Sunday, December 12, 2010


Wesolych Swiqt!    That is:  Merry Holidays!     We learned that today at a beautiful Polish Christmas event. We were invited to a Wigilia celebration at our church and it proved to be a very special evening.    We learned that the primary Christmas celebration in Poland is much different than in America, and that the focus is really on Christmas Eve.  The children received gifts on the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6), so Christmas morning doesn't take on the same present-frenzy we have here.    Our friend Lilianna informed us that for the Christmas Eve Wigilia dinner, Poles present 12 dishes, which represent the 12 apostles.   Fish is on the menu (no meat)  and there is always an empty seat left open at the table. Hay is laid underneath the white tablecloth, and a wafer, called an "Oplatek" is broken and shared.   Here we are, ready to make the rounds and share our oplatek with our new Polish friends!  This was all new to us, but we felt right at home.

The food was fantastic!   I wish I could describe the dishes by name, but all I know is there were many breads, soups, pierogies and nut rolls, and they were all made to perfection!  Photobucket

The evening was festive and fun-filled.    A wonderful Polish man named Tony shared the story of Szopka's (pictured here). It is a traditional Christmas Creche which originated in Krakow.

What a wonderful evening!    It was a time of singing, eating, and celebrating the beautiful Polish heritage.   Tonight we will go to bed with happy hearts and full bellies!   What a gift.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Always on my Mind

Holiday season, here we come!   Every year I shake my head and marvel at how quickly the year has passed.  Once again, I can't believe Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and Christmas a month from now.   In my faith tradition, we begin the season of Advent this Sunday.  It is a time of preparation, reflection, prayer, fasting and anticipation for the arrival of you-know-who!   Our Savior.   Jehovah Jireh -God Provider.     I can't help but think about the parallels as we enter into the season of waiting.  As our family waits for news...any news, we continue to prepare our hearts and our home for our blessed baby.

I am somewhat surprised by how hard it's been for me to be detach from thinking about the adoption.    I thought that once the dossier was submitted,  we could just focus on everyday life and ordinary, no-waiting-for-the-mailman days.   I also thought the timing was nice, because I wouldn't be stressed about paperwork over the holidays.   It hasn't quite worked that way.  Every gift catalog that comes in the mail, I think of her.   Should we buy her a gift?   A dollhouse, a Barbie, a babydoll?   How old is she?   Does she know that this will be her last Christmas morning she has to wake up without her mommy and daddy and brothers?   This Thanksgiving too,  she will be missed around our table.  She is already a part of our family, born in our hearts and covered in prayer every day.      I have never looked a girl's clothing or toys before,  but it's impossible not to peek with all of the items on display for Christmas.   With 3 boys, my life has been Star Wars and swords and ant farms, so this is new territory.    I just wish when I felt more joyful about it, but instead I feel sad.  Is that normal?   I guess it's just hard with the combination of an unknown timeline, and few details.   We knew this was part of the process when we started though, and the payoff will be worth every waiting minute.   That is a gift I can celebrate!:)  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

St. Stan's

Today we took a little road trip to visit a very special place.  In the heart of Slavic Village in Cleveland, is the breathtaking St. Stanislaus Cathedral.    It is the mother church for all Poles in the Cleveland area .   It's also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and for good reason.  This church ranks up there with the majestic cathedrals in Rome (in my humble opinion) and is enough to bring a  person to their knees in awe,  upon entering.   
We arrived just as the Polish mass was letting out.  A little boy bolted out of the church speaking Polish very fast.  My kids thought it was the neatest thing!   Next time we will definitely attend a Polish-speaking mass.  I realized they also offer missal in English so we can follow along.  What a great way to learn.  
Before mass began, we lit a candle for our child (or children) .  We also prayed for all orphans in Poland, and around the world.  As well as the families who are considering, or are already on the journey of adopting.   It was emotional.  Here are just a few photos we took:

A mitre worn by Pope John Paul II, that he he donated to the church
 The Black Madonna.  Our Lady of Czestochowa.

 After mass we met a wonderful  parishioner who was so welcoming.  He told us where to grab a good bite to eat, and even shared his favorite Polish greeting with us.   I left in a puddle of tears!   I just felt like the Lord wrapped us in a warm blanket and I am SO PROUD to not only adopt a Polish child, but entire beautifully rich culture.    I couldn't help but think about bringing our child (or children) back to St. Stan's once our family is complete.  I have a lump in my throat just thinking about it.    Thank you Lord, for this day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

We have had a very busy month indeed!   A lot has been going on in our humble little home lately.    We've been notarizing, aposotilling and driving to downtown Cleveland for fingerprints and paperwork.  To make a long story short, our dossier is in Poland!    We can now exhale.  It's actually been there for a little while and is in the process of being translated so we can go on the waiting list.   We learned so much as we went through the process, and our Government learned so much about us too.   Lol.   It's exciting to be in the phase, knowing that the daunting paper chase is behind us, and now it's just a matter of waiting.     I tend to become restless easily, so I am asking the Lord for an extra dose of patience as we anticipate news.  The focused intensity of collecting data has given way to a phase of calmness and peaceful resignation.    It could be many months until we hear something, but at least we are moving forward!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fellowship and Fun

 This weekend we were excited to welcome our priest, Fr. Chris to family dinner.  He is from Poland and was there when the seed was first planted to adopt from Poland.  So, it was nice to have some special time to talk about Polish culture, how he grew up, and travel tips.   For those of you who were kind enough to comment on the recipe ideas, thank you!  I just wish I would've done a better job at following-up.  I was going to try Bigos, but changed the menu when I realized it was going to be 70-degrees and sunny.   We opted for one last grill-out instead.  Then, I was going to make  pierogies, but I ran out of time (Fr. Chris said they are just as good in the freezer section at the grocery store!:)  Lol.  So, my hope to create an authentic Polish dinner experience was a bust.   Nevertheless, it was still good.  We had some pinwheels (from Sams). 
Cupcakes for dessert.  Hazelnut Vanilla spread too (from Holland.)  Getting closer!:)
The rest of the menu consisted of the regular grill food.  Hamburgers, chicken and hot dogs (with sauerkraut. The closest we came to Polish cuisine)!:)

Here is our family with Fr. Chris.

