Around Christmastime, trips to the mailbox are more fun. We LOVE getting Christmas cards from family and friends. But yesterday, we got a bonus load of joy. That's because, many weeks before we were expecting it, we got our approval letter from U.S. Immigration. This is a major piece of moving ahead with our adoption, and we are so very thankful!
Maybe the best way to put this into perspective is to consider that the process of getting approved for our international adoption basically expands as we continue on. First is the agency (1), then the state of Minnesota (2), then the U.S. (3), then Costa Rica (4). After receiving this letter, we have now been approved for the first three! Woohoo! Once we've been approved in all of these areas, we will be ready to be officially matched with C & J.
Our next step is to submit all necessary documents to Costa Rica (this is called a dossier). We should be able to submit the dossier fairly soon.
In short, this letter arriving means we are closer than we expected. God is good, and we appreciate greatly this sweet blessing at Christmas.
May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Savior, whose birth we celebrate in this season, fill your hearts and minds. And may we all reflect on the incredible blessing and beauty of Emmanuel, of God choosing to be with us.
How Is ASL Going?
Most notably, WE LOVE ASL!
Okay, so really, this is a lot of work. It is so good, but it takes a lot of time, energy and focus. ASL truly is another language, not just a set of vocabulary words with signs attached. Many times throughout the day as we are talking with each other or the kids we are reminded that we are nowhere near able to communicate those things in sign. And signing will be THE way we communicate with C. So obviously it is so very important that we are able to. We are working hard, and will continue to do so.
We have always had such an incredible amount of respect for people who learn a new language, especially as adults, and that respect is only growing. It grows each and every time we thought we understood something and then yet again were humbled by our inability to communicate. Looking at each other with confused expressions, only to have our 8 or 6 year old (or sometimes the 2 year old) easily fill in the gaps of our understanding. What we would give to have their ability to learn a new language!
How Are We Learning?
We have been using a number of different ASL programs at home, both online and DVD. We also have an incredible amount of resources that so many of you wonderful people have loaned to us in this time. Once again, thank you for all of your support! All of these things have allowed us to be learning constantly while at home and we are so grateful for these.
Once a week our family goes to the Minnesota Academy for the Deaf in Faribault. There we attend a free ASL class for families of deaf individuals. They have so graciously allowed us to be a part of the class as we prepare to adopt C (& J). This is a highlight of our week! Our teacher is Deaf, and can I just say that she is wonderful? There we get to put into practice what we are learning at home while she is teaching us the very many aspects of the language that are much easier in person. She kindly corrects our poor execution and answers our very many questions. The kids are in the class for the majority of the time with us, but near the end we allow them to go run around in the gym before heading home. There they play with both deaf children as well as hearing children with a deaf sibling. They sign away and play together and just make it work. It is beautiful.
When we think about the first week we attended class and how little we understood, we are amazed at how far we’ve come. Of course, we have so far to go and will keep pressing on with every bit of our energy that we can. We hope and plan to learn as much as possible in this time so that we can be best equipped to teach C what we know, and obviously so that we can communicate with her. And continue learning, forever learning.
So if you are wondering what we are doing with our time, there it is. If we have any spare time in our day, and even when there really isn’t, it is quickly filled in with this aspect of the process.
Why This Learning Process Is So Important
We couldn’t write about our process of learning ASL without bringing it back to C. As much as we love all of this learning and are loving the language itself, it is all with the heavy heart of knowing that she has never been taught a sign language (until very recently). Our level of struggle to grasp onto a new language is nothing compared to how hard she has had to work to live in this world without a language for so long. So we are fighting for her as we learn - fighting for what a language will give her. Will language fix everything or resolve the trauma from the past? Definitely not. But we hope that it will allow her to know and understand more of what is going on around her. And for that we will fight.
C has been able to recently start learning LESCO (Costa Rican Sign...which is not the same as American Sign Language) and for that we are incredibly grateful. We are told she is loving it and we couldn’t be happier for her! We will have to transition her to ASL but are thrilled that she is learning to communicate and being poured into in this way.
Ann and I want to extend our deepest and most sincere gratitude to all of you for your support throughout this journey. The amount of encouragement, financial support, response to the blog, and prayer we have received throughout the last several weeks and months has been so amazing. Basically, YOU are amazing. Thank you for being our people.
We’d like to extend a special thank you to our dear friend Jana Pecinovsky (with support from Carl, of course!) who has generously given her time and talent to help us fundraise through her beautiful hand-made signs. Jana and Carl are small-business owners as well, and so at this time, all sales of her signs will continue to support our adoption, AND (and this is new, friends!) proceeds from their honey and beeswax will also go to supporting us. WOW! I can’t believe what a gift this is! You can learn more and find the links to all of this information below.
Our next major payment will be in mid-to-late January totalling about $7000. In the past few weeks, we have continued to receive generous donations, including those from the sign sale mentioned above, so we are making progress. As it stands today, we still need about $4800 in additional funds.
For our part, we have been busy applying for grants and hope that those will help us get to our final goal. However, even if we are chosen to receive funding, this next payment is due before any of these grants pay out. So we are sharing the need at this time.
We are praying that God will provide for all that we need, and choosing to trust that He will.
Thank you for your part in this process, whether that has been through giving, through prayer, or by supporting us in whatever way you have!
Know also that we will be sharing lots of thoughts on this adoption through the blog, not just money updates. Thanks for hanging with us through this one.
To learn more about signs, honey, or beeswax, visit Our Bright Acres website:
You can see pictures of the signs on the Psalm 82:3 Project facebook group here:
(Jana will be continuing the fundraiser, called The Psalm 82:3 Project, for other worthy causes in the future. So...support local business AND good causes even if it’s not this one!)
We are Brian, Ann, Kennedy, Rowyn, and Silas. In 2018 we added Claudia and Jefferson to our family! You can follow along through this blog as we share our hearts and our tales of the process.