Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What a handsome boy!

Isn't this just a super handsome little guy? This was the Christmas card picture for this year. Notice the wrap and bandaid on his hand? Poor guy had to get 9 stitches in his ring finger after getting it stuck in a locker. After 4 hours in the emergency room mommy, daddy, and Oscar were beyond exhausted. It was a long night.
The finger is almost healed now about 3 weeks later and looking good. Still a Toy Story bandaid on it, but doing much better.
This week has been filled with dinners and lunches with friends and Christmas will be spent with family.
Next week we are off to Disney World. Definitely not the smartest thing when you are trying to save for an adoption, but we had to use up air miles and we are staying at a Marriott hotel to earn points and we should also get two free nights for when we are in Russia. We will be up to 5-6 free nights. Hopefully that will cover the nights in Moscow! For those of you that have not been to Moscow, trust me when I say a night at a Marriott in Orlando, FL is about 1/5 the cost of a night in Moscow. The big expense of the trip will be the park tickets which I found a small discount on, but not much. We will have 3 days to spend in the parks and hopefully Oscar will not be afraid of the rides! He can't wait to see where Woody lives!
On the "baby sister" front, we are still waiting and hoping!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hoping this is the one!

So we got a picture, a little medical info and personal info on this referral. So far everything looks good. She is just adorable. We will not be able to meet her until the end of January though so we have a wait ahead of us. In the end after losing a referral the day before departure I guess the wait doesn't really matter. Things could go wrong even if we were told we could travel in a week. We will just hope that this is the one and take one day at a time.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Here's to hoping - Round 2

So yesterday we got the call about a little girl that comes off the registry in January. We are expecting to get more info this weekend. Here is to hoping things work out this time! I will post more when I know more!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Scratch that!

Well at about 10:30 today we were told that the birth mother had submitted a letter stating she did want an American family to adopt her child. So we are no longer on our way to Russia tomorrow. From the info we got it sounds like someone drafted the letter for the birth mother and got her to sign it.
Now I know that it is something that Joe and I should be very sad and angry about. The thing is all I feel bad about is this poor little girl. Our agency said that now she will have to sit in the orphanage for at least 6 months before ANYONE can adopt her since the birth mother submitted a letter. Whether it is an American or a Russian family it doesn't matter to me. I just wanted her to have a home! It is just so very sad!
Before Oscar came home we lost our referral to a Russian family. Although I was very sad and upset I at least knew that he had a family. I could hope that he was healthy and happy. This scenario just doesn't give me any piece of mind!
Our agency said that they would work very hard to send us as soon as possible since we have every document updated and as we all know, they are only good for 3 months. Honestly, I am nearly certain we will be redoing them all. I do still have faith though that it will happen, this just wasn't meant to be.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So we actually got medical info today!!! Yippee!!! The miracle is that the info was good. We talked with two different doctors and everyone is optimistic. Now we just hope that when we get there on Monday she is still there waiting for us!
Four more days and we are off to Moscow!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Visas being processed and...

Steffen schedule 10 days prior to departure:

Thursday - Lisa fingerprinted for IL police clearance
Friday - Completed CPA assets form, received our employment letters, and psych letter/license
Saturday - chest x-rays and blood work
Sunday - packed and made lists
Monday - processed visa, Joe got fingerprinted for IL police clearance, called to get our police clearances notarized, emailed home study dossier docs to social worker
Tuesday - Get Oscar's medical info
Wednesday - Oscar has an eye surgery (yes-surgery was scheduled 2 months ago)
Thursday - Social worker is coming out on Thursday to do Oscar's post placement and hopefully bring us home study documents for our dossier. That night we have our medicals.
Friday - Joe is going downtown to get documents apostilled. Visas should arrive.
Saturday - We are on a plane to Russia.

