Friday, January 30, 2015

She is ours!

Today is mine and Hubby's 5th anniversary.  We were more than willing to share this day with our precious little girl because today was her adoption day.

I have waited many years to be blessed with a daughter and she is the best blessing I could have ever prayed for! 

Our ceremony was scheduled for 11am.  It was very informal and we were done by 11:30.  After the ceremony, we found out that there was a glitch that could have presented a real problem.  Two days ago, it was discovered that she was born in the capital city versus the city where we were having our ceremony.  Since the birth certificate and citizenship papers (documents needed to get her passport) have to be issued in her birth place, if that fact would not have been discovered until today, we could have had delay of a few days.  We are so thankful that they discovered it and the lawyer was able to travel the half hour today to get the documents we needed.  I am so very impressed with how well our little one handled the 2 hours of waiting.  She was a little antsy, but nothing too bad.  She was incredibly tired and I thought she had drifted off several times (resting on my shoulder) but she always woke up pretty quickly.  Just as she was starting to get really grumpy, the lawyer was back and we were off to the police station to apply for her passport.  The police station was very efficient and we were finished quicker than we could have imagined.  We were told that her passport should be available for us to pick up tomorrow.  I have never heard of a passport being available for pickup on a weekend, but we are praying that is true.  Once we have her passport in hand, we can schedule her medical.  As of now, we have an appointment at the Embassy at 2pm on Monday.  The exact day we get to come home is still a little fuzzy, but we are so close! 

The Lord has blessed us beyond measure!  Continue praying for our little one, please!  She started with a small cough yesterday and she sounds pretty congested today.  I just pray that she is feeling better before our flight home.  I would hate for her to be feeling bad during our long travel day. 

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our daughter.  This is Jovana Breen! 

I'm sorry that I don't have a picture from today.  I was fighting a migraine most of the day and completely spaced on taking pictures.  Hubby did take a couple, but his computer is giving him fits about emailing.  I will post some of her on her adoption day very soon!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Prayers worked!

You all were praying with us, weren't ya, weren't ya, weren't ya???  I didn't blog yesterday because I was tired and we hadn't heard anything new or done anything new and it made me blah. :(  Well, I guess we had heard something new, but it wasn't something we wanted to hear.  We were told that the Minister  would not be signing because he had traveled to Auschwitz for the 70th anniversary of the liberation.  At first, we were told that it was just for the day.  Then, later, we were told that he would be there until the end of the week.  Needless to say, we were bummed.

On Monday, the social worker had contacted Z to say that she wanted to come to the apartment to see us.  We were confused because they had already written the reports and sent them to the Ministry.  Still, you can't say no. :)  They arrived about 9:30 and at 10:15, Z's phone rang.  It was the Ministry and they told him that the Minister had decided to come back.....AND HE HAD SIGNED OUR DOCUMENTS!!!  At first, the social worker said that it would probably be best to put our adoption ceremony off until Tues.  We are so very thankful for Z because he worked his magic, and our ceremony is on FRIDAY!  The coolest part about that is Friday is our anniversary. :) 

I can't really think to write any more right now.  We are just a little excited over here!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Hurry up and wait

We are at the point in this adoption where we wait....and wait....and wait.  This is not to say that nothing is happening with our process.  The powers that be have been doing paperwork.  The final report was submitted today.  The Ministry is busy tidying up those reports and they should be delivered to the Minister tomorrow.  We are praying he is in the office and that our documents are high on his priority list. (I'm not self-centered at all, lol)  Once we have that signature, our ceremony will be scheduled and that is the day she is officially our daughter. :)  Then we have 3-4 business days of more paperwork - getting her new birth certificate and passport, having her medical done, and then to the embassy for her Visa!  Once all that is done (I don't think I'm leaving anything out) we can board a plane for home! 

So, today was much like yesterday and the day before.  It is cold, rainy/snowy, and walking in both directions is uphill.  Our little bean is still kind of wobbly on her feet and does not like we make her walk instead of carrying her.  Hubby has started slowly sliding her off the couch so that she has to pull herself up.  The first time he did this, she held her arms up for him to put her back.  When he wouldn't do it, she screamed and pointed her little finger at him.  I can only imagine what she was saying!  I see physical therapy in our future because she has so little strength.  Her foster family held her a lot so her leg muscles especially have not been built like they should be.  She also has some pretty tight muscles.  I was trying to stretch her foot yesterday and realized that she cannot point her toes....the muscles are just too tight.  Any advice from therapy Mamas is appreciated! 

I did go for a small walk myself today.  I forgot how steep the hill is!  When I said that to Z, he told me that I should start walking the hill everyday.  That way, when I go home, I will have a Kim Kardashian backside.  I told him I would rather not be compared to her and he just shrugged.  He is a loony toon but he makes us laugh.

