Monday, December 19, 2011

Two Months DTE (a little late)!

Well, in case any followers are still out there --  we certainly did not forget that we were two months DTE on December 7th, but I did forget to post something on the blog! There has been so little to say, but things are continuing to move along as expected. AWAA reports that all families are continuing to fall within the 10 – 16 month range on their wait times, but the overall trend is moving more and more towards the longer end of that range.
We continue to pray that God’s hand be all over this process – giving us patience, our adoption agency wisdom, and our child peace while they wait for a forever family. Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for our family. Let’s keep the calendar rolling!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

One Month DTE!

Today marks one month checked off of our official wait time for this adoption! We now have 9 – 15 months remaining until we should expect a referral. Keep the calendar rolling…

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Practice Makes...Better

Jonathan and I got to keep our youngest nephew, Bode, at our house this past weekend. He is eleven months old and we were not quite sure how it would go since he does not see us too often (he lives in the Indianapolis area). It went very well, though! He is a very content little boy and seemed to enjoy his time here with us.
We made a point to get out and do a few things with him (i.e. grocery shop) so we could experience how doing some of our typical weekend ‘chores’ will change with a little one in tow. It was good practice, but he set the bar pretty high for our little one : ) We did learn several things though…
·         When feeding a baby, watch where his hands are or you may end up with squash in your eye! 
·         Wipes are a parent’s best friend.
·         Why bother buying baby toys when you have a set of coasters?
·         Babies eat a lot!
·         Kizzie does not like people no matter how cute they are (okay, so this wasn’t a new lesson)!
·         Even adults can enjoy a two hour nap on a Sunday afternoon!
Thanks, again, Brian & Sarah for letting us share this time with Bode! He is a very special little boy and we had a wonderful weekend with him : )

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fun Together as we Prepare to be Parents

Jonathan and I had a blast from the past moment this evening on our way home from WalMart:
First of all, you need to understand that EVERY TIME we are in WalMart, I somehow find my way to the baby department, where I inevitably buy something for our baby-to-be. Since we know virtually nothing about our baby at this moment, our options are rather limited, but we have quite the supply of wipes, baby lotion, and bath toys filling the nursery closet : )
Well, tonight I found the music section of the baby department so we ended up purchasing a lullaby c.d. (for part of that nighttime routine) and also found a c.d. put out by Fisher Price for Sunday School songs. It had many that we remember from our childhood, so we thought it may be a fun purchase.
On our drive home, I started looking at the back cover more closely and Jonathan and I began to reminisce about these songs – trying our hardest to remember the correct tune and the right lyrics. We had a good time laughing and singing our old favorites together; including these timeless ones…
·         Peace Like a River
·         Deep and Wide
·         Father Abraham
·         Arky Arky
·         This Little Light of Mine
Hopefully these titles bring back some good memories for you all as well : )

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Enjoyed an Evening of Fellowship

We feel so blessed to be a part of Chosen - our church’s adoption & orphan care ministry!
We attended a bonfire this evening and met more families in our local community who are thinking about, are in the process of, or who have completed the adoption process. It is always such an encouragement to be around other families who understand the process and who can help us prepare for what the coming months may bring. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spaghetti Dinner Success!

As many of you know, we had our spaghetti dinner fundraiser last night and we feel like it was a great success! We hosted exactly 100 people and made a significant profit to help offset upcoming adoption expenses. Thank you to everyone who participated. It seemed as though everyone enjoyed the evening – food, fellowship, raffle prizes, and a rousing game of heads and tails : )
We would like to thank many people for the significant help that they provided in putting this evening together –
* Dan & Gloria DeNeal – setup, food prep, running sound, clean up
                * Jane Priest - setup, food prep, clean up, raffle prize donation
                * Rachel Haste – sign language special, food prep, clean up
                * Josh & Caleb Haste – setup, food prep, poem reading, clean up
                * Kathy Garrison – setup, adoption awareness talk, clean up
                * Lee Woods - setup, food prep, several last minute "odds & ends"
                * E
.C. & Susie Gupton – setup and sign in table
                * Rachel Morgan – setup
                * Haley Garrison, Amie Bott, and friends – serving the meal, clean up
                * Joyce Jones – raffle prize donations
                * Jessie Swinderman - raffle prize donation
You are all a huge blessing to us and a part of our child’s coming home story. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Coinciding with the fundraiser, which was unexpected, was the official release of our dossier to Ethiopia. It was approved by our agency this week and submitted. Our dossier to Ethiopia (DTE) date, which you may hear us refer to later in the blog, is officially 10/7/11.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It Finally Came!!

