Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010!

It has been interesting, to say the least! I'm so tired. After the week of the adoption roller coaster I didn't feel completely ready for Christmas and didn't get everything done that I wanted. The show must go on though! It all came together in the end :)

Christmas eve we celebrated with my side of the family. It is tradition with us that we have fruit crepes with whip cream for Christmas morning breakfast. Since we were celebrating in the evening I did them for anyone who could be there by 3pm. We did Livi and Maggy's presents around 5, hoping that Vanessa's husband would be able to join us for adult gifts after supper. I love seeing Livi and Maggy so excited! They have such wonder for everything. It is so precious. As usual, Livi got spoiled by her Marmee and Aunties. I think her favorite gifts were her baby doll and stroller from Auntie Sessa, her purse where she is now keeping all her jewelry from Auntie Liz, and the tea set from her Marmee! I have already enjoyed many delicious cups of make-believe tea :)
Loving her tea set. 
Apparently I carried a tea set around with me when I was a kid.

 Auntie Sessa brought Disney Princess Christmas Crackers.

We went to my mom's church's Christmas eve service. The most perfect part of that experience was when Livi was feeling left out from not being able to be on stage with the other kids and not knowing any of the songs they were singing, during a silent, somber part of the service she yelled out at the top of her lungs "LET'S SING POKER FACE!" People on the other side of the auditorium heard her. It was hilarious! I laughed so hard I was crying!

We went home and put our exhausted child to bed then went upstairs for our Turkey dinner! Delicious as usual! We were still holding out hope that Josh, Vanessa's RCMP husband would get there but apparently he was in the middle of an arrest and couldn't get away early as he was hoping. Lame! The life of a cops family though :( So, we opened the adult presents with out him and since we couldn't get a hold of Sean on skype from China, he wasn't there either. For the first time in three Christmases my sister Liz was there though! It felt really nice to finally have her for a Christmas with Livi. I'm so thankful that we are all starting to heal. It felt right to have her there again :)

 Vanessa made the Martha Stewart-esque Turkey!

After a long evening we finally went to bed only to be woken up by Livi having her first official asthma attack! Jon's never seen an asthma attack so he was pretty nervous. Livi was scared too. She kept wheezing and crying which scared her more and made her wheeze more. Thankfully, we had some asthma puffers on hand, even though we've never used them. The aero-chamber just made Livi more upset though... and she then threw up. Poor baby! Even through her screams we did get some of the medicine in her and she started breathing better and settled down. It was a rough night though. I think Jon and I were on edge that she'd have another attack and Livi was over tired and feeling crumby herself so we were all up about four or five more times. Christmas day night wasn't any better. She had a few asthma episodes that night. I lost count of how many times we were up. We tried to have her sleep in our bed, we took turns sleeping with her. Livi was more aware that crying made her breathing worse though and tried to calm herself and called us before she got too scared.

Christmas Day was very busy, all the more on no sleep! Jon and I had exchanged presents the night before (I got a pair of designer jeans that I love but could never bring myself to buy and Jon got a DVD series of the old BBC Sherlock Holmes that he had mentioned he wanted.) We just watched Livi open her gifts; a dump truck and bull dozer/digger (we got two so the girls could take them outside in the summer and each have one), and the "prized" gift of a microphone! It has a disco ball on the stand with buttons for applause and drums! She has carried it anywhere we will let her since.
 Seeing the presents!

Playing with the microphone

As soon as we could get ready, we hit the road! Our first stop was the Abbotsford Hospital to welcome baby Iris! Our friends the BK's had a baby sister for Jude! Livi was so cute and concerned for the baby. I can't wait to see her as a big sister! It was so fun seeing little Iris. She looks so much like Jude did as a new born... only a little plumper. It brought back so many great memories too and even Jon said it made him want to have another birth child!
Livi's newest soon-to-be play mate!

We then went on to celebrate Christmas with Jon's family. We opened presents in the morning. Livi got a ton of various art supplies which she is really excited to use... although she may not know it yet :)  We tried to put Livi down for a nap, but I guess her stomach was a little upset from the change in routine and all the extra food she's been eating. She had a pretty amazing diaper surprise for me after only an hour of sleeping. She wouldn't go back to sleep, so we played and visited for a little while until I took her back upstairs to try for another nap. I slept with her this time and we both got an hour of rest in. We both REALLY needed it. We had yet another delicious meal and made it home before it got too late.
Livi was trying to help with the family tradition of 
reading the Christmas Story before presents.

