Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Our Christmases over the years have been pretty predictable- drive to Tahlequah to be with Brian's family a couple of days, then to Edmond to be with my family a couple of days. This year was not to be any different. However, Brian's dad became ill and we spent part of the last two days in the hospital visiting him. Then today, my mom called to say she, my dad, and brother are all sick with the flu. We went ahead and drove to Edmond this afternoon (Christmas Eve), dropped off our presents at the house, went through the drive-thru at Taco Bueno, and checked into a hotel. Luckily, Ian loves to stay in hotels, and this one happens to have an indoor pool, so he and his daddy spent the evening swimming. We're now just hanging out at the hotel and eating Christmas goodies Brian's mom sent with us. Hopefully, my family will be feeling better tomorrow and Christmas Day can continue as it has every other year since I can remember! (Well, since my parents moved from Snyder.)

Unfortunately, our adoption agency didn't call to inform us we have been approved for travel to Thailand, but we are still planning to travel in February. The board meets again January 9th, so maybe we'll have some good news then.

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas. I think I'll run down to the lobby and get ANOTHER cup of coffee to go with my fudge chocolate covered pretzels!


Monday, December 17, 2007

A Successful Trip!

It's Monday night, and we're home from New Orleans. The trip was pretty uneventful but still tiring. Neither of us have spent much time in New Orleans and would like to return sometime to look around a little more. We stayed downtown and enjoyed the short amount of time we were able to drive around.

When we went in for our appointment at USCIS (immigration) this morning we were prepared for anything. This isn't the first incident we've had with them during the adoption process, and we've been to the office once before, so we were ready. First, they had no record of our I600, which I filed in September, and she said we could refile it but that she wouldn't have it approved by the time we are planning to travel. This sounds like a disaster, but we can file it in Bangkok. It just means we will have to stay longer- about 14 days instead of 8-10. The second thing is that they would not retake our fingerprints today, and they couldn't get us scheduled and cleared before we (hope to) travel. Luckily though, they were able to schedule us in Jackson, Mississippi on Jan 9. It's about a 3 hour trip from Shreveport, so that's not so bad. All in all, it was a beneficial trip, and we got our questions answered. We didn't even get reprimanded for standing too close to the window, not standing behind the proper line, or giving Ian a drink! All of which happened the first time! They are real sticklers.

It's going to be a VERY busy week. Brian is going to Memphis, and I'm going to Jefferson, TX. Ian has doctor's appointment at Shriners Thursday, which usually takes about 4 hours, and I told Brian I would make candy for several of the people he works with. Plus, I have teachers' gifts to buy, a few more gifts to wrap, and to get us ready and packed to make the 6 1/2 hour drive to OK Friday night! Oh, and I forgot to mention we're hoping Holt will call us with a travel date to pick up Olivia!

I hope everybody is having a great holiday season. It's going so fast, our Christmas cards have not left the box yet!

Merry Christmas! Leah

Friday, December 14, 2007

Going To New Orleans

It seems my efforts to avoid a trip to New Orleans have been unsuccessful. I have tried several times (through telephone and email) to reach immigration, but no luck. I did speak with my senator's office but didn't make a lot of headway there either. So, after visiting with our social worker at Holt, we decided we should make the trip, find out if they are going to process our petition before our tentative travel time, and if not, get our fingerprints redone, withdraw our petition and refile once we get to Bangkok. On the other hand, if they are going to process it before travel, we just turn around and come home and wait on the approval letter. Ah, the joys of working with USCIS (immigration)! We'll leave Sunday after church, have our appointment at 10:00 on Monday morning, and come home. Hopefully, all will go smoothly. The only glitch could be that they won't do our fingerprints Monday and we'll have to go back at a later date. We'll let you know the outcome.

Coincidentally, our neighbors directly across the street are also adopting- from China. It has been fun going through the process with them, and we have been at about the same stage all the way through. This evening the husband came over to tell me they received a call today and it looks like they will be traveling the end of January. I am so excited for them and am hoping we'll be following right behind to Thailand. They are going to have their hands full as they already have 3 boys, ages 12-18. The little girl they are adopting is a little over two.

Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. Santa is bringing Ian a tire swing, so "Santa" is going to be climbing up in our tree to hang it! (That's Brian, not me!) Of course you can't start any project like this without a trip to Lowes first, and this isn't a simple "throw a rope over a limb" tire swing, so it's a little more involved. Hopefully, if all goes well, and the frustration levels stay in check, by mid-afternoon Ian will have a new tire swing. If I get any good pictures, I'll post them!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Looks Like February!

Marissa, our social worker at Holt, called yesterday. Anytime you see it's your agency calling, you tend to get a little excited! However, I really didn't think she was calling to say we had been approved for travel. . .and she wasn't.

We have been having some problems with USCIS (immigration) regarding one of our petitions (form i600) and our fingerprints. Without going into a lot of detail, let me just say that if they are not going to approve our petition before we travel to Thailand, we HAVE to make a trip to New Orleans ASAP to get the fingerprints redone. Then we will just refile the petition once we get to Thailand. That may sound simple but it's a 6 hour trip to New Orleans and Holt isn't sure what will happen if the embassy in Bangkok sees two petitions on file. They want to make sure we aren't held up once we get to Thailand, and it's better to take care of things now so that there aren't any surprises once we get there! Anyway, she suggested I contact our state senator to inquire as to the status of our petition. It is amazing how much goes into an international adoption, and you really can't grasp it until you are in the middle of it.

With that said, Marissa thinks we will travel in February! The board in Thailand meets two times a month. This February, they are meeting the 13th and 27th. So, it looks like we will be in Thailand, picking Olivia up, at one of those two meetings.

As the time gets closer, I am starting to count the days more. Previously, I didn't keep track because I knew it would only make the wait seem longer. Now that we're getting closer, I feel like I can start counting them down and I won't be discouraged- just more excited! First, we get the travel call, and then all of the preparation really kicks in. At that point, we know exactly how much time we have left.

I need to make that call to the senator's office. The sooner we have an answer from immigration, the better. I went ahead and scheduled an appointment in New Orleans for Monday just in case they aren't going to go ahead and approve us. That means we'll leave this Sunday afternoon and spend the night there.

To leave any comment to a post I write, I think you just click on "comments". I'm not sure if I have it set up so that all comments are available to be read or whether only Brian and I can read them. Anyway, that's how that works.

Have a good day-


Friday, December 7, 2007

Wow, This Was Easy!

After a bit of encouragement from friends, families, and others waiting to bring their children home, I am taking the plunge to document our story and share our excitement with you. I was surprised to see how easy it was to get started, but quickly became stumped when I started to try to edit. Of course, that was right away! But, after I finally figured the editing out, I was quickly encouraged to continue. Now that I have started, I hope you enjoy reading about our experience leading up to and the actual trip to bring our little girl, Olivia Kantika, home!

For those who don't know us well, primarily other waiting families, we live in Shreveport, LA. We moved here in Nov of 2006 when my husband, Brian, transferred jobs. We came from OK, where all of our family lives, after having spent 4 years working in Malaysia (just south of Thailand). Living there was a significant factor in our choosing Thailand from which to adopt our little girl. We have a son, Ian, who is 6 years old and also adopted. He is a very special boy- giving us so much happiness and at the same time challenging us too! He is completely blind, and has other significant delays, in addition to autistic characteristics. For the last 6 years he has been the highlight of our lives. However, soon, that attention will have to be shared. It will be quite a change for all of us, but we are so excited to bring another child, Olivia, into our family!

I'm happy to say our adoption process has gone smoothly so far. We first began in the summer of '05, but when we found we would be moving to LA, we put things on hold until we could get settled here. We soon located a local agency to begin our homestudy, submitted our application to Holt Children's Services in August of '06, and our dossier went to Thailand in October. Finally, we received that all important phone call in June telling us we had a little girl just waiting for us! Still, as I think about that afternoon and the phone call, my stomach does flip-flops. I can only imagine what it will be doing when we board the plane for Thailand to finally meet Olivia and bring her home!

Well, I have now spent a good portion of my morning working on this, so I think that's enough for now. I can see this blogging can become a time consuming activity, but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I think I will writing it. If we're lucky and I can figure it out, the next step will be to post pictures of our family, including those we have of Olivia. I also hope to receive responses from you, especially those we have lost contact with or don't hear from often. We are always interested to hear how you are doing and what is going on in your lives.

Take care. . . Leah