Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Our decision

I really didn't mean to leave you in suspense regarding our decision; we were just trying to make sure that we followed the appropriate procedures and informed all of the necessary people before we announced our exciting news.
Most of you know that we've been waiting for a referral for a little girl in Astrakhan for over a year. We felt very strongly that we wanted to return to this region, as that is where our Chipmunk and Monkey are from. Unfortunately, since late summer referrals from this region (for our agency, at least) had slowed down drastically and we were starting to feel very discouraged about this and about our agency's lack of accreditation. We were determined to stay in this region though, despite the constant nagging feeling that we felt that this might not be where we were supposed to find our HotDog. However, as the months continued we started to get the news that the push for domestic adoption within Russia had a major impact on the amount of available girls in our region and that it was most likely going to be several more months before we heard any news. While I was thrilled to hear that many of the girls were finding homes in Russia, my mind was starting to think about other possibilities.
We initially thought about switching to another region, but we would be in the back of the line, behind the other families that had been waiting for referrals, so that didn't help us much.
We talked to several other agencies that were accredited but heard from all that our wait for a little girl would be much longer than we were willing to wait.
We never really discussed switching countries because it seems almost all programs are running so slow right now.
As we were tossing around various options, I received an email from a friend that had previously adopted from Astrakhan last summer. She was just wondering how our adoption was going and if we had brought our HotDog home yet. She said that they were starting another adoption for a little girl and were adopting from Kyrgyzstan, a fairly new country for international adoptions. The more she described the program, the more it sounded like the perfect fit for us.
I took this information and started my research. The more we looked into it, the more it sounded like it was too good to be true. I talked with several of the agencies that operate in the country (there are still very few agencies working here) and was hearing the same information from each: referrals were coming at a fairly constant rate, the waits are considerably shorter than other countries right now, and we had a definite advantage in that we are homestudy ready and can switch almost all of our dossier to the new country with little additional documents needed.
We were still so nervous about pulling our dossier from Russia. We are both creatures of habit and Astrakhan is what we know, what we love. We've been waiting for over a year so we are bound to hear something soon, right?? We love our agency and would hate not to complete our third adoption with them. We would lose a small chunk of money by switching countries/agencies. We had so many reasons to stay where we were. But there were so many advantages to switching too. We went back and forth for several weeks. But we kept coming back to one thing: adopting from Kyrgyzstan just felt "right". For the past 6 months or so, we were struggling with our adoption in Astrakhan and felt like we were trying to force something that just wasn't meant to happen. Every fiber in our beings was telling us that our daughter was in Kyrgyzstan. It was terrifying, but we made the huge decision to leave Astrakhan and CHI and officially switched to Kyrgyzstan. And it was such a relief. All of our instincts are telling us this is the right move for our family. It just feels "right". Does that make sense?
So (very) long story short, we've signed with a new agency and are officially on the list waiting for a referral for an infant girl from Kyrgyzstan. I've almost finished switching all of our documents (the dossier is sooo much easier than in Russia) and our homestudy agency is busy working on the changes to our homestudy. We're moving right along. The process in Kyrgyzstan is a bit different than Russia; there is no central database listing all of the available children. They are referred to agencies as they enter the baby houses. So while there are just a few families ahead of us in line, the wait could be anywhere from 2 to 6 months. Once we receive a referral, we travel to meet her and spend 14 days bonding with her. We'll then return home and go back to pick her up about 6 weeks later. Of course, this program is new to adoptions (just opened last year) so things could change. But this is the way things are working now. Thank goodness for my friend Rachel that told me about the program; since she's several months ahead of me, she's helping me navigate the new twists and turns in our path.
Thank you for all of your support/wishes/prayers during our decision-making. We are so excited about this new chapter in our journey. I can't wait to share it with you all. One thing is for sure, adoption is never boring!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Great news!

I'm thrilled to announce that as of this Friday (Dec. 21, 2007), our agency will once again be accredited! This is huge and we've been waiting for this for a very long time.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is going to change our situation much, but I am so happy to know that other families should begin to receive referrals again soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In the Meantime...

Thank you for all of your support while we are making some big decisions about our journey. I think we have decided which path we are meant to follow and we are feeling optimistic that it will lead us to our HotDog. We aren't quite ready to share our decision but I will post with more information soon.
In the meantime, we are enjoying the holiday season. The boys are at such fun ages for celebrating Christmas and all of the events surrounding it. Last week we went on the Polar Express. We boarded a train in a nearby town and went for a ride to the North Pole. The conductor came by to check the tickets, waiters brought hot chocolate and cookies, and Santa Claus even made a special appearance! The Polar Express just so happens to be the Chipmunk's favorite book and the Monkey is absolutely obsessed with trains, so it was the definite highlight of our activities so far.

We've also gone to our small town's Christmas parade where the boys collected more candy than they got for Halloween! We've also made the obligatory visit to see Santa so the boys could put in their "official" request. They both asked for: an excavator, a bulldozer, a tractor, and some books (sniff, sniff...the librarian in me is so proud of the last request). And they made sure Santa knew they weren't asking for toy models of these items; they want the real things, but they are more than willing to share them! I'm hoping they won't be too disappointed on Christmas morning when they look outside and realize their request hasn't been granted. I have a feeling that they will be very happy with the alternative presents that Santa leaves.
From here on out, things get chaotic. Tomorrow is the Monkey's Christmas party at school, tomorrow night is Stu's work Christmas party, this weekend is my annual Christmas party with my college friends and their families, and then Monday is my birthday! I know most people would hate to have a birthday that close to Christmas, but I absolutely love it. I love the Christmas season and having one more reason to celebrate is great to me. (My birthday also has a special place in my heart because it was on my 28th birthday - 4 years ago - that we met Chipmunk for the first time. Talk about an amazing birthday present; Stu will never be able to top that.) Then the next week, Chipmunk has his class party and then our actual family Christmas get-togethers begin.
I LOVE this time of the year! It's crazy and chaotic, but I wouldn't change a thing. Being able to share Christmas with my two little boys is the most amazing and joyous privilege. My family is so blessed. I hope all of you have the happiest of holidays!

Monday, December 3, 2007


Everyone says that adoption is a leap of faith. Lately, it seems that I've lost faith that we will be bringing our daughter home from Russia. I was so hopeful that our agency would be on the newest list of accredited agencies and that things would proceed quickly. However, our agency was not on the list. They still hope to receive accreditation soon, but we've been hearing that for a year with nothing to show for it. It seems we've come to a fork in the road. We are having such a tough time deciding which path to take. One the one side we continue along our current path, waiting for accreditation and for our region to start moving. It feels like our heart is tugging us in the this direction. It is the path we know, having gone down it twice before. We know the journey, the people, the places; it is familiar and comfortable. Looking down the other side is scary and unknown; it means a new agency, a new country, new people, new paperwork. However, our heads seem to be tugging in this direction.
We have some difficult decisions to make and any good thoughts/prayers/vibes that you can send our way would be greatly appreciated.
I'll post whenever we make a decision.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One Year Ago Today

One year ago we sent in our dossier for our third adoption. One year ago we sat back and started dreaming of the little girl across the world who would become our daughter. One year ago we talked about how it would be our last Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family of four. One year ago we anxiously began to wait for the call.
Now, one year later, I really don't feel like we've made any progress at all. We are still dreaming of a little girl across the world, still anxiously waiting for the call, and still talking about how this will be our last Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family of four.
The past year has brought us so much joy too; I'm just feeling a little melancholy today as we hit the one-year mark.
I'm praying that one year from today we'll be holding our sweet little girl in our arms and reminiscing about how quickly the year has gone.

