Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In the Arms of Jesus

Back in May, I got to meet my first Reece's Rainbow child.  I wrote about that experience here.  I was thrilled to meet Henry and his mom.  He had come home in the fall of 2011 and was less than 2 years old when I met him.  Henry had a rare syndrome that came with some medical complications.

I instantly fell in love with him and got to see Henry a few times since then.  His mother was clearly in love with her child and his older siblings doted on him.

This afternoon, Henry passed away.  He had spent a few days in the hospital with an infection from a surgery he had about a month ago.  My heart is broken.

If you've followed anyone's adoption journey, you know that it is hard work.  It's exhausting.  It's expensive. It's not fun or easy.  Henry's parents went through this whole process last year.  They survived and got to bring their little boy home---a little boy that had no chance of a future where he was.  A little boy that didn't know the love of a family.

While Henry's time with his family was way too short, I can't help but be glad that he didn't die alone.  He died with his mother there.  He died as a part of a family.  His death will be remembered and grieved.

Please pray for his family.  It doesn't matter how long someone has been your brother, whether or not they were adopted, whether or not they have special needs.  Losing a family member is hard.  Losing a sibling hurts.  There are lots of people who are grieving tonight.  Henry is not one of them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adoption Everywhere

Adoption is every where in my life right now!

As a senior in high school, I wrote my thesis in support of International and Interracial Adoption.  I'm not really sure where I came up with that idea.  I had one friend in high school that was adopted internationally.  My brothers were adopted but their adoptions weren't international or interracial.   I probably knew more people that were adopted but it wasn't really an open discussion when I was younger.  People just didn't talk about it.

Now, I feel like adoption is everywhere.  Maybe it's just me but I don't think so.  Outside of the people I've met through this process, I know a lot of people adopting.  I have a friend from summer camp that adopted from India.  (I followed her blog when she adopted about 2 years ago and had no idea what she was talking about!)  A young woman I used to babysit for is adopting through foster care.  I can't even count the number of people I met in Mexico that are now adopting--some are still there and some are now back at home.  A coworker is getting her foster care license to adopt.  A college friend has started the process to adopt from Africa.  A little girl in my church was adopted from Africa.

I won't begin to claim to know their motivations or reasons for adopting but I am inspired by each and every one of them.  I love that they are choosing to building their families this way and that adoption is not a taboo thing any more.  Adoption isn't just for families that can't have children.  It's not a secret shame.

Adoption is out in the open and it is every where!  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movement is Always Good

We have a little bit of movement in Sara's adoption.  The agency emailed today.  The appointment at the Embassy on Monday went well.  It can take up to 5 business days to issue the Article 5 so we should have it mid-week next week.  When that is officially issued, the lawyer can go to social services in Colombia and we can officially be granted an "Encuentro" date.  (This is the date when I will meet Sara.)  When that happens, I can FINALLY book my ticket and hotel.  That will make things so much more final in my mind.

I got my FBI background clearances back on Tuesday.  It was a much less exciting step the second time around but still important.  I now have all the paperwork in place that I need to take with me when I travel.  I just need to get it all apostilled.

I'm planning to take a day off the first week of December to go downtown and get all the paperwork apostilled and get my visa from the Consulate downtown.  Then, it will just be a matter of enjoying the holidays and counting the days until I get to meet my little girl.

Nothing too exciting but I'll take little steps at this point.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's Always Darkest Before the Dawn

For some reason, Thursdays seem to be my lowest days in this process.  Maybe it's because I'm so tired from work at that point.  Maybe it's because I feel like I've spent the whole week waiting and nothing has happened.  Maybe it's because I have small group on Thursdays and I feel like I should be authentic with them so it makes me think about how I'm really feeling.  For whatever reason, Thursdays seem to be hard.  

Fridays, however, seem to bring good news.  Usually, it comes around 7pm on Fridays---just as the adoption agency in CA is closing up for the weekend.

Last night, I found out that Sara has an appointment at the Embassy on Monday.  Her article 5 should be issued by Friday.  This means I can book my ticket!!!   (I love to travel and a trip never seems final until the flight has been booked!)  Hopefully, I can do it while I'm still in NY for Thanksgiving so my mom and I can work out our flights together.  I can also work out housing arrangements and get moving on all the other things I need to get done!

I also got a copy of Sara's visa picture.  The email came with a disclaimer:
Please just know that each of these pictures that we get for the visa process comes out very sad. They force the children to have a straight face in the picture. Still, these sweet kids' visa pictures aren't half as bad as my personal passport photo.... oh gosh!  

I'll admit, I was kind of surprised by the picture.  I wasn't even sure it was the same child as the last picture that I had been given of her.  I spent several minutes comparing her features and convincing myself it was the same person.  (It's amazing what a smile can do!)

After studying the picture for quite a while, I've decided that I LOVE it.  It shows that she can follow directions.  She was told not to smile.  She sure didn't!  I also think it shows that she has some spunk.  "You don't want me to smile?  Fine.  This is what you get!"  My guess is that this is the face she makes when she doesn't get her way.  It really isn't going to get her very far with this mom, though, because it makes me chuckle.  I'm also convinced this is how she wakes up in the morning.  (Another sign she was meant to be my daughter.  That's pretty much how I wake up.)

It's the first little glimpse that I've gotten into her personality.  (It's also very possible that I'm reading way too much into a picture!)  

Oh, and yes.  It appears that my Colombian daughter has either blond or red hair.  She'll fit right in with her cousins. 

