Thursday, February 25, 2010

Plate Raffle!

Ends this Sunday! Don't forget to "chip in" (link listed above) for your chance to win the plate. Right now, you have very good odds of winning!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Try, Try Again

Late afternoon yesterday we got an email from the agency, but not the one we were hoping. We needed to redo a single form that still had the remnants of our former region, St. Petersburg, and didn’t say the word Pskov. This form originally had two blanks left intentionally blank (this is important to know for later in the story)
So, I redid the forms. Called just to make sure those blanks should still be left blank. Yes. So I had them re-notarized and paid for the overnight to the Secretary of State to Apostille them. My very understanding boss allowed me to step out for a few minutes and run to the post office. Then I realized I was out of checks to send the $8 needed to send for the certificate. Stopped by the bank. Got $20. Went to the gas station and bought some much needed caffeine to break the $20. Asked the cashier for some singles. Went to the post office, mailed off the package with a return envelope inside to skip the middle man (me) and be sent directly to the agency. Breathed a sigh of relief.
Got back to the office. The phone rang. It was the agency (once again not with good news, I say that for people like my mom whom I start every conversation with the phrase “I don’t have any news” prior to starting any conversation)
She just found out like 10 minutes ago that S.O.S. will no longer Apostille documents with blanks left in a form. “But I’m sure you haven’t sent them yet!” “Uhhhh…..actually I have.” I do not let dust settle on me when it comes to the parts of this adoption I can control. Our case manager applauds me on my super fast, efficient, proficient paperwork fortitude. Unfortunately, I’ve just overnighted a package that is incorrect. Do you hear that sound? $15 going directly down the drain. So I…….
Redid the form.
Had Chad stop by my office
Signed everything over again
Re-notarized the document(thank you Michele, working in a law firm has it’s perks. EVERYONE is a Notary!)
Made copies of everything again
Printed another mailing label
Paid another $15
Sent Chad off to the post office
Sent an e-mail to the S.O.S. office explaining the error and begged her not to return the incorrect forms to us.
Then hoped that the mess of paperwork I have created over ONE single piece of paper with ONE incorrect word is magically made right with a little prayer.
*In case you are wondering, because I was and I asked, this error and ONE incorrect word should not harm us in getting a referral, hopefully very soon.* The positive side of this is that right now the DOE (just think of them as the Wizard of Oz that grant the baby delivery in Russia) is reviewing our file and trying to get us matched up with Baby Deetz! I mean they are actually looking at our file, which I think is just great news. I was a little frustrated by this crazy ordeal today, but it did feel really good to be doing something! Not just sitting and waiting. I mean you just gotta roll with the punches. Being angry or discouraged really doesn’t help things. At this point if they asked me to fill out a form in Swahili and write in rainbow colored ink and enclose a picture of a chicken in letter I would do it and never think twice. I would just say “Here….ChaCha!” (That’s chicken in Swahili in case you were wondering.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Blowing Rock

This weekend we took 7 of our senior high-schoolers to Blowing Rock, NC for a retreat. Our program was Dave Ramsey's financial peace, teaching today's teens practical money skills and life skills to prepare them for college. (Balancing a checkbook, creating a budget, etc.)
Upon arrival, we learned that Blowing Rock had gotten a blizzard the weekend before and it continued to snow the entire time we were there. I had never seen so much snow! It was beautiful! Of course, we took them skiing on Saturday and I being non-talented in the skiing department decided to stay back and go SHOPPING! (I'll admit I felt a little hypocritical talking about "saving money" and "smart spending" and then shopping the day away, but only for a minute.) Besides, I mostly window shopped and decided to only buy a thank you gift for Britt for puppy sitting and house watching and a little gifty for myself.
I met the most interesting shopkeeper, a fascinating man by the name of Steve West, owner of "Cross Trade Imports" Steve was a successful business man in Florida. He often traveled to Brazil on business. It was there God began speaking to him about the path he had taken and the extreme poverty in the slums of South America. It was then he decided to give up everything and make his life's work to help the "poorest of the poor" in Brazil. He practices Fair Trade, basically employing and commissioning local artisans that have no other source of income but have unbelievable artistic ability. His shop was lined with remarkable linens, art, jewelry, pottery, etched glass. Even more remarkable were the pictures of artists, the people that were given hope, financial opportunity, and most importantly Christianity through Steve's business. He knew each one by name. He knew their stories, their wives names, their family dynamics and living conditions. What started as friendly conversation ended with both of us in joyful tears. We talked about his 4 adopted daughters, we talked about Baby Deetz and our journey. He gave me advice about his adoption experiences. We talked about how God had blessed us. It was like hanging out with an old friend.
I bought a wooden spoon made by a blind man that carves all of his work from a single piece of wood using a piece of glass as his only tool. The spoon was as smooth as silk. I bought a couple of gorgeous necklaces crafted from seeds. The family that harvests and makes the jewelry lives together in a tiny home. In their picture you could see the water level that rises to shin-height that they stand and work in during the rainy season. In all their pictures they have huge smiles. Smiles of hope and smiles that say "I've been given a second chance". Through Steve and though a calling, God has given these people just that, hope and a chance to make a better life for their children. Powerful stuff.
Please check out his website and buy something!

