Monday, December 31

It's gonna be rough

Well, I guess from my previous posts you've already guessed it's going to be rough overseas. But this morning I got a little taste of just how rough it's going to before my kids here at home. Yes, I know that they'll miss us, but both my kids are very resilient and very easily adapt to change, so I know that they will be fine while we're gone. Plus they're better off here than in the unknown conditions we'll face overseas.

But this morning Kristopher woke up and as he walked through the house he started saying "Daddy, I'm up, I'm awake, let's go watch cartoons!" Then he got to our room only to discover that Mike had already left for work. He's been off since the 18th or so, and K has really enjoyed having him home! Kristopher left my room and came out to the family room, presumeably to watch cartoons and I dragged myself out of bed (after all it WAS almost 8am!).

I found this pitiful scene when I got to the family room: Kristopher lay curled up in a ball on the couch. No toys, no books. The TV was off but he was awake. When I came in he said nothing like a 'hello' or a 'goodmorning' and instead said "I miss him..." with that tiny sad voice that your kids can turn on and melt you with :( So we called Daddy and were happy to hear that the office will be closing at 12:30 today and he'll be home then :) But man, this is going to be rough!

Sunday, December 30

A prayer request

Tonight I received a call from a friend with an unusual question. A little background info first... I had shared with this friend that Mike and I were deciding whether we were going to try to find someone that would meet up with me overseas after Mike comes home. Partially for security, partially for an extra set of hands and some company- especially on the flight home. We also had discussed (and mentioned to a few students) the possibility of seeing if there is a college student that would like "out" and would like to move in to our guest room and essentially 'rent a room' from us in exchange for a few hours of help with the kids each week. This would be especially helpful during the first few months we are home with many doctor's appointments, etc. that we would rather not bring all the kids to. And although we have wonderful family and friends, we recognize that this will be right after taxing our resources and our friendships by depending on their help while I am away.

Ok... so the phone call... My friend said that her former childcare provider (who works as a 1-2-1 with children with special needs in Maine I believe) would like to adopt some day- a child with Down syndrome- from overseas! Pretty neat I'd say! But... there's more... This girl is not yet married or finished with school (partially done with college) so her adoption plans are not going to happen for a few years. She would, however, LOVE to come along on our trip overseas to help us and to see for herself what things are like. She also might consider coming back with us and helping us out at the house until August.

Sounds to me like it fits like a glove... but I have a few hesitations. One is whether this person I've never met is going to REALLY want to spend that much time with my husband and I (or even just me if she comes after he leaves) and whether she is going to be happy about offering to come and stay in my 'urban camping' apartment (I've been promised 4 walls and a toilet and told to be ecstatic if we get more!). I'm sure there are a few more thouhts but those are the only ones that come to mind.

So my request- would you please pray that "M" as well as Mike and I are able to clearly know whether she is supposed to be a part of our international adoption journey and possibly our family thereafter for a time? It is a big decision and needs to be made before we book our tickets... probably.

THANKS!

19 Days!!

We're leaving in 19 days!!

Today we went to Sams Club with Mike's dad (he has a membership) and bought all kinds of necessities to stock up the house. Paper towels, TP, diapers, cereal bars (Bria lives on these), crackers (and these), instant oatmeal (and these... that's all!), peanut butter and jelly, applesauce... all kinds of goodies :) I hope Elizabeth doesn't have to shop too often while she's here and she can instead enjoy a LEISURELY stroll around the store to get out of the house!

Then, if that wasn't enough, I went to Wal-Mart tonight and bought 4 gallons of milk, a ton of baby food (ok, she eats this too...), some frozen foods like chicken nuggets and hot dogs (yes, I freeze them), some refrigerator foods that last a while (gogurt is good until March and so is string cheese!), and a few more of the basics that I had decided against getting in bulk like evaporated milk (definitely a necessity for cream of wheat-- YUM!). Oh, and of course frozen pizza too-- can't have a week without that!

So now I've loaded up the house- where do I put it??

No luck with tickets yet. With it being the holidays I haven't heard back from either of the online adoption travel agents I contacted and I couldn't get our local agent either... I'm hoping by Wednesday to be able to buy something though!

Saturday, December 29

The most original (and treasured) gift I received

This Christmas I got a BIG surprise. My sister whom I miss because she moved to MN almost a year ago is down for Christmas. And although I knew she'd bought the children each a small gift and she brought me down a 'surprise' because I couldn't buy it here, she also blessed me with the most original and treasured gift I've gotten in a long time.

She took the time (LOTS OF TIME) to print out each of my blog entries since late August when I started this blog along with all the pictures onto scrapbooking colored paper. She then assembled a scrapbook and made me a REAL BOOK with all these entries telling of our adoption journey this far!! And it has room to grow (LOTS!) as we complete this journey so I can add to it until Aleksa is home!

I'm sure there was no way that I could really get her to know HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS GIFT, but let's say I have it on my dresser and each time I walk by it (at least 5 times a day) I open it up and just look. It's amazing! I can't think of a better way to have made these electronic entries into something that we can sit and look at and read together and remember the journey. I can't find an "adoption book" for older children (like a baby book but with adoption benchmarks instead of first tooth and birth weight, and even better would be for kiddos with special needs!).

THANK YOU ELIZABETH!!!!!
And just as a side note this is the same amazing person that is taking 3 weeks off of work to fly back down here in 3 weeks (she'll only be home for 2!) and watch my kids while Mike and I are overseas. Isn't she wonderful?? I LOVE YOU ELIZABETH!!

Friday, December 28

LOTS of info I found useful

This one is for my fellow prospective adoptive parents :) Some info (LOTS OF INFO) that I received over the past few days about things that I'd never thought about before. SOME OF THESE ARE WRITTEN AS 'WE DID THIS'. PLEASE KNOW THAT THIS IS A COMPILATION OF MANY DIFFERENT TRAVELERS AND ONLY SUGGESTIONS :) Also, all of this info is written about our specific country in Eastern Europe. Although I am not comfortable disclosing this publicly at this time, you may leave me a comment including your e-mail address and I'd be happy to share this with you.

FIRST OF ALL TO DO is get the Power of Attorney, or guardianship set up, and call the bank. Call the bank SOON, this can take some time. The other things you can put together in a few minutes at a time here and there. (See below for details on the bank and on the POA)


-Money money money...
Here's some tips for this area:
1. All the money that you travel with should be cash. Although you may be able to withdraw some more money while over there, it will then have fees and may or may not be an easy thing to do.
2. Cash should be in "new bills" and that means no 'dog eared', folded, or marked bills. Also, they shouldn't be dated before 1991. This is because the government over there originated in that year and they have difficult accepting bills older than their government it seems... So CALL THE BANK TWO WEEKS BEFORE YOU NEED THE MONEY because they may need to order new bills in order for you to withdraw a large sum of money in 'perfect bills'.
3. People over there prefer exact change, so once you know what the costs of some things are, ie: hotel stay, make change to get it in exact bills.
4. Get a money belt for each of you and wear it with your cash split up between the two of you at all times. One that goes under the clothes either around the neck, ankle, or waist.
5. Put money for the Visas and medical exams in an envelope or ziplock bag and label it so that you don't mistakingly spend it. Do the same for your facilitator fees.
6. Split up your cash into separate envelopes and label with "hotel", "food", "leisure", "travel", etc. This way it is easier to carry out the budget that you set for yourself.
7. Bring a ledger and mark all money that is exchanged and spent so you know at all times how your finances are doing.
8. Contact your bank and/or credit card company and let them know you will be in Ukraine begining on whatever date. That way IF an emergency occurs and you need to use a credit card/debit card, it won't get denied due to a security quirk with your bank.
9. Find out details about what is covered in your facilitator fees. Does a ride to and from the airport mean just one ride or a ride for each parent(since you're leaving at seperate times). If your facilitator is arranging for you to drive to region(since you're so close to the capital), ask NOW what that driver is going to cost. These little things add up to big bucks and throw a lot of people over budget while in country.

-Besides money, the next most important thing to bring is a good antibiotic for YOU and your hubby! You can possibly ask for and get Cipro.

-There is more paperwork to prepare than we were aware of, and rather than re-type it all... ok, I'll retype it all, but I got the list from Shelley's blog of her adoption of little Xander, which I've been reading religiously and I hope she doesn't mind me linking to it :) (a few tips from others are added too)
Here goes...
Official Adoption Paperwork:
1. a copy of complete dossier
2. I-600 form
3. ds-230(visa application)
4. Embassy checklist
5. medical waiver(you sign it at the embassy)
6. vaccination waiver(again, you sign it at the Embassy if you are adopting a child under 10)
7. copy of previous 2 year's tax returns
8. a copy of hubby's paystubs for a month
9. a page with the english speaking phone number for the SDA and our registration number
For Personal Use:
1. a page with important contact numbers, important email addresses and favorite websites
2. a page on sites to see in the capital/region
3. a copy of our plane tickets with the confirmation number (so that when I need to change the return date and order our son's ticket, I can
4. the address, phone number and emergency contact info for the US Embassy
5. A list of questions to ask at the orphanage, and a place to write notes from the caretakers.

