Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Our next step was to get a lawyer friend of mine to write a letter with his law firm letter head on it, reiterating our request and urgency in the matter. Steve and I also looked up how much it would cost him to fly out to TX on Monday and resolve the matter personally. The momma bear in me was coming out!! I was going to give them until tomorrow noon to hear something back from them before we proceeded with any of these options.
Well, about a half an hour ago I received a call back from the executive and she told me that our verification of mortgage is notarized and that they would overnight it for us. I couldn't believe it! She said she would call back with the tracking number. I just got off the phone with her with tracking number in hand. I also got a chance to verify with her some of the instructions just to hear it with my own ears that notary's expiration is more than 12 months out, that all the dates match up, stamp or seal is not covering anything, is right side up, and complete. She sounded a bit annoyed by this, but I didn't care. She has no idea what a hassle this has been. And that I don't have much confidence in their competence. But praise the Lord....He has heard all of our prayers. Thank you everyone!
As soon as we get it in hand and make sure everything's okay, we will overnight it back to TX to get it apostilled. If our immigration approval gets back quickly, it won't be long!! Yay!!!
I should have known this was going to be a great day! First thing this morning, I checked my email and Autumn Winkle had 3 pictures of Aaron for me. She finally got to see him and was sure it was him. The coolest part is that one of the pictures is him walking while holding a woman's hand. I was overjoyed to see such progress since the last videos I have of him from some physical therapists where he is in a wheel chair. The pt's commented that he had a good chance of walking with surgery for ankle contractures combined with physical therapy. I can already picture him running around outside playing with all the other kids. I was so very happy to see these pictures. I will post them here later tonight....my computer has not been cooperative with this for me. I need Steve's help.
Thank you all so much for praying for this to finally come through! God is good all the time : )
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Right now we need prayers that our mortgage lending company will notarize the verification of mortgage letter. I called them yesterday to give it one more shot. I took the advice from many of you followers who commented on my previous blog about this. When I got an agent on the line, I started by explaining the dire circumstances of Julia and Aaron and pleaded for them to be able to help us. Long story short, I was able to get an "executive" on the phone with me. She seemed sympathetic and was emailing instructions along as to what we needed and how it could be done. Their problem is that they do not have a notary. We again offered to send and pay for a mobile notary to go to them. She called me back a little later and inquired about how that could be done. Rocket science....I know, but at least someone sounds interested in trying. I told her that whoever ends up notarizing the document can just go to their bank on a lunch break or something....that it doesn't have to be very complicated. So, we're asking for prayers now that this task gets into the hands of someone willing, able, and competent enough to accomplish this in a timely manner.
Our volunteer helper through Reece's Rainbow has been in contact with someone in Ukraine asking if there is something else we can do. She has replied that this "simply must be done." I know you all have been praying for Julia, Aaron, and our family, but I just thought it would be helpful to let you know specifically what we need prayers for at this moment! At the latest we were hoping to have our dossier ready to send out in mid-January, so it can get to Ukraine, be translated, and submitted by the beginning of February. This is when the SDA office reopens and begins processing dossiers after being closed for several months over the holidays. Aaron turns 6 in February and we have heard that the orphanage he and Julia are in typically transfer to institution in April. And Julia just needs us to get bring her home as soon as possible. Our goal is to get an SDA appt. in March.
Thank you all so much for your support, encouragement, and prayers! Seeing new pictures of Julia makes me even more anxious to get her in my arms. The Winkles have been unable to see Aaron. We sent a gift with them (photo look book) to give to him. They asked the nannies if they would give it to him and they said they would. We so hope they did!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
This week has been a trying week for our family. The beginning of the roller coaster started with the best Christmas gift we could receive right now.....updates and new pictures of Julia. It was unbelievably wonderful the day we saw Julia's big smiles. The Winkles, who are in Ukraine now adopting their two boys from the same orphanage, got to see her again. Even though she was having a hard time keeping down her bottle, she was still smiling.
For several years now, we meet up with my side of the family at a ski resort about an hour and a half west of where we live. My parents own time share and we spend the week before Christmas here. So we packed up the four kids and headed out there. Only this year, Steve wouldn't be joining us. He is trying not to take any time off so he has as much leave time as he can possibly have for our travels to Ukraine. It was much harder than I thought being out there without Steve. It just wasn't the same. Evan, our 20 month old was coming down with a cold, was very fussy, and getting into everything!
Highlights for the kiddos......
---Kacey went skiing with her uncle and conquered a black diamond slope!
---Regan, at 3 yrs old, went tubing for her first time!
