Monday, February 11, 2013

After Court!

It has been a while since I have posted on here.  After we passed court there were a few things we still needed to do on our end.  We were still waiting on our approval from the government saying it was ok for us to adopt.  I spoke to the officer that was in charge of our case and she said everything was looking good, and we would be approved within the week! I was so excited, things were moving fast!

After the adoption was approved we had to get the court decree and file another set of paperwork  that would approve Henry to be adopted.  (seems backward doesn’t it?) But that’s the way they do things in certain countries.  I had told my POA (power of attorney) as soon as he got our decree to email it to me and I would file our other paperwork (I600) this process could take 60 days to get an approval.  I had the application filled out ready to send as soon as I got our decree. 

I received the decree in November, so I mailed our I600 in the next day.  I didn’t have the new birth certificate for Henry but my officer told me I could email it to her when I got it.  I received a letter saying they received my I600 application on November 20, 2012.  So now starts the countdown.   It was December 19, 2012 and I had still not received the birth certificate so I called my officer, because you only have a certain number of days to turn in all of your missing documents, and I wanted to make sure I still had time, the guy that signs all the birth certificates in Ghana was gone out of town the week they told my POA to come pick it up and would be out of town till January 7, 2013.  I was a bit nervous!  While talking to her, she told me she had everything she needed for our case and was approving it the next day!!! That just made my day! 

After Christmas our youth group at our church was going to a youth conference and I was going as a chaperone.  We got back on December 29, 2012 and guess what was in our mailbox? You got it, our approval!!!

I started emailing the embassy in Ghana the next night, requesting our visa packet pick up.  Our POA has to pick it up before we could request a visa interview for our little Henry to be able to come home.  The embassy responded the next day saying they hadn’t received our approval yet.  I knew they wouldn’t have it because it takes a couple of weeks for it to get to them.  I waited and emailed them the next 3 Sunday nights, and received the same message until Thursday January 24, 2013 and the message said… your POA can pick up the visa packet on any Wednesday, so I sent that email to my POA and he told me he had a test the following Wednesday so he needed to pick it up the next Wednesday!  

You are probably thinking it’s just an extra week but to me that was HORRIBLE!!! So he picked up our visa packet on February 6, 2013.  I sent an email to the embassy requesting a visa interview on their next available date.  Most of the people I have talked to get a response within the week and the interview is usually a couple of weeks out.  So I was really hoping for an email from them the next morning, but trying to not get my hopes up.  (YEA RIGHT!!!) The next morning, I woke up I told my husband to hand me my phone, I wanted to check my email.  And I was totally shocked when I seen that our visa interview was scheduled for February 12, 2013!!! I immediately sent our POA an email telling him, because the kids have to have a visa medical done before they go to the visa appointment.  This medical report usually takes a week to get, you can go to the visa appointment without it but they have to have it before they will print his visa.  So I told my POA to just take him and if it wasn’t ready we will just have to take it back for the printing.  He took Henry for his medical Friday and I sent him a message and asked him this morning if he was able to get the medical report and he said they had it ready for him to pick up today!!!  

We are so excited that we are this close to bringing our son home to be with his forever family!  His visa interview is tomorrow February 12, 2013. We are praying and asking you to pray for his interview to go smoothly and for his visa to print this Friday the 15th. 

As you may or may not know, the next step is bringing our little guy home, and this is one of the most expensive parts of the process, we are trying to do a few things to help with the cost, one of the things we are doing is getting up a Gold Canyon order, if you are interested in ordering feel free to email or text or call me 423-506-2649. Any help is very much appreciated!!! here is a link to look at the online Gold Canyon Book

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Newest Addition!!!

