Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Travel Dates!!



In 17 days, we will be boarding the airplane to take us back to our daughter's country to prepare to bring her home forever! Two years from when Ben's pickup trip was :) Those 17 days are going to fly by with the holidays and preparations still left to complete.

The pickup trip is now 12 days long vs the 5 days that it was last time. The US now requires them to have TB tests done, but before that can be given, the passport has been be applied for and received. Then the TB test results have to come back before the visa can be completed, etc...

I am hoping to use this time in country to really get to know our daughter well, to begin to teach her to trust us and to start learning how to communicate, feed and meet her needs. We will be helping her through grieving leaving all she knows. I think she will grieve much more than Ben did just due to the type of home and relationships there that she has. She is as much a stranger to us as we are to her and it's going to be a huge adjustment. I'm hopeful all we learned through our experience bringing Ben home will be helpful.

We will be staying in an apartment this time to allow us more room to move about and give us the ability to cook our own meals, thus saving money hopefully. I don't anticipate the weather being very cooperative so being close to grocery shopping and having bigger accommodations will work much better for the days we have to kill time and are stuck inside.

During Skype this morning, Esther's face just lit right up when she saw her baby sister. I can not wait to get them together again, especially now that Ruth is big enough to play. I think Ruth is going to be a huge help with us connecting with her and helping to teach Esther new things.


So excited! 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Documentary about Adoption



This is a documentary about adoption from Bulgaria. It was made in 2008 but still interesting to watch.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Preparing to clothe her!

** I forgot to add a few pictures of activities into this post when I originally wrote it, so I just put them in now. A set of finger puppets for a busy bag and a couple quiet books.

Clothing Preparations!

**ETA** I typed this up a week ago and have since contacted the group home to get updated sizes. What they sent me would put her the same size as a typical 5yo which I do not see how that would be possible in only 4 months when she was so small on trip 1. I am waiting for new measurements now to compare to one of her siblings so we can double check what she fits. 

This was a fun one :) 

I was pregnant with Ruth when we started Esther's adoption. Before Ruth, our next youngest girl is 5 years older than her so we did not have hardly any girl clothes saved for our newest two. My big girls and I have had fun finding and putting together matching sister outfits for them since this may be our last chance to dress little girls. 

Our bio 5yo daughter is only 4 months older than Esther is but Bekah wears size 7 (8 in dresses for length) and Esther is only in size 3 (4 in dresses for length). Here are some of the clothes we have gathered for her. Most of these are mix and match sets with many combinations. Footed fleece Pjs, skirt/dresses with shirts and leggings to go with them. We were sorting through the clothes to figure out what to pack for the trip and what to leave home. 


Esther was only in size 26 European shoe, which converts to 8/12-9 US size, on trip 1 and they were too big for her. (To compare...Bekah is size 13 shoes!) 

I'm really hoping to get updated stats and sizes before pickup trip but I think bringing size 9 US shoes will fit her just fine. They tend to overdress in Europe and won't be happy if I don't bring enough layers to keep her warm to their liking. 

I'm still deciding between the outfit to dress her in to leave the group home and what to put her in when we fly home. 

Esther was in size 4 diapers and I think she will be in the same size on pickup because she is so thin and hips so narrow. By then Ruth may be in size 4s so I can just bring enough for them to share. I do not anticipate that they have potty trained her between the trips. 

Only items left to pick up is a hat, gloves, toothbrush and hair stuff. Her hair is thick and looks to be growing pretty well since they cut it so I'll need bows and pony tail holders to keep it out of her face. 

She will be one well-dressed little lady and I hope she likes what we picked out :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Food preparations...

From what I observed and what we were told by the caregivers during trip 1, Esther is not able to chew foods. She won't even attempt to put anything in her mouth that is solid (same as Ben was like-it's sad to watch their eyes when they are hungry but know they can't eat something). Something is going on in her mouth, most likely infected teeth and gums, just like Ben had, which I imagine is quite painful. That prevents her from eating solid foods. She may also have texture issues and preferences of what she does and doesn't like. Whatever is preventing her from being able to eat properly is a big part of the reason she is so tiny. Hopefully we will be able to quickly figure out what is going on and get her eating, healthy and growing again!


