Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in review....

Months in 2010 we didn't know our son's face-3
Months we spent in 2010 dreaming of the day we would see his face again- 9

I can't believe another year has come and gone. 2010 was a tough year for us, but also a year of joy. We met our son! Throughout it all, the twists and turns and days filled with uncertainty, we are certain that one thing remains the same; God is faithful. We are fully trusting in him to make us a family of three this year. We are claiming the scripture found in Jeremiah 29:11.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
We also hold firmly to the promises of Romans 8:38-39.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In God's promises we are at peace in His love for us. We are thrilled in His plans for our lives and for Charlie's. We are looking forward to 2011 and embracing a future filled with hope!
Happy 2011.....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is this real life?

Today started out well and then promptly went to the crapper at roughly 3:30pm. I called USCIS in the morning and spoke with the supervisor that got us the fingerprinting appointment in September. She said that "Yes, they did receive our paperwork" (hellllooo it's called "reply" on my emails I sent you) and that she has turned it over to an officer. (Well that's funny because 2 minutes ago receptionist said our case has NOT been assigned to an officer) I asked her if I could speak to the assigned officer. She said she couldn't remember which officer she assigned it to (Code for dig our paperwork out of the bottom of the stack and turn it over to an officer) but she would call me back.
Well the phone rings at 3:30 (initiating the crapper part of the day) It's officer Lopez. She says everything looks perfect, EXCEPT, we need a new home study update as the one completed the first week of December was "deficient" in the financial paragraph. EXCUSE ME? Am I being punked? Is this real life?
She goes on to say that our social worker left out what documents she used to validate our income. I say you mean where it says "income tax returns?" She says well, yes, but we don't have 2009 or 2010 records. Uhhhh....who has done 2010 tax returns when it's still freaking 2010? She says "well, I will send you a letter outlining the requests for additional documentation" I say "O-Lo, we don't have time for letters." WE HAVE A COURT DATE IN RUSSIA IN LESS THAN 4 WEEKS" She agrees to fax it.
There is a three hour window of absolute panic. I can't get ahold of our social worker. CWA is closed until January 3rd. I text our case manager. No response.
I start compiling all of our financial documents, scanning, emailing, putting it in paragraph form. Finally, around 8:00 pm I hear from SW. She is baffled and confused. I am baffled and confused. I send her what I have. She has promised she is on it first thing in the morning.
Go home. Note on front door from neighbor "MAJOR water main break in your front yard. I shut off your water at the meter" Chad turns it on to see what he's talking about. Instantly we have Old Faithful in our front yard. Awesome. Call plumber. No answer. 11:10pm- still no water.
Did I mention we are leaving in the morning for a quick trip to Florida (coming home Sunday?) Haul laundry to sister's house. Bring underwear too. Take shower. Brush teeth. On the way out of the apartment complex Chad runs over a small tan animal. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. It runs away, hopefully it's ok.
Come home and I am actually surprised to see the house still standing. I was expecting the earth to just swallow it whole.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gathering documents

I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but apparently getting a child OUT of Russia is harder than getting us INTO Russia.
We need:
1-600 Form from USCIS
$400
Three years of tax returns
All homestudies and updates
All USCIS approval documentation (which would be easy IF I had a non-expired 171-H form) Note to self: Call and harass USCIS today
Copies of Passports
Current employment letters
So today, I showed up for work and- church was closed! Not because of the snow, but apparently we had today off too in addition to Thursday and Friday. Doh. So I gathered up some documents and made new employment letters. I really thought this part was over ;0(
P.S.- COURT IS 4 WEEKS FROM TODAY! IN LESS THAN A MONTH WE WILL BE IN RUSSIA!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two firsts and a last?


Snow Toddler
First WHITE Christmas! (It started snowing Christmas afternoon, and kept up until Sunday afternoon) First SNOWMAN. (Brittany and I decided it's a lot harder than it looks) So really it was more like a First SNOWTODDLER....
Smiling Bobo running thru the snow!
Big Girl goes for a run
And hopefully our last "non-Charlie" Christmas ;0)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Money Ordered!

We just took enough money out of our bank account to buy a small car. We need "new, fresh money" to take to Russia (isn't that the weirdest thing?) and it takes two weeks to get here! We were really pushing it in March when we first traveled, but this time we have a little more cushion, at least I don't have to call the bank every day. Just USCIS. (They love me there). Here is the conversation with the bank teller, a very sweet Hispanic woman who cried when we told her about Charlie:

Me: "Hi we need to order "new, fresh money" for our trip to Russia.
Teller: "OK- no problem, you actually don't need to order it, I have quite a bit in my drawer today, we just got in new money"
Me: "Oh my! That's wonderful! Last time it took two weeks!"
Teller: "Yes, no problem, I have about $500 in new twenties"
Me: "Uh we are going to need a little more than that...."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Visas- Off to Russia!

This time around I actually KNEW how to get a visa and wasn't totally shocked at all the crazy hoops in which to jump. We got our pictures done "with neutral expressions" a.k.a. ticked off expressions and filled out the complicated application online.
We've been waiting since the 7th for our official invitation from Ludmilla in Russia. Apparently there was some sort of governmental "issue". A year ago this particular sequence of words in an email would have totally freaked me out. Now, I'm like "ok, so we have an "issue" the good news is we have 4 weeks to get our visas back in the mail, no problem!" (See what a difference a year makes?) So I call the San Francisco office of Go To Russia (which are absolutely fabulous by the way) and they say that unless it is an emergency Russia will not accept a copy of the Invitation for an adoption visa. Well, I tell her that's a problem because the original is in Russia. She says "well, lets try it with a copy"
So off it went. Two days later (isn't mail amazing, SC to CA in less than 24 hours and then to Russia the next day!) Karina at Go To Russia called to say they accepted the copy and things are underway! Yes! So excited!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hopefully this won't end in cussing....

We all remember my last run in with USCIS while attempting to get our fingerprinting rescheduled, it didn't end well. If you don't remember, you can read this. Well, I am anticipating another fun time with them again.
Our 171-H expires, of course, on January 13th. Just in time for our 27th court date (not). So the fun begins. We had to have our homestudy redone again because of my job change and luckily we had it ready for this unanticipated court date to send to USCIS.
I was waiting on one last thing from our social worker to send to USCIS. And it was overnighted on Friday. I kinda fudged a little and told them we were leaving on the 20th. As soon as I sent it I e-mailed the only person I've found at USCIS with half a brain. Note I say half. As of today, no response. I REALLY hope that this ends better than last time and I also hope there is no record of our last conversation or when I told them our court date was in October in order to get our fingerprints redone ;0)
Stay tuned......hopefully we can keep this blog "G" rated.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Well I wasn't planning on this.....

So today a Polish woman in a track suit saw my lovely lady lumps. For a long time. Today, we had a doctors appointment for bloodwork/chest x-ray/EKG for our court date. We waited in the lobby for 2 hours. With sick people. Not like I have anything against sick people, I just don't want to be breathing their air for 2 hours. I politely asked the receptionist when we could expect to be brought back, after all we weren't there for the doctor, just lab work. She says snott-ily "it's in the box!" I don't know what exactly that means, but I was not a happy camper.
So FINALLY we get called back to the blood chairs. Yes....chairs with straps. With needles lined up next to them. Fun. Chad goes first. The vampiress drains like 6 viles of blood from his forearm. I shoulda went first.
I am not a bleeder. Like an hour later, Chad has already had his TB test and is getting ready for his EKG. They bring me into the tiny room with him and Helga, a older polish woman wearing a track suit. She stabs me in the arm like 4 times with the TB needle and then hooks Chad up to the EKG. 10 minutes and he is done. Then it's my turn. Helga hands me a sheet.
I have to take off my shirt. And my bra. And she says "take off your pants too" In true 2 year old fashion I say "well  he didn't have to take off his pants" (Doesn't she know it's no shave December??!?) She says fine and continues to hook me up to the EKG thingies.
Then the machine breaks. I make topless chit-chat with Helga as she frantically mashes buttons. I mention we've been coming here for 5 years and I've never seen her before. She shrugs and says "I use to do filing, now I do dees" O.K....Waiting, waiting, beeping, cussing, waiting. She says "I'm going to have to go get someone." Great Helga is only about 4'10, I am beached on the exam table, big Chad is trying not to look anywhere in my general direction smashed in the corner of the tiny room. Then the machine lurches and FINALLY spits out the results.
THANK GOD.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

