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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

We Have A Court Date!!


Hello!

Thanks for checking back in, everyone - it’s update time!

WE HAVE A COURT DATE! 

This is exciting, people. Very exciting. As we discussed in our last post, we had a major delay that caused the time between trips to be a little longer than anticipated. But now we are moving right along again and getting the court date signals the beginning of the end; that is the last big piece standing between us and our return trip! Getting that date was a big day! We are one step closer to having the boys home forever. With the excitement of getting the date (which is late November, by the way), came the mixed emotion of hearing that the boys may not be home for Christmas. Due to the timing of our court date and the holidays, we were originally told to anticipate returning mid-January. In the last couple of days, though, we were told that we should be prepared to potentially go and pick them up in December. As you can imagine, this has been a flurry of high and low emotions as we were thrilled to have a date but devastated to know they wouldn’t be home for the holidays, but then became hopeful that there is still a possibility that they will be. So, who knows! We will be prepared for December, and we will be prepared for January – we’re ready to go and get them as soon as they say “GO!” so, we will see when that is!  We will be honest – the hope of having them home for Christmas is SO exciting. But we are cautious in this emotion as it’s a very real possibility that it’ll be January. Either way, it is exciting to know that people are trying to get them home as soon as they can. If it doesn’t happen before Christmas, it doesn’t happen, but we are so thankful to have the best of the best working on our case both here and overseas. We are confident that they'll be home sometime between mid-December and late January. Having a court date scheduled and a relatively small window of time for their homecoming is a wonderful feeling. 

Process between now and then:
  • Our file is prepared for court
  • Court happens overseas (we will not be there, we have an agency representing us) – we become the DeArmond Party of Five this day! WAHOO!!
  • Decree is signed making it all official
  • They schedule travel dates for us
  • WE GO AND BRING OUR SONS HOME!


Let the countdown BEGIN! 

As we have been waiting to receive our court date, we’ve been having a GREAT time celebrating our boys. We’ve been blessed beyond measure by our family and friends. We had a shower in St. Louis with Mary’s family thrown by Mary’s Aunts, a shower here in Indy with our friends thrown by Mary’s sisters and Mom, a shower at BOTH of our employers thrown by our colleagues/friends, and a shower in Berne with Scott’s family thrown by Scott’s sisters and Mom. Add to that Mary's friends making our annual Christmas get-together a shower celebration and still to come: the ladies in Mom and Dad E’s neighborhood are throwing a shower in a couple of weeks. HOW FUN! We are SO grateful for the incredible love and support everyone has shown. From step 1, we’ve had a village walking along with us and we are so grateful! The boys’ rooms and toy boxes and closets are all stocked thanks to all of you! Here are some pictures of all the celebrations for our three superheroes. We’ve had such a GREAT time celebrating!



We have been talking with the boys on Skype every weekend. It’s incredible the progress they’re making in learning English and the excitement they have as we show them pictures of their rooms coming together and toys they’ve received. We continue to be SO grateful for their caregivers, who are preparing them so well for the transition to come. And we are so grateful for technology that allows us to give virtual hugs, kisses, and high fives! Mary even got the most precious “Happy Birthday” videos a couple of weeks ago. Skype has allowed us to continue bonding through this wait and help prepare them for the new beginnings to come.

Thank you for continuing to walk this journey with us! Next post should be the biggie – our “they’re coming home!” post!!!


Love,
Mary and Scott

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Frustrating Delays

Hi All!

We’ve been home from our trip to meet the boys for nearly 9 weeks. We said “see you later” to them 9 weeks ago today, to be exact.

This part of the adoption is hard. No, it’s not hard, it’s excruciating. Our hearts are halfway across the globe and while Skype is a beautiful BEAUTIFUL thing, it hurts to be away from them. We say our prayers of thanks every day that they’re in a healthy, nurturing environment. We really do not know what we’d do if that weren’t the case.