-PACK LIGHT! I think 10 people told me this and told it to me in various forms... I will post my 'packing list' soon when I get closer to finished writing it. Yep, I'm a LIST person, can you tell?? (Thanks mom! LOL)
More specifics to this idea (in no particular order):
1. in January, think layers, not additional outfits. People there do not have closets full of clothes like we do. They wear the same things over and over and over. You can get by with 2-3 "outer" outfits plus church clothes (see below), but make sure you have long-johns, warm socks, etc...You will need them. You can buy things there, but if you can take them with you, do so. 5 days worth of underwear/socks. In the winter, I would include more socks and a couple more undies.
2. if you must have a washcloth bring it with you!
3. bring something to help you sleep either Tylenol PM or Melatonin or whatever you prefer
4. one dress outfit is all you will need. This will be for court, church, and really you can wear it most days. Think dark colors. and layers. IF you will be going to or even touring any of the Orthodox Churches (Highly recommended) you will need a head covering. A thin scarf will work. We went to one monestary that ladies HAD to wear a dress or skirt. In the capital, nice pants were fine, but the head covering for a woman is a MUST.
5. We took a laptop and it was also invaluable!
6. Bring DVD's of movies you want to catch up on (I would get one of those wallet book things, and put them all in there. Saves much room over individual cases) TV series you like, etc... Also cards or travel games
7. A Thumby drive was SOOOOO valuable for us. We wrote our updates each night, put them and any pictures on the thumby drive, and took that to the internet cafe to upload the next day.
8. a couple, or a few, good books. Paperbacks are good, and you can always leave them with your facilitator. They also make great gifts to English learners there when you are done with them.
9. You will need an international adaptor, but not a "converter" for a laptop (check other items you might want to plug in to see if you need a converter for those!). The converter steps the power down so the thing does not get fried. Laptops have built in converters now. I suggest getting two.
10. Hand sanitzer! Yes, do take plenty of this. I would get a travel size bottle, and one large bottle to refill.
11. To follow the hand sanitizer- another person said that they had no need for hand sanitizer as things were available such as soap and water in restrooms and cleaner in the market :)
12. Sanitary supplies, deodarent, etc...are all readily available there. You get them at the local "drug store". You will be able to point, and easily recognize brands.
13. Carry ons contained the laptop, DVD's, one change of underwear each (just in case our suitcases got lost, we could at least freshen up) a book each for the plane, camera, etc...You will want a big purse to carry-you can put lots in it. We actually used a backpack as my "purse".
14. translation books, we used Russian and it worked ok. We have a small, purse sized one, and a larger one
15. pack many of your essentials in your carry-on, as it seems so many people lose their luggage. 16. tie a ribbon or something on the handles so you can identify them quickly.
17. Take neutral clothes that you can interchange....and things that will air dry quickly.
18. Febreeze....don't wash until you just have to. They don't wash clothes very often and don't expect you to either.
19. Bring something to some way to carry your child.....a sling or a stroller. A sling is much easier than a stroller because their sidewalks are horrible....and most are NOT accessible for a stroller. EVERYTHING has steps! I also thought the sling was very eas in the airport on the way home. Of course older children or multiples are a different situation. Bring SOMETHING!

- For the family at home
1. make sure whoever is watching your children has a power of attorney for medical care/major decisions while both you and your husband are out of the country. Temporary custody is just as easy to do as a POA and it safeguards for even the worst of situations.
2. make sure your will is where someone can access it. Things you don't like to think about, I know. But, you are both leaving the country for several weeks.
3. ask whomever is providing childcare to blog along with you, so you can keep up with what they are doing, and they can be a part of what is happening overseas.
4. make two photo albums, one for your children at home and one to bring with you. The one for home can have pictures of the kids with mommy and daddy
5. You can Build A Bear and leave your voice in the bear for your children
6. Talk with your child care providers and as them to be extremely sensitive and gentle, and patient, and understanding...basically lower their expectations and raise their tolerance level, especially with little ones....I can only imagine what it will be like for them to be scolded, put in time out, etc. etc. for several weeks, only to see mommy and daddy come back with a new sibling
7. Make a schedule to make it easy for your caregivers to follow and to keep the children in some srt of familiarity. Make sure you follow it before leaving to get them used to it!



- For your newly adopted child
1. You can put together a couple of little photo albums of your home, current kids, neighborhood, stores, car, car seat, etc... Others will want to see this too.
2. we took a few paperback books (I acutally saved the Cheerios ones, so they were very small and lightweight), and an Usborne First Thousand WOrds in RUssian book. This served as a translation book for us, as well.
3. we'll take a brother-and-sister bear with us containing hugs, kisses, and singing from the siblings at home to our new child.

- Some cultural/area things to know
1. People prefer exact change (see money section above)
2. You can't take a backpack into a store with you, but they have lockers to keep them in while you shop.
3. The Raddisson hotel has free high speed internet in their lounge. You can take your laptop in and plug up. You do NOT want to stay there....it's outragious. But, you can walk their with your laptop & hang out in the lounge.

Thursday, December 27

Yes we're going nuts

I am so excited and somewhat in a fog that we finally know our travel dates, but now it's a matter of... WHAT DO WE DO?

Here's what I did today:
- set up appointments for K's 4 yr and B's 2 yr well visits
- set up flu shots for both kids (we'd rather they stay well while we're gone)
- set up a consultation with the pediatrician to discuss adopting from EE, Down syndrome, safe medications
- set up to get the results from Bria's thyroid bloodwork
-- (yes, all FOUR of those things for ALL THE KIDS will happen at ONE appointment one week from today! YAY!!)
- looked up flight info to find out what rates are available on cheaptickets.com (I'll check a few other areas sometime soon)
- e-mailed a ton of people but still have more to send out to (ahem... MIKE- send 'em! LOL) letting them know of our newly acquired DATE!
- confirmed with Elizabeth, my sister, that she is coming down to watch the kids while we're both traveling
- set up dates (somewhat) with grandparents to help out Elizabeth with the kids
- talked to the baby I watch's parents and found out I'll just have her for one week before they put her in daycare for the remainder of the school year so I don't need to arrange care for her too

Here's the beginning of my "3-weeks to-do" list:
- Get vaccinations (tetanus for me) and flu shots for Mike and I
- Make POA for childcare of the kids while we're gone
- Gather copies of all our paperwork
- Make POA for sale of our home incase God has an even better sense of humor and sells it for us
- Finish arrangements for a garage sale benefit
- Finish childcare arrangements for K and B while we're gone
- Clean the house!!
- Pack the bags... that's another list in and of itself!
- Set up bill-pay for the next month or two
- Make our guest room hospitable again (it's been a 'storage' room for Christmas the past few weeks!)
- Figure out the whole money stuff- how much, from where, and to where!
- Make a trip to BJ's and stock the house up with diapers, dry oods, cans, and frozen foods for while I'm gone
- Buy those 'weird travel items' like money belts, a ledger, and the things that I can't think of because I don't yet know I need them
- Arrange to get the items that we're borrowing from friends/family such as a portable dvd player, sound cancelling headphones, and a travel pillow

Well, I'm beat... that was a long list! Just thinking of it is a bit daunting and I'm sure there is more to add... Thanks for enduring my lists- there will likely be more!

Wednesday, December 26

WE GOT OUR DATE!!

YAY!!! What a wonderful late Christmas gift!! Our SDA appointment in Aleksa's country is.... JANUARY 21st!!!

Not just a Christmas gift, BUT also a great early birthday present as well! I will be 26 on January 22nd! :D :D

Start praying please! More later...

Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas!!

I'll have to post the picture of the kids with Santa after Christmas unless I find a miraculous minute in the next day or two, but I still wanted to wish all of my blogging friends a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Friday, December 21

A Brianna Update

Although this is supposed to be our "adoption" blog, there's no real news there. So here's a little about what Brianna has accomplished lately...

Brianna is AMAZING. That's the only way I can put it! She pulled to standing once about 2 weeks ago and although she hasn't accomplished it again yet, she is getting into a tall-kneel and putting one foot up :) She's on her way and I bet she'll have it figured out in the next few weeks. Also, some of you may not know that Brianna's primary mode of transportation is on her fanny. Yep, she scoots everywhere on her butt! We tried for a while to get her crawling but to no interest of her own. Well... while I was on the phone today sitting on the floor, she looked at me, grinned, then CRAWLED on all fours! PERFECTLY! It was only about 3 or 4 feet, but she did it! I'm so proud of this little munchkin!

And in communication she has just blossomed lately! Just a few weeks ago we'd ask her questions with no reply or a grunt or nod. She has some words, has some signs, but used them sparingly and not always on-demand. This kiddo has come out with 3-part signs now! She'll ask for more-eat-please or more-milk-please or more-play! She's waving hello and goodbye and even saying bye-bye every time now. She also is saying please and thank you pretty consistantly and loves to blow people kisses when they're leaving (although it's pretty much the same as thank-you ;) ). She's also learned a lot of animal signs lately and in addition to her dog and bird signs she is signing (granted not all the time...) cat, sheep, cow, and pig, and has attempted fish and a few others.

