Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wooo Hooo!

Our documents were sent to our Little Dude's country on Wednesday.  Friday morning I received a text that USCIS has received our application.  Now begins the wait for things to be processed.  This will take time and perhaps a little longer due to the holidays both stateside and in EE.

Hang on little buddy, it looks like this will be your last institutional Christmas !

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Same Day Service... Are you kidding me?!?

The past 24 hours have been pretty amazing.  Thanks to the wonders of FedEx and online tracking, I had a front seat for it all.

As I said previously, our documents were sent on Friday.  They went to Madison via Memphis and were delivered to the Apostille's office bright and early Monday morning.  We chose to have them processed at the standard fee of $10 per document-- which can take up to 10 business days.  (There is the option of having them expedited for an additional  $25 per document.)  While we want to get our paperwork processed quickly and on it's way to EE, the fee difference on 42 documents just wasn't worth it.

[ Enter God ]

Not only were our documents delivered yesterday morning, they were processed and sent out  in the same day!  They arrived at our placing agency this morning.  If all goes as planned, they will be winging their way to EE tomorrow.

There's a lot more to the behind-the-scenes part of the past 24 hours.  Sometime I'll try to sit down and post about that.  Let's just suffice it to say that this whole thing is God's doing.  He's pulling everything together and stretching me in ways I never expected.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Madison and Dallas bound

As of 5pm Friday, our first set of documents is out of our hands.  Friday morning I was able to mail our form to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services).  This form heads to the lockbox in Dallas and then into the hands of Immigration officials who will review our Home Study, determine if we can indeed care for a child we've adopted internationally, and (hopefully) approve our request.  They will then assign us our date for digital fingerprinting.

Our packet that needs to be apostilled is sitting in a Madison FedEx facility right now (I know this because I've checked the tracking several times this weekend) and is scheduled to be delivered before 10:30 am tomorrow.

I've had to telephone the Certification Desk at our Secretary of State several times over the past few weeks to clarify things about the apostille process.  The people who've answered the phone-- yes, believe it or not you get an actual person  answering the phone, not an automated system-- have been wonderful.  They've gone beyond my expectations in answering my questions.  Now I'm hoping that these same wonderful people are having a particularly slow week and just waiting for our documents to arrive tomorrow so they can process them right away.  Hey, I can hope can't I???

On an entirely different note, our Adoption Bug t-shirt fundraiser page is up.  Adoption Bug allows us to raise funds toward our little guy's homecoming while letting you publically make a statement about Orphan Care.  I have my last minute Christmas gifts in my Adoption Bug shopping bag right now.

Speaking of Christmas, the business of collecting documents and completing paperwork has allowed less time for planning and crafting than I'd like.  Now that our documents are sent, I'm working at a fast and furious pace to complete all of the knitting and sewing projects I have queued.  I'm blessed to have a family who appreciates handmade gifts.  I really enjoy taking the time to make things for those I love.   Okay, time to get back to work.  I have 2 sewing projects that need completed before bedtime.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I have arrived!

I knew it was coming, but I wasn't sure when.  Today's the day.  The misinformed and misguided person hiding behind the blogger name Kaylee Lee gave me my Official Welcome  to the world of International Adoption... my first nasty blog comment.

Along with all of the great things social media provides, it also affords a spine to those who most likely lack one in face-to-face communication.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel the day this happened; I've witnessed it several times on other Reece's Rainbow families' blogs.  The remarks can be cutting and often not only directed toward the International Adoption process, but also the child's diagnosis of Ds.  I can honestly say I'm not at all angry... I'm actually sort of thankful.  This one comment posted by "Kaylee Lee" in hate has made me feel more like my little boy's Mama than anything else in our process to date.

In closing, I'm reminded of something I read earlier this morning:
             "Hurt people hurt people. But forgiven people are forgiving people and loved people are loving people."

I'm sorry Kaylee Lee for all of the hurt you've had to endure in life to bring you to this point.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We've Moved!

