Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

TSA issues? Not here!

The security checkpoint at the MSP airport was nothing. Really! The MSP website had said allow 3 hours for an international flight. Knowing there all those Thanksgiving travelers have to get home Dean dropped me off at the front door at 9:00 for my 12:20 flight.

The line for the checkpoint was VERY long, but it moved relatively quickly. Note to self: I want a different carry on bag. I love my backpack that is checkpoint friendly for my computer, but this trip it's *very* heavy. I want one with rollers. I'm going to look for one in..in...that place I'm going.

My suitcase is HUGE! For those who remember the Bulgaria trip last spring, I had bought two huge duffel bag-type bags, that hold TONS of stuff. We filled them with all our donations for the Bulgarian families last spring. So, I'm all packed in my one bag and my carry on. All my stuff, Axel's clothes, various gifts, a backpack full of "busy stuff" for Axel, etc. The airline weight limit is 50 lbs, and my bag weighted 48.8. I did even better last spring when it weighed 49.8 lbs! LOL

So anyway, back to the security checkpoint. I already knew I didn't want to bother with the scanner, knowing my re-built wrist will set it off anyway, so I was going to vulunteer for the pat-down. HA! No need to! I just had to walk through the same metal detector we've been walking through since 9/11.

From the time Dean dropped me off to until I'd made the loooooong walk to my gate was only 45 minutes.

So here I sit. Do di doooo

What day is it today????

It's GO GET AXEL DAY!!!! Yep, that little counter at the top of the page says today is the day. Sure enough, my airline ticket says exactly the same thing.

This is it. I'm leaving to get Axel today.

There are some very exciting things happening at the beginning of my trip, some of which has the potential to be a HUGE help to those families traveling to Axel's country to adopt in the near future.

Weds is my appointment with the ministry officials in Axel's country, and from there we'll make the drive to the city where he's located.

PLEASE keep the beginning of this trip in your prayers. The whole trip really, but these first couple of days carry an importance of their own.

I'm sure you'll hear from me throughout the day as I galavant to the other side of the world by myself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pushing the Envelope

I know a lot of you who are reading have adopted a child with DS. Of those who have, some of you were like us and already had a biological child with DS.

Did you ever have the thoughts of "are we pushing the envelope?" when it comes to DS? We are SO excited to be bringing Axel home, but we can't help but wonder what secrets his body holds.

Angela has had MANY health issues, and numerous major surgeries. (I stopped counting at 23) Most of her stuff was GI related, but she has a couple odd little things that are supposedly unrelated to DS, but of course having the extra chromosome means a slightly increased risk for just about everything under the sun! LOL One of Angela's medical issues, Cricopharyngeal Achalasia, requires us to go to Boston Childrens for treatment. (Ummm...we live in Minnesota!) That is where the only doctor in the nation is who is skilled enough to treat a child with DS with the disorder. Her next step is a major thoracic surgery which we're not ready to pursue at this time.

There are four major conditions that are related to DS that we have manage to avoid. Really, to be honest, sometimes I begin to feel like we are a moving target, zigzagging back and forth to avoid being hit by the next arrow!

Angela was born with a large ASD. We spent 3 years preparing for open heart surgery (In 2000 it became a closed procedure performed in the heart catheterization lab!) We found out that it had closed on it's own just weeks before said surgery.

I, personally, always feared Celiac disease, since I'm a horrid cook and spend a lot of time generally avoiding the kitchen. Fortunately it was another bullet we have (so far) avoided. Angela does carry the gene for it, which means she can develop it at any time, so will continue to be tested for the rest of her life.

Atlantoaxial Instability (AAI), and Atlantooccipital Instability (AOI), while said to be very rare, has been found in several kids who I personally know and have met. (versus those who I only "know" online!) The above link goes to my friend Renee's blog. Her daughter Kennedy had the most severe form of AOI. Angela has had several full-spine MRIs over the course of her life, and her neck has always been fine.

And then there is the one all parents fear, but those of us who have kids with DS, that fear becomes a reality far too often. Kids with DS are more prone to Leukemias (both AML and ALL) than children with only 46 chromosomes. I have watched the children of many friends fight cancer, and too many friends loose their children. While it is rare for a child with DS to be diagnosed for the first time after the age of 4, it does happen. We become hyper-vigilant for the symptoms, and try not to freak out when our children complain of joint pain, or have strange bruises (even when we WATCHED them step off a step wrong three days before. Eh hem!!!! )

So what mysteries DOES Axel's body hold? Is he saving anything special for us? Other than an echo at birth, I don't think he's had any of the usual screenings done on kids with DS. When he comes home I'm thinking of making the rounds to just about every medical specialist there is. Angela has had 16 types of specialists over the years. I waiver between Axel seeing all of them, just to make sure something isn't missed, and just doing a "wait and see" kind of approach. There are positives and negatives to either approach, including financially, logistically, and the "don't invite trouble" type.

I DO know who we're seeing first! These are in no particular order, but are at the very top of the list. Who we see first will depend upon how quickly I can get him in to each one.

