Thursday, January 31, 2013


Yay for progress! In the middle of my pity party yesterday, I found out that our paperwork had been accepted and submitted to the judge on Monday. He has 10 business days to sign it. So, we will have Sentencia this week or next! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! We will get to go home in the next two weeks!

I've begun carrying my colombian cell phone everywhere. I don't want to miss the call. When the judge signs the decree, I will have to go in and sign it as well. Then, we get the new birth certificate, passport and American visa. Those things will take 3 to 4 days. Then, we get on the first plane out of here. Chances are very good we will be home before our planned date of February 16.

Please continue to pray that the judge will sign soon (like today)!!!! Pray that he won't wait the whole ten days. We are ready to go home!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Still Waiting

Our paperwork went in a week ago. I've heard nothing since then. I've been assured progress is being made but I probably won't hear anything until Sentencia. Then I have to go in and sign the official decree. After that, it will be about a week to finish up visas and passports and we will be on our way home. It's really hard not knowing when that will be. We could get sentencia today or we could wait in silence for several weeks. There is no way to know.

The family that we have spent a lot of time with got Sentencia on Monday. They are leaving on Saturday. I think that's a big part of my funk. I'm praying for someone new to come that we can hang it with. The days here can be long and lonely.

Sara is doing so well. She's a lot less temperamental than she was. I swear she's growing up daily. She's beginning to understand English. I've tried some sign with her since she already uses a lot of gestures. She never seems interested but then pulled out the sign and English for "please" last night.

She thinks she owns the hotel. She loves everyone and has no problem entering any open door. She also likes to hang it in the kitchen with the staff. The other day, she skyped with a family from Spain. It's hard to teach her boundaries in such a contrived situation. This isn't real life.

Today we are going to visit her orphanage and say goodbye to the staff. I have mixed feelings about the outing. I love any excuse to get out and I really want to see the home but I worry about how Sara will react and what she will understand.

Please continue to pray for us. Pray that our papers would be signed soon. Pray for our health. There are lots of people in the hotel and lots if germs. Pray that we will enjoy this time together.

Did you know that the Super Bowl is on Sunday? I just found this out. For some reason, it makes me very sad.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our days

Our days here are not all that exciting. We sleep in--as much as a 4 year old does--and then go to breakfast.

Meals are all prepared by the hotel and are very much social occasions for the families. We check for updates and news. We all ooh and aah over each others children.

I try to get out in the morning. There are several parks nearby. Someone always needs to go to the ATM or grocery store. Today Jason (Angie's husband) and I put our girls in the hotel's double stroller and went mall walking. Both girls were content to be out. If all else fails, we swing behind the hotel.

Lunch is around 1. Another social event.

After lunch, we head back to the room to rest. Sara sleeps from 3 to 5 everyday but it takes her a while to wind down. It also takes her a while to wake up. She will open her eyes around 5 but doesn't really sit up or speak for a solid hour.

So, by the time she's really awake, it's time for dinner. After dinner, I try to sit and talk with some of the other families. Usually, the older girls will take Sara our back to swing. She thinks she's one if the teens and they are great with her. Other nights we Skype.

I usually try to have her in bed by 8. She falls asleep somewhere between 8:30 and 9.

As you can see, our days aren't very action packed. Sometimes we have appointments thrown in there -- usually during nap time. But, at least it's warm here!

And now we wait and pray

We had her physical today for the US Embassy. She passed with flying colors. He said she was the healthiest child with DS he'd ever seen. She just needed one vaccine. I hated it. She barely flinched.

Our paperwork has been submitted to the court. The lawyer takes care of the whole process. I only have to go to sign the final paperwork. We didn't get assigned to the infamously "bad" court so that's a good sign. All we can do now is wait and pray. Pray that each person who has a step jn the process will work quickly. I've enjoyed my time here but I wouldn't mind going home sooner, rather than later. Please pray.

Until then, I'm enjoying getting to know this amazing little girl. She has so many facets. She's sweet and loving. She's sassy and spunky. She's quiet and pensive. She's loud and destructive. No matter what mood she's in, she wants to learn. She's determined to tie my shoes. She's convinced she's reading. She's less scared of the dog every day. I love watching her grow and change. I can't wait to get her home and into real life.

Again, please pray. There are lots of steps to the court process. I know it will take time. I'd just like it to take as little time as possible.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


We had our integration meeting this morning. Basically, we met with a psychologist and decided that we make a good family and we can file for adoption.

