Thursday, July 31, 2008

a little one lost

Sad news received today for a Reece's Rainbow family in the process of adopting... their sweet daughter-to-be passed away before they could get to her. :(

How many little ones are lost each day, I don't know. She is one too many.

Thinking of her family today.

If you have ever considered adopting a child, there's no time to waste! Maybe there is a little one out there waiting for you.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today our second sweetie hits the big 3! It's hard to believe so much time has passed, even harder to believe how difficult we found the adjustment from one child to two. But we did adjust and now looking back I just have to laugh at how easy it was! ^_^

Parker's party is this Sunday - he wanted a John Deere theme and weather permitting we'll BBQ outside.

Happy Birthday to our perpetually happy, laughing, curious little engineer! We love you Parker!


And just a quick note to say THANKS to all of our supporters - ChipIn is not fully updated yet but we have now exceeded the halfway mark! We've also received more donations in our family fund with Reece's Rainbow. Between our family fund, our raffle and our t-shirts we have so far raised a total of $830. In such an expensive endeavor, it might not seem like that much but to put it into perspective - that's about what we hope to spend for an apartment rental in Belgrade. That's pretty darn exciting! ^_^

I remembered this quote from Emerson (Ralph Waldo, that is - but how fitting!):

The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.

cute stuff!

The Campbell family, also adopting a little one from Serbia, is having a raffle for a very pretty butterfly blanket and Laugh & Learn Puppy. If you'd like to win these, chip in here! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


ChipIn isn't completely updated, but we're up to $185 on our raffle!! Will we reach the halfway mark today? Maybe! :)

I've also sold one of my camera lenses that I never use and our old camcorder on ebay today. Heading to the post office in a bit to ship everything out.

It feels nice to be *doing* something. It doesn't beat paperwork, but it's close! ^_^


Our ebay ID is galt47. Not much up right now, some other lenses, a bracelet and some crib bedding. I'll be putting up a lot of Gymboree clothes and boutique baby girl dresses sometime this week ^_^

Monday, July 28, 2008

day one

We received $95 (scratch that - $115 - Jody you are too kind!) for our raffle today - I think that's pretty wonderful for the first day! ^_^ Thank you so much to all who have participated and those to come - it means so much to us!

I decided to lower our goal to $500. I think that seems more realistic, will still make a big difference in our funding, and if we get close to that goal and still have time left I can always raise it. :)

I've been number crunching all day and I think if we make good on our yard sale/bake sale, complete this raffle and I'm able to sell some items on ebay that I've been putting off for far too long and if we go as cheap as we can with our apartment in Belgrade (I told Matt we could even stay in a hostel until we take custody of Em, then move to an apartment... he laughed at me, but I wasn't joking :P ) and food costs, I think we can do it.

Now of course if airfares would drop back down to what they were 2 months ago and/or we would get a small grant, I wouldn't complain. ^_^

* 11:57pm *

Okay, day one is just about over now. And we're up to $135!! I've been listing things on ebay all night. I can't help but feel hopeful! ^_^

Sunday, July 27, 2008

chip IN!

Okay, one day of sulking is enough for me. I don't have time for much more! ^_^

This morning we picked up two Target gift cards, one for $100 and one for $50. We are hoping and praying to raise $1000 by 8/24 (the second day of the yard sale/bake sale extravaganza we plan to hold heh!)

I know many of my readers are in the same boat we are. Somehow I know we're all addicted to helping one another. EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS. One $5 ticket might seem like a drop in a very deep bucket, but just think - there are millions of people on the Internet. We only need to find 200 of them with 5 bucks to spare.

That doesn't seem so impossible, does it? ^_~

Feel free to snag our widget code and post it on your own blog!

We are ever grateful for the help and especially the thoughts and prayers I know so many of you are sending our way. Emerson is one loved little girl!

faith, hope and other things

Yesterday we got some bad news in terms of financing this little endeavor. Matt usually gets one or two incentive bonuses each year and there was no reason to expect anything different this year. When we did the math initially we figured that into the savings.

Well unfortunately in an effort to cut costs company-wide, all incentives were suspended until further notice. Which means the $2000 we were counting on is no longer there, and the gap between what we have and what we need just got that much wider.

We are still planning on a big yard sale and many wonderful people have offered to donate items and baked goods for it, and I may try to do a gift card raffle or a raffle on our played-twice Playstation 3 (what can I say? We don't have time heh!). After seeing Shelley's incredible effort to help little Raina in Bulgaria, I'm hopeful that of the 100+ people I know online, we could raise at least a few hundred dollars that way.