We used to have a hard time with me being around during therapy because she just wanted to be held or cuddled when I was around so I started leaving and watching from the other room while involved with something else. I usually stick around a few minutes at the beginning just so she knows I'm not running away and then I slowly slip out. On Wed when she had speech she looked at me, waved and said bye-bye, and pointed out the door! She then signed 'play' to her ST! She was ready to play and ready for me to leave.

Her absolute favorite sign is baby. She loves her baby dolls but even moreso loves the baby I watch during the day. Little AB is 9 months old and I think she has had a big hand in teaching Brianna some of these recent gross-motor milestones. She crawls and pulls to standing, so although we haven't been able to convince Bria that it's a good way to go- AB seems to have done that for us! Thanks baby girl!!

Brianna will be 2 in a week and along with her big brother is the joy of our days!

I love you Tiny!!

Tuesday, December 18

God's provision

Well, today is day 21 of our 20 day wait... and yes, we're still waiting!

On a side note, today was a very long day. It began when the baby I watch was brought to me with a mild case of hives. Not a really big deal because they started yesterday and we just went through this with her a few weeks ago and this looked EXACTLY like it had then... it was an allergic reaction. About an hour after she was dropped off we all pile into the van to go to the church where I (usually) drop off the kids for a few hours to get a little Mommy break :) But, this morning it was going to start a half hour later so I planned to drop by the post office to get Kim's monkeys in the mail.

When we were finally all ready to leave I realized that the little one's face had about 10x as many hives as she got to me with, and her feet were really patchy and swollen as well. So I called her dad and instead of hitting the post office (sorry Kim!) I dropped her off to her Daddy. Then off to the church for what could-have-been a morning off. Except today was Kristopher's age group's special mommy-day and they were making ornaments, singing Christmas carols, and icing cookies for 2 hrs instead of having regular class. Parents must attend (not that I wouldn't... :) ).

So I brought Brianna to her class just in time for her PT to come and have a WONDERFUL session with her (Bria stood unsupported for 3-4 seconds two different times! YAY!) And Kristopher and I headed over to the gym for a little running. Then we listened to the Christmas story, made ornaments, iced cookies and sang carols. Eleven o'clock rolled around and Kristopher and I snuck off to the post office (see, I really did get the monkeys out!) then headed back to the church to pick up Brianna and to have lunch with Mike. About this time I called the baby I watch's dad and arranged to pick her up from their house after lunch. An uneventful day at the doctor- they pronounced her free from STREP and decided it must be another allergic reaction-- no idea what!

We swallowed down lunch, picked up the baby, got home, unpacked the van (including children!) and got everyone to lay down for a little rest. Somehow this time went by and I'm not sure WHERE it went... but it did. And then everyone was up and bustling around and playing HARD. Four o'clock came around, the baby got picked up, my tutoring student showed up, and I somehow breathed twice in the midst of it. That's about when the fun began.

Kristopher decided that it was a good idea to 1) scream loudly from his little snack table and see if he could talk Bria into getting in trouble with him by screaming back 2) throw little balls at Brianna's head and continue to do so after he's been told not to just to see what would happen 3) talk back and generally "mouth off" to his mother when he was told to go to time-out for hurting his sister 4) throw things at the walls in his room when he was finally sent there for a time...

Needless to say I felt really bad for my student and apologized when his mom was back an hour or so later. He did great in the midst of the chaotic house and Mike did get home sometime in there and rescued me from the little monster-boy (Kristopher, not my student ;) ).

Whew. I'm tired just writing that... but here's the cool part- did you make it this far?? :)

When I'm done tutoring I asked Mike what he'd like for dinner and like a sweet husband that KNOWS that I'm spent and really don't want to make ANYTHING for dinner, much less starting at 6pm, he says "Why don't we go out?".

Well, that's the question, isn't it? And I had a reply on the tip of my tongue just WHY we shouldn't go out-- it's the WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS, we're trying to ADOPT, we have a HOUSE ON THE MARKET, Mike's in GRADSCHOOL... all these seemed like good reasons why we don't go out to eat. But... I was spent. So we spent.

Mike suggested Sonny's and I thought, "ok, I have a coupon for $5 off and we'll just get something inexpensive". So we went out. And when we went to pay our bill it was $26, then the coupon brings it down to $21, and a tip back up to $26. Mike hands the casher the slip and coupon then stands and waits for her to ask for his card. She needed a manager 'card' to scan to input the coupon so she went and got one, then when she asked Mike for his card she instead looked down, saw what looked like a gift card on the counter, and swiped it. OOPS! It was the "manager's card". It MESSED UP their system!

So 10 minutes later we were finally able to pay our bill and they had to get the ?owner? out there to fix the mess that this card had made. And guess what? He reduced our bill by 50%! So now our $26 dinner (including tip) was $12! We added the tip back on to that and dinner for 4 ended up being $17. What a night. I guess God knew how much we needed a night out. Even if it is Christmas and we have other financial responsibilities. Isn't God's provision great?

Tuesday, December 11

Will Santa be bringing

a gift or two for your adoptive child/ren?? I've specifically asked Santa to bring a "toy with a match". I've been attempting to make things a little more real for Kristopher and I hope that putting Aleksa's matching baby doll on her bed might help him know that 1) she is really coming! and 2) that there are things that will be hers and he won't be able to just take :) At the moment he has pretty free-roam of kid stuff since Brianna shares most everything (except her blankies and her baby doll).

Santa always leaves us each new toothbrushes and that type of thing along with a little Christmas candy in our stockings and he agreed to leave a little something in the extra stocking :)

Have you talked to Santa? Will he be bringing something wrapped up for your new kiddos or did you ask him to wait until next year?

Monday, December 10

I need a nap

Many of you who know me well hear this phrase as my anthem :) But did you know that I have another blog? One more family-related than adoption-based? It's called, ahem, "I Need A Nap" and you can view it at http://www.mcornish.blogspot.com :)

And after you read about my day today, you'll know that I really DO need a nap ;)

After my littlest one gets picked up by her folks I'll post the picturs and song that I learned from my son's closet today :)

Christmas lights and Coral Snakes- Maybe FL isn't so great after all

Yesterday I finally got the lights on our Christmas tree (it's been up over a week) and I even convinced Mike to get up on the roof and put lights on the house :) So Kristopher went to play on the swingset on the side yard in the fenced area with the dogs and I set Brianna down in the grass to play while I pulled weeds, cut bushes back, and handed new strands of lights up to Mike on the roof.

After almost an hour Kristopher very calmly came around to the front of the house and said "Mom, there's a snake over there." Ok, we live in Florida. We live in a pretty wooded area, and we have black snakes pretty often. No big deal. So around the corner I go and ask K to show me the snake. He walks RIGHT UP TO IT and points. IT'S A CORAL SNAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I quickly rehearsed the short "Red and Yellow kill a fellow, Red and Black a friend to Jack" and said, oh yes, this one is poisonous! I grabbed Kristopher (yes, before rehearsing my little poem :) ) and called Mike off the roof. Yep, he was on his way already. Luckily my super-wonderful-ever-protective-saved-my-kid's-life dogs had already killed the snake.

When Kristopher and I walked back out to the front yard he said to me "Mom, I hit it with my shovel!" WHAT?? Yes, fearless. Oh, to be three again, but how do you put a healthy fear in a little boy??? He and Mike had that nice little chat and by the end he was at leas saying things like "I shouldn't touch snakes" and "If I see a snake I need to walk away and find Mom and Dad"...

Ugh. Thank God Kristopher is ok. And here's a little pic of my heros :)

Sunday, December 9

Day 15 and Cyrillic

Tomorrow is Day 15 of our 'supposed to be' 20 business day wait to hear of an appointment date. Maybe this week?? Maybe?? Poor Charissa has already been waiting longer than I have and still no date. Bummer!

In the mean time I am attempting to learn some Russian. At least how to pronounce their alphabet, which, may I say, is REALLY confusing??

For instance-- something that looks like a P is pronounced like an R. And what looks like an n is really said like an l. An r sounds like a g, and something like a u? or a y maybe? sounds like 'ts'. Then there's this letter that looks like an X with a vertical line through it and it makes the 'zh' sound... Oh, my favorite? The #3 and the #6. 3 is a letter and sounds like a z. And 6 (although this makes a little more sense) is a b. Hmmm... guess I have a LOT to learn!

Saturday, December 8

Thanks

Thank you everyone that has been praying for our decisions. However difficult they were, we are now at peace with what we have come to. Please continue to pray for all of the waiting angels as well.

Friday, December 7

We need prayer

Would you pray for us please? Things are coming along- at least I hope they are- and we are still just waiting for our appintment date. But a few decisions unrelated to Aleksa have cropped up and we need prayer for knowledge in what to do. Nothing scary, nothing bad, just some big decisions. Thank you all for your prayerful support throughout this entire journey. God has already proven Himeself time and again in this process!

