Sunday, February 28, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Trip!

Where are you going to adopt Zoya?
Can't tell you other than to say "Eastern Europe" :) You will know soon though!

How long will you be there?
We will take 2 trips.  The first trip will be about 3 weeks.  Then we will be home for about 10 days (hoping to be home before Easter) and then we will leave for the 2nd trip which will be about 10-16 days.  We get to bring her home after the 2nd trip!

Why do you have to take 2 trips?
Some families decide to take one long trip which would be about 5 weeks in country.  We have decided to take 2 trips because we can't afford to have Shawn off work that long.  He needs to come back and work in between trips since he will use all of his vacation on the first trip and be unpaid for the 2nd trip. On the first trip we will have an appointment where we get Zoya's official referral.  We will then get a pass to her orphanage and probably take the night train (about 7 hours I think) to her region.  We will then get to meet with all the orphanage staff and hear all about Zoya.  Then we will get to meet her!  While we are there, we will wait for court to happen.  Court is usually scheduled about 2-3 weeks after our initial appointment.  While waiting for court, we will get to visit with Zoya every day and get to know her.  Once court is over, we can go home and begin our 10 day wait.  Sometimes the wait is a little longer than that, depending on holidays, etc.  They will tell us when to come back.  Although it will be very difficult to leave Zoya after we've met her, this time in between will give us a chance to prepare for her since we will finally know her size.  We can buy diapers and clothes and all that fun stuff.  It will also give us a chance to rest and recharge for our 2nd trip when we bring Zoya home. 

Why is there a 10 day wait?
The 10 day wait is required by law to give anyone from Zoya's country a "last chance" to come forward to adopt her.  This is very unlikely to happen.  Some judges waive the 10 day wait but we have been told not to expect this. 

Where will you stay when you go?
We are bringing along a tent and will set up wherever space allows.  KIDDING! We will stay in apartments that our facilitators find for us.  We don't know yet where our apartments are, or how far from the orphanage our apartment in region will be or how much it will cost, or if we will have internet or anything like that. 

Can Zoya (insert developmental mileston here)....
We don't know a lot about Zoya's development.  Can she speak? Likely not.  Last we knew she was unable to sit up on her own.  So can she walk? Likely not.  Will she ever walk or talk or (insert developmental mileston here)? We don't know...we don't worry about those things either.  She will do all that God has planned for her to do and become exactly the child God intended for her to become with a little help from her loving family :)

When Do You Leave?
IN 11 DAYS!!!! We are leaving Friday, March 12th around 11am (out of Erie) and will arrive in country Saturday, March 13th around 8am our time.  So almost 24 hours of travel...please say some prayers ;)

** week the blog will be going private, I have a few spaces left for invites if you haven't yet sent me your email make sure you do that ASAP. 

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes...keep them coming please! We are so excited to be SO close to such a life-changing time!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Going Private

Before we leave in 2 WEEKS (oh my)...I will be making this blog private so that I can give you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about our adoption journey in Zoya's country.  Haha.  Lots of adoptive families make their blogs private before travel.  This way I can tell you where we are and everything we are doing and how the process is going without worry of saying something wrong or something I shouldn't say publically about how the adoption is going. 

Sooooo if you'd like to follow along, give me your email address in the comments section (or email it to me  at and I will add you to the reader list.  I can have 100 followers so make sure you give me your email address if you'd like to follow!

Our plane tickets are booked as of this morning...yay!! Now only a million things left to do!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Ever since we heard our travel date I have had the craziest butterflies in my stomach. When I think about what we are about to further than we've ever traveled before to meet a child we don't even know who will be our daughter....I get nervous and excited all at once and I get the crazy butterflies.  People ask me if I'm nervous.  The answer is yes I'm a little nervous about the unknowns of this process.  But it stops there.  I don't let myself worry about all the what-ifs or I would go crazy.  I am still suprised that I find such comfort in knowing God has this all under control and knows everything about Zoya and will equip us with the skills we need to take care of her.  I am suprised with how calm I am.  Every now and then a thought like, "wow we are going to travel 5 THOUSAND miles to meet our daughter that we know almost nothing about!" pops into my head and I get the nervous butterflies, but they are quickly replaced by excited butterflies.  I have prayed for this sense of peace and am so thankful that I do feel so peaceful at such a scary, crazy, uncertain time.  I pray that this feeling of peace will continue throughout the journey so I can thoroughly enjoy each and every new moment. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Months!