Introducing our newest addition... Henry Kweku Cook!
October 25, 2012, two years and ten days after we adopted Koby, we adopted Henry! We are so excited to add him to our family.  We have heard so many stories about him, from Koby and others that have went over!
They are 5 hours ahead of us over there, but 4 at the time of our adoption, and I thought I would wake up to a phone call or text or something because he had to be in court at 7 in the morning.  Well I didn't, I checked my phone all day waiting on our POA to call or send me something!FINALLY at 11:30am he called me and told me we passed court!!! They had to set in the court room all day before our case was heard.  While I was on the phone with our POA after he told me Henry was officially our son, he kept saying "ok Henry, ok" and then he told me "Henry wants to talk to his mother" oh my goodness, his little voice melted my heart!!! He can't speak english yet, so what he was saying he was being told to say but still, it was so sweet to hear him tell me he missed me and that he loved me!!!
We have had friends go over since we started the process with Henry, so we have had pictures of him brough home, that is such a blessing, everyone that knows me knows I love pictures and one of the hardest things while we were in the process with Koby was we only had one picture of him, so this time we have had pictures and facebook and even skype with Henry! Its those little things that are so important, that just help your day go by a little better. 
This picture was taken in January 2011 one month before we went to get Koby!
I love this! My boys as BEST FRIENDS who are now BROTHERS FOREVER!
on a side note, Henry is 3 months younger than Koby, look at how much taller he is!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where We Are Today!

So now we start another journey, in July 2012, we started the process of bringing home our 4th child.  We contacted our lawyer in Ghana and he started the process on his end, while we started on our end.  Is this really real?  I asked myself several times, are we really doing this again? Yes we are, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. 

We had all the paperwork for our homestudy filled out and ready, we have to have 3 appointments with her, and one of them has to be at our house.  Which that one was already finished! So now 2 more to go.  We had a vacation planned for the beginning of August; we wanted to get as much done as possible.  One of our good friends was leaving to go to Ghana at the end of August and we wanted to send our dossier over with her, and then we found out that she was leaving the 1st of August.  Bummer for us but great news for her, she was going to see her kids!!!  We weren’t sure how it would get to Ghana, but we knew God would provide a way.

The homestudy visits were now complete, in the end of August, now we are just waiting on the homestudy to be printed.  On September 6th (our middle son’s birthday) we got a gift, our preview homestudy came in the email.  I was so excited because another friend of mine just planned a trip to Ghana in the middle of September, so now we just need the final copy of the homestudy completed before she goes and she can take the dossier to our lawyer!  I looked over the homestudy and there were just a few mistakes, so I emailed them back with the corrections and then asked her if there was any way we could get the finalized homestudy before my friend left, she said she would work on it and try her best.

The week my friend was leaving was the week we got our finalized completed homestudy!!! Just in time.  I took everything to her the day before she was leaving.  I am a last minute person, but this was cutting it close for me!

Everything was feeling more and more real to me.  I was told by our POA that the lawyer was ready to go to court as soon as we are approved.  So we thought that when she took the dossier over we would get a court date within a few months.  It was Tuesday September 18th and the phone rings at 6:30am I answer and it is my friend that was in Ghana, she said that we had a court date the next Thursday 27th!  WHAT??? Goodness I wasn’t expecting this! I just sent off my I-600A application on Friday. So this really took me by surprise!  I know things happen and court dates sometimes have to be changed, but to know we were that close to being his parents legally was CRAZY!!!

After a week of “oh my goodness” we get another phone call saying court was gonna have to be rescheduled, and they didn’t know when it would be but they would let me know as soon as they knew.  So now we wait.  It’s ok, we are waiting on our finger print appointment for the I-600A approval.  We can go to court without it but we can’t file the I-600 in Ghana without it. 
A couple of our friends are going over sometime soon to get their kids; it would be awesome if we get our approval fast enough for one of us to go over and file it with them.  It will be really close, but it is possible. 


