He’s home.

July 15, 2014 by The Rippke's

So well hey, it’s been a while. December 1st, World AIDS day. I promise we haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth since then. But we got wrapped up in the holidays and then some huge things happened, and we stayed pretty quiet on here for a bit as it all unfolded. So now that our son is HOME, yes home, I will attempt to give a quick recap of the eight months, and how God moved some crazy mountains to bring him home.

If you’re unfamiliar with the adoption process in Ethiopia, or if you haven’t kept up on the changes in the past year, then here’s basically how it works. Referral, PAIR, court, embassy, home. Solomon Nase was a waiting child. This means the agency didn’t have a family on their wait list that was open to his “parameters” (age, gender, special needs, etc.). When an agency doesn’t have a family to match a child with that child becomes what is known as a waiting child. When Nate and I started the adoption process for the first time three and a half years ago we were completely unaware that this was even a thing. We figured, there are wait lists, there must be no waiting kids. The math seemed simple enough…God must have just looked at us and said “Oh bless their little hearts, I’m about to rock their world.” haha. Anyways, I digress, fast forward several months and we’ve gone from pinky toe deep to waist deep in the adoption world, and we now know that not only are there waiting children, there are a lot of them. Both our sweet babies. It’s heartbreaking. So when we (or at least I, maybe Nate too…) prayed for God to break our hearts for what break his He did. And for our family that meant waiting kids. So when we decided last summer to “just get our paperwork ready in case…” we had it written with that hope in mind. Of course it took all of two weeks for Him to show us our sons face, and thus the official process to bring him home started. All that to say, our process started a little backwards from what some people may have in mind of how things typically work. Our “referral” wasn’t official until either October or November…I can’t even remember anymore. But we started the paperwork in August.

In December, shortly after I fell off the blogging wagon, we were submitted to the PAIR process. This was new for us, it just kicked in last September, so we didn’t go through it with Elsa’s case. It really makes sense. This is the investigation of the child’s orphan status. Something you would want done before you go to court in ET. Didn’t used to be that way. Now it is. And while the three months it took for PAIR seemed like an eternity, from what I can tell I am glad this process is in place (although I’m sure it is far from perfect), and I’m thankful to have the investigation done upfront. End of February we found out that the final step of PAIR, an interview, was taking place. Wonderful news. This would mean the process would be finished and we would get the ever longed for “PAIR letter” meaning we could move to the court process and then to embassy and smooth sailing home.

Except, the day after the interview was not the joy that we had expected. The sentence after “the interview happened and all went as expected” went something along the lines of “the staff here in Ethiopia isn’t being paid and we can’t promise we can continue working on these cases unless this gets worked out.” Ummmmmmmm, what!?!

And with that we were thrown into the most chaotic week of adoption we have ever known as a family. What’s odd though, or maybe not really I suppose because God had given us crazy peace the entire process, is that we didn’t freak out. We didn’t feel like the whole thing was falling apart. We didn’t feel like he would never come home. We just felt focused. Task oriented. Mad mama bear of course. But mostly just “I will deal with making peace with that bull later…right now who do I talk to to keep things moving and get our son home before this crumbles?” We talked to a lot of people. God had woven the most amazing web of support and connections for us ever. Sometimes He puts people in my path and I literally think “oh crap, why is He introducing me to this person…” haha. We have a lot of those friends. The ones that have fought these fights. The ones who know the lawyers. Or the ET staff. Or someone working at the court house. Or one of the other families now stuck. Because we found out a week later that our agency, AAI, was in fact going bankrupt. Of course at first they said nothing was happening, everything was fine. Then it was that the ET program was closing, but everything else was fine. And then finally, no, all of it. And everything is gone, so you won’t be getting anything back. And we have no back up plan for you or your adoption to be finalized. Even though according to the Hauge accreditation they held they were SUPPOSED TO. But ah, going down that road and getting frustrated didn’t help then and it doesn’t help now.

