Thursday, August 28, 2008

3 months and counting

Today, it has been 3 months since we left Sofia in the orphanage and came back home. Sometimes it feels like the time has gone by so fast because we have done so much this summer. Other times, it feels like the days have just dragged by, waiting for that call (or email, or snail mail, or just some sort of news).

We often talk about what life will be like once Sofia gets here. We talk about the things we want to show her, the places to take her, the activities to do with her, the things we want to teach her . . . Today Joel and I were talking about school, and how Sofia and he will be in the same class next year (a split 1-2). He said to me, "What if the judge says no?" I told him that the judge won't say no but asked him how that would make him feel if it did happen. It would make him feel sad.

You see, she's already a part of our family in our hearts. Even though the boys have not met her yet, they feel it too. They are so looking forward to being big brothers to a little sister. They have watched the video of her, and think she's so much fun. They can't wait till she's here.

Let's hope we get the call soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

waiting for the trolls . . .

We had an unusually wet summer this year, so the mushrooms are plentiful. I generally find mushrooms in the yard kinda disgusting, but when I saw these brightly-coloured little fellas, I couldn't help but think they belonged in a storybook with a family of trolls living under them.
The caps are actually quite red, so they look almost cartoonish. They're called "flugsvamp" in Swedish. When I looked in the dictionary, one of the English translations was death cap. My kids tell me they're poisonous. Such a shame . . . the cutest mushrooms I've ever seen . . .

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the sound of the rubber stamp

So, on Monday I made another trip to see my dear friend Maria the Magistrate. Ok, that's totally tongue-in-cheek because she's not a friend of mine but I've been to her office so much in the last few months that it feels like we're becoming fast friends (I'd even considered naming our daughter after her when she came through big time on the "expired passport fiasco" before Trip 1). But, I digress (as well as write run-on sentences . . .).

The point I was trying to make is that I had 5 more documents to apostillize. However, she would only apostillize 3 of them since one was something that hadn't been signed in her presence (oops) and the other was a document from Canada that apparently would have to be apostillized there. But, we're not positive we need those 2 documents, they were just something to support what we already had. So, for now, we'll hold off on those.

Well, tonight I went through my big binder of all things relating to our international adoption and counted up everything that's been apostillized. Guess how many . . . ? 29!! At 9 euros a pop, the document side is starting to get very expensive! Plus, we've also had to pay another 6,50€ for some of them to get an additional stamp, like "So and So has the right to sign this paper".

During our first trip to St. Pete, our driver told us that the Russian authorities are very big on stamps. Everything needs to be stamped and re-stamped. Every page of every document gets stamped. Signatures get stamped. Staples get stamped. Well, now we really understand what he meant.

On a side note . . . the bedroom is done, except that we need to get a few more pieces of furniture. No pictures until it's complete:)

Friday, August 15, 2008

back to basics

Ahhh . . . the first week of school is over. Well, technically, it wasn't a week - just 3 days. But, it's done, and just when I think I'm going to get to sleep in tomorrow I realize we have to leave at 8am for a soccer tournament. Oh well. The first week went well. I think Mattias likes it that I'm not in his classroom anymore (the boy I work with has moved up to the next class) - he doesn't have Mom making sure he's on-task as well as the teacher! Joel is very happy to be in real school this year and is really looking forward to learning how to read more than just little words. Sam is happy now that he's not one of the freshmen anymore in high school. My job has been cut back 2 hours this year, but the principal has agreed that we'll schedule my hours to be the same as when Joel is in school (as well as Sofia when she gets here). It will work out really well for all of us.

We've had some frustrating developments lately regarding the adoption - all that beaurocracy! We didn't get things clarified until 2 days ago because our rep in Helsinki was on holidays and we needed to talk to her. It turns out that the SC office in St Pete wanted us to fill out a family budget form to complement the income information we sent earlier. So, the form was translated from Russian and we just got it. On Monday we'll get it apostillized along with some more financial documents and then we can send them off. When Stefan was talking to the rep she told us that it is most likely we'll go to Russia at the end of September - August is holiday month there. We've also been told that of the 2 judges who could possibly preside over our case, one of them does not accept the Finnish Doctor's forms! Can you believe it? If we get that judge, we will have to go to Russia 3 days early to be examined by Russian doctors (I've been reading other blogs and this is standard practice for Americans adopting from Russia). Oh, but that judge will accept the boys' medical reports from the same doctor. Go figure.

So, we wait. Still.

The deGraaf's headed home last Friday. We drove them to the train station in Seinäjoki. Joel and Mattias planned to run beside the train as it pulled out, but maybe you can tell that the train was actually moving very slowly . . . They spent one night in Helsinki before catching a 6:15am flight home. The visit with them was awesome. The kids all had a really great time and so did us adults. It certainly didn't feel like it had been a year since we'd seen them. Joel took it especially hard when they left, but I think he's finally "moving on" - it's been 2 days since he had a "I miss Sarah" meltdown.

On a more positive note, last Saturday we went to Stefan's cousin's wedding. It was here in Monäs. The service was in a church that is high up on the rocks at the local beach.
It was very beautiful. The reception was less than 1km from our house.
The boys were not invited, so Sam was in charge . . . at least we weren't very far away!
Well, that's all for now. Gotta go organize some soccer gear . . . .

Monday, August 4, 2008

happy birthday, sofia!

Today is Sofia's 6th birthday. We have no idea if they will celebrate with her in the children's home. We hope they will!

When we first got the referral back in April, we thought it might be possible for her to be home with us by her birthday. By mid-June, we realized that it wasn't going to happen. So, we did a little shopping and mailed a package to her by sending it through the SC office in Helsinki. As of 10 days ago, it had been sent on to St. Petersburg so I hope she has received it on time. It was actually very hard to shop and make a decision about what to send. It couldn't be anything too heavy, and we assume that whatever it is will be left behind in the children's home when she leaves with us. Well, we settled on socks, a colouring book and some crayons. Joel sent stickers, Mattias sent some candies and Sam sent a little toy pony.

I have this horrible feeling that she doesn't understand why we haven't come back yet. I'm so worried that she thinks she's been let down by adults once again in her life. I'm worried if this long wait will affect her trust in us. It's not a good feeling. It's hard to imagine how a 6 year old thinks about everything that's happening. All she knows is we spent a couple days visiting, brought some gifts and made promises to return soon. Well, the "soon" part didn't happen (2 months is pretty long in a child's life). Has she stopped waiting for us? Or, are the caregivers looking with her at the photo album we left behind, talking about us and reassuring her we will come back? That's what we're hoping is happening.

In the end, we hope Sofia gets to feel special today, on her 6th birthday. We hope the caregivers and the other children celebrate with her. We hope the staff passes on our packages to her so she knows we are thinking about her, we miss her, we love her and we most certainly wish her a Happy Birthday.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.