21 Favors....

I have a favor to ask of you again. This one requires no money, no huge effort, no big production.
Every step I've taken for the last two years I've had someone stop me in my tracks to ask me about the adoption. And whether I wanted to talk about it or not through the ups and downs, I've always liked it best when that person just simply told me "I am praying for you." Sometimes when things are hard, we don't know what to say to people. Most of the time we end up saying something stupid like "I know this is all happening for a reason" or "it's going to be just fine". I bet a lot of you right now are thinking, those are bad things? When your child is spending his or her life in an institution without a mama or a papa across an endless ocean, those things aren't really the best choice of words, even if you think they are the truth.The most comfort I have found are when people simply say that they love me and that they are lifting me, Chad and Charlie up to God. And that they genuinely mean it. You can see it in their eyes that they are petitioning God on our behalf, that they believe that God really has the power to change things in the hearts of men (and judges).
So, with that being said, my heart has been terribly heavy lately. In the last two years, I have had the privilege of meeting some spectacular future adoptive families. Families that in some way or another are spending Christmas without their children. Some of them are good people that have been caught up in bureaucracy and broken promises. Some people are just waiting the wait, hoping for the next step in the journey.
I've just been thinking about myself lately. My situation. Getting Charlie home. Period.
So here is where you come in. I need your help, but only if you truly mean it. It's easy. I need you to lift some very important people up in prayer. All of these people are in the midst of different circumstances, but share a common theme- they are without their children. This Christmas, I suspect, they are trying to carry on "life as normal" but despite how busy their lives are this season, how many gifts left to buy, and how many Christmas parties on the calendar, their hearts are elsewhere. Russia to be exact.
So as you trim the tree, rush to the mall, watch your children delight in the season; when your mind drifts to all the ways you've been blessed by your family and friends, please remember them....
Steph
Tesney
Mary Jo
Angie
Natalie
Ashley
Brittany
Kim
Deana
Denise
Ursula
Summer
Michele
Lisa
Dawn
Jennifer
Shelley
Chris
Stacy
Steffen
Julie

Ok...I'm a stalker (aka: IT'S OFFICIAL!)

So a while ago, I stumbled upon this website. Apparently, just as our judicial system keeps records, apparently, Pskov does the same. It's just harder to navigate being in Russian and all.....But anyway, it's a site that keeps track of all the case verdicts and calendars things to come.....guess who appears on the January 27th Roster- THE DEETZ FAMILY (ok the names are totally butchered, but it is definitely us!) So, technically if someone is as "stalkerish" as me, they could stumble upon this website too.....
Here it is (pardon the choppy translated Russian into English):

File number At the hearing, Information on the case Judge Outcome of the hearing
Civil proceedings
3-42/2010 ~ M-38/2010 10:00 CATEGORY: on adoption of children
APPLICANT (S): Chad Stewart Dietz Dietz Sarah Catherine
Defendant: guardianship authority Sebezh district SDT p.Idritsa
THIRD PARTY:

REGISTRATION CASE (MATERIAL)
Material number M-38/2010
Form of civil proceedings Special proceedings
Date of receipt 06.12.2010
Procedure for admission FIRST
CLAIM (FOR OUT publication. PRAVOOT. Singular) PRODUCTION
File number 3-42/2010
Material number M-38/2010
Form of civil proceedings Special proceedings
Date of receipt 06.12.2010
Commencement of the period of the proceedings 06.12.2010
Procedure for admission FIRST
Category On adoption of children
Line statotcheta 79
Substance of the claim Igolkin Stanislav V., born 20.3.2008 - Adoption
Presiding judge Belonogova NJ
Determination Date of (accepted / refused / no movement) 06.12.2010
Type Definition (accepted / denied / without motion) (1) The statement was adopted to produce
Date def. (St.147 GIC) to prepare a case for trial 06.12.2010
Date def. (St.153 GIC) appointment of the case to trial 11.01.2011
Date of first hearing 27.01.2011
The case was considered out of time Calculated automatically
The composition of the court which rendered the decision in the case Single judge
Progress of case
BASIC INFORMATION
Name of Event Result Event Transferred to the production of a judge Event Date Time of event
Registration of a claim (application, complaint) in court 06.12.2010 10:00
Submission of materials to the judge Belonogova NJ 06.12.2010 10:15
The issue of making a claim (a statement the complaint) to consider Claim (application, complaint) is adopted to produce 06.12.2010 10:30
Determined to prepare the case for trial 06.12.2010 11:00
Made a decision on the appointment of the case for trial 11.01.2011 10:00
The court session 27.01.2011 10:00
Party to the case (third party)
BASIC INFORMATION
Kind of a person involved in the APPLICANT TRANSPONDER
Person involved in the (name, name) Dietz Chad Stewart Dietz Sarah Catherine Guardianship authority Sebezh district SDT p.Idritsa

Saturday, December 11, 2010

And now the bad news.....

So I've started to look into airfare. Good news: Chad and I, relatively cheap. Charlie's one way ticket home: over $4,000!!!!
I called our travel agent friend, she got it down to $2,300. Yikes. Better, but still a major problem. I call Delta, Lufthansa, and KLM directly. It appears adoption airfare is merely insurance if things don't go well and we need to cancel our trip. Not a reduced ticket for our son....
So, prior to having a panic attack, I call my friend Kate and let her in on little secret and asked how in the world they got their son home as it appears one way tickets are a load breaker....
Kate suggests (after shouting with joy and being sworn to secrecy) Golden Rule Travel. They specialize in "humanitarian travel" which just happens to include adoption airfare. Sheldon (God bless his soul) got us tickets on a MUCH better flight and got Charlie's ticket for $475! Wow! God is good!
The ONLY problem is that we have 30 minutes to make our connection in Germany on the way home. Yikes. Sheldon says we can do it....I hope he's right.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Pictures of our little man....

My goodness how he has grown! We haven't gotten any pictures since August, so today was a nice day for a good surprise.
I thought I would share the bottom half and top half of two of the pictures. Check out the shoes...oh my.

He looks more and more like Chad everytime we see him.That is such a God thing!  His hair has gotten darker and his smile bigger. His cheeks are so rosy! He looks happy and healthy, and for that we are grateful beyond words..... 

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.-Psalm 119:89-90




Forgot to tell you!

In all of the excitement, I forgot to tell you WHEN we are going back to Russia. I guess that doesn't matter....It's not the when it's the going that matters! But for what it's worth here is our itinerary:
January 22, 2011- leave for Russia (My family starts their stint in the "looney bin" aka: staying at our house with our menagerie of furry children)
January 23- Arrive in Russia
January 24- Hanging in St. Petersburg: Medical exams, all that fun stuff. Maybe we'll get to see some sites this time?
January 25- Travel to Pskov
January 26- Travel to Idritsa to finally see our little guy. (Almost 10 months to the day of when we saw him last.....)
January 27- COURT!
February 8- Gotcha day!
February 11- Midnight train to Moscow. (I don't know if it's really a midnight train, it just sounds poetic....like a song or something.....)
February 12-16- Business in Moscow (passport, visa, medical exam for little man....)
February 17- Fly home!
So that's the latest scoop. We can't believe this is really happening!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

WE GOT THE CALL!!

Miracles of all miracles.....WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!! We are thrilled beyond thrilled. God is so good. After close to 9 months of waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the Judge to Budge....we have finally gotten through.....She finally said "da!"
But our news comes with a heavy stipulation. DON'T TELL ANYONE OTHER THAN YOUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY AND TELL THEM NOT TO TELL ANYONE. This is incredibly difficult for us. We have been very public about our adoption, our journey, our struggle to get our little boy home. And now we can't speak, we can't share our joy with the world. Anya simply said "this is a miracle, you may be the only ones she lets through and she could change her mind if your become a burden." As in, let all the other families get their court dates in due time and celebrate together. So, now we wait for our friends to come on through the other side. Hopefully it won't be long because I hate not sharing our joy! So no blogging on our BLOG no sharing on Facebook, no tweets, no emails. NADA.
But really, this seems all too good to be true. We are in absolute shock. We always said this day would come, but did we really believe it?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Isn't it GREAT?

