Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Talked to Anna

What an angel my caseworker is. She answers the same questions over and over. I called her today to ask what exactly we are waiting on. She said that our letter still hasnt arrived from Moscow and that they may wait to send them in a bulk shipment to the region. There were lots of families who traveled around the same time as us. She said that the coordinator has already translated our documents and when they get the letters things move pretty quickly. Unfortunately everyone is shutting down next week.

Jason and I spent the weekend downtown shopping for Christmas. It was great! I miss the city. Sorry Mom, but one day I would love to move back down there. We were able to meet up with Sandra 2 for breakfast. :) We traveled with her to Russia on Trip 1. Its a great kinship now, makes me feel closer to Maks just seeing her! :) I think all of the families waiting feel exactly the same, anxious and impatient.

We got our crib from Buy Buy Baby yesterday. Our chair is in at Little Deb N Heir and now we're just waiting for the dresser. We put the crib together and put the sheets/bumper/blanket on it. The room is starting to look more and more ready.

We're leaving for Florida soon so I probably won't post any more updates until January. Lets hope that we get some GREAT news in mid-January!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Other Families

We received word that the 2 families who had court on Monday both passed. One family even had the 10 day waiting period waived! That is fabulous for them! They will be arriving home on Christmas day. I'm not sure what they did to have the waiting period waived. I'll need to ask when they get home, that would be a dream come true!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Waiting Until the New Year

One of the families traveling this month was kind enough to take our note and bottle of lotion to Maks. It makes me feel better that they will be there in his baby home. I wish they could see him and give him a hug for us. Or send me pictures so I could see if he's changed much in the past month.

The Russian court system is about to shut down for the year again. They won't open back up until January 15th or something like that. So the earliest we will travel is February. Maks will be almost 21 months by then. I'm so sad that I could miss that much time with him!

On another note, I accepted a new job. Its still with the same bank but I'll be working in a different line of business. It will still give me a good challenge, but provide more flexibility in my schedule. I was reading that parenting book again last night. (I think I should stop) and I got to the section that gives advice on working parents after an adoption. They basically said that you should do whatever it takes to have one parent stay home with the child for a year or two. She said, take out a 2nd mortgage, get a family loan, but try to stay home. Apparently day care is a bad thing (too similar to orphanage life), family care is a bad thing (bonding with someone other than you) and multiple care givers is a bad thing (obvious bonding issues). So Mom, you need to give me a loan. :) Just kidding.

All you can do is live your life and hope for the best!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Four families got court dates in Kemerovo for December. I'm not sure if they were families that traveled right before us or not. I talked to our caseworker this week and apparently all we're waiting on is the letter from Moscow to the region. They can't set up the court dates until they get that letter. Apparently that takes between 2 weeks and 2 months.

We got some baby lotion for Maks and are sending it to the orphanage. The lady who is helping us learn Russian translated a note for us to the Orphanage director. Mak's poor little legs were so dry, I don't want him to go through this winter like that. Hopefully they'll get the letter and lotion in a few days. Sending stuff to Russia is super expensive! It cost us $160 to Fed Ex our documents.

Hopefully we get some great news soon!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to Waiting

Jason and I worked very hard to get as much paperwork done as humanly possible before we left for our Court Dossier. When you adopt from Russia you have to submit two sets of documents, one before you receive a referral and one after you meet the child referred to you. All we had to do when we got home was to pick up our blood tests, copy all of the paperwork, have it apostilled and drop it off. I think everything has been sent off to Russia. That is great news!

So now all we can do is wait some more... We were told it could be between 3 and 6 months before we get to go back. Now that we've met him and know his little personality and sizes, I've started to buy him some clothes. I bought his first pair of little pajamas today. I think I'll keep them forever. When he's 20 I'll be showing his dates his first pair of pajamas. Mom came up and we went to get a rocking chair at Little Deb N Heir in Naperville. We'll start getting his furniture soon too. Can't wait to see what it will all look like together!

I'll let you know as soon as we get any more information!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 5 (Nov 18)-The Longest Day Ever

We got up at 4:00am to get ready and met Aloyna and Alexei downstairs at 5:30am to head to the Novokuznetsk airport. This airport was nicer than the Kemerovo airport, it had just been renovated. Aloyna could not come with us past security so she gave us direction to get up and follow the crowd once they started moving toward the door. Really no one spoke English in this airport. Luckily there was only 1 flight at that time so we didn't have any trouble.

Pictures of the Novokuznetsk Airport and my "Ice Field" :)
We were again taken by bus to the plane out on the runway. So surreal to board a plane on what I would say was an ice-field (ok that might be a little bit of an exaggeration) in the dark (it didn't get light outside until 9am in Sibera) at 9 degrees below zero. This flight was on time and we got into Moscow with no problem (5 hour flight).

Our flight was delayed in Moscow to Washington DC causing us to miss our DC to Chicago connection. It was ok though, this was our first delay and it was only a 3 hour delay. This time in the Domodedovo airport we were in gate area A and there were a bunch of cafes. We found a Sbarro, PIZZA! and ate before heading through security.

Our flight home was fine and we were able to sleep for a few hours. Got into DC, caught the 7:30pm flight and landed around 8:15pm CST. We said good-bye to Sandra and Sandra and headed out to meet my Mom & Dad for the ride home. We finally walked in our door roughly 31 hours after we left Novokuznetsk.

What an adventure. I will post pictures soon!

Now we need your prayers that our return is quick and we can bring Maks home where he belongs.

Day 4 (Nov 17)- Seeing Maks Again!

Jason and I both woke up around 4:00am on Tuesday. Our bodies were still a bit off from the travel. We met Sandra & Sandra at the restaurant for breakfast after trying to get on to our computer in the computer room. If you are traveling soon, don't bother with your computer. Just use theirs. The keyboard is in Russian but it does have English letters on it too. I didn't think about this but they have to have English letters because the Internet is all in English (Aloyna told us this). They can get on to Russian sites but still have to enter the web addresses in English.

