Monday, December 19, 2011

Our boy is 11 months old today!

Brayden was 9 1/2 months old when we met him, and today he turns 11 months old! January can't get here fast enough! One more month and we'll be back to Moscow and able to see our son again!!! While, we still haven't got our official court date, we were told by our agency last week that they spoke with our coordinator in Moscow and our court date will be sometime AFTER January 15th but BEFORE the end of the month.  So, there is a chance we might be there for his 1st birthday on January 19th or else we'll be heading over soon after! We won't get official word until after the holiday which means we'll be scrambling to make travel plans again and get our visas in order!! What else would we expect, right?

We were also told that the "mandatory" 30 day wait-time after court IS going into affect January, 2012 and it looks like we will have to come home, and then go back in February to get him. It's sort of strange, because as much as we miss our son more than anything, and want nothing more than to bring him home for good... I have to say, I wasn't as upset as I thought I'd be when I heard. Maybe it was because we got a heads up and were prepared for the news? Or maybe it is also because it takes the whole decision of whether or not we were going to combine trips 2 and 3 or go back two more times, off the table. We now definitely have to come home in between,  so the stress of trying to decide what to do is gone. Yes, of course, it sucks that he won't be home sooner, and that we have to fly back and forth TWO more times, but we now can come home and get any last things done. We aren't going to be in a whirlwind traveling back and forth to Russia in under 2 weeks! we will truly have time to get any last minute things done, and can sort of do this in baby steps. Trip 2 we can just concentrate on court and we get to see our boy !! Then we come home and get everything together that we need for him and Trip 3!

Yes... now I need to take another 5 day leave from work, but this also means that I won't go out on my adoption leave until later in February which means I don't go back to work until May! So, I will only be back at work for about a month before I am out for the summer and have all that time to be home with my little man! Yahoo! (Oh, I can't wait to take him to the beach!!!)

Another thing that is keeping me a bit positive, is I just keep thinking how we got our referral SO MUCH quicker than we expected and when I think about that, I realize that he is still going to be home with us months earlier than we originally thought so we can do this! We were expecting to receive our referral in "early 2012"! However, we got it in October! We  are going to have Brayden home for good in 2012! So when I think of that, I can't help but feel grateful! We are truly getting the little boy that was meant to be our son and these few months of waiting and missing him so much will all be worth it when he is home with us!!!

Hope everyone has a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!! : )

Monday, December 12, 2011

One Month Ago...

One month ago today, on November 12th we returned home from Moscow and from meeting our son. Four weeks is not a very long time, but to me it feels like it's been an eternity! We miss him so, so much and to be honest, it's been so hard! I just can't help being so bummed that we are here and B. is all the way on the other side of the world. We don't know what is happening with our case, or how he's doing or anything! We truly just feel so alone. It's hard not having any contact. It takes everything in me to keep myself from calling my agency everyday and asking for an update. However, I know that they haven't heard yet either. This is all completely out of our hands, in the hands of the Russian government and court system. How I HATE not having any control.

Everyday, especially in the last week or so, I wait for the phone to ring! I have my cell with me all day, and am constantly checking my email  at school hoping that we will get word of our court date. Everyday I wake up and think, "maybe today will be the day?" I have come to realize that I am SO not a patient person. I guess it's good that we were only on the wait list for 8 days!!! 

We were told by our coordinator when we were there that we should expect to come back for court in mid-January. She thought the week of his birthday maybe. Which is still over a month away from now. A LONGER wait than it's been already. This waiting is pure torture and I don't know how people got through it before us! (Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!) 

I'm just feeling really sad today and I feel guilty about being so sad when I know in a few months we will all be home together as a family! Yet, everyday I have at least 5-10 people ask me if we have heard anything yet and I always smile and say "Not yet. Hopefully soon." but inside my heart is breaking just a little bit, because it's one more day we don't hear anything, and I get so disappointed! I am always thinking about him and wondering what he is doing, and HOW he is doing. Do they show him our photo book? Is he still sleeping with the nubby we left for him? Have his two front teeth come through yet? So many questions, so much we are missing. : ( 

Randy and I both feel that if we at least had our court date it would lessen some of the stress. It may sound crazy but I start to worry that something is going to go wrong in this time when we are apart and just waiting. That somehow, maybe, he's not really going to be ours, that something in Russia is going to change and we're not going to get him. Crazy right? 

Having an actual date will help so much. We can start making our travel plans and more importantly, we will finally know when we will be able to see Brayden again!!! We are truly hoping we will hear before the holidays!! would be the best present ever and it's all we want is to go back and see our boy! 

So,the other issue is we are also waiting to hear about this 30 day wait period between court and when we can pick him up at the baby home. Most of you have probably heard something about this by now. 
Our agency has told us that they have not received "official" confirmation if this new law is definitely going to start up in January 2012. However,they did tell us that it is a real possibility and we should expect for this change. If this goes through, that means we won't be bringing Brayden home now until mid-late February. : ( It also means that I have to get my superintendent to grant me another 1 week leave of absence to go to Moscow for court, come back and continue with my class for 30 days, and THEN start my 12 week adoption leave. Fingers crossed it all works out. Obviously, I will do what I need to do to bring our boy home!! 

Hoping to be posting about our court date soon! Good luck and best wishes to all of you out there that are also waiting. Either for your referral or for your court date or for your paperwork to come back so you can send your dossier off!! Also, I just wanted to say Congrats to my friend Lauren who picked up her baby girl TODAY and will be bringing her home for good on Saturday! So happy and excited for her and her family!! : ) 

Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missing our Boy!!!!

So, we have been home from Moscow now for a little over two weeks but it feels like it's been two years. Seriously, I knew it would be hard to meet our son, fall so in love with him, and then have to leave him there.. but I didn't realize how much I'd actually hurt missing him. Every night before bed, I watch a couple of the videos we took of him. Just hearing his laugh and seeing his smile warms my heart. I just can't, can't wait to be back and to hold him again. : (  We haven't got our court date yet, and I'm not really sure when we will receive it. We were told from our agency that it could take several weeks before we know when we go back. Due to the holiday break.. we are hoping that we'll know in the next couple weeks before they close for their break. Then at least we'll have a few weeks to get our travel plans ready! We still are going back and forth between whether or not we want to do one long trip or two. Originally we were planning on going three times over, but now, after Trip 1, I am leaning towards just staying in Moscow for the time between court and gotcha day. Truth is it will come down to finances and how many days it will be. I just want to get back and see him!!

I also can't help being a bit jealous of some of my blogger friends out there that traveled right before us, or when we did, but are already back in Russia or are heading back soon and will have their little one home for Christmas. (Please know, I am so happy for you all and think it's so wonderful!!! Just wish we were ALSO going to be going back before the holiday!) Overall, I shouldn't complain and know that I should just be so thankful. We have been given this wonderful gift. Our beautiful, perfect, precious son! I have a great husband and now we are parents and it is a blessing and I am so grateful!!! However it's hard when you miss him so much, when we are halfway around the world from him... constantly thinking about him and wondering what he's doing!! Is he sleeping right now? Laughing? Eating? Playing? Is he okay? sick? sad? happy? Does he remember us? Does he know we are coming back for him? Does he feel how much we love him!!?? 

In some ways it's like a cruel joke.. or some sort of test. We have been waiting so long to be parents, and now we are but we can't be with our son. Ugh, it's so frustrating sometimes. I just miss him and want him home!!! I know that January will be here before we know it, and then this will all be a distant memory as we'll have Brayden home with us FOREVER so soon! I guess these are our labor pains... just a different kind. : ) 

Okay, so now that I've got that out.. on to getting ready for his arrival!! Well, My family & friends threw me a baby shower on Saturday, November 19th. (Brayden's 10 month birthday!) It was so amazing and we got so much stuff that we needed for Brayden!!! Another cool thing that they did, is that every guest brought a favorite childhood book to build his library!! We got some fantastic books and all of them were inscribed with special messages to Brayden!! It was such a wonderful thing they did!!! I was truly so overwhelmed by all the generosity and by how excited our family and friends are for us!! Everyone can't wait to meet him and for him to come home!!

My Baby Shower for Brayden! 

Adorable favors that my friend Mo made!!! : ) 

Mothers and Daughters & The Proud Nana in the middle! 

The girls!! 