With our first adoption, everyone supported our decision to bring home another child. We really thought that people would be excited that we were bringing home Kobys best friend from Ghana. Little did we know, we weren't being supported by to many people.  Many people have given us their opinion about this adoption.  We have been really hurt by several comments.  We have been told that this isn’t of God for several reasons.  But I have a story to share.  I know I have an on time God, and this just proves it to me that He is standing right there with us through this adoption.  We have done several fundraisers; we did a car wash and a couple of yard sales.  I sell Gold Canyon Candles and have done several of those to go toward other adoptions and a couple to go toward ours.  We sold the J103 (a Christian Radio Station in Chattanooga) coupon books.  I am also doing outside pictures and selling a CD to help with the adoption cost.  Jacky just finished a weight loss challenge, where we asked if anyone wanted to sponsor him per pound.  We did a pasta fundraiser and we have a Just Love Coffee website, check it out, and share with your friends!  Every time something is due we have the money, when our homestudy needed to be paid we had all but $200 and then that came the next week.  We needed to send money over for several different things and every time we had just the right amount and it just came that week.  During one of our homestudy visits we were rear ended and our car got totaled.  Thank God we were all safe!  A few weeks went by and we received the insurance money to buy another car.  We went car shopping and finally found what we were looking for.  After a week or so we got our reimbursement of our part we had to pay.  Little did we know we got an extra check from them because we had to go without a car for several weeks.  Well guess what?  That was the week the POA was going to meet the lawyer.  We had to send money over for him and our little guys medical and birth certificate.  And I want you to know the amount we received was $90 more than we needed to send over.  Think this is a coincidence? Well I don’t.  Here’s one more,  I told you about the weight loss challenge,  it just so happened that it ended the week before we go to court, and he lost 27 pounds during this, our friends and family gave (added all together) $35 per pound.  And if everyone pays we will receive $945, and we have to pay the lawyer the rest of his fees and then apply for a passport and a new birth certificate, and you guessed it, this amount is really close to what we are going to have to send over!  Tell me My God isn’t Awesome and I will have to tell you otherwise! He has provided for us so far and I have no doubt He will provide for us the rest of our adoption journey!

I finally got an email telling me that we have a court date!  It is Thursday October 18th.  We got our fingerprint appointment and it is Friday October 26th. So that is where we are today, waiting till our court date, and finger print appointment. 

Our Lawyer and POA went to court this morning, and there were to many cases today so they chose some to come back next week and we were one of the chosen ones.  I hate that it didn't happen today but we aren't ready on our end anyway, so keep next Thursday October 25th in your prayers, that's when we go back to court!!! THANK YOU :)



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finally All Under One Roof!!!

After being home for a little while, and he was speaking English very well, he started telling me stories of Ghana.  He wouldn’t tell them in front of anyone, he waited till it was about time for bed and me and him would go into my bedroom and lay down to wind down.  He would start talking; some of the stories would just make me cry.  I questioned some of them to some of the older boys that I had become friends with on facebook, and they confirmed them to be true.  After several stories I started falling in love with his little best friend, they had done everything together. 
Christmas 2011

One day while I was cutting his hair, his daddy came home and he said “hey daddy I want you to be Henrys daddy and momma to be his momma.”  Jacky looked at me and said “Wendy did you tell him to say that to me?”  I told him that he hadn’t even said that to me, I wasn’t expecting that one.  I didn’t mention his little best friend to him because all he would say is how much he wanted us to bring him home to live with us.  He would tell us that he didn’t have anything and he wanted to share his stuff with him. 

I did start thinking, while we were there in October, we had took Koby some little hot wheels cars and he took them to the orphanage and gave them to all his little friends.  That made me start crying. For weeks I cried all the time.  Jacky didn’t know what was wrong with me.  We would talk about the kids at the orphanage and I couldn’t help but cry.  I am a BIG BABY when it comes to those kids! 

I wanted to start the process over again and bring home his little best friend.  Jacky wasn’t on board.  He said the process scared him.  He didn’t want to go thru all that again, our process with Koby was so smooth, and he was worried that we wouldn’t get it so smooth again.  He had a few fears so I wouldn’t bring it up to him.  But I did pray and ask God, if it was meant to be, if we were supposed to bring him home then God would have to give Jacky peace about it.  After that prayer, God gave me peace, so I knew we would bring him home I just didn’t know when.  Jacky would come home and talk about if we brought another child home, and talking about Koby’s best friend, and other little things, so I knew God was working on him. And it wouldn’t be long before he would have the same peace that I have.  But it did take him longer than I liked. 

