Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Adoption Update

We've known for about 3 weeks that our agency had a full opening in their Caucasian adoption program, but I hadn't posted anything yet. I was waiting until we talked to our social worker, Danielle, so I'd have all the information to post at once. Yesterday J and I had a conference call with Danielle to find out where we go from here.

Right now we are waiting on a verification from the school and from Melody. Once Danielle receives that then she will send it to the social worker in our area who will be doing the homestudy. The social worker in our area lives in the same town I work in and her name is Pam.

Pam will call us and set up a time to do 4 interviews. The #1 one will be J and I together, #2 & #3 will be us individually and #4 will be the home visit and she will also talk to C a little bit. Once she gets through all the interviews it will take approximately 3 weeks to get the report written and submitted to our agency. The agency will then review it and formally accept us into the program.

In the meantime J and I are going to be working on our family profile. There are 3 profiles that will need to be done:

1. Internet Profile - This is a condensed profile that will be on the agency's website so that prospective birthmothers can view it.

2. Short Profile - This is another condensed profile with 3 pictures and 2 pages of written information. This is first shown to a birthmother, if she wants more information then they will give her the long profile.

3. Long Profile - This will be several pages detailing our lives, including several pictures of us. Danielle will be sending us examples to look at the develop all three profiles. The Long Profile starts out with our "Dear Birthparent" letter, so we'll have to also start working on that. I've ordered a digital scrapbooking program that I plan on using to create the long profile.

Once we are fully approved and have all the profiles done is when the waiting begins. Danielle always gives the adoptive parents the worst case scenario on how the long the wait could be. Yesterday she told us it could be as long as 3 years. Of course we are hoping that it will happen sooner, but we all need to be prepared in case it doesn't. The wait time doesn't have anything to do with making sure this is what we want to do, we made that decision a loooong time ago, but for every baby born there are 12 couples who want to adopt it. Our agency works with 15-20 families at a time to try to keep the waiting time to a minimum, but there are no definites on the amount of time we could wait.

Other than the possibility of a long wait, everything else went really well during the call. I think we are both pleased with the agency that we have chosen. Our next big project is the family profile so I've started gathering pictures for that. We are going to have a professional family picture taken in August to use for part of the profile.

Last of the Vacation Pictures


Standing in the Capitol in the exact center of Washington DC. All of the roads from DC come from this point

Thursday night we walked by the White House and C put his foot on the lawn.

C's new friend Kathy from South Dakota


JFK's grave at Arlington

View of Arlington House from JFK's grave. Arlington House actually belonged to Robert E Lee's wife who was the Great-Granddaughter of Martha Washington (from her first husband)The union took the house from Lee due to a technicality during the Civil War. The Lee family never lived there again after the war.

Friday afternoon we went to Mount Vernon. We bought C a 3 cornered hat and he loved it. He wore it the rest of the day on Friday, all day Saturday and then on the way home Sunday.

Friday evening we rode a boat back into DC from Old Alexandira.


The kids & advisors did a service project on Saturday. This year they picked cucumbers

We lucked out and got in on a garden tour of the White House. It was pretty neat.


The back of the van on the way home

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Finally Meeting the Dinosaurs

On Wednesday C finally got to meet the "dinosaur skeletons" that he's talked about for months. He loved it. Honestly I wasn't all that excited about that particular museum, everything there was evolutionary which I just don't agree with. I guess the good thing was C can't read so he all he saw was a big monkey that had been stuffed and not the heading above it that called it our relative. After the Museum of Natural History we went to the Air and Space museum. I think I read or heard that this museum is the most visited and I would believe it. Every time I've been there it's been crowded. It is pretty neat because they have planes hanging from the wall. C spent some of his vacation money there on a space shuttle. Right now my favorite museum, American History, is closed for remodeling so I was a little disappointed when I found out. I did get a nice surprise because they put a few things in a section of the Air and Space museum so I did get to see a little bit. We saw Mary Todd Lincoln's Dress, Lewis & Clark's compass, Archie Bunker's chair, the signpost from MASH and the highlight for my side of the family - the mold that made the Lambie Cake molds.

