Monday, April 26, 2010

Hague Convention online education completed!

I finished up my 8 hours of online education required by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption today and received my certification via e-mail only a few minutes later. I have been periodically working on the online training, which consisted of videos and lots of required reading, since last Wednesday night. The training was very helpful and included information from pediatricians who work in international adoption clinics here in the U.S. and other professionals involved in the adoption process. I felt the training was very honest in regard to what adoptive parents of international children should expect before, during and after the adoption process.

Rob and I are also required to attend several training sessions at our adoption agency, and those begin next week. I am hopeful that Rob and I can wind up the last bit of our home study paperwork prior to the training sessions next so that we will be ready for the home visits by our social worker to begin. Rob is trying to finish his family survey, a ten page questionnaire required by our agency, this evening and begin his Hague online education courses tomorrow. We still have a few more documents to pick up from varying places as well and get them turned into our agency hopefully by the end of the week.

As many families who choose international adoption will tell you, there are always unexpected delays or hiccups along the way. We experienced a few of those recently. The first problem happened with our criminal background checks. The police department inadvertently put Rob's information on my form and my information on his form. Luckily, this mix-up was easy to fix and involved filling out the same forms again and getting the police department to fill out their portions correctly this time.

The second hiccup will not be so easy to remedy, but we are hoping that it will be corrected as soon as possible since we are nearing the dossier portion of our adoption journey. The second mix-up came only minutes after we received Rob's long awaited passport in the mail. Initially, we were very excited to receive his passport so quickly...it had only been about four weeks since he had applied. However, after a brief inspection of the passport, Rob realized that the State Department had misspelled our last name. Even with a certified copy of his birth certificate, a color copy of his driver license and his passport application (all with the correct spelling), the State Department managed to drop the second "c" in our last name. Anyone who has ever gone through an international adoption understands how vital it is to have this mistake fixed quickly since any error on any document can have your dossier rejected. Also, I imagine that Rob would not even be allowed on the plane to Bulgaria if this error was not corrected. At any rate, Rob awoke early the next morning and called the State Department office almost as soon as it opened. A nice woman on the other end of the phone asked if we could pay $60.00 to have the process of correction expedited since we needed the passport long before our actual travel date. Really...you made the error and we are supposed to pay $60.00 for you to fix it quickly? Rob was then asked how far we are from Miami so that we might drive there to fix the passport....only about 800 or so miles. At any rate, we are now left to send the incorrect passport back with a new form filled out detailing the error by express mail and hope for the best. My passport has yet to come in the mail so we are praying that the same error is not duplicated on my passport.

But, the good news is that we are farther along in the process than we were a week ago, and tomorrow we will be farther still. Thoughts and dreams of our little boy continue to push us onward. We keep his picture on our computer desktop to remind us of why we are working so hard. It's all for you my sweet precious boy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What would you give up?

As many of you know, I had a yard sale a couple of weeks ago to help raise money for our adoption. What you may not know is how much some of the things that I sold had previously meant to me or my husband...please note that I said previously. In the yard sale, I sold my daughter's solid cherry crib. I had hoped some day to use it for our next child, and then give it to our daughter later for her children, but my precious little boy will be too big for this crib by the time we get home from Bulgaria. And, our daughter (who is only seven) may want to buy her own crib for her children years from now.

Rob sold a large case of his music CDs. Yes, he has almost all of the music on his iPod, but as any serious music enthusiast knows (think John Cusack in "High Fidelity") there is more clarity and better sound quality on a CD than can be found on a digital version of a song downloaded from iTunes. After he sold the case of CDs, he looked at me and said, "There was some great music in those CDs." I then asked him, knowing how much they meant to him, why he sold them. He simply replied, "Anything for our son."

Yes, indeed...anything for our son. This last week Rob canceled our vacation to Sanibel Island in Florida that was scheduled for the first week of August. Our deposit check for the condo on the beach is on its way back to be deposited into the account that we opened for our adoption. We had also planned to take our daughter for her first trip to Disney while we were in Sanibel since Orlando is only a couple of hours away. When I told her that we would not be going to the beach or Disney this year, I really expected her to be a little upset. She has been talking about Disney and the beach for months. Instead, my little seven year old eternal optimist said, "It's okay Mommy. We can go to Disney and the beach next year when it's the four of us." Yes, we will my sweet girl.

