Monday, October 29, 2007

Dreams and awakenings

Friday night I had my first dream about our SDA appointment.
We were ushered into a small room with three tables. There was already another couple there meeting with their SDA worker and interpreter. We were told we would need to wait a few minutes for the interpreter, so we sat down at one of the tables with our SDA worker and waited. We listened to the other couple's discussion (not adoption related, as I recall) and waited patiently. After some time, we were told that we would need to come back later. It wasn't a bad thing--it seemed to be for something like lunch and we just needed to return in a couple of hours. Our SDA worker was smiling and very friendly, and as we were getting ready to leave she was walking out with us and carrying our folder. Paper-clipped to the folder were three pictures of sibling sets, each with two children. The first two I saw were both boy-girl siblings, but for both of those one of the siblings was much older than we can accept (by US requirements based on our HS). I can't remember the third picture, but I think it was two girls. So we happily left knowing that we would come back soon and see the profiles for those sibling sets. However, once we got outside I realized we had brought NO MONEY to Ukraine!! NONE--we had no cash with us, not even $20. Can you tell what's been stressing me out?? ;)

On Saturday I went to the bank to discuss our money needs with them. We will need to take a significant amount of cash in relatively new bills (clean, not ripped, no marks). It's a pretty large withdrawal and we may be monitored by the government for it since they want to make sure we're not funneling money to terrorists. We're not, unless you count 2- and 3-year-olds terrorists, and some people might. ;) The woman at the bank was fantastic and they're going to do everything they can to help us. So check another thing off of the list! :) :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I love Craig's list!

We've been collecting clothes to take with us for the kids, and we're collecting both through donations and things that we buy. But even Goodwill can be a little pricy when you're trying to collect a LOT of clothes, so I've resorted to Craig's list.** We've used Craig's list for a number of other things, both buying and selling, like a dorm fridge (sold), planer (bought), table saw (bought), and dresser (sold). It's a convenient source of local online classifieds if you have one for your area.
I posted a few days ago a WTB ("want to buy") ad looking for toddler clothes 12mo to 3T for $1 per item or less. I received an email from a woman who sold me about 40 pieces of clothing for $20! They are super cute, although to Mark's dismay they're mostly boy clothes. He just figures that means all of the clothes will be staying in Ukraine. ;)
We've been slowly cleaning out the bedroom that the kids will occupy. It had managed to accumulate a lot of stuff which has now mostly been moved out. In the process we cleaned the bedroom in the basement and reorganized the closet. :)

**Note about Craig's list: Be careful to type in craigSlist, not craiglist (without the s), as that latter site apparently takes you to an undesirable web site. Just thought you should know.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Late night musings

I apologize profusely for the long absence. We are well, healthy, and doing fine, just a wee bit busy. ;) I'll share some pics--hopefully that will make up for the long lack of posts. I've been in training for work all week and Mark has been jumping between work and the house. In the evenings we've been working on the house, or we were until I developed tendonitis and needed to rest my wrist for a couple of days. So last night we ran some necessary errands and tonight we did some reorganization at the house we currently live in. And Julie, no. Pigs will fly and certain warm areas will freeze over before we would be able to manage finishing the house before going to Ukraine. You might understand better when you see the next pics, or when I tell you that the most recent person who came to see the house said,"Oh...I know you guys said it needed some work, but wow." Of course, he saw it in this condition:

Those are the front two bedrooms upstairs, and since those pictures were taken we (ahem, Mark) have removed the rest of the plaster off of the walls in there, so both of those rooms are completely stripped down to the studs and joists. The third picture is to show the multiple feet of plaster that are currently on the floors upstairs. We're planning on finishing the 3rd upstairs room tomorrow. We had hoped to have a dumpster the week after next, but it's going to be pushing it to get all of that plaster down in that amount of time. We did figure out a faster way to take down the ceilings, so that helps.

In adoption news, we have purchased an adapter/converter. We could have borrowed one, but we travel quite a bit internationally so we thought it wouldn't hurt just to go ahead and get one. We're also in the process of consolidating various packing lists into one. We tend to travel quite a bit lighter than most people so we are able to cross a lot of things off.

In other adoption news, I was the recipient of a rude comment. In training this week, two people were discussing the first time their children said "mama" or "dada". The woman asked if I had any kids, to which I answered no. Her reply: "Oh, you really can't understand how precious it is to hear that unless you've experienced it."

Let me tell you something: It's a lot more precious when you've been waiting for many many years and are still waiting to hear it.

I was good; I kept my mouth shut. I know she didn't mean it to be rude, but it really did hurt a lot. I've seen countless children speak their first few words. I've seen the joy on their parents' faces when they say mama and dada. And I've experienced the pain of knowing I might never hear those words for us. I am hopeful that that time will soon be coming to an end. 45 days until our appointment. I'm excited and nervous and scared all rolled into one, and a little sad too. I know it will get here and be over before we know it, and part of me really wants to cherish the last few weeks of our journey. To ponder what it will mean to be parents, and to pray ever more earnestly that we will be the kind of parents God desires.

Well, if I'm going to be able to hold a hammer tomorrow I've got to head to bed. Good night, all! Have a wonderful weekend if I don't manage to post again in the next couple of days! ;) :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where are we?

