Monday, August 31, 2015

Georgia in the News!

Ben and I are excitedly preparing for our trip to Georgia to bring Simon home! As many of you know,  I LOVE planning trips and especially enjoy learning about new people, culture, environment and food. This time around, there is the added awareness that we're learning about our son's birth country and heritage. Georgian's are immensely proud of the their country, food, wine, dance, singing and history. Ben and I look forward to reminding Simon of his birthplace and fostering in him love for the country where he was born!

I knew almost nothing about Georgia before we started our adoption. Like most people, I only thought of Georgia the southern state (where my mom was born and grew up). Because of Simon, I seem to have developed a Georgia-radar and it seems Georgia is everywhere! Georgia has especially gained recent recognition as a travel destination, and consequently, there have been quite a few articles and videos about Georgia in the news. Below are some of our favorites (all from 2015). You're sure to learn something, but will also probably get hungry!

CNN's On the Road: Georgia (videos)


CNN

National Geographic's Paul Salopek is undertaking a seven-year trek from Africa to South America, following ancient human migration routes. He spent the summer of 2015 in Georgia.

National Geographic
NPR
New York Times

Monday, August 24, 2015

Emails Full of Hope


During our adoption journey we've had the blessing to listen to many stories about others' adoption experiences, both from the perspective of adoptive parents and the perspective of adopted children. These stories have reassured us and given us hope in what is to come. It is also interesting to hear how the adoption process has changed over time, from the politics to the logistics. While many aspects of the process remain the same, one difference we've noticed is that news comes via email rather than a phone call or in (snail) mail.

It some ways, this is a great blessing--we receive news so much faster and also are able to get questions answered quickly. In other ways it can be very hard. There are days when I check and recheck and check my email again and again. Because when the emails do come, they diminish distance. Suddenly Simon is not so far away and the time until he comes home is not so great.

On Tuesday August 18th, which was one of my compulsive email-checking days, we received an email. Though it didn't bring news of permission to travel, it did bring us joy, appreciation and hope. Specifically, it delivered news that we've been chosen to receive a matching grant from Brittany's Hope! Brittany's Hope is a foundation that provides support to families adopting children with special needs and to orphaned children around the world. We feel so blessed for the financial support of their Seedling Grant, which will go toward travel expenses to bring Simon home.

Seedling Grants provided by Brittany's Hope follow the "pay it forward" approach. We've been granted $3000 matching grant! As part of this grant, we've committed to raising a minimum of $1500 that will go towards helping other families adopting children. It's amazing to think about how this form of grant connects adoptive families all over the world!

We are so excited and honored to receive this grant. We hope that you will check out Brittany's Hope and learn about the support that they provide to families and children. If you would like to support our fundraising efforts, please visit our Seedling Grant fundraising page at www.brittanyshope.org/seedling/orourke where you can help us "pay it forward" to other children in Simon's honor. Donations are tax deductible and 100% of your donation goes towards grants or humanitarian aid (the organization's overhead is paid by sponsors)! We will make sure to update this post with our fundraising progress.







Saturday, August 8, 2015

From Newton to Dr. Seuss

According to Newton's First Law of Motion, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. In the case of our adoption, there are a lot of objects in motion--VISAs, governments, social workers, emails, nerves, emotions, and, of course, an adorable two-year old named Simon! Thus, chaos ensues. Imagine dodging cars on a freeway during rush hour while trying to solve physics problems using pen and paper (without a clipboard).

In the last two weeks, we've received multiple vague updates with conflicting information. While the details change ever so slightly, the basic premise remains: we have no idea when we'll travel, but we need to be ready to jump on a plane.

You can get so confused, that you'll start in a race, down the long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace, and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The waiting place...for people just waiting. --Dr. Seuss

Yet, the waiting timeline has narrowed as we've marked items off the checklist:

√ Select perspective adoptive parents (match)--1 week
√ Perspective adoptive parents accept match--2 weeks (actually took about 1 week)
√ Notify the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia about acceptance of match--1 week
√ Final examination of the case and preparation of the decree on adoption for the court hearing by the Georgian Central Authority--1 week
√ Approval of Immigrant VISA--2-5 months (actually took about 6 weeks)
( ) Interpol check--1 month
( ) Court appointment--1-2 weeks

If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew. Just go right along and you'll start happening too.  --Dr. Seuss

Despite all this motion, Newton's Law also states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest. I wouldn't exactly say that Ben and I are "at rest," but we are somewhat stuck waiting for a cosmic and spiritual catalyst. In terms of our adoption, this is the final permission to travel (receiving the court date), which won't happen until the Interpol check is done. From what we've heard, the court appointment will be quite the catalyst and will send us off to Georgia with only a couple days notice!

Thus the equation stands:

Interpol Check + Court Appointment = Chaotic Packing + Bon Voyage
                     5-6 weeks                                                 2-3 days

Everyone is just waiting. NO! That's not for you! Somehow you'll escape all that waiting and staying. You'll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you'll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. --Dr. Seuss





Sunday, August 2, 2015

Getting Ready for Simon and Enjoying the Summer

Last week we found out that Simon's US Immigrant VISA is ready in Georgia! This means that we are now just waiting for a court appointment (where we will gain custody) before we can travel to Georgia! I'd say that the finish line is in view, but it feels more like we're waiting for the starting gun to go off!

So, while we try to cool our jets, we've been keeping busy by getting ready for Simon. His room is all ready now, complete with curtains and sheets I made, wooden toys passed down through the family, lots of books, and more clothes than a 2 year old probably needs (but they are so cute ;)). My next projects are to finish Simon's busy board and sew a bean bag. Here's Simon's room; all it needs is one little boy to mess it up and make it look lived in!

Ben reading one of Simon's books

I've also started planning for our trip as much as I'm able to given that we don't know when we'll leave. We expect to be in Georgia for about a month and hope to learn about Simon's birth country including food, art, dance, religion and other customs. While Georgia is technically in Asia, the architecture, food and culture are more European. Tbilisi looks like a beautiful city that combines old buildings with modern amenities. We should have high speed internet access while we're there, so we look forward to sharing our trip with everyone (though no pictures of Simon until we get back to the US)!

We think about Simon a 100 or more times a day, but we're also enjoying our summer and nearing our second wedding anniversary. We plan to celebrate with dinner at King Estates (I've never been)! We have also been enjoying baseball games, dinner dates and summer theater; spending as much quality time together as possible before Simon arrives. Ben was able to join me for a few days in Las Vegas while I was there for a nursing conference (we saw a couple of shows, visited Red Rock Canyon and ate some delicious food) and we also spent a wonderful weekend at the coast with my parents where my dad was singing with one of his choirs. We hope you all are enjoying the summer, too!
Don't tell Simon, but we went to the M&M store is Las Vegas without him.
(We did get him a shirt)
Blue Man Group was amazing!
Ben and my Dad walking at the coast