Wednesday, December 5

Yes, me again- note the time??

It's 11:54 PM. But I crawled back out of bed to write this down. Because someday soon I know I'll need to read it again and again and again, and I want to know where to find it.

I just finished my devotional tonight and at the end is a short prayer. Monday's goes like this: "Lord, it is so hard to balance the needs of my children with the realities of life. Help me to be the best mother I can be, grant me wisdom to make wise choices, and give me peace when I am doing all that I can. Amen."

Wednesday's says this: "Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing of motherhood. Give me strength and encouragement to face its challenges as I seek to fulfill and enjoy Your ordained plan for our family. Amen."

And because I'm a bad person and read ahead... here is Friday's: "Father of compassion and comfort, thank You for loving and caring for us! We know that no matter how difficult the journey, You are there to pick us up and point us in the right direction. Wrap us daily in Your arms as we do the same with our children. Amen."

1 Peter 5:7 "Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you"

Speaking of Angels...




The first picture is Daria. A sweet angel still waiting for a family. And the second? My Brianna. The rest of the story? Here you go...

Daria will soon be FIVE years old. Yes, that is a recent picture. Taken this year. Can you believe she is four in those pictures?? Brianna likely outweighs Daria at a measley 18lbs. Daria is estimated to be 15. She is holding on. Barely. And time is closing in on her.

My heart is consumed for this little girl tonight. She needs some strong arms to protect her, and a strong heart to keep her going.

Please say a prayer for little Daria tonight. You can also visit her on the Angel Tree.

Books, and Kristopher

Yesterday Mike and I took the kids to Orlando and went to a quick dinner at Panera's. Then we went to Barnes and Noble and found 2 pocket phrasebooks, a book about the culture and history of Aleksa's country, a book suggested to us by the Reece's Rainbow moms called "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk", and a book called "We are Adopted". I can't seem to get through the kid's book without crying so far, so I'm not sure how that'll go over, but we wanted to get something that will explain the process a little with Kristopher.

Also, speaking of the big boy, we've been having these little spikes of "jealousy" with him lately at the idea of adoption. Although these are VERY normal, we're trying to help him understand his place in our family a little better- that he'll always be loved and always be our "big boy". He's helped pick out some clothes and things to give him a little bit of ownership, but I suppose it's just going to take some time. In the next few weeks our "rest time" is going to be spent with a little more 1-1 time with K and hopefully that will help some. Today at rest time he wanted to lay down and watch his little movie though (which is our usual routine) so we'll see what happens.

Monday, December 3

There are no orphans

Wow, that's all I could say. Avalon sings this song "There are no Orphans"...

Sunday, December 2

Happy Birthday Aleksa!!

Well, we don't know of the date of Aleksa's birthday, so I guess we will celebrate this entire month! This is likely the first time that anyone is celebrating Aleksa's birth and her life, and the last time that she will have to be alone for it. Although this birthday isn't going to be a special day for her, nor will she likely even know that there is a reason to celebrate, but SOMEONE should be happy, and SOMEONE should be celebrating, and from this point on--- it's ME!!! I'm looking forward to having a "Homecoming" party for Aleksa when she has been home for a short time so that we can celebrate each of her 5 years.

In the next few weeks I'll be posting a few new fundraising things that we're going to do to raise money to bring home Aleksa. Here are a few ideas I've received, let me know what you think:
1. a "virtual raffle" of a handmade lap quilt (buy a chance for $5, I'll make a lap quilt and mail it to the winner)
2. an online Princess House party where the amount of "product" earned for us (a portion of the total amount sold) will be donated to our RR account instead of being redeemed as product.
3. e-bay auction with the total amount benefitting our family adoption fund

A few other great ideas- several of which I may consider still, but those are the top of my list this far :)

Monday, November 26

Fundraising ideas?

Anyone have some good fundraising ideas?

I've considered an e-bay sale, but the sock monkeys aren't selling like they would have because of the new Wonder Emporium movie. Which is ok, it just means I need another plan. And I'm not sure what it would be.

I'm not a big garage sale person. And I don't want to try to 'sell' things that people don't want to buy... Hmm... I don't know!

Do you???

Sunday, November 25

I missed post 100!

I just looked at my list on the right side bar and realized that I wasn't coming up on 100 posts, but I've already passed it!! When I realized what post 100 was I couldn't have intentionally put anything more meaningful there anyway :)

Check out the previously-posted Post #100 here.

One week

It's been one week tomorrow since our dossier was submitted to the State Department of Adoptions overseas, and I understand that this means we are 5 business days into what *could* be the 20 day wait- by law we should hear something within 20 business days. But... our facilitator says "you may hear sooner" and our friends say "I've been waiting 5 weeks". So we are hopeful but not TOO set on hearing soon. The official "20 business days" will be December 17th.

Please continue to keep Aleksa in your prayers. Her health, safety, and her state-of-mind. Many have told me (individually even, so I feel this is a move of the Spirit) that they are praying that there is a worker at the institution that will be taken with Aleksa and want to care for her and spend extra time with her. Someone to look out for her and know she's fed, safe, and happy. This is my prayer as well. Thank you all so very much!

And I cannot help but share that tonight I was burdoned that yes, we're praying for our daughter, but there are so many others that will never see a forever family and they need our prayers as well. Even more. So please keep these 'lost' little ones in your hearts and prayers as you remember our family as well.

Friday, November 23

Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! This year Brianna was big enough to sit at the table and eat a little bit of the Thanksgiving feast with us, and Kristopher actually tried the turkey as well! We all packed into my parents' house- 15 for dinner with another 6 people in and out during the day. We had a great time and were able to visit with Mike's parents and grandma as well when they came for dessert. Four of my 5 siblings made it for some part of the festivities leaving out only my sister in Minnisota. She'll be here for Christmas though, so we'll have the whole can together. Something neat though- both of my dad's brothers were able to come! We haven't seen one brother and his wife in several years and are excited to hear they're moving to town soon. This was the first time they've met my kiddos too! Kristopher had a great time with his new-found Aunt and even asked her to come sit on the swing in the gazebo with him :) You KNOW you've done well when a 3 year old will ask you to play outside!

Next year Thanksgiving festivities will be at our house since we're adding to the brood. I'm not sure we could have squeezed another chair around those tables although we all enjoyed the company! It was a perfect fit for this year. This is one more on the list of 'firsts' that Aleksa will get to experience with us next year. I think I'll talk my mom into cooking the turkey still though :)

Wednesday, November 21

Thankful

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and boy do we have a lot to be thankful for! I am so thankful that things have sped along these past 3 weeks (yes, it's only been three weeks!) since we found out that Aleksa has been move to an institution. I am thankful that instead of wondering if/when our paperwork would be sumbitted to the SDA we know that it is turned in and things are moving along.

Here are 11 people, since this is the 11th month, that I am especially thankful for this year.
1. God- without Him, we simply AREN'T
2. Michael- my second half, my love, and my best friend
3. Kristopher- our big boy that is such a blessing and looks forward to having more siblings to play with!
4. Brianna- our sweet snuggler that has no idea life is changing but rewards us with smiles, hugs, snuggles, and temper tantrums daily!
5. Four grandparents who are nearby and are available to the kids at the drop of a hat, yet understand that we are putting our family first and have to do what's best for them
6. Our church family- many of whom are 'extra grandparents' and 'extra uncles/aunts' to our kids.
7. Our other friends and family who have been a part of our lives daily and are there to lean on
8. My "online friends", many of whom I've never met, yet their support has been wonderful
9. The many people who are praying that we have never met. I am so thankful for you especially!!
10.For those who given out of their own pocket to help us bring Aleksa home. I only know who some of you are, and yet each of you has made a huge difference for us!
11.For Aleksa. For her smile. For leading us on this journey of a lifetime and for being stong until we can get to her.

Monday, November 19

Dossier News :)

Well, look at that! Finally some news to tell ;)

On Tuesday last week we sent our dossier (paperwork) overseas. It arrived on Friday, was translated over the weekend, and was submitted TODAY! I was told it could take 2 weeks for translation, and to expect submittal on Nov 26th. What a shock I received when I opened my e-mail and found out that ourpaperwork was submitted a full week early!

Sunday, November 18

Dear Aleksa,

Dear Aleksa,

I have not yet met you, but you have changed my life. You have also been the catalyst that has changed the lives of many others! You don't yet know that there's anything happening here on the other side of the world, but someday soon I will hold you and tell you about it. You don't even know yet that you have a family desperately waiting for you.

Here is what you have accomplished this week, my daughter. You have raised awareness for Reece's Rainbow to one mom that has caught on with passion. Her name is Michelle and some day you will meet her. I know you will! Michelle has started blogging and has hollarred through the Internet that we MUST do something. Something for kids like you. The ones that some people don't understand, and that people haven't recognized the potential in.

