Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Road Trip!

Yesterday, I made my first trip to Austin to get paperwork apostilled and mailed to Ukraine.  I was very nervous.  I didn't know what I was doing, where I was going, etc.  But, now, I'm a little more knowledgeable....about apostilling in the state of Texas.  Don't get excited.

I was up at 5. Good thing I'm a morning person!  I got ready, gathered my paperwork and left.  I picked up my good friend and former Austin resident, Margaret.  We left Houston around 6.  She introduced me to the most amazing breakfast burrito place in Giddings.  Oh baby, that was a good breakfast.  We got into Austin just in time for rush hour traffic, but I wasn't driving, so I was good.

We found the building right off and heading into the Authentication office.  I was the only one there!  So, no line.  Yeah!  I sat down and filled out all the needed paperwork.  The lady asked me what country and when I told her Ukraine she said that they joke in the office that Russia and Ukraine try to compete to see which country will be the most difficult.  Words every adoptive mother wants to hear, right? When we left, there was a line behind me.
The seal of the state of Texas

We left the state office and walked the 2 blocks to a UPS office.  Again, no line!!  Huzzah!  I filled out the envelope to mail to Ukraine.  I wanted to mail it overnight, but the only available they had was for it to arrive on Wednesday.  When he told me the price of $111, I was good with Wednesday!  And again, when we left there was a line behind me!  Margaret said it was some of the same people from the state office.  How funny is that?  A couple more orphans who will soon have a family.

After that, I was golden.  She asked if I wanted to go to Whole Foods.  I told her I we could go anywhere she wanted to go...I didn't care where we went.  Plus, she was driving.  It was such a relief to have that part done.  I wish it was the final part and we were just waiting on a travel date, but one step at a time.
Sweet Family Time

This is Margart's mom making the most amazing enchiladas I have ever had!! 
Funny side note.  Margaret's sister had a baby 4 days ago and lives in Austin.  We spent the afternoon there, loving on the baby and loving the time with all the family.  She really does have the most precious family.  Ok, the funny part is coming.  I made a name sign for the new baby as a gift.  Margaret had called me on Friday to tell me the name was Elizabeth Nicole.  Yes, I assumed it was spelled that way.  You know what they say about assuming.  So, I made the sign for "Elizabeth". 

Saturday, I get an email that the name is "Elisabeth Nicole".  So I made another sign. 

Sunday night I was on facebook, wasting time and I saw that Amparo, Margaret's sister changed the name to "Rebeca Nicole".  I was a little worried, but it was late and I had a big day, so off to bed I went.  When I woke up, I thought it must have been a dream.  When I told Erin he, too, thought it was a dream.  When I picked up Margaret, she confirmed it was NOT a dream.  I still took the sign and gave it to the new baby.  By then it was funny.  (meaning not so much when I first found out, but I realized the world doesn't revolve around me and then it got funny.)  I figured they could give it to the cousin that was the reason for the name change.  I'll try to get Rebeca her own sign.  I love making them. 

I read that the immigration office is behind in the paperwork and what used to take 6-8 weeks is now taking 8-12 weeks.  They are working evening and weekends trying to get caught up.  I am overnighting our application tomorrow.  I know that the God of the universe CAN make it so we travel this year.  I also know that the same God has a reason for us waiting if that is His will.  I don't like the idea of waiting another 3 months.  But, I only want His ways and His will.  So, we are charging ahead like we are going to get to leave before December.  We are preparing our hearts and the children's hearts for not traveling until February. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grateful for a good day

Today, I was really starting to feel the weight of the paperwork.  There is just so much to do.  And so much to redo.  The level of perfection is something I am not usually asked to try and reach. 

I feel the ache of a mother who is far away from her little one.  I have enjoyed the paperwork.  It gives me something to DO.  Something I can do for her.  I can't rock her to sleep, yet.  I can't kiss her tummy when I change her diaper, yet.  Paperwork is something I can do for her now.  But, today it's felt pointless and slow.  Even though this adoption is moving at light speed, today I felt weary.

Then I opened the mail...my passport!!!  This means we can apply for our immigration (the paper that takes 6-8 weeks to get back).  It's what will take the longest since we are done with our home study and nearly done with the dossier.  I am so excited!  I will mail it off on Monday.  It felt like a jolt of caffeine that came right on the day I was feeling down.