Friday, November 9, 2007

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Wouldn't you think that doing a dossier for the fourth time would be a piece of cake? I really didn't think it would take any time to update all of our documents, considering most of them were already on our computer. And after a little nagging at Stu to get our financial documents together, we had our part finished pretty quickly. What I didn't count on was our homestudy agency's (different agency than our placing agency) ability to screw up anything that I ask them to do. I'm not sure why their continual incompetence continues to surprise me, but it does. Our social worker (whom I love!) came to our house to do the homestudy update. After that, I contacted the agency and told them the list of documents I needed and how many copies of each I needed. Easy enough, right?!? Well, they couldn't find our old documents (probably in one of our closed files from the boys' adoptions which they continue to lose our new documents in) so I offered to send them templates of the documents. All they would have to do is fill in their information. A week later we received an email asking if we needed them to do those documents. Um, yeah. That's why I sent you the template. So another week later I received the documents in the mail. Unfortunately, they only sent one copy of each when I asked for, and needed, two of each. So another week later and they send the extra copies. Later that night, as I was gathering all of our documents to get certified and apostilled I noticed that on EVERY SINGLE ONE of the documents from our homestudy agency, they had used the wrong passport number for Stu!! Arrghh!!! Even more frustrating is that we paid them to do an addendum to our homestudy this summer because Stu's passport expired and he had been issued a new number. SOmehow this new number never made it into their system. I am still, impatiently, waiting on these updated documents. This level of incompetency just infuriates me. They are a large agency and it's hard for me to believe that this type of paperwork should be anything other than routine for them. We've been having these type of problems with them since beginning the Chipmunk's adoption over 4 years ago! We've stayed with them because they do our post-placement reports and we really do like our social worker. But as soon as this adoption is finished, we're changing.
Once we get these new documents in, along with our new state background checks (which listed a wrong birthday for Stu), our new dossier will be finished. Yeah! I'm also very excited about the rumors I'm hearing regarding reaccreditation happening very soon! Should make for a very happy holiday season for many families (including ours, hopefully).
Other than that, not much happening here. We've been the house of sickness recently. Poor Chipmunk ended up having a virus by the end of Halloween night and was so sick for a few days. He thinks his belly hurt because of all of the candy he ate and refuses to touch another piece of candy. Of course, I'm not going to try to change his mind on that! And then a few days later, the Monkey ended up with this stomach virus. And the Monkey is very much like me in that when he gets sick, he gets very sick for a long time. After a week of high fevers and hundreds of trips to the bathroom each day, I think he is finally on the mend.
Looks like things are looking up around our household.
Now we can look forward to celebrating the Chipmunk's 5th birthday on Sunday!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Has It Really Been a Month?

I can't believe that is has been over a month since my last post. I've gotten so many emails from readers asking if everything is okay. The answer is yes. We are great; just busy with fall activities and trying to keep up with the boys. The boys had fall break the first two weeks of October and we had such a good time. We didn't do anything exciting but had a lot of fun just lounging around the house, going to the library and the park, etc. The Chipmunk missed his friends, though, and by the end of the two weeks was definitely ready to go back to school. Monkey, on the other hand, thought that school was finished forever and was heartbroken when we realized that he had to return. Luckily, they've had lots of fun events since they've been back so that has helped a bit.
Now the boys are super-excited about Halloween! We went trick-or-treating at our zoo a couple of weeks ago (they do trick-or-treating several weekends leading up to Halloween) and they've wanted to wear their costumes everyday since then. The Chipmunk is going as a cowboy this year (since his first choice as a princess was nixed by his mom and dad!) and the Monkey is a dragonfly. I've never been a big fan of Halloween, even when I was a child. However, I'm having a blast with Halloween now that I have kids. It is so much fun to watch the boys' eyes come alive with the magic of the holiday. I'll include a picture of the boys with our niece. She decided she wanted to be a stick of butter for Halloween and her dad made the cutest costume I've ever seen!
*Photo removed*
As for the adoption, there is absolutely no news at all. We've almost finished putting the new dossier together so I'm happy about that. We need to get a new FBI background check and a new state police clearance. Never in a million years would I have thought that it would be the end of October and we still wouldn't have heard about dates for our first trip. It's been almost a year (in two weeks) since we turned in our original dossier. Surprisingly, we seem to be doing okay with the constant delays. We know that our HotDog will find us when she is ready. There is not a doubt in my mind about that. In the meantime, we have our hands full just trying to keep up with the Monkey and Chipmunk.
I've seen a lot of other families switch to different agencies recently. I can't blame them. If we weren't at the top of the list in our region and still had a big wait ahead of us, I probably would consider switching too. However, very few agencies work in our small region and we are absolutely committed to going back to Astrakhan. We love our region and feel such a connection to it and the people. We've developed such special relationships there and are looking forward to seeing our friends when we travel back. I think the only thing that would make us change regions is for Astrakhan to completely close to adoptions. Also, I know our agency is really doing everything in their power to get us moving forward. Unfortunately, nothing is going to change until we get reaccredited, which I'm praying happens soon.
I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween and I promise that I won't let another month go by without a new post.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No News is NOT Good News

I talked with my coordinator again. Our poor coordinator was trying to get ready for a business trip but she wouldn't leave until she had an update for us. She insisted the director of the program call Moscow on our behalf and figure out what was going on with our potential referral/travel. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE our coordinator?!?!) The news wasn't good. Evidently, our region doesn't want to give out any more referrals until the agency gets reaccredited. Sooooo, best case scenario, our agency gets accreditation and we can travel in late October. Worst case scenario...I don't even want to think about it.
I was so disappointed by the news. I think over the past few days, I've gone through an abbreviated version of the 7 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining...and finally acceptance. Surprisingly enough, I'm now okay with this news. Of course it's not what I want, but there is absolutely nothing I can do (other than pray for accreditation to happen ASAP) to change the situation. And I keep reminding myself that this time next year, she'll have been home for a long time and this will all seem like a distant memory.
My main fear now is that the second trip will be during Christmas and I'll miss Christmas with my boys. But I refuse to even think that far ahead at this point. We'll cross that bridge when/if we get there.
I did tell my coordinator that I really don't want to hear any more estimates on when we should travel. For 6 months we have been hearing estimates on when they think it will happen. So we've had these expectations dangling in front of our faces, just kind of teasing us with hope. No more. I'm not going to try to plan our schedules around the possibility of traveling. I don't want any more information until it is official.
In the meantime, the boys start their fall break on Thursday of this week. They have 2 1/2 weeks off from school and we plan on having a ton of fun. And then it will be time to think about Halloween and all of the celebrations that go along with it.
Off to pray for accreditation!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wait Continues

Still waiting. No news. Need a glass of wine....or ten.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Quick Update

Hi all!
Just wanted to post a brief update since so many of you have been emailing about how the Monkey did after his surgery. He did great during surgery but has had a rough recovery this week. He does okay during the day while the codeine is working but has not been sleeping much because his throat gets so sore. I'm not sure how you guys with newborns do it, because after 5 nights without sleep I'm about to pull my hair out. The one up-side of him not feeling good has been that he wants to cuddle with us 24 hours a day...very unusual for him. So I'm trying to appreciate this downtime with him until he starts to feel better. I'm so glad the surgery is over and hopefully he'll start to feel much better soon.
Also, we've heard that our region is starting to see some activity again. Traveling for our first trip in October seems very likely. I don't think I realized how down I was feeling about waiting until I received this bit of good news on Friday. Suddenly the long wait doesn't seem all that bad anymore. Now I'm thinking that October is less than a month away and I have a LOT I need to get finished before we travel. Of course, if they told me that I need to get on plane tomorrow I go, I wouldn't hesitate. I'm a procrastinator by nature and this may be just the kick in the butt that I need to finish these last-minute projects.
Check back soon and hopefully I'll have some good news to share!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Thank you so, so much for all of your encouraging words. It really helps to have so much support from all of you. I know Stu appreciates it too since he gets a break from constantly reassuring me that this adoption will in fact happen.

Anyway, our homestudy agency did find our big envelope of documents. There is a new girl working at the desk and I guess she didn't realize that this is our third adoption homestudy and put the envelope in one of our old files. So crisis averted...for now.
It's actually amazing how much this tiny bit of good news cheered me up. I think maybe, just maybe, I can see a little sunshine in the distance. And it feels great that another round of paperwork is out of the way.

Now it's just time to wait again. We're hoping to hear some updated news out of our region in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I'll have my hands full because our little Monkey is getting his tonsils/adenoids removed next Tuesday. He's been needing this for awhile; it may be a few rough weeks, but I think he'll feel so much better after this.

So again, thank you so much for all of your encouragement.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?