Our girlie is starting to relax a bit with us.  The biggest reason I know this is that she is starting to eat.....and she tries everything!  I gave her some cheerios mixed with a kind of thin yogurt drink.  She ate and ate! I walked into the living room this afternoon with a slim jim (don't judge me!) and she grunted at me.  I let her try it but she decided it wasn't good and stuck her tongue out. :)  But she tried it.  For dinner, I gave her some pasta and mixed veggies.  I had also bought a jar of apple/carrot baby food.  She gagged when I gave her a bite so I guess that was a bust.  A couple hours after her dinner, I made shepherd's pie for me and Hubby.  When I sat down, she scooted right over to me and stared at my plate.  I gave her a bite and she loved it.  As soon as she would swallow, her face was hovering over my plate again.  So much for her not liking meat.  She ate probably half of my portion.  I'm glad to know she liked it because there are leftovers. 

Our little one is also teaching us her language.  When she wants to get an idea across, she will use a single word over and over.  I am thankful that her pronunciation is so good because I can figure out how to spell it for google translate.  Tonight, the word was sleep.  I was amazed that she was able to tell me that she was ready for bed.  I took her into bed and she snuggled right in.  She was asleep in less than 5 minutes. 

Prayers would be appreciated over the next couple days that the report makes it to the Minister and he signs quickly.  The quicker he signs, the quicker we can get home to our boys!  Missing them is AWFUL!  They are so excited about having a sister....I'm not sure that they know what they are in for. She is a spunky little thing!

p.s. I really need to learn how to do hair!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

We are not extraordinary

When we adopted our first son, I heard people tell us that we were amazing people.  In reality, we really aren't.  Hubby and I never were blessed with biological children.  I have wanted to be a Mommy since I was a little girl.  I dreamed of the day that I would have my own baby to hold, love and take care of.

Many of  you do not know, however, that God put a seed in my heart when I was about 7 years old.  How many of you had imaginary friends when you were young?  I am pretty sure that a high percentage did.  Well, my imaginary friend was a homeless girl named Jessie.  As I did chores, she was right beside me.  We had many conversations about the possibility of my parents adopting her.  *I don't think I ever told my Mama this story*  I wanted nothing more than for Jessie to be my sister and to know she was taken care of.  You imaginary friend made adoption a real idea to me.  I could not have loved her more if she was my "real" biological sister. (Of course, she couldn't have been real because she was imaginary)  I put the word real in quotes because so often people ask if our boys are our "real kids."  They are as real as any other kids and they are no less our children simply because I did not give birth to them. 

The only way we are different from any other family is how our family came about.  God gave us our way of another country and 3 different birth moms.  Our life together is the same as any other family.  We get up in the morning, have breakfast, shower, and the boys get ready for school.  We are not superheroes. We are not any more patient....just ask the boys. :)  I beg God everyday to make me a better, more patient Mama.  I love my children to the moon and back....just like you love your kids. 

International adoption is not easy.  International adoption of children with special needs is not easy.  International adoption of older children with special needs is not easy.  (In adoption, children over 3 are considered older)  But, let me tell you that it is so worth it!  Watching children flourish is an amazing thing!   This is especially true when you are told (upon meeting the child) that they will never speak, go to school, be potty trained, etc.

I love being an adoptive Mama.  If God blessed me with a biological baby, I would be happy, but no more happy than I was when he blessed me with each of my children. 

We are not extraordinary.  We are not normal either, but that has nothing to do with adoption. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

First full day

J slept pretty well once we got her to sleep last night.  She whimpered a couple times during the night, but I almost wonder if that is normal for her because she didn't seem to wake up.  I guess I was pretty tired too because I slept until 10:30.  I think the only reason I woke up was because Hubby came in and grabbed my toe to wake me.  He wanted me to see how she was positioned.

We originally put her on our bed.  We thought that we could just have her sleep between us, but she turned out to be a sprawler.  In a closet downstairs, we found some old couch cushions.  They are normal cushion width but are about 5 feet long.  We brought one up and moved her to that.  During the night, she migrated so that her head was using the cushion as a pillow and most of her body was on the floor.  Hubby thinks she might have been warm (she sweats a lot during sleep) and the floor was cool.  Either way, it was pretty funny to see. 

She slept for another half hour or so.  We are thankful that she is a rather heavy sleeper.  Our moving around in the room didn't wake her.  We are also thankful that she did not get upset when she did wake up.  She let me pick her up and was content to sit on the couch as I made breakfast.  I was a little worried that she wouldn't eat because she doesn't eat much when she is nervous or stressed.  I made two scrambled eggs and toast and sat down beside her to eat.  I offered her a bite of egg and she took it!  Bite after bite!  She even took a little toast although I don't think she liked the strawberry jam I had put on it.  I can safely say that she ate nearly an entire egg as well as close to half a piece of toast.  She must have eaten until she was full because when I offered her a cookie afterward, she said no.  She is learning to hold her own cup.  Her foster mother always fed her as well as held her cup.  I think she will learn quickly that it is better if she holds her cup because then she can drink whenever she wants. 

