April 11, 2014 at 8:38 am we received our REFERRAL!!! Siblings! One girl & One boy. Double the blessing!!! SO worth the wait!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Adoption UPDATE: MOWA & PAIR

Week 10

Sadly, it's been a few weeks since I had much to report. The waiting and the wondering is SO HARD. You would think that after three years of waiting, just to see our children's faces, we would be good at it. But no. Still hard. 

There are two sides to our process: one is the US Embassy/PAIR side and the other is the Ethiopian court process/MOWA. We moved forward in both this week!

We received an email Tuesday from the US Embassy in Ethiopia to update us on our case. Part of the investigation process is an interview with the birth parent or finder. They notified us that they are attempting to schedule the interview soon and hopefully will wrapping up their investigation in the next few weeks. Once the investigation is complete, our children are eligible to immigrate to the United States and USCIS/Embassy will issue our PAIR letter. 

We also learned that our court case has moved forward! We are waiting for our final MOWA approval at which time they will issue OUR court appointment. So basically our case in sitting in a stack with a bunch of other cases. We are just waiting for that darn signature! We could receive a call tomorrow or next week. We have no idea! But we do hope it is SOON! 

We have been blessed with so many photos and videos. Just last night we received more. My dear sweet friend recorded our daughter showing her the photo book we sent a few weeks ago. I BURST into tears the moment it started. She opened the album to a photo of Josh and I and pointed to Josh's arms and said "Dad {picture her flexing her muscles} muscle" and then started kissing our faces over and over!!! I WISH I COULD SHOW you! Then she goes to a photo of her and Rori's room and says "My room" and points to the bottom bunk. Oh how we have dreamed of her lying her sweet little head on the pillow for so many years... Then she flips to a photo of our backyard and remarks "it big!" I could go on and on. It was just THE BEST video!!! We also got the sweetest video of our son and his little buddy walking a blind little girl through the courtyard, they were so sweet and gentle. Mind you both boys are almost three. Most videos I see of our boy he is acting very much like a feisty little boy. To see such a tender side... my heart was bursting with pride! 


Fighting over their photo book :)



Giving Mommy and Daddy kisses!

We fall more and more in love with our children every day and can't wait to finally meet them! Please keep praying our kids home! We are SO CLOSE! 


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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Day Our Children Learned... They Have a FAMILY

Last monday I woke up to this text from my friend, who was in Ethiopia.

"May 26, 2014 G and S Bentz know that their Mom and Dad and big sister and brother are coming for them. And they are THRILLED!!"

I sobbed. It was real. They finally know they have a family!!!

She recorded G "meeting" us. What a GIFT!!! It's such a sweet video. I sent a photo book and filled the package with balloons. She let out a huge "yes!" at the sight of all the balloons :) It was precious! And you can bet I melted when she pointed at the photo and said "mommy" and then "daddy" BE STILL MY HEART! And when she say's Rori and Trent she rolls her r's. It's adorable!

Our daughter meeting us for the first time!
Our son meeting us for the first time!

Remember those cute outfits we sent over...
Upon seeing her new clothes, she immediately took her old shirt off,
put on her new one and the head band!
I wish I could show you his face - he is making his signature "frowny face" - he cracks me up!

We can't wait to be in Ethiopia meeting our kids face to face!
Praying that day will be soon!!!
Some very important documents are making their way to Ethiopia this week!
Getting closer!