1) Orthopedic medine: Axel needs to be checked for AAI/AOI
2) ENT/Audiology: He needs to have his hearing thoroughly tested, and I want him to have a general check up with Angela's ENT.
3) GI (gastroenterology) This one may move down the list a bit based on what I see once he's in my care. He needs to be screened for Celiac Disease, and H-pylori is also common among children adopted from Eastern European countries.
4) Ophthalmology: Axel needs a thorough eye examination by a pediatric eye specialist.

I'm also considering a visit to the International Adoption Clinic with the University of Minnesota. Their tests and assessments are very thorough, and they're used to seeing kids adopted from Eastern European countries. I hear both good and bad opinions about similar clinics around the country. If you've been to the one at the U of M, please comment, I'd love to hear your opinion!

Three more days, and I'm on that plane and all my questions will be answered!!!!!!



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing for Axel

The last few weeks have been busy. All the paperwork and running around that is done to bring a child home is exhausting and frustrating. Sometimes it seems as if there is no way you will ever make it to the end. In reality you know there are thousands of families who have gone before you, and they have made it to the end, so you just keep plugging along, getting it done as fast as you can. The faster it's done, the faster your child comes home.

But towards the end of the process, just when you think you are spent, you start to get a little taste of the fun. As the fact that you're adopting becomes more real, and you can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, you allow yourself small pleasures. Those small pleasures are all about gathering the actual items that you know in just a few weeks your child's hands will be touching.

Painting your child's room is one of those things that will keep you going.

Everyone in the family gets excited and wants to help. They gather where they can keep an eye on the action.

Picking out the paint color and bedding is another step. As you put each sheet on the bed, and lay out the blanket, you picture your new child there, sleeping securely in the room closest to yours. You wonder if he will want you to lay with him those first few nights as he learns the noises of his new home.

Some things you decide to leave until your child is home, knowing it will be one of the first times he'll be allowed to express his opinion, and that his opinion has value.

And of course, buying the clothes he will wear is one very important step; clothes that are like wrapping him with a hug. You touch each item and find yourself praying over each them, that they'll find him healthy and happy each time he puts it on. You pray over his shoes that will walk the streets of his birth country for the very last time. You pray over the winter coat that will protect him from the bitter cold, and hope that you can protect him from some of life's bitterness.
Finally, the day arrives when it is time to pack up the items you've gathered, and try to pack your fears away as well, shifting your focus to the days ahead. In a matter of days, you will travel to the other side of the world for him, to touch him, to hold him again, to see his smile and hear his laughter.
You try to sleep those last few nights. Knowing when you leave your bed on the day of your departure, your life will be forever changed. You stop in his room one last time and say a prayer for the days ahead.

Monday, November 22, 2010

About those flights

So last night I emailed my travel agent, who handles a lot of Reece's Rainbow families, and asked him about going ahead and booking my return flights. That way I'd have that ticket on me and not have to worry about proof that I'm going to leave the country, etc.

By afternoon I still hadn't heard from him and thought...you know...it's possible he's not in today, so I called. He laughed, saying he was hitting "send" just as he picked up the phone to answer my call. (sure enough, the email arrived not 2 seconds later. LOL)

Anyway, earlier this morning he talked to the adoptive parent who had the airport problems yesterday, and assured me NO other families have had such a problem. The issue, it seems, was an overzealous United Airline agent enforcing the wrong rules for the wrong country. I should NOT have such problems.

If I book return flights now and need to change the date later, the change fee for my and Axel's return tickets is $150 each, plus any rate increases.

$300 is a lot of money right now, especially since today we were given a $500 SURPRISE expense added to our adoption! (that's a different post) I'd rather not book those tickets until I know exactly what date we're ready to return.

All that to say I did NOT book the return flights today. Nuf said.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ruh Roh

So, when I booked my flight for next week, I booked a one-way. Normally families buy round trip tickets, then just pay a penalty to have the return flight date changed, since you book without knowing exactly when you're going to be ready to return.

My agent from Golden Rule said the airline, Lufthansa, has been increasing their change penalties, and it's now to buy a one-way there, then when you know the date you're going to be able to return, purchase another one-way home plus the child's ticket.

But today a parent headed to Ukraine ran into problems at the airport when she wasn't allowed to board the plane without proof that she was only going to stay in Ukraine under 90 days. Not having anything to prove that, she was forced to purchase another ticket, which was exorbitantly priced.

I know several other families are getting ready to travel soon who have also purchased one-way tickets. Is there anyone else who has recently traveled who has run into similar problems? Anyone who is traveling to the same country as me, who has gone on one-way tickets and not had a problem?

Still Blogging Here

Ok, I did not word my previous post correctly, and it has since been edited. THIS blog is not going private. I will continue to blog our adoption journey here.

There are some details about our family I'm not comfortable sharing with people I don't know. But these things are still important to our adoption process. Like all adoptive families, ours is unique, which makes our adoption process unique.

I promise, you're still going to get to follow all of our adoption process here. ALL of you have supported us immensely, both financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We're not going to just leave you in the dust. But please, don't be offended if you're not given access to the private blog. It has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with our comfort level.