As we were leaving, we ran into the lawyer. She said she wanted to wait a day or two to file our case because there are rumblings of a strike. Again. Yes. Those same judges may strike again.

Scenario 1: they file my paperwork today. The judges go on strike tomorrow. My paperwork is stuck somewhere and we can't get it back. We ride out the strike in Bogota. This would be a very long and expensive options. Hotels aren't cheap and I will run out of sick time.

Scenario 2: they file my paperwork at the end of the day tomorrow. The judges don't strike. I get approval in 3 to 5 weeks. This is the usual process. We are home as planned.

Scenario 3: the judges go on strike before my paperwork is filed. My paperwork will then be filed in a contingency court. I will get approval in 1 to 2 weeks. We will be home sooner than planned.

Selfishly,I would like scenario 3. I really want to go home. Unfortunately, that would be really bad for everyone I know whose paperwork has already been filed.

I'd be ok with scenario 2. That's what I expected.

I fear scenario 1.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Just pics


I've been very careful to not ask Sara to hug or kiss me. After all, I'm really just some stranger that picked her up from her home and told her I was her mom.

She's very cuddly and loving. She loves to be held and we cuddle each morning after she first wakes up. (It takes her about an hour to really wake up and face the day.). A few days ago, she started kissing me back if I kissed her. This morning, the first thing she did when she got in my bed was kiss my cheek several times. Such a great moment.

I feel like the bonding is going well when it's just the two of us. I'm not so sure when others are around.

Now I just need to get her call me mom instead of Tia (aunt).

Friday, January 18, 2013


This week is known as the bonding period. It is supposed to last 5 to 7 days. Ours is 8. We will have our integration meeting on Tuesday to make sure that all is going well abs everyone thinks we should proceed.

After that our case goes to court. We don't know yet what judge we will get but we are praying that it is a pro-adoption judge who will move quickly. The court process is definitely the longest step and will determine how long we are here. Please pray it goes quickly. I'm already anxious to go home.

After the court process, the rest should go quickly.

Sara continues to adjust well. She's smart and adorable and loving and very spunky. I can't wait to get her home and settled into real life.

Right now we are doing a lot of nothing. We try to kill some time each day. She naps for two hours in the afternoon which is really nice. She sleeps well and loves to eat. I'm convinced she's already starting to understand some English.

It takes her a solid hour to wake up in the morning and after a nap. A solid hour. She has her eyes open but won't sit up or talk. Just stares at you. That's gonna make mornings interesting when school starts.

We've loved skyping with so many of you. She tends to hog the camera. She loves to look at herself. I don't think she realizes she's supposed to be meeting her new friends.

Monday, January 14, 2013


I met Sara this morning. We talked to the psychologist for a while before they brought her in. I got teary at that point but I've been busy with her since and haven't had time to process.

Right now, she's asleep in the bed next to me. She snores like a trucker. It's hard to believe such a loud noise can come from such a little girl.

She talks constantly. She doesn't have tons of words but she can definitely make her point known. She's very busy and wants attention all the time. She already knows how to finger swipe on the iPhone. She loves to look at pictures and videos of herself. She's incredibly independent.

Our next appointment isn't until next Tuesday. I'm starting to wonder what we are going to do for the next six weeks or so.

Soon and very soon

I am waiting to be picked up by the facilitator. In two hours, I will be meeting my daughter. I can't believe this day is finally here. I'm a mixture of nerves and excitement. I have no idea what today (or the rest of my life) will look like but in thrilled for the adventure.

I will post pics when I can.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Many Faces of Sara

Right now, these are the five pictures of have of my little girl.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are 500 pictures of her by Monday night.  

Ready or Not....

The checklist is done.  The house is clean.  There can't possibly be anything else at Target that I need.  I'm all packed.  (46 lb suitcase!)  IEPs have been written.  Report Cards are almost done.  I'm ready to go.

Now, I get to try to enjoy the next few days.  Unlike a woman waiting to give birth, I know exactly when I'm going to leave and how much time I have.  Instead of stretching things out until the very end, I crammed them into the beginning of the week.  Now, I have time for people.  I had dinner with a good friend tonight.  I have small group tomorrow.  Friday night will be spent with friends.  I want to enjoy this time.  I know that the best is yet to come but I don't want to rush past these next few days, either.  While that's easier said than done, I know that there will be pieces of this time that I will miss.  

