Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Week 3: We got a bit stuck

So Ted left us very early a week ago Saturday. I spent that weekend settling back into the neighborhood I was used to near Unicentro Mall/La Fontana hotel and our apartment there.

One of the favorite items of the weekend, once again, Cyclovia!! At that time, our adoption was moving forward ahead of schedule, and I was feeling the hope that I could leave early, so I got any shopping done necessary at the Usaquen market.

On Monday, we were able to get Drew's Colombian passport applied for without difficulty and picked it up on time on Tuesday morning. Next we went straight over to Bienstar, Colombian child welfare, in hopes that the one guy, the head of Colombian adoptions, had signed our would be able to sign our "Conformity" letter. Basically, this is just his signature saying "Yep, Colombian complied with the Hague and so did the Sibley's and the case is closed".

BUT, this guy has a tendency to get sent out of Bogota on business elsewhere in the country, and he had left on Monday previous and would not be returning until Tuesday 5/30 (today). I had been warned this could happen.. and just like that me and every other adoption in the country was stuck until he came back. That was a bummer. I was pretty pumped to get to go home early and now I was here with absolutely nothing to do for a full 7 days.

So we killed time.We killed so much time.. in the rain.. in the apartment.. walking in the rain.. running outside when it wasn't raining.. all of that.

Though I was in the midst of a very challenging day personally, some joy shone down on Thursday when Maria Teresa took us to the Multi-Parque and Sammy was able to get his go-cart on as well as visiting a bunch of animals.

And back up in Minnesota, Ben turned 7, and I'm not totally okay with that just yet.

Even though I had planned to be home, we headed to Cyclovia once again!

So we handled that and bonded, and I'm pretty sure my parenting quality control went to an all time low?

But this morning, SUCCESS! Conformity letter obtained, amongst the stack of letters that were sitting on the guys desk for everyone else.

So we came home triumphant, and decided going out to lunch at Crepes and Waffles was very necessary for this day of days.

We got an email from the embassy later in the afternoon that we are to show up tomorrow morning for our appointment, out the door at 7:30am!! I've always had positive experiences during my Embassy interviews, so we will hope that tomorrow is good for round #5.

Personally, my favorite part of the American Embassy compound in both Colombia and Ethiopia is the pristine, clean power flush toilets. They are amazing when you have gotten used to life without it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Week 2: Court week in La Mesa

Ted and I left early for the Defender of Minors interview at Bienstar on Monday morning. This is your interview after a week of bonding with your new family member as part of the Colombian child welfare process.

This time, Ben was not there to knock over a bunch of stuff and eat a paper clip and scare us all to death, like our last round in 2013.

This time, the Sibley portion of the process was quite boring. The Defender of Minors was one of the most fashionable women I've met in my life. Like really, she had serious shoe, accessory, and blazer game. Props. Drama ensued for about half an hour between her, my lawyer, and my para-legal pal because for whatever reason, Drew was originally assigned 2 identical original birth certificates.. but each one had a different reference number. She wasn't particularly concerned about this because everything was on the up and up, it was just that we needed to know which # was the "right" # associated with is life so that we didn't have drama later down the road at new birth certificate time in the records system.

Lots of gesturing and banter and phone calls to a bunch of people were made.

We ate crackers.

Our lawyer left that meeting in search of what # to use in our court file and that was it.

We got back to our guest house neighborhood, and it was officially time to help Drew out with his "ear hair neck mullet". More snacks were eaten. Mostly, he just laughed through the whole thing.

Then we had to celebrate our last night in Bogota before we left for La Mesa in the morning

We left bright and early for La Mesa in the morning. Even though I took motion sickness pills, it super didn't work so I spent most of that trip trying to not hurt Jorge's van beyond repair.

3 hours of traffic/swaying through beautiful mountains with me looking green, we arrive by surprise directly to family court in La Mesa rather than our hotel. Our Lawyer was there with our giant pack of stuff, and it turns out we were going to be interviewed by the judge as soon as she got out of her hearing.

It should be noted, that our kids smelled, we smelled, and we also were dressed horribly and my hair was sticking to my face. Sorry, your honor, as we are clearly hillbilly people who are unable to plan for formal affairs regarding our children. I've actually never met with a Colombian judge in the past, but things (like this new court system in another town) are ever changing. The Judge was very sweet, and the boys at crackers of course.