There are other things that we have had to give up over the last few months, and there will be many more things to come over the months as our adoption journey continues. Rob is taking on more hours teaching at his second job. I am clipping more coupons and being more frugal with the grocery budget. Our daughter is realizing that she can't always have a new book every time we go to the book store. We are making changes that become more and more comfortable as we continue. After all, most of the things we have given up are just stuff. It can all be replaced ...or not. What our family has realized is that nothing is more important than bringing home the other member of our family. We are not whole until our son who is that missing piece is home.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tasty treats for a good cause

Today, my company for which I have worked for the last fifteen years is showing once again what a giving and caring bunch of people work in our office. The company is holding a bake sale as a fundraiser to help bring our little boy home. It is actually one of three fundraisers that they plan on holding during the next month. In terms of the number of employees at the company (we have around 75), we may be small, but the people at my company have huge hearts! The company is also allowing employees who would like to help in other ways to donate a portion of their leave time to me which is an absolutely amazing gift that has brought me to tears. Our adoption agency requires me to be off at least three months after we bring our son home, and even though I accrue four weeks of vacation a year it will not be enough after two trips to Bulgaria. All Rob and I can say is may God bless each and every one of you for your generosity and from the bottom of our hearts...Thank You!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Checking off the list

The last week has been a whirlwind of activity as we continue checking things off the list in regard to our home study requirements and paperwork. Rob and I both had our psychological evaluations done last week, which is required by our adoption agency, and we both had our criminal background checks done at the police station on Friday. This week, we will be having our physicals and completing our medical letters for the home study and dossier. I am a little excited about actually completing something for our dossier even though I am not looking forward to having to get the documents notarized, certified and apostilled. But, as I have said many times before, we will do anything for our little boy!

We had a yard sale at our house on Saturday to help raise funds for the adoption. It was absolutely the best yard sale that I have ever had in terms of turn out and sales. I also got to meet several of our new neighbors who were all very nice and very excited to hear about our adoption. I even met several people that day who were adopting or had adopted internationally from different countries. Amazing!

Speaking of amazing, that was my mother-in-law Sherry this last weekend. Sherry came to our house on Friday night and helped me get ready for the yard sale by pricing items and getting the tables ready. And, on the day of the sale, she helped take care of all the people purchasing items from us. If I had been alone, I would have been overwhelmed. Sherry has been so supportive of our choice to adopt from the very beginning, and she is very excited about meeting her new grandson. I am always happy to talk to her about our adoption.

I am finding through this journey that the word "adoption" is so powerful. This seemingly simple word has such meaning for so many people. It binds people together who have had similar experiences in their search to have a child, and it brings people together by opening the hearts of all of those who hear their stories. It is a word that in its very utterance conjures up so many feelings and emotions. It is a word that is full of so many possibilities. Our possibility...today, we are a happy famiy of three, but through adoption we will soon be a happy family of four.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Through the eyes of his big sister

Our daughter, Julia, who is seven years old is so excited about finally becoming a big sister. She tells everyone that she meets about her baby brother living in Bulgaria and about how she will travel with her mom and dad on a large airplane over the ocean to meet him. Last night, we went to church, and she took her brother's picture with her to her Bible class. She wanted to tell her teachers and her friends all about the new addition to our family.

Julia is also an amazingly giving little girl who often thinks of others before herself. A couple of weeks ago she came to me with the money in her piggy bank and said that she wanted to give it to me. I asked her why and before she answered, I thought it was probably to buy a new Zhu Zhu pet. Instead, she told me that she wanted me to put it into the adoption account that Rob and I had opened so that we could bring her baby brother home quicker. How sweet! So, on the next day, I took her to our bank and let her deposit her money into the adoption account.

Julia is also an eternal optimist. The glass is always half full with her, and I am thankful and blessed by her view of life. Last Tuesday was our little boy's birthday, and I was a little sad that we could not be with him on that day. Julia patted my arm and said, "It's okay Mom. We will have plenty more birthdays with him." She then told me that she would like to eat some of her leftover birthday cake from a couple days previous in honor of her brother's birthday. Amazingly, the cake tasted so much sweeter the second time around.

Some day our little one will know how much his big sister loved him long before they ever met.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Love has no boundaries

As I was driving to work in downtown Nashville today, I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful my surroundings were. The sun was shining bright as far as the eye could see, and there seemed to be no place that that its light did not touch. The sky seemed to go on forever, like it was limitless. From the confines of my car, I pondered this marvel of creation., and I realized that love is limitless just like the azure blue sky spreading out before me. Love has no boundaries. Love can grow as tall and as wide as your heart is willing to let it. The only one who can put boundaries on love is me.

The day I realized that I could love any child, not just one that was conceived by me and my husband was the day that changed me forever. Life suddenly became full of so many possibilities, and I suddenly became open to them all. I feel like the Grinch in Dr. Seuss’ tale whose small heart grew three sizes one day as he stood on Mount Crumpit listening to the Whos down in Whoville singing.

