A Letter From Zhenya

A Letter From Zhenya

Would anyone like to read excerpts from an email I just got from Zhenya?  I am thrilled to share this.  I will probably not do so again, but I can not believe the seed God planted in such a short time together.  It shows me that when we do things that the Bible advocates, such as helping people less fortunate than ourselves and loving them with an unconditional love, God takes the reigns from there and multiplies our efforts indefinitely.  All I did to start change in this young man’s life was show up.

 

Dear Sarah!

I was so glad to get your letters. Thank you so much for not forgetting. I have thought of you all the years since we met and even wrote your name on different notebooks I had while in school. Your friendship has made a lasting impression on my life.

After the last hug you gave me the last time we saw each other, I thought we’d never see each other again. I prayed the Lord would provide a way for us to see each other again. I remember you gave me all kinds of drawings, but I wasn’t able to keep them through the different moves I’ve made over the years. There’s so much I’ve learned in my life. Right now I have one dream – to see you again and to give you a big hug and tell you you are the best friend I’ve ever had.

I will be sure to pray about our future meeting, for your health, and for your family. I am grateful to you for giving me friendship that will always remain in my heart.

I am planning to take some computer lessons soon that I hope will help me get a better job. I love to read a lot. In my job, I make cream fillings, help decorate cakes, and help with the packaging of the cakes. Our bakery makes about 1300 a day, and there are 10 of us who do the decorating. I like my job for now, but I hope to find something better-paying so that I can save up money to someday visit the US.

Right now I am getting to know a young lady from Moscow. We are just friends. In the future I hope to find someone who will be a kind , good, pleasant person like you. 

I don’t know English well enough to write you on my own. Korvan helps me with these letters. I’d like to know English better, but I don’t have the opportunity at this time. I try to study some on my own as I’m able.

Take care of yourself.

Your loving and close friend,
Jenya

Long Lost Friend

Long Lost Friend

I am writing this post late.  Really this story came together Thursday October 13, the day after we got news that we should be expecting our referral within the next couple of weeks.  God was really making Himself noticed around here last week!  And I am SO grateful for HIs presence.  It has given me abundant peace.

On Thursday my youngest and I made the trek to Austin for the third time to get apostilles on a couple of documents.  Namely, the documents that needed our age range changed from “9-36 months,” to “9 months – 4 years old.”  We got those done and rushed home, barely getting them in the mail for the evening pickup so they could arrive at our international agency by noon on Friday.  After getting home from mailing the documents, I checked my computer.  What I saw on Facebook was a friend request from a “Eugene” in Russia.  Huh.  I guess word got out that I like Russia and now people are randomly “friending” me.  But even as I said this I was looking suspiciously at his face.  He looked like a grown-up version of a boy I had befriended at a summer camp outside of Moscow during the summer of 1996 when I was in high school.  The boy’s name was Zhenya.  Here is an excerpt from the “Our Story” page on this site that I wrote when we started this website:

I had been to Russia in 1996, though I am still not sure where the camp I helped run was located- it was in the middle of the forest about a four hour drive from Moscow.  In 1996 I learned a lot of Russian, fell in love with the language, the culture, the people.  I yearned for more.  I missed the 12 year-old boy I had befriended in ’96 named Zhenya.  The facilitator of the group we traveled with in 1997 made arrangements for me to be driven out to the orphanage where Zhenya was so I could see him again.  His orphanage is really, really in the middle of nowhere.  The kids there were all assumed to have a disability of some kind, though I couldn’t tell you what Zhenya’s might have been- other than him being insanely short for his age.  The Soviet Union had hidden these orphanages as though they were ashamed of the disabled children.  I was driven by a man in a small rusty car through forested dirt roads for hours to get to the orphanage.  We actually left the road and drove through trees on a couple of occasions when he deemed it necessary.  We were going very fast- 130 kilometers per hour at some points- through the woods up and down roller coaster-like hills.  I was terrified.  But I was hyper with joy at the thought of seeing “My Zhenya” again.  (There are many Zhenyas in Russian orphanages, and my teenage friends the year before had a few Zhenyas of their own.)  We were reunited during the late afternoon.  I had my picture taken with him.