Ok? Everybody all good? Take a deep breath in................and exhale.......we're in for the ride of our lives. Let's go!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A little bit of privacy

There are some parts of our lives that are not for the entire world to see, and some details of our adoption that we're not free to openly share on a public forum. This blog, the one you're looking at right now, is not going private. It is staying wide open, and I will be blogging our journey just like I always have! You might even get lucky, and get to hear from Dean again. ;-)

However, I have created a separate, private blog for those times when I want (really for me it's a need) to talk a bit more openly. If you are a close bloggy friend, or IRL (in real life) friend, and are interested in following that private blog, please email me privately at deanleah at comcast.net and I'll add you.

*edited to add* I have received a lot of requests from people who I don't know AT ALL. I know I am always disappointed when people take their blogs private, and I feel like I just got left out of a party. Don't worry, I will STILL be blogging our adoption journey here!

8 more sleeps

Only 8 more sleeps left. (not including naps! LOL)

It has been insanely busy around here. In just eight days (only 8 more days!!!) I will board a plane for Eastern Europe to go get our new son, Axel! Just typing that cause 5 more hairs to fall of my head. Needless to say, there has been much preparation involved, and as my travel date gets closer, plus throwing Thanksgiving into the mix, I'm having a hard time not freaking out. Dean and Angela are thankful that my state of panic has been mostly internal!

The other night I was frantically trying to do SOMETHING about our laundry room. Its a big word...called "O.R.G.A.N.I.Z.A.T.I.O.N". This needs to happen before I leave the country so Dean doesn't have to think about anything. Also, because the last time I came home, I discovered in the three weeks I was gone not one stitch of laundry had been done. Ummm Angela has A LOT of shirts, but she does not have that many pairs of pants! I shudder when I think how many times she wore various pairs, and what was on them! Blech. Well, that can't happen this time, because part of my organizing was making sure all of Angela's laundry was washed and put away, AND I got rid of 2 bags of clothes! She still has lots of shirts (though she pointed out to me there is a noticeable lack of stripes.) but only 4 or 5 pairs of pants, and some of those don't fit just right, or she doesn't like them. (she has just lost a lot of weight, and I'm still trying to find the right size/fit for her new shape.)

Anyway, while I was working on that, Dean and Angela were upstairs doing Dean and Angela things. Angela likes to close herself into the guest bedroom where the closet doors are mirrored. iPod in hand she will stand in front of the mirror to give "concerts". On her way down the hall to that room, she stopped in front of Axel's room. She froze in the door way. "Dean! DEAN! C'mere! You gotta see this!"

Dean went to see what the fuss was about. "Look Dean! Axel's room! There is a bed, and a dresser, and blankets, and pillows, and clothes!" She went to the clothes, which are folded on the bed waiting to be packed for the trip, and picked up a hooded sweatshirt. She held it up in front of her. "Look at Axel's shirt Dean!"

Umm...Axel's room has been done for over a week, and Angela has walked past it every day, but clearly she was just now *really* seeing it for the first time. She looked at Axel's new shoes, and his pj's that she helped pick out several weeks ago. Ignoring Dean, she walked out the door past him and returned with her iPad, and gently closed the door in Dean's face.

Ummm...Angela has a new favorite room.

Awhile later, after Dean told me the story, I poked my head in. She hadn't heard me open the door. There she sat on the floor with the iPad in her lap, watching a Signing Time app .

"Whatcya do'in?" I asked.

"Practicing signs for Axel. When Axel comes home I'm the big sister. My job is help him learn signs. Go away please. I'm busy here."

Oh, life is gonna get interesting around here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Customs of adoptions

Every country handles adoptions a little differently, and every adoption is different. That's a nice thing, really. It means we all have our own unique adoption stories to tell our children!

One of the customs in the country we're adopting from is that the adoptive family brings gifts to certain people involved in the adoption. This is certainly not required, but is kind of expected. You know, kind of like showing up to a dinner party, you often bring a gift to the host.

There have only been a few children adopted out of foster care from this country, Axel being one of them. We're planning on bringing a gift to his foster parents, and something for his foster sister who I know is going to miss him very much, but I need ideas!!!  Really, I am not very creative in the gift-giving department.

If I remember correctly, the foster sister is 10 or 11. We live right by the Mall of America, so I was thinking of getting her something a tween girl would like from the USA store, but I'm really drawing a blank on the foster parents. Do any of you who have gone before me have any thoughts?

Embassy Confirmed

I've been trying to get in touch with the US Embassy in (Axel's country) for the last couple of days without any luck. It's very frustrating to make an international call, be put on hold by the electronic menu that says they are indeed taking calls that day, only to eventually have a recording come on that says you're not calling during business hours. All while you have the world clock in front of you that says it absolutely IS the correct business hours! GAH!

Anyway, I finally left a message, but figured I wouldn't be able to do anything more until I was in country. Which, HELLO, is in just 10 days!!!!!!

