Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm Sorry Sweet Girl & Facebook Official

I'm so sorry Sweet Girl. I got so caught up that I didn't remember. I have spend the last week doing things I felt were important. I have been so busy doing things I felt were so urgent, that I forgot to remember you. Oh, I think about you all day. You are on my phone background so everytime I look at my phone I see your face. It still makes me catch my breathe when I see you on there too! You are the reason that I spend my night when we get home from work blogging, fundraising (well, preparing for fundraisers), researching, facebooking, filling out paperwork, researching flights and on and on. These "things" have started to consume me and they made me forget that you are what is more important. I stopped talking to you, I stopped praying as much for you, I stopped wishing you a good night when we all go to sleep. I got so caught up in bringing you home, that I forgot that you are living a world away from me right now. I promise Sweet Girl, I will remember that the focus here is you and not all this other stuff.

And with that, I want to introduce you to some people. Mama and Daddy made you "facebook official" today. That means that right now, lots of people from our lives, and soon to be your life, are reading this right now. They might be a little confused by what's going on too. So with that said, facebook, meet Sweet Girl:

Sweet Girl is 4 years old and lives in Eastern Europe. She is soon to be our daughter as we are in the process of adopting her. If you'd like to follow us in this journey, we'd love to have you along. We would also love your support and your prayers. On the right sidebar, you can follow this blog. I will also start sharing new posts on facebook. There are several posts in here already about where we are in the process and some about what led us to Sweet Girl so go back and read if you like. If you have any questions about why adoption, why Sweet Girl, why we aren't sharing her country or real name, the adoption process, etc, let us know - we'd love to share more - we just aren't sure what people want to know!

And STAY TUNED, we are launching a HUGE giveaway on Monday 6/4. There will be tons and tons of great prizes and it should be very exciting! 


I wish I could post a picture of myself right now. I'm a ball of nerves. 

When I saw Sweet Girl move to my family found me, it felt like when you get a positive pregnancy test. It was very surreal and exciting, but there was still a great deal of doubt and hesitation. You knew there was this life growing inside you, but you weren't sure you'd get to keep it. 

This morning at 7:43am I got an email from our adoption agency. Keep in mind that I've only gotten a handful of unsolicited emails from her (meaning I asked a question and she was answering). The last email I got from her stated that Vita (our eastern europe coordinator) would be unable to register us until 6/12. It made my goal of June travel very unlikely. She said we'd ask Vita to ask the officials for a June travel date. Anyway, so when I saw the email this morning I first assumed it would be word from Vita that we could request a June travel date, but that there were no guarantees, blah, blah. What I call a no promises email. Adoption agencies like those. 

Anyway, I was rushing out the door so I wouldn't be late for work like I was yesterday and quickly glanced at the email. I had to read it twice, I was so confused. It said "Your registration documents were accepted today! " I was so surprised that I couldn't process what she meant. I thought, they weren't supposed to be registered until 6/12? But, it's true! We are officially registered! They accepted our documents on the spot! They have 10 days to issue us the official referral and we'll get a travel date then. June is looking likely!

The first thing I did was call Rob and tell him to turn down the radio. I expected a "Great news!" from him. Instead I think he was just as shocked as I was. The thought of all that has to be done in the next few weeks added on to the fact that this is becoming more and more of a reality is sinking in.

Back to my analogy... It feels like I just heard my baby's heartbeat for the first time. Such a sweet happy thing, but oh so overwhelming at the mountain we still have to climb.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ultimate Teaser Post

What do 50 prizes worth over $2000 and Sweet Girl's 50 month birthday have in common? They are cause for a GIVEAWAY

The giveaway starts Monday, June 4 at 8am Eastern and runs for 5 days only! Did you catch that? 5 days only - put it on your calendar because if you blink it'll be over and your chances to win will be gone!

