Archive for Adoption Details

We have a son.

One week ago today, we had court. I am now the mother of two incredible children, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Court didn’t look like it would happen last Friday, even up until 15 minutes before it was scheduled to start, but God literally moved mountains, and it happened. We were able to have court before the holiday break, shortening our stay in-country by no less than 3 weeks. Praise God!

When I think about that day, I feel a bit like Mary who, after watching the miraculous events surrounding her Son’s birth, could do nothing but treasure those memories in her heart. So many things went “our way” last Friday, things that by all accounts should not have done so, that there is nothing I can conclude but that God was in charge and in control last Friday morning, and it was His will that our son wouldn’t have to wait any longer to join our family.

As a result of the Lord’s goodness and provision, we now have a son, Andre David Araya. He’s a spunky, energetic, caring little boy who can’t WAIT for us to take custody of him in about a week and a half. I can’t share photos just yet. We need to have custody of Andre first, and that can’t happen until we pick up our court decree on Jan. 12, when the courts reopen after the Christmas and New Year holidays. But as soon as I can, I’ll post our family photos far and wide.

We are a family of four, and it feels good.

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Update: We’re in-country, and we’ve met Shiloh!

Goodness, has it really been over a month since I’ve posted here? I am so sorry for the delay. Life since our last post has been … well, full. We held two incredibly successful benefit concerts, by which I was overwhelmingly humbled and filled with gratitude for the love and support of friends, family, and strangers. God is so good.

While we were in VA for the second benefit concert, Shanti got to see Nastya, one of her best friends from her orphanage life, and I got to see my sister and nieces. Oh what a wonderful weekend it was! My parents played host and hostess to the large gathering, and I was once again reminded how incredibly blessed we are by our wonderful support network. Jill and Rebecca, thank you both so much for making the trip to attend our concert with your kiddos in tow. It was SO good to see you both.

The weekend after our second benefit concert, on a Saturday morning no less, we got the call we’d been hoping and praying for: we got our date. We were scheduled for our appointment with the central adoption regulators in Shiloh’s country at 11:00 am local time on December 8th. Oh my! It was much earlier than we’d expected to receive our appointment, so we had lots of figuring and re-arranging of our schedule to do in order to make it work. Arturo and I were supposed to play a concert on December 6, and my music students were to perform their studio recital the afternoon of December 6. We spent over 2 hours on the phone with a travel agent trying to find some way we could leave Cincinnati on the 7th and make it in time for our appointment, but no such luck. We had to leave on the 6th. We did the rescheduling we needed to do, and we made it work. Our plane tickets were bought just a few days later. So exciting!

We then left all adoption thoughts behind and spent an incredible 4 days in New York City celebrating the 13th birthday of one very special girl. Before her 12th birthday, which we celebrated with Shanti in 2013 at her orphanage, Shanti asked us to take her to NYC for her 13th birthday. In the book of photos we brought for Shanti, she saw a photo of me in front of the Statue of Liberty and immediately decided she wanted to go there herself. So go to NYC we did. We saw the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (so cool!), took an open-air bus tour of Manhattan (more fun than I expected, and Shanti loved it), rode the subway (required for every visitor of NYC), visited friends in NYC (who were gracious enough to allow us to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with them), spent an afternoon at the Queens science museum (which was AWESOME — absolutely worth the admission price and more), saw the Macy’s window displays (WOW!), bought lots of souvenirs (we did have a 13yo with us, after all!), saw the World Trade Center Memorial (so moving), and took the Staten Island Ferry for a great view of the Statue of Liberty. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m so glad we had that intensive family bonding time with Shanti before our travels to Eastern Europe.

Just a few days after we arrived home from New York, our silent auction ended, with a final tally of well over $1,000. Wow! At this point, almost 2 weeks after the auction’s conclusion, not quite all of the winning bids have been paid, but most of them have, and that money will pay for our return plane tickets home as a family of four. I cannot thank enough those who donated to and bid in our auction. You literally provided the way for us to return home with our son.

No sooner had the auction concluded than we packed and hopped on a plane to Eastern Europe. We arrived in early afternoon on December 7, had our appointment without conflict on December 8, and met our son on December 10. On December 15, “Shiloh” signed his new name (which I can’t yet share) on the document stating that he wants to join our family. On December 17 (today), our request for a court date was submitted back to the central government adoption regulators. We are praying for a miracle that would allow us to have court before the courts and government offices close on December 31, as a delay in our court date until after the holidays would require us to stay in-country for at least an extra 3 weeks. At this point, we are expecting to be here until the 3rd or 4th week of January if we have court before December 31 and until the 2nd or 3rd week of February if we have court after the holiday break. Prayers are much appreciated.

