Sunday, April 25, 2010

The End Is Near

We got some very exciting news yesterday morning: our dossier has been submitted! That means that we are now only three to six weeks away from our first court date in-country, and we cannot wait for that. Even though it hasn't yet been four months since we first learned of Mikaela, it seems like we have been working on this adoption for much longer. All of the little setbacks that have arisen along the way have stretched the last three and a half months into what feels like at least a year. But, we are now—we think, we hope—officially done with the paperwork on this end. Kristie commented recently that where we are now is very reminiscent of what it feels like to have just crossed the 37-week mark of a pregnancy; probably nothing will happen for a few weeks yet, but we still have to be ready to leave for the hospital—or, in this case, Eastern Europe—at any time. This is especially true since we have heard that families adopting from this country have lately been getting notice of their court date as little as five days before, which leaves almost no time for packing. So, we have begun our preparations, both for leaving and for coming home. Our packing is now underway, with one of the new bags we bought almost completely packed and ready to go. We have a new car seat for Mikaela, which is sitting in her room waiting for her. Also awaiting her arrival is her crib, which at last is ready for use once again. (Josiah generously left some teeth marks on the crib rails, as he employed his crib temporarily as a chew toy, and so we had to refinish those pieces.) We are going to spend this week continuing to get ourselves ready, as we want to be prepared to leave to get Mikaela as soon as we have to, and without much scrambling at the last minute. The last thing we want to do before embarking on this trip is to spend two or three days flying around trying desperately not to forget anything as we cram our suitcases full of our belongings. Doesn't seem to me like the best way to start a trip, if it can be at all avoided. So, please keep praying, both for us and for Mikaela as she waits for us in her orphanage. I keep wondering how she's doing, but never having been in an orphanage myself, I can't really begin to imagine. We're praying for her health and her comfort—as much of either as she can have right now—while she waits in her bed. I wish that someone could tell her, and that she could understand, that her Mommy and Daddy will be coming for her soon, but that seems impossible. Maybe she would be able to comprehend this, but I don't know whether anyone would tell her, anyway. So, we continue to wait and to pray, though now with the knowledge that we are one major step closer to having our whole family together in one place.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick Update

Sorry for the delay -- we did get our paper redone on Wednesday. We went to Columbus on Thursday and had the apostille affixed to it, and then sent it to Europe. It should have arrived yesterday, and we are still hoping that our documents will be submitted this week.

On Wednesday, Greg re-drafted his employment letter, and then my dad and I went to the bank to have it notarized (there are some definite advantages to the fact that my husband works for my dad :) ). It was quick and painless. Then I took the employment letter to the Clerk of Courts to have it county certified. At first, the girl behind the desk couldn't find the notary's name in the system, but after some patience, she discovered that it had been entered under the notary's first name instead of the last name as it should have been. Once she found the name, she gave me the certification right away, so other than a little bit of lost time, there was no trouble with this step either. Once we got home Wednesday evening, we packed our suitcases and got ready to leave town. We had already made plans to spend the weekend in PA with Greg's family so that we could meet our brand new nephew.

Thursday morning we got up early, loaded the car, and hit the road. Fortunately, Columbus is right on the way to PA. We drove the nearly two hours to Columbus, and arrived about 11:00. We got our apostille with no trouble, and walked to the post office less than half a mile away. We didn't know that the post office was in a Federal Building, and we had to walk through medical detectors just to get to the postal counter. We discussed the possibility of having me wait outside with the kids, but we decided that it would be good practice for the airport. There was a bit of a line, but once we got to the detectors, we got through without any incident. We mailed our package, walked back to the car, and left Columbus about two hours after we had arrived. We had hoped to be there less than an hour. We then stopped to get lunch for the kids, and drove the three remaining hours to Greg's parents house. Gabriela screamed for over an hour of the trip, but we did make it to PA, and we had a wonderful trip.

Now we are just waiting to hear that our papers have been submitted. Please pray that this will happen soon, and that God will provide for us. We are very near the point of needing money for travel and fees, and we don't have it at this point. Thanks for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some bad news

We got a little bit of bad news today, which is discouraging after the good news yesterday. Apparently, there is a problem with Greg's employment letter, and we have to have it redone. We got the letter, notarized it, and county certified it today. Tomorrow, we will apostille it, and send it on to Europe. We are trying to figure out the fastest way to get it to Europe, and we are hoping that this will not slow our process down much at all. Please pray that we can get it there very, very quickly, and that our team in country will be able to continue translating the rest of the documents so that our dossier will be ready to submit as soon as this one piece arrives.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Great News!

This will be very short tonight, because we are very tired and busy as always, but we have a little bit of news we want to share. Our dossier is in Eastern Europe! This is a whole day ahead of schedule, and we are very excited. Please join us in praying that it will be translated quickly and submitted soon. It should be submitted some time next week, probably on Thursday. We are asking God to shave a few more days off of the process by allowing it to be submitted a little earlier in the week, and we are thanking and praising him for how quickly everything has happened so far.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Celebrating and Waiting

Well, as you might have guessed from the title of this post, we did indeed get our dossier sent off to Eastern Europe, but it has been a more challenging and tiring experience than we were hoping for. Greg last posted on Sunday, so I will back up to the weekend and start there.

Saturday was a great day. My parents kept the kids so that Greg and I could have an all-day date, and it was wonderful. We bought a car seat for Mikaela and a stroller for Josiah to use while we are in Europe. We had been reading car seat reviews for weeks by that point and feel confident that we have chosen a seat that will be safe and comfortable for her from the very beginning and for years to come.