Speaking of Monday, I am making a day trip to Austin to have some paperwork apostilled.  The way I understand it, it's the state's version of a notary.  This is the first trip.  I'm not sure how many more I have before me.  I am so grateful that we live 2 hours away.  I don't have to mail it off and wait for it.

I am grateful for so many things.  The dossier prep team at Reece's Rainbow, a group of moms volunteering their time, feel the same urgency I do.  They are pushing me just as hard as I am pushing myself.  I love that they want my little Alice to be home as much...well, maybe not as much...as I do. 

Today is a good day.  This weekend will be filled with more paperwork (my current version of rocking her to sleep).  We are closer and closer.  Soon, I won't have to substitute.  Soon, we'll have the real thing.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Show and Tell

Show--see the new header and the "Grab Our Button" on the right side?  The amazing people at Reece's Rainbow made those for me.  In their spare time.  Lu is a mother and volunteer that does this to help families as they travel down the adoption road.

Tell--Now you can donate directly to our family page at Reece's Rainbow by clicking on the button on the side.  It is tax deductible by going through Reece's Rainbow.  So, if you'd like to help us out financally you can.  Also, pass this on so if you know someone who recently told you, "I have a ton of cash and I've been waiting to help out a family trying to adopt a special needs little girl..."  You have somewhere you can send them.  We're always looking for ways to help people out like that.

Also, you can take the code beneath the button and put it on your own blog, if you are one of "us" and have a blog, so that others can see it.  Who knows what God will do?  Maybe someone who had never thought of adopting a special needs child or one from a foreign country (like yours truly).  Maybe that someone will see the button, go to the website and see their future blessing (like yours truly, again.)  How cool would that be?  We could start a revolution of babies being saved from orphanages!  We could be a part of whole new set of little arrows for the kingdom! 

Ok, maybe I'm getting a little carried away.  I'm just excited about my button.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Money is in the Bank!!

Yesterday we deposited all the money from the garage sale and the donations we have received so far.  There was over $200 in coins alone!  The bank teller's eyes sort of bugged when we set the ice cooler on the counter.  Bless her heart...hehe.  We told her it was for an adoption, that we had had a garage sale and this was what we had made.  She asked all sort of questions, from where? little boy or girl? how old?  When she asked how much more money we had to raise and I proudly said, "We are one-fourth the way there!"  She actually grew pale!  She asked how are we going to get the rest...I told her the Lord provided this, He'll provide the rest.  I'm so blessed by how far the Lord has brought us already.  I know where we started.  I know it's all worth it.

We signed our intent to adopt form and I'm faxing it in this morning.  It is just so exciting!!  Our home study is done and we have it in our hands!  That is a big chunk of time of the 7 month process.  One big thing down, two more to go.  1)my passport to arrive-should be here in a week or two and 2)USIC approval.  That's our immigration that gives us permission to go to a foreign country and bring a child into this country.  We can't mail it in until I get another copy of my birth certificate.  I had one, but it was sent with my passport application.  The birth certificate should be here next week.  While waiting for the USIC approval, hopefully I will have gotten all the other paperwork done and be waiting.

I'm looking forward to the "wait" part of "hurry up and wait" of the process.  I have a new project in the works.  I'll unveil it during that time...stay tuned.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quiet Day

Today, we are taking it easy and trying to rest.  After the past week, my house looks, well, let's just say every horizontal surface is full of something.  So, I'm going to try and dig out of that.

During the garage sale we received the paperwork to start the international part of the adoption via email.  I'm so excited, intimidated, and overwhelmed!  I'm going to start working on that as well.  Our home study should be coming to us in the mail today or tomorrow.  That is huge towards getting her this year.  Also, that will allow us to now apply for grants. 

Next step is immigration.  Can't apply for that until we have the home study.  It usually takes 6-8 weeks to get back.  So, it's a hurry up and wait.  It's starting to feel so close. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Take note...I'm speechless!

What the garage looked like when we started this morning.  I didn't take one on the first day to show just how much was really there.  Wish I had thought to do so.

