COURT

Long overdue I know.

As much as it’s adjustment to go to a foreign country for a week, it’s a big adjustment to come back home too. We have family visits to try to get in, two girls who missed Mama and Papa, laundry, more laundry, housework, chores, jobs to catch up on, etc.

Add into the “funk” that we keep finding ourselves in once we’re home and it’s a disaster around here. Add to it, the girls are both cutting teeth and got flu shots on Thursday. And then, I managed to catch a cold Sunday too. Anyway, I want to document all the emotions that encircled the COURT experience before I forget.

The night before court we went to bed a little late. Once we recover from the jetlagged induced coma’s of the first 24 hours, our bedtime in region falls at about 7am EST so it’s hard to make yourself sleep. We woke up in the morning and our nerves were a wreck. I checked the weather and saw that it was about 45* out. Not great news for my summer dress/sweater and bare legs. I at least was rational enough to know our adoption wouldn’t be denied based on non-weather appropriate clothing. I couldn’t force myself to eat, but I did manage a glass of coke. I threw a honey bun and OJ in my bag as well in case I had a minute of calm. Court was at 9:30am and Vita was picking us up at 9am. We walked downstairs early and were surprised to see Vita waiting for us. She’s very punctual but usually waits outside in the car. She was dressier than she’s been. You could feel the tension in the air from Vita as well. We hopped in the car and jetted off to the adoption center. We were picking up the lawyer from the adoption center on our way.

At the adoption center, Vita hopped out and about 10 minutes later came out with a piece of paper we had to sign. So at 9:15am on the morning of court, we were still signing important court documents. Then Vita tells me I need to basically memorize what’s on this sheet (in a different language!) as the judge will expect me to know it! Um.. no one told me I had to memorize!

Finally at 9:22 or so, the lawyer comes out. She was very young and dressed fashionably. Definitely a shock. I’m too worried about being late to absorb much.

We cram into the car and head over to the court house. We had seen this building before since Thursday Vita had to file some more paperwork with the court secretary. We went through “security”. Someone let me know if you can explain this. You put your bags on a table, walk through a metal detector and then get your bags. But you don’t have to take anything out of your pockets for the metal detector so it keeps going off and the guards don’t seem to care. And your bags don’t have to go through the metal detector at all? So what’s the point of the metal detector?

Anyway, after some more “come here”, “sit here” and “wait here” from Vita we went into the court room. They had the window open. It was no more than 60* degrees in the room. It was probably a 15’x25’ room. There was a raised portion at the front with 3 nice chairs and there were tables lined up perpendicular to this. Then in between the perpendicular tables there were probably 8 rows of benches – very uncomfortable wooden benches.

Vita gave me some more last minute pointers and all the other people chatted like they all knew each other. Eventually at what I’d estimate to be 9:45, the judge came in. He was 50-ish, smaller stature, gray hair, and blue eyes. He was serious, professional with a slight hint of don’t mess with me.

Everyone in the court room was introduced. Some of these translations missed us because we thought the guy sitting off to the side in the odd uniform that doodled the whole time was the security guard. Nope, he was the prosecutor! So we had him, Vita and I on the front row. The orphanage director and the adoption center attorney on the 2nd row and the child advocate on the 3rd row. To the right of us was the court secretary at a table and to our left was the security guard turned prosecutor. Basically, everyone was positioned to stare at me. He and I elected me to be our family spokesperson which meant that Vita and I had to stand the entire time we were questioned. My feet started to hurt even though my heels weren’t that high. He complained that sitting in the bench for that 2 hours was harder. Who knows. Anyway, for two hours, I was questioned about EVERYTHING.