Around 7 of the 9 weeks have also been incredibly frustrating. We are experiencing a delay in paperwork that is beyond anything we could have imagined. We’ll try and make this as short of a long story as possible. The rundown:

  • We need an approval from the U.S. to adopt the boys (it’s like an “update” to our approval to adopt in general…we have to be approved to adopt them specifically
  • We applied for that approval before we left on the first trip
  • We found out about a week after we returned that there was a slight issue with some of our paperwork – pretty quick fix overall – we obtained the updated documentation from our agency and over-nighted the paperwork there. We expected a 1-2 week delay to process the updated paperwork.
  • Meanwhile, our fingerprints with the U.S. agency expired. This was the point where things took a turn.
  • After days upon days of trying to get a hold of someone, we found out that it takes 2-4 weeks to have our fingerprints refreshed. We finally had an answer and a time frame… difficult, but at least we knew what was happening with our case at that point.
  • Well, the 4 week mark came and went and again, we called and emailed until we were blue in the face waiting for a response. We finally got a hold of someone, only to be told “we should have it in the next 24 hours.”
  • Well, as you might expect, 24 hours came and went and when we finally got a hold of someone for an update, they shared that they submitted our fingerprint refresh incorrectly (clerical error) and now we’ve been told we need to wait an additional 2-4 weeks for the correct fingerprint refresh to happen.
  • And now we wait. Again.

It’s frustrating because it feels like it was a 5 week delay that could have 100% been avoided had the representative submitted the paperwork correctly. While we certainly understand that mistakes happen – we are human and we all make them every day – when considering 5 “extra” weeks away from our kids… it’s heartbreaking. And now it’ll be an additional 2-4 weeks to tack on while we wait for the approval for a 2nd time. And the infuriating thing is that this delay is halting any progress being made on the adoption. This approval is needed for the next step and nothing can happen until it is obtained.

We do not want to be negative, as we try and stay very upbeat and level headed. We knew there would be a time frame between trips and we were prepared for that to be a difficult time. But making the wait longer than it needs to be is hard to swallow. All we can do is keep moving forward and keep reassuring our precious sons that we will be back as soon as we possibly can. They ask their caregivers daily if we’re on the airplanes that they see in the sky… we cannot wait until we can say yes.

Things to be thankful for in the midst of the frustration:

  • We are able to Skype with the boys at least once a week! These sweet calls are what we live for. We see their smiles, hear their voices, and get to tell them we love them. This is such a BLESSING!  
  • The boys have gotten to meet both sets of grandparents, along with several aunts, uncles, and cousins the last few weeks via Skype.
  • The boys have a family friend who is teaching them some basic English!
  • The boys received a package we mailed and were excited to get treats from Mom and Dad (Seeing the video of them opening this made us extra excited for Christmas! We sure hope they’re home by then!)
  • The boys are in excellent care and we are so grateful for their incredible caregivers.
  • We have a village of support to hold us up as we’re feeling very down about this delay.
  • We got the boys’ rooms and the main living area of our house painted (thanks to our families)!
  • We have been blessed to have several showers planned for us that we have to look forward to in September!

This is a hard post for us to write. Mainly because the delay just flat out stinks. But also because we are very positive people and it’s important to us to stay up beat. This is a reality of our journey right now and we want to remain approachable to people who have hiccups along the way in their fertility or adoption journeys. Now we can say “we’ve been there” for this kind of thing.

Say a prayer for an expedited fingerprint refresh (round 2!) and that the steps move quickly afterward to make up as much time as possible. Pray for the precious hearts across the ocean to know Mom and Dad are doing all they can to bring them home. And pray for us to find peace in the wait.

Love,

Scott and Mary

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Trip One


It's official: three little boys across the ocean have our hearts. 

On June 18th we left from Chicago to make the trip overseas to meet our precious sons. Total travel time from Chicago to the capital city in their country was about 12-13 hours. The flights were smooth and uneventful - exactly the way they should be. We were relieved to have our own little personal televisions on the long flights, which helped pass the time as we watched movies and dozed off on the long leg of the flight (about 9 hours). This was a blessing as it was a major source of anxiety for me (Mary), but the time we boarded the flights my mind was at ease. Praise God for that!