Z came to get us around 1 to take us to the grocery store.  She was hilarious.  As soon as she saw Z, she said, "Tata!" and put her arms up for Hubby to take her.  Apparently, when Z is around, Daddy is the preferred mode of transportation.  She also wanted Daddy to take her out of the car so I got to carry the groceries into the apartment.  Z said that I got the easier part of the deal because groceries don't squirm. :)

Around 2pm, she started rocking on the couch.  Just a few minutes and her eyes started to close.  I should have just left her alone, but I tried to have her lay down.  That was a mistake.  She got angry and started crying.  The potential nap was destroyed. :( 

She wanted to watch cartoons on the TV in the bedroom.  I'm sure she is super anxious so giving her some space seemed like a good idea.  She had not wanted any part of lunch, so later in the afternoon, I went in and handed her a cookie as well as a small bag of ketchup flavored potato sticks (my favorite snack in Serbia!)  She just sat with the cookie in her hand and looked at me, so I left the room.  The next thing I knew, she was munching on the cookie with her other hand in the bag of chips.  I had an inspiration.  I made a plate with some cut up oranges, bread, pickles and some egg and took it into the room.  She yelled, "NE!" and pointed her finger indicating she wanted me to leave. lol!  I did, and she ended up eating quite a bit...unless, I looked at her.  If she saw me looking, she would put the food down. Quite the stubborn child we have on our hands.

She was so excited to Skype with her brothers today!  She chatted on and on to them.  Both of them just sat and giggled.  I don't think they knew what to think of her talking and their not understanding.  I am excited to see the three of them together.  She is going to have them wrapped around her finger just like she has with Daddy. 

When it was time for bed, I changed her into her jammies.  Like I have said before, she does not like changing clothes....I think it is the whole not liking transitions thing.  Anyway, she was happy to change tonight.  I think she really likes her new pj's.  I let her watch cartoons for a few more minutes.  When I asked her if she was ready to go to sleep, she patted the bed.  I went to lay down and she got angry and scooted her body to the other side and patted the spot beside her.  I settled in beside her and she put her hand on my neck and moved my head  until our foreheads were touching.  Then, she put her hand on my face and closed her eyes.  I rubbed her back for maybe 5 minutes and she was sound asleep.  There were no tears, no anxiety, nothing.....I was amazed that she showed me exactly how she wanted me to put her to bed.  The foster family had told me that Baba lays with her as she goes to sleep.  I believe she had me do it exactly like Baba.  I can't tell you how amazing that was!  She was able to communicate with me and I was able to understand.  I believe we took an enormous step forward today in the trust department. 

As you can see, your prayers are doing wonders!  God has truly blessed us!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

The apartment has another resident

Today is one of the days that I have thought of quite often since June 2 (the day we chose to pursue adopting our girlie).  Just because I have thought about does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that today was easy. 

We got to the foster home around 11:30...the latest so far.  Before we left our apartment, I made sure I had everything I needed - little girl dress, tights, shoes, coat, diaper and wipes plus another outfit that I hoped to trade for one of her outfits to put in her memory box.  It was not an easy task to accomplish without getting emotional.  I have dreamed of having a little girl for many years and it just didn't feel like it was truly here. 

The foster mom had put a cartoon on the computer to keep J busy.  She had made lunch for us again and, again, I ate way too much!  They keep encouraging you to eat more and, since her cooking is so delicious, I ate more than I normally would.  Several meats - burger patties, pork kabobs, chicken wings and breaded pork patties - cabbage salad, wonderful bread and an amazing assortment of sweets for dessert.  I am going to have to swim for miles to make up for the excess calories consumed this week.

The time to go came as abruptly as it did with our first adoption.  Baba (foster mom) asked if we brought a coat for her.  We did but I said it might be a bit big for her.  She said if I wanted to leave it with her, she would give me J's coat which fit well.  I was very happy to do that!  She then brought out a pile of clothes and told me to choose what I wanted.  I really only wanted one outfit but she kept piling stuff up saying it was J's and we should have it.  I did end up giving her the outfit that I wanted to trade and she kissed it.  Oh, my heart started breaking right there but I managed to hold it together.

Then.......she started changing J's clothes.  J does not like to have her clothes changed (as I mentioned a couple days ago) and she started crying.  Then the foster mother started to tear up.  THEN, I looked over and the foster father had tears streaming down his face.  I had to leave the room because I could feel the sobs rising up in my chest.   I did my best to pull it together and wipe my tears.  About that time, Z picked up J to carry her out.  I think he could see that I couldn't do it.  Baba put her hands to my face and kissed me and said something in Serbian.  I believe she said something like, "Love and care for our child,"  and I told her I would.  It felt like our hearts were knit at that point and we didn't need to speak the same language to understand each other.  As we walked out of the door, I told Hubby that this is the part that I just could never get used to. 