Michelle's message has been passed on, and the children of Reece's Rainbow have been the beneficiaries. In less than 3 days over $2100 has been donated to help families adopt children with Down syndrome across the world. And it all started with you. Your little smile, your story. You have made that difference. But that's not all. Far from it. The next piece is the one that really amazes me. Through your story and the awareness coming from it two children have found a forever family. That's right, two families are adopting little ones from Reece's Rainbow because of you.

Your life has changed the lives of many around the world. Families that are giving financially, families abroad that are making committments to impact their areas, families that are opening their homes to a new son or daughter, and the children who are waiting, some of whom now have families. Yes, your life is worthwhile. You have great potential. And this is only the beginning.

God has great plans for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. And He has already used you to better His Kingdom. For what we do for the least of these we have done for Him. We are told to care for the widows and the orphans. It's been God's plan all along. And because of you more and more people are getting that Word.

I can't wait to see you with my own eyes. To hold you and hug you. To give you warm baths and color and play dolls. And one day you will know, you will understand, the gift that you have given us all.

Love,
Your Mommy

I am small but YOU are big!

I heard this song on the radio this morning and thought- THAT is it! We are small, but YOU are big enough. I wanna feed the hungry children and reach across the farthest land and tell the broken there is healing and mercy in the Father's hands!



I wanna set the world on fire
Until it's burning bright for You
It's everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?

I, I am small but
You, You are big enough
I, I am weak but
You, You are strong enough to
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
There's nothing I can not do
Nothing I cannot do

I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father's hands

My hands my feet
My everything
My life, my love
Lord, use me

I wanna set the world on fire
I wanna set the world on fire, yeah

I'm gonna set the world on fire
Set the world on fire

Friday, November 16

Cost

Ok, one more from me today- but that's only because I'm procrastinating on the other things I need to get done today :)

Cost- it comes up over and over and over again. Yep, it's expensive to adopt. No, we don't have money sitting around waiting to be spent on a big expense like this. Yes, we're trusting God. But... My friend Kathy just sent me this article that makes me realize that we're paying NOTHING in comparison to the cost of our own adoption. God gave his LIFE to adopt you and I.

God's Mission: Adoption
by Max Lucado

When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, he also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope to adopted children with no fear. Here is how it happens. You come before the judgment seat of God full of rebellion and mistakes. Because of his justice he cannot dismiss your sin, but because of his love he cannot dismiss you. So, in an act which stunned the heavens, he punished himself on the cross for your sins. God's justice and love are equally honored. And you, God's creation, are forgiven. But the story doesn't end with God's forgiveness.

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:15--16 NASB).

But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4--5 NASB).

It would be enough if God just cleansed your name, but he does more. He gives you his name. It would be enough if God just set you free, but he does more. He takes you home. He takes you home to the Great House of God.

Adoptive parents understand this more than anyone. I certainly don't mean to offend any biological parents--I'm one myself. We biological parents know well the earnest longing to have a child. But in many cases our cribs were filled easily. We decided to have a child and a child came. In fact, sometimes the child came with no decision. I've heard of unplanned pregnancies, but I've never heard of an unplanned adoption.

That's why adoptive parents understand God's passion to adopt us. They know what it means to feel an empty space inside. They know what it means to hunt, to set out on a mission, and take responsibility for a child with a spotted past and a dubious future. If anybody understands God's ardor for his children, it's someone who has rescued an orphan from despair, for that is what God has done for us.

God has adopted you. God sought you, found you, signed the papers and took you home.
From The Great House of God
Copyright (W Publishing Group, 1997) Max Lucado

A new revelation- or is it??



There are several things that have been published this week about the treatment of people with disabilities in Serbia. One is found HERE and is the original report written by Mental Disabilities rights International. I want to warn you that the pictures are graphic and the words intense.

After the release of that report came an article by the New York Times which you can find HERE. Again, very graphic.




Then there was a report by NBC Nightly news on disabled kids being abused in Serbia. You can get there HERE. Again, graphic, and this one has a video.

So much attention. So much "negative press" for Serbia BUT this may be the best news we've seen for children with disabilities worldwide. Maybe conditions will change. But as the official in Serbia has said, it will take years... and for many, that is their lifetime.

Chelle, an 'online' friend for over a year and a fellow parent to a child with Down syndrome has- to no gain of her own- begun a movement. Although we cannot change the conditions in Serbia today, we can, one by one, get children OUT of these conditions that exist in many Eastern Eurpoean countries. Russian institutions are closed- no adoptions will take place after a child enters the institution. Ukraine also institutionalizes children with Down syndrome after theage of 4. Please take a look HERE and see the movement...

I'm sorry for all the links today, I know you'd rather just read an update and keep going, but... if you were to click just two of the links, go to the MSNBC news story video and Chelle's blog. Those two will tell the story in fewer words than I could even begin to.

And yes, Aleksa is in an institution. In Eastern Europe. And we don't know what conditions exist where Aleksa is until we get there.

Yep, more tears.

Thursday, November 15

Dossier stuck in customs

Our dossier has made it to its destination but is now stuck in customs. Even if it takes a day or two to come out, we'll be making record time with it getting there in 2 days and then through customs. What a relief!! I was told not to send UPS and forgot and did it anyway.. WHEW I'm glad it made it! I'll breathe even easier when I hear that my facilitator has it!
Next steps:
translate
submit
WAIT
get appointment
TRAVEL!!!

Wednesday, November 14

God

Yep, He's up to something. Always is, I suppose, but don't you love it when He lets you in on little pieces of his 'surprises' and lets you know just a tiny bit of His plan? It's enough to give me the anticipation to want to keep running towards the goal! I cannot wait for our trip overseas! So many adventures are waiting, and God's doing some neat work in the mean time!

A few things that God is up to:
-Providing finances
-Caring for Aleksa in our absense (I trust He's doing this!)
-Paving our way with the team of facilitators we're working with
-Delivering everything in His time to get us there exactly when He wants us there

Isn't it EXCITING??

Tuesday, November 13

On its way!

Our dossier is on its way!

Here's one thing we didn't necessarily think about in terms of adoption expenses:
Apostilles: $230
UPS 2-day shipping to Ukraine: $103
Gas to get to Tallahassee and Back: $90
Coffee to get Mike through 10 hours of driving: $2

Today's total: $525 WOW

Hurry up... and wait

I seriously think that waiting is the hardest part of adopting so far. First you decide on a child... then wait to find out what to do about it. Then you sign up for a homestudy... wait for them to come out... wait for it to be finished... wait for the background checks... WAIT!

Now that our paperwork is finished and Mike is on his way to Tallahassee, I'm WAITING for a return e-mail to confirm the address we are to mail it to. And I'm WAITING to hear that all went well getting the apostile. And I'm WAITING for my tutoring students ;) Ok, that's not such a bad wait!

Now, if only I can fill the next months of waiting with some more productive things than I have filled this morning with! I got quite a few things accomplished in the first three hours I was awake, but for the last hour I've just vegged.

Today I managed to:
- shower, dress, gather everything for Mike to take with him, check e-mail 10,000 times for a rely (none yet) about the address to send our dossier to
- get three kids dressed fed, and off to school including a bath for one of them
- get three sets of lunches and 2 diaper bags set to go
- get three gifts together, along with thank-you notes, and all in the car
- deliver three children to school
- talk with the physical therapist about not meeting next week
- deliver the note that Mike won't be in the office today to the church secretary
- deliver a thank-you note and jar of 'soup mix' to the two ladies that went out of their way to notarize everything for Mike and I
- deliver a thank-you note and a box of chocolate Turtles to the doctor's office that redid our paperwork 3 times without a complaint (and I investigated the time-line for the doc's license to renew- must call them back in the new year...)
- and all before 9:30. It's now 10:45 and I've done nothing else.

Guess I should get ready to tutor. Or do the dishes. Or the laundry. Or clean up the highchair. Or the kids' toys. Hmm... seems there are a few better uses for my 'down time'!

Monday, November 12

The Eagle will FLY!

Ok, this is it! Our dossier is complete!! Tomorrow morning Mike will be driving 5 hours to Tallahassee and getting the state seal on all of our documents, then FedEx ing them overseas and driving home. As for our medical paper we will simply leave that out of our dossier and get ahold of the new one. If it is requested we will send the new one on... and if not then we are smooth sailing!

Please pray travel mercies on Michael! Ten hours of driving will be tiring. Also, because of the holiday weekend we are a little unsure about where he is going and what times they are open so favor on his purpose would be wonderful!

Also pray that our paperwork will arrive quickly, be translated quickly, and be SUBMITTED!! I am so excited that this step has finally arrived! I believe that the State Department of Adoptions overseas has 20 working days with which to respond to our dossier after it's submitted. The goal is to have it in before November 30th since they are no longer accepting dossiers until January after that date. Something like that anyway. So hopefully before Christmas we will hear something back! What relief floods through me to think that in 2 more months we may be traveling half way around the world. Seeing the eyes we've had in our dreams and holding the tiny body that I swear I've already held. In time... And may God hold her ane protect her until we get there. Along with all the other angels waiting for their forever families.

I'm ready, let's FLY!

