Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time is flying by!

I can not believe that we have been home now for almost 2 months. It seems like Zoe has always been a part of our lives and I can't believe how fast time is flying by.
Zoe is doing amazing!!! I apologize that I haven't written in such a long time. Our computer broke and then my hubby got a Mac. I've been wanting one for a while, but I had to relearn some stuff.
So, life is so much fun with 3 children. I love my kids so much! Here are just some photos of what we have been doing lately.
This first picture is a little hint of the birth announcements I am making for Zoe. Hopefully I will get them done soon. I'll post it as soon as the announcements are in the mail. But here is just a taste. We have had the craziest weather here in Utah. Even yesterday (May 24th) we had snow. Snow at the end of May!!! So Martin and Zoe love to ride bikes, unfortunately right now they have been stuck riding bikes most of the time in the garage.
Zoe and Martin are best friends. I think I hear her say Martin's name more than anyone else. Either her yelling at him to give something back or looking for him around the house. They sure love each other (well atleast most of the time they do)
My friend Trish came over the other day with her daughter Liv in this darling pink outfit. I kept asking her where she got it because I loved it. Well, suddenly she produced one for Zoe too. So they could be twins. Here is Zoe by herself.

Here is Zoe and Liv sharing a banana. Already best friends! How cute!!!
Zoe's favorite thing to do in the world is eat! She is being really silly in her highchair today, so I couldn't help to take a picture. Doesn't that smile just melt your heart?
My Little boy Martin is crazy on the soccer field. This was his first year and he loved it!! Although I think he bumped more heads than kicked the soccer ball. He did so good. Calvin also played soccer, but I don't have his pictures yet. I'll post one as soon as I get one. Calvin was a great goalie. I think in one game he blocked 3 balls that almost got in.
Every month each teacher at Calvin's elementary school pick out one student for the Principal's Pride award. We were so happy for Calvin because he was picked for the month of May. He is doing so well in school. He loves to read and is doing great in the French Immersian program. If anyone speaks french and sees Calvin- try it out on him! He will need lots of practice during the summer. Speaking of summer- how is it only 1 1/2 more weeks of school. Yikes all 3 kids at home all day!!!
We were so lucky because Josh's dad and stepmom came and stayed with us for almost 2 weeks, although I wish they could have stayed longer. We had a blast. Grampy's birthday was just a couple of days before Calvin's so we celebrated it together. And of course Martin had to help blow out the candles as well.
As many of you know- I love birthday parties!!! This year Calvin wanted a Mario birthday party. We had a blast. I was Princess Peach, Zoe was Princess Daisy, Josh was Mario and Martin was Louigi. All the boys were also Mario and the girls were Princesses. They came to my Kingdom and had to do all sorts of things for coins and to save the Princess. We had so much fun! I love these kids.
Isn't Princess Daisy beautiful!! She was the hit of the party. I can't take Zoe anywhere without someone running up to say hello. She is the most famous kid on the block. Everyone wants to play with her and talk to her. It is so cute.
Last week something exciting happened. Calvin finally lost his first tooth. Yay!!! However, the tooth behind is already almost in so you can't really see a missing spot in his teeth. He was so excited.

This is the boys the night before the tooth fairy came. They were really excited. I love how close they are. They each had seperate rooms until last year when they begged me to get bunkbeds and sleep in the same room. They are so funny at night when they are talking to each other. I usually just sit in my room and listen to their stories.
Oh and by the way- the Tooth Fairy did come.
Zoe and Martin hang out with me all day while Calvin is at school. Martin only has preschool a couple of times a week so they spend a lot of time together. They love to color. I can't believe how wonderful my boys are to their little sister. They take care of her, get her things, give her way too many hugs and kisses, and love her so much. We are so lucky to have Zoe in our family. Because this is exactly where she belongs.
I am so happy that we can all be together as a family. I feel so blessed that I can't even begin to express the love and joy that I have. I am so thankful for everyone who has been there for our family and for all the love and support we continue to receive. I love my little princess Zoe. She is doing really well. My favorite words she says right now is "I love you". It melts my heart everytime.
We are so lucky!!
I'll try to write more later. I'm just trying to catch up on everything I have missed since our computer broke.
And if anyone is every interested in adoption- please let me know. I would love to help you out with anything. Sometimes we need to go find our children as they don't always come to us. I am so glad that I finally found my daughter Zoe.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Doing Good!!

