Thursday, October 31, 2013

We are a family

It has been a long process (and technically it isn't over yet), but the judge ordered the approval of our adoption at 12:15PM Poland time yesterday. In Poland there is a 21 day appeal period after the adoption decree is made for people to protest the adoption. Our judge was amazing enough to shorten that to 14 days. That means, in 14 days, everything is official official.

We showed up to the court and the foster mom was there with our Polish social worker. The social worker had visited with us 3 times during our bonding period. We also had an interpreter. She proved to be really good in the courtroom, but when we were having conversations outside the courtroom, she was pretty lousy. We had a great reunion with the foster parents. They are incredible people and they will remain in our hearts and family. We love them for loving our children so well for the last few years.

When it was our time to enter the court room, there was a prosecutor on the opposite side of the room, a head judge, and 2 lesser judges flanking her. There was also a court reporter to type the important things that were said. Side note: the court reporter typed every report with 2 fingers staring at the keyboard, but boy was she fast.

The main judge began by reading out the personal information of our kids, stating our intentions, and asking us to submit a motion to adopt the children.

She then began the formal questioning. She asked the foster mom to come to the podium and asked her if she and any objections to our adopting the kids. Then, the social worker stood and said that she had visited with us on several occations, that we were happy and the children were happy. She had no objections to our adoption.

Then it was Future Dad's turn to stand and answer questions. He did great! The judge asked him lots of questions, and some of them were hard. Some of the questions were regarding our ability to care for 4 children, nurture their emotional state and provide help if needed. She also asked him lots of questions about our communication with them, our desire to maintain contact with the foster family, and whether or not we would encourage the retaining of their Polish language and culture. She also asked how we had prepared our home and life for 4 kids. She asked him questions for about 30 minutes, then it was my turn.

I stood and answered questions for much less time, but my questions were a bit more personal. For example, she asked if I had fertility issues, and what my plan was for helping our children process the adoption.

When the questioning ended, she asked what we wanted to be our childrens' new names. Luckily, we had that written down for her to put in the document. Once the names had been typed into the document, we were asked to leave so the judge could draft a decree. About 20 minutes later, we were ushered back in for the reading of the document. She graciously waived 7 of the 21 day appeal period and began to read the official document. In order to waive 7 days, she could not write her reasoning in the document, so she read it orally to us. It was quite beautiful. She said her top reason for granting our adoption was that these children would now have a bigger hope.

That is what we have wanted all along, at the beginning of our process, before we knew we were adopting 4 children from Poland, we wanted to give some siblings a bigger hope. Hope for a family, a future and a faith that will last their entire lives.

A bigger hope.

She then went on to tell us many more kind things and finished with the words “Congratulations, you are now parents”

In much sadder news, 2 days before court, we got a phone call that Future Dad's dad passed away. He had been ill for some time, but his death was still unexpected. Future Dad's family was able to set the visitation and funeral for this weekend, so that he could be here for court.

The circle of life continues to turn. Future Dad is leaving Poland today to fly to Tennessee for the visitation and funeral, then return to Poland on Sunday.

We feel blessed that he was able to Skype with the grandkids and see pictures of them before he passed.

Before we came to Poland, we had chosen to give our second son his middle name. Now, Grandpa, Daddy and #2 all have the same middle name. It is such an honor to be able to continue his legacy in the life of our son.

The kids and I have a special blessing though: my dad is coming to stay with us for the week Dad is gone. His plane lands one hour after Future Dad's takes off.

Daddy is going to America and Papaw is coming to Poland. This is my dad's first international trip (if you don't count Canada) and it will be the first time he has ever used his passport. It is so fun. In fact, I think he is somewhere over the Atlantic right now.

We have made the decision to not post the names of our children on the public internet, but we did want to show our family photo.

Thank you to everyone for the prayers over the last year.

October 30, 2013... we are family.

November 13, 2013... appeal period ends. We are a forever family.

November 14-20ish... paper chasing and more documents.

After that...

we all come home.

Home as a family.

Home forever.

Forever family.

A bigger hope.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Court is in 11 hours!

Well... court is in 11 hours. We are excited but nervous. We are expecting court to last 2-3 hours. We will find out how long our appeal period is during court. It could be up to 3 weeks, but we are going to ask the judge to shorten it. Pray he/she agrees to the shortening. 

Maybe by the time America wakes up, we will know! Court is at 10:00 Polish time.

Here a picture because I think people like them.
The drive to the little green house

Here we are about to meet our children for the first time... tomorrow they will hopefully be our legal children. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Life in the little green house

We have been in the green house for 7 of 10 days. Our family tends to do better with a daily outing. The only problem is that we are in a small town and there aren't that many places to go. We have managed to fill the days with swimming, bowling, going to the movies (Turbo with Polish dubbing), and Dinosaur Park. Unfortunately, the drive through safari park was closed for the winter. Swimming seems to be the crowd favorite so we have gone 4 times. There are some sweet slides with special effects.
Yesterday, the older boys and dad went to a ropes course while the littles and I went swimming. Everyone had fun.

