Friday, December 27, 2013

Dear Baby Girl ~ December 2013

Dear Baby Girl,

Oh how things have changed since the first draft of this letter to you.

The last two weeks have been a fierce whirlwind.  Our dossier {the big packet of forms that goes to the Bulgarian government saying we want to adopt you} was requested early in order to get a jump start on translation.  By early I mean we had everything except one form. Bulgaria contacted our adoption agency to ask where we were with dossier completion.  Sweet girl, this does not happen.  It just does.not.happen.

Mama's heart broke a little when our agency confirmed that the Bulgarian government closes down for Christmas.  But then! Oh then, when our dossier was requested, it was clarified that it was requested so that translation can take place now and the entire dossier be ready for submission to the Ministry of Justice when they open post-holiday. The last piece of our dossier is the United States immigration approval.  This gives us permission to adopt from a specific foreign country.

Last week went something like this:

Tuesday~Momma runs around like crazy getting things notarized, picking up extra documents and having Daddy sign more documents after some much needed clarifications.  Momma calls the Secretary of State's office in Madison and begs for expedition of apostilles on our documents, explaining the circumstances. Momma mails documents to Madison to be apostilled.

Wednesday~Momma emails USCIS: Hague Adoptions to inquire on our immigration application status.  Momma goes to have her hair done.  She sits in the salon and checks her email to find an email from USCIS stating we have APPROVAL. Momma shouts YES! at the top of her lungs and the entire salon turns their heads.

Saturday~Apostilled documents arrive in our mailbox.  Momma and Daddy do a VERY happy dance.  Momma opens the envelope to find that two documents were not able to apostilled.  The process has changed and they need to be done different, and through a different office.  Momma makes copies of everything and mails everything to our adoption agency.  It has arrived at our agency, now we just wait for the immigration approval (with apostille) to arrive at the agency and everything goes to Bulgaria for translation.

Sunday~We finish the initial preparations for your room and take pictures for the dossier.  Your brother helped!

Monday~Hard copy of our immigration approval letter comes in the mail.  Momma and Daddy do another VERY happy dance.

Tuesday~Christmas Eve. Momma stands with your brother in the aisle so he can watch the music and lights and sheds tears, knowing that next year I'll have two hands to hold in this very moment.

Wednesday~Christmas Day.

I hope your orphanage is full of Christmas spirit.  I hope you have a tree to stand awestruck in front of and yummy treats to celebrate.  I hope you are enjoying Bulgarian children's Christmas songs.  We've added as many as we could find to our own Christmas music listening.  I have felt so blessed to have such amazing technology and access to research your culture, your world, your heritage.  I hope there is sparkly garland hanging on the walls and across the windows.  Christmas is a big thing for your country, so I have no doubt you will be celebrating it. We are praying you were celebrated there as you are here.

But oh how we wish you were here with us.  The Christmas before we brought your brother home felt bittersweet and out of place.  Someone was missing.  This year was and is no different.  You are missing, my baby girl.   You are SO loved and SO missed. Listening to Bulgarian Christmas songs makes me cry.  I long to hear your sweet voice in person. Our Christmas theme this year at church was Wonderstuck.  That, my dear girl, is what our journey to you has been all about.  Has anything left you wonderstruck?

We decided to decorate our Christmas tree in honor of you.  We chose all red ornaments.  Do you like it?

You have your own tree in your room, too.  See?

Grandma made you your first stocking:

And you received your first Christmas gifts:

We love you SO much.  Christmas isn't about gifts.  Christmas is about THE gift.  We are so thankful to Christ for coming to this world.  We are so thankful for His blessings.  You and your brother are our blessings.  Even though we long to hold you, cuddle you, watch you marvel at the magic of Christmas, fluff your pretty dresses and have you pose next to your brother, we know the GIFT of YOU is well worth waiting for.

Merry Christmas Baby Girl.

Mommy & Daddy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Sometimes I find myself feeling like I'm living in multiple universes.

There is the universe of AJ, which is all encompassing of all things crazy and wonderful simultaneously.  It is the world of mini-marshmallows needed for this week's class Christmas party, trouble-shooting his continued spasticity in his legs, and programming his new communicate app with lunch choices for the month.

There is the universe of being a student, in which today marked the beginning of my second to last class.

And then.

Then there is our Mimi girl.

I won't say its easy to forget, because forget is not the appropriate word.  I cannot nor will I ever forget.  However, with the other two universes intersecting with this rather large one, they rotate importance.  They orbit?  Sure.  Lately my classes and AJ's needs have been at the front of the line.  They've kept me busy while my heart aches during this Christmas season.  I mean....aches.

We hadn't heard much in way of our adoption process.  Until two weeks ago. We learned, as we suspected, that the Bulgarian government pretty much shuts down for the Christmas and New Years holidays.  Even though we suspected this would be the case, I still mourned this news.  And of course, because I cannot share specific information about her, I cannot share why this was and is so heart-breaking. We set a goal of having our dossier in Bulgaria by mid-January.

And then last week happened. Our caseworker called, causing my heart to drop to my stomach thinking something was wrong.  The association our agency works with in Bulgaria called for an update on our dossier.  Yes. Our child's country called us for an update on our progress.  When the phone rang I was sure something was wrong.  I could not have been more wrong with my thinking.

Our dossier documents, minus our US immigration approval letter, have been sitting, ready to go. Well, that's not entirely true.  One other document was secured today, so that's really all that matters.  Despite waiting on our immigration approval, our documents have been requested for translation.  Let me tell you, it is a shocking yet amazing feeling to feel someone halfway around the world, yet in the same country as your daughter, advocating for you and your child. After a whirlwind couple of days, I sent 21 documents (with multiple pages included in each "document") to our state capital for apostilling today.  In short, pretty certificates on top of each stapled grouping of documents. I pleaded our desperation/need for expedition of these apostilles and can only hope we'll receive them next week either the day before Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas.  As soon as we receive that last letter, I will send it for apostilling and it will follow the rest of our documents to Bulgaria.

Once all of our documents are translated, they will go to the Ministry of Justice and we will be logged-in. This generally takes a month.

And then?

We can travel to meet our daughter.

Sometimes, it hits me hard.  All that has transpired in such.a.short.period.of.time.  When you are in the process, there is no "standard" timeline.  You are given timelines, but they rarely correlate to your case.  Remember THIS?  Right now I am sitting at #3, #6, #7, and #8.   Someone is missing, and boy do we feel it with Christmas right around the corner.  Adoption is not pregnancy, and I will say that til my last breathe.  I'm not sure when she's coming home.  And my biggest fear, is if she will truly come home.  It's that fear that I felt when our caseworker called. What happened?!