If I told you everything went perfectly today

Would you believe me?? Probably not. Not the way our trials have gone so far in this journey anyway. It seems that if there can be a way to do a paper wrong- any paper- that we have had it happen.

I picked up the notarized copy of our doctor's medical license today and the expiration of his license is Jan 31, 2008. Our country requires all documents to have a 6 month "shelf life" on them before they expire. Any document expires on the earliest expiration date written, or 1 year from notary date. So the copy of the license does expire on Jan 31st and so does our copy of it.

Our facilitator has said to send the dossier without this paper as it is more of a 'supporting form' than a necessity and in the mean time we will work on getting a copy of the new license as soon as he gets it done so that if it is asked for we have it.

We are still waiting on the final homestudy papers and the social worker's employment letter. Both were needing corrections and Mike's parents picked them up for us this morning on their way home from a vacation weekend. What a blessing to have people around willing to chip in and help!

More updates later I'm sure.

Sunday, November 11

A little late. Thank You


Happy Veteran's Day!

Thank you to all whose families have served in the US armed forces in wartime and in peace and to those that continue to sacrifice daily for our freedom. Never before have I had such an appreciation for the freedoms we have in America. THANK YOU!

Lists

I like lists. Well, except grocery lists. I don't make those.

Anyway, recently I've made lists for
Christmas presents
Clothes that we have/need for each of the kids
Things to still do for the adoption
And my most recent... What to bring overseas.

Here are some suggestions that have been made to me. The country we're traveling to is still considered "third world" and the area we're going to is a very small town. We have been told to expect "urban camping" for 7-10 days of Mike's 2 week stay and then the first two weeks that I'm there on my own. Before and after that we'll be in the capital (3-5 days in the beginning and 2-3 weeks at the end). Rolling blackouts, lack of water for days, no heat, and possibly no hot water at all. Sounds pleasant :) And, a little girl :) THAT is the best part! As soon as I have custody of Aleksa we will head to the capital.

Please let me know of any other suggestions you may have for things that we should/shouldn't take with us! Especially if you've already traveled for your adoption, what things did you find most valuable? What things could you have done without?

• Leatherman Tool
• Sharpie Marker
• Balloons
• Luggage Tags you can spot a mile away
• Flashlight (power outages)
• Peanut butter and other snacks
• Carry along toilet paper
• Tape measure (soft one, to measure child for clothing)
• Cable ties for luggage
• Ziplock bags
• Wet wipes
• Hand sanitizer
• Small sewing kit
• Melatonin
• Tylenol PM
• Cough/cold/allergy/Immodium AD
• Under-the-clothes money holder
• Games, puzzles, etc
• toys for child, coloring books, bubbles, etc.
• Envelopes with pre-sorted cash for different places that needed to be paid for
• Universal flat sink stopper to wash clothes, etc. in sink
• Washcloths
• Band-aids
• Kleenex- travel size
• Febreeze
• Alarm clock
• Listerine strips, gum
• DVD’s and player
• Sippy cups
• Medium size duffel bags (not large or even suitcases, cars are small!)
• Umbrella
• Digital camera
• Laptop
• Space saver roll-up bags
• Chapstick
• Lotion
• Safety pins
• Books
• Gold bond
• Power converter
• Backpacks
• Cards to give with gifts (or to put $ in as a gift)
• Lots of plastic bags (walmart type) for groceries, etc.
• Beach balls
• Pull-ups
• Portable clothesline to hang clothes in the bathroom over a tub and clothespins
• Instant oatmeal, tea bags, sugar, hot chocolate

Saturday, November 10

Tiny Blessings

Here are two more tiny blessings-
Mike's parents are vacationing near Ft. Lauderdale this weekend and will be leaving there on Monday. They may be able to pick-up our homestudy so that we don't have to pay for overnight mail AND we will have the paper on Monday night if that happens- so we may be able to get the apostile Tuesday after all!

Our doctor's office will be able to get us the notarized medical license on Monday- and if they cannot than we have a friend that will go down to notarize it for us :)

And one big blessing-
We were told a few days ago that a large contribution has been made to our Reece's Rainbow grant! What a wonderful blessing it is to us!

I was asked again today about the cost of adoption and- hesitantly- how could we adopt on one salary, and a minister's salary none the less? My answer can only be this- We're living our lives serving God. Literally daily in a very tangeable way. And despite a fairly modest income to live on, God always provides above and beyond our needs and has yet to leave us at in want for anything. He has firmly told us to adopt and will bring about everything we need both financially and emotionally for that to happen!

God is good... All the time!

Friday, November 9

Tired

Thursday slipped away. It's 12:08am on Friday. Still playing the paperwork nightmare game. Our homestudy aparantly was notarized 3 days before it was approved. Try that one on for size. Won't fly, must call in about 9 hours and complain until another is overnighted to me. Monday is a holiday and these papers need to be apostilled and mailed overseas on Tuesday in order to be submitted to the SDA this year. They stop accepting dossiers on December 1st and it takes a few days to ship and then 2 weeks to translate. I can't believe Tuesday is already the 12th!

Stress stinks. And I have no voice. And I need sleep :)

Sorry so grumpy, I'm going to bed to hopefully be rejuvinated on 5.5 hours of sleep.

Pray for timely filing!

Wednesday, November 7

question/answer

Ok, I realize that for two days I've written nothing about the adoption and that there have been questions of what and how and who and all that good stuff, so here's my attempt at the answers that those that see me in "real life" have asked.

Q: Will you/ can you still adopt Aleksa?
A: We think so. To be honest there's a bigger chance that we can't now than there was at the beginning, but since it's all up to God anyway, no need to worry. We're planning on bringing Aleksa home :)

Q: When do you think you'll travel?
A: As soon as possible! Really, we know our earliest travel will be 2008, we just don't know when. The government shuts down for several weeks for holidays in December/Jan, so even getting our paperwork in quickly we won't go until next year.

Q: Why is it such a bad thing that Aleksa was transferred if you can still get her?
A: The institutions overseas are not just "children's homes" where the kids are in groups under a few caretakers. When one orphanage worker was asked how her children fared once they had been transferred to the institution she replied "I don't know, none are living anymore". Most children are seriously ill within months of arriving at the institutions. Some institutions bury up to 30 children PER MONTH. Conditions that exist for children in these places would not be seen as acceptable for dogs here in the US. It's not a matter of whether she's around typical kids or other children with disabilities or even whether she's playing and getting interaction with adults. It's whether she's being fed, bathed, allowed to use a toilet facility, whether she's bound, ill, cold, or any other number of things.

Q: How much does it cost to adopt?
A: Ok, so I hedge this one a lot of the time. Here's a few reasons why: There are so many different options for adoption including domestic and international and then so many different countries. Every place is different and even two adoptions within the same country could vary by several thousand dollars. So really there is something for everyone. If you're interested in adopting then there's somewhere you can adopt from that will fit your ability to pay. And God is bigger than the grand ole dollar sign, so even if you don't think you could do a more expensive route you might just find out differently. If you're not interested in adopting but just want to know what the cost is for us to bring Aleksa home than I will say that it is very expensive, yet less than some adoptions. About the same as our annual salary our first year of marriage. And it's worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY.

Q: Why did you decide to do an international adoption and not adopt one of the kids available here in the US?
A: This seems to be the 'doozy'. The one noone wants to answer and yet it's asked all the time. Here's my stab at making sense :) We originally weren't sure what we were going to do. We thought that international adoption was way out of our league (surprise, it *IS*, but not out of God's!) financially, but I opened a conversation line with Andrea at Reece's Rainbow anyway. After looking at a few available kids world wide Mike and I had a conversation that revealed a few important things for us. 1) we definitely wanted to (and felt called to) pursue a child with special needs... Down syndrome if possible. 2) there aren't many kids with Ds in US foster care (interesting, isn't it?) 3) there are children around the world that need homes, but a LOT of kids with Ds in other countries that are available. 4)kids in the US even in foster care are always treated humanely (ok, ALMOST always... but the gov't at least says it's supposed to be humane). 5) kids overseas are often neglected and have no hope for a future, especially kids with disailities 6) children as young as 4 are put into mental institutions overseas and often die by age 10 because of the conditions of their care.

So we quickly realized that adopting a child with Ds from a counry where the child faces a VERY early death was what we wanted to look at. Not just looking for another child for our family- although that is a big part of it too- but looking for a child that would likely not survive if we didn't step in. And no, we didn't want a hero mission. We wanted a rescue. These kids are my heroes.



It's late, and I'm tired, so I hope this has helped those of you that have had the question and haven't asked or asked the question and didn't get an answer. I'll try to answer some of the others another day. Feel free to e-mail me questions or post them here. I'd be happy to answer whatevr I can. mkp1982@hotmail.com

9 days

It has only been 9 days...
and it's been 9 days already.

Tuesday, November 6

You Said

You Said, ask and you will receive whatever you need.

You Said, pray and I'll hear from Heaven, and I'll heal your land.

You Said, Your Glory will fill the Earth like waters the seas.

