Thursday, November 13, 2014

Here we go- TIME TO CATCH A PLANE!

As of our last update, all of our documents were submitted to the courts on October 16th. We expected to find out when I would be traveling to go meet our future son next week at the earliest and be traveling around the second week in December…

And then the phone call came yesterday morning. It actually woke me up since Paki was being so sweet and took the kids downstairs so I could catch a little more sleep. It was our awesome facilitator letting us know that our court date is November 26th!!! Which means, I'm climbing on a flight on November 24th!! AHHHH! I was completely unprepared for such a fast turn around, but am so grateful that, in just a few weeks, I get to meet this little boy that we've been falling in love with over the past 8 months!

As usual, God is paving the way for this to happen.
1. The Child Development Center has openings for all 3 of our kids for child care while I'm gone!
2. My mom is able to come out earlier to help Paki so he can study in the evenings and weekends!
3. My dear friend, Cathy, is able to travel with me at the earlier date!

We are so excited and continue to chase down last minute paperwork, notaries, and a zillion other details. I've been carrying my passport around in my purse since before we left Hawaii so it couldn't get lost in the move. One less thing on my list to find!

Please keep us in your prayers as we move forward on this adventure. Cathy and I will be missing some holidays with our families here in the U.S., but I can't imagine a better Christmas present than getting to bring home the newest member of our family! So much to be Thankful for!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finally SUBMITTED!!

We got the amazing news that on Thursday, October 16th, all of our paperwork was finally submitted to the court system of the country that we're adopting from! (Yes! We miraculously got all our paperwork over there and translated in time!) Our counter stopped on the expiration of our documents (thank you, Lord!) and now our counter starts for when we find out our travel/court date.

I am simply amazed at the facilitation team we are working with and the encouragement that we have been receiving from the adoption community! We actually just met another military family this weekend at a church we visited that adopted 2 little boys from Africa. Talk about a wealth of knowledge that I will be reaching out to when we bring little "Koen" home.

Paki and I have talked quite a bit about changing "Koen's" (just his alias on the website where we first saw him) name. I have felt very torn on the subject. I didn't change my female dog's name from David when I brought her back from Iraq because I felt it would be too confusing with all the other changes going on. So she lived a full 8 years being called David. Do we want to change this little boy's name when his whole world is about to get turned upside down? After much discussion, we've decided to give him a new first name and keep his given name as his middle name. That way he has the option of what he would like to go by while maintaining at least a small part of his heritage. With our other three children having Hawaiian first names that begin with a "K", you can guess that this little boy will also get one! Discussions/negotiations are still in progress!

And another wonderful update: A great friend from our church family in Hawaii has volunteered to freeze with me for at least the beginning portion of the trip! (The totally time in country is anywhere from 6-10 weeks.) I am so grateful for her willingness to bundle up and venture half way around the world! This will give us more time for Paki's aunt to set up her schedule to possibly join me for the end of the trip.  While I am out of the country, Paki will be still working/going to school and have our other three angels (a.k.a. maniacs) by himself. So my mom has volunteered to come out to help so he can get in the study time he needs while I am gone! I'm not sure my mom knows what she's getting into!

Thank you for keeping up with us and following our journey! As a side note, while we have not been actively fund raising for this adoption, we have been offered a matching grant of $500 by an anonymous donor. We are so humbled by the kindness of so many people through this emotionally and financially exhausting journey. If you want to help us reach that matching grant, you can donate at:
  http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorgomes-2

 Please keep us in your prayers and we hope to be able to update everyone in about 5 weeks when we'll hopefully find out our travel dates!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Paperwork that NEVER ENDS…

My most sincere apology for the lack of updates on our adoption journey. For the most part, it was supposed to be a quiet wait for our sweet Koen to reach the age of 5 in November, but unfortunately that didn't happen. And we've been a bit busy!

But here's the only picture we have of Koen just to remind you of this amazing little boy that we're trying to adopt:


So we are still transitioning from Hawaii to California as the Navy is taking us down a path that hopefully will be a great season for our family in regard to time together. To be completely honest, we're not in love with California thus far, but to be fair… Hawaii is a hard act to follow up! And I'm cold. I don't like being cold. It's going to get colder. I don't like being cold.

We've been living out of suitcases for a month and a half and it's getting old. Paki's grandmother has been awesome letting us stay with her while we're working out the housing situation and I think our children almost have her house childproofed at this point. Only a couple broken items and spaghetti stained walls courtesy of young Konale!