It finally came in the mail tonight – our approval letter from U.S. Immigration, which allows us to bring a child from another country into the U.S. So, first thing tomorrow morning we will head to the bank to get that form notarized and then to FedEx to mail our dossier to our adoption agency! It receives a thorough check to ensure completeness at AWAA and then is sent to Ethiopia. Yeah!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update on USCIS Approval

Just a quick update on our progress with USCIS –
Jonathan received a phone call from someone at USCIS yesterday afternoon. He was wondering if we had both been fingerprinted on the same day because he was having trouble locating my information in the system, but had found Jonathan’s. He ended up finding it, with Jonathan’s help, under a varied spelling of our last name (De Neal).
So, the good news is that they are working on our application, but the not so good news is that he said we should have something in 8-10 days, about a week and a half longer than we expected.
We will keep you posted on the progress…

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adventures in Indianapolis!

Jonathan and I had such a nice day on Monday!
On Sunday evening we drove to Indianapolis to stay with family since our fingerprinting appointment with USCIS was on Monday morning at 9 a.m. (IN time). We woke up early Monday, as we were anxious about getting to our appointment on time between the time change, early morning traffic, finding a place to park, and road construction. We made it to the building with at least half an hour to spare and went ahead and checked in. They were very quick with the process and we were actually finished and back in the car a little before 9 a.m.! I honestly think we spent more time finding a restroom before checking in than we did actually being fingerprinted : )
After the fingerprinting appointment, we headed over to Riley’s Children’s Hospital to take a look at their international adoption clinic. This is a service that can be found in many large cities and has been highly recommended to us by other adoptive families and our social worker. Since the likelihood of our child experiencing some type of minor medical condition is quite high, it is recommended to take the child to this type of facility for a thorough medical exam once home. That way they can be examined by a physician that is knowledgeable in international medicine and common medical conditions in Ethiopia, and then receive prompt treatment, if necessary. Although we did not do much other than look around, it was nice to see what type of facility we may be visiting in the future.
Then, we headed to Babies ‘r Us – an “expectant” mother’s dream! We enjoyed looking around and picking up a few general items that we have had trouble finding in any of our local stores.
Finally, we headed over to Major Restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant in Indianapolis, for lunch. This was quite the experience! Since we (okay, really me) are a bit anxious about the food that we will have while traveling in Ethiopia, we thought it would be good to begin to experience it now.
The restaurant is owned by a very kind man and his wife. They pride themselves on providing their guests with an authentic Ethiopian meal. He seemed genuinely excited for our adoption process and spent a great deal of time talking with us throughout our meal.

We began with an appetizer called beef sambusa – a triangular shaped, beef filled dish. The outer covering reminded me of an eggroll. It contained various seasonings and was quite delicious!

The main entrĂ©e was a platter for two which had a bit of everything. It included three kinds of meat (chicken, beef and lamb), as well as lentils (prepared 3 different ways), spinach, cabbage, a lettuce salad, and something else that I am not really sure what it was : ) Using injera (the traditional “spongy Ethiopian bread”), each of these items was scooped up and eaten with our hands. The owner told us that injera is a staple – served at nearly every meal – and most Ethiopian families would have one other item to enjoy with it. He told us that meat is rarely served, as many families have difficulty affording it for a typical meal.
This is not actually our meal - I forgot to take a picture of it - but it was similar to this. The bottom of
the dish is lined
with injera, but they also give you more at the side.
We ended the meal with a traditional “coffee ceremony.” The wife of the owner brought out coffee beans that were being freshly roasted. After leaving this at our table for several minutes “to create the environment,” she came back for them and took them back to grind and make fresh coffee. They returned with coffee in traditional dishes and a basket of popcorn. He informed us that in Ethiopia, coffee is enjoyed together and always with food (either popcorn or a bread of some kind). I asked if the popcorn was authentic and he assured us that it is common.  