Wednesday is court at 10:00 AM. If you are reading this from Central time zone back in the States, we will be in court at 4:00 AM. If you wake in the middle of the night, say a prayer.

The kids are ready for a change. Wednesday we go to Warsaw after court. It is a 5 hour drive, and then we will be there for another 3-5 weeks. We are all ready for American things.

#1 is still really helpful. He is a good negotiator and helps us understand the ways around town. He wants to cook us dinner every night.
#2 has a really wonderful laugh. He is a fun kid and tries to entertain the littles when he can. He is the one that calls me "mommy" the most frequently.
#3 loves his daddy. He likes having his back scratched and splashing at the pool. He is getting brave in the swimming pool. Yesterday, he walked around the entire wall hand over hand. YAHOO!
#4 is starting to use her words more and more. It is a blessing to know that she understands the power her words have. 

May the Lord use their skills and talents for his glory all the days of their lives. 

A few highlights from our time here:

1. washing clothes in the bathtub with fabric softener instead of detergent. Driving 1 hour to Tesco to buy detergent. Rewashing/wringing out all the clothes then having land lady ask if she could wash our clothes in her machine.

2. Following google maps to get to Dinosaur Park and having it take us through a field instead of the highway we thought we were supposed to be on.

3. Positive visit from the social workers. 

4. Walks with little girl in the Ergo.

5. Judo with daddy.

6. Night time hide and seek.

7. Hearing the funny English things our kids say... ex. Mom: "Are you ready?" #3: "Set Go!"... #1 "I do not know Polish"... 

More to come later but we are all ready to get out of the house...

Friday, October 18, 2013

End of week 2...

The last 2 weeks have been filled with glimpses of God's glory. Future dad and I have never been more tired or fulfilled. Our children are wonderful and fun. 

They way #3 keeps his giggle inside melts me each and every time. He loves his daddy and is his hip buddy. Current favorites: daddy, taking pictures and eating.

Our oldest is a typical leader and helper. He is quick to come to our rescue when we need help ordering food or hanging our clothes on the line to dry. Current favorites: Judo, football and tablet time.

Little girl is loving the attention of all the people in the house and is starting to use her English words to get what she wants. Current favorites: carrying around the cat, Dora, building blocks.

#2 is the quickest with hugs and snuggles. When he does something awesome, he really soaks up the encouragement. Current favorites: swinging REALLY high, taking funny faced selfies, and nighttime snuggles. 

We are still living with the foster family until Sunday we think. They have been amazing at preparing our children for us and incorporating us into their routines. We could not be more grateful for the last 2 weeks. With all that said, it is time for us to go and learn to be a family. We have a week before court and want to be able to have some family time with the 6 of us before we see the judge. Earlier this week, we went and looked at a potential apartment to move into but it had 0 bedrooms. That wasn't going to work for us. 
Today, we looked at a house to rent and we will likely move in there on Monday.  It was very small (about 400 sq ft. split between 2 floors), but it had a lot of beds, so it will work for us.  It is also way out in the countryside in an amazingly beautiful location among woods and lakes and little villages.  The house may be small, but the countryside will provide plenty of opportunities for fun (assuming it doesn't rain, which it seems to do pretty often).  Also, the landlady is going to cook lunch for us (lunch here is the big meal of the day) from her own organic garden.  It will be challenging, but it has the potential to be a really cool experience.  Pray for us during this time that we will be able to fill the days with fun bonding activities and that we will continue to grow closer as a because of this time.

Random picture of one of the back yard gardens. The dog chases the cat into those trees often.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Today was AWESOME!

Today was awesome!

Everyday has been great, but today, some things clicked. This is the day I want to remember when we have rough days. There are 6 of us learning each other, so rough days are a matter of when... not if.

We played outside this morning on the swings and some soccer. Then the social workers came to do a visit. We are going to be in the foster home until the 21st then probably move to an apartment in the region here. Court is on the 30th.

We took a trip to Karford this afternoon. It is the Polish equivalent to a grocery store. We took all the kids. The two older boys had earned some money, so they bought some things. We made it out of there with all our groceries, 2 match box cars and 2 pieces of chocolate, and all 4 kids. Not bad for our first trip.

We went to McDonalds for lunch at 3:30. When I realized the time, I was surprised that we didn't have a melt down in the grocery.

After lunch, we came back to the house and went to the park. The park is a 2 mile walk from the house, and 2 miles back. All 4 kids made the trip without complaining... I was so impressed.

Today was the first day without any computer time! YAY! It can be done!