Life could not be better!!!
First I want to let you know that I finally sent out an email to everyone who gave me their email address with information regarding our trip to Rwanda. If you did not receive it please post and let me know. I might have accidentally spelled your email wrong or maybe I didn't have your email address.
Here is our family in the middle of lots of snow on Easter. It had been so cold and snowy when we first arrived home, but we are loving it. Zoe doesn't want to stay out too long in the cold, but loves going outside. Finally the snow has melted hopefully it will begin to warm up soon.
I am posting a few pictures of our time in Kenya. Here we are at the Animal Orphanage. They actually let us go inside with the cheetahs and get a picture taken. This was awesome. I have been with Tigers in Thailand, and Lions in Zambia, but never with a Cheetah before. Aren't they beautiful!!

Here is Josh feeding an Ostrich.

Zoe was fascinated with this monkey that I was feeding on my shoulder. The rest of the time at the orphanage she kept trying to feed every monkey we saw.

This is our first morning as a family. All the boys had to be right next to Zoe. They are all showing her books and toys to play with. Aren't my kids so adorable? Ok- I know I am there mom. But I just can't help loving how sweet they are to each other!

We finally got dressed that first morning. Here we are upstairs giving more hugs. The boys just couldn't seem to get enough of Zoe.
Our first day home was really nice. The boys were out of school for Spring Break so we just hung out together all day as a family. Here the boys are showing Zoe how to open presents. Zoe gave each of the boys presents and they had some for her to welcome her home. Zoe didn't know what to think of her bedroom. I don't think she had ever seen so much pink before!

We went to an Easter Egg hunt on Saturday in my parents neighborhood. Zoe came even though it was snowy outside. And she got to meet the Easter Bunny. Although this was our second day home, she did amazing. She never cried. And loved walking around and seeing all the other kids.

So- the Easter Bunny did visit our house on Sunday!!! And lucky for us, he left some really cute Easter Church clothes for the kids!!
Here is Calvin looking for eggs

Here is Martin looking for eggs!
Zoe didn't quite get into the egg adventure, however she loved her little cell phone that the Easter Bunny brought her. This is now one of her favorite toys yet.
And by the way- she was a big hit at church. One of the men in our church said that she must be the most popular girl in the neighborhood. Everyone just loves her so much!! All the kids came up and were trying to get her attention it was so adorable.
We are so lucky to be in an area where she is surrounded by love!
Here she is with my friend Trish's little girl Bryn. Zoe already has a fan base and I think Bryn might be president of it.
We are doing amazing. Zoe is so happy and is doing really well. She hasn't spoken any English words yet, however she is doing some sign language. She loves to be around people, however she mainly wants me, Josh and the kids.
We are together as a family every day showing her love and earning her love in return. I am so blessed to be given this special girl.
I just want to send out one more special prayer. In one of my posts I spoke about her birthplace. We do not know who her birth mother is. The woman who found her and took her to the hospital is her honorary grandmother- not her real grandmother. She wanted to be called that and of course we wanted her to feel like part of our family as well. Although we do not know her birth mother, I hope she knows that her little girl is being taken care of and is loved very much.
It is incredibly difficult to give a child up. I am so sad that she had to leave her daughter behind, but I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to raise her and love her. I am so glad that she is my daughter. Although I have not spoken much about Zoe's birth mom in my blog, know that I think about her all the time. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with her everyday. I have written letters to her, but have decided to keep those private. But I just want it known that I love this woman who gave birth to our daughter. She can never know how much I truly love and appreciate her. So, although I have not said much, it is on my mind often. Thank you dear mother. Thank you for your sacrifice to bring our Zoe into the world, and into our family.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Yay!!! Whoo Hoo!! We finally made it home. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and thoughts!! We were so lucky to get out when we did as the Embassy was going to be closed for Easter and we could have been stuck there another week. Sorry I am now just posting. I have had a very difficult time doing anything as my kids won't let me out of their sight. Plus we are all so tired around here. However, it couldn't be more incredible at our household!!! We are all bonding and doing wonderful!! Here are some pictures of our homecoming in the middle of the night at the Salt Lake City airport. It was so beautiful! Zoe did amazing. The entire time we were in Africa she only wanted me (or sometimes Josh) to hold her. She would only smile and laugh after she had been around someone for a while. However, when we got to the airport and met everyone it was amazing. It was as if she knew they were family! She let people hold her, she gave kisses and hugs and smiled and laughed lots!
Here we are as a family for the first time!
Here is Calvin (my almost 7 year old) with Zoe. He is her protector and loves her. The second day she was home he told me "Mommy, she is just so cute, I can't stop staring at her". It brought tears to my eyes!
Martin (my 4 year old) can't get enough Zoe hugs and kisses. Luckily Zoe loves to give kisses. He plays with her and just loves to make her laugh. Zoe sure loves her brothers!

