Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? -Matthew 6:26

As we walk through this adventure called life, we remind ourselves that we are all precious children of our Father-- those of us who have walked a little further down the road striving to guide those who have been entrusted to our care for a time. Here is our journey down this path.



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Priceless....

FedEx charges....$x0
Authentication charges....$x00
Last dossier fee wired today....$x000

One step closer....PRICELESS!

Monday, August 26, 2013

First one....

I haven't let myself do it, yet.  

I try not to look at the cute little boy toddler clothes when I walk by in the store.  But, it seems like it's getting more real.  That we are going to need cute little boy toddler clothes again soon!! :)

But....our sweet friend Beth had a consignment sale this weekend to help bring their next China treasure home.  And I thought it was the perfect time and place to celebrate being done (I hope!) with our paperwork by getting HIS first outfit. 


Can't wait to see his sweet smile and his beautiful chocolate brown skin wearing this!!! (Really, I just can't wait to see him--period.  No matter what he is wearing!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Aaaahhhhh......

What a beautiful sight!!!!!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's JUST a staple....


Oh. My. Word.

So, today was one last push.

I had 3 papers to 'fix'.

I hesitate to give details because they are so silly (and laborious, and boring!!), but I want to remember this and want our boy to know that not only will we travel around the world for him, but we will also travel all around town.

The errands started by going downtown to get the notary who notarized our home study to add a date to her signature...that was the problem the last time with the 1 paper.  Unclear about the rules myself, but the clerk's office was insistent that there must be a date on the signature page.  Now, this was on the home study that was LOST in the mail, found a week later...I only knew this because I got a call from the clerks office in X county asking 'Why do we need to do anything when you live in Augusta???"  Oh, my.  So, I waited anxiously to get it back to see if it was even done correctly...yes, whew.  (And they notarized their side without a date, as were some of our other papers...but I digress.)

So, hoop 1 jumped quickly and easily.  Sweet notary, dated page, I was in and out in 90 seconds.

On to stop 2--back to the clerks office about 20 minutes away to get it notary certified.  The first lady didn't know how to do it, so I was watching like a hawk.  Someone was trying to help from afar and finally said to let her do it.

Good.

I thought.

She typed out the letter, printed, signed, put the seal on it and said, "That will be $2."  Painless.  I looked down to get the money out of my wallet.  As I looked back up, things went into
s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n.

NOOOOO! I uttered.....don't unstaple that!!!  She had a staple REMOVER in her hand and before I knew it...had removed the staple from the first notary certification (the copy that was mailed, lost, found, mailed back and now had been corrected with the date...)

She looked at me like I was crazy.

Which was a pretty accurate judgement at the moment.

I was attempting to pick myself up from the puddle I was melting into on the floor.  I was literally physically shaking, tears in my eyes, as she said, "It's just a staple."

Taking a deep breath, I said, "It's not just a staple...." And she continues to look at me as if I've completely lost it at this point, trying to explain to me why it doesn't matter when I know it does.  The older, more experienced woman from a few windows down heard my angst and came over...and agreed with me.  "Yea....you really shouldn't have done that."

I'm now envisioning another copy, sending across the state, getting the date added again, certifying here again...and more delays.  And he's still waiting.  Alone.

But, nothing I can do now.  You can't un-unstaple something.

So, I left...and called our awesome adoption agency rep who said to take a big deep breath and keep on keeping on.  She said it should be OK.  Send it on.

OK.  Praying she is right!!!

Stopped at the PO to get a money order for the last stop as no checks or cards allowed.

So, Last stop is in Appling--another 30 minutes out of town--at the Probate Judge to get copies of S & M's birth certificates.  Not to confuse these with the birth certificates that I got weeks ago at the Vital Records office.  That look exactly the same.  On the same paper.  With the exact same seal.  Just a different signature.  And a significantly pricier tag.  And required by the state.  Oh well.

After almost 2 hours round trip, all done.....all packed up and sent via FedEx to Atlanta for the GREAT SEAL.  If all goes well, this will be to our agency in a couple of days.  But, judging from the last few weeks, that might be a big IF.....

Monday, August 12, 2013

So far, all smiles....

Traditional 'First Day' picture--5th, 2nd and "K".

We lugged in all of our school supplies and everyone was ready to go!  Waiting in the hall for the bell to ring....


 "See you later, mama!"  No problem for this big girl.


 And Samuel was off to the 'big kid' area in the gym with a new buddy already....

And mommy did OK, too, but I'm already looking forward to picking them up to hear about their day.  Wishing I could be a fly on the wall!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

School's Out for Summer...

(I wrote this on the last day of school and never posted it....on the eve of a new school year at a new school, I'm feeling more and more confident about our decision, which has been confirmed in many ways--even in a statement in the sermon at church this morning.  I feel at peace.  Stay tuned for a first day update....if I remember to post it!)

Woke the kids with my version of this song today...