Imagine my surprise this morning when the phone rang, and it was the Embassy calling! Although the guy who handles orphan visas has not received my paperwork, (just one guy, since there are only a few adoptions from this country each year)  he was able to locate my information on the National Visa Center database, and verify the approval. So that, combined with the original document that I'll be carrying with me, he said I'll have no problems. He thanked me for calling ahead, as there have been a few problems recently with all the pieces not getting where they're supposed to since the whole system was switched several weeks ago, and he looks forward to meeting me in a couple of weeks.

There! Done worrying about that!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

12 days and a shortage

Some of you may have noticed there is now a chip-in button on my left sidebar. We have come up with most of the funds to bring Axel home, and with your help the iPad give away raised $2700! We are just a few hundred dollars short!

I leave in just 12 days, and I hate to be on my blog begging for money. Our problem comes from the value of the US dollar. The currency exchange calculator on the right sidebar is very helpful, but it only gives the bank rate, and not the consumer rate. So while our Facilitation fee came out to $5500 US, that's what the bank gets it for, not we consumers. Our Facilitation fee ended up costing us $6500, and my lodging will be somewhere around $1500-$2000. The difference will be how may days I'm there, since that's an unknown, and where I stay in Axel's city, since I don't yet know where my facilitator made reservations. (I know the rate in one city, but don't know the other yet.) So between exchange rate issues, and the fact I'm loosing three weeks of income, there comes our shortage.

If my fellow bloggers would help me spread the word, I'd sure appreciate it! God has made sure we've had everything we needed, right down to the penny, exactly when we needed it, and I know He will this time too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Buttons Buttons, where are the Buttons?

I hear there are a whole bunch of families adopting from same Eastern European country as us who will be traveling this spring. ( It's not Ukraine, nor Russia, Kazakhstan, or Rep. of Georgia. LOL)  We're a small group, with only two agencies that I know of handling adoptions from this country.

Anyway, my sidebars (particularly my left one) are far too bare, and I'd really like to add your buttons! So, if you're reading, and you're adopting from anywhere in Eastern Europe and would like me to add your buttons, let me know! If you're adopting from the same country as me, make sure I know that, because 1) It's fun to follow the blogs of people going to the same place, and working with the same people you're familiar with and 2) I'll create a separate category.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Seriously?

Our mail comes late in the day. Dean and I left for the afternoon/evening, and didn't arrive home until 10:00. Dean pulled the mail out of the box, and what's in it? Our I-171h!!! The document I've been waiting for from USCIS! You know, the one they supposedly didn't mail until yesterday? (The federal holiday when there WAS no mail?)

I'm not complaining! Really, I'm not! I'm thrilled this is here, because now I'm not worried about it. I just don't get how they can say so many different things when clearly NONE of them was accurate. That is just craziness.

But we now all the documents we need are in our hands, or where they're supposed to be. God is SO GOOD!

Putting your trust in USCIS

Let me refresh your memory...

I was told, via email, that my I-171h (that's the document issued by USCIS that states we're approved to bring a child into the US) was put in the mail on November 2nd. This email came from a specific officer within the USCIS department. My adoption agency representative received the same information from a different officer.

At the same time the I-171h is issued to the adoptive parents, a copy is shipped to the National Visa Center (NVC) where it is then uploaded to the sharepoint for overseas access by the US Embassy.

And yet, that document never arrived to my house. I *have* to have that document in order for the US Embassy in Axel's country to issue him a visa to enter the US. If I don't have it, the Embassy 1) gets very upset and snarky 2) They can dig into their system to verify the information, and request information from USCIS in the states. This adds several days to your overseas process. 3) The US Embassy remains snarky because if I had that letter with me they would not have to do this.

So this morning I called USCIS yet again to find out where my document is. This time the person says, "Well, I don't know how that email could have said it was mailed out on the 2nd, because your worker didn't even get your file until the 5th! It may not even be DONE yet!"

You may now insert huge giant anxiety attack here!!!


As I tried to catch my breath, and tried to remember that this person only answers phones and is not responsible for whatever screw ups have happened up to this point, I said in my calm-but-soon-to-be-hysterical-voice, "I know that you're going to somehow find out for me that this is not true, and that it IS completed, because I am traveling in 16 days to complete this adoption with a date that was set based on the fact I was told my application was approved and my I-171h was in... the... mail!" 


I'm pretty sure I could feel her heart racing with mine. She put me on hold while she went to find a supervisor.

She came back a few minutes later. "I now have access to a database I've never had access to before! The officer assigned to your case is not here today, so my supervisor is letting me go into this database to track your file and tell you exactly where everything is. Oh this is fun!"

I was not feeling the fun. Normally, I would have been, but somehow today I was not!

"Ok, the officer received your file on the 5th. Again, it could NOT have gone out on the 2nd because it wasn't even possible. The file was completed on the 10th. The I-171h went in the  mail yesterday (this was pointed out to me later, the 11th was yesterday,  a federal holiday and their office was CLOSED! So how could this be??? Is there a secret we don't know about?) And the documents went out in a box via UPS 2nd day Air to the NVC yesterday. So you should call the NVC on Tuesday to make sure the have them. It will take them a few days to upload them into the database for the US embassy in (Axel's country) to access them. If something happens and they don't have them by Tuesday, you call back here and we'll have to send them again. You should have the I-171h by the end of next week. If you don't have it by Thursday you should call back here so we can get special permission to email or fax you another copy."