Here we go!

We arrived on June 19th in country and were picked up at the airport by our agency representative and translator. He took us to our apartment, then helped us exchange money and showed us around the pedestrian district so we knew where we could find the grocery store and a restaurant to eat dinner. He left us then, confirming plans to pick us up the following morning. After being up for over 24 hours and eating only airplane food, we were tired and hungry so enjoyed an early dinner and went to bed around 6:30 pm local time. While we were so excited and anxious in anticipation of meeting our sons the next day, the travel had left us so exhausted that we had no trouble falling asleep. We ended up waking up at about 2:30 in the morning and laid there chatting about the reality that we would be meeting our kids that day! Good news is that the only real "jet lag" issue we had was the early bed time/wake time our first day; we adjusted quickly overall and didn't have any problems with the 7 hour time difference. 

On June 20th, our guide picked us up around 7:30 am and off we went to the boys' home town. It was about 3 hours from the capital and we chatted with our translator the whole time - talking about the process, the country, the traditions, etc. We arrived to the social services office just before 11:00 am and met the social worker, who told us the boys were on their way! We anxiously waited and soon saw them through the doors. It happened very fast - Scott said, "oh, there they are!" and next thing we knew we were looking our kids in the eyes. The first meeting was sweet. The two older boys shyly gave us hugs, while the youngest clung to his caregiver and checked us out from afar. It was a moment we will certainly never forget as we were finally able to hold them in our arms. Our hearts melted as we left the office and began walking to the park - the boys immediately took our hands and were looking up at us, anxious to check out their Mom and Dad. 

From there, we went to a park and played with them for an hour or two, then had lunch together. The boys were excited to interact with us and we loved watching them play. It was so fun to witness their relationship as brothers. The love they have for each other is very apparent and we are so thankful for the bond they share. Their caregivers have done an incredible job of keeping them close. After lunch, they went home and we headed to the hotel to check in; we spent the afternoon getting settled, then had dinner with our guide. We were thankful to have such a comfortable and nice hotel, with a restaurant right on the property that we could enjoy.  

The next two days, we met the boys in the morning, took them to a park and to lunch, then got to play some more before they returned home and us to our hotel. We got to spent 5 hours with them each day and loved playing with them (despite the 90+ degree weather!). On the way back to the meeting place every day, we would stop and get ice cream or slushies for the kids and it was fun to take our time exploring the city, parks, and the pedestrian district in their home town. As the week went on, the boys continued to get more and more comfortable with us and we loved learning their personalities. It is amazing how much you can learn about people, even when you do not speak the same language. Our translator/guide was wonderful and truly helped us to foster those bonds and break through the language barrier to do so. It was also fun to share photo books with them that we had made - photos of us, their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with photos of the house, church, school, nearby pool and playground, etc. As the translator read the books to them, the boys were intently listening and excited to see their new home (especially their dog and the nearby playground). We spent the evenings having dinner with our guide - we talked a lot about the country and their history/traditions, had him outline some key phrases for us in the boys' language, and were introduced to some of the foods their country is known for. We loved this time with our guide and the information he shared with us was invaluable.  

The final day with the boys (Thursday) was heartbreaking, as we expected. We got to spend three hours with them that day and followed a similar routine - took them to the park and to get slushies after playing. We were able to give them their quilts that day that Grandma Eckert had made with lots of love. The quilts were beautiful and Grandma had even personalized them with their names before we left. They were excited to receive those and it was such a special gift to be able to give them to keep during the wait between trips. We hugged them extra tight and told them how much we love them and would miss them the next few months. We said tearful goodbyes to the social worker and their caregivers as we felt immediately attached to them as well; it is undeniably apparent how well they care for our children. 

