Friday, October 31, 2008

COURT!!

We finally have a confirmed date . . . November 24th. We won't be able to start travel preparations until Monday because tomorrow is a holiday here, All Saints Day, and everything is closed. We have been told that we are to take the morning train from Helsinki on the 23rd and will visit Sofia in the afternoon. Then, Monday morning we go visit the Russian doctors and then court at noon. We are to head home on the morning train out of St. Petersburg on the 25th. At this point, I don't know if we are able to visit Sofia more than the one time, or if we can stay longer than we've been told - by the time we got the email confirmation, it was after working hours this evening. So, we won't know more until Monday.

As I mentioned in the last post, we have a long list of stuff to get together before then. In fact, it all has to be in SPB no later than November 12th. It includes . . . . a new photocopy of my passport (the darn colour picture copied too dark - the judge can't see me clearly!), pictures of us and the house (that match the first set we sent in before our referral) with detailed descriptions, salary documents from employers (again), mortage documents from the bank, another budget (just did that in August), and some other things . . .

So, all in all, a GOOD day. To start it off on the right foot, we had our first snow . . . just as the weatherman had promised. Fortunately, Stefan had time to put the snow tires on my car before I had to take Pepsi to the vet - turns out she has an ear infection. The vet had to sedate her so she could pluck out the hairs and then clean out all the gunk - oh my. When I got home, I had to put a chart on the fridge of what meds to give her when, because I know I've got so much going on right now I'll not be able to keep track and the poor girl will never heal!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

mixed news

After sending off yet another email to our coordinator yesterday, I finally heard back something this evening. While we were thrilled to get a hint of a court date (I won't say what it is yet until it's confirmed . . . possibly later this week), we were disappointed to find out that we have another round of documents (and nonsense) to pull together. Our coordinator attached a couple of documents to the email for us to read . . . one we couldn't open and the other (the list of 14 things we have to get) was in Finnish, with the odd Russian letter thrown in. She has promised to have the documents translated to Swedish or English for us and will send them as soon as possible, but at least it gives us an idea of what we have to do (in so far as Stefan can decipher what it says). Let me just point out, that several of these documents we have in fact already provided, but for some reason, we need to do it again. Others, we just look at each other and wonder why . . . . .

On another note, I just got back this evening from an event at our elementary school. It was Reflector Night . . . an evening to emphasize the importance to the children of wearing reflectors when they're waiting for the morning school bus, bike-riding etc., now that it's so dark. First we went on a walk through the forest with our flashlights, along the cross country ski track, and counted the number of reflectors we could see hanging from the trees. After that, we drove at intervals along a dirt road through the forest where some staff and students were walking, all with differing degrees of reflectors on . . . from nothing, to reflector vests. The point was for the kids to see what a difference the reflectors make for driver visiblity. Once back at the school, there was barbequed sausages, juice, coffee and cinnamon buns. Yum! It was a fun evening, and I'm always impressed at the participation and parent turnout at our small school . . . almost everyone was there.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

tick tock

Can you say that for days passing? or just for minutes and hours? Regardless, it's been almost 5 months since we left St. Petersburg and said goodbye to Sofia (technically, Nastja). The wait is so frustrating and is beginning to seem unbearable. I had a couple sleepless nights this past week, thinking about the reasons there could be for this delay. When I was sleeping, I had bad dreams related to the process (court, etc). Exactly 3 weeks ago I posted that we were told not to make a quick trip to visit the orphanage and one of the reasons was that they thought we would get a court date for the end of October/beginning of November. Well, still no court date. What really burns my grits (is that even an expression?) is that I sent an email on Wednesday asking direction about the boys' medical reports (which will have to be updated because they expired after 3 months) and I haven't even received a reply yet. A simple, "Let me get back to you about that." would have at least reassured me that we haven't been forgotten about . . .

Anyways, another busy week around here. Yesterday, Stefan took me for a field trip - shopping in Tampere. Yeah! A little shopping therapy never hurts. We were able to get a start on Christmas shopping as well as a new electric hot water heater (which was Stefan's reason for making the trip in the first place). Many of you probably don't realize, that it takes about 3 and a half hours to drive there, so we don't do it so often. AND, the mall was one I had never been to before. It was huge. I was impressed. Two hours was simply not enough time. I'll have to go back.

Joel and Mattias had gone to Stefan's parents' after school yesterday while we were gone (they had arrived home safely from their trip to Israel late Thursday). Sam also went there for dinner and then the three of them came back home and Sam was in charge for the rest of the night. I think it went reasonably well, aside from the flurry of calls back and forth around 9PM in connection with some spilled juice, crying and bedtime issues. When we finally got home, Sam was asleep on the couch in front of the TV, tuned to the Hallmark channel. I think he took his duties pretty seriously because one of the first things he said to me this morning was, "Sorry I fell asleep before you got home." - I had told him that the sitter stays up until the parents get home:)

Happy Saturday Everyone (although it's almost over for me already . . .)!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

fall

Ahhh. Today's the day we get to have our turkey dinner! It smells soooo good here right now. On Thursday we drove to the turkey farm to pick up our little friend . . . all 11kg of him. It was a 3 hour trip, there and back, so we also got one for Christmas and put it in the freezer.

update: I started this post yesterday and have only gotten around to finishing it today (2 turkey meals later).

Here's how the dining room table looked last night. We had one of Stefan's sisters and her family join us.


As for adoption news . . . I've been holding off on posting anything for awhile. One reason was that I needed to calm down before I wrote anything I would later regret. We had feedback on our speech for court, and while it is nothing serious, it really bugs us. However, I won't comment on it until Sofia is legally ours and here with us. So, can someone remind me then to post about this incident?