... well, not literally.
But today our Reece's Rainbow family profile moved from "Home Study in Progress" to "Compiling Dossier".  This is one more step in our journey to EE. 

Since we now have a 'completed' date on our HS, we can get our first packet of documents notarized.  The HS and notarized documents will then head to Madison for Apostilling.  Additionally, we can start to file our paperwork with US Immigration.  Once they receive our application and review it, we will be assigned a date for our biometrics (digital fingerprinting).

Oh, and on a side note, our Just Love Coffee that I ordered last Wednesday arrived today.  That's probably a good thing because now we're into the biggest phase of this journey-- compiling the bulk of our dossier.  I may need the caffeine!

Monday, December 12, 2011

HR 213 / S 2816

It's no secret that adoption fees can be quite hefty.  Currently, our government provides a $13,170 Adoption Tax Credit.  This credit, however, is set to expire the end of this year.  YOU can help.  Contact your Congressmen... ask them to please preserve the Adoption Tax Credit.

Not only does the tax credit help families who might have not been able to afford adoption, it also helps an already overstrained Foster Care system.

Making a difference is simple and will only take a few minutes of your time.  Pick up the phone and call... fire off a quick email... tell your friends and family to do the same.  Your Senator and Representative's contact information can be found here.  When contacting your Senator, reference bill S.2816 and your Representative, H.R.213.

A few minutes of your time may literally be the difference between life and death for an orphan. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One Less

As the clock on the wall ticks toward my bedtime, halfway around the world my friend Robyn prepares to meet her daughter.  In two short hours she'll gather her youngest in her arms for the very first time.  This moment has been 11 months in the making.  Little Grace has no idea how her life is about to change.  Her differences-- the unique genetic traits that caused her to be orphaned in her own country-- are the exact same qualities that have caused her family to work and pray toward this day.  Grace is leaving a culture who views her lack of pigment as a curse; she is gaining a family who understands the value of her life... a Forever Family  who will celebrate all of the things that make her uniquely Grace.

So with thoughts of Robyn and Grace on my heart, I'll lay my head on my pillow and thank God that there's One Less Orphan in the World Tonight.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I just have one thing to say... Thank You Jesus!  Kim, the woman I've been talking to in Virginia, just telephoned to say that my background check is done, she'll fax it to our HS agency today, and follow up with a hard-copy by mail.  As of yesterday, my form was MIA.  It had been 5 weeks since our HS agency had mailed it, 1 month since it was logged in to VA's system, "pending" last week when I called, and MIA yesterday.  Due to this, VA requested a copy of the form be faxed to them (which our HS agency did).  Kudos to Virginia for the less than 24 hour turn-around on this!  Despite me being a pain in Kim's butt over the past week, she's been great.  She's the Mommy of a 4yo little boy and I think she understands my "Momma Bear mode" and urgency in getting our Little Dude home.

God is Good!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just Love Coffee

Well, this is not about our clearance, but it is good news.  We were able to get our Just Love Coffee storefront up and running.

Just Love Coffee was founded by a family with a passion for coffee and adoption.  A portion of each purchase made through our storefront will help fund our adoption.

JLC is Fair Trade Certified and purchases only organic, shade grown beans whenever possible.  Additionally, they have committed 5% of their proceeds to the Coffee to Water program which seeks to provide clean water in developing countries.

Thanks for your support.  I'm anxious to hear what you think of the coffee.

Slow moving in the paperwork area...

I've watched the Feedjit bar on my blog and know many of you are checking to see what's up with us, so I guess I'd better update...

The saying "no news is good news" may not hold true in this case.  We're still waiting on the final background check to arrive from a state I won't mention by name right now.  Each of my calls has been met with the standard "it's our busy time right now... give it a few more days" and "it should be done today or tomorrow".  We've had almost a week of tomorrows since I got that response and it's still not done.  I obviously don't understand what all goes into background checks.  I thought a data base was searched based on your name, SSN, etc.  If that's the case, then why the backlog?  It's computerized!!!  It should be able to be done quite quickly since it does not involve someone sitting down and paging through a stack of paper files and every police report from the past 20 years.  Like I said, I obviously don't understand the process.