Tomorrow morning I get to Skype with Sara again.  She will be with the legal representative in Colombia that will be holding my hand and walking me through the in-country phase of this process.  I'm so excited to see Sara again and meet the rep.  I am planning to go to the church offices to Skype with the hopes of getting some recordings of the video.  How fun will that be to have video of my little girl?  (On Monday, I can take all the video I want!)  

In some ways, I feel like this process has taken forever.  In other ways, I feel like the last few months have flown by and I can't believe I leave on Saturday.  I don't think it will really sink in until I get there---maybe not until we walk out of the orphanage.  

I had no idea how much the process itself would change my life.  Looking back on it now, I can't even remember most of the things that had me so stressed out in this process.  None of it matters any more.  In a few short days, all that will matter is my daughter.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Travel Questions Answered

I spent an hour on the phone today with the agency talking through travel and the process in Colombia.  When I got this travel date, it seemed so far away.  Now, it's just a week!  In some ways, I feel like it snuck up on me.  In other ways, it's been a long time coming.

Here are some answers to some of the most common travel/process questions that I get.  If you have other questions, leave a comment and I'll answer them here or in another post.

1.  When do you leave?
I leave next Saturday!  My mother and I will meet up in NYC and then fly to Bogota together.  It's about a six hour flight from NYC to Bogota--definitely not something I'm really looking forward to.

2.  When do you meet Sara?
I will meet her on Monday.  We will spend Sunday adjusting to the altitude, getting to know the neighborhood a little bit and settling in.  Or, with my luck, we'll spend Sunday in some US airport trying frantically to get to Colombia.  

3.  When will you get custody of Sara?  
The first part of the process is a week-long bonding period.  So, Sara will come to the hotel with us after the first meeting.  I'm so glad!  I think it will be overwhelming for both of us but I can't imagine meeting her and then leaving her there!

4.  When do you come back?  
Who knows???  I have a return ticket but I hesitate to really share the date because I have no idea when I'll be back.  It could be anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks or more.  I'm hoping for 5 or 6 but there is no way to know and nothing I can do about it.  (Yes.  This is a very hard concept for a planner like me!)  I have special tickets that don't charge a change fee so we'll be home as soon as we can!

5.  Why are you there so long?
There are quite a few steps that have to be followed:
*Bonding time
*Adoption in the court system  (This is the potentially long step.)  
*New birth certificate
*US Medical appointment
*US Embassy interview
*US Visa
*Fly home
As soon as the visa is ready, we will change our tickets and get on the next available plane!

6.  When do you go back to work?
I can take up to 12 weeks off of work with FMLA.  At this point, I am planning to go back to work after Spring Break.  We'll see how the timeline plays out.

7.  Where are you staying for that long?
We are staying at a hotel the caters to adopting families.  It's really more like a B&B than a standard hotel.  I looked into lots and lots of options and decided this was the best for both of us.  Our meals will be prepared for us.  I think this will be really good for Sara and probably not so great for me.  (Yes.  I'm a picky eater.)   

8.  Are you going alone?
My mom will be going down with me for the first week.  (Thanks, Dad, for holding down the fort at home!)  As it has worked out, there are 3 families from Reece's Rainbow that are all leaving within days of each other.  The other two families have to travel to other parts of the country for their daughters but we will all end up at Bogota at some point in the process.  So, we are all planning to stay at the hotel with our 3 and 4 year old Colombian daughters!  This has worked out so well!  It looks like one of the families might even be coming the same day my mom leaves.  

9.  Is it safe?  
Colombia has a pretty sketchy past but has cleaned up quite a bit in the last few years/decades.  For the most part, Bogota is the safest part of the country.  The guerrilla warfare and drug issues are in the more remote parts of the country.  It has the same problems as any major city.  I won't be going out alone after dark or venturing into less desirable neighborhoods, etc.  Pretty much the same rules you would live by in Chicago, New York, or LA.

10.  Are you ready?
I'm so ready for her to be home.  Her room has been ready for months.  I know it will rock my world in a huge way and I'm totally ready for that too.  (Ask me again when she's not sleeping or when she's sick and may have a different answer.)  
I've purchased everything we need for the trip and for the stay.  My biggest struggle at this point is packing.  How does one pack for such an event?  I want to pack as light as possible but still have what we need.  I'm tempted to take every piece of clothing she owns because I want her to be adorable at all times and I want her to have a cute outfit for every milestone in the journey but I know that's not practical.  I've always hated packing and I always put it off until the last minute.  So, I know I'll be done before 9AM next Saturday morning but probably not much before that.

Any other questions?