Opening a Christmas magnet for her knew magnetic art board!
On Boxing day, we had one more family gathering. My Mom's side of the family got together for food and fun! Livi was so tired by this point and had big bags under her eyes, so we just stayed for over two hours. It was good that we did go though because my Grandpa, Livi's Opa, was able to come and was in really good spirits. It was nice to see! His health has been really deteriorating and very unpredictable.

Christmas is over and we are thinking of taking down the tree as soon as possible because of Livi's asthma attacks. We are thinking that maybe that will help. We are very tired and hoping Livi sleeps better tonight! It was a great weekend though and we can't wait for next year when we'll have two little ones to enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Not For the Weak of Heart!

I've heard it joked about that adoption is the easy way out... HA! That is sooo very wrong! What a roller coaster!

I'll start with updating you on our Citizenship issue. We got word from our MP office on Tuesday that our application was found, had not been lost, and been approved! We should receive the confirmation in the mail soon! Fabulous! This feels slightly bittersweet. I'm so relieved that everything worked out but we shouldn't have been put through that worry in the first place. An 8 week wait jumping to a 27 week wait without notice is absurd, then to be told our file doesn't exist was ridiculous! I shouldn't have been told that to begin with. I should have just received the approval on time. The Citizenship office gave the MP the excuse of poor workers with a high turn over rate at the call center where I got my information. This is completely unacceptable! If they have people working for them, they need to train them properly and put in some sort of process to talk with a superior or complaint center!

The same day we got the phone call about our good citizenship news, we also got a picture of Sofie! We were so excited! I had to hold my emotions back a little bit because there were some in-discrepancies with the birth date and age of the child in the picture.

Originally, when we first got the two mini-referrals of two little girls in November, we were told we could review both files without pictures and choose from there. The next day we were told we had to choose one girl to adopt from the small amount of info provided on the mini-referrals. I was happy to not have to read both files. Making that kind of choice is just so difficult! From the minimal info we had, we chose to go ahead with the girl that we had more info on and trust that we would get the girl we were meant to get. On Tuesday we got her picture... but it wasn't for the girl we had originally requested. This didn't deter us at all... It doesn't matter which  little girl is ours, we just want to make sure that there are no issues with the paper work. We want to ensure the paper work matches the child we bring home.

After a few phone calls and emails between our agency and the Bulgarian agency, we found out what's going on. Basically the Bulgarian MOJ and agency think we are crazy for doing a blind adoption for a child with Down syndrome. They also found out we are planning to skip the first trip to meet our daughter, which is extra crazy to them! The first trip is only put in place for the parents protection. The MOJ wants the parents to feel as confident as possible that they know what child they are adopting, in hopes to avoid adoption disruptions. We feel very confident that we are in for some really amazing and difficult times with our new daughter and we know this is what we should be doing. Adoption disruption is not an option, so the first trip seems like an emotional (because we'd have to leave her in the orphanage), expensive, and unnecessary trip that we can avoid.

Because they don't understand how we can blindly want this child, they want us to thoroughly review all the information they can get us on both girls and choose from that. They are sending us both files, all the pictures they can get, past and present, and updated videos. They want us to read and watch everything before with actually commit. I'm really excited to get so much information on my daughter before I meet her but how do we take one child over the other?! We wouldn't get to pick if she was our birth child! This is crazy. Plus, it pushes our time line back a little bit. We won't have all the information on both girls until mid January. Which means we can't commit until the end of January, which means we can't start all the paperwork until after that. I was hoping to have started it all by now. I'm still hoping to bring her home in the spring but it will probably be the end of spring now, instead of the beginning.

The girl who we have the pictures and video of right now is already working her way in to my heart. I don't know exactly how this is going to play out but right now we are thinking that she is our Sofie. Before we found out all about this, we announced her in our Christmas cards as our daughter. She very likely is our daughter... this is just very confusing. I'm trusting that God knows how this is supposed to work out and will get Sofie to us soon, even with all this little bumps in the road. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Privatizing Until She is Ours

Now that we have Sofie's picture we've been warned not to share any info on her as to not cause any "scandals". International adoption is so political. We don't want to create any un-needed problems with anything I write in here. I think we are going to privatize our blog just until she is legally ours. You'll need an invitation from me to continue reading this for the next few months... but I'll make it public as soon as she is legally ours!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Damn the Citizenship Office! - Update.

