“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

James 1:27

Our cell phone number in Ukraine is: +38 097 828 9477. We are 8 hours ahead of Texas time. We can receive text but cannot send them. You can also reach us by email at joniredding@hotmail.com.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Super Social Worker and a few other things

Our social worker is awesome!  I've mentioned her awesomeness before when she came to our rescue with her super power notary.  She started working on amending the Home Study as soon as I called her around 2:45 this afternoon.  She called me at 4:30 pm and said she was on her way to have it notarized and she would meet me at the post office.  So by noon tomorrow, the amended Home Study will be in the right hands!  Oh, what the Comal County Clerk's office could learn from this lady!   I did hear today that the SDA (State Dept. of Adoptions) in Ukraine won't accept submissions for the 1st 2 weeks in April - which is when we will probably have the much needed I-171h and be ready to submit.  That means that we won't be submitted until the week of April 18th.  If we had been submitted on our original submission date we would probably be traveling at the end of April, now it's looking like Mid May.  I was counting on being in Ukraine for Jody's 40th birthday on May 5th so I could avoid planning a party.  Looks like I will have to think of something.

We received a $100 donation today from my really good friend's parents.  Thank you!!  Also, a friend of mine is buying one of the cowhide rugs that was donated to our garage sale!   So, now we are up to $13,305.  AWESOME!!!!!  Praise God!

Another praise:  I told our adoption story at MOPs tonight which I was really nervous to do.  It went fine - I don't know how it sounded but I think I said everything I planned to say.  I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to share our experience and I'm really thankful that its over.  Thanks for the prayers!

Oh, last thing.  There is an adoptive family that is in desperate need of your prayers right now.  You can read their story here.  They are appealing a judge's decision that wouldn't allow them to adopt a child with Down Syndrome that they have been trying to adopt for 2 years.

Letter from USCIS

I got a letter from Department of Homeland Security today that says that our Home Study is missing some information.  Our social worker is going to revise it and get it to me tomorrow.  I will mail it back to them as soon as I can and then I really hope they hurry up! I think it just depends on what officer reads your Home Study because our social worker does them all the time for Ukraine.  She follows the exact same format and they get approved.  Oh well, it’s out of my control.  I’m just so anxious to get to our girl!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No submission tomorrow

Well I guess we won’t be submitted tomorrow because we still haven’t received our I-171h.  They did email me last week and said they would try to get to it as quick as possible but there were still several cases ahead of us.  So, we are just waiting.  While it’s frustrating I keep thinking that maybe there is a purpose in this delay.  Maybe our little girl isn’t available just yet or maybe there is a particular judge we could get based on our timing.  Who knows?  Only God, so I’m going to be patient and trust that He has a plan in this. 

I have been running a high fever and feeling bad for a few days so I went to the doctor today and found out that I have strep throat.  Bad timing because Jody is out of town all week and we have tons of activities.  I started my antibiotic today so I should be feeling better soon. 

Another blessing!!!!  We received another $150 in donations this week.  Some of that was from someone we don’t even know.  Isn’t that awesome?  Here’s the part of that that’s not so awesome – just when I sat down to write this,  I noticed that the check was torn in half.  I’m guessing Cole is responsible.  Ugh.  I wonder if I can tape it back together?

We went on Friday to apply for passports for Ryan and Ellie.  We aren’t sure who will be going for the 2nd trip but it takes up to 6 weeks to get passports so we decided to go ahead and get them just in case.  We went to the Comal County Courthouse again and once again they were RUDE.  This was our 3rd trip there and we have dealt with 3 different people in that office and they were all rude.  I keep hearing how jobs are so hard to get right now so it seems like anyone with a bad attitude could easily be replaced.  Today when I went to get my prescription filled at Walgreens, the lady working was so rude to me and also the receptionist at my Doctor’s office was rude – as usual.  I think God must be trying to teach me something because I’m noticing this everywhere I go.

Last thing – please pray for me on Thursday.  I’m sharing my testimony and our adoption story with a MOPs group.  I don’t speak in groups – EVER!  Seriously, I can’t remember a time that I have ever done this.  But I am passionate about this and have come to know God so much more intimately through this that I really want to share it.  Pray that I can express it with the right words.  I have a lot of ideas of what I want to say but I haven’t started organizing them yet.  Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Practicing posting a video

video


I have spent the last several hours trying to get my videos from my camcorder to a DVD from my computer.  I still haven't figured it out, but I did figure out how to post a video! Now I will be able to post videos from Ukraine if I can remember how I did this!  This is Cole singing his ABC's and then a song he learned at Granny's house.  I hope I figure this thing out soon because I am about to go crazy!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Submission Date!

