Monday, November 23, 2015

Big News!

I received word this afternoon that I need to be in Eastern Europe by Monday because we have court on Monday!


When I read the email, I couldn't stop shaking. Less than a week until Peaches is officially my daughter!

I will update when I have more information.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

T-Shirt Relaunch + Update

I received my NVC Numbers on Oct. 30. More accurately, I received them on Oct. 28 but didn't see them until Friday because they ended up in my Spam box! I sent the numbers to my agency who filled out the appropriate paperwork. 

I was told on Wednesday that my attorney would be filing for court on Thursday but I still haven't found out when my court date is. We are *hoping* that court will be November 30 but I should be finding out tomorrow (Monday). If I have court on the 30th, Peaches and I should get home just in time for Christmas! How wonderful would that be?!

T-Shirt Relaunch + Bonus:
I have re-launched my "love down syndrome" shirt campaign. It can be found here:

If I sell at least 12 shirts, I will donate 25% of the earnings from this campaign to the Angel Tree child or RR Family (must have active FSP) of the winner's choice. Here's how it will work:

- 1 entry per person for sharing this post
- 2 entries per person for each shirt purchased 
Email me a copy of your receipt and the family or Angel Tree child you would like the earning to go to if you win. When the campaign ends, I will post the winner here. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Trip One - Part Two

Part Two: 

Since this was an unscheduled day off, I went out to lunch with the L family, our translator, our attorney, and another family, the O family, that got into down late Sunday night/early Sunday morning. They were going to be meeting their son (Evan on RR), who is in an orphanage in a different city, at the same time as me. After lunch, our translator brought the L family to an appointment and the translator’s sister, our unofficial translator/assistant, Z, gave me and the second family a small, guided tour of the city. Our tour ended at the Vernissage but there weren’t as many vendors there, which is likely because of the holiday.

I went back to the apartment to hang out for a bit before we all met up for dinner. After dinner, we wandered around the outdoor mall that nearly connects the Opera Theater and Freedom Square to Republic Square. The other family who was on their first trip and I went to Republic Square to watch the dancing water show that started right at 9:00 pm. They last for an hour but we didn’t stay the entire time. Republic Square was packed with people though, it was great to see. I believe the dancing water show is a nightly occurrence but I could be wrong on that, the only night I was in the area to check was Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, our driver picked me and the O family and then we picked our translator up on the way to meet the Minister of Justice. He had a quick chat with us before wishing us well. He is the one who approves Dossiers so he knew a little bit about our families.

In the afternoon, our driver and Z brought me to Peaches’ orphanage where I first met with the director. She asked me a few questions and then gave me permission to meet her. We left her office and walked to the building where her room is. After arriving in the room, I scanned the area to find her. So many babies! Once I laid eyes on her, I melted. She’s so much cuter in person than in her pictures! Our translator talked to the nannies and informed them that I was there to meet Peaches and we had already talked to the director and she knows we’re here. Peaches had just gotten up from her nap so they gave her a new diaper and dressed her in a cute outfit before giving her to me.

They gave me a stroller to use and let me go outside with her since it was a nice afternoon. Peaches and I hung out under a pavilion and I held her, rocked her, and tried to get her to smile. She was so serious that first day! I didn’t get a smile out of her. Our visit lasted 2 hours and then I had to give her back. They drove me back to my apartment and I hung out there the rest of the night.

I got to spend two hours with Peaches in the morning and then two again in the afternoon. During our morning visit, I got her to smile a little bit. She was beginning to open up to me! I fed her a bottle and then she fell asleep in my arms. So precious! During our afternoon visit, she fell asleep on me. We were inside because the nannies believed it was too hot for her to be outside. The L family stopped by and got to meet Peaches, which was pretty awesome.

I had two visits with her again on Thursday. During the morning visit, she fell asleep on me again.

I arrived early for my afternoon visit to pass out the Beanie Babies two to of the rooms with the older children (3-5 year olds). I save “Christian”, who is a sweetie. Peaches and I spent the afternoon inside again. There was a couch in the hallway so we sat there and played.

After my visit with Peaches, I went with the L family to an orphanage run by nuns. There are children up for adoption there, too, but they’re only available to married couples. I got to meet a few children whose parents are in process of adopting them and one whose family arrived for court a few weeks after I left. I got to play with “Laura”, a child available for adoption. She’s so sweet! Her and the L family’s daughter hit it off well. I gave out the last few Beanie Babies to the 5 children who are in Laura’s group. Afterwards, the L family and I went to an indoor mall to get souvenirs and then out to dinner.

I had my last morning visit with her on Friday morning. In the afternoon, I got a short visit before I had to go back to the Minister of Justice. Both myself and the other family on their first trip went. We told him that we did, in fact, want to adopt the child we met. After this, we met the other family for dinner and then I went back to my apartment to rest and finish packing up before heading to the airport at 1 in the morning. The O family’s flight left an hour before mine so I figured it would make more sense to just go to the airport with them than to have our driver come back for me right after he dropped them off at the airport.