The whole meal was quite an experience! It took us about an hour and a half to eat it all since they freshly prepare everything.  We both agree that the food was definitely different than what we are used to, but it was all manageable. I would have to say, though, that my favorite Ethiopian dish is popcorn : ) We hope to go back someday with our child to share in this experience again.

After lunch, we headed back home. It was a nice day away together that we thoroughly enjoyed.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What a Blessing

It continues to amaze us how God blesses us in small ways along this journey – primarily through His people and financially. We are in full swing preparing for our spaghetti fundraiser dinner at this point. It is quite the challenge to put together a nice evening for friends and family, while also keeping the cost down, so that we can raise funds for the largest portion of our journey (travel and final program fees) that will be here before we know it.
It may seem small, but late this week, my supervisor announced that our business headquarters had sent all of us a small gift to thank us for our service. They handed each of us a $50 VISA gift card! What a blessing! We were not expecting it, it was not tucked into a paycheck where it would be easily used for bills and forgotten about, so we are setting it aside to help offset expenses for the dinner. It just seemed like another reminder from God saying, “Don’t worry about this, I called you to do it, I will provide…”

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Glimpse Into the "Pie-Making Business"

As many of you know, Jonathan and I began a homemade pie fundraiser at my work (and a few other random places) just a week after we formally began the adoption process. It was an idea we had had when we first felt called to adopt in 2009, so we had been thinking about this for more than a year. My grandma shared her pie crust recipe with me when I was in college and we felt this would be a good way to raise funds, while also allowing the giver to enjoy something in return.
It has turned out to be quite a success. As of today, we have made and delivered 168 pies and raised more than $1,500! This announcement comes with a huge thank you to all of you that have participated thus far. Your kindness and generosity cannot be adequately expressed in writing. Jonathan and I feel so blessed to be able to call you all friends.
That being said, we have never baked so much in all our lives : ) Although orders have slowed down a bit here in the past few weeks, we have had some pretty hectic nights in our kitchen. So, Jonathan put together a little video to share with you. Hope it puts a smile on your face : )

Thursday, August 18, 2011

USCIS Update

Sorry for the lapse in updates, but there has not been much to report. We are continuing to wait for our approval letter from USCIS and received notification of our fingerprinting appointment for that today! Unfortunately, our appointment is not until September 12th, which feels very far away, but it is still a step forward : )

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One More Step Forward

We received our DCFS approval letter for our home study yesterday afternoon (with our name spelled correctly)! First thing this morning, Jonathan stopped by the post office to mail our application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)! From what we understand, it can take anywhere from 4 – 12 weeks to receive the approval letter from them, but it is one of the last major steps before we are able to submit our dossier to AWAA and then to Ethiopia! We are very excited at taking this next step in our journey.
Thank you all, again, for your continued support and prayers during this process. Sometimes we still cannot believe that we are doing this, but are thrilled beyond description to be able to : )

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tiny "Snag"

We just received notification of our first official “snag” in the process – nothing major, but a slow down, none the less. Our social worker received our approval letter today from DCFS, but they apparently spelled our name incorrectly : ( She has contacted them and they are supposed to be sending a new letter right away, but it will likely slow things down a few days because she is out of the office the rest of the week.
I think this process is going to teach us patience like nothing else in our lives ever has - we just keep reminding ourselves that it will work out in perfect timing. Please continue to keep our process in your prayers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Feeling So Blessed

Jonathan and I feel so blessed to be part of a church that cares so deeply about orphan care! We had the opportunity this evening to attend an event for Chosen (see link below on right). It was an adults-only outing to Alexander’s Steakhouse in Champaign (yum!). It was great to connect with a few other individuals who have been through, are in the midst of, and who are just beginning to consider the adoption process – both internationally and domestically. It is wonderful to have that type of support at our fingertips!
We were not only excited to share where we are in the journey, but also to hear where other people are at. One of the couples, specifically, is preparing to travel to Ethiopia for their first trip in about ten days. We enjoyed hearing about their preparations and sharing in their excitement at getting to meet their beautiful child soon : ) We thank God everyday for putting people like this in our lives!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Completed Home Study!

