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
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(

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.

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....
Mary Jo

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

Material number M-38/2010
Form of civil proceedings Special proceedings
Date of receipt 06.12.2010
Procedure for admission FIRST
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
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)
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 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


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'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!