If you are adopting from this region email me and I will give you details of some questions I skipped here. Without further ado, here’s the list of things I had to answer:
1 .     Tell me about yourself.
2.      Why did you decide to adopt?
3.      Why this country?
4.      Why Sweet Girl?
5.      Family history of adoption.
6.      What was the date of your marriage?
7.      He noted that I had a divorce while I was in college and then I was grilled on that. What was the date of marriage and divorce of your first marriage? Why did this marriage fail? Are you sure you won’t get divorced again?
8.      Tell me about your financial situation, your jobs and how much do you make?
9.      How much is left over at the end of the month?
10.    Can you afford another child?
11.    Did you have medical exams in the US and in this country?
12.    Are you healthy?
13.    Tell me about your biological children.
14.    How long are they in daycare?
15.    Why do you want one more child? But your children are so young?
16.    Wouldn’t you like to wait to have another child?
17.    Tell me about your living conditions.
18.    Do you own your house?
19.    Tell me about the neighborhood.
20.    Tell me about your religion.
21.    Did you know Sweet Girl was baptized?
22.    Was your homestudy authorized? What was the outcome?
23.    Do you have experience with older children?
24.    What training did you do?
25.    Your homestudy says you attended school at a Baptist Day School. Are you Baptist? Is this prodestant? Please explain this.
26.    Do you know about the legal consequences of adopting?
27.    Do you know what makes international adoption different?
28.    Do you know you have to register Sweet Girl at the consulate?
29.    Do you know you have to do post placement reports?

So at this point, I’m clipping along. These are all questions we’d discussed except the Baptist one since I forgot that was in my home study. I’m thinking he’s wrapping up. Nope.

30.    Will you be able to support your family if one of you loses your job?
31.    Do you know about the Russia/US Treaty that was just signed?
32.    You know that after September 1st you would have been required to have more training?
33.    Are you aware that if the laws change again, you could be required to comply?
34.    Do you know why the treaty was signed? (Trick question! Got this one right though!)
35.    Have you heard about the news stories of mistreatment of Russian children?
36.    Would that happen to Sweet Girl?
37.    Tell me about meeting Sweet Girl.
38.    Tell me about this trip.
39.    How do you plan to communicate with her?
40.    Do you know about her character?
41.    What do you know about her medical conditions? (this was the sheet I memorized in the car!)
42.    In spite of what the reports say about her, you still want to adopt her?
43.    Are you prepared to treat her current and any future medical needs?
44.    Did you have meetings with Sweet Girl in the presence of the orphanage staff?
45.    Did you get all necessary info from them?
46.    Did they mistreat you?
47.    Did they demand anything from you?
48.    Do you know about Sweet Girls biological family?
49.    (Detailed questions here about her bio family)
50.    Is your home ready for her?
51.    Will you put her in daycare?

At this point, I could care less what my extended/emotional answers should be. I’m just answering as succinctly as possible.

52.    How long will she be in daycare?
53.    Will you parent her or will someone else? (?? Huh?)
54.    Will you keep the adoption a secret from her or anyone else? (she’s 4???)
55.    Does NC allow you to adopt a child?
56.    What do you plan for her activities? ( I said ballet, gymnastics and soccer – excellent Eastern European passtimes)
57.    Do you receive any financial assistance for her?

Finally, he was done with me. Whew. Remember that he asks in his language, Vita translates to me, I answer in English and she translates back to him.

He asked Him to stand and asked if He had anything to add. He said no. Vita told him he must say something so he said a couple sentences about caring greatly for Sweet Girl and wanting her to be a part of our family. He then asked the court for permission to adopt her.

Then, the security guard stood up and we realized he wasn’t the security guard. Oops. The prosecutor asked:
1.      Do you have any bad habits?
2.      How do you plan to maintain her heritage and culture?
3.      Are there resources available to you?
4.      (some specific questions on her history)

Then the orphanage director was introduced and she said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption.

Then the child advocate spoke and said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption. We didn’t think anything of it as we had no reason to believe someone might disagree, but then the judge said, “This is the first time the administration of the Vladimir region has ever supported an adoption to an international family. Are you aware of that?” She stated that she was, but in this case, the region felt as if we were truly the best family for her. It was a great sign.

Then the adoption center lawyer said her bit. She stated she was in support of the adoption.

The judge then started at the top of our pile of documents and read what each one was and summarized it. Then he got to our document that we had to do at the last minute back in the US that we thought would hold up court. He read it, set it down and moved on. Vita, Heand I audibly exhaled and relaxed on the bench.

Then everyone in order had to again go through their permissions/declarations. He and I had to ask permission to adopt and the others had to confirm that the adoption was in the best interests of the child.

