Friday, May 29, 2009

The Graduate

Claire had her graduation from preschool last night. She is growing up so fast! She really had a harder time adjusting to preschool on her own. I don't know if it's because Olivia has always been a part of her life and for the first time she was doing something on her own or if it was just her personality. Thursday was her last day and she decided she wanted to go into the classroom all by herself and out onto the playground by herself. For 2 years, she needed me to walk her out and give her hugs. The first year she would cling to me and I had to peel her off and hand her over to one of her favorite teachers. Yesterday she didn't need that reassurance. She is going to do great next year in Kindergarten, she is ready!

I'm so proud of the girls!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And I thought the paperchasing was over with!

I've been busy trying to update some documents.
Here's the list:
-Marriage license apostilled*
-5 copies of passports with 3 of those being notarized and apostilled
-Send fingerprints to FBI, have results apostilled
-5 copies of original I-171, notarize and apostille 2 copies and make 3 copies of those.
-Update medical forms and medical license, notarize and apostille
-Update employment letter for hubby, notarize and apostille
-Update homestudy, agency license, social worker's license, notarize and apostille

Other things on the 'to do' list:
-Prepare 2 small photo books with about 15 pictures of us and our house
-Prepare list of questions for Babyhouse director/caregiver

Ack, we have about 2 1/2 weeks to get most everything done. We will probably have to organize the house and the baby room in between trips.

*apostille=An apostille is usually issued by the Department of State in the state the document is issued and is used by foreign governments to assess the authenticity of an official signature(notary signature).

LOI-Letter of Invitation

We received our LOI which is from June 15, 2009-September 15, 2009. We hope to find out the first week of June what our travel dates are. Until then we are scrambling to work on our 'to do' list.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Catching Up to Speed

For readers just arriving to my blog, especially non adoptive readers, I thought I would catch you up. I've tried to go back and label my posts about adoption and Kazakhstan as such, there are not very many of them...yet! Right now, we have about 3 weeks to prepare for our first trip. One of the unfortunate things about being assigned to Almaty is that it will require 3 trips, unless of course families have the means (financially and jobwise) to stay the entire time. My hubby has a limited amount of vacation time and of course, we have to take into account Olivia and Claire. We are not planning to bring them with us. It's advised that we not bring them with us and I think it would just be too hard, especially for 4 year old Claire. It's a long trip, lots of jet lag, lots of different foods with which I think they would have a hard time. This will give us time to focus on our son without distractions. The sad thing is we will have to leave him behind between trips.

So for the first trip, we will meet with a child or children and decide to start the 'bonding process' with a child. Unlike some other countries, Kazkhstan requires 2 weeks of bonding. We will then go to the Babyhouse (what they call the orphanages in Kaz) every day for 2 weeks to play with our child and to get to know each other. This will have to be documented with pictures. We will more than likely consult with an international adoption doctor for advice on the health of our child. Of course, they don't have a crystal ball, but they can look for certain things we may not be aware of. We will do this in the beginning of course before we decide we start bonding.

So we will be in Kazakhstan approximately 2 1/2-3 weeks for our 1st trip. Next we will have to wait for a court date where we will go in front of a judge to ask that we can adopt our child. It could be about a month after our first trip, there is no way of knowing. So we will be at home waiting for our court date. On the 2nd trip, we will go to court so hopefully we won't be there more than a week. We have to come home again because there is a waiting period, I believe it's 15 days. It also takes time to process our child's passport. The 3rd trip is when we actually take custody of our child. We will have to get his American visa and visit the clinic to confirm he has no communicable diseases and is relatively healthy. We will say goodbye to his home and his caregivers, it will be bittersweet and emotional...who's kidding, this whole process will be emotional, life changing, challenging, joyous.... I'm thinking I will probably have to go alone on the 3rd trip, we will just have to see how everything is coming along.

I hope we have our son home by the time school starts up again. It's summer time though which means it's vacation time so the timing of everything might slow down.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trading in 90 degree weather for fog and 50 degree weather

This 4 day weekend we decided to head north to visit family and enjoy the cool weather. Today we went into San Francisco and made our first trip to the Exploratorium and had a treat at Ghiradelli Square. Originally we were going to the Oakland zoo but I'm glad we changed our plans since it was so chilly and I didn't pack accordingly. Luckily I brought a windbreaker and grabbed a couple of light sweaters for the girls for the cool evenings. Sometimes I miss the Bay area until we are sitting in lots of traffic on the freeway!

While in the city, we managed to buy lots of souvenirs for our gifts for our trip to Kazakhstan. It's customary to bring gifts to our child's caretakers, our translator, our driver, etc. Just a token of our thanks just as we bring a gift to someone when we are invited over for dinner.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Heart Palpitations and Knots in my Stomach

I'm in total shock. We just got the call. Our dossier sailed through the MFA and the MOE (Ministry of Education). We've been assigned to Almaty and our LOI is on the way...for non adoptive people, that means the Letter of Invitation that the government is sending to us.

I was expecting us to travel at the earliest mid August, now it's only about 3 weeks away. It is going to be a whirlwind with all the activities I have scheduled and all the things on my to do list.