One of my good friends had adopted a little girl, and after their adoption went to court, and she got her papers, she called me and said that he was listed as her little girls’ brother.  We didn’t know that either one of them had a sibling.  After she brought her home, we talked about it, and first his best friend left and now his sister left.  I personally think that is what broke Jacky’s heart.  Because not to long after that, in July 2012 we were in the car going to my sister’s house and he started the conversation about bringing him home.  (by the way, he told everyone that’s all I talked about, but he was the one that brought it up, and yes if he brings it up, I’m gonna talk about it, lol) He looked at me and said “email the POA and tell him we want to start the process to bring him home” Oh my goodness, I was so excited, but not emotional, for some odd reason!  So I emailed him and asked if he was available for adoption.   He said he was almost sure he was, but he would make sure and let me know.  Well that email waiting on an answer was FOREVER!!!!  In all reality it was just a couple of weeks, because he was going out of town and going to be gone for about a week.

   As soon as he got back he sent me an email saying everything was good and he was available for adoption.  So I called the lady that done our homestudy and asked when she could get us started.  She said “I am going to Knoxville tomorrow, I can stop by your house on my way back home and have your home visit and start the process.”  I immediately said “YES” after I got off the phone with her, I thought to myself, we are having our homestudy visit tomorrow and I am not prepared.  With our last adoption the home visit was very stressful, I thought everything had to be spic and span, well that isn’t what she is looking at, they do want the house to be clean, but they are looking at more safety and making sure we have space for another child.  So yes I did clean but I wasn’t nearly as stressed, I just cleaned like I would normally, didn’t go above and beyond, I really didn’t have time, I had to get all the paper work filled out, because after we hung up the phone she sent it to me by email.  I was a very busy woman that night and the next day. 

I thought I would just add a few pictures of the past year that we have been home with Koby! We have had so much fun getting to know our newest addition!!!

Disney 2011

Animal Kingdom 2011

Universal Studios 2011

Momma Dylan and Koby with Mickey

Vacation 2012



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pick Up Trip!!!


before we left to go pick up Koby!!!


Time to go get my little boy wouldn’t get here fast enough!  I went thru a lot of "woe is me" moods.  We waited “patiently” from the end of October 2010 to the end of February 2011 before we got to go get him.  The I-600 process from the embassy could take up to 60 days to finalize.  We emailed them in January and they told us that we had been approved and we could pick up our packet.  I asked what was in the packet and they wouldn’t tell me, so I didn’t know if it was something my POA could fill out or what, we asked them if they would email it to us, they said no, they would mail it to us, so I asked if we could pay for next day air, and they said they didn’t do that, only standard mail.  They told us that it should take a couple of weeks to get here, yea right!  We waited, and waited, and waited, for NOTHING! Finally we just had our POA go get it and he scanned and emailed it to me.  (DUH, who wouldn’t have thought of that, first?) We couldn’t get them all to open big enough to read, but I got enough to search it on line, well all that was in that packet was the Visa Application, and information about the Visa Medical, so I searched it on line, and found it, I filled it out and emailed it back to our POA and scheduled a Visa Interview.  He took the application and Koby and his birth mom to the interview.  Everything went well, they needed the medical, that we thought we already had, but it had to be thru their doctors, so we scheduled that appointment, and they needed to see the original adoption decree and social welfare report.  Well guess what? We had that stuff here in America.  The only way to get it there was to go, because we still hadn’t received the packet they mailed to us a month before this.  So we emailed them and tried to get answers, but they wouldn’t tell us anything, they said they couldn’t guarantee anything to us.  So we decided to just go over there and pray that the visa gets printed and we get to bring him home this time.  They gave us an open date to come back and give them the information they had requested.  So we purchased our tickets to fly out on February 18, 2011 and come home February 26, 2011.  We were so excited, our friends that went with us the 1st time had decided to go back and this was when they were scheduled to go back too!  One of my best friends and her husband had decided to adopt also, so the pictures of the little girl you see, is their daughter. 
Leaving for Ghana, we were so excited and nervous at the same time.  Not knowing whether they were gonna let him come home with us was an awful feeling.  But when we arrived in Ghana, and I hear the sweet little pitter patter of feet running toward me, and looking down and he jumped in my arms, just made my day!!!
Oh how we had missed this little guy!  We arrived on a Saturday, and we went to the Embassy on the following Monday.  They were happy with seeing the originals, and his new medical report.  They tried to print the visa that day, but their printer was backed up so they told us to come back at the end of the day so we did and it still hadn’t printed.  They told us that the printer would print all night if we would come back in the morning they would have it printed.  We were so excited, when we got up the next morning we went straight to the Embassy and guess what? IT WAS PRINTED!!!
Our little boy was going home with us!!! This was Tuesday, so we had the rest of the week to just relax and enjoy learning all we could about where our little guy was from.  We spent a lot of time at the orphanage getting to know the kids, and falling in love with every single one of them! 