I recognized other kids from the camp the year before.  Another Zhenya.  And Ceryozha, Maxim and Sasha.  All were happy to see The American there.  I only could stay for about an hour.  Zhenya showed me where he slept.  He kept two or three different Russian/English dictionaries in a small drawer there.  They were all gifts to him.  He had little of anything else, including clothing options and shoes.  Most orphanages in Russia have their own vegetable gardens to supplement the government’s meager (and rare) checks.  This one was no different.  Understaffed, self sufficient.  The kids there did seem happy, but then I never saw them when an American wasn’t around.  I cried saying goodbye to Zhenya.  He had just poured over his dictionary and finally looked up at me and said, “You, adopt, me?”  I can’t, I’m a child myself!! “Oh, Zhenya, I can’t.  I’m so sorry.  I love you.  I will miss you.”  I still pray for him to this day that he didn’t become a statistic as is so common for the sixteen year-old orphans in Russia.  Well over 3/4 of them turn to prostitution and drugs.  Suicide is not uncommon for them.  There is no hope, no family, no skill sets, no job.  No roof, no clothes, no food.  Nothing.  Not to mention that they are a four hour (plus) drive from Moscow with no car, no bike, no horse, no goat.  Finding food and work in the city with no skill sets is a problem but in the country where they hide these orphanages….  hopeless.  So I got back to Mystora and cried on Josh’s shoulder.  We were dating then- had just graduated high school a month prior and been dating since Christmas.  He comforted me, and somewhere in the recesses of his brain he tucked away a little nugget; someday we will adopt together.

That’s what started this whole process.  My love for that orphan.  My wanting to help him so badly but not being able to.  But my husband and I knew that we could help others.  Even if it wasn’t Zhenya, there were many fatherless and motherless children who were confined and institutionalized.  The need to adopt grew in our hearts until we heard from God that it was time.  And that time in our lives is currently unfolding as we watch.

And Thursday afternoon it slowly dawned on me that the picture I was looking at was “my” Zhenya.  Zhenya!  Eugene; of course!  In Russian Eugene would sound like “Oo-zhen.”  Zhenya was his nickname!  I started thumbing through his information to find out that he still lived near the orphanage in a small city (much bigger than the village I had imagined it to be) and was working at a bakery.  I was crying and sobbing and THANKING GOD.  I felt like Zhenya was alive again!  For in my thoughts he had so little hope that I had actually imagined the worst for him— despite my earnest prayers.  After some crying on my keyboard, I noticed I had a message.  It was from Zhenya!

…”Hi, Sarah! You might remember me from summer camp in Russia in 1996. I’m so glad to see you again and hope that we’ll be able to correspond. It will be great to hear back from you. Zhenya”

Those few words brought a torrent of emotion upon me.  I can’t even tell you how GREAT God is to do this for me.  What are the odds??? I would have NEVER imagined this to happen in my wildest dreams!  Not to mention that he is now fluent in English and so we can TALK to each other and catch up and I can ask him all kinds of things I have been wondering over the years.

Now I am just hoping that somehow we can go see him while we are in Russia adopting.  Though he isn’t really on our path while we’re there, I will be praying that it will work out.  And judging by already overwhelming surprises from God, why wouldn’t He help this to happen for us?   : )

WHAT? …ALREADY?!?

WHAT? …ALREADY?!?

We are about to get a referral!  We should have the complete referral, including all known history and health information, within two to four weeks.  Can you believe it?  Already?!?!

My favorite quote of the day, “Was it an accident?”  (haha!)  It would almost seem as such since, to my knowledge, they hadn’t even finished translating our dossier into Russian yet.  In fact, we have a document CURRENTLY in the hands of a courier getting apostilled.  Like as we speak.  So our dossier isn’t even officially completed yet.  It’s sitting in pieces waiting to be rectified.  And yet we are being told they found us a child.  I have got to say, and this is a theme throughout this post; This is what happens when God shows up.

We still don’t have any information.  So theoretically, we could find out some health concern that our family simply couldn’t shoulder.  This is in no way an announcement that we have found our daughter.  But it’s a possibility.  And we’re getting closer to finding out!