The good and the bad: Almaty=Big city, modern conveniences BUT this means we will have to make 3 trips there. We were planning to go to the coast alone on June 19th to celebrate our 10 year anniversary....I guess we will be going to Kazakhstan instead! I meant to learn Russian, I know we will have a translator but I was hoping I could learn some to communicate a bit. The good thing is Olivia and Claire's grandparents are coming here in 3 weeks anyway so hopefully they can stay and take care of the girls. The bad thing is I will probably miss Olivia's performance from her Summer Theater workshop.

Next week, the first things on our list to do are: update FBI prints, update our medical forms, possibly update our homestudy, order new unmarked money, get photographs for our visas. This is just what I can think of at the moment.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

139 hats later...

So Olivia had this idea to start a 'knitting club' so I went with it. Our district doesn't allow 'clubs' so we started an after school enrichment class with 1st-3rd graders at her school. I was planning to limit it to about 15 students who were 'recommended' by their teachers. And it snowballed from there. We ended up having about 30 students (a couple ended up dropping out) in 3 different classes rooms and we had more students on the waiting list. Thankfully 2 other parents volunteered to lead the other classes with some help of some other parents. I am so proud of all the kids, after about 2 months they finished 139 hats (using the Knifty Knitter looms) for babies and children to be donated to the local public hospital.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thoughts about our family

I've thought a lot about our child we will be bringing home from Kazakhstan. In thinking about him (I think of our child as a boy because that is what we are hoping for), I also think a lot about Olivia and Claire and how they will adjust to a new sibling. He will be a new sibling to love and teach but also to share with their Mommy and Daddy. I worry about that. I also think about hubby, mostly that he is a great dad and that he is great with kids. I know he doesn't think about our child as much, I think it's just because we're wired differently. I focus on the day to day taking care of the kids and house maintenance whereas hubby has a long term focus and focuses on his job so he can provide for his family.

I have pictured in my head a little boy, not quite a baby, yet not old enough to be a toddler because I really can't imagine how old he is. I imagine he has dark hair and dark eyes and looks kind of like our daughters. Who knows maybe this kid will have blond hair like I had! Maybe he will look more like me than Olivia and! I have to tell you that I often feel sad when I think about him. I'm sad because I grieve that we weren't there for him when he first smiled, when his first tooth came in, and we weren't there when he needed to be comforted. I grieve that we won't know his parents' medical history. I think about this when I take the girls to their doctor because the questionnaires usually ask about the parents' health. I'm sad we won't be able to answer those kinds of questions. I also grieve that we won't have many baby pictures or perhaps none at all. There weren't many pictures of me as a baby so I made a point of taking lots of pictures of the girls (no, they are still not in albums, but hey...we took the pictures). I guess we will have to take lots and lots of number 3!

I also have been thinking about adjusting to having a 3rd child. That means we will have 3 car seats in our car, it will be harder to carpool. When he has adjusted to being a part of our family and we decide to go to perhaps...Disneyland, someone will have to ride Buzz Lightyear by themselves. We will always be an odd number, this new family of 5.

For about the first 6 months he is here, I know that we will be focusing on attachment and some people, friends and family, may not understand when we don't allow others to care for him or hold him. I hope people will learn that we are teaching him that we are his primary caretaker...we are his Mom and Dad and we are the ones that comfort him, provide him food, love him, etc. I know that this will be a joyous time in our life yet I will have some sadness in that I won't be able to be as active in the girls' schools as I was this year. I've been trying to think ahead to what life will be like and I think it might be hard to maintain a consistent routine with 3 children. This is why I signed Claire up for daycare at school since our school has half day Kindergarten. I was thinking this would allow naptime for child #3. I tried to sign Olivia up for daycare but she is currently #12 on the waiting list. I will miss the one on one time I've had with Claire and that I had with Olivia. I hope I will be able to carve out some special Mommy and me time with each of the girls.

And of course, I think about the excitement of visiting his country and meeting him for the first time. I think about all the happy times we will be able to share with him. Like the first time he goes to school. The first time we go to a zoo. The first time he tastes ice cream. Yes, we will get to experience a lot of firsts with him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

April Adoption To Do List-NOT

I completely forgot about our to do list. Actually I did buy a few gifts while we were in San Diego. And we did meet with our pediatrician, but not till last week. The decluttering is going to take a while. I don't know why I always tend to over commit to things. I just like to do everything I guess.

Meeting with the pediatrician was interesting. He really is great and has been great with the girls and I have lots of friends who got to him, but he is just not that knowledgeable about adopted children. I think we will probably consult with an international adoption clinic (leaning toward Dr. Bledsoe).

The end of school has been busy and as always I have a lot on my plate with church, the girls' schools, planning summer activities and trips, etc.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To all the moms out there and those waiting to be moms! Enjoy your special day.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Our second fundraiser

I recently organized a Pampered Chef show with the help of Brenda who is a Pampered Chef consultant to raise more funds toward our goal of $1000 which will be given (or supplies bought) for our child's Babyhouse. With the help of our friends at church, our friends in the community, and even strangers, we raised $286.76 plus an additional $155 in donations toward our cause which raises our total to $721.76...WOW! I often feel overwhelmed with the support we are receiving, but I know these funds will help the children in the Babyhouse after we bring our child home. Thank you to everyone who has been supporting us!