I was pleasantly surprised to have an actual person answer the phone when I called the apostille's office last week.  The lady was extremely helpful and as of Friday, there was only a 3 day wait for documents to be processed.  I continue to live in the hope that our documents can be completed, sent to EE, translated, and delivered to the Minister of Education before Christmas.  That would be a Christmas miracle!  Come-on (unnamed state), help us out with this one!!!

Speaking of Christmas miracles... Wednesday, my friend Robyn will be flying to China to bring home their little girl and return home Christmas Eve.  I'm so excited for them.  I'm also thankful for the many people who are stepping up to support Robyn's family during this time.  This anticipation and ministering to their family helps make our wait easier.  I have another friend who's in the process of praying about adopting and from what she's said, it's been good for her too.  We're not meant to live our lives alone... we were created for community... and I've certainly been blessed with a great community!

Hopefully my next post will say our background check is finished and we can move on to the next phase of this journey.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a GREAT Christmas gift idea

My bloggy friend Erin is making these super-cute necklaces.  She intially started making them as part of their fundraiser to bring home their little boy.
Her son, Sterling, is now home and her fundraising efforts are to raise money for a Waiting Child.  She is Yegor's Christmas Warrior and her goal is to raise $1,000 for his adoption grant by December 31.  Hop over to her blog... if you donate to Yegor, she'll make you the necklace of your choosing (see her blog for specifics about $ amount to donate).  Additionally, if you donate $35 or more to a Reece's Rainbow Waiting Child, you'll receive a Christmas ornament with his/her photo on it (see the Reece's Rainbow page for details).

What would be even greater than Yegor getting $1,000 added to his fund is if his family found him this Christmas.  This little guy needs a family soon.  He's almost 5yo and could be facing transfer out of the baby house-- to an adult mental institution-- very soon.

These necklaces make great gifts... check them out.
And if you see me, be sure to ask to see my necklace with a photo of our Little Dude!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's happening now?

As soon as the final background check comes in, our Home Study will be complete.  (One from each state in which you've resided since age 18 is required.)  It's been somewhat of a restful time knowing there is nothing more I can do until the HS is finished.  Today, however, I feel the urge to get our documents in order so that they're "ready and waiting" for our trip to the Notary the minute our last clearance arrives.  I'm also exploring Adoption Grant options since most of them require us to have a valid HS at the time of application.

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful that our credit union offers Notary service at no additional charge to us, and for Kathy, the International Program Assistant at our HS agency, who's been doing her best to track down and speed along our background checks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

For such a time as this

This subject is something that rolls around in my mind from time to time.  While it doesn't have its roots in our adoption, it seems to creep into many areas of my life-- including this adoption.  Most of the time it'll surface in my thoughts then be crammed back into the recesses because 'I just don't get it'.

Why have I been brought to this place in my life?  What have I done to receive such a blessing?  Haven't there been so many more deserving people come before me?  And yet God's chosen me.  He's chosen me to be Mommy to a little boy from EE... all 47 chromosomes of him.

My four years of parenthood has taught me more about God's nature than all of my previous years of Sunday School, VBS, and Bible Studies combined.  It's offered a glimpse into how God must feel.  There are days that parenting toddlers is downright tough.  Yet despite their disobedience, there is never a time where I want to withhold my love or remove my hand of protection from those 2 little boys.  Is there correction and punishment?  Sure.  However, I'm continually seeking ways to shower them with blessings because they're my sons.

So maybe four years into this parenthood gig I'm starting to 'get it'  a little bit.  This blessing of our little guy is not about anything I have done... It's my loving Father showering me with His very best despite all of my shortcomings.  And for that, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Never far from our thoughts

As is the case with most moms, my children are never far from my thoughts.  Even when I go somewhere without them, I'll catch my eyes darting around the room to check on their whereabouts before remembering I'm traveling solo.

