this tax credit are in the same boat. It is not looking hopeful and we were very much relying on this money. We are wondering if God may have a different plan, a different purpose that may transcend just our adoption of Marina.....only He can see the bigger picture here. But what? At this point, we just don't know. We can only seek Him continually, follow His will in our lives, and trust in Him to provide.
Over the last month or so I have come across the story of Gideon several times. In Judges 6 and 7 Gideon is chosen by God to lead the Israelites to defeat their enemies, the Midianites. After asking God for "signs" that He truly wanted him to lead the army, Gideon gathered 32,000 men to fight. But God promptly tells Gideon that he has too many men. The Lord said to Gideon, "The men you have are too many for me to give them victory over the Midianites. They might think that they had won by themselves, and so give me no credit. Judges 7:2 Of the 32,000 men, God only allows 300 men to remain in Gideon's army. This must have seemed unimaginable to Gideon and to his army as well! But God did not want or need a big army to win. In fact, they defeated the Midianites without even fighting! So I am now wondering if we were too quick to assume that the large tax refund was going to fund Marina's adoption. I am not suggesting that God is planning for us to hop on over to EE with $200 and expect to return home with Marina. But I do believe that God is looking for more of an opportunity to let His power, His provision, and His sovreignty to be visible.....for the glory to be all His!
After having spent the last month praying specifically over this, along with consulting close friends and family over what we should do, we are coming forward to ask for help. We are praying that God will provide us with the donations HE KNOWS we will need to bring Marina home. We are providing three ways for donations to be accepted. First, we have Marina's Reece's Rainbow grant fund up here on our blog, which is tax deductible. We will continue to leave this up on our blog. Second, we are setting up a chip in for the rest of the anticipated costs. If we meet this amount by other means, we will simply end the chip in. And last, we would like to announce that we will be having a BBQ at our home on Saturday, June 2 at 3 pm with an opportunity for free will donations. Thrivent Financial will match funds up to $500. If any of you who follow our blog are local and would like to attend, please comment with your email address. I can add you to our evite invitation which will have all the information on the BBQ, including our address. We would love to meet some of you in person, if possible! If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate this way, checks can be made out to "Thrivent Financial-Fredericksburg" and write "Schwenzer adoption" in the memo line. Any donations given above $200 will automatically receive a receipt in the mail for tax deduction purposes. For donations less than $200, a receipt will only be sent back if you specifically request one. Checks can be mailed to this address:
Thrivent Financial-Fredericksburg Chapter
1320 Central Park Blvd. #223
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
We are humbly pleading for you to prayerfully consider helping us bring Marina home. In our sinful human nature, we admit we are anxious about submitting the dossier without knowing how we are going to pay for the rest of the adoption process in 6-8 weeks from now. We are desperately trying not to worry about this aspect of her adoption and putting it in God's very capable hands. All we can do is trust that He alone knows all of our needs and will provide accordingly.
Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” Luke 12:22-26