Wednesday evening was the Night Tour of the monuments. The advisors had to dress up and the kids wore their official dress. We loaded up on tour buses and drove around to the different monuments. I've done a night tour before and it is one of my favorite things to do. We got to the Lincoln Memorial just as it was starting to get dark. That is such a neat sight. We tried to take pictures, but they just don't do it justice. The monuments we saw were: Iwo Jima, WWII, FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korea, Thomas Jefferson and ended at the Ulysses Grant memorial. Each night the kids had something called Reflections and their reflections took place on the steps of the Grant memorial facing the capital. It was an awesome sight.

These were at the WWII Memorial. The stars that C is standing in front of represent 100 lives lost. There were over 400,000 KIA. This number does not include MIA or those who died from their injuries. At each end of the memorial at the walkways they have Atlantic and Pacific inscribed on them. Underneath each end lists the major battles that took place in each ocean. There are pillars for each state and territory that was a part of the US during the war. The wreath on each one is oak leaves and wheat. The oak leaves represent industry and the wheat represents agriculture.

These are from the FDR memorial. His monument is right at the edge of the Potomac.

This is the Korean War Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Refelctions at the Ulysses S Grant Memorial

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gettysburg and DC

Last Tuesday morning we took a detour through Gettysburg on our way into DC. We didn't have much time there, only about 30 minutes, but at least we can say we've been there. Gettysburg looks like a neat town. You could tell that most of the homes were there during the war. It would be neat to spend sometime in their downtown area going through some of the shops that they had. I was able to avoid riding in the van on the 2 1/2 hour trip to Gettysburg by riding with Austin's parents in their car. Austin didn't ride out to NJ with us, but we had to take him on into DC. The van was packed with 8 kids and their luggage plus the three of us and our luggage. I enjoyed getting a short break from the van. Once we got to Gettysburg we weren't sure how to get to their visitors center so we eneded up driving around a lot of the battlefield. It was a huge area, larger than what I had thought it would be. After seeing all the hills we drove through on Sunday we had talked about what it would've been like to haul cannons up and down those hills. I can't even imagine. After Gettysburg we loaded up again and headed to DC. We made it to our hotel by about 2:00 that afternoon. That evening the advisors walked to the Iwo Jima memorial for a sunset parade. The Marines do this every Tuesday night during the summer. After the parade we ate at The Orleans house. All three of us had Prime Rib. The advisors are fed very well at WLC.


Sunset Parade

We're Home

We pulled into the school Sunday night about 10:30 p.m. We had left DC at 5:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. our time) so we drove about 18 hours in one day. The drive home really wasn't too bad. Jay and I split it up a little more than we did on the way out there. I'm going to try and post each day about something that we did and post a few pictures to go along with it. I won't try to do it all at once because it would be a long post. I will go ahead and tell you about the drive home though. I don't think I will ever forget what happened to us when we first got started Sunday morning. Jay drove for a couple of hours and then he wanted to switch. At that time we were in the Maryland/Virginia area which was extremely hilly and curvy. The place where we stopped for breakfast was way down in the mountains and the exit ramp seemed to be straight down the hill. The brakes on the van weren't the best and it didn't feel like it was slowing down much. Instead of pumping them like I should have, I just pushed on them as hard as I could. Once we got to the bottom of the hill the kids started waking up and every one was commenting on the smell. Jay was expecting to see a big truck with the brakes burnt up, but instead when we got out of the van smoke was rolling from our front tires. Our first stop ended up being a little longer than we had planned so the brakes could cool off. I was so scared we were going to be stuck in those hills for another day. We made it just fine, but every time I think about all that smoke I laugh. About an hour East of St Louis we finally figured out how to get my iPod to play over the radio so I got to play DJ until Lebanon when my battery finally gave out. The kids probably think I'm weird after hearing the different range of music on my iPod, everything from Elvis singing Here Comes Santa Claus to Led Zeppelin. I was surprised though that one girl did know who Dr Hook was. The iPod helped make the last leg of the trip a little easier.