Along with the shower, we have finished painting his room, ordered his nursery furniture, and the bedding is all here!!! Pictures to come once we get the furniture and his room all set up!!! Other than getting the room ready, we (well, mostly me) have been shopping like crazy! I literally buy something for him everyday!!! I am in complete nesting mode!! Having so much fun but also feeling a bit like I can't stop!! : ) Another reason I need him home soon!!  : ) 

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving!! We have so much to be thankful for this year and just can't wait until the holiday season next year when Brayden will be celebrating with us at home!!!! Fingers crossed we get a court date soon!!!! : ) 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trip 1- Our Second Day with Our Little Guy!

So we arrived at the baby home at 10 am on Friday for our 1st of 2 visits we would have that day! Olga wasn't with us today, but our driver came in with us and brought us up into the same play room we were in the day before. We waited just a few minutes before the caretaker brought him in to us! We were both just so excited to see him again! When he saw us, his whole face light up and a huge smile came across his face! He remembered us and was so happy to see us! He put his arms right out towards me, and almost jumped in my arms!! Our driver stayed for a few minutes with us and just took some pictures and videos of the 3 of us as we interacted. Again, B. was happy and smiling and cooing! He loved having all this individual attention and was just so cuddly and snugly with both of us! During our morning visit, he was really active. While he liked to spend a lot of time on our laps or being held, we were able to put him on the rug with the toys we brought, and get down on the floor with him and play! Just like yesterday our time with him went by so quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for them to take him for lunch and a nap. 

Randy and I went outside to meet our driver who was waiting in the car. He took us to a restaurant for lunch that was right around the corner from the baby home. We all ate and talked and just hung out there until it was finally almost 2:00 pm and time to go back for our final visit with him before we had to leave the next morning. 

Just like this morning, B.'s face lit up again, and he had a big smile when they brought him in to us. While it warmed my heart, and made me feel so great to see how happy he was with us, it also made me so sad to think that after today, he wouldn't be brought in to us for 2 months!! We were told by both our agency and by O. the day before, that our court date wouldn't be until mid-late January. Moscow always had about an 8 week wait for a court date, and since B. had his 1st birthday on January 19th, they thought we'd be going back for court that week. It seemed like so, so far away! 

I put the thought out of my head and just enjoyed our last few hours with him. He was not as active as he was earlier, and was much more content to just cuddle and be held by the two of us. He loved to snuggle with both of us and was just so interactive and affectionate. Every time I kissed him he'd smile and giggle and it just already felt so natural and that we were all meant to be a family. It was the best feeling. As I felt the day before, being with him made all the other "stuff" so worth while. It was so surreal! Here we were.. 1/2 way around the world, with our son. There was a time when we wondered if we'd ever be parents, and now..we were. 

Saying goodbye to him was tough. When they came in to get him at 4:00 pm part of me wanted to yell out, "no! Don't take him. Please. Not yet!!" but we also knew that he was in good hands here, and that the caretakers and nurses were taken such good care of him! It was only a few more months and then we'd be back to get him. To take him home, forever! 

Now, we have been home a few days and I think about him all the time. In just two days, and four visits, I had fallen so madly in love with our child. My husband has as well! We watch our videos of us with him, and look at the slide show of pictures on the computer with tears in our eyes. We both miss him so much already and just hope and pray that he'll remember us and that he knows that we are coming back to get him soon and to take him home! 

Trip 1 and then FINALLY meeting our son!!!

Well we arrived home on Saturday and I'm just finally getting a chance to write about our trip! What a whirlwind week we have had with the best of it coming at the end when we finally got to spend the last two days with our son!! It was a crazy week, with lots of ups and downs, but all turned out so wonderful that it's almost like I forget the start to the week. (almost!) Well, I guess it's best to probably start at the beginning! I figured telling our story in one post, was eaier than splitting it into 3 shorter ones... so here it goes!

Our flight for Moscow left Boston at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday the 5th and after 13 hours of travel... we arrived in Russia at 6:00 am. on Sunday morning! Our driver met us at the airport and took us to our hotel. He was really nice and told us that he'd be with us for the week. He also informed us that Olga, our coordinator, would be calling us later that night with our plan for Monday. He said  he'd be by the next day to pick us up for our Ministry appointment. Again he told us that she would tell us what times to be ready.

After we checked in we went right to our room and crashed for 7 hours!! While it was morning there, for us it was night still and we were both exhausted! We got up at 2:30 in the afternoon, groggy and STARVING, so decided to check out the hotel and find some food! (By the way, finding food was not an easy task for a non-meat eater who is lactose intolerant, oh and also allergic to wheat and egg!) We ended up at a cafe in the lobby where I was able to get some vegetable rice and Randy was able to get a fish stew he liked. It was about that time that the actual "culture shock" hit us. We were not in Massachusetts anymore for sure! Of course there was the language barriers, but there was also the fact that as we looked around we were definitly the only Amercians, and we stook out like sore thumbs! We did our best to fumble through the menu and to order, to make sure we left the right rubles and to figure out the correct tip! We felt a bit like ameaturs and realized that we hadn't really prepared ourselves very well! The hotel we stayed at in Moscow was called the Cosmos. We ended up booking there as they were running a huge discount on the internet and it was half the price of the international hotels we had been looking at! We checked out the website and it seemed nice. We also thought that since we'd have some "down" time this week before we'd be able to get into the baby home to meet B., it was great that the hotel had several restaurants, shops etc.
However what we hadn't expected is that in a 25 floor hotel, we'd be the ONLY Americans and that barely anyone we came into contact with (including the staff) spoke any English at all!

Needless to say, as the days went by we got much more comfortable with our cultural differences, and got much more confident with our ordering and with the money! We were able to hold our own, even without our driver/translator with us!! : )

So later Sunday night, we got our call from our coordinator and she informed us that she would meet us at our hotel at 1:30 Monday to prepare us for our meeting with the Ministry. She also told us that our driver, would be picking us up at 3:15 as our appt. was at 4:30 pm.

Olga met us at the cafe in our hotel lobby with her daughter, Anna. The two of them work together with our agency and they were both so nice! It was nice to have conversation with other people since Randy and I had only been able to talk to each other for the last 2 days! We both cracked up though when Olga asked us, "Why did you choose this hotel?" She also told us that in 20 years of doing this work, we were her only couple who stayed at the Cosmo! Whoops! Well, there show's the power of the internet I guess! Our driver also told us that he had never been to this hotel before either! Ha!

We then began discussing our week and how it would all work. Our referral was a bit different than most as Randy and I were heading to the Ministry to present our own case with just our interpretor with us. She explained, as our agency had, that we were a unique case since our boy was still so young! (still only 9 months old.) She said that it would be a formality, they may ask us some questions, and then we'd leave and wait to hear when our next appt would be, but she thought it would be late Wednesday afternoon or early on Thursday. This would be when we'd recieve the "official" referral of our son from the Ministry and be invited to go visit him! Finally!!! This also meant we had to find things to keep ourselves busy on Tuesday and Wednesday, since we were told we'd get 2 days (Thursday/Friday) to visit him in the baby home. : (

We were both a bit nervous about our appt. since we weren't really sure what to expect or what would happen. Our driver was there on time and it took us about an hour or so in traffic to get to the Ministry. We were called in to our appt. at about 4:45 pm and I don't know how else to describe our meeting except tense and nerve wracking! Randy and I sat quietly why the two officials talked in Russian with our driver. (who was also our translator.) At one point one of the women seemed to get upset about something in our documents and was talking fast and all we could understand was the name of our agency and then the rest was all in Russian and the conversation was not being translated for us at this point at all!

Okay, I may not speak Russian, and I understand that there are differences in our cultures, however, irritation and aggrevation looks the same in any language, and she was not happy!!
Randy and I were so scared. I felt like I was going to cry, as I had no idea what was going on, and this whole conversation was happening in front of us that we couldn't understand! We were kicking each other under the table and trying our best to seem calm and composed, however inside I was dying. Then, our driver just stood up, nodded at us that we were done, and we just walked out of the room. Randy and I both smiled at the women and said thank you. One of them smiled at us, which made me feel a bit better but I was still so confused what had just happened!

We asked our driver if everything was okay and that we felt that the officials seemed upset. He just said they were confused why we were sent there as independents when we were working with an accredited agency and that O. would explain it all to us when she called later... and that was it. Okay, so have to say, this did not help us to feel like all was okay. We felt isolated, scared, and confused!