The same is with our newest little dude.  He is constantly on my mind and his absense weighs on my heart.  That was the case this morning.  I was thinking about our little guy while driving to Pre-School when  I heard the impassioned plea of our 4yo... "Mommy, can you go get _______?"  (insert his name in the blank)

If a heart breaking was audible, you'd have heard mine.  I choked out an answer as best I could.  How do I explain in toddler terms all has to be accomplished in order for his brother to come home?  These are children whose concept of time is defined by the 'number of sleeps' until an event occurs. 

While I have faith that we one day will bring our little guy home, I am keenly aware that each of those 'sleeps' until then I will only be able to kiss 2 of my 3 boys goodnight.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Heart's Desire & Lips' Request

This morning I had somewhat of a revelation.  It happened in the space between the time when I start to gain consciousness and my feet actually hitting the floor.
Over the past few days Psalm 21:2 has been rolling around in my head.  "You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips." 

In some ways I think the journey to our little guy began 30 years ago.  I was in 7th and 8th grade when I read the National Inquirer  during "free reading time" in Language Arts class.  (Right now some of you are thinking "What?!?  Your teacher had National Inquirer  in her classroom for free reading?"  There are others of you who also had 'Mother Rupert' as a teacher and it makes perfect sense.  But I digress.)  Each issue had two small photos of adoptable Special Needs children.  I remember praying that God would give me one of them because I'd want and love him/her despite the challenges.

That prayer, while sincere, was soon forgotten.  I moved on to the "more important" things in the life of an 80's teen... like Jordache jeans and BIG hair.  Though I forgot, God did not.

Eastern Europe is not a region I had ever wished to adopt from.  My heart was moved for Haiti, Kenya, and China.  There were things about each of these places that made perfect sense to me... we had friends there, we had traveled there, we knew some of the culture, and so on.

While competing in Summer Biathlon in the 90's, I had an opportunity to travel to Northern and Eastern Europe.  It was an amazing trip and I hoped to one day return.  To date, that has not happened.  And with the birth of our babies, I figured it would be quite a few years before it did.

That's where my 'revelation' from this morning comes in... not only has God granted me the desire of my heart in adopting a child with Ds, He is also fulfilling the request of my lips to one day return to EE.

This journey is amazing and the things God has orchestrated to get us to this exact time in our lives blows me away.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My friends rock!

Proverbs 31:13-- She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

Yesterday was a great day.  I was a reminded of how wonderful my friends are.  Being an avid knitter, the plan was to gather my knitting/crocheting friends for a whole day of knitting.  The goal was to craft hats for my friend Robyn to take to her daughter's orphanage when she travels to bring her home in a few weeks. 

Shortly after 8am, my first friend arrived with her yarn, crochet hook, and son.  Quickly, our home began to overflow with yarn, knitting needles, and children.  The kids had a great time playing while the Mommies worked and talked. 

This continued throughout the day and after a short break around supper time, the 'night owls' arrived.  It was close to 11pm before the yarn and needles were packed up for the night.

Here's our basket at day's end:
(Several hats were made prior to our get-together yesterday and there are a few more still "on the needles".)

I am so blessed to call this group of ladies my friends. 

P.S.  Don't put your needles away too soon... I'm going to call on your skills again when it's our turn to travel!   :o)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Please Pray

Since having my heart opened to Special Needs adoption (and particularly Down syndrome), I've read many amazing stories of God placing orphans in families.  One such story is unfolding even as I type.  A Mommy and Daddy left Pennsylvania yesterday to fly halfway around the world and bring their daughter home.  Here is a link to their blog and a photo of little Katie.  One bit of information you won't gather without digging deeper into their journey is that Katie is actually 9 years old and weighs just 11 pounds.  That is not a typo, it's a sad reality... 11 pounds at 9 years old.

This is a family who gives God all of the glory.  Please lift them up in prayer as they perform the final steps in receiving custody of Katie, the transition, and their subsequent return to the United States with a medically fragile child. 