Thought I should make a list of all the insanity!!!! Just trying to keep it all straight. Through all of this we have been calling constantly to see if our agency got any more info on our referral. Today we found out that they spoke with the coordinator and she spoke with people at the orphanage that she was "really good." At this point we are just going on a good gut feeling, knocking on lots of wood, and hoping for the best. We sat with Oscar on Sunday and watched the videos that we took of our first visit with him and looked at the info we received about him. The info told us nothing about him other than that he was small. I guess we just figure that the information they most likely would have sent us wouldn't have been enough to keep us home. Wish us luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Booked and crossing fingers and toes

So I booked our flight and hotel tonight. We have 24 hours to make any changes if needed, but I just couldn't watch the prices go up anymore! Still waiting on medical info.
The one thing I am looking for suggestions on is doing a tour in Moscow. We will have the day on Thursday to sight see. We really saw very little of Moscow when we adopted Oscar. Our translator walked us through Red Square but that was it. We would like to go on a tour of the Kremlin if possible. I was wondering if anyone had a company and/or website that they would recommend. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Adjectives now

So thanks to another blogger I found our referral on the Russian database. Since all we have is a picture it was nice to find her there. It was the same picture, but we also now have two adjectives: active and capricious. Based on those two words I think she may be a hand full. It will be interesting to see how accurate this description is.
Our agency is hoping to get a medical by the end of this week. Here's to hoping. Ticket prices went up $120 from yesterday to today!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Woody for Halloween

Oscar wanted to add a picture to the blog. Of course the picture is of Woody! We had a great Halloween.
Now we are busy getting ready for the trip and trying to spend lots of time with Oscar. If things go well, he will no longer have mommy and daddy all to himself.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Not possible

So today we got travel dates for November 20th-25th. The problem is we won't get any medical information until the 16th. That makes it impossible to get visas and tickets. Our agency is working on getting more info because they don't want us to get visas without any medical info. Hopefully they will figure something out! I love the idea of traveling over Thanksgiving though! Saves some of my vacation days for when the baby is home! We shall see if it all works out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

No news yet

So found out today that the family traveling to our region ended up at a different orphanage than our referral so no info was gathered for us. So now we wait again. The good news is that our agency is still hopeful we will travel at the end of November. The bad news is we still have no medical info. No matter how I look at it, that is just not good. A picture can only tell you so much.
So now we wait but know that we will hear lots of good or bad info in the next month. Since our court date for our son was given to us on October 30th (after a 6 month wait) and our court date was November 19th I am going to be optimistic and figure that October and November are just "good adoption news" months for us!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two Weeks Gone...

So we were hoping to hear something this week regarding medical info but no news yet. We are going to just do some education classes this weekend to work on our home study update. Hopefully we will hear something next week! Keeping our fingers and toes crossed!!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Two weeks

So after MAJOR frustrations with our social worker I was talked off the ledge by our agency director. She is just so kind and totally took control by calling the social worker herself to discuss her issues with our change in age request and quick referral. If you really want the details I will email it, but not worth posting on our blog.
The good news is that I got to speak to our agency director instead of playing phone tag and get a little more info about this little girl. It looks like another family is traveling to our region in two weeks and we are hoping the coordinator will be able to get us medical info and maybe some pics on this trip. Of course there is no guarantee, but at least we have a specific time frame for possible information.
So the week of the 18th we hope to get some good news!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Looks like November for now

So it looks like this little girl (still afraid to call her "our" little girl). Will be coming off of the registry in November instead of October. We won't get any medical info on her for awhile (still want to know what "awhile" is) but we will get it before we are given travel dates. We are hoping the medical looks good and we will be in Vologda at the end of November.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Should I be excited?

So it looks like we are going to get a referral for one of the little girls that was a possibility in early September! After we said we were open to a 2 1/2 year old I just had a funny feeling that was the path we would be going down.
After two weeks of waiting to see what would happen I couldn't wait anymore and called our agency. Our director said they were able to "get us in line." I asked, "what does that mean?" and she said they were able to "get us registered in order to pursue the referral of the 2 1/2 year old." It was very surreal because she didn't seem excited and stated this very matter of factly. I finally asked, "should I be excited?" and she said, "don't get too excited!" Don't you just love international adoption! I explained to her again that we had adopted once before and gone through losing a referral so we understood that the floor could be pulled out from under us at anytime. I then asked again, "now should I be excited?" She laughed and said okay, yes, you should be excited. At this time all we have is a picture and birth month and year. We will be getting medical info any day. She is so adorable and looks so much like Joe. She comes off of the registry in mid-October so we could be traveling as soon as the end of October.
I am definitely freaking out! We really believed we wouldn't be going anywhere until next summer. We recognize we are so incredibly lucky and have soooo much to do. Now we just hope that 1. we get to travel soon 2. the US-Russia agreement is signed SOON and 3. our process ends quickly. After seeing the gut wrenching waits that so many bloggers are going through and going through our six month wait for a court date with Oscar I just hope that we are lucky!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