J seemed ready when I got in the car.  There were no tears from her and she seemed happy enough to laugh at Daddy being silly.  We had to stop at the social center because they wanted to see her with us.  Hubby made some major points by being the one to carry her inside.  And then even more when she put her head on his shoulder and went to sleep.  They were very pleased with her attachment so far and sent us on our way.  They indicated that the 2nd report will be filed on Monday.  Then we just need to wait for that all important signature.

J did really well at the apartment for about an hour.  Then, she started whining and getting a little agitated.  I decided to lie on the couch with her on my chest and she fell asleep in just a couple minutes.  We have discovered that she closes her eyes and buries her face when she is trying to disappear.  If she is the slightest bit sleepy, she will zonk.  She was pretty happy when she woke up about an hour later. 

The rest of the night went rather well.  When she is stressed, she doesn't eat.  So, I picked my battles and gave her a couple cookie type snacks that I got the other day.  They remind me, in flavor and texture, of Nilla wafers.  I am thankful that she ate 3 of them and then drank probably 8 ounces of water.  

The foster family told us that she does not play with toys.  I think I realized that she is not a doll and stuffed animal girl.  I handed her a matchbox car and she played with it all evening.  She made car sounds and drove the car all over the bed and even used my jeans as a mountain by driving over it and even making tunnels under.  She also commandeered my carmex tube.  It was several different things tonight including a person (walking up to the car) and a phone.  Apparently, she was calling someone to tell on Daddy.  She was very animated talking into the "phone" and kept pointing to Daddy.  All was great, even while changing her into her new pajamas.  Turning the light off was a breaking point.

She started crying and would not calm.  I ended up picking her up and walking into the living room and she calmed a bit.  But if I tried to sit down, she started back.  Hubby called the boys on Skype and when it was my turn to talk to them, he took her and continued walking.  She was sleeping by the time I was done talking to the boys.  I think he has the magic touch. 

I am sad seeing her hurting.  Her foster family is the only family she has ever known.  And we come along....we talk funny, we smell different, and we can't understand her.  The poor baby has every right to be upset.  :(  Prayers for her are still very much appreciated.  It will take her a while to get used to us and to trust us. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We've reached groundhog day

I'm having a hard time beginning my blog today.  Today seemed like groundhog day (just like the rest).  I think part of it is just that I am so ready to have our girlie with us in a place where we can just start learning about each other without feeling like we are being watched and evaluated.  I don't mean to insinuate that the foster family is not nice because nothing could be farther from the truth.  They are amazing people!  But still, I wonder what they think when I cuddle J.  She has been their little one for 4 years and now these new people have shown up and are going to take her away.  I am sure that God planned this, but still, I feel tremendous guilt.  (I'm just getting homesick.  I know that all this is just part of the process, but unless you have been in this place, it is very hard to truly understand)

We left the apartment a little later today and when we got to the foster home, J was fully awake and had even eaten breakfast.  She was so sleepy and overwhelmed yesterday morning that she didn't eat breakfast at all and only half a crepe (for lunch) by the time we left at 2:30.  She was happy to see us and there were "ćao's" all around and lots of waving and smiles.  She finds it hilarious when Hubby says ćao...of course, that might be because he growls it and makes a silly face. :) 

We took her out for a ride again today but it wasn't nearly as smooth as yesterday.  She got very upset and started crying and flailing.  It was interesting that she still let us put her coat on her.  She screamed the entire time Z was putting her in the car and about half a block down the street.  Then, she just stopped.  It was strange.  I've been around a ton of kids in my life and I've never seen one stop a tantrum like turning off a switch.  She seemed to be more angry with me than anyone as she wouldn't look at me or respond to me.  When we got to our destination, Z was the one to take her out of the car.  As he was working out paying for parking, he handed J to Hubby and she wrapped her arms around his neck again.  A little while later, he gave her to me (I think his arms were numb) and she lost her mind.  I tried to comfort her but she was having none of it.  Hubby put her hands out to her and she almost flew to him and once again, the tantrum stopped.  I am pretty sure that Daddy is completely wrapped around her finger already. 

We saw some really pretty things today....architecture and monuments that remind one of an older time. 


J seemed to get upset again once we got back to the foster family's house.  I think we have yet another child on our hands that does not deal well with transition.  Thankfully, we have been through that routine twice before. 
The foster family provided lunch again today.  Once again, she outdid herself by providing amazing food.  Today was bean soup with sausage and wonderful bread...I wish I knew how to season soup that perfectly!  The foster family's oldest daughter came by to visit today and brought some rolls that she made that kind of looked like these.  They were delicious and once again, I was blessed with leftovers when we left their home.  I swear, if I lived in her house, I think I would gain 20lbs in a month! 

Our getting ready to leave once again caused anxiety for J.  The interesting thing is, she knew she was not coming with us.  Part of me wonders if she doesn't want us to go, or maybe that is just wishful thinking.  She is not a fan of a lot of people (crowds) but she seems to be enjoying everyone giving her attention.  I do have to say that it is difficult not giving just as much attention to the other foster daughter.  She is just such a sweet girl and adores our J!  It will be difficult for her once J comes with us. I am thankful that we were able to get a few pictures of her because she was, after all, J's first sibling. 