Zoe loves my mom. She wanted to be with her at the airport (even when I was standing right next to her). My mom comes over almost every day (as she only lives 15 minutes away) and Zoe loves it! I am so lucky to have such an amazing mom. She is the person who took care of my boys while we were away for 4 weeks. I love her so much!!!

Here is my dad. He was right there helping my mom do everything she could for our boys. I think it is because of him that I didn't have a nervous breakdown in Africa when they told me I would have to stay for 2 to 3 weeks longer. Thanks dad!!

This is the sight we came home to. I can't believe all the people that came even though it was the middle of the night and it was even during Spring Break!!! Zoe already has so many people who love her!
Here is Zoe with my little brother Spencer! Aren't they so cute!!

Here is Zoe with my other little (but bigger) brother Brandon. Both of my brothers are single- so if anyone knows any cute girls.... (ha ha!!!)

This is Josh's sister Rebecca. She lives near us and was amazing also while we were gone. She spent many nights at my house with my kids. My boys just love her and her husband John. I am so grateful to have them in our lives!!
This is Josh's sister Jessica. This was a huge surprise. She flew in from Boston area. I couldn't believe it when we were coming down the stairs and saw her standing there! She will be here for about 2 weeks in total. It has been so fun for everyone to be with her. The kids love playing with her!!
Here is one of my best friends Trish and her daughter Liv. Trish and her family were supposed to be in St. George for Spring Break. However, they put it off for a couple of days to see Zoe. Trish and her mom are actually the reason why we gave her the name Zoe. I was so excited to see Trish here! Isn't her daughter Liv so cute? We are already setting up play dates for the two girls!! By the way- excuse how messy I look in all of these pictures. We had been traveling for 35 hours. Oh- and can I just say that I love girls!!!! Daughters are so much fun to dress and play with!
Here is Trish and Mark with two of their daughters Liv and Whitney. I really must thank Mark because I know he probably wanted to be in St. George but he still came to the airport!!! I have such good friends!!!
Here are the Towner family. Anita, Eric and their daughter Angela. These guys are basically my second family. They work with us and travel with us and are just part of the family. I was so excited to see them there.
I can't tell you incredible everything has been since we got home. Zoe gets along with everyone. She is so relaxed in our home and our boys are doing really well. Although Martin is a little emotional since he isn't the baby anymore- everything feels so natural. I was also nervous with Zoe being 2 years old as we had initially requested a baby. But in reality it has made the transition even easier. She is old enough to play with our boys, old enough to eat dinner with us in her high chair and although I still hold her lots, I can also put a lot of attention on my boys as well. For those of you thinking of adopting only a baby , just know that adopting a 2 year old is awesome!!!
I know that God wanted her to be in our family. And I am sure she knows it as well. She is so happy. She smiles and laughs with the boys all day long. She plays games and mimics everything we do. She is very secure with herself and she knows this is where she is loved.
I will post more pictures hopefully tomorrow. And I am almost finished on all the information for those of you planning to adopt from Rwanda. I will be sending out emails really soon with lots of information and details on what I wish I would have known and done. ha ha!!
Anyone else who wants the information please leave a comment with your email address. I will not be publishing these email addresses. It's not a lot of information, but if I would have double checked and done some things differently it would have saved us a lot of time in Africa.
Also, I know that many of you have left questions. I had a hard time getting to those in Kenya as it was $10 an hour to use the internet. However, now that I am home and finished the itinerary for Rwanda Adoptions, I will soon be answering all of your questions. And hopefully since we got the Kenya Embassy contacting and talking to the Rwanda Embassy that will solve a bunch of problems with delays.
Thanks again for all of your prayers. We are so grateful to be home with our daughter.
Just one last note. I get the question all the time on how I can love her as much as my kids I gave birth to. Well, I would like to finally answer that question first hand. Adopting her feels like I gave birth to her. I love her, want to take care of her, want to protect her and want to hug and kiss her just as much as my boys. She may not have been born from my tummy, but she was born from my heart. She is my daughter. I knew it from the first moment I saw her. I am filled with the same love for her as I have for my boys. God knew that she was mine- it just took a little while for me to find her that's all.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Finally Leaving Kenya

I am so incredibly happy! We got Zoe's visa today. This means that we finally get to leave Kenya. I am so happy. In all it took about 5 business days to get our visa. I can't tell you how thrilled I am. I totally started crying when the Embassy called me to let me know that we can finally go home.

I am almost done putting together an itinerary for anyone else planning on adopting from Rwanda. It has a lot of tips that we found out a long the way. We leave tomorrow night and get home on Thursday around midnight. I will try to get the itinerary out by this weekend.

Zoe is doing really well. I just had to share one comment I got on my blog that I am not posting because it has an email address on it. There was an American family who lived in Rwanda from October 2008 to December 2009. They adopted a child from Rwanda a couple of years ago. Also, while they lived there she went to the orphanage once a week to help out. She recognized our daughter. She then proceeded to tell me that she had never seen Zoe smile while she was in the orphanage. I got very emotional as I was reading her comments as during the first week and a half Zoe did not smile once or say one word. Now she laughs and smiles all the time! It made me so happy that we were able to adopt her. She never felt safe or comfortable for her true self to come out. Now that she has a loving mother and father, all she wants to do is play, smile and laugh.
I am so lucky that we get to have this amazing daughter in our lives.

If anyone is thinking about adopting, please consider it. Although we have had our trials over here in Kenya, it is totally worth everything to be with Zoe. She is bonding so well it is amazing. She knows that I am mommy and that Josh is daddy. She comes to me already when I call her name and is always ready for a hug and a kiss for me. I really am so lucky!!!! I think that we are all lucky.

I can't wait to see my boys. They really have been amazing troopers. I am so lucky to have the family I have!!! I want to say thank you to all my friends and family members who helped me watch out for our boys.

I want to say thank you for all the prayers that have been sent my way. I am thankful for God who had me learn patience, and also helped me get home sooner than we thought at first.

I will try to post some more pictures tomorrow if we can download them before we leave. Right now I have a short time left online and I plan on using it to skype my kids!!!

Hopefully we will have a safe flight home and no episodes on the airplane by either me, Josh or Zoe. ha ha!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not much to update

So, my last post I think I was a little sad and frustrated about being stuck here in Kenya. I first want to say that I have spent a lot of time fighting for anyone else who will be coming here. And I have made some progress. I also want to say that I am so grateful for all of the prayers that have been coming our way. We are doing good here in Kenya and are still hopeful that we will be able to go home this week. The only problem is that the Embassy is closed on Wednesday, Friday and Monday. I am praying hard that we get our information sometime by Thursday so we don't have to stay into next week.

The good news is that Zoe is bonding so well with us. It is crazy to think that her first week and a 1/2 she didn't speak one word. Now she talks non-stop. Of course most of it is either Kinyarwanda or babbling, but it is so fun. She likes us to copy her. She also smiles and laughs all day. She can't get enough of Josh teasing her and throwing her around.

It is times like these that I know everything will be ok. I don't want to scare anyone away from adopting in Rwanda. Although we have spent some extra time here in Kenya, it is so worth it to see the smiles and hear the laughter from Zoe. She is totally worth it!!!

I spoke to a consular today at the Nairobi embassy. She said that the US Embassy in Nairobi has spoken to the US Embassy in Rwanda and has told them that the information needs to be sent right away after the I-600 is filed. This was part of my problem. We filed the I-600 on Friday, but Rwanda didn't send it until Wednesday.

I am also putting together an entire itinerary of what I wish we would have done. I am just putting it on as a word document and will send it out to anyone who is interested. I have a bunch of emails from my last post. If anyone else is interested please let me know. I won't publish your post with your email address included.

I want to do everything in my power to help the next families to come to Rwanda. I think that a lot of time will be saved if everything is done in a certain order.

I am also trying to fight the Adam Walsh Clearance if possible. I have been doing a ton of research and what I am finding is that it is not required, but Nairobi believes it is. It is only required if you file an I-130 form. I have already spoken and sent emails to National Visa Center(NVC), USCIS, National Benefits Center (NBC) and Department of Homeland Security. I have also contacted Senators and Congressmen (in Utah). I would recommend anyone else adopting to do the same. I think that if we get our voice heard that maybe we don't have to do this check.

The other thing I am finding out is that most places I have contacted don't understand why the US Embassy is requiring it. So, you might want to send an email to the US Embassy in Nairobi as well stating that it is difficult for those adopting to be gone so long. It is also expensive.

However, that said, if the Nairobi US Embassy continues to do the Adam Walsh check, I can send you some information on how to save time and get it started while you are in Rwanda.
If you would like some information please post your email address (no worries I won't post it) and I'll get back to you. If you have already posted it, you are fine, I will send you the information. I am still waiting on a couple of more things that I am researching before I finish the itinerary with lots of information that we have discovered along the way.

Well, I gotta go. I only had a little time online and I just wanted to quickly post and tell everyone that is adopting or planning to adopt- don't give up!!!
I promise the first time you see your child smile, laugh (and I can't wait for her to call me mommy!) it will be worth it!!

One more thing- Thanks for all the support and again thanks for the prayers! It is amazing how much love we feel from everyone! Please don't forget our family as we still aren't home yet!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Stuck in Kenya

Well, we spent hours emailing and phoning everyone we knew. Claire from Children of All Nations spent about 9 hours alone for us advocating for us to come home and such a bummer, because they still will not give us our visa. They tell us here we could be here as long as 2 weeks before we can leave Kenya.

I'm so tired right now as I didn't sleep much last night and I have a headache from today. I am not going to post much today. I found out some information that I'll pass along later to help the next people who are coming.

The good news is that Zoe is bonding really well and is so happy and does really well. However I can tell that even she is getting tired of hotel rooms and waiting in buildings for paperwork to be done. But she is very lovable. She gives me kisses and hugs all day long. I am so lucky to be her momma!!

Will you please keep my two boys at home in your prayers? They are having a difficult time without us being around and I just feel awful being here without them. I know they are being taking care of by my parents, but I know that they miss their mommy and daddy.

If anyone who is adopting from Rwanda is interested in finding out more information about what we are dealing with here, please post your email. I can then send you an email when I get home giving you some further details I wish I knew before we got here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kenya- will we ever leave?

