Sunday, May 24, 2015

Good News!

We finally got the news we have been waiting for! On Friday our agency sent us an email saying we can expect to receive our Article 16 (basically all the info the government has on the children) in about 2 weeks. That means that our children's government has given us their second approval. I love forward progress! With this news we were also given the next several steps and an approximate timeline to a court date. Barring any further issues I could be heading back over in 10-12 weeks. That means that there is still a small chance that our children could be home (or at least I'll be with them) for their birthdays is September. This is my prayer!

We have less than a month to finish paying our adoption agency. Our final fee to the agency is $10,000. After we pay that, we'll only have to pay for our next step with the USCIS (only because we added a second child), for flights, food in country, money for visas, medicals and other smaller incidentals. We're getting so close!

I just started up another t-shirt fundraiser.  This one should appeal to the masses, it's quite fun if I do say so myself! These come in Youth XS (size 2-4T) up to Adult 4x. You can make a purchase here:
https://www.booster.com/dontfitin If we don't sell enough (11) shirts, the company will not print them and your money will be refunded.
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
I am also still selling Origami Owl! The end of the school year is here which means GRADUATION! An Origami Owl locket would make a fantastic graduation gift. Summertime also means lots of weddings! We have great gifts for those too! If you are or know a bride who would be interested in ordering Origami Owl as gifts for her wedding party, please contact me for possible discounts. And last but not lease, summertime means Baseball!  Origami Owl has teamed up with the MLB and has charms for all National and American league teams!  Show your team spirit this year with Origami Owl!  If you are interested in ordering, you can do so through my website:: www.Origami4Orphans.OrigamiOwl.com at check out type in Code 34357.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Thank you for your continued support and your prayers.  This part of our journey is getting closer to the end, 3 months still seems like a long ways away but it will get here soon!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trip #1, Part 7

This post is about my last day in country, my last day visiting Chane.
When I went into the baby room that morning Chance was asleep in his chair. It took him a minute or two to really wake up. After he was awake I got to feed him a biscuit (rather than his usual pureed food).  According to the Sisters, Chance was unable to chew anything just a week ago (I'm not sure if this is true, or just what they thought). After playing for a little while, I fed him his lunch. Chance was full of it that morning. He kept spitting his food out/blowing raspberries with it and laughing. He'd only done that once or twice before when I fed him, and then it was only once at each feeding.  This time it was nearly every bite!  He is a funny guy and I'm glad he found something amusing! After his lunch we played and relaxed until it was time for his nap.
After the visit I went back to my apartment, ate some leftovers, started packing and took a little nap before my second visit.  I had to get some energy so that I didn't have a complete breakdown when I had to say good-bye.
When I went into the room for the second visit, I touched Chance's shoulder to get his attention, he looked up, saw me and gave me a nice, big smile. My heart melted.  I hate how just as he is getting to know me and recognize me, I have to leave him for several months.  It is not fair to the children!  We played together for a while and also played with some of the other babies. Later I gave Chance his afternoon tea in his bottle and he fell asleep in my arms. I love that he was so comfortable with me. I then put him in his crib for a nap. I stayed for a little while longer playing with the other children and then I got ready to go. One of the Sisters woke Chance up for dinner and I said goodbye to him. I can't wait to see that smiling face again and to hear is laugh.
In the week I was in country, I saw some changes in Chance. I think he is able to stand for a bit longer now than he was a week ago. He also interacted more with me by the end of the visit. One of the Sisters said that he seems more alert and aware. I can only hope that he keeps up his progress.
After I left the orphanage, I got to meet up with another adoptive mother who just flew in that afternoon. We had a nice dinner together, got to know one another a bit and then i had to go back to my apartment, finish packing and take another quick nap. I left my apartment at 1am to catch my 3am flight back home.

It has been 7 and a half weeks since I last saw my children.  Each day without news on the children or news of progress in our case wears on me.  I wonder all the time how Callie is doing, what she is thinking, if she thinks of me often. I wonder if Chance is standing on his own yet, if he continues to progress to eat more solid foods.  I wonder how much longer until I get to see them again.  Please pray that we get news soon!

We still have our matching grant ongoing.  We need $846 more to hit the match.  If you feel led, please consider donating towards our adoption.  You may do so here: http://reecesrainbow.org/69430/sponsorvanhalle-2 


Monday, May 4, 2015

Trip #1, Part 6

Day 6 was my first day without getting to see Callie. It was much more of a low-key day. I puttered around my apartment for a bit in the morning before my first visit with Chance. Throughout my trip I had some difficulty sleeping, I was often up early.  That worked out OK though because I was usually able to Skype with Jason before he went to bed.  Time change is strange!

I really think that Chance began to recognize me (as much as he likely recognizes any of his caregivers).  I hope I am high on his list of favorites as he did seem to favor me some. I got to play with Chance for a while and feed him his lunch before it was time for his nap. 
In general Chance is a very happy boy, especially when he is engaged; however due to living in an orphanage for 2.5 years he does have some institutional-type behaviors which is to be expected.  I am willing to bet that our children are in some of the best orphanages in their country, if not in all of Europe.  I love the staff there and the staff loves the children.  That really shows, however an orphanage will never be the same as a family.  The children to not get a ton of one-on-one time with caregivers like they would a mom or dad.  The nannys have to feed the children, bathe them, change them, play with them and put them to bed. I know that Chance will decrease his behaviors over time, just like Claudia did.  While I was there with him, spending individual time with him, I saw a great decrease already.
Speaking of the staff, the caregivers are so sweet to the children and I love the Sisters. I cannot say enough good things about them. They truly and deeply love every child that comes into their care. They do not care about prognoses, or lifespans. The caregivers love on each and every child for as long as they have them, the children in this particular orphanage tend to have more severe needs. There are several with CP, SB, DS, DD and more. Some of the children are very bright and have mostly physical disabilities.
Back to Chance... He has the greatest laugh and such a big, joyful smile. He copies me at times and anticipates when I am going to do something. Chance is very ticklish and squirmy. He enjoys cuddling into my chest. Chance can grasp large objects but has very poor fine motor coordination. He is starting to learn how to stand briefly with assistance.
During Chance's nap I had a productive afternoon.  And by productive, I mean that I did things other that eat lunch and sit in my room.  I got some local pizza which was very good, then I even ventured to a coffee shop by myself during lunch to get a gingerbread latte which was also amazing! I was able to to go to the huge outdoor market they have in the center of the city every weekend; there are crafters selling their wares at the market. The craftsmanship on some of the items is absolutely amazing!
Later that afternoon I got to take Chance outside for a walk in the stroller. It was nearly 60 degrees out but still Chance was bundled up as if it were 20 degrees or less!  They really try to keep the children warm. Such is the European way. After our walk I fed him his dinner and said good bye. I don't think he was too happy to see me leave. <3 p="">
This evening I had my translator order me some authentic local food, it was a wrap with pork, french fries, potatoes, onion, peppers and herbs. Sooo yummy!  After dinner in my room, I ventured out into the streets of the city by myself to take a walk in the nice weather and to find some dessert. I found my way into a sweets shop and bought Turkish delight.  That is an interesting treat. Not bad, but not quite satisfying to my American sweet tooth!

By this point my trip was almost over, I onle had one more day left with Chance before I left for several months...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trip #1, Part 5

My 5th day in country was the last day I was able to spend with both Chance and Callie.  I started off the day at the orphanage visiting with both children. The visit was short but Chance was such a happy and giggly boy that it was OK, even if i was not able to spend much time with him.

After the quick visit I went to the Ministry to sign paperwork stating that Jason and I were in agreement and that we would like to pursue the adoption of both Callie and Chance. The other adoptive mother also had to go to the Ministry that morning.  I was called in to sign the paperwork first, afterwards my translator said I would have to come back in for another meeting in a minute. That had me nervous to say the least as she said she would explain later. I sat anxiously waiting for the other mother to register and was then called back in, with the other mom there. We were then told that we were being asked to essentially provide an information session to the workers of the office. So many people cannot understand why people want to adopt children, especially ones who have special needs. It was a privilege for me to be able to share Claudia's story and to explain to everyone the capabilities of people with DS and the opportunities that they will have in America. I also discussed how advanced Callie was and how well she speaks her Native language. I was nervous to speak, as I'm not a public speaker, but it went really well. I hope that our speeches will help the people in the office understand more about people with differing abilities.
After the meeting I went back to the orphanage to eat lunch with Callie. We had a nice meal of pasta, lentils and a warm slaw-type of salad. Callie put plain yogurt on top and mixed it all together... Um yum? She eats well, but very slowly. She likes to be helpful and kept trying to give me more food and drink because I had finished before her. She has a very sweet heart.
After lunch it was time to bring Callie back to her orphanage. It was about a 2 hour drive on VERY rough roads and it was snowing. Callie slept on my lap and help my hand for much of the ride.
There was a huge welcoming party waiting for us when we arrived to the orphanage. I LOVE all of the people there. Callie lives at a home run by the Sisters of Charity, it is a home for adults with special needs that are fairly independent. There are about 25 residents including Callie and two other children her age. The rest of the residents are older. They all have the most amazing hearts. I was welcomed by all of the residents, given lots of hand shakes, hugs and kisses. I was even given gifts by a couple of the residents. They were truly amazing. The residents wanted to know if I was Callie's mom, if I was taking her back to America with me, and when I was taking her. They quickly learned that I would hopefully be back in the late summer and would bring her to America after that. When I had to leave, the residents told me they would watch over Callie for me. She is truly loved by all there.  At least I know she is being very well taken care of.
I can't show the children's faces until after we pass court, so for now enjoy the pics that I can show!
 
Callie dancing <3 td="">

 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Exciting News!


While we are still waiting for our second Prime Minister Approval and to get our Article 16, we do have an exciting announcement to make!

Our family has been chosen for a $1000 matching grant!  What does that mean?  An anonymous donor has generously agreed to match dollar-for-dollar the next $1000 that is donated to our FSP.  When we get $1000 in new donations, the donor will add an additional $1000.  Right now our FSP reads $8072.95.  When it reads $9072.95 or more, the donor will put in another $1000 putting our total over $10,000!!!  Can you feel the excitement?

If you are feeling led, you can make a donation towards our matching grant through THIS LINK.  If you are unable to make a donation, would you please share this opportunity? You can copy and paste our FSP page link to share: http://reecesrainbow.org/69430/sponsorvanhalle-2 

We are incredibly blessed to have been chosen for this opportunity!  If we can match this grant, we'll be so much closer to being fully funded for our adoption of Callie and Chance!



Saturday, April 18, 2015

BeYOUtiful T-shirts

I've got a t-shirt fundraiser up and running.  These t-shirts share a message that all girls and women should hear:



The shirts are available in Women's sizes and Unisex size.  Each style comes in 4 different colors.  The Unisex size goes from toddler to adult sizing.  There are two separate links for the fundraisers, I will post them with the pictures of the shirts below.  Each shirt is $18 plus shipping.  There is a flat fee of $5 for shipping, no matter how many shirts (of one style) you purchase.  If you order from both styles, shipping will be $10 since they are technically different campaigns.



Women's Style: http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful
http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful

Unisex Style: http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful2?hc_location=ufi

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful2?hc_location=ufi

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful2?hc_location=ufi

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful2?hc_location=ufi

http://www.booster.com/be_you_tiful2?hc_location=ufi
As of right now, we need to sell at least 8 more of the Women's style and 9 more of the Unisex in order for the to print.  If we hit the minimum of one shirt, that one will print but the other will not.

Please help us by sharing this fundraiser.  There are only 5 more days left, so place your orders now.