I'm really beginning to think that we are just not meant to complete this adoption. I really try to stay positive and believe that this will all end with a little girl in our arms. But I'm not sure how many more roadblocks I can stand.
I just called our homestudy agency to verify that they've received our paperwork so that we can set up the update interview with our social worker. I'm glad I made that call because it looks they don't have the package containing about 90% of our documents. ARRGGHHH!!! She's sure they "misplaced" it and it will turn up. We're supposed to call back on Monday and check. If they can't find it, then we are going to need to track down all of the documents again. It's true that it won't be difficult for us to redo most of the paperwork, just a hassle really...but it's just the point of it.
I called Stu to tell him the news and he asked why I was laughing about it. I told him if I don't laugh about then I'll probably start crying and never stop.
How many more signs do I need???

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pity Party

Several people have emailed to see if we're okay since I haven't posted in awhile. I wanted to assure you that we are fine; thanks for checking. The truth is I started a post at the beginning of last week about how excited we were getting and how I was beginning to get antsy about getting a referral soon. We knew Astrakhan was shut down for July and August so we've been expecting to hear some news about the beginning of September. However, we received an email from our coordinator in the region last week and she indicated that the earliest possibility of us traveling is in early October. I was sooooo upset. I can't believe I keep letting myself get my hopes up only to get disappointed again and again. It's not so much the additional time we need to wait, after all it's really only another month or so. I was more disheartened by the fact that if the 1st trip is early October then the 2nd trip will involve me being in Russia for all of November (the 10-days are not waived and I'm planning to stay the entire time while Stu will return home after court to be with the boys). If I'm away for all of November, I will miss Thanksgiving (not a huge deal, but we missed it two years ago with Monkey's adoption), but more importantly I'll miss Chipmunk's 5th birthday:( I could cry just thinking about it. I know there will be more birthdays and I'm sure he won't mind too much, it's just the point. Also, I'm a little bummed because once again, it will be cold, cold, cold during our second trip which drastically limits how much we can get out of the hotel. After this adoption, we will have been to Russia six times - October (hopefully x2), November (hopefully x2), December, and January. Seriously, you think we could catch a break and maybe just ONCE travel during nicer weather. But it doesn't look like it is meant to happen. I much more nervous about staying by myself during the cold weather too. We rely on Stu to go out and get food/supplies/etc. because it is seriously too cold (in Moscow, at least) to take a young child out for more than a few minutes. Not sure how we'll manage but I'm sure it will work out.
But even more important than those problems is that our dossier expires at the end of October, which means that we are going to have to redo almost our entire dossier. WAAAAHHHHH!!!! Just the thought of doing that makes me a little sick to my stomach. And I can honestly say that for a few days I felt like throwing in the towel and just being content with my two beautiful boys. Of course, that feeling didn't last and I know it will be a distant memory when we have HotDog home but I am very disappointed about all of this additional paperwork/expense.
I know these aren't huge setbacks in the overall scheme of things, and I know many families who have been through much worse than this. But we were so spoiled with both of our previous adoptions - they were smooth, quick - couldn't have asked for better adoptions (other than traveling during the winter, of course). And I just feel like we're hitting roadblock after roadblock on this one.
Anyway, I had to take a step back from all things adoption-related and just pamper my family for a little while before I dive back into all of the paperwork again. Sorry for the whining (I really hate to whine and pout), but I wanted to let you know where I've been and why I might be a little quiet for a bit longer. I'm still here and still lurking among my favorite blogs. I'm excited to see so many other families making great progress; it cheers me up to watch families receiving referrals and see many of the regions become more active. I guess I'll just continue to live vicariously through these other families until it's our turn.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Geography 101

A few days ago I was picking up the boys from school. I walked up to the Monkey's group where he was sitting and playing with one of his little friends, who also happens to be adopted from Russia. A close friend of mine who works at the school said in passing, "Oh look, the two little Russian boys are playing together." I guess another one of the parents heard her comment and looked at me and asked, "Did they know each other in Russia?" I looked at her, trying to determine if she was actually serious and realized she was. I didn't mean to be rude but the first comment out of my mouth was "Do you know how big Russia is?!?!" And then I quickly reigned myself in and told her that they did not know each other while they were in Russia but we are friends with the family and the boys had met prior to coming to school.

When I am asked questions about either of the boys' adoptions, I usually try to gauge where the interest is coming from. If the individual is truly interested then I'll share a bit of our story; if they are thinking about adoption I'll usually give some details. But if the person is just trying to be nosy, I tend to be curt and walk away from the situation. As the Chipmunk is getting older, he is getting a little weary of the constant comments that we receive when we go out (remember, we live in a small town where everyone knows everything so most people know our boys were adopted from Russia). I don't want them to feel like they need to share the personal details of their lives with anyone unless they want to do so.
As for the comment made about the "Russian boys" playing together, I know she did not mean to label them like she did; she just found it unusual (and it is very rare in our small town that in a class of 14 students, two of them are from Russia). But I do not want my boys labeled as the "Russian kids" for the rest of their school careers. Fortunately the person making the comment is a very close friend who I will have no problems talking to about my issues with her statement. I feel quite sure that she will understand and will pass my thoughts on to the other teachers in the building.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to School We Go

The boys had a really good time at their first day of school. Dropping them off was a little traumatic; all four of us left with tears in our eyes. But when I picked them up 3 hours later, they were all smiles and excitedly talked about their new friends and their new playgrounds. Chipmunk's teacher said that he was the leader of the class all day. This surprised me because he is usually the one to hold back and follow the other children. He tends to be very reserved and shy when faced with new experiences. Part of the reason we wanted him to go to this 4-year-old program was to build up some confidence in his social skills before kindergarten. Looks like we're off to a good start!
Of course, I have to include a picture of them before school this morning:

(I thought it was ridiculous that preschoolers have to wear uniforms to school but I think it will really make getting dressed in the morning so much easier.)

So while I was a bit upset after dropping them off, I was so productive during my open 3-hours. I'm not sure if I'll manage to be this productive on my 3 open morning during the week, but it is so nice to have this extra time to run errands without the boys.
One big thing I did get started was some of the paperwork for updating our homestudy. Yes, our homestudy is only good for one year so we need to do an update. Ugh. I didn't realize that updating a homestudy meant that you have to update EVERYTHING (medicals, financials, etc.). I really thought it meant just writing a paragraph saying that nothing had changed since the original along with another visit from our social worker. Oh well. I did make good headway with the new paperwork today though. I think I'll be able to knock most of it out over the next week. Then it's on to updating some of our dossier paperwork. I'm really hoping we get a referral sometime in September so we don't have to redo our entire dossier.

Stu and I are off to St. Louis for a grown-up weekend tomorrow! We're going to a surprise party/weekend for a friend's 30th birthday at the lake. Yeah!! We love our boys but it is always nice to get a weekend away occasionally.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

This, That and the Other

Okay, so I know I've been a terrible blogger lately and I really don't have any good excuse. We have been spending most of our time outside, enjoying some absolutely beautiful weather. We've also been getting the boys ready for school. School starts in our area later this week (we have year-round school so summer is shorter than most other places). Both of the boys had physicals and are perfectly healthy (and the Monkey's stitches were removed with no problems; the scar is tiny - the doctor did a great job). We've had the parents-meeting to go over the rules, etc. And we took the boys to the open house so they could meet their teachers/see their classrooms/meet some of their classmates.
I think they are excited about it and will do great. I think that I, on the other hand, will be a quivering blob of tears when it comes time to actually drop them off. I'm sure Stu will roll his eyes at me; I know it's only preschool and the Monkey will only be going 3 mornings a week, but my babies are going to school...sniff, sniff. On the plus side, Chipmunk's teacher was my first-grade teacher (gotta love small towns!) whom I absolutely adored. And our niece and cousin will be in the Monkey's class with him.
I did want to touch on our recent visit with our friend from Astrakhan (before I forget too many of the details). We had a wonderful time with V. She was amazed at how big the boys have gotten. She last saw the Chipmunk 3 1/2 years ago and the Monkey almost 2 years ago so they have definitely changed a lot!
We drove to St. Louis to our agency's annual picnic so we had lots of time in the car to catch up; she is absolutely one of the nicest people I've ever met. She spent a lot of time on the drive trying to teach us some Russian phrases. I'm proud to say that the boys and I can now count to 20 in Russian, we know how to say most of the colors, and a few other simple words and phrases. The boys love to show off this new ability, although most of the people around us have no clue what they are saying. At the picnic, V. was able to see 7 other families whose adoptions she worked on. It was neat for her to see how much these children have grown. She assumed that once these families flew back to the US (after their adoptions) that she would never see these children again (other than pictures through email). For her to be able to talk with, hug, and kiss, these children in person was amazing. I think she had a wonderful time. I know we were all thrilled that she was able to come. When I dropped her off at the airport, it was wonderful being able to say that we'll see her again soon...when we return to Russia. That definitely put a smile on our faces.

