Go on over to CarrieandMichael'sblog and send them some love - they just received their referral! They're the cutest couple and have been waiting over a year. It's an early Christmas present for them - Congrats Carrie and Michael!
Our dossier will be leaving for St. Petersburg tomorrow. It will take about a month for it to be translated then we'll be assigned a region - then a referral. It's so good to get to this point again.
Dec. 1 marked one year since we officially began this journey, signing with the first agency. The clock seems to stand still at times and fly at other times. I think the next month will fly by because of the holidays and all the activity it brings.
Just in case a referral is immediate (one can hope!), I'm starting a list of questions to ask the caretakers and doctors. If anyone has any links or suggestions regarding this, I would so appreciate it!
They’ve been around for awhile but have just created a blog to help get the word out:
I have amazing cousins that live in Waveland, Mississippi and they, along with other Christians, have created The Power of Prayer Ministries, which is a hurricane Katrina volunteer relief organization. The primary focus of the group is debris removal and to aid in cleanup from Hurricane Katrina and rebuilding of homes in Waveland and the surrounding communities.
It’s unbelievable to think that there is still debris around after 2+ years. It’s true and sad to know that are many still living in trailers.
Marguerite, Linda, Dave, Monica and the rest are the most selfless, compassionate and gracious people I know and I’m immensely proud to call them family!
Our weekend was great! We had a nice visit with our friends, Danielle & Big G and want to thank them for all of Christian and Gabrielle's fabulous gently used toys and clothes - we're so excited to get our kid's wardrobe started as well as their playroom! Our kids will love all of the toys and I know we'll get a lot of use from the pack-n-play as well. Thank you again, it's a tremendous help- You guys rock!
We also went to the Texans vs. Saints game and had a blast with our friends Ira and Olga. (Olga taught me the title of this post - so funny!). We ran into some other great friends there too, Teri and Mike. It was hard to choose who to root for, so we wore Texans tops with Mardi Gras beads around our necks! We had way too much fun and I'm feeling it today - I'm such a lightweight. Thanks guys for the great tailgating party before and after the game - wow, I guess those days are short lived once we get the kiddos huh?
I don't know if I ever publically thanked my 'sister' Laura for the tremendous lot of books- I really hope Nathan had a chance to enjoy some and you know you are welcome to them anytime you want them. Love you girl!
Adoption news: Our homestudy is updated, the dossier paperwork is finished, notarized, apostilled and turned in. After our agency does their thing (adds more paperwork), they will send all the docs to St. Petersburg to be translated. This will take about 3 weeks (maybe 4 with the holidays), then we'll be assigned a region. THEN the real wait begins.... AGAIN. We're getting there! We'll keep you updated as things move along.
I was tagged by Adrienne- (Thanks! I need something to write about!) Here’s my story:
Job's I've Had: Aerobic Instructor Ticket Agent Supervisor – Continental, TWA and Pan Am Travel Agent Furniture Sales Customer Service at Chrysler Financial Accounts Supervisor at a Bank Executive Assistant to Real Estate Developer
Places I've Lived: New Orleans, LA Mandeville, LA Covington, LA Denver, CO Houston, TX
Foods I Love: Italian food Crawfish Cajun food Chocolate
Places I'd Rather Be: On my way home from Russia with my husband and kids!
Places I've Traveled: All over the US + Hawaii Germany Austria Italy England Scotland Greece Mexico St. John St. Thomas Bahamas Jamaica
Movies I Love: Sound of Music Crocodile Dundee Wizard of Oz
TV Shows I Watch: Lost Desperate Housewives The Office
Books I Love: Anything by Stephen King The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
LTD Commodities has some really inexpensive and fun things for kids and their bedrooms. Check this out: Sports Metal Wall Plaques. How cute is that for a boy's room? Or these moon chairsfor their playroom? It may be a little old for most of our kiddos but they'll grow into it! I'm so into decorating and just can't wait to get to it - even if it is boys! Anyone have any other fun links to share?
Halloween was a lot of fun for us. We know this will be our last one alone so we made the best of it. We passed out candy to all of the neighborhood kiddos - they were so adorable and excited to be dressed up.
Yesterday, we went to a fabulous wedding of our friends Lori and Steve. Wish wish you guys the best - your wedding celebration was so much fun! Thanks again for including us.