This gentleman bought a ton of furniture! This was on the first day.  He was a newly wed and was furnishing his new home.  We were happy to have so much for him to choose from.

Well, we are done!  "The" garage sale is finally done.  It's hard to believe that just a little over a week ago I asked for donations!  People gave, and gave, and gave.  We even had people bringing donations today!

My early morning helpers...I think the 5 am wake up call made them go mad.
We were only open until around noon.  There were simply no more customers and I was, frankly, tired.  The heat was not bad at all today and that was such a blessing.  I started to pack up what was left and my beloved mother-in-law suggested that I leave it and come inside.  I did and we started counting money.

We counted the donation jar first.  We separated all the coins.  I tried to turn it into a math lesson, but my brain was too confused with the counting of the coins and trying to do math facts...ever been there?  Then we started putting the coins into paper rolls.  We were what I call "simpled out."  What that means to us is that we giggled over everything and nothing.  It also meant that we were unable to perform simple, fine motor skills.  Yes, it took us awhile, but we had a lot of fun trying to do it.  I wanted to do the jar first to remind us of the people who gave for no reason.  They gave us over $321!  In a jar!  My mind was swimming already.

The sales were easier to count because they were mostly bills and a few checks.  We counted twice because we didn't believe the total.  Are you ready?  The Lord provided over $4000!  I was overwhelmed, to say the least.  I just cried.  I had asked the Lord for $1000.  But He provided 4 times that amount!  He's always giving something extra!

God placed on the hearts of 23 families to give what they donated.  He arranged for all the customers to come to our sale.  He did all of that so that Alice would be able to come home.  She's so loved already.  I am humbled and speechless.  Take note, you may never have another chance to hear of me being without something to say!  But, I pray that I am able to always give God the glory.

But, the widow's oil has run out and now I am very, very tired.  Thank you for praying and loving Alice too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby, it's hot outside! Part 2

Day 2 of the biggest garage sale I've ever been apart of is done...whew!  We sold a lot of little things.  That was nice because it meant far less to pack up and put into the garage.  The garage is less full, but it's hard to tell because you can't see the back or side walls.

I wanted to share some of the stories of the giving.  It has been wonderful and sweet to watch strangers get excited for us.  Only one woman got light-headed when we told her that Alice would make #6.  Most people didn't ask how many children we already had.  And I figured, "Don't ask, don't tell."

A family came that had a daughter with Down Syndrome.  The mother didn't speak English, but her daughter translated for her.  I told them why were having the sale and for whom.  The momma got a sweet look on her face and put her hand on her heart.  The younger daughter, age 5-6?, then asked if she could give to help us.  She handed me 2 quarters.  I offered her a coke as a thank you.  This spurred her older siblings, 3 others including the DS sister, to find money to donate.  The little girl with DS was making sure her whole family had something to drink.  I wish the mom and I could have had a talk about her daughter.

A grandmother was taking a walk with her grandson and just happened to see the sale and stopped to buy some books.  When we told her why we were there and showed her Alice's picture, they shopped some more.  After she bought an armful of books and some toys her and the little boy left.  She then returned about 15 minutes later with a box.  She had gone home and found some items she wanted to donate for Alice.

One lady gave us a $20 for a small item.  Then she took the change and put it into the donation jar.

The donation jar is very heavy now!  The level has grown and grown.  We, of course, put it into the house for the night.  After we put everything away for the day I walk into the house and Charlotte is trying to get the money out!  I explained that we weren't going to count the money in the jar until Saturday. I looked closer at the jar.  Henry had put a blue tube into the jar...and a water bottle lid...and some small pieces of trash.  So, I guess I'll be cleaning that out here in a bit.

I'm still going strong with energy.  The Lord is providing.  Not only money, donated items (which are still coming in, by the way) but also the help of friends and family and energy.  And, no rain.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby, it's hot outside!