Back to Koen. We received an e-mail about a week after flying off Oahu that the country we are adopting from has changed some formatting on 9 of the required documents, and they are asking for additional copies of our Home Study, passports, etc. Oh, and now we needed a Federal background check vice the state background check. Did I mention our medical documents were on the cusp of expiring and we don't have doctors yet here in California because we JUST GOT HERE!?!? Let the paperwork scramble begin. AGAIN.

We got the first round of documents signed notarized and sent off for apostille to the state of California. (Did I mention CA charges $20 per document while it only cost $4 in HI????) After 2 weeks, I called to check on them only to find out they were rejected due to the incorrect jurat that the notary didn't mention… I panicked. PANICKED. I kept looking at the calendar and counting days. We weren't going to make it. Our Home Study was going to expire and we would be starting all over again. I cried some ugly tears and finally prayed with Paki. (Why do we/I always wait until the ugly tears come before we/I turn to God??) I asked God for discernment, wisdom and encouragement, to know that we were still moving in line with God's will. And I felt peace. Complete peace.

THE NEXT DAY. Paki's aunt sat down across from us and encouraged us to not lose sight of all the wonderful things we have in our lives right now- that we can trust God with this adoption. Later in the evening, Paki opened his e-mail and had a message from a friend encouraging us in the adoption and to persevere through the low times when all seems lost. The. Next. Day. How cool is God?!?!

And we've continued forward. All of our documents are either done or in the very end of the process. But they're still here in the U.S. so we're not in the clear just yet. We MUST be submitted in October before any other documents expire. (Documents are only good for 6 months from the date they are signed in front of the notary.) We started this process back in April so we're starting to hit that point. We are working to get the documents over to the country so they can be verified, translated, and complied to be submitted to the courts. From the date we are submitted, the average time is about 8 weeks to our court date. If you do the math…I will (hopefully) get to freeze my fanny off in December. Did I mention that I HATE BEING COLD???

And that's the update. That's where we stand as of today from the UPS store as I sent off documents to Pennsylvania to be apostilled. We are praying that everything will be finished in time without anymore hiccups. So who wants to go with me???? No, seriously. Lots of unknowns still on dates, but at this point I'll be traveling by myself. If you're reading this and have the time, and desire to freeze with me for 6-8 weeks (or portion there of) in an Eastern European country, let me know. I can give you more details. Thanks for reading!! I hope to have great news by the end of October!



Saturday, July 12, 2014

D.E.L.A.Y.E.D...


I owe everyone an update to our adoption story. This has been the most emotional roller coaster of a ride.  As of my last update, we were waiting on our last document to finish out our packet for final submission. The stressor was the deadline of July 14th in which the U.S. was changing its rules for international adoption. We needed to get our approval before July 14th or we would face possibly having to start all over with a new homestudy. Thankfully we got our approval in the mail with about 2 weeks to spare.

            As fast as I could, we got the document notarized, certified, and apostilled, found a family traveling to the country to hand carry it for us, and overnighted (in Hawaii, the best you can get is 2nd day) it to them. All of our documents are currently sitting over in little Koen’s country just waiting to be submitted to the court.

            You want to know why God is so cool? Because the country that Koen is in is currently taking a 2-week holiday and not accepting new dossier submissions. Why would that be so cool knowing that this is a delay in our process? Because I just got an email today saying that Koen’s birthday was wrong and that he actually doesn’t turn 5 until November! (He is not available for international adoption until his 5th birthday.) If we hadn’t had this delay, our paperwork would’ve been submitted and we would not be able to adopt Koen as he would not have been available!!! Can I get an AMEN??!?!?!

            So where does this leave us? Basically, we’re waiting. Our awesome facilitation team will hold our paperwork until just before it is set to expire and then try to time it for us to get our initial court date (referred to as DAP) when Koen turns five or just after.

            It is hard knowing that this little boy is going to have to wait just a little bit longer before we can go get him, but in the mean time, we’re going to move to California, find a house, get moved in and be READY for this little boy to come home and join our family! We were trusting that God would provide the timing.  Our move in Aug/Sept and not having a house identified yet is unnerving enough, but not knowing when I would be traveling to get Koen and if it would be exactly when Paki started school, house hold goods were showing up, and with three munchkins underfoot, it was something we didn’t even want to think about.  And then the trumpet sounded (in my head) and God said, “I’ve got this, trust in me.” This delay, as frustrating as it is (and as freaked out as I was that my paperwork was going to expire before we could travel), is all part of God’s plan and by His gentle kindnesses, we will have a home ready for Koen.