He is from Trzcianka (northern Poland).  His sister lives in Warsaw so it was great to hear about her, and also gather some tips for traveling.   For instance, he suggested getting a "magic jack" for phone calls when we are there.  I have a big note pad going, so that will be added to the list.   He also said food and gas are more expensive in Poland.   Good to know.   We are moving forward in the adoption process and I am just hoping/praying things go smooth as go to the next steps.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dinner Ideas?

Any Polish chefs out there?   We are having a big family dinner on Sunday and I am on the hunt for a Polish dish.  Our priest, Fr. Chris,  is from Poland and he will be joining us.      I am hoping to find something relatively easy and that will also feed alot of people.   I found some ideas here, but I thought it would be nice to hear from anyone who has a tried and true favorite.  If all else fails, I may go the standby route:  lasagna.   Will keep looking though, hopefully I can pull this off!:)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In You, the Orphan Finds Mercy (Hosea 14:3)

Praying all orphans would have such a beautiful answer to this prayer:

Each night before I go to bed
I fold my hands and bow my head
Praying for a family and the day she will come for me
I ask God to watch over my friends at the orphanage,
The place that I call home
Wishing we find families and rooms of our very own.
I finish my prayers and climb into bed
Hoping that God heard what I said.
My prayers usually turn out to be my dreams at night
Hoping she will be standing there when I wake to the morning light.
One very special morning, I will hear their call,
I jump out of bed and run down the hall!
Is it her, Is it her, is that why they’ve called my name?
Running I hear them shout “It’s her, it’s her, she finally came!”
Have all my prayers been answered, have all my dreams come true
There she is in front of me, Oh Mama! Oh Mama!! Is it really you?
“Yes, it is my darling, I’ve come to take you home,”
“I will love, protect and cherish and you will never be alone.“
Mama looks at me so differently a look so new to me,
She touches me so gently, just as I dreamed it would be.
As I look into her eyes I watch them fill with water,
She embraces me and whispers, “I love you so my daughter”.
She takes my hand and I hold it tight,
I will never let it go, I hold with all my might.
Hand in hand we walk together,
No one needs to speak; we know this is forever.
And through our journey when we finally meet each other,
She will have found her dream and I will have found my mother.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pardon my Polish

Just wanted to check in with a quick update regarding Rosetta Stone.  It arrived at our doorstep yesterday and we wasted no time breaking it in.    I am already very impressed by the program, even though it's expensive, I believe it will be a good investment.  I thought we would record a start up session for anyone wondering how it works.  My brother recorded this and didn't quite zoom in on the screen enough to show what was happening, but hopefully you can get the idea.  We are learning as a family and I really think the kids are picking it up faster than Jim and me!    I am also trying to remember the great advice from Raime who suggested to focus on verbs.   My apologies to the Poles for doing such a poor job at speaking the language!   My pride is definitely going out the window after posting this, it's pretty rough. :) 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome Friends

Today we made the official announcement about our adoption on the morning show.   It feels good to be able to finally share the news.   I am not good at keeping secrets!

 If you are new to the blog, you can read about how it all started by clicking on this link and scrolling down.   Thank you for your kind comments, it means more than you know.  

 We still have a long way to go, but it really lifts the wind in our sails to have encouragement along the way.  Sending prayers of thanksgiving and provision for anyone who has adopted, is in the process, or faithfully considering it now.  God bless you!

P.S. UPS deliveryman just rang the doorbell.  I think our Rosetta Stone is here!:)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Polish 101

Cheshch ("hello")!      As you may have guessed, we are working on language lessons. I don't think we've gotten very far yet, but it's not for lack of trying. Now that the intense paperwork is behind us (with the dossier) we are doing our best to jump in with both feet and learn as much Polish as we can. I met a new friend this week who I know will be a wonderful help in the future when it comes to all things Polish. We attend the same church and she started a Polish women's group which is very active and vibrant. She recommended the Usborne book "First Thousand Words in Polish".

It was difficult to find this online (it appears to be out of print) although Usborne does offer a book of "One Hundred Words in Polish" (instead of one thousand).  Thankfully, our local library had a copy and I highly recommend it for children.   They also have an online quicklink with more interactive options (here).    I can't say that we know how to pronounce the words yet, but our boys have enjoyed it, and I think it would be a nice tool also with our child (or children) in Poland.

In terms of resources for Jim and me, I ran across a .pdf file with a ton of basic words and phrases here.   My new Polish friend also told me that the Polish American Cultural Center in Cleveland (Slavic Village) offers  language classes too.   I wish we could do that but it's an hour away from us,  and with our schedule I know it wouldn't be possible.   Still, nice to know.   We also took the plunge and ordered Rosetta Stone.  I definitely need audio assistance because I really struggle when I'm just reading the words, I need to actually hear it...over and over.:)    I know once I get the basics it will be just a matter of building on that, but it is still intimidating at this point.   That is what my blog title is all about though... "joy in the journey", this is an adventure and I am grateful for every confusing and amazing part of it!:)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Affording Adoption

I have read that the biggest concern for couples considering international adoption is....can we afford it?   For us, that was by far the biggest question and largest hurdle to date.   We believe in God's provision, and trust 100% that this is the path He has led us on, which is why we decided to step out in faith.   That being said, we also have three children and had to make sure we were being Good Stewards of our funds and not making a reckless decision that could send our family into financial ruin.    I will admit, it is still a leap of faith, but we have learned a lot and are seeing the fruit of our "yes"  in unexpected ways.     This is also an interesting perspective.  It is the cost of international adoption compared to other life expenses.  The average international adoption can cost anywhere from $20-$50,000.  Compare that to these purchases/investments:

 Those could all be considered necessary investments for sure, and once I broke some of those items down, it convinced me that our adoption could also be considered just as necessary as these other items.   International adoption may not be for everyone (if you don't like to travel for example) and that is the blessing of options...domestic adoption, foster care, etc.   Prayer and research go a long way!   Sources like the "100 top adoption-friendly workplaces" and Section 23 of the IRS code (sooo thankful for that)! For those who feel called to international adoption, click here for information regarding options, ideas, and ways to afford it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Trails

Today we received good news in the mail:  our appointment from USCIS for our fingerprints!
Hooray, the paper chase is nearly complete!  This the last item for our Dossier.   The trail of papers is thick and we are ready to move ahead.     We've also been busy filling out grant applications which has kept us quite busy.  We have also been taking lots of notes from Julie and Jim, and Ramie and Vito.  It's been so exciting to see the dream become a reality for them!:)    It also makes me feel a little overwhelmed by how much we need to still prepare.  We still haven't finished the paperwork to get the boys' passports.   I am also a little concerned about how it's going to work with our entire family in Poland, and I've been thinking maybe Jim and I should go to Poland first, and get settled before the boys join us.  I don't want to overwhelm our precious child (or children) with so many new faces and chaos right away.    Thankfully, my parents, brother, and a family friend said they would fly with the boys and stay to help, but there are still so many unknowns.  Also, does anyone know if Poland readily accepts American Express?  We are still trying to decide what form of currency would be best.

In  other news, I saw this story yesterday ("Battered Adoptive Parents Give Away Their Child") and it got me down.  My heart really goes out to this mother, the child,  and everyone in the family.   I will admit, I already started judging when I read the headline, but I realized quickly that it was much more complicated than what I thought at first glance.     What an incredibly difficult situation.   To top it off, has anyone else had an experience where someone felt the need to share an adoption horror story with you?      A friend of my mom's was visiting and she recounted a story of a couple who nearly "lost their minds" after being subjected to mental abuse from their adopted son.   I know these things happen, but I could also tell you equally devastating stories of biological "prodigals"... but I certainly would not share those with a woman who was pregnant!        I will admit those kind of stories do freak me out a bit,  but I also realize it's important to keep things in perspective.   I am grateful for all of the books and articles  available to prepare for loving, learning about, and raising an adoptive child.   With having three kids, sometimes I have a "been-there, done-that" approach but, I know adoption is not the same, and we will be ready to love our child or children no matter what.:) 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Six Weeks

I ran across a trailer for a small little independent film from 2009, and I can't stop thinking about it.   As we've continued on our adoption journey, our eyes have been opened to new things to pray about, that never occurred to me before.  For instance, until you know the medical history when you receive the referral (and sometimes not even then) you can only guess at the circumstances that brought your child to the orphanage.    It's prompted our family to really start praying for the mothers and fathers who will give their child up for adoption (either willingly or by the courts).   This new documentary takes a look at "the other side"....or all sides actually.   I would love to see this film in it's entirety!  Here is the description:

 The six weeks of the title is the period in which parents of newborn babies in Poland can decide to give up a child for adoption. For the mother in this unassuming, intimately shot documentary, the choice is clear. In a letter she leaves behind at the orphanage, she says that she does not have the means to support her child. Her house is too small, she has no hot water, no gas, and the welfare payments are not enough. And no, the child's father doesn't want it, either. The filmmaker is clearly moved by the fate of the babies in the orphanage. The camera zooms in on them so closely, we can count their eyelashes. To help the audience identify with the babies even more, the film is interspersed with scenes in which we see the world from their perspective -- blurred images that emphasize the helplessness and unknowingness of these children who have been given up by their parents. The grief of the mother who has to give away her newborn contrasts starkly with the unconfined joy of the adopting couple when they get their new child. The filmmaker seems to want to show how three lives can be completely transformed in just six weeks.


Click here for the trailer.  After I recovered from my thoughts (and a few tears), it left me wanting more.    Unfortunately, I could not find it available to purchase (or even rent) anywhere in the Internet. However, from what I can tell, the movie, in it's entirety is only 12 + minutes long (is that even possible?!)    I guess maybe if it was filed under "shorts" in the  film category.  Either way, it looks like there are some painful, powerful moments documented which I would like to see.    If someone is able to track it down, I would love to find out where to get it.  

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Inch by Inch

Just checking in with a little update.  On Friday we received our finished home study in the mail.  After we received word from our home study agency that it was done, a draft was sent to our adoption agency for approval.   There were a few items that needed to be edited/corrected and then St. Mary's (our adoption agency) attached some documents that made it officially complete.    All told, it took us about 3 1/2 months from the time we signed our agreement with the home study agency, to when it was finalized and in our hands, ready for the next step.  We had wonderful social workers and a great local company, two thumb's up for Adoption Home Study Services of Ohio!     This process also further solidified my confidence in St. Mary's, they made sure every page was perfect. 
The timing was good because it has allowed us to start applying for grants over the long weekend.  We submitted an application for Show Hope, and will apply for several others too.   In all honesty, it is a lot of work.   Melanie was gracious enough to give me some advice about it, she said once you apply for one grant, most of the information is the same, so you just fill in the blanks and keep your previous info ready to go.   They were blessed with a few approvals, so I am encouraged by that and  hopeful it will be worth it.

Next on the list is sending in our I800A form.  It's ready to go and will be in the mail this week!   Not sure what to expect with that (time-wise) but hopefully they will process our forms without any touble and send our date/location for fingerprints.

