Sunday, September 22, 2013

Home, Settled, and FINALLY an update from our trip!

I want to first start out saying that I'm sorry it's taken me so long to update about our trip.  We got home a week ago and life is finally settling down.  Jumping back into work with jet-lag and a broken heart made for a very long week.  To be honest, lots of tears last week and I just didn't have the energy to blog.

So, now I feel like I can finally give you an update!  

We arrived in Z's country on Saturday, September 7th after a 9 hour flight then another 3 hour one.  We actually left Friday the 6th out of Chicago and arrived around 3:00pm on Saturday the 7th... (Their time).  It was basically an uneventful trip there, we traveled with dear friends of our who were also going to visit their son in the same country... different orphanage though.  When we arrived, we waiting a LONG time to finally realize that our luggage didn't make the flight with us.  It decided to stay in Paris an extra day.  Luckily we were able to pick it up on Sunday before we headed to Z's orphanage on Monday morning.  That would have been terrible since all the beanie babies and Z's gifts were with our luggage, not to mention all our clothes!  

So, on Saturday and Sunday we hung out with a few of our other adopting friends, had a really nice dinner and basically "patiently" waited until 7:30am on Monday where we would make the drive up the mountains to see Z for the first time.  It took about 2.5 hours to get to Z's orphanage.  I'm so thankful that I took some Dramamine before I left because WOW... that was a bumpy, twisty, curvy, fast ride.  I would have been sick for sure!

We were warned prior to the trip that Z would be quite scared to see us.  That he doesn't like to be moved to unfamiliar locations.  He may not tolerate our visits and they may have to be cut short depending on how he does.  We were prepared for the worst.  We were prepared to meet a boy who we would just observe the whole week... because a week really isn't enough time to establish a bond or anything like that.  We didn't want to frighten him!

But, we also knew that God has heard our prayers to prepare Z's heart for us. We have been praying and all of our friends/family have been praying for this moment.  Z has been lifted up in prayer daily for over a year.  God is SOOO good!  The week with Z could not have gone any better!  And I truly believe that God was the biggest part of this week.  

The first time we met Z, he was very scared, but never cried.  He allowed me to gently touch his little legs and arms and cheeks.  He pushed me away that first visit, but did not cry at all.  Words can't describe how amazing it was to finally have met the child that I have prayed my WHOLE life for.  He is perfect, he is wonderful and he is our SON!  

By the end of the first visit he actually let me hold him, walk with him and play blocks with him.  Dave was allowed to be near him the first day... but the days to follow Dave and him formed an amazing bond.  

Z is VERY VERY small for a 7.5 year old.  We took his measurements during the week.  He is 37inches tall, approx 23lbs, his ankle is 4.75 inches around, his wrist is 3 inches around.  We can see the outline of his rib cage and his spine.  His waist is 15 inches around.  He fit into a 12month shorts outfit and his feet are about 5 inches long.  He is taller than a 1 year old, but light as a feather. 

A VERY exciting thing we discovered during the week is that Z can in fact hear!  He responded to us, by the end of the week he'd hold his hands up for Pat-a-cake and anytime we would play music he would bob his little head to the beat!  He is completely blind, but we knew that.  Honestly, he knows no different so really the blindness is not a big deal.  He can walk by himself slowly and like a champ when he's holding our hands. He prefers us to hold his wrist because his hands are his eyes and that is how he discovers the world.  Through touch!

Seeing him "see" Dave for the first time was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.  He would touch Dave's face, then touch his own as if to compare.  He would touch Dave's hair then touch his hair.  He did this for quite a while.  Dave and him formed an amazing bond this week and I can't wait til he is home so this can continue.  I think Dave would be content holding him for hours!

Throughout the week we got to visit him in the morning from 9:30 to about 11.  Then we would come back about 3:45 until about 4:30 or 5.  The afternoon visits were a little rough for Z since he was very tired.  He wanted to be alone much of the afternoon visits.  He would quickly scoot to the wall and throw everything that was in his reach to clear his space. Then he would rock.  It was very painful to watch him, but we knew to expect this.  He did love being held though and much of the time we would hold him and rock him.  

This week passed WAY too quickly and Friday was probably the hardest day of my life.  I knew it had to be done, but I also was not prepared for how much I'd love him right away.  I do however take comfort in knowing that he will be attending a school for the blind starting last Tuesday until we come to get him in 4-6 months. This is a residential school that is not just for orphans.  It's for all blind children in his country.  He will live there and go back to his orphanage only on holidays... which shouldn't be too many since we should be coming back for him by January.  We fully expect him to make excellent progress at this school.  He is very tactile and just waiting to discover this world!

100 of Hannah's animals made it's way to his orphanage!  They were very excited to receive them.  

We can't share any pictures that show his face on this blog.  Soon, when we pass court, we will be able to share more... until then... here is one picture that pretty much sums up our week.  Soon, Little Z... soon you will be safe in mommy's arms forever!  

Thanks for your continued prayers.  I have updated the donation bar at the right.  Thanks for all who have donated so far.  We are so blessed!

So, what's next...

