Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dossier Day

This past Wednesday was a day our family has waited 6 months for. It was Dossier Day. The unofficial holiday, which we have worked so hard to reach. Since the day we saw our beautiful daughter's picture and read what little information was available, we have been working like mad to get every document, to complete every class, to sign every last line, to reach the point where our dossier is complete and ready to pass on to our agency for review. Wednesday was this day!

Hours of Adoption Classes: Check!
Since we are a mere two hours away from our agency, we opted to drive that massive pile of paperwork down, rather than put it in the mail and wait on edge to hear word that it has been received. (Nothing could have convinced me to mail so much blood, sweat, tears, love, and time) We woke up that morning, anxious and a little nervous. Not only were we finally going to meet the people who have assisted us throughout this process, but we were worried that we had missed something-forgot to initial one spot, had a notary that would expire too soon, only added two copies when we needed three, etc.....

Notary Party!
We went through the morning routine to get the boys off to school and daycare, and I went through the list of requirements and each piece of paper for the (at least) sixth time. Once drop-offs were done, we headed south to our agency. The drive went so much faster than we had planned. Having a quiet car, where Joe and I could have a real conversation definitely helped. Once we got there, we were met by two of the most important women in our lives at this point- Amanda and Emily. Both of these women have supported our family through calming fears, answering a million and two questions, keeping us updated on our daughter, etc., etc. The list goes on and on, and it was such a powerful experience to meet them, laugh with them, and talk about our girl with ladies who know her as well as we do.
Saturday runs to UPS

After handing over paper-clipped packet, after paper-clipped packet, we left our agency. We were so excited to have completed this vital step in our adoption process, we were relieved to have our "To Do" list down to zero, but also extremely nervous about something not being done right or missing. Knowing that a mistake may take a few days to notice, and said mistake may take weeks (and another missed day of work) to fix and submit, we were preparing ourselves for our dossier not being sent to Korea for a while.

Immigration Appointment
I checked my email every ten minutes on Thursday, hoping we wouldn't get one saying that we would need to do more, but it didn't come. No news, is good news. I said this to myself, over and over again. Friday, I did the same. Every ten-ish minutes. While heading from one school to the other, I checked my email and saw one from Emily. Joe had already responded to it, so I saw his comments first. "Awesome!!" was all that he had to say. I then read the subject line that said, "Dossier is being sent to Korea today!". Although there was a long email with information on our next steps, I didn't need to read it just then. Our dossier was complete and it was heading to the same building, to be with the same people, our daughter sees at least once a month. The stress that I have been holding onto since November seemed to melt off of my body and a smile was plastered onto my face.

The last six months have been such a stressful, humbling, empowering, love-filled time. Our daughter is waiting and now we are waiting. Until our daughter comes home to us, we will wait: wait for EP submission, wait for EP approval, wait for a court date, wait for travel, wait to meet her for the first time, wait for the custody call, wait for travel again, and wait to have our daughter officially join the Brooks Bunch. It's going to be a lot of waiting, but guess what?? We can take it! We waited for our boys, we can wait for our girl.

Dropping off our dossier!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Hurry Up and Wait

It's been a while since I have written a post. I haven't found the time or energy to share as many of our adoption stories, as I thought I would. Why? Adoption is exhausting....and hard....and one of the best experiences our family has chosen to experience.

Our home away from home
There are mountains of paperwork, thousands of signatures, notary appointments, many visits to the post office (the postal worker actually knows our names and runs when he sees us), classes to take, hoops to jump through, and waiting....tons and tons of waiting. But of all the hard things about this process, there are two that get to me regularly.

#1- Waiting on others: I am actually far more comfortable than I thought I would be with the waits that are just part of the process. If they are known, predictable, and typical, I can handle them. It's the times where we rush to complete our part of the process, only to wait, and wait, and wait for others to complete theirs. We have had several time-consuming hiccups which were totally out of our control (and out of the control of those we were waiting on).
Care Package #2

I am trying so hard, not to let these situations bring me down, but knowing that the extra month we waited in January and two weeks in March, has put us a month and a half further away from our daughter, is a hard pill to swallow. Waiting for what you want and have worked so hard for, is always hard, but we have a child waiting for us. Miss May is growing and learning and loving without us.

This leads me to #2.

