Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adoption Update: Paperwork at Court

Thank you all for your prayers for the situation that arose.  The documents have been signed and submitted to court.  We are so excited for the progress.  Our God is good and has answered our prayers.  Our prayer now is for a court date before the courts take their break. If we could hear a date before July 15 we could purchase plane tickets with a bit of a notice therefore tickets would be cheaper.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

That is the best way to explain adoption.  Any of you who have experienced adoption know this.  During an adoption you will go through periods of pure craziness and periods of nothingness.  The craziness happens when you are collecting paperwork and preparing to travel.  The nothingness happens when waiting for a referral or to travel.  With the adoption of Nolen we waited for almost 18 months and then one day out of the blue the phone rang and we began our hurry up time.
Right now God has told us to wait.  We are still adopting the twins, however it appears it will be the fall before we are able to travel to bring them home.  Why this is so I do not fully understand and what I do understand I can't tell you.  What I do know for sure is that God is at work.  He is preparing the girls and our family for our union.  Even though all of this waiting is difficult there are some aspects that are good.  Hopefully traveling in the fall will mean airfare will decrease.  Also, every month we wait is another month we have to save to be able to pay for the adoption.  However, I long to see my daughters more than I can explain.
What can you do for us during this time?  The only thing right now you can do is pray for a specific situation that needs to work out.

I have been seeking comfort in James 1: 2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that yo may be mature and compete, not lacking anything.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Guest Blogger

One of my blogs has been chosen to be used in a guest blogger link of the well know adoption website my crazy adoption.  I am not exactly sure which post was chosen so go over there and check it.  It will be featured on Monday, June 20 and another on June 24.
This website is a wonderful resource for families who are in any way part of adoption.

PLEASE KEEP VOTING.  There are only 2 days left to vote.  Vote by clicking on the link to the top right of the blog.  Then click on the orange thumb next to our blog.

Adoption Update:  Hopefully we will hear this week that the documents have been submitted to the courts in Kampala.  There should be no more hang ups.  We got to see a bunch of photos of Hadley and Liana this weekend.  They look like they are happy and enjoying themselves.  If you would like the link to see all that is going on at the baby house just send me a message and I will forward it to you.  The home where the girls live is part of an organization that also has a primary school and runs community outreach.  There are multiple ways for people to help them listed on their website if you are interested.  This week the school has a group of volunteers helping them.  Some of the pictures showed the volunteers playing and loving on our girls.  It is good to know that someone is loving on them.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Adoption Update

Unfortunately we are still in Tennessee.  We thought we would be in Africa or on our way home by now.  But God has had different plans.  We have had a slight hold up with one document.  There was one item wrong on a document.  This one thing took almost a month to get corrected (a little frustrating).  Yesterday Chad and I sent back a signed and notarized copy of the corrected document.  Hopefully now things will finally move a bit.  Unfortunately courts close on July 15 until August 15 for a month long vacation.  If we do not have court before the close we will be here at least until August, bummer.
The judges have also changed their expectations a bit.  They are now requesting that at least one parent have a bonding period with the children for a couple of weeks prior to the court date.  This bonding period is very important for the children and parents.  We had several weeks of bonding with Nolen before his final court.  These weeks were hard because they required us to be in Russia for a long period of time and away from Sadie.  However, the time was very good for Nolen to get used to us and get to know us.  Therefore, one of us will travel to Uganda before court to have a bonding time.  That person of course will be me (Holly) since Chad needs to work as much as possible.  I will probably take Sadie with me for the bonding period.
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality he will give eternal life. Romans 2:7

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Note to Self: Don't Eat The Yams

Some of my close friends have gotten a joy about teasing me.  They say when we complete this adoption and believe our family is full we will get pregnant.  This sounds funny to some but is scary to me.  One of the couples we were with in Russia found out they were pregnant while in Russia adopting their second child.  I know my God will not give me more than I can handle but I think 4 toddlers at once is pushing it.
The baby home where are daughters live has three sets of twins and one set of triplets.  I recently learned that West Africa has the highest rate of multiple births in the world.  This got my inquisitive mind running and I started to do a bit of research.  I found that the high multiple rate is because of genetics and YAMS.  YAMS?  Yes, apparently there is a type of yam that is a staple in West African nations.  This particular yam contains a chemical that mimics female hormones.  It is thought to increase ovulation in women.  Crazy, I know.
While in Russia I ate a lot of potatoes.  Potato was a word I could pronounce and it was relatively "safe."  I sure hope I can find something else to eat in Uganda than Yams.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Clothes/ New Hair This Weekend

This weekend a set of adorable matching outfits arrived at my doorstep.  Thank you to Penny, Courtney, and Katie for making these precious outfits.  I can't wait until I can see all of the Stewart kids in them.  You can view other creations by Penny at her facebook page Designs by Penny.