We went to the beach on our last trip and Koby didn’t like it at all, but we wanted to go back there on this trip, but we had waited till the last day and still hadn’t gone.  We decided we would go if we had time our last day there, we went and Koby surprised us, he loved it, he played and didn’t cry at all.
We went back to the hotel and got cleaned up for our flight.  Several of the kids came by the hotel to tell Koby bye.  He was so excited to be leaving and going to America, everyone was so happy for him also.  We left to go to the airport at 7pm, our flight was at 11pm.  He told everyone “me aqua” I don’t know how to spell it but it means “I’m leaving” we were so happy that he was ready to go with us. 
We got to the airport and checked in.  As we were in line 2 people, a man and a woman, both from Ghana,  stopped us and said they had to go thru our bags.  So we went over to the bags and the lady asked which ones were mine, I told her I had stuff in all of them, I was organized going but coming home, I just threw all the dirty, stinky clothes together.  So she was going thru them and asked why we were taking the black kid with us.  We told her we adopted him and he was going home with us, the 2 of them looked at each other and said “well that explains it” ok lets go get you on your flight.  We just had to laugh that one off, but that did start a whole new nervousness in us.  We were so scared every time we got in another line that they were going to stop us, but no one else did.  We worried how Koby would do on the plane, and he did great, he slept most of the way home.  We flew into Washington DC, and while we were waiting to go thru immigration, Koby was talking to me in Twi.  I didn’t know what he was saying, I had learnt some, and he taught me some of his words for things, I knew when he wanted to eat, drink and go potty.  Those are the most important right? Well we were in this line and he kept saying the same thing over and over and I would just say “yes” or “ok” and he would continue to say it, I had never heard the phrase he was using, but I had no way of knowing what he was saying, we didn’t have a translator!  Well, he said it again and this little elderly lady said “excuse me honey but your son is wanting something to eat” oh my goodness, that was not the phrase he had been using when he was hungry!  I am so glad she was there and she was from Ghana and understood Twi.  We had a 5 hour layover so we took a taxi and went sightseeing.  We got back to the airport and flew in to Knoxville, where everyone was there to see our precious little boy!!!  By the time we landed in Knoxville we had been traveling for 24 hours, and Koby didn’t make the first whimper, he never cried one time. 

Several wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese, so we took him there and he had a blast!  He was doing so well we decided to go ahead and go to church the next morning, he did great there too, he went in to his Sunday School class by himself.  We never had to change a thing; he has bonded with us and done so wonderful adjusting.  He was speaking quite a bit of English his 1st month home and every day he spoke more and more.  We noticed after being home just 3 months, he was speaking English fluently, and he had totally forgotten his other language.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Week Flew By!

Monday started a whole new adventure for us.  We went and picked up our adoption decree from the lawyer and went and filed for a new birth certificate.  Then we went to the Embassy to file our I-600, for those of you who don’t know, the I-600 is the paperwork that declares the child an orphan, and proves that they can be adopted.  Yes that’s backwards in my opinion too.  The adoption decree stated that we could take him out of the country and he was legally our child.  So we didn’t think there would be a problem.  We got to the Embassy and they let us in and gave us the I-600 application.  They wanted a copy of the decree and our dossier so we took the application and all our paperwork with us and filled it out and made copies and took them back the next day along with the new birth certificate for him.

We turned it all in and they told us it could take up to 60 days for the process! WHAT???? Oh my goodness, we didn’t see that coming!  We left the Embassy devastated.  So now what, what do we do, do we stay? Does just one stay?  Our middle son had to go back, he couldn’t fly back without one of us, we have another son at home, we can’t stay gone that long, but now we have a new son here, so do we leave him?  He won’t understand.  I really hated this feeling, I felt I had to choose between my kids! Surely this isn’t how it’s supposed to be! 
We decided to go back to the Embassy and try to get some more answers.  Well they answered us, but not how we wanted them to.  The answer was still the same.  So we thought, maybe they will have it all done by the end of the week.  God had done so much to get it all worked out for us, surely we will be taking him home with us!