---While making Christmas cookies, the mixer was turned on before the bowl was secured on the mixer stand. Powdered sugar and melted butter went everywhere.....HUGE MESS!! All we could do was laugh : )
The first major bummer of the week was the culmination of a long battle with our mortgage lending company. We were defeated. We need a verification of mortgage form from them, notarized BY THEM and sent back to us. Sounds pretty simple right? Not so much for this company. They are not a bank, just a loan collecting agency that bought out the original lending institution. And they are located in TX, so there is not much we can do from here. Anyways, after many ridiculous conversations with about 6 different "supervisors" trying to make it as clear as possible what we need, they sent us the form.......NOT NOTARIZED!! We were not surprised, because after talking with them many times, we have come to the conclusion that they are all idiots. What was even more laughable is that they sent a letter attached to our document.....advising us to get it notarized!!! They couldn't seem to understand that THEY signed the document and it is THEIR signature that needed to be notarized. So one day last week, I thought I was going to give this one more try and call them about it. After another ridiculous explanation of how and why THEY need to notarize the form, the "supervisor" explains that they don't have a notary. So I told him we would call a mobile notary service and send someone to their location and pay for it to be notarized. After being on hold several times the person I'm speaking to says he'll get back to me after he sees if there is anything he can do for us. He calls me back a few minutes later and says that they WILL NOT notarize this verification of our mortgage form. Why? Because their papers all have a letter head on them that hold up in a U.S. court and therefore they do not need to notarize the form for us. I explained that it needed to hold up in international court. They don't care. That's not their problem. Bottom line, they won't do it. It was very disheartening. We are still waiting to hear back from our volunteer through Reece's Rainbow what our options are. A contact person in Ukraine is being consulted as to what will suffice. Unbelieveable.
Now on to some good news.....
After that horribly defeating situation, the next day we received great news. We had previously contacted Congressman Wittmann's office to get them involved with expediting our USCIS (immigration) approval. Shortly after this we received in the mail our fingerprint date. Jan. 10, 2011. We really thought this was too much time to wait.....three whole weeks getting nothing done....just waiting. It would have been a three hour drive from where I was to get to the office where they do the fingerprints. I really didn't want to drive that far in one day, to attempt an unannounced walk-in and get told no. So God paved the way. The woman from the Congressman's office sent me an email that we have permission this week to walk-in any day M-Th. This will save us 2 weeks!! And now that we're home, it will only be an hour's drive.
The light is at the end of the tunnel. As soon as we get the mortgage verification thing resolved and get our immigration approval (which should be expedited from here on out).....we can get everything apostilled and our dossier will be complete. We are praying that it can be sent, translated, and submitted by the beginning of February! Pray with us : )
The second bummer for the week: During the week, our furnace went out at our house. So we arrived home to no heat. Thankfully, we have two space heaters and borrowed a few more from friends to keep warm. We have been using our fireplace every evening as well. We have someone coming tomorrow to replace the whole unit. God has already provided the money for this expensive replacement. Steve had already recruited several people to the company he works for and receives referral bonuses! The bonuses will almost exactly cover the cost of replacing the unit. It is amazing to see how God provides for us, sometimes even before we know we will need it.
The third bummer for the week was that I missed almost the entire children's Christmas Eve service because Evan was so fussy. I had to keep him out. Steve was working on the lighting, Kacey was Mary and Ethan was an angel. I got to see the very beginning, but had to spend the rest of the service out of the sanctuary. I might as well have stayed home. Thanks to my awesome husband, I did go to church this morning, by myself. He stayed home with the kids, so I could spend some much needed undivided time in worship and prayer by myself after a crazy week of ups and downs!
Throughout this Christmas week, both Julia and Aaron have been in our thoughts continually. It did seem like something was missing without having them here with us. As we approach the new year, I am getting a sense of being in the "third trimester." Starting to think of all the things that need to be done before the arrival of two more kids.....does nesting happen in adoptions too? It must!
Happy New Year and God's richest blessings to all of you!!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Aren't they wonderful? She looks so happy! We can't wait to make her giggle ourselves.
Aaron is in a different room and is not sure if she is going to be able to see him, but she is going to try. We'll keep everyone posted.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
We are also very excited about the Winkles getting ready to travel this weekend to adopt their two boys from the same room that Julia is in. We have sent two "look book" toys with pictures of our family in them for the Winkles to bring to Julia and Aaron. We pray the the orphanage caregivers allow the children to keep them. Julia's has links attached to hers, so it can hang from the side of her crib bars. We are also very anxious to hear from them about how Julia is doing physically. We're not sure whether they will be able to see Aaron since he would be in a different room.
