Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras good news--***Edited***

The dossier is at the agency in Russia. C says that they're already translating it. Thank you God for positive news on this Mardi Gras day!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Blessings and happiness to all of you today--may the good times indeed roll on.

---I just got the "official" word from our home study agency about what is going on with them. Russia found that they were missing Post Placement reports from our agency for 4 families. The agency has records that show they submitted all the PPRs for 3 of these families. Somehow they weren't caught by Russia or got lost in the paperwork shuffle, or something like that. The agency is in the process of resubmitting this paperwork as we speak.

The fourth family is a different animal. These people moved out of the state, and didn't do their last post-placement. Our agency has plans to get this done (probably with another agency inthat state) within a 2 week time frame, and submitted to Russia as soon as possible after that.

However, the big problem is how long it is going to take Russia to sort this all out and process it once it gets there. I'm frustrated by this part, but ultimately I know that I can't do anything to change it.

And, while I understand that things just "happen" to all of us, I am incredibly frustrated by the family who failed to complete their last post-placement and has placed us all in this situation. With all that has happened in this country with adoptions and paperwork craziness, don't they understand how incredibly important it is that these things get DONE?
Ok, enough venting for now. I hope that all of you dealing with these situations have agencies that are being as helpful in explaining what's going on as ours has been.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Second Dossier is There

I just received an email from C this morning--our dossier is in Russia (it won't be delivered to the agency until tomorrow--today is a holiday there). At this point there isn't anything else to do but wait--I am trying to learn to let things that I can't control just be things that I can't control--and not obcess about them. But I'm so OCD about these things, so it is a struggle!

Just wanted to let all of you know that you're in my mind and heart--those of you dealing with this new homestudy ruling, those of you traveling, those of you waiting, and those of you home and facing the challenges of your families and the economy. But mostly the children are in my heart and prayers--Newsweek magazine did a story last week about how badly the Russian countryside is going to be affected by the economic problems--especially those regions that depended upon a single product, such as steel or nickel. My heart says that this is going to make things more difficult for those who can't help themselves.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

So do your fingers change that much in 15 months?

Hi all,

A couple of positive things today. Thursday, the last letter that we were waiting upon for the dossier arrived here. Steve picked it up at the homestudy agency, ran it over to the Secretary of State's office for the apostille and it went into the mail that afternoon.

Yesterday we made the 3-hour drive to KC to the Homeland Security office. We had to renew our fingerprints, which expire the middle of March for our I171-H. (Does it make sense to anyone why the approval is good for 18 months, but the fingerprints are only good for 15 months?) Everything went fine, no hitches, and we even got to spend some time with Steve's parents and our daughter Sarah (who's in KC for the next 3 weeks, doing an internship in dietetics at the children's hospital.) It was really good to see all of them, to catch up and share with them.

We drove down to the Plaza for the couple of hours between lunch and meeting up with Sarah. We were going to do a little shopping, but when we parked the car in the garage we were both so tired that we just crashed for about 20-30 minutes. I wish I had taken my camera with me--it would have been a great picture of what this journey does to you--sleeping in the parking garage in KC! We did rally, and journey out to Barnes and Noble, where we were just able to relax.

We drove back last night, and it was late when we got home. We decided that it was probably a good idea to get some sleep, so we slept in this morning. I now have a BUNCH of stuff that needs to be done--a bunch of papers to grade to get caught up for my online class (that honestly, I wasn't able to focus on last week--I feel bad that I'm behind, but I also know it's not fair to the students to grade their work in a crappy state of mind.) I'm trying to stop focusing on all this adoption craziness (both ours and everyone else in this situation, for whom my heart is just breaking, along with all those children this is going to affect) and focus on what I CAN do. But you all know that is just HARD.

So---a good end to a frustrating week. My prayers for all of you in this homestudy/post-placement craziness that you will find peace and grace in the midst of the storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick update on the homestudy situation...

I know that some of you have been worried. I have been, too, and I am so very appreciative of your good wishes and prayers--they are what has been carrying me through the last couple of days.

I talked yesterday with our social worker. She immediately called the homestudy agency after talking with us on Tuesday, and they had not even heard about the Russian ruling or the list. They are, according to her, in the process of checking all their records to see where, if any place, they are missing records or post placements for Russia. At this point, they don't know what to tell us, but they're hopeful that they can work this out.

I emailed C at the agency this morning to find out where we stand. They are going to go ahead and send our dossier on to Russia as soon as possible, and are also hopeful that this will all just work itself out.

So---it's still a waiting game. But at least we're moving forward at this point.

Like Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride, "I hate waiting!" But we've waited before and we will wait again. Thankfully, I know that "those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength." It has been good to hold on to that, and to all of your support in the last couple of days.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Emotional Pinball

Welcome to the world of Russian adoption. We've been on this journey for so long, and yet I'm always amazed at how crazy things can get.

I just posted on Friday on how excited we were to get the dossier in the mail to our agency in NC. Well, excitement hit a wall yesterday.

We found out, through some good friends in the adoption community and the FRUA website, that the Russian government (the Ministry of Education, which oversees international adoptions) has JUST released a list of homestudy agencies that, according to them, have not followed through with their commitment to produce their post placement reports (for those of you reading who are out of the International Adoption loop, once an adoption is completed, the families are obligated to particpate in a specified number of documented visits from a social worker, usually from the homestudy agency. These reports are sent back to the child's country of origin, as a confirmation that everything is going well in the adoptive family. This has been a big issue with the Russian government. Some families have not been followed up with, and this has fueled the view there that adopted children are not being taken care of.)

Getting to the imporant part---our new homestudy agency (that just finished and notarized our homestudy on Feb 6) is on this list. According to the official document from the MOE, the regions of Russia were supposed to be aware of this ruling on the agencies, primarily in regards to adoptions that being conducted independently (ie not through an accreditied adoption agency.) However, there could be potential problems for people who are working through accredited agencies like we are. It is "possible" that judges will not accept these homestudies, even if people are working through accredited adoption agencies.

Holy cow! Finding another agency to redo AGAIN our homestudy, wait AGAIN to have this done, and pay for it AGAIN?!! Suffice to say that we have been already on the phone with our social worker, and have already contacted our agency. Our social worker is trying to find out what she can, and promises to get back with us as soon as possible. C, the coordinator at our adoption agency has told us not to panic--yet--and to wait and see what happens. She is being told by her contacts in Russia that this ruling is only for independent agencies. However, there are many people out there in our same position who have been told by their agencies that they need to get their homestudies redone by an agency not on the list.

So, the news now is that we just need to wait for the moment and see what happens. I am SO not good at this. I feel like an emotional pinball, and it has been a very long week already. I know that, if we need to, this is what we'll do, but I am so very disappointed and discouraged at this point.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wait a minute Mr. (Mrs.) Postman...Way-ay-ay-ayt Mrs. Postman...

So, today I made the trek back downtown to the State Office Building. It's a bit scary; it's an OLD building in a part of downtown that's in the process of being restored. Probably the scariest part of the building is the elevator--it reminds me of the elevator in the apartment building I lived in when I was in Moscow back in 1996. Small, noisy, and a bit shaky.

I guess I should state that, yes, the State Office Building WAS open today. You can't see it here, but there's a sign on the door that says they're going to be closed on Monday for President's Day. SO I hit a good window.

The lady in the Secretary of State's office was very nice, and she was familiar with the dossiers for international adoption process. She told me that it might take a couple of hours to get everything done, since so many people were gone today, so I gave her my cell phone number and asked her to call when she was finished.

I walked across the square downtown to the new library branch. It's very nice--very modern, lots of art on the walls, computer terminals. It's part of the downtown renewal project for the city. I just sat at a table, drank my latte and read some things for class and the Bible study that I've neglected for the last week or so. In about 70 minutes, the lady from the Secretary of State's office called and said she was done.

So.....tah dah! Here are the 28 apostilled documents that we have so far:

Steve took them and made color photocopies, then we laid them all out on the table, just so we could show what a crazy amount of paperwork this is.

Then we decided we should probably take them to the post office. Unfortunately, we hadn't been keeping track of the time. We pulled into the post office parking lot at 4:27. They close the walk-up window at 4:30. We were sprinting into the building just as the lady was getting ready to lock the door. We asked if we could PLEEEEZE mail our dossier, and she was nice enough not only to let us in, but to help us get everything packed correctly and addressed and express mailed to the agency:

I took a picture of the clock as we were walking out:

So---amazing good feeling. The dossier is on its way to C at the agency. Because of the holiday and weekend, it won't be there until Tuesday, but I'm just glad that it's out of our hands for now.

Oh, and my Bible Study verse for the week? Check out this:

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:21-26


Friday Announcement

THE DOSSIER IS IN THE MAIL! More details to follow, but it should be enough to say that it is all finally notarized, apostilled, and on its merry way to NC.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today's chapter, in which Carolynn totally loses track of what's going on in the world..

Ok, short post here. I got up early, got all the paperwork together (after my ever-lovin husband copied it all last night), put it in a nice folder, and prepared the house to be gone. I yelled at my husband because I needed him to do some stuff since my Mom was supposed to be here this afternoon, and I needed his help. My Dad called and I had to tell him I would call him back later--sorry.

So then I drove downtown (after a quick stop for coffee) and pulled into the parking lot for the state office building. I noticed, as I was pulling into the parking lot that there weren't many cars there. Hmm...

Ok, so haul all my stuff out (the stuff to apostille, the papers that I'm going to grade while I'm waiting, my phone, coffee, etc.) and walk around this very large building to the front door.