If you have been following our process, you have noticed that our timeline has changed several times over.  While we are familiar with hold-ups, and static case status' happening on the country-side, we are not familiar with delays happening on the US side.  While we've had only minor blips, they have pushed our case back by months.  Knowing about Mimi so early in the process has made things more emotional than I could have ever imagined.

And then I remember how we received a referral before formally applying.  Days after contacting our social worker to start the process.  Days.  And she called about a little girl.  A little girl.  We never decided on a girl name when choosing names for our first child (before we received AJ's referral) because "Schmidts don't have girls".  We never thought we'd have a girl. Ever.

And yet when we saw her, we knew her name immediately.  We knew her middle name.   All of today I ran on adrenaline, determined to get these documents off to their destination.  So tonight, its really sinking in that our dossier is DONE.  There is no more paperwork for us to print, fill-out, fax, copy, sign, email.  We are DONE. We are waiting on the efforts of others.  Just short of six months from learning about our baby girl.  In.credible.

Sometimes, beyond all the chaos is beauty. Beauty that is so deep that it brings tears and relief.

 I've started to fill her dresser with clothes.  Her mattress and crib pad arrived yesterday.  This is happening.  And I am so grateful we are in this place, this moment.  I want to enjoy every second of anticipating her without the worry of paper, forms, and legalities.  I want to embrace the humanity of this miracle we are so blessed to be a part of.  I want to swirl the can of paint for her room and paint her walls with warmth.  I want to wash her sheets the way a mother does and make her bed.  Even if it is just (for now) for photographs that will be added to our dossier, I want to make this her home.  She's in our hearts, its time to make her impending presence a reality in our home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The -bles

There are moments in our journey where I feel paralyzed.  I have an enormously long list of to-do's, which include things that go far beyond the typical grocery shopping and laundry.  So much to do, so much fog in my brain that I scrap it all and freeze.

Today is one of those days.

If we start the clock when we announced adoption #2, we have been on this journey for 4 months. SO MUCH has occurred in such a tiny timeframe.  Just a crack of light during a morning's worth of sun.  AJ announced he was going to be a big brother and a week later we had a referral.  Boom. Boom. Boom goes the process.  Fast. Quick. Wild.

Stop. Wait. Wait. Wait.

But didn't you just say you've only been waiting 4 months?

Yes.  I did.  But if you have adopted, or have been part of someones process in the least bit, you know that a millisecond can feel like an eternity when you are waiting.  And if you think of how long our baby girl has been waiting, which is the real wait in all of this, then you must start from the moment she entered this world. That. THAT.  SHE.  She is what makes all of this worth it. So worth it.

Have you read THIS?  If not, please do and then come back here to me.

Right now I'm sitting at #9 and #12.  Yes friends, I am stupid and a total mess.  Stupid in the way of may brain being mush, fog, and overloaded.  I may seem brave on the outside, or a total pro (hardy har har) because we've adopted internationally before.  What you don't see are the outbursts of frustration and me completely overwhelmed when answering the same question for the tenth time on paperwork.  You don't see the tears or my darkest moments when I'm lying in bed wonder what we've gotten ourselves into.  You don't see the doubt, the fear, the questions floating aimlessly.

I am vulnerable.

I feel terrible.

Sometimes. Because not only are we in the midst of Mimi's adoption process, we are also raising a son who has been rather intense lately.  And while he deserves an entire blog post all his own (which will happen), juggling the two has been a struggle.  The summer months I worried that he was getting "leftovers" of his Mommy.  We jumped right into Mimi's adoption and there were times that paperwork had to be done, yes right that moment because it needed to go to the post office that afternoon, which meant less swinging and more things to keep him occupied on his own. I felt guilty, and continue to feel guilty at times.

I am humble.

This is by far my favorite -ble and the feeling I am most grateful for.  When we began this journey, there was no magic money tree that sprouted up in the backyard.  There was no big savings account sitting and waiting for this.  We felt called to adopt, no matter what the cost.  I sat paralyzed, anxious and unsure as to whether to hit the "create" button on our puzzle fundraiser.  When we began planning our silent auction fundraiser, I wondered if we'd have any items donated or if people would even come.  What do we sell tickets for?  How are we going to do this?

I hit that button and Mimi's puzzle began to have names written on the back of each piece.  We created the flyers for our fundraiser with a handful of donated items, which multiplied to over 60 by event night.  Tickets sold at just the right price and the auction was very successful.  The love we have felt is overwhelming, humbling, and strengthening.

I no longer ask how we are going to do this.  We ARE doing this.

Asking for help is a bit of a faux pas in today's world.  That pains me.  It's why I sat on my bed, terrified to hit that button.  One click made us vulnerable to the rest of the world.  The American way has turned into the "Me" way.  And if this sounds preachy, its not meant to be. It's something I've been learning about a lot in my recent classes.  Coincidence?  I think not.  We've become all about what's good for me and how does this or that benefit numero uno ME.  We live in the land of opportunity, so why not.  What am I going to get out of this?  Why do I want to help so and so?  This is why I never want to watch the news....

I've stopped caring about the label the world has created about need.  I like being humble.  Humble is where I hope to always be.  And if I get lost, I hope to find my way back.  Because it is truly a beautiful place to be.

Over the last few weeks I've spent many hours filling out adoption grant and loan applications.  They have been just as difficult and pokey as the adoption paperwork itself.  Pokey?  Yeah, pokey.

Why did you decide to adopt?

Are you prepared for post-placement/attachment?

How are you prepared for post-placement/attachment?

What have you done in preparation for this?

Give us a breakdown of all of your adoption costs.  Now give us a breakdown of every single part of your financial world.

Have you raised funds on your own?  How much and how?

Provide a statement of faith.

Provide references.

Describe why you need financial assistance with adoption.

Are you sure you wanna do this?  Huh? Huh? Huh?  C'mon?! Are ya sure?!

None of them have the exact same requirements.  Different requirements, timelines, supplemental documents and information.  I think a small part of me thought (and thought wrong) that these applications would be less intimidating than the adoption paperwork.  Oh, was I wrong.  It has been a much needed reminder that while parts of our process have been super smooth and easy, this is not easy.  No one said it would be easy. I read a post the other day that said "If she's amazing, she won't be easy...if she's she's worth it, you won't give up".

So I'm not giving up.  I'm pushing, or at least giving it my all to push dark and negative thoughts out of my head. The grant applications have been filled out and submitted.  Submitted with tons of supplemental documents, including cover letters explaining how we are almost at the end of our process.  You see, because we are.  We are waiting on immigration approval.  Once we receive that letter, our dossier will go to agency, then to Bulgaria, and be logged in.  Once we are logged in, we travel to meet her.  Meeeeeet her.  Oh I can hardly stand saying that without squealing.  Typically, a family waits for a referral after log-in.


