Monday, December 26, 2011

Beautiful Post- Sunday

Oops, I am a day late on this beautiful Sunday. Yesterday was Chritmas, and boy what a great and tiring day that was! Matt and I always spend Christmas Eve at my mom's house and then wake up with the girls for SANTA! Yesterday Santa excitment got us up about 6:45. After Chritsmas with mom and the girls we quickly come home to drop off our stuff and go up to Matt's parent's house for another Christmas.

It is always so nice and so wonderful, but definately exausting. Next year this tradition might change- we will figure that out then. All I know for sure is Sara is bound to have a great first Christmas- she already received a basket full of toys from both grandparents for this one!

This "Sunday" is beautiful beacuse Sara is already loved by so many great people. It is beautiful because without even knowing her all our families have accepted her without question and unconditionally. Both Matt and I, and now Sara, are so lucky to have the families we do- they make our lives beautiful and wonderful in all ways....Merry (late) Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Home Stdu Complete!

We finished our home study this week! Our case worker said we did just fine. Tomorrow we hope to get the last of our papers notarized and have the dossier sent to the agency to make sure they are OK to get state certified. Now I am beginning to go crazy wanting Sara here. Christmas is in full bloom, snow is falling outside lighted windows, and I can't help but think she should be seeing this. Every day she is not here is another day she gets older and can't experience her life here. So tonight I will sit watching Top Chef on tv and the snow outside, thinking how nervous, excited and anxious I am for every step of this journey to be over...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Beautiful Sunday- One Little Christmas Tree

This year, I have bought almost all my gifts for people and even wrapped them! I have watched Mickey's Christmas Carol (my favorite version of this classic) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I saw Manheim Steamroller in concert and have listened to other holiday favorites in the car. It's a crazy, but good time of year.

As the days come closer to Christmas though, I can't help but think of the DRC and all the kids there who Santa won't get to visit.
How is this sad thought beautiful? It's not really, but the song below is, and it makes me think of Sara.

 This Sunday I think of Sara next year, making cookies, dreaming of Santa coming and waking up to her first Christmas morning. While this year is special because it is the last one Matt and I will have as just a couple, it will be so much more magical next year- what a beautiful thought!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beautiful Sunday- How Could it Not Be?

This Sunday I really have no choice but to dedicate it to the people raising Sara. She is a beautiful little girl, living in a country that is beautful in it's own right. Her story and the women who have helped raise her so far are amazing human beings, even if I don't know who they are.

Sara's mom died two days after Sara was born. Local nuns took her in and nourished her for five days while waiting for other family members to show up- none did. The nuns then took her to a local village "orphanage"- a term used very loosly. There are 3-4 women at the orphanage (more like a house) who have helped Sara and her 8 "brothers and sisters" live as best as they can.

Stories like this happen everyday in the DRC. Even in a country ravaged by disease and severe poverty, people do what they can to help in the ways they know how. They are true local heroes saving lives without aknowledgement, without clean water and without money- but they make it happen. If only there were more of these amazing women and men all around the world, we would have a safer and better earth for everyone.

Thank you to all the beautiful heroes in the DRC saving the lives of so many! You are truly the most beautiful people on earth.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

She has Been Revealed!

13 blog posts, approximately 2 months, only two rounds of paperwork and years of thinking have brought us to the point that our daughter has been chosen! In such a short time we know who she is!!

Her name is Sara. She turned 3 on August 20. The adjectives that describe her? Joyful, capricious and likes to be put in charge." She is perfect!!

I truly believe everything in our lives happens for a reason. Sometimes we know that reason, sometimes it takes us looking back on events to see that reason. I believe with all my heart Sara was chosen so quickly because she was ment to be ours.

Are we freaking out? Of course! Did we think this could happen so quickly? Definately not! But, none of that matters. We will handle our daughter with patience and love. What may be a hard year for her when she comes into the family will result in a lifetime of opportunity and happiness she could never get back home.

