Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snail Mail

  Today I got an email from Toni saying that she had contacted the embassy about our file.  Notice of the approval we received from the immigration and citizenship office has made it to Sofia and the American consular there!  That was great news!
  HOWEVER, then she gave the not-so-good news.  She was waiting on pictures of Teodor to come from his orphanage director in order to apply for his passport/visa.  The pictures had been sent, but because it's from a rural place quite a ways from the capital, they are just taking awhile to get there.
  SO --  if she has the pictures in tomorrow's mail, she can go to the embassy on Thursday for an appointment on our behalf.  If not, she'll have to wait until next week.
  Naturally, I'm praying that the pictures arrive...  we'll see if this is God's timing or not!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Teddy Turned Nine!!

   Today is Teddy's birthday, and - Lord willing -- it's the last one to spend without his family around him to celebrate, too.
   Earlier in the month, I had sent him something for his birthday.  Then this week, I'd emailed a letter I'd written to his English teacher.  Communication is tricky because the English teacher doesn't have e-mail, and the orphanage director has email but doesn't know English.  So, I sent it to the orphanage director, thinking she could print it and deliver it to the English teacher who could translate it.  Well, the orphanage director wrote me back!!!  I was SO excited a couple of days ago when I got a reply email from her that she had typed and then translated into English with a computer translator.  The translation was really good.  Of course, it wasn't a long letter, but she told me that they would do something to celebrate Teddy's birthday, and that she would take pictures!


  So, today I was THRILLED to check my email and find FIFTEEN pictures of Teddy on his birthday!  I won't post them all, but you can see that the director and his caretakers did all they could to help him have a FUN day! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I-800 approval!!!

   Last Thursday the mail lady brought a longed-for letter!!  It was the provisional approval given by the US ICS office that we were waiting for!!  This document gives us the go-ahead to adopt not just "a" child, but actually in writing, the very boy waiting on us on the other side of the world!!  When we worked on this phase the first time (before our trip to Bulgaria) we were approved for "a" child.  When we came home, we brought documents that proved that Teodor was actually eligible for international adoption, and we could apply for approval to adopt HIM specifically.  Now this approval will be processed and eventually sent on to the embassy in Sofia for Toni to follow up with it there. 
  One more step checked off!  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

This much finished!

Last Monday (one week ago today), I collected everything we'd gotten together, made copies, and took off for the Sec. of State's office.  I got in and out of that office in good time, and headed right to the UPS store.  The package didn't have to go very far as I was sending it off to a family also in Alabama who was leaving to go on their 2nd trip to Bulgaria to bring their little boy home.  They actually hand delivered our precious package (and several others from other families, too!) right to Toni in Sophia on Saturday.

I snapped a quick picture in the UPS store of the treasured Secretary of State's seal!  :)  They DO look official, don't they? 

Below is the picture of our dossier before it went off to Bulgaria at the end of November last year.  It's just unbelievable all the layers and layers of checking and certification that go into this.  Toni still has to translate the things that we sent to her this time, and have the translation certified as well.  So, it isn't even finished getting the official-looking touches yet!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

One step closer each day----

   All week long I've been working on adoption stuff, and it's getting done actually faster than I'd thought it would!
   Monday: I contacted the very nice psychiatrist who saw Dan and me last October and signed his name saying we were mentally fit to add another child to our crew!  For the Bulgarian gov't, this psych. report has to be updated every six months.... so it was now out of date.  Yes, we could have gotten a little bit crazier (due to all this paperwork, no doubt!) since then, but Praise God, the doctor didn't make us come back to Birmingham to prove we were still sane enough!  He and I talked and emailed a couple of times, and we were set to receive new reports.
  Tuesday:  I contacted our local police dept. to see what we needed to do to update our fingerprints that would be sent to the FBI.  I worked on that application online and got it printed off.
  Wednesday:  Got the money order we'd need to send off with the fingerprints.  Also, the very helpful wife of our local family doctor updated our medical reports for us AND got them notarized for me AND even brought them to me at church -- hand delivered!!  How's that for service?!  Our notarized psych. reports came in the mail that evening as well.
   Thursday:  Dan and I went to the local police to get our fingerprints done to be sent to the FBI. (This was now the fourth time we've been fingerprinted, and I'm praying that the sets done were good enough!) We also got updated local background checks done at the same time.  (Those expire after 6 months, too.)
   Friday:  I'd already printed off 3 more forms that Toni needed for things in Bulgaria -- one power of attorney form and 2 things needed in the court process.  Dan and I took these and the local background checks and had them all notarized by yet another very helpful lady who has signed her name to our documents more times than we all can count!  Then, we got the fingerprint package sent off to the FBI as well.
  On Monday, I'll take all the notarized documents to the Sec. of State so that she can apostille them for us -- -one more layer of certification.  After making copies of everything to keep for our own records, I'll send it all off to be checked and sent on to Bulgaria.
  Each thing checked off gets us a step closer to having all this paperwork finished!!!  It's a great feeling to be nearing the end, even if we're still months away from getting Teddy home.  Every day is a day closer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why SO Long?!?

