Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Abraham Update

For all those who've been waiting for an update on our efforts to bring Abraham home, this is what we know so far.... not much.

We have had no success with having our congressmen contact the Consulate in Liberia or trying to get the Consular to review her decision.

We know that Abraham's paperwork is back in the US now because the Office of Children's Issues in the State Dept. notified us. A woman in the Children's Issues office said that the USCIS office will review the information returned to them by the consulate's office in Liberia. Then they should send us a letter telling us what is happening and giving us time to submit new evidence to refute the findings of the consulate. The review board then makes a final decision.

Please continue to pray for our efforts to bring Abraham home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Beauty Shop Sunday


Our friends, the Felders, came over on Sunday afternoon to teach us how to take care of African hair. We learned about vaseline mixed with Blue Magic, how often to shampoo and condition, which products would work for the girls' type of hair, and how to plat and braid. Here are some pictures of the afternoon, including the dads working on hair.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Plenty Chicken!

Here is a picture of my dad with the girls the first week back.

Plenty chicken is what Diamond called the turkey we had for Thanksgiving. She was all excited that it was so big. I showed her a picture with a turkey and a chicken together so she could see the size comparison. After that she would call the turkey a churkey. Thanksgiving went well but they weren't that fond of the traditional American fare. I've decided that Diamond is a pickier eater than Kindness. Diamond won't eat pizza, lasagna, or spaghetti yet but she does like macaroni and sheeze. I thought it was the tomato sauce but she did eat a calzone that she dipped in maranara sauce so I'm still confused. Kindness on the other hand likes pizza, spaghetti and lasagne but doesn't like potatoes. So we always have the rice in the refrigerator for a yummy snack of rice and sardines.

Grandpa Howie and Grandma Leah are visiting this week and the girls are busy charming them. Diamond likes having Grandma push her on the bike and Grandpa push her on the swing. Kindness wants them to help her with her baby doll. While the grandparents are here we've had some great Wisconsin cheese and Wisconsin summer sausage that the girls disliked. However, we found that Kindness likes cottage cheese and Diamond likes Grandma's baked beans.

The weather has been pleasant but cool for Florida standards. However, since Wisconsin had about 6 inches of snow on Sunday, Florida's cool weather was a nice treat for the grandparents. The kids are hoping there will be snow when we visit at Christmas time.

Looking FINE!



Let's do the TWIST



Current style that only took me four hours to braid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More hair care

Well we successfully washed hair again yesterday. This time there we managed to avoid the tears and hollers. I've found the trick is one of those hand held shower hoses that you attach to the tub spout. Today we're putting the girls' hair in some kind of hairdo. Diamond has soft hair that is easy to handle but Kindness' hair is very coarse. I found some YouTube videos showing how to cornrow and other styles. I like this video. Do you have any favorites for really coarse hair?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I think they are finally getting full

I've read on other families blogs that the kids eat tons of food when they get home. It is very true! The girls could eat more than me at mealtime and throughout the day. We bought a rice cooker and 20 pounds of rice to keep up with the demand. I know they were being fed at the orphanage but I guess not as much as they wanted! I've heard this from most adoptive parents, too. Anyway, I think we're finally filling up their stomachs. Diamond actually left part of her second helping the other day. Of course, they are like hobbits in that they would like to eat at all hours of the day also!

Diamond is 34 pounds and tall. She wears a 3T mostly for the waist but slacks are definitely high water pants on her. If we use a belt, she can wear 4T on the bottom. Her arms are long, too so she needs the 4 for the sleeve length in tops.

Kindness is only 25 pounds so a 24 month fits her better. I tried 2T tights last week and she had puddles around her ankles. This week I put 18-24 month tights on and they worked much better.

We're been fortunate to receive bags of clothes from people from church and freecycle since I didn't have the right size in the right season for them. I'm looking for winter jackets for them since we're planning to head to WI over Christmas. We also were gifted a ride on toy and a little bike for them to ride outside. Diamond has almost mastered pedaling a bike with training wheels. I'll post pictures next time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We made it to church and hair care

We made it to church yesterday for the first time. The girls did really well. Erin has the little kids Sunday School class so Diamond went with her and Kindness sat on our laps during Bible study. After church there was a dinner which we stayed for. Thankfully there was chicken and rice there so our girls had something to eat. Diamond played with another little girl that was adopted from China a few years ago and made a new friend.

After church it took three of us two hours to unbraid their hair. Then we shampooed their hair. It was a very noisy experience!!! Diamond thought we were drowning her or something. After I used a hand held shower head to direct the water she relaxed a little. For now I'm leaving it natural until I study a few websites about African hair care. Here are some pictures of Kindness after her comb out and before a shampoo.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We're back but missing Abraham








Many of you have heard that we were unable to bring Abraham home with us. We had gotten clearance from the US Consulate's office prior to making travel arrangements that everything was ready to go with the kids. However, when we got to our appointment on Tuesday morning, Consular Gurski told us that Abraham would not be granted a visa because the age determination test which she had ordered came back with him being 17 to 19 years old. After attempts to change her mind with a second set of x-rays and medical opinions from three doctors associated with the African Mercy Ship, she said she would not reconsider. In fact, she refused to look at the doctor's conclusions from the new x-rays. We tried to appeal to the American Ambassador only to be told that they didn't interfere with the Consulate's decisions. Abraham was found to be 4 foot 8 inches and 82 pounds at the Mercy Ship. His actual age is about 12.

So we came home with Diamond (5 years) and Kindness (2 years). It was a very sad day for all of us when we had to tell Abraham that he couldn't come now but that we would fight to bring him home as soon as we could. We've started the fight by contacting our senators and representatives and whomever we can think of that might be able to help our case.

The girls are adjusting well and are busy playing with the whole family. We've had some tears at bedtime and other quiet times when Diamond (5 years) asks about when Abraham will be coming home. Kindness (2 years) points to Abraham's picture and looks around so we know she realizes something isn't right. Other than that, we are doing okay. Thanks for all the prayers and please continue to pray that we can resolve this issue and bring Abraham home as soon as possible. I am working at getting pictures ready for you to see.

If anyone has had to contest the American Consulate's decision, please leave a comment so I can contact you. Thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last Day to Pack

Tomorrow is travel day. I can't believe it is here already. We've waited so long that it became permanent - kids in Liberia, our family here. Now we're on the brink of another big change. We leave tomorrow at noon from Tampa, go to JFK in New York, arrive in Brussels on Saturday morning. We're staying in Brussels overnight to get a good night's sleep (I hope) and to celebrate my birthday (my reason). We leave Brussels on Sunday at noon and arrive in Liberia about 6 p.m. local time.

Today is going to the bank day, picking up our malaria medication day, finish packing day, checking our list three times day. Oh, and Erin has a checkup this afternoon, too. And I remembered we needed two more copies of Del's employment letter and..... the list goes on.

So rather than use up my limited time thinking about what I have to do, I'm going to wrap this up and get to work! We're bringing the laptop along so we can post pictures and updates while we're gone, hopefully. Thank you for all the prayers during this long wait. We really appreciate the support of all our family and friends.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Travel medications

Today the task is to get the travel medications ordered, the airline tickets paid for, and the household affairs written up. The travel medications we need are anti-malaria medicine and Cipro. As much as I don't like to take meds, I've heard getting malaria is worse and Cipro can help you if you get one of those tropical nasties. The airline tickets are a special rate so they need to be paid with a certified check rather than a credit card to avoid a 4% fee, so off to the bank I go. Our savings is dwindling at an alarming rate now!

The household affairs thing is for our peace of mind and my dad's. We homeschool so I need to make sure Dad knows what the kids are supposed to be doing while we're gone. They are great kids and will do their work but.... they are still sinners and temptations can sneak up on the best of us. Plus we need to make sure we have our emergency numbers, neighbors that can be called on, power of attorney for medical needs and our will ready. Not that I think anything will happen but I guess that's why the word accident is used.