So, if some of you are reading who  have been told certain information by the USCIS, I would not necessarily believe what you have been told! I'm not even 100% sure that I want to believe what I was told today, even though Miss Happy on the phone got to read to me directly from a data base she's never had access to before!

The homestudy process? That was a PIECE OF CAKE!!! It's the stuff that comes AFTER that is rough! Maybe because our homestudy was done over almost 2 months time, and the rest of Axel's adoption has been done in a matter of a few very short weeks. We formally submitted for  him just 33 days ago, and it seems like I haven't stopped running since! I can't wait until we get him home and can catch our breath.

Something tells me we won't be sitting still for long. LOL

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where IS it???

On November 2nd, my adoption agency rep. emailed USCIS to find out if my approval was completed yet. On the 3rd she received a reply that my I-171h was mailed the day before. On the 4th I also received an email stating that I should be receiving it in the mail shortly.

Today is the 11th, and I still don't HAVE IT!!!! This is a serious problem.

And, of course, today is a federal holiday, so USCIS is closed. I will call first thing tomorrow morning, but there are only 8, count them EIGHT business days left after that for this to get straightened out before I leave.

No stress...no...no stress AT ALL!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Euro is Down Today

Those who are traveling soon, do you watch the exchange rates like I do? Tonight the Euro is down, which means today would have been the day to exchange US dollars for Euros. It's a daily game here now, watching the Euro, and there are several people here who read that are traveling to other countries, so I added a Currency converter gadget on my right sidebar. :-)

And the Winner Is.......

Wow, when we got the final list of contributors from Reece's Rainbow, we were amazed to not only see all the names, but WHERE all the names were from! There were people from Ireland and even South Africa. Thank you again, everyone, for helping us bring Axel home!

And now, enough babble! I know you just want to see Angela pick the winning name! (Angela wasn't quite awake yet when we did this, can you tell? LOL)




Monday, November 8, 2010

Flight is booked!

It's official! 20 days from now I will board a plane, and will arrive in the capital city of Axel's country on November 29th! Here I come buddy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Children He Didn't Want to See

Three years ago, I started following the families who were adopting children found through an adoption organization. I would read certain passages of their family blogs to Dean, sometimes having to stop because I was too choked up to say the words out loud. Sometimes he would ask me, "Why do you read those blogs? Why do you torture yourself with all that sad stuff? Really, I don't want to hear about it." Other times he would respond with a simple, totally unemotional, "Yep, that's sad." and walk away.

Dean didn't want to hear about these children. He didn't want to know about suffering, and transfers, and what some do-gooder who I was reading about online was doing. Besides, how do I know it's not all just some scam anyway? I'd never met any of these people!

This morning Dean and I were up early. We had a houseful of people coming over for Potato Klub, and were enjoying the early morning quiet checking our email accounts, etc. Yesterday Dean had finished painting Axel's bedroom, so I was getting ready to shampoo the carpet.

As we sat together in the quiet Dean said, "Wow, there's a lot of families traveling right now." He was on the Reece's Rainbow "Traveling Now" page, which lists all the families who are currently traveling to pick up their new children. Soon he'd navigated his way to the blogs of a couple different families, and smiled as he looked at the pictures of the first time they saw their child. He turned his computer toward me so I could watch a couple videos, one of a little boy getting to know his new mama, and producing one of his first signs.

"There are so man beautiful kids here." he said. I looked to see what page he was on. Ahhh yes. The girls ages 6+. They are the most "at risk" children. The are the children most in danger of getting transferred.  "If only we could bring them all home." he said.

And I know exactly what he means. There is no way one family can save the 147 million orphans in the world. But I sat there, in awe of what God had done in our household in the past year! He had completely changed Dean's heart from one that is cold and closed to hearing the cry of the orphan, to one that will fight for them. Every day I hear him tell someone, "We're adopting a child. A child who would otherwise have a very different life!" as he goes on to tell the story of Axel and Ianna.

Somewhere along the way God showed Dean that these two empty bedrooms in our house were meant to be filled with the sweet sounds of sleeping children. That the two empty seats at our dining room table were meant to have the smiling faces of two more children. That our hearts were more than capable of loving two more.

Today, on Orphan Sunday, I praise God for the miracles He has chosen for our family this year, and I'm excited for all that lies ahead. I know that it won't be easy, but that we're up for the challenge we've been commissioned to face.

What can YOU do for the orphans of our world? Perhaps one of the 200 faces of the waiting children on Reece's Rainbow is speaking to you? Maybe you'd rather support a family who is trying to raise the funds to bring their child home? There are so many ways that you can help through Reece's Rainbow, there really is an option for everyone!

To those who have lovingly contributed to our adoption fund, we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love. You have made a HUGE difference in Axel's future!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sharing the Reality

Over the last few months I've introduced you to my friend Julia, and her son Aaron who they recently brought home from Eastern Europe. For awhile Aaron's button was on my sidebar, until he came home and I was happily able to take it down.