   Everyone has asked why in the world it is going to take us so long to be able to go back to Bulgaria for our "gotcha day" -- bringing Teddy home.  Each country has its own set of regulations for their process of adoption.  Some require one trip only; you go to meet the child and bring them home at the end of that trip.  Sometimes, that one trip has to be really long (as in, up to 6 weeks or more) but other countries are as short as 10 days to 2 weeks.  Some require 2 trips, but the length of time between trip one and two is not terribly long.  Well, Bulgaria just has a lengthy process.  When I first heard 3-4 months between trips, I just couldn't imagine what all could possibly take that long!  Now, as I watch the time line of others adopting ahead of us from Bulgaria, 5 months is actually the average time span.  UGH!!  However, because the fact that the Bulgarian court system takes a really long summer court recess, the length of time for us will likely be longer yet.  So, we're hoping and praying for 5 months, but trying to prepare ourselves for more like 6. 
  To shed a little light on what all will happen during these next months, here's a short summary:
1.  The U.S.I.C.S. will approve our I-800 paperwork and send a copy of the approval to the U.S. embassy in Sofia.  (our paperwork is in their office now, but it will likely be 2-3 more weeks before this is processed.)
2.  Toni will go to the embassy in Sofia for an appointment with the consular there.  This appt. usually takes a week or so to set up and actually take place.  Then, they have 5 days in which they issue her more paperwork that is needed.
3.  Since this paper will be in English, before it can be submitted with our other things, it has to be translated, and the translation certified.  This takes a week or two.
4.  All of our documents are submitted to the Bulgarian gov't authority which governs adoptions.  Two people there have to sign off on all of it.  This usually takes a week or 2.
5.  Then, all of our documents are submitted to the court system.  It takes usually 2 weeks to assign our case to a judge, and then a week or 2 for the judge to set a court date.....Which is usually 2 or more weeks away.
6.  If the judge decides that more clarification on anything is needed, he/she can require more documentation that takes ?? a week or 2 to collect.
7.  Court is held with Toni representing us there in Sofia, and Teodor becomes a Jacobsen!!  There is a seven day mandatory waiting period for everything to become final; then we can start making plans (getting a date and buying tickets) for our second trip.
   It's easy to see how the weeks all add up, and the waiting time just drags, but when it's all said and done, not one family I've seen said that it wasn't worth it in the end!!  SO, we wait!!

Temporarily Lost in the Craziness

  I've been wanting to post again since we've been home and have regrouped a little, but life kept sweeping me along, and I couldn't come up for a breath!  The first week after we were home was unbelievable.  We readjusted back to the time with very little jet lag coming this way, for which I was very thankful!  I felt very strange for several days, thinking over and over about our days there-- feeling like I was still half there, not really wanting to be all here....  never having had the feeling before that I have kids on two different continents!!  They always went with me to which ever one I was going to at the time.  It was extremely strange.  I will be very glad to have one whole family HERE when Teddy comes to join us at home!
  We got home on the weekend, and Sunday was Easter, and Monday was school again.  I'd had home school assignments for the kids to be doing while I was gone, but I had only had time to think ahead for that week, and not the one that we'd be starting into when I got home!  So, we had a big "wing it" week!!!  On Monday morning, I was working to get adoption paperwork sent off, and school was just sort of a haze going on around me!  Sarah and Rachel came downstairs at one point and asked what their creative writing assignment was for the week.  I thought for half a second, and told them to do an essay comparing/contrasting the pros and cons of international adoption!  Ha!
  Tomorrow makes 2 weeks that we've been home, and I feel like I am just now starting to look around me with time to accomplish something more than just the immediate need that is pressing on me the most at that minute.  The girls (with my parents' help) had done an exceptional job of taking care of things while we were gone.  Laundry was not piled up waiting for me, and the house was in pretty good order!  Leslie was still sick for several days after we got back, and she definitely needed extra "Mommy time!"  That combined with working to get our I-800 (citizenship and immigration paperwork for Teodor) sent off, working to get summer camp registrations sent in before the deadline, as well as a deadline for paperwork for another summer program we were working on -- all falling in the week that we got home added up to being quite overwhelming!  But, things are slowing down a little bit now.   This current round of adoption paperwork looks like it's going to be finished right about the time that the kids and I finish up the school year.  What a change of pace that will be....  when I don't have school work to prepare or anything to print, notarize, or take to the Secretary of State to be apostilled!!