We left their city and headed back to the capital. The ride home was somber and quiet as we were slowly processing the events of the past 4 days. We got back to the capital city and enjoyed dinner just the two of us, including some ice cream to drown our sorrows :). On Friday, we had one appointment to sign some legal paperwork, then spent the rest of the day touring the capital city and packing everything up to head home. A two hour free walking tour of the city was very interesting and we loved learning more about the history of the country. We walked up and down their pedestrian district several times and soaked up the time talking about our sons and the plans we have to prepare for their homecoming. Despite the heartbreak of leaving our boys, we enjoyed Friday to regroup and reconnect after such an emotional and life-changing week. 

Yum!

On Saturday, our guide picked us up and took us to the airport. We said another tearful goodbye to him as we got very attached to him throughout the week - it isn't every day someone assists you with meeting your children and walks with you through such an eventful time! We had about 12-13 hours travel time on the way home and again had uneventful flights. A very tired drive home from Chicago included multiple driver changes and some intense singing to Beyonce' to stay awake, haha! We arrived safely home around 2 am on Sunday morning. 

We've spent the last week watching and re-watching the videos we took, looking at the photos over and over, and sharing the events of the week with family and friends. 


We cannot praise God enough for the incredible blessings of the week. Our children are safe and healthy. The boys were open to meeting us and began to attach to us as the week progressed. Their caregivers are absolutely amazing and have prepared/will continue to prepare our sons for adoption and the transition. Their caregivers happily answered our countless questions about the boys and their personalities/health/etc. Our travel was unbelievably smooth. Accommodations were nice and safe. Our guide was helpful, kind, and very easy to talk to. The financing came together for the trip. We could go on and on about the ways we have been blessed and as we have leaned on faith through our entire adoption journey (and fertility journey that preceded it), there is no question about God's hand in this adventure. We met our boys and in that instant, the ups and downs of the last 4+ years immediately came into focus. We knew that it had all led up to these three precious boys and we feel that our greatest blessing is that He has chosen us to be their parents. 

The next few months will be full of preparation for them to come home as the legal process takes its course. We are completing the additional paperwork on our end as our agency represents us in country to complete the adoption. We anticipate the process taking 4-5 months and we look forward to returning this fall to bring the boys home. 


We appreciate all of your prayers through this journey. Our prayer requests for the next few months are that the boys' hearts would be prepared for the transition to come home. There will be so much for them to process and understand as we transition home and we pray for them to begin that processing now. We pray for their caregivers as we anticipate this transition will not be easy for them either. We pray for the legal process to go smoothly and without delay, and for our hearts and home to begin preparing to officially become a family of five. We pray that we can all move through this wait time and stay focused as we feel our hearts are halfway across the world. 

Thank you for being on this adventure with us. It is such an awesome feeling to be sharing this post with you - we have finally met our children!! Thank you for your continued prayers for our sons and our family and we will continue to keep you updated on the process as it unfolds. 

Love,
Scott and Mary








Thursday, June 2, 2016

And Then Friday Happened.


So last week, we were talking about how we needed to write a blog post. We really didn't have anything to say, but at least wanted to say "yep, still waiting." And we procrastinated. And then Friday happened. Friday, May 27th. Suddenly, we did have something to say - a little something(s) that will change our lives forever.

You know how sometimes you get something in your mind and you just latch onto it like it's written in stone? Well, for us, it was that THE call would come on a Tuesday. Our friends received their call on a Tuesday. We had other communications that had come from our agency on a Tuesday. Tuesday it was. Tuesday it would be. Note that the basis for this thought is shaky at best, but you know, you hang on to what you can during the wait. So Tuesday came, and Tuesday went, week after week. We always have our phones with us, but we held them extra close on Tuesdays. After another disappointing Tuesday last week, we decided to just look forward to Scott's last day of school/beginning of summer break on Thursday, then Memorial Day Weekend to enjoy time with family. And then, as noted above, Friday happened. Beautiful, glorious, wonderful FRIDAY.