That completed, we got more snacks.

It should be noted at this point, that the Bogota weather has not treated us the same this time around as we had come to enjoy in the past. It has been cold and rainy pretty much non-stop. Cold is relative, but in the 50's which for here is not what I'm used to or packed for. We were bundled in our beds at night and showering was dreaded. The kids weren't able to get outside to play at all, and we were in an unfamiliar part of town compared to wear we lived the first 2 times.

So when La Mesa, about 2 hours West and a bit lower altitude than Bogota let us visit, it was like the heavens opened up and gave us all glorious sunburns that we really did need. It's not like we went out to Cartigena or Santa Marta resort as some folks do, but it sure felt like it at the time. We still had clouds and a little train, but we were DRY!

They had bunnies and horses and other random animals at La Toscana, so Sammy unleashed his inner Colombian mountain cowboy.

The pool was wonderful when it was warm enough for it. Drew refused to be removed from it. He was happy to march from space to space as long as we would let him.

It was humid and hills throughout, but I was even able to get out for my first short run post "big spring injury". This is Drew and I out hiking and taking names. Visitors on said hike included 6 wild dogs, 3 llamas, 2 goats, chickens, 2 big toads, various mountain neighbors, and almost getting hit by a falling mango.

We also were visited by 2 scorpions just a few feet from our playing children in our hotel room. Daddy bravely removed said scorpions with a toddler shape bucket with a kid strapped to him. That is serious fathering chops.

This is a photo of Drew being excited about his strawberry smoothie, and me being excited about a Mojito IN A BOWL.

We were so surprised to find out that our Sentencia actually would be ready Friday morning. This is exciting and very odd to me for so many reasons. In past 2 adoptions, we had difficulty even getting our Defender of Minors appointment scheduled in the first 2 weeks before Ted went home (which he must be at to formally sign on as the Daddy to the court system). Usually, I'm not getting Sentencia (adoption decree) until week 5 (Lucas) or 6.5 (Samuel) when Ted is usually long gone and so is any else who was here visiting me at any point. So not only was it Ted's first time actually signing his kids adoption decrees in Colombia, it meant we could go back to Bogota together! I loved La Mesa, but there wasn't enough to keep the kids entertained on the mountain. Drew is busy with the cognitive development of a toddler. I needed more to do and see and visit to kill time over the weekend.

So we signed at court, got all of our original copies made, and then sped to a nearby town there apparently the process for Birth Certificates has changed (it's a national system now but only certain sights.. and the difference between the La Mesa site and the Bogota site is synonymous with the difference between getting fingerprinted at Duluth USCIS vs St Paul USCIS). The issuer guy went totally out of his way to handle us and a Swedish family for which we are very grateful. That's another big item to check off the list of needed items before we submit to embassy! We held our pee for hours to accomplish this.

So then we headed back towards Bogota, where I turned green and we got stuck in Bogota traffic for another 2 hours. We smelled. We ate SO MUCH SNACKS. Sam was over it. Drew was completely and totally over it. Jorge our driver was also over it.

We finally pulled in to our new digs in a small but lovely 2 bedroom apartment near our old stomping grounds where I will be until I'm released to go home. We put Ted on the plane at 4am today to send him back to the other 3 kids and work.. and I spent the day entertaining the kids in the apartment, walking, buying mangos from all of my favorite vendors, and taking Sam back to one of his favorite parks from last time around. I unleashed Drew in a giant soccer field where he terrorized birds for half an hour before it downpoured on us again, as it does here.

I really hope for some break from the rain tomorrow, so that I can once again enjoy cyclovia and the Usaquen market at least one last time (unless I get stuck here until my original flight of 6/3 in which case I'll do it again next week).

Monday morning, me and my person go bright and early to the Colombian passport office to get Drew set up with his fancy Sibley Colombian passport. Once i have that in hand, we give it to the embassy Dr to write his final recommendation letter. Once we have that in hand, we contact the embassy and they let me know when I can come over for my interview. If all goes well, I have a decent shot of heading home early :-) IF