My flight left at approximately 4:25 am. The flight was just under 4 hours and we received a full breakfast courtesy of Austrian Airlines (this is the same airline I flew on from Dulles to Vienna and then Vienna to Eastern Europe). I would highly recommend them! Great service! It was about 6:00 am Vienna time when we arrived (flight was due to arrive at 6:10 am). My layover was just under 4 hours. We took off from Vienna at 10:05 am (approximately) Vienna time and had a flight that was 9 ½ hours. Our flight path brought us over England, Greenland, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, and even much of Michigan! Too bad I couldn’t just parachute out of the plane, it would have saved so much time. :) We arrived at Chicago O’Hare at approximately 1:35 pm. This was the first time I’ve ever had to deal with customs. There were several other international flights that arrived about the same time as mine. Going through customs was confusing at first but it did go quickly.

My layover was 5 ½ hours but then the plane was delayed because the plane our pilot was flying on his way into O’Hare was delayed getting there. I was supposed to arrive back in Grand Rapids at 9:15pm but didn’t get back until 10:00 pm or just after.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Trip One - Part One

A few days ago, I finally had a chance to write down everything from trip one. Here's part one:

I was supposed to leave my hometown airport at 11:31 am on Friday, July 10. The flight was delayed about 15 minutes though as there was a backup of planes waiting to land at Chicago O'Hare. We were schedule to arrive at 11:29 am Chicago time and still managed to arrive on time.

My layover at O’Hare was an hour and 42 minutes. At about 1:11 pm, I left O’Hare for Dulles (Washington DC). We arrived there at about 4:10 pm. The layover there was another hour and 45 minutes. At 5:55, I was off to Vienna! I slept most of the time. When I wasn't sleeping, I was watching movies. They offered us TWO meals, dinner and breakfast. The food was delicious, way better than I thought it would be! The flight was scheduled to be just under 10 hours but we actually arrived about an hour and a half early (about 7:00 am instead of our scheduled 8:40 landing).

During my 13 hour, 40 minute layover, I got to explore Vienna. I went on a sightseeing tour and walked around the city for a bit before returning (too early) to the airport. They had a baggage storage area and for about $5 per bag, I got to keep my bags there so I didn’t have to bring them around Vienna with me. My flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 10:20 Vienna time but I was nervous that I would get lost or something so I returned to the airport at about 5:00. If I had planned better, I probably would have done more sightseeing and stayed out another hour or so.

I got to see a lot of old places. If I could do it again, I would have gotten off the tour bus (it makes several stops along the route) and actually gone inside a few of the places.

My flight to Eastern Europe was supposed to leave at 10:20 but we actually left late. The flight was overbooked and they asked for volunteers to stay, offering $200 each. I would have had I known what was going to happen (more on that below). I arrived on Sunday, July 12 between 3:00 am and 3:35 am (our scheduled landing was 3:35 but I believe we arrived early again).

When I arrived, they checked my passport and on my way out to baggage claim, I met my driver. After I met my driver, we went and got my bags and took the 10-15 minute drive to the apartment I was staying in.

After settling in to the apartment, I took a 4 hour nap before getting up and getting ready for the day. After I got up on Sunday and calling the translator (they give us prepaid cell phones), I found out that the government would be closed on Monday and I wouldn’t be able to meet Peaches until Tuesday. If I had known this while I was still in Vienna, I would have taken the next day’s flight and gained $200!

On Sunday, I went with the translator and another family, the L family, they were on their pick-up trip to get their daughter and had just gotten her the day before, to the open air market. This place is so cool! I bought a few souvenirs here. It’s typically only held on the weekends during the summer but during peak tourist season (like when I was there), some vendors are there every day or most days. After the market, the translator and I walked back to my apartment, first stopping at the market that was just two buildings away from my apartment to get my money converted and pick up a few groceries. I ended up going to the market a few times throughout the week for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat. It was so nice to get stuff fresh. Food there is very inexpensive compared to here. I was able to make my own meals or eat out for less than it would cost per day here. I was also able to walk everywhere, which made it even more cheaper.

We went out to dinner and then walked around town a little bit. The holiday is called Vardavar ( People were dousing others with water from buckets. Thankfully, none of us got wet. I think it’s because the family I was walking around with had their child with them and little kids are off limits. People were in the water fountains and throwing water from cars and off balconies, it was crazy! It was really cool to witness though, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Love Down Syndrome!

I am selling these shirts on Booster. The ribbon is the Down syndrome awareness ribbon and blue and yellow are the official colors of Down syndrome (like how pink is the official color of breast cancer).

Love Down Syndrome

T-Shirts - $18 - sizes Youth XS - Adult XXXXL
Long Sleeve Shirts - $22 - sizes Youth S - Adult XXXXXL
Sweatshirts - $30 - sizes Youth XS - Adult XXXXXL

Campaign ends on November 10!