Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Little Setback

So, today I saw on another adoptive family's blog that they need to get a notarized copy of their social worker's license that was in effect during their actual home visit....not the new one.  Social workers, I think, have to renew their licenses once a year.  Our home visit was in April, but our social worker's license was up for renewal in June, so she included her new license with our written home study.  I emailed Andrea of Reece's Rainbow, and she was super fast to reply. She hadn't yet heard anything from our facilitator regarding our paperwork, but if the other family had that issue we were likely to, too, so had better contact our social worker asap (which I did).  Well, now we need to get her to send us a notarized copy of her old license that was effective during our home visit, then send it to Tallahassee to be apostilled (I'm not sure that we'll drive there again), then ship it off to Eastern Europe.  But, because our facilitator is only permitted to submit 3 dossiers per week to the SDA and there are a few families ahead of us, there is no way we would have been submitted this next Thursday anyway.  Normally it averages about 2 weeks from the time you send your dossier to the time you're submitted to the SDA. But there have been quite a few family's who have sent their dossiers recently, so there's a bit of a "line", so to speak.  ***BIG SIGH***......such is international adoption!! This may be a surprise to me, but not to God!  I have to remind myself that He is in control! :-)  So if any of you are willing, we'd appreciate your prayers that there will be no more hiccups so we can get our baby girl soon!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Videos of Darya

I can finally post videos on Blogger! We have watched these videos countless times and they are absolute treasures to us to actually see Darya "in action". She is just so precious!!  They were both taken by families who adopted from her orphanage and they shared them with us.  The top one is the most recent one, taken around January of this year when she was 18 months old (I shared this one on FB a while back so some of you may have seen it already). The second one was when she was about 11 months old.  It is my understanding that most of her time has been spent in either that bouncy seat or the swing, (at least from what the families could see)....not being played with, read to, or snuggled.  It absolutely breaks my heart.  I know her physical needs are being met and they do take the kids outside everyday, but I hope and pray that she gets at least a little love from someone there, otherwise she's going to be overwhelmed by the onslaught of love she's shown when she gets home!! :-)  Here ya go:

video


video

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dave Thomas Foundation video

Joel emailed this to me this morning.  It had me in tears!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just a couple of things...

There's no news yet on our dossier.  I assume it's still being translated.  The SDA only accepts dossiers on Thursdays (I think just for special needs and certain ages they are submitted on Thursdays, but they accept dossiers on other days, too, but for different "profiles" of children). Anyway, I haven't heard if ours will be submitted tomorrow, but I'm kind of doubtful as a few other families who sent their dossiers in before us are still waiting. So I'm hoping for next week!  After it's submitted, we should get a date for our SDA appointment within 2-3 weeks for anywhere from 10-30 days out.  So we're looking at September for travel.

Thank you so much for all of you who have generously donated to our giveaway!  It means so much to us and is such a huge blessing to know we are being cared for by so many people in this way :-)  We'll keep it going until the end of next month.  Joel vetoed my brilliant idea of adding a "second place" giveaway with one of my custom portraits (see the one I did of my parents below)!  What do you think? haha!

But in all seriousness, we are so thankful for all of you and your support!!  I am soooo anxious to get Darya home.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meet Melvin

When the boys were born, they each got a special stuffed animal from us.  A little over a week ago, the boys put together some money they had been given (thanks Lila and Chris!) and bought Darya her very own special stuffie.  They eagerly rummaged through the shelves at Toys R Us in search of the right one. Just as hope was almost lost, Melvin was discovered on an end cap just around the corner. They knew he was the one!  With those soul-piercing eyes and super-soft fuzzy "fur" it was a match!  Without further ado, here are the boys with their special stuffies and Melvin who awaits his little girl!:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Portrait Fundraiser!

NEW ADOPTION FUNDRAISER: WIN a signed original portrait by the neither-famous-nor-renowned artist Joel Fick for a small donation of only $10.

Yes the end is in sight. In just over a month we will be heading to Eastern Europe to finalize OUR ADOPTION of DARYA. We are grateful for all the love and support we have been shown to this point, but we have recently come to the conclusion that we have underestimated our in-country expenses and feel we need to fund-raise approximately $2000 more. To that end we are going to have one final fundraiser.

Over the years I have dabbled in pencil portrait rendering, even winning a few awards along the way. The attached portrait is my most recent rendering. It is a portrait of my parents done from a simple picture on their Christmas card. If you don't know my parents trust me it looks just like them. If you do know my parents, well... it at least slightly resembles them. In any case, for a small $10 donation, you too could have the opportunity to win a lovely and original Joel Fick Pencil Portrait that slightly resembles someone you know to add to your collection of other fine art ;-)





Drawing details...

