Friday, April 19, 2013

Immigration Provisional Approval Received!! Preparing to travel...

Well friends.. we received some news during our time in Minnesota that was earlier than expected! I got a phone call from one of our dear babysitter/stalker of my mail that we received our provisional approval by mail. I had checked with immigration on 4/8 and they had yet to receive our file at that time. Our provisional approval was filed on 4/11, so they must have received it quickly following my email.

This was very exciting, because it actually has us leaving for Colombia BEFORE we had actually planned. With Fana's consent, we were able to bump up our travel plans from 5/7 to 5/1. Ted's hospital graciously allowed him to change it schedule... and that was very much a God thing. He wouldn't have been able to do that if we would have gotten news any later than we did. It was very much a "send Shane an urgent email before he publishes the schedule!!" (that is usually 3 months in advance) kind of thing. We got lucky. Praise God!!

We were also excited to receive back Ben's original adoption documents that came back separately from his new passport. Per our tracking, Lucas' passport is in transit and we hope to receive today or tomorrow.

At this time, we were able to purchase very reasonable airfare for the first 4 Sibleys traveling. I will likely have to add some costs later, as it is unusual for people to come home on their actual flight.. but it has happened twice! We can hope.

So at this time, Ted, Lucas, Ben, and I are departing on 5/1. Ted will return home on 5/14 and I will stay.

Auntie Breann is coming to help me on 5/21 and will be staying until 6/4 when the 3rd wave of reinforcements arrive (my Mom and stepdad Randy). Randy will stay for a week and head home. Mom will remain with me to fly us home.

In the meantime, we are enjoying getting to know our little boy better over Skype!! Here he was spending some more time with Mama..

we got lucky that it actually worked out for Grandma and Grandpa to talk to him for a little bit too and read a story

We were able to talk once while in Minnesota as well as yesterday. We hope to chat with him on Monday and Tuesday of next week, because Ted and I will be in Chicago for our visa interviews for the rest of next week. We get back here on 4/26.. we run around getting this house ready and some last minute work shifts and meetings... and on 5/1 we FLY!!!

These photos were back here yesterday, where Lucas and Ben were excited to tell Sam that they were on their way soon!

Today is actually Ted's last day off before we fly where he and I won't be in Chicago.. so we are aflutter with activity. The crib is going back up this afternoon! EEK!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

May I interest you in an update?

So I greet you from my kitchen table on a Tuesday morning. Lucas is at preschool and I'm helping out a girlfriend with one of her little girls. They are currently assembling PotatoHeads. Aside from Ted looking a little sleep deprived and Ben having me up at 4am, it has been a blessed morning around here. Blessed for many reasons, but here are just a few!

I have two somewhat independent boys around here these days. This is somewhat new, and rather fantastic given the changes that are about to happen. I expect regression of course, but just knowing that the skills are there to begin with is very nice. I have been able to accomplish so much preparation, just because my boys can independently play with each other either in the living room, downstairs, and now outside as the weather is changing for spring. I AM WRITING A BLOG UPDATE RIGHT NOW. WHILE PEOPLE ARE CONSCIOUS. This would have been impossible last year, hence why not a single blog entry happened in 2012.. and the ones that happened in 2011 after Ben were home were written in an emotional and sleep deprived verbal diarrhea coma.

Lucas slept through the night with no accidents and pull-up free the past two nights.

Ben potty trained himself last month, although we have the occasional accident due to not wanting to stop the playing.

BEN'S PASSPORT CAME YESTERDAY!! Lucas' extra evidence documents should make it there today, so we hope to have his passport next week. We will be waiting for both boys original documents to come back, so please continue to keep those in your thoughts.

Our yard is being fenced in before we leave for Colombia.. and I intend to be shoving the older 2 boys out and into it often when we return with Sam.

Now on to the reason you were likely reading this in the first place.. updates on Sam!!

Our I800 application (the big whopper file that the United States looks at for him to approve his citizenship for immigration) landed at the TX lockbox factility on April 1st. Ironically that is just the national holding tank for such things.. and then it is forwarded to our immigration worker who just HAPPENS to be right here.. in my town.. about 2 blocks from Lucas' preschool. All I800 applications come here to Lee Summit, MO to the National Benefits Center. So, any of you adoption people out there in my world.. the next time you have to file an I800, I would be happy to drive to the front of the NBC and pray at it for you.

Anyway, once it lands on her desk, hopefully later this week or next... she will ideally open it and review it and approve it. Once this provisional approval happens we can book our plane tickets for about 2 weeks out from that. During that two weeks our provisional approval has to make it through cyberspace and be uploaded into a special computer in Colombia at the embassy so that they are ready for us. This final portion of the two weeks is actually the same as what we did for Ethiopia (get provisional approval from the embassy to travel and then a lag time while all of it uploads to the US Embassy computer in the foreign country).

As of now, we are hoping that we will be able to travel on or around May 7th. That is 4 weeks from today!

We were able to skype with Sam yesterday! Here are a few of the stills that we look from that.

We planned to skype again today, but he had a surprise speech appointment that his therapist didn't know about previously. We are excited to see his little face tomorrow at 10am and then again on Thursday!

Here are a few more of photos from our side of things in the kitchen. The boys were very excited to show him their "babies" and get a good look at their new brother. Living as far away from family as we do, down here in Missouri, the concept of Skype makes sense to the boys. They understand that new little brother is still far away and in Colombia and that we all need to get special tickets to get on the plane to go be with him. Exciting things ahead!

During our time on video call, we were able to see him walk across the room independently which he just mastered yesterday! Sam has some delays due to his start in life, as well as what comes with the program of a fully institutionalized child. FANA has taken amazing care of him, and he is receiving multiple therapies. He really does love his picture book of us, and it gave me so much joy to see him "connect the dots" between the people in his book and the people on the computer screen. He was able to point to the computer and say "mama" and this makes my heart smile :-)

We also got to watch him play with a Thomas Train (Tren), a shapes ball, a soft soccer ball (pelota), and he seems to have an attachment to a stuffed froggy that I probably need to look into.

Meanwhile, back in Lee Summit, here are some random pictures from Easter Sunday and our family Easter Egg hunt in the backyard from last weekend!

So here are some of the happy.. and the not so happy.. and the egg discoveries.

Tomorrow morning we plan to skype and see our sweet little boy a bit more, and then we are off for a trip to IA and MN to see the family for the last time as a family of 4! Activities will include an overnight and much needed pre-10 year anniversary hotel date for Ted and I, getting to see Audio Adrenaline in Indianola on 4/11, and then a long weekend trip up to MN to see folks from FANA and the extended family. We also plan to celebrate Lucas' 5th Birthday and Ben's 3rd up there. Once we return Ted will put in more work days, and then we are off to Chicago for our visa interviews on 4/24. We hope that we will have some travel news around then!

Exciting times ahead.. and a whole load of things ready to go to Once Upon a Child as well as Goodwill. We need to make some space for another cute little person in this house soon :-)