This is where I am reminded how incredible Mimi's adoption has been.  Our referral came within days.  Before we applied. So we are at the end of the paperwork trail.

We are still in need of $17K to bring our girl home.

I know you are asking, why is she sharing this? Because we have always been transparent with this blog and will continue to be.  I pray every day that this amount continues to decrease.  As we get closer, my heart beats faster and worry creeps in every now and then.  I cover my head with my blankey and shut the world out in fear, thinking


And then I remember how her adoption has been provided for thus far. Incredible.  We are trusting.  Trusting God will provide.  And that doesn't mean he will bibidy-bobidy-boo a money tree in the back yard.  That doesn't mean we expect him to drop it off on the doorstep.  But we know he is ABLE.  He is laying out this beautiful journey to our daughter. Here we are, four months later, closer than ever to bringing our baby girl home.  Nothing is impossible.

He makes us ABLE.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Hello Friends.

It's been a while, eh?

I've been contemplating a post.  I suspect this is what happens often in the minds of bloggers.

The norm goes something like this...There you are, walking through the aisles of Target when suddenly a blog post title pops into your head.  The post begins to write itself in your head as you continue shopping, etc...

Except there haven't been any moments like that in a while.  I have so much to say, but no way to put it in any type of order right now.  So know this will come.

But I do want to share something with you...

Yesterday AJ walked into the bathroom and got into the bin of things I have sitting on top of the counter.  I heard something knock into the wall in his bedroom and went flying in his room only to smell something.  It was sweet, sultry, earthy, spicy, and delightful all at the same time.  But I couldn't find the source.  What IS that, I thought?

AJ had wrapped my perfume bottle in his blanket.

This may seem like a ridiculously simple event, but it speaks volumes.  At some point in my mid-twenties I became very practical about girly things.  My perfume collection narrowed to two, and has since narrowed to one selection.  I'm sure that perfume normally does not last as long as this particular bottle has.  It is the scent I have worn the six years AJ has been home.

For AJ, the scent coming from that bottle was his Mommy.  AJ is very sensitive and acutely aware of two senses: touch and smell.  Just as we carried AJ's baby blanket back and forth from Guatemala so the dogs could get used to his smell, AJ learned what his Momma smells like.  He couldn't hear me and couldn't really see me, he could only feel and smell me.

He smiled and giggled when I found the bottle.  He picked it up and handed it to me.

Translation: Here Mommy.  I love you.  This is you, and I love it, so I love you.  Don't ever change it ok?  Ok.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself and make sure that all of this is real.  That this little boy is here, mine, and that the past six years have really passed.  Moments like this make it so new.  I have to pinch myself in realizing things will soon change.  My heart aches for Mimi to smell me too.  Does that sound weird?  I know it does. But it makes so much sense to me.  I'm trying to think of the perfect thing to leave with her when we visit.  A bear? A blanket?  A piece of clothing?  I don't know.  I suppose I'll have to decide spur of the moment with the orphanage staff as to what we can have "stay with her" and only her for that month between trips.  This season of waiting is incredibly hard and surreal all at the same time.  How is that possible?  I don't know, I can only testify that it IS.

I often wonder if AJ loves us.  And sure, to the outside world he does and he's happy so it appears that all is well in his world.  But recently, I've struggled deeply with his inability to communicate certain things. I want to know when my baby hurts, when he loves, when he is angry, and when he is scared.

So for him to explain how he feels to me, in his own way, well...that was a very real moment for me folks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Strength will rise as we wait...

Things on the adoption front have been seriously quiet.  

Which had me in a quite a funk-a-dunk and gave me way too much time to building worry, anxiety, and allow bad thoughts to swirl in my brain.  Negative thoughts.  Worry?  Did I mention worry?  

Here's a look at what has transpired since the last timeline I posted
(new developments are in red):

March 17th-Officially decided to adopt again
March 17th-25th Explored and prayed over all adoption options (domestic, international, foster)
April 27th-Reviewed country choices for our first placement agency of choice, All God's Children International (AGCI) in Oregon
April 28th-Submitted free pre-application for All God's Children International-chose the Philippines
May 1st- Began working on gathering medical letters in support of Jeremy's stable health
May 2nd-Touch base with our homestudy agency Special Children Inc. (SCI)
May 7th-Jeremy's personal medical letter sent to AGCI
May 14th-Confirmation-alll medical letters have arrived at AGCI, approved by social services department, but still encouraged to choose another country-we choose Bulgaria
May 31st-Touch base again with SCI
June 7th-Phone call with Deb, our social worker/case worker at SCI (we used her with AJ's adoption too!)
June 8th-(Our Anniversary) SCI Homestudy Packet arrives
June 14th-Announce to family and friends we are adopting again!
June 20th-Creation of our Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser on GoFundMe
June 20th-First puzzle piece donation made!
June 20th-Submitted formal application and fee to AGCI
June 21st-Received initial call about a little girl in Bulgaria who needs a home through another placement agency-Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) in Michigan
June 24th-Received official referral information for Mimi
June 25th-Submission of referral documents to pediatrician, ophthalmologist, University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic, PT, SLP, and Vision Specialist
June 27th-Accepted Mimi's referral
June 27th-Letter of Intent specific to Mimi signed and notarized
June 28th-(AJ's birthday) Announced Mimi's referral publicly
June 28th-Mailed Letter of Intent to Secretary of State in Madison, WI to be apostilled
July 3rd-Received apostilled Letter of Intent from Madison
July 5th-Mailed apostilled Letter of Intent to AIAA
July 5th-AIAA Packet with Formal Application arrives
July 8th-Letter of Intent is received at AIAA
July 19th-Confirmation that Letter of Intent is in Bulgaria with the translator
July 23rd-SCI Homestudy visit/75% of required documents, including formal application and fee are submitted
July 25-27th-Operation Mimi Rummage!
July 25th-Formal application, fee, and other forms sent to AIAA
July 30th-Officially place our application on indefinite hold with AGCI and inform them of Mimi and AIAA
July 30th-Confirmation from AIAA that Letter of Intent is at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in Bulgaria
July 30th-MOJ requests POA, Declaration, and Personal Statement to be completed and submitted ASAP
August 7th-Dossier packet received via email from AIAA

August 22nd-MOJ sends urgent request for Intermediary Agreement to be completed and submitted the same day

August 23rd-Manual Fingerprinting (Round 1) completed and sent to the FBI for clearance
August 28th-MOJ approves our application and documents submitted thus far.  
Dossier is now required to be in Bulgaria within 6 months from this date, by February 28th.