God places the lonely in families;
He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
                                                                      --Psalm 68:6

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For the Curious

More than one person has asked about the vest that I said I was knitting.  Here is the finished product:
This photo isn't the best for giving the color or detail of the cable.  The cable I chose is the Hugs & Kisses/XOXO cable. 

I think it'll be big on our little guy.  I tried it on our bio 4yo (who's small for his age) and there's definitely room to grow.  Having spent his first 4 years in an orphanage, we're fully expecting our little guy to be on the small side when he first comes home.

The one thing knitting this did for me is to set in my mind how big he actually is.  We have one photo and I'm guessing he's no more than 2yo in it.  It's hard to picture him any different size/age than that.

My brain has already been planning the color scheme for his next vest.  I'm hoping to do one a size smaller before our first trip... and maybe hats to match.

a GREAT day

As we greet a cold rainy day here in the Midwest, halfway around the world a Mommy is getting ready to rock her little boy to sleep for the first time.  Today was Gotcha Day  for the Gibson Family.  Little Carter exited the gates of the orphanage, never to return again.  Hop over to their blog to see the photos and read the entire story.

Congratulations Ashley and Jake.
Sweet dreams Carter Benjamin.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What's happening now?

We've had some questions about where we're at in the process, so I thought I should give that update.
We're in the last stages of our Home Study.  Today will be the last of what we need to do on our end.  Physicals and drug screens will be complete.  If all of our state clearance are back (one from each state we've lived in since age 18) and personal references have been completed/returned, then our Home Study will be complete.  This allows us to submit our pre-file documents to our little guy's country.  They will need apostilled before being sent, but hopefully they'll be on their way to EE within the next 2 weeks.

We've completed all of our education requirements.  There was some carry-over from our stint in the domestic program, but also some additional requirements including Hague classes.  The adoption classes are great.  Not only are they informational, but they also provide an environment where you can meet other families on the same journey.

Once we have our Home Study in hand, we can submit our documents to US Immigration.  This step gets us the okay to bring a child to the US as well as schedules us for our digital fingerprints.

The past week or so I've felt like I haven't had much to do (adoption-wise).  I keep thinking I should be working on some paperwork.  The crazy thing with adoption is that things have to be completed in a certain order.  Right now, everything on our To Do list has to be dated/notarized after our Home Study is complete.  Once our pre-file documents are submitted (sent to EE, translated, and delivered to the Minister of Education), the real 'work' begins.  There are tons and tons of documents that become our dossier.  They have to be collected, notarized, and apostilled.  However, these are also time-sensitive.  They have to be dated within 3 months of our court date.  If we were to gather them too early, we'd risk them not being valid for our hearing.

One area of prayer is that everything can be accomplished quickly.  We're getting to the time of the year where there are many holidays approaching... Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  Government offices will be shutting down and workers will be taking vacations both here and in EE.  The paper progression will slow.

On a fun note, I've started my first knitting project for our little guy.  I know several of 'my knitting friends' can't read that statement without wondering what it is.  It's the Milo vest.  I've heard that children in EE tend to be dressed more warmly than we do here in the States.  I've also seen photos of the children in EE orphanages dressed in layers-- one of which is a vest.  I'm planning on taking it on our first trip.  I'm hopeful they'll wear it on him while he waits for our return to bring him home.  I'm also hoping the orphanage will then keep it to be used for the kids left behind.  Afterall, our little guy will have a Mommy who can knit for him the rest of her life.

So that's where things currently stand in our paperchase.  I'm off to get in a little bit more knitting before we head to the last of the doctors' appointments.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

'Mourning' Sickness

I've heard the adoption process referred to as a "paper pregnancy".  Along with a pregnancy often comes Morning Sickness.  I was one of the fortunate ones who had wonderful pregnancies and never a minute of nausea.  This 'pregnancy' is different.  Nausea abounds.  I am sickened by what I now know.

