Monday, April 30, 2012

I Love Getting Mail

Especially like this:

My caseworker said it's a really good sign that they had that quick of a turn around from receiving my application in Texas and then forwarding it on to Missouri.  I'm now waiting for my fingerprint appointment and then *hopefully* another quick turn around for my approval!

I found out that the courts in Ind*a close for a month starting mid-May.  I don't think that I'm at a point yet where that will affect me.  I am hoping to just miss it and then move right into the NOC territory :) meaning that while the courts are closed, C*RA will receive my official referral/match and that all of my immigration stuff will be wrapped up.  There are about 3 things that have to happen simultaneously and THEN hopefully everything will get sent to the court.   I am hoping that since they will be SO relaxed from having a month off that they will issue my NOC right away and then it's on to the court date!!

I still don't have a referral for Baby Joaquin.  Knowing that I am next has made the wait that much harder.  I was thinking about how when you go to the theme park and you wait in line to be able to ride the biggest, baddest, roller coaster. Where I grew up, it was aptly named, "The Beast."  It is still the fastest, longest, wooden roller coaster in existence.  After hours of waiting in line, you FINALLY get into your car, they put the handle bar lock into place, and out you go, winding around, making your way up to the Big Hill.  You can feel the cars lock into place and then you hear that, "click, click, click, click" as the roller coaster s-l-o-w-l-y climbs to the top of the Big Hill.  I used to get the biggest butterflies the closer we got to the top and then as the first car heads over, the rest of them start getting pulled faster and faster and faster and you are full of anticipation, excitement, butterflies, fear, anxiety, and then - you go over the top!  My stomach always felt like it was in my throat but it was such a rush as the cars went hurdling down that drop at what seems a million miles a minute!  That's kinda how this waiting feels for his referral.  I'm ready to go over the Big Hill.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Talk About A Pick-Me-UP!!!!

Today I was feeling sorry for myself.  I was feeling sad that I've been waiting so long and pondering the frustrating steps that I've gone through to try and bring these kiddos home.  I read on other's blogs who I follow that they are getting ready to travel to pick up their precious children.  I am THRILLED for these families.  Every time I read updates like these, it seriously makes me so happy.  It's exciting to cheer each other on and to see families cross the finish line!  But it also makes me anxious and sometimes impatient and I feel like, "Come on already!!!  I'm ready for my turn!!"   Then I saw on the ticker across the news that Katherine Heigl and her hubby just brought their second child home.  Dang it!  Why didn't I become an actress and makes millions of dollars so my case could move faster?

Then I got the email.  My Ind*a caseworker said she had some good news and to call her when I got a minute.  Oh, have I got a minute!  I've been following her personal adoption because her daughter and my Sweet M. are friends at the orphanage.  She just recently received her NOC, so I was hoping she was going to tell me that she got her court date!  Instead, she told me that she had good news for ME.  Yep- Sweet M.'s Child Study Report is en route to the USA!!!!!!!  What does this mean?  This means that I'm about 3 weeks away from receiving her referral and being OFFICIALLY MATCHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am dancing on AIR!!!  There are several things that still need to happen in the next couple of weeks and if you think about it, I would love prayers for:

1)  No errors on the referral paperwork (simple spelling errors could set the process back)
2) **That my I-800a approval would be done by then.  I'm still waiting on my fingerprint appointment.  Typically, the approval takes 2-3 months.  This is bad and can't be the case for me because I can't accept Sweet M.'s referral without the I-800a approval.

She also told me that on the administration end of things, they have seen more organization of the process in that specific area (it has been known to be a VERY difficult place to adopt from and they weren't doing adoptions from there for a long time) and that the judges are moving towards issuing the full adoption decree instead of guardianship AND in some places only requiring ONE trip!!!  The next few months should be VERY interesting!  I'm praying that I will only have to make one trip and that the judge issues the full adoption decree.

I know that the Lord is able to do exceedingly above and beyond what I could ever think or imagine!  And what comforts me most is knowing that He loves her more than I could ever think or imagine and I know He has a wonderful plan for her life.  I'm ready to see that plan unfold!!  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some More Good News!!