Hopefully by summer we can meet this remarkle little girl and bring her home- WOW!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beautiful Sunday- Housing

This Sunday I sit here cleaning like mad and wanting to purge the house of all the stuff Matt and I have collected in our 30-some years. We have our first case worker visit Wednesday night! True to form though, I sit here worried- do we really have a big enough house for Baby? Is it clean enough? Is there enough space for Baby to play and get toys out?

With all this in mind, I thought this Beautiful Sunday should be dedicated to housing. The average rent in Kinshasa is about $120/month; or a house will cost about $2545 total. Utilities run about $15 and internet is about $500 a month (no kidding!!!). For Expat standards of living, rent can go up to about $1000/month.

Most rural Congolese live within a family compound. The compound is a plot of land where family members build adjoining houses.  This type of communal living is ideal for raising families. Families share children-watching duties since parents may be miles away from the living houses for extended periods of time.  2002-46-Img05_edited

It takes patience and dirty hands to build a mud and stick wall for a rural Congolese house. The work can be done by women or men.  Strips of bamboo are tied to the supporting poles of the wall. The strips are put on both sides of the support poles to create a slotted wall.  They then make mud and press it into mud balls. The balls are put in between the slotted bamboo walls. The mud fills the wall to give it a solid appearance.

Electricity can only be found in about 10% of residences, and 3 out of 4 Congolese have to walk 2 or more hours to reach clean water- everyday! With all this in mind, our home is a million times better than anything Baby will live in back home....hopefully the case worker thinks so too!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moving right along!

Does anyone remember the Muppets song "moving right along in search of good times and good news..." (yes, I did have to look up the exact lyrics), Well that has been playing in my head all day. The reason? We have a social worker and the agency is beginning to work on the referral. What does this mean? It means we are moving right along! The social worker will start meeting us together and separately in order to ensure Baby will come home to willing and ready parents. The referral means the Congo will soon be contacted to start finding which baby is our perfect fit. At this rate we may be going to Africa in early summer, not later like I originally thought. Wow! Soon we will acutually have to think about baby things- strollers, toys, etc. What an experience! I can 't wit to get the show on the road!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beautiful Sunday- Food

Post Thanksgiving, most of us are still eating leftovers in the form of soup or sandwiches. Food can be such a beautiful thing! This Beautiful Sunday I thought I would celebrate the foods of Congo. What do people eat there?

Most Congolese meals consist of a starch and vegetables and sometimes meat, kind of like our stew. The starch is kassava or corn flour and the meat is usually goat, chicken, insects or fish (if it is caught in the river, there are no fisheries). The people are not vegetarians, but since meat is so expensive most meals are only the starch and some vegetable. The vegetables are usually cassava leaves, okra or mushroom. Rice, yams, tomatoes, pineapple plantains and peanuts are also widely eaten. Our Baby probably eats a lot of bread as well.

What do the Congo people eat

Unlike Americans, most Congolese eat only once a day. It is usually the evening meal. Stew is common because it only uses one pot and saves on fuel. Women prepare most the food, and they usually cook outdoors. When food is served, it is placed on the floor or a table and the family gathers around it. They eat with their hands, taking some of the starch and dipping it on the stew.

Wealthier Congolese do eat a few times a day, and there are some Western delicacies, such as coffee and spaghetti to be found in the capital. I can't wait to go there, get Baby and enjoy some of the Congolese foods myself.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings..

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for a wonderful family, a comfortable home and an exciting future. I am thankful for clean water, the ability to buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday and for being a woman in a country that gives me safety and equality. I am thankful for people like you reading this blog and supporting us in our journey. Wherever you are, may you be blessed this day and always...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Beautiful Sunday...

Talking with a friend yesterday she reminded me that what thoughts you have become reality; or as the dog is The Art of Racing in the Rain states,"that which you behold will manifest itself." So, I am working on thinking good thoughts and letting the worries and negativity go away. It s kind of hard to do, especially when it comes to financing the adoption and wondering if this will go smoothly once we do get the money.

However, in the spirit of positive thoughts, I am adapting a Sunday blog theme from another Congo adoptee's blog I follow ( Beautiful Sundays. There are so many beautiful things in this world we sometimes forget to look at and admire. Today, the topic is people. All people of the world at all ages can be beautiful, and that beauty really reflects who they are inside. Not only that, but the people of a country tell you what that country is- traditional, diverse, happy, poor...the Congo is all of these things.  Here are some beautiful people pictures from the DRC, enjoy!