Tomorrow, we are supposed to bring J with us to the apartment to spend the weekend together.  I'm sure tomorrow will be a stressful day all around.  Everything in her world is about to change!  We adore her and are going to do what we can to make her feel safe, but she is sure to be so scared. :(  Prayers for peace for our sweet girl's heart are greatly appreciated!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The curse is broken

With both of our previous adoptions, the second day was awful!  During the first, our boy screamed and ran around like a crazy child the entire day.  It was so stressful and depressing that I didn't even blog about the day.  I really just wanted to forget it.  With the second, we were out on the playground as the bus to school rolled in.  Our boy LOVED going to school and was majorly ticked off that he was not able to go.  He was screaming and flailing so I sat down on the step with him on my  lap.  He proceeded to  bang his head and made contact with my forehead.  I truly believe he gave me a minor concussion that day.  We ended up leaving early that day because he would not settle down.

So today, we were prepared for the "curse of the 2nd day."  We were pleasantly surprised.  J was in the social worker's arms when we got there and seemed very sleepy.  She wanted nothing to do with us for about a half an hour.  Again, the social worker moved us over to the couch and Z gave us his phone with Angry Birds pulled up.  J was transferred to my lap and I tried to use her finger to play the game.  She let me do it a couple times but then had enough.  As the social worker went to give Z back his phone, J turned her body and put her arms around me and buried her head in my neck.  In less than 10 minutes, she was sound asleep.  I cannot tell you how content my heart was to snuggle that little girl.  She even stayed asleep as I moved her into the bedroom.  I knew that it probably wasn't a great idea to let her sleep that much, but I couldn't bear to wake her up.  A few minutes later, Hubby came into the room and I handed her off to him.  She woke up (barely) but didn't fuss at being in Daddy's arms. I know I look sad in this picture, but really I wasn't.  I was so focused on rubbing her back and humming to her.

We went out into the living room again and I was told that we should go back to the bedroom and change her clothes.  She had been wearing a white sweat suit outfit that turned out to be her pajamas.  We had a bit of a battle of wills over changing her clothes.  She kept saying, "NE!" when I would try to take her shirt off so I would stop.  I did not want to get her upset, but eventually, I realized that I needed to show her that her "ne" wouldn't always work.  She whined a bit, but we got her pj's off. :)  I also changed her diaper and she giggled the entire time  I guess that might have had to do with the fact that since she had a bare belly, I couldn't help but tickle it. So, in the end, the clothes changing didn't turn out too bad.    

Just a couple minutes after I changed her, they said we needed to change her clothes again because we were going out.  They dress her in what looks like boys' clothes (they are probably hand me downs from their grandson) but when she goes out, they put her in girlie stuff.  Z found out there was a park/pedestrian area close to the house.  I thought she would be nervous about going but she was excited even when she looked back and saw we were going without the foster family.  We were a bit surprised that she didn't mind the car seat because she had never been in one before today.  She was busy looking at everything.

She did not want to walk...this girlie is all about being carried!  I absolutely love that she desires to be close.  I know that my arms will hate me because, even though she isn't too heavy, carrying her for long isn't easy.  Half of the walk around the area, I carried her.  Then I put  her in Daddy's arms to see what she would do.  She snuggled right in and was happy being close to him too.  She holds on tight to our shirt whenever she is cuddling. 

An interesting thing we walked by today was a secondary school.  Z said the name of the school was Nikola Tesla school.  Being a goofy American, I had to take a picture of the sign.  I am thankful that there wasn't a group of kids outside or they would have laughed at me.  :) 
When we arrived back at the foster home, the mother and her daughter were busy preparing lunch.  I was not prepared for that.  It was a three course meal!  The creamy chicken soup and bread was delicious.  I was encouraged to take seconds and did so, not realizing there was more food to come.  After the soup, they brought out pork cutlets, cevapi (kind of like a sausage link), and mashed potatoes.  When I finished, they tried to have me feed J, but she wanted nothing to do with the potatoes.  She knew that Baba had made pancakes (crepes) and that's what she wanted for lunch.  Let me tell you, that girl has good taste!  Those crepes were amazing!  They were filled with apricot jam and I had to stop myself after eating two of them.  The platter that I had brought the banana bread on yesterday was filled with crepes and handed to me as I left. :) 
All in all, we were there 4 and a half hours today.  As we were getting ready to leave, Z asked J if we could come back tomorrow.  She responded, "Yes, that would be good."   (in her language obviously)  So, I guess I can safely say that the curse of the 2nd day has been broken.  We did have a couple meltdowns (sobbing, huge tears, overall distress) but she calmed relatively quickly.  Nobody could pinpoint what started it.  But, as a wonderful friend pointed out, she is under a good deal of stress and confusion.  SHE probably doesn't know why she was crying.  With every experience we have together, we are getting closer to having her with us forever! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First day of forever

*This might be long, but I really don't want to forget any detail of this day!