We were up long before the sun was up setting up our garage sale.  It took us over 3 hrs to set everything out!  I told you we had a lot of stuff.  And you would think that the air would be crisp and a bit on the cool side.  Nope, not gonna happen.  We starting sweating as soon as we opened the garage door.  I set up some fans, shade, and chairs.  IF you sat still and IF you were in front of the fan and IF you sat in the shade it wasn't too hot outside. hummm 

One of the most amazing woman I've ever met, Pat brought her children, and John (another tall young man who enjoys working in the sweaty Houston heat) to help around 7 am .  I don't know how we could have done it without them.  The boys carried heavy things to the car and lifted and moved and well, sweated.  Pat took the money and I was the salesman.  It was a very good working arrangement; both of us working to our strengths.

We sold a lot of the furniture and a lot of the electronics.  But, amazingly my garage is still full!  We have 3 pick ups tonight and a friend asked if she could bring some things tomorrow.  I told everyone who came by today to come tomorrow because, "It will be a like a whole new garage sale!"

Patty was great!  Not only did she bring her big, strong sons but she talked up every thing I sold!  "Wow, that's a steal!" she'd say.  "That's a nice couch!  I was thinking of buying that." she'd comment.  Then she'd tell everyone about sweet Alice Faith.

It was fun to see the generosity of people.  Some people when we told them what we were doing were very excited and kind.  Others reminded us that there are many orphans here in America.  I totally agree.  There are too many orphans everywhere!  But, it gave a chance to talk about how she's living on borrowed time.

The Lord has given me super strength yesterday and tomorrow.  I'm still going strong.  I feel like the widow who's oil didn't run out.  I'm praying He continues for Friday and Saturday.  If He doesn't, them I'll rest.  If He does...yeah!  I'll rest on Monday.

I used to wonder how people could love a child they had never met and had only seen in a picture.  But, now I know.  You work so hard for them and you gaze at their picture and you fall in love.  It's labor of a different kind.  The end is just as amazing and just as worth it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One Step Closer

I applied for my passport today!  Glory to God!  Erin was given some money from a friend at work to help with the adoption.  The passport cost almost the entire amount.  How giving is God?  He not only provided for the passport, but gave extra.  Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!  The irony of a girl who's never been east of the Mississippi River, who has NO desire to visit New York City, and is a little scared of visiting a foreign country having and using a passport is not lost on me.  And the only stamps it will have on it will be from Ukraine and the United States.  But, can you imagine a more beautiful stamp? 

The garage sale is growing, growing, growing!  We have outgrown the garage.  We have outgrown the back deck.  We now have things in the house and outside in the drive way.  I'm so excited!  Tomorrow the big girls and I are making the advertising signs.  Advertising is not something I'm good at doing.  But, I have some amazing friends and family that are doing a great job of spreading the news.  Tonight a wonderful woman named Marilyn, whom I've never met before tonight, brought us some more gifts for the sale. The Hills made a pick up for me that I was going to be unable to get.  They spent a lot of time and effort for us this evening.  And, did I mention it's hot?

I have a dear, dear friend, Lynn, who spent almost an hour helping me research some of the antiques.  She then took some of the items to sell on eBay where they'll get better visibility.  She's also offered to help me set up somethings here on the blog.  Which is good...because I know how to type...aaaannnnddd...that's about it when it comes to blogging. 

Thank you for following our adventure.  Although at moments (right now the moments of panic small, but I know many more are yet to come) I'm overwhelmed at the future of raising more money for this sweet little one, my heart is knitted to her.  Not only her, but to Down Syndrome.  Crazy, huh?  But, God is amazing.  He knit her together and gave her an extra chromosome.  See, He's always giving like that. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

"For my sister, for my sister"

We began going through the amazing amount of items in our garage today.  As we unpacked a box full of antique glassware, silver tea pots and crystal perfum bottles, my beautiful young daughters started to drool!  They wanted to keep all of it!  Then I heard them muttering to each other.  I asked what they were saying.

"For my sister, for my sister."

Even though they wanted to keep all the antiques for themselves they were reminding each other who this garage sale is for.  I must say I don't blame them for wanting to keep everything.  I personally would like to keep the antique cast-iron irons...we have 6 of them!  We've got some beautiful stuff!  But they know the priority.

All for Alice Faith.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings

We are gearing up for an adoption garage sale and bake sale this weekend.  We are literally drowning in gifts from people!  Our garage is full and I have 4 more pick up this week!  We are so excited and blessed.  What an honor that people are giving us their time and things to sell.