The food is very different in Russia. Not bad, just different. The best food advice we received was to bring protein bars and other quick things to take with you. I don't think any of the Russian people we were with ate lunch. We didn't ever stop for food, so bring lots of protein bars, granola bars, cereal bars, snack packs, etc! We had a little breakfast and then met Alonya at 8:40am. She and Alexei our driver, took us back to Prokopyevsk to the Baby House again. We saw Dr. Ludmilla again and asked her any extra questions we had after meeting the children. Dr. Ludmilla is a wonderful lady, so caring and obviously connected to the children. By the way, Victoria was adorable too! She was a little blonde girl with the cutest pig-tails and sweetest face.

The caretakers brought Maks and Victoria in again. He was wearing the same little outfit as the day before and still looked adorable in it! It was a happiness I have never felt to see his face again. Like going home after you haven't been there in a really long time.

We went back into one of the playrooms and spent 2 hours with Maks. Boy does he like his Daddy. Jason is like a big toy that can throw him and run with him, and make him fly around the room. Maks overall was a really quiet little man, but we got a few sounds out of him that day. As Jason says, they were priceless. I love his little giggles. We took Maks some goldfish crackers on Day 1 and some Fruit Loops on Day 2. He loves to eat!! Really the entire time he spent eating (thank you Sandra for bringing those cookies!) and falling down. His walking is still a little unstable. :)

The 2 hours were up SO fast. We didn't get a lot of warning that it was time to leave and the caretaker came to get him. We were not ready to go. It was heart-breaking to hand him over knowing we wouldn't see him again for a few months. I think heart-breaking is too weak of a word.

We met Dr. Ludmilla again and signed the papers that we wanted to proceed with the adoption.

When we left the orphanage Aloyna took us to a small souvenir shop. They had the cutest little Russian nesting dolls or Matryoshka dolls as they are called.

We went back to the hotel and asked Aloyna to take us to another cafe nearby. We found another Russian restaurant to try. They had an English menu and we were able to order some chicken wings, potato pancakes, bellinis (russian pancakes) filled with Chicken & Mushrooms and french fries. So healthy, I know.

We headed back to the hotel and started packing for the long trip home.

Meeting the (little) Man of our Dreams!

I feel this part needs its own space.

We arrived at the Prokopyevsk baby house around 1:00pm in the afternoon. Prokopyevsk is 13 hours ahead of Illinois time so it was around midnight at home. Keep in mind we had only slept about 5 hours in the past 36 hours!

We met our translator Alonya (a different Alonya than in Moscow) before we went inside. Dr. Ludmilla, the orphanage director was with some of her staff so we had to wait about 10 minutes to meet her. We used the bathroom and it was in a room with an above ground pool and a Little Mermaid mural painted on the wall. So cute! The pool was not filled as the Baby House was being renovated, but they did say they use it during normal times. Its great that they expose the kids to water and swimming in Siberia! Overall the Baby House was very clean and well-kept.

Once Dr. Ludmilla was available we were all brought in to meet with her. She asked if we were ok reviewing the information for both children together and we said of course. They started with Sandra's daughter Victoria. After about 5 minutes, there was a knock at the door and someone asked Dr. Ludmilla a question in Russian. Aloyna turned to us and said, would you guys like to meet your son while Sandra reviews her information with Dr. Ludmilla and we said "OF COURSE!!!!" 1 minute later, Elena (a caretaker) came in with the cutest little boy I have ever seen and set him down on the ground. He just stood there swinging his little arms and looking around.

I don't know how to describe what we were feeling other than "life altering happiness and elation" at that point! I went over to pick him up and he let me. He didn't cry, just looked at me. Their nap time was usually from 1pm-3pm so they had woken him up to come to us. He was a little sleepy but overall just interested in what was going on. I can't post any pictures of him, but let me say...he is perfect. Absolutely perfect. We could not have wished for anything different or better. I'm starting to tear-up just writing this, we miss him so much already.

Dr. Ludmilla went over all of the information they had on Maks with us including how often he had been sick, when he started teething, when he sat up, when he started walking, etc... And then we were taken to the playroom to spend a few glorious hours with him. It went SO quickly. If you are waiting to travel, take your video camera and video as much as possible. We keep watching ours and it just doesnt seem like enough. We have about 45 mins of video from the 2 days, but when you can't see your son for 3-4 months every single minute is precious.

They came to get us and let us know it was time to leave around 3:45pm. Maks went back with his caretaker and we headed to Novokuznetsk, a town about 1 hour away. We had to exchange some money still as we had trouble doing so in Moscow. Aloyna took us to a bank and then to the hotel, the Guest House, it was called. Our room was nice (freezing but nice). We had a bedroom, a bathroom and a separate living room with a refrigerator. There was a restaurant downstairs and Sandra, Sandra, myself and Jason went down to eat around 5pm. At this point I cannot tell you how tired we all were. I literally was falling asleep at the table and went back to bed before dinner was even over. We fell asleep around 6:30pm.

November 16, 2009 is going to go down as the best day of our lives. Really.

Pictures of our Room/Hotel in Novokuznetsk

Day 3 (Nov 16)- The Best Day Ever!

Siberian Airlines freaked me out. I'm not a good flyer and the thought of flying into Siberia on an airline that only handles Siberia worried me. It shouldn't have. They were great. The service was great. They came around with newspapers, then with food, then with drinks, then with coffee & tea, etc... They did speak limited English. The Russian people definitely fly differently than us (at least the ones on our plane). Someone was smoking on the plane and then they were standing up getting their luggage while we were still on the landing runway. Very interesting stuff. :) By the way, we landed in a blizzard. Not a Siberian blizzard, but a blizzard by any United States standard. My courage was at an all time high. Maks really does help me in that way... :)

We got into the Kemerovo airport (very small but efficient place) and finally met up with the other family traveling with our adoption agency. Sandra Parra and her Mom, Sandra. (not a typo) We knew they were on our flight to Kemerovo but couldn't find them before we took off. They were great! We were so lucky to travel with them, a lot of fun and made the trip even better than it already would have been!

Pictures of: Loading up the car out of the Kemerovo Airport, Our Breakfast of Champions!, The streets of Kemerovo, The highway to Prokopyevsk, The Town Name Sign

The four of us met our Coordinator #2, Anna in the airport. Basically all of our travels were incredibly smooth. All flights on time and all Coordinators/Translators were on time. It really was a blessing. Anna took us to a cafe, Travelers Coffee and got us some breakfast and read through the medical files of Maks and Sandra's soon-to-be daughter Victoria. Overall Maks is very healthy! Yeah!

