Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Home for the Holidays

I just finished watching the TV special "A Home for the Holidays" hosted by Faith Hill who was adopted. The show highlighted children in foster care in the United States and the need for adoptive parents.
It really pulled at my heart and I found myself crying. The show itself was good--I am a Faith Hill fan so I liked it. I think it had a good message too but it was hard for me to watch. All this waiting and working through all phases of the process is just so hard and I was feeling sorry for myself as I saw those other families formed through adoption. I also felt sorry for the featured kids who wanted to be adopted and stated "It is hard to get adopted but I will keep trying". I have to ask myself again (as so many times in the past)--If there are so many waiting children and so many waiting parents, why is is so hard to adopt or be adopted?? It doesn't make sense to me and the waiting is just so so hard.

Sorry for the downer at the Holidays. I really am ready for Christmas and am looking forward to spending it with my family.
Merry Christmas to all of you.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Nutcracker

My mom and her sister came to visit me this weekend and we attended two great Christmas shows.
One of them was the Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker". I was so excited to see it and it was just as I imagined it would be--magical. The ballet performers were so so good and of course I especially liked it because it was the Moscow Ballet--I felt like I was showing my mom some beautiful Russian culture.
We had a great time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


First I want to say Thanks to everyone for the kind words and expresions of sympathy and caring during my Dad's illness and after his death. It means so much to me.

Last week I finished my homework that my agency had given me after my parenting classes--it is the same they give everyone. I answered so many questions about myself, my decision to adopt, my trans-cultural parenting plan and plan for parenting when the adopted child is over one year at adoption. It was quite extensive--My answers turned out to be 20 typed pages long!! I am so glad that I did it though as it makes you examine everything you can think of about adopting internationally.
I got it mailed into my agency and the very next day they called to say they received it and a social worker would be in contact with me within a week. It is really exciting to feel the process is underway again. I am praying for a speedier proces with a better outcome this time around.
My first I-171H expired in Nov. and I sent in for the extension and country change so I am waiting on that but hopefully soon it will be here also.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tribute to my Dad

I can’t believe it has been a month since I last blogged.
We took my Dad home on hospice care on Oct. 27th and he passed away on Nov.15th.
Hi last wish was to be at home and we are so happy that we could keep him there until the end. My Mom did an awesome job of taking care of him with the help of myself, my siblings, and the hospice workers who were so fantastic.
During those three weeks, all eight of his children were able to visit and spend time with him and we were able to put him up in the combine so he could make one last round in the corn field which was so important to him. He was so happy that day.
My Dad was never in pain (or so he said) but he did endure a lot over the last 11 months of his life—many hospitalizations, tests, treatments, and surgeries. He was lucid and communicating up to the last few minutes of his life. He and my brother had watched the Minnesota Gophers game that afternoon and discussed the plays. My mom had attended church that evening and brought communion home to my Dad. They prayed together and he received communion from her. Within an hour he was gone.
He was not perfect but he was a really great man and we will miss him terribly. I am sad my child will not meet him but I will have stories to tell and she will know her Granddad.
We know without a doubt that he is in heaven—the Bible tells us that we gain entry into heaven by our faith and my Dad believed!

Leo James McNab
January 25, 1936 – November 15, 2008

Final Harvest

He Was bound to the land from the day of his birth
His roots anchored deep in the fertile earth
Nurtured, sustained, by the soil he grew
And his life, like his furrows, ran straight and true

In faith, each spring, he planted the seeds
In hope, to reap his family’s needs
With patience, he waited for the harvest to come
To gather the fruits of his labor home.

Ever turning seasons, the years sped past
Till the final harvest came at last
Then claimed anew by beloved sod
He was gathered home to be with God.
--Barbara W. Weber

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It's been a hard week--Life has so many ups and downs

I haven't blogged about it for quite a while but if you remember back in the spring I talked about my Dad's battle with leukemia and his chemotherapy. Well, the whole summer and fall he has been in and out of the hospital with many infections and complications. He has grown extremely weak and this week the Doctor's met with us to say that there was nothing more we could do and that he would not be getting any better. It is extremely hard news to hear but we really all knew that it was coming. His desire now is to be at home so we plan to take him home this week and do hospice care.
I feel extremely blessed that we were able to have the 50th Wedding Anniversary Party for him and my Mom this August. Right at that time he was feeling the best he had in a while and he was able to enjoy the day and visit with all the people that came. My sister made an awesome video of my parent's lives together that started when they were babies. It was so fun to go through all the old pictures and basically remember our whole lives with Mom and Dad and then share it with everyone at the party. We had seen him sick for so long that it was so nice to see him how he used to be and doing all the things he used to do--really remembering the man he really was.
We also had our family picture taken that weekend and it turned out so great--it is such a blessing that we all have that now and it means more than anything.
I will be taking some time off to be with my Dad and help my Mom take care of him.
I will be thinking of all you friends with new children or still waiting and will be anxious to check back up on you when I can.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Starting all over and getting smarter