I'll let you know how much I get done. Del is busy finishing up all the projects he's working on so he can hand off work while he's gone. He told me that he's working at 120% capacity according to his timesheets. That's okay, I know he can't get into much trouble that way. ;-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nursing school

Erin has talked about being a nurse for a year or so now. She and I went to an orientation given by a community college in the neighboring county a few weeks ago to get the scoop on prerequistes, classes, degrees earned, and the like. Since then Erin has been very determined to finish her senior year strong. She had been talking about being a nurse with Erik who has since decided he is interested in that field also. I was very surprised when he announced he was considering nursing because he had never shown much interest in anything like that. But actually I think he would make a good nurse. He loves to make people laugh and he is very caring. Anyway, we're going to the local community college this afternoon to hear their orientation on nursing school. In Florida good high school students can dual enroll in college during their jr and sr year in high school to get both college credit and high school credit. If you're in this program, college is free. So we'll see what we can do! Or rather, what the kids can do.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One step at a time

I have submitted our request for Liberian visas (to be able to enter the country), almost completed getting our tickets and booked tickets for my dad. Dad is going to supervise our kids here while we go pick up our three Liberians. He hasn't visited before so he is looking forward to it. Thankfully the last week of the month usually isn't too booked with activities so he won't have to be chauffering too much.

This week will be finishing up all the ticketing, compiling all the paperwork to present at the Embassy, and start packing. I've traveled quite a bit, as has Del, but the last time we traveled on a plane with little kids was over 16 years ago. I've been blessed with all the good advice from the yahoo adoption support group. If anyone has any great advice, leave me a comment.

Yesterday the boys got to play with their friends. The older two went to an airsoft event with a bunch of boys from our homeschool group and Karl went to a birthday party. I spent the whole afternoon on the road but it was worth it for the boys to make more friends. Saturday Erin and I went to Orlando for a church women's event. We had a good day and even stopped for frappacinos. I don't really like spending weekends running around but sometimes it is necessary. How was your weekend?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

I'm filling out all the paperwork for the final stages of the adoption process. We need three years worth of tax data, three different immigration forms, birth, death, marriage, divorce certificates for the documentation PER CHILD! Whew! That doesn't count the documents to get the Visa for us to travel to Liberia. I've put all my to-do's and my travel checklist in an Excel spreadsheet. That way if I lose the dumb thing (which has happened a lot lately???), I can just print it out again. If you need more specific information about traveling and what to remember to bring check this blog from another family that adopted from Liberia. It is very thorough.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

We're Clear to GO

Rachel from AOH called last night to tell us the Embassy had given us the go-ahead to set an appointment with them in Liberia. This means we can travel to pick up the kids. I don't think reality will set in until we're in the air. In fact, Rachel probably wondered why I didn't sound excited when she called but I'll be excited when we meet with Alma at the Embassy to get the paper saying the kids can come to the US. Rachel if Abraham had his age changed after having the age test or not. The age test just determined that he was young enough to be adoptable. The airline tickets use 12 as the start of adult ticket pricing so we need to know what age all the documents have him as.

I've requested an appointment for the last week in October since Del is swamped with projects now. However, this adoption has been God's timeline forever so we'll see what really happens. :-)

Now I'm making lists and trying to get organized to go! Thanks for everyone's prayers and support over this long process.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meet Sarge, Karl's new Kitty






Karl has been lonesome for all his animals we left in Wisconsin when we moved. It was a tough decision but we didn't know how things would be here so we didn't bring any animals along with us. This weekend we were able to get a kitty from a friend for Karl. Karl is very happy and as he told me, " Ahhh, Now I remember what fur feels like!". Maybe he'll be a vet?

I took Karl's picture and he took the rest. One picture is of Sarge's short tail. He looks like he is part Siamese and part Manx.... Sarge, that is.


Friday, September 26, 2008

We've hit another snag

I haven't posted much about the adoption since we didn't have much to share. However, this week we got a surprise. Acres of Hope contacted us that the Embassy in Liberia had contacted them. I haven't been able to find out what specifically the Embassy told AOH, but I'm working on that. However, we still don't have clearance to travel and we were advised NOT to make any travel arrangements yet.

We also don't know the outcome of Abraham's age test so I don't know if that's the hold up or if it is something new. When I know more, I'll share. In the meantime, we're praying for resolution to our adoption so we can bring our three kiddos home soon. I find I'm losing patience with people since we've waited this long and information is scarce. Others in similiar situations have referred to this as 'Mama Bear' mode. So my prayer also includes keeping my attitudes correct. :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bowling is a workout!!!

I took the teens bowling on Saturday afternoon for the first time in YEARS! Whew! I think I'll be able to walk normal today. I always get sore the second day after exertion so at least I didn't look ridiculous at church on Sunday. However, yesterday all the lactic acid in my muscles attacked. I felt like I needed a walker. I actually limped! My loving spouse said he laughed (to himself) when he saw me walking yesterday morning like an 'old woman'. It was a good thing I didn't see him laughing. Even the teenagers were sore. Sheesh! I guess that PE class has GOT to be added into our schedule on a daily basis. I figured out that if I exercised 5 minutes every hour for 12 hours a day, I'd exercise an hour a day. I'll let you know how that works out. ;-)

Well, gotta run.... we have a field trip today..... to a bowling alley!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sweet Sixteen... for Erik





Do boys have sweet sixteen birthdays? Probably not, but we like to tease in our family and Erik is the perfect target since he turned sixteen on Saturday. Yep, that's right he was born on the 13th AND a Friday! If I were superstitious, which I'm not, I'd say that's why he's so silly but I know it is just the family traits coming through.


Seriously, Happy Birthday, Erik, to my first-born son.



Here he is with a book he requested. He's very interested in politics.

This is one of the albums Karl got him. Yes, that's right.... you are seeing Dean Martin.





















Here is the other gift from Karl. You can't see it very well but it is another album, this one is Paul Simon.

Abraham's Age Test

We found out on Friday that Abraham's age test has been completed. We don't have anymore information beyond that, though, about whether everything is a 'go' or if there is more to do or how old he supposedly is. I say supposedly because age testing as I understand is still a guess. Maybe a more educated guess, but a guess regardless.

I'll post more when we hear more.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Craig's Braces



Hi this is Erin, mom asked me to put a picture of Craig after he got his braces. So that is what I'm doing. Craig got his braces on Tuesday morning and his teeth had started shifting by Wednesday already. But not to worry, Craig was popping the ibuprofen. Here he is! Isn't he so cute with his braces.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Orphans around the world...

Now that we live in Florida, we are acutely aware of the hurricanes and tropical storms of our southern state. Tropical storm Fay brought us a lot of rain but we were spared since we were always west of the storm. A homeschool group we belong to alerted us to the troubles of a missionary and a bunch of orphans he is helping in Haiti due to all the flooding through the hurricane season. They were stranded on a rooftop with flour and water for a few days. The whole town is destroyed. Click here for you to get information and to read the whole story.

Another lady from my the AOH support group shared a great slideshow about another family's experience adopting from Ethiopia.

As for any news...Liberia was supposed to have another public hearing on the revisions to the country's adoption laws. However, it didn't happen this week as planned. So, nothing to report.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Homeschool Freebies...