She then sent us on our way with Sergei our driver down to Prokopyevsk and the baby house to meet Maks! It was a three hour drive through Siberia on snow covered roads. If you've ever been to Jamaica, the drivers drive about the same way. The only difference was that the roads in Siberia were covered with snow and ice. Sergei was an awesome driver!

Finally we arrived at the baby house! We were going to meet Maks!!!

Day 2 (Nov 15)- Moscow!

The view of Moscow from the plane was non-existent as the sky was overcast and gloomy. No big deal, we were thrilled to be in Russia! We got off of the plane and headed straight to immigration. They didn't speak much English, but it went very quickly. It definitely helped being toward the front of the plane as the lines got long after we were through. We got our luggage after waiting about five minutes and headed out of the baggage area to meet up with our Coordinator #1.

We found the sign saying "Petersons" and met Alonya our Coordinator. She was very sweet, friendly and her English was perfect. One of the other families who had traveled before us gave us the tip to get a room at the nearby hotel after they spent all day in the Domodedovo airport in Moscow. We had emailed our Caseworker before leaving and asked if this was possible. She connected with our Coordinator Alonya before we arrived and set up the plan. I would HIGHLY recommend this to any family traveling in the next month as it was $170 well spent! Our flight arrived at 10:30am Moscow time and our next flight to Kemerovo did not take off until 11:30pm that night so we had 13 hours to kill.

Alonya helped us find the shuttle and went with us over to the Airport Hotel. She got us checked in and up to our room. We said good-bye and then were able to sleep for 5 hours or so before getting up to take showers and head back to the airport. The shuttle picked us up right outside the airport (although they say its every 15 mins I think its more like every 30 mins) and dropped us off. One interesting note, the traffic in Moscow is CRAZY. It took us about 25 minutes to go a 1/2 mile!

We got to the airport and checked in as Aloyna had directed us to earlier. The check in counters are a bit different in that they are not set up for specific airlines. They have electronic monitors above each one and they change as the flight times change! Finding food in the Domodedovo airport was not easy. There are lots of cafes but everything was in Russian and we were surprised by how few people spoke English in the Moscow airport. We were in Russia though and of course Russian people don't expect us to speak Russian everywhere in the USA, so you have to just go with it. We ordered some tempura shrimp and some mozzarella sticks. We had pointed to the Chicken Sandwich on the menu (they had pictures) but the waitress shook her head and said no. :) We didn't know why but, what are you gonna do?

A few short hours later we boarded a bus to be taken to our Siberian Airlines plane. They don't have gates, so you are taken outside to board. We were headed to Kemerovo!

Day 1 (Nov 14)- Leaving for Russia

Pictures of our pre-trip packing, Jason with the Obamas, Us having a drink before our long flight to Moscow, & Landing in Moscow

Woke up early, Mom & Dad picked us up, we went to breakfast and then were off to O'Hare for our flight on United to Washington DC. The flight was uneventful and quick to Washington (on time!) We had a slight layover in DC of four hours and then were boarded on our United flight to Moscow around 4pm EST. (again, on time!)

A few things about the flight to Moscow...
-We learned our lesson and will do whatever we can to upgrade to Business class in the future. Those little seats were grueling for a 10 hour flight!
-Paying for the annual pass for Economy Plus was the best $$ spent on the trip. Only cost $400 but got us both 5 extra inches of leg room on all United flights. Its good for one year so we can use it for the next 11 mos too! Plus you get closer seats to the front of the plane!
-Never order the chicken :)
-United is a great carrier internationally. The crew was great, gave us free drinks once they knew we were adopting (perfect plan, get the new parents tipsy)

We had our choice of movies and they ran in a loop on the individual screens in front of our seats. We could watch Harry Potter, Julie & Julia, and some other smaller films. I managed to sleep about 1 hour, Jason didn't sleep at all. A mixture of uncomfortable-ness and excitement!

We landed in Moscow right on time.

We're Back!

So Jason and I landed last night around 8:15pm. I'm updating my blog ASAP today for all of my fellow adoptive families. I know these updates from other families were critical to us when we were planning our trip!

Let me start out by saying 2 things...
1. What an adventure!
2. We love Maks & are now working our bum-bum's off to make sure we get back to him as soon as humanly possible!

I'm going to break up our journey by day so its easier for everyone to follow and so I don't forget anything!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I just finished packing. We went shopping tonight and got big black puffy coats. I think I can use one no matter what, but in Siberia it will be perfect. We are taking tons of stuff for the orphanage and for Maks. We are taking a truck, a bear (that has our voices recorded on it, thanks Aunt Leslie), his blanket (thanks Grandma Brockman!), fruit loops (we're going to bribe him to like us :)), goldfish crackers, and a disposable camera to leave at the orphanage for pictures of Maks in between trips 1 and 2 (thanks Adoption Ark Forum Moms!). I'm sure they're going to look at us like we're crazy people.

Dad is sending 2 John Deere tractors, one for the orphanage and one for Maks, although I'm' sure he'll share!

Tonight Jason and I went out to dinner and realized the next time we make this trip we will bringing him home with us. What a life changing moment and time. My friend Tenny said today there are so few moments in your life that are really earth-shattering and life-changing and how great it is that we are about to embark on one of them. He's right, its such a blessing! I can't wait to tell you all about it! Stay tuned!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1 1/2 days!

I'm posting today b/c I don't know if I'll have time tomorrow. We're only going for 5 days but you would think we'll be gone for months with the amount of anxiety I have about packing. Don't want to forget anything! I'm starting to get more nervous about the plane ride, but am headed to the Doctor tomorrow morning for the latest development in pharmacological courage. :)

Our Russian lesson went well. Vera was awesome, telling us all about the dos and don'ts of Russia. She is Russian and lived in Lithuania with her husband. Russian is NOT an easy language. I still have not mastered how to say "hello." I did learn how to say, I love you, My name is Wendy, Whats this, Bathroom, Water, Stop (its the same as stop), Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, and pancakes. :) I should be good. Vera even offered to have a play date with her 4 yr old son when we get back so Maks can keep up with his Russian! That would be awesome.

