Thursday, January 31, 2008

From Disappointment to Heartbreak

Unfortunately our news got much worse today. We were advised by AoH to not travel to Liberia. I can't share at this time what is going on, we will have more detailed information tomorrow, but it not a political situation nor any danger, but a situation involving all adoptions with all agencies, and the US Embassy will make an announcement tomorrow that will give us more information. Due to weather problems in Green Bay, Kim's flight to Chicago was delayed several hours so that she missed her connection to Brussels. During that time I was able to make several phone calls, get the information I needed, and contact Kim before she left the country. The weather is extremely bad in Chicago, so several flights were cancelled and what flights were left were completely booked, but an agent had sympathy towards Kim when she heard our story, and got her on a 6:15 flight home. Don't know the flight number or if the flight actually was able to leave in the weather, but I trust she did. The only bright spot in all this, is I was really wrestling with being away with my grandmother in such dire health. And I'm praying i will get home in time to say my good-bye's and at the very least will be home for the funeral. We obviously are numb from everything that has transpired. We know that we have more hassles ahead as our home study expires, and even stricter regulations come down from Liberia requiring 3 weeks stay prior to adopting. Not sure how all that will affect us and our children's future, but i will continue to stay true to my belief that it will all happen in God's perfect timing.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:7

Disappointment


Gabriella will not be coming home with us...

Unless a miracle happens, we will not be taking Gabriella home with us next week. Chris Dehtho, our social worker in Liberia sent the following e-mail to AoH this morning

The Embassy has requested DNA for Kimberly Peters( BASTEN FAMILY). There is so much issue going on here with the Ministry of Health with regards to Case History reports. The Ministry has informed the US Embassy to put a hold on some cases that they claim were not signed by the appropriate individual. Acres of Hope is not involved but they are going to delay the issuance of visas. Please let the Basten family know that it is ok for them to get a visa for Boimah Mambu and that they should send over the DNA kit for Kimberly and mom ASAP so that we can start the DNA process from this end.

So Rachel, our AoH contact in the US sent us the following e-mail.

Kim asked that I email you, Dale, to inform you about the Kimberly's bio family interview. The Embassy has requested a DNA test on Kimberly and her mother. You will be able to get Boimah's visa and take him home with you as planned; however, Kimberly will have to wait until the DNA results come back. We are taking care of having the DNA kit sent to the Embassy for you. I'd estimate it will take about 6-8 weeks to get the results back (it's a lengthy process of getting the kit there, getting the samples, having the Embassy or Clinic send it back to the lab here in the US, doing the test which is the shortest piece, and sending the results back to the Embassy which won't accept emailed results only hard copies). While the DNA is being done, we will keep tabs on it for you and you don't need to do anything.

I am at peace with everything going on, however disappointed. The "good" news was I was able to tell Kim before she got on the plane so she has the plane ride to process everything. She is hopefully just beginning her journey over the Atlantic from Chicago. I so look forward to seeing her tomorrow. As I stated yesterday, I trust in God's perfect timing for everything going on. Thanks again for your prayers.

It's Gabriella's Mom's Embassy Day




I've attached a couple pictures from downtown Stavanger. They have quaint shops and restaurants and coblestone roads. Our hosts Egil M√łnnich and Geirr M. Ims from EM Software Partners took us out last night for a wonderful dinner. I had fish soup and a wild game stew that was in wonderful historic old ship building. They have been very gracious hosts.

Kim flys out later today so I'm very much looking forward to seeing her tomorrow. And later today I should find out how Gabriella's bioFamily interview went at the Embassy. Kim will have to wait until tomorrow night to find out.

Lastly continue to pray for my Grandma. Here she is pictured with the kids from a couple months ago. They've taken her off of her normal medicine and have her on morphine to make her comfortable. Many have said their goodbyes, and so it's only a matter of time. My mom put the phone up her ear and she said my name which was more than she had said for most of the day yesterday, so I take comfort in knowing I was able to say I loved her.






Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Praise!


Greetings again from Stavanger Norway. Wanted to share a quick update. Kim was able to secure a bioFamily Embassy appointment for Gabriella's mom for tomorrow (Thursday at 9am). So God has been faithful and has answered our prayers, and we trust that by tomorrow night we shall be set to pick up both of our children. There will be two other couples experiencing the same joy as us in Liberia next week.