This is all we were able to watch her eat when we were there. It is yogurt mixed with pureed fruit. 


Ben survived his first month home on yogurt, oatmeal, pureed soup, applesauce, carnation instant breakfast and cottage cheese. I ground up graham crackers into his yogurt or crackers to thicken soups. I am planning meals and preparing for much the same kind of diet for Esther until we get a handle on things. Thankfully now there are fruit and veggie pouches that will offer more variety in taste and convenience at the same time. I don't know if she is able to drink out of a straw (Ben couldn't) but hopefully being able to squeeze it will allow her to eat on the go and she will learn quickly that there is food available whenever she is hungry.

For the trip, I am bringing food pouches, oatmeal packets and Carnation instant breakfast packets, most of which I will need for baby Ruth as well. I know the hotel restaurant offered yogurt and scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes and a variety of soups so she will not starve! I'm bringing baby food puffs but she wouldn't touch them on trip 1 so we will see if she is willing to try them. I imagine we will be using Ruth as our guinea pig for all new experiences so Esther will be more willing to copy her. I'm debating bringing a small travel blender but I think we won't have any problems with finding appropriate food for her so it most likely isn't necessary. On the airplane, I learned that soaking a muffin in a cup of milk will work in a pinch.

I'm working on gathering soup and stew recipes that are hearty and tasty but without strong flavors. I can make them ahead in December and freeze in serving sizes to pull out for easy meals once home.

~*~*~*~

Next up, clothing preparations!

Busy Bags!

Now that we have passed court, we are waiting for our judge to sign the court decree. Once that is done, our NGO can apply for a new birth certificate and then we will receive travel dates.

To celebrate yesterday, we went and got big sister's passport application submitted. That should arrive in 2-3 weeks and we'll be all set to travel. We had Skype today and I tried to tell Esther she is our daughter now and what her new name is but without a translator there, I know she understood none of that. It is a mixed blessing to get to Skype when she can't understand what you are saying and you can't touch them and interact like you can in person. It's always a guess on if she can see and hear you as well. So ready to have her home for good!

~*~*~*~


I've been working on gathering activities for Esther to do during the pickup trip...time spent in the car for the ride to the capital, in the hotel and then on the plane ride home. Esther likes to hold little things in her hand and she has some sensory needs she meets that way so I'm hoping some of these will be a comfort for her. There are two apps that I have been doing with her over Skype. They tell the name of the animal in Bulgarian and then the sound it makes. She enjoys that and I usually tell her the name in English as well. I am hoping the first two of these activities will carry over from that to help her learn.


This is what they hold:
  • Farm animals with pictures to match them to 
  • Zoo animals with pictures to match them to
  • Pretend leaves (she likes to twist the stems of real leaves in between her fingers)
  • Feather (ditto-to twist with her fingers or tickle with or learn colors, etc)
  • Lacing animal cards
  • Lacing beads & strings to make necklaces and patterns
  • Lauri puzzles
  • Bead necklaces (she loved these on the trip, both to wear or to hold in her hand)
  • Family pictures to learn everyone's names (I have to laminate these still)
  • Pipe cleaners (to make whatever with)
  • Play silks
  • Stickers and a small notebook to put them on
  • Lauri pegs
  • Color wonder



These haven't arrived but we'll also have a finger puppet busy bag with these in it: 

One final busy bag that I'm still working one will have different textures in it like crinkly paper, bubble wrap, plastic bag pieces, etc that she can hold in her hand.





The last of what I am bringing...
  • Violet Leap Frog Puppy programmed with her new name
  • A little music box...I bought and left one for her on trip 1. I don't know if she got to keep it and what she will be coming home with but it's another thing we have played with during Skype so it will be familiar. 
  • A rain stick
  • Nesting cups (she loved these on the trip)
  • An eye-spy bag with little objects inside to look for (doubles as a bean bag and a sensory toy)
  • Quiet books (we've owned these for a while an my little guys like them)



Not pictured:

  • Bubbles, playdoh, a ball, balloons, a baby doll, and a little toy computer
  • Big sister has regular crayons and coloring books to do with her
  • A straw activity kinda like this one for fine motor practice:



Last thing I'm looking to add to the pile is a weighted lap pad. 