Prepping big brothers 
#2- Thinking about our daughter: We talk about Maylee all the time. We are learning the Korean language, we have added Korean dishes to our regular menu, and we are learning all we can about Seoul, in preparation for our trips. We are preparing for her in every way possible, and I can't seem to let myself think about her.

When I focus on the next step in the adoption process, it is easier to not be overwhelmed by the sadness and helplessness that I feel, being so far away from our child. I have found myself avoiding her pictures, when I scroll through them on my phone. I talk about her to others, but try my hardest to keep her out of my mind when alone.

Picture for Maylee from Liam
Thinking of her and our future is painful. She was sick in January, and we didn't even know about it until February. I should be comforting her. I should be helping her be healthy. Instead, I don't even know about it until it has passed. As a mama, it is my job to protect my babies, to teach them, to love them. I can only do one of these things for Maylee. I can love her so much, but she doesn't get to feel it yet, and that makes me so sad.

Doing what we can
The realization has hit that we will not be with her for her second birthday and probably not Christmas. This breaks my heart. We are missing so many important things. On top of all of this, I am so sad for what she and the boys are missing out on by being apart.

For now, I have to continue to focus on the process, since that is something I can control (at least for another month or two).

I know that we will all be together soon, and all of the waiting and the hand cramps will be worth it. Dare I say, it will even seem as thought it was "not that difficult" or "actually, went quite fast". I bet it will be much like pregnancy after birth- it seems so much better, easier in hindsight.

I hope.
A message for Maylee Grace

Monday, January 23, 2017

Woodland Themed Baby Shower

When asked to help plan my sister's baby shower, I was so happy to have a party to plan. I absolutely LOVE themes, being creative, and doing as much of the prep without purchasing already-made supplies. I love to find odds and ends and use them to adjust my vision, sticking with the theme, but taking it to a place a bit off from where I began.

My sister was having a boy and she loves the outdoor, so the woodland creature theme seemed perfect. This theme was simple, easy to accomplish, yet so fun to be creative. I enlisted my boys to go on a nature walk, where they helped me gather pine-cones, which we used as table decor. They also scoured their plastic animal toys, as well as their stuffies, to find any that live in the forest. The boys loved helping me and I love that they spent over an hour sorting animals by habitat. Party planning and learning at the same time!

We started by decorating the rustic cake with some of the plastic animals, and placed it on a piece of a stump that my mama found, surrounded by silk leaves. It turned out so cute! We wanted to continue the theme throughout the table, so we put the pine-cones and a stuffed raccoon on the table as well. As for the other snacks, my mom made a super cute watermelon porcupine and I made donut-hole hedgehogs and Nutter Butter acorns.

This was a wonderful day of celebration for the beautiful boy who had, on his own time, had already joined our family. Everyone enjoyed the snacks, visiting with one another, and of course, snuggling the little guy.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Percy Jackson Themed Birthday Party

When my soon-to-be 6 year old requested a Percy Jackson themed birthday party, I was beyond excited. I absolutely love that he is so fond of reading that he chose a theme that is beyond his usual age group and not a typical party theme. I also love a party-planning challenge.....and boy, was this a challenge!

We started off by creating themed birthday party invites which, thanks to raising a "friend to all" type of kiddo (We are SO proud), went out to each and every child in his kindergarten class. We found a template, filled in our specific information, cut the edges off, and then rolled them and tied them up. Parents and children alike loved them!





When the big day finally arrived, we welcomed guests with a "Camp Half Blood" banner and a pouch of drachma (demigod money, really chocolate coins). Each demigod was given foam swords and shields, that my husband made out of dollar store pizza pans and Velcro strips, to defend the camp.





The house was also filled with yummy camp/god themed treats, including s'mores brownies, Zeus Jello parfaits, ambrosia (a half-blood healing food) and all the blue snacks we could find. Blue birthday snacks was a big theme throughout the Percy Jackson series. His mama always made him/gave him something blue and tasty for his birthday.




Finally, the big hurrah! The cupcake decorated for each of the three main gods of Olympus: Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.




This was one of my favorite party themes and my boy loved every minute of it. I heard nothing but compliments for kiddos and their parents alike. Although it was difficult to track down ideas for this theme, the outcome was better than I could imagine.

I'm pretty proud of this one.