Julia's heart is burdened, and I share that burden with her in other parts of Eastern Europe, as most of us involved in Reece's Rainbow do. Some of us have have been exposed to different sights and sounds, all connected by one common thread; Children who are waiting for someone to come get them, Facility directors who are using a small budget and to do as much as possible, caretakers who are caring for multitudes of children with too few hands. All of them are working against societal norms that have taught them these children, the ones with Down syndrome, CP, or other disabilities, have no value. They are doing their best...and we want to help.

Please go read Julia's post, since she speaks it so much more eloquently than I!

LAST CHANGE FOR iPAD GIVE AWAY!

The iPad Give away ends tomorrow at midnight!!! We have been blessed by a little over $2,000 received so far! WOW!!!

You have until tomorrow at midnight to enter. 

Apple® - iPad™ with Wi-Fi - 16GB

How to enter: $25 per entry, and of course you can enter as many times as you like! But, as an added bonus, any donation of $100 will give you FIVE entries!!! All donations are 100% tax deductible to Reece's Rainbow, which is a 501c3 non profit organization. 

Give away ends November 7th, and the winner will be announced November 9th. Please help us get Axel home by posting this on your facebook pages and blogs, and help us get Axel home! 

Remember $25 per entry, or $100 for 5 entries. Just click below to get to Axel's donation page. When you get there, click the "donate" button. Ready?????
  Give away is now closed, but if you'd still like to donate to help us get Axel home, every dollar helps!  

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Have A Date!

I have a date for an official meeting with the Ministry Officials in Axel's country on December 1st, 2010!

WOOT WOOT!

Now, I'm off to book some airline tickets!

*Because of the dates involved, it has been decided that I will be traveling alone. GULP

An Answer to Prayer

A couple days ago I posted about my school dilemma, and that was expected to show up to classes on January 7th. This development caused me more anxiety this week than you can even imagine! Not only financial, but logistical and...well...it was just a lot more to think about!

And then I remembered that give it over to God thing. You know that part? Sometimes when I'm freaking out I forget that part! As our travel gets closer and closer I become less able to think. So when I turned it over, you know, it got taken care of!

This morning I was supposed to call my admissions counselor back and tell him what I was going to do. I said, "I guess I'll be registering for classes." and then on a whim I said, "Unless you have someone who has been accepted for Fall 2011 who would rather start this January? I know that's short notice for them, but I guess it can't hurt to throw that out there."

"Well, funny you should ask that." he said, "Someone just called me yesterday to see if anyone had by chance backed out. Knowing you'd rather start next fall, I checked with administration to see if they'd be ok letting the two of you change seats. They said given the circumstances they'd make an exception."

So, I am officially no longer worried about school! WHOO HOO!!! In the fall of 2011, when my kids are ready to start school, so too will I be ready to go back!

Another Earthquake

There was another earthquake in the same area Thursday night their time (they're 7 hours ahead of us) This one listed as 4.3 on the Richter scale. It is listed as a quake, not an aftershock. (I suppose it's a difference in strength?)

To say we are nervous is an understatement.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

By the way...

The Ministry Officials have agreed to have us come the first week of December! In other words, that was our 100% last stamp of approval! We're just waiting for a specific DATE so we can book our flights. Hopefully we'll have it soon so we can get decent rates since we'll be flying when everyone else is flying home after the big Thanksgiving weekend!

Earthquake Update

Due to privacy issues I am not suppose to give information about where we're going until after Axel is officially ours, and yes, my blog is checked up on. Later, if I want, I can come back and edit, but for now it needs to stay this way, and can most certainly cannot be keyword searchable, so please accept my apologies for my cryptic posts. That said, it's obvious from the urgency of my post last night that the earthquake was VERY close to where Axel is located!

I received an email from our facilitator this morning. She is fine, but is in a different city approximately 75-80 miles away from where the quake happened. It was felt there, and they were a bit scared for a few minutes. There is another Reece's Rainbow family who I think is now on their way home. As far as I know our facilitator has not yet gotten word from Axel's social worker nor the foster family, however news reports are not saying anything about damage or injuries in Axel's specific town, so we are assuming he is fine.

Here is a link to some very specific information about the Earthquake, including distances from various cities. You'll see one city listed that is just 25 miles away. Please pray for that city!!!!!

Three hours after this quake, there was another almost as strong in Turkey. Also, Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria is just to the south and sits on the same fault line. It too is danger as shifting in the area continues. We have several Reece's Rainbow families due to travel to Bulgaria very soon, and all must come and go through Sofia.

When we travel in a few weeks we will be spending some time in Axel's city. I'm not sure how many days, as it depends on several things. Needless to say, Dean and I are both very nervous about this. Dean  is not the most adventurous person and has volunteered himself to stay home with Angela! I told him no...he's going along. We're not going to let some little 'ole earthquake make him miss a once in a lifetime opportunity. Meeting Axel in his home country can only happen once. There are no do-overs.

