Steve with Kibrom. Our son will remain a photo mystery until we pick him up.
This is Part 2 of our story. Part 1 is here.
Our family spent three weeks looking at a set of new pictures and envisioning our lives with a new son and brother. Just as we were getting used to the idea, something totally unexpected happened. I got a call one day in September from our agency telling me they just received word from Ethiopia that the regional authorities signed the papers on Kibrom! You can imagine my surprise. I couldn't speak. I was in total shock. Now we had to make another difficult decision to make since we had two boys officially referred to us.
I suggested to Steve that we take both boys. He immediately called me insane - which is probably true. In the end, I was swayed back to reality. Three kiddos was our limit. So two days later, I called our agency to tell them we wanted Kibrom. After I made the official call, I pulled up the pictures from our December trip to Ethiopia to look at him. I hadn't done this in months because I didn't want to see pictures of our boy who might never come home. Then it hit me. I cried like a baby. All the months of emotion bottled up inside just came out.
The courts were closed for the rainy season from mid August until October 8. In late September, we learned from our agency that we would have to wait until the courts reopened so that they could submit a written appeal to the judge to reopen our case. To my surprise within two days of filing the appeal, we were notified of a November 2 court date. I was incredibly excited, yet nervous at the same time. I still didn't think it was real. The emotional purgatory of the last year had taken its toll.
In the midst of the craziness of preparing for the trip, I found out a mere two days before we left for Ethiopia that we would need to update several important documents in our dossier as they had "expired" after two years. Not having them meant not passing court. Since I couldn't stand the idea of anymore delays to our case, I ran around like a crazy person to get the new documents before we left. I am so thankful we live in a small town where it is possible to get new medical and police letters plus a bunch of notaries in less than 24 hours.
With our new documents in hand, we arrived in Addis Ababa on October 31. Our agency immediately took them for translation and told us they would try to get our final letter of comment from the federal Ministry of Women's, Children's and Youth Affairs (MOWCYA) - the absolute last piece of paper needed to receive our final court decree.
On November 1, we finally saw Kibrom again. Aside from looking a bit more mature, he was the same little boy we met nearly a year ago. We wondered if he remembered us and the girls so we brought him pictures of the five of us together last year. I think he remembered. The next day we returned to say good-bye and to tell him that we will be back in a few months to take him home. I think he understood.
Prior to meeting with the judge, our agency's attorney told us that he still didn't have the MOWCYA letter needed to pass, but was 99% confident he would get it in the next few days. The judge issued a new court date of November 6 in hopes that she would receive the letter by then. We were free to leave Ethiopia and would be notified by our agency when we officially passed.
We found out exactly one week ago that we passed court. Kibrom is legally our son! It was an incredibly long and difficult 326 day journey to get to this point. Now I am asked when he will come home. The short answer is soon. It usually takes another 2 to 3 months to go through the necessary U.S. immigration procedures. As soon we receive word that the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is ready to schedule our visa interview, all four Pragers will be on a plane to get him! As I said in my Part 1 blog post, our story will have a happy ending. For that, I am eternally grateful!