In less than 24 hours we raised $175 for shipping for the diapers! (That is $25 over what I was even asking for!) If we are under cost, and I don't see how that would be possible, I have a Sunday School class at my church that has offered to make the difference up. If the $175 is over what we need I will give the money directly to Anna to buy more diapers! Yippeee! I can't tell you thank you enough...what an amazing gift to these precious babies! Projects like these restore my hope and make me feel so good!
Just thought I would share the following information to make you feel happy too:
1- We started this blog to keep people that we knew personally in the loop with the adoption
2- We live in South Carolina. (duh....but I thought I would tell you just in case you forgot!)
3- Our donations came from the following 12 States: Florida, Ohio, Washington, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Minnesota. (Jenn, Shawn, Maria, Christine, Jennifer, Tracey, Leigh, Wendi, Shelley, Stephanie, Melissa, and Mary Jo respectively)
4- I have never met any of these sweet folks personally (Isn't that just amazing?!?!?)
5- If they are so quick to respond to this need with their hard earned money, I am sure they are lifting us up daily in their thoughts and prayers....And I know that there are so many more that haven't even checked the blog in a while that do the same too!
6- How incredible this adoption community is!

So...once again.....THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
*EDIT- 12/4/10-Now we are up to $180- Thank you Madeline from Louisana!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Help needed

We have been in touch with Deti Nashi, a Russian foundation that assists underfunded orphanages with basic supplies like diapers, food, and medicine. You can check them out here. (HINT: If you look really closely in one of the pictures, you will see a certain blurred face of a certain Baby Deetz sitting on a couch....) In the story about Charlie's home they talked about the great need for diapers. Diapers are VERY expensive in Russia and often at a premium, sometimes directors choose between food and dirty babies. When I heard about this it just broke my heart.....Even it is wasn't Charlie's orphanage.....
So we had a family Thanksgiving luncheon at church and the "cost of admission" was a box of diapers per family. We had a great turn out and ended up with about big 40 boxes! Now the fun part....shipping them to Russia! In order to save space, we opened all the boxes and stuffed them into one big box, hoping to save a lot. It's not very heavy, and the box is about the size of a coffee table. (It took me about 5 minutes to think of what it was the size of....it's bigger than a breadbox, smaller than a refrigerator...)
Anyway.....would anyone like to chip in a few dollars for shipping? I placed the "chip in widget" on the side of the blog! You are the best blog friends a girl could ask for!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A thrill of hope....

The weary soul rejoicing.....

Please be in prayer for us and all the other families in our region. I can't go into a lot of details, but we need to be vigilant in prayer that hearts will be softened and mountains will be moved on our behalf (and Charlie's behalf) Come on prayer warriors!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Just in case you were wondering......

We're still alive....
Still here.....
Still hangin' on waiting on our little man......

Just thought I would let you know! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family in Florida. It was warm and sunny, the food was spectacular, and it was so great seeing everyone- we hadn't been home in over a year! We were reminded again of just how blessed we are. God has blessed us so richly!

And then.....

So the papers are once again complete.
On Monday, I did the marathon trek from our Doctors office to Columbia, South Carolina for the Apostille to CWA in Flat Rock, North Carolina by the end of the day. Whew.....can you say road rear?
I made it to Flat Rock by 4:15 (15 minutes before closing). Anya was holding the UPS guy hostage waiting for me. We made some speed copies of the documents and threw them in the pre-stamped envelope. I couldn't believe they are already off to Russia.....
Keeping our fingers (and toes) (and anything else cross-able, crossed....)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Starting at the beginning (well not really, but at least the new chapter.....)

On our way down to Kissimmee on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (literally driving down the interstate) we got a call from my friend at Senator Jim DeMints office. (Side note: Deb and Senator DeMint have been A+++ superheros in our adoption story) Deb says "I just heard from my friend at the Secretary of State's office, she said that things in your region are starting to move again" (Sidenote: I don't think any of you are just tuning in for the first time, but in case you are here is the short version of our adoption story: We met Charlie on March 20th expecting to return by June to finalize the adoption AND THEN all heck broke loose in the Russian adoption world when a certain "she who must not be named" sent her son back to Russia alone with a "return to sender" note. Russians were TICKED. Adoptions froze, then unfrozen, then remained frozen in our region until the present time.
Then Steph, my super sleuth fellow PAP calls to say- something is going on.
Then our case manager, Anya calls and says. "Hey, we need you to redo some paperwork, ASAP"
Well, that's kinda difficult driving down the interstate, but I called our doc right away, sweet talked the nurse into redoing our docs, called Kevin at Spartanburg 5-0 and ask him to redo our background checks, etc.
And so it begins.....
Redoing paperwork to let it expire again in three months....oh the joy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Safe

I heard this song on my way to work yesterday, it was speaking right to my heart and I thought of a friend going through some struggles and of course, of Charlie. We still serve a big, loving God regardless of our circumstances. I am safe standing in the shadow of his wing.

To the one who's dreams are falling all apart

And all you're left with is a tired and broken heart
I can tell by your eyes you think your on your own
but you're not all alone

Have you heard of the One who can calm the raging seas
Give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet
With a love so strong he'll never let you go
oh you're not alone

You will be safe in His arms
You will be safe in His arms
'Cause the hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made
He will be with You always
When everything is falling apart
You will be safe in His arms

Did you know that the voice that brings the dead to life
Is the very same voice that calls you to rise
So hear Him now He's calling you home
You will never be alone

These are the hands that built the mountains
the hands that calm the seas
These are the arms that hold the heavens
they are holding you and me

These are hands that healed the leper
Pulled the lame up to their feet
These are the arms that were nailed to a cross
to break our chains and set us free
-Lyrics by Phil Wickham

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Back on track

Ok, I didn't mean to make you worry. I guess the best explanation is that we simply lost sight of our goal. After some tears, some heartburn, some sleepless nights and passionate telephone conversations, we are back on track. We decided we don't want to register in another region, because we now have clarification that doing that wouldn't mean bringing home two children. It would become a "horse race" of which child would come home first- Pskov v. Volograd. That means that unless we were able to come up with several thousand dollars to complete a second adoption, if we accepted another referral we would loose Charlie, and likewise, if Pskov opens up again we would have another little face that we longed for everyday and night. And we aren't in the betting business. Our priority is Charlie and until that door is slammed in our face we will not consider moving on. We will continue to hold fast.
So, today I redid our home study update documents, petitioning for a three year old, for our soon to be three year old. And once again, we wait for the tide to change.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Two steps back....

Instead of moving forward (as many families that started this process up to a year after us.....) we seem to be taking two steps backward. We've received several emails from our agency (so nice and personal, isn't it???) suggesting that we switch regions. I answered the first one and told them exactly where we stood on this issue, as in "NO". We don't care how long it takes, we are waiting this out. Then I just ignored the next few asking us to switch regions and start this process over again, forgetting about Charlie. Well, the last one DEMANDED that I respond to their request for us to switch regions. Well, actually it promised that they would still fight to get Charlie home, but they really want us to register in Volgograd too. That they don't want us to "loose the ability to adopt from Russia" I told them that was fine, but that means I want two children, one of which being Charlie. This is simply not a "horse race" for us, as in "which Russian child will get home first, Pskov vs. Volgograd?". And what exactly does that mean- loose our ability to adopt?? Once again, it's so nice to have your life discussed through an informal email. Ugh. Well the response "as you know we are stopping adoptions from Russia in December 2011." EXCUSE ME? How would I know that?!? That means we need to be register in another region by December 2010 to bring home another child by December 2011, as in not Charlie. And I will NOT see another picture of a sweet little face and wonder day after day what became of all the what ifs if they couldn't come home either. This is one messed up situation we've gotten ourselves into.
Call it a hunch, maybe it's just my terribly jaded experience, but something is fishy. Either this agreement isn't going to be signed anytime soon, even after it's signed maybe the region is closing to Americans, OR maybe what the agreement says doesn't bode well for us. Or maybe a combination of all three. Obviously, we are missing some information.
I feel like we have been put out to pasture. Before, I felt as if we had our agency backing us. Now I feel as if we are all alone in the fight. The more I think about it, the more I want to dig my heals in. I'll say "fine, if you can't bring him home, we'll find someone who can" For the record- our family (and Charlie) is not limited to 12 calendar months. If our agency is, then so be it, but I on the other hand am not tied to their agenda. Since this is a family show, I can't even begin to tell you what I think this is shaping into.
So, we are left with awful questions with no good solutions. If we "give in" and register in another region will they honestly continue to fight 100% for Charlie? Will we fall in love with another little face and be unable to bring him or her home because Charlie's adoption will finally go through? How much more will it cost to bring home two babies? Do we really have it in us to do this all again? Could we ever move on knowing we didn't pour 100% of our efforts into bringing Charlie home? How can this be happening when other regions are carrying on "business as usual"? When are we going to get answers? What is going on with this agreement?
I could go on and on. The only thing I do know is that we are loosing our forward momentum.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In the News....

