Tuesday, August 30, 2011

22 Days...

If all goes according as planned we will be meeting Sterling in 22 days...WOW...it is a little surreal and even just typing it I get teary.

My school is an Arts Integration school. We've had trainings and workshops since we opened up on how to integrate the arts into our classrooms. One of the activities we do we call "Pictures Alive." Essentially, we have a giant picture frame (just the wooden frame!) and we ask a student to, for lack of a better phrase, strike a pose based on whom we want them to be. For example, if we are studying George Washington we might ask them to consider what Washington may have been looking/acting like during say, the crossing of the Delaware. They hold up the picture frame and take their pose, but they have to be able to defend the pose as well. Once they have this tableau (frozen picture) perfected, we ask them to come alive. To do so, they step through the picture frame and...VOILA...they become the person. From there they must ACT like the person, stay in character, be able to answer questions, etc...On the way home from work today I realized that this is what is happening to me.

For us, Sterling HAS ALWAYS BEEN JUST A PICTURE. In 22 days - he is going to step through that picture frame and become our little boy. Attached to that are a lot of emotions on my part: excitement, fear, stress, worry, and what I have dubbed "fear-citement." It's an emotion I have never felt before. It fills me with joy and sheer panic at the same time. I'm sure anyone who has adopted or given birth knows the feeling. It is undefinable. If you know me, you know I am NOT a cryer...but I find myself on the verge of tears all the time now. It's interesting and scary all at the same time. It's "fear-citement!"

So, for those of you who didn't stop to count it out on a calendar, our appointment is Monday, September 19th at noon. That means we will be leaving for Eastern Europe sometime the week before. We have to chat with each other, talk to Eldon and look at some stuff on our own before we decide exactly which day to leave. I've had two amazing friends offer to let us stay with them in England for a day or two (thanks Sarah and Tracey!) if we would like. Again, this is all stuff we need to sit down and work out - quickly.

For those of you who pray, please continue to do so. Pray for safe travels. Pray that our meetings go well. Pray that Sterling's heart is opened to us. Pray for peace of mind for us and for strength for us and our families.

We have fallen in love with a little boy in a picture. We can't wait for him to step out of that picture and be ours forever!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sub-Mission Accomplished!!!

We were submitted today!!! For my friends unfamiliar with the international adoption process, this means that our dossier was translated and turned into the governing body that handles adoptions in Sterling's country. WE COULDN'T BE MORE EXCITED....or could we...??? OH YES WE CAN!!! We also found out today that, thanks to a very GENEROUS and AMAZING benefactor, we are fully funded! Sterling's benefactor, who will go unnamed, donated the rest of the costs needed to bring us up to the "fully funded" mark. THANK YOU MR./MRS. BENEFACTOR for helping us to bring our little boy home!!!! As two teachers, we honestly couldn't have done it without you.

So, what does this mean? It means that we will be traveling in about one month! So, we have ONLY one month to get everything together...pack our bags, get our affairs in order, find someone to house/dogsit (PAUL!!!!!!?????), print lots of paperwork to take with, book our flights, oh and TEACH.

On that note, we both had Meet Your Teacher tonight. I think I have the BEST class ever. I had a great time meeting my kids and their parents and I can tell we are going to have a great year. I actually am already sad I will be leaving them for 6 weeks, but I know Sterling is worth it.

If you were planning on donating and were waiting until we got our travel dates...please consider donating to other Reece's Rainbow families. The Taylor Family, the Whiteaker Family, and the Woods Family could all still benefit from donations. Not to mention ALL other RR families. We are very blessed and feel as if God has really made this road possible for us...we have done in 3 short months what takes other families 5 or 6 months.

Please continue to pray for our travel (if you know me, you know my one phobia is flying), for the health and safety of Sterling, and for all RR families in this process now. It is NOT an easy road...but these families are working hard to change the world one orphan at a time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Off To The Races

Our dossier is off!!!! Currently in the air somewhere over Europe and should be landing in the next few hours. HOORAY!!!

For those not familiar with the adoption path this means everything on our end is DONE!!! Thank goodness...I'm so over the paperchasing...

So, our dossier will be delivered on Monday and *hopefully* submitted next Thursday (that's a long shot but we can dream...and pray). If not next Thursday probably for sure the NEXT Thursday (which BTW is Brian's Birthday!) Once we are submitted to the government from which we are adopting we wait about 2 weeks before getting our SDA Appointment Day...which tells us when we can travel...YAY!

We should be travelling by Mid-September (BEST CASE SCENARIO) or Late September (Most Likely). Either way we will most likely be meeting our son before October rolls around!

We are still about $2000 short of being fully funded and would love to make that before we travel. So, keep praying! God has been so AWESOME in His guiding us with this decision. There is no doubt that this is His will. We have the possibility of being over there about 4 months from when we committed. This is AMAZING!!!!

Praise God!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Little Man!!

Today our little man is 5 years old!