September 28th Operation Mimi "Apps & Bids" Adoption Fundraiser
Homestudy report completed
Apply for adoption grants and loans
I-800A Apply to USCIS for Immigration Approval & Obtain Fingerprinting Appointment DateDigital Fingerprinting Appointment (Round 2)
Wait on immigration approval of I-800A immigration application, called the I-171H (30-90 days)

Dossier documents sent to Madison for apostilling Dossier put together and sent to AIAA
Dossier sent from AIAA to Bulgaria
Dossier logged in at the Ministry of Justice (takes 2-4 weeks from arrival)
Travel to visit
One month lapses
Travel again to pick-up-Mimi!

We are on pin and needles waiting for our homestudy report.  We are stuck.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.  Stuck.  

We received word in August that we were "pre-approved" by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice.  Wahoo!  What we didn't expect was that the "6 months to complete your paperwork" changed.  We were given more time.  Instead of 6 months from the Letter of Intent (June), it was now 6 months from this pre-approval.  So this gives us til February.  Which, has become a blessing because 1) we still don't have our homestudy 2) we have not applied for immigration approval which could take 3 months to process and approve.  We were given more time.
We also received word in August that we would not be receiving anymore information on Mimi until we travel to visit her.  I do believe my heart broke when I read that email.  We are learning, in process, how vastly different this adoption is from AJ's.  It's given a whole new meaning to the word diversity in adoption. 

The logical explanation of this is:
When AJ was in the orphanage in Guatemala, the attorney who owned the orphanage was his guardian.  Therefore, it was her call as to what we received in regards to pictures, medical updates, etc.  I called the monthly pictures my 30-day fuel.  Most of the time, the pictures came monthly.  They made me cry and smile simultaneously.  They helped us feel connected to our son and gave us fuel to keep forging ahead.

In Bulgaria, the government is the guardian of orphaned children.  Information is released for referral purposes only.  When we visit her, we will spend time with her and her staff at the orphanage.  I am talking HOURS people, not a quick stop.  Hours over DAYS. They will observe us with Mimi.  We will get to ask all the questions I have saved on a word document that keeps growing in word count daily.  Until then, we treasure the information, pictures, and videos we have thus far.  They are precious and we know we are blessed to have so much information on her.  

Bulgarian's government guardianship is also the reason why we cannot share her with all of you.  This piece of her story is sometimes the hardest-in the moment.  She is so REAL.  I can assure you of that.  However, there is a piece that seems to be missing.  I'm not allowed to send her photos to have them printed anywhere.  Tomorrow will include a trip to Target to purchase a new color cartridge for the printer in the closet.  She's in our hearts, so she's going to be on our walls.

And, as if this needed a cherry, we are not allowed to send her a care package.  I had prayed for the right song to sing into some stuffed animal so that she could hear my voice.  The word "hear" holds such meaning to both of us for so many reasons.  When AJ was in Guatemala, we were allowed to send him a care package.  One.gallon.ziploc.bag. Somehow, I shoved a baby photos album, rattle, onesies (plural), and a lot more into that bag.  I was hoping for, at the very least, the ziploc experience again.  When I asked the question, I knew the answer.  But my heart still needed confirmation. Stupid heart.

While in the midst of our homestudy requirements we were required to complete a certain number of hours of adoption education/training.  This process rocked both Jer and I.  We heard a lot we already knew, have, and continue to experience.  But we also learned a lot that made us go, "Ohhhhhhhhhh!"  It caused a lion in me to awake and process some feelings regarding AJ's attachment process and how it has gone well, had its struggles, and how it still continues, 6 years post-adoption.  AJ came home at chronological age 13 months-assumed age due to orphanage care 7/8 months-arrived home and evaluated at a newborn level.   Mimi is most certainly not going to be at any of those stages.  She is a toddler.  And that, well that makes me ache for her.  No child should spend the bulk of their early years, ANY YEARS, in an orphanage.  I digress...

I am processing feelings of knowing full well this precious love, whom we love already, will probably not love us at first sight.  She might hate us.  

She will push us away.  Of this I am certain.

She will go through trauma of leaving the only thing she's ever known besides a hospital and doctor's visits and be thrust in the arms of this weepy loving couple who want to dote on her.  Dote, shmote.  The reaction begins quickly.  AJ reacted, and so will she.  The grieving begins sooner than later.

And the only thing I can do, half-way across the world is pray for her sweet soul.  Don't misunderstand me, prayer is POWER. But my Mama heart wants to pray with her living, breathing sweet being in my arms.  

When things are quiet, motionless, and even stagnant in this process, it is so easy to become discouraged.  To question.  To lose faith.  To ask the question-why are we doing this?

And then I remember that this was no accident.  I had a conversation with God telling him I was putting our family's future in his hands and the next morning my husband woke up and said he was ready to adopt again.  Days after announcing our adoption plans we receive a referral.  I create a puzzle fundraiser, the first of many fundraising ventures to bring our baby girl home, staring at the screen, terrified to hit "POST".  I do, and God provides through our amazing family and friends.

We are waiting.  While that is incredibly hard, He is building strength in us while we wait.  Perhaps this quiet time is to encourage us to cherish this time as a family of 3.  Perhaps it is to prepare AJ, as best we can, for his world and our world to be rocked when we become a family of 4.  Perhaps its to give us time to prepare Mimi's bedroom as it is now a requirement for our dossier to have photos of her completed, ready-for-her room.  Perhaps its to allow us time to gather the funds needed to bring our precious girl home.

Even though my heart doesn't want to wait, I know it is with purpose that we wait.

**Mimi has her own playlist-some of you have been asking me what's "on" her playlist thus far, I've posted it in the right sidebar.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dear Baby Girl ~ August 2013

Dear Baby Girl,

Today was a quiet one. No emails from either agency, no paperwork screaming with immediacy, nothing to pickup or drop off.

Sometimes, these days are harder than the chaotic ones.  On these days your mama has a chance to breath, therefore losing the adrenaline that has fueled the last few days.  Days or weeks.

You feel so incredibly far away.  I know for our wonderful readers that statement must sound absolutely insane, but it is so very true.  It pains me and your daddy that we are not able to share you yet.  There are rules, regulations, governments, and legalities.  My heart doesn't want to hear anything about legal-schmegal. We've seen your sweet face, your beautiful being.  We've seen you in your element, and heard your infectious giggle.  Oh, how I wish we could share you!

Your big brother and I watched your videos again today.  Each time he becomes more and more familiar with what we are watching.  It is so incredible to watch him connect with you.  I turn the volume up so not only your brother hears you, but your furry siblings too.  I look at every single detail in your pictures and videos.  Where things are, how many straps are on your shoes, and what colors you are surrounded by.  When we first learned about your brother, I memorized the colors of the mats in the first picture we received.  I'm memorizing your story too, sweet girl.

I listened to some Bulgarian language learners today.  Oh, nelly.   Your mama and daddy have a lot of work to do.  I know you are understanding and responding to Bulgarian, so we need to get on the ball.