A fellow PAP, brought this article to my attention. Please pray for her as you remember Charlie in your prayers, as she is a single woman that also met her son around the same time we were meeting Charlie. She is a brave and wonderful lady and I am honored to call her my friend.....She needs your prayers, being single, her situation is even more precarious than ours.

U.S. reiterates readiness to sign child adoption deal with Russia by year end

02:57 11/2/2010© flickr

The United States has reiterated its readiness to conclude a new child adoption agreement by the end of this year, a U.S. Department of State official said.

"The negotiations proceed and we think they're going very well, and we hope to have an agreement before the end of the year," Special Advisor for Children's Issues Ambassador Susan Jacobs told a briefing.
She added that Russia continues processing U.S. requests concerning adoption of Russian children.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our Best Efforts....

Our agency has asked us to put together a list of everyone we have contacted in an effort for our voice to be heard in this situation. I'm sure that there are some names I have forgotten, after a while hearing "I'm sorry, but there is nothing we can do to help you" all starts running together....here is my letter, I have removed some names, because I'm sure my personal contact's don't want to be splashed all over blog land....

Dear Agency:
We understand that moving to another region would be easier than trying to wait on the uncertainty in Pskov. However, that just isn’t an option for us. After thinking about the situation at hand, if we gave up on Stas that would make us no better than Torry Hansen. Giving up on a child just because the situation isn’t “easy” isn’t an option for us. Stas is our son, unless the Russian government says otherwise. We will wait for him as long as it takes. It doesn’t matter to us if he is 2, 3, or 17 years old. From the first time we saw him, we knew he was our son and now seven and a half months later, he is even more deeply rooted in our hearts.


As you requested, here is a list of all the people (that I can remember, I’m sure there have been more) we have contacted trying to be as proactive as possible in the effort to get Stas home:

1-Joint Council on International Children’s Services
2- US Embassy in Moscow
3-Karen Twomey, WBZ Radio Boston
4-Kate Gallagher, CBS Boston
5-Jean Lewis, Office of Children’s Issues, Department of State
6-FRUA
7-Jim, RussianAdoptionHelp.com
8-Show Hope, Steve Curtis Chapman Foundation for Adoption
9-Chuck Johnson, National Council for Adoption
10-Deti Nashi Foundation for Adoption (I am organizing a diaper donation drive in our community to get a large supply of diapers to Stas’ orphanage in Idritsa in November)
11-Senator Jim DeMint
12-Senator Bob Inglis
13-Senator Lindsey Graham
14-State Representative Mike Forrester
15-Governor Mark Sanford
16- Emily Ballas, Secretary of State Office
17- And of course, I have been in close contact with five other families that have met their children in Pskov and are waiting on a court date as well.

I can’t say that any of the people we have contacted (or in the case of the two news reporters, contacted us) have been able to help. Ultimately, we hear the same thing, that the decision to allow Stas to come home lies solely in the hands of the Judge. Chuck Johnson (National Council for Adoption) is traveling to Russia this month and has promised to present our case. That is the most promising news we have received in all of these contacts. Ultimately, we have placed this situation in God’s hands. We are trusting that he will see us through.
As always we thank you for your help. We wish there was something more we could do to get Stas home where he belongs, with a mom and a dad all for his own. We have waited almost 11 years to be parents and know that Stas will be the center of our world. Thank you for hanging in there with us….

Sincerely,
Chad and Sarah Deetz

Monday, November 1, 2010

The second time around....

Well the results are in.....we are still not criminals. Many things in the world of adoption elude me, one of which is USCIS fingerprinting. Why do we need to get re-fingerprinted? I mean they haven't changed! Why can't they just run em' through again to make sure we haven't broken any laws in the last twelve months. But alas, we have been reprinted and yes, we are still law abiding citizens.

Also, found out today we are in for another home study visit because we need to adjust our age approval (also for USCIS) since Charlie will be turning three in March and a home study and I171-H update isn't something (as we are all well aware from previous rantings) that these sources are able to just "whip out" at a moments notice. So, even though we are hoping, praying, wishing for a court date prior to March 20, 2011, we are erring on the side of caution and planning ahead for our sweet boys 3rd and even 4th birthday.

So, our social worker is coming to the house THIS THURSDAY. Awesome! Did I mention how my house could be declared a disaster area? But surprisingly, I am not worried about this visit. Isn't it funny how a little experience and time changes your perspective? I am not going to kill myself getting ready and whatever isn't ready will be shoved into the variety of closets throughout our house.

Monday, October 18, 2010

So now we wait until.....January?

Yeah! Just in time for Christmas/Winter shut downs and piles of snow in Russia!! (That would be me, dripping with sarcasm.....)

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) - A Russian-American child adoption agreement will be signed no later than January 2011, Russian children's rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov said.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry has informed me that the talks are well under way and in their final state. The negotiations are over. I hope the agreement will be signed in December, or, at the latest, in January," Astakhov said at a news conference at the main Interfax office on Monday.
The "technical" signing procedure does not require the presence of the presidents, Astakhov said.
He also said that the bilateral agreement allows Russian citizens to adopt American children, as well.
"I think an American child must be adopted out of principle. A reward must be assigned by some public organizations to those who adopt an American child first," Astakhov said.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns told Interfax in mid-September that the United States and Russia are in the final stage of the talks on an agreement to regulate child adoption procedures between the two countries.
Both parties are confident that the agreement will serve the interests of the United States and Russia, most important, the interests of children, he said.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to vacation (Deetz Style)

You know how regular people might pack up and leave for a trip? Well apparently we are running into a pattern of murphy's law, even when it comes to leisure time.
It turns out, like two months ago, I volunteered to watch my sister's dog this weekend. Forgetting this fact, I just assumed she could watch ours. Oops. So Wednesday night I was thinking we were going have to cancel the trip (Thursday am- Saturday) because of the dogs. (For some crazy reason it's incredibly difficult to get a baby sitter for a Great Dane) I am funny and will not leave our dogs at a kennel. I just can't stand the thought of it. We did it once and I was distraught the whole weekend. So at Wednesday night around 9:00pm, my friend volunteered her husband to stay at our house. So, thanks to Blair, the vacation was salvaged.
So then, I am driving home from church and my car starts to squeal. Oh Boy. We thought it was just needed a new belt.
We took it in first thing in the morning on Thursday, and turns out it wasn't a simple belt. It was the water pump. And the radiator. And the belt. Chad's car doesn't do mountains so we stranded. We decide for the second time to cancel the trip. Turns out, those things are REALLY expensive. We call Carol (who graciously is allowing us to stay in her guest cottage in Blowing Rock to tell her we can't make it. She doesn't take no for an answer. She is going to find a way to get us there, including renting a car or kidnapping us.
Chad calls Brian, his Enterprise pal, and Brian saves the day, we finally get on the road in a big ol' white granny mobile. We wanted to take the scenic route up the Blue Ridge Parkway, but we weren't paying attention and missed our exit. BY 20 MILES.
So at this point (being emotionally unstable) I start to cry. Chad is determined to salvage our vacation and turns around. We finally make it to Blowing Rock, and only 5 hours behind schedule. And boy was it worth every obstacle.....




Thanks Carol and James for a great weekend, we had the best time. Much needed rest, relaxation, and enjoying God's beauty.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Open Letter to Russian & American Adoption Officials

I cannot tell you how many people I have met or that email me on a daily basis to tell me that they too have been caught in this adoption nightmare. One visit to FRUA's web board and you will encounter a staggering number of potential adoptive parents whose lives have been turned upside down. Even though our situation is precarious, the situation that single parents have been thrown into is even more daunting. We hope that once an agreement is signed we can bring Charlie home. I have spoken with numerous single folks that don't have that promise. Will the agreement ban singles from adopting? When will we know? Should we forget about the children we've met? Our children?
I've described our situation as an endless feeling of helplessness. You feel so helpless and small. No one can give you answers. No one knows when this nightmare will be over. No one really understands what it's like to have your heart living across the ocean, thousands of miles away for the better part of a year. Unless, that is, you have been living in this nightmare since April. You wonder how long you can keep this up, you wonder if it will ever be ok.
Now, I say helpless, but not hopeless. Our hearts are fixated on hope. Hope of our son remaining happy and healthy until we can bring him home where he belongs. Hope that God our father hears our cries and is working everything out for his good and glory. Hope that we will someday be made whole and be made a family. We will never loose our hope.
This is a letter from a fellow adoptive mom who also happens to be Russian-American, her blog is called "destinations, dreams, and dogs". You can check her out here. http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com/. She wrote this "Open Letter" and it has struck a cord with me. Undoubtedly, she has encountered several people that are existing in this "limbo-land" everyday just like us. I hope that someone is listening to these powerful words. Here they are:


Dear Russian Foreign Ministry and U.S. State Department officials,


Four times over the past months you have met together in good faith to craft a bilateral US-Russian adoption treaty. This has stemmed from adopted child Artyom Savylev being returned to Russia in April 2010 by his single adoptive mother, Tory Hansen of Tennessee, due to his severe behavioral issues. Certain Russian regions immediately began to close to single adoptive parents and/or all American adoptive parents in light of this incident.

Then, recently, the Leschinsky family in Colorado was accused of abusive practices toward their three daughters adopted from Stavropolsky Krai. We understand that this region has also temporarily closed to Americans until a bilateral agreement has been signed by both countries.

We have reports of adoptive parents whose court dates in different regions have been set and postponed repeatedly over the last five months. They met the child, said yes to the child, gathered additional documents for court, been issued a court date… and now cannot proceed. The child sits in an institution, lost in limbo-land, his family ready and willing to bring him home, but nyet, it is not to be.

In an unofficial poll of adoptive parents in-the-process, numerous accounts have been shared with this writer, both publicly and privately. Most wish to remain anonymous, while others do not wish for their comments to be posted at all, due to the fear that their case will never move forward. All are heartbroken, crushed that they could proceed with an adoption, only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last moment due to someone else’s misdeeds. Thank you to all who responded. Let’s let these adoptive parents-to-be speak for themselves….

“I am single and still waiting on a court date after two postponements. My first scheduled date of April 30th was postponed and then my second date of June 3rd was also postponed. I am now waiting for the signing of the bilateral agreement with the hopes that I will still be able to complete my adoption, but with no guarantee.

"There are no singles currently being processed in my region and this is directly due to the Hansen case. It has now been a little over 7 months since I met my son and my court delay has been 5 months. The waiting is absolutely horrible and probably the hardest thing I have ever done.”

“Things are tense for all prospective adoptive parents, but as singles, I think we are on eggshells because of the extra scrutiny because of some unthinkable acts by a few people…. My dossiers were recently sent for translation and registration and only a few regions are accepting singles but there are still some. Just pray they do not close or have any other changes that will prevent children from finding loving, stable homes.”

“I’m so sorry to hear Stavropol and other regions are temporarily shut down (in light of the Leschinsky case of August). I’m single and adopted my daughter from there in 2008. I loved the region and my time spent there. Everyone I met along the way was truly very friendly. I can’t tell you what a joy my daughter has been to me. We just came back from vacation and had a great time. She is such a happy and friendly child.”

“It would be my hope for the Russian public, court officials and other leaders to see that the shutdowns hurt the children the most. Especially when the shutdowns happen without warning to the families that have referrals and court dates. When a region is ‘shut down’ it may seem temporary. But for those of us in the process of adopting, a failed referral or court date can be a permanent loss, financially and emotionally. The child wants parents, a family. We promise them that, and then a shut down destroys the dreams of an innocent child. Shutdowns should occur in a fair and planned manner so all parties involved know what they are getting into.”

“I am single and met my child eight months ago, and I am also between trips. I was supposed to get my court date in May. The Hansen case has had a tremendous impact on my adoption. As another said, I think the children are the ones who suffer the most. My child was told that I was his ‘Mama’, then I never came back for him. I know what is happening and can barely get through it - some days are very difficult. If things fall through, and I am unable to get him, it will shatter my dreams - but I will somehow try to find a way to have a family. My boy, however, is an older child living in a remote orphanage who will likely never have a chance to become part of a family. My heart breaks for that possibility.”

“I am so very thankful that I was able to complete my adoption in the shadow of the Hansen case. I am single and have been home for 3 months with my son who by all accounts is happy, healthy and thriving in his new home. He is loved by an extended family of friends and aunts, uncles, grandparents and I am surrounded by more support and help than I could have imagined. I think that the statistics stand in singles favor in terms of how many successful and loving homes have been created through the gift of adoption from Russia and that one bad apple should no more color singles as a group than any case by a 2 parent family should color them as a group, either.

I would want the Russians to know that these women left hanging and waiting for their children for the better part of a year, love and think about their child every day. I would tell them that the child’s room full of toys and clothes are gently refolded and organized as they watch their child grow from afar and that each time a well intended friend asks, ‘Any news?’, it really hurts their hearts. These women have shown great dedication, love, and commitment to the child they have promised to parent.

Many other people (single or married) would have walked away and asked to be moved to a region where they could successfully complete their quest to become a family - but they stay. They stay because through good times and bad, sickness and health, these children are theirs in their heart and they can’t abandon them now. If the Russians were looking for the ‘right kind’ of parent, I’d suggest that the dedication shown in the face of adversity by anyone forced to wait is just that sort of test. I hope that the bilateral agreement is signed soon and that anyone left hurting in regions halting completion are able to breath a sigh of relief and hold their child again.”

So we must ask ourselves, are these repercussions happening for the children’s well-being and protection? I think not. Statistically, it is much more likely that a child will be abused or beaten by a Russian family than an American family. My own children, who are all older and have recollections of their pasts, could speak for some time about this issue.

That means that the adoption delays and denials must stem from a political issue. There must be a reason why Russian officials wish to make their own institutionalized children, as well as American adoptive parents, languish in despair. Perhaps one day, grown Russian children will launch lawsuits against the Russian Federation asking why their futures were put on hold and they were kept from viable adoptive families, purely for the whims and careers of elected officials, for political gain and nationalistic pride.

If a country wishes to shut down their international adoption program, then that is their prerogative. Keep your own children as long as you can pay foster families to take one or two, or farm families that take three or four, never mentioning the thousands that are returned to the orphanages each year by Russian families when the placement “doesn’t work out”. Ignore the numbers that are beaten by their Russian foster families, as our son was, until he wrote to local officials and insisted that he be returned to his less-than-ideal internat.

Close it down, or keep it open, but don’t leave hanging the children and well-meaning adoptive families who are mid-stream in the process and wonder if they will ever be reunited. The issues of abandonment often take a lifetime to heal, and you are compounding this psychic hurt on the souls of Russian children. Not to mention those of us with older children from Russia who hear the news and shake their heads in shame that some of their friends left behind will be further delayed from finding a family.

American adoptive families have many checks and balances already in place: extensive home studies, medical and psychological testing done prior to adoption, in addition to criminal checks, educational courses, and personal references verifying their fitness to parent. After adoption, there are annual post-placement reports by a trained social worker which track a child’s health, education, and upbringing. Russia could immediately ratify the Hague Treaty as one viable alternative. Closing regions to single parents, or to all Americans, or dragging our feet on a bilateral treaty does not a help the children in question, rather, it hurts the very ones we are all trying to protect.

The vast majority of American adoptive parents are highly educated, upper middle class, loving individuals. They do not abuse children, nor adopt them for nefarious purposes. They love their Russian children, celebrate their culture and language, and speak well of their native land.

Please resolve this situation without further delay.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week in Review...

This weekend we went on our annual fall retreat with our youth kids. We've been at the church for five years and when we first started, this trip, affectionately named TSC (Team Survival Challenge) we had around 25 kids and adults. This year we brought 72!!! It was awesome. The kids are broken up into six teams and basically all weekend they compete against each other for 10 pounds of candy and the opportunity to "sign the box" forever immortalized in youth group history. The concept of the trip came about for our former love of the T.V. show Survivor and how after every challenge we would say...."We could totally do that with the teens!" So we did- over a long weekend we play crazy games for points and then each team build a boat out of trash (yes, trash-bamboo, plastic bottles, cardboard, duct tape, rope, twine, milk jugs.....) and then we have a boat race on the lake. So not only do the boats float, but at least one rider must use a trash made paddle to row to victory! It's the funniest thing you have ever seen and the boats are amazingly, well, boat like. Anyway, we have such an amazing group of young people at our church- I am so thankful for them and the opportunity to be a part of their "youth years". It really is a privilege to serve.
Yesterday, we had to be at USCIS at 8:00 IN THE MORNING. Oh, did I mention the closest USCIS is an hour and a half from our house? Since it is downtown in a huge city we left a half hour early as well because we DID NOT want to miss the appointment it took me fighting tooth and nail to get. I am fairly certain that my BFF at USCIS did that on purpose after I called her such *nice* names. It was probably her way of "giving back" for my lovely tirade on her agency, our government, and her personally. When I woke up at 5:00am on Tuesday morning, let me tell you, I fully understood what they mean when they say what they say about "payback". But we did get to see a spectacular autumn sunrise about an hour into our trek. Fingerprinting was uneventful. The same nice lady that did my fingerprints 14 months ago (!!!) did them again yesterday. She asked if it was her fault if our prints were "rejected". I told her it was Russia that has been doing the rejection. I told her about Charlie. It's always difficult for me to "start from the beginning" and tell a complete stranger about our misfortune. It seems to be that the "condensed version" of our situation always makes my heartbreak a little more. She promised that she would pray for us, and for Charlie. She said "I am going to be rejoicing with you when you bring him home" It was nice of her to say. She promised me that she would NOT be taking my fingerprints in another 14 months, unless we were, indeed, adopting another child. I told her not to count on it- that this one was just about to kill me. She told me "God has a funny sense of humor" and I guess he does.
Today we learned that our case manager here is taking a two week trip to Russia, specifically to our region. She hopes to have some more news for us when she returns at the end of the month. I asked her if I could send our mini scrap book of our first trip- pictures of Chad and I rocking Charlie, us playing together. She is going to bring it to the judge. It might not do us a lick of good, but then again, a picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe she'll see his face gazing into ours when she rejects us the next time. Maybe she'll see a picture of me rocking him when she recaps the days' events or decides to pass on another family. Maybe she'll she "us: the family" before she says no again. Maybe.....We are also sending the album I made of his room, bathroom, and playroom. Maybe she'll see the love and care we have put into making his home a home and think "A signed document is not going to make these people love this child any more or less" We'll see. We have nothing left to give.
On an unrelated side note: Happy Birthday Mom! Today is Chad's mom's birthday and my post wouldn't be complete without saying- WE LOVE YOU!!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rejected....

We just received word from our agency that we have once again been rejected by the Judge. It looks like at this point until an agreement is signed she will not hear any American adoption cases.
This means we:
Will need to redo all of our papers again in 3 months
Will need to redo our home study ($) because my employer has changed and we are now on our way to adopting a three year old instead of a two year old.
Redo our financial statements because our income has changed
Probably need to redo our USCIS paperwork as well because of his age.
We are waiting with no end in site and no promise of "well maybe after _______ she'll take your papers"
Our son is growing up without his family in an orphanage all because of a stupid piece of paper that need to be signed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We remain....

We need your prayers this coming week. Our paperwork is once again, complete, shipped, and translated. Our agency emailed today (Every time I see an email from them in my inbox I assure you, I come thiiiiiis close to throwing up) I braced myself for disappointment and opened the email. It basically said they've had contact with the Judge (?!?!) and have an appointment with her next week, most likely on the 30th, but they are trying to see if it can be any earlier in the week.
So, here we are. One more week of suspense and at least we'll know what we are up against. We are remaining strong, remaining hopeful, and remaining thiiiiis close to insanity and even closer to loosing our lunch.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

*If you think I'm a saint DO NOT read this post*

So, USCIS. Last night I lay in bed thinking about this. I have this terrible sinking feeling about our fingerprints expiring and that delaying our court date even further. My gut (which has been somewhat off-kilter anyway for the last 6 months) was screaming out to me. And I'm a go with my gut kinda girl.
Our fingerprints expiring on the 27th and USCIS telling me over and over again "not to worry" has sent me into an all out panic. I'm like the Titanic but I can see the iceberg ahead.
So, I emailed our case manager today and told her how concerned about their lack of concern. She wrote me back immediately and said- basically, what my gut was telling me all along- THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.
So, I call them today. AGAIN. I would like to provide some background information in my defense so that you don't think less of me for the bit coming soon.
September 1st- Call USCIS and tell them OMG our fingerprints expire on 9/27. Is this going to hurt us? Do we still have time? Answer: Of course not. There is a 30 day turn around time for the re-prints. No problem.
September 2nd- Overnight our request to Missouri.
September 3rd- Call USCIS. Did you get the package? Are we cool? Answer: No worries, no problem. We'll have you re-printed in two weeks max. Call in 2 weeks if you don't have an appointment.
September 14th- Call USCIS. Speak with rude receptionist. Remain polite and calm. It hasn't been assigned yet, call back at the end of the week.
September 16th- It's the end of the week. It's still not been assigned. "Don't worry, blah, blah, blah" Call back the first of the week.
September 20th- It's the first of the week. (See last night's post) Lie in bed awake all night with worry.
September 21st- Case manager freaks out as much as I do. Suggests calling our congressmen and senator. OMG. This IS serious! I knew it!
(This is the part you should stop reading if you think I am holding up remarkably well and are shocked that my sanity has remained intact for the last 6 months)
Call USCIS. Rude receptionist/case worker/whatever tells me "well of course this is an emergency, you and everybody else" I hold it together while reciting to myself (more flies with honey, more flies with honey) After going around and around with her why this is an emergency she says "do you know how busy we are here?" and fesses up that they can't even FIND our request because "we get thousands of letters here everyday and do you think the world just stops when you send a letter?" OK. The gloves are off.
THEN she says "do you think you are above waiting like everybody else?" At that point, 6 months of pent up anger and frustration comes spewing from my mouth. I say "LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT WAITING" and my "before I met Jesus" potty mouth comes forth. I will spare you all the colorful and descriptive adjectives that I used during the remainder of that telephone conversation. After I got done with that portion of the phone conversation, I moved on to tell her about our two year old son that has been waiting for his family and you know what, he really doesn't care how many (beep) letters she gets in a day or how (beeping) busy she is. Then, of course, I burst into tears and slam down the phone.
It was after hours at this point, so I called my contact at the senator's office and left her a voicemail. I sent USCIS an email explaining that I ending our conversation abruptly after I got "a little emotional" and wanted to re-iterate to them exactly what I needed from them.
I cried to my husband on my way home. I felt like such a basket case. I had failed big time. So much for handling situations with kindness and grace.
An hour later, I received a email response from USCIS with our fingerprint appointment on October 5th.
Wow. That only took an all out total hissy fit meltdown.
So, do you think less of me? We all have our moments I suppose, I would like to think of it as righteous anger, but I probably could have left out all of the lovely four letter words. I really do feel badly about that. I'll be better tomorrow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Random Ramblings....

Today our boy turns 2 1/2. It's been 6 months since we saw his sweet little face. I can't believe it's been 6 months since our first trip....I just can't help think about what on earth he is still doing there. He should be home with us ;0(
Surely, the powers that be feel that way too.....
Today is my first friend and my best friend for life's birthday- Here is really old picture of us- I'm the tall one with the ears and yes, the we still share the same height difference! Happy Birthday Kathleen! We had a chance to catch up a little today and it was so nice. Some friends remain in your heart forever, no matter how many miles (or days gone by) separate you.

Our fingerprints expire on September 27th. We still haven't received our fingerprinting appointment in the mail. I have called them about 5 times and they keep telling me that "this is not a big deal" and they have received our request therefore, our fingerprints are not really expired. Well this makes absolutely so sense to me and I have been in this rodeo long enough that when someone says "this isn't a big deal" that it is. I know this is going to mess us up. I can feel it. Red alert! Red alert! They said "if you get a court date then you will be moved to "priority" and it will be fine. This.is.not.fine.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Update....

We received an update from the agency today. Our documents made it to Russia and have been translated. Apparently, the Judge is not back from Moscow yet (?!?!) but at least everything will be ready upon her return this coming week. (EDIT- I have now heard she may be back by Sept. 27th? Who knows, right?) Please keep those prayers up. It is so hard being in the dark with your fate hanging in the balance. Will she start having court? Or will we have to wait another 3 months or so for an agreement to be signed?
I worked at the children's consignment sale at our church yesterday, I restrained myself to only $20 worth of stuff for Charlie. Mostly some nice Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles, but I couldn't help but think about all the consignment sales goneby. When I was buying "baby" items and thinking baby Deetz would be home before the "next" consignment sale. 3 sales later, I am buying for a nearly 3 year old! And apparently three year olds are REALLY hard on their clothing- the stuff in 3T-4T looks as if it's been through the war! So no "gently used" items for lil' Charlie boy, we'll stick to the wooden toys!
For when he's a little older!

Monday, September 13, 2010

You know the drill.....

By Thursday all of our documents had been redone. On Friday Chad drove to Columbia to get everything Apostilled. On Saturday I drove to Flat Rock and dropped off our new Court Dossier to our case manager. Today, everything is in route to Russia.
Are you as tired of reading about this as we are actually doing it over and over again?
We have no idea when the Judge gets back from the conference in Moscow. Our agency seems to think that something will be different upon her arrival back to the region. We are hoping for good news soon, but until then, we wait...and hope.....and pray....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Calling in favors....

As you know from my previous post, on Saturday we received an email from the agency, letting us know  that  they think EVERY document in our court dossier had expired. Along with, for all intensive purposes, Chad's passport since we can't get a visa within 4 months of expiration. Then on Monday came the confirmation phone call, that, yup.... EVERY document in our court dossier had expired. For those of you that don't yet have the joy of knowing, for the most part your first dossier to get you registered and in line for a referral is the relatively self driven. Other than the home study and the USCIS fingerprinting, you control all of the other documents needed, as in, you print them out and sign them.
Now, Court documents are a different animal. You rely on a lot of people unfamiliar with adoption to get strange documents processed on their letterhead with their signature on it. And for some reason, people seem very leery of printing things on their own letterhead. You start by saying "I have a huge favor to ask you for our adoption" then you finish with "so that's why I need a copy of your ______________. (medical license, background check, home mortgage good standing letter, DNA sample) Oh and on letterhead and Notarized too...) It helps if you say that last bit in a whisper while trailing off as you walk away.
The first time we needed these strange things, I didn't know what to say to people. This time it was a little easier because I just had to explain WHY what they did last time is no longer current in the eyes of Charlie's government.
On Monday, Chad went to the passport office first thing in the morning. Luckily we had duplicate sets of photos from our visas from last time in anticipation of getting our second visa for our second trip. I started working on USCIS and was reassured by "Officer Black" that I had plenty of time and we should be processed within two weeks. She was so helpful and said "well, honey, don't you worry, this boy is coming home. You call me in a week if you don't have your appointment card and we'll shake things up." I love people that shake things up.
What gave us so much trouble last time, those darn local police checks ("What do you mean I can't have a copy of my own police check?!?") Was done two hours after it was sent on Tuesday. My mom is pretty much doing everything short of flying to Russia and picking Charlie up herself, was at the Osceola County Courthouse on Tuesday morning and overnighting our marriage license to Tallahassee before most people had their morning coffee. Our doctor was on board and our appointment for another medical exam was scheduled for Wednesday. My bank friend called right away and had everything ready for hand delivery at church on Wednesday. On Friday, both the Apostille from Florida AND Chad's passport had arrived in the mail! Wow!
I would like to take the credit and say I am a professional paper pusher, but really, I just got the ball rolling and some very wonderful and motivated people picked it up and ran with it. We are so blessed to be surrounded by people that want Charlie home, whether they know us or not. It's good for our soul to see people in our church and community bind together and move with swiftness and confidence on Charlie's behalf. They KNOW he is coming home and they want to take part in this tremendous movement. I think too, God knows how TIRED we are and is giving us a little mercy in the paperwork department. For that, I am thankful.
Now, we ask you for a HUGE favor. You may not have the coveted "letterhead" but I am calling out to you and asking for your help. On Thursday, September 9th our Judge is heading out to Moscow for a "High Court" conference. We aren't sure if the main point of this conference is to decide how to process American adoptions, but we are confident at the very least it WILL come up and some sort of decision will be made on how she should proceed. We are asking you to specifically lift our Judge up in your prayers this week. This week has the potential to be pivotal in bringing Charlie home before the New Year. If things go well, we could be bringing him home very soon. If things do not go well, we are looking at...well, you know what we will be looking at. But let's not think about that right now. Let's focus on getting him home! We thank you for your part in this journey and always thinking of us and our precious boy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cat's out...

I feel like I've been keeping a huge secret from you, because, well, I have. I wanted to make sure everything was official before letting the cat out of the bag! Last year, a position became available at our church. But really, the timing was just not right. We had just gotten our feet wet in the adoption process. It just wasn't in God's plan at that time, for the church or for me.
An entire year passed us by, then out of the blue the same opportunity came knocking. After much prayer and thought, I decided to take the plunge, back into ministry. My official title will be the new member minister (meeting, greeting, getting folks plugged into the church, and organizing family events) and assisting our full time children's director in that department as well. I am so excited about moving into this new roll in my life and doing kingdom work again! God is so good and his timing is perfect!
On a personal side note, this job will give me tremendous flexibility and allow me to be the kind of mom I want to be, the kind of mom Charlie deserves, upon his arrival home. Chad and I hope to be able to flex our time enough that Charlie will need little to no care outside of our home. I have always prayed for a way to be able to stay at home with him until he goes to school, and this new job will be the best of both worlds. Insurance, an income, and the ability to raise my child the way I want to. AND, our church has a preschool downstairs, so when Charlie needs socialization a few hours a week, it is readily available (and I can spy on him 100 times a day).
So now you're in on my big secret!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My name is not Jose.

How did this happen? I don't know what I was thinking and now I am beating myself up. I knew our Court docs were expiring since we hand delivered them on our first trip in March, but I guess I thought it was going to be different. Like, why keep redoing things over and over again? What's the point if no court dates are being scheduled? I suppose in my heart I was thinking this drought would never end.
Well now our agency says that we should go ahead and get to work. Our case manager replied to my email asking about Chad's passport that expires in December. Turns out it might as well have expired in September because your passport needs to be current within 4 months to even GET a Russian visa. Awesome. Would have been good to know, say, in June. So Chad spent his morning yesterday at the Passport agency as well as $200 in expediting fees. Awesome. Then our case manager called today at 5:15 and said, well, we basically need to redo every single document. EVERY. SINGLE. DOCUMENT. Awesome. But at least she said:
But you only need one copy of everything this time!
So, I think, ok I know I just spent 10 hours staring at the computer, but I have another few hours left in me tonight. I get home and start the shuffle. E-mailed my friend at the bank, emailed my doctor, emailed a sheriff friend that can help us with our local police clearance, called my mom about getting yet ANOTHER copy of our marriage license to be sent to Florida Apostilled.
I was feeling ok, reminding myself that Rome wasn't built in a day, and turned my attention to our USCIS approval that expires in January. I thought to myself, at least we were at least in the clear on that one. Then I read the fine print on the bottom. Despite the approval expiring in 2011, our fingerprints expire on SEPTEMBER 27TH. O.M.G. Panic mode.
Of course they aren't open now, so I left a voicemail and did some online stalking. It says "30 is more than enough time to process reprints, please notify us within 30 days" Ok- so I only missed it by 3 days. Please tell me it will be ok? So I sent them my request.
Then the phone rings: It's my sheriff's department friend running our local police clearance. He has the letters done (did I mentioned I just emailed this to him at 6:52 today, can you say rock star?!?) It appears from his search that someone has used my social security number fraudulently. He is some kind of criminal that has been deported from the United States and has given a handful of fake numbers, mine being one of them. He said it was unsuccessful and I shouldn't worry about it. (Ahhhhh!!!) He said when I got my federal fingerprinting done and they match those with my social, it is obvious that I am not a Hispanic male drug lord. O.M.G! He stopped by the house and hand delivered the clearance letters and showed me the rap sheet of my friend that is somehow attached to my name somewhere in outer space until the end of time. I hope I never have to explain that one.
Today has lasted forever. I have done everything within my power to do today and tomorrow is another day to hit the ground running. I hope this is the last time I need to do the great "redo" I don't think I have a round 4 in me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What you can buy for $68