Hopefully these will help pass the time until we arrive home. Of course there is also her big sister and baby sister (plus her toys) to play with which should be limitless fun :)

Feels good to finally be preparing to bring her home!

~*~*~*~

Next up...food preparations!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Introducing....

Rejoice with us!!!

In a courtroom in Bulgaria today, 
we were officially named the parents of:


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Book Auction Total and other updates

We raised $2500 in our second Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction!! 
$5500 between both of them!

As long as there are no unexpected expenses, once all the auction payments come in, we are now FULLY FUNDED for Esther's adoption!!

We are working on getting the last of the packages into the mail and getting our house back into some semblance of order. Then we can start getting the rooms ready and thinking about packing!!


Days left until court!! 
10 days until I can tell Esther she is officially our daughter <3




Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We have a court date!!

November 24th at 9:30am! 

19 days...let the countdown begin :)

A year to the day that I asked my husband if we could adopt her!

2 years and 4 days after Ben's court date :)

A lot to be thankful for this year, as always...we have been very blessed in so many ways!




NEWS!!

I just might have cried tears of relief in the store yesterday when we got the email that our dossier was finally at court after 8 weeks of waiting after being submitted to the MOJ!

Praise the Lord!

Now, we are waiting to be assigned to a judge and then for our court date to be scheduled.

Still most likely looking at January travel.

After missing last week's Skype session (maybe due to the time change, they decided to skip it all together?), we were able to talk yesterday. It was wonderful to see Esther's smile for the brief moment the video was clear enough to see her. We can not wait to get her home! It is so hard to talk over Skype without a translator. I just want to hold her.


She was smiling at baby Ruth. 
She looks very bundled up as I know it has gotten quite cold there. 
I hope I am bringing warm enough clothes to meet their approval to take her home in!

Please keep praying for a smooth rest of the process and for Esther's heart to be prepared to join our family. Pray as we prepare our home and children for yet another change when Esther joins our family. 


Sunday, November 2, 2014

There is a little boy....

There is a little boy...
On the other side of the world, waiting for his family.


This little boy will always hold a special place in our hearts due to our connection with him. 

This is a hard post to write and share as we wanted more than anything for him to be our son. We are not the family God has chosen for him and so we are praying & hoping to help his family find him.


This little boy has a lot stacked against him...

* He is a boy
* He is already 6 1/2 years old
* He has spent his whole life in an orphanage, without a family
* His special needs will require a lot of your time, attention and patience
* He most likely will require therapy and/or medication to help him control his behavior
* He has delays, as expected due to his background
* He has strabismus and wears glasses
* He has no future where he is at



But he has so much more to offer...

* He has the greatest smile
* He is healthy, strong and growing well
* He is creative
* He is all-boy with lots of energy
* He can talk
* He has a great laugh
* He is capable of learning
* He is fast
* He can run, jump, climb
* He loves music
* He loves electronics
* He can be loving
* He does respond well to firm boundaries
* He is perfectly created in God's image
* He is a child of God and loved
* The right family will be blessed to call him their son

Will you help us find his family?

I have lots of pictures and videos to share with his future family as well as our observations of the time we spent with him in July.

Currently, WACAP has his file if you are interested in inquiring about adopting him. He is listed on RainbowKids, though some of the info there is not correct.

November is National Adoption Month and today is Orphan Sunday

November is National Adoption Month 
and today is Orphan Sunday







Two years ago, this month, Benjamin became our son, no longer an orphan. 

Praying we get news about court soon so we can welcome 
our daughter, Esther, officially into our family!

Please keep her in your prayers <3


Friday, October 31, 2014

One Week Left!

Only one week left to get your bids posted for the books you are wanting to win!

Auction ends at 11:59 PM, EST on November 7th!

Don't wait until the last minute...


*********

We are still waiting for news about MOJ sig or court date or our unspoken request. 
Trying hard to be patient :)


Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Auction Is Live!!


We have seriously around 1000 books just in this second auction. Amazing how God has provided through the generosity of others!