Excuse me while I go squeal again because I'm leaving in one week and 12 hours!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Bonding and Attachment and Stuff

I want to give you all a little "warning" about what life will look like when we get home.  (I know.  I haven't even left yet and I'm already thinking about being home.)  I want to get this written now in case I don't have time in country or good internet or the energy to think it through.  I also want to give those closest to us the chance to process this and ask questions if they want.

Attachment and bonding are a huge concern in adoption--especially with older children.  It's hard to believe that Sara is considered an "older" child but she is.  The first two years of development are crucial.  After that time, adoptions can encounter some additional challenges.

I have no idea how this change is going to affect Sara.  As far as I know and can tell, she has been well cared for.  She has not suffered the neglect and/or abuse that a lot of kids in Eastern Europe have.  Based on the Skype date, it seems that she has staff that care for her and interact with her.  Even with those "advantages," she has not experienced a family or a mother. She doesn't know what that looks like or what her role in a family is.

I have no intention of getting into Sara's history here.  Few people know it and I probably wouldn't share it if you asked me.  I just don't feel like it will benefit her in any way to have everyone know.  I will tell you, though, that she has moved a lot in her short life.  She has had lots of "placements" but no family.  No mother.

Sara is going to have to learn what it is to be in a family.  She needs to learn that her wants and needs will be provided for by her mother.  She has most likely had multiple caregivers in her short life.  They probably change with the shift, with vacations, with new employees, with transfers.  She has probably learned that she can get her needs met by any number of adults or by her own means.  Neither of these theories are healthy for a four year old.  She will have to learn that not all adults are equal in her life.  She needs to learn to trust her mother to meet her physical, emotional, medical, social, and spiritual needs.

In short, we need to bond.  We need time to learn to be a family together.  After all, I will be learning what it means right along with her.

I like the way Colombia's program is set up.  We will be together for at least a month before we return to the US.  We will have some time to start working on our relationship before we "complicate" it with friends and family.

There are a lot of people that will tell you that you need to "cocoon" your family for a long time upon returning to the US.  Like months!  In all honesty, I can't imagine doing that completely.  First, I will have to go back to work at the beginning of April so that just isn't possible.  Secondly, my biggest fear with the travel is loneliness.  I think I'm going to really need all of you when I get back!

At this point, I am planning to do a modified version of cocooning and we'll see how it goes.  Here are some general guidelines that I'm planning to follow after researching and talking to other APs.  (I reserve the right to change the rules at any time depending on Sara's adjustment.)

*Please call, text, message, face time us.  Ask how we are doing.  Invite us to play or eat.  I may say no depending on Sara's mood or mine.  Don't be offended.  It will mean the world that you asked.

*Bring your children over to play.  Sara will be more comfortable here than at your house.  It will be less overwhelming for her.  I want her around other children.  That's what she's used to!  (And she needs to learn some English.)

*Speak to her in English.  I will continue to speak to her in Spanish but you can feel free to talk to her and interact with her as you are comfortable.  Just remind me to speak to you in English when my brain is too tired to switch back and forth on it's own.  

*Don't be surprised if I don't take you up on your offers to babysit right away.  For a while, if Sara can't go, I won't be going.  I don't know how often we'll be at church or small group in the beginning.  Her adjustment is paramount.

*Please don't pick her up, feed her or ask to hug her.  I know that sounds harsh but it's important.  I've never been a huge fan of forcing kids to hug people.  I think it unintentionally erodes important personal boundaries.  If she needs to be picked up and comforted, I will do that.  If she chooses to hug you, that's different.  It's very possible that she will have food issues related to orphanage life.  Please do get down on the floor and talk to her and play with her.  If she needs something, please direct her to me so she learns that her mother meets her needs.

I know that some of you probably think I've completely lost my mind and I'm turning into one of those parents.  I'm really not.  If you want some research and blogs, I can point you in the right direction.  These things might seem either little to you or very extreme but I assure you, they are important.  Sara is about to undergo a HUGE life change and I want it to be as healthy and smooth for her as possible.

Please, if you have questions, leave me a comment or send me a message.  I hope I'm explaining myself well but I'd love to clarify things if I'm not.  Also, fellow adoptive parents, let me know what things I'm missing on my list!

Oh, and please don't think this means you can't welcome us back to the US.  I know you are all dying to meet her.  I will keep local friends updated with flight information and a plan for our return.  Just know that I will be the only one holding and hugging her.  You will all just have to settle for hugging me instead.