The reason we don’t have an actual referral is because our paperwork all says that we are looking for a child up to 36 months old.  This little girl is 37 months old.  Ergo, we had to be contacted and asked if we would be willing to consider a child outside of our agreed-upon age range.  (“YES.”)  But now all of our paperwork is wrong.  And we can’t have that.  So before the Russian officials can send us anymore information, we have to have the dossier updated to reflect that we are willing to adopt a child older than 36 months.  Which means, duhn, duh DUHN, (drumroll please!)  …another drive to Austin!  Yes!!  Really people, I am trying the courier as we speak.  She’s very helpful and it’s all nice and dandy that I don’t have to drive there, but in reality I would have to mail these documents to her, let her get the apostille within a couple of days, and then have her mail it back to me.  I do NOT have time for that right now.  Not even close.  This way I will be back with it completed tomorrow.  And my agency representative asked me to fax her a copy of it so they can get started while the hard copy makes its way to them in the mail.  They aren’t kidding around.  Everyone’s adrenaline just skyrocketed and things are expected to be done seriously fast now to get things going.

The information I was given regarding timeframes:  Once the paperwork gets in (correctly this time) we should get the actual referral within two to four weeks.  Ohmygosh.  I just want to cry thinking that we will be given an actual name.  A name.  (pull it together Sarah!  This may not be your child yet!)  ((Shut up and let me dream, level-headed Sarah!)) (Fine.  I wanted to dream with you anyway.)  ((Good.))  Yes, clearly I may lose my mind before the day is out.  Anyway, back to business…  IF  (if) we accept the referral, we could be traveling within a month to a few months.  More likely is a month or two, but you never know what snafus may delay travel.  Did I ever officially write on this blog how I had been praying to get a referral by December since early last summer?  Because in light of all informational opposition, I felt I could ask God to get us a referral that quickly.  He’s a really Big Guy.  He can do stuff that fast if he wants to.  Even though we were told it would likely take at least until 2013.  And now look!  He’s exceeded even my CRAZY request by beating my longing by an additional two months!  October 2011!!!

Which segways nicely into the next topic; how God will now have to provide the fundage necessary to continue with this process.  Because just to accept the referral costs thousands.  And then even more money will be needed to travel and pay in-country expenses.  And we could need all of this as soon as a couple of months from now.  And yet somehow I know God will provide.  Please join me in praying for our needs to be met so that the process can continue without being held-up by a financial shortage.

I am calling today “Yay Day!”  Though if I think I’m excited now, I’m sure I will be shown a whole different level of excitement down the road.  : )  Woot!

 

We just got a call that there is a little girl

Update on Dossier D’Oh!!! (#3)

Update on Dossier D’Oh!!! (#3)

**UPDATE**

So, yes.  The short answer is “yes.”  Yes, we need to redo the entire home study document because of one little typo.  YES this is a document that is also in the hands of immigration services and may need to be redone for them as well.   Yes, we need to have it notarized again.  Yes, the people at our local agency can take care of the notarization for us. Yes, because it is getting re-notarized and our agency’s notary has since renewed their commission license, we have to have every document that person notarized re-notarized.  And yes, they can not get the apostille for us even though they work out of the same city as the Secretary of State.  (okay that last one didn’t work so well)

But I was given information to a courier that functions primarily as a service for international adoption families to help them get apostilles when they live far away from Austin.  Cool, right?  But their services cost the same as gas.  And I love me a road trip.  But after paying the courier I would have to pay to have the documents overnighted to me, which can be around $20.  Which tips the balance in favor of another road trip up there.  But I have been informed that there are massive protests going on all around the capital building right now and that is where I have to park to see the Secretary of State.  So that could totally stink.  Or I could get involved and show up on the evening news.  Who knows?

The documents should be finished today and I will update soon on what comes of it all.  Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers; this is a tedious and irritating process at times and I credit my plethora of peace to the fact that we have dedicated the process to God and feel that it will all work out in the end.  He is good!

Dossier D’Oh!!! (#3)

Dossier D’Oh!!! (#3)

I have already made two trips to Austin to get revised documents apostilled and sent to Russia to rejoin our dossier in progress.  Today I got an email from our dossier specialist saying that the team in Russia, while translating the documents, found a typo.  Yes, it seems, according to this document, that we were cleared through a criminal background check as of November 2011.  Which unless someone invented time travel and tested it out on us, is highly unlikely.