Also please pray as Kim travels tomorrow. She leaves Green Bay at 12:30CST and should be in Brussels by 7:30am CET (Central European Time) Friday. She'll then have 12 hours by herself to adjust to the time change waiting for me.

Lastly please pray for my mom and grandma. They have taken away all my grandmothers medication and just have her on Morphine for pain. Her breathing is very labored and difficult and her condition is not very good. Obviously it is a difficult time for my mother and me, being half way around the world and not being able to comfort her. Also the thought of not being there should something happen has been difficult to take. But God is the God of all situations, and I continue to trust in his perfect timing for everything.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hilsning (Greetings)


Hello again from Norway. Things are going well half way around the world. I find the people of Norway to be so very friendly and the culture to be enjoyable. In fact Stavanger where I am staying (the 4th largest city in Norway) was voted the European Capital of Culture 2008. But wow are things expensive. The average meal at a steakhouse is $60-$70. A car the size of a Ford escort wagon (Peugeot) is $50,000. I've never seen so many small cars in my entire life. A typical home is around $3,000,000 kroners (NOK) which translates to approx $550,000 and the typical home is modest ($1 USD = $5.5 NOK). They are taxed 25% sales tax on goods 11% on food, but hospitals and most education are free. So they are just used to paying outrageous prices all the time. Norway has a national church - the Church of Norway . Everyone born is a member of the church. There has been much debate among the people whether to continue this practice.

But now the News I really am writing about: THEY FOUND GABRIELLA'S MOTHER!

Blessed are you, God of Israel, our father
from of old and forever.
To you, O God, belong the greatness and might,
the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor;
Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth;
the kingdom all yours! You've raised yourself high over all.
Riches and glory come from you,
you're ruler over all;
You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand
to build up and strengthen all.
And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you,
praising your splendid Name.

So they are keeping her at the orphanage or somehow under their care until we are able to get a new bioFamily interview at the Embassy. Kim has already e-mailed the embassy requesting one, and will try calling tomorrow morning. So although it's not a done deal yet, things look pretty good to get this done by next week. So we would appreciate your prayers to continue to cover us through this and all the way through next week until we get home. We need prayer for our children's health. Prior to this wonderful news, Kim was extremely discouraged, as Olivia was running a fever and then the school called to pick up Elizabeth as she came home early with an ear-ache. As a mother she is worrying about the thought of leaving sick children in someone elses care. There is some guilt in this as well.

Also if you could pray for my grandmother (Mabel) who is 87 and just entered the hospital today with congestive heart failure. Not only is this a serious health problem, but my mother, her only living child, is responsible with decisions and care. She is also the one who was going to watch the kids for the first 3 days we are gone in Africa. We don't want to be another burden to her during this difficult time. So we are praying for wisdom on what to do. Thanks again for your continued support and prayers. We believe whole-heartedly that God was glorified through your prayers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Need Prayer Again

Please join us as we pray that they find Gabriella's (Kimberly's) mother today. Chris (the Liberian social worker working our case) informed us through Rachel that they are sending someone into the bush today to search for Gabriella's mother. Please pray for favor from God to guide the steps of those searching on our behalf. We believe that God will work this out and that we will bring Gabriella home in two weeks.

By the way, greetings from Amsterdam. I made it safely to Europe this morning, and I'm just waiting for my final connection to Norway. Please pray for my family while I'm away. It was especially difficult for Elizabeth. Thankfully through the miracle of the internet and webcams, we'll be able to see each other and talk despite our distance.

Also God placed a national named Martina Gehrken-Trappe from East Africa (Tanzania) on my 8 1/2 flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam. We had a real enjoyable time sharing our stories. She is a caucasion widow who grew up in Germany, but has spent the last 23 years in Tanzania. Her children are grown, but she has many African foster children and mothers that she supports through her B&B in Tanzania. Check out her wonderful place at http://www.rivertrees.com/. Also she is involved with NGOs and actually had Bono from U2 at her place and she prepared dinner for 500 people involved with TED (http://www.ted.com/ ). Check it out - it looks pretty interesting.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Official - Josiah is Ours!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally great news after a roller coaster week. We received word from AoH that Josiah's BioFamily interview went without a hitch today and so barring an act of God, Josiah will be coming home with us in two weeks. So the Visa appointment the week we are in Liberia is merely a formality to pick up the Visa and so we have reason to celebrate. We had hoped to feel this excitement on Tuesday for both children, but we are happy to be where we are none the less. Still no sighting of Gabriella's mom. Another couple (Tim and Kim ... can't rember their last name) expecting to travel on Sunday to pick up their child were supposed to have their bioFamily interview today and find themselves in the same position of being unable to locate their child's mother. So they are in a position of not knowing even if they will travel on Sunday. So their are two women in Liberia being searched for. I intend to talk to the US Consulate and explain the difficult position this new requirement has put adoptive couples in - and especially so late in the adoption process. Right now, the system is broke, and so hopefully I can at least appeal to reason and see if I can't help provide insight from the adoptive side of things.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Update (Finally)