So, here Rob and I are today, feverishly collecting the remaining documents for our homestudy, reading a travel book on the beautiful country of Bulgaria and its people, and I am trying to schedule my first online lesson in learning to speak Bulgarian. All of this we do because of the love for our son who is waiting for us across the ocean.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The beginning

Why did I pick Dreams That Move the Mountains as the title for my blog? Obviously, the title is in the lyrics of a Christian song by the band Kutless that I can't seem to get out of my head lately, but it is so much more than that. I listen to those lyrics, and I find myself in that song. I listen to those lyrics, and I find, my husband, Rob in that song. Our hearts have been broken, but now God is making them new. Silent prayers and many not so silent are finally being answered. We are now learning what faith can do.

You see, every day for almost three years, we have faithfully prayed for God to bless us with another child, yet I was unable to get pregnant. Every month was filled with heartache and disappointment once we would realize that yet again I was not pregnant. There were many doctors visits to determine what could be done, and we tried everything that was suggested to help us conceive a child. But, me getting pregnant was not God's plan for us.

Rob began talking to me about adoption in the spring of last year during a visit to the fertility clinic in Nashville. However, I was not on the same page yet. I still wanted to be pregnant. But, in the weeks that followed my heart would begin to soften, and God's plan slowly began revealing itself to me.

A few days after our last visit to the fertility clinic, we learned that I had Protein S Deficiency, which is a hereditary clotting disorder. Having Protein S Deficiency meant that I would need to be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life and that I would be an extremely high risk pregnancy. My OB who is always forthright (I appreciate this) told me in no uncertain terms that she would prefer me not to try to get pregnant and that if I did, I was risking leaving my daughter without a mother. This was a risk that I was not willing to take. So, the door closed gently and tearfully on that chapter of my life.

My heart was broken. I mourned what was not meant to be. A friend suggested that I subscribe to a newsletter on dealing with infertility that was written by Bethany Christian Services. So, I did. When I received the newsletter, I also received a packet on adoption. Through the months and weeks that followed, articles on adoption appeared in magazines that I was reading, shows on television that I happened upon while flipping channels, and I met more and more people who were parents of adopted children. It seemed adoption was everywhere. I began talking with Rob about adoption, and in December of 2009 we prayerfully decided that was what we wanted to do. But, we still needed some prodding to actually begin the process.

In February, we officially began the process of international adoption with Bethany and became dispositioned for four different countries. Our caseworker, Lisa, began sending us files of children who were on the waiting children's list in two of the countries, Lithuania and Bulgaria. The last file that she sent was a little boy with dark brown eyes from Bulgaria that kept sneaking into my thoughts long after I had looked at the email and the picture.

A good friend of mine who has already adopted one child from China and is in the process of adopting another once told me that I would know when I saw the picture of my child. Indeed, I did know. I began showing the picture of the little boy to Rob and asking him what he thought. I think that we both knew what was on our hearts, but we were afraid to say it out loud. Then on March 4th, we met with Lisa at the Bethany office in Nashville (she is the most wonderful person) to discuss our options. Lisa answered all of our questions thoughtfully and thoroughly to the point that Rob and I began feeling more comfortable about what we were about to do. Rob told me with a huge grin as he held my hand when we were leaving Bethany's office that day that we were going to make this happen no matter what. That weekend, we went to Fall Creek Falls for a marriage retreat, and after much prayer decided that we would adopt a beautiful little three year old boy who was living in an orphanage in Bulgaria. We were already hopelessly in love with our son. On Monday, we notified Lisa of our decision.

The next 48 hours were grueling as we had to wait to hear from Bulgaria if our little boy was still available. I prayed fervently that Bulgaria would say yes as did our friends in Life Group and our family. On Wednesday, our prayers were answered. Yes, he was still available, but his files were only going to be with the agency another few days and then his files were going back in to the system. Rob and I had to get our initial application sent to Bulgaria by that Friday at 3:00 complete with pictures of our home and family to put a hold on our little boy. On Friday, Rob and I were at a Wal-greens in Nashville at 1:00 getting copies of pictures to send in with our application. At 2:00, we were at the Bethany office handing our paperwork to Lisa. We made it!

After leaving the Bethany office, Rob and I were driving back to his office when he turned to me and said incredulously, "I have a son." I replied, "Yes, you do." We smiled.

This was the beginning of our amazing journey to get our son. Yes, our hearts were broken, but now God is filling our hearts up with love for a little boy thousand of miles away who we have never met, yet he fills up our thoughts every minute of every day. We long to kiss his sweet face and hold him gently in our arms.