The judge left and then we waited for about 15 minutes. The others sat and chatted. They attempted to make conversation and asked us how much plane tickets to Russia cost and how many times we had to come. We explained we had to come 4 times and that plane tickets were $1500-$2000 per person each time. Vita said that was about 50,000 rubles per ticket or 400,000 in rubles just for plane tickets and they all seemed shocked. I think they are confused why we do this. I’m not confused. I do it for her. From the moment I saw her picture with her little red curls I knew she was mine.

After 15 minutes, the judge came back in and said she was ours too. Sweet relief it was over!

Here’s everyone but the prosecutor and judge. Vita is taking the picture.

Court secretary, orphanage director, attorney and us.
Friday afternoon we were asked not to see Sweet Girl. The Director has an inspection happenning and she thought it would be confusing and crazy. We were sad, but we respected her wishes.
So instead of a visit, we walked around her town some and took some pictures for her to see later. Here are a couple.
On Saturday we got up at 5am to drive to the airport. We got there in more than enough time and while in line to check in, met another family who was on their gotcha trip with their two new daughters. It was nice to meet then and talk to people who understood English. We bumped into them again before boarding our flight and then learned they were sitting 3 rows behind us and then we saw them again at customs in JFK. Watching them navigate the airport with the little ones helped us greatly as we are planning our own gotcha trip.
You better know what gate you are supposed to be at because unless you speak this language, there is no way to confirm the city is right!

The flight home was uneventful. The flight from JFK to CLT had issues, but we ended up in Charlotte about 11:30pm on Saturday – about 24 hours straight of travel.

So now we wait for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the adoption is final and she’s ours. But, in our region, the passport takes 3 weeks, so we will have to go back and apply for the passport and then go back again 3 weeks after that to pick her up.

“I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come for you!”  John 14:18 
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Bubbles! (Trip 2, Day 2)

The rest of Day 1-

I attempted to finish this last night, but after being up for 24 hours with just cat naps on the plane and in the car, I just couldn’t do it, so here’s the rest of Day 1.
We got on the plane and settled in. We felt like we had just finished our Chili’s dinner, but within about 90 minutes of taking off, they started serving dinner. We had heard that the Delta food wasn’t as good as the Aeroflot food, but it seemed about the same to us. Our choices were cheese tortolini or a baked chicken and vegetables. Here’s his chicken:

The flight was uneventful. The in-seat entertainment was better on the Aeroflot flight, but this was fine. It felt like there were a few more movie choices, but they also had some pay movies. When it got dark outside, we attempted to nap.

Fast forward some sore bottoms and tired hours later, we got to Day 2!

Day 2:

About 90 minutes before we landed they served breakfast. It was a banana, orange juice and some sort of hot pocket breakfast burrito with egg and sausage. Meh.

We arrived at the big airport at about 9:30am, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. We knew where we were going and what line to get in to go through passport control this time. We quickly made it to baggage claim and then waited, and waited, and waited. Finally our bags showed up and we went through customs. He knew this time to not make eye contact and keep walking so he wasn’t pulled aside this time.

As soon as we went out, there was Vita waiting for us! Such a welcome sight!

We went out and were excited to see Ilya was our driver again. We had requested him, but never got confirmation of if he was available. They all drive like crazy people, but we had grown attached to Ilya and his broken English and talk of cars and technology. We are also learning that Ilya can understand almost everything we say.

We got into the town with the orphanage in under 3 hours this time (it was over 4 on the first trip because of traffic). We checked into the hotel and unpacked a little until it was 3:15 and time to go visit our Sweet Girl. Not the most perfect first picture, but after hugs, she went straight for the bag of toys.

We had a brief diversion with the markers, but very quickly we settled on bubbles. We initially told her we couldn’t play with the bubbles inside, but the weather is cold and rainy here this week so we weren’t sure we’d get to use them. The director of the orphanage stayed for our visit this time and chatted with Vita and at some point she allowed us to use the bubbles inside. After she saw the floor, she might have regretted that decision!

We tried markers again, but she was more interested in cutting the paper up into strips and squares. We were a little nervous she’d cut herself or try to cut her hair/clothes, but she was pretty good. Made us nervous though! We haven’t had court yet we can’t injure her!