This weekend I also got my locks cut off.  For the third time I donated my hair to Locks of Love.  This is an organization that takes hair donations of 10 inches or longer and makes wigs for children who have lost their hair due to childhood illnesses.  When you donate your hair there are numerous hair salons that will give you a hair cut for free, just an added bonus.  Cutting my hair was just another step in getting ready for Africa.  We have been told to expect unreliable electricity and hot water.  Therefore, long just wasn't going to work.  I think I am going to leave Sadie's long and have someone braid it when we get there.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Prayer Wall

Please follow our prayer journal on the new prayer wall tab.  You can use this space to share your encouragement and prayers to us.  We will also use this to share with you our prayer request.
Right now airfare is a huge prayer request.  When I priced airline tickets in May they were approximately $1,200 each.  Now they are $2,500 each.  Ouch.  We really need the prices to go back down.  Remember there are 5 of us going and 7 of us coming home.  That is a lot of money in plane tickets.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's easier: Bringing Home a Newborn or Toddler

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I have been blessed to have experienced both.  We brought our daughter Sadie home from the hospital at four days old and our son Nolen home from Russia at 17 months.  Which one is easier?  The answer might surprise many of you who have had a newborn in your home but bringing Sadie home was much easier.  The first two months with Sadie were significantly easier than the first two months with Nolen.
Sadie was born a few weeks early and weighed 5 lbs when we brought her home.  The first time she slept all night long was when she was 7 weeks old.  She slept with bilirubin lights on her to help with jaundice.  She also was not able to suck yet due to being premie.  Therefore, she had to be feed using a dropper every 1.5 hours.  I also spent the first few weeks of this time recovering from a c-section.  However, she was still much easier than bringing home an adopted toddler.

Welcoming a toddler into your home is so different than bringing home a baby.  With a baby you are responsible for taking care of their basic needs but they don't yet know exactly what they want.  Bringing home a toddler is a guessing game.  You have this child that knows exactly what they want and you don't get it.  It is difficult to understand what a child wants when the speak a different language and then throw in the fact that it is also baby talk.  A mother who just gave birth to a child usually has the ability to console their baby when they are upset.  This is not the case with a newly adopted toddler.  Bedtime is very difficult at first.  The child does not have a comfort item, does not recognize the bed, and is often not used to being rocked or held.  Because of this calming Nolen down for the night was very difficult at first.  Add a severe case of jet lag to this and I think we slept less with him than we did when Sadie was a baby.  I am telling you this so you can please be patient if I seem a bit grumpy when we first arrive back home.  Please remember that we are welcoming 2 new children into are home and even though they are not babies it is still very difficult.