We got our I600A approval letter on Saturday. Now we are officially in the "waiting with nothing to do" stage. I figure we should enjoy it while it lasts because once December hits we will be redoing medicals, clearances, and lots of other documents I'm sure.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maybe, But Probably Not

Our agency is working to try to let us move forward with these referrals but it looks like it won't happen. Honestly, since we were planning on next May or June I'm totally fine with this. We could use more time to save money! Also we have a wedding in Colorado this fall and a family trip to Disney planned for December. Adding Russia into all of this would be great of course, but we don't mind waiting. With Oscar's adoption I never would have said we don't mind waiting and I'm sure I won't be saying that once the long, cold winter sets in! But for now, we wait and we enjoy our plans for the fall and December and hope for referrals for those that have been waiting much longer than us!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hold that thought!

It looks like these referrals may be a false alarm. Lots of miscommunication and/or misunderstandings between Russia and our agency. Our agency got a hold of some people today but not everybody to try to figure out our registration in the region and where we stand with these potential referrals. Of course it is a three day weekend so we get to sit and wait and wonder. Thank god I did not have the pictures sent to us!!!! I will update next week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What? What? What?

So I planned to post tonight just to report that Joe and I got our USCIS fingerprints done which marks the end of the first round of paperwork.
Then as I was leaving work I saw I had a voicemail. It was our agency. I called them back to find out we have two, yes two, potential referrals. What? What? What? It is September 2nd and we were told we should not expect a referral before next summer.
Nothing is really happening yet because they have to check our registration in the region because it doesn't look like it was not completed in June as they thought. They can't give us any medical info until we are officially registered. Our director said she has pictures and can send them but I said absolutely not!!! I am the type of person that can't walk into an animal shelter without bringing a puppy home. How on earth would I be able to say no to children if I can't say no to a dog!
Joe and I decided that if our registration is going okay then we want to get medical information about the girls before they send pictures. We don't think it would be smart to have a picture of these children for several weeks before we can get any medical info. Why get attached to a picture that may not come home with us if we can avoid it?
My biggest concern is that there are two. We do not have the funds to adopt 2 children so I think this will be difficult. I'm trying not to think about it too much because a lot of things could happen and this could all fall apart. At this point I'll just wait by the phone and go with my gut, just like we did with Oscar.
I still can't believe it is September 2nd and I got the call today. Crazy!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Poor Bubba

So we found out today that our Bubba most likely has cancer. They can't diagnose it for sure unless we do a surgery to remove the mass in his lung. The doctor said at his age (11) the surgery would only give him a few more months so we are not going to do it. We are looking at 3-4 more months with our Bubba.
Just to say a few things about this dog is very difficult. He represents nearly everything that Joe and I have done together. He was our very first baby and the best dog ever. Of course he was a little psychotic here and there, but that just made us love him more! It is strange how being posed with such a horrible loss I realized last night how incredibly blessed I have been! I have an amazing husband and an incredible son and we have been able to love 3 great dogs too! We may have gone through tough times with infertility but that just seems so insignificant now. Here we wait for our poor Bubba to leave us yet also for our beautiful daughter to join us. I guess that is why they say life works in mysterious ways. I would have loved to have had a picture with Bubba and all of our children, but we just don't always get what we hope for and I know I need to be thankful for all the amazing things I have right now.
Sorry this post rambled, but it has been a very tough week and focus is not my best skill these days.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

USCIS fingerprint appointment

September 2nd is the next big day in our long adoption wait. We got an updated home study this past week from our new home study agency too. Quite the hassle this time around, but it is done! After this appointment I think our adoption process will be very quiet for several months. I'm guessing we will get our 171-H in a few months after the fingerprints but other than that we won't have much going on. I guess I should be thankful that we won't hit the update everything faze for about six more months. Then the scramble will begin again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I 600A Received by USCIS