As we change seasons, I keep wondering what we will be doing next year at this time?  It seems like (from reading other blogs) that the process is beginning to hit it's stride (since the new Hague guidelines came out) and it's becoming a more well-oiled machine in terms of turnaround times for documents, referrals, and court dates in Poland.  I don't mean to generalize because I know that is not always the case, but I think overall it seems like things have been more efficient, which is exciting!   
Last night my dad took us to a University of Akron football game.  As we were watching the sights and sounds, I thought about our daughter (s) and wonder if they will be in gymnastics?  Maybe a cheerleader?  Although, with three brothers and and an Army veteran daddy, she might be a tom-boy instead!    Either way, I can't wait for the adventure to begin.  What a gift it will be to get to know her interests and help her find her strengths and thrive.    Here is a photo from the game last night.  Garrett (our youngest) is in a camera-shy mode.  He may not be looking, but at least we got a smile out of him. :)

Will write with another update, hopefully soon.  Off to apply for more grants!:)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Meant to Be

Just to dovetail on my last post (our interview with Steven Curtis Chapman), I wanted to share a brand new video...premiering today!  It's from the upcoming Veggie Tales movie called "It's a Meaningful Life".   I can't wait for this new movie!!  It's a beautifully told story about the blessings of adoption, and every child's immeasurable worth.  It will be released on DVD, October 2nd.   Click here for a little inside info from Marybeth Chapman's blog.    Check out this brand new video and don't forget your tissues! :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Steven Curtis Chapman Interview

This week, my morning show partner Len and I chatted with Steven Curtis Chapman.    He has done so much for families, orphans, and  inspiring so many others to adopt!   I rarely get star-struck for interviews, but he is someone I greatly admire, and it was such a blessing to interview him.   Click here to link up to my other blog where the audio is posted. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

3 Months of Paperwork and Progress

This is our "adoption folder" as it looks 3 months in to our journey.   It started with one folder (the agency agreement) and has quickly ballooned to this thick pile.    I know we still have a long way to go, but this is is a good reminder that we have made some progress!

Last week we also received not one, but two pieces of good news.     We planned a camping weekend, but came back early because my dad was so distraught that he was missing the Packers/Browns game (ha).
  My husband was gracious enough to pack up everything and we headed home.   Then, when we pulled up to the mailbox, we saw the letter from the FBI!    What we were told may take up to 12 weeks to get back, took about 9, so that was something to celebrate.   We also received word that our home study is complete.   It still needs to be notarized and sent to the agency, but at least it's getting there.   That means we can work on our I800A form soon (hopefully in the next few weeks) and also get our dossier apostilled.      We started filling out the I800A on our own, but couldn't finish it because we had a few questions about how we should answer some sections (some of the wording was confusing we thought).  Anyway, we were told to just to be patient and  wait for specific instructions when the time comes.   I felt bad about that because I don't mean to rush things,  my intentions are good...I guess we just have to let the process work and not try to do too much.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Checking In

Just thought I would check in, I just wish I had more of an update.  Last week I called the FBI and the rep I spoke with, told me to call back this week to see if our fingerprints were approved.  Well, yesterday I checked in and heard something completely different!   This time, the woman on the line said it might take up to 12 weeks from this point!  Oh no.  That is not what I understood.  So, my balloon was deflated... but I know  this is a long road and just part of the process. 

Also still also waiting for our home study approval.  This Friday will mark 5 weeks since it was completed.  Here again, I have to fight discouragement because I was hoping it would've been wrapped up by now.  Due some some changes, it was kicked back and I have a feeling when it was re-submitted, it went to the bottom of the pile.     So, we can't apply for Grants or move forward on our dossier until that is done.  I am hoping it will come this week though.

Emotionally, I am still adjusting to the ups and downs of this journey.   When we pray, the boys will always include "Mary Grace" (our daughter?!) and that makes it seem more real.  I dream about her face and wonder when we will see her.  Sometimes it feels like it will never happen and I am just living in some pretend, fantasy and that scares me a little.   If it's not for another two years or so, should I even be letting my heart get attached so soon?   I kind of fluctuate from feeling excited, to feeling disenchanted and wanting to distance myself from the process.    My reasoning is that the more detached I am, the less disappointed I will be at setbacks and delays, and once we actually SEE her, then I can allow myself to get excited.   This is all so new and confusing at times.      

Anyway, I ran across this video and it's fantastic!   I posted something similar a while back, but I think the quality is even better and more engaging.  Here is the description from Mental Floss:
"1,000 Years of Polish History in Eight Minutes
   "This might be the coolest animated short I’ve seen … ever. It was created for the 2010 World’s Fair in Shanghai (hence the Chinese characters that appear now and again), and features no dialogue, just a lot of crazy battles and political maneuvering that make the most dramatic made-up story you can imagine seem tame by comparison. You’ve had a crazy millennium, Poland — let’s hope the next one’s a little easier."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fingerprints and Fun Movies

Is it really August already?  It's amazing how quickly the months have passed on this journey so far.   We made the decision to adopt and started the process at the end of April, hard to believe 4 months have gone by already!   We did get some good news this week though.  The FBI received our fingerprints and they are (finally) registered in the system!   We were told this could take up to 12 weeks (it's been about 8).   They still have to be accepted so they can run our records, and I'm really praying they go through so they don't get kicked back to us.  The operator told me to check back next week and they should know for sure.   I was able to track down the contact info for checking on fingerprint status, it is: 304-625-5590 for the FBI Liaison Unit.   

On another note, lately we have been enjoying some special movies that have an adoption theme.  A few years ago our family went through a big "Annie" phase  and we have recently had a resurgence of that, singing the songs and watching the movie repeatedly.  Wouldn't it be great if life was like a musical and people would spontaneously break into song and dance over various events in life?!  Lol.   Also, my favorite movie of all time happens to be Anne of Green Gables.  So, today at the library I checked out the DVD for the boys.  I think they are finally old enough to enjoy it.  If not, I know I will!:)  It adds such a different perspective now that we will have a first-hand experience with adoption.     Do you have any favorite films that tie in to adoption?  I would like to make a little list, I am sure there are some good ones.

Finally, I thought I would post a fun video from this week.   It is such a blessing and a gift to do a morning show, especially at a Christian station where I feel we are all really a big family!  This week we welcomed "The Afters" into the studio and they performed their new single "Light Up the Sky".   The reason why I wanted to post it is because it's about God lighting the way, and how His hand is on everything, and every situation.    The Flip video camera leaves something to be desired in terms of audio quality (this vid does not do Matt and Josh justice and there is some distortion) but hopefully you can still enjoy the lyrics and the song.   I just think of our child waiting in Poland, and how she is never alone because God is with her...and I pray she feels His love and grace.   I pray that for all orphans awaiting a family.  A good reminder, we are never alone!  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making an Impression

Well, I think our home study agent will definitely remember us.  Hopefully it's for more than just stressing her out, but right now I think we have left an impression in that area!  Lol.  First off, I am grateful because our home study agency has been wonderful from the start.  She has worked hard to get our draft done in a timely manner.  It was submitted to our adoption agency about two weeks ago and I finally heard something back today.  She wrote:  "this will definitely be our longest international home study EVER...".      I think I sense some frustration there (with the all-caps)!  Ha ha.    Thankfully she was gracious about it though, and I personally don't mind if it takes longer because I know Lina (from our adopt. agency)  is a pro when it comes to making it perfect.    It might take a while now, but hopefully that will mean a smoother process later on down the line. 