We our dosssier requirements yesterday.  Holy coconuts.  Do you know what a coconut is?  We'll teach you.  Anyhow, when you are older, I will explain this all to you.  And we will make copies of the papers and color/paint/put stickers all over them and make them look pretty.  Yes we will.  Because the anticipation of experiencing that moment, and some many other moments with you is what keeps us moving forward.

There is something about filling out all of this paperwork. The whiplash from hurry, hurry, rush, rush to being stopped dead in your tracks. It wears on you.  It digs deep.  It's almost as if we are being second-guessed, constantly. But we are ready.  We are ready for you and will do whatever we need to bring you home!

Your room is slowly coming together.  We've chosen a paint color (Misty Aqua) and have found a toddler bed for you.  Your room is very Weasley.  That's a tip to Harry Potter.  Harry Who?  I will explain this to you too.  Did you know the adoption authority in your home country is called the Ministry of Justice?   It is. Mama giggles whenever she hears someone say  "The Ministry..." because it reminds her of Harry Potter. I wanted your room to be warm, cozy, and cottage-like.  That is what it shall be.  The perfect shelf was hand-delivered, as was an adorable toy box.  Grandma found a glider and we found this beautiful fabric for it....

The time of day has changed around here...when asked what time it is, we now state the current time along with:  it's x:xx in Sofia.  This helps guide our thoughts as to what you are doing.  Are you outside?  Are you napping?  Are you eating?  Are you playing with your favorite things?  Do you sleep with a favorite toy or blankey?  What did you have for lunch today?  What songs do they sing to you?  What's your favorite book?  Who is your favorite caregiver?

All these questions.  With no solid answers.  But they will come, I know they will.  For now, I stay addicted to my phone, checking my email what seems like every 3 seconds.  Making sure my ringer is on and not on vibrate.  I'm praying for so many things. This all going so fast and not fast enough all at the same time.

I see you everywhere.  Every nook and cranny of trouble your brother gets into, I know that all too soon you will be right with him.  I see a photo of children holding hands now and weep.  Uncontrollably. You are the greatest all of us.

I hope you can feel how loved you are.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Loving Her

There are many things about the adoption process that bug me.  Many.  Perhaps the reason they are weighing on me now is because we are in the thick of it and I am seriously overwhelmed. 

What has bothered me the most recently is the polar opposite reaction to Mimi and her special needs. 

I have heard things you would never, ever, ever ask a pregnant woman.  For all intensive purposes, we are pregnant, people.  Except we have no due date.  And are dealing with three different governments. But its kinda the same. Just imagine a bucket of paper in front of my tummy if that helps give you a visual.  Except, no we aren’t pregnant.  So this makes it a bit abstract, doesn’t it. 

The most common question, “If you get there and she has more than they’ve shared, will you say no?  You can say no, right?”

I’ve answered the question matter-of-factly with “Yes, if it’s not a good match, we can say no.”  It is truth that is a possibility if you are looking at this through a sterile lens of insensitivity.  We have the option, per our rights as adoptive parents in this process and how Bulgaria’s program works, we can say no.

But we won’t.
And we don’t want to.
We will not say no.

And please, please, please, I ain’t too proud to beg, please stop asking me this.

Because when you do, you forget that this is my daughter you are talking about.   You are turning her into a “headache” rather than the gentle human life she is.  She is a real person, with a heart,  and feelings, and a longing for a family that she probably doesn’t even realize is within her. 

Remember my Perfect post?  Yes.  I do believe this was my introduction of Mimi to all of you without me knowing at the time.

Imagine being handed a checklist.  A checklist in which you choose the type of child you are open to.  You can have all the medical technology in the world, the miracle of human life is that there are always surprises.  Beautiful, expected, unexpected, and sad.  They still exist.  When a woman births a child, she does not hand that child over simply because she has a birthmark.  She does not say no to that child when he or she is diagnosed with a childhood cancer.  We just don’t do that.  We do not deny children families and love because of their diagnoses-whenever they are given.

So why is it different in adoption?  There is such a dumb, for lack of a better word, assumption that you get to choose your child in adoption.  Therefore it is easier?  Haha, um, no.  I find this round, with knowing the child’s needs upfront, much more difficult. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that we didn’t think long and hard about what medical needs we felt we’d be able to parent.  We did.  We thought long and hard and knew it would be a big concern for our social worker and agencies as to how we would hand X, Y, or Z.  But how do you handle things in life?  You either handle them or you don’t.  Fight or Flight?  We are fighting people.

I almost feel selfish being able to fill out ye ‘ol medical needs checklist.  Will you accept this?  Will you accept this? 

I have a deep love for this child.  Visceral. Did you feel that when your child was growing in your womb?  I bet you did.  I feel it too-in my heart.  Love is unconditional, isn’t it?  I have grieved for this child.  Oh, have I grieved.  Reading your child was abandoned is something you can’t quite describe.  I grieved for her the day we accepted her referral. I cried and literally shook for her.  I listened to this song, and this song, texted my dear, close mama friends, and prayed like I’ve never prayed before.   The phone call came with the question of our decision, and we stepped out on the edge.

I grieved the same for AJ, except I was a wreck in the midst of his doctor's appointments, therapies, and bonding. We came in on the back road, detour, dirt road, alleyway, when it came to AJ.  We had no idea what we were in for.  And now here we are, with this amazing little boy who has taught us more than you could ever imagine.  We will love this little girl for who she is.  Plain and simple.

No, I’m not sure how the logistics will work having AJ’s needs and Mimi’s needs together under one roof.  Right now, we are focusing our attention on AJ and doing everything we can to get his little sister home.  I have no doubt it will be difficult.  I also have no doubt it will be the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced in my thirty-some years thus far.  I know that with AJ things got better and better. We’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel with AJ.  I can’t wait to see him holding his little sister’s hand at the end of her tunnel.  HE makes all things possible. I can only imagine the possibilities when she’s home and growing into the young lady she is destined to be. 

Rila Mountains-Bulgaria

What's Next?

That is the big question these days.  We are 95% done with our homestudy (all items below with an * are forms that have been completed and submitted already).  Once the last few forms come in, our social worker can write up the big report and send it off to our placement agency.  We'll have a copy too, so that I can begin applying for adoption grants and scholarships.  We will also begin working on our dossier requirements.  The dossier is the big kahuna.  It is the BIG packet of paper that is sent off to Bulgaria.  It includes our homestudy as well as other documentation that is required to be part of the dossier.  Our dossier MUST be in Bulgaria by the end of November.

So, say it with me "They are finishing this homestudy thingy, applying for grants, and working on another bunch of paper."