When Papa started taking more pictures, she remembered the camera too and took about 30 pictures of her surroundings. She’d frame it in the viewfinder and then while she tried to push the shutter, she’d always lower the camera. So, we have lots of shots like this:

It was sooo good to feel her again. She’s still a little skiddish on touches and affection, she can’t tolerate it for long, but I try to get some snuggles in real fast. I think that once we take custody of her we are going to find out that she’s learned to be so independent as a defense. I think our attachment is going to be a hard fought battle. We’re ready though and we certainly won’t give up.

If My Heart Had Wings

Night 0: It took us a little longer than normal to pack because we had 160# of stuff that had to fit perfectly into 2 suitcases, 1 carryon and 1 backpack. But we needed to manage our space combined with our liquids, combined with the weight limits. We finally at 10pm managed a perfect 49# per suitcase and made sure all the liquids were packed. The 8# of donated toothpaste for the orphanage certainly didn’t help!Day one: We woke up this morning at the normal time and got ready. Then the first challenge of the day came. The girls slept in a little this morning which meant that when we were ready to go, we got to go up and be the ones to wake them. Cranky was her normal smiley self in the morning. She is such a cuddle bug. Happy on the other hand takes after her mama. If you wake her, she is cranky pants. She was a little fussy, but when she saw mama and dada in her room she was all smiles. We gave them their milk and got in some last minute cuddles.

The trip to Charlotte was uneventful and we checked in with no problems. We proceeded to our gate and waited for our flight. Our first baby “issue” was that he and I didn’t have seats together on the first flight. We didn’t want to be difficult and put up a fuss. We were just a row apart and this was only a 2 hour flight, we would live. But God let it be known quickly that He is in charge of this week. We were passengers 3 and 4 on the plane (thanks Delta AMEX) but one of the first people who walked to the back where we were was his row mate. Before she even got to the row, she was already calling out, “I’ll move seats so you guys can sit together!” We jumped on the chance and I was thankful that I started this trip out with my Rock.

When we got to JFK we found out that since we weren’t switching airlines, we could walk to the other terminal and save the trouble of the last flight which caused us to leave security and go back through. We also had a new game plane.. Last time, were were on such a budget mode we made out last meal in JFK something from fast food. This time, knowing it would be out last decent meal, we splurged on Chili’s which is one of my back home favorites.

While we were sitting at Chili’s and talking about how far we’ve come, a song came on the radio. It was Faith Hill’s “If My Heart Had Wings”. I hadn’t heard the song in a long time, but as I sat and listened to the words I thanked God for providing it.

Damn these old wheels
Rolling too slow I stare down this white line
With so far to go
Headlights keep coming
Loneliness humming along

Who poured this rain
Who made these cloud I stare through this windshield
Thinking out loud
Time keeps on calling
Love keeps on calling me home
I’d jump all these mountains and take to the skies
Sail through the heavens with stars in my eyes.

If my heart had wings
I would fly to you and lie
Beside you as you dream
If my heard had wings
We both committed
We both agreed
You do what you have to to get what you need

Feeling you near me with so many miles in between
Lord, it ain’t easy out here in the dark
To keep us together so far apart

It was also very fitting that the song played 5 minutes after he and I talked about what time it was in your city. We determined it to be about 9pm and therefore you would be sleeping. Coincidence that the song talks about being with you while you dream? I think not. We board our flight to your capital in about 90 minutes. Until then, we found a little charging station cafe thing. We are making sure that all of our electronics have maximum charge to get us through the next leg. Then it’s a short 9.5 hour flight and we’re on your home soil. I can’t wait to feel you so close to me again. I don’t know if we’re going to get to see you tomorrow or not, but we hope so. Sweet Girl, Mama and Papa didn’t forget. We are coming back. I long for the day to tell you that you can come home with us!