“Shiloh” is wonderful and is indeed a perfect fit for our family. He and Shanti definitely hit it off, and their relationship is already growing well. Shiloh is fun, energetic, and all-around a great little boy. We are so excited to call him our son. I can’t share photos or details now, but I will as soon as we pass court and take custody, making us officially a family of four.

This adoption trip has definitely been different than Shanti’s in a number of ways, not least of which that we have Shanti with us and have her daily needs and schoolwork to monitor. Perhaps the biggest difference relates to our trips to and from Shiloh’s orphanage. For Shanti’s adoption, we were a mere 5 minute walk from her orphanage. Even on days when we spent 3 or 4 hours at her orphanage, the rest of our days still felt empty. Such was our free time (and level of boredom) that I knitted no less than 5 scarves, 6 hats, and 3 pairs of mittens during the 6 weeks when we were visiting Shanti’s orphanage each day.

Our visiting experience this time couldn’t be more different. Shiloh’s orphanage is over 1 hour away from our apartment, making for a 2-hour+ round trip each day just to see him, and nearly 40 minutes each way is walking, for a total of 80 minutes a day walking along the cold, muddy streets of Eastern Europe. While the weather hasn’t been terribly cold, it has definitely been cold enough to make the walk unpleasant. By the time we get home each night after our visit with Shiloh, we are completely spent and have no energy for anything other than making a quick dinner and falling into bed. I brought my knitting supplies for our trip this year, but I have a feeling little knitting will actually get done, unless we find a way to boost our energy levels significantly.

Shanti and I are also somewhat homesick. We both miss the comforts of our friends and family during the holiday season. I’m going to go shopping for Christmas decorations for our apartment today or tomorrow, which will hopefully help things significantly. Arturo is also struggling, although of a different sort. He’s had trouble in the past with kidney stones (including one terrible episode during Shanti’s adoption trip), and it appears the kidney stones are rearing their ugly heads once again. We would like to ask for prayers for Shanti and I to find comfort from the homesickness and for Arturo to find relief from the pain.

I’m now going to be a horrible blogger and end this post with not a single photo. It’s time for lunch and then the mandatory hour+ trip to Shiloh’s orphanage, so photos will just have to wait for another day. Greetings to all of you from Eastern Europe. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I can’t wait to introduce you to our new son!

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Silent Auction is Live!

Our auction is live! Get in your bids! :) We have nearly 100 awesome items for kids and adults alike. Handknit baby clothes, scarves and hats, jewelry, kitchenware, art and home decor, Christmas decorations — we’ve got it all. Bidding closes at 11:59pm on Dec. 1, so get in your bids while you still can!

A small sampling of auction items from the “Jewelry” category:

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 Red Marble Necklace – #17  Twisted Heart Necklace – #18  Turquoise Bracelet – #28
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 Infinity Earrings – #29  Bird Earrings – #30  Faux Pearl Necklace & Earring Set – #31
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 Color Swirl Pendant – #33  Four Pairs of Cufflinks – #34  Six Antique Lapel Pins – #35
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 Love Pendant Necklace – #53  Green Flower Pendant Necklace – #63  Five Pairs of Hair Pins – #65

In other news, our benefit concert this past weekend was incredible. The performers were amazing, and the audience was receptive and generous with their applause. After all was said and done, we received over $2000 in direct donations, not even counting all the auction bids that were placed. You’ll notice our fundraising thermometer has taken a considerable jump as a result.

We are blown away, completely overwhelmed with gratitude, thoroughly humbled by the generosity of all involved. There are no words ….

It seems so inadequate, but all we can do is say thank you. Thank you for helping us bring home our son.

Araya Adoption Fund

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Our Dossier Is Done!

This afternoon’s mail brought a wonderful delight: the LAST piece of paperwork we need to complete our dossier. Even better, because we can submit a copy of this particular document rather than the original, this document can be emailed to our facilitators in Eastern Europe. They can then print it and add it to all the other paperwork we’ve already completed. Our last packet of paperwork was mailed to Eastern Europe last Friday, so this last document from USCIS was all we were waiting for. Our dossier is officially complete.

Shanti posing with the shipping receipt from mailing off the last of our hard-copy paperwork last week.

Shanti posing with the shipping receipt from mailing off the last of our hard-copy paperwork last week.