            As always, please keep us in your prayers. Thank you!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Overcoming Obstacles- Paki sharing his heart

     We’ve all heard in church and in Sunday school growing up: God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  On an intellectual level, it’s not hard for me to accept this word of God.  The Almighty One, omnipotent and all-knowing is surely beyond my measly comprehension and I truly wouldn’t expect it to be otherwise.  It’s when the rubber meets the road and God’s plan is different that my (or our, in this case) plan and it takes me away from my comfort zone that my faith sometimes takes massaging for me to be able to move forward.  As Joanna said in her earlier post, we’ve always known we would adopt and we’ve had a plan in place, a plan that I was immensely comfortable with.  We would have 5, no wait, 4 kids of our own (if you had experienced your first two kids being seriously colicky you would know why #5 got cut) and then look to adopt.  It was a very satisfying, low-stress plan to parenthood that we would easily be able to handle and without a doubt we’d be awesome parents to all of our well-adjusted, respectful, physically-fit, musically inclined, moderately genius, full-scholarship offered, all-around adorable brood of kids.
     No foreshadowing required, God had a different plan.  From the very moment I saw young Koen’s picture, my heart just yearned for him and had a hole bored in it that any dad can understand would only be filled by trying to take care of this little boy.  Nevermind that between our three children (ages 3, 2 and 5 months) dictating our nights and early mornings, my demanding job and Joanna’s busy internship dictating so much of our days or her night classes that made me a single father 3 nights a week we were already strained to what we figured were the limits; we wanted to reach out to this child and let him know that there is indeed love for him in this world and there is a family that so desires him.  Mentally, I knew adoption, much less FOREIGN ADOPTION to be a horrible choice given all the demands on our time and a terrible stressor to add on top of all the other things we’ve had going on. When I wrote to ask for more information, I was so sure that this was not something that we needed to be doing . . . I mean seriously, we’ve just gotten over the crazy nights with a newborn and we’re going to throw something ELSE into the mix??  Goodbye date night!  Wait, why was I actually asking for information??  If I let my mind do the talking, we would have gone running down the road as fast as our feet could hustle to get away from the possibility of adopting right now.  But God whispered “ask . . . find out what I have for you.  Step out in faith, I’ll show you the way.”  And already in that small act of obedience we have been so blessed.
     As Joanna and I have learned over the years (ask us about our house hunting sometime), if we sit by and ask God where to go and wait for a tremendous thunderclap and the clouds to part just enough to show a white dove flitting down with a hand-written note from God that gives us His answer before we’ll move, well, we might be waiting a while.  We’ve learned to take that first tentative step toward the goal but to ask God for His guidance, for Him to close those doors that would take us away from His will and to open those that would bring us closer.  Mind you, this is not always an easy thing for me to do, especially when I know that His will and His plan is going to challenge my world, challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone to rely more and more on him.  Our first step in this case was to seek out more information but even as I was typing the note to email out, there was a certainty in my spirit that we were indeed going to head down this road (many years earlier that I wanted!!) and that if this adoption was going to be successful, it had to be a God thing not a Paki-and-Joanna thing. 
     Looking at the picture of little Koen, I had a feeling that he’d be in Eastern Europe where there was (and is) currently a lot of turmoil.  In fact I had a chuckle to myself: Lord, this is going to just crack me up if he is there.  When we got the email response back the next day, sure enough we find out that Koen is indeed living in Eastern Europe.  What a sense of humor our Lord has!  To be honest, I was more than a bit relieved with that knowledge.  There was a part of me that was hoping that this was God closing a door and sticking more with the Gomes plan.  Ha!  No such luck!  As Joanna and I researched and dove head first into learning everything we could, we found out that we would both have to travel to Europe to complete the adoption.  As a military member, I have to get permission before overseas travel and as it turns out, travel for me to that region was expressly prohibited (Is THIS the closed door Lord??) and it began to look like our foray would come to a fast ending.  Joanna was saddened but encouraged that we would have a clear opportunity to learn God’s will in this process.  As we prayed and asked for His will to be done, Joanna learned of an exception that would only require her to travel to complete the court proceedings and just like that God said “see, I am more than sufficient.”
     As we’ve prepared our hearts, our household and our family for young Koen, Joanna and I have done everything we can to let Kahiapo, Kale’a and Konale know that they are getting an older brother.  The hearts of little children being what they are it seemed like the only question our two oldest asked was “when?”  They’ve learned that Koen lives far, far away (over two oceans, even farther than Grandma and Grandpa!!) and that mommy will have to go on an airplane to go get him to bring him home.  Whether he knows it or not, little Koen is now part of Kahiapo and Kale’a’s world.  They pray for him every night and when we buy clothes or toys they always make sure that we’re getting something to share with him.  The most endearing was when I  came home after traveling a week for work, Joanna and the kids came to get me at the airport.  The first question out of Kahiapo’s mouth after giving me GREAT daddy hugs was “where’s Koen?”  He had assumed that because I was going on an airplane, I would be bringing him home with me. 
     There were (and still are) so many things that says this process will not work, CANNOT work and we shouldn’t even bother trying.  Whether it’s mountains of paperwork to be done and re-done (I never knew that the notary process could be so . . . PARTICULAR), the many changes in our life that we are already going through or the upcoming family move that I’ve got by myself while Joanna is traveling to Europe, we have become comfortable in knowing that it is in God’s hands.  Regardless of the outcome, I’ve already learned so much about myself, my wife and my family and more importantly, I’ve grown to trust Him even more.
    