It's now Sunday and Halloween is over but the sales are still on! We went to a few places and got tons of decorations and things for next year - CHEAP! Gotta love those after-holiday sales! I was so tempted to buy a couple of costumes but since we don't know the ages and sizes yet, well, that would just be stupid.
Our formal application was submitted to our new agency (along with their fees) so we're getting excited about the prospects of a referral. They explained that the wait time would be approximately 2-4 months for 2 children under 4 - after the dossier is sent in. (We know this can change at any time). The good thing about this agency (AAI) is that the children do not have to be biological siblings but they must be 9 months apart or twins. Either way is great with us. Since they do not have to be bio siblings, the referral will not take as long. (I like this!).
Next step, get the home study updated. According to AAI, most agencies are cooperative and send their entire package (home study and dossier) to the new agency - because even though the customer is switching agencies, they have already paid for these docs. Not so with CHI. They would not even send our own home study to us! We knew we'd lose the fees we paid but didn't know we'd lose the docs as well. Anyway, our new home study agency is in the process of updating our home study for a very reasonable fee and it should be quick since the original was just completed in April. I did keep a copy of the home study - good thing.
I requested that CHI send our dossier (at our expense) directly from Kemerovo to St. Petersburg since it's already complete, notarized, apostilled and translated - nada. No explanation. Just NO. Again, no cooperation whatsoever. Again, AAI said most agencies will cooperate even at this stage but apparently not CHI. I guess when you're done with them, they're done with you! You would think that the orphan's best interest would be kept in mind to get them in a home asap. Oh well. We will begin again...that's part of the unforeseen process. On the bright side, at least we know what we're doing and know where to go for the apostilles!
Every day this month I'm going to post something. Even if I have nothing to say. This is National Adoption Awareness Month so we all need to make everyone aware that adopting is just as special as being pregnant.
There's been some talk on other blogs about adoptees not really being your own and that you could never love someone the same as if they were your blood. I beg to differ. I ask these people if they've ever been in love. Do you love your spouse? Do you love your boyfriend/girlfriend? Dogs? Cats? My point is: I love my husband more than anything on this earth and he certainly is not my blood relative. We have spent thousands of dollars saving our little dog's life and would do it again in a second - if that's not love, I don't know what is.
OK, the answer is.... We have changed agencies. Just like Susan and Randy however, we were much farther along than they were. We lost a considerable amount of money and time. But we feel that in the long run it will be worth it. Our old agency was not accredited and had no idea when it was going to happen. So we could either be patient (which I am NOT) and wait it out, or make a change. So we made the change.
We are basically having to start over but luckily I'm organized so I have a lot of the docs already.
We'll keep you up to date on where our kiddos will come from, etc.
Happy Halloween everyone! I hope this is the last childless Halloween for us!
Ok, I know I’ve been AWOL for awhile but there’s just not much to say!
Well, there is a smidgen of an update: We’re checking into raising our age-range for the kids up to 6 years old. From what we’ve heard, it is difficult to get 2 siblings under four. I’ll keep you updated on this.
On a totally different note: I travel about 20 miles to and from work, but we’re in a big city so it takes about an hour each way. I’ve seen many odd sights during my commute in all these years. Some of them are: (and NO, I am not kidding)
- a man shaving with an electric razor - a man lifting a dumbbell with one hand - women putting on makeup – common one - a man brushing his teeth - a woman reading the newspaper - TONS of wild singing and arms moving all over the place (alone)
and yesterday, I saw a man playing away on his harmonica whilst driving with his knee
Since Halloween is right around the corner and it's such a fun holiday, I thought I would put this very odd, but funny, recipe out there. If you have a Halloween Party, it's perfect. For those who have kids, this is hilarious, they LOVE it!
KITTY LITTER CAKE 1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix 1 box of white cake mix 1 package white sandwich cookies 1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
A few drops green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Rolls or equivalent
SERVING DISHES AND UTENSILS 1 NEW cat-litter box 1 NEW cat-litter box liner 1 NEW pooper scooper
Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions, in any size pan. Prepare pudding and chill. Crumble cookies in small batches in blender or food processor. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of cookie crumbs. Mix with a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside.
When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.
Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the blunt ends into slightly curved points. Repeat with three more rolls. Bury the rolls decoratively in the cake mixture. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top.