I love to check out freebies and share them with others that I know would like them, too. One freebie that I've found and am thoroughly pleased with is for homeschoolers, although anybody with kids would find these things useful. It is called Homeschool Resource of the Day. The Erskine family searches the web for neat downloadables that they can offer free for the day. The free resources range from e-books to mp3 files to games and curricula. You can subscribe to a weekly email alerting you to what will be offered for the week or you can check their website every day. For information and to subscribe go to
http://www.HomeschoolFreebieOfTheDay.com

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another teenager

I have to apologize to Craig for missing his birthday announcement. He became our newest teenager on Saturday. We took Nancy and Megan and the family to see alligators, manatees and other Florida critters so he didn't have his usual birthday supper. Our family tradition is the birthday person gets to pick what they want for supper. Since we were out we had sandwiches and stopped at Sonic for favorite drinks. Craig didn't want cake so we had ice cream when we got home to open gifts. Then, Sunday morning Megan and Nancy left, we went to church and had company for the afternoon. Craig decided to cook his own birthday supper. He made
Pork Loin Stir Fry & Rice. He's a pretty good cook so it was yummy.

Happy Birthday, Craig! We love you!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Megan's flown the nest...

Megan and Nancy have headed to Wisconsin this morning. Megan sent a number of boxes and requested that we send the remaining boxes that wouldn't fit in her car. We were watching the weather reports for hurricane Gustav and thankfully, they will be through the Gulf region and into Tennessee before the bad weather comes ashore. They finished loading and after prayers, hugs, and tears, the girls took off. Karl had to sit next to me in church and pat my hand telling me that he missed Megan already. I'm sure it will take a few days to adjust, the same as when the other girls left home, but Megan's ready for her big adventure.

While Nancy was visiting this week we played tourist. We took her to St. Augustine, Manatee Springs, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, and Homassassa Springs. I think she enjoyed all the variety Florida has to offer. We saw bamboo forests and huge water lilies, the Atlantic ocean, dolphins, alligators, manatees, and lots of other unique Florida sights.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fay is visiting

For all our family 'up nort' who have been wondering how we're doing... it has been raining all night. I haven't checked our rain guage but I'm sure we have a couple of inches. Thankfully we are on high ground and although our driveway slopes INTO our garage ???, it hasn't been heavy rain so it isn't flooding our garage. The center of the storm is about 15 miles away to our northeast. According to the hurricane center the areas to the east of the storm are getting the more severe weather. As the storm tracks to the west I'll let you know if we get more severe weather.

The storm did blow in a visitor... we had a little black dog named Gypsey visit yesterday afternoon during a dry spell. Del and Karl tried to read her nametag last night but she ran away. This morning we found her on our back porch notifying us that she's ready to come in the house. We read the phone number off her tag and her owner just picked her up. Karl was very excited to pet some real fur again!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Braces for all....

Well it looks like we'll have put all the kids in braces before we're done. Although we're crossing our fingers about Abraham. His teeth look so straight! Anyway, this time it was Erin and Craig's turn to be evaluated. Actually we had Erin evaluated about 18 months ago when we had Erik checked. However, it was pricey to put both of them in at the same time so Erik got them first. This is new orthodontist said Craig could use braces now but he referred Erin to a specialist at UF for TMJ disorder. The specialist found that Erin has a slipped disk on her left jaw and recommended that she go through treatment before getting braces. Otherwise, her jaw will continue to bother her and any orthodontia treatment will eventually be wasted. So I have to check with the insurance company first but it looks like Erin will get a rigid splint to relax the muscles in her jaw to allow the disk to slip back in place in the TMJ. THEN she gets braces to help hold the disk in place. Craig will get his braces in September. Unlike all his siblings, he won't get the spacers for a week first and then the bands. This style of braces gets put on during the first visit. I'll try to get pictures when he gets them on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Renew our forms with USCIS

When we had to update our fingerprints in May I thought we would be done traveling before it was time to renew our adoption forms with the government, I-600A. However we haven't traveled and the deadline is approaching so yesterday I mailed our updated homestudy in to renew our I-600A. This is an important document issued by our government giving us permission to adopt. The form is good for 18 months so we'd better have the kids home before I have to do this again!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

We're getting close to traveling... Megan, too...

We haven't heard anything back about Abraham's age testing but we're getting close to being done. I've checked out a few travel agencies and am working on which gives us the better deal. Also, I'm working on what to bring. We've got some donations to bring over and then we pack what the kids will need because they leave the orphanage with the clothes on their back and that's about it.

It looks like Megan will be gone before the kids get here. She is moving back to WI in a couple of weeks. She and Theresa will be roomies. Megan gave her two weeks notice and has had to endure her co-worker's sadness this week. Of course, the Floridians wonder why anyone would want to move back to the north country. I've told her that it didn't matter if she was going to college, going to the military, getting married, or just moving out it was all the same to us: we're sad to see her go. As our oldest daughter said, we have " issues with letting go" of our kids. I guess that is a problem when you actually LIKE your kids and enjoy their company! :-)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Need a chuckle?

My friend, Bev, sent me a list of puns today which made me laugh. They were all good but I picked the one I liked best to share with you. Thanks, Bev! Enjoy!

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him. (Oh, man, this is so bad, it's good)
A super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Any photographers out there?

I need a new camera! I've been shopping since February when I went to see my granddaughters in WI. I diligently took a bunch of cute pictures for my family since I went alone. When I got back I found out that all my action photos of the girls were blurs. For the people that know me, half the time I forget to bring the camera, let alone actually use it! Now, I was snapping photos to actually post here about our friendly spiders and hornworms that ate my tomato plants and the shutter won't open!!! So, if anyone has some good recommendations for a moderately priced camera (less than $300) since we still have adoption expenses for traveling coming, please leave a comment for me.

Here are my attempts to bring our Florida insects to your attention.

This is a spider making its web under our eaves. Cute, huh?





This is the one of two hornworms that ate the top off of my BEST tomato plant.

One year we had over 36 tomato plants in our garden in WI. I am struggling to get TWO plants to grow in FL.






This is one of the little lizards that keep me company outside. They change colors based on their surroundings. Also, some of them blow an orange bubble in their throat when they are 'talking' to their friends.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I've added a link about adoption...

I stumbled onto a great blog about adoption called ADOPTION TALK. The blog is chock full of great information about adoption in all flavors. She talks about domestic adoption through foster care, international, transracial, single parent, and more. If you are considering adoption, this is a great place to start.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The next installment.....

I figured the title was accurate regarding the next installment of this crazy journey to adopt some kids from Liberia!!! What I mean is that it appears that Alma is open to letting us proceed with the adoption of Kindness despite the fact that she is not the daughter of the same dad as Diamond and Abraham. HOWEVER, Alma has ordered Abraham to undergo age testing. This isn't really a surprise since we were never quite sure how old he was. And according to other families that have traveled to pick up their kids, AB is one of, if not the tallest boy in the orphanage. Sooooo....that means that Abraham has to have x-rays and stuff by an embassy doctor to determine his age which translates to another few weeks of waiting. We're not sure what the next step is after the age testing. I guess that's the Next Installment. :-)

I thought I was a pretty patient but I can tell I can still use some practice. I know God made the world in six days but good grief!!! does it have to take forever to get these kids home? I know my problem is that we started this journey back when AOH adoptions were averaging between six and nine months. After 7 pregnancies where I was overdue every time, I figured I could handle this timeline. Piece of cake. As you can see from the ticker, we've been waiting since April '07 for the kids and June '07 for these specific kids! Talk about being overdue!!! I tend to be an optimist but like to know the worst-case-scenario to be able to come up with a Plan B. Hence my need for more patience practise. I know of a couple of others that have had difficult 'paper pregnancies' so I dare not complain too loudly. If you're one of those families, I applaud you. You're my inspiration.

There are two travelers this week... Laura R. and Peter G. I'm hopeful Laura will be able to get a few pictures of Kindness since her son is about the same age. I've been mooching pictures off the parents that have already traveled to be able to put together some pages for the kids' life books. Life books are like baby books for adoptive children. However, if you'd ask my bio kids, they'd probably ask, "What baby books??? We don't have one!" Actually, I have baby books, they just aren't filled out and the pictures are in a big box. So, I'm already 8 behind. I was also planning to make quilts for everyone's wedding. I'm two behind on that, too. BUT, I did make two baptismal gowns for my grandkids, so there! Can anyone else relate?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DNA Results - What next?