We received an update from AoH late this afternoon. Basically nothing took place at the Embassy yesterday for either Gabriella or Josiah. They still have not been able to locate Gabriella's mother and so we continue to seek your prayers on our behalf. When a mother drops off a child they require 3 phone numbers. 2 of the three numbers that her mother provided are dead or no longer in service. The one number they called and did reach someone (either a relative or friend) but that person has not seen Gabriella's mother. We don't know how long its been since she's last been seen. But the social worker or staff from AoH Liberia have made one visit to the last known area where Gabriella's mom was and did not locate her or any information about her whereabouts. But they are going to continue to try and make some other visits/contacts in order to locate her. They are honoring our request and going ahead with Josiah's BioFamily visa appointment tomorrow and so we expect to keep our scheduled trip to Liberia in a week. They seem very upbeat and positive about Josiah's appointment and don't expect any complications. AoH currently has no Visa appointments scheduled next week, so if they could locate Gabriella's mom next week, they could get her in either Tuesday or Thursday without any problem. Even the week we are there, if they find her mother, I'm sure they could arrange a visa appointment up thru the Friday we are to leave. So our hope and prayer is that God will direct the steps of both Gabriella's mother and the social workers searching for her. So we are encouraged by the news and excited about the fact will can continue with our trip... but obviously pray for our hearts to remain steadfast and not lose heart. We haven't thought about seeing Gabriella and leaving her behind, but we are excited about seeing both our children, and anxiously await God's plan to be revealed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And The Wait Goes On...

Unfortunatelly we have nothing new to report. The US side of AoH was not able to get in contact with the social worker handling our case in Liberia. They continue to look for Gabriella's mother, but don't know if they went ahead with Josiah's appointment today or not or what if anything took place. We originally had a backup appointment scheduled this Thursday Jan 24th and have requested that they go ahead with processing Josiah if nothing happened today. There is no guarantee that that will even happen because only one appointment is required for both Josiah and Gabriella, they typically don't like wasting 2 appointments on one family. So we have no other choice but to wait and be faithful and trust that God is working on our behalf to accomplish what only he can accomplish. We will pray that the US Embassy will be lenient towards our case if neccessary.

No News Yet...

We hadn't heard anything so I finally called AoH, but they hadn't called Liberia yet today to get any updates. So we are still waiting, but have determined that whatever the outcome, we will praise God for His Mercy and Grace which is bigger than any situation we face.

Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your
days--
You would not believe if you were told.

Habakkuk 1:5

Thank you to all who have prayed and continue to pray. We continue to have hope and cling to God's word.

'For I know the plans that I have for you,'
declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare
and not for calamity to give
you a future and a hope.'

Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, January 21, 2008

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST

We'd so much appreciate your prayers regarding an urgent matter. We were informed this afternoon that they can not locate Gabriella's mother for the BioFamily interview scheduled tomorrow at 9am Liberian time (3am local). All the cell numbers they had for her are no longer in service or don't work or something. They do have some general idea of the last location she was, but somehow they need to find her before 9am tommorrow. She hasn't been seen and just have a general idea of where she might be. If she has died, they don't issue death certificates generally, so it may be very difficult to determine.

We really don't know where this leaves us. We don't think that they will allow Josiah's appointment to continue, because they don't want to waste a Visa appointment, when both children are supposed to be going to one family. Also if they don't ever find her, according to the new standards adopted by the consolate, our adoption of Gabriella would not be able to continue. So we will pray and wait and trust God will hear the cry of our heart.


If they do find her, we will give God all the glory.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

In Everything By Prayer...

We have waited for so long
for these children of choice.
Bless us
with an abundance of your love
that we may be good parents,
that we may create a home of blessing,
that we may encourage these children
to the fullness of their potential.
Bless our children, O God.
Give them security in our family,
the joy of laughter in our home,
and the courage to face
the challenges ahead.
Let our children know the love
we feel so deeply for them,
and let this love be a strength
to confront the opportunities of life.
Amen.