Stay tuned for a preview of the prizes you can win! We have some awesome things by some very generous donors! It was hard not to keep them all, but I've managed to remember the bigger picture!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Registration Update and Nighttime

I wanted to write a  happy post today, something uplifting for this holiday weekend, but the fact of the matter is that life isn't happy for millions of orphans. As I drifted off to sleep last night, I couldn't help but think about how sweet girl's nights might go.

For my own girls, it's pretty simple. We get in pj's, read a couple of books (or just throw them), get some snuggles in, sing Jesus Loves Me and then it's off to dream land with their seahorses. Sometimes, after bath, we read without PJ's too. They love it. 

 And, well, sometimes it's off to sleep before we make it upstairs too.

But then I think about sweet girl. How does her nighttime routine go? Does she get any individual attention? My heart hopes so, but my brain knows better. Does she cry herself to sleep or rock to sleep? Does she suck her thumb? Then, what if she has a bad dream, or can't sleep, or doesn’t feel well? Do the staff care enough to go sit with her or rub her back so she can get back to sleep? Does she get yelled at or punished for waking up or getting out of bed?  Almost certainly the staff is minimal overnight; and it seems that most of the orphanages are under-staffed as is. I don't know what they can do, if there are only one or two adults and several children happen to wake up at the same time. (And in one big room, probably when one kid cries they all wake up). She been there 4 years now, it’s all she knows, but does that make it okay? What if she has an accident at night? Do they go change her & her bedding -- if so, are they rough about it & angry with her? Is she lucky enough to get a hug, to be told it's ok, no big deal, we'll get cleaned up and tell a story while you go back to sleep? (The last, I suppose, is unlikely.) What if she's hungry, or thirsty? Can she get a snack or a drink of water? 

She deserves so much more than this. We are racing to get her because every night I spare her from that place is worth it.

We got an update from our agency, it wasn't what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear, you've been submitted. Or, at the very least, you're being submitted next week. Instead, it was you won't be submitted until June 12. That's more than 2 more weeks. The probability of June travel is pretty much out, although I will still pray for it because who am I to keep my God from performing a miracle. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A camping we will go!

One of our favorite family activities is camping and we're lucky enough we've got a great (and growing!) group of friends who loves to go with us!

We used to think this was a cheap way to get away for the weekend, but we are realizing that we like to eat well while camping so it's not as cheap as we always think it will be :)

So without further ado, here's the awesome pics (that I shamelessly stole from others because I didn't upload my own yet). 
Our speed demon
And her cautious sister

Nighttime cuddles

Yes she got the twizzler, no she didn't get the Coke.

Sitting on the dock

So sleepy

Kiss the fish

Bike trailer riding!

Tomboy at heart, but not when it comes to kissing the fish

My sweet family

The most awesome baby play yard ever - this is only like 1/4 of it!

Breakfast at the table Daddy made for us
While we were camping, we also got a surprise. A new pic!!! Doesn't she look like she fits right in and could have been out there with us? Love this sweet face and this sweet girl - we're coming baby! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Registration Dossier in EE!

We got the offical word yesterday that our hours and hours of hard work and hundreds of dollars of documents made it safe and sound to Sweet Girl's country yesterday! And no, this isn't the actual truck. Well, I suppose it could be, but that's highly unlikely since I borrowed the pic off the internet.

I wish I would have remembered to take a picture of the registration documents and all our apostilles before I mailed them off, but I forgot, so one I borrowed off the internet will do!

This is our second major milestone (first was getting a completed homestudy without my social worker throwing me off a bridge). There are lots of people that helped us get this far, but a few that I want to thank specifically:

Heather - you are the very first person other than Rob I told about Sweet Girl. You made me feel like I wasn't crazy for considering adoption with such young kids and you've been supportive the whole way! And you still encouraged me to change jobs in the middle of it!

Leigh Anna - I told you next. You basically told me that I was crazy. I know since I told you, you've prayed and cried and worried a hundred lifetimes for us. You provided me my first "challenge" questions so I got the chance to refine my answers for the next dozen of them.