Heat 5 more Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with crumbs from the litter box. Heat the remaining Tootsie Roll until pliable and hang it over the edge of the box. Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper. Enjoy!
PS: If they don't hurry up with a referral, this may turn into a blog about food!
I've never been a very green person. What I mean is, I've never really liked the color green too much - at least that's what I thought. I've never chosen green in my wardrobe, nor painted my walls green. Although, this little test has been going around in blogger land: What color green are you?
I am Grass Green: Down to earth and a bit of a hippie, you are very into nature and the outdoors. You accept the world and people as they are. You don't try to change things. You are also very comfortable with yourself, flaws and all. Optimistic about the future, you feel like life is always getting better.
Also, we (Jim and I) are very much into recycling and try to stay as "green" as possible... sooo hmm I guess I do like green afterall.
Such a random post. Sorry, nothing to write about adoption-wise. Still just waiting for 'the call'. Oh, we have started two college-saving funds! More green for the munchkins!
Ok, it's now a coolish September (Texas-style) which means the high is only in the low 90's! We have cleaned out the 'kids' room closet as well as the future game room closet. We have picked out bedding, beds, wall paint, toys, books, balls, computer learning games, names, etc. We have started to teach the dogs how to be calm with children - our 4 year old neighbor is being used as the stunt child! We have decided on the rearrangement of the furniture when the kids come. Fabulous friends have given us a crib, a car seat, a high chair, numerous stuffed animals, books and toys. We are prepared to leave work for a little while. It's very nice this time of the year in Siberia.
My birthday is in a few days. (Jane)
I want a referral for my birthday! We are READY for a referral!!!!
If you have the urge to pray, rub the Buddha belly, hop on one foot while chanting, please feel free to do so! We sincerely thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We had a great Labor Day weekend. We went to UT's opening game which was a blast - gotta love college football even with the heat and humidity! At least we got to cool off in the Alum section (thanks to my hubby!).
We went to our good friend's house to eat a wonderful Labor Day dinner and they gave us TONS of adorable stuffed animals that their kiddos have outgrown. Thank you Teri and Mike!! You guys are precious to us - and of course Madeline and Austin, we love you too!
I really have nothing to write about. Life if pretty quiet and slow around here. We're still just waiting. I think I need August to end. It's really a terrible month (sorry to those who have b-days in Aug.). I don't mean to offend anyone but August is intensely hot and muggy, there are no holidays, Russia shuts down... it's an oppressive month. They should delete off the calendar. September, however is an excellent month. It's my birthday month - nice and coolish, can't wait till August is over.
OK, enough of that. I'm feeling better finally - That rotten cold lasted about 2 weeks. Thanks for all your concern and nice words, it helped!
Here in Texas, we have great Mexican food so I thought I'd share one of my favorite and EASY Mexican desserts - It's very rich so consider yourself forewarned!
Tres Leches (3 Milk) Cake
1 yellow cake mix (with pudding) baked as directed in a 13" x 9" pan
Topping: 1 can evaporated milk 1 can sweetened condensed milk 1 pint heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup rum (or to taste - or not at all)
Blend all of the ingredients above in a mixing bowl
To finish: Poke holes in the cake with a fork all over. Pour the topping mixture over the cake. Let mixture absorb completely in the refrigerator.
Cover with whipped cream and sprinkle sweetened coconut over top of cake.
Optional: Add cherries and/or pineapple on top
Yields: 10-12 servings Prep Time: 20 minutes
Enjoy and have a great day!
UPDATE: Thanks sooooooooo much Carolyn for the fabulous baby books! You are the sweetest, most thoughtful girl I know and I'll treasure those little books and think of you when I read to my babies. I'm so happy for you and Jim and your little one to be. You are going to be such a loving, wonderful mom and I can't wait to meet your munchkin in February!!!
I have been in a giant fog the last few days with a horrible cold or flu-like thing. Fever, extreme headache, body aches, bad sore throat + tons of gunk (lovely eh?). I think this is nearly done. I don't know what people do when you have kids that need you and you feel like this. Wow. All I've done in 2 days is stay in bed and you can't do that with little munchkins running around. I guess I'll deal like all the other moms do.
Something better to think about: It seems as though things are moving again in Kemerovo which is fantastic news. It brightened my day, I can tell you that!