We are now completely finished with our formal home study process! Our fourth, and final, visit went well this morning. We read through the document and only made a few minor changes that Maria will change before sending it to our family coordinator at AWAA. Thank you, again, for your thoughts and prayers during this process : )

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Upcoming Home Study Visit (4 of 4)

I apologize for the short notice on this update, but we are scheduled for our final home study visit tomorrow morning at 9:30! We will keep you posted on how it goes, but the plan is to review the rough draft of our home study to ensure that all the information is accurate. Our social worker told us that this document would be 17-18 pages, so it may be a bit tedious, but very exciting : )
The home study will also be sent to our family coordinator at AWAA and to the state of IL for their approval. This entire process is supposed to take about two weeks.
Once the home study is finalized, we will submit it, and several additional documents, to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval to bring a child into the U.S. from another country. This process takes roughly 6 – 12 weeks, but once we receive documents back from USCIS, we are free to submit our dossier to Ethiopia! 
We are getting there. All continues to move along very smoothly and we ask that you continue to keep our process in your prayers. God has blessed us with wonderful support and patience thus far and we thank all of you for journeying with us during this exciting time : )

Monday, June 27, 2011

We are now back home after our visit to Missouri and I had to share this picture. Jonathan is already showing what it means to sacrifice for our child, as he dared to wear this shirt at Busch Stadium in St. Louis!

We took the pictures for our family photo pages, which are part of our dossier to be submitted to Ethiopia : )

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Successful Home Study Visit (3 of 4)

Time got away from me to get something posted beforehand, but we successfully completed our third home study visit this morning! It was definitely the most intimidating visit yet, as we had to complete individual interviews about our childhoods, our families, our marriage, etc. The uncertainty of what to expect was difficult, but I believe we both did well : ) It took about 2 ½ hours.
Our final visit is scheduled for July 6th and this is where we will receive a rough draft of our home study. Assuming no major changes need to be made, we will then send it to our adoption agency and the state of IL for approval. Once it is finalized, we will submit our paperwork to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval to bring a child into the U.S. from Ethiopia. That process can take 6-12 weeks and is the final approval we need to submit all of the paperwork for Ethiopia (our dossier). We pray all continues to move along smoothly : )
We are now headed to St. Louis to visit Jonathan’s grandma, then to a Cardinals game, and then to my grandma’s for a few days. Excited to have a few days away!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Too Cute to Pass Up

Ever since we began this process, I find myself being drawn to the baby section of every store I am in : ) We occasionally purchase something practical (i.e. baby lotion, diaper changing pad) to begin to stock up on items that we will need regardless of the baby’s gender, age, or size.
The other day, though, I decided to look at some cuter items. I found this at Target – thought it was perfect!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Second Home Study Visit was a Success!

We completed our second home study visit today! It went very well. Our social worker (Maria) brought us a stack of papers (about an inch and a half thick) that we went through. They provided us with a great deal of education for various adoption concerns, such as attachment & bonding, medical issues, and potential cultural/racial issues. It was a bit overwhelming, but very helpful overall. We are anxious to work through the paperwork more to continue to educate ourselves. We have so much to learn!!
Fundraising continues to go well, also. We just began our 8th week of pie sales and we delivered our 100th pie today!
Thanks, again, for all your thoughts, prayers, and support through the process. Everything continues to move along smoothly. We will to keep you posted : )

Monday, June 6, 2011

Upcoming Home Study Visit (2 of 4)

Just for a quick update – our second home study visit is scheduled for this coming Wednesday morning. Everything continues to move along smoothly, so we just ask for your continued prayers for this process. We will post more information about the visit on Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

First Home Study Visit Completed

The first home study visit went very well today. Our social worker, Maria, was very kind and put us at ease right away. We spent about an hour and a half telling her about ourselves, explaining why we were interested in adoption, and looking around our home. We also completed the initial paperwork specific to Illini. We then scheduled our next 3 visits. It looks like we should have a rough draft of the home study by July 6!
We have a few ‘homework assignments’ to complete by the next visit, but nothing major. We will complete one more short online training, purchase a first aid kit, and purchase child safety locks for certain areas of the home.
For those of you that are wondering, Kizzie was wonderful! We did not hear a word from her throughout the entire visit. We were pretty stunned by this, but she didn’t meow, growl, or hiss the entire time Maria was here : )
So, thank you everyone for your prayers for this process to this point. Everything seems to be going smoothly and we are thrilled to pieces! We will keep you posted on the next few visits.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Upcoming Home Study Visit (1 of 4)

