Monday, May 28, 2012

Update--Here's How the Adoption's Going

I know it's been way too long since I updated. I always feel like I'm letting people down if I don't have something to say. (Maybe no one cares. Maybe it's all in my head.) So, here's the update that you've all been waiting for.....

I mailed my I800A into USCIS (I didn't know what any of that meant a few months ago) last week. I received confirmation on Friday that they have received my paperwork and they cashed my check. (That has to be progress, right?) Then, on Friday night, I heard about two families that had received their USCIS approval. Both families received approval in just under a month!!! This is HUGE! The official line from USCIS is that approval takes 90 days. These two families both sent theirs in a month ahead of mine and got approval in a month!!! So, what does that mean for me?

It means that Sara will probably be here sooner, rather than later! (Lots of exclamation points today. I'm excited!!!) I have said all along that I wanted to work summer school (I need the money)and travel during my August break. It would give me 3 extra weeks of my leave and allow me to save some of my sick time for appointments, etc. when Sara got back. Well, I've doubted for quite a while that that was going to happen. Now it looks like it's more than likely!!

Here's the breakdown as I currently understand it:

1. It will take USCIS about 3 weeks to assign me an appointment to get my fingerprints done. The appointment they assign me will be about a month after that. BUT, I have learned that you can go in before your appointment date. So, I'm hoping and praying that I have an appointment assigned when I get back from vacation. Then, I can use one of my last two days of break to go get my prints done. I'll have them done long before the appointment and I'll get to do them without taking off any work. (I'm hoarding every minute of sick time.)

2. Within a week of getting my prints done, I should have my approval from USCIS. This will hopefully be the last week of June.

3. As soon as I have that form in my hand, I can send the dossier into the country for approval. The director of the orphanage has already given me his approval. So, it really shouldn't take too long to get the dossier approved. (The director says 2 weeks!)

4. When that is approved, I will be granted a court date. (Probably about 2 weeks after approval.)

5. So, if you are following all the time lines, this puts me in the last week of July!!! Summer school ends August 2nd. How perfect is that? (And how soon!!!)

Obviously, international adoptions are very fickle and there is no guarantee that everything will go smoothly or quickly. BUT, this timeline gives me hope. (A LOT of hope!)

So, I will be spending this Memorial Day getting all the dossier paperwork in order to get finished this week. (I also am finishing up one more grant application.) I want everything done and ready to go before I go on vacation. (I've said all along that things may delay this adoption but I won't delay it.) I am playing phone tag with a psychologist and hope to get that evaluation done sometime in the next two weeks. I also have to get a letter written and notarized by my doctor. (Remember how fun she was the first time around?) The rest of the stuff is pretty small and I should be able to get that all done today.

Now, if I could just get an updated height and weight and a shoe size, I'd be almost ready for my little girl to come home...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tears of Joy

I've said it on here before and I will continue to say it. I am so blessed by all the support and encouragement I've received in this process. A lot of people in my adoption group talk about the resistance, and sometimes ridicule, that they are getting for their choice to adopt a child with special needs. Maybe people are talking about me behind my back but I haven't run into one negative comment (except the blog troll but that doesn't count).

I've spent most of the day gladly filling out grant applications. I will do ANYTHING to get this adoption paid for so that I can get my little girl home (even dog sitting and baby sitting for 3 days). As I've plugged the numbers into every form, I realize that this adoption just isn't financially possible. I've prayed with each application that at least ONE of these agencies would like our story and give us a little money.

I started out with enough to pay for the home study and most of the incidental fees--nowhere near what I would need for this process. I've been continuously brought to tears (I am NOT a crier) by the donations and support I've received from almost everyone in my life. High school friends, college friends, church friends, work friends, my sister's friends, my parents' friends, long-lost relatives, people I don't even know. Just when I think everyone I know has given all they can, someone else steps up. I can't say enough how much I truly appreciate the gifts. TRULY.

I just got off the phone and now I'm in tears again. The last $1,500 I needed for my program fees have been donated--once again by people I don't know. The program fees are supposed to be paid before the USCIS paperwork goes in. Mine goes in on Monday. I've been slowly chipping away at the $7,500 fee and it's such a relief to know it's covered.

There are more fees coming and there will be more hurdles. But, today, I rest in God's goodness, His plan and His timing. I sit with a smile on my face because my daughter and I are loved and blessed by some amazing people.