Our Home Study was registered today and we received a Submission Date of March 23rd.  The only problem is that we still have not received our I-171h (approval from US Immigration).  I have been expecting it for a couple of weeks.  I called today but I had to leave a message so hopefully someone will call me back soon.  I need to get that in time to send it to Ukraine by the 23rd or we will have to get a later Submission Date.  If we do get the approval in time to be submitted on the 23rd, we will likely be traveling toward the end of April.  Wow!  I'm getting really excited and I can't believe it is this close!  For those who aren't familiar with how this works, here is a quick overview of the rest of the process:

* Our Dossier will be submitted to the State Department of Adoption on March 23rd.
* About 2 weeks later we should be given an State Department of Adoption (SDA) appointment date.  This date will usually be in about 2 to 4 weeks.  Recently it has been only 2 weeks.
* We will travel to Ukraine for our SDA appointment where we will be shown files of several children who meet our criteria (girl - ages 6 to 9).  We will hopefully find a good match and then request a referral for that child.
* The next day we will receive the referral and travel to the orphanage where the child lives.  This could be in the same city or sometimes it includes an 18 hour train ride.
* Once we meet the child, we must all (Me, Jody, and the child) agree to the adoption.  If it is a good match and everyone agrees we will begin the paperwork to get ready for our court date.  We will also be able to visit her each day and develop our relationship.  If the match is not right for some reason (there are many things that can go wrong), we would then request a 2nd SDA appointment.  A family may have up to 3 SDA appointments.  Of course we will be praying that we will only need 1.
*  We will remain in Ukraine until our court date.  Once we have the court hearing, the child is officially ours but there is a 10 day waiting period before it is final.
*  We will travel home for the waiting period because by then we will have been gone for 2 1/2 to 3 weeks and I know I will be missing my kids terribly.
*  When the 10 day waiting period is over, I will fly back to Ukraine with Ellie and ????.  Jody really needs to be here working but I'm not sure someone else will be available to go with me.  I don't want to go alone though.  A lot depends on the time frame so we will just have to wait and see.  Definitely something you can be praying about!
*  At the end of the waiting period, we get to take our girl away from the orphanage forever!  She will be with us, running around getting Visas, passports, medical exams, ect.  Once we have all of the necessary forms and documents, we will bring her home to her new family!

I just can't wait to have her here with us!  In the meantime, I will continue working on our scrapbook, getting the girls room ready, and trying to figure out what to pack for our trip to Ukraine.   I have been trying to think of some fun things to take for us to do when we visit our girl each day.  It seems like you spend a lot of time sitting together in a room so it's nice if you have something to do.  I would LOVE to hear some ideas.  We have to pack light so it can't take up much room and she won't speak English so keep that in mind.  I would love to do some things that will help us start to get to know each other better.

I have been trying to figure out possible time frames but it's so uncertain.  Originally we were going to take Ryan (11) and Ellie (10) back for the 2nd trip but then we thought it would be right in the middle of baseball season and Ryan couldn't miss.  Now that I have his schedule, it might be after baseball season so he could go after all.  I wish I knew exact dates because then I would know if I should get him a passport or not.  It costs $110 so I hate to pay for it and then not need it.  But I would also hate for the dates to work out and then he couldn't go because I didn't get him a passport.  Oh, all these decisions!

Our Spring Break has been fun.  My sister and her family have been here and we've enjoyed spending time with them.  She and her husband left today and the kids are staying until the weekend.  Ryan has a couple of baseball games this week and we will probably go watch some of our friends games too.  We enjoy hanging out at the Little League fields.  So far Ryan's team is really fun.  All the parents have been positive and encouraging and hopefully it will stay that way.  (it seems like baseball brings out the worst in some people)  Jacob's games start next week so that should be fun.  With cousins here all week, my kids have stayed up way too late and they are exhausted.  They are ALL asleep right now.  My house is completely silent - something that is very unusual around here.  I will have to wake them up in a little bit to get ready for Ryan's game.  I'm off to check to mail - I will let you know as soon as that approval arrives!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

GARAGE SALE SUCCESS!!!!

The garage sale was a huge success!  We raised about $2050!  Can you believe it!  God is so good!  Thank you everyone who helped out!  So many people donated items to us.   Also, thank you to everyone who helped price and get things ready.  And thanks to those who helped pack up and take everything leftover to Goodwill and the Women’s Shelter.  It was a lot of work but worth it because we are so much closer to the amount we need to bring our girl home!

garage sale

 

Part of that money was raised by the kids in the bake sale.  Dannett worked so hard baking a ton of things for the kids to sell.  Several other people brought things too and we really appreciate it.  They made $82 and they were so proud! 

bake sale

 

We are so close to our goal and we still have a few things to sell.  We have an iPhone 3G, 2 cowhide rugs, a cute kids chair and ottoman, and a printer/scanner/fax/copy machine.  Let me know if you would like to purchase any of those.  A couple from our church was very generous and donated a bunch of great stuff to the garage sale.   She gave us a vase and told us that it was a collectors item and it might be valuable.  We looked it up and it is selling for as much as $220.  Wow!  I’m not quite sure how to go about selling that though.  Any ideas?  It’s Roseville Pottery.  We are so close to our goal!  We are at $12,955.  WE also were approved for the other loan which will be $14,500.  We will only have to have that for about a year and can pay it off when we get our adoption tax credit next March.  We will get $13,000 from the federal government and $1,500 from Texas.  We have to pay a $75 application fee and 8.9% interest on the loan. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

GARAGE SALE/BAKE SALE Fundraiser

We are having our garage sale tomorrow to help raise money for our adoption.  We are also going to have a bake sale which the kids are really excited about!  Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed!  We have so much great stuff!  It’s such a blessing to have our friends and family share in our excitement and help us raise the money we need for our adoption.  Seriously this is the biggest garage sale ever!  I have been organizing and pricing for the last 15 hours without stopping and I still have a couple of hours to go.  I’m exhausted but I think it will all be worth it tomorrow.  I will post pictures then.  Jody, Ellie, Ryan, and Cole are sleeping in the tent in the front yard because of all of the stuff outside.  Fun!  Mimi and Papa are here so Jacob wanted to sleep with Papa instead.  Ok,   I’ve got to get back to work so I can maybe sleep for a couple of hours.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

DOSSIER IN THE MAIL!!!

I can’t believe it but our Dossier is in the mail!  It’s on it’s way to our agency and they will mail it to Ukraine as soon as they get it.  Once it arrives in Ukraine it will be translated and we will be registered with the Department of Adoption.  Then we will receive a submission date that will most likely be in a couple of weeks.  After our Dossier is submitted, we will then receive an SDA appointment date.  I read on another blog that from submission to travel was only 1 month for them.  If we follow that schedule, we will be traveling in the middle to end of April!  Wow!  The paperwork has been very stressful and time consuming and it is such a relief to be finished.  I laid everything out to make sure it was all there and I took a picture.  I wonder how many hours each one of these papers represents!

P1010001

We haven’t received our I-171H (approval from Immigration) but we are expecting it any day.  That is all that I have left to do - one more trip to a notary, one more trip to Austin for an apostille, and one more trip to the post office. 

Now that my time won’t be consumed with paperwork, I will be focusing on the garage sale and figuring out where we will borrow the rest of the money.  Then I can move on to the fun stuff – like getting her room ready and getting a scrapbook together to take with us to Ukraine.  I have been taking tons of pictures so we can try to show our girl what her life will be like here.  Also,  I’ve read that many times it eases tension between us and the Ukrainians that we might be working with.  It seems they are very skeptical about Americans wanting to adopt Ukrainian children.  It seems so much depends on who we end up working with there.  Please be praying for those people!   In the next few days, I will post how the rest of the process works.  I hope to also have time to post some fun things that have gone on in the past month of so.  I kept meaning to post but never had the time.  For example, we had a SNOW day!  I can’t wait for you to see those pictures!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Sweet Boys!

Ellie has been so stressed about her writing TAKS test which was today.  For any of you who aren’t familiar with this, it is the test required by Texas that each child must pass in order to move on to the next grade.  She has had some rough spots in school this so she is worried that she wouldn’t pass it.  I’m not actually worried about it because her real struggle is with test taking – she gets confused and mixed up from multiple choice questions (which I am convinced that someone wrote to try and trick kids into choosing the wrong answer).  She gets her test taking skills from her dad unfortunately.  Smile  Jody is better than me at almost everything else in the world, but this is one area where I have him beat!  I am a really good test taker.  This was really beneficial in college where I could study very little and still get pretty good grades – not because I’m so smart, but for some reason I can take tests well.  Anyway, we all prayed for her last night and this morning.  I asked Ryan and Jacob if they would both promise to pray for Ellie today anytime they thought of the test.  I told her that Cole and I would pray for her throughout the day too.  The school counselor called me about 30 minutes before school was out and told me that she hadn’t even started her final draft so she would probably have to stay after school.  Cole and I stopped right then and said a prayer for her because I could imagine how stressed she must be from writing ALL DAY.  In about 25 minutes, she called and said that she was finished and would be there at pick up.  So, when I picked the kids up she was in the best mood.  I thought it was because the test was over but then she handed me an envelope containing these:

scan0001

This (above) was a letter from Jacob (kindergarten).  He thought of it on his own and asked his teacher to help him with some of the spelling!  So sweet!  This one (below) is from Ryan – my 5th grader.   His class was practicing letter writing format so it was an assignment.  That’s why it seems a bit formal.  Another girl in his class picked Ellie and he said he had to beg her to trade him.  (I’m actually surprised that he would even TALK to a girl at all.)  Ryan is an amazing student and school comes very easy for him but he knows how Ellie has struggled this year and stressed about this test.   I love it!  I cried when I read these and now I’m crying again just typing about it!  I tell them all the time that I can’t believe God chose me to be their mom!scan0002