Friday, July 20, 2007

One Little Monkey Jumping in the Bed...

He fell off and cut his head
Took him to the hospital and the doctor said
Four little stitches are needed in that head.

Yep. Just as I was starting a big post about our time with our interpreter and our adoption agency picnic, I heard a big thud from the bedroom were the boys were supposed to be taking a nap. Evidently the monkey had jumped out of bed and had a huge cut in his forehead. A quick trip to the ER and 4 stitches later, he is as good as new. It didn't slow him down a bit (I was really hoping for at least a day or two of more cautious behavior).
I'm actually shocked that this was our first trip to the ER for stitches with him. As active and busy as he is, we've been very lucky that this is the first big injury.
I'll try writing the original post sometime this weekend. After spending 2.5 hours at the ER, holding down a screaming 3-year-old, I am exhausted and going to bed.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Christen tagged me so here are my answers:
4 new things I did in the last 4 years:
(1) Adopted Chipmunk (from Russia, Jan. 2004)
(2) Moved back to my hometown.
(3) Adopted Monkey (from Russia, Nov. 2005)
(4) Quit my job to become a SAHM.

4 new things I hope to do in the next 4 years:
(1) Adopt HotDog - hopefully by the end of the year.
(2) Adopt #4 (okay, I know this is a little premature since we don't have #3 home yet, but a girl can dream, right?)
(3) Find a part-time job in a local library.
(4) Take a grown-ups-only trip with Stu. It's been 4 years since we've been on a vacation with just the two of us (other than the occasional long weekend).

It's funny because I had a really hard time coming up with 4 things I want to do in the next 4 years. I'm very much a "live-in-the-moment" kind of girl. I used to be a planner but life through a few curveballs my way and now I force myself to not look too far into the future. I am wonderfully happy with my life right now and I can honestly say that if nothing changed at this point in my life I would be perfectly content. But of course, it is fun to think about the future and try to imagine what my life is going to look like. I thought this tag would be easy but it has really made me think. Good tag, Christen!

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'll Be Back

Sorry I've been gone but we've been super-busy. And now our wonderful interpreter from Astrakhan is visiting us and we're leaving for St. Louis (for our adoption agency's picnic) in just a few minutes. So I'll be back with a new post in a couple of days once things calm down again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Grown with Love

*Photo removed

I just had to share a picture of Chipmunk with the first vegetables out of his garden this year. A pretty good squash and zucchini. Can you tell how proud he is? All of their hard work is starting to pay off and I'm afraid that soon we'll have more squash than we know what to do with. Anyone got any good recipes for squash???
Not only is this garden saving us money and giving us lots of great-tasting fruits and vegetables; I find it amazing what kids will eat when they grow it themselves!
I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July! We'll be enjoying the day by going swimming, grilling out with family, and watching the fireworks display our small town puts on each year.

P.S. Thank you for all of the nice comments on Monkey's train cake. I did make it myself and it was pretty easy, honestly. Growing up my mom always made us special birthday cakes each year and I've vowed to try to carry on this tradition. I can't cook at all but I do love to bake.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Recap

Okay, so I can't believe that you guys haven't called me out on something. I started this post mentioning the boys and only then did I notice that the boys' initials are S&M. Seriously, I can't believe I never noticed this before! So there is no way I can continue to refer to my boys as S & M and from now on S will be known as Chipmunk (a nickname we call him because of his massive cheeks) and M will be Monkey (for those that know him, no explanation is necessary; this kid climbs on everything).
So it's has been 2 1/2 weeks since I last wrote. In between me being sick (2 of the last 3 weekends) we've had a blast. It's amazing how much happier the boys are (and me too) when they can get outside during the day. While Stu and Chipmunk's garden has been suffering from the lack of recent rain, the boys have been making the most of the dry weather, spending about 8 hours outside every day. Seriously. We've been swimming a lot too and Chipmunk is so close to swimming on his own. If he gained a little bit of confidence he would be a little fish. So I think next week we'll start the swimming lessons.
This past Tuesday, Monkey celebrated his 3rd birthday! I can't believe my baby is getting so big! We actually had the party for him 2 weeks ago because the in-laws were out of town on his actual birthday. So Tuesday we gathered several little cousins and headed to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. It was a lot of fun and right up the Monkey's alley. He had never been before and LOVED being able to climb on everything and play the games. That night we had a little party for him with some family members and opened all of his presents. At the beginning of the day he wasn't quite sure what to think of the whole birthday idea. But by the end of the day he was loving it! Whenever anybody told him happy birthday he would tell them "happy birthday to you!" And I think Chipmunk had just as much fun as the birthday boy because Monkey doesn't grasp the fact that the presents were just for him. He would unwrap them and immediately hand them to Chipmunk so he could play with the new toys too. I love it that they are both so good at sharing (most of the time).
I'll add a few pictures of the birthday boy and big brother but you know the procedure - I'll take them down after a day or two.

*Photos removed

Onto the adoption front, we've had some news from our region. There have been some families that have been having difficulties in the region (not region problems, just isolated difficulties) so we've been holding our breath, waiting for some updates. We are thrilled to say that the problems have been fixed and there are several new happy families. However, we also heard that the MOE in our region is going to be virtually closed for July and August. Which means that it will be September at the earliest before we hear about a referral. I find this a bit funny for two reasons. First, when we started this journey we tossed around the idea of holding our dossier so we could get a referral around September but then decided to go ahead and submit to get a referral ASAP, thinking we would travel early summer. Ha! Also, with the Monkey's adoption and this adoption, Stu has tried to plan everything so we would not travel to Russia during winter. We've been to Russia 4 times: October, November, December, January. Stu does NOT like cold weather and tried everything to time this adoption so we would travel during warmer months this time. Doesn't look like that is going to happen. Double ha! (Sorry honey! But anybody that knows me knows Stu's desire to plan everything drives me insane!)
So anyway, I was a little surprised in my reaction to this news. I wasn't the least bit upset or anything. I simply said "okay" and adjusted my expectations a bit. I think at this point the adoption just seems like this distant dream that Stu and I talk about but don't really expect to happen. I think we'll be completely caught off-guard when we do actually get a referral.
Also, I have to say that I'm loving this new plan. We had assumed that we would have HotDog home by August and I would be busy with her. However we're still several months away from that, and I just realized that while the boys are in school (Chipmunk will be going 5 mornings a week and Monkey will go 3 mornings per week) I will actually have 3 mornings to myself!!! I will have time to run errands without them, I can clean my house, I can go to the gym...the possibilities are endless! I don't think I'll know what to do with 3 mornings to myself but I'm sure I can find something to keep me busy;) And I know this will only last for a few months until we bring HotDog home and then I'll be busier than ever.
Now I've got to go and catch up on all of the blogs that I've missed over the past few weeks. That should keep me busy for awhile.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Promise...

to have a new post up within the next 24 hours. Between being sick, celebrating M's 3rd birthday, and just dealing with daily life I've gotten so far behind on so many things. It has been a busy few weeks but I will be back with a recap soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This and That

This might seem a bit jumbled but just a few thoughts floating through my head...

So I just looked at the calendar and realized that it has been 7 months since we sent our dossier to Russia. Now I realize that 7 months is not that long to wait for a referral, especially when requesting a young girl. However, in both of our previous adoptions, we had our boys home by the 7 month mark. I am not whining about the wait right now, just sad to realize how much the tide has changed in Russia since our last adoption. Hopefully we'll hear something in the next few months. In the meantime we're starting to update some paperwork. Sigh....