Who Reads This Thing?

I've been amazed by how many people are reading this blog. If you looked at the number of comments, you would think it was just my mom. BUT, I get to look at the numbers and locations of all the visitors.

Just this week, there have been readers from:
United States - 286
New Zealand - 14
Canada - 12
United Kingdom - 3
Russia - 3
Australia - 2
Germany - 2
France - 1
Honduras - 1
Mexico - 1

In the life of the blog, there have been 10,335 views! That's crazy! They come from places I've never even dreamed of visiting.
United States - 9,214
Canada - 386
Mexico - 174
Russia - 162
New Zealand - 78
Germany - 50
United Kingdom - 31
Australia - 23
Latvia - 21
Belgium - 17
(I guarantee I can't find Latvia or Belgium on a map!)

The most read post by far is the one about a pig from Grandpa. Maybe it's the name....

It's crazy, and incredibly encouraging, to me how many people are interested in this little girl that not one of us have met!

Letters to My Daughter - May 2012


I've been putting off writing this letter to you because I was starting to feel like I'd never get through this process and you would never come home. So many people kept asking about you and I felt like I had nothing to say. I was still waiting for the home study to be finished and I haven't received any more information about you. It was a little discouraging. Even with all that, some big things have happened for you in the past month. Whether I feel like it or not, each day brings us one day closer to meeting. I dream about that day. I long for it. You are so loved!

Some of my amazing work friends got together last month and threw you a shower. They bought you tons of great toys, books, decorations, clothes. You are well spoiled already. (You are so special that a few of the guys from work showed up for their first ever showers!)
We all love to sit around and talk about what it will be like when you finally get here. People continue to offer to baby sit you, teach you about sports, let you swim in their pool, travel with us.

After the shower, your Tia Anna and Miss Julia came over and helped me unpack and set up your room. Your bedroom is adorable. Every time I walk by it, I long to see you in it. Your play room is coming together too. I just need to get some more shelves for all your toys! (You should probably know that Anna is responsible for all the cuteness. Don't expect that kind of thing from me!)

Sarita, I am amazed at your power to bring people together. There are people that I haven't talked to in years that are watching your story unfold and helping bring you home. There are people that I've never met that are very invested in getting you home as soon as possible. It's a little bit crazy to me how many people love you!

I met with the principal of your school the other day. Your Tia Anna and I went and met the teacher. I could definitely picture you in that class with all those adorable little kids. The teacher speaks Spanish and that makes me feel so much better about sending you off every day.

Last weekend was Mother's Day. It's always a hard day for me. I've wanted to be a mom for so long. While I AM your mom, this year just made me realize how much I want you here with me!!! NOW!! I look forward to celebrating our first Mother's Day together next year.

I've been trying to read as much as I can on your country. I want to help you preserve that heritage. I also want to get as much as possible out of our time together there---even though I hope it will be short.

Today, I finally got the official home study in the mail. This is a HUGE step!! I'm so excited and I wish you were here to celebrate with me. Now, I'm waiting for home land security and immigration to give me permission to bring you into this country. I hope they work quickly and that we'll be together before your birthday! Until then, I promise to keep working and to love you more every day!

Te quiero,
Tu Mami

Monday, May 14, 2012

Donations - From All Over!!

I've decided to start a running list of places that donations have come from. Some of this is what happens when you are born in Maine, grow up in NY, go to college in OH, live in IL, and spend a lot of time in Mexico. The locations in bold belong to people that I have never met. Reeces Rainbow creates a wonderful, supportive family.

Akron, OH
Alsip, IL
Ashburn, VA
Belfast, ME
Blue Island, IL
Burr Ridge, IL
Cary, IL
Chicago, IL
Chicago Ridge, IL
Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Churchville, NY
Corfu, NY
Crestwood, IL
Crete, IL
Cypress, CA
Dickson, TN
Dyer, IN
East Aurora, NY
East Norriton, PA
Evergreen Park, IL
Fiske,Saskatchewan, Canada
Freedom, ME
Gary, IN
Grand Rapids, MI
Griffith, IN
Hawthorn Woods, IL
Holland, MI
Hometown, IL
Homewood, IL
Kenmore, IL
LaGrange Park, IL
Lansing, IL
League City, TX
Lemont, IL
Manchester, NH
Midland, TX
Mokena, IL
Nampa, ID
Newark, NY
Oak Forest, IL
Oceanside, CA
Palos Heights, IL
Palos Hills, IL
Pasadena, CA
Pekin, IL
Rochester, NY
San Clemente, CA
Sioux Falls, SD
Suffolk, VA
Sunnyside, WA
Thornton, IL
Tinley Park, IL
Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico
Vicente Guerrero, Baja California, Mexico
Waldoboro, ME
Warsaw, NY