Weary…

This has been a very hard week on the adoption front. I’m growing weary. At a time when the end is in sight and I can see the finish line, I just can’t seem to find the strength to get over these last few hurdles.
We got a court date for August 31st. We leave in 10 days. We should be jumping up and down, we should be so excited, but we can’t, because once again, there might be one simple piece of paper that’s missing that could bring it all come crashing down. I feel like for every single document, for every step of this process, the burden has been on he and I to fight for our Sweet Girl. Nothing has come easy. Nothing has been simple. After months on end of EVERY DAY having to fight for something, we are drained.
I can’t wait for the judge to ask if I will treat this child as my own, if I will love this child. I want to tell him that beyond a shadow of a doubt she is already my child. I already love her as my daughter. I want to look him in the eyes and tell him that every day of this journey I have fought for her and I will not rest until she’s sleeping in her bed, in her house, with her mommy and daddy saying prayers with her and telling her stories.
As I was listening to the radio in the car on the way to work this morning, I was thinking of how of course I won’t give up, of course we’ll keep going. I suddenly realized that this is what God does for us every day.
He fights for the souls of his children.
Through war, poverty, hunger, and more, He battles for us.
Yet, He’s never grown weary and He’s never thought of giving up.
So when today, we grow more weary still by the battles yet to fight to bring her home, I will remember, that I don’t have to be strong, my Father is already strong for me.
Until she is in our family pictures, we won’t rest.
Saving a spot for you Sweet Girl…

A Thousand Years.

In between the milestones sometimes it feels as if this is a dream. It feels like we never met her and she’ll never be ours. Then, the milestones hit and I read the words… court dossier registered… and then in a rush, the reality sweeps over me and my fingers get tingly. I catch the breath in my chest and I can’t focus. I can’t remember what I was doing 5 minutes ago.
The next several hours pass in a blur as my imagination goes crazy. What will the date be? When will we leave? Does anything have to be rescheduled? Then more, does she miss us? Does she remember us? Does she know how her life is to change?
Then, even more, I hope she’s home by Halloween to see her sisters in their elephant costumes. I wonder if she wants to be the ring leader or another animal. I wonder if she’ll be sad not seeing as much snow this winter. I wonder if she’ll like my cooking. I wonder how she’ll be as a teenager, as a young woman. I imagine her as a mama.
No matter how far my brain takes those thoughts, I am always brought back to the first minute we saw her. So many people have asked what it was like to see her for the first time. Her groupa leader led this scared little girl into the room, dropped her hand and left. She stood standing there for a minute with big tears just waiting to fall as she looked around at us. I instantly had tears in my eyes for her and rather than rush to her and attempt to comfort her, I let a more familiar person go to her.
A sweet fellow adoptive mama, posted a song online today. As I read the lyrics, my breath caught again and there I was. Watching her watch me. Willing her to know.

“Heartbeats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall

But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you

Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more
Time stands still

Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me

Every breath
Every hour has come to this
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you

Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more
And all along I believed I would find you

Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more
One step closer
One step closer
I have died everyday waiting for you

Darling don’t be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more
And all along I believed I would find you

Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I love you for a thousand more

-Christina Perry “A Thousand Years”

My favorite lines: “Beauty in all she is. I will be brave. I will not let anything take away what’s standing in front of me.”
Now the judge has 10 days to issue a court date or request more documents. Even if he requests more documents, he can just request that we bring them when we come for court so we don’t have to wait for a court date.
My Sweet Girl, I have loved you for a thousand years and I will love you for a thousand more.

Yardsales, Court Updates, and More!

(written by him)
7/28 was our big fundraising yard sale for Sweet Girl. Before I get into how that went, its been a while since we had a blog entry so let me fill you in on all thats been happening… its been an odd feeling since returning from our first trip and meeting Sweet Girl.
Now there is a person attached to the name and an understanding of her personality and some fond memories. I find most of my time contemplating what the return visit will be like. Will she remember us? Will we pick up right where we left off with big hugs and flying leaps or step back to square one with caution and timidness? Sweet Girl’s orphanage appears to receive missionary visitors on occasion, so I’m sure she’s used to new faces coming into play with her and her groupa, but she probably never has experienced the same faces returning, let alone returning just for her. I continually wonder if she realizes we are her parents, that she ultimately will be leaving with us to start her new and loving life, or if all the excitement is centered around having new attention from outsiders. But either way, I’m comforted by the thought of seeing her smiling face again, no matter the reason.Last time, once we got back from eastern europe, it took some time to readjust to our normal schedule and become reintegrated with the life we left on hold. The twins were thrilled to see us! Both their grandmother and school informed us they had become increasingly more curious and wondering where we were as the week went on and our few Skype interactions brought out the biggest smiles in them.