Isaiah 55:8-11


8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Starting out . . .


Dearest Friends and Family,
As a first time blogger, please humor me as I was definitely not an English major!
We are very excited to share with you our newest adventure in life! Paki and I have prayerfully decided to pursue the international adoption of a young boy from Eastern Europe! Wow, right? We have absolutely nothing going on right now so let’s add this onto our busy lives!
Paki and I have always said we’d be open to adoption as we both wanted a larger family and didn’t meet until we were both in our 30’s. About a year and a half ago, I (Joanna) had a horribly vivid dream.
The short version: I had visited a daycare facility and met a bunch of toddlers in the back of some stadium type setting. Shortly later there was some sort of uprising happening and I was fleeing the country. For some reason, I went back up to this upper room where these toddlers had been and found them dying. They had all been abandoned and left with no food, water, ANYTHING. They were still alive, but too weak to move- not crying, just laying there with glassy eyes. I was panicking. In my dream I was crying out to God to not make me triage these children and pick just one to try to save. I woke up from this dream crying and couldn’t stop thinking about those little limp bodies that had been left for dead.
In the weeks that followed, I felt God laying this heavily on my heart and Paki and I began researching the possibility of adoption.  We saw a sweet little girl from Colombia that was deaf and she looked very much like one of the children in my dream. We started to get excited about the possibilities, but  we quickly  realized that we would not be eligible with Paki deploying in the near future.
Paki returned from deployment in late 2013, just 2 weeks before our little Konale (#3) was born. Life was full and hectic again so adoption was again on the back burner. In March 2014,  God again began gently to prompt us towards pursuing adoption and we again began searching to see what God had in mind. We sought out to find the sweet little girl that we had previously seen, but sadly, she had passed away. I was devastated and felt that we had let this little girl down. Since then I have been gently reminded of is this: God has a purpose in everything. And the purpose of that little girl may have been to lead us to find our special little “Koen”. (Koen is an alias as we are not allowed to use his actual name until after the adoption.) And for that we are forever grateful, simply amazed at God’s continuous provision. But I am getting a little bit ahead of myself...
It was late in the evening on March 25th that we saw a sweet young boy that looked surprisingly a lot like Kahiapo. This little boy will be turning 5 this summer so he will be an instant big brother to his 3 siblings! Here’s the picture we have of this amazing little boy:



Though it has only been 2 months (it feels like SO much longer), we are almost complete with our paperwork that is required for this process. While it sounds like no big deal to be wrapping up our paperwork in just two months...NOT. EVEN. CLOSE. We’ve had some discouraging days, but we are constantly amazed at God’s grace and encouragement in such real and tangible ways. So for the most part we are “patiently” waiting for approval from the U.S. for the adoption. Once that happens, we send off our final document to the country we are adopting from to wait for our court date.
So as we embark on this new adventure, we’re asking that you pray for us. We are continuing to ask God to guide us as we step forward in faith and trust that He is preparing our path.
We do have a donation page set up through the adoption site if you feel led to donate towards helping with our adoption costs (a link should be at the bottom of the page if I can figure out how to set it up!) and we truly appreciate all the help we can get, but what we desire most is PRAYER! Please pray that God would continue to open doors for us to bring little Koen home safely and then pray that he would find solace, comfort and love in his new home.
Thank you for taking the time to read about what we’re up to and we hope to have some great updates coming soon.
Much love,
Paki, Joanna, Kahiapo, Kale’a and Konale