This Mourning Sickness comes from my loss... namely, the loss of my ignorance.
My eyes have been opened.  Opened to the tens of thousands of 'waiting' children worldwide.  Opened to the less than ideal conditions which these children endure.  Opened to the fact that most will never know life outside an institution if we are not moved to act.  Opened to the loss of hope that someone will ever view them as valueable and wanted.  Opened to an even more horrific future these kids will face if they are turned onto the streets when they reach the age of majority.

Sitting here in my middle class American life, it can become too easy to place the blame on the caregivers and governments of the countries where these conditions exist.  However, in my mind that is hypocrisy.  Yes, we no longer see Special Needs individuals as only worthy of institutionalization... we're almost a whole century removed from that mentality.  Conversely, we perform prenatal testing and abortions all in the name of healthcare.  One only has to look at the 90% abortion rate after a positive Down syndrome test to understand that we are not unlike the rest of the world in our view of Special Needs.

These are individuals.  These are children.  They are created in God's image.  They are fearfully and wonderfully made.  And as my friend pointed out today, Our God Doesn't Make Mistakes.  They are a sea of faces.  Faces and names I know from scouring the pages of Reece's Rainbow and family blogs.  Faces of wanted children set in families.

Yes, this preparation for bringing home our little boy brings great joy.  But it is tempered by the fact that I can no longer stick my head in the sand and plead ignorance.  My eyes are opened.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Say Cheese!

Yesterday we accomplished what may in fact be the most difficult part of our dossier... a family photo.
Those who think this is a simple feat obviously aren't currently parenting toddlers.  Our little guy's country requires family photographs wearing business or semi-formal clothing.  Seeing it was Sunday, we decided to dress-up a bit more than our usual church attire.  Running tight on time, a last minute "accident", and a crabby boy prevented a pre-church photo shoot.

Thankfully, after lunch, naps, and a quick touch-up of hair and makeup we were able to get a few acceptable photos.  However, there were many more with the deer-in-the-headlights look, someone not looking at the camera, and just plain silly ones.

This morning I had my physical.  I hope to get in to do my drug screen in the next few days.  After 2 pregnancies, the whole peeing in a cup thing is really a non-event.  We'll wait until after our first set of documents is registered 'in country' before having our bloodwork since that is time-sensitive and has to occur within a few months of our court date.

Right now we're finishing up our Home Study (physicals and drug tests needed for this as well as background checks and references) then our first set of documents will be signed, notorized, and apostilled.  Apostilled is a fancy word meaning "certified" or "authenticated".  Our documents will be sent to our state capital where they will certify that the Notary (or whatever other signature required) is correct.  At a later date, this will also be done with the licenses of the physicians performing our physicals, etc.  It is one additional step of guaranteeing the information provided to our little guy's country is legit.

Is all of this worth it?  You bet.  Jump over to the Reece's Rainbow waiting children page if you don't believe me.  Take a look at the kids and read their stories before you try to tell me otherwise.  While you're at it, check out some of the blogs of families working to bring home their children.

Here is a Bible verse that I seemed to see everywhere as soon as I first saw our little guy's photo:
"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act."
Proverbs 24:12 

And so act we must.  Hang on little buddy, we're coming to get you!    

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Our 'pot of gold' at the end of Reece's Rainbow

My parents arrived on the 19th for their fall visit.  They like to make the trek and be back home before the snow flies.  Until then, neither my parents nor Dave's knew we were considering switching from 'domestic infant' to 'international special needs' adoption.  Since we really only made the commitment to our agency and Reece's Rainbow a few days before they arrived, we decided to wait until their arrival to share the news.  Okay, maybe I was the driving force behind that decision, but the party-planning part of my brain was already at work.  We would only have one chance to share this news with them and I wanted it to be special.  Both sets of grandparents were invited and the date was set for the evening my parents arrived.  (I didn't think I could contain the news much longer.)

Our bio boys (ages 2 and almost 4) love to have "Dinner Parties".  That is usually quite simple and only involves the dinner being candlelit.  In the past, I'm sure we've probably even eaten hotdogs by candlelight.  However, this was a bigger occassion.  It's not everyday that you get a new grandson.