So, Tuesday I had faxed the info I had to the Sydney office and we had a meeting to explain our story to a representative at the MP office. I think I mentioned that in my last post. Wednesday I wrote and tried to call the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Today, I found a different email for the Minister and sent the email to that address as well. I got a generic emailed response from  that, which said I could expect a response in 10-30 days! Ummm... that wasn't flying with me. So, I sent an email to CBC :)

I got a response from CBC quite quickly and they are interested in our story :) I got scared then. I don't want to go public and piss off anyone making the decisions! I decided to call the CIC call center again, just to clarify what they were telling me my options were and apparently she found my file but was confused by it. Hmmm... Still not very reassuring. I asked her if she was personally looking at the submitted documents and all she kept saying was that she was personally looking at my file (did that mean that they had just made a file for us or that they actually had our application) and that they weren't asking for any further documentation at this time. She said that as of Tuesday (the same day I had faxed and gone to our MP) a special unit was looking after our case. She didn't know any more than that. I still did not feel overly confident.

About an hour later, I got a call from the rep. at the MP office and she said that they had a file for us... still unclear about whether that meant they had all our documents or not... and that our case was put in the URGENT category and would be assigned shortly. I'm cautiously feeling better with this news but I'm still going to be on guard until I have the approval in my hand and don't

I'm thankful that I got heard, or am getting heard. It sure pays to go to the MP! I knew adoption would be a roller coaster but I don't how much of these lows I can take! If anyone thinks that adoption is the easy way out they are EXTREMELY mistaken! We are not going to let CBC have our story quite yet. I will only go there if I think it will help again. We might be interested in giving them our story with CIC once we have Sofie, safe at home. Maybe that will help them get in shape for the future!

We are still painfully waiting on her picture. I called my agency about that today too and they are going to send another email. I asked for the picture even it the file hasn't been translated yet. I don't care. She is ours!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Damn the Citizenship Office!

Back in May we decided to apply for direct Citizenship for our daughter, instead of applying her Permanent Resident Visa first and then applying for Citizenship once she is in Canada. We were told that taking the citizenship route we would be saving money, less paper work and it would be much more straight forward.

We sent in the Part 1 application to be approved as adoptive parents and received an acknowledgement letter,dated June 2, that told us we would be assessed in 8 weeks. Since the citizenship office is notorious for long waits I wasn't too worried when I didn't hear anything at 8 weeks. I called the only public number there, which is only a call center, at week 16. They couldn't find our file based on the reference numbers I had, nor my name or birth date. The operator wasn't at all concerned and just stalked it up to the fact that my case hadn't been assessed yet. She also told me the wait time had jumped to 27 weeks and there was nothing for me to do but wait.

When we received our proposals I called again. That was week 22. They again couldn't find my file but it wasn't concerning to them. They just said I'd have to wait until week 27. I contacted my MP and asked them to make an inquiry on our behalf. They were told the same thing... we just have to wait.

Now we are at week 28. I called again and the operator couldn't find our file. He said the client ID and receipt numbers that were on my acknowledgement letter and payment receipt did not match up with their system. The client ID number had letters that it shouldn't and the receipt number didn't have enough numbers. There was nothing he could do. I started crying at this point. He apparently felt sorry for me and gave me the non-public fax number to the Nova Scotia office, where our file is supposed to be. He told me to fax all the documentation I have along with a letter telling them what has happened and hope for the best.

Immediately, through tears I wrote the letter and immediately faxed it. Jon was livid. We also contacted our MP office, who was angry for us. She also prepared a fax to send to the number that they have and hopefully they take note of one of us and can figure this out. Jon says the next step is the Minister's office! He is not going to accept anything that is going to keep Sofie in her orphanage longer than is needed. I love my husband!

This is potentially a huge set back. Sofie will not be allowed in country unless we have her citizenship, a PR visa or emergency Visa. To get the emergency Visa we'd have to go to Romania, where the closest Canadian Embassy is, with all the paperwork from Bulgaria before we can take Sofie home. Starting the PR route now would set our adoption back a few months and restarting the Citizenship route is looking at 9 months! I'm feeling distraught, frantic, angry, etc... The thought of Sofie having to stay alone in a orphanage that doesn't have all the bare essentials because some stupid government agent screwed up is heart-breaking! I feel helpless.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So Impatient

It seems like everyone and their dog is pregnant or has just had a baby. I am so ready to join that club. I feel very over due. I need patience... or Sofie. I could do without patience :) It looks like our Christmas cards will be a little late. I'm hoping to put her picture on our Christmas photo card so I'm holding out for it :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brag-fest on Livi!