When we got back to the hotel that night, we hoped that we'd hear from O. that night but we didn't. The next day was Tuesday and we had planned for our driver to pick us up to go do some sight seeing and take us to Red square and the Kremlin. I have to admit, that I am glad we had the opportunity to do this while in Moscow, and it was pretty cool. Also the museums and the GUM mall, definitely kept our minds distracted as we waited to hear something! Truth was at this point, we weren't even convinced that we were definitly going to meet our son! It was scary and stressful to say the least!

It began to pour around 3:30 pm so we decided to call it a day, and our driver then took us to the Hard Rock Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner. It was so yummy!! And due to the fact that I had truly only eaten rice for 2 days, we ate like we had never had food before in our lives! I was able to get a salad with vegetables, and a piece of chicken and best of all... french fries! We were happy and our outlook did improve with full bellies!!!

That night when we got back to the hotel, we did hear from O. and she informed us that everything was a go, all the problems were solved, and we would be picked up the following afternoon to go to a notary to sign another application for the ministry and we'd be going back on Thursday am and then off to the baby home! Relief. And more importantly, hope and excitement again!

Our next appointment at the ministry was much easierand much lighter than the one on Monday! One of the two officials was the woman from our first visit who had seemed a bit upset. Today though, she seemed warmer, and as she slid the paper over to us, and I saw my son's face, I was overcome with relief and just joy. My eyes filled up as our driver/translator began to provide us with the referral information. (Most of which we already knew.) I was just so happy then. Okay, this was going to happen. It was really him and we were on our way to go meet him!!!!
The meeting itself couldn't have been more than 10 minutes. Randy and I were both emotional, and we thanked the two officials again, this time we got smiles and nods and we were off to the baby home!!! The drive from the ministry to the baby home was pretty quick, thankfully. At this point I was about to jump out of my skin! I was so excited!! I was sitting in the back seat of the car and wanted to yell out the window! I wished my phone worked because I just wanted to call or text someone my good news!

O. was waiting for us when we arrived at the baby home and she gave us both a hug and congratulated us. It now felt so real. She then told us that we were going to go right upstairs to meet our baby before they had to take him for lunch and nap! The baby home was bright, well kept, and much nicer than Randy & I had pictured in our minds. We were pleasantly surprised and both felt really comfortable here!

O. waited in the playroom with us. When the caretaker brought him in the room, my first thought was how little and how precious he was. O. told me to take him, and explained that the babies sometimes were afraid of men since they didn't see many in the orphange. The second they put him in my arms, it was love! He looked right up at me with his big brown eyes and smiled. My heart melted and never in my life had I felt so sure that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I was doing. He was perfect!

He warmed right up to Randy and was not afraid of him at all! He was smiling and giggling at him, and within 10 minutes I was able to hand him to Randy without a problem. The two of us just took turns holding him and playing with him and we could not get enough of him! O.  and the caretaker had left right after they handed him to me, and we were able to just enjoy our visit with him as a family. It was wonderful and worth all the stress, fear, and confusion we felt earlier in the week! It felt like we had only been with him for 5 minutes, not 45, when O. came back in and told us the director needed to speak with us now, and that B. would be eating lunch. My favorite part of the day with him was when the caretaker came to take him for lunch and when she reached for him, he turned into me like he didn't want to leave us! We met with the director for about 20 minutes and got a few more details about the biological mom and the very limited family history that was provided. We were also told all the results from his exam with the physican on November 1st. Everything came back normal and he was very healthy! We were suprised to learn though that he was eating with a spoon and could drink out of a cup! What!! He's 9 months old!! (He will have sippy cups with us!) Day one with our little guy was wonderful and when we had to leave him that afternoon we couldn't wait to get back there Friday morning to see him again!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's a Boy!!!

Yup! We got a referral and are headed to Moscow in under 2 weeks to met our little guy!! He is 9 months old and has big dark brown eyes, brown hairs, and is absolutely adorable and perfect! We truly feel so blessed right now and honestly just can't believe how fast this is all moving now!! The last week has been a complete whirlwind for us and been completely crazy! Last Tuesday, exactly 8 days after being told we were "officially on the wait list" we got the call! It was so unexpected that we'd hear anything this soon! We were told that we should expect a referral by early 2012 so needless to say, when I woke up on October 18th, I definitely didn't think, "today is the day!"

Ironically, I was walking out of school, talking to a friend that is currently covering for a maternity leave. She was asking when I thought I'd be going out on adoption leave since her "job" was going to be up in mid January. I told her "Oh, I don't think that we'll be bringing our child home before late April early May.." and two minutes later, when I got in my car, I realized I had a missed call from the agency. Yet, still, I didn't think anything of it. Then I heard the message that said to call back when I could. Even though it was so early, and we were told only a week before that we had a few months still, I felt my heart pounding as I drove home. I called my husband and said, "I know you'll think I'm crazy but I think we are getting our referral today."
His response, "No. It's way to early." Yet, I couldn't shake the feeling, and as soon as I got home and we were together we called. Yup!! They had a referral for us and were overnighting us his dvd and medical record! I couldn't believe it!! I barely slept on Tuesday night and don't even know how I got through teaching Grammar, Reading, Writing, & Social Studies on Wednesday. I ran out of school like the building was on fire and rushed home to get our mail!!!

I can't even describe the feeling that came over me when I saw him for the first time. Talk about love at first sight!!! My husband and I were both just in awe of him and both of us instantly felt that he was in fact, our child! So, we then went back to the post office and overnighted his records to our international doctor at the Children's Hospital here in Boston, to double check that she had no concerns. We got the "all clear" from her on Friday and accepted the referral!!!We got our travel dates yesterday, booked our flights and hotels last night, and are leaving for Moscow on November 5th!! It's just so surreal!!! When we started this process last February we had no idea what this would feel like when it finally all became real! It's so amazing, and now I just pray that all works out and that we will in fact be adopting this little guy!!

I have to admit that although I'm so excited and am just bursting at the seams to get there and see him, and smell him, and hold him.. I'm also a bit scared. It's all really overwhelming too. Originally we were told last week that we would most likely be able to go to the baby home on Monday the 7th to meet our child. However, we found out yesterday that we won't be able to meet him until that Wednesday! Since our boy is still so young, our process is going to be a little bit different than others as we are going directly through the Ministry. On Monday morning we have an appt. with the ministry to present our case/documents ourselves in order to recieve an official referral. (Our coordinator will be there with us too!) Has anyone else had to do this? I'm sort of freaking out about it.

Anyway, after our appt. on Monday they said it will take a day or so to get an invitation to the baby home, so the earliest we'll go visit is Wed am.  While I know I should just be happy at how fast we got our referral and thankful at how perfect our boy is, I can't help but be a little sad that we aren't going to be able to spend the whole week with him! : (

So, for the next week we will keep busy with buying a few toys to bring over with us, making a photo album to leave with him, and packing for the COLD weather, and we'll be set to go!! Hope to post updates when we are there or right when we get back!!! Wish us luck!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back at it after summer break!

Wow,  I can't believe it has been over a month since I've posted!! For the first time since we began this process back in February, I feel like Randy and I sort of "checked out" from this part of our life for a few weeks there. It feels strange actually, for months we (mostly me) spent like all our free time consumed with doing "things" for the adoption! (Home study, training courses, gathering/copying/scanning documents, running back and forth to the post office, checking things off our list, switching new agencies, more training, paperwork, and running to and from the post office) Then of course, when I had "down" time from the above mentioned tasks, I was on Babies R Us checking out strollers, high chairs, bedding, cribs, and planning colors for the nursery..... and just going, going, going!! Then, our anniversary came... and our vacation, and we were able to totally unwind, relax, and shut it off for a while. Which, I actually think was very healthy for us! We celebrated our 2nd anniversary on the 16th of August by going to Cape Cod for a few days, had gorgeous weather, and spent our days relaxing on the beach and our nights going out to yummy seafood dinners and having drinks!! It was such a wonderful trip, and a few times as we sat at an outside bar after dinner, looking at the water and having a drink, we would laugh thinking.. "this will be a bit different for us NEXT year!" ha.