Anyways, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as the tremendous amount of paper chasing. We are just waiting for a few more documents to come back to us, including the immigration papers. Then all we have to do is take them all down to Richmond to have them apostilled. After which, our dossier will be complete and will be sent to Ukraine!
Also, if you notice to the right, we have added the chip in for Aaron. We have raised the money to bring Julia home and have about $1000 for Aaron. We understand that to adopt a second child from the same orphanage will add $5000 to the cost of the adoption process. So we only need to raise $4000 more!
Monday, November 29, 2010
Even during our trip, the adoption process continued on. We had our new CSP forms to include both kids notorized and even had them apostilled while we were in downtown Chicago. We got the forms approved and fed-exed them to Ukraine the morning we left Ohio. We really don't want to waste any time!
The only other new information we have to share at this time is what we have finally decided to name these two precious children. First, Julia is going to stay Julia. We found out this was not her real name, but have decided to make this her first name since so many people have been and continue to follow her journey. She is known to the world as Julia and it's such a pretty name for her. And we have chosen Adeye as her middle name. Most of you know that we found Julia through Adeye and the heartfelt plea she made for her on her blog. She has seen and played with her while she was in Ukraine adopting her Hailee and Harper. Her love for her brought her to us and we are so thankful for her heart. Without her we may never have found Julia. We will always remember Adeye as the one God used to bring Julia to us. So it seems so perfect that we make Adeye part of her name. Julia Adeye Schwenzer.
Sergey is a great name. We have struggled with whether to keep this his name or change it. He is almost 6 years old and we're sure he identifies with it. But we want him also to have an identity with our family and the country he will come to know and live in. So we came up with the name Aaron. It means "mountain of strength." When we look at the pictures and videos of him, we can see the potential this happy, laughing little boy has. One physical therapist that visited the orphanage even said he has a good chance of learning to walk with assistance. We trust that God will give him that mountain of strength! But we also wanted to keep Sergey in his name. So naturally we thought it would be a good idea to make Sergey his middle name.......except.......Aaron Sergey Schwenzer has a less than desirable set of initials : / But we really didn't want to abandon the name Aaron. Finally, we have decided to name him Sergey Aaron Schwenzer and call him by his middle name, Aaron.
Kacey, Ethan, Aaron, Julia, Regan, and Evan. Love it.
I guess when we get a chance we should update the header, but I'm not sure how to do it yet.....stay tuned : )
Please keep praying that the adoptions in EE continue, especially for all the special needs children. We are hoping and praying for our dossier to be complete and sent out before Christmas.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
November 3, 2010
The Ukrainian legislature is in the process of voting on a bill that would suspend all intercountry adoptions from countries without bilateral agreements with Ukraine, including adoptions from the United States. The bill passed a first reading and vote, but must still pass a second reading and be signed into law by the president. The second reading could take place in the next few weeks. If the bill passes the second reading, it may be signed into law as early as the end of 2010. The draft bill appears to include suspension of all adoptions in progress.
The Department is will post updates as information becomes available.
Friday, November 5, 2010
After the introductions, a light lunch was served. Once people sat back down, it was my turn. I hate speaking in front of people. I know, how unusual. I decided to introduce our church family to Julia the same way we had learned of her...by reading the amazing words put forth by Adeye. I figured enough time had passed since I first read those words that I could get through it without crying. Not so much. I lost it, there up in front of everyone. It took a good long time and a lot of tears before I finished. I think people got a good idea of how much we love Julia and how passionate we are to get her home. It didn't escape me that most of the gathering had tears in their eyes. I then explained the high costs involved in adoption and how Thrivent Financial for Lutherans had set up a matching fund to match up to $1600. What a blessing!
Our Thrivent representative, Wayne Sprick, then came up to say a few words. It was very touching to hear him verbalize how he saw our passion and our love. I am so appreciative of his words and what he has done for us. Once he was done, I asked if anyone had any questions. The pastor's wife asked if Adeye could come up and speak a little about the whole adoption process. Poor Adeye...I totally put her on the spot and asked her to come up. She was a champ. She speaks as well as she writes! She did a great job.
We ended by all joining hands in a big circle around the fellowship hall and one of our good friends Ruth led us all in a beautiful prayer for us and Julia.
I want to thank everyone who came out to the lunch and who shared God's blessings with us. After the free will offering and the matching, we raised $4400 towards bringing Julia home. Thank you, Lord. And, I want to especially thank all those who are praying for us and Julia. My heart aches to have that beautiful little girl in my arms.
The Schwenzer family is going to take a short break from the world as we are heading down to Pocahontas State Park for a quiet weekend of camping. I can't wait for the quiet serenity. It will be much appreciated.
We will hold you soon, Julia. Stay strong...we love you!
Saturday, October 30, 2010
So, where we are... I have finished gathering the small truckload of documents needed by Forever Families Adoption Services for them to finish up our home study. I will be dropping those off Monday and will hopefully have a completed home study very soon. We have had our CSP's and POA's all filled out and notarized and are now in the hands of the Secretary of the Commonwealth to apostille. Then those will be sent off overseas. Our medical forms will have to wait for another week. Our doctor had the nerve to go down to Haiti and help with the cholera outbreak instead of hanging out here and seeing us :-) We have a really great doctor. We got back our criminal background checks today and unfortunately Carey's date of birth is wrong, so hers will have to be redone. They made her older than me! I ordered our certified marriage certificates this evening. We will soon have another whole pile of forms to notarize and apostille.
Tomorrow, after church, we will be introducing the church to Julia at a light lunch and fellowship we are holding. We look forward to seeing many of you there. We can't wait to meet Adeye and her beautiful family!
All in all, our process is going very, very fast. Soon, we will be done with all the paperwork and then we will just have to sit and wait until February for the courts to open back up. That is going to be a very long wait for us. Julia is on our minds day and night. We talk about her all the time. She is the beautiful prize at the end of this long process. She is so worth it. Our family and friends can hardly wait to get their hands on her to love her up!
Sweetest dreams, my little princess.
P.S. Anyone that would like to see how my oldest daughter sees Julia fitting in...
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Some good news is that Reece's Rainbow has told us that this particular orphanage keeps the kids there until the age of 6. So even though Julia will be 4 next month, she will stay put! Yay!! They have also told us that the orphanage "most certainly knows we are coming for her."
We are also encouraged that another family adopting two boys from the same room Julia is in, will be over there before the holidays. They will be able to see how she is doing and maybe get some more pictures for us!!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
We also wanted to let you all know (if you are local to us here in Fredericksburg, Virginia) that we are having a light lunch in our fellowship hall after church next Sunday, Oct. 31. Any of you are welcomed to attend the service which begins at 10:45am or just come for the lunch around noon. Before/during this lunch we will talk about how we came to find out about Julia, how the Lord moved us both to love and want to adopt her so much, what her circumstances/conditions are, and how the adoption process is going. This will also be an opportunity for anyone to give a free will offering to help us cover the initial adoption costs before the funds Adeye raised are available to us through Reece's Rainbow. The free will offering will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans up to $1600! Any money we receive above what we need to cover the adoption will be set aside to help cover medical expenses once we bring Julia home.
Here is the address to our church if any of you need directions:
Redeemer Lutheran Church
5120 Harrison Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22408-1803
If you would like to donate to this, but are unable to attend next Sunday, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can let you know who to make a check out to and give you our home address.
We praise God for all of you who are praying for us and for Julia! The kind encouraging words are very uplifiting. It's so amazing to hear from so many of you who have followed Julia's story for so long and from those who are just hearing of her. You are all such a blessing to us : )
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Now for the bedroom. Carey and several of her friends spent several days removing the furniture from the playroom, taking down wall-paper borders, spackling walls, taping, painting, and refurnishing with bedroom furniture. It came out great. Daddy here still needs to hang a few things like a mirror that the princesses can see themselves all dressed up in and a hook to hang their clothes on. But it's almost done!
Here's the doorway in...
Here is the view as you walk in the door...
Here's a look to the right of the bed...
A look to the right nearer the door with Regan doing I am not sure what(there is one of my jobs, hanging that mirror)...
And finally a look to the left...
Regan is very astute and realized the only thing missing in this room. She told me today, "We need to go get Julia now!" I had a tear in my eye after that one.
Sleep well and dream about your family who desperately wants to hold you in their embrace, my little princess...
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
We are still diligently working on getting things done for our homestudy. My best friend Ruth, took two of my kids today so I could have some time to work on my personal history. She also did quite a bit of housework and picked up my milk at the farm for me!! She rocks!!
Over the past weekend we worked on making our upstairs playroom another bedroom in preparation for Julia's arrival and thought it would be good to have this project done before the social worker came to our house. So my dear friend Aimee came over one day and helped me move all the toys out of the playroom and then painstakingly helped me peel off the wallpaper border. Then my neighbor of 13 years and close friend Lena came over later that day and we taped off the room and painted the first coat of "lovely lavender." The next day she came back over, as did Ruth and the three of us painted the second coat. I have the best friends anyone could ever ask for. They will do absolutely anything for us! We are so blessed and grateful to have them in our lives.
So tomorrow the social worker is coming over to put her "realtor" hat on and check out our house, complete our "together" interview and chat with the kiddos. She is so nice and we look forward to her coming over in the morning. Since Steve is taking the day off from work, we are going to get our physicals done in the afternoon.
There is so much to do and we are trying to get it done as fast as possible. We know it would take a miracle to be able to make it to Ukraine before the holidays. We would love nothing more than to be able to have her here with us for Christmas. It seems like it will be impossible, but we will do what we can and the rest is in God's very capable hands : )
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Of course there is some fun being had. The former playroom has now been repainted and reconfigured. This room will now be the princesses room. Princess Regan and Princess Julia will share. It's now a pretty shade of purple (I think the color might have been called Lilac Love) and will soon have little white butterflies flying up the walls. Oh, and there is a whole bin of dress-up clothes, mostly princess outfits, that the princesses can wear and model in front of the mirror.
Regan had just one question...Where's Julia? Oh how we wish she were here now so that we could hold her and love on her and spoil her. I find myself tearing up several times a day...every time I think of her over there all alone in her crib. I want to leave now and go get her! My prayer every day is for God to protect and watch over her and perform a miracle to get her in our arms as fast as possible. Please keep praying with me for this little girl.
Good night, my sweet little princess. We will see you soon...
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Anyways, I am Carey. My wonderful husband, who has been so dedicated to moving mountains to get to Julia, has already introduced our family. So I will start at the beginning as I'm sure many of you would like to hear how we found out about Julia and came to love her so much.
One night a few weeks ago, I was checking my Facebook page before bed. My good friend Carrie (whom I have known since I was a teenager.....I babysat her kids) posted Adeye's blog on Julia. I read it and was in tears. I donated money towards the fund, but really just wanted to pick her up right out of the picture and hold her in my arms. I couldn't stop crying as I tried to get ready for bed that night or when I went to bed. I started to realize that my tears (I'm not much of a crier) were beyond compassion for this little girl.....I wanted her! But my next thought was that my husband would never go for this. We have always wanted to adopt more children, but it was still "someday" in our minds. I had even brought the topic of adoption up to my husband as recently as this summer. His response was that we were not ready yet.....life was too crazy with the four kids we have. So I let it go. But that night I prayed that if we were meant to be Julia's family, God would tug on Steve's heart as He had mine. The next morning I sent Steve the link to Adeye's blog so he could read her story. I had not said a word to him about my wanting to adopt her. Later that morning, my husband texted me "Find out more about Yulia. We have to get her out of there!" I started bawling. God had spoken. The Holy Spirit had moved both of us to do something we had never considered before. Even though we had always talked of adoption, it was never a special needs child. Apparently, Steve had been at his desk at work, reading Adeye's post, and was crying himself. He said he was very embarrassed. So, I called my friend Carrie and through her got in touch with Adeye. The next couple of weeks was a bit of a roller coaster. And I am going to have to fill in the story from that point until now at another time. All of my kids just woke up and I need to start my day with them! I apologize, but I will be back! Thank you everyone for the prayers and support. We love you so much Julia!!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
This morning we managed to get everyone up and out the door at a reasonable hour. We had to run several errands. We ran to the bank to deposit a wonderful gift from a coworker of mine. We then ran to the church to have the church secretary notarize several of the forms we had. Thanks, Sharon! We were then headed to get our fingerprint cards done for the state of Virginia. This is one of those God's planning moments. We got to the police station at 10am. I figured they did fingerprinting all the time. It is a police station after all. Well, I was mistaken. They only do fingerprinting for the general public on WEDNESDAYS BETWEEN 10AM and 2PM. Amazing. I never have luck like that.
After the fingerprinting, we headed out of Fredericksburg to the Forever Family office in Warrenton. Our poor kids. Carey and I both know how to talk and talk and talk. We took turns. Carey went and interviewed while I filled out some MORE forms and then took the kids to a park down the street. After Carey was done, she took the kids up the street to Subway while I went in and had a great conversation with Clair. She is good people. She rearranged her schedule to get us in today. I can't thank her enough. We finished up after about four hours between us. To give you an idea of the caliber of person Clair is, she was running short on time because she had to run off to help organize and set up a benefit dinner and auction for Haiti. In her spare time.
Once we got home, we spent some time putting things up in the attic to make room so that we can rearrange our house to accommodate our beautiful Julia. All in all, a very productive and very hectic day. Keep those prayers coming for a miracle with this whole process...especially the immigration step!
Sleep well, my little Julia...we are sending our love and prayers to you this night.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.
Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.
Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.