I’m not sure I can overstate the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes with this milestone. The most difficult part of the whole adoption process for me to deal with during Shanti’s adoption was absolutely the paperwork. The months of gathering information and putting it down on paper, of filling out worksheets and notary documents, of hunting down HR personnel for the 5th time because there was some tiny error with the 4 previous employment verification letters, of testing the patience and goodwill of our amazing family doctor and his wife in order to get exactly the wording our Eastern European hosts want; all of this was by far the worst part of Shanti’s adoption just in terms of difficulty and frustration. If the last few weeks are any indication, this is likely going to prove to be the most difficult part of adopting Shiloh also.

Now that this milestone is finally past and the documents are safely and correctly where they need to be the clock is finally ticking for real. We will be submitted next week, and from that moment the real countdown begins. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty still to do. We have two concerts to organize, at least one silent auction, and several other fundraising events to take care of. We also have a bedroom to put together and a house to clean up, but this all seems so much easier now.

Shiloh, here we come!

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A successful first silent auction, and other news

Our first silent auction ended on September 26 and it was a huge success! We wish to give our most sincere thanks to everyone who participated by bidding, by getting the word out, or by donating items to the auction. We had almost 100 items available in a very short time and raised nearly $900!

We also have our first benefit concert for this adoption! Several of our very talented friends have agreed to donate their time and talents for this first concert. It will take place at Cheviot United Methodist Church, 3820 Westwood Northern Blvd, Cincinnati, OH 45211, on November 8th at 4:00pm. Admission is free and a love offering will be collected to benefit our adoption. Please join us if you enjoy good music. It should be a fun afternoon for all.

If you missed out on the opportunity to participate in our first auction, fear not, we have another silent auction coming up. If you missed out on that one item you really had to have, or if you found something you were thinking about giving away you get one more chance. This one will be a live auction but will also last several days. We will also give people the opportunity to bid online as before. Bidding will begin on November 8 at our first benefit concert venue and will go through midnight Cyber Monday (December 1st).

Thanks to everyone who has participated in our events so far. We can’t tell you how grateful we are that you are once again part of this process. We are overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and excited at what the future holds.

Blessings,

Arturo

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We’re underway! Paperwork Update & Fundraisers Galore

Sorry for my silence at the end of this week, but it was for a good purpose. This past week, our adoption process took off full steam ahead. We had notary appointments, meetings in the county auditor’s office, trips to the BMV, visits to the sheriff’s office, discussions at the clerk of courts office, and blood tests at the doctor’s office. Not to mention hours spent patiently (or not so patiently) on hold with USCIS, talking with our social worker, and texting with our stateside adoption facilitator. At the end of it all, we got most of our questions answered, signed our names hundreds of times, and completed nearly 40 documents that I mailed yesterday afternoon to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office for apostilling. As soon as these 40 documents come back, in approximately 1 week, they’ll be overnighted to another family traveling soon to Shiloh’s country, and our application to adopt will officially be initiated with his country’s government. So exciting!

We still have several big items to cross off our “needed documents” list, not least of which is our homestudy update, but the process is well underway. Our original goal was to have our documents done by the end of September. We may not make that deadline, but we shouldn’t miss it by much. Shiloh, here we come!

The paperwork process — the part we’re slogging through right now — was by far my least favorite part of Shanti’s adoption. It wasn’t the hardest part for me — feeling helpless in the face of Shanti’s grief was definitely the hardest part — but it was definitely the most stressful part and the portion of the process I had the most difficulty with on a personal level. To be honest, this paperwork-obsessed time in the adoption process was part of the reason I was so reluctant to adopt again. “You mean I have to do all that paperwork again????? Never!!” 

I used this cartoon in one of early posts about Shanti's adoption. It perfectly captures both how I felt then and how I feel now.

I used this cartoon in one of our early posts about Shanti’s adoption and the piles of paperwork involved. It perfectly captures both how I felt then and how I feel now.

While this time the paperwork is going a lot faster because we’ve already done it once and know a lot of the pitfalls to avoid, it’s not any less stressful for me, not any simpler for me to slog through, not any easier for me to see the light at the end of the paperwork tunnel. It seems that every time I’m able to cross a document off the list, a problem arises with another document that removes any sense of achievement from the document just completed. Yesterday’s victory of having so many documents completed and ready to be apostilled was a much-needed milestone for me on a personal level. After two weeks of paperwork obsession, I needed a triumph to celebrate. Yes, I can do this. I’ve done it once, and I can do it again. It won’t be pleasant, but it will be worth it. Shiloh is worth it.

I think you'll agree that this smile is worth the paperwork nightmare.

I think you’ll agree that this smile is worth the paperwork nightmare.