This isn't a vacation we can cancel. This is a little person we've grown to love and a process too deep in to back out. So I know we cannot give up.

This was a bit of a leap of faith for us initially but overall we felt safe that we could manage it. I guess someone just wants me to have a little more faith than I'm used to. ^_^

Friday, July 25, 2008

six pounds, 4 months

I had asked our facilitator if she knew what size Emerson is currently, as I wanted to go through Macy's little clothes and see if I had anything that would be a good size and in season. She emailed me back today. I knew Emerson was small for her age, I'm sure partly because of her environment and partly because of her untreated heart condition...I guess I'd never really thought about actual numbers.

She's about 12 lbs and 25" long.

Nearly 6 1/2 lbs lighter than Dawson, who is 4 months younger.

It's not so much sad to hear as frustrating. Frustrating because she feels like she's mine, and my little one would never be that little, and I can do nothing about it right now but wait until I can do something.

12 lbs. Geesh, that's about what my other kiddos were at 2 months. Poor little baby, I wish she knew that we're coming for her.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

4 down, 2 to go

Matt started it, Macy picked it up next, Dawson quick to follow, and now Cade has the dreaded cold.

Here's hoping Parker and I continue to hold out. *grumble*

(Don't mind the very cute pic of Dawson above ^_^)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Our dossier was safely delivered about 23 minutes ago! :) Strangely, it was the exact time - to the minute - that I emailed our facilitator to let her know to expect it soon. She must think I'm psychic! ^_^

Our bank is wiring our translation fee this morning, so we are officially done sending stuff! It's so surreal to be to this point, knowing we are just waiting to leave. So exciting! :)


Our facilitator confirmed she received our dossier. She also told us that Emerson has an exam with a cardiologist next month - hoping we get some more information then!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

a piece of us

is in Belgrade! :)

Well, unfortunately our dossier did not make delivery yet - didn't arrive in Belgrade until 6pm so missed the courier. It should be delivered tomorrow.

It's a little neat though knowing that papers that we touched are in the same city as Emerson. Modern communication/transportation is a pretty amazing thing, isn't it? ^_^

We're off to the bank in just a little bit to wire the translation fee.

Monday, July 21, 2008

ooh la la!

Our dossier has landed safely in Paris - it is expected to be delivered tomorrow! ^_^

Saturday, July 19, 2008

54 days

We committed to adopt Emerson just 54 days ago, starting the process from scratch, and here we are already. Just amazing. This must be what meant-to-be feels like. ^_^

We quickly heard back from our facilitator - 278 is the winning number and Matt is headed to FedEx at this very moment!

Stay safe paper baby, you have a lot of love and hope amidst those pages!

little update

Well, we decided to hold off on submitting our dossier as we are reconfirming the address with our facilitator. We have 278 from her email but 274 on a form we received originally. I debated just going with the 278 but I don't think I can spend the next week or two worried about it going to the wrong place on top of worrying about it getting lost! ^_^

As soon as we hear back we will be headed to FedEx. Ah well, plenty of time still! :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

waiting for our angel

We did get back our dossier today, all fresh with apostilles! It is all neatly organized and ready to be mailed off...

We plan to mail it tomorrow, I'm just waiting on an email from our facilitator with the instructions for wiring the translation fee. I guess if I don't hear back I'll mail it anyways and the translation fee will follow once she responds.

Now we are truly in the WAITING stage! :)

* Update *

I had to change the title of the post - our facilitator emailed us some new pictures of Emerson. Isn't it amazing how much you can yearn to hold someone you've never even met? It's going to be such a long wait!


that we get our dossier returned from Albany today - tomorrow at the latest. The longer it's gone the more nails get bitten hehe! ^_^

We also heard from our facilitator tonight - she gave us the mailing instructions and said the ministry officials will not review any dossiers before mid to late September. :( So it looks like we won't be traveling before late October. I'm sad that Em has to wait another unnecessary month there, but perhaps there is a positive there - it gives us more time to save and raise funds, gives us more time to hear back on our grant application and maybe will give us more advance notice so we can save some money on those darn plane tickets!

Everything for a reason. ^_~

Thursday, July 17, 2008

show me a sign

I have been stressing a lot the last few days, having realized exactly how much airfares haven risen since we began this process and exactly how short of the mark we are falling. We have been determined not to give up on Emerson and to just double our efforts in our yard sale and selling some other things we can do without, but seeing the airfares nearly double from when we originally decided whether or not we could afford this was disheartening, to say the least.