I knew starting over would seem like a set back but I didn't realize that it would seem like a totally new journey. The processes between my new and old agencies are so different and I really feel like a newbie. There is so much focus on education and preparation with this agency and it has been great.
The only downfall is that it makes the process a little longer but I have really been enjoying it.
Last week I spent two full days in Pre-Adoption classes where they discussed many topics such as attachment, losses and grief in adoption, development issues, adopting children from institutions vs. foster care, and inter-racial and transcultural parenting. They also had sessions with the specialists from each country they work with and each person could attend two--in these sessions you got an in-depth explanation of the program in that country. I went to Russia and Ethiopia--after doing that I wanted to adopt from both countries! We also had panel discussions led by adoptive persons, adoptive parents, and birth parents so we could get their perspective on all sides of the process. It was extremely enlightening and interesting the whole time. Of course, it was all prospective adoptive parents attending and I got to meet some more great people and make some invaluable connections.
I will also have one more required day of education that is all about adopting a child over one year old. I expect it will be just as interesting and informative and am really looking forward to it. You can bring as many support people to this class as you want so I am hoping that my sisters and my best friend can come with.
I now have TONS of homework--a big long list of essay questions to complete about every topic imaginable when adopting a child from another country.
After spending two days with the staff at the agency and meeting most of the people I will be working with, I feel so good about my choices--they were awesome and it is easy to see that building an effective family is the primary goal.
After my homework is done the social worker will visit and do my homestudy.
It may take me a while but I am off on a new journey to find my daughter in Russia.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Plan

Hi all,
I have to say Thanks--I was so overwhelmed with the response to my blog going private--it is so comforting to know there are that many people out there to offer support and follow along--I am certainly not alone with this journey.

Many of you have asked--So where did you decide to adopt from?
I have started the process with a new agency and they will use some information from my old homestudy/dossier so that getting things ready will go a little quicker than the first time.
I don't have to commit yet but I am 99% sure that my country will be Russia--that is what I am working on.
It is basically like starting over and it will be a long haul again but I feel a little smarter and I feel pretty comfortable with this program. Of course I did with Kazakhstan also when I started so I realize that anything can happen but I just feel like I will be bringing a daughter home.

It feels really good to have some hope again--August was a really sad month as I struggled with all the emotions of a failed adoption attempt. It still is hard to get too excited because I know what can happen but I feel like I have something to hope in again.
I know alot of my friends struggled also or are still struggling with the same issues. I can only say that I pray for you and I hope that you find your hope also.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Song to my Child

I haven't figured out how to put music on my blog yet but this song of Elton John's is just what I want to say to my child that is out there somewhere.

Hey you, you're a child in my head
You haven't walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you'll be blessed

I know you're still just a dream
your eyes might be green
Or the bluest that I've ever seen
Anyway you'll be blessed

And you, you'll be blessed
You'll have the best
I promise you that
I'll pick a star from the sky
Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that, promise you that, promise you that
You'll be blessed

I need you before I'm too old
To have and to hold
To walk with you and watch you grow
And know that you're blessed

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's official

I knew today was coming but I got the official phone call today that said my dossier was returned and they actually had it back in St. Louis. Until today I could hold out a small glimmer of hope but now it's official--my Kazakhstan adoption journey has ended.

I do have a new plan in the works and I am hoping that it works out much better. Now that I know what kind of things can happen, it is even more scary than the first time. Starting the wait over is going to be the hardest part--I am ready to have a child home now.
I have seen many others have difficulties and changes along the way in their adoption journeys and they all say that in the end when they got their child, they knew why all the waits happened because they knew they met "their" child and it all worked out to be a perfect match. I am holding on to this thought as I go forward. I have faith that God has something good planned for me.

I have decided to make my blog private as I continue on this journey. If you would like an invitation please leave me a comment with your email address and I will send out the invite.
I have had so much great support from other Kaz parents (and a few from other countries)--I hope to keep you all in my corner. Thanks everyone.

Friday, September 5, 2008

All about Mom and Dad

No adoption news yet.
Just wanted to talk about the 50th Wedding Anniversary party--It was a huge success.
My parents were so happy that day and everything turned out beautifully.
The weather was great, the food was good, my sister made this awesome video of our family that started when my parents were babies.
We had about 200 quests and all had a good time.
All in all I would say we threw a smashingly successful bash.

The smaller after-party party at my Brother's house was equally as fun. It was just immediate family and a few very close friends--very casual and enjoyable. This is where the beer came out and the bonfire was built--fireworks even went off.

The next morning we all went to church and sat together in the front--taking up seven pews!! The Priest did a very nice special blessing of my parents and included them in his homily. It was pretty cool.

After church we all piled into about 5 cars and went to the photographer where we had a complete family picture--all 30 of us were there. Our last professional family picture was 27 years ago so we were due.

It is times like this that make me realize what a great family I have.
Okay--one mention of adoption--I can't wait to bring a child into this family!

Me with my parents

My niece Emily wearing Mom's wedding dress

My niece Kristin wearing Mom's "going away" dress

Emily in the bridesmaids dress my aunt wore and Kristin in Mom's wedding dress

A couple days after the party, my Dad came back to Rochester and ended up in the hospital again. This time with pneumonia and an infection in his blood. Maybe the party wore him out but he wouldn't have changed it or missed it for the world.

He is still in the hospital here and slowly improving. He will need to remain on IV therapy for about three more weeks so we are looking at getting him transferred closer to home for that. I hope this long term therapy finally clears his infections and gives him the boost he needs to start getting well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Time for decisions

This past weekend we had my parents 50th wedding anniversary party--August 23rd was their actual wedding date. It was a great day and they had a wonderful time--more about that on a later post--hopefully with pictures.

On the adoption front--I have so appreciated all the support from fellow bloggers--my family and friends are great and supportive but don't really understand all the stuff going on in IA--not that we really do either but at least you really understand how it affects me and your support has been tremendous.

In between party planning I have tried to research options--it is time to move on.
I still feel the sadness of losing out on Kazakhstan--I really thought my daughter was there and I grieve for the little girl I never met there. I truly hope that the changes they are making help all the orphans in Kaz find homes and I pray for them daily.
I don't feel like I can start over in Kazakhstan with all the uncertainty that looms for singles adopting there.
I looked for good programs that could likely accomplish an adoption for a single woman in one year or less which didn't leave a lot open.

I think I have narrowed it down to two options.
1. Krygyzstan--this program is very similar to Kaz except that they do referrals and give information about the child prior to travel. the country and children are similar to Kaz so it feels familiar to me and I like that. they do not allow gender selection (with most agencies) and I can go with that. The downside is that it is a very small country so there are fewer children and many more PAP's are looking at it since Kaz has gotten so much more difficult. I have joined a Krygyzstan chat group and just like the Kaz group, they are an amazing group and I have made friends already. that is the advantage of the smaller group--I already feel like I know some of them.
2. Russia--This is a very long established program that has been very stable in the past year. They do still allow single parents and gender selection. this is a much larger group of PAP's so it doesn't feel quite as personal but still a great bunch of people. The biggest advantage of this program is the proven stablity. While there are no guarantees in IA--this sounds about as close as you can get to one.

With each option I have a specific agency in mind. I don't want to name the agencies yet but I have had great conversations with both. I have been impressed with the people I have contacted and they both sound very promising. The Krygyzstan agency is smaller and so is the country--for some reason this appeals to me but I liked that about Kazakhstan when choosing that and it didn't turn out so well.
The agency with Russia is the largest one there and works with about 25 regions in Russia. They have been very stable which is very attractive to me at this point.
How do I decide what to do??? I need to pray and think and then just dive in.

Any comments, suggestions, prayers or well wishes you could send my way would be greatly appreciated. I definitely want to stay connected with all the Kaz families I have come to know through this process--I love reading about your families and adoption journeys and you have been my support for the last 18 months so I don't want to lose that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's been a bad day

Yesterday we got bad news about the Kazakhstan program.

The Committee of Child's Rights Protection, in Astana, has informed all agency representatives of a new policy change regarding gender request. Effective immediately, any dossiers that have requested a specific gender, and have not yet been assigned to a region, will be returned with no exceptions. In their own words, "All children are equal and have equal rights for family and happiness!"
Unfortunately, this will mean that dossiers that are resubmitted will have to go through the Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington D.C.

I was totally crushed. My dossier has been in Kazakhstan since Sept. but no region assignment yet so this was the news I had been dreading--that some change would come along and kick me out of the program. I totally agree that all children are created equal and deserve loving homes and I would gladly take any child however 18 months ago I was told to request exactly what I preferred--I have done everything that has been asked along this journey and now I feel as if I am being punished for doing something that I didn't even know was wrong. If only we could change our dossiers and stay in place at the MOE--why do we have to start over????? I don't know what to think anymore--I am just very sad.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thanks Rose

I have to say Thanks to Rose--I got this song off her blog but I really liked it and it so pertains to this adoption waiting period:

One Step at a Time"
Jordin Sparks

Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you've always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste, but you just can't touch

You wanna show the world
But no one knows your name yet
Who and when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can, if you get the chance
In your face, the door keeps slammin
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're getting all kinds of impatient

We live and we learn
To take one step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly, or falling in love
It's gonna happen, when it's supposed to happen
And we find the reasons why
One step at a time

You believe, and you doubt
You're confused, you've got it all figured out
Everything that you've always wished for
Could be yours, should be yours, or would be yours
If they only knew

You wanna show the world
But no one knows your name yet
Who and when and where and how you're gonna make it
You know you can, if you get the chance
In your face, the door keeps slammin
Now you're feeling more and more frustrated
And you're gettin all kinds of impatient

We live and we learn
To take one step at a time
There's no need to rush
It's like learning to fly, or falling in love
It's gonna happen, when it's supposed to happen
And we find the reasons why
One step at a time

When you can't wait any longer
But there's no end in sight
It's your faith that makes you strong
Only way we get there
Is one step at a time

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm Back and Busy

I had a fabulous time on vacation.
My brother's fiancee has a great little place on the beach and she was the perfect hostess. We relaxed hard and played hard--it was great. We also spent two days in Washington DC which was my first time there and I loved it. The only bad part of the whole vacation was that my brother had to work really long hours and we did't get to see very much of him.
I had four very busy days catching up at work and then it was off to another fun adventure. I went to a "cabin" that is really a house in Northern Wisconsin with three girlfriends for a long weekend. We relaxed, played, and talked the whole weekend--it was much needed therapy for all of us. I just love my friends--they always boost me up and help me keep everything in perspective.
Work has been crazy busy lately--we have a plethora of new processes occurring in August through October so we have been scrambling getting all the details sorted out and educating staff so that we are ready to go when things occur. I am sure that when we get through all these, there will be a new list waiting for us to implement--that seems to be the way with Healthcare these days. I know many other jobs are just the same--it keeps life interesting.
This week my Dad has been back in town for more testing--just check ups this time except that we are still dealing with his lack of appetite and weight loss--he now weighs less than when he graduated from high school 54 years ago! Hopefully we can get him eating and getting some energy back--everything else looks good.
Friday I am taking off again for another weekend away--with family this time. We have our "McNab Annual Campout"--a great get together with my aunts, uncles, and cousins from the McNab side. About 50 of us usually gather and camp (in bunk houses) for the weekend.
July has been very busy and August will be more of the same--have to make the most of summer time in Minnesota. I am hoping that Sept. will my month to get the house ready for DD--I know I will be ready for a LOI by then for sure!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vacation's all I ever wanted...Vacation..have to get away

Rmember that song by the Go-Go's?
Tomorrow I leave for my vacation--to Virginia Beach!!!
My sister-in-law, my niece, and I are going to visit my little brother and his fiancee who lives only a couple blocks from the beach!!!!
Taking a little break is just what I need--work has been busy and my counterpart at work has been out on surgical leave so I have even more to do. The adoption world hasn't been doing much but the constant waiting/wanting kind of wears on you so this week away from everything will be great.
I feel happier already and I know I will come back totally refreshed--and I will be that much closer to getting "the call". In a fit of optimism, I did make sure that my agency had my cell number "just in case".
I am also taking a vacation from blogs, email, etc during this next week but my friend Lisa is going to update me if anything really exciting happens... so I will see all you guys later--have a great week. If something great happens for you, I am very excited and will catch up when I get back.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Exactly where I'm supposed to be

The waiting is really hard and it is so hard to not let it consume my days. I try to be patient and I try to have faith--many times I succeed but many times it's hard too. I have a blogger friend (Lisa) that is also waiting and when I really need it she always reminds me that "we are exactly where we are meant to be". Today I received the same email twice--both were from people that are close to me and mean a lot in my life. The email contained the following prayer that reminded me of that same thing so I want to send it out to Lisa and all the other waiting families out there--whatever stage of the adoption you are in:

Saint Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be confident knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ya gavaroo pa-roosky!

I had the coolest thing happen today.
I saw a lady from Russia who was in her garden watering flowers and I actually had a conversation with her in Russian. It went something like this (only in Russian):
Me: Good evening
Her: Good Evening
Me: My name is Mary
Her: My name is Tamara Alexy
Me: Pleased to meet you
Her: Good. the rain has been hard on my flowers. (she added some hand gestures for me to understand this one)
Then she said something else to which I had to say--I don't understand (a very useful phrase to know).
She smiled.
Me: What a nice evening
Her: Good
Now I know it wasn't much but it was my very first Russian conversation without a book in front of me or my tutor prompting me. I have a long way to go but it made me smile to have accomplished that much.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great co-workers

Just a quick update to my last post. All of my coworkers who have talked to me or emailed me back have ben very happy and excited for me and very suppportive. They have also been very low key about it in the workplace which is what I asked for in my email so it has been good. In a way it's a relief that everyone knows so I don't have to be careful what I say.
Thanks to the kind comments you guys have left here on my blog also. I really appreciate your support most of all--it's great to have people who know exactly what you are going through.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The News is out

Working in a big company is just like living in a small town--hard to keep a secret.
I had not told my coworkers about my adoption plans yet--I wanted to wait until I knew about when I would be going. I supervise about 100 people and work with at least twice that many on a daily basis and I just thought I didn't want all those people asking me everyday if I had heard anything yet and always having to say No.
Of course I had told a few that were closest to me and the people that needed to know--my boss and those who would have to do my job when I was gone. I hadn't heard anything at all at work until yesterday--one person came right out and asked me and then I started hearing that others knew too. So...I didn't really want to do it in an email but to stop the workplace rumor mill I did send an email to my whole staff to let them know what my plans were and that I was sorry it hit the rumor mill before I gave them the information. I did ask people to respect my privacy and not let my plans be the topic of break discussions--we will see what happens.
I think they will be happy for me but maybe part of me is worried about getting some negative responses also. So far, everyone that knows (the most important people in my life) has been very happy and supportive so I don't know why I am worried.
This is just another milestone in the adoption journey.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Help the Kaz orphans

No news on the adoption front yet but I wanted to share with you a way that you could help the orphans left in Kazakhstan by contributing to a worthwhile cause.
See the letter below from "Two Hearts for Hope"

Dear Supporters,

What if Two Hearts for Hope earned a penny every time you searched the Internet? Or how about if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our cause? Well, now it can!

GoodSearch.com is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. Use it just as you would any search engine, get quality search results from Yahoo, and watch the donations add up!

GoodShop.com is a new online shopping mall which donates up to 37 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause! Hundreds of great stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, ebay, Macy's and Barnes & Noble have teamed up with GoodShop and every time you place an order, you’ll be supporting your favorite cause.

Just go to www.goodsearch.com and be sure to enter Two Hearts for Hope (Lebanon, MO) as the charity you want to support. And, be sure to spread the word!

Kim and Stacy

Friday, May 23, 2008

Two Hearts for Hope

This past Tuesday evening we had our first Board meeting for "Two Hearts for Hope". We had a conference call as the members live in many different states. The energy and committment of these women inpired me--Helping the children in orphanages in Kazakhstan is clearly their mission. Many good ideas for fund raising and helping the orphans were discussed. This is a great group of mothers that are making a difference.
Check out the website by using the link on this page. We will be having monthly raffles and are starting with something to honor Dad's for Father's Day--a $100 dollar gift card to Bass Pro that will be to the winner by Father's Day.
I am the only Board member that hasn't completed an adoption from Kazakhstan yet. While listening to the others, I also felt a little selfish as I realized they knew so much and would be a tremendous resource for me when it gets to be my time to travel or for any other questions I have. Not only do I get to help make a difference but I get personal benefit also(friendship and knowledge)--can it be any better than that?
I have no news on the adoption front. I am really enjoying reading the blogs of the families that are currently in Kaz and bonding with thier children, inbetween trips, or home with their new family. I have to keep reading those to remember that it will happen.
I have a neice graduating from High School as well as several children of friends so the next couple weekends will be full of graduation parties and events. I love to see the kids at this stage--they are so happy, excited, and unstoppable while at the same time a little nervous of the unknown. The whole world is out there before them--it is exciting for me to think about.
My youngest brother is in the Navy in Norfolk, VA and will not be there much longer so I have decided to go ahead and make plans to visit him during my vacation in July. I see no signs of an LOI by then so I'll go have some fun on the beach instead.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Just a quick post to say Happy Mother's Day to first of all my Mother who has raised eight children with love and who has given my the best example of how to be a mom.
Also to all my sisters and friends who have shared their children with me when I needed a child fix and who have been great examples of loving moms.
And last but not least to all my blooger buddy Mom's--those who have their children with them already, are in country, or are waiting for their children. You are such a strong and determined group of women who constantly inspire me and I am honored to include you in the group that helps me know how to be a mom.
For all of us waiting--My wish on this Mother's Day is that things move quickly and smoothly for all us so that we can drop the word "waiting" and just be "Mom's".

Friday, May 9, 2008

Ups and Downs of International Adoption

This world of International Adoption is so strange with all its ups and downs and different emotions that accompany them all.
This week Kelly and Sne got thier LOI and have to travel very quickly. What great news-they have been anxiously waiting for a while. Suzanne and Matt have brought their children back to the apt to live with them as a family in Kaz while they wait out the process.
Also this week there have been two other families that have hit some big snags in the process while in Kaz and have been disappointed. The stories are their's so I won't share any names or details here.
I don't personally know any of these people but I know them well through the blog world and it amazes me how much their triumphs and disappoints affect me. I am excited and giddy with joy whenever I hear good news and I am heartbroken when I hear about disappointments along the way. I am constantly thinking of the families that have completed adoptions and I am constantly rooting for those waiting. The most amazing part is I know there are lots of others out there rooting for me also and I can feel the support. This is a great community to belong to!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thinks are looking up

Good news regarding my Dad--his luekemia is in remission and his infection is under control. Now he can just keep improving until he feels good again and hopefully this remission will last. He is now planning his annual June fishing trip to Canada--his very favorite thing to do. Thank you to all of you that sent good wishes his way or said prayers--they all helped and I really appreciated the support.

Also good news on the adoption front. I am a little late in reporting this so maybe you have already heard but my agency has opened in one more region of Kaz--the Karaganda region and have had two families invited to travel there already. Hopefully this will speed things up for all of us waiting. I was pretty discouraged last week from the wait and even started thinking about if there were other options but then good news always comes along at just the right time to keep me going. I also had a couple good chats with fellow blogger friends (both of the Lisa's and Chris) and that was great--no one else really understands like a fellow PAP.

I was invited to be a Board member for "Two Hearts for Hope" and have accepted. I am honored and hope to be able to help provide needed supplies for orphans in Kazakhstan. Please check out this great organization by clicking on the link on the side.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Update on Dad

My last week has been pretty busy. My Dad has had some downs lately on this up and down roller-coaster of his luekemia treatment. He has had to have his last two chemo treatments cancelled due to complications. He developed a stomach virus that needed to be treated--he wasn't able to eat for over a week and lost 13 pounds. That treatment has caused his blood counts to be too low to do chemo and he has needed more tests and more precautions. He and my mom are spending about half the time at my house for his medical care and half the time at their own house in between just to feel normal. He was able to enjoy a wonderful weekend with his brothers and sister that really helped bolster his spirits.
I am glad to be here for him while he is going through all this. However---It has dug into some of my PTO (paid time off) as I take time off to go with him to treatments and appointments and they have occupied future daughter's room for most of the time so I haven't been able to transform it into a lovely girl room yet. I feel selfish just saying that outloud.
We are still hoping for a good recovery by summer so that he can enjoy the summer.--After all, he has to be healthy for his 50th Anniversary Party in August!
On the adooption front--my agency is hopeful that things will open up in Kazakhstan more this summer but no other definite news. I have also heard that Kaz is closing adoption to those over 50. I'm not quite there yet but it hits close to home and I feel very bad for anyone affected.
Congrats to the Pere familiy that have just returned home to Minnesota with the fantastic Garrett and to Matt and Suzanne who are in Kaz with their two children and to all other families who are there now, are leaving soon, or have recently arrived home.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ya gavaryoo pa-roosky plogha

That's the phonetics for "I speak Russian badly".

I was very lucky and found a Russian Interpreter at work that was willing to give lessons and I had my first one last week. Wow--it is going to be difficult to learn. I am so looking forward to being able to use it when I am in Kaz--I am hoping they will speak Russian where I am going because I don't know anyone to teach Kazakh.

My teacher, Olga, reviewed the language books she found at Barnes and Noble and picked the one she thought taught the language the best. It is called "Beginner's Russian" by Rachel Farmer and comes with a CD package so you can actually hear how the words are pronounced.

The first lesson was learning the alphabet and memorizing some easy words--that means words that are similiar sounding to English. My biggest problem is that I can not roll my r's--my tongue just won't do it. Olga says you have to roll your r's to sound Russian. Oh well--if I can sound like an American that speaks the language, that will be good enough. Wish me luck as I continue on this endeavor.

Matt and Suzanne spoke about the time in a restaurant when they mistakenly told a waiter he was handsome--who knows, maybe I'll be better at flirting in Russian than I am in English. That would be a bonus!

Here is an address for a great on-line lesson site.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Safe and Happy?

My nephew Luke is seven years old but so grown up. I recently had the chance to spend 90 minutes in a car with just him and I. We had the best conversation the whole way--he asked me so many questions about myself like what do I like to do when I am not working, etc. It was like he was really trying to get to know me better.
He doesn't know about my adoption plans yet but he was checking out my car and deciding just where I could put a husband and two kids (that is the perfect family to him). He decided they would fit just fine in my car and then he asked me a most insightful question--
"Mary, if you had children, what would you do to make sure they were safe and happy?"
It blew me away and I had to think. I said a few routine things and then I said "The most important thing would be to always be there for them and to love them no matter what." to which Luke seriously responded "Well that"s a pretty good solution".
Forget the homestudy--that is the best endorsement for Motherhood I could get.
Can seven year olds write our recommendation letters?
Now I pray for my daughter to be kept safe and happy until we are brought together.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Good News

Wow--really good news came my way today.
I was communicating with my agency and found out that my dossier was registered at the MOE on Nov. 30th, 2007. This is the last Ministry and they are the ones that assign you a region. It was some how overlooked in getting that information to me and my agency is very sorry about that. All this time I was thinking that it was still stitting at the MOFA so it means that I am further along and closer to the finish than I thought. No--don't be upset with my agency--they have been very good in communicating with me and answering all my questions and this is just a simple oversight and it is very exciting to know that I am at the MOE!!!
I know that I still have quite a wait but there is light at the end now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

So much to consider..always the same outcome

Wow—a lot has gone on since my last post and there have been so many things going through my mind.

About 2 weeks ago quite a stir was caused in the Kazakhstan adoption world when an announcement came out that Kazakhstan was closed to adoptions from the United States. This of course sank many hearts, mine included. The next day we found out that it was really a temporary suspension that only affected dossiers that were not sent to Kazakhstan yet—those already there would continue to be processed. Big sigh of relief—this meant that I was okay but still sad because many people I have come to know through the blog world were affected. Now we have heard that the suspension is lifted and all is continuing on as before. Again—big sigh of relief for all who are in process. I have to say that I harbor a little uneasiness yet because this makes me realize that anything can happen during this time I am waiting. My really big sigh of relief won’t come until I am home safely with my daughter.

I have also seen on TV or read in books or magazines a lot of stuff about adoption—maybe I’m just tuned in because I am now in the midst of it but it seems there is a lot of information out now. I will list the things that stuck in my mind and try to express some of my opinions and thoughts.
• A TV segment where a couple adopted a daughter from the Ukraine when she was 4 and she is now 10—the Mom was at her wits end and wanted to send the child back because they just haven’t been able to bond and to learn to love each other. The Dad and the rest of the family did love the little girl and couldn’t bear to think about sending her back. The solution they came up with was to get the mother some help—both in taking care of the child and house and in learning how to bond.
• People magazine had an article about a woman that ran a ranch and took in adoptive kids that were having a very hard time adjusting to their new live and acting out. She sounded very loving but had strict rules and chores for the kids and you could say “ran a tight ship”. Parents who were at their wits ends would send their kids here—most would return home when they were doing better but some ended up staying at the ranch and never returning home. One featured girl was 16 now and adopted from Kaz-she was one that never went back home and loved living at the ranch. It did sound like she was an amazing woman but too sad that a place like hers had to exist.
• My sister told me about a friend of hers that adopted a boy from Russia and he had severe attachment problems and several people advised her to give up and return him because it was disrupting their family but she did not listen—instead she quit her job and did intensive home therapy with him—it started out where she was with him nearly every second even sleeping, in the bathroom, etc. and holding him whenever he started to act out. I don’t know how long this went on or what the whole progression was but now she has a teenage boy that is doing very well in school and at home.
All of these stories broke my heart in many ways. Most of all for the kids who just want to be in a good loving home. My heart also hurt for these parents that felt they weren’t able to give the kids what they needed. I know that things may not always be easy but I also know that I want this more than anything and I could never give up on it. In hearing about my sister’s friend I thought “Bravo for her”. I don’t know of any parents that would give up on their biological child and plan to send them back. An adoptive child is no different—we need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to give them a successful life, just as if they came out of our womb. We also need to realize when we need to enlist help and use our resources. Our goal shouldn’t be to have a child love us but rather to give love to a child whatever the outcome.

• Another waiting parent and blog friend (Lisa) wrote “Can you miss some one you have never met?”
She nailed it exactly. It is truly amazing how every day my thoughts turn to my daughter and every day I miss having her. I try to tell myself that the wait is long and I shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about it but that just doesn’t work. As the days go by I can only think about it more and more—it practically consumes my thoughts and is certainly the main consideration in any future plans I make. “If I have to travel then…” or “When my daughter is here…”. Etc.

• I read an article written by a man who was adopted as a child and as an adult went back to his homeland—the first place he felt at home. He wrote about how children shouldn’t be taken away from their country and their culture—that it denies their birthright and forces them to live differently than they were meant to.
I think that in a perfect world all children would be taken well care of by their original families and in their own culture and all who wanted to be parents would be able to have children but…since we do not live in that world, we need to have solutions. To me bringing together a loving parent with a child who does not have that is a good solution. I have really oversimplified his article and my response as the intricacies of both do offer a lot to think about and it is clear the topic is not black and white but has a lot of grey.

Through all of this musing, I remain steadfast in my plan and desire to adopt a daughter from Kazakhstan. It just feels so right.

Friday, March 14, 2008

update on my dad

Hi all,
Dad had his third chemo treatment yesterday and he seemed to tolerate it well. After the last one he was nauseated for a few days and couldn't hardly eat anything so this time they started the nausea treatment right away to hopefully prevent that.

The hematology NP (Nurse Practitioner) and MD were happy with his blood results--it appears the leukemia is responding well to the chemotherapy. They are planning the next treatment for April 3rd. That will be his fourth and they are hoping to complete six treatments. He does not need any blood transfusion at this time but will need another gamma globulin infusion in about a week and they plan to do that in Jackson on the 24th. They will also continue to watch his platelet count and may need to give platelets if the count decreases anymore. He has kept his weight up and they are happy with that--in fact, Dr. Zent said Not to worry about the eating--he still has plenty of weight on him.