Your prayers for sleep worked until 2:08am.  I woke up and stared at the ceiling for nearly 2 hours.  Nervous really isn't the term for what I was feeling.  Nor was it anxiety.  Anticipation is probably the best description.  I knew that in just a few short hours, our lives were going to change forever.

Our first stop of the day was at the US Embassy.  We knew that we had to meet with them before we met with the Ministry but nobody seemed to know why.  Our first bump came in front of the Embassy.  There was a gentleman with a clipboard out front that we had to speak with first.  We told him we had a meeting at 9am.  He consulted his list and we were nowhere to be found.  He went and found another Embassy worker who again asked why we were there, looked at the list and then with a confused look went inside.  She asked if we had the form (we didn't......there wasn't actually a form, but an email telling us to be there) About five minutes later, she came back out and said we were good and she wasn't sure why we weren't on the list.  Phew! 

The new Embassy is HUGE!  It is more like a compound.  There were so many people there.  We spoke to three different people before they finally figured out why we were there.  When we were called to a window, there stood the man that helped us with both boys' adoptions. :)  It was amazing seeing a familiar face.  It turns out, the reason we were there was to have the Article 5 interview and get the all important Article 5 letter!  This letter informs the Ministry that everything is in order in the eyes of the Embassy and the adoption can proceed. 

I felt badly for Z because our meeting at the Embassy took a little over 2  hours.  I'm sure he was having kittens waiting for us.  We booked it over to the Ministry (our meeting was scheduled for 11:30)  We drove around and around looking for a parking spot....Z said that we give him the worst luck with parking.  But he finally found a spot and started walking.  I did not think about having to walk a long distance and the shoes I had on were not exactly walking shoes. lol 

The meeting was so very relaxed.  When we went around the table introducing ourselves, we realized that one of the attendees was the foster mother.  I immediately got emotional because her face betrayed her grief.  We found out some basic stuff about J's birth family and we learned that she has been in the same foster home her entire life.  The foster mother told us that she took J home from the hospital when she was 26 days old.  It is so obvious that this lady loves J and our adopting J is breaking her heart.  I know this whole process is part of it, but, UGH it is so difficult!

Near the end of the meeting, we were shown a picture of J sitting on Santa's lap and her smile was breathtaking.  We were told we could keep the picture and the tears that I had managed to hold back started to fall.  It was finally real!  It was decided we would proceed from the Ministry to the foster home to meet her.  The foster mother was adorable because she was worried her home was going to be messy and she didn't want us to be offended.  *Her home was not even close to messy* 

The drive was only about 1/2 hour and before we knew it, we were pulling into an alleyway.  We were there!  The foster mother ushered me inside and I met her husband.  Then, J peeked into the room and ran over to the foster mother and threw her arms around her "Baba" (she calls her Baba or grandmother)  and I saw that smile again.  Her picture made her look very tall, but she is teeny!

We all sat around the table to talk for a few minutes all the while J was in the foster mother's arms grinning at everyone.  I had brought the banana bread and they brought out Turkish coffee and juice.  It was a nice few minutes.  Then the social worker went and asked J if she could hold her.  At first, she was told "Ne!" but she changed her mind.  They came over to me and I pulled out a small stuffed animal.  It always seems to break the ice when a stuffed animal comes out and starts kissing little faces. :)  She was curious about me but still called me "Mama" when they told her to.  We went over to the couch and after a few minutes, I pulled out my camera so we could show her pictures of her braća (brothers).  She was so interested in the boys that I don't think she even noticed the social worker put her into my lap.  And that was my heart, she is mine!  She is a complete snuggle bug and LOVES to be kissed.  I made kissy sounds into her ear and she giggled.  I tell ya, her giggle is the sweetest sound!  She let me feed her a small piece of banana bread and Hubby walked over and she took some from him too.  She didn't know what to think of the new flavor though.  We are so thankful for Z!  He was able to snap a couple pictures of her with us.  I was so enamored with her, taking pictures was the last thing on my mind. 

I didn't want to overwhelm her with too much, so when she wanted down, I let her roam.  She went to the other room and hung out with the other foster daughter (who is adorable and so sweet!)  I once again sat with the others around the table, but my heart was longing to be with my girl.  I finally excused myself and went to see what the girls were doing.  Peppa Pig was on the computer (I like that they have some of the same cartoons) and the girls were looking through pictures.  There are a ton of pictures of J as a baby and toddler.  We were told that we could have some of those pictures.  That is extremely rare in international adoption.  So, anyway, I sat on the couch and J came over to me and whispered, "Mama."  My heart melted and I pulled her into my lap.  She turned herself to the side and buried her face in my neck and I rocked her.  I thought for a  minute she was going to go to sleep.  I truly believe God prepared her heart for us.  We found out she loves to be rocked and sung to.  I am going to be one happy Mama! 

