Shopping for Travel

Alternate titles for this blog post could be:

  1. A Blog Post with Pictures!
  2. First Shopping Spree Since Starting the Adoption Process: I Don’t Love Budgeting, But It Works
  3. Retail Therapy
  4. We Still Haven’t Given Up Hope on Traveling
  5. If Only I Was a Professional Blogger and Getting Paid for Product Placement

Yesterday after church on the car ride home, I announced that I wasn’t giving up hope. As foolish as it may be, until August 5th, I am not giving up hope of traveling this summer. Crazier things have happened, and I am totally fine with God using our story to show off. And my loving, sweet, and maybe indulging husband said that if we are traveling soon, we should go shopping and get prepared.

This may be one of his top ten best ideas ever. He got a babysitter, took me out for sushi, and then shopped in Target with me until the store closed (and we weren’t even finished).

Here is my photo diary of everything we got:

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This picture is when our cart was relatively full of just medications and cleaning supplies. I know in all likelihood we will get sick, but I’ll be darned if I don’t do everything possible to keep us healthy.

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Embarrassing picture. David looked embarrassed of me as he took it. I’m sharing it anyways. Please note the tag still on the sunglasses. I’m so classy.

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Here are all of the medications and first aid supplies. Please note the glycerin suppositories and the anti-diarrheal. We have all our bases covered.

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Here are the toiletries (well, the new stuff we need for the boys or travel related). The moist flushable wipes are apparently a necessity if we get sick. Please Lord, let’s leave these untouched. Also, I cut the picture a little short. There are still more bottles of hand sanitizer.

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Here’s random stuff for the boys, and yes I know we need more underwear. I was tired by this point and was forgetting the fact that 3 weeks with no washer means you can’t have too many pairs of underwear. And you can see the cute sippy cups for the boys: Superman for Sebbie and Batman for Bo. I may be a little too excited about these.

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General travel supplies, including a lantern for power outages.

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Cute little backpacks (not from Target but too cute not to share)!

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A sneak peak at coordinating shirts for all five kids. I mean seriously, I am so impressed with how well these all work together. Fun fact, Sebbie, Bo, and George all wear the same clothing size. I may dress them as triplets as long as they let me.

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These shirts make my heart soar. I can’t wait to see the boys wearing them.

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And these……oh man……these are what the boys will wear when we meet all of our family and friends at the airport. (And folks, I know we will be tired, but we want a huge crowd at the airport to welcome us home. We like a good party, and nothing is worth celebrating more!)

Now, literally, all we need are signatures and court dates. That’s it….

 

(Have you travelled internationally with kids? Any tips? Anything we missed?

Have your travelled for adoption? Give me your best tips. )

 

 

 

Embassy Interview #2

Seriously folks. I am done. I can barely look at the pictures of our boys anymore. It is just too sad. We need them home. They need to come home. NO CHILD SHOULD GROW UP IN AN ORPHANAGE. Precious time is being wasted while our boys sit and wait. We got a new picture of them last week, and their was such deep sadness in their eyes.  Both of our boys were blessed to live with family for their early years. They know what family feels like. They know the comfort of home. And, now they’ve lost it. And no matter how great of an orphanage they are in, they deserve more.

Okay, cranky rant over. Here are three quick updates:

  1. Sebbie’s PAIR interview is tomorrow. Bo already finished this part of the process and we are eager for Sebbie to finish. Please pray that everyone shows up and it goes perfectly and he passes.
  2. A few weeks ago we were fortunate enough to meet some Ethiopian government officials when they came to visit the US. (They even came to our house, but more on that another day.) One of the women was from Gambella, the region Bo is from, and I was able to ask her about the pronunciation of his name. (He is from a remote region and they do not speak Amharic, so finding someone in Addis who knew how to say his name was hard.) As we assumed, we were wrong on the pronunciation. Bongatin is pronounced more as two syllables and not three. It sounds like bōng-tēn. The “g” sound is very hard and emphasized, but not a full “ga” syllable in the middle. Does that make any sense?
  3. Finally, the Ethiopian government closes for two months during the rainy season every year. This year the closure will be from August 5th-October 5th. If you remember, court dates are scheduled three weeks in advance. What that means is, if we don’t get a court date this week, we won’t be travelling to pick up our boys until November at the earliest. So, we are praying for a miracle.

In between all the adoption stress, we are having an amazing summer. The kids are perfecting their swimming and biking skills. Mari taught herself to do the backstroke last night after watching a video of an Olympic trial race. She did it all the way across the giant pool we belong to. The girl is a natural. Jack learned to ride a two wheeler in June and he is already doing the trick where he puts his feet up by the handle bar and balances. David built an awesome deck railing. George has perfected the most annoying screech sound in the universe. And I am enjoying all the sunshine and time outside with the kids.

 

1.5 out of 5 (a good update)

I haven’t been able to sleep lately. I struggled with pregnancy insomnia, so I am chalking this up to adoption insomnia. Last night was the first good night sleep in awhile. And, it was glorious. David learned early in our marriage that not only do you never wake a sleeping baby, but you never, ever, ever wake an exhausted mother. Well, this morning David wakes me up, and I admit my first reaction was confusion than crankiness. But, he quickly told me we got an email from US Immigration that Sebbie’s case was finally sent to Ethiopia. (All crabby morning crankies instantly disappear.) We submitted his case February 3rd, but because of the birth certificate debacle it’s just been sitting in Missouri. Finally some progress!!!!