I was spending my Friday running an interview day at work (which was quite successful, by the way), and Scott was enjoying his first full day of summer break building Adirondack chairs with his besties (they love when I call them that). I was daydreaming as my last interview was happening in the room next door and my FitBit vibrated signaling a call. I looked down to see a number I didn't recognize... ugh... telemarketer. Begrudgingly, I answered.

L: "Mary? This is Lydia" (Program Director for our agency)

Oh my gosh. It's LYDIA??? Lydia only calls for one reason. LYDIA ONLY CALLS UNANNOUNCED FOR ONE REASON. 

Me: "Yeah?!????? OH MY GOSH!!!!  LYDIA! OH MY GOSH!!!"

L: "Are you by a computer and are you with Scott?"

Me: "*sob* No ... to... both.... can *sniff* we call Scott??"

L: "Give me his number and we'll conference call"

Next thing I know, I hear Scott join the call and Lydia shares the most wonderful news with us. She said she hoped we had thought of some boy names as we had been matched with three little guys across the ocean. The call was brief as I was crying, she was crying... it was a whole mess. So she said she'd email the referral to us, we should take the weekend to read, discuss, celebrate, etc., and then we'd touch base on Tuesday. And just like that, our lives were changed. With one 7-minute phone call.

SO! Now that I've painted the scene, let's get down to business!

Our boys are beautiful. We are reading and re-reading the information we have about them just to soak up every last drop. We're so anxious to get more information on them as the process moves forward. We hope to travel to meet them as soon as possible. We anticipate getting those dates in the next week!

You might be wondering a few things - what country they're from, what they look like, ages, etc. We appreciate, so much, your interest in our sons and we excitedly share all we can - but there is a lot of information that we're just not permitted to post on any electronic media. It's for the protection of the kids and the adoption process, so we will have to wait on a lot of those details for now. Don't worry, when they come home, we'll bombard your news feed :). You may see us share a thing or two from our agency that gives more information through that avenue rather than directly linking us to the details.

So now what? Now we wait for dates to travel to meet the boys. We fill out some paperwork to get the process started and enjoy the time celebrating with our family and friends. We will travel to meet them and be with them for about a week. After that, we'll come home and return 4-6 months later to bring them home forever.

We truly couldn't be more thrilled. We're nervous, anxious, overwhelmed, and excited in every way you could possibly think of. It's been an incredible 6 days sharing this news with our family and friends and we are so excited to have everyone along for the rest of this journey. It's been an adventure so far and we know it is just beginning.

Here are some fun pictures we took over the weekend as we celebrated with our families! One of the things we've been most excited about is making our parents Grandparents again, making our siblings Aunts/Uncles, and adding cousins to the crew... what a joyful weekend full of screams, tears of joy, and lots and lots of love! It was a weekend we will never forget - we've waited a long time to share news like this with our families and it was so exciting to get to finally surprise them!!



Ready to surprise everyone!!


We had boxes filled with goodies from our sons' home country and a balloon ready to pop out with the news!

So excited to share the news!!!!

With Grandma and Grandpa DeArmond

Aunt Stef, Uncle Jeff, Cousins Leah, Trevor, and Mya!


Ready for the Eckert reveal - "pool toys for the kids" haha :) 

With Grandma and Grandpa Eckert

Aunt Sarah, Uncle Larry, and cousin David toasting the newest family members!

Such a fun night!!!


We cannot thank everyone enough for the incredible love and support you've shown us through this journey. As we type this, we're receiving messages and comments on Facebook, emails, texts, and calls. We truly feel like you all have prayed and loved our family home. Our prayer request now is that our sons' hearts and ours are prepared to become a family of 5. We pray for a seamless process over the next 6ish months to bring them home, and that the transition is smooth. We are so thankful for our amazing village and cannot wait for the rest of this adventure to unfold. 

Love, 
Mary, Scott, and the three newest DeArmonds