Well, we have the results of the DNA test with the children and the dad. Abraham and Diamond are the dad's kids. However, Kindness is not his child. We don't know what that means now. The orphanage and the Embassy are working to resolve Kindness's case. I'll post more as we learn more.

Happy Birthday, Diamond! Diamond turned 5 on Friday. Please say a quick prayer for her as a birthday gift to her.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hoping to hear DNA results today

Well, the DNA made it to the lab on Monday. We were told it takes 48 hours to process, so if they started processing on Tuesday, the 48 hours is up. Hopefully, we'll get an email from AOH today about the results. The official paper has to return to the US embassy in Liberia but we should be able to get the news before then. We're getting closer....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Issac and Emmanuel - still need our prayers

Pray for Issac. He just had major surgery to repair his spine and the doctors need to go back in to replace a screw. You can read about it here. Another boy that needs prayers is Emmanuel. He just had heart surgery the same day that Issac did only it was on the other side of the US. You can read about Emmanuel here. Both boys were adopted from Liberia last year. Please take a moment and support these boys and their families during this difficult time.

DNA is leaving Liberia

Rachel, the AOH adoption consultant, confirmed the DNA swabs were taken and should be leaving the US Embassy in Liberia by now. We have two Rachels we talk about all the time... "Rachel, our daughter" and "Rachel, from AOH". So that is their new names. A family from Tampa just returned with their three girls from AOH, another family from Iowa leaves Sunday to pickup Abraham's friend Enoch, and yet another family has gotten travel clearance. These were all from the April 2007 referral time-frame. I don't know of any more families left to travel but if there are, I hope their cases are moving forward.

Pray that the DNA tests move quickly and that they confirm the familial relationships needed to get the kids' US visas. Also, pray for the families that are traveling soon, the Duvals and the Rennies.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blog Layout and Actors....

Julie asked me how to change the layout of the blog. Just go to Customize, then Layout tab, then choose Pick New Template. The stretch layouts utilize the whole space. Have fun!

Karl is becoming a good actor. He reacts to what is happening onstage and remembers to face the audience. Now he needs to project his voice ..... hard to believe, I know.... and S-L-O-W down. We've been gone a lot in the last few days for Treasure Island practice. Tonight is the dress rehearsal/opening night where the kids perform for a nursing home audience. This show if for kids under 18. There is a student director, Erik, and student stage manager, too. Craig is the lights and sound guy. All of them have learned a lot about stagecraft and working with others to produce a show. I'll let you know how the show goes when we get a real audience. Hopefully my camera will work so I can post some pictures, too.

Friday, July 11, 2008

New Layout, sunburn and boiled peanuts....

I thought I'd try a new layout. The old one only uses the center of the screen. If you have a preference for the look of the wider layout vs the narrow, brown layout, leave me a comment.

Wednesday we went to the Atlantic ocean to visit Del's cousins. Becky and her family were down from WI for a visit to Connie and her family in FL. Del and Karl went swimming in the ocean while Erin and I dodged jellyfish on shore. We saw a couple of sea turtle nests and some sand crabs. The waves and the jellyfish were a result of Hurricane Bertha's affects on the ocean, I guess. Del and Karl got sunburned while they were there but are recovering nicely. Lots of aloe lotion helps. Yesterday, Karl and his cousins got to play in the cool springs for a little bit which I think helped his burn. We also had boiled peanuts and pulled pork BBQ for supper so the Wisconsinites had a taste of the south.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Visitors for the 4th...

Del's sister and her family are visiting for a bit. They came on the 4th so that was our celebration. The kids were so excited to see their cousins we didn't even hear about going to see fireworks! Of course, some neighbors were kind enough to shoot some nice fireworks off so we could share with them.

We went to the Gulf coast and saw the sights of what was a town bigger than New Orleans (back in the day) before hurricanes wiped it out. It was never rebuilt as a big town but it is a nice, quaint fishing and artsy town. We plan to see some alligators and swim in one of the famous springs around here before they head back. Tonight is Del's birthday so the menu is BLT sandwiches and of course, cake and ice cream! I'd better get the cake in the oven before it gets too hot in the kitchen to bake!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Braces evaluation.... again

Craig and Erin have an evaluation for braces scheduled today. We're pretty sure Erin's wisdom teeth need to be removed soon, too. So we should have an interesting morning. Then we get to decide if we can afford Erik's current orthodontist or if I have to do some more searching. It appears that all our kids will have or have had braces. I'm trying to steer someone into orthodontia or dentistry as a career, along with being a chiropractor but so far no one is interested. The closest is Erin who wants to be a nurse.

At least the pictures we have of Abraham don't look like he needs braces. Maybe we can break this trend! Speaking of Abraham, the DNA has been ordered on the dad. This is pretty customary now in Liberia. We found out another of Abraham's friends will be coming home in a couple of weeks to Iowa. Hopefully, the DNA testing will go quickly so we can get those kids home. I'm collecting clothes for them and have spoken to a hairdresser about what to use on their hair and scalp. Now I need to start getting all the paperwork ready and my packing list ready.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Erin's DL and Megan's crafts

I've written a lot about the boys but not as much about the girls. In an effort to give equal coverage of a sort, I'll update you a little about Megan and Erin. First of all, Erin has her adult driver's license now. When we first moved here she was able to drive without us but hadn't held her license for a whole year so those priviledges were recinded when we moved until it was a whole year from her driving test. Well, it has been a year and thankfully FL accepted her previous driving test so she now has her DL again. That means she joins the family taxi service. :-) Erin has been looking for work and working on her math this summer.

Megan has made some friends at the bank and enjoys work a lot more. I enjoy her working at the bank because her coworkers and bank customers bring in watermelons, green beans, corn, and other produce that she brings home for us! Yum, yum. She is also back to work on her crafts. If I can get a picture from her, I'll post her latest creation. I told her she should submit it to one of the make it yourself craft magazines.


Friday, June 20, 2008

WE'RE FINALIZED!!!

Yes, you read it right. The kids have been finalized this past week. So we are now their parents and family according to the courts in Liberia. They already have their passports from Liberia. And, they have had their birthparent interview yesterday with the American embassy. The American consulate meets with the birth parents and the kids to determine that the parents are really who they say they are. Most of the time now a DNA test is ordered to establish the legal right of the adults to relinquish the children to us. The consulate ordered the DNA test be conducted which will take about a month since the tests are sent to America for processing. So as long as we don't hit any more glitches we may be traveling around the end of July. However, since everything has taken lots longer than we thought it would, we won't make any arrangements until we hear back about the DNA test results. Thanks for everyone's prayers on our behalf.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blueberry picking...

Our friends from church have a bunch of blueberry bushes with a bunch of blueberries on them. They invited us over to help them pick berries last night. So we got three big plastic containers full of blueberries in an hour. The price of blueberries are $2.99 a pint in the store and I am guessing we picked at least 25 pints. Our friends said we could have all we wanted for FREE. Yummy! I'll try to post a picture of our wonderful gift and the total number of pints we picked (or at least the total that made it back home and not in our tummies).

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kids Helping Kids

I've added a link to a great site that allows kids to help other kids. KidsLAKE usually has monthly projects where they raise money to donate to a cause. Recently they raised money to drill a well in Africa, support a school in Kenya and this month they are raising money to buy mosquito nets in Liberia. KidsLAKE also has an educational section on their site for the places they are raising money for. Homeschoolers love this part! Check it out as a way to allow your kids to donate whatever they can to pool together with other kids to really make an impact helping other kids in the world.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No news yet...

We haven't heard anything for a couple of weeks now about the adoption. Other families in our "group" that received referrals a year ago are moving forward in the process. We are pleased to see things progressing in Liberia again and hope to hear that our case is also moving forward. As soon as we hear something, we'll definitely share.

In the mean time, Romeo and Juliet has finished! Yay! Erik has decided that he doesn't like being an actor as much as being backstage. I'll post some pictures when I get copies from a friend. My camera decided to die this past week. Treasure Island has started rehearsals and Erik is student director, which he loves. Karl got a small speaking role as a pirate so I predict I hear a lot of "arghh me mateys" in the next few weeks.

I heard from my daughter my eldest granddaughter gave herself a haircut! She thought she did so well that she played barber with her little sister. They are 4 and 2. Evidently the oldest had enough hair left to salvage into a pixie cut but the youngest has short short hair. I was laughing when Jessica told me what happened but it hit me that I am now part of the older generation! Yikes!

My other granddaughter who is 1 just learned to walk unattended yesterday. Our daughter sent a video to share the moment via their blog. Technology is so great now that we can see the milestones like walking and haircuts almost as soon as they happen.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ramblings...

Nothing yet from AOH about finalization although two friends of Abraham's have moved through finalization and onto the next step. That's good news that adoptions have resumed and we should be hearing something soon. I plan to send a card with one of the families that should be traveling soon to let the kids know we haven't forgotten them in the year since we got their referral.

Karl auditioned for Treasure Island this week. He is anxiously waiting for the phone call from the director as I'm typing this to hear which of the pirates he gets to be. He was told he would be in the show and be a pirate but now we'll find out how many lines he gets, if any. Craig has been 'hired' to be the light man and Erik is the student director. I think Erin will be helping out backstage with her new friend Allie. Allie's younger brother will be a pirate, too, after he gave such a great audition by memorizing his lines in about 10 minutes. Karl is busy re-reading the book Treasure Island in order to refresh his memory of the story.

It is really starting to get summery now. It is easily 90 plus degrees and humid by mid-morning. The kids and I went to a local spring to go swimming with some other homeschoolers. As it turned out, Karl and I were the only ones to go in the water. The springs are much like a lake with the dirt bottom and tree roots and algae, etc. The highlight of our afternoon was the appearance of a 4 foot alligator in the springs. I may never get the others into the water since I had convinced them that alligators don't frequent the freshwater springs because they are too clear and too cold. We left but a friend said that the gator disappeared and everyone trickled back into the water for the rest of the afternoon!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Abraham dancing at orphanage circa 4/08


This was taken by a family that recently traveled to pick up their kids. Abraham is well known in the orphanage for his dancing. Another performer?????

Recent Liberian meetings

We're back home after attending Grandma's funeral last week. Thank you for the prayers and cards. Everything went well and we were blessed with nice weather and a wonderful message from the pastors.

The adoption seems to be moving forward again. We have letters granting permission to get our fingerprints renewed and the big meetings in Liberia have been positive. There was another meeting this past Wednesday where the Liberians decided against requiring an additional fee to the Ministry of Health. This was great news. They also decided to continue meeting in hopes of getting everything resolved before they go on their summer break. Hopefully we will have more news this next week specifically pertaining to our case.

In the meantime, this is opening weekend for Romeo & Juliet. Craig is running the lights this time and Erik is onstage. Thankfully he had an understudy so when we went to Wisconsin, his understudy got ready for opening night. The understudy gets two nights performances and then Erik starts his role of Benvolio on Sunday afternoon. The play runs for two more weekends.

Karl is starting his theatrical training also. He auditioned for a role in Treasure Island today with the same playhouse. This play will be specifically for youth age 8 to 18 this summer. He wants to play the pirate, Black Dog. Arghhh!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grandma's Gone

My cousin's wife announced Grandma Bahr's passing in a great way. She said that it was with great joy and much sadness that Grandma died last night. I think that's a wonderful way to phrase death for a Christian. We are confident where she has gone and we look forward to being reunited with her later. We're heading out for the funeral tomorrow. I spoke with our social worker friend about what to do with our fingerprint reprinting and she said we should be fine since I've been in contact with them for a month trying to get the paperwork done for the appointment. I hope so because we won't be back until Tuesday and our fingerprints expire on Monday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Still waiting.... Big Liberian gov't meeting Weds.

This has been a challenging week for lots of reasons. Grandma is finishing her final walk here on earth before she goes to live with the Lord, Megan is still deciding if she wants to move back to WI this summer, we're waiting to receive our updated homestudy, we're waiting for the directive to go to Jacksonville for our fingerprints updates this week and we are still waiting on finalization for the adoption. Whew!
My grandma will be 96 years old June 10 and has been battling cancer for a year (or more). Although it would be cool to have her make it to her birthday, the cancer is winning and God has other plans, I think. This weekend the hospice nurse guessed she had 24 to 48 hours. I'll write more later but Grandma is more than ready to walk with the Lord.
As for Megan, she has given herself until Thursday (her birthday) to make her decision. Del and I, of course, don't want to see her go but ...... We'll see.
Our fingerprints expire on Monday, the 26th. We HAVE to get them redone this week. As for the finalization, on Wednesday the officials in Liberia are meeting to discuss the improvements they want to see in their adoption policies. I doubt any finalizations will be made this close to a big decision meeting. We should know more on Thursday about whether our case will be finalized or if we have to wait longer for the official decisions to be made. Who knows? Maybe this meeting on Wednesday is to decide they need to have a meeting to make a decision!
Now I need to get back to sewing costumes for Romeo & Juliet! At least I have something to keep my hands busy from snitching chocolate while I wait! I wish I'd inherited my grandma's take-it-or-leave-it attitude about chocolate!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fencing is dangerous!


Erik has been learning fencing for his role in Romeo and Juliet. He is pretty good but he said he is hesitant because he's afraid he might hurt someone. I guess I'll have to call him my reformed daredevil now. Anyway, he fell wrong on Monday night at practice and was stiff and sore. Then, Tuesday night I got a call that he'd gotten stabbed in the lip but was okay! He said he didn't even realize he was hurt until he saw blood dripping from his lip. Fortunately, a former paramedic (aka Juliet's father) was there and took care of him pronto. So now he has a fat lip. Thankfully he didn't get stabbed in the eye. I told him that's why we don't play with pointy objects! :-)

You can see the 'C' shaped cut where the foil pierced his lip and the block spot on his lip is the bruising. His braces cut the inside of his lip a little bit, too. It is healing nicely now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Real life happens...

We had a wonderful visit with Del's parents this past week. It was really nice to have company and we all needed the boost of seeing family. Also, my children were wonderful for remembering me with flowers, gifts and wonderful cards on Mother's day. However, we're saddened to hear that Grandma Bahr is failing. I've posted before that she is our family matriarch who will turn 96 in less than a month. I'm not sure she will make it to that milestone, though. I'm checking flights to see if I can get back to see her one more time. This is the real life I was speaking about. I'm sure if Grandma realized I was looking for flights she'd tell me not to bother, that she was okay and I had my life to take care of. She knows she is going to heaven and is waiting for the day when she is taken there. She's a remarkable woman! This time of year is bittersweet for me since it was Mother's Day in 2002 when we went with my mom (my Grandma's only daughter) to pick out her casket. My mom died the Saturday after that.

In the mean time we are finishing school for the year, sewing costumes for Romeo and Juliet, and going to doctors appointments. We have a call in to AOH to get more information about our case and finalization.