Saturday, Sunday & Monday
Saturday morning (July 14) we got on the road by 6:30 that morning with 7 kids plus C in the van. We drove across Illinois, Indiana and almost across Ohio that first day. We were only about 40 miles from the Ohio/West Virginia border Saturday night. We thought we were in good shape becase we just had to cross a little sliver of West Virginia and then we'd be in Pennsylvania. We got up early Sunday morning and headed out, thinking we'd be at the beach that afternoon. If anyone has ever drove across Pennsylvania you're probably laughing at us right now. It took forever to drive across that sate. It took a lot more time than we had anticipated. I think what made it so bad was the fact we were on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was a boring strecth of highway. They have those concrete things going down the median and on the right shoulder so it felt like you were wedged in there, especially if you're in a 15 passenger van. We reached New Jersey much later than we had anticipated so we eneded up staying there Sunday night. I'll have to post beach pictures later because they're on a different camera, but we could see the outline of New York from where we were at. Monday morning we drove into New York, which was an experience. I pretty much hated New York. It was dirty and stinky and the subway scared me with C. I was a little on edge the whole time because I was afraid we were going to lose him. We didn't take the stroller, so we ended up carrying him a lot. We parked at Port Authority and got on the subway there and went to Times Square and Rockefeller Center and saw where the Today show is aired. Then we got back on the Subway and rode to the Yankees Stadium and looked at it. Then we rode the subway to another spot there and saw FAO Schwarz. It was a really neat toy store. C designed his own Hot Wheels car. He also picked out a couple of other toys and then picked out a stuffed dog for Avery. After that we split into two groups. Lynn and Becky (Jared's parents) took one group to see 5th Avenue. Jay and Chi Chi (Austin's parents) took us and the girls to Chinatown. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't what I had expected. It was like walking down a midway at a fair. There were vendors selling anything you could want. We did buy some I (heart) NY t-shirts there (7 for $10) which was extremely cheap. We also ate some Chinese food there that was really good. After that we met back with the other group and rode the Staten Island Ferry and got a good look at the Statue of Liberty. When we got off the ferry we walked to Wall Street and then down to site of the World Trade Center. It had a fence around it so we didn't get a good look at it. One thing that I did think about the whole time we were in NY and DC was what it must have been like the day of September 11, 2001. We heard sirens several times while in both places and I just can't even begin to imagine what it was like that day. The streets down by the Trade Center are narrow and with the buildings being so tall you feel a little trapped. We've all seen the images of people trying to run away when the buildings stated to collapse, but it was a totally different experience to see where it happened. It was such a scary day for those of us seeing it happen on TV, but to have actually been there would've been terrifying because you didn't know where a safe place would be. It gave me a different view of that day and how terrifying it was for those living in NY and DC. After seeing the Trade Center we hopped back on the subway and headed out of town. We stayed that evening at Austin's Aunt and Uncle's house in Pennsylvania. Thank you to Jay and Chi Chi for taking us around NY that day. If it weren't for them we never would've gone. It's not a place I would go without a tour guide, but I'm glad we had the opportunity to experience it.

Times Square

M&M's store in Times Square. They had every color of M&M you could imagine there

The group in front of where the Today show is aired

C designing his own Hot Wheel

Us in Chinatown

Pictures from the ferry ride

Wall Street

Trade Center

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Our Vacation Schedule

As you all know we are leaving for vacation on Saturday. Here is our tentative schedule so that you'll have an idea of where we are at. Remember to keep us in your prayers this next week. We will be driving for several hours over the next few days.
Leaving Saturday at 5:30 a.m. We will drive as far as possible on Saturday then stop for the night
Sunday morning we will head to Seaside Heights NJ where we will meet up with Austin's family
Sunday evening we'll stay with Austin's Aunt and Uncle
Monday morning we'll travel to New York City and tour all day
Tuesday morning we head into DC
Wednesday should be the day that C has waited on for months - the day he sees the dinosaurs
Thursday we meet with our state representative (the same one that came to the school last fall)
Friday we go to Arlington and Mount Vernon
Saturday we get to tour with the kids
Sunday we will head for home. We aren't sure if we'll stop somewhere on Sunday or just try to drive all day and make it home sometime early Monday morning. It will depend on C's mood

I'm hoping that I'll have internet access while we're gone so I can give you updates, so check back in next week!

The Packet is in the Mail!!!!