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Friday, May 23, 2014

Week Six - Missing pieces of our hearts

In case you were wondering. It IS as hard as it seems to have two pieces of your heart thousands of miles away!!! Our good friends are traveling back to Ethiopia for their second trip, to bring their kids HOME! It has been such a joy and blessing to walk this journey with them. They will arrive in ET Sunday, they left this morning (Friday) - I still can't quite wrap my head around how LONG it takes to get there! They took with them a little care package for our two cuties. I bought each of them an outfit. Which by the way is not as easy a task as it sounds. I stood in the middle of Target the other night nearly in tears TRYING to decide what to buy. I realize they won't really know how much or how little thought I put into it. But I do. And I wanted to choose something I felt reflected a little of their personality (as much as I have come to know anyway) and I wanted to choose something I loved. It is after all the first thing I will have ever given them. SO much emotion went into this purchase. The funny thing is, the clothes are a donation to the transition home, so the outfits won't even come home with us. I finally did get a handle on my emotions and was able to purchase some cute, yet practical outfits for our kids! We also made a photo book for them (we are not sure if the special mothers will share it with them yet) but our hope is that they do. We really want them to know they have a family of their very own, that is coming for them soon!
Our son loves music & runs off with the special mothers phone & ear buds to listen to music!
Our daughter LOVES clothes & headbands & she looks so good in bright colors!
Since I can't wrap them up in a hug,
I'm hoping some clothes from mommy will make their little hearts happy!
We submitted our PAIR application four weeks ago (which basically means we requested approval for US immigration). This week we received a Request For more Evidence. We are gathering those documents and will be sending them to USCIS next week for review. Once they approve the evidence, our case (PAIR) will be sent to the US Embassy in Ethiopia. This is good news and means we are getting closer!  We are still waiting to hear an update on our case with the Ethiopian court. We are hoping they are ready to start scheduling court appearances. Praying we hear something next week! 

I've been working on redecorating the kids rooms. The girls are sharing a room and so are the boys, so I wanted to change things up a bit and turn the rooms into their rooms. After weeks of paperwork it has been SO FUN to pour myself into something I really enjoy! I'll be posting pics soon!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Week 3: Ethiopian Court and Other Cool Stuff

It's been three blissful weeks since we got our referral! We have received over 100 photos of our kids from families that have traveled ahead of us and we have at least 6 videos! We have a video of our girl signing to Jesus and dancing. OH MY HEART! And can I just say the girls got MOVES! These are absolute TREASURES to us. We LOVE our kids and can't wait to finally meet them! Our big kids can't wait either. Our oldest asked if "we had any weekend plans" to which I replied "not really"and she said "Oh good! Can we go to Ethiopia this weekend?" Oh how I wish we could!!!

I feel I would be remiss if I did not tell you about the paperwork. OH MY GOODNESS the paperwork! Referral Docs, PAIR Docs, Power of Attorney authentication, Home study authentication, Updated Dossier docs... I could go on and on! I have used a full ream of paper in my printer, seriously! We've paid so many UPS, FEDEX, USPS, notary, certified check, and photocopy charges in the last three weeks it would make your head spin. But every piece of paper brings us that much closer to bringing our children home!

Some big news this week, we learned our case was opened in Ethiopian Court! We weren't expecting to be submitted so soon! So this is HUGE blessing! If you read my update last friday you know we submitted PAIR (which is the US side of things). So both the US and Ethiopia are moving forward with our case. YAY! Please pray the investigations and hearings go well! AND FAST!

I wanted to share a "God is in the details" moment. Our two children arrived at Hannah's Hope, our agency's transition home, on September 26, 2013. (We didn't get our referral until April 11, 2014) BUT ON September 30, 2013, four days after our kiddos arrived at HH, I posted this on FB...


God is in the details. He's moving in our lives even when we can't see... One of my favorite songs is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin. It's a such a beautiful reminder that God is with us, always.

All my hopes
All I need
Held in your hands

All my life
All of me
Held in your hands

All my fears
All my dreams
Held in your hands

In your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end
I can trust you

In your never failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you



Thank you for your prayers!


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Friday, April 25, 2014

One Step Closer: PAIR


Two weeks after our referral call and we are one step closer to bringing our kiddos HOME! We submitted PAIR (Pre-Adoption Immigration Review) yesterday. This is a big important step in our adoption process!!!

What does that mean? A whole lot more paper work was complied and more fees were paid.

PAIR will take approximately 8-10 weeks, which includes a 3-6 week investigation to determine our children's orphan status by the US Embassy in Ethiopia. Once the investigation is complete we will be issued our PAIR letter. We need this letter to move onto the next step, which is the court.

Please PRAY our PAIR process is QUICK! We are hoping to travel for court by the end of July or early August. The Ethiopian courts close for 6-8 weeks, starting sometime in August. If we are not issued court before the closure we will have to wait until Fall :( And as you can imagine, we want our kids home as SOON as possible! Thank you for your prayers and support!