I don't think I have ever been more excited! No worries, I will post a play by play as soon as we get home!! Thank you everyone for your well-wishes and advice!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day Off

God bless the Veterans. Of course they have done great things for our country and I'm grateful, but I'm also grateful that banks choose to close for Veterans day. Today has given me the opportunity to start getting things organized. At the suggestion of others who have gone before us, I went out and bought cereal and power bars for the trip. I also went to NY & Company to buy some of their dress pants. They are super comfy, no belt pants that will be perfect for the last leg of our journey before we get to the orphanage.

Jason and I are going to meet a Russian Language teacher tonight for a Russian lesson before we go. I know, you can't learn Russian in two hours, but I'm betting you can learn some basic Russian to help you get around. We'll see!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Great Video

Adoption Ark has posted a video on You Tube that is a montage of "First Moments". The first moments that parents met their children. How fitting considering that is exactly what we will be doing 6 days from today. This one will make you cry...
(cut and paste the link, I don't know how to add them on this blog!)

4 more days!

For the past 10 months Maks has been the lifeline we have clung to in a tumultuous, endless sea of challenges and disappointments. No matter what has happened with our pregnancy last year, our inability to carry a child of our own, our failed attempts at IVF, our incredibly challenging and unfair moments with our quest to have a child, Maks has been our sanity, our rock, our chance, our future, our hope. Probably unfair to put that much on the shoulders of one little guy who lives half way around the world and doesn't even know we exist yet. Regardless, he has been the joy and the light that keeps us walking forward. A little guy who helps us believe that we will have a family.

This past week has brought another dose of what feels like insurmountable challenges. So insurmountable that we thought our trip to Russia may not be possible. But Jason and I decided that no matter what, we would find a way to get to him and bring him home. He is already our son. We love him and need him as much, if not more, than he needs us.

It feels surreal that we are leaving to meet him in 4 days. I will finally get to hold him, to hug him, to feel his heart beat and to see him smile! (I hope!) I am so incredibly grateful for all of your support, well wishes, prayers and love. Just know that we are incredibly happy and cannot wait until the day we get to bring him home.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

6 more days!

After months of what seemed like endless waiting, these last few weeks have been flying by. We're working hard at getting our court dossier done and now we only have the medical exams remaining. Last night I started packing. My Mom gave us a suitcase we can take all of the orphanage donations in and then leave in Russia, which will make the trip home a bit lighter. Jason's Mom collected a ton of stuff at her church and it fills up the entire suitcase. Here's our itinerary just in case you wanted to know...

Saturday, Nov 14- Leave OHare at 11:00am, Arrive in DC at 1:59pm
Saturday, Nov 14- Leave DC at 4:05pm, Arrive in Moscow (DME) at 10:30am (next day!)
Sunday, Nov 15th- Hang out in the Moscow Airport until late!
Sunday, Nov 15th- Leave Moscow at 11:30pm, Arrive in Kemerovo at 7:30am (next day!)
Monday, Nov 16th- Travel by car from Kemerovo to Novokusznetsk and MEET MAKS!

I'm starting to feel anxious. Anxious about the flight and anxious about meeting Maks. Of course we are SO excited, but you can't help thinking, "what if he doesn't like us?". Never has there been an introduction with so much build up and anticipation (in my life anyway!) As always, keep us in your prayers for a safe journey and quick return to bring him home.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

13 days until we leave!

Its going by quickly, and thats a great thing! We will officially meet Maks in 15 days. You would think we're going for 4 months instead of 4 days with all of the stuff we are planning to take. One of the first families to travel just got back and she was gracious enough to share her trip details with us. It went well, but was definitely an adventure! It feels like we're part of a small fraternity with all of these other families. We're so grateful not to be going through this alone.

We're having a hard time finding a phone that will work in Siberia. We looked at renting one through a travel company. For $80 American dollars they will meet you at the Moscow airport and drop off/pick up the phone. Apparently though, even their phones have a hard time with signal in the region we are traveling to. Jason and I tabulated that we will be traveling for 31 hours to get to Siberia! I don't like to fly, but I can honestly say I am willing to do just about anything to get to him. Maybe somehow I can sneak him back in our suitcase. :) Just kidding, DCFS.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Less than 3 weeks!

We've stayed busy trying to prepare ourselves for the first trip and all of the court dossier paperwork lately. Time can't go quickly enough over the next 2 1/2 weeks! :) We are so excited to meet little Maks. One update though, I won't be able to post pictures from our first trip until we are back from the 2nd trip and Maks is legally our son. So I started a website that I can share on Shutterfly. It's password protected and we can post both video and photos for our friends and family to see. If you want the password and website, just let me know and I'll email it to you! Time will be a little hectic once we're in Russia so I don't know if I'll post from there, but I will try to do it the day after we get home.

Say a prayer (or a bunch of them!) for us and for little Maks!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Planning Our Trip

Now that we've got the date, all of the craziness has begun. Its great craziness though! We just booked our tickets. We leave on November 14th at 11:00am. We're traveling through Washington DC and then on to Moscow. We have to catch a smaller regional plane from Siberia Airlines to Kemerovo. We'll basically land in Kemerovo around 6:30pm Chicago time on November 15th, or 7:30am (November 16th) in Kemerovo. Lots of planes!

Just in case you were wondering, we'll be meeting Maks around Midnight Chicago time on November 16th, it will be 1:00pm-ish in Kemerovo. Seems chaotic, not sure how one's body figures out when to sleep, when to eat, etc... The good news is that the hotel has a 24 hour restaurant, so you could stay on Chicago time if you want.

We're going to try to post a picture or two after we meet him on the 16th so you all can see his cute little self!

Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes and support. We truly do appreciate it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

TRIP 1!!!!!!!!!!

I have had the BEST day.

Got great news on the surrogacy front- not that it worked yet but that we had a GREAT turnout with Embryos!

And then I got the call we have been PRAYING FOR! We will finally get to meet Mr. Maks on November 16th! I cannot believe it. :)

We travel to Kemerovo, go to the Department of Education to read his medical file and sign off on it, then take a car down to Novokuznetsk. We will then get to meet the little guy.

We'll go to a hotel in the region that night and head back to the Baby House the next day to see him again and officially sign the papers that we want to adopt. And then sadly, we fly home the next day. What a whirlwind it will be! We get to travel with another family, not sure who they are or where they live yet.

A lot for us to do now. Get a Visa, book our flights, buy the gifts for the coordinators, put together a picture book and of course work on our Court Dossier so we can return to get him as soon as humanly possible!!