Just for a quick update – and a request for prayer – we wanted to let you all know that our first home study visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning. We are very excited, but also nervous, as we are not entirely sure what to expect. We have been assured that the social worker is not inspecting our house for lack of dirt, but we have spent the last day and a half cleaning, none the less. I am not even sure our house was this clean when we bought it : )
Tomorrow, Jonathan and I also celebrate 8 years of marriage! I still cannot grasp that I am old enough to have been married that long. The years, though, have been great and we cannot wait to venture further into this new phase.
We will keep you all posted on how the home visit goes. Thank you, ahead of time, for your prayers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

He Has a Sense of Humor

As of Monday, Jonathan and I made and delivered our last two scheduled pie orders. As census at work has increased and my coworkers have been busier, orders coming in have been slowing. After one month of consistent orders, we were starting to get nervous that people were losing interest.

You would think by now that we would have learned that God has a sense of humor. He needs to periodically remind us that He is in control - because we need reminded, don't we?? After being at work today and checking e-mail when we got home, we now have 14 pie orders to make and deliver by Saturday! We are thrilled! We plan to go to the store tomorrow after work to purchase our second 25 pound bags of flour and sugar.

He really does take care of all things, doesn't He? This pie fundraiser has continued to be a wonderful reminder of what He, and His people, can do to help one another. Thank you all, again, for your wonderful support. We feel so blessed to call you all friends and coworkers : )

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Cat Only a Mother Could Love

Not too much to update you on at this point, but I wanted to touch base.
We are continuing to gather all the paperwork needed for our home study and dossier. Basically every facet of our lives - finances, medical status, social life, employment, criminal history, etc. – has to be written down on paper and notarized : ) I have never seen so much paperwork in all my life, but we are told (and have come to realize) that it is all for the safety of the child we will one day call our own. So, we continue to move forward with the gathering.
One piece of paperwork that our home study required was a letter from our veterinarian stating that any pets we have are up-to-date on vaccinations. Well, for the enjoyment of those of you who are familiar with our ‘precious’ Kizzie, we got to go to the vet this morning : ) After spending 15 minutes chasing both of them around the house to get them in their carriers (watch out if you don’t get it done the 1st time!), then I take them into the office. Whenever we have to make this trip, I always refer to Kizzie as our “problem child,” as she spends the entire time hissing and growling at the poor vet and his assistant. But, after 45 minutes and a hefty bill, we all made it home in one piece. Kizzie, though, continues to wander around the house, hissing at random objects throughout the remainder of the morning : )
I just keep reminding myself that it will ALL be worth it when we get to travel to meet our child. At least this one won’t growl and hiss at doctors : )

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The "Paper Chase" Has Officially Begun!

Please know that I am writing this with flour on my face and egg on my shirt – we are up to our ears in pies!
We love it, but oh my, it is keeping us busy! After just one week’s time, we have made and delivered 11 pies and we have 16 orders for this coming week’s time! The word is spreading at work and people are responding in a remarkable way. I am getting e-mails and messages from people I do not even know, but who want to help. Praise God for such kind hearts : )
As the fundraiser continues, we are also continuing to move forward with the paperwork. We have been assigned a family coordinator with AWAA (Jennifer), who will be our family’s guide through the remainder of the process. She has already been exceptionally helpful to us and seems to be tolerating our hundreds of e-mails a day without flinching : ) We have also been in contact with Illini Christian Ministries for completion of our home study. So, we have officially begun the “paper chase” process. It definitely has the potential to be overwhelming, but as Jennifer says, “There will be blessings and challenges along the way… I trust our feet will always have the Light to walk in as Christ is the leader of this voyage.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unexpected Generosity

Jonathan and I have felt so blessed over the past two days! God has placed some amazing people in our lives and we are realizing that more and more each day : )
Just yesterday, we initiated our ‘homemade pie fundraiser’ at my work and it sparked such great conversation. So many have shown a genuine interest in what we are doing, sharing their own stories involving adoption, and helping us financially, that we have been blown away! Others, like the individuals in our bible study, have shown great interest as well – offering their time and their resources to help to make this fundraiser a success.
We really do not know what to say – simply saying ‘thank you’ does not seem adequate – but we do want to thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts. We are exceptionally excited to be in this process and really cannot fully describe what it means to have so many of our friends and family partner with us in making this dream a reality.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Why Adoption?