I asked what happens after these six treatments are done. Basically he will start to feel better and hopefully have a 2 to 3 to 4 year remission from these treatments. The Leukemia is never gone and he will continue to need to be followed here at Mayo every three months for the rest of his life. It is likely that it will flare up again at some time and he will need some type of treatment again. You can never tell how long the remission will be but hopefully he will get a few years.

David and Teresa (my brother and sister) came over and sat with him and Mom during the actual treatment which last about 5 hours so that was good--I think they appreciate having some one with them and it makes it easier for me to go back to work.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Just a quick note to let you know that I added my timeline to the sidebar--it seems to be one of the most important pieces of information in the adoption world.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Do Dreams really come true?

Yesterday started out with kind of a let down. I received a weekly update from my Agency that gave the current statistics. We have 32 dossiers at the MOE and 18 at the MOFA, which is where mine is. This means that there are at least 32 families ahead of me. We have had only one family travel to Kazakhstan in the last two months. The math just does not add up very great at that rate. I was kind of down for a while and started thinking about how long I would wait and if there was a cut off point at which time I would abandon my journey to motherhood. It is so hard to think about. However I quickly realized that I absolutely did not want to abandon this dream and I had full trust in God until this point so I will definitely not give up but keep praying for speedy processes within our agency.
Our agency also said that they are working to develop relationships with more baby houses and hope to complete more adoptions this year so that is encouraging news.
We have heard about so many kids in need of good homes from those who have already traveled and seen the baby houses and from the great ladies that operate "Two Hearts for Hope"--see the link on the right hand column. It is very hard to understand how it can be that way and yet be so hard to adopt one of them. If you are reading this please pray for all the waiting parents and waiting children to be brought together in loving homes.
Now--this morning I felt a little more hopeful. I had a dream about my adoption last night that I actually still remember and I usually never remember my dreams. In my dream our agency sent us a picture of several children at a baby house. In the picture all of the children were holding a sign with the name(s) of their prospective parent(s) on it. Right in the front and middle was a very lovely little girl with dark hair smiling big and holding a sign with my name on it--not only was she in the front but her sign with my name on it was the biggest one there and my name was all in glitter. Now I am not sure if dreams just represent what we want to be true or if they can foretell the future but I am sticking with predicting the future theory for now.
It is so weird how this journey can consume your thoughts and be so up and down. I have never been terribly emotional so this is sure something new to me.
On another note--I tried a new exercise class this morning called Zumba Dance. It is a form of latin dance/exercise. I have never shaked my chest and hips so much before. Not only did I get a good work out but the endorphins were really flying as I laughed at myself through most of it. I am not a dancer so I was quite a sight as I did butterfly arms and all those fast hip shakes. Most fun I've had exercising in a long time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back to the Real World

Hi all,
I have returned from the American Birkebeiner Weekend in Hayward, WI. It was a pretty great weekend with perfect conditions for cross country skiing and for being a spectator at the events. My 7 year old nephew, Luke, did a 5K race and his 5 year old sister, Annika did a 2.5K race on Thursday and they both did fantastic--their parents used to walk along with them but this year they couldn't keep up running. The kids were all smiles as they crossed the finish line with Aunt Mary waiting there and cheering them on. Every kid that finishes the race gets a medal so it is fun for all--there were 1300 kids in race this year--amazing to watch.
Their parents competed in the actual American Birkebeiner on Saturday--it is a 51K race that starts in Cable, WI and finishes on the mainstreet of Hayward, WI. Once again the conditions were great and they both had a good race. The kids and I waited at the finish line and were able to see both of them finish. This race has over 4,000 participants with many world class elite skiers competing--it was really great to watch. My sister always worries about my experience and feels bad that I just come to babysit her kids but I have a great time with them and it is always a fun vacation for me--a great break from work and daily life.

While we were in Wisconsin, my parents were at my house. My Dad was back for his second round of chemotherapy. This time did not go so well for him as he was very nauseated for a couple days afterwards and couldn't eat. He has already lost a lot of weight so this is a concern for us. Our prayers right now are for his appetite to come back and for the next round of chemo to go more smoothly.

No news on the adoption front--just wanted to let you know how my weekend went.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Got my shots!

I had an appointment with our "travel and tropical medicine clinic" today. I went in not expecting much because I work in healthcare and have my hep B, tetanus, pneumonvax, and flu shots plus I had chicken pox, measles, and mumps as a child but....that didn't protect me from getting more shots today.
The appointment was quite informative--I was impressed with a part of my clinic that I didn't even know about before. They gave me information on general travel topics (like jet lag) and on Kazakhstan itself.
Vaccinations they recommended for Kaz are Hep A and Hep B, influenza, tetanus/diptheria, measles, pneumococcal, varicella, and typhoid. They also recommended a rabies pre-exposure vaccination series--yoiu still need treatment if exposed to rabies but it is much less and easier to have done in other countries. I got my first rabies exposure shot and my first Hep A shot today. I also got the pill form for the typhoid vaccination because it has better protection and lasts longer than the shot.
I also got prescriptions for cipro (for travelers diarrhea), ambien (in case of bad jet lag), scopolamine patchs (for air or motion sickness) and a prescription for good compression stockings for the long airplane ride.
They loaded me down with tons of good information--more natural treatments for jet lag, diarrhea, etc to do before resorting to pills, a book called "Travel Health Companion", and countless phamplets on things like checklist for things you should carry with you, heat exhaustion, safety when traveling, pretravel planning for a child, international adoption medical needs, food and beverage precautions, health care abroad, and some general information on Kazakhstan.
They gave me a catalogue for travel medicine--information and products for safe travel. The website for this is www.travmed.com if you are interested.
It was a really great visit and I recommend a travel clinc to all of you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I'm back