5 months ago today we committed to our precious Zoya.  We were different people 5 months ago.  Our entire life perspective has changed and I would never want to go back.  In the past 5 months we have learned to trust more, worry less, WAIT a lot, cheer other people on, love eachother better, and open our hearts to others in need.  5 months seems like it has been 5 years...really it has NOT gone by fast at all. 

The biggest lesson for me this far has been that it is okay to ask others for encouragement, support, prayer, help.  Shawn and I are both very independent people who have always taken pride in the fact that we have accomplished so much on our own.  Obviously we realize there were many people who helped us along the way to become the people we are, but prior to this, we would have rather done things on our own...privately...without EVER asking for help from others.  During this journey we have NEEDED help in so many ways.  We have needed friends more than we ever needed friends before.  We have needed financial assistance to make this happen.  We have needed prayer like we've never needed prayer before.  We have reached out to people and the response has been nothing short of amazing.  I always knew I had lots of people who cared, but I never knew just how much they cared.  I have been so touched and astounded by the many people who have helped us on this journey in one way or another.  All of you are part of Zoya's story and we are forever grateful to you for that. 

5 months ago I could have never imagined how I would feel at this very moment.  Having just got our travel date to meet Zoya, so many things are going through my head.  More importantly, so many things are going through my heart.  I don't know yet how to write the words that describe how I am feeling at this very moment.  It is definitely a feeling I've never known before.  I don't think I'm prepared, or ever could be, to meet Zoya.  I pretend I am prepared, but I can only imagine what those first weeks getting to know her will be like.  I keep praying that God will prepare our hearts, and hers for our meeting.  How do you prepare for such a life changing experience? You don't.  You just fly by the seat of your pants, soak up every single second good and bad, and know those first moments will only be the beginning of so many more moments to come. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


What did I do when I found out? Did a happy dance in my bathrobe then called Shawn and my brother!! I don't think I can function today!!! I will update more later but for now I am already late for work!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Questions from 2nd Graders

Yesterday I told my 2nd graders that I will be leaving sometime in March to adopt Miss Zoya.  They were soooo excited and a little sad.  I had talked to our school counselor about how to tell them and what to say and how to answer some of the tough questions.  I really stressed about telling them but I'm glad I finally did.  I wanted to wait until we had a travel date so it was more concrete for them, but I had to tell them since my sub will be shadowing me on Monday.  I told them I would be traveling to "the purple place" (Eastern Europe on our classroom map is purple).  I showed them Zoya's picture and they all ooooohhhed and aaahhhhed and smiled with their missing teeth-ed smiles.  I told them that she lived in an orphanage, which is a little like a hospital, because her mom and dad couldn't take care of her.  Their initial questions were pretty funny and not the tough questions like I expected.  They asked, "Are you scared to fly?" and "How long will you be in the airplane?" and "Will you be able to see fish or sharks from the airplane?" and "Where will you stay when you are there?" and "How old is the baby?" and my favorite, "Why can't Mr. B just go and you stay here with us?"  My other favorite, "Will there be a beach and a pool there?" LOL I WISH!  Too cute.  One of my sweet little girls said, "My eyes are getting runny" and she started crying.  :(  Toward the end of the day, after they had some time to think about it, some of the more difficult questions started.  One of them asked, "Why can't her mom take care of her?" and "Who is taking care of her?"  I did my best to answer their questions in a way that would be appropriate for 2nd graders--maintaining their innocence but also being honest.  That was tricky. 

