Friends and Families,
I am pleased to update you on the progress that has been made since our last "post from the office." Much has happened in that short time and we have been able to find solutions to the difficulties we were facing at the Embassy. For one thing, the State Dept. promises to send more help to the Embassy next month. This is a necessary step as the reason given for tightening up on agency appointments was that the Consular's office didn't have enough resources to process more cases.
Also, we are working with the families most closely affected by the new policy (because they are ready to go through the Embassy procedures) to pioneer new ways of acquiring visas. As we see what works and what doesn't, we'll come up with a strategy to aid families further "down the pipe." Through it all, Acres of Hope will be here to guide you through the process. Of course, I can't predict how the policies will continue to change, but we are dedicated to these children and it is our strongest desire to see them united with their families and in their homes. All of Acres of Hope's staff, from Patty on down, are working hard to that end. The Liberian staff has been putting in long hours, working evenings and weekends on behalf of the children. Yes, all of this is difficult for everyone and things will be different in the long run, but Acres of Hope continues to be strengthened through it all.
And, it is important to recognize that despite all the difficulties, there have been at least 12 children (3 of them with special needs) who have come home in the last 6 weeks. And, as you all know, there are two more families (representing 3 more children, one with special needs) coming home next week. What you may not realize is that 4 more children will be escorted home next week as well! That's almost 20 children united with their families in a few weeks that were fraught with difficulties! And, we are scheduling travel for even more families in the coming weeks as we expect the new way of doing things at the Embassy will actually speed up the process at this point.
In addition, I have good news for those of you who have been waiting for a referral. We just heard that our new system of referrals is being embraced by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Because many of the steps, including paper-chasing and investigations, will be done *before* the referral, the rest of the process will be returning to time frames we saw about a year ago. While it's difficult to predict the exact timeline until we have some experience with this new procedure, we anticipate the time from referral to travel to shorten to perhaps 4 to 6 months.
Be encouraged, my friends. This IS a difficult season in Liberian adoption, and international adoption in general, but our God is good, and he's big and he loves those orphans beyond understanding. He'll make a way for those of us he calls to be their families, if we will only stand firm through the storms. The storm may not be over yet, but it does seem we're past the worst of it. And, one thing I know about storms--God reveals himself through them as the glorious victor and those of us who stand with him.well, we get the front-row seats!
Faith and hope,
Rachel, for all of us at AOHL
Remember, we're in the 'waiting for a referral stage'. I'm believing we'll know by Christmas who our dear daughter is. Please pray with me for this to be possible.