Yesterday I got a text from my caseworker who is also adopting from the same orphanage where Sweet M. is.  If you remember, I told the story of how M. managed to get herself into the referral picture.  Well, yesterday H. (my caseworker) received her NOC!!!  This is a HUGE step in the adoption process.  It means that VERY soon she will be making her short 3 day trip to appear in court.  She will also take lots of pictures of M. since M. and her daughter are friends!!  I am super excited for her because she has waited a looonnnngggg time and now things are FINALLY moving!  I am also excited to get NEW pics of Sweet M. and to hear about her personality, interacting with H.'s daughter!  We are hoping that M.'s CSR comes in shortly so that I can accept the "formal" referral!  I've been praying that Ind*a sticks to the schedule that they proposed in the new guidelines they implemented.  It will be very interesting to watch H.'s case from this point on to see if in fact they do follow it.  Since her daughter and M. are both considered special needs for being older, they are supposed to expedite their cases.  The next few months should be very telling!  If you would, please pray that H. gets her court date SOON!!
Thank you for ALL your love and support!  Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Two and Enrique Iglesias

There are two days left in the grant contest!!! And check out my Ordinary Hero colleagues:

I teach with some amazing people and I'm definitely feelin' the love from them!
My sales are at $300 and I think based on grant winners in the past, I need to get to $1000 to get 0ne of the 3 coveted spots to win the $500 grant!

Have you ever bought a donkey?  Is that on your bucket list?  How about 1/2 a donkey?  or a sheep?  or 1/2 a sheep?  What a great conversation ice-breaker for the social events you attend this weekend!  Can't you just hear the conversation now?

"Hey!  How are you?  How was your week?"
"It was great!  I bought a donkey!"
"A what?"
"A donkey!"
"Is that how you plan to get to work?"
"No!  But it will help out an Ethiopian woman carry her burden AND it helped this girl who is trying to adopt a baby boy from the Congo."
"WOW!  That's amazing!!"
"I know, right?  I'm an ORDINARY HERO!"  (cue Enrique Iglesias' song 'HERO')
"I want to be an ORDINARY HERO!  How can I do that?"
"It's EASY!  Just go to this website, pick out the products you want to purchase and the MOST important part, during check out, be sure to click on Kristen Williams when they ask which affiliate you heard about OH.  There's a drop down menu and her name is near the bottom."
"Wow that is easy!!  And I get the satifaction of knowing that I'm an ORDINARY HERO!!"

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!! - just like the Staples button!  Let's ROCK this grant competition!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Signed, Sealed, and On It's Way!

So the post office lady and I have become BFF's. She gave me some insider tips for packaging this up and then double taped it. She also was nice enough to take this photo:
In the words of Ice Cube, "Today Was A Good Day!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Picture Is Worth a 1000 Words...

Or in this case, more like 100,000,000.   Yeah, it's like that.

This stack of papers is so precious to me - it documents part of my labor pains to bring Sweet M. HOME! It is being sent off tomorrow to my agency who will forward everything to Ind*a.  Another leg of the journey is completed!!!!  THANK YOU for all of your love, support and prayers.  It has meant the world to me!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Chinese Fortune

Ever since I got the big news that I am NEXT for a referral, I've found it harder than ever to be patient. I'm trying to take it one day at a time, but honestly it's hard! So I was praying for some a lot of patience and then added for good measure that if it wasn't too much trouble, I wouldn't mind if the Lord dropped a hint about when I might get that call.  It can't hurt to ask, right?  Last night I had chinese for dinner and this is what my fortune cookie revealed to me:

No joke!! I giggled because if that was the answer to my prayer, then I should hear something in the next few days because my garden is about to explode with color in the next week!!  And to top it off, today I got my package back from the capital with all of the apostilles!!  That's some quick turnaround!  I mailed it Saturday morning and picked it up today! Another miracle that happened is that when I went to pick it up, the mailman hadn't returned from his route yet.  Bummer.  I just waited in the TAX LINE to pick up my package that wasn't there.  It was 5:00.  I was really bummed because I really didn't want to wait until tomorrow to pick it up because I wanted to make copies of everything so I could send it off to my agency after school.  This is when the miracle occurred:  the post office lady GAVE me the number there and told me to come back around 5:45 AFTER they were closed, give her a call, and she would come around back and give me my package!!  SCORE!  So I did just that.  I will admit that it felt a bit sketchy standing in the back of the P.O. where all of the trucks are, waiting for her to come out.  We did a quick exchange ( I signed the form, she gave me the package) and I was outta there!  I got into my car and tore open the package so I could see all of the beautiful, gold seals staring back at me!  Wait a minute - no gold seal?  What the heck?  I'm not gonna lie, I was disappointed!  I did a lot of hard work and running around for those apostilles!  I deserve a gold seal!  Instead, I got a piece of paper with the word "APOSTILLE" typed across the top in the most boring font.  Oh, and a raised stamp.  Thank you very much.  The teacher in me is very, very disappointed.  Their presentation needs some help!  BUT I do have them and that's the important thing :)  Tomorrow I am sending my completed dossier to my agency.