We are scheduled to get our immunizations for Russia next week. The CDC doesn’t require any immunizations however, it does recommend them. We’re going to heed their recommendation just in case… you never know.
Our IA Doc recommends us to have our Hepatitis A/B (a combined shot), Tetanus (if you have not had one in the last 10 years), and update our MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). I’m so accident-prone, I’ll probably get over there and step on a nail or something and end up in the hospital – oh that would not be fun. We’re getting the shots!
Some people may not know exactly what a Dossier is and why it took so long to gather the paperwork. Well, it consists of:
a 25 page autobiography for each of us (questionnaire)
2 power of attorneys
2 Petitions to Adopt
Home Study (2 visits to your home and 2 three hour evaluations)
Home Study Agency license
Copy of Social Worker's license
Recommendation letters from Home Study Agency
Home Study Education Verification Letter
Signed copy of State Adoption Laws saying you understand them
Approval letter from I-171H (Basically the Govt. saying it's ok for you to adopt) - This took 3 months to get - another 2 months for fingerprinting
Local Police Report for each parent
State Police Report for each parent
Federal Police Report for each parent
3 copies of passports
2 Marriage Certificates
Divorce Decree if applicable
Medical Reports for each parent saying we're healthy and don't have AIDS, HEP nor Syphillus
Copy of Medical Dr.'s license
Letters from employers re: good standing and salary
2 Financial Statements
Statement of Legal Residence and measurements of every room in house
2 Embassy Registration letters
2 Post Placement promise letters
Reference letters from friends and family
Several pictures of your home, inside and out and of yourselves
All this in addition to being fingerprinted by our local police, State Police and Homeland Security, and taking a course in parenting - then getting all of these documents notarized and apostilled (apostilled meaning the Secretary of State makes sure that all of the notaries are legal).
So we've done all of this - it took approx. 6 months and now our documents are in Russia being translated. The translation takes about 2 months. And so here we are - Whew! Thank goodness we have a great agency who gave us detailed instructions on how to do everything. I guess we really do want to do this, eh?
Has anyone see such a cute ring? I just love it! A coworker has this ring and she promises to will it to me but I really don't want to wait that long... Has anyone seen one like it anywhere? Where can I find one?
I received the Family Fun magazine yesterday. There are so many creative and fun things to do with kids online and in their magazine. And no, I don't have anything to do with the company! There are a ton of ideas and crafts, I just can't wait to start buying things and creating their playroom and bedrooms. But my hubby won't let me start decorating, painting or anything until we meet them. I totally understand it but I'm definitely not a patient person and this is killing me!
To answer my cousin Monica regarding Americans not being allowed to adopt Russian children: As of May 2006, the Russian government decided to implement a non-expiring accreditation for agencies working in Russia. To complete this process, the first step is to register with the Ministry of Justice. This must be completed by all agencies in order to continue their work in Russia. There are 115 agencies awaiting reaccreditation. Once our agency has permanent reaccreditation, we'll be registered in Kemerovo and will await matching. Hopefully, this will happen very soon. Our dossier is in the translation stage right now - it takes them ~2 months to translate the documents and it will become a 500-700 page dossier.
I have been reading what everyone else is doing (see my blog roll) just waiting for our turn so there's not a whole lot to say. We know that God has a plan for us so we're just kicking back waiting to see what's going to happen. The first thing that has to happen is that CHI needs to get their permanent accreditation. They are well on their way, but these things take time. THEN, we'll be matched up with a sibling pair.
So we wait. Patiently.
Here are answers to the questions we get most often:
1. Why Russia? Jim's mother was from Russia and Jim has a Russian Language degree from UT so we feel a special bond with the country and its people.
2. How long does it take? We really don't know. The average wait is around 8-12 months, depending on if you want a girl or a boy. In our case, we've requested 2 siblings under four years old so it really just depends on who's available at the time our dossier is registered.
3. How much does it cost? A lot! But we know the value of a family is priceless so we're willing to make some sacrifices to make this happen.
4. Will the children be biological siblings? Yes.
5. Why 2 children? Because we didn't want an only child.
Feel free to ask more questions - I'll answer as best I can!
In October 2008, we brought home 2 amazing, crazy, fun, smart, beautiful, healthy toddlers from Russia.
Now we live to tell about it.
We welcome your words of encouragement and/or advice!
Thanks for reading!