Since so many have is a breakdown of what is required for the homestudy:

*Interview(s) with your social worker, one of which is counted as the “home visit” where she comes to your home and rummages through your stuff---no, not really, but it feels like that!

*Adoption Application and Fee
*Supplemental Form (I do not do drugs, I do not have a history of bad things, etc)
*Adoption Study and Fee Contract
*State Criminal History Check
*State Driver’s License Record Check
*Background Information Disclosure
*Consent for Disclosure of Confidential Information
*Local Police Criminal Record Check
Adoptive Parent Health Report
*Child’s Health Report
*Health Insurance Verification (will your health insurance cover the adopted child?)
*Certified copies of birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, and death certs of former spouse
*Federal Income Tax Form
*Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth Form
*Three letters of reference
*Autobiographies for each parent
*Pre-Adoption Education/Training-18 hours required for Hague Convention countries *Bulgaria IS
*General Safety and Fire Protection Plan
*Vehicle and Homeowner’s Insurance Verification

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's the Word Bird?

Oh I am so overdue for an update.

Things have been a wee bit crazy around here!  I'm feeling a bit like a whackadoodle!!

So here's the best way I can explain this:

Apply and complete application for homestudy agency (your local agency)
Complete homestudy (a big packet o' paper about your family)
Apply and complete application for placement agency (they actually have the program in your country)
Complete dossier (the big 'ol packet of paper that gets sent to your country of choice)
Dossier arrives in said country
Dossier is reviewed, translated, and logged in to the adoption authorities
Referral of child
Acceptance of Referral
More paperwork and waiting
Travel to visit (most countries now require 2 trips, one visit, one pick-up)
Travel to pick-up child

Call your social worker at your homestudy agency and say "We're ready to do this again!"

See how whackadoodle this is?!

Here's a peek at our timeline:

March 17th-Officially decided to adopt again
March 17th-25th Explored and prayed over all adoption options (domestic, international, foster)
April 27th-Reviewed country choices for our first placement agency of choice, All God's Children International (AGCI) in Oregon
April 28th-Submitted free pre-application for All God's Children International-chose the Philippines
May 1st- Began working on gathering medical letters in support of Jeremy's stable health
May 2nd-Touch base with our homestudy agency Special Children Inc. (SCI)
May 7th-Jeremy's personal medical letter sent to AGCI
May 14th-Confirmation-alll medical letters have arrived at AGCI, approved by social services department, but still encouraged to choose another country-we choose Bulgaria
May 31st-Touch base again with SCI
June 7th-Phone call with Deb, our social worker/case worker at SCI (we used her with AJ's adoption too!)
June 8th-(Our Anniversary) SCI Homestudy Packet arrives
June 14th-Announce to family and friends we are adopting again!
June 20th-Creation of our Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser on GoFundMe
June 20th-First puzzle piece donation made!
June 20th-Submitted formal application and fee to AGCI
June 21st-Received initial call about a little girl in Bulgaria who needs a home through another placement agency-Americans for International Aid and Adoption (AIAA) in Michigan
June 24th-Received official referral information for Mimi
June 25th-Submission of referral documents to pediatrician, ophthlamologist, University of Minnesota International Adoption Clinic, PT, SLP, and Vision Specialist
June 27th-Accepted Mimi's referral
June 27th-Letter of Intent specific to Mimi signed and notarized
June 28th-(AJ's birthday) Announced Mimi's referral publicly
June 28th-Mailed Letter of Intent to Secretary of State in Madison, WI to be apostilled
July 3rd-Received apostilled Letter of Intent from Madison
July 5th-Mailed apostilled Letter of Intent to AIAA
July 5th-AIAA Packet with Formal Application arrives
July 8th-Letter of Intent is received at AIAA
July 19th-Confirmation that Letter of Intent is in Bulgaria with the translator
July 23rd-SCI Homestudy visit/75% of required documents, including formal application and fee are submitted
July 25-27th-Operation Mimi Rummage!
July 25th-Formal application, fee, and other forms sent to AIAA
July 30th-Officially place our application on indefinite hold with AGCI and inform them of Mimi and AIAA
July 30th-Confirmation from AIAA that Letter of Intent is at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in Bulgaria
July 30th-MOJ requests POA, Declaration, and Personal Statement to be completed and submitted ASAP
Homestudy report completed
Apply for adoption grants and scholarships
Dossier packet arrives from AIAA
I-800 Apply to USCIS for Immigration Approval & Obtain Fingerprinting Appointment
Wine/Beer Tasting & Silent Auction Fundraiser
Wait on immigration approval I-171H

Dossier put together
NOVEMBER AT THE LATEST-Dossier sent to Bulgaria
Dossier logged in at the Ministry of Justice (takes 2-4 weeks from arrival)
Travel to visit
One month lapses
Travel again to pick-up-Mimi!

Other updates:
We are just short of 200 pieces of our puzzle being claimed!  Wahoo!  Jeremy and I so enjoyed documenting our puzzle peeps on the back of each piece when the first hundred were claimed!  We're excited for the next hundred....

Our rummage was wildly successful!  We had three days of Operation Mimi full steam ahead.  Thursday was our best day, with the rain putting a damper on Friday and Saturday being football weather.  We sent Jeremy for hot chocolate it was so cold.  Thank you to EVERYONE who donated, brought tables, made simply sinful baked goods, and prayed over our rummage and our baby girl!  We are blessed.  I will post soon about the most humbling experience I've had since we were in Guatemala picking up AJ.  It's a doosie.

You'll notice some new features on the blog on our right sidebar...we've added time and weather widgets for Sofia, Bulgaria.  It's always nice to know when Mimi's having a sunny day.  We've also added the timeclocks for when we both finish looking forward to zeros on those clocks!

So that's the word bird.  We'll be sure to update everyone as things proceed.  That is the beauty of cut and paste, folks.  Yes.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you...

I Chronicles 28:20

Friday, July 12, 2013

An Ode to the Photog

I’ve been walking around saying we’ve never had family photos before. Which is true, but not true.  We’ve had a few attempts, but nothing solid.

A few days after AJ came home, I attempted to take some photos of him.  I cried, and cried, and cried.  He could not sit up, he fell asleep.  I wanted to see those big brown eyes.  I couldn’t make him laugh.  I took some photos of him lying on our guest bed.  Looking, back they certainly look like newborn photos.  He was that small and that precious.  Despite this, no one really cared for those photos.  It broke my heart.  Something was wrong already, and I couldn’t even get a cute picture of my baby boy.

The following spring we attended an event for Wisconsin families that have adopted from Latin America.  They offered a photographer during the event, so we thought we’d try.  Things were great, until we told the photog and her assistant that AJ was deaf.  She immediately panicked, as did her assistant. As if we weren’t already nervous and anxious already, their reactions just made it a whole lot worse.

