Home Stretch

I woke up at 4:55 AM today.

That’s pretty unusual for me, but the National Visa Center opens at 7:00 AM EST, and I wanted to be one of the first on the phone to them. Getting three important numbers from NVC was the final thing WE had on our to-do list until “book flights.” Calling NVC is not for the faint of heart, especially if you miss pressing “1” fast enough to stay connected to the call after being on hold for 20+ minutes. Like I did. Twice.

I got through and learned our numbers had been issued; and after an hour of being on hold (partially due to the aforementioned issue of slow fingers), I had the numbers!

Anyway, so now, our lawyer in Ladybug’s country can use those numbers to file another form, which triggers the last few steps. Hopefully, in about two weeks, we’ll receive our ultimate paperwork known as Article 5. Any time from immediately after that to indefinitely after that, court will be scheduled, and we’ll be on our way. We’re talking single digit weeks, folks! (Lord willing!)

Thanks for all the prayer warriors who have stormed heaven’s gates on Ladybug’s behalf! We love you all.

422 Days

We are 422 days deep in this adoption process, and MAN! can we see the finish line!

We have received Ladybug’s official paperwork and submitted our I800 application to USCIS. After receiving the forthcoming approval (1-3 weeks), there are a few more steps: receiving via email some numbers needed to secure her visa (3 days), the US embassy in her country completing her orphan investigation (2 weeks), awaiting one final set of paperwork called the Article 5 (1-2 weeks). Once we have received article 5, our lawyer can schedule court. Possibly in 5-7 weeks, we will have a pretty good idea or know for sure when our final trip will be!

I wanted to offer a brief financial update, as well. We have paid our final agency fees! WOO! We also have saved a reasonable chunk of change to cover plane tickets and time spent in country (3 weeks or so). We really may be “fully-funded,” a long-sought after status everyone in the adoption world loves to reach! BUT, depending on how outrageous the ticket prices are based on summer vacation status and time before booking, we may still be a little short. There’s no way to be certain, unfortunately. We’re praying and trusting that everything will work out the way it’s supposed to!

We really are SO close! I need to share soon all of the flurry of activity we’ve had here as we prepare for Ladybug’s arrival (and Gumdrop’s, too, not too long after!). Stay tuned!

Hallelujah!

Today, just a few days shy of two months past registering for Ladybug in her birth country, we were notified that we received our next big approval! Her country has essentially said, “yes,” to this beautiful new family God is building, and all of her legal paperwork has been released to us. 

This paperwork, called the Article 16 package, is working its way through translation and recording before we’ll use it to apply for Ladybug’s citizenship paperwork. 

We are truly in the home stretch now, folks, and the realization takes my breath away. Hopefully by the end of July we will have a pretty good idea of our court date and travel schedule for bringing her HOME. 

HOME. 

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I was laying with Poppy and Bumblebee as they were going down for their naps when a fellow adoptive parent-turned-friend messaged me imploring me to check my email. I clicked over quickly and read the good news in disbelief. I almost froze, but then I yelled out to Chris, “CHECK YOUR EMAIL!” As I heard him say, “Yay! Yay! Yay!” I burst into laughing and crying at the same time, and the girls just kinda stared at me. I happily explained the short version of what happened (I know – they’re too young to get it), and they both smiled and hugged me. So sweet. 

Waiting for this second prime minister approval was so much more difficult than waiting for the first. Ladybug has a bed in her new home now. We have purchased a new vehicle to accommodate our growing family. We have been tangibly and practically preparing for her arrival, and it FINALLY feels like maybe, just maybe, we’re almost there. 

We’re on our way, sweet daughter. 

Ready for sister

Mini Update

It’s now been 34 days since we officially registered with Ladybug in her country.

34 days since we’ve seen that sweet girl.

And while we wait, I thought I would post a small update and give our friends, family, and supporters a glimpse at what’s to come.

Amazingly, three of the six families who traveled last month have already received the final government approval from our children’s country. This is remarkably quick; and while it means almost nothing as far as knowing when we will receive our big approval, it does give us much reason to hope for a sooner-than-anticipated date!

After that approval, there is a flurry of activity between the two countries as we finalize all of the necessary paperwork to secure her eventual U.S. citizenship, prepare for our final trip, be scheduled for court, and so on. The absolute fastest that this post-approval process can go, in my best understanding, is about 9 weeks. Then, our on-average three weeks of travel, and then HOME. We will absolutely be keeping everyone posted!

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A unique opportunity has arisen that we may send a small care package along to Ladybug! Poppy and Bumblebee painted some pictures, and Chris and I will write a card to send her. We also are sending along some stickers (we had a lot of fun playing with stickers together last month), and, most importantly, a family photo of the five of us that she can have to keep!

Please pray that God will use these small tokens of love we send to continue to prepare her little heart for what’s to come and to remind her of our love for her!

Cute little "selfie" chin Ladybug captured on my phone :)

Cute little “selfie” chin Ladybug captured on my phone :)

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Now that the word is out about my pregnancy, I thought I’d give a brief overview of how (and how not) this may affect the adoption. The short answer and good news is that it won’t.

What Gumdrop will more-than-likely affect is my own ability to travel with Chris on our second trip. Thankfully, the adoption process can and will proceed, even if only one of us is in Ladybug’s country for court and to pick her up and bring her home. The sad thing is that I really want to go! So long as I can be there and back by early-ish September, I believe that I will be cleared to travel. BUT, that kind of time frame is not at all guaranteed.

God has given us a great deal of peace about all of this uncertainty, and we are assured of His perfect plan, no matter what happens! Still, we pray that if it is His will, I may get to go on this trip and that we travel early enough to build some attachment before Gumdrop arrives!