With all this adoption stuff taking off I've neglected gushing about my 5 year old... I mean 2 year old :) Some one commented on one of my facebook pictures that Livi is quite mature. I know I have a really easy child. I probably don't know how easy I have it but I've never really thought of Livi as mature. People are always surprised when I tell them, or Livi tells them herself, that she is two. I don't really have anything to compare her too so I don't really think of her as exceptionally advanced or mature. She is just normal to me. Smart, yes, but not mature.. big kids can be mature, not my baby :) Aren't all two year olds like her?

When I do stop to think about it and compare her to other kids she is doing really well and I can see how people are surprised that she is only two. She is big for her age... around the 80th percentile for height and weight I think. She talks really well and very clearly. She can carry a pretty good conversation even. She is very interested in having me explain everything to her. The most recent series of questions has been around where babies come from. I did not think I'd be having this conversation this early. She saw a woman in labor on TV and her Auntie Danielle is due any day now with her second baby. She wanted to know how the baby came out of her tummy! I just said the mommy pushes the baby out of her vagina and that seemed to satisfy her.

Livi plays really well too... most of the time. She is still a two year old. She's always been really good at sharing and wants to play with kids, not just beside them. Because she always wants to be close to other kids, holding their hands and interacting with them we have really had to work on using her words and asking before she invades other kids personal space. I'm afraid she is going to get really hurt from a kid swiping at her... it has happened before.

At the beginning of November Livi had her first hair cut! In case you hadn't noticed, she has a lot of hair. The curls were getting beyond crazy so we needed to add some layers and try to tame them.... I don't think they can be tamed though. She did amazing! She was excited to be in the big chair, sat completely still and didn't even need to hold my hand or anything. Some times I get a little sad for how independent she is. It would be nice for her to need me a little bit!

This week she went to the dentist for the first time too! She was beyond awesome! The secretary was all "We'll probably just give her a ride on the chair and maybe take a peak in her mouth." Livi was all "I want the whole experience!" She climbed right up in the chair all by herself, sat back and opened her mouth! She sat perfectly through the hygienist's quick check, teeth brushing, floride, and dentist check! I was so proud!

 She loved the spitting machine.

We are starting to get ready for the holidays too. With the first snow fall we did a lot of playing outside and warming up with hot cocoa and began to decorate!
Enjoying the Hot chocolate!

Livi had a play date with Jude and they decorated a gingerbread house. They were really good at not eating all the candy until after the house was all done. She keeps saying "No eating the Gingerbread house until Christmas!"

We are still yet to put up the Christmas tree but that is booked for Saturday! I'm quite excited because this is the first year, in memory, that I get to have a real tree! We are going to go cut it down and everything!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Still Waiting

Still No News :( No picture. No name. No nothing. I'm feeling rather down about it. I just want her home now! I know Bulgaria is a faster and easier program than most but that still doesn't relieve my impatience.

I had been told 2-3 weeks, possibly 4, for our daughter's picture... That was 4 weeks ago. I emailed and asked for a status update and was told that the MOJ still hasn't released her file! We were told it would still be another week or two. Argh! I have a sneaking suspicion the ball was dropped some where along the line. The MOJ is supposed to prioritize special needs children so it doesn't quite make sense to me that it would take longer than the time I was quoted. Oh well, she will be home with us soon enough and these extra few weeks will be forgotten.

The Bulgarian government is not the only government that I'm impatient with right now. Canada Citizenship office is a bunch of bull! When I applied back in May to be adoptive parents I was given an acknowledgement letter that said it would only be 8 weeks for an answer... that was 27 weeks ago! How does that even happen? I've called and even got my MP to check on our case and the Citizenship office just say that the wait times can jump with out notice. They said we are due to hear an answer this week so I am hoping for no more set backs. Once we are approved then we have a second application for Sofie to become a citizen sponsored by us. It is so much bureaucracy! I'm am just praying that there is no jump in wait times for the second part of the the application. This issue has the potential to keep Sofie in Bulgaria much longer than need be. If you pray, this one would be a good thing to keep in  your thoughts for us!

When Sofie's picture does come I'm not allowed to put it on my blog until after she is legally ours. So, unless you are family or a close friend you will have to wait, sorry. We are eagerly waiting and will keep you all updated!