You Said, lift up your eyes, the harvest is here, the Kingdom is near.



You Said, ask and I'll give the nations to you, Oh Lord, that's the cry of my heart.

Distant shores and the islands will sing of Your light as it rises on us.

Monday, November 5

Down

I knew in advance that adoption has its ups and downs and that there would be days we were excited and happy and others that we were nervous and discouraged, but never did I imagine that we would spend months wondering if our child would be fed each day until we get there... or tied to a crib... or given anywhere to use the restroom... or clothed... or warm...

And although we're trying to move mountains to get there as soon as possible, I was told today by my state-side helper that current appointments are mostly March/April, but a few in February. She's not sure if the special needs will go differently. We're hoping to get there sooner.

A verse that comes to mind in this is appropriately found in 1 Corinthians 13, the "Love Chapter". It goes like this: "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

There is power in love, and God can move mountains. Those are the two most important things to me today.

Another is Matthew 17:20. "He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." "

Faith. Hope. And Love. Especially Love.

My favorite two choices for middle names for Aleksa? Faith and Hope.

Sunday, November 4

Looks like that was the paper we need

I'm glad to say that it appears that the paper I got is really what I needed! So now we are waiting for the shortened homestudy and employment letter from our social worker and for our dossier to be checked. Then it's off to Tallahassee and then overseas!

We're really putting feet on our faith and preparing to leave the country soon. Today I bought the last of what we needed except maybe some pull-ups. I didn't want to get them at Target though because they're cheaper at Wal-Mart. I'm curious what other people brought with them when traveling overseas to adopt. Especially if they didn't REALLY know the size of their child!

We're also prepping things here at the house. We've made childcare plans and are scoping out the different things at nearby stores that we'll take with us such as a money belt, MP3 player, easy-to-travel toys, and warm clothes. Our lowest highs here are probably still in the 70's or really high 60's. Right now the highs where we are heading are barely in the 30's. Oh, and I've been warned about the rolling-brown-outs and lack of running water at times. Vacation? I don't think so!

Saturday, November 3

CIS paperwork arrived... sort of

I got paperwork from the CIS that says that we've had a 'favorable determination'... but no I171-H. So hopefully the other form is on its way!

Today we watched the baby that I care for during the week and we all went shopping for a little while. Mike got his "Christmas present" from my parents- a nice leather jacket that he can wear overseas. We also got some thermal long sleeved shirts, a sweater, and gloves for Mike. We got some size 3 and 4 clothes to take with us- one outfit and a set of sweats for each size. We also have a long footed pajama and a thermal pajama that I'd purchased a few days ago. I think that's all we're taking over there for Aleksa. Well, that and some underclothes nd a thick coat. I understand we can buy most things over there, I just don't know what our arrangements are going to be and whether I'll have the availability of any city shopping between the time I meet Aleksa and the time we have custody of her. Maybe some of you know??

We have definitely decided that I am staying the whole time now. I cannot see doing the adoption then saying "see you in a month" and letting her go back into that institution without even getting visited. The orphanage was a different situation because we knew she was well cared for there. Here we do not. So even if it's a beautiful place and she is happy- I'll be there.

Also, for some reason a few days ago I found a map with the city of her orphanage on it and now I can't! It's a little TINY town and I know a nearby city, but I can't figure out wht site I was on that actually showed her city! Oh well... more searcing will do the trick. Maybe I'll order some AAA books. They probably show the smaller areas if we get the right ones :)

Friday, November 2

Blessings

Ok, so here's the positive post I was PLANNING on writing today ;)

The indisputable blessings that God has put in motion for things to be like they are right now...

1) A mom cared enough about kids with Ds to start a ministry matching up kids with Ds with prospective parents across the globe and to help them collect donations through her nonprofit organization (aka tax deductable) so that people could afford to adopt.

2) Another mom cared enough about Aleksa to take her picture and find out info about her so that someone else might be able to adopt her.

3) When we chose Aleksa, a mom was in her country adopting from her orphanage (and even from her groupa!). We were able to learn so much more from conversations with this mom than we could have ever found out otherwise

4) The mom at that orphanage told the orphanage directors that Aleksa has a family coming for her! (this was VERY important later on!)

5) When we did our homestudy it took only 5-6 weeks to have a copy in our hands, not the typical 8-12 weeks.

6) When I was looking for Aleksa's full name, the director's computer was down so she couldn't access her file (this seems bad, but was a blessing!)

7) When I asked the other people we are working with for Aleksa's full name they asked our facilitator to find out exactly how she is registered (instead of just giving us what she had on file- yes, another hidden blessing).

8) When our facilitator went to the SDA to find out how Aleksa is registered he found out that she'd been moved (otherwise we would not have found out until we were over there and THAT would have been awful because nothing would have been expedited, we would be getting there probably months later, we wouldn't be prepared to stay the entire time, wouldn't have the extra money necessary for these changes, etc.).

9) When our facilitator checked on Aleksa he also found out that another little girl from her orphanage has moved (therefore letting her family know as well- she was placed in a boarding school which is WONDERFUL!)

10) When the person helping us state-side found out where Aleksa was moved she said that "Someone likely is pulling string here for these girls". And "This (the placements of the two girls) makes me think the workers at [their orphanage] went to some lengths to find good placements as they really should have both gone to a mental institution with openings in a nearby region. Thank God [the mom] got their info as there is no way you would have ever of known about the girls if she had not been there when she had, as they were soon moved and no one we have adopting would have ever seen them."

11) When Aleksa was moved she was placed in a facility that we believe we can still get her out of. Our state-side helper said: "Where they were moved sort of surprised me, they must know someone was coming and moved them to locations where they could still be accessed, this is very unusual for Downs children and I have a feeling the deputy director and orphanage doctor got them into some locations because they knew someone was coming for them."

12) When we quickly started pulling everything together to expedite everything our CIS paperwork was delivered into the hands of a mom that has a child with disabilities. When she saw that the petition for a child with Down syndrome she quickly approved it and send it out that day.

13) Prayer requests have brought so many people to their knees and the broken hearts of many are petitioning the Throne like never before- it's always a good thing for people to come to God.

14) A prayer chain specifically, but it was God none-the-less, led a church member to decide to write an article about our family, our adoption, and Down syndrome. This will hopefully help develop awareness not just about Down syndrome, but about the conditions that exist in other countries and the ministry that Reece's Rainbow is providing.

15)

16)

17)

18)

19)

20)

21)

No, those aren't blank. I just believe that God has many more blessings for us on this journey and I don't intend to sell him short. Why 21? Well, that number is what made us choose Aleksa. Trisomy 21 to be exact, so I'm sure there will be three-fold the blessings that we've written down.

I TOLD YOU IT'D BE POSITIVE!!!

I just got off the phone with the lady from the CIS and she said that she remembers my name, but just to be sure, we're adopting a child with Down syndrome, correct? Then she said that she has a child with a disability so when she saw our paperwork she immediately approved it! She mailed it out on Halloween, and we should be getting it in the mail TODAY!!!

This is the best news we've had in a long time, and I am SO HAPPY!!!!!

Thank you all who were praying for it to land in the hands of someone that would see the importance and process it quickly! God has answered our prayers!!! YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!

No news is... annoying :)

Yep, still no news. I'm hoping that once I post this, since life seems to work this way, that they'll call me back and prove me wrong. Today I called the CIS through the general line (not the orphan line) and talked to someone that said she doesn't have access to our case, so she passed me on. The next person didn't either! She suggested I go online and make an appointment to go to the Orlando office (which I had already done this morning) so that didn't really help any. I called the orphan line again and left another message saying it's been two days and I really need some info on my paperwork. So I will hear back either today sometime or I'll be on their doorstop at 9am on Monday morning with photos, an official document saying "health and life are at risk" and my 3" binder of adoption information.

Please say a prayer that the lady that is going to return my phone call (like that positive thinking?? She IS going to return it, and SOON!) will have mercy and push us through!!

And I promise, my next post will be POSITIVE! I PROMISE! More later :)

Thursday, November 1

Our local paper

Today I got a phone call that was generated from our church prayer request e-mail. It was a church member that writes for our area newspaper asking if she could write an article about our adoption. She's already passed it by her editor and will call me back in the next day or two. I never would have dreamt that God would use this situation to bring about some awareness about both Down syndrome in general as well as the current state of affairs in other countries, but I am hopeful that it will do exactly that!

Wednesday, October 31

Called the CIS

Let's see if they call back. They have a specific hotline for international adoptions. I called and left my name and number (as my paperwork says to do) and said that I wanted to check on my I-600a. I also said that the status of our child overseas has changed making it imperative that we get over there as soon as possible. Now we pray that whoever listens to the message will call me back, check our paperwork, and put it through quickly for us. God can do that and SO MUCH MORE.