On the positive side, little M was discharged from his OT. His therapist feels (as do we) that he has made vast improvements with most of his sensory-seeking behaviors and no longer needs weekly management for them. We will continue to work with him at home with some of his bigger issues but we've really just integrated parts of his OT into our daily routine so it's not that big of a deal. While we will miss seeing Ms. Kristy on a weekly basis (and I'm a little afraid that he'll revert back to some old habits without her continual help) I am so proud of the little guy. With a lot of hard work on his part, he has made such amazing progress over the past year. His OT also said that we may see a lot of regression after we bring HotDog home from Russia, at which point we can bring him back in for a re-eval. Honestly though, I feel like we can handle most of it on our own, but it's nice to have that back-up.

Also, I only have a few weeks left of work before I join the ranks as a SAHM. It's funny because I've always dreamed of being able to stay at home with my children. But now that the time is rapidly approaching, I'm a little hesitant to actually make the big leap. It's not like it will be a big change since I only work 2 days per week right now. It's not as if I'm really dedicated to the work I do either. I think it has more to do with the fact that I am a person that loves routine; I like knowing what I'm going to be doing each day (and I definitely will no longer be able to do that when I'm at home with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old everyday). I like knowing that I'm going to have at least two days of interaction with other adults during the week. But of course, I am really looking forward to having some great time with the boys before school begins in August. I think I'm just going to have to push myself out of my little self-induced coccoon I tend to wrap myself in.

Have I bored you enough yet?? I am working on a post with a little more depth to it - about if/when to share with others that the boys were adopted. But right now I need to actually do some work in the few short days I have left at this job.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cue the Chirping Crickets

No news on the adoption front. And to be honest, we don't expect to hear anything until the end of next month.
But we are having a great summer with the boys. We have been going swimming, going to the park, visiting friends and family, working in the garden (okay, I know Stu will call me out on this one since technically I will not work in the garden; hated doing it as a child and refuse to do it as an adult. But I will cook all of the yummy food that Stu and S have been busy watering each night. So that is my contribution). Hopefully the next couple of months wil be more of the same (which makes for extremely boring blog posts...sorry).
One exciting development: We became great friends with our interpreter while in Astrakhan during both adoptions. She is currently studying the US on a scholarship. And we finally made plans for her to visit us during mid-July! We can't wait to see her again; she's been through so much with us and we consider her part of our family. She's also going to drive to our agency's picnic with us which is 5-hours away. She has no idea what it is like to drive 5 hours with our two boys (not to mention the return trip a few days later). She's excited though so I won't dampen her enthusiasm yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Silly Mommy

People often ask us if we tell the boys they were adopted. Of course we do, I answer. How did they react/understand is the inevitable next question. I have a hard time answering this one. It's not like we've ever had a big, sit-down talk with them about it. For one thing, they are still pretty young to understand such a big concept (4.5 years old and almost-3 years old). But even more than that, it is just something that is talked about openly and frequently. We have tons of books about adoption that the boys read, their lifebooks (or at least S's lifebook, since I have yet to get to little Ms) are continually opened and shared, we encourage an interest in all-things Russian, etc. Weeks will go by with no adoption-related talk and then things will come up for several days in a row that pertain in some way to adoption. We don't push their stories on them but we don't avoid them either. We celebrate the fact that they came into our family through adoption, but we don't want them defined by this either. It just "is".
Anyway, I often wonder how much the boys understand in terms of the way our family was formed as opposed to others. Last week S showed me how much he understands:
Everyday after nap, S comes up (before M wakes up) and crawls in my lap and wants to talk. It's our special time together and we discuss anything he wants. Sometimes he talks about the cows in the field across the road, others times about what he is going to do with the afternoon. Lately he has wanted to discuss Russia and adoptions. Last week, he crawls up in my lap and says he wants to talk about us going to Russia to meet HotDog. S is a very methodical/organized little boy so he likes to hear about every step of the process. I tell him that we'll fly to Astrakhan, go and meet the MOE, get a picture of HotDog and hear about some medical information. Then we'll go to the house where the babies live and we'll get to meet her. S then interrupts to say "And you'll get to hold her on your belly." This threw me for a second and I thought, here is a great teaching moment about birthparents. So I start in on HotDog won't be in my belly..." And then S interrupts again, with the most incredulous look on his face, and says "No Mommy. I know that HotDog grew in another lady's belly, like M and me. And now she lives in a house with other babies until their mommys and daddys come to pick them up. I mean, you'll carry her on your belly in the new bag you got in the mail (the new Ergo baby carrier I ordered)."
I'm pretty sure he "gets it".

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I'm Back

It's amazing how a weekend surrounded by friends and family can change one's outlook on a dismal situation.
I had such a delightful weekend. On Saturday I met up with 3 of my college roommates for lunch and shopping. We laughed, gossiped, and made plans for all of our families to get together several times this summer.
Then on Saturday night, Stu and I and the boys visited with some family that was in from California. My family is big and loud and likes to have a good time. There was plenty of food, beer, and music. After a fun night, we stumbled into our beds at 2:00 a.m. and even the boys slept-in until 10:00 the next morning. Yeah!
On the adoption front, after our disappointment last week we had several conversations with our coordinator and the Russian program director. I came away feeling much better about everything. I think somewhere in the waiting process I lost sight of the big picture and was more concerned with how much longer our wait would be, where are we in line, etc. It was almost as if I forgot that at the end of this there is a little girl that will be joining our family (not that I actually "forgot" this but you get the picture). It took our coordinator saying "Your daughter is waiting" to make me take a step back and realize that this isn't about me or Stu or what is fair, it's about bringing our daughter home. People may call me naive or silly or whatever, but I absolutely believe that there is a big plan out there for each of us. I refuse to believe that things happen by chance and that some of us have good luck and some have bad. Having lost both of my parents and my older brother by the time I was 25 years old, I have to believe that there is some purpose in what happens and that life isn't just a random chance. If not I would feel like Eeyore and a little black cloud was following me around. When the time is right, our daughter will find her way to us. And whenever that happens, we will be ready for her with open arms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Calm After the Storm

Okay, after taking a little while to digest the latest news, and a few discussions with our agency, I'm in a little bit better frame of mind tonight.
I think I'll still be taking a break from adoption "stuff" for a bit, but I wanted to give a brief explanation of what happened.
Our agency made the decision to move a few families that had been stuck in other regions for over a year to regions that were moving the quickest. Unfortunately for us, that meant transferring some families to our region. And since families are placed "in line" by the date of dossier submission, that meant the transferring families moved ahead of us. They say that this is a decision which they don't take lightly and very rarely make. I absolutely understand the need to help these families and would want the same consideration if we were in that situation, however it sucks for us right now. I don't agree with the policy but it is what it is and there is nothing I can do but sit back and wait.
At this point it's looking like a couple more months before we'll receive a referral. And that is okay. I'll have a wonderful, carefree summer with the boys and enjoy every minute of it.
Thank you for all of your good thoughts and prayers. The adoption community includes some of the most supportive people I've ever met. I'll still be lurking around other blogs but for now I need a breather from the craziness. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


So we found out yesterday that two more families have jumped ahead of us in line in our region. To say we are upset and disappointed is an understatement. I think I need to take a break from all things adoption-related for a little while, including this blog. I'll be back when I'm in a better place. Right now I'm just sick of this roller-coaster.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Now that the wedding festivities for SIL have died down and the Kentucky Derby is over (a big event in this area and a vital part of Stu's new job), life is back to a normal pace. I find myself savoring every moment with S and M, knowing how much their little worlds are going to be rocked soon with our travels to Russia and the addition of HotDog. I woke up in a great mood this morning: the sun was shining and there is so much that I am anxiously awaiting:

-Accreditation of some agencies (although it may not happen immediately, I think the small activity we're seeing right now should bring good news soon)
-our 7th anniversary is next weekend (I can't believe it's been 7 years?!!?)
-And of course, the big PHONE CALL! Realistically I don't think we'll hear anything before the beginning of June, but still...that's only a few weeks away. I'm getting so excited just thinking about how close we are.

