Our Son!

Our Son!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

OOT -- How Can This Be?

The adoption community has become a small one compared to our first time through the process. With Aiden, although I love my agency, I felt like an island. Holt answered my questions when I had them, but most of the time, I didn't even know what to ask. Throughout Ethan's adoption, God bless their souls, the staff was subjected to an endless (nearly continual) bombardment of queries. This is due in no small part to social media. Adoptive parents from all over have been united through message boards, Facebook, and blogs. We support each other, teach each other, inform each other. You get the idea. Well, because of this connection, I learned the other day that our dossier had ALREADY reached an important milestone. All of our paperwork has been translated; therefore, we are officially OOT, "out of translation." Our agency generally doesn't apprise their clients of this step, but another lady with whom I am friends on Facebook has an agency who does. Fortunately, we are on the same timeline (same DTC / LID), and after I posted a picture of Carter as my new profile pic on Thursday, July 3, she commented that they were OOT and we should be, too! I called. Holt checked. Lo and behold, we are! The reason this is so stunning to me is because with Ethan, we were still in translation at day 99! To be out of translation on day ten is almost inconceivable to me. Now, the big question. What does this mean in the overall, grand scheme of things? Who knows. We could be in review for 90 days. With Ethan, after we were OOT, we got our Letter of Acceptance a week after being translated even though my agency said to expect four weeks. Right now, because of another social media sight for adoptive families, I have learned the norm appears to be about seven weeks. What I'm trying to say is that we're still at the mercy of governmental agencies and really have no clue as to when we'll be traveling. If the seven-weeks-from-translation-through-review-to-acceptance holds true, we will probably travel around the middle of November. That is still hugely conjecture. It could be sooner or much later. Obviously we're praying for sooner and hoping against hope for no later. If we DO travel in November, it will have been just about nine months from the start of the actual process (ten months since we first saw his beautiful little face) to adoption. I guess I can't really complain; although, I'd like to! Every day is another day too long.... ;) Just hold on Carter; we're making our way to you, one step at a time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Logged In

This will be a SHORT post, and on the surface, the topic seems relatively insignificant. However, those two little words in the title of this post have a profound meaning. Our dossier, all that paper that took months to complete and compile, have officially been logged into China's child welfare system! We have now begun the intense and stressful period know as the LOA(Letter of Acceptance) Wait that can vary from 45 or so days to (heaven forbid) 100+ days. Horrifyingly, we were in the latter category with Ethan. I am trying to tell myself that I am prepared for that eventuality -- but I'm not! Here's hoping and praying no matter how long until we receive that glorious piece of paper, I can maintain some semblance of sanity and calmness! Let the counting begin.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rummage Sale, Brittany's Hope, and...DTC!!!

We have officially concluded our outdoor rummage sale but are continuing to sell items that are left on Sioux Falls Rummage Online (Facebook page) and Craiglist. We met and actually nominally exceeded the goal I had in mind! In that vein, we also found out today that we officially received a matching grant from Brittany's Hope. That means for every dollar we raise, up to $1500, we will receive equal funds from Brittany's Hope! We have a ways to go before we reach that amount, but it is certainly not insurmountable. We may have to be creative and find a few more items to sell (as we cannot contribute any money of our own to the grant per our signed agreement), but we will think of something. Even if we do not reach the full $1500, they will match whatever we do raise. We are eternally grateful for this organization's commitment to helping to bring children home.