(I know that I am missing some of you. I don't always get addresses for people that donate to the FSP on Reece's Rainbow. Let me know if you donated that way and want to be added.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day has never been my favorite holiday. In the last ten years, I've grown to hate it. I love my mom but I couldn't tell you the last time I was actually with her for a Mother's Day--one of the many downfalls of living 600 miles from your family.

For me, Mother's Day has been a yearly reminder of what I don't have in my life. Mother's Day is, after all, to celebrate women who have children. I think in recent years, people have been more sensitive of women with fertility issues or women who have lost babies. However, I've never heard anyone acknowledge the group that I fall into---women who want nothing more than to have a family but just haven't found the right guy to start one with. Nothing like walking out of a church service in tears because you've been reminded again that, for what ever reason, you don't have the one thing you want in your life.

This year, I have a slightly different take on Mother's Day. This year, it's all about next year. Yes. I have a daughter. Sort of. This year, I will spend Mother's Day thinking about my little girl and how she will soon be in my arms. I will probably still cry and my heart will still break for all the wonderful women that I know who want nothing more than to be mothers.

But, this year, I have the hope of next year.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Good Day!

I've been pretty frustrated for the last two weeks or so. It seemed like the home study would NEVER be done. Every day that went by with no movement, I got more concerned that I wouldn't be able to travel this summer when I actually have vacation time. Every time someone asked what the latest news was, I wanted to scream because there wasn't any.

Then....Today happened....

*My home study is in Springfield right now. If they don't need any additional information, it will be approved tomorrow and could be sent to Immigration and Homeland Security by the end of the week!! (This is HUGE!)

*I have received several donations to the puzzle piece fund raiser. My friend Becky is holding a 31 Party for Sara. I got another donation to my FSP. God is providing!!

*I found two more possible grants today. I'm mailing off 2 applications tomorrow. The rest will go out when I have the official home study in my hands.

I'm ENCOURAGED. Greatly! I feel like things are finally moving. It will be nice to fall asleep tonight and not be counting weeks until August 1st or the amount of money I still need to pay.

Once again, God has shown me that it's all in his hands and in his timing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

31 Party Hosted by Becky

My dear friend is hosting a 31 Party in honor of Sara's adoption.

Becky and I have been friends for about 10 years. Although she lives about 3 hours away now, she's still a dear friend. I know that her kids and Sara will grow up to be good friends.

I have a catalog if your prefer to shop that way. Just let me know and I'll get it to you!

For the rest of you, you can shop online by following these directions:

a. go to this website
b. then click on "events" and look for my party (31 Party for Becky)
c. Click on your party and begin to shop
d. the computer will ask for check out information, personalization and everything...then they just hit submit after your order. You can choose to send it to your house or have it go to Becky by clicking send to hostess. (Warning, she's in Holland, MI so that probably won't work for most of you!)

As a special deal in May, for every $31 spent, you get an All-In-One Organizer for $5!

You can order from now until May 29th!

Thanks, Becky!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I got to meet Henry!

Today, I got to meet Henry (and his mom). Henry was adopted last year from Reece's Rainbow. His mom and I are facebook friends and we've been following each other's blogs. I met up with him and his mom at Cracker Barrel for lunch.

It was so nice to chat with someone who understands things like:

*Just waiting for the final homestudy approval from DCFS....

*My I-800A is ready and waiting...

*My Dossier is almost done....

*I have no idea where I'm going to get the rest of the money I need....

*I've done a Give Away and now I'm doing a Puzzle Fundraiser....

And someone who can answer questions like:

*Why not adopt domestically?

*Why a child with special needs?

*How can you afford this?

*How can you be so in love with someone you've never met?

There are some other RR moms in the area. Sadly, they couldn't make it today but I look forward to getting together with the whole group---and introducing them to Sara!