Most of you probably know what I found...today is Lincoln's Birthday and the state offices are closed. No apostilles. Bleah. All that stress on myself and family for nada. And how is it that I am just so clueless about this today? Focus in the wrong place, perhaps? (she asks rhetorically)

So a lesson here? of course. God is trying to teach me to stop stressing about all this and just let go. I know in my head that it will all be ok, but I keep trying to do things on my timetable.

Good thing: I got to have lunch with my Mom instead of sitting in the state offices today. Bad thing: still have all those papers to grade!

Happy Lincoln's Birthday, everybody!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The next chapter, in which we visit a notary and herd cats....

First of all, thanks so much to all of you for the good wishes, encouragement, and prayers. You have no idea how much I treasure all of you, and am so thankful for your support in this process. I am hanging in here, and have a much better report for today...

So, today we treked out in the rain with our huge pile of documents to be notarized (not to mention the multiple copies of each in case we made a mistake...which we did!) Steve had called our friend Jack at the bank to ask when would be the best time to come by--bless Jack, he said it was not a big problem at all, and even stopped by while we were there to ask if there was anything else he could do to help us out. But I think the lady who acutally notarizied the documents was a bit overwhelmed! At one point she just stopped keeping track of the different documents and asked if she could make a copy of my list of paperwork and attach it to her records. I felt so sorry for her, especially since I was so seriously OCD about the whole process and obviously stressed.

I should mention that this was in part because today has been way crazee--we found out yesterday that one of the kittens has a respiratory virus and needs to be on antibiotics (including antibiotic eye ointment--try that on a cat! Luckily she's feeling better today, but she's putting up a stiff battle against the eye goo.) However, until she's better, she has to be kept in quarantine from the other 2 cats--that means she's taken over the laundry room. Unfortunately, the laundry room is right across the hall from our bedroom--and last night as we were going to bed, her brother decided to serenade her outside the laundry room door (that, or he was saying, "nyah nyah nyah--you're locked up and I'm out here!") We made the decision to move her to the other end of the house to the office, where we wouldn't hear all this. Wouldn't you know, the office door doesn't shut as well as it should--we woke up with her in bed with us this morning--so much for quarantine. We promptly returned her to the laundry room, and she was not happy.

To complicate matters today, one of the guys from the church showed up this morning to replace our dishwasher---great idea, not so great timing. It's raining, I'm trying to herd cats out of his way (he had to go through the laundry room to the garage to turn off the breaker--so I had to move Amelia, then make sure the other cats couldn't get to her, then make sure they didn't escape when he left the doors open...argh!), and I'm trying to prepare dossier paperwork and do my actual job while finding him the vacuum cleaner, a bowl, old towels, you name it. Bleah.

Enough complaining about getting a new dishwasher. The best news of the day was that, having sent scanned copies of the dossier to C in NC, she told me that everything looks great--no changes! Whoo Hoo! Steve is making copies of everything now, and I'll take it all downtown tomorrow for the apostilles. That means it could all be in the mail Friday.

So, a crazy day, but with ultimately good results. God is good---all the time. Oh, and today is my mom's birthday---Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a homestudy...

It has been a LONG time since I have posted anything about the adoption--primarily because there really has been very little to post. We met with our social worker way back in the beginning of November to begin the process of renewing/redoing our homestudy for our new agency. What with having to get additional clearances from several states, fingerprints, etc., it was finally last Friday that our homestudy was approved by all the parties involved and ready for us to pick up.

That means that all of our documents are now almost done (there's one letter from the state that we're still waiting on) and ready to notarize and apostille. My hope is that this is all done and in the mail to the agency by the end of the week. We just need to make an appointment with the notary, get final clearance from the agency on our document, and then run the entire packet into downtown Springfield to the Secretary of State's office.

On the one hand, I feel a bit like, "been there, done that." Part of me just feels like this is another set of paperwork that needs to be done. It was this time last year that we turned in our dossier to the old agency--I was excited then, and felt like things were going to happen very quickly (at least that's what they told us). After nearly 6 months of waiting with almost no contact from them, my excitement and hope level reached a low that I can only describe as wallowing on my couch with a cat and a blanket, blankly staring at old TV reruns and thinking this is never going to happen.

So, I'm finding it a bit hard to be excited now. Actually, I feel a bit like I don't want to be excited. I don't want to deal with the disappointment and loss of hope again, so I don't really want to hope. When I picked up the homestudy copies this afternoon, I didn't even really want to look at them (in fact, part of me didn't even want to really pick them up). I've lived in this state of "this is never going to happen" for such a long time, that it is hard to believe that it will. Perhaps I will feel different when the paperwork is all apostilled and on its way---I hope so.

I'm sorry that this is a depressing post---I don't want it to be, but I have promised myself that I'm going to start keeping these "real"--in part to be honest with you all, and also to be honest with myself. I do know that things will get better, but I feel like I'm guarding my heart here. I do know that I'm going to have to let go of the fear, and I'm trying to listen to God in the midst of all this.

Thank you all for all the encouragement. I promise to keep you posted when everything is on its way--again.