Since we found our little guy on Reece's Rainbow, I went with the rainbow theme.  The table setting was quite easy since we have Fiestaware.  I added rainbow candles and goblets.  (Kids think everything tastes better from fancy glassware.)

The real treat was the cupcakes.

One not-so-minor detail I forgot in all of my party planning was figuring out how/when we'd share the news with our parents.  I was assuming Dave would do this and he figured I would since I had spearheaded the party plans.  Oops!
Just before the evening ended, we gave the grandparents framed photos of our little guy.  One look was all they needed and I think 4 more people are in love with him!

Unfortunately not every family's announcement is met with the enthusiasm and acceptance we've received.  We are truly blessed.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

This afternoon I had to pick up our 'newly issued copies' of our Marriage Certificate for our dossier.  The process of getting them was simple and relatively inexpensive.  I exited our County's Register of Deeds office with a spring in my step and a song in my head.
        "These are the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood...
        ... they're the people that I meet, when I'm walking down the street, they're the people that I meet each day."

This 'neighborhood' does not consist of the houses up/down the hill from us.  Nor are these people necessarily even people I've met face to face.  This neighborhood is comprised of people we've 'met' during the adoption process thus far.  And what great people they are!

Since this post was triggered by the ladies at the Register of Deeds office, I'll give my first shout-out to them.  They are efficient and friendly.  The Notary at our Credit Union also falls into that category.  I've had telephone and email contact with several families who have used our adoption agency.  They are wonderful.  They've provided insight into the process that can only be shared by those who have walked this road ahead of us.  Additionally, many have offered to be resources as we continue this journey.  These are people who are taking time from their own family to help us expand ours.

There are individuals/families out there that have a soft spot for Down syndrome/Reece's Rainbow kids.  Many know the joy of a child with Ds; all are advocating for these kids.  We follow each others' blogs and I've already received encouraging words from some of those Mommies.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our Social Workers Jenny and Lauren.  Each has a very different yet equally important role in our adoption process.  They are working tirelessly to complete the documents needed to get our invitation to visit our little guy's country.

And so, "...These are the people in my neighborhood.  They're the people that we'll meet, while we're adopting from EE, they're the people that we'll meet each day."

Monday, October 24, 2011

One Less Orphan in the World tonight

Since finding Reece's Rainbow, I've been following the blog of a family that lives about 45 minutes from us.  They too have been working to bring home their little boy.  Though we've never met, I faithfully check their blog several times a day.  Today begins a new chapter in their lives.  They went before a judge and for the first time in his young life, Carter has a Mommy and Daddy.  In reading today's post, there is absolutely no way you can deny God's hand at work.  It is events like this that gives those of us in the midst of preparing Dossiers, doing Home Studies, fundraising, and praying our children home the extra shot of energy we need.

So tonight as I lay my head on the pillow, I will recall the words of Isaiah 43: 5-6...

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth

... and thank God that there's One Less Orphan in the world tonight.  Welcome to Mommyhood Ashley.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our Story...

We are a family of 4 looking to become 5.  We're heading out on a journey to bring our son home.  This trip will take us thousands of miles across the ocean, as well as through an ocean of paperwork.  You see, the boy who is to become our third son was born in Eastern Europe and has never known life outside the orphanage walls.  The clock is ticking as we fervently work toward his homecoming.  This little guy will soon turn 4 years old.  What's the hurry you ask?  Well, once he turns 4, the risk of him being transferred from the orphanage to an adult institution increases with each passing day.  Our son is "genetically enhanced" with a third copy of his 21st chromosome.  The medical descriptor is 'Trisomy 21', but most know it as Down syndrome.  And so our journey begins...