This picture makes me happy but also makes my heart hurt.  It makes me so anxious to get there and hold her in my arms.  I want to squeeze her and tickle her and swing her around until I see that little face light up.  So, while I can't go get her for a while, I will busy myself with travel arrangements and know that each day brings me closer to that precious face.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No News is.....Annoying.

No news is not good news.  It's annoying.  And, it just continues the emotional roller coaster.

Here's the chain of events (or non-events) that have me frustrated:

*About a week ago, it was stated that the strike had ended.  This wasn't entirely true.  The judges signed an agreement but haven't actually gone back to work in most of the country---including the city where Sara lives.  Because of this...

*The embassy is still not issuing Article 5s (essentially Sara's visa).  They fear that if they issue Article 5s, people will flood to Colombia to finish their adoptions.  They don't want any more people to travel until the strike is over.  Because of this....

*The agency won't officially give me a travel date.  (I have an unofficial date but it won't be official until we get her Article 5.)  Because of this....

*I can't buy a plane ticket.  I REALLY want to buy a plane ticket.  It would make things so much more real for me.  Because of this....

*I can't get my visa.  I need to have a plane ticket in order to get my visa from the Consulate in Chicago.  Because of this....

*I can't get my final paperwork apostilled.  I have to go to the Secretary of State's office downtown to get my paperwork apostilled.  This means taking a day off of work to go into the city.  I want to do the SOS and the Consulate on the same day so I don't have to take two days off from work.  (While I really want to take a day off from work, I need to save every minute of my time off for my leave.)  Because of this....

*I feel like I am getting no where.  I have all of this stuff done and ready to go and all the money in place and I'm not getting any closer to my child!  

I just want the strike to be over so I can get her Article 5, get a travel date, buy a ticket, apply for my visa, apostille my paperwork and be ready to go!  Is that really too much to ask?

*On a side note, the embassy in Colombia is hosting a webcast tomorrow to give information about the current state of adoptions there.  I'm really hoping for some good, useful, positive information.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Slight Change of Plans

There is a slight change of plans with the travel..  The adoption house (orphanage) where Sara lives lost their license.  (I really have no idea why.)  They are being taken over by social services.  While they are not taking any new applications, I've been assured that Sara's adoption is not in jeopardy.  On the contrary, I've been told that social services is aware of the situation and excited about the adoption.  The staff at the orphanage are all the same---except the director.

The new director (from social services) starts after the Christmas break on January 14th.  So, I will travel on the 13th and be her first appointment on Monday morning the 14th.  I will meet my little girl on Monday, January 14th---which just happens to be her cousin's birthday.

I'm hoping that this is the last change and the last delay.

Please continue to pray for the end of the strike.  There are currently 62 families stuck in limbo in Colombia---6 of those are American.  I'm so glad to not be one of those families!  I cannot imagine the stress and cost of being stuck there wondering when it all will end.  It's hard enough to wait from here!

I'm trying to wait until the strike ends to book my plane tickets but it's a balancing act.  I don't want to wait too long so they cost more money but I also don't want to buy a ticket and then have to pay change fees on both ends.

I cannot wait until the day that I land back in Chicago with my daughter.  In that moment, it will all be worth it.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

January 8th, 2013

January 8, 2013!  That's the big date.  The day I will meet my daughter.  For months, I've been praying and crying and hoping that Sara would be home for Christmas.  Surprisingly, when I got the date of January 8th yesterday, I wasn't upset.  I was THRILLED and excited and giddy!  I'm so glad that the wondering and questioning is over.  Now I'm just on to waiting.  Something that isn't as hard when you know when the waiting will end. 

In all honesty, I did not make the decision to postpone travel until January.  The agency did.  After pouting for a little bit, I realized they are right for a multitude of reasons.

While I really, really wanted to Sara home for Christmas, I've known deep in my heart that it wasn't in her best interest.  Christmas is crazy!  There are parties and food and music and lights and gifts and people and travel and major sensory overload!  Christmas can get stressful for all of us.  Now, imagine being a 4-year-old who has left the only home she's ever known, the language she knows, the food she knows, the warm weather she knows, the people she knows and being dropped into December in Chicago and Buffalo. Talk about a shock!  While it would have been fun for me to have her to celebrate Christmas with, it could have been very hard on her.  (It's also possible that she would have gone with the flow and been fine but who knows.)  So, it's probably in her best interest to settle into her new life for a year before she experiences American Christmas!

There are also a couple of major factors that played into the decision to travel in January:

*The majority of the government of Colombia shuts down for a month around mid-December to mid-January.  I've heard different dates for when the shut down actually occurs but the bottom line is the same:  traveling in November is risky.  If you don't get everything done in a timely manner, you could end up getting stuck in Colombia for a very long time.  You take custody of your child shortly after arriving in the country so leaving and returning when paperwork is complete is not an option.  You are there start to finish.

*The judges in Colombia are still on strike.  They went on strike October 11th.  Right now, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight.  Even if they were to go back to work on Monday, they are now three weeks behind on their cases.  So, even if I got my Article 5 on Monday, I wouldn't be able to get a court date for several weeks which would push things way too far into November.

*The adoption house where Sara lives has had it's license revoked.  I don't really understand all the implications of this.  I know that the social services agency in Colombia has taken over their active cases.  Sara's adoption is not in jeopardy but it will look a little bit different since I will be adopting under social services and not the adoption house.  With this added factor, it makes sense to wait until January until the dust has settled a little bit to travel instead of being the first one to try out the new system.

So, while I didn't like it at first, it makes a ton of sense to travel in January.  (Plus, I can be off from January until spring break.  No one likes working in January/February anyway.  Those are the longest school months of the year.)  

I'm off to look for plane tickets and start a count down!