The typical wait these days between Trip 1 and Trip 2 seems to be 4 months. Let's hope its shorter.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Keeping ourselves busy

Letters in Kemerovo were supposed to have been signed on Thursday or Friday, surprise surprise, they weren't. We're still waiting to hear about the first families to travel.

In the meantime we are keeping ourselves busy by going through IVF for a second time with a gestational carrier. The first time did not work as we used a more experimental method called IVM. The worry is that the hormones from the IVF medications would send my brain into overdrive like it was when I was pregnant. Well so far, so good. My follicles are developed, my Estradiol is high but no migraines. We do our retrieval tomorrow morning downtown Chicago. The transfer will then be on Friday and we'll find out on the 24th if it worked or not. Keep your fingers crossed!

Some really great things happening around us lately so I'm optimistic! Two of my close friends just got married, congrats Atiya & Darius (check out their wedding march in New Orleans on YouTube- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQOEjVnM8Nw) and Sarah & Kevin! (see picture) My Best Friend from the age of 5 Cara just got engaged-who knew! Good job Brett! And my friends Katie & Scott just had their little girl last night, Leah. Can't wait to see her pictures! Baby #4 for the Beierwaltes's. WOW!

With all of this good mojo flowing out there right now, good things are destined to come our way! I know, I'm positive for once, can you believe it!?!?! :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Its October!

When we received the referral in June I thought for sure I would have met Maks by now. Alas, that was not to be. Alina emailed us on Friday and said that the referral letters should be signed around the 8th or 9th of October with the first families traveling 2 weeks after that. As I've said before I think we are #8, #9, or #10 in line so that would have us traveling at the end of November. We're currently working on our court documents in hopes that we can get back for Trip #2 as quickly as possible.

I also just learned that on Trip #2 there will be a mandatory waiting period (they don't waive the wait anymore) and we won't be able to have Maks stay with us during this time. Apparently we will be staying in a town a few hours away from the orphanage to be close to court. We will be allowed to visit the orphanage 2 times during the week for a $200 fee each time.

We are now considering leaving Russia during that 2 week period and traveling to nearby countries. I'm not a strong flyer so if I'm only a few hours away from Beijing why not go? I'm not sure how the Visa stuff works though in that case. I know we have a Visa to travel to Russia but I'm not sure what happens if you choose to leave and then come back without going back to the USA. Lots of questions!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Latest Word

Last week Alina emailed us that the Ministry of Education is doing an audit on the Department of Education in Kemerovo. So basically now that they are all back from vacation, adoptions are still on hold while they all scramble around for this audit. The first families wont be scheduled now until October, which means we will probably be traveling in November or December. Really hard to believe and swallow. Everyone keeps saying to be patient, its just a blip in time. I'm trying! The delays coupled with the IVF nightmare are getting pretty crazy. We have stopped planning for anything at this point. Time to just let it happen how its going to happen.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Photography Project

I heard from Alina again today. No new word. I guess I don't understand what is going on at this point. We're just going to stay positive and hope to hear soon. She is going to send us the information to get our Court Paperwork done which will be good. This will hopefully help us shorten the time between the 2 trips and be better prepared.

On another note I'm going to start taking more photography classes in the next two weeks. (I'm keeping myself busy!) I'm going to be working on a project with internationally adopted children. If any of you know of anyone who has adopted internationally and might be open to having some pictures of their family and their adoption story shared with the public, let me know. They can either reach out to me or I can give them a call if you have their info.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting Stickier

Is stickier a word?

I talked to Alina yesterday. I was giving her until Friday to call me with an update on Mak's before I called and followed up again. I made it to Wednesday. :) Wish I would have waited. So apparently the blacklist is only updated every few months. It will not affect our first Trip to Russia. HOWEVER if we come home from Trip 1 and they are still on the blacklist we may have to 1. wait until they are off of the list (who knows how long that will be) or 2. get a new home study done. Keep in mind home studies take about 3-4 months and cost about $4000.

And to top that off, she said it could now be the middle of September until we hear about our first travel date. This has to be one of the most excrutiating waits of my life.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Adoption Ark on the Russian Blacklist

We just found out that our agency was placed on the Russian Home Study Blacklist. This basically means that their home studies will not be accepted in Russia. Very scary thing for us. Our caseworker let us know today that they were just notified of this on Wednesday. How it works is that all agencies have to submit post-placement reports for all of the children that are adopted through their agency at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc. If those reports are not submitted the agency will be "blacklisted". Alina said that there was an issue with one report that was missing because the Department of Education in the Kemerovo region was on vacation when the Russian government requested all of the documents. Apparently that should be cleared up quickly and everything will move forward smoothly (Adoption Ark will come off of the blacklist). Keep your fingers crossed and pray for us that this is the case. Makes us pretty nervous. We don't want to experience any additional delays. If this doesn't get fixed, it could prevent us from bringing Maks home period.

That simply cannot be the case. God wouldn't be that cruel. I will keep you all up to date when we get more information.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No News...

I talked to our caseworker Alina today and we have no new news. She's not sure if we will find out about our travel date at the end of August or the beginning of September. She said that two families will probably travel together each week and that it will probably go in the order of "wait time." Bad news for Jason and I as we were on the bottom of the list. So its looking like Trip #1 won't be until October. We're still hopeful though!

Grandma Peterson's church drive for Mak's orphanage went REALLY well. They were able to collect 187 pairs of socks, 19 pairs of shoes, 7 vitamin bottles, 3 sleepers, 7 onesies, 9 blankets, 3 toys and some random clothes. AWESOME! Thank you Fox River Lutheran Church! Aunt Andrea has now been inspired and is going to start a collection at her school. We're hoping to get a bunch of things and ship them all at once.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thank you Grandma (and Grandpa) Peterson and Grandma (and Grandpa) Johnson!