Rachel- you were my first imaginary friend who had actually just completed this journey. You were and are awesome with answering my endless questions and Vika is amazing.

Paige - In true Johnson fashion you gave us a "Cool!" You made us feel like it was just another day and gave us no doubt she'd be accepted into your family just like Audrey and Harper.

Traci - You were my second imaginary friend and you told me about judy and that vita rocked. You've continued to be my go to gal for questions on our region. 

Lesli - You know what you did - thank you :)

Whitney - um, my new best friend? I will be soo sad if we can't get the girls together when they get home. Thanks for "getting me".

The lady at the Wells Fargo on Coliseum who notarized 40 documents for us - I'm sorry for the handcramp, but thanks for your super speedy notarizations with no errors.

Annie - You got up at 6am to drive to Raleigh for us for apostilles so we wouldn't have to spend precious PTO hours. You also gush like a proud grandmother with every new picture and video clip.

My imaginary friends on FB's RR R group - whether I swamp the board with questions, share trials or praises, or just read all your wisdom you have ALL been the biggest support to my craziness.

So what next?? Our facilitator in country will translate everything and then request an appointment at the Adoption Office to submit our stuff. Then they either accept it and issue us a travel date or they request more documents. We hope for the first :) And we are still hoping for a travel date in June.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Very belated status update!

So here's where we are and why I haven't been blogging. We've decided not to really tell our co-workers or extended friend group (that'd be Facebook) that we are adopting. Why? Well, because there are so many things that can go wrong, that we were scared of having to untell. And that's why I haven't been working on fundraising, etc either. But, soon enough that will change! We are planning a big raffle/giveaway on the blog and we're planning a big yardsale (collecting donations and accepting volunteers!) in the next few months.

We will probably wait until we get a travel date and maybe until after our first trip to come out on facebook and start these things though. For so long it has just been Rob and I's dream and she's been this secret we've been keeping, but, I realized that this blog is just as much for sweet girl as it is for us. I want to be able to remember the process so I can put it into a book for her and tell her story.

So, since we were last here, we completed our homestudy. That was stressful and took longer than I expected, but it's done. Our social worker is really nice, but it's hard for me to remember that this is just a business to her and she's not emotionally invested in sweet girl. We also compiled our registration dossier. Overall, I'm estimating that our registration dossier cost us about $2500 including the homestudy, medical exams, form filing fees, document copies, apostilles and shipping charges. Our agency says everything was great on that and as of Wednesday this week its on its way to EE (eastern europe - we aren't really supposed to use sweet girl's real name or country on our blog to protect the children). We also aren't supposed to share pictures, but I've decided that if I'm not sharing her name or her country then I should be able to show the sweet girl we're working towards! We sent electronic copies of all of the documents to Vita (who will be our in country facilitator) so she can start the translations. Hopefully by the time the documents get there, she will be done translating and can register us in our region. Once we are registered, they will give us a travel date of when we get to go meet Sweet Girl. We are hoping and praying that this will be in late June.

Also, we're working on our court dossier. This is another set of documents that we will have to submit to the judge. We are almost done with that, but we are missing three things. First, our doctor's medical license (which we have to submit a copy of) expires in June and since we don't submit our court dossier until July, then it won't be valid so we have to wait until he renews and get another copy of the license. Second, we filed our I-600a which is with the USCIS (Immigration). They review our application and our homestudy and then we have to go get fingerprinted with them and then they issue a ruling of whether we are allowed to adopt. We don't think there will be any problems with this, but the process takes a couple of months. We are also waiting for the FBI to process fingerprints we took at our local Sheriff's office and send us a letter stating that we have no criminal record. This takes several weeks as well.

Anyway, without further ado, let me introduce you to the piece of my heart I didn't know was missing, Sweet Girl:
These were given to us by a new imaginary internet friend. I think they are the most recent ones that exist. Here's another one: