Saturday, December 29, 2007

Some really great kids

I thought I would add some pictures of my neices and nephews at Christmas since I don't have my own yet.

They are all holding a pink Lion that will be given to my daughter.

This is Kristin (13) and Emily (15)--my sister's kids

Luke (6) and Annika (5)--my other sister's kids

Neil (16) and Kasey (18)--my oldest brother's kids


Matt (9) and Mary (3)--Another brother's kids

this is my youngest brother Dan--he's 28 and was home from the Navy--he has no kids yet.

I also have five other neices and nephews that aren't pictured--two were unable to come--Josh (18) and Brittany (16) and three of them were gone before I thought of taking pictures--Pam (I think she's 23), Joe (17) and Katie (14). I hope I got all their ages right but whether or not I did, they are all pretty terrific kids.

Update on the process

Christmas with my family was wonderful. 26 of us were together at my brother's house for two full days and it was great. My neices were especially interested in when their new cousin would be coming. She is going to be a very blessed girl to be a part of this family and she will receive lots of attention!

My adoption agency had a conference call for all Kazakhstan adoptive families--there were close to 50 that participated and it was really great. They were very honest about what is going on in the International Adoption world as well as in Kaz and why the waits are increasing. It seems that Kazakhstan families are adopting more children and they get first priority and also many other countries are getting much harder to adopt from so many more families are turning to Kaz than ever did before. They also shared some sad facts--a couple families came home without a child because they were only shown children with very severe medical problems and also shared the good stories of families that found their child across the world in Kaz. The whole process of International Adoption is a very long and winding journey that requires the traveler to be quite flexible and patient. Three things were quite evident to me in the conference call 1) Most families going through this have the same fears and anxieties and give great support to each other and 2) the staff at our agency are very concerned about the process and outcome for each family and are working very hard to make it as good as they possibly can and 3) the adoptive parents need to make themselves as educated as possible and as prepared as possible to face whatever comes up along the way.

Realistically, I have quite a few months to wait yet. I hope to have my daughter home by the end of the year but until that time I will follow the advice of many adoptive parents before me and try not to put anything off.

Some things I have on my list are:

1. Read more of the adoption books I have--I seem to get about half way through each one.

2. get in better shape

3. Prepare my house--I have a couple small remodeling projects I would like to complete as well as decorating my daughters room. I do have the bedding and curtains bought but that is about all.

4. Make a book of my family and home to leave with my daughter in Kaz

5. Prepare all my bills to be paid while I am gone.

6. Prepare my packing list and make sure I have everything I think I need.

7. Buy a video camera

8. Save more money and vacation time--my plan is to have 3 months of paid vacation built up before I travel and I am nearly there.

As I make my list, it sounds like I have done nothing to prepare but that is not the case--there is just always more to think about. Even though the wait is longer than expected, I think it will go by quickly and I will still feel unprepared (but oh so ready) when it arrives.

Lastly I will continue to pray that the Lord leads and directs my agency and the Kazakhstan officials and takes me to Kazakhstan for my daughter in his perfect timing.

I will quote the refrain from one of my favorite songs--

I don't regret the rain

or the nights I felt the pain

or the tears I had to cry some of the times along the way

Every road I had to take

Every time my heart would break

It was just something that I had to get through

To get me to you.
To get me to you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Peaceful Feeling

This has been a good weekend in the adoption world for me.
I have been following the adoption blog of the Woods family and their story is so wonderful and inspiring--they are truly a great family. I have done a lot of reading and praying and have communicated with a couple adoption agencies and heard updates and feedback from my agency. Everything confirms what I know and I have a much greater feeling of peace about the process. I started the process feeling like everything was right and I still feel that way. Maybe it will take slightly longer than I first anticipated but I truly believe that I will find my daughter.
Now it is time to focus on Christmas and all that the birth of Jesus brought into our lives.
Have a great holiday season everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Very Brief description of Kazakhstan