Thursday, November 17, 2011

Police & Money

Thought I would title this one a bit like a Hollywood movie... Matt finally went to get his fingerprints done. Poor guy, he had to visit the police station three times, only to be turned away for living one suburb over. He finally found a place that would do it, but he had to drive about 40 minutes each way. Makes me feel glad I am friends with the security guard at work!

As for the money, well it is a constant concern, literally waking me up at night. When I was young, I could sleep all night for 10 hours straight and wake up alert and energized. Come to the thirties and I now wake-up at 3:00 and think-not so fun! But I digress, fundraising is still going on, Christmas is near, you can help! Tomorrow we will visit more banks and see what we can do ourselves, I have faith! It will work for us and Baby.

I thought I would add a beautiful photo from the Congo- it is not all bad there as there is an amazing landscape and endangered gorillas; not to mention our child somewhere :)

So tonight, sleep through the night, have sweet dreams and picture yourself in this beautiful location:
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Birthday Wishes...

Today I am 33- a crazy number! At the same time I think it seems old, I am so glad for every year I get to celebreate a birthday in good health and with good people around me. This year of life is going to bring so much more than anything I ever would have thought before.

I never would have believed I would be married and looking at being a mom at 33. Maybe 40, sure, but early thirties- never! It just goes to show you never really know how life will turn out. And you know what, I wouldn't change any of what I have for what my dreams were before life really happened. This birthday I really feel happy and excited for what lies ahead.

Part of this is the Congo journey and seeing who we find at the end of this road, but another part of the gratitude is thinking to what the people in Congo face. A 33 year old woman there has likely been raped (perhaps multiple times), married to someone she may not love, had multiple children who died before age 5, never received an education and only has about 16 more years to live. I am so lucky to be where I am in life and given the amazing opportunities and gifts I have been given.

So I thank you for all the birthday wishes; and remember to wake-up every birthday not cursing another year you have to lie about to people, but happy you have that number to celebrate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not Letting Up...

Well, since the last post we have been doing our best to figure this all out; and you know what- where there is a will there is a way! One bank has said we can use them, and the banker from the "bad" bank called and said we were on his mind, and he found another bank that would help us also. So, being Veteran's Day (a BIG thank you to all those in service!) we couldn't call them today, but you know come Monday morning we will!

I  got fingerprinted as well- what an interesting experience. The security officer at work did it, so we chit-chatted as we went through the motions. I can imagine it being nerve racking at a police station though. Matt already has his prints on file for the FAA; we should both be cleared by the FBI in about 4-8 weeks.

In the mean time, we will be filling-out papers, calling banks, and getting ready for the holidays. Have a great night!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Time Changes Everything...

So much can happen in three days! We received all the papers for the home study and agency- another 40 pages to complete. BUT, the most exciting thing is, we also received the dossier papers! With a complete dossier we can petition the DRC for Baby. The agency says as soon as they get these papers they estimate we will know our child in about 3 months- holy cow! It's like being on a roller coaster with butterflies in your stomach. If it is that quick, we could be in the DRC in 6-7 months, yeah!

Now the bad news. The bank told us a few months ago we had a Home Equity Line of Credit to use for financing Baby, that is why we started the process and knew we could do this as responsible adults. Well, today the same bank said the HELOC does not exist, it never did and they don't know why we would have been told that. They also don't do personal loans due to the financial mess the country is in. Unfortunately this means we won't be sending in the papers anytime soon. We don't have enough money to get our baby.

So I write this with light tears in my eyes. The papers are sitting next to me, waiting to be sent in with thousands of dollars we had, but suddenly disappeared. Our baby could die because the bank messed-up and lied to us. Any other country would be open and safe when we save enough hard cash by 2013, but the DRC could close any time. Time changes everything- the best papers, baby within reach (only 3 months away) and then loosing it all...