Tuesday, October 30

Yes, we made it

It's been a year of a day. But we made it. Today our world went from exciting and happy to fearful and stressed. But God doesn't intend it that way. Don't get me wrong, He intends for us to be on our knees, in tears, and broken for His children. Especially those that are orphans. Especially those that are facing situations that no child shoulld ever even know possible. But fear is NOT from God. His hand is on our family, is on Aleksa, and is leading the way. Gently. But his grip is strengthening as we petition His throne, and that is exactly what we intend to do. We have done so daily, but admittedly not with nearly the gusto that we have had renewed today. That has changed. The floodgates are opened.

Thank you everyone that is lifting up our family in prayer. God hears each and every one. Today we grieved. Tomorrow we plan. The next day... well, let's just take it a day at a time, shall we? My prayer tonight is that God will bless each one that has come to the Father for us today. May you be blessed as much as He has blessed us and abundantly more.

A day with lots of tears. Prayers Needed!

About 2 hours ago our plans changed. We found out that Aleksa has been transferred from the "baby house" (orphanage) to a mental institution. These places are AWFUL and just writing this has once again started the tears running down my face. I cannot imagine at 4 years old being put into one of these places. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE pray for Aleksa! Pray that she will be healthy, that she will have enough to eat, that she will be treated with care, and that she will be comforted by the Ultimate Comforter! Please pray that our process will be expedited even more! We know that we 'could' get there by February, but that is the quickest we see possible at the moment. Now we are praying that God will work things out to get us there even sooner. We need whomever has our paperwork at the USCIS to quickly approve us. We pray that our dossier will be able to be submitted immediately (sometimes it takes weeks to submit even after it's in country). We also pray that the SDA overseas will give us an UNUSUALLY quick appointment. God is still in the miracle business and we need one right now!

Please continue to pray for our family as well because there is no way that we will be making two trips and leaving Aleksa in the institution between times. Which means that I will be in country for approximately 8 weeks. This is very different from our original plans of one 2-3 week trip with Mike and I, a month at home, then a second trip of 4-6 days by myself. Please please please pray! We are very committed to getting Aleksa home, my heart is just heavy with grief at the things she must endure before we can get to her.

Sunday, October 28

Middle Name?

We're having a hard time coming up with a middle name for Aleksa. Her full first name is Aleksandra (pronounced A-lek-sahn'-dra). Our first two have middle names with a strong Biblical heritage- Kristopher Isaiah and Brianna Elizabeth. What we've come up with now for a possible middle name is Marie. Or maybe Faith or Hope? Any other ideas?? Which do you like more?

Aleksandra ______________ Cornish

Also... we need another name... or two. A 'back-up' name in case for some reason we cannot adopt Aleksa once we are there. We wouldn't be able to name a different child with 'her' name. So.. a full name... for a girl. Something that is "American" but possibly that has some Eastern European heritage. Like Aleksandra is the traditional spelling, but "Alexa" is a pretty common US name... KWIM?
Our only one we really like so far is Sophia, with a middle name of one of the above (Faith, Hope, Marie) or another that we haven't figured out yet!

Sophia __________________ Cornish

Then another whole name...


____________________ ________________ Cornish

Will you help us name our little one?

adopt(ed)- A challenge for my friends



WOW! Mike and I listened to this last night and were overwhelmed by the words of this minister. He speaks to the church about orphans and adoption. What a powerful truth that he preaches so much from his heart!

We've only listened to the first one, but I can promise you that we'll be listening to the others soon! The first one was 1 hour(ok, it was shorter, but the MESSAGE was 30 minutes, but don't stop before the end... It's SO worth it!).

So, I want to challenge those of you that consider yourselves (or would like to :) ) among our close friends and family (yep, that includes my online buddies!)to take the time to listen to one of these messages each week for the next 4 weeks. Thirty minutes, that's what I'm asking for. And you'll be changed. And our relationship will be changed.

Please, if you take this challenge will you tell be about it as you go? I've made a button with the logo for the sermon series. And I'll remind you each week with a link so you can take this journey with us.

Saturday, October 27

One more oops!

Nothing to do with the adoption, but Rita was kind enough to put my monkey button on her blog and to tell me that the link didn't work. So if you stole my button since I put it on the sidebar with the new format, it won't work. It is now correct. There was a backslash at the end of the link that would cause it to say "page not found". Thanks again to everyone that has helped spread the word about our blog and our monkey fundraiser!

Our 2nd Buddy Walk!

First I have to say that God heard Kristopher's little prayer when he asked for the rains to stop and to stay away because it rained until 5 minutes before the walk and picked up right at 12 when we were leaving! This is the 5th Buddy Walk that our association has ever done and it was a great turnout! Over 500 people walked and they raised over $30,000!!! What a WONDERFUL morning!

Here is our team that walked with Brianna's Buddies this year.
From left to right it's Chris and her daughter Becky, Michael, Me with Kristopher, Liz is in front, then my Mom and Dad with Brianna on the wall. She was too interested in drinking to care about having her picture taken ;)

Brianna with Grandaddy


Brianna with Aunt Liz


Kristopher and Daddy playing with a violin


Kristopher and Grandmommy making bubbles


A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone that contributed to the FEDS of Brevard and to Brianna's Buddies!

A sweet treat



Christina over at Kwisteena's Kwaziness nominated me for this sweet treat award! My first award :)

Thanks Christina! She has a great blog about raising her two daughters, the older of which has Down syndrome. Go take a peek!

I'd like to nominate Charissa over at A Day in the Life of the Urbans who is also blogging about her upcoming adoption!

Both Christina and Charissa's blogs are surely sweet treats!

Friday, October 26

Testing Feed Settings

I don't know why my blog stopped sending feeds, but since the 17th it hasn't sent any. This is a test to see if the feeds are working. If you have no idea what I'm talking about with feeds but read a bunch of blogs, you should check out www.google.com/reader It will change the way you follow blogs FOR THE BETTER! And save you LOTS of time!!

Cherish

Almost 10 years ago

6 years ago in July


This kind of got to me today. I don't generally post when I'm agitated, but today is going to be the exception. Because I feel like this agitation is very valid, and that I'm really feeling like this agitation of mine stems from something that seems unhealthy in others. So here's my soap box...

It happened today, and not for the first time. I was talking to someone who mentioned a special date on November 15th. It must be a great day for things to happen because as I said, this isn't the first time this conversation has happened. You'll understand that in just a minute. So when this person mentioned their 'special November 15th' I gave the appropriate celebratory congratulations and then when 'he' said he was going away for the occasion I wondered at it because this year we, too, will celebrate November 15th with a little weekend get-away. When asked of my DH's and my own reason for celebrating I said without hesitation that it is the 10th anniversary of when we began dating.

Here's where the agitation comes in... This person looked at me with a look of both confusion and belittlement. Dating? You're celebrating when you started DATING? Isn't that a little Juvenile? Granted this person is significantly older than I am and much closer to my parents' age than my own, but this is the age-group that I spend the most time with.

Juvenile? Not at all. In fact, it makes me so sorry for this person that he doesn't celebrate more with his spouse. Yes, they've seen 25 years together. They've been married longer than I have been alive. They have celebrated many anniversaries of marriage... so why would they celebrate having dated??

Well, I hold a different view. It's not that I've only spent 6 years with my wonderful husband in marriage. It's not that I'm aching for another reason to get out of town. It's not that I'm stuck in the ways of a teenager that the 15th of every month I giggle and coo and wait to see if he remembers that another month has gone and we were still together.

It's that I'm happy. Genuinely happy.

Does Mike feel an obligation to remember yet another date on the calendar? No way. In fact, most years it goes by and a few weeks before or after it may get mentioned in passing that it's coming or has gone, and another year is ticked off in our minds. But this year, when the year becomes 10, we will celebrate.

And why not? We have so much to be thankful for, so much to be happy about, and so much to celebrate. We have two beautiful children who are happy, healthy, and loved beyond measure. This time last year we were celebrating the successful open heart surgery our daughter had just undergone. The success of her feeding tube insertion. The thriving that she was having while getting supplemental feedings which we labored over all night every night. We were celebrating our son, who had held up with grandparents during our long departure. He had grown in wisdom and stature as he does every year. We were celebrating him. But we weren't going anywhere. We didn't 'celebrate' the anniversary of our first date.

This year... we will celebrate. No matter whether people think we're "reaching for a reason" or that we're juvenile in our reasons to spend quality time APART from our kids for a day or two. In fact, I hope those that have laughed in our faces at the mere mention of this 'anniversary' of sorts might think back and remember their first date, their first kiss, and celebrate that that day marked the beginning of what is today.

It was the beginning of our dating- yes, we're still 'dating' today. That day we became 'boyfriend and girlfriend.' A few years later, 'husband and wife.' And a few more years brought 'mother and father.'

Oh, and before I'm off my soap box, I'll also say that this year will be even more special of a time with just the two of us because once again we are 'expecting' and once again we will soon have our 'baby' on our hip. We didn't know that when we first began planning this trip, but that's how wonderful our Creator is in planning things out in advance. And, just like the first two children, we won't be having our newest addition out of our sight for quite some time after her arrival. So this is the perfect opportunity to get away, just the two of us, and celebrate the ten years that God has given us since our very first date.

Cherish. Just that.