Got a letter yesterday from homeland security stating that our I600A app was received. Now we just need to get the fingerprint appointment.
Never in my life did I think we would get mail from the department of homeland security, the FBI, and the white house. In some ways it makes me feel like my kids are so damn important the government has to celebrate their arrival with us. :) Oscar actually got his citizenship certificate on inauguration day last year. We were watching all the inauguration coverage I went to get the mail to find a huge white envelope with a return address from the white house. Very cool timing I thought. :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One month down

Well it has been about one month since our dossier made it to Vologda, only about 11 more months to go! :)

Here is another Oscar update photo just to remind me that I am plenty busy with just one little guy running around! :) He was yelling, "Russia" for this picture and was soooo excited when I showed him his Russia shirt that we bought for him in Moscow. I can't believe we bought it a year and a half ago and that it actually fits him (well almost).

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oscar Update

Just a fun picture to show how much Oscar is enjoying the summer!

Friday, July 2, 2010

We have a region

Last week we got the call that we are registered in the region of Vologda. It was so nice just to hear that things were moving along and our dossier had landed. We are excited that the region is in between Moscow and St. Petersburg. We are hoping to get to see St. Petersburg on one of the first 2 trips. Since we have already been to Moscow 3 times we thought it would be nice to see another famous part of Russia.
Now the long wait is on. Our agency said we should just plan on 12 months and they hope they will be able to surprise us sooner. We shall see...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New homestudy agency

So a week after we got our dossier off to our agency we were informed our homestudy agency was closing. Thankfully our adoption agency doesn't think it will be a problem, but it is sad. We used this agency to adopt Oscar and they have been doing his post-placement reports too. So now the adoption agency and the homestudy agency that we started out adoption journey with are both gone. It is just sad to think how difficult it has become to adoption internationally. So many agencies have closed because people just can't do it anymore!
Hopefully our new homestudy agency will be good!

Dossier is on its way to Russia!!! - Finally

So after starting the homestudy process in December and dossier paperwork in January, it was finally all complete as of the first week of May! After lots and lots of re-notarizing and two trips downtown for apostilles everything was finally finished. There were over 160 documents when it was all done.
We started thinking we were going to Tver, Russia but after problems with IL notaries and Tver we opted to switch regions. The switch of regions caused all the re-notarizing. At least medicals didn't need to be redone!
So now we wait to find out what region will be best for us. Our agency will call coordinators around Russia in the next month and find out where our odds of a young, healthy little girl with the shortest wait would most likely be.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Possible change of plans

Looks like we may have to change regions. IL will not apostille a "true and accurate copy" document if the notary alone completes the form. Our region will not except anything other than this format. Our only possible alternative is to go to WI for a notary on some of our documents. We don't think that will really work though. I'm bummed because even though we were in the beginning of this I spent time reading blogs and doing research on the region. I know this isn't a major bump but we did get 58 documents notarized for this region and already completed our medicals. Our agency said most of it will transfer to another region so hopefully that proves to be true!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finishing up the intial dossier

Joe and I went to the doctor today to get our initial medicals done. Oscar goes tomorrow. We should be able to finish up our dossier in the next two weeks. Things to finish yet:

Last homestudy visit - Friday
Deed to our house-Wednesday
CPA form-hopefully from a friend this week
Psych eval-school psychologist this week
Pick up employment letters-this week
Pick up medical forms-hopefully this week
Marriage license-just waiting for MN to send them

Saturday we got 58 documents notarized! Thankfully the women at our bank are wonderful!
Can't wait for all of this initial paperwork to be done! Then we get to the fun waiting! :)

Once this is all done we are sending it all in for apostille. The hope is the dossier is completed by the end of February and in our agency's hands!

Wish us luck!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dossier for little sister

Oscar has been home now for a year and we have just gotten started on the paperwork for his little sister. We are really excited to go through this experience again. Of course the paperwork and waiting is not fun at all, but we are looking forward to the day where we meet our daughter. That is the day that makes all of this work and stress worth it!
Today I will be working on getting the FBI prints out for our homestudy and then I wait for Joe to get home from China so we can go notarize things.
We are guessing we will have at least 12 months of waiting once we get this initial paperwork done. We shall see!

Oscar is home for a year