This means that Sebbie is half of the way done with the passing US Immigration. Now that his case is in Addis, they will go over all the paperwork and schedule an interview with someone who has first hand knowledge as to how he ended up in an orphanage. This is the last step in gaining PAIR approval (US Immigration approval).

Speaking of PAIR approval, WE RECEIVED BO’S PAIR LETTER IN THE MAIL TODAY!!! This is so enormous.

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If you remember our last blog post, Bo passing PAIR is one of the five final things we needed before we could travel. So, if you add Sebbie being 1/2 done to Bo being completely done, we are now done with 1.5 of our final 5 steps.

It’s baby steps y’all, but today was a big day. I suggested we celebrate by flying to Addis for the weekend. David said no. So I think I’ll ask for a bottle of wine instead.

The Final Five

We’ve been asked a million times, “When are you going to bring home your boys?”. Our short answer is, “We don’t know”. There are a million moving parts and it’s rather exhausting keeping up with every step. Additionally each boys case is independent of the other, which means we have to do everything twice. So (in very brief terms) here are the five things that need to happen before we can travel:

  1. Sebbie needs to pass US Immigration. This is a two step process and he is HOPEFULLY near the end of step one. (The birth certificate debacle was for step one of immigration.)
  2. Bo needs to pass US Immigration. He completed step one months ago, but is yet to pass step two.
  3. Sebbie’s case needs to pass through Ethiopia’s child protective services and receive the all important signature.
  4. Bo’s case needs to pass through Ethiopia’s child protective services and receive the all important signature.
  5. We need to be granted a court date. Most likely the boys’ cases will go to court at the same time.

The timeline for each of these steps is variable. But looking at what still needs to be done, the soonest we could travel would be August (but realistically we are thinking it will be later).

06/16/2016 UPDATE HERE

 

It was close…

This was a really tough week for our adoption. Everything turned out great, but I think I shaved five years off my life with stress.

I have asked for prayers for missing paperwork since we got our referral in December. We have been attempting to get Sebona’s birth certificate for months (and by “we” I mean our agency). I assumed it would take awhile, but we would get it well before our deadline. Yep, totally didn’t happen. I called our immigration officer last week, and in a very polite, but clear way, she said I had ten days to get her the birth certificate or they would close Sebbie’s case and we would have to start over. This could have added months to our timeline. Panicked, I called Sally (the Ethiopian director at our agency) in tears. I was an emotional wreck. Tears and wine flowed freely this week.  We had spent 5 months trying to get this birth certificate and failed, and now we had 10 days. To add to the stress, I was an emotional basket-case because Sebbie turned three last week and I wanted to be there to snuggle him not messing around with paperwork.

It ended up taking a long trip to Sebbie’s birth town and a lots of hardwork, but they got it. I needed to have it arrive by mail to the office in Missouri today. We got an email with the scanned birth certificate yesterday.  Did you know that overnighting 10 pages of paper is rather pricey? Yep, but totally worth it.

Now let’s hope everything is accepted and his case is sent to Ethiopia soon!!

(sort of boring) Update

1. The government office that handles adoptions in Ethiopia is in training during the month of April, and we have been told to expect little to no movement on our case this month (on the Ethiopian side of things).

2. Next week Bo’s case has a BIG interview at the U.S. Embassy. This *could* be his last step in becoming approved by the U.S. There are a million little details that need to all fall into place. We would love prayers that he passes this hurdle on April 13th at 10:00 AM in Addis (which is 2:00 AM Central Time).

3. Sebbie is still missing some documents needed before his embassy interview can be scheduled. I am starting to feel anxious about these. Please pray we can get them ASAP!!

4. We got a new picture of our cuties today. AND WE FINALLY HAVE AT LEAST ONE SMILE!!!! We have been blessed with probably 30 photos of our boys so far and we seen a few shy grins, but Sebbie has a full on smile in today’s picture. No smiles from Bo yet, but he is as beautiful as ever. (We cannot wait to actually show you their precious faces!!)

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5. Tonight during prayers Mari announced, ” I pray that we can go get Sebbie and Bo soon. Not in summer. Before summer. May 20th, I pray we can go get them on May 20th.” I was super surprised, because the 20th is Sebbie’s birthday. So I asked if she knew that and she said, “No, but I  want to get them on the 20th.” Sounds like an excellent plan to me.

6. Thank you to all those that have texted, emailed, written, and sent their love and prayers. As time drags on, the pain of being separated from our boys has become overwhelming. In the past week I have gotten two sweet notes from two dear friends that have completely warmed my heart. (And their coordinating stationary made me chuckle.)

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7. Nesting! We now have carseats and beds for everyone. We found these shorter bunk beds at IKEA so we don’t have to worry as much about broken bones when the boys jump off. And yes, with four boys in five years we know stupid games like jumping off the top bunk will take place even if we say no. (Please pardon the picture, we need bedding still on two of the beds and my big kids stole the other comforters to make a fort when I was taking this.)

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Nope.

Sebbie did not pass his court date on the 21st. This was of no great surprise, because our dossier didn’t make it in time. Bo’s court case is on Friday, but he won’t pass either. I would be lying if I said we aren’t bummed.

We are waiting to hear if they gave us a new court appointment. We are hoping its just a few weeks out and that our paperwork is finally in place.

In other news, the boys are still in the process of being approved by the US. Bo has a big appointment on April 13th and Sebbie has some paperwork we desperately need.

It’s a never-ending cycle of highs and lows, excitement and disappoint, checklists and to-dos. And today we are riding a solid low. We want them home so badly.

They will pass. They will come home. Praying that it all happens soon.