You'll be happy you did!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Be prepared, expect the best.

Ten years ago tonight was one of the scariest nights of my life. I remember the date because Chad and I had been married exactly one month. Picture it:
We are lying in bed in our tiny one bedroom apartment, it’s around 11:30 p.m. or so. That night we had some friends over to try out our new pots/pans/dishes that we had gotten from our wedding. We had been back from our honeymoon for about two weeks. We still had gifts we hadn’t opened, boxes yet to be unpacked, piles of thank you notes yet to be written for the hundreds of gifts we had gotten. The weather is exceptionally cold for Florida.
We hear sirens down the street. Normal, we live two blocks from the fire department. Then we see flashing lights from emergency vehicles, still “normal” because we live in the first “quad” of apartments off a busy street. The emergency vehicles turn into our apartment complex. We are slightly alarmed. We just figure a neighbor is sick, had a heart attack, whatever….and needs assistance. Then we hear “BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” Someone pounding on our sliding glass door of our patio. Full on panic! It’s a firefighter in full gear screaming at me in my pajama’s behind the glass. “Get out of the building immediately!” Chad and I dash for the front door.
O.K. side note: You know in your head your list of things you would grab out of your house in case of an emergency? Photo album of your wedding, Grandma’s favorite painting off the wall, your remembrances and keepsakes? Well let me tell you~ I’ve had a mental list like that for years and when an guy in a smoke mask is screaming at you in the middle of the night, the list goes out of your brain immediately.
I didn’t grab our socks, shoes, my purse, car keys, NOTHING. Nada. We run outside in our bare feet in the freezing cold. We stand on the frigid asphalt watching a slew of emergency workers run around. After waiting for what seemed like forever, a police officer finally comes over to us and tells us that one of our upstairs neighbor left his fireplace burning and it had caught his apartment on fire. We watch helplessly as the fire fighters axe the roof open, extend the fire truck ladder and start pumping thousands of gallons of water into our building via the roof. Smoke is billowing. We hadn’t gotten renters insurance yet, we were going to meet with our agent the very next day to see if we could get it cheaper than our complex was offering. I picture all of our things being burned up. All those thank you notes that had taken a week to write, crisp. Water ruining our new wedding album. Brand new sheets, linens, furniture going up in smoke.
Neighbors brought us socks and blankets. We just stood in the cold, anticipating the absolute worst. About an hour later, we are able to go in to observe the damage. Our apartment is filled with smoke. We open all the windows and doors. As the smoke clears, we realize everything appears to be o.k. Smoky, but o.k. The firefighter accompanying us says he is amazed. We are amazed.
The next day our carpets were steam cleaned and all of our clothes were taken to the dry cleaners to remove the smokey smell (courtesy of our apartment complex). We lived in that apartment for a year and EVERY time you used the exhaust fan in the bathroom it smelled exactly like Fat Boys BBQ Restaurant. It wasn't funny then, but it is funny now.
So, I know you're saying "Sarah, what does this have to do with the adoption?" We learned to be better prepared with things like, say, bringing your keys with you so that when your house is burning down you can at least sit in your warm car or maybe to stay on top of important documents and expiration dates. This also goes with being prepared about potential health/attachment issues we may be facing. We should be prepared, but expect the best. That's the best way I know how to explain it. We are expecting a blessing. We are expecting our expectations to be exceeded. We are expecting our lives to be changed for the better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When we enter our house, I take the garage (via keypad) and Chad always chooses the front door. I really don't know why. I guess it's a personal preference.
Well Wednesday night I was on the computer and Chad comes in through the front door. "You expecting a package from UPS?" "Uhhhh (scanning my mind....I bought the European surge protector to take with us on our travels the day before, but unless they have MAGICIANS working there, that's way too fast) Sarah "" Chad: "We'll it's from our agency" Hmmmmm......
I've told you before we've been getting "overage" checks when people donate to our adoption now. This goes into our travel account. But they just come in the regular mail. Hmmmm.....
We open it up and it's a money order from them and travel instructions. (Emergency contact numbers, how much to tip, which airport to fly into, etc.) Hmmmmmm.....
No cover letter. Hmmmmm......
Chad makes the observation "the only reason people send money orders is when you don't have time for a check to clear the bank." Hmmmmmm.....
Even though it's late I send our agency a "Do you know something we don't know e-mail" I can't fall asleep that night. What if they got a referral for us and our case manager ordered the "package" to go out from a different department and it just got here quicker than word got to us?" "What if this means we will be traveling, like in 10 days?" Oh my gosh. I have so much to do....
The next day I wait for a reply to my friendly "I promise I'm not annoying email." But WHAT IS GOING ON? Why would you send this now if you didn't know something we didn't know? I mentioned it to my friend Michele. She flips out. "WHY HAVEN'T YOU CALLED THEM!?!?!" Well because I have clients and hate it when they don't believe me when I say "the SECOND I know ANYTHING I will call you." I know our agency wants us to get a referral as much as we want a referral. Well, maybe not, but I'm sure they love telling people they have a baby as much as I love telling people we've got a settlement offer in their case. Everyone likes being the bearer of good news.
So I negotiate with Michele that if I don't hear something by 2:45 I will call.
I e-mail a friend with our same agency. She says they got one too. She thinks AFTER they got a referral.Hmmmm.....
All day long I have butterflies in my tummy. My phone that is now connected to my hip pocket on vibrate has been placed on full volume. I obsessively check my email every 5 minutes.
FINALLY it's 2:45. I place the call. It all builds to this moment........
They haven't heard anything. They HOPE it will be very soon. They don't want to get our hopes up. The money order must be cashed and hand delivered to our facilitator in Russia upon arrival. The travel instructions are well, instructions. She says that most of the time they send that package after you get a referral. So I ask "Why now?". Well, we just want you to be ready.
Is that a code, what am I getting ready for? Like how ready? Like pull the suitcases from the attic ready? Or like where I've lived for the last year, on the verge of ready. Sleeping with one eye open. Grabbing my phone the second it rings kinda ready? There are so many different degrees of ready. I guess I am to be more ready than I was before?
So we leave it on that note. Two words people "Cover letter" that would take a lot of the mystery out of a money order and a cryptic list of 14 digit phone numbers.
Cover letter.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Out of control!