Until next time, Barb!

Monday, October 13, 2008

happy thanksgiving everyone

In the spirit of today's Canadian holiday . . . Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!! It's always been one of my favourite holidays. I love this time of year, and I love the traditional harvest foods. We can't celebrate it here today, because it's just a regular working day and on Mondays I have 2 jobs . . . so no time to cook. However, I've already bought the vegetables, the cranberries are in the freezer and the pumpkin pie recipe is ready to go . . . I just have to find a turkey, and they're not that common in the stores here. Lucky me, I have an inside track. One of my students tonight is a turkey farmer, so I'll find out where I can buy one.

The plan is to have our Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. Hopefully by then we'll have some news from Russia to be really thankful for. We got a ray of hope on the weekend . . . On Friday evening we got an email from our coordinator that we needed to prepare our speech for court. She attached an outline and wanted us to fill in the personal details before emailing it back so the translator can become familiar with it before court. We emailed it back last night, but so far haven't heard anything about a date.

I'm so thankful for all the blessings I have . . . family and friends (near and far) who support us, wonderful children, an amazing husband (not sure how he puts up with me:), and so many more.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

Saturday, October 4, 2008

updated update

So, yesterday after school, Mattias and I were driving to town to arrange travel to St. Pete. He was SO excited. He had even written a letter to his grandpa in Canada already telling him how excited he was to meet his little sister soon.

Anyways, as we were driving I decided to phone our coordinator to ask her opinion about Stefan not going with, if the judge would frown on that. (Stefan would be unable to travel on Fall Break because we'd have no one to look after the other boys and the farm since his parents will be on a trip that was planned long ago.) It turns out that she had spoken to the agency's director in St. Pete who advised us not to go on this visit for a couple of reasons: 1) there's been an incident at an orphanage (not sure if it's ours) which has caused a scandal and they're tightening up on the visits to make sure nothing else happens - I don't want to go into too much detail about this, so sorry if it doesn't make sense . . . and 2) she's pretty confident we will hear early next week about our court date! And, if it happens to be in the last week of October, it will be difficult to arrange the visas if I'm in Russia with my passport.

She had also sent an email with all this information, along with some photos of Sofia that the director had taken when she went to visit and deliver a package from us back in July!!! It was wonderful to see more pictures of her. She was outside rollerblading. Under her jacket, I could tell she was wearing a sweatshirt that used to be Sam's (we had taken some bags of "gently worn" clothing to the orphanage back in May). How cute that she was wearing it that day!


Friday, October 3, 2008

update

The last couple of days have been frustrating to say the least, especially since that last email we received was so late in the work day that we couldn't do anything about it at the time.

For now, here's how things stand . . .

  • I phoned the church we were married in to get confirmation that they do not issue certificates of marriage, only the government does that. I suspected that was the case, but wanted to hear it officially from someone.
  • We got a new official list of who lives in our house which, along with photos of Sofia's room and toys and our first visit, is sitting on the table beside me waiting for the post office to open so they can be mailed.
  • I actually spoke to our coordinator yesterday and explained about the marriage certificate. She said it would be okay, we'll just have to explain to the judge that we sent our proof of marriage from the Finnish government already (back in April) and churches in Canada don't issue anything else. She also said that the director of SC in St. Pete thinks our court date will be end of October/beginning of November.

Today, I'm going to look into seeing if Mattias and I can travel to St. Petersburg during Fall Break (October 16-19), just to visit. Our coordinator said it would be okay, but I have to find out if we can get our visas in time, and if we'll have enough time after we return to get visas in time for court, if court is the last week in October.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I'M SO MAD

I'm so mad right now that my head is pounding! I had asked our coordinator if she knew which judge we had, since there had been new requests 2 weeks ago. Said coordinator was away for a week, so I just got a reply . . . We got the more finicky judge (yeah for us!). This means that we'll have to visit all those doctors in Russia that I've heard so much about, since she won't accept the medical reports from the doctor here in Finland (so much for that batch of bloodwork and x-rays . . .).
Ohhhh, but there's more. ANOTHER document has gone missing, or so we believe since she's requested it again. It's a document from the Finnish registry that lists who inhabits this house, along with birthdates.
AND, she wants a copy of our certificate of marriage from the church we were married in (if we were married in a church). THIS confuses me. Isn't the legal marriage certificate sufficient? If we had been married in a park, by a Justice of the Peace, there would be no problem, but because we were married in a church, we have to provide more documentation??? I don't get it. So, now once people wake up over there on the West Coast, I'll have to phone the church and find out if they issue certificates of marriage, and if they do, will they do it today? Then, I'll have to get in touch with my brother to see if he'll go pick it up. Of course, he'll probably have to take it to a Notary. Then what about the apostilles? I don't know if Canada even does that (they never did sign the Hague Convention back in the 60's). ARGH.
One more thing, she's requested more pictures of the room and what we've done to prepare for the child. I understood that this batch of pictures we were to bring to court with us, but I guess she wants it before. I kinda get why she might be asking for this though, because when we sent the first batch of photos the room didn't look very good at all. In reality, it wasn't even Sofia's room, but a spare room we staged to look like a girl's room because we had to do some shuffling of the bedrooms here. Anyways, Sofia's room is ready now, along with a closet full of clothes.
Still, I'm mad. This paperwork business is a nightmare. It hurts Sofia. It's so not fair to her to make her wait this long. Look at the ticker . . . Over 4 months since we said goodbye and she told us to hurry up and do what we must do to come back for her. We have done our part. It's bureaucracy that's failing her now. I just want to go there, wrap her in my arms and bring her home.
Enough ranting. Please think happy thoughts for us!

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.