I remember sitting on the stool, posing a fake smile, while AJ was sliding down my lap losing it.  If she shook that Elmo any harder his eyes were going to pop out.  I felt tears welling in my eyes.  My one eye stung terribly and held a blood spot from the cancer drug that had been injected into my eye the previous day (no cancer, just a brilliant person figured out a specific drug usually used for cancer patients worked for my condition).  “You know, not all children are perfect” my heart screamed! 

Taking him to a studio is just out.of.the.question.  That's all I'll say about that.

Later that summer, we had a photog come to our house to shoot family photos.  She came, early in the morning and, well...that too was a disaster.  The mosquitoes were terrible and bit every inch of our bodies.  She couldn’t get him to turn and look.  She had no idea what to do with him.  We paid a ridiculous amount of money for a whole lotta nothin’.  Out of those pictures, one was precious enough to print.  One.  Not one of them showed his sweet grin. 

After those experiences, I vowed to take AJ’s photos myself.  He’s not easy to catch much less encourage to smile when you’ve got a camera in your hand.  I thought we’d never have family photos.  Which may not be a big deal to some, but for me, it was heart-breaking.  I think I did ok, considering how difficult it is to take his picture.  There were always pictures of AJ with one or the other of us, but never us as a family.  As he’s gotten older, there have been more attempts, but nothing solid.  How’s that for candid (pun intended)?

When I began thinking about his birthday party this year, I thought it would be fantastic to have someone else take pictures.  Someone whose sole job that day was to capture the day’s events.  So, I asked a friend’s husband, who had ironically just gone public with his media company, to take photos.  Praise heaven he obliged. 

I have never, never, never been around such a patient photog.   Several kiddos at AJ’s party had special needs.  He captured everyone, beautifully.  I have never seen so many pictures of my son smiling.  Grinning.  Cheesing it up.  We got a family photo-with my sweet hubby in a pirate hat.  Who knew men could look sexy in a kid’s pirate hat.  I digress…

The photos were incredible.  I was less stressed and thrilled he got every shot we requested. 

So when our placement adoption agency emailed and said, “Please send family photos with the hard copy of your letter.  They cannot be casual photos”, I panicked…and then emailed our photog.

With just a day’s notice, he took on our request.  We met at a park and he took some INCREDIBLE shots of our family.  AJ’s curiosity and contentment were center stage, we just followed his lead.  I have never seen anyone so patient with a kiddo and photographs-much less a kiddo that can’t always hear you, er-chooses not to hear you sometimes, wanders off in the middle of shots, won’t sit still for 2 seconds, and makes candid shots a running sport.  He captured AJ in his element.  We took many photos without him smiling, but the sweetness behind the candid snips of time shows and that is what matters.  He did smile, and giggle, and we enjoyed every minute of the shoot.   If you are waiting to take family photos, for any reason, don’t.  Go for it. Capture the here and now and leave the perfect in the dust.   I promise you won’t regret it.

To top it all off, our photog brought some prints and our photos disc over the same night so that we’d be able to sleep knowing I wouldn’t have to run and get prints made the next morning to send to Bulgaria. 

We’ve said thank you a thousand times, but Mike-we really hope you get the picture as to how talented you are and how that talent has impacted our lives….and the life of our future daughter.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Constant Learning

This summer has so far been the most "normal" summer we've ever experienced.  It's full of popsicles and sprinkler fun, sandy feet and sunscreen.  It is everything I wanted in those early years with AJ.

Those days when we were waking up and doing back-to-back-to-back therapies.  One summer we ventured outside for his PT session.  I just about passed out.  He was ready to use his skills in a natural environment outside the house.  I whined about the therapies, the work, the constant "do this, do this, do this".  Summer was hard, with photos of other people's children doing those "normal" things while I was fighting insurances and scheduling constant therapy sessions.  

I'm glad we had that period of time.  What a labor of love.  

When his school team first told me he would not have ESY this year, I thought they were joking.  Indeed, he is attending ESY (things always change in AJ Land).  However, he's remembering verbal prompts such as "let's go to school", "let's go bye-bye", and the ever famous "where are mommy's shoes?".  He shows me a mega-killowatt smile when I pull up school on his iPad.  And when his short session of ESY is over, he has no problem leaving.  

He's quicker to adapt to changing environments and schedules.  This-is a huge step.  HUGE.  

It is a very, very strange feeling to not be running to therapies constantly.  Still.  And we've been out of the constant therapy world for over a year now.  He has done so well, and made so much progress, much due to the intense bouts we did when he was younger.

Never fear we are still in the constant learning phase. Mostly, I find we are working on social and feeding skills.  AJ is perfectly capable of using a fork, spoon, or spork with finesse.  Well, as much finesse as a child can have at his age. Despite his learned skill, we are back to battling utensil use.  We're also working on not just grabbing other people's food, or plates, and not dumping our cups of liquid.  I swear this kid has go-go-gadget arms.  Holy cats.  

Social wise, we are working on reminding him of the proper way to greet someone.  His preferred method currently consists of pulling your hair, grabbing your glasses, and laughing hysterically.  When he gets excited or feels uncomfortable or doesn't know what is expected of him, these behaviors come out.  In the last few weeks I've had two little girls come up to me and tell me "he pinched me".  My heart sinks and I say, "I'm sorry.  He really didn't mean it."  We are so blessed and fortunate to be an example of acceptance that this type of things sends me into a sad panic.  I start to worry if that kiddo told her parents and how they will react.  And then what do I say to them? I don't want to make excuses for AJ, but what do I say? I really struggle with this piece of teaching my child manners. It is such a hard place to be with not completely being sure as to what he understands.  

And then he does things like grabbing an apple and starts munching on it.  Holy use of all the feeding skills we've been working on.  He's gaining social skills by interaction with his puppy.  Constant learning, constant change.

We are constantly working on helping AJ learn.  And this summer, we're doing it with popsicles and fun.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hats and Stillness

Yesterday morning I found myself abundantly thankful that we are not first-time adoptive parents.

If we were, I do believe we might have wimped out by now.

And we're just getting started.

There is this little document called the Letter of Intent which needs to be filed in Bulgaria to officially put our daughter on hold.  I sent the letter to the Secretary of State's office in our state's capital to be apostilled.  It was supposed to arrive on Monday, yet as of yesterday we didn't have it.

.   I began focusing on this verse:

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still"
Exodus 14:14

I felt like I was spinning. There is absolutely nothing we could do be sit and be still...and wait.  I could not force the post office to deliver the letter we are waiting on.  I couldn't do a thing.  That feeling was and IS very, very hard to stomach.  With the 4th of July holiday looming,  getting this letter to our agency and then to Bulgaria was becoming a faster race.  I let go, and thought, I need to just be still and let what is going to happen...happen.