Located south of Russia in Central Asia, northwest of China, the Republic of Kazakhstan was the second largest of the former Soviet republics in size. The breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to sharp economic declines in Kazakhstan which contributed in turn to the large number of children abandoned and living in orphanages. Although the economy has improved in recent years due to economic reform and foreign investment, the number of children living in institutions has grown. Over 3,000 Kazakhstani children have been adopted by families in the U.S. since 1997. Kazakhstan is a very ethnically diverse country, with over 120 different heritages represented. Children could be Caucasian, Asian, or Eurasian in appearance.
The typical food of Kazakhstan resembles that of the Middle East or the Mediterranean in its use of rice, savoury seasonings, vegetables and legumes, yogurt and grilled meats. Other dishes have developed from the subsistence diet of the nomads - mainly mutton (including entrails), milk products and bread - whereas in the heavily Russian-populated cities of northern Kazakstan, the dominant cuisine is Russian.

Dad making progress, adoption.....not so much

My Dad's recovery continues to go well. He left the hospital on Friday, stayed at my house for the weekend and he made the three hour trip back home today. I called to check up on him and he says he feels fine. It has been amazing so far. God has been good to us yet again.
I am still just as confused as ever regarding Kazakhstan adoption. There is so much information on the web and I am just scratching the surface but learning so much. Nothing new to report at this time.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

All's going well

My Dad came through surgery just fine--he had his heart surgery two days ago and today he has all his tubes out, is up walking around, and eating real food. The Doctors say he is doing perfect. He will be in the hospital a few more days and then recovering at my house. My thanks go out to all those praying for or thinking of him and our family.
The adoption blogs have been busy lately. There is lots of discussion about long timelines and about medical conditions in the children of Kazakhstan. Sometimes it is scary and depressing to read about it all (how long I may have to wait or what medical problems the child may have) but the happy stories outweigh the others. I do think it is important to be informed and know what you can be getting into so I am reading and researching. After a day or two of researching and obsessing about what could go wrong, I felt that all would be okay--I will cling to that feeling and trust that the perfect child for me will be found. I wish that for all those out there waiting for a child and I know with patience, faith, and some hard work we will have the families we desire.--I just hope it comes soon.(so much for patience).

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Break from thinking about my child to thinking about my father

My dossier has been at the MOFA for six weeks now and I hope to hear soon that it has moved on to the MOE (Ministry of Education).
This week my focus will change to my Dad--he is having open heart surgery tomorrow--he needs a new aortic valve and 2 bypasses. He is having it done at the Medical Center where I work so he and my mom are staying with me--the babies room now becomes the grandparents room! One of my brothers and my two sisters will be here also. Tomorrow will be a stressful day but we are confident that God will hear our prayers and he will come through it feeling better afterwards. He will be in the hospital for 5-7 days and then recuperating at my house for a while.
I will be with him and my Mom the first two days but then plan to return to work as I need my vacation time saved for the future!
Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.
Thanks, Mary

Monday, November 26, 2007


That's how you pronounce thank-you in Russian
I spent time on the internet this weekend and found a great site to help learn Russian--you can find it in my favorite links section if you want to speak Russian also.
I couldn't believe how many sites came up when I searched "learn to speak Russian". I looked at just a few and liked this one. It looks like a difficult language--so far I'm just working on the alphabet which is quite different from ours. I am learning to recognize some of their letters and to learn the sounds that go with them. for instance--B is pronounced like "v" in English. there are many other letters that I can't type because they don't look anything like our letters.
Anyway--that's how I spent some of my weekend.
Thanksgiving was a quiet holiday for my which was nice. I had my turkey and pumpkin pie so all was good. I hope you all had a good one as well.
No news on the adoption front. I wanted to say sps-see-ba (thank-you) to all of you who are supporting me and who left me such nice comments either through the blog or via my email. I appreciate the support.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Catching you up

Hi all who are reading this. I have started my blog late into my journey but I did keep a paper journal from the beginning so I thought I would catch you up but putting brief entries from my journal onto the blog. It may make a long entry but it will show you my timeline and hopefully be interesting.
Week after Thanksgiving 2006--Spent time thinking about a new opportunity at work that would take a lot of time and committment. While thinking about that something else keeps popping into my head--ADOPTION. The job at work would be a great opportunity but being a mom-WOW that would be a dream come true.
Next week--Think about adoption every day--it is daunting, scary, and exciting. Am I too old?, can I do it by myself?, How can I afford it?, What about daycare?
I did some internet searching--there is a lot of information out there--found some agencies to get info from, looked into adoption benefits at work and I am blessed that they have very good adoption benefits.
11-30-06 This is what I want! I told my boss at work and she was so excited "wow--this is the best news I ever heard and it is such a perfect fit". It was great to have my first reaction be so postitive but I still get butterflies in my stomach when I talk about it.
12-1-06 Went to Barnes and Noble and bought 3 books on adoption--maybe overkill but hey--I'm new at this. Also read through info from internet, info packet from work, and info from Children's Hope----International Addoption is the way to go for me!
12-2-06 Talked to my sister about it. I explained to her how I see her with her kids and how every story she tells (whether good or bad) shows immense love. I have that kind of love inside me to give and really want to have some one to give it to. She is a great mother and she really does understand.
Dec. 2006--found two agencies that had information meetings in my home town and attended them. I liked the second agency and started on my registration with them.
12-24-06 Went home for Christmas and let the rest of my family know--Mom and Dad first, and then all the brothers, sisters, and nieces and nephews. Mom and Dad were supportive and reassured me that they would love any grandchild no matter how it came into the family--they already have 13! The rest of the family was excited also--maybe surprised first--and the nieces were so excited to be getting another "baby" in the family.
1-3-07 Got my packet in the mail from adoption agency and read it through--started asking family and friends to be references.
1-6-07 Started filling out the agency's application but something is holding me from mailing it.
1-14-07 Have talked to the MN rep from another agency--Children's Hope International a couple times on the phone and I really like her and how everything sounds. It is making me rethink which agency I should go to. I so desperately want to choose the right one for me and my child but I just don't know how to be sure. Children's Hope is coming to my town on Feb 1st for an informtional meeting so I decided to wait until then. One of the first things you need to do is choose your country as you can only apply to one country. So I am reading about the countries and what different "rules" each country has.
1-26-07 I have found a buddy in my process. I told a friend of mine about my plans and she had a friend going through the same thing as an older single mom. After checking with both of us she got us together and it turns out we are already friends with each other but didn't know we were both doing that! She is one year older than me (yeah) , has her home study done and is in the waiting stage for a child from China. It's so nice to know someone else going through the same process.
2-1-07 Went to info meeting with Children's Hope International last night and met with Ali--Wow--I feel like I have found the perfect match. I decided to go with Children's Hope and to adopt from Kazakhstan. You also have to know what kind of child you want which feels a little strange but I requested a daughter up to the age of 3 years old. I applied right that night. So--Today is the official start of my journey. Children's Hope calls it a journey of love. This is going to be quite a journey.
2-12-07 Filled out papers for Summit Adoption Home Studies--the agency that Children's Hope uses for home studies in Minnesota. Made a list of things I will need to gather.
2-13-07 Got word from Ali that Children's Hope accepted my application to adopt from Kazakhstan. You may ask why I choose Kazakhstan--I really liked what I read about the adoption in that country, I fit into their rules (not all countries allowed older single parents), and it just felt right.
2-16-07 Got my Kazakhstan Adoption Guide in the mail. Ali called and went over the whole packet. It is a lot to get done but doesn't sound as complicated as I first thought.
2-19-07 Got a lot done today--Sent off three certified letters--one to Summit Adoption Home Studies to start the home study, one for Children's Hope to start the next step, and one to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services for advance processing of an International Orphan (the I-600A). I got a bunch of forms I wrote up notarized, got my police record, made an appt for fingerprinting (I thought I could just walk in, silly me), talked to my employer to get verification of employment and insurance. Confirmed my guardians, and called a couple more references as I found out I needed two more for Kazakhstan.
3-16-07 Went to St. Paul to get fingerprinted by the USCIS and to meet with my social worker for my second visit (the first was in my house). I was with the social worker about 2 hours and all seemed to go well. Found out I have to fax her another couple forms that she wants. Fingerprinting was no problem. After all that I met my sister and her daughter for dinner and shopping--had a great time.
4-20-07 I got my home study back and had to edit a few facts that they wrote down incorrectly, they also sent it to CHI (Children's Hope Internatinal) for editing and they suggested a couple changes as well so it needed to be redone.--am waiting for the final copy.
I sent all my dossier documents to Ali at CHI and she was impressed--said they looked great but had a couple small changes I needed to make in the wording. I wondered if they told every one that there paperwork looked great but I was proud of mine so I believed her.
Am waiting for my I-171H form from USCIS. they need the completed home study before they can send that so hopefully Summit Home will be quick with that.
4-25-07 got computer parenting classes from CHI that I need to complete.
5-20-07 Still waiting for I-171H. I think about the adoption every day and I am thinking about my little girl a lot and putting a name to her now (but it may change so I won't say). I know God has his timeline and I trust him but I pray for things to happen quickly.
5-21-07 Started my parenting classes on line today. They are really good and have some valuable info in them---How to establish myself as the child's caregiver, the importance of choosing the right daycare, ideas for how to parent a child from an orphanage. .......It reawakens all those feelings of fear and excitement. Mostly it reinforces my desire that I really want this. I'm starting to think of myself as a mom. It also makes me realize that I have a trememdous responsibility to do what is right for this child and that is kind of scary. I really want to give her a good life.
5-28-07 I GOT MY I-171H TODAY!!!!
Just got home from a fantastic weekend in Galena, Il. The whole family was there for my nephews graduation and we rented a big house to all stay in together. It was one of our best weekends ever. It will be so great to bring another child into this crazy bunch. She will have so much love in her life.
6-17-06 Had my final documents notarized and mailed them into CHI. Ali found three documents that I had to make revisions on and three documents from Summit Home that were missing required signatures so I got that all done. Sent everything off to the Secretary of State to be apostilled--given a stamp of approval that works internationally.
7-17-07 Alot has happened in the last month but really nothing has happened. I had to send three documents back to Summit Home because when they added the signatures, they did it electronically and I was worried that Kazakhstan wouldn't accept that so I sent them back for real signatures. They sent them back to me with real signatures but then they didn't notarize them so I had to send them back again. I did get upset and sent them an email to let them know how frustrating this all was. It ate up another month but that is better than to send them all the way to Kazakhstan and find out they weren't done right. Finally got them back in correct form, got them apostilled, and sent my complete dossier to CHI.
I have also started reading the book on Adoption Parenting that the agency gave me. It is very interesting and a bit overwhelming--but I am up for the challenge.
Just yesterday some one told me how lucky the child would be that I adopt but I really feel like I will be the lucky one. I can't wait to come home to some one that loves me and that I can give love to. I know I will feel challenged at times but it feels like a dream come true. I still pray to be accepting of God's timeline and I pray for my daughter out there, whether she's born yet or not. Whenever I get doubts, I reread my reference letters and realize I can do this--especially when I read the one from my brother Steve--some how his really touches me and makes me feel special.
7-20-07--Ali approved everything in my dossier so I mailed it into the main office in St. Louis today. I had thought I would be so organized and really speedy with my dossier but it still took 5 months so I am relieved to finally have it done.
7-30-07 My travel guide to Kazakhstan arrived from CHI today. I started reading it and immediately got overwhelmed. Somehow I thought the bulk of the work would be done with the dossier--WRONG.
One of the first things I read was that a travel companion was strongly recommended. Kazakhstan requires two trips--the first one is about 3-4 weeks long and the second is about 7-10 days. I don't know anyone who can take that much time off for me. I did email Jeff at CHI to ask him about that and he said a travel companion is not required and he plans to put me in touch with a reference family--a single mom who recently brought her daughter home from Kaz and made both trips alone.
8-26-07 Went to CHI picnic in Burnsville today--was great to meet other families at all stages in the process and working with all countries. My friend Lori came with me and after hearing everyone's travel stories she got worried about me traveling alone. She decided that she will apply for her passport and try to come with me on my second trip when I pick up my little girl. That would be so awesome if that worked out!
9-5-07 Got in touch with the reference family Jeff gave me. A single 40 year old mom that just brought her daughter home. She was very open about everything--she had a lot of good tips for me. She sounds just like any new mom--said there are challenges and joys but that is the best thing she ever did. She said sometimes you just spend time looking at her. I can't wait. She will be a good support for me.
9-10-07 Just got my first "expecting a child" card in the mail today--it was really cool. Thanks Jeni.
9-21-07 Started looking for little girl bedding--need to change my spare bedroom.
9-29-07 Saw my friend that is going through the same process with China--she got some disappionting news. the wait time in china has grown and she may have to wait up to three more years. I feel so bad for her and it is also scary news to me. I wonder what may change while I am waiting.
11-08-07 still waiting to hear about my dossier--feels like a long time. I have joined a couple yahoo groups through CHI and have been reading other adoptive parents blogs--that is what got me to do this.
11-15-07 couldn't wait any longer and finally emailed Jeff to see where my dossier was at. He emailed back that it was registered at the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs in Kazakhstan on Oct. 19th. What great news--not sure why I didn't find out right away but I am sure glad I asked. Next it has to go to the Ministry of Education in Kaz and they are the final step--I think I still have 4-10 months to wait--I know pretty vague on the timeline but that is the way it is.
11-18-07 I joined the world of blogging and here we are.
11-22-07 Happy Thanksgiving!! That is my story up to this point. I told you the entery would be long but I hope it wan't too boring. I promise they won't be so long in the future as I keep you updated.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Hi all,
I thought I would start a blog for all those interested in following my journey.
Just about one year ago I started rethinking my life and what I wanted out of it, where I was at, etc. I have a great job and have done many things in my professional life that I had never dreamed of doing but something was missing. I started by trying to think of what I wanted to do with my career and realized that my unmet dreams did not lie with my job but in my personal life.
My dream of being a mother was what began to monopolize my thoughts. Since I was 45 at the time, I thought this is crazy but I couldn't get it out of my mind. I always thought adoption would be for me but I had also always thought the husband would come first but...that hasn't happened yet so..I decided to go for it on my own.
I applied to Children's Hope International in Feb. of 2007 after about three months of research. I also choose Kazakhstan as my country to adopt from. I knew nothing about Kazakhstan before this and still know very little but I am learning and have felt great about both choices since making them.
Until I did the research I had no idea how lengthy and costly the process was so it was daunting at first but still exciting. I have been fingerprinted by USCIS, checked out by the FBI and the local police, been evaluated by a medical doctor, a physochologist, and a social worker, had to find five references, took several parenting classes, and filled out mountains of paperwork. Fortunately everyone found me to be suitable material for motherhood.
It took me several months to complete all these processes and get approval from the US government. All this paperwork then needs to be notarized and apostilled--again something I knew nothing about but apostille is a verification from the Secretary of the State that basically says the notary is valid and this makes your paperwork valid outside of the US also.
My completed Dossier finally went to my adoption agency (CHI) at the end of July.
From there it gets translated into Russian, then goes to the Kazakshstan Consulate in New York, then to the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs in Kazakhstan, and next to the Ministry of Education in Kazakhstan--finally they are the ones to match a child to me and invite me to travel to Kazakhstan. Right now my dossier is at the Ministry of Foriegn Affairs in Kazakhstan--it arrived there on Oct. 19th and I am waiting to hear more.
Every step is exciting as you know you are one step closer but each step brings about another waiting step.
As another blogger stated: It is God's timeline. I pray for it to go quickly but mostly to be accepting of whatever timeline God has for me.
"I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him" I Samuel 1:27