Well, it's official I've been out of control for a year. A year ago today Chad and I anxiously turned in our application to our adoption agency and the fun began. I think God had a funny way of marking this anniversary of him being in control (and not me) this morning as I drove to work.
So I was taking a "short cut" through a neighborhood this morning on my way to work because the light I usually make a right hand turn at was backed up about a half a mile. So sometimes when this happens I turn right into a neighborhood and avoid "waiting my turn" at the light with no turning lane. So off I go (late as usual) as a car approaches in the opposite direction. I move over a bit to stop taking my half of the middle when I hit it. A huge patch of ice. It's then I realize that one of the houses must have had a water main break or a sprinkler issue because the street from that point on is one giant sheet of black ice. I swerve and miss the car as I fishtailed. I thought it was over. I hit another patch and start to spin. Once all the way around, then twice. I am now facing oncoming traffic. It's funny all this happens so fast yet in slow motion at the same time. I tap the breaks and quickly remember I'm not suppose to do that. I don't fight it. My car finishes spinning and I realize I am in this guy's yard, like IN HIS YARD. About a foot in front of me is his mailbox. A foot behind me is a telephone pole. I have NEVER been able to parallel park, but this was THE MOST perfect parallel parking job you have ever seen. It was like a stunt driver move and the funny thing is I didn't do a darn thing. I just sat back, stunned. I would like to say I cried out to God, but that would be a lie because I was thinking a VERY bad word at the time all this was happening. (Hint: First you say it, then you do it)
So, fortunately, God pointed me out in the right direction as I was facing the opposite direction I had wanted to go and the road I should have been on the whole time was right in front of me. If only I hadn't been so darn impatient.
So on this year anniversary lessons learned:
1-God is in control
2-I am not
3-I obviously freeze under pressure so it's a good thing I'm not in control anyway.
4-Waiting (in traffic or say...for a baby) is not the worst things in the world. It sure beats spinning out of control or waiting for well, nothing.
5- It's not really a shortcut if you have to go home and change your shorts.

Monday, February 1, 2010