Stay tuned and continue to pray with us! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Beautiful slippers my cousin crocheted for Ladybug on her cute little feet!

Beautiful slippers my cousin crocheted for Ladybug on her cute little feet!

Gumdrop

At the very start we were but two
As our love grew, that two became one
It wouldn’t be long before there would be a third
Having only three we desired more thus we became four
Hearing a call from a far off land, we decided to add a fifth to the band
Wouldn’t you know that God knew best and that’s when He added number six to our glorious mess

-written by my husband, Chris

Introducing Gumdrop

We are happy to announce that a little “Gumdrop” will be joining our family, due to arrive in October!

Keepsakes

I’ve always been a sentimental sap. Even as I increasingly desire to minimize and purge “stuff,” I struggle with sentimental items. Things from my childhood and the things that my children are creating and collecting now are important to me! I keep their hand tracings, first drawings, paintings, and more.

I believe it was our second day in Ladybug’s country that one of Ladybug’s caregivers offered us an invaluable gift: Ladybug’s keepsakes. She presented us with items that Ladybug has drawn and colored and created over the last year or so of her life.

When she handed me the pile, I gingerly leafed through everything. “We can take these things with us?” I asked, incredulously.

She shrugged. “Only if you want them.”

“Oh! Of course I want them! Thank you so much!”

So now, beyond the future we will create together with Ladybug, we have even more of her past to help her hold on to. Amazing.

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I wanted to photograph everything to document here and to have in case the originals are lost. Enjoy this precious two-year-old artwork :)

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Getting to know our girl

As much as I purposed to carefully record each day’s happenings and emotions, it didn’t happen. I think I will do my best to record our trip in potentially fragmented glimpses, impressions, and memories. I wish it were more polished, but this first trip was a whirlwind like no other!

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It’s still surreal to consider all we put ourselves and Poppy and Bumblebee through in that first day. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how we were feeling; we were remotely functional only because of the adrenaline and pure amazement. The grace of God carried us clear through our travels and, indeed, through our whole week.

As I remarked to someone in the moment: it’s always exhausting to meet your child for the first time. :)

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Napping a bit before getting our day started.

Because we had only a few hours to sleep before heading off to our official appointment, the girls slept in Chris’s and my arms the whole time. I think that we were all a little dazed with that first day of visits at the orphanage. I remember feeling like I needed a good night’s sleep so I could come up with a way to actually interact with Ladybug and not just smile at her and watch in wonderment.

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Headed to our appointment. Girls = OUT like lights.

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Our first visit was rather short – we got there a little later than would be our usual for the rest of the week, and we had to leave after only about an hour so she could take her nap. Our translator took us to a popular-for-adoptive-families restaurant for lunch. Poppy enjoyed a Nutella and banana, Chris had something I can’t remember, and Bumblebee and I shared angel hair pasta with herb sauce. Bumblebee quickly fell back to sleep after eating a little, and it wasn’t long before we were picked up to return to the orphanage for our afternoon visit.

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Our first lunch

 

We met all of the children in Ladybug’s group that afternoon, and we got to see more of Ladybug’s personality since all of our attention wasn’t directly focused on her. We had a nice balance of 1:1 time and group time all week which enabled us to observe and interact with her in a variety of ways. It also gave us a chance to love of the other little ones – three of whom have families now pursuing their adoption and many others who still wait.

I didn’t know how to anticipate how Poppy’s and Bumblebee’s presence would affect our visits. It was challenging because we remained in parent mode 100% of the time, no matter how much we wished to direct our attention elsewhere or how tired we got (kind of like parenthood at home, huh? :) ). However, there were unanticipated benefits: primarily that usually Chris and I traded off on parenting when the need was intense, which actually resulted in time for the other one of us to direct attention solely to Ladybug. Additionally, Poppy fell in love with a little girl there her age, and it was so sweet to see our oldest thriving in such a new situation.

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Our littlest on our second morning visit.

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A family who had adopted from Ladybug’s orphanage in October sent these awesome ZipZac mobility chairs. They only arrived a few weeks before we did, and Chris was so happy to have the chance to put them together for the kiddos!

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Sitting on Daddy’s lap

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Photography by Ladybug

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Afternoon visits – her “cheese” face :)

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Photography by Ladybug

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Happy girl on day three

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Joining in on the game Daddy and Ladybug started.

 

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Our week began to develop a somewhat predictable pattern: we’d awake no later than 9:00 AM to be ready for our 10:00 AM pick up. After a 15 minute drive, either via taxi or via our driver and always with our translator, we’d arrive for our morning visit with Ladybug. We’d play and visit and get to know her until about noon when she’d go down for a nap and we’d head back to the city center for lunch and walking/sight-seeing – this city is known for its many tasty diners and cafes and has plenty of points of interest to find! We’d return to the orphanage around 2:30, where Ladybug would be waiting for us following her nap and afternoon yogurt snack. Bumblebee was usually asleep in the carrier by then. We’d stay and play for 2-2.5 hours, leaving when Poppy and Bumblebee began to melt… or when Chris and I began to melt. We’d return to our apartment, 1-3 of us falling asleep on the way. We’d make it into our apartment usually no later than 5:30 PM, and we’d crash for about 3 hours. Then, it was up and at ’em for a night stroll to eat supper before returning to the apartment for bed, anywhere between 10:30 and midnight.

It was not a sustainable routine.

I don’t think any of us really ever adjusted to the time change, and the emotional tax on our days was high! Yet, our days were peaceful and spent playing, dining, walking, and sleeping. It was no frills, and our priority each day was always our time spent with Ladybug.

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Bumblebee’s lunch-time nap

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More memories and recollections to come!