You know what else is right around the corner?  POOL/BEACH TIME!!!  And what's trending now is this SUPER cute Jute bag!  How cute will you look pulling out your towel and sunscreen from this bag?!!  Or are you a Mona Lisa type and like to keep your skin pale?  Well you can be still be TRENDY and GREEN when you head to the market with this bag!  All the farmers will be coveting your hipster shopping bag!  And the best part is that 40% of the price of this bag goes directly towards Joaquin's adoption AND helps me to place in the top 3 to WIN the $500 grant!!!!  Don't forget to choose my name at checkout!

THANK YOU!!!!!  :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

It's That Time Again!!!

Yep- Time again when YOU can be an ORDINARY HERO!!!  WOO HOO!!!  They have shortened the grant period so it's ON until midnight, Saturday!  I only have to be in the TOP 3 sales in order to WIN a $500 grant!  I've had many repeat buyers- and I'm giving you a HUGE shout out for all the support you've given me!  I can't tell you how happy it makes me when I see someone wearing some Ordinary Hero gear! I also can't wait to tell Joaquin HOW MANY people played a part in bringing him home!!!

They have a TON of really cool, new products- like this one!

How cool is that???  They sold out of the Green bead in hours!!!  BUT no worries, they still have the BLUE bead and the PINK bead available!!  Hurry and buy one for a Blessed Mama that you know!  Wouldn't that make a GREAT shower gift for a mama-to-be??  You can click on the link below to take you right to the store or you can click on the Ordinary Hero button on the right hand side of my blog.  PLEASE don't forget to choose my name at checkout or else I won't get credit for the sale.


You all Rock!!  Happy Shopping :)))

Friday, April 13, 2012

A way to pass time

I am so excited about Baby Joaquin!!!! I've been playing through my mind all kinds of things.  I wonder where I'll be when I get "The Call." I wonder what he will look like. I wonder what his little personality will be. I wonder how it will feel the first time I hold him.... And then I snap myself back to reality because as exciting as it is, once I accept his referral I have NO IDEA how long I will have to wait until I can travel to pick him up. Of all the families in my agency, there hasn't been any consistency in time lines, except that it has been consistent "Africa time :)!"

Today I got my home study back with the certified notary signatures! Tomorrow I am going to overnight all the documents again to the capital so they can put the apostille on them. My immigration for M. was sent in by my agency, so I'm waiting for my fingerprint appointment for her. Once those are done, then I'll wait to receive the approval. Once I get that, THEN I can officially accept her referral, provided her CSR has been forwarded to my agency. I'm hoping that in June or early July that should all come together.

So in the meantime I'm going to tackle my nemesis- see below:

7 years ago this summer I moved into my house. The first two summers there was no fence and I used to mow that crazy hill. One day however, I was mowing it from the bottom up, slipped, lost grip of the mower which came back at me, and my reflexes took over and I put my hand up to stop it. Well, I sustained serious tendon and ligament damage that plagued me for several years.   I still have numbness and shaking effects when my wrist is at certain angles. Because of that incident, I've been trying to grow ground cover to eliminate the need for mowing. As you can see, the one side has all filled in- the way it's supposed to! Even the other side of the hill has grown in nicely:

But the front right side is driving me crazy!!! I'm on a mission to get that covered! I expect that the hill and I will be duking it out all summer long. And I will win. #Caddyshack

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Right Around The Corner!!!!!!!

In the past several weeks, many, many families have been traveling to the Congo to pick up their children or they are getting ready to travel in the coming weeks.  I feel like I've been chomping on the bit and finally I couldn't restrain myself any longer.  All of the adorable pictures of the babies in the orphanage hasn't helped my patience :)  I emailed my caseworker to see where I am and this is what she answered:

I have two babies coming in and the 3rd one is yours…….just waiting on another one to arrive.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???!!!!!  I am doing cartwheels!!!!  I wonder if I will finally see sweet Baby Joaquin's face before the 4th of May- that's my "official" anniversary of when my completed dossier was submitted!  Wouldn't THAT be a great gift?!