I won't lie, I'm worried about the heat (I heard it will be a heat index of over 100 degrees), but I know that God will give me the strength to endure.  He always does.

We were also gifted some amazing, wonderful blessings today at church.  A wonderful friend gave us a check for $500!  And in the offering box was an envelope with our name on it.  The church treasurer gave it to us and when we opened it...$300 in cash!!!!  With just a note (no name) saying someone wanted to help us out.  I was so overwhelmed.  I can't even put into words the emotions that go along with receiving such gifts.

Erin and I were talking about what an honor it is that the Lord has chosen us for this task.  We know it won't be easy.  In fact, we are anticipating it being very difficult and a roller coaster.  But, the fact that we have been chosen to reach out and change a child's life is amazing to us.  We have no guarantees in this life.  We have no way of MAKING sure we will come home with Alice Faith.  Just like a positive pregnancy test is not a guarantee of a full term pregnancy.  Or putting on a seat belt is not a guarantee of a safe arrival.  We know this.  The reality of it, well that maybe a different story.  We know that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  God is control of the rest.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Beginning

It's a little misleading to say that today is the beginning.  It's the first day of my blog, this is true.  But the first day of this journey to adopt little Alice Faith from Eastern Europe began years ago.

I have always wanted to adopt, but my husband Erin felt that if we were able to have children there was no need to adopt.  He also felt it was way too expensive.  So, I prayed.  I prayed for the Lord to soften his heart towards adoption.  Watching Erin's heart do just that was so sweet!  What a gift the Lord gave me to watch that happen.  Around Christmas time of 2009 Erin said, "Let's do it!"  I jumped in with 2 feet (as I do most things) and found us an agency in Georgia.  When we had talked about adopting we agreed that it would be from this country (because there are plenty of orphans here and because we didn't like the idea of meeting the child and having to leave him/her and come back) and that it would be a newborn baby.  In February we completed most of the paperwork for our home study.  That was a blog post of it's own.  Let's just say it took us 2 months to finish the rest of our home study. So, by April we had a completed home study and I sent it off the agency in GA.  We received an email telling us that we'd hear back from them in 3-4 weeks.  6 weeks later I called them.  They had lost our application.  2 weeks later they found it.  We needed to send in more paperwork and more money.  Here's where our adoption path started to turn.

It's not that we didn't want to adopt.  We still did.  But, things started to happen that prevented us from sending in the money.  And our hearts were starting to open up to special needs.  Something we had never considered before.  We talked and talked and talked about special needs.  Maybe Down Syndrome.  We knew 2 couples in our church that had children with DS.  Those children are wonderful.  We had them over for dinner.  I talked the mom's ear off!  Asked questions.  I called the other mom on the phone.  More questions.  We talked as a couple.  We prayed.  We were nervous.  What about when we're "empty nesters"?  We won't ever be alone again?  What about when we die?  Most of our questions were about us.  Never about the child with DS.

So, our adoption looked as though it was stopped.  We didn't want that, but nothing was happening.  One day I was reading an article in Above Rubies magazine.  The author wrote about orphans in Eastern Europe that had DS and how unloved they were.  About how at around the age of 4 if they aren't adopted they are transferred to an asylum where 95% of them didn't make it to adulthood.  I went from the article to the website for Reece's Rainbow.  I was hooked.  I looked at all the sweet faces and fell in LOVE.

When I showed the website to Erin, he was worried about the money.  Because he's a good provider for our family he worries about these things.  He looked some more.  This was Thursday night.  Friday night we looked and talked some more.  By Sunday, he told me we should find out how to get the money and to get us one of those babies!

He felt that we should get a girl.  I wanted a boy.  We have 3 girls then 2 boys.  I wanted to even the numbers up.  He said that when the kids are grown and married, it would be nice for me to have a girl to be with in the house.  I love that he thinks of things like that.

So, we decided on a girl that Reece's Rainbow named "Valerie".  We will name her Alice Faith.  Alice means Noble, True.  Faith is because God said step and I'll build you a bridge.  Not, I'll build you a bridge and you can step.

Sorry this was sooooo long.  I wanted to get the story out from the beginning....sort of.