Friends/family have been asking when we will go to Poland for the first time.  All I can say is perhaps sometime between Christmas and Valentine' Day (?), but that is really just a guess.  I know everyone will understand if that changes, I just want to be able to throw a ballpark time frame out there.   Although, from reading other blogs I know it's just impossible to determine with much accuracy.   If I try, I will go crazy so I just have to trust God's timing is always perfect.   

As of late, I have been thinking about two things a lot.  One is, how many children we should adopt.  At first my husband felt called for us to adopt two.  However, we already have three boys and the more I think about it, the more I apprehensive I am.    I get scared thinking about everything from bonding to the cost, to being in Poland for 6 weeks with 5 children (not to mention the flight back) and then life as a family of 7.  I keep going back and forth.  I always wanted a large family, I am just afraid of the unknowns.    Still praying about it.  Also, we know our daughter's name and have started talking about her with our kids.  I just wonder if it's okay that we have named her before knowing her birth name?  I know some parents keep the child's given name and I don't know the etiquette on that yet.  Well, sorry for the long post. 
P.S. Thanks so much for your great comments.  Not only do I enjoy reading everyone else's blog and posting feedback, but I enjoy my own blog now because of the great advice you leave me too!:)  What a blessing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Gift

I saw this journal last week and just had to pick it up.  However, my mom was with me too and and said she would like to present it as our first gift on our adoption journey!   It's a cute little journal that says "Give thanks for the unknown blessings already on their way".  Then in the corner it says "dream".   How fitting.  I was teary eyed on the spot.     My plan is to chronicle little events that happen, and hopefully keep dates and notes in there to show our child.   
It was nice to get something tangible as a reminder that someday this WILL really happen.   The process has been moving so slow that sometimes I wonder if we will ever meet our little girl (?) and it's hard.   Our homestudy review was completed over a week ago so I was hoping to hear some feedback from the agency that we could move forward.  I DID hear from the agency, but only to say that it could take up to 4 weeks for the draft to be reviewed and approved.     I also heard that lately, the FBI prints (stating that we have "no records" for our dossier) has been taking up to 12 weeks.  That puts us all the way into September.     I'm not complaining because we were prepared for this, but it's still hard on a mommy's heart to wait for a child they have been dreaming about and praying for!  Right now it still seems like we are on mile 1 of a marathon.   There are still lots of uphill miles and unexpected turns to come, but I know that anything worth having always takes work, and it's always worth it. :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fun Polish Discovery

We learned something new this week!  On our trip, we stopped at "Fort Pulaski" on Tybee Island, GA.    We knew  of the name "Pulaski" because it was also the name of a nearby a city where I lived,  growing up in WI.  Still, I guess I never thought much about the history behind the name, until now!   We were delighted to discover that Casimir Pulaski was of Polish nobility who believed in the cause of freedom and came to America.  He was an American military commander who fought in the Revolutionary war, saved the life of George Washington, and has been called "the father of American cavalry"!
I love this little story in particular, found on his Wikipedia page.:
One of the first tributes to Pulaski was paid when George Washington on November 17, 1779, issued a challenge-and-password set for identifying friend and foe when crossing military lines: "Query: Pulaski, response: Poland".

Anyway, they had this book for sale in the gift shop.  The story and illustrations are captivating!  I would recommend the book for probably ages 6 and up (it's a little long) but worth the read.   An exciting way to celebrate Polish/American history!

On a different note, I had a quick question for those who have already traveled to Poland.  What did you do about your mail for 6 weeks?   Just curious. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blissful Break at the Beach

Hello!  It's nice to check in!   We are on vacation to our very first trip to the beach (this was the view during my morning run).    The trip was planned and paid for before our adoption process started, which once again speaks of God's providence because there is no way we could've gone otherwise.  Every penny has been pinched and the only trip we'll be taking for the foreseeable future will be to Poland.  So, I am not taking this vacation for granted, it has been a blessing for our family!      It feels strange to be so "unplugged", I haven't seen the news headlines or hardly checked my e-mail.  I've even felt detached from the next step of our adoption because I've had such limited Internet access.  It's strange.  I wonder if this is how it will be in Poland?!      Speaking of which, we are getting a bit closer, although it's still baby steps.   We received word that our home study agency is almost finished writing up our review and will be sending it to our agency to review any day now.  I'm hoping the agency with approve it right away, but from reading other blogs I see that sometimes corrections need to be made.  So, we are just standing by until we get the "all clear" and then we can move on with our dossier and applying for grants.
Also, today a good friend of my is doing a fundraiser which I wrote about in my last post.  She is taking photos of families, couples, etc. with all proceeds going to our adoption fund.  Although we aren't there right now, we are praying like crazy!   Thanking God for her willingness to help us bring home our child (or children), and asking the Lord to give her a beautiful day for the photos.   She already posted a few sessions on her blog and you can view them here.    Well, I am off to check the other adoption blogs.  I can't wait to read what everyone has been up to!:) 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clearing up Confusion

I have to apologize for my lack of clarity in my last post.  My own confusion has confused everyone else too!  Ha ha.  When I wrote about getting our fingerprints from the FBI it was in regards to the record clearings we need for the dossier.  We are not yet to the point of doing fingerprints for USCIS.   I called the FBI today and the rep I spoke too said they receive 100,000 fingerprints every day!  She said they go into a secure holding area and that is the longest part of the process, once they are released, they can be processed.  Good to know.   I don't expect to get anything back until at least mid-August but at least I know a little bit more about how it works.
Today I also received another update regarding our Ohio child abuse clearance form.  We learned that it's in the mail!  That is excellent news because it means we can complete our home study and finally start applying for grants.   A friend of mine adopted from Ethiopia and she said the grants are tricky.  According to her experience, it's tough to get much if you make $50,000 or more, a year.     I know there are hundreds or organizations out there, so all we can do is pray, apply, and see what happens.:)

Also, my husband found a neat app on his cell phone that has fun info and stats about Poland.  Those smart phones are the best.    I also ran across this link with some fun facts and resources about Poland too. In addition, there is a mini-movie on You Tube showing "The History of Poland in 10 Minutes".  I didn't sit through it all, but it looks like a good history lesson.  Click here for the video. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Small Success!

Today was a good day!   A big thanks to Julie for noting that a phone call might get the ball rolling.  I don't know why I didn't think of that?  I guess in my mind, I pictured our document being thrown into an abyss of other papers and no way to track it down.  Lol.   Thankfully though, our home study agency had a direct e-mail for the person who takes care of that department.   I wish I would've known that sooner!:)  Anyway, the woman was wonderful and said the child abuse clearance  will be sent out "no later than July 6".  That is a great development...thank you Julie for the idea!  It's nice to know it's accounted for and will be on the way soon.

Also, for Ramie and Kara who called about the FBI prints, was it pretty easy to track down the correct person?  Since I had good luck with the state, maybe it wouldn't hurt to get a status update with fingerprints too.   Speaking of that, as we were gathering the information for the FBI prints (and instructions) my husband learned that they implemented new guidelines this year.   You are now able to get the prints apostilled after they are cleared (if you request that on your form).  I was nervous about doing so because I wanted to follow the dossier guidelines EXACTLY but my husband said it was fine, so they will be getting apostilled too.  I hope that won't affect the time frame too much, I guess we will see!

Finally, we are excited and grateful about our first fund-raiser coming up!  A friend of mine is a  photographer and offered a professional mini session, with all proceeds going to our adoption fund.   We didn't know if anyone would respond, but thanks be to filled up!:)   We are humbled and appreciative of her time and the support.  Her website
is here with more details.    I am still getting used to the idea of asking people for help on our journey.  We certainly are not wealthy, but we've always supported ourselves, even paying for our own wedding and never missing one bill payment, no matter how tight things were in the early days.   So, it's humbling to trust in others and be dependant on their help.   God is so good though, this experience has once again shown us that all things are possible with faith and the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Lord!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two Months and Counting

We are hoping that this week will bring some developments! Everything from our dossier to our home study is on hold because of one paper. It turns out, that Ohio has one of the longest turnarounds in the country when it comes to the child abuse clearance form.   Where most states have it back in a few weeks, Ohio takes an average of two months!  We sent the form in on May 14, so I am hoping it will come soon. Until then, we cannot complete our home study, or apply for grants, or go further in our dossier.  Sigh. On the bright side, we have already sent, and gotten back items to be apostilled from Georgia and Florida (for our dossier).  Does anyone know if there is an "average" for how long the FBI fingerprints take (for the dossier)?  Our form said up to 12 weeks, I'm hoping that's not the case though.    It's frustrating but we knew this would be a long process, and following other blogs has taught me that the more flexible and patient I am, the better it is for everyone!:)  So, we are just trying to appreciate the summer months and take it one day at a time.

In the meantime, I just ordered a book based on a friend's recommendation.  It's called "Adopted for Life".  I am looking forward to reading it, I know I still have so much to learn.   Off to go hiking with the family now, but first I will be checking the mailbox! :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dad's Day and Giveaway!

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the "Nine Days" contest! This morning my son Garrett randomly picked, and the winner is.....

Lee and Martha!!! I like the idea of watching it and passing it along, and I'm not sure if that will happen, but just the fact that the idea was brought up, is another indication of what a wonderful group of women you all are.

Happy Father's Day to all the daddy's, and daddy's- to- be!
This was the boys' gift to my husband Jim today.  The "burger" is actually my son Grant's hand print, and the "fries" are fingerprints from Gabriel and Garrett.    We had so much fun, but I couldn't help drifting off and thinking about a year from now...will there be more handprints to add?   What size will they be?   Every day we pray for our child, or children in Poland, but it still seems so far away in my mind, and sometimes it's hard to picture the day when we will finally meet.   It will happen one day, and even though we don't know when...we are waiting with open arms and grateful hearts!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Gift for You

A few posts ago, I shared the story of the film "Nine Days that Changed the World", about Pope John Paul II's historic visit to Poland in 1979. Well, a good friend of ours just returned from Poland and Rome, Italy,  with Newt and Callista Gingrich (who hosted and produced the movie). They screened the movie in Krakow and Warsaw, and afterwards, they said the Polish people were in tears of gratitude for telling their story. When our friends were sharing the news, I was wishing we had been tucked in their suitcase so we could tag along too!:) What a wonderful experience for them.

Anyway, the neat result is that they give us extra copies to share. So...I thought I would have a little blog contest for you! If you are interested, just leave your name and e-mail address in the "comments" section and the winner will receive a copy of the film. I will pick a random winner on Sunday (Father's Day) and let you know!:)  Click here for the movie's official website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Prayer for Waiting

Lately, I have been reading a wonderful little book called "Pray all Ways" by Edward Hays.  Last night, I read this prayer and couldn't wait to share it!   I have been rushing, running, and speeding the process as quickly as we can right now, because I know we have such a long road ahead of us, with lots of waiting.   This was such a good reminder of God's providence, and the importance of patience.   Although our family is still in the first stages of the journey. I know this pertinent for whatever stage of adoption you might be in....