Please pray for Axel, and his safety and well being. I'm sure he is confused right now as there is discussion happening around him of what is to come next month. Please pray for his foster family, that they can find the words to explain this to him. That they can do so with love. Please pray for their hearts as well as they prepare to say goodbye to the boy they've cared for the past 2 1/2 years. Please pray for their grandaughter, Axel's foster sister. I know she adores Axel, and I'm sure these conversations are distressing for her. Please pray for Axel's social worker as she prepares all the necessary papers! I know she does her best to make this an efficient and quick process. She has worked hard to keep Axel where he is currently, and to advocate for him to find a family. Please pray for our facilitator, who must play the middle person between MANY people involved! She makes all the arrangements and does an amazing job. Not to mention, she also has all the children in the care center to take care of! She wears many hats, and she wears them well.

Lastly,  Please pray for us, that we can have a sense of peace as we get ready to travel to the other side of the world to bring Axel home. I am extremely stressed right now as I think about all the things that need to get done before we leave, and all that must get done as soon as we get Axel home. I know every adoptive family goes through these same feelings. They are new to me, and they're overwhelming. Dean worries about the money side of things, because that's the part I gave him. I did all the paper parts!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

URGENT! PLEASE PRAY!!!!!

We have reason to be EXTREMELY WORRIED about this earthquake, along with all of it's aftershocks!!!!!!!!!  I mean...EXTREMELY WORRIED!!

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/03/serbia.earthquake/index.html?hpt=Sbin

Some of you may remember that in April, my friend Shelley and I were trapped in Bulgaria for a week due to the Icelandic volcano that closed European airspace. That was *bothersome* compared to our level of worry. It was INSIGNIFICANT compared to our level of worry right now.

The words "FAR TOO CLOSE" for comfort would be an understatement.

Please pray!!

USCIS Approval!

Our Adoption agency emailed USCIS yesterday, and today recieved a reply stating that our approval was mailed yesterday! WOOT WOOT!!!! That is the LAST step on our end. THE VERY LAST STEP!!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Persistent

"Persistent

Definition: Persisting, especially in spite of opposition, obstacles, discouragement, etc.
Lasting or enduring tenaciously."

One reader emailed me today and asked what the status is with Ianna. I figured if one person asked, there are probably more wondering.

Basically, there is nothing to report about Ianna, other than to say we have not given up on her, nor have we stopped praying for her! Until all doors to the possibility of her adoption have closed and the keys thrown away forever, we will continue to be persistent.

We know there are people in Ianna's country who care for her, and want nothing but the best for her. It is hard for them to stand against the system that has a long history of only doing things a certain way. They have already saved her once from a horrible place, and I know they don't want to see her moved to such a place again. They are doing all they can to help Ianna find her way to a forever family instead of a transfer to a long-term care facility.

Please pray for the system there. They're trying to change, but change takes time, something Ianna is quickly running out short on.

USCIS update

Ok problem with USCIS figured out!

We were given a fingerprint appointment for November 17th, but where we live we're able to take our notice to the immigration office and have our appointment changed. It just so happens that they sometimes take you for they very time you show up to ask about changing it. ;-) So our fingerprints were done on October 26th.

However, the officer assigned to our case doesn't look to complete your file until two days after your ASSIGNED finger print appointment. She didn't know we were already done! Hopefully in the next few days our approval will be issued! Friday I'll call just to make sure.

Sometimes all these steps in the process make me nervous, especially when there is a timeline involved. Our agency is emailing Immigration as well to let them know we have a travel date pending, and that they are the only piece left to complete.

I did get an email today from our facilitator in Axel's country verifying that we wanted to arrive first week of December, which we do.  They are still working on calendars and final approvals on their end. We have all of our dog and kid caregivers in place and ready, we just need to tell them what day to be here.

USCIS question

For those who have previously adopted, here's a question:

Yesterday I called to check the status of our I-171, and was given the name of the officer our file was assigned to. I left a message.

Ever the patient person that I am (not) I called back today to just see if whoever answered would just tell me if the approval and been issued yet. This time I was told it had not left the Officer's desk yet, however i was given a DIFFERENT officer's name.

Any reason why the file would have a different officer today than it had yesterday?

Also, how long are your approvals usually taking from the day of your fingerprinting? It seems, from most the blogs I'm reading, anywhere from a week to three weeks for new files under the new system, and the old wait of weeks and weeks and weeks is getting less common.  We had our fingerprints done on Tuesday, October 26th.

The Power of 40

There is less than one week left of our iPad give away. For those who have not been watching Axel's donation page, $1,830 has been raised so far! We are SO thankful to all of you who have contributed! I am just in awe!

We had intentionally NOT listed our fundraising goal. If felt like God would meet our needs like he has all along this process. But there is a funny thing about goal setting. If nobody knows what your goals are but you, then you have NO support to help reach your goal! So yesterday I received an email from one of my new readers. He said, "I think it is important to share your story and to be willing to ask for help.I know this is not in your nature but it is also part of what you are here to learn."

And so, I'm going to tell you. Our goal for this fundraiser was $5,000. So we need a little more than $3,000 to reach our goal.

The power of 40.

If 40 people feel led to contribute, and each of them can get two more people, that is $3,000!!

Are you one of those 40?