I have a feeling that I will have a very, very hard time falling asleep tonight!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Beyond Irritated

I HATE government bureaucracy.  I am seriously, seriously p*ssed off and completely frustrated.  I sent my documents to get the apostilles.  I received the package today- with excitement bubbling over - until I opened it.  All of my documents were inside, along with the check I sent, and my cover letter with a stamp stating, "Received April 4th 2012 Secretary of State" and nothing else.  Really?  What the heck?  Not even a letter explaining why they returned everything.  So I spent the next 20 minutes ON HOLD waiting to talk to a human at the capital.  The Hunger Games are becoming more and more meaningful to me.

Finally Martha takes my call and very snippily explains to me that I SHOULD have taken ALL of my documents to the counties where the notary's signatures are on file, get a piece of paper for each signature that states, yes this notary is on file and not expired (ISN'T THAT WHAT THE NOTARY STAMP IS FOR??!!!) and THEN send all of the documents with their little slips of verification to the capital so they can put their big, shiny, gold star on the documents.

I asked Martha, what is the purpose of a notary if you once you have the document notarized, you have to go back and STILL get a verification stamp from each county?  You know what she told me?
"Well, you would have saved yourself a lot of trouble by just getting the documents notarized by an attorney in the first place."  I SERIOUSLY wanted to go all Katniss on her, but because I'm a good, Christian lady, I refrained.  At least audibly because the conversation that was going on in my head was not pretty.

Note to future adoptive parents:  When it comes time to have all of your documents notarized, make sure you have your own personal lawyer do all of that for you.  For free.

Miss M. I LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH and I will jump through these ridiculous hoops to make sure you come home.  I'm sorry that I didn't know the ins and outs of this process and now it's added on more time before I can come to you.  But I PROMISE you, when we finally meet it will ALL BE WORTH IT!  Vale la pena mija!!

I have 4 county clerk of courts I have to visit.  I hope it doesn't take longer than a week to get done.  I have a problem with the county of my home study because it's hours away and I don't know how I can work that into my schedule since government hours are so flexible.

This mama needs your prayers!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Well I just received word today that- wait for it - my fingerprints are still good!! Pfew! That's a relief since I was worried they may have changed! O.K. In all seriousness, I am thrilled that I got the letter from USCIS today for two reasons:

1) yes I am thankful that now my fingerprints don't expire until June 2013 (I am ready for you Baby Joaquin! Come on!!)

2) not even a full week passed between my appt. and RECEIVING the approval notice. This gives me a BUNCH of hope that when I go to get fingerprinted (again) for M. that the turn around for her approval will be RA-PI-DO! Vamanos! Andale!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Sweet Rose

Oh Shakespeare, how I heart thee!  In one of his most beloved plays, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet very wisely and eloquently states:

What's in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

About 20 years or so ago, I just "knew" what I would name my little girl should I ever have a daughter.  Sofia.  Beautiful, fluid, melodic.  I wrote it out.  Repeatedly.  I would say it to myself over and over again and I never tired of it.  For 20 years I clung to that name as if it were her birthright.  I never even considered another name because to me, I couldn't find one that I LOVED the way I loved Sofia.

Until last summer.

When I first requested her information, they sent me her file and her Ind*an name was all over the paperwork.  Her name was adorable.  Beautiful.  Fluid. Melodic.  Everything that I had once thought about Sofia I was also now thinking about her Ind*an name.  To many of you, you might be thinking, "Big deal.  Just change the name."  But for me, it was harder than that.  When you have clung to something for that long and have envisioned in your mind what you will call your daughter, a paradigm shift had to happen for me.  I'm sure it's just a "girl" thing, but I struggled with this decision.  For awhile, I thought I would keep her Ind*an name as her middle name.  But something kept gnawing at me.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to names and adopted children.  I understand the reasons for keeping the name and I understand the reasons for giving the child a new name.  I think that it comes down to each individual's circumstances to make the right call and I would never question any parent's decision to keep it or change it.  The thing about adoption is that YOU ARE COMMITTED as a parent.  I'm not saying that biological parents aren't committed.  It's just that with adoption (and infertility) you are literally battling for your children to get here.  The hoops you have to go through would cause anyone who had even the slightest doubt about being a parent to abort the mission.  I think too, that there is a sense of helplessness on the parent's part and you want to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING to make up for what the child has lost.  Adoption is bittersweet because regardless of the circumstances, it all is birthed from loss.  Loss of birthparents, loss of birth family, in some circumstances loss of culture and language, loss of time with adoptive parents and child, for some like me the loss of never birthing a child, and much, much more.