Mak's orphanage has a real need for shoes, socks, underwear and vitamins. Any time you need to organize a shopping need, call my Mom or my Mother in Law! They are really good at it. Mom has recently gone on a shopping spree buying little shoes and clothes for the orphanage, not to mention some things for Maks along the way! Thanks Mom!! And Dad for working hard too so Mom can buy these things! :)

Shirlene (aka Grandma Peterson) organized a collection basket at her church and is collecting shoes, socks, underwear and vitamins for the orphanage. She made the announcement last week and they have already collected a bunch of things! We are going to put all of our collectables together and do one big shipment to Russia with love. I'm sure UPS is not cheap 1/2 way across the world, but little boys simply should not be forced to wear pink shoes and purple socks! Thank you Mom P!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Discovery Health TV

Jason and I discovered (no pun intended) that Discovery Health TV has a show called "Adoption Stories." Its similar to the Baby Story and Wedding Story shows on TLC. There really aren't many recently taped ones but they show different families adopting from different countries. There was one recently about a family that adopted 3 different children from Russia. We saw one yesterday about a family that adopted a little girl from Korea. If we adopt again (likely) we would absolutely consider adopting from Korea next time. Its a great program and the babies are adoptable at 6 months old. Anyway, if you are interested check it out. Gives a good perspective.

You can go to www.health.discovery.com and search "Adoption Stories" for the schedule.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maksim Vitaliy Peterson

I decided I would post the name we chose for Vitaliy. After a lot of thought we have decided to change his birth name Vitaliy to his middle name. We really wanted to keep something Russian to help him always connect with his roots, but make it something a bit easier for an American raised little boy. We decided to go with Maksim Vitaliy Peterson. Maks for short.

We have already told our family and we refer to him now as Maks. So I want him to know if he ever reads this when we decided and why. And I want all of his friends and family to know what to call him.

His initials are M.V.P. Couldn't be cooler.

Our Room Construction

Jason and his friend Gene painted the 2nd bedroom and put up wainscoting. It turned out super cute. We picked yellow paint and the bedding from Pottery Barn Kids with the Dr. Seuss theme. Its not overly "character-y" but is still cute. Don't worry, we haven't completed the whole nursery yet. Just the painting so far! Many of you know that Jason and I are also exploring the use of a gestational carrier. One of my amazing friends has decided to help us also try to have a baby. I would say "baby of our own" but that doesn't seem right. Vitaliy seems as much of "my own" as a genetic child would. The bottom line of my tangent is that we had to choose gender neutral bedding and colors as we don't know if the surrogacy option will work and possibly end with a little girl! Oh to have such problems!! Life would be good.

This has been a rough week for me. Not sure why. Sometimes when I think of Vitaly in Russia I get so excited and sometimes I get so sad. This week is a sad week, just wanting him to be home with us. Not sure what determines which way it will go. Hormones I guess...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Trip Update

So the latest word from Alina (our caseworker) is that the Judge in the Kemerovo region goes on vacation for the entire month of July. The judge has to approve all 1st and 2nd trips into the region for adoptions. So the coordinator in Russia won't assign dates for travel for the families who accepted their referrals in June until the end of August. The first travel dates will likely be in September. However, there were 10 or so families who accepted referrals around the same time as us and the travel dates will be assigned out. We are hoping that we will be traveling in September for Trip 1. If that happened we would still have a chance to bring him home before Christmas! Jason is very reasonable about the whole thing. I'm sad that this could now be pushed out until next spring or so, but as he told me, that is when we expected from the very beginning. What a roller coaster ride this has all been! And really we are only at the beginning!

We heard from another recently adoptive mom who just traveled to the same baby house to adopt her son, about what she suggests that we donate to the orphanage. I guess they are low on shoes, socks and underwear. When they went to meet their soon-to-be son he was dressed in a cute little boy outfit, but then had purple socks and pink shoes! Poor little guy. The family that traveled with them to meet their 3 year old little girl found that she had underwear on that were way too big underneath her tights. She recommended that we buy white tennis shoes in sizes from 3-9 and socks for children 6 months to 3 years. They will only accept new items, nothing used. Not even gently used. I'm sure we can find LOTS of places though here to buy inexpensive shoes and underwear. I wonder how much it would cost to ship a bunch of those things to Russia?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where is Kemerovo, Russia?

Some additional information for those of you who are curious. Vitaly is from the Kemerovo Region of Russia. This is basically in the South-Western corner of Siberia. I attached a picture. Its about a 4 hour flight from Moscow. (love that flying...) Interestingly enough the airports in Beijing, China, Seoul, Korea, and Delhi, India are all closer than Moscow.
I found a website that shows pictures of the Baby Home (or "Detsky Dom" in Russian) in Prokopyevsk, which is where I think Vitaly lives. The same website gives some interesting information about the area too. I would have posted the link but it doesnt seem to be working. Here is the web address in case you want to check it out... http://kemerovo.tripod.com/adoptingfromkemerovo/id16.html

This weekend is Fathers Day. I am so excited to think that by this time next year, Jason will be a Father! Yeah!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The news we've been waiting for!

I had to go to Rhode Island for work this past Tuesday. The plane landed around 1:15pm (EST) and I immediately turned on my cell phone to text Jason that I was still alive. (I'm a nervous flyer) About 2 minutes later I saw that I was receiving a call from Adoption Ark. For a brief minute I thought, what if this is about our referral... When I answered it was a lady named Maeven who was covering for our caseworker. (She was on vacation) She said they had information to give us about a little boy! His name is Vitialiy. He was born on May 30, 2008 so he is just one year old. We received several pictures, which we can't post until we have adopted him. He is perfect! He has big eyes, he is totally bald and is 100% beautiful! He only weighs 16.9 lbs. He is definitely a little guy!

After speaking with an International Adoption doctor we discovered that there may be a few concerns with his development. He requested more information to help us make a solid decision about accepting the referral or not. I called Maeven and asked her for the update, which she is trying to get. Today though, we decided to move forward with the referral regardless. There is never a guarantee for a perfect child, and really how fun would that be anyway? I told Jason the biggest issue I have is that I already feel like he is ours. I already love him and I hope it all goes well and we can bring him home before Christmas. How fantastic would that be??