Poor Elsa girl, she probably wondered what the heck was going on that week. We talked a lot about the “bad guys” that were making it hard for brudder to come home. And that now mommy and abapa needed to do a lot of work to try to fix things and help him get here. She knew, she didn’t complain. She very much remembers being on the other side of it all. And it’s a good thing I have unlimited calls and texts. And a job where I work from home and make my own schedule. The plans changed daily. Actually they changed by the hour. I would call my mom and let her know what was happening, hang up, get a call, and then call her back with new plans. There were/are nine of us stuck with kids in Ethiopia. In process, just trying to get them home. We quickly became like family ha! The few of us that had found each other right away became creepers and tried to hunt down the others to let them know what was actually going on. I hated making those connections. Oh hey, my name is Ashley and we’re also adopting a child from Ethiopia through AAI…and by the way you know that lawyer in the documentary Stuck? Yeah, the one you never wanted to ever have to need to call, well we have a phone call with her this afternoon because things are getting a liiiiiiittle messy and you might want in on the conversation. Ugh, not a fun way to make friends.

But let me tell you something. In the middle of it all the staff in Ethiopia served and protected our children like nothing I have ever seen. While I have my choice words for the way things went down on this side of the ocean, and oh I do, I have nothing but absolute love and thankfulness for the staff in ET. They worked like crazy, unpaid, to push our case forward and get us as far into the system as we could get before anything formal happened over here. I will never know the details. Or motives. Or the conversations that took place. Or any of that business. Nor do I know any of the conversations that are continuing to take place as the whole bankruptcy thing continues to unravel. But I know that had they not fought for our son he wouldn’t be home right now. As we sat here helpless, with no help from AAI US, all we could do was beg them, and our other contacts in ET, to keep going and try to help us and our son while we tried to figure things out over here.

We went into another weekend not knowing much of anything, but hopeful that we had an agency that would help us finish out our case. Ethically. And legally. Seriously, we’re not messing around. There are certain ways that things need to be handled. And since every penny we had spent was gone, we needed some mercy financially. We certainly couldn’t afford another $25,00. We were so close! We had been through PAIR, and were now submitted to court. Literally we just needed to get that court interview to happen so we could have a court date, and then we needed someone to take care of the embassy process. And we got the help we needed. And the financial mercy. Although a mountain, it was certainly better news than expected. And then, just like He had all along, God provided every single penny of the added cost. People did crazy things. I mean really really crazy things. They made me cry big ugly tears. In public.

And then in April, while we were home in Iowa for Easter, we got the unexpected call we had been waiting since August for. A court date! In five days. Leave the US in less than 48 hours? Sure! You’re talking to parents who have a sense of urgency like never before. We’re not asking to reschedule. We’re not risking this. Done and done, court is happening that day. And it did. And he was ours. And six weeks later Nate and his dad boarded a plane, went to the embassy, and brought that sweet little peanut home. And that’s where I’m going to stop for now because it’s late and this is long, and that first week home deserves it’s own post. So for now, I’ll just introduce you to our son, Solomon Nase. The sweetest little boy there ever was. Sissy Elsa Banke and he have been having a ball the last seven weeks, and we couldn’t be happier, or more grateful, that he is home.

1 Comment »

  1. Amazing. God is so good, even, if not especially, when the sky is falling.

    Comment by Jennifer — July 15, 2014 @ 5:37 am

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    The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, "Because I drew him out of the water." - Exodus 2:10

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    • Application: 10-30-10
    • Began Home Study: 01-25-11
    • Completed Classes: 02-08-11
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    • Sent i600: 03-18-11
    • Sent Revised i600: 03-30-11
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    • Girl: 70 | Boy: 55: 02-29-12
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    • Girl: 63 | Boy: 49: 04-30-12
    • IT'S A GIRL! REFERRAL! (switched agencies, got the paperwork a few days later) 05-04-12
    • Sent in dossier 05-21-12
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    • Requested I-600 re-fingerprinting date 06-11-12
    • Mailed referral paperwork 06-19-12
    • Dossier sent to Ethiopia 06-19-12
    • Got re-fingerprinting date 06-22-12
    • USCIS refingerprinting 07-10-12
    • WE GOT A COURT DATE!!! 08-08-12
    • Left for Ethiopia 08-13-12
    • Arrived in Ethiopia, met Elsa!! 08-15-12
    • Court Date - PASSED COURT! 08-17-12
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    • Submitted to US embassy 11-07-12
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    • CLEARED! Nate to US embassy 11-28-12
    • Nate and Elsa Banke home 11-30-12
    • Saw his profile 08-11-13
    • Sent AAI our inquiry 08-12-13
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    • Formal contract submitted 09-16-13
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