ART DETAILS: The portrait will be of a person of your choice and will be rendered on your choice of either 11x14 in. or 14x17 in. 300 Series Strathmore Bristol Vellum paper. I will work from any photograph you have permission to work from.

ENTRY RULES and DONATIONS: A $10 donation will get you 1 giveaway entry and $25 will get you 3 giveaway entries. For those of you who have already contributed to our adoption, whether to our Family Sponsorship Profile with Reece's Rainbow, through our puzzle fundraiser, or directly to us you will automatically receive one entry! We will randomly draw one name at the end of August and announce the winner! You can then send me the photo of someone you'd like a portrait resembling. Christmas is just around the corner and portraits make wonderful gifts, or make wonderful wrapping paper as well.

PAYMENT DETAILS: You can make your donation with Paypal through the "Chip-in" in the sidebar of our blog. Or you can give it to us directly in person or mail. Because this will go directly to us, and not our Family Sponsorship Profile on Reece's Rainbow it won't be tax deductible (the time frame is too close to travel that the grants will likely have been distributed to us before this fundraiser ends so we can make flight arrangements and such). Thanks so much for your support and participation in helping us bring Darya home!

In country travel

All this time, I thought between Darya's grant, the donations we've received from others, and the promise trust that we will get back should be plenty to cover all of our adoption expenses.  We are beyond blessed for all of this wonderful provision and so grateful for everyone's generosity to help us bring Darya home!!!  But one cost that I didn't sufficiently estimate for was in-country travel (slaps self on forehead).  I kind of guesstimated $1000 in miscellaneous costs while in country thinking that would suffice for in-country travel, but was told to plan for $2000 for in country travel while we're there ( and no, that's not for a stretch limo or private jet! lol). We'll walk as much as we can, take the cheap bus, etc. But there are lots of times we will have to pay for a driver (running us around to all the different places to take care of all the paperwork) and take an overnight train to Darya's city from the capitol.  Yikes.  So, stay tuned for some last minute fundraisers!  Oh, and if we do happen to have any money leftover after we get Darya home we are planning on "paying it forward" to another waiting child's grant or another family in the adoption process.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thankfulness

God is good!  We are so blessed and I am so thankful.  I am so grateful for the overwhelming support of friends, family, and strangers in our journey to bring Darya home.  I know of adopting families who receive criticism for what they are doing or even just eyebrows raised.  We have wonderful supportive families, friends, and church for which I can't even express my gratitude.  It means the world to me!!  I have just been reflecting on this lately and truly humbled by how good God has been to us through this whole process. Adoption is not easy, but you all have made it such a wonderful experience by your kindness, prayers and support!  And the best of it is yet to come - I CANNOT wait to have Darya here and have her meet everyone who loves her so much already!

I wanted to share a picture of this gorgeous necklace I received in the mail from a dear friend of mine in California.  Saturday, as I was about to leave to make a Sam's Club run, I checked the mail and there was a package from my friend, Jen. She made this necklace for me and some little clippies for Darya.  Jen is one of those super-talented crafty people (here's a link to her etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/bluesprinkle)  Anyway, I just had to share with my blogger friends.  Aren't they sweet??  I love them!!:


Friday, July 16, 2010

Photos of a work in progress

This week we've been working on converting the guest room into something a bit girlier.  My mom is going to be making a bedspread/quilt for the bed and we still need to get some things on the walls, curtains, etc.  We also need to get something for Darya to sleep in since she'll still be too little for the bed.  I'll share some pictures later when it's more complete. Anyway, here are some pictures of us all working hard to prepare for our girl:



                                      

40 hours and 42 minutes

That's how long it took UPS to deliver our dossier!  That is super fast!!  It is now in the hands of our facilitator.  Praise God it arrived there safely!   Now we're in the second "trimester".  :-)

UPS delivers!

In less than 48 hours our dossier has arrived in Darya's country.  It should be in the hands of our facilitator today!  Hopefully the translating of it will start next week. Then submission to the SDA.  Then a travel date.  Then we go!!  Praise God!  I can't believe all that paperchasing is behind us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cologne...

...as in Europe. Isn't that in Germany?  I suppose I should know my geography better. But anyway, our dossier made it safely across the "pond"!  It should arrive in customs tomorrow and safely in our facilitator's hands shortly thereafter!

Today is Joel's birthday by the way.  34 years old!  Woohoo!  Next year he will officially round up to 40 :-)  The boys and I took him out to lunch at Sonny's (southern bbq).  Yum!  And for his birthday gift, he's getting a daughter. Yay!