Continue saying prayers for our bonding and attachment.

P.S. #3's first English words were "Catch me!" That pretty much sums up our time with him.

Here is an awesome picture of me getting bitten by the kitten "Bestia" in the playroom.

And this was the other picture I could quickly find that didn't have pictures of the kids. It is their built in shelving in the hall... Pretty amazing!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We've met our children!

I have not updated in a while for several reasons... 1. we are too busy loving on our kids. 2. our kids are full of energy, so when they are resting or in bed, so are we. 3.internet is spotty at best so  I'm not sure when this will actually upload.

It is 4:00 in the afternoon here. It is 9:00 AM in Alabama. 

Our children are awesome. They live in a foster home and have been here for 3 years. They have invited us to come in and live in their home for the next week or so.  We already feel like part of the family. We are trying not to rock the boat too much, while still acting like parents. The foster parents have the hardest job ever. They invite children in their home, love them like their own and then they watch them leave. there are 12 people in this house right now. In a week or so, there will only be 6. the house will be very quiet.

We love them so much. Bonding has gone well and we are able to talk about our parenting, while still having others in the house to help us.

Tomorrow, we are going to try an outing with just our family. we've heard that there is a pool and a bowling alley in town and the family has a van we can borrow. (We live out in the Polish "country").

We are not putting any names or pictures on the blog because they aren't our official children yet. Our immediate family has some pictures they can show you, but they can't be put on the internet. 

Some of our favorite things:
Snuggles with our kids.
#2's hugs
#1's smile
#4's laugh
#3's imagination 
Our love for them
The walk we took yesterday as a family alone.

Some Prayers that have been answered:
That the name conversation would go well. It was awesome and the kids picked the names we wanted them to have. 
That our first meeting would go well. It was perfect. We played and learned some about each other. 
The first night, Future Dad said "This only went so perfect because people prayed the snot out of this day!" He is right.

Some prayer requests:
That our bonding would continue to go well
that we would learn our children's preferences and personalities better
That we will have the energy and patience when we need it.
That sleep would come more readily (still jetlagged)

Thanks for the prayers and encouraging emails.
We feel so blessed and loved.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

For real.. one more sleep

Today, we left Warsaw at 1:30 PM and drove to our children's town. We are in Gorzow Wlkp. I'll be calling it GW from now on. It is a nice town of 120,000 people. Tomorrow morning at 9:30AM (2:30 AM central time), we will go to the local adoption center and have a meeting, then travel with everyone to meet the kids. 
Tonight we interviewed a translator to work with us while we are in the city. That should be a good option for us to call for a few hours a day if we need it. We will try not to use her too much because we want the children to bond with us instead of her.
We are eating well and sleeping pretty well.
I think I may have dodged jetlag. Guess we will find out.

Good night!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Only one more sleep

In college, one of my roommates would count days by telling how many more sleeps it was... I remember thinking it was a strange saying... "Only 2 more sleeps til I go home", or "Only 5 more sleeps until Spring Break". I don't think she used that phrase to talk about undesirable things... for example, I never heard "Only 4 more sleeps until my final" or "Only 3 more sleeps until I have my wisdom teeth removed". 

With all that said, we are in Poland. We are in a fun little hotel in Warsaw. We will be here until tomorrow morning, then after breakfast, we are off to the town where our kids are. I think we may meet them tomorrow. We are excited and blessed.

That means... only one more sleep until we meet our kids!

P.S. Happy Birthday to my sweet friend Misty!

Friday, October 4, 2013

watch out Poland! Here we come!

In ten minutes, we board the plane to go to Warsaw. We have been delayed 3.5 hours. We have enjoyed the time together. We are turning off our phones from now until we return to the States. Email, Facebook, and blog comments are all welcome. We meet our kids Sunday or Monday. I'm so nervous and excited!
Got to see a college roommate here in Chicago! Sweet friends all over the world love our kids already! Next blog will be from Poland! YAY!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

4 more days

In four days, I will meet you... and you... and you... and you. I will know the ones my soul has longed for. I will finally know the feeling of my children's arms wrapped around me. The arms of the children who will make me a mother. You my precious children will be forever home. I want to count your toes, rock you to sleep, kiss your face and watch you breathe. You will be home. Your dad and I miss you very much. Our house feels empty and quiet. People keep telling us how much our life is going to change... how busy we will become... how we will no longer have time for ourselves... and we are ready. We were made to be your parents. We welcome the chaos with open arms and open hearts because God welcomes our chaos every day. We welcome you. We love you. Dear treasures, we are coming. Wait 4 more days.... 4 more long days. We are coming,
Mom and Dad

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The song...

Have you ever heard a song and had it stop you in your tracks?

This song is the perfect song for how I feel about our children.

"I've missed you, but I haven't met you.. Oh but I want to. How I do"