Neither of us has ever been very religious, me especially. But of course having Dawson and watching so many other families go through the process of adopting a child with special needs has brought us both closer to something we never really thought much about.

So this morning when I truly started wondering if we should just throw in the towel, I thought - show me a sign, just one little sign. Later I checked our cafepress shop, no sale in over 2 weeks, and found two new orders. That wasn't a big enough sign for me.

But opening the mailbox this afternoon, a skip of the heart, a little chill, and this:

6 days. USCIS only took 6 days to process our application.
Some little sign, eh? ^_^

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

kiss this!

I was tired of looking at those yucko scalloped potatoes, so thought we could look at this cute pic instead heh! ^_^

This is the result of me asking Macy to give Dawson a kiss - aren't kids the cutest? :)

Here are a few other new ones:

Parker and his pouty face -

Cade posing for the camera! -

Dawson's ever-lovable face -

Monday, July 14, 2008

the eagle has landed

Heh I couldn't resist that title! ^_^

Our dossier (minus the I-171H of course) was delivered in Albany this morning. I'm sure I'll be running out to the mailbox every afternoon now until we get it back. We included a prepaid Priority envelope but Matt forgot to get delivery confirmation on it so I won't be able to track it all the way home. Hoping they're fast!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

those exciting Friday nights

This was how we (well, Matt hehe) spent our Friday night - cleaning up the mess that resulted when our fairly new glass baking dish exploded while baking. We're still scratching our heads over that one. Only in our house!

Today is Matt's 27th birthday - Happy Birthday sweetie!!! :) He's feeling too close to 30, but I have to remind him that with 4 going on 5 kids, he's very young! ^_~

We did get our dossier documents sent off to Albany this morning. We also sent out our application for a $5000 grant. It's funny how all the little things seem to line up for us. When we last got some cashier's checks from our bank, the woman asked about our adoption and thought it was such a nice thing she waived the fee for the check. We joked in the car that we probably wouldn't be so lucky again, unless maybe it was a different teller.

It ended up being the same woman and she did not intend to waive the fee. But when she tried to take the payment from our account, her computer wouldn't let her. She couldn't figure out what the problem was, so we ended up getting the check for free after all.

It's only $8, but those little things do add up and make me feel like life is smiling and has let us in on the joke. ^_^

Now if only that humor didn't include scalloped potatoes heh!

Edited to Add:

We got our apostilled marriage certificate in from VA this afternoon! Only 2 more boxes to check off ... I-171H and the documents returned from Albany. Will we be submitting our dossier in August, or maybe July?! :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

change of plans

Well after the trip to Syracuse this morning for our USCIS fingerprinting, we've decided to mail our dossier documents to Albany after all. The kids were very irritable during the 3 hour round trip and I can't imagine driving nearly twice that in one day for Albany.

I called the State Dept and they assured me it will be done in 2 to 4 business days. If they're true to their word and no one loses it (!!!) we should have it back by the week after next. We're sending it out tomorrow Priority, certified, etc. They should have it on Monday.

We were going to have it apostilled on Parker's 3rd birthday; now it will be mailed on Dad's 27th instead! Maybe it will bring us luck for a smooth, fast return!

Fingers crossed that our paper baby stays safe! :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

hopeful news

I got to speak more with Dr. B today - obviously he can't tell us much without seeing her echo images, but he explained a bit about the timing issue (he said at the hospital he was at in Toronto they typically didn't do repairs until 9 months old, but the later it's done the shakier the recovery) and that of course it all depends on whether or not the defect is repairable (something about blood flow needing to go from left to right).

So we are still trying to get ahold of that echo, though I think that's unlikely, and otherwise we will just have an appointment set up with a local cardiologist so she can get in right away to have an echo. It will then be sent to Dr. B so he can determine what can be done. He said if we need a letter from him to give to anyone involved to rush the process, he'd be happy to provide one, and that we don't need to worry about a waiting list or anything - he will get her in right away. He seemed very nice, straightforward. He also explained about the ongoing treatment for pulmonary hypertension if that becomes an issue.

As always, we are hoping for the best. We also got a call from a woman at USCIS - she wanted to know when we are doing the fingerprinting because she is going to watch for the clearance so they can process our application right away. Maybe hoping for an approval in 3 weeks isn't so far-fetched after all. ^_^

We also got my apostilled birth certificate in the mail today - we are now just waiting on our marriage certificate. Hurry up, Virginia!

11 months old!

Emerson is 11 months old today! Only one more month to the Big 1!