Another family got pictures at the orphanage while they were picking up their daughter. I found all three kids in those pictures. I'll post them soon.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Latest news

Still not much to report about the progress of the adoption. Our case is in front of a Liberian judge to have the adoption decree signed. However, there is some confusion if we will be considered a new case since AOH found the additional birth mom or if we will be considered an old case since we've been in process for so long. Since last fall when the new US consulate arrived adoption has been in upheaval in Liberia. The new consulate runs a tight ship and has forced the orphanages and the Liberian government to improve their procedures and policies as well. This is a good thing for the kids but slow for us. The issue of whether we're a new case or an old case stems from the fact that Liberia is revising their policies for adoption and it seems that new cases are on hold until about June or whenever they get their policy revision finished. So we wait in the Lord.

In the mean time we have company! Del's parents are here this week so that is a welcome break. Megan is still struggling with whether to move back to WI or not. Erik has lured Craig to the playhouse for the Romeo and Juliet production. Erik has learned theatrical fencing for his role and has assured me they are NOT to wear tights. Craig will be helping with the technical crew. I get to sew three doublets for the end of the month production. Erin is wrapping up school and researching dual enrollment for college and job hunting. Karl is busy riding his new bike. Del has been traveling and working long hours. Hopefully, this will diminish in the next month or so. I'm deciding when I can go back to WI to visit Grandma Bahr again. She is failing now, the cancer has progressed to where they are giving her higher doses of pain meds. Unfortunately, this confuses her and causes her to sleep more. I haven't been able to call her on the phone for a couple of weeks. That's it for us for now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I killed the butterfly... :-(

Last week the kids and I went to a butterfly farm on a fieldtrip. If you get Country Woman magazine, this farm was featured a little bit ago. It was a neat visit. We got to see lots of butterflies and really pretty moths. We had a little tour and saw where the butterflies emerge from their chrysalises. This farm ships live butterflies for release at weddings and funerals and ships huge numbers to schools around the country. I bought a chrysalis so we could watch a monarch emerge. Yesterday was the big day. The butterfly started to emerge. I brought the container to the table so we could watch it but then it stopped moving. So I put the container back on the shelf thinking maybe it needed quiet. After it still hadn't finished emerging, Karl read the pamphlet about butterfly care. Good thing we knew what we were supposed to do, right? We found out it says 'don't move the chrysalis while the butterfly is emerging'. Oops. I guess I have to get another chrysalis, I'm a butterfly killer. Time for another field trip!

The butterfly farm has a neat website where you can order a lot of butterfly related stuff. There is even a DVD on how to create a butterfly habitat. The website is www.butterfliesetc.com.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Time marches on....

I can't believe it is Saturday already! Time is really going by fast. One example is when my doctors start looking as old as my oldest children! Uff da! I went to the chiropractor yesterday for a much needed adjustment and this young fella comes in saying he's the doctor. I mean, I'm not old but he looks young! It is confirmed now, though, I have a stiff neck. I've lost the curvature in my upper neck and need to get my exercising moved up on my priority list! Exercising is unfortunately one of the things that I let slip when things start getting crazy in my life.

Another example of time marching on is that it has been a year since we received our original referral. Our first referral was also two girls and a boy, except the boy was the youngest. Their mom took them back home from the orphanage in early June. I hope they are well. The day we lost the referral in June was the day we found out about Abraham, Diamond and Kindness. At the time, we were told our adoption shouldn't be delayed. However, a lot of things have happened since then and we are still waiting. We've been trying to get more specific information rather than the very tentative time frames that we usually get. When we hear anything, we'll post. The 'few more months' line is getting old fast.

The problem is that Liberia is revising their adoption policies. This is a result of the new American consulate that started her two year term late last summer. This new consulate tightened up all the procedures which was a good thing but this also slowed down the adoptions. These improvements on the US side highlighted the need for Liberia to improve their rules and procedures. This is great for adoptions so that everything is legal and by the book. Unfortuantely, we are stuck in the middle of all these changes along with some other families and consequently, our adoptions have been delayed.

Liberia is working on improving their adoption procedures right now. One thing that Liberia is considering is making all families travel twice, once to see their child(ren) before adoptions and the second time to pick them up. The other tentative requirement being discussed is to have DNA matching done on all the children. A friend found this information in an adoption magazine but there hasn't been any official word yet. More on this later...


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So much for good intentions

Well, my intention of posting more frequently quickly went by the wayside. We had a busy weekend and being on the 'puter got pushed to the bottom of the list. We finally got bunk beds for the boys, a blue set and a red set. They do have to learn to sleep in them, though. Craig complained that Karl makes them squeak and that he rolled in one side and out the other. Hmmmm, I think Craig is growing again and has become uncoordinated!

My new favorite surfing is to find frugal websites or blogs that help me save money. Del has told me that since I'm a SAHM now instead of working (I was a computer programmer) my job is to save or stretch our money. I'm usually pretty good at that but there is always room for improvement. So I found this blog by Crystal Paine that has lots of ideas for saving money with shopping deals and other things. I also found this blog by Frugal Dad which is great because it focuses more on home improvement stuff and investments. Since adoption isn't cheap, I'm working at making our goal of being debt free a reality.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Homesick....

Karl had a rough day yesterday. His brothers have become really good friends and he is feeling left out. Craig's growth spurt has put him in the 'teen' group rather than the younger age group so Karl is feeling lonely. We went to see the manatees yesterday since Megan had a half day and hadn't seen them. Megan and Erin were chums, Erik and Craig were chums and Karl was trying soooo hard to be part of the groups. The olders weren't excluding him but he felt left out. He held me back and told me he felt like he didn't have anyone to play with. **sigh** my babies are growing up! Even my grandbabies are growing up. Brianna and Emma wanted us to come to the park with them. Mattea is starting to walk and we're missing that too. Time goes too fast yet...

We are anxious to have Abraham and the girls home. We're praying that he and Karl will be good buddies. But this adoption thing keeps dragging on and on. Sometimes you wonder if it will ever result in bringing home those kids, if it is real or just a dream we'll wake up from some day. At least when I was pregnant, I knew that in a few months it would be over and we'd have a new little one in our family. Adoption is a wonderful, worrisome, faith-testing adventure that we are hoping will be over soon!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Adjustments...

I'm trying to write more frequently so that I don't have huge posts when I do write. Rachel and Steve are my inspiration. :-) Anyway, with every move it is challenging to find new friends and this move has been no exception. The youngest four and I have been attending different homeschool groups and are slowing getting to know people through those. Karl was bummed though, when his friend Wyatt went back to WI for the summer. (Wyatt and family are homeschooling snowbirds.) Erik is getting very involved with Suwanee Valley Players theater group. He's learning all the ropes so one day he can direct a play, preferably one he's written. Craig is getting interested in helping out backstage, too. Monday night I took Megan and Erin with me to a church ladies' group meeting at Red Lobster. They had a great visit with two college age girls. One of them is a third cousin to a friend of Theresa's from OH. Small world, isn't it? Hopefully our night out will help the girls get to know more people here. We all love to spend time together at home, though, so our adjustment hasn't been too bad. The lonesome times do sneak up on us all, though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taxes and Doctors

It is Tax Day already! Where has all the time gone???? I've always done our taxes, some years I get them in early, some not. This year I started them in January only to have Del's company make a mistake on the W-2 form. After two tries, the corrected W-2 is correct and taxes are done. They go in the mail today. Another yearly milestone completed. Thankfully we get a refund which will help finance the rest of the adoption expenses.

Since we've moved I've been searching for a family doctor for us. It is so hard to use an insurance form to decide if the doctor listed is the right one for us. Finally, I just picked an office that sounded okay to me leaving it up to God. In order to travel to Liberia, you should take a prescription antibiotic along in case you get sick because there is an extreme shortage of everything in the medical field. Liberia desperately needs medical personnel, supplies, equipment, everything. We have an appointment at the end of the month with this local doctor. So it was very comforting to find out last night at the church ladies supper that the doctor we picked was being praised by another woman in the group who is a nurse herself. Besides the medical doc, I made appointments with a new dentist and a new eye doctor. Now I just need to find a chiropractor!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Renewing fingerprints & Grandma's car

I was talking with the yahoo group about the progress with the adoption and was reminded that we should renew our fingerprints. Fingerprints are good for 15 months and ours expire the end of May. Since time is getting close and it takes some time to get appointments to have it done, I guess we'll go ahead and renew our fingerprints before they expire (a BIG no-no). We're also waiting on our homestudy update to be completed. Our social worker is writing it up now.

