Saturday, April 16, 2011

Great surprise from our agency

This week has been full of surprises and more blessings. The best happened on Thursday when we received an email update from our agency on the progress of our adoption. The email included over ten new photos of our son taken this week by Vesta, and several of the photos had Aleksandar holding the family photo album that we sent him over a month ago. He was smiling in several of the photos, and it appears that he has actually gained some weight since Rob and I saw him in December.  All of this made me and Rob very  happy. I wish so much that I could share his photos with you, but until he is legally ours in court that is not possible. However, with a little luck that will not be much longer.

Our agency also informed us that our dossier has been sent to the courts so we should be getting a court date in the near future. This was good news as well as we had no idea what was happening with our case in Bulgaria since we received our provisional I-800 approval over six weeks ago. If we can get a court date before the end of April, we would still have a good shot at traveling sometime in June. This is would definitely be my preference rather than July as I have been scouting out the airline sites for prices on flights in June and July. June is bad enough at around $1,600 per ticket, but the July prices are even worse at around $1,900 per ticket. Of course, travel in June would also mean we get to bring Aleksandar home sooner!

Our agency also informed us of some new training requirements that they have instituted since we started the process. There were three new training requirements for families adopting internationally, but Rob and I will only be required to meet the final one since we are so far along in the process. This new training will center around the needs of our specific child, which I think is a great thing for our agency to offer. I can't say enough good things about our agency, Bethany Christian Services. We would definitely use them again.

Bethany also gave us some good news this week in the form of a bill, believe it or not. We received the bill for the remainder of our Bulgarian fees which was in Euros. With the exchange rate on Friday, our bill was significantly less than we had anticipated.  I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on the financial end of this process. Once we pay this bill, we just need to have enough money to pay for our travel, which includes 3 round trip tickets to Bulgaria, one one-way ticket to the US for Aleksandar, our apartment in Bulgaria, and money for meals, etc. while we are in Bulgaria. We have a great head start on this as well, since Aleksandar had a $5,000 grant attached to his file on the waiting children's list to be used for travel for the family who chose to adopt him.

Speaking of travel, Julia is very excited today because Rob and I are taking her to the post office near the airport in Nashville today to get her picture made for her passport. She is so excited about meeting her little brother that she would hop on a plane today if she could.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blessings and salsa

Our yard sale was a success! We raised about $400 to put towards the adoption in about three hours. Thank you so much to the friends and family who donated items to the sale and who helped price items for the sale on Friday night. We could not have done it without you! I want to say a special thank you to our friends, Jeff and Lisa, who drove a long way to come to our sale and brought beautiful handmade necklaces and bracelets (courtesy of Lisa) which they donated to the sale. We were very touched by your generosity and kindness.

With the success of our yard sale and an anonymous donation from someone at our church last week, we have blown the top off of our adoption fundraiser thermometer. Prayers have truly been answered. I remember reading a story on another Bulgarian adoption blog about a family needing more funds to pay for their travel and how a young man came to their door one day and said that God had told him to give them some money. The amount was what they needed and when they needed it.  I remember thinking then that this family had great faith and that the young man had not only great faith but a strong desire to follow God's will. However, I never dreamed that Rob and I would be the recipients of a similar donation. Yet, that is exactly what happened last week when the anonymous donation came in to our church. We are extremely grateful to this unknown person for their generosity and kindness towards us and our son. I know that God is blessing this person, and in turn, this person has blessed us.

While adoption can be a difficult journey fraught with a huge paper trail and endless days of waiting, it also brings untold blessings that stretch far beyond bringing your child home. Rob and I have met so many wonderful people during this process and have made several friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. Jeff and Lisa are two of those people. We met them at our first fundraiser at Chick-fil-A. They had recently come back from meeting their daughter in Bulgaria on their first trip and had heard about another family at our agency adopting from Bulgaria - us. They drove almost an hour to come to our fundraiser to give us support and to share pictures, stories and information about their first trip.