We had a wonderful evening of prayer last night. There were 20 adults and 10 children and Kim and I were truly humbled and blessed by it. We prayed corporately for about 30 minutes with the children, then dismissed the children and broke up into small groups of 4-6 to pray specifically for different aspects of the adoption and upcoming travel for about an hour, and then got back together corporately for an hour as they layed hands on us and blessed us and sang hymns and songs of praise. To say it was a blessing is an understatement. Kim and I were deeply moved by the encouragement and prayers.

We do have some good news to report. On Thursday we received confirmation from the US Consulate of our VISA appointment that we've been waiting for. It is scheduled for Tuesday February 5th the week we are there. And they re-confirmed our BioFamily appointment scheduled at the embassy next Tuesday January 22nd. By far, this is the most important date, and the date we are trusting God will be at work during. We would still appreciate your prayers concerning that appointment. Both the birth moms and our children will be present, and it will be the first time they've seen each other in a year. So it's bound to be an emotional day for the moms and children. I pray for protection over Josiah and Gabriella's heart so that they will not feel abandoned again. And that no emotional, rash decisions would be made by the mothers. Fear is not of God, but the truth is, that day represents the most anxiety for us. We feel that if things go as planned, Tuesday afternoon we will feel like we are "home free".

I will begin packing this week as I leave for Norway on Friday night. We've finally got all our documents notarized and gathered together for our two dossiers. I will join Kim in Brussels a week from Friday so pray for her as she makes the long journey alone. We land in Liberia two weeks from tomorrow and our lives as we know it will never be the same.

Thanks for staying with us through this incredible journey, and expect to see more posts over the coming weeks.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Raining In January



Well believe it or not it was raining in Northern Wisconsin this week. It's been unseasonably warm but I for one am not complaining. At the top you see a cute picture of Elizabeth from Christmas. Of course all my children are cute, but couldn't resist posting this one. Next you see the current status of our bathroom. It's functional and looks great - just waiting on the vanity and the trim... but hope to have that taken care of before we return from Liberia. Lastly we found a new vehicle for our expanding family. Our current van only seats 7, but since we are soon to be a family of 8, needed to find something to accomodate us. And we had been searching and pricing them for awhile, but when my current car started acting up, felt it was time to take care of that. It's meets our needs and had a good price, so Friday night we go to pick it up.

Please Pray * Please Pray * Please Pray

Since I last posted, Kim and I finally finished the last 4 credits of our 18 required by Wisconsin for adoption. We still don't have our Visa appt the week we are in Liberia, and unfortunately have heard several "not so good" rumors come out of Liberia regarding the US Embassy. Originally Alma (the US Consulate) was supposed to be on vacation from Jan 1 - 15. So we scheduled our bio family interview and received confirmation that it would be January 22nd. Then as the 1st approached we began to hear that her vacation was changed to the Jan 11 - 30. First we couldn't get confirmation, and then we couldn't find out whether they were going to continue with the scheduled appointments. We confirmed the new dates of the vacation were true, but an assistant was going to continue with the appointments. Then today we've received unconfirmed reports that the assistant's husband has died and so the assistant will be unavailable (understandaby so). Still trying to confirm the validity of this information which is a very, very difficult proposation we've found. I spent some time on the phone with an assistant to 8th Dist US Rep Steve Kagen who will be faxing the Embassy on our behalf to plead our need for these Visa appts. But if the Embassy truly becomes closed down for 2 1/2 weeks, there are a couple families who were scheduled to travel and get their children during that time. Now they will be pushed back and where does that leave us...... ON OUR KNEES. We have no where else to turn. The Lord will hear our cry, and in His perfect time Gabriella and Josiah WILL come home. The other kicker is that our Home Study expires on Feb 8th, the day we are supposed to be flying out of Liberia. If we don't come home with our children on that day, all of us will need new physicals, and our home will have to be re-certified.

So if you feel compelled to pray we would deeply appreciate it. We are trying so desperately to keep our eyes fixed on Him and not our situation. Thanks again for your faithfulness to us.

P.S. Our church has scheduled a special time of prayer for us and Josiah and Gabriella on Friday January 18th from 7:00 - 10:00. We are so excited about this opportunity to be encouraged and uplifted and lay it all before the Lord. It's open to everyone, so if you're within driving distance, hope you can make it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008