Some of you may remember my earlier posts about my Grandma. She's a terrific woman of God and I'm very proud of her. Rachel and Steve compiled a bunch of family pictures onto a digital frame and gave it to her this weekend. We had one photo of my mom and her brothers as kids in a one-room schoolhouse. Grandma really loved this one since my mom died eight years ago. If anyone has an elderly relative or someone in a small home, digital frames are great ideas. We put pictures of flowers (my Grandma has a green arm), places she'd like to see, and of course, family on it. I'm working at taking older, non-digital pictures and scanning them into the 'puter to make them digital to be added to the frame.

We bought a 'new' car. Grandma drove until last fall when she went into the nursing home for rehab. When it became obvious she wouldn't be driving again, she decided to sell her car. We bought it for a teen car for Erin and Erik and as a backup for Megan's old car. Now we have to figure out how we're going to get it from WI to FL.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The kids have their passports already...

Adoption has been compared to being pregnant and I will agree with that. You wait for what seems like forever, and then, all of a sudden you are holding a baby. With being 'paper pregnant', as I've heard adoption described, you wait for a long time and then all of a sudden, things start moving. This week has been an instance of things starting to move. Normally the finalization has to take place and then we wait 4-6 weeks (or more) for the Liberian passports. Although the finalization was held up due to waiting for the newly discovered birthmom's relinquishment signature, the kids passports have already been received.

So we just might travel in May! All that's left is the judge signing the papers, some other minor paperwork and then the U.S. Embassy appointment. That's when we go to Liberia and meet with the US consulate. Even then, though, things aren't always straightforward. The Redman's need some prayers to clear up some DNA tests the US Embassy is ordering for their adopted son that they haven't been able to bring home yet.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

She signed!!

Just a quick update, the birthmom came into the orphanage and signed the relinquishment papers! Now the adoption case goes before the judge. Rachel at AOH thought the finalization would be done by the end of this month. Then we wait for the Liberian passports for the kids. And then we should be close to traveling. We can breathe a little easier now.

Still waiting ....

We now know that Abraham's mom was the one that died and that the girls are full-siblings. Their mom is the one that is still alive and on whom we're waiting for her relinquishment signature. Time is different in Liberia. Some families that have traveled this adoption road before have said that 'right now' is in about 45 minutes in Liberia. So I'm not surprised that 'any day' has been drawn out to several days. This combined with the state of flux that Liberian adoptions are in right now is the reason why we're still waiting. When we started the adoption process, Liberian adoptions were taking about 6 - 9 months from the time you received a referral to the time you brought home your kids. Now with all the changes being made to improve the system, we are caught in the middle of the transitions. So we are trying to be patient.

Karl is really getting anxious to have Abraham home to be able to have a buddy. We are slowly finding new friends here but there is always a sorting out that occurs. He did play at a homeschool snowbird friend from Wisconsin yesterday. They head back to WI this weekend, though, so Karl will miss them until next winter. I've been having him help me collect orphanage donations to keep him busy. Things like OTC meds, clothes, school supplies, toiletries, pediasure and liquid breakfasts for the caustic kids are all in demand over there. You can go here to see and read about two girls that have ingested caustic soda that are now in Houston for surgeries to repair the damage.

To keep us busy, we're selecting photos to be included in a family digital picture frame for my Grandma. She has a large family of about 80 grandkids, great-, great-great-, and step-grandkids. So we're hoping to get a bunch of photos to keep grandma company when we can't visit. I'm trying to figure out how to put captions on the photos to help jog grandma's memory.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Waiting on birthmom...

Like I mentioned before, Abraham, Diamond and Kindness are half-siblings. Rachel at AOH is trying to find out who is half-sibs to whom. I called her to find out if we needed to be concerned that the surviving birthmom would want the kids back only to find out that the birthmom is supposed to come to the orphanage this week to sign the relinquishment papers. Hopefully she will do that but she is in her last trimester of another pregnancy. Since the birthmom is having another child, we are praying that she lets us adopt her kids that are at AOH.

On the homefront, Erik is now working the lighting board for the SVP community theatre group on the Grease production. The community theatre has participants from a tri-county area and the director for Romeo & Juliet is actually our neighbor.

The kids and I went to see the oldest Cyprus tree in Florida (supposedly). It is 900+ years old and is huge. The trunk was over 300 inches around and it was 250 feet tall. My camera skills being what they are, I didn't get a picture due to dead batteries. But as soon as I can get Erik's camera downloaded, I'll post a picture. We went with our new friends who happen to be snowbird homeschoolers from WI.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yellow Fever vaccine - check & Benvolio

Well I can't say they didn't warn us..... We went to the travel clinic (which was a county clinic, government owned) for our yellow fever vaccine yesterday. We were warned that the appointment would be an hour and a half to two hours and NOT to be late. After waiting a half an hour to be seen, we endured a two-hour spiel by a zealous nurse about what diseases we could get while traveling and how we could die from them and how we could prevent this nastiness by spending about $700 per person for vaccines for illnesses we might get. She was VERY thorough and knowledgeable. When I asked her if she has done a lot of traveling since she sounded so authoritative, she replied that there was no way she'd go to Africa or some of the other countries! There was too many nasty things she could get sick with there!! Del and I have been shaking our heads since we left. In fact, he about bolted for the door when she finally let us out of there.

On a family note, Erik did get a part in Romeo and Juliet. When he auditioned he read the Romeo lines practically the whole time. However, the director decided he should be Benvolio, Romeo's sidekick. Erik was disappointed and actually, I was surprised because I thought he'd be offered Romeo, too. But he's okay with it now. He gets to learn swordfighting, a bit of fencing and stage combat. In fact, he's in the opening scene fighting with Tybalt, Romeo's enemy. He's the only one from the family in this play. The next play is Treasure Island which Karl wants to be in. He read the book and figures he's an expert in it now. Such is the confidence of 8 year olds.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New information... half-siblings

I spoke with Rachel at AOH last night to get an update on the status of the kids' finalizations since we'd heard more were issued. Come to find out the children are half-siblings with the same dad. I'm waiting to hear which child's mother died. I'm guessing it is Kindness, the one-year old. We (AOH) have the death certificate so we're good on that front. However, this makes things a little trickier for the other child(ren) since AOH has to come up with the birthmother for the US Embassy interview.
Liberia and the US Embassy there is really trying to follow all the rules regarding relinquishment for adoptions and making sure the parents and families of these kids know and understand what adoption is. I just read an article about a Kenyan woman who claims that her relative tricked her into allowing her son to be adopted. She claims that she was told her son would be going away to school but would be able to visit her on school vacations. Culturally, the article said that many poor families send their children to wealthier relatives for schooling like this.
Rachel at AOH is getting more information for us about the status of which kids are full-sibs, etc., and if the birthmom has been tracked down. Keep us in your prayers that this all gets resolved quickly.

On another note, we go to get our Yellow Fever vaccinations this morning. I'm leary of all immunizations and have researched them but this one is required to travel so.... I'll have a sore arm later today.


Our weekend visitor

Theresa visited from WI this weekend. We picked her up from the airport and took her for a picnic lunch. We had hoped to see alligators but we didn't get a very good view. There were wild horses, though. Then we went to an quaint old town to see a flavor of old Florida. It was fun, lots of antique shops and book shops to see. Tuesday we went to a state park and were rewarded with seeing lots of manatees close up. They are such unusual creatures. Although the weather was cooler on the weekend, it did warm up into the 70's so Theresa could experience the Florida warmth before heading back to the cooler 40's in WI. It was so nice to have her visit, we had a great time. However, it was bittersweet because now we're reminded of how much we miss everyone up north.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

While we're waiting....