Keep praying for us. We hope to receive an invitation to travel for Trip #1 by the end of July. I will update everyone when I get more news!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

10 Months Now

I emailed our adoption caseworker to find out how long couples are waiting currently and where we are at on the waiting list. Not surprisingly the wait time has increased. She assured me the increase in time had nothing to do with the fact that our check had cleared and the contract was signed. Hmmm.... When we started the process they said 6-9 months for a boy and 12-16 for a girl. Now the wait time is 10 months for a little boy and 12 months for a girl. Our paperwork went in at the end of April so 10 months from then would be February. At that point we wouldn't even travel until March for the 1st time and May-ish for the 2nd (final) trip. So its looking like we are about a year out now from bringing our baby home. She also let me know that we have 25 families "in line before us". I guess thats the best way to put it. I bet I'm a pain to work with. I'll email her again in a few weeks and ask her both questions again. Jason thinks I'm going to make her mad and she'll make us wait longer. I don't think so. I'm very polite. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Only small updates

We received our I-600A paperwork approval yesterday. I'm not sure what that is for. All I know is its the first thing you apply for when you start the adoption. Something to do with your Visa to travel and your approval from the US Government to bring an orphan back to the USA. We applied back on January 23rd and it was approved on May 26th. Can you believe how fast the government works?! 4 months to sign off on one piece of paper. We havent heard a word from our Adoption Agency. Hopefully that is a good thing? One tricky thing about adopting is that you really don't know how/when to start planning simple things like the nursery room, buying a crib, stroller, etc... I was telling my sister its like waiting until you are 8 months pregnant to start planning for the baby. But you're not sure how old the baby will be when they arrive or if they will be a boy or girl. Crazy stuff. Keeps life interesting!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

If anyone you know has considered adoption...

Today we received an email from our caseworker that there are multiple "older" children available for adoption from Eastern Europe. It is so sad. There was a list sent to us of children. Some were single children and some were sibling groups. Their ages range from 2-10 years old. Jason and I are looking to adopt a younger baby due to the fact that this is our very first child. Perhaps the 2nd time around for us we will adopt an older child. If you know of anyone who has ever considered adopting, there are even grants & subsidies availble for adopting sibling groups! They can email me and I can give them the information. Seeing these types of things make me so grateful that I was born into a family and have a great Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hurry Up and Waiting Period

Well now we sit and wait. So I won't have a lot of adoption related info to share with you for the next few months. I have joined a few online forums for soon to be adoptive parents. There are a lot of people out there with interesting and greatly varying experiences. One lady I spoke with (okay typed with) received a referral of a 10.5 month old little girl from the Moscow region after waiting only 1 month! That is amazing. She of course isn't working with our agency, but a different one out of Pittsburgh. I have learned SO much about the adoption process in the past 4 months. If any of you know of anyone who is thinking about doing this, feel free to have them contact me! It really does make a difference which agency you go with. They all have "relationships" with different regions within Russia. Some of those regions are near Moscow or St. Petersburg, which is a much shorter travel time/distance and some of them are all the way across Siberia. Did you know that it takes nearly 9 hours to fly from Moscow (near the western end of Russia) to the eastern tip of Siberia? That is nuts! And I hate to fly!!! Some agencies can get referrals of younger children and some tell you the youngest you will find is 2 years +. The Cradle is one of the biggest agencies in Chicago and they tell you it will take 12 months to get a referral of a little boy and none of them are under 2 years. Obviously thats not true everywhere.

Its a learning process. I'm sure I have a lot more learning to do!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Our names are officially on the list!

As of Tuesday, April 21st our names officially went on the waiting list! I spoke with our case worker the other day and she said even though we may have a few paperwork changes/additions to make, she placed our name on the list Tuesday. Now we just wait and see what happens. They told us it would be a 6-9 month waiting period, so we would be expecting a referral anytime between October '09 and January '10. Once we get the referral it will still be several more months before we actually bring our baby home. 2 trips to Russia, some more paperwork, etc...

Jason & I were finally able to get away for a few days. We are down in Singer Island, FL right now. I'm sitting on a lazy boy listening to the ocean as I type this. So relaxing! I've attached a picture of the view from Grandma & Grandpa's balcony. No place better on Earth! Maybe next year we can come down and bring Baby Peterson with us!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The dossier is in the mail!

Our dossier was sent to Adoption Ark today! It should arrive tomorrow morning by 10:30am. I'm not sure exactly when our names go on the list. Our caseworker said as soon as it was on her desk. I hope that is true! Jason took the paperwork downtown to be apostilled on Friday. He was a little crabby because he had to work in St. Charles in the morning and the evening. He had to get downtown, get everything apostilled and get back out in 3 hours. After a bunch of grumbling everything was done. For those of you who are interested, an apostille is a piece of paper with a big golden seal that verifies the notary is actually a notary. They had to attach a piece of paper to each and every page that was notarized. At $2/paper it cost about $70 to get everything done.

Once that part is done you have to make 5 exact copies of the original dossier. If the page is in color, the copy needs to be in color. I started to do it myself but holy moly that takes a LONG time. After 2 copies I wised up and dropped the packet off at Office Max. 2 hours and $35 later we had our copies! Much smarter. I'm waiting to hear back now from our caseworker to find out what region we will be adopting from. That will at least give me something else to research while we wait. Along with learning Russian via Rosetta Stone!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another cute moment, courtesy of Rylan...

I am 100% aware of the fact that Rylan has nothing to do with my adoption journey. But he was just so darned cute at Easter, I figured everyone would like to see his picture...

Ya gotta love the US Postal Service

Our homestudy was finally finished and signed off on by the director of our agency. They sent it via US Mail though. Bad plan. Jason called today to find out where it was and they had delivered it the other day when no one was home. They said they left a notice. Either they didn't leave one, or some of our crazy juvenile-delinquent neighbor kids stole it. Why would kids want to steal a postal notice though? So Jason is off to downtown Aurora tomorrow morning to pick it up. Leslie was kind enough to notarize all of our stuff last Sunday while Rylan was screaming in the background. So Jason will be able to take everything downtown Chicago tomorrow to be apostilled. This has been his one and only job assignment, so even though he is pretty busy tomorrow, he is committed to getting it done! I have no clue in America where to send him to do this and the internet really doesnt have a lot of info on apostilles in Chicago. So keep your fingers crossed that he doesn't spend all of tomorrow wandering aimlessly around Chicago with a binder full of confusing paperwork. I just hope we have everything filled out the right way and aren't missing anything. I know I've been saying this for the past month, but hopefully our names will finally go on the list next week!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Paperwork Update

I spoke with our caseworker the other day and they tell me that by next Friday all of the paperwork should be reviewed and ready to be notarized. Including the home study! That means by the following week our paperwork should all be notarized, apostilled and on her desk. Then our name goes on The List! That is great news! I'll let you all know how it goes. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm not very good at this.