We also finished painting Darya's room.  The wainscoting and pink walls look very sweet.  I can't wait to finish her room.  I'll post pictures of the progress for anyone who might find it in the slightest bit interesting.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dossier SENT!

We just got back from Tallahassee where we had 27 documents apostilled then shipped our dossier to our facilitator in Darya's country!!  We had 3 documents apostilled in other states, making the "beast" (as it's lovingly called by many) consist of 30 official document groupings. What a relief to be done with all that paper-chasing and so much closer to our daughter!

What's next? Well, I'll be checking the UPS website to track our package like a hawk.  It should arrive at customs by Friday. Once our facilitator has her hands on it, she'll work on translating it, making sure everything's perfect, then submit it to the SDA (State Dept. of Adoptions) for approval.  Once reviewed and approved by the SDA, we will receive an official invitation for Joel and me to get our referral for Darya.  From now until that appointment will be anywhere from 1 - 2 months.  So.....now it's the wait part of "hurry up and wait".

Now off to make some dinner for a hungry group of travelers....

Monday, July 12, 2010

I feel like Charlie Bucket!

We got our I-171H in today's mail!!! That's our golden ticket!  Now we really need to finalize everything (get our medical forms redone - dropped those off at our doctor's office today), and get the okay from our stateside team on everything else. We're hoping to go to Tallahassee on Wednesday to get everything apostilled (state level notarizing of the notaries), then shipped off to Darya's country!  We are hoping to be traveling in about a month and a half!  Wow!

Phew!

Most everything that I thought would have to be redone is fine!  Our social worker did send a revised page for our home study, which we should receive in today's mail, and we need to go to our doctor's office and have them re-do our medical forms. But I think that's it.  We're still anxiously waiting for that golden ticket!

In the meantime, it's a rainy day here today, so I think we're going to start working on Darya's bedroom.  We picked "ballet slipper pink" paint and will be putting up white wainscoting.  When it's complete, I'll be sure to post pictures!  I hope the pink isn't overkill for my neutral/masculine taste.  Like I said before, I like browns, greens, and blues. :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bubble Burst

*sigh* So, I thought everything was to the exact specifications for our dossier, but tonight I received an email from our stateside coordinator with a 44 page document of check lists to go through everything once more!  I had to nit-pick once again through all the documents before they get sent.  About half of them I have questions.  Some may be fine, but others after looking at them with a fine-tooth comb will certainly need to be re-done.  Darya's country is so picky!!  And it's over really minor stuff like a notary's stamp can't be over a line,  doctor's signature has to be in blue ink, etc...

I am truly so thankful for the wonderful team at Reece's Rainbow who works so hard to ensure that we get everything right and am so hopeful that all will be exactly as Darya's country wants it.  But it sure is a pain in the neck!  Please pray that we'll get everything done perfectly before our I-171H comes!  We really don't want there to be any unnecessary delays.  Every day that goes by is another day for her to have to be in an orphanage...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coming to terms with special needs adoption

A father's perspective continued....
It’s been a while since my last post.  I recently returned from a week away at a Christian youth camp and took another week to recover.  So I’ve missed two Wednesday posts and so much has happened in that time.  We’ve had our fingerprints scanned and we’ve collected all the remaining fragments of paperwork.  All we’re now waiting for is that final “Golden Ticket;” the final approval document from the US government.  But while we wait, I’ll back up and continue to recount my journey down this road to adopting Darya….
As I recounted in my last post…this seed of an idea had been planted in Marianne’s heart and was growing at a swift pace, in truth, at a pace far more quickly than I was prepared to handle.  As all of this was growing in her heart, I was keeping busy with work.  But working from home I was witnessing her growing attachment to the children on the Reece’s Rainbow website, and her small donations to the efforts of others in their adoption fundraising campaigns.  Over the next few months we had several heart to heart conversations about the prospect of adopting a special needs child, and my answer was always the same: “I’m not opposed to the idea, but we’re not ready, and we certainly cannot afford it.”
In the meanwhile pictures of orphans from Reece’s Rainbow began to be magnetically attached to our fridge, and we began to use these pictures as prayer cards.  The boys all memorized the names and faces of the kids and began to pray simple but beautiful prayers for these beautiful children.  The prayer always went something like this… “Lord I pray for ________ and ask that you would give them a loving Christian family.”
Now perhaps it was hearing my children pray for these kids, or perhaps it was the fact that I had begun to pray for my wife to have patience with me, or perhaps it was the fact that I had begun to look at the pictures of the waiting children on Reece’s Rainbow myself.  In any case, I was beginning to come to terms with, and even felt a desire for special needs adoption growing in my own heart.  I still felt like we were not ready, but “we’re not ready” became “let’s start a plan so that we can get ourselves ready over the next several years.” 
So it was that we formulated “the plan.”  Among our chief concerns was the cost of the adoption itself and the desire to be financially ready to bring a special needs child into our home.  We decided that the only way we would be able to get to where we felt we needed to be was if Marianne went back to school. Marianne had finished an AA degree at a bible college but that was not going to assist us in any kind of liberal arts program.  As we began to think about the options before us we decided that a degree in nursing would be the best option.  Living in Gainesville where the town revolves around its University and hospitals we knew that there would always be work available.  Besides that, nursing had the added benefit of having some overlap with our desire to adopt a child with special needs.  We figured it would take some 5 years to complete the program at a part time rate, but it was a first step in achieving our goal.  So in the Spring Marianne signed up for her first class: College Algebra. 
Little did we know at that time, that the Lord was about to turn our 5 year plan into an 8 month plan…

