Monday, January 28, 2013

Embassy Appointment - Check!

Today was our Embassy appointment and everything went well, according to our caseworker, who emailed this afternoon. We were a bit concerned because Jonathan's birth mom was required to travel thousands of miles from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa to be interviewed. This step is a relatively new one, so she was not informed of it when placing Jonathan for adoption. We were worried about her ability or willingness to travel so far, but we found out today that she made the trip and her interview was a success.

We are beyond grateful to this woman that we will probably never meet. Not only did she have to do one of the most difficult things a mother would ever have to do, but over a year later she had fly across the country to be interviewed about her reasons for doing it. She is an amazing woman, and I would hope that one day I can say thank you to her directly.

So now we wait for our final okay to travel! This is finally, actually and seriously our last and final step. It is sort of surreal as we have been in this journey for over two years now, and I cannot even begin to wrap my head around the fact that we will probably meet our son in less than a month. So happy, so nervous, and so, so, so many things to do (seriously, we've been making lists all day - if, say, 90% of that stuff gets done, we should be good to go)! Hoping for mid-February travel, but it's all in the hands of the Embassy workers right now.

Not much longer now! Can't wait to meet our little man :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program...

... for our first non-adoption blog post. Right now, we are in a really great stage with the adoption - I am waiting on a specific date (January 28th), not just waiting with no end in sight. This means much less email checking, much less (overall) anxiety, and much more productive days.

On that note - Adam and I recently launched a new online skin care, beauty, fragrance, and bath store that I had to announce online because a) I am so excited that it's launched and live, and b) it doesn't hurt to advertise on any platform (even if that platform is generally related to adoption, and not to skin care products :).

Elements Beauty Shop is the online portion of our local, Richmond, VA-based retail store we opened back in November. We partnered up with my aunt, Sherry Burgess, and her wife, Jeanie Rule, to create a business that we not only (hopefully) profit from, but also that we could enjoy running each day. Those thoughts led us to the niche beauty product world. 

We each focused on product lines that meant something to our own shopping patterns and skin care needs. I insisted on having natural beauty products, both organic and of natural ingredients, which led us to product lines like Weleda (which I use on my girls now, and will use on Jonathan once he gets home - Weleda Baby Soap is supposed to be great for Black skin!) and Jurlique (a feel-good line because all the ingredients are grown on an organic and sustainable farm in Australia). Jeanie loves fragrances, perfumes and just anything that smells great. She spent months researching fragrance families and the most exclusive fragrances available. Sherry had a passion for anti-aging skin care and snagged us authorized distributorship with some of the world's most exclusive and advanced skin care lines, like Erno Laszlo (quite seriously, skin care to the stars... for more than 40 years!). Adam ensured that we carried a good selection of men's products (which, as I found out over the last few months, means a lot more than just shaving cream or cologne!), with lines such as Jack Black (no, not the actor), Grooming Lounge, and AHAVA for Men (a dead-sea salt based line that is sooooo good).

So, as of this past month, we are now open, online and taking orders! Such an accomplishment, because most days, I feel like I get 10% done compared to my old working style. The other time is spent (obsessively) checking my adoption board and day-dreaming about all the work I'll be able to get done once Jonathan is home and in my arms (ha! wishful thinking, maybe?).

Thanks for your attention during this "interruption" - now back to waiting on Embassy and pre-packing our suitcases! Won't be long now... Oh and for your patience, a new picture of Jonathan :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

This is what my face is doing right now!

Well, after 11 months and 25 days, we've finally seen a true smile from our son! Thanks to an amazing family and their unbelievably kind daughter, we have picture after picture of our little man smiling, laughing, snuggling his friends, and just generally having a great time! It makes me happier than I could've imagined and makes me want to see that little smile in person as soon as possible.

Not only did this family shower our kids with love and attention, they also raised money and purchased lots of outdoor playground equipment... apparently, Jonathan loves the slide:

So we have other reasons to be joyful, too... We received our I600 approval earlier this month and were able to (almost immediately) snag an Embassy appointment for January 28th. We've spoken with our agency and confirmed that Jonathan's docs are all in order for that last and final appointment, so we hope to travel 2-3 weeks after that date, when Jonathan's US visa is issued. Things are really, finally and truly coming together now, and we couldn't be happier or more excited!

Oh and here are some more pictures of our sweet, smiling boy! (P.S. Okay, so that outfit is probably not what I would've chosen for him, but I can look past the Minnie Mouse tank top if it makes him that happy and smiley :)

Man, what pretty teeth... so happy that intense dentist
visits are probably not in our near future!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Well, since our last blog, we've had some major setbacks and some major progress. I was too blah to blog after the setbacks, and too cautious  and/or superstitious to blog about our progress. Basically, this is how it's happened over the last two months - we got all of our paperwork and prepared to file our I600 (mid-November), and then we found out that Jonathan's birth certificate had a different date than the rest of our adoption paperwork (January 6th, 2010 versus the original birth date we received, January 6th, 2009). Originally, our agency thought it was a typo, but after contacting our lawyer, they found a birth judgment dating back to the month directly after our referral that also had that date, so it was now a matter of figuring out which date was correct and how to correct the documents accordingly. I think this was a pretty rare occurrence for our agency, so there was some lag in figuring out how to move forward.

To add to the complexity of the issue, Adam and I had always thought Jonathan was younger than his given age. He is extremely small, though that can be due to malnutrition or just environmental factors, and he just looks less mature than the almost-four we thought him to be in many of his photos. That being said, our agency confirmed with the lawyer and birth mother the 2009, so we moved forward with that date on our paperwork (I don't think we'll know his actual age, for sure, until I am able to take him to US doctors and dentists for their opinion, but that's okay). Last week, we finally got the corrected birth certificate, so, paperwork wise, I think we are finally done.

While waiting for the corrected paperwork, Adam and I made the decision to go ahead and file our I600 application with the paperwork we had. We received information the day after Christmas that we needed additional paperwork (not relating to the birth certificate), and that was sent in last week as well. We hope to have our I600 approval sometime this week.

Once we get our approval, we can make our Embassy appointment (the last appointment made from our agency was for January 18th - hoping for a date around there). After Embassy, we expect a 2-3 week wait before we travel. If everything goes perfectly (and that has not been the theme of our adoption to this point :) we should travel February 3rd or February 10th.

And while it's been really tough with the holidays and with Jonathan's (3rd or 4th) birthday coming up, we have been so lucky to receive lots of pictures and updates of our little man over the last few weeks. Lots of agency families are traveling and they've been kind enough to post photos of our little guy. He seems to be doing mostly well... a little bit of respiratory issues (the air in Kinshasa is very bad, so this is not surprising) and a little bit of distended belly. Minor issues that will respond well to the cleaner air and better diet he'll have when he gets home.

Keeping our fingers crossed that these last few steps go off without a hitch... we're coming for you soon!