SOOOooooOOOOoooOOOo…. I may have to run back up there again.  For the third time in a little over a month.  However I am waiting to hear back from our local agency that made the typo.  They will reissue the document and have the ability to notarize this one themselves.  So that saves a late-night trip to the bank with Josh on his way home from work.  AND our agency is In Austin so I am wondering if they can just get it apostilled for us?  Maybe??  I think they can’t but it’s worth asking, right?  Argh.  We’ll see.  Hopefully they hurry it up and I find out if this is cause for another road trip by tomorrow.

And for those of you bad-mouthing our agency for making the typo, it’s not all their fault.  I re-checked that entire pages-long document at least four times myself and I never noticed that.  It’s just how it goes.  I’m just hoping we don’t get it all fixed only for them to find another typo within the same long document.

Patience is a virtue!  And when you’re not feeling patient you’re gaining character and yadda, yadda, yadda.

God’s Little Ways

God’s Little Ways

So today we went BACK to Austin for another apostille!  Made the trip there and back in six hours, which is pretty much amazing.  We were in the waiting room at the Secretary of State for maybe six or seven minutes, tops.  I was the only one in there and went up to get the apostille.  While I was sitting there for two minutes, a couple of other ladies came in.  The lady getting the paperwork for me typed my address into the computer.  “You came all the way from Houston?!”  She asked.  I told her yes, that our dossier was already in Russia and they needed this document ASAP and I didn’t have time to mail it in this time.  When I was done, I asked my youngest to pose for a picture… (here’s what you get when you ask that of a four year-old)

…and the lady who was sitting by us giggled about it and we had a quick exchange.  Then she asked where in Russia we were adopting from.  I told her, and after explaining where that was, she told me that she was adopting from the region we were originally assigned! I told her I knew exactly where that was!  How ironic.  She was very sweet and after I shared my quick story about how we were supposed to adopt from there too, I asked where she lived.  Right there in Austin– lucky her.  (no, I’m not bitter!)   : )   She volunteered that she would be traveling to Russia on trip number two, which means she is traveling back to bring her child home- YAY!, TOMORROW.  And that they don’t have their visas yet.  I assured her it would be fine, and she said that she knows God will take care of things and that you have to have a lot of faith in God to get through this process.  (Amen!)  She also said that they were adopting a girl.  Yesterday I had asked how long it had been taking to find a girl and our adoption expert said that a girl hadn’t been adopted in our region this year at all so she had no idea.  But my new friend in the waiting room told me that her wait was around nine months.  Now I know I have been told 18-24 months, and I am not getting my hopes up too high, but it was SO comforting to hear proof that it doesn’t HAVE to be 18-24 month, you know??  So I told her my parking meter was probably out of time by now, nice to meet her, seeyalater!  Then we left.  But before I got to the elevators in the hallway, if I’m honest it happened before I even had the door close behind me, God was telling me I should go say a prayer for her family.  So I went back in, asked her name, and prayed for peace and God’s provision with the visa.  Also that God would get glory in whatever happens.  And also that her new daughter lights up when she sees them and that God goes ahead to plant a family seed in all of them.  She got my email address and I got hers.  Hopefully we can be a little support and friendship for each other from different corners of Texas.  What a blessing that was in my day.  I am so glad she initiated that conversation and that God touched me with a little relationship and support for the place I’m at right now.  Isn’t He great?!  You just never can tell what the Big Guy is up to.  : )

Austin, Here I Come! (again)

Austin, Here I Come! (again)

I just got an email from our dossier specialist.  While translating our dossier, which is now physically in the country of Russia, into Russian, our team realized that another form was wrong.  The issue?  Our address was supposed to be on it and our eldest son’s name was supposed to include his middle name.  That’s it.  For that I have to meet Josh at the bank tonight to get another notarization, and then tomorrow comes another all-day drive to Austin for the apostille.

I realize this sounds kind of complainy, and it is.  But I actually do like a road trip.  And I do like that something is happening with something, because we all know that once the excitement of dossier-prep wears off, it could be a couple years before we hear anything again.  But I don’t like that this slows down the process. (though this is common and should be expected) and I don’t like spending money on a full tank of gas!  On the plus side, it’s down about a dime from last week to $3.23  : )

I am still hoping to do a post with some Russia facts and information, but looks like I’ll be a bit busy this week so sit tight!  Hopefully I get that done soon.