We got the last of our information mailed off today. It is such a relief to go on vacation and know that work is behind us. Today we mailed in:
Physicals with TB tests for all three of us
Personal Assessments
Spiritual Assessment
Monthly Financial Worksheet
Financial Statement
Guardianship Statement
Parental Discipline Policy
Medical Questionnaire
Openness Questionnaire
Family Picture

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our Bed & Breakfast Experience

I'm just now having time to update on our experience this past weekend. We have never stayed in a B&B before, so this was totally new for us. The house was here in the town where I work, so I didn't even have to go home Friday. We checked in about 5:30 and got a tour of the house. We were the only ones staying the weekend so we had the whole second floor to ourselves. The house was built in 1901 by a wealthy individual who started a company that is still in town today. It was a beautiful house that still is very sturdy considering how old it is. The couple running it have owned it for about two years. They were originally from Texas and came here on vacation and fell in love with the house. At breakfast on Saturday morning Don came in and talked to J and I for quite awhile. He was telling us all kinds of interesting stories about the house and other houses on this street. The street that this house is on is full of other Victorian homes. J and I got up early Saturday morning and took a walk so we could get a close up look at all the homes. Don is the kind of person that can tell stories very well, they weren't took long or short or so full of details that you lost track of what he was saying. He was very interesting. He and his wife were originally from Midland Texas, so he talked some about George Bush and politics. Luckily his and our views were the same. Another thing Don shared with us was that he had two adopted grandchildren. His daughter had adopted them through the foster care system. We told him that we were in the process of adoptiong and then he told us that his son is adopted. After breakfast I felt encouraged for the rest of the day. I can't really explain it, but I'm sure God led there this weekend. On Friday night we had gone to the Drive-In and saw Evan Almighty, which is a very good movie. At the beginning of the movie Evan kept seeing Gen 6:14 appearing in different places. On Saturday J said he felt like Evan, adoption keeps popping up.

Our room was called the Magnolia Room. It was the largest room and it had it's own large bathroom.

This window was right outside our door. It has a little window seat under it. Don told us that the previous owners had big heavy curtains over all the windows. When they came back to look at the house they asked Don if they had put that window in. They had no idea that window was even there because of the curtains. It was a beautiful window that didn't need to be covered up. It is still the original window from 1901.

This is the stairway looking down.

This is the hallway. You can see the stairs leading to the 3rd floor where Don and his wife live and there were steps going down to the kitchen. J did some exploring before we left Sunday and found an elevator in a back room across from these stariways.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Happy 1st Birthday

to my favorite niece!

It's hard to believe that Avery Lynn is one year old today. This past year has gone by so fast. Justin and Charity let me be in the room while Avery was being born. I'm thankful to them for allowing me to be a part of Avery's birth. It was a neat experience to see my first niece being born and it answered some lingering questions that I had from C's birth 4 years earlier....

Right after she was born and they put her on the warming table to check her out and Charity asked me how she looked. My mouth answered "She's beautiful" my mind was thinking "Oh my goodness, what is wrong with that baby's head?" When I got closer I saw the bruise and realized she had a large bump from the suction. Avery has such a pretty round head now, but a year ago I would've never guessed it would've been as cute as it is now. Besides her head changing (for the better) she's gone through some other changes lately. When she was first born she seemed to be easy going, but her independent attitude is really starting to show. I thought she might end of being more like me, (since I'm raising another Charity) but I think her Mommy's personality is starting to come through. Besides Avery having a birthday it also means that Justin and Charity have been parents for a year. I'm sure they are glad to be through the infant phase. By the looks of things at Avery's party Saturday night, they'll still have plenty of excitement around their house. Avery got a ride on toy and the first thing she did was stand up on it and look to see if anyone was going to tell her to get down. It looks like the testing of the waters has begun. Good luck guys, you're going to have a lot of fun in the next few years!

Avery tried her Lambie cake and didn't care much for the coconut. Grammy would make all her grandkids and great-grandkids a lambie cake for their first birthday. Aunt Helen helped Charity make the cake so the tradition could be carried on.

Avery finally tore into her birthday cake after she got over being mad at Mommy. Charity blew out Avery's candle because she was trying to touch it and Avery let us all know she wasn't happy about it.

Avery got a wagon from Justin and Charity and all the kids had to try it out. The other little girl is Justin's niece Kennedy. Avery is only about 2 week older than Kennedy.

The party's about over and the star of the show is looking pretty tired.

Charity - it was a nice party. You did a good job for her 1st birthday.