So, I am officially addicted to coupons. I've decided what it is....it's like Black Friday (my favorite holiday of the year) like EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK! Helllloooo, a coupon in the paper on Wednesday for a penny mystery item at your local publix, I mean, what's not to love? My friend Sharon and I took a coupon class (how delightfully nerdy is that?) on Tuesday night and picked up some great tips. Sharon is incredibly organized, and well, absolutely brilliant, so I've been calling her about 4 times a day. Mostly with math questions. ("Sharon, it says this should be free, but I don't see how it adds up.....) Together we've been dredging our way through this. I hope it gets easier! I think I've finally gotten the hang of it, but don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of work and planning. At first, I would go into the store and make one purchase at a time with my little fistful of coupons, just thinking "this is never going to work and I'm going to owe more money than what this is worth!". But on Thursday I did my shopping for the week at Publix and today I went to Rite Aid and bought a cartfull too. I can't see how I am going to keep this up AND have a toddler in my house, but for now it's giving me a nice distraction from our never ending adoption (no we haven't heard anything substantial, other that the Judge may be going to the convention on September 9th and then after that may decide to go ahead and start scheduling court after that)
But....in case you want to know- here is my $68 bounty for the week: (Note I stack it up on the counter and kitchen table so that my husband gets a nice chuckle out of it, I think he thinks I've lost my mind)
1 gallon of milk
2 bags of salad
2 boxes Betty Crocker potatoes
2 pints Starbucks Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
1 lb Cabot Cheddar Cheese
2 packs Nathans Hot dogs
1 box Cole's Cheese Bread sticks
2 packs Johnsonville brats (go meat)
2 boxes Morning Star Veggie Burgers
2 boxes Morning Star Lasagna
4 packs Immaculate Cookies
1 lb green beans
1 lb squash
1 lb eggplant
1 lb zucchini
8 Fiber OneYogurts
1 pack sliced Gouda cheese
40 solo plates
1 lb Honey Ham
1 loaf organic wheat bread
2 v8 Splash
4 can condensed soup for cooking
1 box spaghetti
1 bottle A-1
1 lb Hamburger meat
1 Hormel ready made meal
2 tubs I can't believe it's not butter
1 box Ritz crackers
4 (12) pack rolls of Cottonelle
1 (4) pack roll of Publix toilet paper
5 boxes fiber one cereal (We are going to need all that toilet paper)
1 (32) load Tide detergent
1 package Tide stain release
1 (60) Downy Fabric Softener
2 Nivea Men's shower wash
2 bottles Gain Dish soap liquid
3 (12) packs of Coke Products
2 (22oz) Kraft Mayo
2 boxes Cascade Farm Granola Bars
2 cans green beans
2 cans Healthy Harvest Soup

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ode to Tar'get

"On the road again" Bean Bag Chair
Oh Tar'get how I heart thee,
Let me count the ways....
You fill my restless heart with retail therapy.
You do not empty my bank account,
Your red clearance stickers send my heart a flutter.
If I cannot find you at the store, I can go .com and get your free shipping.
If you were not in my life I would cry and have to go to the dreaded Wally.
It's no wonder your logo is a bullseye, you are always on Target!
Skip-Hop "Moby" Faucet cover

Aquatopia bath kneeling pad

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's all in the details....

Cut Robot mom and I found at Jolly's Toys in Helen, GA
With some cute wooden letters added to the door.
A gift from Sarah's friend Heidi that we made into a switch plate cover!
Love Etsy! Thanks Heidi and Joe!
Charlie's name has finally made it onto the wall
As have the robot prints....
Finally found a cover (well dyed a cover) to match then added some bling!
Some "borrowed" art from Chad's office
Mr. Robotos and Build-A-Bear Buzz wait for
Charlie on his robot bed, all gifties from Grandma.

Monday, August 23, 2010

August Pictures....

When we returned from vacation, we had a little treat in our inbox- August pictures of Charlie from our insider friend... ;D
He looks soooo big. It's been 5 months since we saw him and his face has really thinned out. He is almost half way to being 3 years old, when we first saw him it was only a day after his second birthday when he was still a baby, now he is approaching toddler-dom  I suppose...
So this is what we think happens for the photo shoots. They bring him out of the room by himself, sometimes to the main room located outside of his class, sometimes outside to the playground, and I think sometimes to the "sleeping room" while everyone else must be in the playroom/eating room. This is why you need to know this information:
One of the pictures is taken in the main room, where all of the teachers and workers walk back in forth to the classrooms. It is like a living room if you will- a couch, a t.v., area rug and storage for ride on toys. So in this picture, sits Charlie, in front of the big window and couch ON A PINK POTTY shorts around his ankles. Yes, you heard me right. I think they are trying to tell us he is now potty trained. The funny part is that they moved the potty from the "potty line-up" in the bathroom to the living room for the photo. I can hear them say "show Mama and Papa how you can use the potty!" The funny thing is that he doesn't even look confused. Actually, sitting on his bubblegum pink throne, he looks as if he is mid-sentence. His mouth is open, head tilted to the side, one arm pointing forward and the other above the head mid-ballerina pose. Like he is saying "The potty use to be in that room over there, but now it's in the middle of the living room in front of the t.v and LOOK you have a CAMERA!" And perhaps also pondering why he is wearing terry cloth short shorts and continues to sport the reverse mullet. Oh wait, that's just his mama that is wondering that....
He looks happy, healthy, and not missing us a bit. Those three things are exactly what we were hoping for. That and we won't be needing "September Pictures".

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peelies and Blinkies (Or How I spent my Sunday....)

I have recently been bitten by the coupon craze. Let me back-up and explain. I have some "super-mommy" friends that often boast of these incredible coupon saving experiences. They facebook about it, blog about it, and even send an occasional "I just spent 36 cents on eighteen bags of kitty litter!" email complete with pictures of a backhoe removing a pallet of kitty litter piled to the roof of their mini-vans in their driveways. (To that I say: But you don't have a cat....) I always thought it was cool, but I thought- who has time for that? Then last week I was in the grocery store behind a super perky little mommy with her super cute little daughter unloading a truck load of groceries onto the conveyor. She allowed the clerk to complete the ringing up of the items, total $132. Then she handed over her bi-lo store saving card, down to $87. I was impressed, but I shop the bogos too (buy one get one free) and to date have saved $544 on my bi-lo card, so I was like "ok perky mommy lets get on with it" (I was particularly moody because it was pouring down rain outside and had run in to grab just a few items and landed directly behind granola mom with $132 worth of groceries, I digress..)
THEN on come the coupons. First the store coupons. Then the manufacturers coupons. Then the duplicate coupons for those bogo deals and multiple purchases (see 18 bags of kitty litter). This took a while. But it caught my attention. Granola continued to talk to the clerk about the weather and how Juicy-Juicy really ISN'T as healthy as it claims to be while I watched her spendings dwindle down to next to nothing, literally. GRAND TOTAL 63 CENTS. My jaw dropped and as the clerk rang up my $24 worth of groceries I was holding, total- $16. Not bad, but NOT 63 cents, ya know?
I caught up with Granola at the front door. I struck up a conversation as we waited for the rain to slow down. She told me she spends about 2 hours on Sunday, with the 8 sunday papers she buys (she promised that they pay for themselves) and a copy of "All You" Magazine. Then she goes to http://www.southernsavers.com/ and checks out what is free or under a dollar at her local stores. She clips and organizes and then they start the "circuit". Going around to all the local stores and buying up "staples" at the right time. Whew. I think I can do that...I started doing some research upon my soggy arrival home (Darn rain) because at some point during her rant, Granola was talking about "peelies" and "blinkies" and I felt confused.
Fast forward to this Sunday. I went to the dreaded Wally after church. I spent $22 on a 2" binder, baseball trading card sleeves (to hold my peelies and blinkies) two Sunday papers, All You, and a pair of new scissors. I felt like I should be using a coupon for these things, but I let it go because it seemed like the cart before the horse scenario.
Now I have been sitting on the couch for 5 hours clipping coupons and becoming a facebook fan of feta cheese to get a "try it free" coupon. I am still confused at the overabundance of information at my fingertips, but now I have several papercuts as well. I should also add, my supplies cost $22 and I still have no food in my fridge. I am trying to be patient with this new way of shopping- not buying because you "need" it right that minute, but instead stockpiling items you need when the price is at it's lowest. I know that doesn't actually help with whats for dinner tonight, but the good news is I am buying a cat to use up all that kitty litter I can get for 4 cents per bag!