Now, even if we are sad, don't think we are giving up- the fighting spirit is in full force! We have to save Baby's life. Fundraising, fundraising, fundraising- but we need your help now more than ever (and ask everyone you know to help- the 7-11 worker, your kids teachers, everyone-get the word out!). Thanks for reading, and I will keep you posted about how we will solve this mess.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lucky Folks...

       Today I woke up feeling lucky- a strange feeling for someone who only once won a walkman at Junior Prom and never anything else! I think I feel this way because I know we are blessed to have the life we have, the home we have and the opportunities we have. Not to mention the agency finally received all our papers- including the originals send out 1.5 weeks ago. This means the process can really begin.
       Perhaps the blessed feeling comes from knowing today is Orphan Sunday- it is estimated that there are 167 million orphans in the world of 7 billion+. That's crazy! I just can't understand why certain people have baby after baby (the TLC channel has a polygimist guy with 23 kids and 4 wives!) when so many need homes. Is it an ego thing? A religious thing? It just doesn't seem right to me.
       I also have been reading up more and the news from the DRC, and I can't imagine living in such a world. Women cannot be alone without fear of gang rape and murder, few people have clean water, and conflict rages on- just this week a military base was attacked in the Eastern Congo by Ugandan soliders. The elections will happen in just a few weeks, and already violence has started. One of the main fontrunners for president is actually on trial in the international court for Crimes Against Humanity and overseeing the rape of hundreds of women in 2002- makes both the Republicans and Democrates look like angels!
      Fnally, we received an email from the Ordinary Hero fundraiser saying they are giving a $500 grant to the top 3 sellers this week. There are only 15 active sellers, which means we might have a good chance of winning if we can get some help. I purchased Matt and I each a t-shirt yesterday- would you mind helping out by buying a few Chrsitmas gifts? I HATE asking for help, and especially asking for money, but this is a great cause for a great company and a great couple (if I do say so myself :))
      So there you have it, a lucky Sunday for all of us waking up warm, being able to travel alone and drink clean water out of a faucet. I hope you feel excitied to be alive, to have a home and to be loved. Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Contracts, Notary, Etc

So today we went to the bank and got 5 pages notarized-we have about 40 more to sign and initial tonight. I told the notary he is going to get to know us well, I'm sure this is just the beginning! These papers were just the contracts and things to get the home study started. Of course, the other papers have yet to show-up at the agency, so I will resend those as well tomorrow (with another check).

Thinking about this all does seem daunting- it is not hard, just lengthy. I am betting we  will be in Kinshasa meeting Baby next August, but who knows for sure. Baby could be our anniversary gift next September. I keep having small freak-out moments, especially about the cost and steps to complete. If you want to help, we do have a few fundraisiers started, just click on the tab above.

Once these next sets of papers are sent in (FedEx this time, hopefully the second set can make it!!) it is a waiting game. We will start classes in either January or February, after the holidays. Wow! Off to sign papers now, have a good night!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I knew it...

So funny, last week when I sent in the papers I knew they would get lost- afterall they only had to travel about 30 miles from home. Guess what? My premonition came true. Am I freaked out? No, not at all actually. I knew it would happen, they will get to the agency in their own due time and all will be well. If not, I can just resend them.

Upon realizing the papers are not there yet, the agency went ahead and sent me the next pile to go through. So far it is not bad at all, it is all really doable with a notary and some ink we will be through them all in no time.

We do have to take 24 hours of classes before we  head to the DRC. They seem like they will be really informative and interesting. All parents should have to do this, the world might be a better place to grow-up in if they did. Matt is a bit worried because they only occur on Saturday and Sunday, right in the middle of his work week. It is only three of those days however, so the FAA will have to understand.

That's about it for this Halloween evening- happy hauntings!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It has started...

Last Tuesday I put the first application in the mail and emailed the electronic copy with our picture to the agency. We still haven't heard anything- I hope all is not lost somewhere in the mail! I am hoping tomorrow we get more papers emailed to us, or at least a note saying they got it. I never thought I would be excited for paperwork, but this would mean the process really is underway- wow!

This is the picture I sent- do we look like we would be good parents? I didn't have a recent professional photo, but this one shows us out in nature and being us- we will see what happens! I will keep you posted...