If you are interested here is a little more info about PAIR.
"The U.S. government has worked closely with the government of Ethiopia to develop the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process for Ethiopian adoptions.  PAIR will preserve and protect the valuable intercountry adoption program in Ethiopia by providing more safeguards to ensure the program’s integrity.
Effective Sept. 1, 2013, the government of Ethiopia will require all adoption cases filed by United States prospective adoptive parents to undergo the U.S. PAIR process.  Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) will require a PAIR letter issued by USCIS in order to make a best interest determination.  Prospective adoptive parents must include the PAIR letter in the adoption dossier they submit to the Ethiopian Federal First Instance Court (FFIC) to initiate the adoption. The FFIC will then forward the dossier, including the PAIR letter, to MOWCYA for review.
In response to the new requirements of Ethiopia, the implementation of the PAIR process will identify any irregularities early in the adoption process and significantly reduce or eliminate the discovery of these problems after a final adoption has been granted.  The PAIR process allows USCIS to review the child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States in every case before prospective adoptive parents establish a permanent legal relationship to the child.  The Department of State will still conduct an investigation in Ethiopia; however, the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) will be the only U.S. government agency conducting PAIR review.  This change will eliminate delays associated with the transfer of “not clearly approvable” cases from the Department of State to USCIS for review and ensure greater consistency.  In addition, the PAIR process will provide Ethiopia’s MOWCYA with the assurance that the child will likely be eligible to immigrate to the United States if the adoption is approved by Ethiopian courts." 


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Friday, April 18, 2014

T H E - C A L L !

Referral Day
April 11, 2014
8:38 am

It was going to be a crazy day. But I had no idea HOW crazy!

I got up early and ran 5 miles on the treadmill. I had 5 daycare kiddos coming. I was watching my niece and two of my nephews and our kids were home from school. It was going to be a busy day with 10 kids running around the house. And we had dinner plans at a friends house, who are adopting through our agency. They had just returned from Ethiopia earlier in the week.

... I was on the phone with Josh, we were talking about how excited we were to hear about our friends trip. Couldn't wait to hear about their kids, Ethiopia and Hannah's Hope (our agency's transition home - where the children live) AND how it was going to be a little hard to hear about a certain sibling set, a sibling set we had been praying for... (more about that in a follow up post). As we were hanging up I noticed I had an incoming call. It was our agency. Wamp. Wamp. Probably a paperwork call...

It was 8:38 am. it was our case manager J she rattled on about paperwork for a moment and then.she.said. "AMY THIS IS YOUR REFERRAL CALL" I can't even describe the feeling I had, in that moment. We had waited three years to hear those words. And since I was unable to fully process what she just said. I just screamed "You are kidding me!?!" To which she replied "NO and I am calling to refer a sibling set..."OH.MY.HEART. is this really happening!?! THE sibling set we have been PRAYING for!!!! Oh.my.goodness. I just sobbed!!! She kept talking. I couldn't breathe. I honestly think the world stopped spinning for just a moment. Then she said "Can we call Josh?" "Yes!" So I hung up the phone ran into the kitchen, where our kids were eating breakfast, and I started jumping up and down screaming "WE GOT OUR REFERRAL AND THE KIDS ON OUR FRIDGE ARE YOUR BROTHER AND SISTER!" and they were SO excited!!! That is truly the understatement of the year!!!

THEN I called Josh. Here is how my conversation went with Josh "Hey hon. Um. We just got our referral call." "No we didn't" "Yes we did! and We were referred THE KIDS" "No way, are you serious?" "Yes! J is going to be calling you any minute so we can have our official referral call." "You have got to be kidding." "No this is REALLY happening" "I can't believe it." "Yeah me either"

J called and told us all about them! We hung on every word. But it felt like a dream. It still just seemed too incredible to be true. But it was true! And our precious children. OH MY WORD. We LOVE them!!! We can't wait to hug them, hold their precious little faces in our hands, look into their beautiful eyes and tell them how much we love them, wanted them and prayed for them. Thank you Jesus!