The week flew by!!! It was Friday; we were going to go back to the Embassy one last time to see if they had any news for us.  Only to find out, the answer was still the same. 
this picture tears my heart to pieces

Saddened by the news we went back to the hotel to spend the last few hours we had with our son before we had to leave.  We had talked to the father and mother of the orphanage and told them what was going on and they said they would continue to take care of him till we could return for him. 

me and koby and some of his friends from the orphanage

Busy Weekend

Week one was over and we were starting the weekend; we were leaving Accra and going to Cape Coast.  This is where some of the guys that went with us were staying.  They were at a Deaf and Blind School.  Our church had bought some supplies for the school and they had gone to deliver it and help them set it up. 

We left and drove for a couple of hours, we sang songs in the van and talked and laughed the whole ride.  Upon arriving to the school, the kids were so excited to see us.  They were all either deaf or blind.  It was very over whelming for me at first, I have been around special needs kids and they have a special place in my heart, but I have never been around that many at one time.  Our middle son came to me a little nervous and so did our newly adopted son, they were both confused at the sounds they were all making, and I took them to the side and talked to them (Koby didn’t speak English but I still told him too) that the kids didn’t know how to speak because they can’t hear so making those noises were all they knew how to do.  After that, my middle son went out there and started playing with the kids and talking to them the best he knew how.  And when I saw my son out there with the kids it made it all better and I was much more comfortable.  I had a little girl that stuck to me like glue, before we arrived they told us to make a sign that we would use for our name, so when they asked our name we gave them that sign, well mine was a sign language W with my right hand tapped on my left shoulder.  Well when I showed them my name they went and got this little girl and said we had the same name, so there she was, with me the rest of the weekend!  Their names were written on their dresses on the inside and she flipped it up and showed me her name was Mary. 


The girls were all playing with my middle son, more so than the boys.  We noticed this but didn’t think anything about it, but then he came to us and said “how do you say I’m a boy in sign language?” I asked him why, and he said the girls touched his hair and then pointed at their earrings and their chest and were making the gesture asking where his were.  He had longer hair and they thought he was a girl, but didn’t know why he didn’t have his ears pierced and why he didn’t have girl parts!   We thought this was hilarious! But we found out how to say “I’m a boy” in sign language, so he did and there went the girls and here came the boys! But within a few minutes they were all playing together.  I watched him as he communicated with these kids and was just amazed.  He went outside and got a stick and started writing questions on the ground and they would answer him and ask him questions.  He really enjoyed his time with those kids that weekend, and when we left he missed them and talked about them often.  We still laugh about the misunderstanding of him being a girl!!!
At the school, they brought us in this big room to watch the children perform.  It was so amazing; they did an awesome dance for us.  They had drummers and dancers.  They drummers were all blind and the dancers were all deaf.  It was awesome!!! They all stayed in beat with the drums.  Pictures doesn’t do it justice you need to see it in person to truly be blessed!

While we were in Cape Coast we went to the slave castle.  It was so sad to see what the people had to go thru.  And what they lived in, to hear the stories just broke my heart.  It was an interesting thing to see and hear, but it was hard to see and hear.  We just don’t realize how blessed we truly are!

We went to a village on Sunday, people at our church donated clothes for us to give at the orphanage and the village.  The children there were so excited to receive the clothes from us. 

On a previous visit from some at our church, they met a little boy at this village; they promised him they would send a pack of “Bicycle Cards” to him, so we took him some and when we found him and Jacky gave them to him, you would have thought we brought him a car, he was so happy to get them.  Little things make these children so happy.  They have nothing, so anything they get they cherish!  This is one of those moments on the trip I feel so spoiled, of everything I have.  I will say there are several moments on this trip I feel this way.  And now at home I have several days I’m reminded of our “necessities” we just have to have!  While looking thru the pictures to choose which ones I am going to put on here, I’m reminded of their joy they have.  And their thankfulness when they get the smallest thing, that we take for granted!

While at this village, Jacky took an American Football to show them, he decided to teach them how to throw and catch the ball, they had a good time learning the new game.   We left them the football and that just made their day!