What To Expect When We Come Home

I know this is a little premature but I was asked to write about this.  When we brought Nolen home I did a poor job of preparing our friends for what to expect so here it is.  This might seem crazy and extreme but please bear with us during this time.  Please ask any questions you might have about the process.
We are advocates of attachment parenting our children.  A child who has been institutionalized (in orphanage care) or who has had an unstable life can have difficulty attaching to their adoptive parents when the arrive in their permanent home.  To help build this bond a style of parenting called attachment parenting has become common in many adoptive homes.  This basically serves to promote as much of a bond as possible with the child and parents.  In order to do this other people in our life will feel left out.  We will do our best for at least 6 weeks to have only Chad or myself hold H and L.  We will be the ones to meet their basic needs including providing food and changing diapers.  During this time the girls will always be with one of us.  For example when we brought Nolen home, instead of sticking him in the nursery on Sunday morning one of us stayed and played with him in the nursery.
If you are fortunate to see us out on one of our few outings please remember these things.  The girls will more than likely reach for you but you can't hold them.  You may talk to them but please do not pick them up.  When we brought Nolen home it was difficult for people to no want to pick him up.  He would reach up to everyone and smile with those precious dimples.  He craved attention from anyone that would give it to him, a skill he learned in Russia.  However, once he was placed in our family we needed to teach him we were his Mommy and Daddy.  We needed to be the ones to meet his needs.  If you do get to see our family in the first few weeks back please make special note to Sadie and Nolen.  I am sure they are going to be craving attention also.
Why we will become recluses?  I will use our little man for this example.  Imagine you spent 17 months of your life in a baby bed.  In a dark room with little noise and no stimulation.  Now can you imagine what it was like for him to go from that environment to a Kroger or a Super Target.  Extremely over stimulating, scary, and very overwhelming.  We are not exactly sure of what life is currently like for the girls.  I know they are not spending all of their days in a baby bed but I do expect them to be very overwhelmed with their new life.  To help with a better and less scary transition we will as slowly as possible introduce them to their new life. Since they will stay at our home most of the time and we will stay with them; we will become recluses.  We would love visitors at this time because Chad and I will need some adult interaction.  I will repost this when we are about to bring the girls home.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


What is a dossier?  This is a term that you hear a lot in the world of adoption.  A dossier is the large group of documents that describe the adopting family.  The documents are gathered and submitted to foreign courts.  This bundle of documents is very large and contains more information about yourself and your family than you knew existed.  Every country has their own requirements for dossiers.  For example the Russian dossier for Nolen was hundreds of pages in length.  Russia wanted multiple copies of everything.  The Uganda dossier for the girls only requires one copy of the documents.  Before the documents were sent to Russia they were notarized, county certified, and state apostilled.  I was very excited when we found out the documents for Uganda only required notarizing.
Here is an example of some of the items you will find in an international adoption dossier:
Marriage Certificates
Birth Certificates
Divorce Certificates (if applicable)
Passport Copies
Citizenship and Immigration Approval Letter
Employment Verification Letter
FBI fingerprint background checks
Sex Offender registry background checks
Child Abuse registry background checks
Medical Evaluations For all family members & License of Dr. providing the evaluation
Psychological Evaluations & copy of Dr. license
Financial Statements prepared by a CPA including supporting data & copy of CPA's license
Letters from your mortgage company
Power of Attorney
Home Study
The home study is a document that is prepared for your family by a licensed social worker.  This best way to describe this is a biography of your family.  There is a separate set of documents that are needed for the home study.  Those include:
Medical Evaluations (We even had to have letters saying our dogs were up to date on their vaccines)
Complete Background Checks
Financial Statements including supporting Data
Letters of Recommendation for friends and family
Employment Verification Letters

It takes the average family 3 to 6 months to collect all of the documents for their dossier.  It took us almost 6 months to complete Nolen's.  The girls was done in about a month.

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Monday, June 6, 2011


How can you leave the country for 4 to 8 weeks.  Isn't that such an inconvenience.  I can't imagine leaving my home, family, job, and church for so long.  We would love to do international adoption but just can't fit that into our schedule.
Wow, I can not count how many times I have heard this over the last few months.
Honestly leaving the country for this amount of time was not in MY plans.  But it is in God's plans and we choose to obey Him.  I choose not to look at this long journey ahead as an inconvenience to my plans but has a whole new path to follow.  My Jesus died for me and I feel like the least I can do is change my plans for Him.  Aren't you glad Jesus went through with the  inconveniences he faced in his life.  Who are we to say, "that just doesn't work in my life right now."
This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous (burdensome).  1 John 5:3

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vote For Our Blog

The Circle of Moms website is hosting a contest to determine the top 25 adoption blogs.  The top blogs will be featured in an upcoming article.  They have approximately 6 million moms in their network so it is kind of a big deal.  You can vote once a day.  Get Voting.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Successful Shopping Trip

Wednesday I had the pleasure of grocery shopping by myself.  I know I am old when that is all it takes to get me excited.  But it is amazing how easy it is to grocery shop without my little helpers.  I owe a huge thank you to Mrs. Misti and Ms. Heather for keeping the kids cool in the pool while I had my mommy outing.  I went to Publix with a specific list.  I bought their bogo's with many coupons.  Check out how I did.

I purchased 30 items shown in the picture for a total of $7.92.  With discounts and coupons I saved $50.61.