I really wish we could be there for her - hopefully our dossier will be instead. And we will just have to make up for it when she's home. ^_^

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

3 week hiatus

Well we managed to get out to the county clerk in Owego tonight and had all of the dossier documents certified. So we now need the following things to completely complete our dossier: my apostilled birth certificate, our apostilled marriage certificate (hopefully we get both of those back by next week!), our I-171H and apostilles for the remaining documents. We are doing our USCIS fingerprinting on Friday morning. I'm going to foolishly hope that we will have our approval in the next 3 weeks. If not, 5 would be good. Can you believe it's only been 6 weeks since we started this process? And we're already near the end!

Matt has July 30th off already from work so we plan to travel to Albany then. Which means after moving like lightning in this process I now have to sit on my hands for the next 3 weeks. Blech. I debated just mailing in everything to Albany - we did cover letters for everything so if they did lose it although it would be annoying we wouldn't have to lose any original documents - but the fact is that by the time they get it, do it and send it back it will probably be the 30th anyways. So I might as well keep this baby in my possession heh! ^_~

I know I have plenty to do in the meantime... picking through 7 years worth of accumulated stuff to organize a huge yard sale/bake sale, for one. But paperwork is so much more fun. Said the Geek. :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

misadventures in notaries

Matt had an early day so we figured we'd cart everyone to the bank so we could get all of the dossier documents notarized... of course it can never be so simple!

We went to a branch we'd never before been to, one inside a grocery store. We asked for the notary person and when she came out from their little office you could see her eyes dart carefully from me, to Matt, to Dawson in my arms, to Macy and Parker sitting in the double stroller and finally to Cade who at that moment decided he didn't like where they put their 2 inch stack of savings account brochures. -_- Oy.

As she sat down and began to sign and stamp cover letter after cover letter and saw that this was for an adoption, she made the following inquiries, in this order:

Coming or going? (Heh, she didn't really ask that, though I'm sure she wanted to!)

So, how many do you have now? (Four.)

So, this will make number... (Five.)

And you already have four? (Yes [forced laugh].)

Wow, and you're adopting another one? (Yes.)

How old are they? (4 1/2, 3, 1 1/2, 7 months.)

Wow, and there are four of them? (Er, yes. We had one every year for FOUR years. Four.)

And they're all yours? (Yes. All FOUR of them. And we're adopting ONE more.)

Finally, that was the end of it. I half-heartedly wished she would declare, "Better you than me!" so I could whole-heartedly agree with her. :P

Then as the kids were just a few minutes away from melting down in the overheated store, I glanced down at the stamp on one of the pages and saw "Tioga County" teasing up at me.

Great. We went to a bank just a few minutes from our house, smack in the middle of Broome County, and managed to get the Nosiest Notary Public of The Next County Over. Which means of course we can't have the county certification done here in our county - we have to drive over to Owego and have it done there.

Then as we finally headed out, Cade wiggled out of my grasp and took off around the corner into the toy aisle. We rushed after him to find him playing golf with some plastic club and ball set that some genius decided not to package but to simply leave lying open in a cardboard box for all of the Cades of the world to invade. Matt and I debated getting it for the boys and in the nano second that we spent looking at each other in annoyance, I turned around to find Cade gone. Niiice. I'm sure the notary lady will just love this!

Matt goes one way and I the other, Dawson in one arm and the other struggling to maneuver the double stroller, and an elderly woman scooters past with a, "Wow! You have your hands full!" Then, "Full and a half!" Oh, you didn't notice Dawson? But maybe you saw which way the wild primitive with the yellow golf club went?

Cade was quickly recovered and we quickly left the store, both of us a little dazed. It sometimes seems that although life/God/whomever is on our side in this, the Negativity in the world is trying to kill our plans with sheer annoyance.

It's going to have to do better than that. Annoyance is our specialty. After all, we have four little kids. That's right, four. And yes, they're all ours.

* * * * *

And in unrelated news, Dawson had a re-evaluation this afternoon with the agency we chose to coordinate his EI services. I hate these things, these Let's-Put-His-Delays-In-Writing-In-Case-You-Didn't-Know-Already-Reviews. But what can you do?