The week after we got back we spent a couple days at my school setting up my new classroom! I moved from 1st grade to 5th this year & once the end of August hit, I threw myself into getting my classroom ready and preparing myself for the new school year!! We've been back to school for two weeks now, and I'm loving teaching 5th grade! It's challenging, but in a totally different way then 1st was!! So, getting into the swing of things at work has been what has consuming me these last couple weeks. When my adoption worker called me last week to check in and see how things were going, I actually began to get anxious. I called Randy and was freaking out... "Oh, my god!!! We have been totally slacking!! We haven't done anything in weeks!!!" He, who is usually much more level-headed then me, and my voice of reason, replied, "What could we be doing? Aren't we just waiting for FBI clearance to come back?" And, I began to relax, he was right. We had done so much in such a short period of time. We only signed with AAC the beginning of July and we finished the training, gathered almost all of our documents, Passed our MMPI personality tests (Phew!!) and just did so much running around this summer!! I needed to take a deep breath here, we were doing okay. It would all happen the way it was meant too.

So, here's where we are now with everything!! We are waiting for an amended I-600A approval form (since we switched agencies home study needed to be updated), and we have been waiting for over 8 weeks for our FBI clearances to come in! Once we have that, we will have all the documents necessary for our dossier! We were waiting on this ONE thing before taking the trip into Boston to get all our documents apostilled! This was sort of our last step before sending everything off to the agency! When I finally spoke with my adoption worker on Friday, she told us that she had mailed out our Russian Package which we needed to sign and send back to her asap so that we'd be able to be put on the waiting list! We got the packet yesterday, and of course Randy is working tonight, so we will be signing the forms tomorrow night and sending them off by the end of the week!! She also told me that we should just apostille everything we have now, and send it to her. So, we are now planning to go into Boston and drop our documents off at the office next Wednesday. (It seems to be faster if we hand deliver them than to mail them). We are hoping that we'll get the clearance forms by then but if not, we'll just bring what we have, and cross our fingers it won't take more than a couple days!

So after speaking with the agency, we are so excited again. We are not letting ourselves get crazy stressed or worried since as we have learned, so much of this is out of our hands. Of course, I am thinking about the school year now though, and trying to "game plan" for how long of a leave I will be taking depending on when we can bring our little one home. Last week, the latest estimate we got is that we should expect a referral in early 2012. So, we are thinking and hoping that we may travel sometime in February and then hopefully have our adoption complete in May?!! Originally when we thought we'd be getting a referral earlier, I was planning on taking 12 weeks of  adoption leave. (Especially since the first few weeks I'd be in Russia!!) While we are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave, we are only paid for 8 weeks. However, if it worked out that we'd be going to get our baby in May.. I wouldn't need to take more than the paid 8 weeks as it would run right into the summer! I would then have over three full months home with our child which would be ideal!!! Of course, on the other side of things, I'm beginning to worry if things progress slower than we anticipate and we can't bring our child home until June/July. Then I'm worried I won't have "enough" time to spend with him/her before I go back in September. We have talked about the possibility of me taking a year off if things are pushed back some... I just don't know how we can swing me not getting a salary! Ugh! (okay, didn't I say I was going to breathe, and not stress!!??) What will be will be! Right??

So, that is where we are now. At the very end, and feeling a bit of a fire under us again to get the last loose ends tied up! Our plan is by the end of next week we'd have everything we needed apostilled and on it's way! Then.. the true wait begins and who knows, maybe then we'll hit Babies R Us!! :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is the summer really almost over?!!!

Wow, it's been over a month since I updated our blog! The summer has been crazy busy and has literally flown by! I can't believe school starts up again just 2 weeks from tomorrow!! So excited for our "end of summer" get away to Cape Cod tomorrow!! Randy and I will be married two years, and we are going away to celebrate our anniversary for the rest of the week! Today poured all day but it's suppose to be beautiful Wednesday and Thursday which will be great since we'll be at the beach!!! Wahoo!

Last year, this week was one of the worse we ever had as we found out that we had miscarried again and spent our vacation mourning another loss. It is amazing how much things change in a year. This year we are happy and hopeful and actually going to enjoy every second of our time away together as we KNOW this is our last "Cape" trip just the two of us! : )

So.. adoption news. Well, we are still gathering/waiting for documents for the dossier!! We hoped to have this all done by the end of the summer, but it looks like it will take about a few weeks into September until we have everything back! Since we began with the old agency back in February, we had to do quite a bit of updating our "old" documents, on top of  gathering all the documents that our new agency required! We are now just waiting on our FBI clearances coming back, Our MMPI results (Oh my god, that was funny!),  and for our social worker to finish updating the homestudy to meet with AAC guidlines. Once she is done, we will be sending it off to USCIS for an updated I-171H and then we'll have everything we need for our dossier! It is amazing to me how little our first agency required us to do! I actually really wonder if we would EVER have received a referral from them, or been able to have a successful adoption. There was so many documents that Russia REQUIRES that they were not even asking us to get! It actually makes me anxious to think about what we would be dealing with if we had to stay with them. It is worth the delay, and the extra cost to just have peace of mind!!! At this point, we just try to remember that we are on the right path, and everything will happen when and how it is suppose to!

Well that's all for now! Hopefully I will be blogging soon that all our documents are on their way!! : ) Hope all are having a great summer!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I-171H Arrived!

So.. things are moving forward! Again? Finally??!! I'm not really sure, but either way, it feels good!!

We went to USCIS to get fingerprinted on 6/29 & within EIGHT days we received our approval letter!!! We are so excited. It makes it feel a little more real and like we are one step closer to bringing our child home! : )

Talked to agency today and our dossier packet is on it's way to us & we should get it tomorrow or Thursday. Then we can begin gathering all our documents and paperwork (AGAIN!) to bring with us when we take the trip to our agency in Pittsburgh! (Were hoping to go at the end of August before I start school, but will most likely not be until 2nd or 3rd week of Sept. after we finish our mandatory 10 week prep course!) Once the course is complete & we have all our paperwork organized and together.. we will begin our official wait for a referral! (Sigh)  Both of us feel very confident and very good about our decision and our agency. Everything just feels "right" this time, and it feels so good to just be really excited and hopeful again!!

Thanks to everyone for all your thoughts and support! : )

Maura & Randy

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking back on the last six months and gaining a fresh prespective

Well, we have signed our 2nd adoption contract in six months! Hopefully, this is our last & we are now REALLY moving forward in our adoption!!

Randy & I are both really excited about starting with the new agency and feel that we are now on the "right" path to our child. However, I have to admit that I do not feel as "Gung Ho" as I did in the winter when we started this process. I am not saying I don't want it as much as I did then, I am just feeling more.. relaxed? apprehensive? I don't know what it is exactly, but I do know that I don't feel this strong need to run around in circles again. Randy & I both seem to be handling things a little differently this time around. We are a bit more easy going I guess. We both feel "what is meant to be will be" and "whatever is suppose to happen, is going too & since we can't control it,we're not going to make ourselves crazy!

When we began this process back in January, I felt like I was in such a RUSH. I wanted/needed to get absolutely everything done and accomplished asap! I had to, Had To, HAD TO... get our baby home right way!!! Everyday, every free second, I was doing something related to the adoption. I literally would do 2 online courses in a day so that I could get all the training done in under two weeks! Why? I don't know. Especially since our homestudy report took until the end of April to be written!!! I literally....had months!!
We ran around like crazy people to get  it all done and to have all our paperwork together so that our dossier could be sent to Moscow as soon as the Home Study report was done! (Yeah, Right!) Well, they had everything on April 20th and on June 16th.. almost two months later.. we were told, "Whoops! Nope, Sorry!! There is no rush to get your paperwork in! Our mistake, Oh...and by the way, "We lost your check."

So, all that stress, anxiety, and rushing around was for Nothing! (Sigh)
So now, we are looking at this with a new perspective. The child who is meant to be ours will come to us when the time is right, and we need to just relax and go with the flow. (easier said then done of course, but we are going to try our best!)

In the last couple weeks since we made the decision to switch agencies, I have felt relieved. I feel better. I feel more.. sure of this whole process.  However, I almost feel like we had to learn a lesson here. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe just to listen to our guts more. Or to just slow down, take some deep breaths, and take time to process what we're doing and each step along the way? I don't know. I do know that even before things strarted to go bad with our last agency something just didn't sit "right" with me.

I wrote a post awhile back about not being able to buy the bedding, or to start the nursery, because I just had a feeling that this wasn't going to happen yet. When our family threw us our fundraiser party in March, just a week after our final home visit, I remember thinking, "this is too much, too soon.." As happy and excited as I was, I just felt like something was off and I could NOT put my finger on it. I assumed it was my "jinxing it all" fear that comes with allowing ourselves to get excited about being "pregnant" and having it all come crashing down... but now I realize it wasn't that. It wasn't that I had doubts that we should be doing this.. It was just a feeling that maybe something wasn't right.

Now, I wonder if it was just my gut telling me that things just seemed to be "way too easy". Maybe a part of me, KNEW that receiving the "Welcome to the Moscow Program" packet and being told we should expect a referral in early fall during our 2nd home study meeting, was strange. I mean, we hadn't met or spoken with any of the adoption workers from our agency, only our social worker. Well if the director of the Moscow program was in the office, why wouldn't she poke her head in and introduce herself? Wouldn't she WANT to meet us? Why wasn't she available for questions or information???? Something about it all just wasn't sitting right.

Then for two months we waited for calls & emails to be returned, paperwork that never came, and nobody was contacting us to tell us "what's next?" What was going on? and our doubts increased & we began to wonder.. did we jump into this all too quickly??

Now, looking back. I realize that Yes. In a way, we did. We decided to adopt in October 2010 after going to the informational meeting at Alliance for Children, & we decided we'd begin the process after the holidays. However, we didn't even look into or research ANY other agencies. We just went with the 1st agency we spoke with, put all our faith into them, and jumped in head first. Yikes. We were SO LUCKY they lost our check! ha!!

Well, lesson learned. It is great that Randy and I were so excited and so ready to be parents that we took a huge leap of faith, but we did it without asking questions and looking at our options and listening to our guts. Now, this time, we won't make those mistakes again! We want this so much, and we can't wait to bring our little one home, but we also are going to breathe & process what we are doing. What is meant to be will be. We both believe that. When the time is right.. we will get our referral!

So many of our friends and families look at us now & say "Oh, no! Do you have to start from scratch?" or.. "Well when will you find out?" "When will you be going to Russia now!!??" And we shrug and say, "We aren't really sure." The homestudy is done. We signed the contract and are waiting on our dossier paperwork and will just wait and see!  We know that their website says the wait time is less than 2 months for infant/toddler boys right now. We also know that they informed us if we are open to a child of Euroasian decent, that we can get a referral much quicker! However, this time.. we are NOT getting ourselves worked up or crazy thinking about timelines and dates and trying to predict when our child will be home. If nothing else, we have learned that we have no control and we need to just wait and see what happens. We will take this step by step and  process it all! Of course, we hope to get a quick referral, of course we'd like to think that they won't be too delayed by changing agencies, but the truth is all we really want, is a healthy child to love! We have waited this long.. really? What's another few months, right?!! We got a "do over". Not everyone does, so this time we just want to be sure we do it right! : )

Oh!! I almost forgot! A true sign that I am feeling much better about where we are in this whole process is that last week when we went to Boston I bought my first "gift" for the baby! I couldn't help myself! We were in this little shop that had baby "Red Sox" gear, and we ended up buying an adorable 18 month "Red Sox" tee-shirt! So cute!! It really felt so good to buy it! Of course, there is a chance that our child could be too big for it.. but my GUT says.. it's going to be just perfect! : )

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Russian Adoption... Take 2

Okay, so I should probably first start off by saying that Randy and I are in a MUCH better place than we were last week. Feeling okay about things again, and even a little positive! I also want to thank everyone that commented and gave us wonderful advice and support! Thanks!!

We were able to put a stop payment on the bank check that our agency lost, and we informed them that we won't be using them for our placement service! We are so thankful that we were able to get that $$ redeposited into our account. Ironically, them losing that check was the BEST thing that could have happened to us.  If they had deposited it, we would be stuck with them. We would have been so deep in  with them finanically that we wouldn't have been able to start over somewhere else.

This is basically where we are now. Starting over. We have decided to go with a new agency, and are going to be working with Adopt-A-Child, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA. They came very highly recommended, had great reviews, and when we spoke with them earlier in the week, they were so efficient, answered all our questions, and actually provided us with more information in one 30 minute phone call then we got from our old agency in 6 months! It was like, "Ah.. THIS is the way it is suppose to be!" We both feel very confident that we are doing the right thing, and actually very relieved that we were able to leave our agency.

So.. we just filled out the application this week and sent it over to get our file opened. The next step will be to go there, sign the contract, and figure out what the next steps are. Since our home study is done, and we have our appt with USCIS on Wednesday, we won't have to start from scratch! They informed us that we can just bring all our documents we already gathered for the dossier for the other agency and we'll go from there!! They do have a mandatory 10-week training course that we need to complete which we hope to start asap.. then we'll be able to get our documents together and sent to Russia! Our hope is that everything will be sent by early September. Since we are open to a child of either gender, we were told we could receive a referral within 2-3 months! So, chances are good we may make at least one trip before the holidays, and have our little one home hopefully late winter/early spring. To be honest, even if it takes longer.. it will be so worth it in the end to just know we are working with an agency that we trust, and to have the peace of mind to know that we are going to get the child that is meant for us.

So, we are hopeful again and feeling positive about things. It is actually nice to not have the "bad feeling" anymore. I would be lying if I didn't say I'm still really nervous and a bit scared.. but I also know in my heart that Randy and I did the right thing! Now, we just have to trust and have faith that we are truly on the path we were meant to take and soon we are going to be meeting our child.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

And.. We're Freaking Out!

So, my husband & I knew when we began this process that there would be some "bumps" in the road and some hurdules on our journey.. and honestly, I thought we were prepared for them & ready. Well, I was wrong, because I have to admit that our faith in this process has been completely shattered and I'm actually... really scared.

Has anyone out there considered or had to change agencies?? Well, this is where we are at right now! Considering walking away from our adoption agency... and it's killing me. I am going to babble here.. so beware!

When we began this process in January we were very confident that we picked a great adoption agency and had complete faith that our adoption journey would be a  successful one. We loved that they were an "all in one" type agency and that we could do our homestudy through them as well as get all our documents notarized and apostilled there as well. Less running around and they seemed SO efficient. They were so warm, and so nice and just seemed so professional...

Yet, in the last couple months since WE completed all of our "duties" in this process, and it's all in thier hands, we are seeing a completey different side of them!

Our last home study visit was on March 9th and  we were told then that she'd get our report written up asap so we could move forward! After waiting over a month to hear something, I called my social worker to just get an update on the status of the home study report and to schedule a meeting time to hand over all our paperwork. We had finished our medical exams, and had completed all our tasks and paperwork for our dossier to go to Russia! We were so excited and wanted to get everything over there asap! So, we made an appt for April 20th as I would be on vacation from school, and that would give her a few weeks to complete the report.

However, at that meeting, she informed us that she still needed a little bit more time to finish the homestudy report and if we didn't hear from her in two weeks, to call/email her to "remind" her about it??!!!!
I felt a twinge of worry in my stomach right then, but I sucked it up, said nothing, and went about our "business" of turning over all our documents! On this day we gave them EVERYTHING from our checklist, including a $6,000 cashiers check to cover dossier prep fees and agency administration fees!
We also were able to meet with our adoption coordinator for the Moscow Program! She informed us that our immigration paperwork and check (that we sent over in March) would be sent to USCIS as soon as the homestudy report was finished, AND that there were four other forms we would need to sign and date before the dossier could be sent, but she couldn't draft them until the report was complete as she needed info from it to type them up. She said she'd contact us as soon as the report was done to do that! We were also told by her at this meeting that we were still in great shape, and were "still on track" for a referral in early fall as we had been told at our meeting in February! She then also informed us that we would be the 1st family on the list when the program re-opened the end of August so just to be prepared for a referral around the time I'd go back to school!

Well, about three weeks later when we hadn't heard a peep, I emailed my social worker to "remind" her about the report and was told the "finishing touches" were being done, and  it was completed within that week. We received a copy in the mail on May 12th and began to feel okay about everything again.

Yet, a few weeks went by and no call/email to us about the paperwork! So, on June 1st, I emailed our coordinator & asked about these last forms we needed to sign for the dossier to be sent to Moscow. Two days went by and we didn't hear back. So, Friday, June 3rd and my husband called and was told that the forms would be sent that day.. if not than DEFINITELY Monday. She also told him "not to worry. As long as our paperwork was in Moscow before July 1st we were on track! However, about 30 minutes later we got a call back saying they needed our "original" birth certifcates and marriage certificate. They "couldn't find it"!! We gave them all that stuff in April. She called back quickly to say that she did find it, she was looking in the "wrong" file, and again promised paperwork was being sent out asap!

So this past Monday.. (the 13th!!) when we STILL haven't gotten the forms...I emailed yet AGAIN to find out where these forms were. Tuesday, Wednesday, nothing! No response back. Randy called on Thursday and finally got to speak to the coordinator. She told him that she thought someone else was taking care of that, and she'd find out for us and "get back to us" (still hasn't by the way). When he asked her about the July 1st "deadline" to get everything to Russia so we would be on schedule, he was told that there was actually another couple ahead of us that they had expected would have received their referral already and hadn't. She said that THEY'D be getting the first referral when the program reopens at the end of the summer and we'd be sometime after that! She said that our paperwork would NOT be ready for July 1st as it "didn't" need to be, and  it just needed to be over there before they re-open! Did I mention that we've had EVERYTHING there since April as we were told it all had to be done and sent by the end of June???

So, okay. Yes, bumps. We knew that there could be delays, we sort of expected them. However, it would have been nice if someone CALLED us or contacted us and told us that! Or, if they returned a call or email??!! Needless to say, I was really disappointed, especially since we began to believe we could have our little one home by the holidays! I was teary eyed when Randy called to tell me, but then I began to calm down and realized that if we didn't go for our first trip until October or November.. it would be fine. Actually, maybe it would even be better in a way since I'm moving from 1st grade to 5th next year, and I will be much more settled before I go out on my leave! Besides, a few extra months to save!

Also, I began to think about fate. I truly believed that when we meet "our" child it is the child that was always meant to be ours and we were meant to be his/her parent! So if that was true, then the child that would be available for a referral in August/Septemeber is not "our" child! Again, I really tried to see the positive in all of this, and was doing my best to NOT focus on the negative vibes I was getting from our agency. I would give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe when it is "our" turn they will be much more efficient and supportive. Maybe right now they are truly given 100% to the family ahead of us.

Well, later that same night, this past Thursday, after we found out about the delay, we got a call from our social worker. She apologized for everything that was happening, and said that she knew we have had a hard couple weeks with them and hoped that we knew how sorry they all were. I was just starting to feel a bit better when she then sighed and informed me...THEY CANT FIND OUR $6000 CHECK!!!

I couldn't believe it! I was waiting for her to laugh and be like "Just Joking!" Nope. It was true, she said "nobody there could seem to find it!" What??!!! We gave you that TWO months ago!

She then asked if I could contact my bank and find out if it's been returned or not. She said it would really help them to know if it had been cashed/deposited already. Okay, um.. How do you LOSE $6,000!!!??? How do you not "remember" if you deposited it or not?? It's $6000 not $60! I was so upset, and felt so deflated, I didn't even know what to say. I told her I'd talk to the bank and hung up. Then I sat on my couch and cried. I truly felt defeated. Why was all this happening? Was this a sign? Maybe this path was not the right path for us either? Maybe this "isn't" what we were suppose to be doing!!!!??  So, now what?

I calmed down and talked to the bank yesterday. It turns out it HAS NOT been returned which means its sitting in their office somewhere! The bank said they could put a stop payment on it and reissue us a new one. I said I'd get back to her on Monday after I talked to the agency, but the truth is now we are so skeptical of continuing with them. Maybe we stop the payment...and not give them another check until someone sits with us and explains what is going on over there? Or do we stop the payment on the original one.. eat the money we already spent and switch agencies before we get further into this? Is that even an option? Can we take our Home Study Report and start over with someone else? Would we have to do the training and home study over? Or should we take a deep breath and just hope for the best??

Ironically as I write this, the mailman just came, and low and behold the forms have arrived. Wow, that only took 5 weeks, three emails and two phone calls to get them.... I am so nervous about everything now and my faith is completely shattered.  What should we do??

Of course, I went online earlier and found three pretty negative reviews (two from May one from April) about this agency. : ( All of which were so similar to the experiences we are having. I feel so stuck and so lost. I mean if this is how it's going to be the whole time, what is it going to be like when we get to Russia? I saw one comment from someone that said they went to Moscow FOUR times and had to keep refusing their referrals as they were outside the perimeters they had asked for regarding thier child! After two years of working with them, they walked away. After all that time, $$$, and aggravation, they didn't even get their child! That scares me so much! Could that really happen?? I've heard horror stories but assumed that it didn't happen anymore.

As I look at my paperwork now that I'm told is "time sensitive" and I shouldn't delay in sending back.. (Really??? I've been waiting since MAY for them!!!!) It states we are requesting a child up to 36 months with correctible medical issues, yet we requested a healthy child 0-24 months. So confused!! What does that mean?? I'm freaking out!!

This is the BIGGEST decision we have ever made and I feel like we are dealing with incompetent, unprofessional people. I also don't want to "start from scratch" and would like to hope that it is going to turn around over there. I'm so confused about everything, and really just so bummed out! I don't want to spend all this money and time on this if it's going to end up like that other couple. Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if we are meant to do this at all. I've actually begun to feel that if our families hadn't already had a fundraiser for us that we'd walk away from this completely. I'm scared, and I feel lost and don't know what we should do?What is god trying to tell us? Are Randy and I not meant to have children? It breaks my heart to think that.

Anyone have any advice? Similar experiences??

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer is Here!

I feel like I haven't written in so long, but basically that is because there has NOT been much to write! We are in a very quiet period in this process, where there is nothing for us to do but... continue to wait! Our  agency keeps telling us that we should still expect a referral in early fall, which I realized today.. isn't that far away!

Today, it was over 90 degrees and it's going to be even hotter tomorrow! I'd say summer is "officially" here, which means we are that much closer to our referral and meeting our little one!! We have 11 more days of school... (Would be only 7 if it wasn't for the snow days!) and then I'm on summer break! I remember as a kid how LONG that summer vacation seemed to be! Well as a teacher, I have to say, it FLIES by, and before you know it's over, and we're back at school meeting our new class! So, if that pattern continues then hopefully the time will fly by until we get our referral!!!

Of course, being me, I'm now starting to worry that our first trip to Russia is going to be the week I go back to school! I'm just hoping that I get just a few days with my kids to get settled before we have to go! My social worker told me last week.. "You're going to get your referral right as your school year starts!" Ugh!! I am nervous! If they want us there the week school starts, can I postpone by a few days? Do they let us do that or would that push us back? I know I shouldn't worry! I love my job and my students but this is our child and our life! I just would not feel right about NOT being there the first few days! I know, I  know.. I should not worry about it and just believe that all is going to work out! : )

So 11 days until the school year is over, then we've got our appointment for finger prints at USCIS on the 29th, and then... maybe we'll finally order the bedding and begin to paint the nursery! Actually, when I think about how quickly the last five months have gone by.. I'm thinking that these last few months should go quickly! I hope so!! : )

Monday, May 2, 2011


Well, that's where we are now.... beginning the Waiting. All the paperwork, running around, and training is done, and while it was a nice feeling to get it all accomplished, what happens next and how QUICKLY it all moves.. is out of our hands! This process is now completely out of our control. Ugh! How I hate not having control.
Our agency has all our paperwork and documents for the dossier and now it's up to them to finish putting their report together & getting the documents sent over to Moscow! So, we just have to cross our fingers and hope that everything is going to happen quickly and smoothly! It's already so hard. I have to literally fight the urge to call/email them and be like "Well, where we at? When is our stuff going over??!" For us, this is the most important thing in our lives, and we just want to get the ball rolling in Russia, but to them.. it's just business as usual!

Although, when we were there last week, they informed us that early fall was STILL the time frame for when we should expect a referral. We were told that since the court system basically shuts down for the months of July and August, we would be 1st on the list when they re-open in the fall! That's good news I think! So, as I said, it's out of our hands now, and we need to just be patient. Since I'm not very good at "patient" we need to find things we can do to keep busy!! So, what do we do?? We have LOTS of things we could be doing to prepare but I worry it's too soon to be doing them!

For instance, we picked out the bedding for the nursery! (Too cute!!!) and although we both love it and know we are going to get it.. we are waiting to order it. Why? I'm not sure. Part of me wants to just get it already! We both love it and I'm so excited about it! It is the cutest baby animal pattern and is completely gender neutral as the colors are greens/yellow/white/browns. So, there really is no reason to wait on it since we both love the bedding for a boy or a girl! Yet, I feel like if I order it now it's "too early."

Our plan has been to start working on the baby's room over the summer. We want to paint and buy the furniture and all that stuff when I'm off during those few months from school! Yet, the truth is I feel a little anxious about it all. I feel that if I buy the bedding, and we start thinking about paint colors, and start looking at furniture now, we are somehow going to jinx this. Like maybe we'll have to wait WAY longer for our child if we get too ahead of ourselves. Or something will go wrong and we'll be sitting here for 6 months with a nursery completely done and no baby!! Maybe that is just the "past" coming back up and the feelings that we can't PLAN for this just yet....because something could go wrong.. However, I also know that I CAN'T be afraid. Even if our wait is longer than anticipated, or for some reason we have to decline our first referral and wait longer, the truth of the matter is, that in the end we WILL have our child.

So, I should probably just relax and enjoy setting up the room, right?? Besides, being an elementary school teacher, I will have SO MUCH free time in the next few months, and need to have some projects to keep myself busy while we wait... : ) Also, what's the alternative? Wait until after we accept the referral and then rush around to get it all done in a few months? I KNOW the finances are just going to get tighter (especially after the referral) and with three trips to Moscow, and both of us working, our schedule in the fall will be way more hectic. So, I'm thinking I need to just trust that everything is going to work out and enjoy the preparations we need to do to get our home ready for our little one!! Besides, what else am I going to do with myself over the next few months???

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I know she meant well BUT...

So on Saturday while I was waiting in line at the post office a sweet older woman behind me in line decided to strike up a conversation with me. She began talking about her family and how she wanted to take her adult daughter to Italy to see her brother. She kept on talking about her children (all grown) and then she smiled at me, and said..."You're a mom arent' you?" then before I could answer her she smiled at me, touched my arm and said. "Yes. I can tell. You look like a mom."

It was not the first time I had been asked if I was a mom or had kids, but it was the first time that somebody told me they could tell I was mom. And, you know what, I feel like I truly AM a mom already, and hearing it felt really good.

Her comment made me so excited and I went on to tell her about Randy and I's process of adopting a child from Russia. While she continued to smile at me, I saw that her expression had changed a bit. I could see it in her eyes...and then, she said to me, "Oh, honey. You need to be REALLY careful. Your child could have problems..." And that was the end of our nice moment, and my feelings of warm & fuzziness. I just smiled, nodded, and that was the end of my conversation with her. And unfortunately, for the moment my feelings of joy and excitment.

She had been a very friendly, sweet, woman and I know she meant well, but in just a sentence she made me feel like now, all of a sudden, I was less of a mom.. or no, worse, my child was somehow less worthy as if I had a biological one. : (  So, I had nothing more to say to this woman. What I wanted to say to her was.. "Well, my child's problem is that right now he/she is alone and living in a baby home halfway across the world!!!!." Or to say, "Well, I expect that my child is going to have some problems.. it's called, Um. Life?!!!" I don't know any child that grows up and goes through their life problem-free?

As I stood there, I began to really think about what she meant by this and I knew that she meant that my child would somehow be damaged by being an orphan. I know there are developmental delays, possible attachement disorders and malnutrition that may come with my child.. yet I truly believe once these children are in a loving home with the attention and love and care they need, they will thrive! Besides, we all know plenty of families that DID NOT adopt their children internationally... and still have things they are dealing with. Truth is when you decide to become a parent, whichever path you take to get there, you never REALLY know what is coming do you???

 I could have turned around and told her about my friend who's biological child has a rare genetic disease that causes him to spend more time in the hospital than he is at home. Or, about all the students I have had in my first grade class over the years! The ones who have to take medicine every day for their diabities, asthma, and ADHD??! Or, the ones that are allergic to pretty much every food imaginable, and let's not forget all the kids that have been diagnosed with some form of Autism, or have learning disabilities? These children were born and raised by their biological families, yet still had problems. The truth is, you never really know what's going to happen with your children do you? My parents had two biological kids. My younger brother and me. I was the picture of health and had no academic issues. Drew was diagnosed at age six with Dyslexia and then at 25 with Leukemia. Here I am living my life, about to start a family, and he passed away from his illness at 27 years old. So do you ever really know?  There is no such thing as problem-free. Especially when it comes to kids. All you can do is love them with all your heart and hope that they have a happy healthy life.

I know there are people out there, and even people who really care about us and love us that are not going to consider our child.. Truly ours. I mean, I have had SO many people say to me that maybe after we get our baby from Russia, we'll get pregnant and get to have our "own" child. Or they tell me about this one or that one that got pregnant and had two or three kids after they adopted. Then, there is the "well, maybe after you have this one, you guys will consider trying  again for your own?" Ugh!! We are going through hell and high water to get our child home with us, and they are talking to us about trying to have a child biologically after he/she is home!!!! Hello!!!

Although I smile and keep my mouth shut, I really just want to dope slap them and say, "So, what you are saying is that this child is not going to be ours??!!" Or "Wow! How about you be happy for us that we are becoming parents and be excited about THIS child!!! Yet, they are already talking about how we should try to get pregnant again after the baby is home?!! It blows my mind that people would or could think that I or Randy would love this child any less because it didn't come from inside me or because we didn't "make it".

Seriously? I don't understand that way of thinking at all!!! This child that is coming into our lives, is a true blessing! He/she is NOT a replacement for the pregnancies we "lost" OR  a "stand-in" until we can have one biologically! That is NOT our plan. Our plan is to have a family, to be parents, to love our children and we don't care how they come to us. We will love and cherish them with all our hearts. We both truly believe that THIS is the path we were meant to take to parenthood, and not just this one time! We don't plan to "try again" once we have our child home. When we are ready to have another child, and financially can afford to do it, we will be adopting again!!! It actually hurts me to think that people feel that if I am not carrying a child for 9 months or if our baby does not have our DNA that we will somehow be less of a family? Or worse, that somehow adopting a child doesn't count?!!! Yet, I know I need to let it go. Not everyone is meant to do what we are doing I guess, and not everyone gets our decision, and I guess they don't have too. This is what we want to do, this is how we are meant to become parents!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What a difference a year makes...

April 6th. That is a date that had huge significance to Randy and I in 2010. First, on this date last year, I miscarried. It was four days after our 1st ultrasound appt in which we were able to see our little one on the screen. Our appt was a success, we saw a heartbeat, and took a huge sigh of relief thinking we'd be okay...  We had just started to get excited, had the ultrasound picture on the fridge, and began telling a few our news and then... we lost it. It was sad and we cried and mourned and then.. we moved on. Then the last weekend in July, we found out we were pregnant again. My due date??? April 6th, 2011. I tried to think that this was a positive sign, I mean I was due on the date I miscarried the year before! The date would now no longer be a sad day but more a happy one! However, we once again went to the OB/GYN for our 1st ultrasound appt and this time... we saw our little one..however there was no heartbeat. The pregnancy wasn't viable, and again we had miscarried. So needless to say, April 6th was not a date I was looking foward too. At all.

However, it was here and past...and honestly... I am really okay. Of course I get a little sad when I think of the pregnancies that we lost, but we are in a totally different place now. We are so positive about our adoption and so, so, excited for the baby that is coming to us!! I truly feel like this journey that Randy and I are on was the plan from the beginning. This was the WAY we were suppose to become parents. For whatever reason..... giving birth was not in the cards for me.. but I'm okay with the hand I was dealt. I feel good about it and it truly just feels right. Knowing that, and knowing that my husband feels the same way about this... makes April 6th just another day.  As I've said before, we ARE going to be parents, and our child is out there and waiting for us. We already love him/her so much and can't wait to meet them! xo

Monday, April 4, 2011

So this is what it's like to be expecting....