We are hoping to hear our travel date this week!! We can't wait and are starting to shop and get things ready for the trip.  Keep checking back for our hopeful big announcement about our travel date!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Orphans in Distress

I've struggled with the decision to post this video or not.  I've decided to post it because seeing this video played a big role in our knowing we were being called to do something in some way to help orphans in their distress.  When we saw this video, we had not yet decided to adopt.  This video made me sick to my stomach and I couldn't stop crying after I saw it.  I sat here, feeling so helpless and so sad for that little girl. I could not believe a human being could be treated this way...treated with such a lack of regard for her every single one of her days in extreme pain, sadness, lonliness, and unworthiness to those around her.  A helpless little child facing such harsh conditions day in and day could the staff even bare to see her in this condition? How does this happen? Is it a total and utter disregard for her due to her disability? Is there not enough funding to provide adequate (or basic at that) caregivers and health care? How did this situation come to be and what does God think of this? I can't even imagine.  I am not sure how long ago this video was taken, or if the conditions are now better than they were when this was shot (we can only hope).  Although we have reason to believe Zoya is in a better situation than this little one, it still breaks my heart to think that this little girl in the video is likely not the only child to face such a situation.  Imagine your child's face on this little girl, suffering....even though she is not your child by birth, she belongs to all of us...this problem belongs to all of us. 

Yesterday, on Valentine's Day, I thought of all the orphans who not only don't have someone to love them, but who live in complete misery and pain day after day.  This video shows what I can only imagine to be the worst possible way to live and die.  So yesterday, when we all thanked our lucky stars for the people we have in our lives who love us, children like this little one (and our Zoya) sat (likely alone) in their cribs not feeling an ounce of love.  It breaks my heart.  It would be easier to just forget it, but forgetting it would only make us feel would do nothing for these little angels who are suffering. 

I want to warn you that this video is very disturbing, but I am sharing it to remind you that orphans need your help.  Even if you can't adopt, maybe you can donate financially to an orphanage, or to an adopting family, or at least, pray for these orphans in distress.  (Scroll to the bottom of the page to pause the music player).

Let this little girl's suffering not be in vain....this little girl, even though we will never know her, played a big role in our decision to adopt Zoya.  Even though we couldn't save this girl, she has helped to save another child.  Maybe she can save more children with the awareness of this video. 

Friday, February 12, 2010


We were submitted yesterday!!!  We found out today around 10:30 that our dossier was submitted.  Now a whole new kind of waiting begins....waiting for our travel date.  We are hoping it will only take a week or two to hear our travel date! Maybe Shawn will get a birthday suprise on the 17th and we will get our travel date early :)  I told him for his birthday this year I am taking him on a trip to Eastern Europe....and he thought I couldn't beat last year's trip to Disney World!! One step closer...and it feels so good!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No News but One Day Closer

Still waiting to hear....we have not heard one way or another if we were submitted today.  I'm getting better at this waiting this but i still HATE it! The thing that bugs me about this is that we aren't waiting for something to be done...we're waiting to hear what has or has not already been done!  They know if it was submitted or not and we don't! That bugs me!

To pass the time and focus on our next part of this journey, we went shopping tonight to get a few things for our trip (whenever that may be).  I looked at some adorable clothes at TJ Maxx, but didn't buy them because we just aren't sure what size and the few outfits were definitely springish if she is smaller than 18 month size in spring she wouldn't be able to wear them.  We bought a few small "cause and effect" type toys that we will take with us for her to play with during our visits at the orphanage.  We got a couple duffle bags on wheels as well.  Our challenge is to fit about a million things into 2 carry-ons and 2 checked bags!! We shall see.  I'm a pretty good packer and I bet I can do it with room to spare! Maybe I can pack Mya dog?? I will miss her tons :( 

Been thinking a lot lately about Zoya and if she has changed a lot since the only picture we have of her was taken.  Does she have more hair? Is she taller? Chubbier? Will we recognize her?  Will she look anything like the one and only picture we have?  It is hard to know that each day that passes is one less day that we will ever get to spend with Zoya.  Time keeps stealing our days, but in the same breath, Time is getting us closer to our sweet angel because as each day passes, we become one day closer to meeting her and getting to spend our forevers together. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dossier Submission Tomorrow!

Our dossier is scheduled to be submitted tomorrow!  A little later than we thought, but we are okay with it.  We are just hoping that we ARE submitted tomorrow and we can start waiting for our travel date. We should know when we wake up in the morning, or shortly after, since her country is 7 hours ahead of us.  Please pray that things will go well tomorrow, our dossier will be submitted, and there will be no other issues or mistakes that need to be addressed!  We aren't sure how long it will take to get a travel date but are guessing about one to two weeks after tomorrow we should know! Crazy...once we get that travel date I know things will feel like they are moving VERY quickly...which will be a welcomed change from how slow things have seemed to be moving lately.  I'm sure I will be running around like a crazy lady trying to get everything together but I can't wait!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paperwork and Strange Dreams

Our paperwork was delivered to our facilitator in Zoya's country this morning!!! Praise God! It was estimated to arrive around Wednesday and that was the last possible day they could have it in their hands to keep our Thursday submittal date.  It got there 2 DAYS EARLY!  We are loving DHL!  We are still waiting to hear back to make absolute sure that they have everything they need.  They should now.  As long as they do, we should be submitted Thursday and hear our travel date within about 2 weeks.  I am so done with this part of the process and ready to meet Zoya.  We originally hoped to travel toward the end of February and now it is looking like beginning to mid-March if I had to guess. 

I have been having more strange dreams about lots of things, but Zoya in particular.  Last night, I had a dream we went over to meet her and when we walked into the orphanage there were babies laying all over with sign-up sheets next to them!!! I remember thinking, wow I didn't know it would be this easy, ha! I kept searching and couldn't find Zoya.  They told me she was with the older kids upstairs.  We kept walking up flights of stairs and stopping at each floor to look at the hundreds of kids laying in beds.  There were nuns everywhere that were smoking and not paying any attention to the kids.  Kids were crying and it was like nobody heard them but me.  The nun who was leading us around the orphanage kept leaving each floor really quickly before I was ready to leave.  Finally we got to the very top floor and I was hoping Zoya would be there.  They led me to her bed and her eye was all red, like it was infected or something.  She had a buzz cut.  I picked her up and looked into her eyes.  I remember thinking they were the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen.  Then out of nowhere, her pupils turned into swimming fishies!!! Once I got all the way back to the bottom floor with her they told me I couldn't take her because I never had my SDA appointment!  Any interpretations? Or should we chalk it up to anxiety, unkowns, and stress? That would be my guess! LOL. Either way, I woke up longing to hold her and never let go. 

As travel gets closer I almost can't believe we are going to meet our daughter....the child God has chosen specifically for us! It still seems surreal and like it is so far away.  We have worked so hard to get to this point with the same end goal in mind all along.  Now that we are so close to the goal, the days seem to drag on longer and longer.  The waiting gets harder, not easier.  We have been waiting 138 days.  That is 3,321 hours....which is 198,720 minutes....which is 11,923,200 seconds....which makes this journey seem excrutiatingly long, especially when not one of those seconds has passed by without me thinking of her. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

To The Moon and Back

We have amazing friends who care so much and are just as excited about Zoya's arrival.  I wanted to share this poem my friend Kathy wrote.  It brings me to tears every time I read it and I get butterflies in my stomach! Thank you Kathy! If you click on the picture it should enlarge for you to read if the words are too small.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Are You Kidding Me???

Okay, just when we thought things couldn't get worse.....I feel like a circus dog lately jumping through hoop after hoop trying to get to our baby girl.  Adoption does have a lot of red tape.  We knew that.  But this much? I think it is fair to say that we have had more than our fair share of red tape issues lately.  I've stopped asking why us.  It is what it is and we will do whatever it takes.  The latest update is:

Our late arriving paperwork made it to Zoya's country today at 12:30pm their time! YAY right? Not so fast.  2 of the extra document we sent over were extra passport copies that had been notarized.  We were told they did not need the big expensive gold sticker (apostille) from Harrisburg.  Yesterday....yes YESTERDAY they changed their minds.  Those pages need the apostille now.  AND we need to get them there by WEDNESDAY, yes Wednesday in order to have our "new" submittal date of February 11th.  There was no way at 10:40 when we got this news that we could get to Harrisburg in time.  We figured out a way around this (I'll spare the boring details) and off we sent ANOTHER package (via DHL not Fed Ex this time) with more passport copies.  Estimated arrival time is Wednesday, yes the day they are DUE.  I really feel like I'm living in the movie Groundhog Day lately.  I suppose it's appropriate timing, but still it's not any fun. 


Even in the midst of all this stress, God is showing himself to us.  As I sat down at school after the intial news of this whole fiasco was given to me, I felt TOTALLY defeated.  I thought,

 "What are we doing here? Is this EVER going to happen? Can I continue to have strength to get through this? I'm exhausted.  Why? Ups and Downs are killing me.  Just when I thought we jumped through every possible hoop...more hoops to go.  God what is your plan? Can you give me a glimpse?"

I sat there stressed, defeated, sad, angry, trying to find peace. Just then, one of the little girls from the preschool class walked past me, smiled the most beautiful smile and waved at me with her pointer finger.  She lingered longer than the rest of the kids, just smiling at me.  This little girl who lingered a little longer has Down Syndrome.  This little girl didn't know me from any of the other unfamiliar faces in the building.  Thank you God for that living reminder in that exact moment.  He knew I needed it.  I saw Zoya's face in this little girl's face.  Peace washed over me in that moment and for an instant I forgot about the paperwork headaches. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Once Lost But Now Found!

Our papers once were lost but now are found! (we think). They arrived in Zoya's country toward the end of the day today and should be delivered tomorrow morning (according to Fed Ex).  On the online tracking it is showing that they are there (after having left Paris two days ago).  That must have been one long trip...I sure hope it doesn't take US that long to get there ;) 

Since our papers were not delivered on time, or even close to "on time" our facilitator was unable to get our dossier submitted today :( We are rescheduled for a submittal for next thursday (February 11).  This does push our travel back a little, we are not sure by how much at this point.  I am okay with this and strangely have a sense of peace about it. 

We are starting to get excited (and nervous) about our trip.  There is so much to know and do to get ready. 
When we first committed, our goal was to get there and back as quick as we can and just "suck it up." It would still be nice to get there and back as quick as we can, but we are hoping we can have enough peace to enjoy our trip (even though I'm sure parts will be very stressful and foreign).  We want to learn about the place our child is from and buy some special things for her while we are there.  We want to interact with the people, learn from them, and maybe leave a little piece of us with some of those people as well.  Maybe we can show at least one person we meet why these children are so special and valued.  Maybe we can plant a seed with someone who will try to make a difference for these children in their own country.  Just maybe.......

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frenzy, Friends, and Family

Our paper was promised to be delivered today by 11am our time (6pm Zoya's time), that did not happen.  We called Fed Ex about a million times and nobody can seem to figure out where our documents are.  They left Paris two days ago and have not been scanned in anywhere since then.  We were told "maybe they are at the airport" in Zoya's country.  It seemed that every person we talked to had a different answer or no answer at all.  FRUSTRATING!  Our facilitator in country had emailed wondering where they are and the lack of control and knowledge sent me into a frenzy.  I won't elaborate other than to say this was the toughest day yet.  The GOOD NEWS is that our facilitator in country is going to try and submit our dossier anyways since she has scanned copies of the documents that are on their way and has already translated them.  They still need the other papers to arrive ASAP.  We are debating getting another set done (which would definitely include a trip to Harrisburg) just incase and to save time if it turns out that they are lost.  Fed Ex will be hearing from us again bright and early.  When the paper does get there, we will be requesting a refund of the $90 it cost to send the papers (since they didnt get there when promised). 