Little guy was very tired and lazy (seems I'm always waking him up from a nap for one of these performances *sigh*) but he was still a charmer. They only evaluated speech and cognition since he's already getting PT/OT. I don't remember the specific titles of their little skill segments they were evaluating, I'll have to see once we get the written report, but for Speech on one of the two sections he measured 2 months behind at 5 months old (I think it was Receptive?) and on the other he measured on target at 7 months old (Communicative?? Who knows!) Same deal with cognitive ability - 5 months on one and actually age advanced on the other, 8 or 9 months equivalent I think.

think he's doing great. :)

Monday, July 07, 2008

ink and medicine

We got a call from USCIS today - they can get us in for our fingerprinting this week! We can go any morning from 8 to 11. Not sure which day we'll go yet, Matt has to check with work of course, but so glad they seem so on top of things! :)

We also heard from our facilitator for the first time - feels like we've "graduated" ^_^

I also looked over Emerson's medical info again and was finally able to figure out one of her diagnoses. It's listed as "AV canalis completa,DAP,ASD II,HAP" - when I spoke with a nurse at CHOP they figured that HAP is the European acronym for PHN, pulmonary hypertension. They weren't sure what "DAP" was though. After looking through some Spanish medical study and using a handy website translator, it seems that "DAP" stands for Ductus Arteriosus Patent, a.k.a PDA. So she has a complete AV canal, a PDA, an ASD (I did find that ASD II is the type that often closes on its own though, so hopefully that's the case!) and pulmonary hypertension.

Life didn't cut this little one any breaks did it?

I'm grateful we have this information though, hopefully it will allow CPMC to give me some general info on the prognosis of a child with that combination of defects. I'm hoping to call them tonight as I haven't yet received a response to my email.

Thinking of our little girl, hoping her heart stays strong.

* Update *

I finally managed to call Dr. B's office and the person that answered the phone took down Emerson's diagnoses and a bit about our adoption, etc and said we'll get a phone call - from Dr. B! I'm already impressed (not that it takes much to impress me in the medical system hehe, but still!) Hopefully we hear from him soon.

Meredith, thanks for the reassurances - it helps to hear from the voice of experience! :)

* Update II *

We got a phone call tonight from California - Dr. B just calling to introduce himself and say that he has a busy day tomorrow but he will call us on Wednesday to talk more about her case! He asked if we can possibly get the images from her echo on a CD to send to him... not sure about that one! I'll see what our facilitator says in response to my first email before I ask for a prize like that heh!

It's amazing to me that with CHOP they seemed reluctant to talk to me via email and the caseworker there never returned my call; with CPMC just a few hours after my first call the surgeon himself is speaking to us. Thanks Deanie for the recommendation! ^_^

Saturday, July 05, 2008

all ready already?!

We got our fresh, notarized and certified copies of our home study report this afternoon! I was up late the other night printing out cover letters galore and getting all of our other documents together, organized and neatly stapled into sections. Our dossier is now complete except for that pesky little I-171H! ^_^ It's quite pretty in it's tidy little report binder hehe - can you tell I have some OCD when it comes to paperwork? :P So we just need to take the folder down to the bank and get everything notarized, then go to the County Clerk and get that certified, then we can get everything apostilled.

We also realized that USCIS finally cashed their check and like clockwork we got a letter today confirming its receipt, no action will be taken without our home study report and telling us they need our SSNs in order to schedule our fingerprinting appointments. I sent an email with that info and let them know the home study was sent on 7/3 and they should have it by Monday and asking again if they can expedite the processing. Hopefully they do; the website lists their current working date as 3/17/08 - eeeek!

And the girls' room is pretty much done - just waiting on some wall letters and a clock. Won't it be surreal to have Em's name up there next to Macy's? :) We just love how it turned out! We were a little scared when we opened up the can of paint and it looked more reddish than berryish, but it really goes well with the bedding and makes the room POP! The flowers on the wall are so simple and pretty (alas, I'm no artist - they're stick-on decals LOL!) This really is my favorite room that I've done so far! ^_^ Here are a couple pics, the one looks a bit odd because I couldn't get the whole wall with the 2 cribs in one shot. And some extras of our cutie pie enjoying his new exersaucer and one of Cade, Parker and Macy having fun with new glitter paints (the invisible ColorWonder kind of course!):

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

home study complete!

As promised, our social worker finished our written report and we have done our proof read and it is now being signed, notarized and county certified - all ready for apostilling! Seeing as the home study agency did not receive our paperwork until 6/9, this had to have been one of the fastest home studies ever - just shy of 4 weeks! We are so grateful for such a wonderful social worker - thanks to Julie for the recommendation! ^_^

Since that step is officially complete we are now just waiting for our USCIS approval! Then we can get everything apostilled and our dossier will be DONE! Hoping for a fast approval from USCIS! ^_^

It feels like we're speeding down a busy road and getting all the green lights (*knock on wood*) ^_^ Next on my agenda is applying for some grants - hoping our blessings continue!