Go take a look-we really do have something for everyone! Educational books, ballerinas, horse, Christmas, New & Signed, New York Times Bestsellers, board books, picture books, readers, chapter books, history, gardening, classics, character building, science, animals, art and music, parenting and inspirational.....the list goes on. You need to see it for yourself :-)

Bidding ends at 11:59 PM EST on November 7th so you have plenty of time to browse and place your bids. Outbid notifications are not working when others post but do when I do. I plan on commenting on every picture as the auction gets close to the end. That will allow you to defend your bids if you have been outbid but didn't realize it!

Happy shopping and thank you so much for helping to bring Esther home!!




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Updates-Books-Prayer Requests and No News...

I haven't blogged in a week because there isn't any news to report yet. Yesterday we got a message from our caseworker saying that we are still waiting for a signature from the MOJ and that we *should* be in the next pile that gets signed. We have heard that before so I'm not sure how excited to be about the possibility or when it might happen. Soon, and in God's timing, we know and believe and are resting in that!

Tomorrow will be three months since I said goodbye to Esther. It has gone by fast but feels longer since we have no idea when she will be home. I've resigned to the likelihood that it won't be until January again. I've been pretty patient and okay with the wait until just recently. I think seeing so many who traveled the same time or even after we did, receive court and travel dates for pickup has made it harder. I miss her and love her and can't wait to have her here with her siblings and to get to know her as our daughter. It helps to see her on Skype, even though she is very blurry. When another person is there with her, she is quite chatty and I love hearing her voice!



We are slowly preparing for bringing Esther home. We moved all the girls into our master bedroom to give them more space. It is working out very well so far. We still have lots of details to finish up, painting to do and other things to tie it all together but I think we have plenty of time left to do that so there is no rush.

We took a day off to visit the children's museum. A much needed break from the daily grind!


He found all the letters and put them in the right order himself!



I will be getting Benjamin's FINAL PPR scheduled soon! Looking forward to being done with those, only to start all over again, haha :)

Ben is doing very well. He is starting to outgrow his size 5 pants! He is still shorter than his 5 and 7yo sisters, despite turning 8 next month, but he is growing. He loves helicopters, airplanes, singing and birthday parties. He is learning very quickly and enjoys school. He loves to talk but we are still working on conversational speaking, and being quiet when necessary, lol. Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of regression and testing boundaries since he started school. We expected some of that with the change of routine and being away from home and family and everything/one he knew but not to this extent. We thought with time things would settle down and improve. He is very social and happy and isn't fearful of school at all. He has a great teacher and is the perfect class and arrangement, with OT and speech therapy weekly. Not much learning can happen if he isn't cooperative, though. Many kids who come from an orphanage background tend to have a hard time respecting and trusting other authority figures. A lot of it is attachment related and so we are trying to figure out what is the best for him right now to give him what he needs. We aren't quite sure how to help him understand that the rules at home are the same as they are at school.

Adoption is NOT for the faint of heart, both before and after they come home! Definitely a refining and character building process for myself!

~*~*~*~


We are gearing up for our FINAL BIG Bountiful Blessings & Books auction!! This one is looking to be even bigger than the last one, though not as many signed books. The books are coming from some very generous people and I'm just amazed at God's provision. 

Bidding starts on Friday, October 24th and ENDS at 11:59 EST November 7th. 

Due to the size of this fundraiser, it was impossible to put it all on our blog in an easy to manage way. This second auction will be located on the same FB page as the last one. Please be sure to "LIKE" the page and share the link. We have books for everyone!


Funds raised above and beyond what we need for our adoption expenses will be shared with other adoptive families bringing children home from the same country. 

~*~*~*~

So that is all I have as far as an update. Please keep praying for our precious Esther, that we will get news soon. For her health and safety, that her heart will be prepared to join our family. Also, please keep praying for our unspoken prayer requests. We are trusting in the outcome and God's perfect plan in those situations above everything that makes sense from a logical standpoint or even our own desires. Thank you!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Waiting...

2 1/2 months since I said goodbye to Esther.