Apple® - iPad™ with Wi-Fi - 16GB


How to enter: $25 per entry, and of course you can enter as many times as you like! But, as an added bonus, any donation of $100 will give you FIVE entries!!! All donations are 100% tax deductible to Reece's Rainbow, which is a 501c3 non profit organization.

Give away ends November 7th, and the winner will be announced November 9th. Please help us get Axel home  by posting this on your facebook pages and blogs! Spreading the word is key! Remember the power of 40!

Remember $25 per entry, just click below to get to Axel's donation page. Ready????? When you get there, click the "Donate" button.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dilemma of the Day

I haven't had a dilemma all week, so it's about time, right?

Those who are new here, let me get you up to speed.....

A year ago in September I went back to school full time, to get my degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. (aka Ultrasound Tech) This is a highly competitive field, and the program is extremely difficult to get into. I ended up  having to enroll in a different program (BA Psychology) in order to get all my generals done over the last year, then was put on the waiting list for the actual Sonography program.

And, VIOLA! I got a seat in Fall of 2011's program. PERFECT! I'd take this year off, get two adoptions completed, get everyone settled and into school next fall at the same time that I go back to school. PIECE OF CAKE, right?

Well, to all you newbies, you probably also don't yet know that I don't do ANYTHING the easy way! Oh, I have it all planned out in my head the right way, but that guy upstairs? Yeah, He keeps trying to teach me these lessons about "control" and stuff like that.

So in July or so I get a call that my name came up for Spring semester, which starts January 7th. Well...what if I don't want that seat? I didn't SAY that, but I wanted to. I knew the answer was going to be, "If you don't want it, why did you enroll when we only take 20 people a year, and there are 120 people who applied????"

Well, because I didn't know we were ADOPTING, that's why! Because **GOD** didn't include me on the email to the universe that said,

"Memo: On April 7th, 2010, I'll be performing an atomic shift in the atmosphere, which will cause the stars to change their alignment. When this happens, that man......the one living in that house located at (insert our address) will read the blog post written by his wife, and will cry. At that precise moment, a decision will be made which will change the course of their lives forever."

Yeah, that email. I didn't get that one.

So anyway, in July the admissions counselor called to tell me the WONDERFUL news, that I was accepted for January. She could hardly contain herself. I, on the other hand, was in tears on my end of the phone. When I told her my dilemma, that we were waiting to find out news on IANNA'S adoption, and it's possible we would be traveling, she said "Well, you took all your generals. You'd only need to take 2 classes, which are both offered at night."

Ok, that's do able. Only problem is it's only 6 credits so not covered by financial aid. I'd have to come up with about $2000 out of pocket to pay for those two classes. Lovely. BUT, she said I could, at the last minute, defer my seat to fall 2011 semester and allow another student to take the seat. I'd still need to accept the spring seat at the moment, and defer later on. So I planned on doing that. Like the middle of October.

Fast forward to today. Today is November 1st, isn't it?

School called, and it was my admissions counselor. With all that has blown up with Axel's adoption, I have completely forgotten about school. Totally and completely forgotten. My counselor asked me, "I'm calling because you haven't registered for classes yet. Registration closes on the 11th."

UH OH. CRAP!

I explained to him that I was going to defer to Fall 2011 semester. That I'm going to be bringing a child home, it's possible I won't be home in time for the January 7th start date (Lord, Please let me be home by then! I should be home by then!!!!) but we're also hoping to have another adoption happening in the spring, and I can't miss three weeks of class. It would be better to defer to next fall.

"Not even possible" he said. All those seats are full.

UH OH

Ok. Umm.

Well, I'm hoping to have a travel date by Weds at the latest. (was actually hoping to have it today, but got an email this morning saying a couple more days.) so he said to call him back on Thursday morning, in the meantime he's going to call the other admissions counselor to find out what she told me. He was NOT happy with me, really.

And do I ever feel like an irresponsible heel. I haven't checked my school email since July, and there were two informational events I should have attended in October. I read over the program handbook today and I have about $1000 to spend on supplies. OUCH!

Thankfully, if I do have to start in January, I do only have 2 classes to take, and yes, they're both evening classes when Dean is home. Umm, one of those classes is PHYSICS. Blech! But starting in May????? I AM IN TROUBLE! Wow...14 credits during Summer semester, and most of those classes are during the day. You know, when the kids are home? Lovely! 12 credits the next, semester, but the kids will be back in school. For each credit it's at least 3 hours of homework.

Needless to say, once I got that phone call today, my stomach has been in knots not because of the adoption, but because of school anxiety!!!

I'm thinking this needs prayer. Really, prayer that it works for me to defer to fall of 2011. There is no way we can bring Ianna home if I'm in school this spring. I just don't see how it could work unless they let me choose my travel dates and I can work it in over my spring break and only miss one week of school, then I'd only miss one day of each class. Still, that would be awfully risky. I did that last spring and ended up getting stuck in Bulgaria because of the Icelandic volcano and had some NOT very happy professors!!! It ended up causing my school to totally revamp their absentee policy for finals week since that stupid volcano made me miss finals!

So, that's my dilemma of the day!

Loosing hope

Dare you to watch it.


Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.