While most 5 year olds prepare for kindergarten, play with their friends and look forward to their birthday - our 5 year old sits in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. He has no family to celebrate with, no presents to open, no candles to blow out...it's quite sad.  But on a happy note, this is the last birthday Sterling will EVER spend in an orphange! And that makes us smile!

Our ENTIRE dossier is COMPLETE!!!! I'm so happy this happened by Sterling's birthday. Our dossier is off in Tallahassee getting apostilled...as soon as it gets back it will be shipped to Eastern Europe and approximately 5 or so weeks after that we should be travelling!

We are still short of funds and will have to borrow against Brian's retirement in order to travel if we dont manage to raise the $2500 or so dollars we need. THAT'S IT!!! That is all that's left. (A few weeks ago it was $1300 - but we had forgotten about the USCIS fees, apostilling fees and shipping fees - YIKES!)

If Sterling were here having a birthday party today, would you come??? Would you bring a present?? If so, PLEASE consider donating the amount you would spend on a present to Sterling's FSP. Coming home to a family is the greatest present he could ever receive - HELP US celebrate his birthday by helping us to bring him home!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


What is the significance of this number you ask? It is the distance (in miles) that I am currently from my son.
He is without family in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. He is considered a second class citizen and to some, nothing more than something that should be thrown away and forgotten.

But to us, he is life. We could not be more excited to be adopting Sterling than we are now. We are more than thrilled to be bringing him home with us.

Let me fill you in on the paperchase...it ended today. At approximately 12:35 I called USCIS to inquire as to the whereabouts of our I171H. You see, our officer (who was AWESOME btw), had promised to email me a copy by Wednesday. Well, Wednesday came and went and no Golden Ticket. So,I called today. SO GLAD I DID. She emailed it Monday...to the wrong email address...I wish I would've called sooner but EVERYTHING happens for a reason. So today after speaking with her, our coveted Golden Ticket arrived in my inbox. It was a beautiful moment. But also, it was quite nerve wrenching.

It's an experience, I think, can only relate to adopting parents (internationally at that!). I have been working on this stack of paperwork (the paper pregnancy) and finally it is finished. Every last piece is in place and every last notary is there...yet I feel no peace.  I am still frought with nervousness. As soon as it arrived I texted Brian that I needed him home to sign our notary page so we could send it off to be apostilled. And then I noticed the error. Brian's name was only spelled with one L. Some of you are giggling about now...there's no L in Brian you say...but there is an L in Brian's middle name...Phillip. But, here is the tricky part...some of Brian's legal documents have one L and some have 2. I emailed our stateside helper and she says go with it. But, just to be safe I emailed our Eastern European helper too...no response...I also emailed our USCIS officer and asked her to change it to match Brian's passport...also no answer.   We decided to send what we had and we prayed for the best.

Off we went to We've Got Mail and More, our local packing store (Lisa has been great!) And, we get everything packed and ready to ship to Tallahassee, FL. Here our entire dossier will be apostilled (the Secretary of State will check every notary page and be sure it has been signed and stamped by a legitimate notary and will send a whole page approval for each). We get this all done and walk out the door and <ding> my phone email goes off. It is the correct spelling of Brian's name on the Golden Ticket. We walked back in and asked Lisa to take the envelope apart, print the new form, and repack it. She is more than willing to help. We agree immediately that this is a sign from God and we are thrilled.

So, the dossier is off. It should arrive tomorrow before 11am EST. We are hoping that it is apostilled and returned to us by Tuesday - when we can send it straightaway to Europe for translation and submission to Sterling's government. At this point, we are assured of NO travel dates. However, we are ASSUMING that our travel dates will commence around the end of September or the very beginning of October.

We are more than thrilled. In just 2 months we will be travelling, and within 3 months our little boy will be HOME - with us! We are so excited!!!!

As we near the end of our journey we have some things we would like you to consider:

1) If you haven't made a donation yet to Sterling's FSP please do so. This money will help us travel to Eastern Europe, adopt our son, and most importantly, help us bring him home!!!! You can donate here: http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorhinz
2) Please PRAY. For those travelling now (Debbie's family, Jenny and Eric Monier and the Earlywines) that they may have safe travels and productive visits. That their children will come to understand them and that the Lord will bless them with peace of mind and fill love in all their hearts and also the He will facilitate the adoptions in a positive and productive manner.
3) Please PRAY for OUR process and our travels. That they will continue to move smoothly and without barrier. That God will help us to follow His ways and walk in His footpaths as we continue on this journey. That Sterling will remain safe and healthy and that we (and our paperwork) may have safe travels.

If you have been hesitant about donating or have been waiting until you are SURE that this is for REAL, NOW IS YOUR TIME. As soon as our dossier returns from Tallahassee we will be mailing it off to Europe. From that point we should be TRAVELLING within 4-5 weeks. Wouldn't you love to know that you helped us make our dream become a reality?!?!?! Please help us bring our little boy home!!! We are MORE THAN READY to become a FAMILY!!! If not for us, PLEASE consider helping him...Sterling will turn 5 on Monday and helping us to bring him home will the BEST birthday present he EVER RECEIVES!