All of this anticipation is leading to a serious case of nesting too! Although we've lived in this house for 2.5 years now, there are still so many things we need to do to put our mark on this place. Between a major renovation on the outside and M's adoption, the inside of our house has been put on the back burner. Well, yesterday I went shopping for all of those finishing touches that I've dreamed about since we moved in. At last we can finally make this house our home. I'm also dying to start on the nursery but little M is resisting all efforts to move out and make way for his little sister. I thought he would be thrilled to move into a big boy room but he will have none of it. We've still got awhile before HotDog will need it so we'll just keep gradually nudging him towards it. In the meantime, I've got plenty to do to keep me occupied.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Cuteness Alert!

**Photos deleted**

I don't have time for much of a post but I wanted to share a couple of pictures from this weekend. The wedding was fantastic and S did great! I was not expecting him to walk down the aisle (he's so bashful), but he did with a huge smile on his face. I was so proud! The first picture is S and me before the wedding and the second one is Stu with both boys. Is there anything cuter than a little boy in a tux?! Now that the wedding is over I should have more time to obsess over the never-ending wait for a referral.
*I'll probably only leave this up for a few days as I'm not entirely comfortable having pictures of S and M out there for everyone to see.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Just a quick note to say no news on us this week. I was really hoping to hear some news this week about our first trip before the region shuts down in May but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. Some friends are in the region right now for their first trip and are experiencing some delays in the process (nothing major, just typical Russian stuff) so I'm not holding out any hope that we'll hear anything before June. It's kind of nice to not be anxious about getting "the call" every second of every day.

Stu's little sister is getting married this weekend (Congrats Dana and Steve!!!) so we'll be busy with wedding fesitivities for most of this week. My little S is the ringbearer in the wedding and I can't wait to see him dressed in a little tux! Now if we could only convince him to walk down the aisle....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Time Keeps on Slipping...

Yesterday we went to our weekly playgroup. There are usually 5-6 moms that meet, with 11-12 children. There are two baby girls in our group that are just adorable; one is 7 months old (the daughter of my best friend) and the other is 5 months old. I love to watch them learn and explore the world around them; I often think that HotDog is probably doing similar things right about now (considering the delays that she'll most likely have). People often ask me if it's hard to be around other babies, knowing I'm missing out on those moments with our little girl. The answer is "not really." Of course I wish I could experience those moments with our daughter - I wish I could have been there when she was born, comforted her when she was sick, cheered her on as she reached new milestones, and celebrated her first birthday with her. But the reality is that I can't be there for her during these times in her life and I've learned to accept that (one huge step for me in letting go of control!). Therefore, I find it comforting to be around other babies that are at comparative developmental stages as our HotDog. It makes me feel like in some small way I am a part of her life.
I think it also helps that we have been to both of the baby homes in our region from which most of the children are referred (S was from one and M was from the other). We know the directors and caregivers at both of these institutions and know that HotDog is getting very good care. While neither of these baby homes has many extras, they really do the best they can with what little they do have. And we could tell how much the caregivers loved and cared for both of our boys. So while it is not the ideal place for our baby, we know our HotDog is getting love and attention until we she becomes part of our family and that is helping me get through each day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Random Thoughts

First of all, I want to thank you all for your words of encouragement about the delay in our referral due to the MOE's vacation. I just wanted to whine a little bit and it was nice to hear it was okay to have a pity-party for myself. I can see the irony in the situation: I was thinking about delaying a referral until the end of summer, then as I embrace traveling sooner we encounter this setback which puts us back to traveling closer to the time that I initially wanted. I realize it all comes down to a control issue. I'm trying to exert some control on a situation where I have NONE.
It's so frustrating and I feel like I keep banging my head into a wall over and over again. But I know when I have HotDog in my arms, all of the anxiety will fade away.

In the meantime, I'm having a great time with my boys. We had a wonderful Easter, although it was exhausting. We seriously need several days of recuperation after major holidays. Between visiting our various families, waking up early, no naps, and M on a major sugar buzz all day (I swear the kid was running laps around the house and giggling like a maniac from all of the candy), I just want to curl up in bed for a few days. But it is always great to hang out with family and to experience the holidays through the boys' eyes.

As for the recent USA Today article regarding Russia shutting down international adoptions, I don't have much to say. We've had several friends email us asking what this means for our adoption. While it's true that the last accreditations for adoption agencies have expired, it does not mean that adoptions will come to a halt. Our agency is processing its clients as independent adoptions and most of the regions in which they work are fine with this. This shouldn't have much of an impact on our adoption, as our region is one of those that will continue to process adoptions (yeah!!!). I'm so, so sad for the other PAPs that are having to continue waiting until this mess is settled.

Also, big changes in store for our household. Stu just accepted a new job! I questioned the timing of this (who starts a new job when they know they'll be traveling to Russia for several weeks in the near future??) and pouted about the changes in paperwork that are needed to indicate the new position, it is a great job with a big raise and new challenges. This also means that I will quit my job and be a SAHM for the forseeable future. I currently work part-time (2 days a week/10 hours a day) as an editor. While it's not the most exciting of jobs (I edit tax and accounting journals), I've been here since I graduated from college and they provide excellent benefits and are so flexible with my schedule. I also really enjoy getting into the grown-up world on those two days. However, between the boys starting school in the fall and bringing HotDog home, I think my plate is going to be a little too full to continue with the current arrangements. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that we're finally to the point where I can stay at home and devote all of my time/energy to the kiddos, I'm also terrified that I'll lose my mind. Does that make sense?
(*Edited to add that I reread this and it sounded like I am not that happy with Stu taking this new job. On the contrary, I am absolutely thrilled and so proud of him. I think it's a big step in his career and he absolutely deserves it. I just hesitated with the timing of it all. But we'll work around that. Yeah Stu!!!)

One thing is for sure, life is never boring around our household.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from my two cute bunnies!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Just as I was starting to allow myself to feel a little bit excited about this adoption we got some disappointing news. We're still #2 in line so that is good. [Some other families with our agency have been transferring to our region since other regions aren't progressing as quickly as Astrakhan. I was scared we were going to be bumped back again, but our coordinator assures us that no one should be able to jump ahead of us at this point. One less thing to worry about.] So I've been assuming (yes, I know, my first mistake right there) that we would possibly hear something by the beginning/mid-May, with travel following by end of May or early June. No such luck. Turns out that the MOE in our region is taking a "holiday" for the entire month of May, so no travel invites for the month. (The MOE is the Ministry of Education; she actually gives out the referrals.) This means that we will probably not even hear any news until mid-June and travel would hopefully be end of June/beginning of July. I completely realize that this is still not a long time to wait and many other families have been waiting much longer than us. I am absolutely fine with traveling whenever we get the call. Please don't think I'm whining about that. It's just that I had started to get excited about this whole thing (which is pretty unusual; I tend to be very cautious by nature) and now that anticipation has been yanked away, once again. Sometimes the adoption process just sucks!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


Last night I had my first vivid dream about HotDog. Before adopting each of the boys, it wasn't unusual for me to have dreams about our impending referral 2 or 3 times a week. But this is the first time I've had a dream about our next little one. It was so realistic that I woke up with my heart beating with excitement and was more than a little disappointed to find that it was just a dream. We had less than 24 hours notice to be in Russia (which would definitely give Stu a heart attack, the planner that he is). And because of that, I forgot the digital camera and video camera at home. I was devastated because I wouldn't be able to record our first moments with our daughter. Our little HotDog was absolutely beautiful though. She had dark hair and dark eyes - very Asian features (which is very possible given the characteristics in our region). She was 14 1/2 months old but very tiny and could barely stand up. I was so in love. And then I woke up. Bummer!

(I'm curious to see if I'm even close in my prediction. I'm been completely wrong with both of the boys.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do You Want Some Ketchup and Mustard With That?

I just had to share something cute that S said this weekend. M is still in the nursery, where there is his toddler bed and the crib (because Stu was too lazy to take it down once M was out of it.) So this weekend I decided it was time to move M's toddler bed to S's room so they can start learning how to share a room (i.e., sleep in the same room together, peacefully) before we bring HotDog home. S came up and saw the nursery and got the biggest smile on his face. I asked why he was so excited (naively thinking he was happy to share his room with M) and he turned to me and said, "We have room for five cribs now so when you go to Russia you can bring five HotDogs home!" I didn't have the heart to dampen his happiness so I just nodded my head and said "We'll see."
Can you imagine that plane ride home?!?!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who Am I Kidding?