We still haven't gotten the call saying the adoption is finalized. However, of the 14 cases of children waiting to be finalized, I've heard of 8 of them being done. So our odds are going up very quickly!

In the mean time, here is a snapshot of the part of our lives trying to get settled in a new country. I know FL is still part of the USA but being from WI, it might as well be a different country! I like to garden and was raised on a farm but there are LOTS of things growing around here that I've never seen before and lots of things missing that I would usually see this time of year (spring - not March) such as lilacs. I do miss my lilac bush. I've raided the library to get books on FL plants that can stand in for my favorite northern plants. We do want to plant a palm tree since we are in FL afterall. :-)

The kiddos are adapting. Megan has a job in a local bank and is striving to adapt to the policies that are so very different than what she was used to in Grafton. It may be that this bank is TOO friendly to its customers and not structured enough for our slightly OCD daughter. Megan likes things just so and likes to know her boundaries, etc., and this lack of structure in the policies is really stretching her. She needs to get interested in something besides work. There are lots of artsy groups around but they are a little hard to find and weed out what she's looking for.

Erin is looking for a job and getting ready to apply for dual enrollment with a community college. We're thinking about getting her started with dual enrollment (at least for a few classes) this summer. She is interested in nursing and would like to get some college credits out of the way. She and Megan have been best friends since we've moved. They always were but now they are closer. They have almost caught up on all the English-accent movies they love to watch and all the chick flicks. I'm hoping that a couple of teen groups we're trying to get going will help her with finding friends.

Erik has auditioned for the local community playhouse production of "Romeo and Juliet". We visited the playhouse a week ago to get the facts regarding time commitment, how they operate, etc., and were strongly urged to return for auditions on Monday night. After much deliberation, only Erik wanted to try out since Craig didn't want to wear tights. :-) Actually, Erik is more of the thespian. The rest love the theatre but as backstage people. Anyway, he finds out before Friday if he's won a role. I believe he is in the running for either Romeo or Benvolio based on how the tryouts went Monday night. Everyone was quite impressed and told me so, as if he needs anymore encouragement. :-)

Craig is struggling a bit since he is quiet, shy, and very tall. He is now as tall as Erin and Erik. I think he's grown another 2 inches since fall which brings him to about 8 inches since last year. Friday evening Erik, Erin and Craig attended a game night with a local homeschool teen group. We dropped them off knowing no one and when we picked them up, they were having a great time. Many were about the same age as Craig, so I have hopes that Craig will soon feel more welcome and comfortable in this new state.

Karl has found a bunch of friends and new endeavors. He has struggled a little with not being able to play with Noah or his buddy, Peter. He saw Peter every week at our homeschool group in WI and has really missed having him around. They have written to each other but Peter's family doesn't have email so that has hampered my internet savvy child. On the flip side, his handwriting has improved with writing letters. ;-)

Theresa is coming to visit this weekend so we'll be doing some more sightseeing. We have to go see the 'gators and maybe the ocean and the gulf. I'm not sure T can call this a vacation, but we'll try. Everyone is looking forward to visiting with Theresa and showing her all the sights. Maybe we'll have word of our finalization by then, too!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Still waiting.....

Early this morning I had read on our yahoo support group that five kids were finalized. Congratulations to the two families that received word that their children are now officially theirs. They get to move into the next stage of waiting for the children's Liberian passports and the US visas. I was a little disappointed that we weren't one of these families but I am very thankful that we are still waiting. One family that was waiting for the finalization call got word that their child had been removed from the orphanage by his parent. The Avella family has been waiting for along time for adoption. Please pray for them as they struggle to deal with this loss.

We finished the paperwork, again....

I finished the paperwork for updating our homestudy and mailed it off yesterday. I did get the taxes printed off, thankfully, and was able to get them sent off. Now we have to get our yellow fever shots and our Liberian passports so we can travel. The shots are needed to get back into the USA not to enter Liberia.

We are in a group of families waiting to hear about the finalization of 15 kids. These kids' paperwork is with a Liberian judge who is sitting on the cases. The last I heard from Rachel at AOH was that they should be finalized any day. Yesterday another family in the same boat spoke with Rachel and was told that five kids' had their adoption finalized. I haven't heard who the fortunate families are but I'll post when I know more.

Friday, February 22, 2008

TAXES!! Arghh!

You probably all have some tax frustration you can relate to. I currently have two issues with taxes.... first, to get the homestudy updated I needed a copy of our most recent taxes. Second, I need to do this year's taxes. I've been thwarted with both. Since we've moved, yep, you guessed it, I can't find last year's taxes. Oh, I have them in a data format which this year's software can't convert into print format but no paper copies. So, I figured I'd just do this year's taxes and send them. Ha! Del's company overtaxed his social security and medicare and my tax software doesn't recommend proceeding until we've gotten a refund from his company with a corrected W-2. Good news and bad news... we should get a nice chunck of money back but not in time for my self-imposed deadline to get the homestudy update completed.

However, God is good and after unpacking another 8 boxes yesterday, I did find last year's tax software. Now I'm crossing my fingers that I can install the software, access the tax data file and be able to print last year's taxes.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Updated homestudy required for Florida

It is a good thing we had to update our homestudy for FL because when I was copying all official documents, I learned that our certified copy of our marriage certificate was missing. Since we'll need this when we travel, I have ordered new ones. They should be arriving here this week and then we'll have our portion of the paperwork done for the updated homestudy. Then we can sit and wait some more.

I spoke with Rachel at AOH and found out that our kids are still at the orphanage. It has been so long that I was beginning to fear that their dad came back to get them since the Liberian deputy minister issued some bad press about adoptions and child trafficking in January. However, they are still waiting for us. We sent a card along with another family so that the kids know we haven't forgotten about them.

Until next time....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back on track

It has been almost a month since we've moved in. Isn't it surprising how fast time goes and yet, it seems like we just got here. Anyway, most of the boxes are emptied and legal things done to move in. Now we start on updating our homestudy and getting all the addresses changed on the necessary adoption forms. The group of families from AOH that received referrals about the same time as we did has started to see some movement in the arduous process of bringing home the kids. A couple of families unfortunately lost their referrals when the birthparents changed their minds and a couple of families have received news that the children's adoption was finalized in Liberia. That leaves about four families left to have their adoptions finalized and that's where we are.

After the adoptions are finalized we still have to wait for the passports and visas but those processes seem to be starting to move again as well now that the holidays are over. There doesn't seem to be any way to predict with any accuracy how fast the process will take for us. Therefore we meet with the homestudy lady from Florida on Thursday to get our update done as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, we're visiting churches and homeschool groups. We've met a lot of interesting people and even went on a field trip. I want to take the kids to see the manatees and the butterfly forest and the botanical gardens and the big sink hole..... We had our first out of state visitors over the weekend which was great. Most importantly :-} we got our library cards!

I get to go back to Wisconsin this coming weekend to see my grandma and for my youngest granddaughter's first birthday. The weather is predicted to be nicer than it was for Icebowl II (the playoff game between the Packer's and the Giant's). It is supposed to be in the teens the last I heard. I'm glad I didn't give away ALL my sweaters. Take care everyone.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We're in Florida

Well we made it to the south. We are waiting for phone and internet service so this is a quick update from the local library. We are all experiencing culture and weather shock. We left Wisconsin in a snowstorm that dumped 6-8 inches the last day we were loading the moving van. It has been 75 here in Florida except for a couple of days when the high was only 45. I'll write more as soon as I can.