Dossier complete, pending approval!

We have all the documents we need for our dossier, aside from the I-171H (permission from immigration)!!  I'm just waiting to hear back from our stateside helper to make sure a couple of the documents are fine.  Now I'll just be hounding the mailman until that golden ticket arrives!  I really hope to have it within the next couple of weeks.  As soon as it arrives, we'll jump in the minivan and head to Tallahassee!  We'll have to get all of the forms apostilled (I think there are 27) then shipped straight to Darya's in-country facilitator who will translate everything and submit it to the SDA (State Dept. of Adoption).  It seems to be averaging about 5-6 weeks from the date the dossier is shipped to the appointment date at the SDA.  So, if there are no more bumps we could be flying at the end of next month or early September!  Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

So close I can almost smell the borsch!

I just got a call from the wonderful USCIS officer who is in charge of our file. She said she should get our fingerprints in by later today and will pull our file and process it.  That means we could have our approval as soon as a week (I hope)!!  We need to wrap things up - just a few forms left!

I had a dream about Darya last night.  I can't wait until she is here in real life as my daughter!  **sigh**  We'll be working on her bedroom soon.  I think that will help pass the time after we ship our dossier.  Plus, I've never painted a wall pink before. I'm pretty masculine in my decorating (blues, greens, browns) but we decided to go girly with her room!

On another not so happy note, I found out yesterday that one of my brothers is in the hospital.  On the 4th, he had an accident and now has 3rd degree burns on one side of his face, his arms, torso, and legs.  I will hopefully hear more updates as my mom visits him in the hospital today. He is in CA and I'm in FL so unfortunately I can't visit him. But I can pray for him!  Little Nate prayed for him at breakfast this morning. Then afterward asked if Uncle Jay went flying from the explosion (I think he had Kung Fu Panda in mind)! lol!  I'll have to ask my brother :-)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

$100k in Grants Just Sitting There

Andrea at Reece's Rainbow has asked us (RR families) to spread the word about the children with significant grants  (<-- click here) to be used for adoption expenses. This is money donated by individuals to these children's grants in the hope that it will help them find families quicker.  Adoption is not cheap but saving the life of a child and giving them a family of their own is priceless!

Andrea has challenged us to pick a child to advocate for and I'm choosing Vika.  She's a beautiful little girl in Russia with $5018 in her grant!  Please help her find a home before she is transferred to the mental asylum!!  She is considered "high risk" since she turned 5 in May.  Her caregivers say this about her (translated): "a lovely little girl, clockwork, energetic, affectionate and sociable, and in general, little girl, whose place at home, at the table with mom and dad, where you can happily talk down, sitting on a high chair, twist and tuck into cakes with apples".  She is just a doll (looks like she's enjoying a cracker!) Could you be her mom or dad?  Would you help her find a family?



Here is information about her region:

  • 2 trips
  • 1st trip, Both parents for 5-7 days
  • Wait 2-3 months for court
  • Both parents travel for 2nd trip, one can leave after 4 days, the other waits 10-25 days longer (depending on if the 10 day grace period is waived)
  • No family size restrictions
  • Both parents must be younger than 60 years
  • Total program fees under $30k (travel and hotel varies depending on
    accommodations requested and time of year.)
  • Fee includes a $1000 orphanage donation
  • Married couples and single mothers may apply

Friday, July 2, 2010

Finger prints DONE!

We decided to venture out to Jacksonville this morning and see if we could get our finger prints done early.  It was no problem!  That cuts 10 days off of our waiting :-)  

We are finally wrapping up "the beast"!!