Lord my God,
though I am confident that you hear my prayers
and that you fulfill all of my needs,
I find the need for you to teach me
the holy art of patience.
I hate to wait
and am in a hurry even now as I pray to you.
I am in a hurry to learn how to pray,
in a hurry to become holy,
in a hurry to do your will.
Reveal to me that your time is eternal
and that in your good time you will
our every prayer for peace and justice.
Meanwhile, may your delightful creature, the turtle,
be a symbol of my journey to you
who are my divine source and reward.
Let me stop my anxious rushing and follow his lead-
making my way, slow but sure,
day by day, prayer by prayer,
kind deed followed by attentive, kind deed,
toward you, my God.
Suprise me with the reward that
that if I can be patient with myself
and the seeming slowness of my unfolding
I shall find that it is much easier
to be loving with others.
Finally, Lord, I thank you
for your patience with me over all these years.
Share with me Lord,
your divine and enduring patience
I ask this in the name of Your Son, Jesus,
who lives with you and the Holy Spirit.


Friday, June 11, 2010

One Step at a Time

It's the end of another week and I'm checking in with a little progress!  This week we finished our home study.  It's not "official" yet,  but we've been able to check off everything on our list, it's just a matter of waiting for some papers to come back.  The Fire Marshall came over, we had our in-home inspection with our social worker, medical exams (for all 5 of us), our fingerprints came back, and we completed the education classes.  Even though we've been able to complete the checklist, it looks like we'll have to wait several more weeks because of a delay for one item.  We learned that the state of Ohio has one of the longest returns for the child abuse clearances.  Where most states have a pretty immediate turnaround, it takes Ohio two months for some reason!   Ugh.   I sent our form in on May 14 though, so hopefully it will be back in early July.

Still, I am happy that we are on schedule with everything on our end.   With three boys, getting up at 2:30am for my job, the kids' baseball and soccer, I feel excited and proud that we've been able to team up and "Git R' Done" (as my Southern husband says).  Lol. 

We also received our dossier guidelines and have been reading, and re-reading it to understand all the steps. I heard it would be a daunting process and I know I realize that first-hand. Thankfully my husband is good with that kind of thing, but I am definitely struggling trying to figure it all out.

Yesterday, we also had an unexpected gift from a friend in the mail. She sent a "congratulations" card for expecting parents.   I melted into a puddle of tears, it was such a surprise and blessing.    It made me think that I should start a Baby Book for our child (or children).   We already have some incredible stories to share about how God has guided us on this path, I think it would be nice to journal it and everything else along the way.   I did find this adoption memory book at Amazon for only $11.53.  I can't wait until we are able to fill up the blank pages with photos and memories!:)  

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Paper Training

I need a nap today!:)   We are trying so hard to work ahead and do what we can on our end.  However, I have learned that there is a reason that everything has a specific sequence, things can get overwhelming quickly.   We have just started our home study (yippee) and have taken care of most of the paperwork already (release forms, legal documents, family picture, etc).  Yesterday, we also got our BCI and FBI fingerprints and tomorrow the Fire Marshall is coming to inspect our home and sign off on that.   While we are working on home study items, I'm also trying to work ahead on our dossier.    I think I need to slow down though, we still haven't received our agency package with dossier guidelines, medical forms, etc., education requirements (for the home study).  Right now, I'm trying to piece it together based on other blogs.   Although we are just beginning,  I already feel so grateful for all of the bloggers who have so beautifully documented their journeys!     I was able to compile a good list from Julie's archives (Finding Little Pfalzer).   Thank you Julie!:)

I am confused by the apostilling process, and even little things our home photos need to be a certain size (5X7, 8X10)?   Also, is the biometrics fingerprinting (for the I800A form),  the same process as what we did yesterday for the FBI and BCI?     I am sure all of those details will be covered once I actually read the guidelines when they arrive!   I have to keep repeating...."patience is a virtue" .:)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nine Days that Changed the World

31 years ago today, the people of Poland were giddy with excitement, anticipating the historic homecoming of Poland's son, Karol Wojtyla...Pope John Paul II.   As John Paul II set foot on his native soil on June 2, 1979 at Okecie military airport, he fell on his knees and kissed the ground.  
The Pope's visit was seen as inspirational to millions in Poland who felt they were no longer alone.  It is widely accepted that this homecoming is what began the fall of Communism in Poland (and beyond).

Ironically, those nine days that changed the world 31 years ago,  have also changed the world of our family too.   Earlier this year, Jim and I were invited to the movie premiere with Newt Gingrich for "Nine Days that Changed the World" in Washington DC.  We attended with our Polish priest and felt inspired and moved by the film.  The next morning, we heard about the plane crash that tragically killed the Polish President and many influential officials (some of whom were featured in the movie).    It was based on a series of events, starting with the movie, that prompted us to choose Poland and start the journey to find our child (or children).     I think this is a fantastic film, especially anyone seeking to learn more about Polish heritage and history.    You can order a copy of the movie here.  On a side, note you can hear my interview with Newt and Callista Gingrich under the "Media" section, just scroll down to "Newt and Callista join Brooke Taylor".
Here is the trailer.

Also, in another notable historic anniversary, a few days ago, May 28,  was the date St. Maximillian Kolbe arrived in Auschwitz.  If you are not familiar with his heroic story, it is worth checking out!  Click here for more info.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quick Survey!

For those of you who have already completed your adoption (hooray) or are closing in on uniting with your child permanently, I was wondering if you take a few seconds to vote?   Since I have such a "planner" personality, it's been hard to have an abstract time frame and no real sense of what to expect time- wise.  We've told family/friends that it will probably take a year to bring our child (or children) home, but now I'm beginning to wonder if that's realistic?   Most of the other blogs I've seen, it looks like 18 seems to be the average.   We intend to go as fast as possible, but I know many variables are beyond our control.  Could you share how long it took (or you expect it to take)?   I'm praying for patience and trusting that God will bring us to our child (or children) at the exact moment he ordains, so I know I just need to trust and relax!  Any insight you could offer I would appreciate greatly. 

**The poll located in the right margin** :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Look What Came!:)

Hooray for the mail.:)  The agency agreement arrived today!  It has been years of praying, months of research,  and weeks of lining things up to finally start this journey....and now it's really happening!   Jim and I have both tried to make double, triple sure that there are no apprehensions because now we start the check-writing phase,  and want to make sure we are ready for the road ahead.   It is a little bit scary to be honest, but it's a beautiful kind of scary because it allows us to lean on the Lord and trust His providence with all of the unknowns ahead. 