There is no way I want to wait until summer is over to go and meet my daughter. I want to get on a plane RIGHT NOW and fly to Astrakhan. I guess hearing that we're so close to getting a referral, coupled with the fact that I've been talking to two families who will be heading to Astrakhan in just a few of weeks, has made me realize how excited I am to be so close to meeting my little girl. All of my previous patience and zen-like attidue is gone. Stu just rolls his eyes at me and says that I'll change my mind tomorrow. But I don't think so. I WANT TO MEET MY HOT DOG!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rested and relaxed...sort of

S. and I had a wonderful vacation. The weather was perfect; we spent our days at the beach, our afternoons at the pool, and nights with hanging out with my grandmother. A good time was had by all. S. did get a bit homesick by the last couple of days; he missed M. more than I expected (although I suspect that was forgotten within 30 minutes of seeing each other when they began fighting over the same toy). It was a great getaway, and it's really nice to be home with Stu and M. again.
This vacation gave a glimpse of how much I love summer with the boys - playing outside, swimming, picnics, the zoo, etc. I actually caught myself being excited about not getting a referral until after summer. But when I got back home and checked my email, I found that our region is moving pretty quickly again. We are currently #4 in line for a girl in our region (with our agency) and it's been stuck that way since December. Well, I found out that the #1 and #2 couples ahead of us have travel dates for their first trips. That moves us up to #2 in line for a girl, with a possible referral as early as May. Suddenly I'm ready to hop on the next plane and meet our daughter. My level of anxiousness just increased exponentially now that we could get a referral in just a month or two. We're still not sure what we are going to do (in regards to waiting or not) but with the recent developments, we need to come up with a decision soon. So much for the feeling of relaxation I achieved on my vacation!

I also wanted to send a congratulations out to J., my co-worker and friend who is leaving today to pick up her daughter in China. I can't wait to hear the good news that S. is finally in your arms.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane...

This will be be last post for at least a week. Tomorrow morning S. and I are heading to Florida!! I can't wait to soak up the sunshine and get a little R&R with my favorite 4-year-old. While I hate that poor Stu and M. are being left at home, I'm sure they'll have a good time, watching basketball (Go Cats!), and taking lots of naps. I really think M. will enjoy having some one-on-one time with Daddy.
When we get back, Stu and I will talk to our coordinator and come up with a decision on whether to hold back our dossier until late summer. We're definitely leaning towards that and I'm really looking foward to a fun summer with the boys.
I'll update when we return. Adios!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

No news news

Things seem to be moving very slow in our region right now. And surprisingly, we're really okay with this (or at least I am; I think Stu would jump on a plane tomorrow if we got the call). When we turned in our dossier we expected to be traveling around this time, based on our previous adoptions and with the most recent families in Astrakhan. Now it looks like it could be June before we travel on the first trip. There are still a lot of other families in front of us that need to get referrals before it's our turn. I can't complain about that because it means more of the kids will be joining families.
So if it looks like we won't be going on our first trip until June, we're tossing around the idea of holding back our dossier and waiting until September"ish" to travel. Don't worry, it would be before they matched us with a child - we would never leave our little girl in an orphanage for a day longer than necessary. We would just let them know to put other families ahead of us for a few months. Our rationale for this is that if we're going to be waiting for at least 3 more months, what's another 2 months after that? We'll get to spend the entire summer with S. and M., just hanging out and doing what we want, without the stress of impending travel, etc. And S. is a child that thrives on routine. He'll be starting a 4-year-old program in the fall and be going to school every morning, 5 days a week...sniff, sniff. I would hate to be gone for a lot of the summer, bring home a new baby sister, and then have him start school all within a span of 3 months. I think he would have a horrible time with all of the change. Plus, little M. could definitely use more time as the baby of the family.
Those are our thoughts right now. We won't make any decisions until April, once we see how the region is progressing. Of course, a million things could change. But the thought of a carefree summer with the boys does sound awfully appealing!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

My Pet Peeve

Okay, this post will be short and sweet but this is something that has been bugging me a lot lately.
We live in a small town where everybody knows everybody and there are no secrets. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Most of the time I appreciate the fact that it's such a close community. However, we're known as the family that has "those two boys from Russia." Seriously, whenever I go into town (okay, how country does that sound??), I get at least one comment from someone about our boys being adopted or being from Russia or both. Not that we mind that everyone knows this. We're very proud of the fact that we adopted our children from Russia, and would never want them to feel ashamed of that fact. And we absolutely don't mind volunteering the fact that we adopted the boys from Russia if it happens to come up in natural conversation. I just don't get why that's the first descriptive out of everybody's mouths. Why can't we be the family with those two adorable boys, or even the family with the son that always wears boots (S.) and the little wild one (M.)?
Last night we were at an event and I went up to introduce myself. Once they heard my last name their first response was "You're the one with the two Russian boys." Arrrgghhh. I mean, it's not like I would go around describing my niece as having come from her mother's uterus. I realize that adoption is a special, and fairly uncommon, thing in our area. But I hate that my boys and family are constantly labeled with that fact.
Okay, enough ranting. I guess that wasn't so short or sweet.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

All Quiet on the Western Front

So Stu has been bugging me to add a new post to the blog, but the truth is I don't have much to talk about. Things in our household have been remarkably calm and quiet (knock on wood). Usually we are in constant state of chaos, sickness, or are just plain busy. Recently things seem to have settled down into a nice quiet routine. We've had a lot of down-time and Stu and I have both really enjoyed just hanging out with the boys each night. We've hung out with our families. This past weekend we took the boys to an indoor pool with my MIL, niece and other family members. It was so much fun and the boys had such a good time! It was a great way to get rid of the cabin fever we've all been suffering from, and the boys were completely worn out by that night. Yeah! I did get a little freaked out while we were there. Both of the boys enjoy the water and S. is getting to be a very good swimmer (with a life jacket on). But he's getting really brave so I have to keep a constant eye on him to make sure he's not getting "too brave". M. still wants to be held the entire time he's in the water. But I couldn't help thinking, "What the hell am I going to do when we bring Hot Dog home this summer?" Chances are we'll be spending a lot of the time at the pool (our cousins have a really nice pool in their backyard that we go to constantly). How am I going to watch S., hold M., and hang onto Hot Dog too?? While we are absolutely ready for a third child, I still have moments where the actual logistics of having a third child scare the heck out of me! But I guess we'll deal with that when the time comes.
For now, I'm enjoying the calmness that has enveloped my family, because chances are it won't last for long!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Current status

It seems as if everyday someone is asking what the status is with our current adoption. I think that things went so fast with the adoptions of S. and M. that they are expecting us to bring home HotDog* any day now. But things have slowed in the Russian adoption world due to some regulatory changes. And since we are requesting a girl this time around, we expected to wait longer for a referral. We think we'll be traveling in mid-April at the very earliest, more likely May/June. I'm actually hoping for later for several reasons: 1. Stu's sister is getting married in late April and I would hate to miss all of the celebrations. 2. April/early May is Stu's busiest time of the year for his job. 3. We've been to Russia 4 times, all in the winter; I'm really looking forward to traveling during warm weather this time. I can't imagine how much easier it will be to travel without winter coat/gloves, bulky sweaters, etc!
And honestly, we're in absolutely no hurry this time. M. is doing so good with his weekly OT (for his sensory issues) and I think he needs to be the "baby" for a little while longer. His little personality is really blooming right now. Poor S. has been ready for a little sister since the day we brought M. home. But he's going to have to wait a little bit longer.
The only downside I see to traveling during that time is that the second trip will now require me to be in Russia (by myself, yikes!) for almost a month...I'll do an entire post on that soon. Which means that I'll miss the nicest part of summer with my boys. May/June is when it's warm, but not humid, and we can stay outside literally from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. The boys are such outdoor kids. By the time we get home and settled with the new little one, it will be the HOT and HUMID. Yuck!
So anyway, we'll hopefully hear some good news by late March/early April; that sounds like so far away but looking at the calendar shows that it's really not too bad of a wait at all.