Our visit ended way too quickly.  In reality, we were there for nearly 2 hours, but time sure flew!  She gave me and Hubby a kiss (I swear I nearly cried seeing him kiss her sweet cheek!)  We get to go back tomorrow morning.  The plan is to have the first report written on Thurs and then the second report on Monday.  I believe they want her to spend the night with us by the end of the week, but I  might have misunderstood that.  Once the second report is written, it is presented to the Minister who has to sign off on the paperwork.  When that is done, we have our adoption ceremony and she will be ours.  Another few days of paper chasing and we will get to come home to begin life as a family of 5.  The timeline is a little fluid.  Usually the Minister signs within 1-3 days but, our last adoption showed us that timeframe isn't set in stone. I will keep you updated when the time comes. :)

I look around the apartment and see tiny pink clothes, hair pretties and toys and it makes my belly do flip flops knowing it isn't long until those things will be used.  The foster mother said that J likes to snuggle next to her in bed.  Neither of the boys wanted anything to do with sleeping with us.  So, if J wants to, it will be a new experience. 

We are so very thankful that God chose us to parent this precious child!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day off - food post :)

We slept pretty well last night.  We climbed into bed around 11:30pm or so and I don't remember tossing at all.  The Mr. was snoring in just a few minutes.  We both slept until about 3am but we only woke up because his cell phone went off.  It was the thermometer from our chicken coop giving us an update on the temp.  It had not sent an update since we left, so we thought it wasn't going to. Needless to say, he turned off the notification feature this morning. Anyway, I decided to get up to use the rest room quickly, and nearly took off my toe on a goofy step.  There is a 2 inch or so step up into the bathroom and when it is 3am and you are half asleep, it is difficult to remember not to shuffle your feet.  I'm sure that step will be the death of my toes by the time we go home. 

Something in us woke both of us at 7am....just in time to get a shower before Z was supposed to call.  We learned, the hard way, that the hot water heater is not quite as big as ours at home.  It has been a long time since I took an ice cold shower but I have to say,  I was completely awake by the end.  We were nearly ready when Z called.  He contacted the Ministry this morning to inquire about the discrepancy of meeting date.  The contact at the Ministry went through his emails and found that he had, indeed, been told that we needed to wait until after our meeting with the Embassy on Tues before we could meet with the Ministry.  With this being the first Hague adoption, EVERYONE is being super careful to be sure EVVERYTHING is done by the book.  We were fine with the "change" because it wasn't a change in how we thought it was going to work. lol

Having a day off without children is not something we are experienced with (in country).  It was a rainy, foggy day.  We decided to just stay in and save up our energy for the whirlwind that begins tomorrow.  The only place we had Z take us was a bigger grocery store.  Since I had the day off, I really wanted to make banana bread.  Z does not understand my love of cooking.  In the grocery store, I picked up a couple packages of meat....chicken, sausage and what turned out to be veal.  He pointed over to another area and said, "They have prepared foods instead."  When I told him that I am used to cooking everything, he gave me a really funny look like, "Why would you want to if you don't have to?"  I found my favorite chicken seasoning. :)  I was rather proud of myself that I was able to find it (a different manufacturer even so different packaging) 

So many people document what they eat on their adoption trips.  Today is going to be one of those days for me.

The people who inspected my checked baggage probably thought I was insane because I had packed 2 loaf pans and another smallish baking pan.  I remembered, from last time, that the apartment only had disposable type aluminum pans for baking.  I was very thankful that I brought the pans though. 
Banana bread was the first item I baked.  I found an article a while ago telling how to ripen bananas quickly in the oven.  I was happy I read that because the bananas we found at the store were nearly green.  It came out pretty well.  There was some maple syrup in the cabinet here so I substituted some of that for some of the sugar and it made it rather tasty.  I am going to bring this platter of bread with us to the foster home.

Dinner was chicken strips (flavored with a really tasty chicken seasoning packet) and some mashed potatoes.  Hubby said it tasted like home which was the best compliment he could have given. He even gave his seal of approval for the milk. And for those wondering, this was all he ate for dinner.  My husband eats like a bird.
One interesting tidbit I learned today, apparently, you cannot get crackers here.  According to Z, they don't sell them.  With some searching, I found a recipe and was able to attempt my own saltine type crackers.  I didn't roll them quite thin enough and the 2nd and 3rd batch (really small baking pan) were misshapen because the dough stuck to the counter.  But they taste like crackers and should still work well to make cheese and crackers. 

And just for good measure, here is a picture of last night's dinner.  Eggs and sausage (bratwurst but still sausage) with toast.  How cool is it that there is a toaster here?  Well, I find it really nice! :)  AND, they have Heinz ketchup!

Tomorrow begins our real adventure.  Pray that we both sleep so we are prepared to remember all the info we are given and that we aren't too nervous to meet our little one.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Finally here!