Jonathan and I wanted to take a moment to share what draws us towards adoption…
Throughout this journey we have been introduced to individuals and information that continually remind us that people are at the center of God’s heart. Scripture specifically mentions three types of people (orphans, widows, and aliens/strangers) that He desires for His people to care for. This is mentioned no less than 60 times in scripture – I think He is trying to get our attention : )     eH
Although we realize that adoption is not for everyone, we do believe that all of us our called to some type of service. Whether we help collect & deliver food to families, tutor a child struggling in school, spend time with the elderly at a nursing home, or any other of the hundreds of options to serve people, it is during these times that we feel closest to the heart of God. In fact, we believe that if Jesus was still here in human form, we would find him spending his time with people in these sorts of ways.
We feel blessed to be able to take part in the charge to care for the orphans, widows, and aliens, through the international adoption process. Tom Davis, an accomplished author, speaker, and adoptive father, summarizes it best in his book Fields of the Fatherless, when he states,
“In this world you are an orphan – eagerly anticipating your adoption as God’s child.
In this world you are a widow – longing for reunion with your Bridegroom.
In this world you are a stranger – a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.

And in this world, God has called you to care for the orphan, the stranger, and the widow….brings you back to what Christianity is really about:
giving yourself to others, being Christ to a hurting world, and living for the one that comes next.”

It is our prayer that, through this process, we will desire what His heart desires and grow closer to Him as a result.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pinch Us - We May Be Dreaming

We are not even sure where to begin to describe how we feel at this precious moment in our lives…

As many of you know, Jonathan and I felt a strong calling to “grow our family,” through international adoption, in July of 2009. Although we always believed that adoption would be one method to bring additional children into our family, we never considered the idea that it would be the only way to do so. But, as He often does, God had a different plan for our lives, which He began to share with us that summer.

We have no reason to believe that we are unable to conceive children of our own, but our hearts began to be opened to the needs of orphans around the world. Although we both grew up in the church and were aware of such things, we both (individually) felt a very distinct prompting of the Holy Spirit to adopt. Neither of us can put into words what happened, but we both remember having absolutely no doubt in our minds that this was the direction God was leading us.

Knowing next to nothing about international adoption at the time, we began by filling out a pre-application. Unfortunately, just days after feeling this incredible prompting of the Holy Spirit we encountered an obstacle that could not be overcome easily or quickly. Without going into detail, we were devastated – why would God make a path so clear and so insurmountable at the same time – but we began to do the work we were told we needed to do. We believed we would have a 3-4 year wait time before being able to officially begin the adoption process.
Fast forward nearly 2 years later, and here we are…
In late March, a friend from church came over to help Jonathan and I (okay, let’s be honest, I was more or less “supervising”) move an old couch out of the office. He and his wife have adopted, both domestically and internationally, so we were talking with him about the process we were in. He encouraged us to reevaluate our options – contact agencies, U.S. Immigration, etc. – and see if anything had changed. Although we felt encouraged that evening when he left, we were still skeptical. We were apprehensive to ask the same questions – fearful we would receive the same responses and feel the same heartache.
We finally made some calls in early April, though, and were shocked with the information we received. The roadblocks that were apparently there just two years prior, were not even spoken of in these conversations (except in our questions). It was recommended that we submit an official application with a new agency and see what happened.
So, we submitted an application to America World Adoption Association (an agency that was highly recommended from a family in our church) on Monday, April 4, which they received on Wednesday, April 6, and approved on Wednesday, April 13!!
To be honest, we do not know what happened nearly two years ago when we started this process, but we do know that His timing is perfect and there had to have been a reason for that roadblock. Jonathan & I venture to guess that perhaps we were not emotionally ready for the journey, while others have suggested that perhaps our child was not yet ready :) Whatever the case, we trust that He will guide us to the end of this journey, just as he guided us to the start of it.