We are waiting for news about the next step in our adoption (MOJ sig and then court). There is no consistent timeline for this step but I'm preparing that we won't be traveling for pickup until January. I remember well how hard it was to wait during this phase of Ben's adoption. It isn't any easier now, I miss Esther and want her home...but I have a peace and a patience while we wait, I just don't know where it is coming from! I know she will be home soon and this time will be a distant memory. It does help to see her weekly on Skype, though it is getting harder to come up with things to do during each session to hold her interest. I just want to hold her, rock her, care for her and get to know her in person.

We are keeping very busy finishing up the final fundraisers we had planned. Gearing up for round two of our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction which we hope to start on October 24th!

We are praying for clear answers to an unspoken prayer request.  For this to be possible, it would take a miracle, which we know God can do IF it is His will. Sorry for being vague, but I can not share details now. We would appreciate prayers!

We decided to put the girls into our master bedroom so that took quite a bit of time rearranging this past week. Now I can finalize getting Esther's bed ready and clothes in the closet. Maybe it will feel real that she really is coming home once that is done. :)



Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Auction Total

The grand total raised through our book auction was:

$2,970!!

Isn't that amazing?

I can't thank everyone enough for their book donations, sharing and bids...
We could not have done it without you <3

We are knee deep in getting them all packaged up to send out. It took 7 hours to sort them alone. Then add in entering everything into Excel, packaging, weighing and then printing shipping labels. There are 120 different packages being mailed out!

All I can say is...

She is worth it!


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Auction ends tomorrow!

Our book auction ends tomorrow!!

If you haven't had a chance yet, take a peek-something for everyone!

Already placed your bids? Check to be sure you weren't outbid!



Auction ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, October 3rd!



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Auction is Live!!

Our Bountiful Blessings & Books auction got started a little early today due to some excited early bidders! That's ok :) There was no reason to wait until tomorrow except for the fact that the pictures are all a bit disorganized. I'm working on sorting them into categories and genres and then will be posting the quick links here on the blog.

Our first book auction will be on FB. It ends at 11:59 EST on October 3.

Here is the direct link to the album:



Go take a look at the over 500 books available!!


ALSO...

In a few weeks, we will be hosting a second book auction on our Raising The Ransom blog. I'm working on getting that set up now. We are doing two separate auctions so that those who are not on FB will still be able to participate and bid on some great books to help bring Esther home! 

Thank you all for your help, donations and prayers! 

<3 <3 <3

BTW...mini adoption update...we heard yesterday that we are not in the group that is expected to receive their MOJ sig next week. Praying it may be the week after but trusting in God's timing with each step. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Less than a week to go and Mini Update


Less than a week until our Bountiful Blessings & Books Auction starts!!

I will be posting the link here on our blog a few days before it starts so you can start looking at all the great books we have available to bid on.

As a reminder, the first big book auction will take place on Facebook starting next Friday, September 26th. Later in October, we will be having a second book auction here on our blog with the books leftover from the first one, plus signed duplicates I have put aside and any books that do not arrive in time for the first auction.

We have over 100 new signed-by-the-author books as well as some great NEW curriculum donated by the companies, all generously donated to help bring Esther home <3. Lots of used and new books, there is something for everyone. Over 400 books in our auction so far. Almost to our goal of 500 and halfway to our huge goal of 1000 books. Less than $2k left to be fully funded for our minimum expense estimate for the whole adoption.

Our Bring Them Home Auction did well-we raised almost $400 through that! Thank you so much for your bids and help to get us closer!

In two more days, it will be two months since I said goodbye to Esther. I miss her very much. So ready to have her home and be done with adoption stuff, to just live life and be a family. We weren't able to Skype this week due to the weather and I didn't realize how much I look forward to seeing and talking with her until we didn't get to. My children have been helping to come up with creative ideas to do during the sessions to keep them interesting and help her get to know her new family.

Currently, we are waiting for a signature from the Ministry of Justice in our daughter's country.We received our Article 5 on Aug 27th, it was picked up on Sept 2nd and then resubmitted to the MOJ to await signature the week of Sept 7th. Once we have that signature of approval, our paperwork will be sent to court, our case assigned to a judge and then we will be assigned a court date. I'm hopeful that will happen very quickly but truthfully, I have no idea what our timeline will look like.

PLEASE pray for our precious girl!