And now for a happier topic …

In the midst of the paperwork explosion, many fundraisers are in the works, and several are even going on right now! Here’s the info for the fundraisers already underway.

Avon Fundraiser

Shop for the latest makeup, accessory, or clothing items you need, and support our adoption at the same time! Natalie Keller, the Avon representative who is running this fundraiser for us, is donating her entire commission for every purchase from Sept. 1 – Sept. 15 to our adoption, meaning 20% of every purchase goes directly to help us bring Shiloh home. Simply click here to make your purchase.

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The Quick Details:

  • Running NOW through September 15th
  • 20% of every purchase supports our adoption
  • Click here to make your purchase.

Online Silent Auction

Jamie Lentz, one of our friends in the adoption community, regularly runs online silent auctions in support of adoptive families, and she generously offered to support us with her next auction! The auction opens September 12 and runs through September 26. Right now, we’re still in need of items to populate the auction. Anything you might want to donate is absolutely welcome. Bonus if you’re willing to pay to ship your item to the winning bidder!

Do you have a gift card to a store you don’t visit or for a restaurant you don’t like? A purse or tote bag in like-new condition that you’ll never use? A gently used kid’s clothing item your child has outgrown but that still has a lot of life left? An awesome toy in like-new condition your child no longer likes? A kitchen tool that just isn’t your thing? An art item that’s not your style? A craft kit you’ll never complete? Another item I’ve not even thought of? We’ll take it all! Leave a comment on this post before September 11th if you have something you’d like to donate, and I’ll be in touch.

Once the auction opens for bidding on September 12, I’ll be posting LOTS more about the auction, where to view the items, and how to bid. The auction is run on Facebook. You don’t have to have a Facebook account to view the items, but you will need a Facebook account to bid. So, if you don’t have an account and think a silent auction is just your cup of tea, perhaps it’s time to sign up for a Facebook account, even if you only ever use it to bid in this auction. :)

(Quick sidenote: we will also be asking for donations for an in-person silent auction that will run in conjunction with benefit concerts we’re planning in October and November, like the auction we held for Shanti’s adoption. If you just don’t have time in the next 5 days to put together an item for donating, never fear. We’ll still take it after the 11th, it’ll just go for our in-person auction instead. ;) )

The Quick Details:

  • Accepting donations of items through Sept. 11
  • Bidding is open Sept. 12 – 26. I’ll post a link to the auction on our blog when bidding opens
  • 100% of every winning bid directly supports our adoption of Shiloh

Amazon Affiliate Link

If you are an ultra-observant blog reader, you might have noticed the new “Amazon” link in our sidebar. That’s right, we’re signed up as Amazon Affiliates! It works like this: instead of navigating to Amazon.com directly, you can first visit our website and click the Amazon link in the sidebar, or any of the Amazon links in this post. Then, shop Amazon as usual. Any purchase you subsequently make from Amazon will send a percentage back to us. The exact percentage varies depending on the product type, but its generally between 1-5% of your purchase price. This isn’t a huge amount, but it can quickly add up, especially as we approach the Christmas season and more people begin making online gift purchases in preparation for the holiday season. Every little bit makes a difference!

The Quick Details:

  • Use any Amazon link on our blog to get to Amazon.com
  • Any purchase you make from Amazon after first visiting our blog will send us back a percentage of your purchase price
  • Shop for Christmas gifts online and give both to our adoption and to your gift recipient!

Matching Grant

A generous donor has agreed to match every dollar we raise between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15, up to $3,000. WOW! In other words, any donation made to us in that time frame — whether that’s through the Avon Fundraiser, the Online Silent Auction, our Amazon Affiliate account, sent directly to us through our PayPal link, or mailed to Reece’s Rainbow — will be doubled, up to $3,000. So exciting! Because of this matching grant, right now is a great time to make the donation or purchase you might have considered but not yet taken the time to complete.

The Quick Details:

  • Running NOW through October 15th
  • Doubles every donation made, up to $3,000
  • Method of donation doesn’t matter!

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We have several more fundraisers in the works, including benefit concerts and an in-person silent auction, as I mentioned above. As soon as I have more details, I’ll be sure to let you know. One step at a time, one dollar at a time, we’re getting there!

Arturo, Shanti, and I want to thank each of you from the bottom of our hearts for the incredible support and love you have shown us since our adoption announcement this past Monday. In less than a week, you have surrounded us with kindness and generosity, in a way that completely amazes us. Thank you for your kind words, for your gifts, for your pledges of support, for your hugs and smiles of friendship. It takes a village to raise a child, and the village we have — YOU — is the best village any family could ask for. Thank you.

Araya Adoption Fund

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