This morning our older dog was going absolutely bonkers barking.  I figured he was barking at the workers who were doing some utility work in our yard.  On a hunch, I went to the front door.  There, stuck in the corner of the mailbox was a peach card.  I had missed the delivery of the apostilled letter.  There was no doorbell.  No knock.  Nothing.  The utility workers told me the guy just wrote out the card and left.


I marched into the post office and was intercepted by a sweet gentleman who directed me to a delivery manager right away.  She met me after business hours to ensure I had the letter.  It will be mailed to our agency on Friday and arrive in Bulgaria early next week.  We've been told this is just fine.


I don't understand this.  We were totally in control with AJ's adoption.  Hahahaha. I should say, we thought we were.  Some things about this adoption are old hat, while others are definitely new hat.

I am so thankful we had the experience we did with AJ.  While nothing is every carbon copy, I found familiarity in reading through our homestudy requirements, IR-3 versus IR-4's and on and on.  I knew what apostille meant when it was requested.  We already have our passports.  I can tell you the difference between homestudy and placement agency.  So much we've experienced is transferring to adoption process #2.

And yet, there is so much new hat.

The first hat being our faith.  When we adopted AJ, our faith was run of the mill.  Stale.  Cookie-cutter.  I don't remember praying during his adoption process.  Maybe I did.  But I don't remember.  I remember feeling angry with God for allowing our process to go sour.  We steered clear of church for years.  Why did He give us this child with special needs?

It's taken years, but we know the answer. And we thank Him daily for the blessing AJ has been since the moment he entered our hearts.  We are trusting in Him and drawing on our faith to carry us through this process. We were not expecting to experience the feelings we've experienced in the last two weeks until much later in the process.  God changed the game.  Ok, so you've got this referral now.  Do you trust me now? The post-office is going to screw up...Do you trust me know?

And a daughter.  A daughter.  If you know our family, you know that on my husband's side there hasn't been a girl in the family for 30 years.  Before that, 75 years.  The standing joke is that Jeremy's family just doesn't have girls.  We'll I guess we're breaking that mold too.

A few hours before we accepted her referral, I was explaining to a friend that I had been in contact with our school district, asking questions and wondering what services were available for her when she comes home. She said, "This sound so official already".  It was then that I realized I was advocating for my baby girl. Already.  And I haven't even met her yet.  The experience and knowledge gained from being AJ's Momma is transferring into early advocacy for our daughter.  Precious.

Today, while I was still and waiting, mountains were moved.  I got an email saying someone had clothes for us for Mimi.  I received news that the blind support group my in-laws work with donated to our puzzle fundraiser, as did several others very unexpectedly.  Jeremy called with a lead on new babysitters.  I got the message that the letter was ready to be picked up.

Be still.  And watch Him move.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Conversation

We have a referral!


Yes, a referral.  For a little girl in Bulgaria.

But Heidi, you just started the adoption process.


The last week has been an absolute whirlwind...but let's start at the beginning, with the conversation that changed it all.

H: Me
D: Our social worker at our homestudy agency
Place in time: The day we posted our adoption puzzle fundraiser on Facebook

D: Hi Heidi.
H: Hi D.  (Thinking why is she calling me...with another question of some sort?)

D: So, we received an email from another agency.  They are looking for a family for this litte girl.
H: Ok. (Still not getting the picture)

D: The have a short deadline.  They need to find her a family in the next week or she goes back into the adoption system.  They are asking cooperating agencies if any of their families are interested.
H: What?!

D: Here is some general information about her....
H: Uh huh. Uh huh.  Writing furiously on our writey board.

D: Now, where are you with the other agency?
H: I explain.  Not.that.far. Except I just sent in our formal application...with the fee.

D: I have to warn you, this agency is very conservative as to what type of families they will accept.
H: Translation-they may not accept us due to Jer's medical whoo-ha.

D: It is a possibility.  Let me see if I can get more information for you.  In the meantime, I will let them know you are potentially interested. Sound good?
H: Ooooookey dok.

Click. "Jer!!!!!!"

I stare at all of the scribbles on our writey board and our patio table...which has glass tiles...because I ran out of room on the writey board.

The next day our conversation continues:

D: I was able to obtain more information.  She continues on....
H: I squash more writing inbetween the previous days scribbling on our writey board.  I ask questions as she spits out more and more information.

D: Are you still interested?
H: Yes!

D: Let's have you send the medical letters you obtained for Jeremy to me and I will forward them to the agency.
H: I can do that.

D: The director has already asked to see your old homestudy.
H: Holy cannoli.

D: I will let you know what they say.
H: Ok!

Three days later...

I get an email:

D: Here is the referral information.  Please let me know ASAP if you are interested and would like to proceed. See attachments.
H: Is she joking?  I emailed her back before opening anything and asked, "Are they (the agency) ok with us?" or...

D: They are open to you!

H: (Tick, tick, tick).  Do I open the attachments.  Do I not?  I decided to open her general medical information first.  This is what a Mama looks like when she reads the word "abandoned" on her child's referral:

I am the world's ugliest crier-but I really wanted to capture my emotion.  I started to shake.
Jeremy called just as I was opening her photos and videos.  I was instantly reminded of the moment we received AJ's referral.  I opened one picture first and then watched her "live" in a video.
I read the rest of her reports.  I watched all of the videos and the picture slideshow over and over and over. Is this really happening?  AJ had passed out on the guest bed, so I had some time let this marinate.

D: Call the agency directly and speak to M.  She will tell you the next steps.
H: (Shaking). Ok.

M: Hello Heidi!  I'm so glad to finally talk to you!  You and Jeremy have such expertise and such experience.
H: Why thank you.

M: What I want you to do is think this all over.  You know the ropes.  Take her information and share with doctors, specialists, etc.  Then let me know your decision.
H: I will do so.  I know she was referred to another family-why didn't that work out?

M: She explains...
H: My heart aches for this family.
M: So glad we touched base!
H: Me too.  This is CRAZY.


If you are familiar with international adoption at all, you know this is not the typical process.

Apply to your agency or agencies
Completely homestudy
Work on dossier
Dossier is sent to country

Our experience:
Announce we are adopting
A week later-REFERRAL

Only One can make this possible.

After a week of running around like a chicken (I had forgotten how much running around you do!) and taking fun pictures like these, I we knew a decision had to be made.

AJ carrying his little sister's referral infomation
to the pediatrician's office.

AJ at our homestudy agency-where his own journey began.

On Friday I got a call from M.  They needed a decision.  We made the decision to accept her referral.  God is good.  He is faithful.  He is carrying us on this crazy joy ride.  She was meant to be ours and we were meant to be her forever family.

Conversations can be meaningful; but in this case?

These conversations were life-changing....

He makes ALL things possible.

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