We are still praying about the dynamic of our family and trying to decide if we should adopt one child, or a sibling unit.   The practical side of me is scared to adopt more than one child, because we already have three little boys to provide for.  I want to be good stewards for our family and not get in over our heads.  Still, in our hearts,  Jim and I both feel open to siblings, and we believe we could make it work, it just might not be as easy at first.   For those of you who wrestled with the question of one child or more,  how did you decide?    Also, I am curious to know what your system is for keeping track of the adoption papers, to-do lists, forms, etc.   Jim is the organized one between us, and he takes pride in having things orderly when it comes to files.  Right now we are just writing everything down in a notebook (and I really mean everything, from the dates we sent things in, to questions we have, etc).   Still, I know we should probably develop an efficient system for the long-term.  If you have any tips, I would love to hear about what worked for you. 

P.S. Have you seen this story/video?  Oh boy, it's a definite tissue alert!  I found it from Danielle Bean on Faith and Family Live.

"University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt's  family adopted two orphans from Ukraine, one of whom has special needs and was considered “un-adoptable”.   This clip from ESPN tells the inspiring story. "

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Good "Beginner" Book

I had a nice visit with my friend, Dr. Ray Guarendi over the weekend.  He is the adopted dad of ...geat ready...10!   He and his heroic wife have inspired thousands with their story,  and thankfully, he's generous about sharing the wisdom he's learned.    One of his books that has been helpful to us is "Adoption:  Choosing It, Living It, Loving It"

I would say the book is for couples who may still be considering adoption, or who have just started the process.  Although I do feel any adoptive parent would benefit because it does so much to "debunk" fears and misconceptions, as well as to educate and prepare for life with your adopted child (or children).   It's also a great resource for grant's,  loans, different legal links, etc.    You can find out more and order the book here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adoption Hormones

When you are expecting a baby, you experience "pregnancy hormones".  I believe there is a similar parallel with adoption!:)   I'm just more emotional and sensitive to things lately, and it reminds me of how I felt when I was physically carrying a child.     I remember one instance when I was pregnant with our youngest son, a woman came up to me at the mall (seeing I had two other little guys) and said "are you hoping for a girl this time"?    Bless her heart.  That is a logical, innocent question, I know.:)  However, after 3 miscarriages and 6 months of surging hormones, I felt offended.  I said "no, not necessarily, we are just hoping for a healthy baby!".     That poor woman.  She was the recipient of my knee-jerk reaction of  frustration.  

 Well, I've noticed that old, defensive instinct kick in again this week.   As we have announced the news to family and friends that we are adopting from Poland, some comments have surprised us.  While the vast majority have been supportive and loving, some have not been.  This week I've received the following comments:  "Why aren't you adopting from the U.S."?   "Have you considered adopting an African American child?  They really have the greatest need right now".  "Do you feel like you will be able to handle an adopted child with your three boys"?

 Although it's hurtful,  I think the Lord has blessed me this time around with dose of blissful indifference,  but it has also opened my eyes to some of the negative thoughts about adoption.   I feel like some people are all for adoption, as long as it fits their terms of what a family should look like, or whom they think  we should adopt.   I believe, in a similar way that God knits together a child in the womb, he also knits together families in only a fashion that He could've ordained.   Oprhans are crying out from all corners of the Earth for a loving family.  The Lord just happened to lead us to Poland, and that is the short answer.     I'm trying to be more gracious this time around than I was with the poor lady at the mall.  I realize though, that these "hormones" are just part of the process, and I believe they are validated.     I wonder if I'll get "adoption cravings" too?      I could go for some Paczki (Poonchkies)!:)

Pre-Planning and Passports

This has been a busy week!   We are in the process of getting the "all clear" to start our home study and move forward with the agency agreement.   So, I am trying to reach the balance of lining things up we can do now, but not getting too far ahead of ourselves (because I've learned everything has a sequence).   One order of business we are working on though, are the boys passports.  My mom told me the rates were going up 35%!  She thought it took effect June 1,  so we were rushing to get the documents sent in, but from what I've found online, it looks like they may have already increased (as of April).    At any rate, today we realized it will be a longer process than we anticipated.   We have to attach certified birth certificates to each application, and even something as simple as that has turned into a day long rabbit trail!  The boys were all born in different states (during Army service, after, and now our permanent home in OH).   So we have to send requests and checks to each state and then....wait.:)   After that we can submit the paperwork for the passports and then....wait.:)  A common theme in this process I know!:)     We are also working on getting extra certified copies of our marriage and birth certificates too, just so we have them on-hand when we need them.   Needless to say, I am glad we decided to work on that because it feels like we are at least doing something, even if it's baby steps.   After reading other wonderful blogs, I have learned so much about what to expect, but days like today still make it feel a bit overwhelming because I know we haven't even really begun!  Still, I think about the child (or children) that we are doing this for, and lift up a prayer for perseverance because I know it will all be worth it!

Welcome to Our Journey!

I am excited to enter the first post in what promises to be an exciting, emotional, beautiful adventure.    I am a wife and mom of three amazing boys.  As a family, we are praying for the child (or children) who we are yet to be united with,  as a "forever family".    

The seed of adoption was planted in our hearts a while ago, but due to our busy lives and all the "unknowns" we initially decided to put it on the back burner indefinitely.   That was, until we felt clearly called by the Holy Spirit to act!    Part of that prompting happened after we attended a movie premiere at Mt. Vernon with Newt Gingrich about the movie "Nine Days that Changed the World".    It is about Pope John Paul II's historic visit to Poland in 1979.  After that, events began to happen that we felt were clearly orchestrated by the Lord, and His plan for our family. 

We are now in the beginning stages and it is becoming real!    It's exciting and overwhelming at the same time.   It's been such a blessing to connect with other families, read  blogs and observe the beautiful stories that have inspired us already.   I am in the process of compiling a blog roll and getting my bearings.  We are anticipating having "joy in the journey" as we inch closer to our child (or children)!:)