A Faith-Filled Journey

A Faith-Filled Journey

This post has been inspired by the many people who have reveled in our copious amount of faith in reference to this adoption process.  We get comments very often about how much faith we have in God and it is most often said under the assumption that the faith is of our own conjuring.  It has always made me uncomfortable as I would like for God to be glorified, not me and Josh.  Over the past few months I have been compiling what I know about faith into a nice, neat pile.  And wouldn’t you know?  I have found that just like everything else, faith is from God.

The assertion is that we are feeling so calm and patient and at peace because we are special people with faith to spare.  That we somehow started off with a magnificent storehouse of faith, and that is what we use to get by on the hard days.  That we have conjured up this faith.  That it’s because of us.  That we just are “some of those people” who are blessed with faith.

How completely erroneous.  Let me straighten the record.  Not because I’m feeling a rant coming on, though I am, but because there’s someone bigger at work here who isn’t getting the credit due Him.  Faith is not a human-conjured commodity.  Faith is the direct result of knowing what you believe in, and that it will not let you down.  I can not have faith in something that I have not experienced time after time with no change to the recurring experience.  I can have hope in that thing, in that I would hope it would come through for me when I needed it, but until that actually happened (eventually over and over without ever failing), I would have no assurance that it would prove loyal to me.  For example, I don’t have faith in my husband.  I trust him to do what’s best for me whenever he can.  I trust him to have my best interest at heart.  But that trust cannot go so far as to say that my husband is incapable of failing me.  Because he is.  He’s human.  Just like me.  I hope beyond all hope that no one ever puts that much trust in me!  We are not perfect.  An devout faith in something unpredictable (like a human being) is impossible; or in the least unrewarded.  That’s the beauty of faith in God.  He is never changing.  He provides for us today and every day.  He has our best interests in His heart and works all things toward good every day.

Which brings me to the wraparound of the initial point.  When something has provided for you again and again and proven to be infallible, you have faith in that thing.  When God has shown His love and provision for me, His servant, every year and every week and every day and every minute, I will develop faith in Him to be there when I need Him.  In reality, it is not me who developed the faith, but Him.

For Josh and I, in regards to the adoption, we were given a clear word from God; “Adopt from Russia.”  It is our calling.  It is His plan for us.  He instilled the value in us and He is orchestrating the path we have been on to get there.  As we look around us and see the miraculous provisions from His hand, we are calmed and given peace.  “Surely God will provide.”  We have faith.  Yes, we have faith!  Just make sure to attribute that fact to the awesome Creator we serve and view Him as one worthy of such steadfast trust.  Because He’s earned it.  He never changes.  And He always works for our good.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  James 1:17

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:12-13

(regarding Abraham, who was told by God that he would father nations, though he had no children at the time) “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead- since he was about a hundred years old- and that Sarah’s womb was also dead (she was barren).  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”  Romans 4:19-21

The Dossier’s Journey

The Dossier’s Journey

Well, our dossier was sent off last week.  It is en route to Russia as we speak.  And that’s it, right?!  It gets there and then they call us with the picture of a beautiful little girl who we can bring home to call our own!

…yeahno.

Our dossier will arrive in Russia.  Then it will be translated into Russian.  I have had no qualms about sharing the size of this document.  Translating it will be a vast undertaking.  It is expected to take up to two months to get it translated.  So the dossier doesn’t really “arrive” until it’s in Russian.  And this will take up to two more months.  I’m learning that everything is time consuming and requires a lot of flexibility and patience on our part.   And waiting.  It requires waiting on our part!  (I think that if you searched the word “waiting” on this blog it would pop up every entry I have ever made!)