I'm getting crabby. Our home study was supposed to be done two weeks ago. We're still waiting for a copy to be sent. Until that comes, we can't send our paperwork for review to our caseworker. Until she reviews our paperwork we can't get it apostilled. Who has ever heard of an apostille? Until we get it apostilled we can't send it in for translation. I'm sure you get where I'm going with this. I know this is every day business for these people, but don't they understand I'm really anxious to at least get the papers to Russia? I guess not. We met a couple in our classroom training a few weeks ago. They just got their court date for Trip #2. They travel on April 5th to pick up their son. Its so nice to hear of other couples stories and how they are working out. The adoption forum that Adoption Ark set up is really helpful. It keeps me in touch with a lot of other people and has helped us already understand a little bit more every day of what to expect, what international doctor to use, what hotel to stay in, where to eat, russian phrases, the issues we'll face when we finally bring our child home... It's like your own support group. Well hopefully the next time I post our papers will at least be on their way to Adoption Ark! Keep your fingers crossed!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Nephew

Last weekend I went out to Sandwich and went to a craft fair with my Mom, sisters and nephew Rylan. He loved the craft fair! My sister Leslie put him in one of those baby carrier things and he was so happy. I had to add a picture of him to my blog b/c he is so darn cute! Of course we love you too Les.

Still Waiting...

It's been a little while since we posted, I wish I had more news... I'm updating this for my friend Katie whom I love for caring so much about our bumpy journey. :) We attended our training class last Saturday up in Buffalo Grove. It was the last step we had to take for our home study. It was great meeting other couples who are going through what we are. One of the couples had already traveled to Russia for their first trip to meet their son. We learned a lot from them about what to expect in the orphanage, when meeting our coordinator, how their son reacted to them, the gifts you're supposed to bring with you, the restaurants... Two of the couples are adopting from Ethiopa, one lady from Kyrgastan and one couple is undecided. We are waiting now for our homestudy to be written and signed off on by the agency director. I'm getting a little antsy as we really want to get our dossier over to Russia. We are blessed that its moving as quickly as it has been. Most home studies take between 3-4 months. We started ours in the middle of January, so we're doing pretty well! On a good note, Adoption Ark has started receiving invitations for families to travel again. I think 4 or 5 last week, so things are starting to move over there. That is good news for us! More news to come soon I hope!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Twists and Turns Begin

So anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a bit of a control-nut. The only way I can have "control" over our adoption journey is by doing a TON of research and reading. There are a few great forums for Russian Adoption on Yahoo Groups. Unfortunately sometimes those forums lead you to information you don't want to hear. Last December unfortunately a little boy passed away who was adopted from Russia. His father accidentally left him in the car one morning when he went to work and the little boy died of heat exhaustion. The father was acquitted of his murder and the Russian government was very upset. To add to the road blocks, a few adoption agencies have not submitted their post-placement reports on time. Russia requires 5 post placement reports be done and submitted by a social worker after the child comes home to the US. This has led to a serious slow down in referrals. Our caseworker let me know today that they didn't receive any referrals for families waiting in February. That is not good news for us. On the positive side, we had our last meeting with our Social Worker tonight. We have a training class next Saturday and then our home study will be done the following week! Jason and I are taking a little "break" this weekend to unwind. We're headed up to Lake Geneva for a weekend getaway. I'll still be doing conference calls but at least I get to have a massage right afterwards!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Our Blog is Public Now!

Sorry for those of you who tried to post comments on the blog and couldn't. I've fixed it now so that you can. No new news this week. We are in the final stages of our home-study. Once that is done, the paperwork all needs to be translated into Russian before the dossier is sent. I'll keep you all up to date!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Its already Februrary!

Wow, I can't believe its been over a month since we signed our contract with Adoption Ark! Its been a VERY busy month. Saying that there is a lot of paperwork is the understatement of the year. I have been to 2 courthouses, 2 doctors, 1 police department, 1 FBI office, and 1, 2-hour long trip to Bradley, IL. We are almost done with the paperwork portion of our home study and have just a few meetings left. Then we can submit our dossier! I will be so excited for that package to make its way to Russia. The other night I was thinking that my baby is either in the process of being born, or already born and waiting for me thousands of miles away. I am so excited I can barely stand it. I'm not sure how I will make it through the 6-9 month wait for a referral or even worse, the 2-3 months between trips! I have always pictured my life with children in it, lots of them. And to know that we are at least on the road to making that happen makes me want to cry I am so happy. Its very different than being pregnant. People don't know that you are having a baby and those who do even treat it differently. But I truly believe it is just as special. I have learned so much about my husband through all of this already and I think this whole process is going to bring us even closer. What an incredibly patient and loving man he is. At least one of us has patience in this family. I have a feeling we are going to need it.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wow. Paperwork!

We talked with our caseworker this past week. We got a package about 40 pages long that included detailed info that we need to get together. Lots of paperwork! Lots of notaries! Lots of something called apostilled (I have never heard of that!) We drove almost 2 hours to meet with our social worker this last Thursday. The roads were bad and my GPS took us 27 miles through backroads. On the way home we figured out that I57 goes straight to I80. We took that way and got home in 1 hour. I think this is just one of the frustrations that we are going to encounter over the next year or so, but I'm sure it is 100% worth it. I'm so excited. I think its going to be tough to wait over a year! I hope this year goes quickly and I hope the program stays functional. I keep praying.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Beginning

After what seems like a very long road, God has lead our hearts to adoption. Even when having a child naturally was still an option, we had always talked about adopting internationally at some point. Now that having a child of our own the "normal way" is not an option, we started to more seriously look into adoption. There are so many choices to consider. Domestic vs. International? If International, which program? For many different reasons, we have decided to pursue International Adoption. After a lot of thought, conversations with family, HOURS of online research, talking to different agencies, & attending informational meetings we have narrowed it down even further to the Russian program. There are so many children who currently live in orphanages waiting there for homes! Tonight we are taking the 1st step in the document process by submitting our application to Adoption Ark. Keep your fingers crossed for us. I think the waiting is going to be the hardest part. My sister keeps telling me that even if you are pregnant you have to wait 9 months to have the baby. I understand that, but I feel like we have already been waiting for years. Patience has never been my strength! So.... here we go!