Not only did we have a successful rummage sale, we also got the wonderful news that our dossier is enroute to China. Hopefully it will be in the hands of the CCCWA next week and logged in soon thereafter. Then we can start the LOA wait. It is such a huge relief to have all of that paperwork on its way -- out of my hands -- and to be one step closer to Carter. In the past, to celebrate this milestone, Troy and I have had Chinese food, shared a bottle of champagne, gone out to a nice restaurant. This time around, however, we were a little worn-out from our garage sale and having to chase around and worry about our "precious little guys" during said sale. So,

this year we share a Lucky Buddha (enlightened) Beer (no kidding, it says enlightened). That was pretty much it. Please know we are as equally excited for Carter's DTC as we were for Aiden's and Ethan's DTC day; we are simply out of gas right now. Maybe we'll do something special on Logged in Date (LID)!! If we can summon the energy.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brittany's Hope Blessing and the Corrosponding Garage Sale

We have been informed we have likely been blessed with a gift of a grant from Brittany's Hope Foundation. The essence of the program and organization is below.

From Brittany's Hope Website:

"We believe in the fundamental right of all children to have the security and love of a family.

We resolve to facilitate adoptions of special needs, older and sibling children by providing financial grants for special waiting children; to actively seek out healthy and happy families who can offer love and support to special needs children; to raise public awareness of the need for healthy homes for special needs, older and sibling children and to raise public awareness of the unique joys of parenting a special child."

Here's how their program works:

The most important and sustainable part of the Seedling Gift Program is that we ask our recipient families to raise half of their total grant amount to help future families bring their child home.

This goal can be reached through tax deductible donations from family, friends, colleagues, neighbors or individuals from your local community.

This is where our garage sale comes in. We are not comfortable asking for donations, so June 12, 13 & 14 we will be having a garage sale and are praying that it is successful as whatever we make will be DOUBLED! We have had friends generously donate some awesome items: a treadmill and other exercise equipment, table and bar stools, brand new luggage, a pak-n-play, a new 6 pack mini-fridge for a vehicle, a desk, a 2 drawer filing cabinet, two 'chandeliers' (one brand new), a corner entertainment stand, and a couple of dressers to name a small portion of what was gifted to us. We now pray for good weather, a big turn out, and generous hearts since we are doing free will donations, except for the "big ticket items." We would sure appreciate any prayers and good wishes to the same effect: prayers for a successful fundraiser and prayers for this beautiful little guy.

On a related note, the last of our paperwork is in Washington, D.C. awaiting approval from the Chinese Embassy. As soon as we have their seal, those two items will be forwarded to our agency in Oregon and the entirety of our dossier will hopefully be China-bound on Friday, June 13. We will then officially be Dossier to China (DTC) and begin the interminable LOA (Letter of Acceptance) wait. Last time, if anybody would like to recollect which I would not, our wait exceeded ONE HUNDRED DAYS. Ugh. However, on the upside, I can with great relief say, we (let's face it, Troy contributes only what is absolutely mandatory -- haha!) I have officially completed my last dossier EVER! As much as I love my boys and know they are worth every pen stroke, every tear, every curse, every minute those dossiers took, I am SO over all that paperwork! So, YAY! A chapter closed and on to the next!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Starting to Prep & Small Paperwork Steps

In readying ourselves for the arrival of our third son, our first preparatory act was to name him. As noted in the previous blog post, we finally chose Carter Allen. See, I had always intended to name ONE of our daughterS Catherine in honor of my sister. Well, since plans, as they are wont to do, changed, and the daughters we thought we were going to have were instead going to be boys (and it seemed marginally cruel to name a boy Catherine and nickname him Katie), we needed to find a different, more suitable name. Still, we wanted to pay tribute to Cathie: hence, Carter which feels like a male derivative of Catherine. Troy's middle name is Allen, so we chose that to be paired with his first name.

Our other bit of preparation we completed was buying the much-dreaded, long-avoided "grocery-getter." I never saw myself driving one, but the reality is, our mini SUV, the Mercury Mariner, or the Sable would be uncomfortably cramped -- the metaphorical can of sardines (or Sturgeons if you will). We could have done it, but the question remained. What is our mental health worth? And, let's face it. I would even be concerned about the boys' physical health on a trip lasting more than 15 minutes. It's already something of a harassment-fest back there already with just the two.