At 10:05am home time, Mr. Man and I boarded our first flight.  This adoption seemed to take forever (but isn't that what always happens when you want something now?) In reality, we started the process around 8 months ago which is shorter than our first adoption process and that one wasn't Hague. 

We ended up leaving early for the first flight and because of that, we were 45 min early into Newark airport.  We already had a 6 hour layover, so 45 minutes really seemed to add a lot more waiting.  We ate lunch at a nice steak restaurant.  They had I-pads at every table for ordering.  It was pretty strange to not give our order to a person. lol  This is our "waiter."  I do have to say that my Philly steak sandwich was probably the best I have ever eaten!

Our flight to Frankfurt was rather uneventful.  I sat beside the sweetest German guy who talked my ear off during most of the flight.  It was a good thing though, because my TV monitor was not working.  It got to be quite funny.  During the course of our 7.5 hour flight, they reset the monitor about 8 times.  It would get to the point of letting me choose something and then it would freeze.  My new friend beside me felt bad.  Hubby even offered for me to use his.  I was thankful that I brought my portable DVD player and a couple Celtic Thunder DVD's.  I can't sleep on airplanes so between my chatty friend and my DVD player, everything worked out well. 
I am so easily entertained.  Bill thought I had lost it when I waved out the window as we were flying over Ireland. :)  One day, I will fly to Ireland, but that is another story.
Another 3 hour layover in Frankfurt and we made it to our last flight.  It was oddly satisfying hearing our boys' first language spoken again. We have learned a few words over the years and being able to pick those words out is strange.  At one point (at our gate), they made an announcement.  I was able to pick out the word for the number one and kind of deduced that our departure gate had changed.  Or maybe I just think that I deduced it because they did the announcement in English just a minute later and I was tired.  :)
Going through passport control here was the easiest ever.  The woman helping us was having an intensely enjoyable (to her) phone conversation.  She didn't even look at our pictures but just flipped to the back to stamp the passports.  With both of our other adoptions, they grilled us about why we were traveling to Serbia (and why we wanted to adopt).  People here just don't seem to understand why Americans want to adopt from Serbia.  Our driver, Z (who is one of our favorite people in the world!), picked us up and was really happy to see us.  We dropped our luggage off at our apartment and a quick trip to the grocery store left us with some basic dinner ingredients...eggs, bratwurst and bread for toast.
So, right now, we are relaxing and trying to keep ourselves awake until a reasonable bedtime.  Actually, that's a bit of a fib.  Hubby is relaxing....I went and snuggled down in bed for about an hour.  Praying that when I finally go to bed for the night, I actually sleep. 
I was going to make some banana bread for our Ministry appointment.  We had been told that our appointment was Tuesday, but, we found out (after we went to the store), that we might be having our Ministry appointment tomorrow.  So, we aren't 100% what is happening.  We trust Z to have us where we need to be when we need to be there.  He's calling the Ministry tomorrow morning.  So, there is a slight possibility that we might meet our girlie tomorrow.  I'm not really getting my hopes us about it, but the possibility is there.  Tomorrow, I will end up writing up a bit of a post about her.....basic stuff anyway.  I just realized that I hadn't given any details about our little one yet. 
The feeling being back here is completely surreal.  The "long" process seems now to have flown and we are so close to seeing her face in person.  I cried when I put the boys to bed the other night realizing it was the last time I would tuck only 2 kids to bed in our home.  We are being blessed with a little girl.....can you believe it?!



Friday, January 9, 2015

Long time no see :)

It has been several months since I posted.  If you want to know what we have been up to,  you can check out the timeline.  It gives a short run down of how things have gone.  With this being the first adoption since our girl's country became party of the Hague treaty, everyone has been very careful making sure everything is done perfectly.

So, the long and short of it is.....WE LEAVE IN 8 DAYS!!!

A week from tomorrow, the Mr and I will board a plane on the way to our little girl's country.  We will arrive on Sunday and then we have a day off to relax before the real fun begins. :)  We have to meet with the US Embassy before we can meet with anyone from the Ministry.  Our meeting is scheduled at 9am (which is 3am home time) on January 20th.  We are supposed to meet with the Ministry after that meeting but we haven't received a set time yet.  If all goes as planned (our Ministry meeting isn't too late), we should be able to meet our little one later that afternoon. 

We received a wonderful Christmas gift a couple days early.  The Ministry was able to get an updated picture of our cutie and also had her height/weight/shoe sizes for us.  She is such a cutie and has grown so much since the last picture we were given.  I missed her 4th birthday, but I am happy to know that the rest of her birthdays will be with her family.

I had done a little shopping for her before, but not knowing how big she was hampered that.  Now that I have that info, I am all about buying pink!  I have a lovely friend who is also sending me some things for her.  I believe we will have one well dressed girlie. 

Well, that is all I can get out for now.  My brain is on overdrive and being able to complete a thought, let alone a sentence on a blog is VERY DIFFICULT!  So, this might be the last post I make before we leave.  :)