Once it is translated, I have been told that the wait for a girl in our region is 12-24 months, with fluctuations expected.  Which tells me no one knows when the (bleep!) we will get a referral!  (a-hem)  Excuse my outburst.  : )

In the meantime, they have sent us two booklets of information to peruse in hopes that the travel process will be more clearly explained.  I have only gone through one of them so far and it was 39 pages long.  Let me just say that international adoption is, four words; ready?  Com-pli-ca-ted.  But I learned all kinds of things about the culture and the process and the expected gifts we have to bring.  And they included lots of quotes and thoughts from families who have traveled previous to us.  I also found out that it has happened, though it’s not common, that the child someone was referred was adopted instead by a local Russian family even after the referral was accepted by the American family.  The Russian government (and rightfully so, I believe) has priority on keeping their children in Russia with Russian families.  I just can’t imagine the disappointment that would come with a botched referral like that though.  And I pray that doesn’t happen to us!    I learned a lot from this packet of information.  Once I get through the second one, maybe I will create a post including some miscellany information to enlighten all of us a little more to the adoption process that Josh and I are embarking on.  But for now, let me just say that it is really hard to be reading about all of this exciting travel-related stuff and then having the knowledge that our travel is still 14-26 months away!  Bah.

Still, as always, lifting our adoption up in prayer to God.  He is in control and He has our little girl already picked out!

: )

Last Form for the Dossier!

Last Form for the Dossier!

So I told you we had to resubmit a form….  Well we did it!

I had no intentions of waiting on the postal service to get our document an apostille from the Secretary of State.  So I took the kids out of school last Friday, piled them in the van, and we made a three-hour drive up to Austin, the capital, to the Secretary of State.  Here is the building where the office was located:

We looked at it from across the street, wondering how long it would take to get our precious document handled.  We crossed the street, marveled at the 100 year-old building, went inside, and signed in and got visitor’s stickers to wear.  The inside of the entryway:

Then we found the Secretary of State office and sat down.  We were third in line.  And we were called up within five minutes.  The nice lady took the document, had me fill out a form, and then took the form while handing me the now-stapled-to-the-apostille document.  “Have a nice day,” she said with a smile.  That’s it?!?  If I sit in Houston waiting it takes two weeks but if I come in it takes two minutes?  WORTH.  THE.  DRIVE.  We left there and I took another picture of the building from across the street. I know it sounds corny, but this building is an all-important part of getting this huge stack of papers called a dossier to the region where our future child lives.  It’s maybe that I need some connection to something…. everything is by mail, by email, by phone calls.  And then here, all of the sudden, I am able to enter a building where part of the process takes place.  I can touch the walls.  It’s tangible.  I was a little emotional just because I had something to be emotional about.  A visible step in the process.

So after we left the Secretary of State with my document and apostille tucked safely in a manilla envelope, we went to the park across the street.  And looked up.  And saw the capital building!  Lo and behold!  We were parked next door to it the whole time!

So we went and had a tour while we were there.  It was very educational and I felt sort of better about taking my kids out of school for a road trip.  : )  (Though I’m glad I did because after lunch and a couple stops, plus the three-hour drive home, we got back an hour after school got out)  Here’s the inside of the capital dome:

And as seen from inside of a wing built onto the building as a later addition:

We got back home after lots of galavanting around and I was just so thankful for the adventure I had that day.  It was nice feeling a part of the process of getting that document to its final destination.  Which is our region in Russia.  Which is where our little girl is!

I mailed it out Saturday and it arrived Monday morning.  Today our dossier specialist contacted me and said she will be mailing out the (now) completed dossier by the end of this week.  RELIEF!!  So happy right now.  So I guess that’s it for now.  I will try to give an official update when I hear anything new. I have asked our specialist some questions about the upcoming process and will share her answers if they are anything new.

Also we are getting ready to start fundraising.  Josh and I have been carefully and prayerfully working through some ideas and should have it all worked out soon.  But we do need to take the opportunity (while we are waiting for our referral) to try to come up with the remaining 50% of the total amount of money we need to complete this adoption.

We know God will provide.  We just want to do our part, and ask that as our friends and family, and occasional web-surfer-by-ers, that you consider praying for us to be your part.  We have many reasons to be praying for a fast referral; faster than anyone expects it to be, and in tandem with that we need the remainder of our money to come in by then too.  We also implore you to pray that our future daughter will be hand-picked by God for our family, and us for her.  And really above all else, that God is glorified in this process and that many see Him for the first time because there will be no other way to explain the incredible things God will do for us.  And people will come to believe that it is God orchestrating it all.  Thank you for your support, your prayers, and your diligence in checking in on us.  It has not gone unnoticed!

Waiting for our dossier to be sent to Russia….

Waiting for our dossier to be sent to Russia….

