Sunday, September 30, 2007

Uzbekistan, here I come!!!!

Houston, we have a travel date!! Our agency director called us this afternoon to tell us that I should prepare to travel on October 21st! I am so excited I could pee my pants (I won't obviously. . I will leave that to my potty-training 2 year-olds)! On top of the excitement I was also slightly relieved to hear I would be traveling on the 21st as we had discussed the 14th as an option. While I would've been more than thrilled to hop on a plane a week earlier, I have to say, getting everything together in two weeks, with a move to a new home in the middle, would've been more than even I, Super Val 5000, could handle! The timing is perfect (not that I ever doubted it would be. . .the Lord has a way with timing) and we should have Josh home and hopefully settled into some kind of a routine by the time we have to leave for Ukraine!

My step-father will be coming with me on the trip which I am incredibly grateful for! I have yet to travel internationally (no, Mexico and Canada don't count) and am a little nervous about what to expect. My step-father has traveled all over the world (not to mention that he is a big, burley, somewhat intimidating-looking fellow) and I am already grateful for his knowledge and experience (and for the fact that my chances of being mugged while he is around are pretty slim).

We will be flying out of JFK on Sunday, October 21st and will hopefully be flying home with Josh in tow, two weeks later on November 4th. The assurance of a two week travel period also came as welcomed news! Although I realize that there are still problems that could arise, our coordinator feels very certain that we will be able to get everything done within two weeks and I am praying that is the case.

I am so excited that this time is finally here! I cannot believe that, in just over three weeks, I will be holding my baby boy in my arms!!

Now to prepare for the trip. . . .suddenly I am feeling a little overwhelmed!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Never A Dull Moment!! (Uzbekistan)

First, let me apologize to the masses for not updating sooner. So much has happened within the past week that my head is spinning and I have barely had time to process it all. We have received some clarification regarding the new laws in Uzbekistan and continue to receive new information as it is acquired. Thankfully, we were far enough into the process when the changes occurred that we will not need to make two trips. However, what would have been one trip of 5-7 days AFTER Joshua's adoption was finalized will now be one trip of 2-4 weeks and I will need to travel to meet the Mayor BEFORE the adoption is finalized. We were also grateful to learn that only one of us will be required to travel, especially since the length of travel will be more extensive than we initially thought and there is no way Richard would be able to make the trip (with our trip to Ukraine in the near future). The thought of leaving my husband and children for so long is difficult, but I know that this will be just a small wrinkle in time in the grand scheme of things and the end product is well worth the sacrifice!

The above information came as a huge relief, but before I had time to process it, I received a call from our agency telling me that our dossier was on the Mayor's desk and that he was requesting to meet with me. Our in-country coordinator will be meeting with him next week to establish a firm date for travel and for our meeting and I have been told to begin the process of obtaining a visa (which, I have learned in the past few days, will not be easy). I believe the hope is that I will travel within the next 3-4 weeks! I was definitely not expecting this news, but am thrilled at the prospect that I may be holding my baby boy in just a matter of weeks!

Of course, with this news, the reality of traveling has set in and I am completely overwhelmed by all of the things that need to be done within the next few weeks. This is, of course, compounded by the fact that we are in the process of packing up our house and moving to a new home within the next week! Whew! Let me just say, crazy is one thing the Rieben's do well!

I am hoping to have more news regarding travel dates sometime next week and I promise to update as soon as I do (because I know if I don't there are many of you who WILL track me down!)! But for now, I am going to bed! A special thank you to everyone who has kept us in your prayers! We appreciate each and every prayer offered in our behalf and know with surety that they have been heard!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Some good news. . .and some bad

This day has been filled with mixed emotions, and, staying true to the emotional roller coaster of adoption, we have experienced several ups and downs today. I will start with the good news. We received word today that our dossier was submitted to the SDA as planned! I still cannot believe how quickly things are moving and am excited to think that we could be in Ukraine with our son before the end of the year! This news alone is cause for celebration, but unfortunately we did not have time to focus on celebrating as this news was shortly followed by some, not so stellar news from Uzbekistan.

We were made aware of several changes in Uzbekistan's adoption laws today. It appears that Uzbekistan has decided to adopt travel requirements similar to Russia. When we began this process Uzbekistan required one, short trip that could be made by one parent AFTER the adoption had been finalized. That has now changed. The new law states that parents must travel to Uzbekistan to meet their child and formally accept their referral. The parents are then required to travel back to Uzbekistan at a later date to be present when the mayor signs off on the adoption. There are still many unknowns and we are not exactly sure how this will effect Joshua's adoption since we are so far along in the process, but we are hoping to receive more answers within the coming days. We are hopeful that we will still only need to make one trip since we have already accepted a referral and our dossier has already been processed by the Ministry of Education. However, if both Richard and I are required to travel for the finalization it could present a HUGE problem.

The travel requirements for our simultaneous adoptions from different countries have already been somewhat of a logistical nightmare, however, we had come to the conclusion that, in order to bring Evan home (as Ukraine requires both parents to be present for the SDA appointment and court), I would travel to Uzbekistan by myself (or with my step-dad who had agreed to accompany me) to bring Joshua home. Unfortunately Richard just does not have the ability to take 4+ weeks off from work which is why these new laws may pose such a problem.

I am trying not to panic as we still do not have all of the information, but the thought of putting our adoption on hold, losing Joshua or having to choose between our two boys is absolutely heartbreaking. These boys are meant to be ours. I know that from the very depths of my soul. The one thing that is keeping me from losing it completely is knowing that the Lord is in control. I know that all things will work together according to His will and I am putting my trust in Him completely. If it is His will that we bring both of these boys into our family then we will, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many obstacles we have to overcome.

If those of you who are following our journey could keep us and all of the families in the Uzbekistan program in your prayers I would appreciate it so very much. I want nothing more than to bring my little boy home and I know that, if it is the Lords will, our prayers will be heard!

Monday, September 10, 2007

News from Ukraine

Our dossier made it to Ukraine today and is now in the process of being translated!! This in itself is FANTASTIC news, but it gets even better! Our facilitator plans to submit our dossier to the SDA (State Department on Adoption) NEXT Monday! For those of you unfamiliar with adoption in Ukraine, this is incredibly quick! Once the dossier is submitted it could still take awhile for us to receive an appointment date as things are currently moving somewhat slowly at the SDA, but the fact that we will be submitted so soon makes me want to do the happy dance! Our facilitator feels strongly that we will be able to travel before the end of the year! Obviously he cannot guarantee that we will as that it completely up to the SDA and out of our hands, but my hope has definitely been renewed! I have heard many, many times throughout the past year what a miracle worker our facilitator is and now I am experiencing it firsthand! Needless to say, it has been a VERY good adoption day!