When I read her file, I was horrified at what this precious little girl had already experienced during her 3 short years of life.  Some of it I still haven't fully processed and have had to compartmentalize it because I can't bear to think of what she went through.  To say that she has had a traumatic past doesn't begin to scratch the surface.

With that in mind and thinking about all of the changes and transitions she is going to have to make, changing her name really weighed on my heart.  I prayed and prayed and prayed about it.  I prayed that the Lord would give me peace about what to do and that I would make the best decision for her.

One night I had a very vivid dream.  It was the day that I was finally able to get her.  I remember that she was in this large set of bleachers on the other side of a huge swimming pool (remember, this is a dream and my dreams are always c-r-a-z-y!).  I was all dressed up and could see her on the other side.  Yep.  I went right through that pool, fully clothed, just to get to her as fast as I could!  As soon as I hugged her and had her in my arms, we were instantly at the doctor's office.  Remember, crazy dream!  I was asking the doctor about some specific things that I have been worried about and she was babbling on in her native language ( I have never heard Tel*gu spoken so I have no idea where my brain got that!)  Anyway, the doctor asked me who she was and I said, "Sofia."  She stopped talking, giggled, looked at me, and in perfect English said, "I'm M______," and then went right back to babbling in Tel*gu.  I smiled and said, "That's right, Sofia M______."  She stopped, giggled and again in perfect English, shook her head and said, "I'm M_______," and went back to speaking in Tel*gu.  She never said anything else in English.  Then I woke up.  I had an overwhelming sense of peace.  I knew that she needed to keep her name.  The funny thing is, I threw out Sofia altogether.  She will have my middle name as her middle name.  My middle name is a family name that we have traced back to the 1700's and I love that she will be a part of that family lineage.

Since she is not yet legally my daughter, I can't say her name.  But from now on I will be referring to her as M.  I can't wait until you see her beautiful face and you will know that Shakespeare was right-

That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

No Creative Title

A lot has happened this week! I got my fingerprints updated for Joaquin's immigration. I told the guy that I would probably see him again in a couple of weeks when I come back to do my fingerprints for Sofia's adoption-yep!! My home study finally got approved of all the amendments. Ind*a is really, really picky about some things, especially when it comes to culture. I completely understand, especially adopting an older child, that they want the children to have a strong sense of their cultural identity and self-esteem. Lucky for me, a couple of my regulars at the restaurant are from Hyderabad and they let me in on an organization that is in Mason that is solely dedicated to preserving the culture and language of T*lugu speaking people - the language that Sofia speaks! They have two really big celebrations and they are all about the children being the center of the show. I can't wait to see Sofia decked out in her Indian dress participating in the dances! They also have a lot of other cultural activities that will help Sofia keep ties to Ind*a and her first language.

So now that my home study has been approved, my agency will file the I-800a for her immigration. They say it takes about 2 months to get approval. They also said that about my I-600a for Nepal but if you remember, that took 1 day! My dossier is complete and I'm just waiting on the apostilled documents to come back from the capital. In order to officially accept her referral, I need the I-800a approval with my dossier. I have this welling sense of excitement- I'm still holding back but it seems like everything is moving forward!

I had a webinar with Joaquin's adoption agency and other PAPS in the Congo group. It was awesome! They told us that they have 80 of their 112 kiddos referred to families!!! Praise the Lord!! They also now have 2 orphanages to accommodate the children. In the last month, things have started picking up. Many families are traveling or just got back and let me tell you, the pictures they've posted of the children are ADORABLE!!! I also found out that they expect me to have a referral by May!! YAHOO!!! I don't know how long it will be from referral to travel though because every other family so far has had different Time lines. That's Africa for you! When I was in Kenya way back in the 90's, I bought a bumper sticker at the market that said, "I'm on Africa time." Who knew that would come back to bite me 20 years later:)

I have to say that I'm loving the fact that spring has come early here. I look at my peonies forging their way up, the buds on all of my rose bushes, and I can't help but think of new beginnings.

I really think this spring will mark a new beginning for me and my soon-to-be children!