Trip #1, Part 4


My 4th day in country started out with a glimpse of Mt. Ararat from my apartment window. Even the small glimpse that I was able to see was breathtaking. The majesty of that mountain... I was in awe.
That morning I met with our lawyer for the first time. He is a super nice man and full of compassion for the children. He will be working to expedite our case along with the cases of 2 other families whose children really need to be home asap.  Let's hope it works and that all of our children get to come home early!
After the meeting I went to the orphanage. Callie was already with Chance in his play room. When I came into the room she went over and told him that Mama was here and tried to pick him up to bring him to me. Such a sweet girl and helper!  I love her heart. I fed Chance breakfast and then played with the children (Chance, Callie and the babies) for a while. Callie is seriously so much like a typical pre-teen at times. I let her play with my phone (I don't get internet there and it won't send messages/make calls) and she takes pictures, videos and looks at the pictures and videos without needing help. She remembers what is on the phone and will pull up the videos she wants to watch.
Callie had a musical toy that morning and she was pretending it was a cell phone. She was speaking her native tongue and the translator was telling me what she was saying. Basically Callie was pretending to talk to her Papa and told him that Chance, Mama and her were going to go home soon. She said we would take a car home. Oh how I wish it were that easy!
I  was able to eat lunch with Callie at the orphanage that day. She seemed to enjoy eating with me, and watches me very closely. Callie and Chance can both eat a lot! After lunch Callie helped clear the table. She likes to help! During lunch Chance went down for his nap as he became cranky smile emoticon
After our lunch, Callie and I played some more. Then the head Sister came in to talk to me. We had fantastic discussions about adoption and about some of the other children. Then she asked me if I would like to take Callie out of the orphanage for the afternoon. So Callie got to come out with me! I wanted to get some pictures developed and give them to her, so my translator took us first to get that done. Poor Callie thought she was going back to the doctors. She was hesitant to go in the building but she was a trooper! (All day today she kept showing me her arm where they drew blood the day before). After dropping off the photo order we decided to go to Crumbs, a cute little non-smoking restaurant that has free WiFi to see if we could Skype with Jason if he was up. Sure enough Jason answered and Callie was able to talk to her Papa. It was so cute getting to watch the two of them interact. It was not easy to hear but we got the hang of it. Callie kept asking Jason how he was and then wanted to see the dog. They chatted for a while and then when our drinks came she said "finished" and we said good bye to Jason. It was a blessing to get to Sype with him and to see the two of them interact!
After we left Crumbs, we picked up the photos and went back to the orphanage. Any time we go out or come back into the orphanage now, Callie has to show me the dog that lives down the street. She REALLLY likes dogs. That was all she talked about most of the day, dogs! I also found out that when she comes out of her shell that she is quite the chatter box. Her native language skills are still better than her English so the translator had her work cut out for her. smile emoticon
Back at the orphanage we had a birthday party for one of the children. We had cake and soda. Callie knows what Coca Cola is! After the party, we played upstairs with the older children until I had to go. We brought Chance up with us. He was full of smiles and giggles. His laugh is seriously infectious and I adore his smile. I think Callie has already taken on her role as a big sister, she is so sweet to him and tries to be helpful. I can't wait until these two are home!
After the visits, the other adoptive mom and I decided to walk around the city to find a place to have dinner. We had a really nice walk, and it was beautiful outside. On the walk we saw some street performers doing what looked like interpretive Native American dancing (apparently it was Native Ecuadorian), I thought it was odd to see in Europe but was beautiful. The city at street level is beautiful, however when you look at it from above (from the apartment balcony) you see how many crumbling buildings there are. It is such a unique place full of new and old construction. According to one of our translators, many natives do not like the new construction because they are used to buildings being only 5-6 stories tall and most of the new ones are taller.
The other mom and I did a big loop and ended up eating at a KFC tongue emoticon It was actually pretty good.  
That was such a good day, the highlight of course was getting to Skype with Jason.  The next day I would have to take Callie back to her orphanage which was a 2 hour drive.  More on that later...
View of the city from my window

Early morning view of Mt. Ararat from my window.


Closer view of Mt. Ararat (in the background)