About 4 years ago we came here to Kenya with our son who at the time turned 2 while we were here. We loved it!!! This time, unfortunately I can't say the same thing.

Basically the US Embassy in Kenya is just about impossible to work with. I feel so bad for anyone who has to come here to get their visa done. For those of you adopting and coming here you will soon find that they want you to stay a couple of weeks before you can go home. Here is what we have been doing here.

We flew in on Sunday. Monday we went to the US Embassy to make sure that everything was ok. They even took our folder from Rwanda. After that we went to the doctors to get Zoe's tb shot to make sure she is ok. Tuesday we didn't have to do anything so we had a little fun and went to the Daphne Sheldrik baby elephant orphanage. This was a really fun visit. If anyone is planning on visiting just a quick note- it is only open from 11:00 to 12:00. They bring out the baby elephants and let them play around. They have balls and they kick them around. Below are some pictures.
Here is Zoe and I enjoying watching the elephants.

Aren't the elephants so cute. It was fun to kick the ball back to them to play.
Zoe wants to walk everywhere on her own. I of course let her, because she spent a lot of time in her crib and hasn't seen much of the world. She enjoys playing around, however if anyone comes up to her, she is quick to run to her momma.
So to finish our days in Africa. On Wednesday we went back to the clinic to get Zoe's results. She was negative on tb and then they did a physical and gave her the rest of her immunizations.
Thursday is when everything hit the fan. So we went to the embassy early in the morning. We got there around 7:00am when they open. There was actually already a huge line. We were really lucky because we had a baby with us, they sent us the front of every line. We then gave them all of our information and waited about 2 hours for them to call us to a window. The man behind the window told me that we had to wait at least a week before getting our visa as we had to wait for the Adam Walsh check. I told him that we did the check right before we left and handed it to him. He checked on some things and came back to tell us that wasn't right. He said that he would start the process today. I then asked him why they didn't start it on Monday when I dropped off the papers. He said he didn't know why, but we didn't get the paperwork from Rwanda until Wednesday. Now when I left the US Embassy in Rwanda I told them they had to get the papers to Nairobi right away, but they didn't. Any of you adopting- tell the Rwanda Embassy they must get it there the next day!!
So, now here we are in the hotel. I have spent hours on email and phone calls to every department trying to find someone to help us. Here is the problem. When I call the non-hague adoption services they say that the Adam Walsh is not required. When I call the hague adoption services they say they can't help me because Rwanda isn't a hague adoption country. It is a huge mess. Kenya is a hague country and Rwanda isn't. By the way anyone reading this that is not adopting, will not understand what I am talking about- just know that it all means one big mess. ha ha!!
Our flight is tomorrow night. I am going to send Josh home as I think that our boys at home have been without us long enough. So that leaves me by myself to bring Zoe home. I hope it will be ok, as on our last flight she didn't like the airplane (although she fell asleep luckily right before we took off and woke up right when we landed). And she doesn't like to sit very long. So we'll see what happens.
Please keep our family in your prayers. We have many people sending emails to Nairobi to see if we can get our visa and hopefully something will work and their hearts will be softened. I really want to go home. We have already been here for 18 days. That is a long time to be away from your children and I would hate to stay another 7 more days.
My advice to anyone adopting is first go to the US Embassy in Nairobi and state that they need to start the Adam Walsh clearance immediately. That way they can begin it while you are getting medical work done. I don't know why they didn't start ours as we dropped off our paperwork. Next make sure that Rwanda sends your paperwork to Nairobi right away. And if at all possible avoid Nairobi. They think they understand the laws, but they don't. They are very messed up right now.
I guess it is all in the Lord's hands now. If he feels that I need to learn patience and to persevere I will be here. I'll write tomorrow and let you know what the results are. However, I'll tell you right now that the man working at the Embassy said that I have a zero chance of getting out of here tomorrow.
I guess I'll just keep praying!!