Mark's been busy working on the house, and I've been busy working on, well, work. :) He has been demolishing like mad, but carefully. He's not allowed to work on the walls or ceilings upstairs by himself (we're a little afraid of a plaster collapse, and that stuff is heavy).
We sat down last night to make a to-do list for Ukraine, but it really seems like there's not that much big stuff to do. We've still got to contact the banks to get cash and I need to confirm our flights, but other than that we seem to be pretty much set. Of course, we've also been preparing for this for almost 3 years. ;) We already have plans for the dogs and everything is set up (I think) at work. Most of the rest of the things we would like to do, but if they don't get done it wouldn't really impact anything (except maybe my stress level when we get home). So we're tackling a few little things here and there. We've still got to get car seats, but we're going to wait to do that until right before we leave so if there's any problem we can still take them back when we get home (Target has a very limited return policy).
In the meantime, we've got a band concert tomorrow night at 7:30pm (free! if anyone's in the area!) and we'll keep demolishing the house!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Demolition, day 1

Technically it's not really day 1, since Mark got the building permit on Thursday and had the opportunity to do a little demolition Thursday and Friday, but it's the first day we've really gone after it together. This isn't exactly at the beginning--we'd already pulled off a bunch of drywall, but here are sort of middle-of-the-day pictures:


All of this is upstairs in between the back bedroom and the middle bedroom. Today we demolished the closet, removing all of the drywall and the studs that framed out the closet. We also removed all of the drywall off of the bathroom wall backed up to the middle bedroom, some firred out ductwork downstairs, and a bunch of plaster off of the fireplace in the front bedroom. It was hot, dirty, and a lot of fun. :) :) Even better, we went to Lowe's later and I got my own hammer. I think that was because I lost my grip on the old wooden one I was using and accidentally threw it about 6'. Luckily for all involved, it wasn't in Mark's direction. ;) But it did make him decide that it might be a good idea to get me one with a rubber grip. LOL

I also have my own tool bag now! Mark got a new one a few weeks ago so I get his old one. He said it might be a little too big, but I told him that's what my hips are for. God didn't give me hips for birthing, He gave me hips for holding tool bags. I'm not sure Mark thought it was as funny as I did. :) :)

Thank you for all of the helpful tips! Feel free to post more as you think of them--all of the comments get emailed to me so I will see them even if you comment on an earlier post. Last weekend we went to Goodwill and picked up a few clothing items for the kids. When we got home, Mark laid them out on the couch to remove the tags and write down what we got (we're making a list so we don't end up with too much of one size). I looked at all of the clothes and thought, I'm ready for this. :) Seeing the practical aspects of being a parent helps me realize we are ready for parenthood, or as much as we can be. Thanks for all of the prayers and words of encouragement!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Quick summary (or maybe not so quick...)

I've had a few requests to clarify what happens next. So here goes...

On Dec 2, we will fly from StL to JFK, then from JFK to Kyiv. We've only got the one stop, and I booked the whole thing through Orbitz. Not sure yet if that was a good idea. ;) I've used Orbitz before, but not for international. We'll be flying AA the first leg and Aerosvit the second. We'll arrive in Kyiv on Monday, Dec 3, where our facilitator will pick us up and take us to our lodging for the night. We won't know the time for our SDA appointment until the day before, so the day we arrive in Kyiv.

On Dec 4, we will have our appointment at the SDA. We will not know anything about our children until this appointment. Unless things change between now and then (which they certainly can!), we will be shown probably 3-4 sets of siblings' profiles. We are praying that God will make it very clear who are children are at this meeting. Once we have chosen a sibling set to go visit, we will have to wait for paperwork from the SDA giving us permission to go visit those children. We might get the paperwork the same day if our appointment is early in the morning, but most likely will not get it until the next day. If we get it that day, we will hopefully head to wherever the kids are that night (Dec 4). If not, we would travel on Dec 5.

Once we get to the region where the kids are, we have to meet with the regional inspector, give him/her the paperwork from the SDA, and get permission to go visit the kids. This hopefully can be done same day, but might take a day to get done. If it's same day, we would be able to go visit the kids that day.

Now, important note. This is basically working off of the assumption that both kids are in the same region (think of it like our counties here in the States). If they are not, we will need to meet with two inspectors to get permission to visit each of the kids. So tack on some extra travel and meeting time there. Why would they be in different regions, you ask? Good question. :) The orphanages are divided up by age (and then once the kids are older, by special needs v. healthy). Once a child turns 4, he/she is moved out of the baby house into an internot. At this age, the children are also separated by special needs. So if I understand everything correctly, if you had twins, one of whom had a special need (could be something as mild as a cleft palate or crossed eyes, or more severe needs), when they turned 4 years old they would be sent to two different orphanages.

At the orphanage, we will meet with the orphanage director, doctor, and possibly other staff. We will review the children's medical records and then be able to meet the children. If we decide to pursue the adoption at this point, we will start sending paperwork everywhere. Paperwork will go to the regional offices to get a court date set up, and paperwork will go back to the SDA since we will need their permission at court to adopt the kids. There will also be various other paperwork gathering, done by us and our facilitator, to get copies of the kids' birth certificates, etc.

At some point after this (that's only a little vague, right?), we will have a court date. They're usually about a week or so after you start all of the official adoption paperwork in the previous paragraph. But of course that depends on holidays, vacations, etc. as to when the judge can meet with you. At court, we will be asked many questions about us, our home, why we want to adopt, why we want to adopt these children, and so on. The orphanage staff, the SDA, and the regional inspector will all give their approval for the adoption. Then the judge decides. If he grants us custody, we will have a 10-day wait before the children are officially ours. This is a time for others to appeal the adoption. It is 10 calendar days (not buisness days), but does not count the day of court and you can't actually pick the kids up until you have the final paperwork from the judge, which usually doesn't happen on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.

After the 10 day wait, we can take the kids from the orphanage and now begin another paperwork race. We will need to get new copies of the kids' birth certificates with us listed as parents, physicals, passports, and then US visas (since the kids do not become US citizens until they land in the US they need visas).

Then we come home!

Okay, that was sort of the idealized version of the process, and there are several places in there that we can hit some pretty major snags. But that's the basic overview. :)