*HotDog is the name that S. came up with when we mentioned the idea of a little sister to him. He is adament that is her name regardless of what other names we've suggested we might call her. We have no idea where he came up with it but so far (4+ months) it has stuck and she's officially called HotDog by friends and family.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stork Alert

A co-worker/friend has been in the process of adopting a little girl from China for a very long time. She actually started the paperwork around the time we started the process for M. (mid-summer 2005). It's been fun to share all of the ups-and-downs with someone else who is adopting. Anyway, it's finally her turn! It looks like referrals are on their way from China and she should see her daughter's face for the first time in the next few days! I'm so excited for her; it brings back all of the memories of seeing our boys' faces for the first time. She's waited so long for this and is going to be a great mother. Good luck and congratulations J.!

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Weekend Away

This past weekend I went to Atlanta for a girls-weekend with family. It was so much fun. We sat in our pajamas for most of the weekend and just basically lounged around, playing games, listening to music, and having a few drinks. And it was great to sleep in for two mornings in a row! Of course I missed my boys and was happy to be back home, but it was nice to be away for some "me" time and not obsess about the adoption for a few days. Now back to the waiting...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Happy Family Day!

We adopted S. three years ago today. It's amazing to think that he's been with us for three years; it feels like he's been with us forever. I don't remember what life was like before he was part of it (except the sleep; I do fondly remember being able to sleep in on the weekends). I can still vividly remember what an incredible feeling it was to hear the judge say that she approved the adoption decree. Our coordinator then turned to us and said (via translator) "Congratulations Mama and Papa". My eyes still tear up just remembering it. We didn't pick up Sawyer that day, too much paperwork to finish. But this is the day we became parents to the most incredible little boy!
I still can't get over how much S. has grown. He's such a big boy now. When we brought him home at 14 months, he weighed 16 pounds. He was so tiny and weak, just barely crawling. Now at 4 years old, he weighs almost 40 pounds and is 40 inches tall and and is so strong and healthy.
We don't make a huge deal out of family day but we do like to mark it with some small celebration. Stu is out of town this week so S. and I had a "big-boy" day and we did whatever he wanted to do. What did he request? Chuck E. Cheese, of course! So S. and P. (our niece) had a fun afternoon, eating pizza and playing games.
Happy Family Day my sweet boy!

Friday, January 19, 2007


We are officially finished with all of the required paperwork! Our dossier has been finished for several months but we still had some minor paperwork (that didn't have to be turned in with the dossier). Today we sent in our visa applications, so that means we don't have anymore paperwork to worry about. At least until after our first trip. Then there will be another big round of paperwork we have to do before we return on our second trip. It's a really good feeling to know that we're finished with our part, for now. And the waiting continues...

Monday, January 8, 2007

A Merry (Russian) Christmas

It is very important to us to make sure the boys recognize and appreciate their Russian culture. I know at this point they are too young to comprehend much, but we do try to encourage an interest in it. Some people think that there is no need to emphasize their Russian heritage since they are now Americans (although they do have dual citizenship so they are Russian-Americans) and look so much like us that nobody would ever assume they're adopted. This irritates me. Trying to ignore the fact that they're from Russia would be like sweeping the first year of their life and their backgrounds under the rug. I want them to take great pride in the fact that they were born in Russia. It's an incredible country with an amazing history and I'm glad that they'll be able to say that their roots are in Russia. I'm happy to say that S. can tell you that he is from Astrakhan, Russia and can even point out where Russia is on most maps. We have Russian toys, several Russian CDs, watch lots of Russian history specials, subscribe to a Russian magazine, and I've read countless books on Russian history, Russian authors, etc. We look at photo albums from our travels to Russia constantly. S. loves the picture of the castle in Moscow (St. Basil's in Red Square). I know this doesn't seem like a lot but we do try to encourage an interest in Russian issues and I don't think there is more we can do at such a young age. It's a fine line though; we want them to appreciate their background, but don't want to go overboard in promoting Russia history/culture. I don't want them to feel like we're constantly shoving Russia down their throats. I'll take their lead on it once they get older. If they show an interest I'll help them in whatever way I can. We do plan a trip back to Russia sometime when they're older, maybe in their teens.

Anyway, I was recently contacted by a woman who lives in our small town that has two children adopted from Russia. I was THRILLED to hear this; there are many children adopted in our area but I was unaware of any from Russia. She told me about a group of families with children from Russia that meet every couple of months in our general area. Yeah! It just so happens that they were having a party to celebrate the Russian Christmas on January 7th. So we packed up the boys and went to another Christmas party(an aside: the boys love that the Christmas celebrations are continuing for such a long time). We had a really good time. I think there were probably about 8 other families and lots of kids. The majority of the kids were much older than S. and M. though, which was a little disappointing, but they didn't seem to mind. I think it will be good for them to grow up knowing other children with similar backgrounds. Stu and I enjoyed talking with other parents about their travels and sharing our story. We'll definitely meet up with them again sometime in the next few months. I'm so happy to have found this group.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Why Russia?

Upon making the decision to adopt, the first question many people asked was "Why Russia?" There is no real answer to this question. For us, it just "felt" right. We looked into China firm. However, one of China's requirements is that both husband and wife must be 30 years old. That knocked us out; at the time we were both 27 years old. We briefly looked into domestic adoption but knew that it wasn't for us for a variety of reasons. We glanced at other international programs available, but just "knew" that Russia is where we were supposed to go. I had always been fascinated by Russian culture and history. For Stu, Russia offered a stable program with a predictable timeline (as predictable as international adoption can be). With his CPA-mindset he always needs to have a plan and most other programs at the time were inconsistent and volatile from one month to the next.
We've never regretted that decision. With S.'s adoption, the process was close to perfect. With M.'s journey there were several bumps in the road that slowed us down, but in the end we met our son who was absolutely meant to be part of our family. There have been further bumps this time along but we're just enjoying the ride. I'm not a very spiritual or religious person but there is no doubt in my mind that we will end up with the little girl that God has chosen for our family. With both of the boy's adoptions I was so anxious about getting "the call" to come and meet them - it was constantly on my mind. This time around I'm very relaxed about the whole thing (of course, that could be because I don't have much time to think about it with my two boys running around). Of course, I'm excited about meeting her and bringing her home; I just figure that it will happen whenever she is ready for us.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

And So It Begins...

Hi all! Thank you for joining us on this roller-coaster ride known as adoption. Most of you know our background but I'll give a brief overview for those of you that don't know the details.
I'm Allison and my DH is Stu. With live in a small town in the south with our two young sons, S. (who just turned 4) and M. (2 1/2). Stu and I met at college in the fall of 1994; we dated off and on throughout college and married in May 2000. We are both from big families so having children was always something we discussed. Our plan was to wait a year and then begin our family. Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans...We had several family tragedies within a year of our wedding and it took us awhile to regroup. We finally decided we were ready for children and started trying for a baby...and trying...and trying. After 9 or 10 months, we decided to do some basic testing to see what the problem was. No problem was found so we started some very basic treatment. We decided to take al ittle vacation to de-stress and vowed not to talk about what our next step would be. As we were waiting in the airport for our flight, we noticed a large group of people gathering. They all had welcome home signs and American flags. We figured that it was a soldier returning home and couldn't tear our eyes away from this joyous homecoming. Eventually a couple with a little boy in their arms walked out and the crowd erupted in cheers. We didn't know the details (although we found out the specifics later since the couple were friends of our social worker), but we could tell this family was bringing home their newly-adopted son. Stu and I almost missed our flight because we were so wrapped up in watching this family introduce their new son. We boarded the plane and couldn't stop talking about adoption for the rest of the vacation. So much for not talking about our next step! But there was no ignoring this huge sign; this was the path we were supposed to take. We got home, chose an adoption agency (Children's Hope International - they rock!), completely the home study in record time, and sent our dossier to Russia in early-November 2003. By mid-December we were in Russia meeting S. for the first time and he became part of our family in January 2004. We knew immediately that we would adopt again; we wanted S. to have a brother close in age. So in June 2005 we sent our dossier to Russia (the same region S. is from), requesting another little boy. We met our M. in October 2005 and brought him home in November 2005. It has been a wild ride and these two keep us busy, but we can't imagine our lives without them. Anyway, that's a "quick" wrap-up fo where we are today.