Hi all,
I'm finally back to my blog. I have read others more than I have posted on my own. I am still addicted to reading other's blogs and love to hear the stories and learn from all of you.
Note to Suzanne from CA--Thanks for the great food posts. There are many great gourmet and healthfood cooks in MN also but I do not come from a line of them. I come from a typical midwestern farm family of cooks where meat, potatos, great breads, and desserts are the norm. No fancy ingrediants in my family's kitchens. But I do love to read about your delicious sounding meals and would love to try them. I have expanded my tastes to include the gourmet and love to find good restaurants but haven't perfected my cooking skills to include too much. I can sure give you recipes for lots of good comfort foods like meatloaf, cheesy potatoes, and tator-tot hotdish (casserole to all those not from MN).
To update you on my Dad--he is doing much better. His lungs are improving and he responded well to his first round of chemotherapy. He and my mother have gone back home and will be there until Feb. 20th when he returns for his next round of chemo. I however will be out of town so my brother will come to go to all their appointments with them--one of the perks of a big family.
When they return, I will be off to the winter wonderland of Hayward , WI. A small little town that holds a world class cross-country ski race every year--The American Birkebeiner. Teams from all over the world come to compete in this 58K race. I could let you all think that I complete this race but actually I am a Birkie Babysitter. My sister and brother-in-law both have done this race for many years. My sister took three years off to have babies and has been back at it for the last 5 years. Since the babies, I go along with them and babysit the kids. The kids are now 5 and 7 and both enter the children's barnebirkie--a much shorter race but impressive all the same.
I take the kids and we wait at the finish line for their Mom and Dad to arrive and cheer them on. My sister's favorite moment is when she spots us and can say ski over to say Hi to her kids just before crossing the finish line. We have a great time.
The small town grows about 10x during that weekend and is full of activity and excitement--I never enjoy winter and snow so much as during that weekend.
I spent last weekend with a group of girlfriends--six of us spent the weekend at the retirement home of one of our friends in Northern WI--deep in the woods and very secluded. It was terribly cold (-4 F) and kind of snowy so we mostly stayed in. We ventured out on Saturday to visit a town 30 miles away and got lost on the way--it doesn't seem to matter when you have good company in the car with you. Finally after going by the same country bar twice, we stopped for directions and made it to our destination. Other than that one outing, we ate, drank, and talked all weekend. It was so fun.
Nothing new on the adoption front. Last news from my agency was that my dossier is still at the MOFA. I keep hoping for word any day that it will move to the MOE.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's been a long month

Thank you to my blogger friends who have stuck with me even though I haven't written in so long and to those who have inquired about how my Dad is doing.
It has been a long month as nothing has gone smoothly for him. He returned to the emergency room on Jan. 3rd with pneumonia and was very ill. Since then he is now on his fourth hospitalization. He came back after having a reaction to an infusion he needed for his leukemia and then after being home a few days he came back with confusion caused to low oxygen. He came home to my house Tuesday with home oxygen and then returned on Wednesday to start his chemotherapy treatments. They started out rocky also--he had a reaction and they had to stop the treatment but once they got him the right medications to stop the reaction they were able to start the treatment again. As of right now, he is tolerating it well.
I also got an update from my agency that basically said all is well but waits are longer than they have been because of more and more families going to Kazakhstan. It is a little disappointing but I think that this wait is giving me time to concentrate on my Dad right now which is what I need to do until he gets a little more stable. My dossier is safe and sound at the MOFA so I will do what I need to do with my family and wait patiently for the call.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What a way to start the New Year

Happy New Year--a little late.
I had a terrible cold turned into sinus infection over the New Year so didn't feel like posting then. I worked as much as I could to save my time off for the adoption but finally had to cave in and take a couple days off work.
The same day that I decided I couldn't get up for work, I got a call that my Dad was coming by ambulance to the hospital. He was having difficulty breathing and his oxygen was very low. X-rays showed fluid on his lungs so the initial thought was that his heart wasn't working well and he had congestive heart failure. Afte several tests, we discovered that wasn't the case and he had a terrible case of pneumonia. They used a needle and aspirated a liter of fluid off one lung! Needless to say, he could breathe much better after that. We are thankful that tests show his heart is working well and his recent surgery was successfull but given the fact he has chronic luekemia, the pneumonia is quite serious also. He spent 6 six days in the hospital and was just released today but will continue with IV antibiotics every day. Unfortunately, he isn't out of the woods yet. While he was in the hospital, my mom stayed with me. I am just glad that I can offer them a place to stay and some support when they have medical problems.
I have had many thoughts on being a "sandwich generation"--that is what my mom says and she means that I have to take care of my parents and my child, which may be true at times. I also had thoughts about it when I got a flyer for preparing for my retirement and realized that I am trying to balance saving for retirement and for bringing home a new baby--no small feat to come up with funds for both. I feel like I am not quite doing enough for either right now. Sometimes it worries me to think along those lines and at other times I just know that everything will work out okay when I have my daughter because it is just what I am meant to do. My whole life I've known I should be a mother and that I would be a great one so now it's time. All the rest will follow.
Maybe it's affecting me more today because tomorrow is my birthday and I turn 47 (yikes).
Here's hoping I will be home with my daughter before I'm 48.