We had returned just in time for July 4th holidays. Our family has made a tradition of spending this holiday unplugged and relaxing in the NC mountains with close friends and family, so we barely got home and settled before packing up the entire family to head for an extended weekend away. Because we had just returned from a weeks vacation traveling to meet Sweet Girl, we weren’t able to afford any additional time off from our respective jobs for our annual trip. Thankfully my job occasionally offers me the flexibility of working remotely where I was able to remain in the mountains with the girls, while she unfortunately had to put on some extra miles and return to town for work on Thurs and Fri. The girls enjoyed the thin mountain air and getting to experience the lake. We couldn’t help but imagine Sweet Girl joining us for our very next July 4th celebration… what would be her reaction getting to experience mountains for the first time?

After returning from the holiday weekend, we finally got settled back into our normal routine and an eerie silence. Since we had worked overtime leading up to our first trip, we had completed our court dossier in addition to our registration dossier and were able to travel with it and hand it over to our facilitator before returning home. With so much excitement and activity, its odd to be sitting still, not having to gather some document, signature or stamp. Since leaving country, we had been waiting on some documents our facilitator had requested to come back from the capital before she would be able to complete our court dossier and register us for a court date. With summer vacation, this took almost a month.  Just as things appeared to quiet down, we got word that our faciliator had received the waiting documents and spoken to the courts in Sweet Girl’s town… we would be allowed to formally submit our court dossier on Aug 8th! I’m not sure the reason for the delay, I believe it is a customary time for officials to take vacation around this time of year, so that might have had something to do with it. But at any rate, we had a date to look forward to that was less than 2 weeks away. To keep us occupied during that time, they mentioned some additional, non-standard documents that the courts in her region would require… we needed to collect 3 more. After collecting dozens and dozens, it seemed hardly a challenge. But we took several weeks and sort of ignored the not so fun part of adopting (paperwork and fundraising). We took our time and collected those and they went off to the facilitator and to be apostilled on Friday.

For some time since before our first trip, we had been collecting items from friends with the intention of holding a yard sale fundraiser. This would be our second large fundraiser after our online giveaway contest. We had several items around the home to sell and figured we could collect enough other items from friends and family to hold a yardsale. As our garage started to fill up with donations and the reality of traveling and expenses started to set in, it was time to pick a date. We hardly felt ready or prepared, but decided that picking a date would motivate us. Being that July was filling up fast having just returned from trip 1 and July 4th holday and August was starting to hold promise of our 2nd trip, we picked the last weekend in July, our 6 year anniversary weekend, giving us about 2 weeks notice to put together the yard sale. So we bought an ad in the local paper and locked us in. There was no turning back now!

Right up to the day before the yardsale, we were both unsure of how it was going to turn out. We had collected some items, but items didn’t really start to roll until there was less than a week left. It seemed every night the week of the event I was driving my truck to a new location to pick up donated items, a definite blessing, but frenzied all at the last moment. Then trying to source a substantial number of folding tables, clothing racks, and hangers to display items on was another challenge. Thanks to the Johnson’s and the Voigt’s for helping us out. We couldn’t have done it without them. And thanks to her mom for letting us have the yardsale in her front yard. It was an excellent location! All in all we raised about $1600!! Our goal was $800 so this doubled our expectations! It was a definite blessing, but reminded us that fundraising is tough and not for the meek! We took the camera, but never got a picture we were so busy!

We now have two last fundraisers:
1. A Christmas in July Auction – Yes, it’s August now, but this started in July! This is a joint effort of several families adopting from Sweet Girl’s country. You can see the items up for bid here: http://www.facebook.com/ChristmasInJulyAuction

To bid, just comment on the picture with your bid and at the end we will announce the winners and tell you where to pay. Then the person who donated the item will ship it to you! It’s loads of fun – like ebay for a good cause! The auction ends 8/12.

2. One of my friends from school has graciously set us up an account at indiegogo.com. We are understandably a little fundraised out, but we are excited to use this as our last push. There is a really awesome video of our first visit over there which is worth a look! You can see it here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Sweet-Girl . There are some great incentive’s for donations too!