DON'T be jealous...I can't carry a tune and I only knew the first line, so you didn't miss much. :)

Last day of 6th, 4th, 1st, and PreK for these kiddos.


The last day always seems a little bittersweet.

Leaving a much loved teacher.

Saying good bye to friends with whom they've spent 180 days playing on the playground, lining up for lunch, tackling learning to read, creating art, giggling, learning to be humble and apologize, listening to stories, doing math problems and learning how to be a good friend.

Always bittersweet.

On the way home, Samuel said, "Why in the fall do I want school not to start and in the spring, I don't want it to end?"

Today was a little tougher for this mama.  We usually say goodbye knowing we will be back with new tennis shoes on our toes and fresh school supplies in our backpacks, eager to meet a new teacher and see which friends are in our classes in a short few months.

Not this time.

As I mentioned before, we felt it was time to make some changes in our family and in our planning for the future.  The toughest, BY FAR, was to think about changing schools.  We have LOVED being at Westminster.  We love the school, the teachers, the great Christ centered excellent academic education, and the families we are walking through life alongside.

It has been a huge part of our life for the last 8 years since Thomas started there in PreK.

What follows here was hard to write, thinking of how others would read it.  I don't want to offend, make someone upset or think we are ungrateful.  Just my own emotional journey.

Well, when faced with the decisions of keeping 4 kids there vs. bringing home a child who has no one to call Mommy and Daddy vs. working more vs. not being at home for my kids as much as I am now vs. moving vs. many other decisions that flew around for a while, we had to land somewhere.

And somewhere is a great option.  We are going to have 3 Lake Forest Hills Elementary Dolphins in the fall!

So, we are making the jump from private to public.  (INSERT:Gasp for those reading who don't like this decision and INSERT:sigh of relief for those who do.)

Back in the winter when we were trying to decide, we took the younger 3 to visit.  I was a bit embarrassed because as we walked in, I teared up.  Trying to hide my face from the sweet tour guide, I took deep breaths and just prayed that we would trust.  My tears were unfounded--what we saw was a blessing.  A great academic environment, a school that has become a part of the IB program, a great set of teachers and students, and overall a great school that looks to be the right place for our family.

We had a parent/principal meeting as well as attending open house and spending some time with a wonderful 5th grade teacher.  And after asking many, many parents of current students and hearing literally NOTHING bad, we feel like we are making the right decision for next year.  And it will be a decision we now know we need to make for each year, for each child.  And continually evaluate even throughout the year.

When we told our current school, we felt SO loved.  They really didn't want to see us go, which was so good for our hearts.  The good thing for our family as a whole is that we will still be there.  Since there is no other good option for middle school for Thomas, we felt it the right thing that he stay and the plan is for Samuel to be back in a year for middle school as well.  We see that as such a crucial time to have good, Godly influences in their lives who will speak truth to them.  We know there are Godly teachers/parents other places as well, but for our family, this seems to be the right place for this critical time.  High school?  We will cross that bridge in a few short years.  One step at a time.

I am thankful that we will still be part of the wonderful community--participating in school events, football games, etc.

We know there will be differences, change, challenges ...  as there would be if we were making the opposite move.  Or any other move, for that matter.  I'd  be less than honest if I said I don't have reservations--how will the social interactions be?  Will they make friends quickly?  Will they be challenged/loved/given true wisdom?  All things we have been blessed with during our time at Westminster.  But I step back and remind myself of the glowing reports from like minded parents.  And I remind myself that, in the end, of course, God is there, too.

It has been interesting to listen to the responses from others about our decision at some points.  Most have been extremely supportive, knowing we made this decision very seriously and in a manner of seeking God's will for our family.  We feel it is right.  Most agree, even though we and they are sad to see us move.  Some have expressed concern.  Will our kids be behind?  Exposed to too much?  Feel isolated?  Even some comments from children (who I'm sure are mimicking their parents) such as "You have to really watch the language they are going to hear there."  or "they are going to do the same thing they did this year in school, they're all a grade behind."  We are trusting that all of those details will be worked out and that if there are 'exposures' to things of the world, that they will be used to strengthen our dependence on the Lord as we walk through them with our children, guiding them during a time when they might actually think we still know something. :)

Whether this is right for the long term, we will see, but for now, we have confidence that the Lord is confirming our decision and so we finish out this year and start our summer, looking forward to a new chapter.  We will choose to look past the unknowns for now, embrace the new to come, and say, with gusto....

GO DOLPHINS!!



Friday, August 9, 2013

And the hits keep coming....

Thank you for all of your sweet comments and prayers.  I have really felt them.  I realized last night that I had talked to people, talked to the Claims Officer, run over and over and over in my head what was going on, blogged....and hadn't sat down to pray.  My attitude got a lot better and has continued to do so with sweet support from many of you today.

So much so, that when the kind lady in the Columbia County office said, "Here are two of your documents, but this one has a problem....."  I just giggled.  A frustrated giggle, but a giggle none the less.  Just making my resolve to keep fighting stronger.