{I feel I should point out the additional chaos transpiring in our home while all these phone calls are happening! Day care kids are being dropped off. Family members are dropping off their kids. I'm trying to keep a straight face and cover up the fact I have been BAWLING. Snacks, meals and diapers are being changed.}

You might think that after we got "the call" we would have time to savor the moment. But no! While your head is still spinning, you are emailed a huge to do list. Some of which has to be completed in 24-48 hours!!! So in between phone calls to family and friends and caring for 10 kids, I'm tying to get in touch with an International Pediatrician. So I'm frantically emailing. calling. and then I finally get a yes from a Dr that can do a consultation within our limited time frame. By now it's 2:30. I haven't eaten a thing all day and I'm running on fumes. I can't even remember how to cut and paste documents into an email. So I inhale a Costco apple muffin in hopes the sugar will somehow get me functioning like normal again. Ha! Not possible. We got our referral today! I just may have to kiss "normal" goodbye! I finally get the email together and sent off. Paid the $500 fee. Can you even believe it? For a conversation! And I take the first full breath I think I have taken all day.

By now children have started to slowly file out of our house and Rori and Trent take turns sharing our news with family and friends! So proud to show off photos of their sister and brother!

We head to our friends house for dinner AND THEN we got to hear stories about their kids and OUR KIDS, see photos of their kids and OUR KIDS and by the end of the evening we had fallen more in love with our kids than we could have ever imagined. What a perfect way, to end the most amazing day...

Referral Day Photo


This is the only photo we have from "referral day" & it's after midnight!
We had just gotten home from dinner.
Josh was showering because he went to dinner straight from work.
The kids and I thought we would take a quick selfie!

Photos from Referral Weekend 


My friend and I at her adoption shower!
Such a fun time celebrating!
Rori and I after the shower with our Ethiopian Flag cupcakes,
headed to a Called to Love planning meeting!


Trent and I celebrating later that day at my nephew's 1st Birthday!


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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

April 2013 Wait List Numbers

We are officially #28 for a Girl 0-12 months



And we are #11 for a girl and boy sibling group 0-48 months.


Getting closer. If you had asked me in October "When we would get our referral" I might have said "In the spring of 2013!" but here we are. It's spring and no referral... It has been S.L.O.W. There has been a lot of change happening in Ethiopia. So much of it has been good for the overall future of adoptions in Ethiopia. But we are yet again right in the middle of more changes and changes cause delays. While I am really good at putting on a brave face and convincing everyone that asks how I "fine" I am. The truth is, I am possibly... not "fine". It's hard to be patient. It's hard to not get discouraged or frustrated. While I know God's timing is perfect. After TWO YEARS of waiting, planning and dreaming. You start to wonder exactly how long the journey will be. 

Instead of crying into my pillow... 
I cried out to God and asked him how to use this wait to HIS glory.

So. 

A few months ago I attended Created for Care, 
a retreat in Atlanta for adoptive moms, with my friend Jen.

It was awesome. 
We came back refreshed & passionate 
to provide that same experience to adoptive moms here at home!

We got to work. 
And God moved mountains.
Now, after months of prayer and planning... 
dozens of meetings... hundreds of emails and phone calls...

TODAY
May 1st 2013
Registration Opens for our 1st annual retreat!!!



"Called to Love is a ministry designed to encourage and support adoptive and foster moms by providing an annual retreat.  Whether you are just beginning the process, have been home for years, or are in the trenches of those first few months home, you are invited to join us.  Our desire is that each woman will connect with other mamas, refresh physically and emotionally, and renew your own relationship with the Father.  He who has called you by name to this journey longs to reconnect with you and re-energize you.  We pray this weekend of worshipping, eating, learning, connecting, laughing and resting will feed your body and soul and send you home a better wife and mother!"

Jen and I


Our Team

The Location
Oregon Garden Resort

God has been using the wait.
Making Lemonade out of Lemons!

I am so excited for this retreat!
Thankful I have something to pour my "adoption" energy into.

The wait is still really really H.A.R.D. 
BUT we remain hopeful!
Confident our time is coming and God is faithful.

One of my favorite songs right now is Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline
and these words give me peace while we wait.

"These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated"


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