AND, most importantly, pray for Vita this week (Wednesday or Thursday) – she is presenting our case to the judge and he will do a preliminary review of the documents and hopefully assign us a court date. I have talked to the only two other families who I know have adopted from this region and they both got about 2 weeks notice for court. This means that we could possibly travel as soon as 8/26!

 

6th 4th

Another week has passed – where is the time going? I’m so happy that the weeks are passing quickly – it means it’s one week closer to when we get to see you again! It also means one less week to get ready for you!

The last news we heard is still no news. I tried to think of a creative way to skip our third trip and just take 3 total, but our facilitator said it’s just not possible. We are hopeful to hear something this week. We’re desperate to get back to you!

We finally figured out what you are going to sleep on when you come home. It seems like it should have been an easy thing, but it was hard! One day this week Papa is going to put your bed together and then we can work on the finishing details of your room. Mama has already made you a quilt for your bed. Now I just need to make a couple of pillows, your curtains and a pillow sham for your bed. And hang the artwork and print your name letters and hang those up.

On July 3, we went to Annie’s house for our annual July 4th trip. This is the 6th year we’ve done this – or the 6th 4th. Every year the cast of characters changes slightly, but it’s always a good time. And the best part! We just have to bring food so it’s free!

Here are all the pictures! Next year you get to come! Yay! And Taylor will be very happy she doesn’t have to play with “all those babies!” And Olive gets to be there next year too if Olive’s Mama braves the heat with a wee one 🙂 And hopefully other friends will be on the way to #2 too!

+7 days

It’s been 7 days since we left your country. 10 days since we kissed your cheeks and said goodbye.It feels like it’s been a year, or more.
It feels like it was a dream, or maybe more appropriately, a nightmare. Where we got a wonderful week with you just to be ripped apart against our will.
It feels like we’ll never get back to you.

Our next trip will be for court. We’ll only get to see you 3-4 days for this trip too. We feel blessed that you live in the capital of your region so when we go for court we’ll get more time with you. We don’t know when court will be. We are hoping for August, but we’ve heard that lots of judges in other regions are taking August off.

I haven’t blogged all week because it’s painful. It’s hard to take myself back to you in my mind but know that it’ll be so much longer until we can come see you again.

I started selling little necklaces to help us raise the last little bit of money to bring you home.

Well, it doesn’t feel like a little bit, but compared to the whole total, it’s less. We started off thinking bringing you home would cost about $35,000. Wow, lots of money right? Well, when we got into it, we thought the total would be more like $45,000. But, now since we’re trying to bring you home in the summer, it’s going to be $55,000. Blah. Mama and Papa have wiped out all the easily accessible cash they had. And so many friends and your family have been trying to help too. We’ve come up with about $40k. We still need to find out where we can get $15k more. That’s only 600 necklaces 🙂

Since 600 necklaces is unreasonable, we’re also going to have 2 yard sales. One at grandma’s house and one at our friend Lesli’s house I think. I think we will try to do them on 7/21 and 7/28. We have had a few people give us some great stuff to sell, but we need lots more! Mama and Papa need to go through all their closets too and get more stuff! I’ve thought about going to the goodwill donation trailers at night and taking the donations people leave on the steps, but someone told me that was illegal. I don’t know where else to get donations of things to sell. It’s frustrating asking people for help when I feel like I am guilting them into helping.Maybe the yard sales will help us raise about $1000. Down to 560 necklaces, but I have a few more ideas of things we can try and sell. It’s hard to put myself out there for you when no one but your mama and papa love you this much. I’m so afraid I’m bothering everyone and they will love you less because your Mama and Papa harassed them for fundraisers. 


In other news..

On Tuesday night, Mama and Papa and Happy and Cranky are going to the mountains to see Annie for the 4th of July. The V’s are coming and so are the J’s. We hope to spend lots of time at the lake and eating good food! And it doesn’t hurt that all we have to bring is food and everything else is free.

See how much fun it looks! (Pics from last year)

Okay, well Cranky doesn’t look like she’s having fun here, but when we weren’t trying to get her into the water she loved it!

If you come home in September, then we will try to take a day trip to the mountains so you can see the house and the lake too. We have decided though that until at least Christmas we won’t have you spend the night anywhere but in your own house. We want you to feel secure and comfortable before we ask you to sleep in another bed.

Missing you sweet girl….