If we get submitted tomorrow we could hear our travel date in a week or two.  We are still thinking the travel date may be the beginning of March as long as we get submitted tomorrow.  Please pray for us.  Pray that the papers would find their way to Zoya's facilitator soon so we don't have to get another set done which would involve lots of time and money.  We also need prayers to continue trusting (or trust better) in the Lord and his timing.  I, in particular, am having trouble letting go and letting God.  We are so ready to put this part behind us and travel to meet our baby girl. 

Thank you to all of our friends and family for your support.  Shawn and I aren't people who have ever had to ask for much help from others before.  We're pretty independent and are used to being on the other end of this support thing.  I must say, it has been such a change of pace, and quite nice to know there are so many people in support of what we are doing.  Your comments, cards, messages, financial donations, gifts, and overall support have blown us away.  We are so lucky to have such an amazing network of people who are routing for us and Zoya and would do anything to help us get there.  We also want to say thank you to those of you who have "met" us through this blog and have gone out of your way to leave encouraging comments, pray continually for us, and give financial donations.  We are so thankful that God has written each and every one of you into Zoya's story.  Without all of you, all of this would be impossible.  Thank you.

Love, Shawn and Sarah

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Peaks and Valleys

Our paper did not make it to Zoya's country today.  We have been told that it may be possible to still keep our submittal date for Thursday if the paper gets there tomorrow.  It was guaranteed to get there by tomorrow at 6pm, but I don't know if that will be too late.  If it is, we will have to wait to hear another submittal date and I have no idea how soon or far out that may be.  Where is our paper? Your guess is as good as has been taking the "tour de patience" (said in a french accent).  It depareted Paris (twice now?) with the last "departure" at 2:17am our time.  I have called Fed Ex and am waiting to hear back from a "tracking agent." 

This process is tough...the red tape has gotten to me today.  This waiting makes it hard to focus on anything else.  On top of our own waiting and anxiousness, I get this question many times a day, "So when are you getting your baby?" I don't know, I wish I knew, and you can bet that when I do know, I will tell everyone I know, and probably a bunch of people I don't know too! So in this case, no news is NOT good news.  I'm trying to keep it real here so I feel the need to tell you how incredibly difficult this day and these past two weeks have been.  It is nothing you can prepare yourself for, but I know it is strengthening us and our faith.  One minute I am content in resting in God's timing and knowledge (this guy definitely knows a lot more than I do), and then the next minute I'm caught up in my plan and my desire for my timing to work out.  When I get caught up like this, it is bad.  I waste all my energy worrying about something I can't control and then I try to rationalize feeling how I'm feeling and it turns into a big ugly cycle of peaks and valleys.  I hear God speaking to me throughout the day with words like "patience" and "wait" but it is still not easy.  Sometimes I want to shout back at him, "WHY?" (Ok, sometimes I HAVE shouted back at him with WHY?)  Having faith means not knowing the "why" part of things and still moving along.  I feel like a little kid asking "why" a million times and getting a final answer of "because I said so."  And when God tells you "because I said so," theres no arguing.

This journey has been all about faith.  We haven't always understood why we were called to do this, or why things are happening as they are, and we may NEVER know some of those answers.  Having faith means it is okay to never know those answers and trusting that God has his own reasons for the way things work out.  Because this has been such a journey of complete and total "blind" faith, we have decided that Zoya's middle name will be "Faith."  We surely will never forget the walk of faith God has led us on and each time we look at Zoya we will remember all the peaks and valleys.  We will remember that even though we faced many long, uncertain, blindfolded days, we made it out on the other side and with more to love and cherish in this short life.