Sunday was another great day. My brother had been in California for the last three months, and he came home on Saturday evening. We spent most of the day Sunday at my parents' house just enjoying his company and catching up with him. He and Josiah are great friends, and once Josiah had a few minutes to adjust to Allan being home again, he had a blast with his uncle.

On Monday we hit the ground running hard. As Greg mentioned, we found mistakes in quite a few of our forms, and Monday was the day we finally resolved most of that. A friend of ours is a doctor, and he agreed to re-do our medical forms. We posted previously that there was a mistake in Greg's form, but most of you don't know that we also found a mistake in my form quite a bit later. This doctor graciously agreed to redo our forms, and then redo them again... and again. We finally got them right on the fifth attempt for Greg's and the third attempt for mine. Thank goodness for our friend's patience! Another friend of ours is a notary, and she had agreed to coordinate with this doctor to get the forms notarized without even asking us to be in the middle at all. On Monday she finally had the correct forms from this doctor and notarized them for us. On Monday morning I met this notary at the Clermont county clerk of courts to get our documents county certified. This is a strange extra step that is required in Ohio. First, documents must be notarized, then the documents must be taken to the clerk of courts in the county where the notary is registered, and an additional form must be attached that certifies the notary really is registered in the county. Then the document must be taken to the state capital where another form, called an apostille, is attached certifying that the county clerk of courts really did certify the notary. The clerk of courts for this county was an hour's drive away, but I got the forms with no problem. I then returned to my end of town and spent the afternoon checking and organizing forms and emailing our home study agency trying to get three more forms that we needed from them. That evening, we celebrated my sister Meghan's birthday. That was a lot of fun, but we were up a bit later than we should have been that night.

Tuesday morning we got up, dropped Josiah off at my parents' house, and took Gabriela up with us to Columbus. We took a slightly longer route to Columbus, because we had to stop by Madison County to certify two more of our documents. Once we got to Columbus, we parked in a parking garage and walked to a bank to get out the cash we needed for our apostilles. We then promptly got lost. Columbus is a beautiful, clearly-laid-out city, and I am not quite sure how we managed to get lost, but we did. We spent almost an hour and a half wandering around the city before we finally arrived at our home study agency to pick up our forms. We had expected the forms would be ready for us, but they were not. It turns out that they hadn't understood exactly what we needed. A few quick phone calls later, we were able to explain exactly what we needed from them. They drafted, printed, signed, and notarized the forms, and we were on our way. By this point, it was almost three thirty, and Gabriela was crying for her afternoon feeding. We decided that I would stop by the library and feed her (they had lovely benches outside) while Greg took our documents to the Secretary of State's office. We knew that was where we needed to get the apostilles, and we were hoping that they would also be able to give us the county certifications for Franklin county there. Greg stopped by the park bench with me to go through the forms one more time to make sure he understood exactly what to do with each form, and then he set off. About 20 minutes later, I followed him with a much happier Gabriela. Just about the time I arrived at the Secretary of State's office, I ran into Greg leaving. Everyone at the office had been very helpful, but they had told him that he needed to get the county certifications at a different building .8 of a mile away. We had almost an hour before the Secretary of State's office closed, so we should still have plenty of time. Only three documents needed that certification, so they were going to work on apostilles for the rest of them while he ran to get those certified. I went in to the Secretary of State's to wait for him to return. It took him about 15 minutes to walk to the other building, so he still thought he could make it back on time. He was directed to an office with a very long line, and began to wait and pray. After 20 minutes, he finally made it to the front of the line, only to be told that he was in the wrong office. Once he finally found the right office, he got the certifications quickly, but was almost out of time. By running a good bit of the way back, he made it to the office four minutes before five, and we did get all of our documents apostilled. We drove home exhausted but happy. We stopped at my parent's house to pick Josiah up and went back to our apartment. Once we put Josiah to bed, we checked all the forms again, preparing to pack them up so we could mail them on our way to work the next morning. As we were sorting through them, we found mistakes in two of the forms from the home study agency. We couldn't believe it! How had we missed them before? The only thing we could imagine is that we were so distracted by Gabriela and how much she needed to eat that we weren't paying enough attention to catch the mistakes. The only way to fix them was to drive the two hours to Columbus again.

My parents agreed to keep the kids for us again the next day, so we dropped them off early in the morning and drove back to Columbus. We had been crushed the night before, but by Wednesday morning, we were doing much better. God had reminded us that He does have a reason for everything, even if He doesn't choose to show us what that reason is. His mercies truly are new every morning, and we had resolved to enjoy the time together and continue working to bring our daughter home. Things went much better Wednesday than they had gone on Tuesday. We didn't get lost. Our agency had everything ready for us when we arrived. We didn't have to run anywhere. All in all, it was a good day. By lunch time, we were done in Columbus and heading back to the Cincinnati area. We checked and rechecked the documents and this time, everything looked fine. So, yesterday afternoon we sent our dossier off. We had planned to go out to a restaurant for a celebration, but we were too tired. We got carry-out and watched an old episode of Diagnosis: Murder. It was exactly what we needed, and we went to bed at 8:30.

Today, Mikaela is 8 months old, and tomorrow it will be three months since we began her adoption. God has been very gracious. We are thanking Him and still praying earnestly that He will continue to protect our daughter and provide all of the funds we need to bring her home.