I have also gotten to know several people through the wonderful world of blogs that I probably would not have ever known if we had not all been blogging about our adoption journeys. These women are a great source of information and support. We are excited for each other when one of us takes another step along the way in the journey, and we encourage one another with our posts when times are difficult and the wait can seem unbearable.

And, how can I forget our friends CeAnne and Paul who we met on our first trip to Pleven, Bulgaria. I know that God put them in our lives for a reason, and I thank him for it. I can still hear CeAnne's voice over dinner at Pizza Roma in Sofia telling me that she knew that I could handle all the issues that had come up with my son while we were visiting him at the orphanage. I was having serious doubts at this point, but she explained to me that she knew Rob and I could do this because she and Paul had done this before, not once but twice. This was a great comfort to me, and she continues to be a source of inspiration.

Then there is my dear friend Kelly who in my darkest hour in our apartment in Sofia was emailing me back and forth from the states with words that I so desperately needed to hear. And, I listened because I knew that Kelly would be honest and that she would have prayerfully considered every word that she was writing to me. She is an adoptive mom herself and a friend who always gives good counsel. She is the person who I shared Aleksandar's referral papers with over dinner and helped me comb through all the medical jargon. She is the person who knew that I would decide to adopt even before I knew myself. She is also my favorite person to have dinner with and the one person I would take to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter :)

Rob and I are also members of a wonderful life group at church as well. We actually were introduced to our life group by my friend Kelly and her husband. These wonderful people have cried with us, rejoiced with us and prayed over us during this whole journey. I can't imagine making this journey without each and every one of them by our side.

Two of our friends from our life group, Celeste and Jorge, have offered to make the most amazing salsa for us to sell as a fundraiser for our adoption over the next six weeks. Trust me when I say that this salsa is the freshest and most wonderful tasting salsa that I have ever had. It will be difficult to have it in my possession and not be "tasting" it all the time. Rob feels the same way. This is such a loving and wonderful gesture from our friends and hopefully a sure fire hit. If you would like to buy a jar, please post a comment on my blog or email me. The cost is $10 per jar, and you can order mild or hot. I promise that your taste buds will thank you!

The money raised from the sale of the salsa will help pay for our apartment on our next trip to Bulgaria and our daughter Julia's plane ticket as she will be traveling with us this time. The money we have already raised will be used to pay our remaining fees and for mine, Rob and Aleksandar's plane tickets.

As you can see, we have truly been very blessed in so many ways by our adoption!

Monday, April 4, 2011

I see a yard sale in my future

In March of 2010, we began the adoption process and the pursuit of raising enough money to bring our son home from Bulgaria. The large amount of money that would be required for our adoption fees and two separate trips to Bulgaria seemed so daunting at that time. How would we come up with $36,000 in the next year? Rob and I prayed about this many times and believed because we were doing what God had called us to do that the money would be provided. He has not let us down.

Every time a fee was due, a donation would come in at the last minute to help us meet our goal. We had a  Chick-fil-A fundraiser last year, my company held a bake sale, and Rob and I had a very successful yard sale last March where items were donated to help raise money.  God also blessed my husband with a new job in August, which increased his salary beyond our expectations, and he blessed my husband again with an unexpected bonus from that new job last month. All of these things have contributed to our adoption fundraising thermometer going higher and higher.

We are now on what we hope is the final leg of this journey as we wait on our Article 5 letter and our court date in Bulgaria. We are also getting ready on Saturday, April 9th, to have what will probably be our final fundraising event before we travel to get our son. We are having another yard sale.

The yard sale date coincides with the date our subdivision has its neighborhood garage sale so we should get a lot of free advertisement and traffic for our sale from that. However, we are still trying to gather items from anyone desiring to donate to the sale. The more items we have to sell, the more money we can make towards our goal. We also need to borrow some extra tables from anyone who has some to help display items for the sale. If you can help out with any of these things, please leave a comment on my blog, and I will contact you.

It's hard to believe that we are only $3,000 away from reaching our goal. While that still sounds like a lot, it is no where near the original amount of $36,000 total that we needed to bring Aleksandar home last year. God has been good!

Here's to a successful yard sale on Saturday and hoping that the April showers stay away this weekend!