So, back to the drawing board with another document.  Hopefully done early next week.

My biggest frustration with all of this is that it is me....I should have had all of this ready while we were waiting on that last paper.  Then, it would have been aggravating, but not delaying anything.  Until last week, nothing was waiting on us.  We were doing paperwork as quickly as we could for other people, forms, etc and were always waiting for things to be completed or returned or processed.   Now, it's on me.  Well, hindsight is 20/20.  No use crying over spilt milk.  One foot in front of the other.  Keep on keepin' on.  Any other quotes? :)


The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”


He can roam ON the earth....but only as far as the one who MADE it will allow.  And I know which side He is on.

Keep praying.  And ask me if I have, too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Staples, Signatures, and Satan

Oh. My. Word.
So frustrated.
Discouraged.
Can't stop thinking how ridiculous this is.

It has been quite a week for the adoption paperwork.

It started well--we got home from a quick trip to Atlanta last week and our USCIS approval was in our stack of mail!!  Hooray!  The last paper we needed.

Then we just needed to get all of the stamps/seals/signatures in line.  I was ready to send it all to Atlanta when I realized--totally my oversight--that I hadn't done the county level first.  Ugh.  I could have had this done already while we were waiting.

If you aren't familiar with this process, let me explain.
You need several dozen documents to adopt a child.  It's a lot of paperwork.  Not just for us, but also letters from doctors, employers, banks, criminal clearances, pictures, reference letters, etc, etc, etc.

But you don't just need the papers.

Take a reference letter, for example.

A sweet friend wrote a sweet letter of reference.

And signed it.

But that's not good enough.

It has to be notarized.

But that's not good enough.

It has to have a notarial certification from the Clerk of court in the county the notary is registered in.

But that's not good enough.

It has to be state certified by the Secretary of State that it was notarized and certified in.

And....that's not good enough.

It then has to go to the Embassy of the country your child is in to be authenticated there as well.

Then you can send it to that country.

To wait for them to translate, process, and move forward on their side of the ocean.

Back to the staples.....each level of this process adds a piece of paper to the document.  Stapled or attached in some way to the document.  It CANNOT be unstapled at any point.  Now, I understand the reasoning behind this--they need to know the document hasn't been changed/altered after it was notarized, etc.  But, staples seem so silly in this whole process.

So, here is the week in review... we had documents notarized in 5 counties.  2 we live near and can walk in.  3 we needed to mail.  Mailed them last week.
Got a call early Tuesday morning
"Hi, Mrs. Drake?"
"Yes"
"I am really sorry, but we cannot certify this document you sent.  The notary didn't sign her name the same way as on her original paperwork.  She didn't include her middle initial."

Are you kidding????  A single letter on a signature is going to delay a little boy coming home.  Well, luckily this particular document came from near home.  As in where I grew up.  So--Papa and Grandma Carol to the rescue!!  My sweet parents got another (they got the original as well) letter written, notarized, and walked it in themselves to get it county certified.  Got it in the mail today and it's in the 'next step' stack.  Whew, close call.

Well, that wasn't the end of it.  We had 17 documents notarized here by our sweet friend.  (All done correctly, by the way Chrystal! Thank you!)  Jeff took them to the county office and got this one back.


Did I mention it can't be unstapled???  Now, we did not take it in looking like this!  I think their stapler was malfunctioning because almost all of the staples are loose, some double, and one half on the paper.  Good grief.  Totally redid this one...letter, signature, notary, back to county office. Handed it back to Jeff stapled to the certification--that wasn't on letterhead.  Really??  

And, still not all.  The three counties we sent them away to--one fixed above, one did fine(!) and the last one--with 3 major documents in it--has gone MIA somewhere between Macon and Columbus.  Disappeared from the tracking system.  We now have an open 'claim' to hunt it down.  I'm thinking we just redo those as well and move on.  Of course that isn't simple....

All of this is SO frustrating.  But when you think about it in relation to the big picture it seems absolutely ridiculous.  A little boy, our son, went to bed again tonight without a kiss and hug from his mommy and daddy.  He will spend another day as an orphan all because of staples and missing middle initials and lost envelopes.  I know there has to be a process, and I'm GLAD there is a process--we don't want to have orphans taken unchecked--that would only lead to horrific lives in many cases.  But, I think there is something bigger going on here.

Satan HATES adoption.  I think I've said this before, but I know it's true.  If he can delay, frustrate, postpone, make us second guess--he will.  Because it is such a picture of God's heart for us.  Of redemption.  Of taking something that is wrong and making it right.  I'm sure he is frustrated each time he sees a child loved and thriving in a new home--these walking, talking testimonies of gospel-with-skin-on.

I have to admit, he got to me today.  I let it get me down, frustrated, angry, and it distracted me from my day with my kids.  I'm praying I will rest in him and trust in HIS timing to bring our little guy home.

In the meantime I know Satan will continue to pick at us.  But, he can try all he wants....because God is on our side--ours and our son's.

"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." ~John 14:18