Alright. If I'm going to be honest. I actually like like it. It has a lot of gadgets and options that, although entirely unnecessary, are fun and possibly sanity-saving (read not one but two DVD screens and wireless headphones). Most importantly, though, there is extra room and the boys can get in and out of the car independently. Yay!

Lastly, the small paperwork steps. On Tuesday we got our biometric fingerprints done, so on Wednesday I decided to give USCIS a quick email to see where we were in the I800A process. I was hoping to hear that we had been assigned an officer. Needless to say, it was a pleasant ridiculously exciting surprise when I found out that we not only had an officer, but we had actually had our application approved. In under 30 days vs the 60 I had HOPED for! To put this into perspective, our I797 is on its way which means that as soon as that little piece of paper makes its way to us, the last of our dossier can be sent to the state for certification and then onto the State Department and the Chinese Embassy! After that, we can be Dossier to China! In the simplest terms, one huge step will be able to be checked off our to-do list. After we get our dossier logged in with the Chinese officials, we start excruciating wait for an indeterminate amount of time: our wait for Chinese approval -- LOA.

Suffice it to say, it has been a whirlwind of a week. Exciting and fun, but exhausting. I'm ready for the weekend. And summer...!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Have a Name! Introducing....

I guess a cut and paste into the url is in order. ;) I'm on the struggle bus tonight, but it's a video with a little introduction.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Much Needed Spirit Boost

We're coming off a rough week here in the Sturgeon household. Now, to be fair, our part in the struggles are nothing compared to those directly effected, but it has caused some stress and anxiety nonetheless.

Last Wednesday night, my brother David suffered a major myochardial infarction (heart attack), and only through the Grace of God / a miracle, he was spared. One of the guys playing basketball with him was a paramedic, administered chest compressions and used the AED machine, and revived him. The next day, as we waited to find out what David's prognosis was, I went to my dad's oncology appointment to act as another set of ears. We got a call from David's wife with the crushing news that Dave would in fact have to have open heart (bypass) surgery: CABG. Five bypasses nonetheless. Shortly later, we discovered that Dad's cancer was not merely the one spot on his lung; rather, he had a some on a lymph node as well: stage 2A. The determination? Seven weeks of radiation coupled with chemotherapy concurrently. Sigh. While taking that all in, Troy and I made the decision to pack up the boys the next a.m. and head the 5 hours to Rapid City to be with / near David during and shortly after surgery. Now, Dave jokingly (or maybe not....it is David after all!) refers to himself as Superman, and we all accordingly give him grief and tend to disagree with this assessment of himself. However, after seeing his near superhuman initial recovery after not five but SIX bypasses -- i.e. sitting up the next day -- I think we can acquiesce and for a time allow him to don that moniker. At least for a while!

Now, during this entire time, at the back of my mind, I was marginally concerned that we had not received notification that our I800A paperwork had been received at the USCIS. I called USCIS. They gave me an email address for lockbox. I emailed. Crickets. I called USCIS again. This time the employee shared some information that I was actually not supposed to be privy to. I had forgotten a signature on the 8th page!!! How could that be?!?! In all the paperwork I had completed for these three adoption, I had never made such a rookie mistake. I was sick! Well, lo and behold, when I got home from school, there were the offending papers. I signed them, copied them, and sent them off with Troy FedEx. Now we wait again. I effectively cost us a couple of weeks in the paperchase and thereby a couple weeks away from our son. So, last night as we were getting ready to fall asleep, I said to Troy, "You know what would really help? What would really lift my spirits? An update. I need an update on our little guy." I emailed our ever patient agency and asked if they were working on Good Friday and / or Monday so I wouldn't wait needlessly those days if they weren't even in the office. She said the would be in, but that our little man's province is notoriously slow at returning update requests. So, I put it out of mind....hahahaha! Yeah right! Then, a few short hours later? AN UPDATE!!!! Be still my heart! Seriously. He could NOT be any cuter. We even got a video this time. I am over the moon!

So, without further ado. The newest picture of our painfully cute son!!!