It was one month ago that we sent our dossier to the agency in charge of our international affairs.  They have spent this last month working closely with their liaisons in our region, making sure that every piece of paper was exactly as it should be to pass through the system without being denied.  All kinds of miniscule things can cause the dossier to be help-up or denied, and so they spend all of this time checking and double-checking before mailing it over.  Thank goodness we live in an age of computers so that they can do this by email!

So I got word back this morning: We have to submit an extra form.  It’s actually a form we’ve already submitted, and we filled it out properly, but the region has since changed the layout of the form.  So to make it look exactly like the one they are currently using, even though all of the information remains the same, we will be submitting the new form.  This is not uncommon and I half expected something along these lines to pop up.  But here’s the deal; this requires us to sign the form, go have it notarized, and then send it off to be apostilled.  The apostille took a month last time by mail.  It travels to Austin, the capital, and then and stays there for about two and a half weeks before getting done and sent back.  THEN I make copies of it, keep one, and send the rest cross country to our international agency.  Then they review it again and if it’s good they can (hopefully) send off the completed dossier to Russia.  But here’s what I’m thinking.  I don’t want to wait a month for the apostille.  So I may just drive that notarized document up to Austin and have it signed in person.  What do you think?  Am I a genius or what?  It’s a three hour drive one-way so it would be a long day, but I love an excuse for a road trip!

I will continue to keep you updated on the dossier.  Not incredibly exciting right now.  It’s similar to the first trimester of a pregnancy.  Yeah, you’ll have a baby in nine months, but you aren’t even showing yet.  It’s boring being pregnant without the standard-issue pregnant belly!  And to make things worse, you have morning sickness.  Yep.  That’s us right now.

Dossier Sent Out!

Dossier Sent Out!

Yesterday was the big day!  The official dossier was picked up by our local post-person yesterday morning.  Now it’s on its way to our international agency, complete with a check we were able to write thanks to SO many donations we’ve gotten from people who have felt a call to support us in one way or another.  THANK YOU!    When it gets to our agency, they will review it and make sure everything is in order.  I anticipate that there will be no surprises since I worked very closely with our dossier specialist and asked more questions than she probably would’ve ever thought she’d be able to credit to a singular human being.  Anyway, she will go over the hard copies and originals I sent and once she pulls it all together and adds in documents already in their possession, she will forward it to our region in Russia!  Once there I have no idea what happens.  Theoretically it should take between 18 and 24 months for us to get a referral.  (A “referral” is notification that a child fitting our description (female between 9 & 36 months old) has been deemed available for adoption and is being offered to us for acceptance.)  I have no idea why it can take so long, so don’t ask.  Someone once mentioned a guess that it had to do with wait times instilled to alleviate temptation to adopt girls for sex trafficking.  I don’t know if this is true, but it makes a bit of sense since there is NO wait time for boys and also no social reasons (such as in China) for there to be more of one sex available than another.  But whatever the reason, we have been told from the start that adopting a girl would take much, much longer.  Though we’ll see what God has in mind!  I am interested to see how quickly this can be pushed through when we are all praying together for speediness!

A little information on the final result of this “dossier” thing I’ve been talking about with you all for the last few months.  It is big- for sure- but not as big as for some Russian regions, which require many more documents.  So to recap, we had to sign a bunch of official documents that stated our purpose in adopting and that we were aware of certain rules and regulations.  But we had to sign all documents (ALL) in front of a notary.  But notaries can be faking that they are notaries and not really be endorsed by the state… so then we send all the notarized documents to the Secretary of the State of Texas to double check on each notary’s name and commission to make sure they are legit.  If they are legit, the Secretary of the State signs off on a paper that is attached to the document that the notary has been recognized and verified.  NOW the document can been officially (internationally)  recognized as having been notarized when we signed it.  It has been apostilled.  Then the State sends the documents back and I make three copies of each, keep one, and bundle the rest together and voila’!  A dossier!!!  Our homestudy  and some agency licenses that were notarized before they were ever sent to us had to get apostilled too.  It was a heavy stack- almost two pounds of paper!

Here’s what an apostilled document cover looks like:  (notary name and commission blurred out)

And here’s some pictures of our awesomely huge dossier!

All tucked into its envelope and ready to go.  Such a happy day.  : )

Here’s to a quick referral; otherwise I’ll have nothing to write for you to read!  And we don’t want that!!!