Thursday, September 22, 2011 began like many other days with me rushing out the door to take our 3yo to Pre-School.  I had glanced at the bulletin board in the school's hallway several times in the past, however that day I stopped to read further.  Handwritten in a child's writing was the quote "I don't want to live like I don't care".  Beneath that sign was printouts of Waiting Children from Reece's Rainbow (  Our 2yo and I headed out on our morning errands, but not before I looked at the Reece's Rainbow website.  When I saw this little guy's sweet face, I thought... and hoped... and prayed that he would become our son.

Dave and I always knew we wanted to adopt and had started the process between the births of our biological sons.  At that time, we found a non-Special Needs, Domestic infant adoption to be the best fit for our family.  We were pursuing this avenue when I became pregnant with our second son.  Our adoption plans were placed on hold until he was 10 months old.  At that time we re-opened our case and began our wait for a placement.  Despite our openess to any race, either gender, and many other factors, we continued to wait for over a year.  We then began to examine if we were on the correct path and if we were really called to adopt.  We never came to a firm conclusion and continued to wait... until September 22, that is.

That weekend, Dave headed "Up North" to a Men's Retreat with my request that he pray about our adoption, where we were headed, and the possibility of bringing this little boy home.  They boys and I stayed home that weekend.  Much of it was spent with me scouring the Reece's Rainbow website as well as imagining this little boy's laughter and smile intermixed with that of our other two boys' as the three would play together.

I contacted Andrea at Reece's Rainbow as well as got preliminary information from the adoption agency that serves his region/country.  We had been pursuing Domestic Adoption with Bethany Christian Services, however they are not the providers for this little guy's region.  Bethany has since agreed to be our Home Study agency-- which is a huge answer to prayer since they already know us and have been wonderful to work with.

Dave returned from his retreat not with a certainty, but with a willingness to consider it and "see where it goes".  We prayed that God would either open or shut doors.  And so the onslaught of being bombarded with things about adoption, Special Needs, Down syndrome, etc. began.  Everywhere we turned there was something confronting us... Think you're safe when Sunday morning's sermon is from 2 Samuel?--not so... Mephibosheth is in there.  Sunday evening's Core Community focus?--adoption.  My moms' group speaker?--my new friend Robyn who will soon travel to bring home her 5th Special Needs child.  The medical journal Dave was reading for work?--an article about teaching children with Down syndrome to ride a bike without training wheels.  And the list goes on.  Some may call it mere coincidence, some say God's hand.  We choose God.

Since that Thursday in September, we have withdrawn from the Domestic adoption program, started the steps necessary to get our Home Study to International standards, committed to our little guy on Reece's Rainbow, scheduled physicals, applied to Creative Adoptions, talked to families who have used Creative Adoptions, and found out our little guy is indeed still adoptable and that his country will consider our application.

In closing, I'll try to answer a few questions you may have.  I am purposely not referring to our little guy by name or country in my blog.  This is done out of respect for his country and it's privacy laws.  While blogging, I may refer to him by any number of terms of endearment.  Our blog title was chosen because Dave commonly refers to our boys as "the dudes".  Those closest to us know the name we've chosen for him (which is quite different than his birth name).  He also has a codename given to him by Reece's Rainbow to help protect his identity and whereabouts.  We don't really know how long it will be until he's home.  Our best guess is 7 months.  During that time, we will complete our Home Study and compile our Dossier (a dossier is about a zillion documents required to be sent to his country).  Then the real wait begins.  Once our dossier is 'in country' it will be translated and delivered.  We will wait for our first travel date.  At that time we will travel to Eastern Europe, meet our little guy, and accept his formal referral.  We then return home and wait for our court date.  Upon receiving our court date, we return to EE, visit our boy, go to court, then the 10-day wait begins.  There are 2 options during that 10-day wait.  We can remain in-country and continue to visit and sightsee or return to the US and make a third trip to EE to get our son once the 10-day wait is over.  Those decisions will be made closer to the time of travel.  A lot depends on when our court date falls (ie. day of the week, holidays, etc.) since the 10 days are 10 business days, as well as what we feel will be best for our 2 little dudes waiting at home.

Finally, we covet your prayers during our journey.