We got our i800 approval in the mail on Wednesday.  This means that the US has agreed to let Z come into the US and reside permanently here.  Basically, back in April, they gave us permission to bring a child from his country into the US for adoption... this approval allows him specifically to come into the US.  We are waiting on our Article 5 from the embassy in his country.  I believe this is basically issued to say that we have followed all legal procedures and that everything is Hague compliant for this adoption.  Once the Article 5 is issued, which really shouldn't take too long, we will wait on a signature from the MOJ.  I am not going to even guess how long it will take for this signature.  I do know that the MOJ is getting back to work after their summer holiday so there shouldn't be delays because of that.  But, unexpected delays could happen just like they did when we submitted our dossier back in April and waited until June to get our referral.  I will continue to pray that it will be signed quickly.  After the signature, we will get a court date.  I have been told that court dates are assigned about a month after signature.  Then, once court happens, he is legally our son and we wait about 3 weeks to a month to travel to pick him up!  We are guessing that this travel will take place in January, but hoping and praying that the process is even quicker and we can have him home by Christmas!  Trying not to get our hopes up too much.  We do know that we are on the home stretch and he will be home before we know it!  

The puzzle is now complete!  Thanks for all who were a part of this amazing project.  It looks awesome and my dad will be gluing it together soon so we can display it!

Again, thanks for praying.  Soon I will write about this weeks car show fundraiser down in OH, I will announce the winner of the $100 Visa gift card from the puzzle pieces and I will continue to update you on the time frame as we get more information.  If we could raise about $4000 to $5000 more, we would be done fundraising for the most part.  That would cover the last trip.  Please continue to prayerfully consider helping us bring Z home.  We don't expect all of our fees to be funded through others.  We have come up with most of the fees so far from our quickly diminishing savings and the donations. But if you feel led to help us with the last leg of this journey, please feel free :-).


Thursday, September 5, 2013

We are LEAVING tomorrow!!!

Bags are packed and we are ready to go!  We fly out tomorrow evening and head over to Z's countries capital.  We will be there until Monday, when we will then travel the 2 hours to get to his city and spend the week visiting him at the orphanage.  We will hopefully visit him in the mornings for a couple hours and then in the evenings a couple hours.  Monday thru Friday.  On Friday we will go back to the capital and we fly out on Saturday. 

It's going to be a whirlwind of a trip.  One we've been wanted to go on for a very long time.

This trip will be the first time Dave or myself have witnessed an orphanage.  We probably won't get to see any of the other children there, but we are bringing them 125 Hannah Hopes beanie babies.  I pray that those children can be blessed by God's love!

We are prepared for a lot of emotions this week.  Little Z does not know we exist, he doesn't know what a mom or dad is or even that soon his life is going to change.  He may be very scared when we meet him.  He may reject us at first.  He may love us and cling to us.  He won't understand that we will be leaving him on Friday to then come again in 4-6 months to bring him home.  We are prepared for the emotions that could come with this trip.

We are bringing him a blanket that we will leave with him.  It has been in our bed for months so that he can begin to recognize our scent.  I will also be wearing a mild perfume so he can associate that smell with him mommy.  Then I will wear the same perfume when we pick him up.  This will hopefully help him remember me.  It may not, but it can't hurt. 

We will be able to start accessing his needs.  We are unsure whether he is fully blind or fully deaf.  We don't know if he is sick, we don't know anything more than a few paper write ups about him.  We soon will, and we soon will be able to start preparing our home to meet his needs. 

I probably won't blog until we get back.  Please continue to pray for us as we travel this coming week. Please especially pray that the Lord prepares Z's heart for the big changes that are coming.

WE ARE COMING TO SEE YOU LITTLE GUY!!!  Only a few more days!!  


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fundraising for this adoption... Wow we are blessed!!!

I've had several people ask us how much we have raised so far and how much we have paid so far and how much is left.  If you know me personally, you know that I am an excel guru and you won't be surprised that I have been keeping records of this adoption.

Here is the breakdown:

Already paid to our agency, the foundation in Z's country, Homestudy Fees, USCIS fees, Plane tickets etc

Donation from selling scarfs, soaps, freezer pops, garage sales, spaghetti dinner, puzzle pieces... well, basically ALL our donations!!!

Now, what's left... Approximately $5,500
       First trip travel expenses including hotel, food, orphanage donation.
       Guessing this to be approximately $600

       Remaining foundation fees I think are about $1,000

       Second trip travel expenses (if plane tickets stay about the same)
       $3,000 for plane tickets for 2 + Z's one way ticket
       $900 hotel fees and food

We still have 36 puzzle pieces left if anyone is interested in getting their name on this little memento for Z to know how much he is loved.

We will continue to sell soaps and on September 21, 2013 my friend is doing a "Cruisin for Orphans" car show in Hillard, Ohio.  For details, search "Cruisin for Orphans" on Facebook.  There will also be a raffle and drawing for lots of awesome prizes.  My dad will be there grilling hotdogs to sell on a brand new grill that is to be auctioned off.  Each ticket for the grill is $5 a piece.  If you can't make it, but would like your name in for the grill, let me know!  It's a really nice outdoor grill with side burner.  We'd be more than happy to take it back to Michigan with us if you have your name is picked and you didn't make the car show!

The last fundraiser that is still in the works will be another concert with "The Lord's Light" band.  They have asked to come back and do a fall show because we had such a great time at the spaghetti dinner.  It will be a little more low key, but also a great time to break up the 5 month wait in between trips.  Of course, we will also have LOTS of new pictures from our visit with little Z next week to share at this concert.  More details will follow.

We feel so blessed by all the people who have helped us in this process.  Thanks for your prayers and support!

WE LEAVE IN 5 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!