So we have gotten all our thank you cards done from the Bringing Home Baby Belanger fundrasier! I feel like the last two weeks we have just been processing it all and really beginning to realize that this is really happening! The party our family/friends held for us on the 19th was so awesome, but also so overwhelming. It really hit me what we were doing. I remember thinking, Wow! All these people who love us are supporting us, and are helping us raise some of this money! Oh my god, This is real! And then, I started to freak out a little...and doing the "what ifs?"

What if something goes wrong? What if we get a referral and we don't have all the money we need? What if we spend the money to go over to Russia and something is wrong with the child and we have to decline? What if the program slows down or closes?? Wow, so much worrying, but I bet it's normal, right? I mean you are going to be parents! It's exciting and wonderful and a gift.. but it's scary too!!

I remember a mother of one of my first grade students (who was adopted from the Ukraine) asked me about a month ago if  I was freaking out yet. I was like, "What, No! Not at all!!! I'm so excited." Well, I guess I now know what she was talking about!! Ha! I think no matter how you are going to become a parent... once it hits you that it is really happening, you start to worry a little bit.

Luckily though, the anxiety attack has passed and I'm back to just being excited and focused on getting everything done for our dossier. We have been having fun talking about names, and surprisingly we agree more than we disagree! We have actually choosen a boy's name already that we both LOVE and are between 2 names that we both like for a girl! It's been SO nice to be able to talk about names, or look a cribs or bedding for the nursery without feeling like we're going to "jinx" it. This was  how it felt when we were "biologically" pregnant. We couldn't really LET ourselves get too excited about any of it, as unfortunately we knew it might not last....So this time, it's so much different.  This time, we know it is REAL. We ARE going to be parents, and knowing this makes the worrying about the "what ifs" seem less important. Yes, it might take longer than the agency is predicting, and there could be bumps in ther road...but the bottom line is at the end of this process, we will have our child, and that's worth the bumps and the ups and downs that we might face! : )

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What else is there to say except....Wow!

So, last night our family and friends had a fundraising party to help us with our adoption!  The "Bringing Home Baby Belanger" event they put together for us was truly amazing! There were over 125 of our family and friends there, and everyone's generosity and support was so humbling. It was so heart warming to see all the support we have on this journey! We are very lucky to have such amazing, loving people around us, and it makes me feel so good to know that so will our child! It was such a fun wonderful night, but I have to admit also a little overwhelming too! 

We are just at the beginning of this process, and while everyone was so happy for us, and congratulating us, I know we have months of waiting ahead of us, and then, the craziness of making 3 trips to Russia and of course, figuring out how we are going to come up with the finances to pay for it all! As exciting as it is, it can be sort of scary too!! It will all be worth it in the end!

While I'm being honest, I have to admit I did get a bit sad for a moment last night as well. Here we were surrounded by our friends and family who love us, while our child waits, alone, in a baby home on the other side of the world. Yes, I know that our child is being taken care of, and that this whole event was to help bring him/her home, yet I just hope that they know and can feel how loved and cherished they already are! Okay, back to the good and the positive...It was an absolutely amazing night, and we are so grateful and thankful for all that we have!!

So.. the other Wow! We have finished our homestudy and were told by our agency that we will definitely be going to Moscow! They were also able to provide us with a "guesstimate" to when we'd recieve a referral!! We were told that the way the program is moving right now we should expect a referral in early fall!!! That's only like 6 months away!!!! Oh, we were SO excited! Yes, we know that things could change, get delayed, or slow down, so I don't want to "count" on that and get my hopes up too much... but I can't help but think, if we did get a referral in September and all works out, we could have our child home with us by the holidays! Oh, there is nothing that would be more perfect than to have our child home for Christmas!!(Fingers crossed!!!) : ) If not, we know that this is happening and that we are truly on our way to getting our child and need to just be patient.. All will play out the way it's suppose to!

So, what else is there to say except....Wow! We have wonderful family and friends! Wow! We are going to Moscow!! Wow! We are really doing this!!!! : )

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And So It Begins!

So we are currently "in" the home study process! We have had two meetings already with our social worker at the adoption agency, and have our third one this Friday.  This is where our social worker will meet and talk with Randy and I seperately and then we will schedule our last meeting which will be here at our home!

Along with the meetings we have also been busy doing all our "assignments" and processing our paperwork. We each have completed and turned in our autobiographies and are now plugging through the 5 online training videos and the readings we need to complete.

Yesterday, we had our 2nd Home Study meeting and we got a TON more paperwork and a checklist of all the required documents we will need. There is a LOT and I have a pretty good feeling this is only the beginning! : ) When we got home I went right online and ordered our marriage and birth certificates, and mailed off the paperwork for my new passport. (Name change needed!) This week we will be heading off to the police station for a clearance letter, our bank for a reference letter, and also be talking to our HR departments for an employment letter of recommendation and statement of salary, and will be calling our primary care physicians to get appointments for physicals. So much to do, but I am so excited as I truly feel like we are really in it now and on our way to bringing our child home! : )

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Big Decision!

Welcome! I decided to create this blog as a way to keep a journal of this amazing journey Randy & I are about to embark on. I wanted a place where I could go to write about our experiences, keep track of this entire process, and also to be able to provide updates for our family and friends as we move forward!
As we are just in the VERY beginning stages we are both feeling so excited, but also a little bit anxious and overwhelmed! I guess the best place for me to start is to talk about how we got here!

Every couple that decides to adopt has their own story. Ours is similar to most that I have read and heard about in the sense that we too, first tried to have a baby the "regular" way and had "problems". However, unlike many others I know of, we have NOT been trying for years, nor did we decide to go the medical "fertility" route.

Long story short, Randy and I did not have any problems getting pregnant, our problem was that I couldn't seem to stay pregnant. It was a rough year with lots of ups and downs, and unfortunately a pattern of loss that we really couldn't ignore. When I miscarried again in August, right after our 1st anniversary, that was when we decided to look into adoption. I knew I couldn't keep going on like this. As painful as it was to admit, and as much as we both wanted this, I just felt like we needed to accept that maybe we weren't meant to be parents this way.

I remember feeling so afraid to tell Randy how I was feeling. I love my husband more than anything and I didn't want him to think I was giving up too soon or to disappoint him.Yet, the truth was, I didn't want to get pregnant again. I hated what it was doing to me, and I just didn't think I could go through it all again. To have it happen so easily, to start to get excited and begin to love and attach to this life inside of you.... only to lose it. It was cruel and I didn't want to keep living that way. Although I soon realized as we began to talk about it all that Randy was feeling the exact same way I was! I was so relieved, as he looked at me and said "I think we should look into adoption." and through all the loss and pain, I began to feel a sense of hope!

I feel so fortunate that Randy and I felt the same way about things. Neither of us were giving up on trying to have a child or becoming parents, we just believe that we were meant to have a family another way. Both of us really just want to be parents, but neither of us "NEED" for our child/children to be biologically ours. I know some may think we gave up too quickly, and are surprised that we didn't try to go the IVF route.. but we did what was right for us. No matter how our children come to us, they will be ours and we will love them! We just didn't see any reason to put ourselves through more doctors visits, disappointments, and loss when there was another way.

So, in October we decided to attend an informational meeting at the adoption agency, and that was when we truly made up our mind that this was the path to parenthood for us! As we sat in that meeting several months ago, I remember having such a good feeling about it all! I sat there with tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms as I realized that this was what we were meant to do. It was there that for the first time I truly felt with 100% certainty that Randy and I were going to be parents!

When we got home the conversations began and we both decided that we wanted to move forward with the Russian Program. We decided we were going to wait to start the process until after the holidays and spent the next few months having lots of discussions, filling in our families and close friends on our decision, and I discovered the blogging world! It has been fantastic reading about other couples experiences and following their journeys to becoming parents through Russian adoption!

So, now it's 2011 and we are starting our journey. The loss and pain of 2010 is behind us, and we are moving forward with our lives. I know how lucky I am to be married to such an amazing guy who is truly my best friend. He is going to be the BEST dad too!! We both feel so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends, and all the love and support they are giving us! We appreciate it more than you know and we are definitely going to need it through the next year....maybe more!
We know we have a long road ahead of us, but we also know where it is leading us. It's leading us to our child!!! It is such a wonderful feeling to know that somewhere out there is a child that is meant to be ours and that we are meant to be his/her parents! As they say.. the rest is yet to come!!

Love, Maura & Randy