Monday, August 17, 2009


Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the top producers of sunflower seeds in the world? As you can imagine, to be ranked 11th in the world in production of sunflower seeds, you can find, throughout Bulgaria, vast expanses of sunflower fields. Although I have not witnessed this for myself, the pictures I have seen are absolutely breathtaking.

(A sunflower field in Bulgaria)

Without realizing the connection to Bulgaria, we planted sunflowers in our garden this year and, after being blessed with their beauty (and symbolism) for the past several weeks I have decided that they are my new favorite flower (and that they will always grace my home and garden). As most of you are aware, the sunflower follows the sun from sunrise to sunset, continually seeking its warmth and light. Like the sunflower, we have continually looked towards the "Son," placing our trust and our faith in Him, throughout this adoption process, knowing that it is in our Savior, Jesus Christ that we find our comfort, peace and joy. On the tough days, I simply have to look out my window at the sunflowers, faithfully following the sun, to be reminded in whom I should place my trust.

This week we made a wonderful Bulgarian bread in the shape of a sunflower. It was fairly labor intensive, but it was fun to make and absolutely delicious. I have a feeling that this bread will grace our table for many special occasions.

Bulgarian sunflower bread

We have received the last documents needed to file our I-800A application with USCIS and we will be sending it on it's way first thing tomorrow morning! It is currently taking up to 90 days to process the I-800A application so we are grateful to finally be able to begin the process. We are praying that we will have the girl's files as well as the rest of our dossier documents by the time we receive our approval so that we will be able to submit our dossier immediately.

As of last week, the agency who has been in possession of the girl's files throughout the year, still had not returned them to the Ministry of Justice, despite being contacted multiple times (as of this evening, they were still listed on a US agency's Waiting Children's list, although we are hoping that simply means that they have not had the opportunity to take them down). Our facilitator was unable to get in touch with the Ministry today due to phone troubles, but we are hoping to receive an update on the status of the files tomorrow or Wednesday. Unfortunately, we were informed last week that, despite our desire to make an immediate commitment, two of the girls we have requested must be given to another agency before they will be given to our facilitator (fortunately our facilitator is next in line for "D" and will receive her file as soon as it is returned to the Ministry). We are disappointed that we will not be receiving the files of these two little girls, but we recognize that, if they are meant to be a part of our family, things will work out so that they will be. In the meantime, we have also informed our facilitator that we are open to learning about other children on the current waiting list and recognize the possibility that we have not learned of our other children yet. We are anxiously waiting to learn who will join "D" as the newest member(s) of the Rieben family. So, stayed tuned. . . .the best is yet to come!


Shelley said...

Did you not see a sunflower field that looks exactly like that photo while you were in Ukraine???? It was on the way to the orphanage when leaving the train station. In fact, it's one of the first things I remember seeing on the drive to the orphanage. There were several fields and they were all just beautiful. So, did you see them in Ukraine? It'll be interesting to look for fields in Bulgaria too!

I'll say a prayer that you'll get clear direction about what children should be joining "D" in your family! We too hope to have our I-800A on it's way soon. Hopefully, our home study will be mailed to NBC within a week. So, our timelines will be close to each others!

Valerie said...

Unfortunately we were in Ukraine in the dead of winter, so we didn't get to experience it in all of its splendor! I have to say, I am a bit jealous of those who do because it looks like a completely different place! It looks like our first trip to Bulgaria will likely be during the winter as well (and hopefully we will be bringing the girls home before the sunflowers are in full bloom, although I would LOVE to see them), so we may not get to see them there either!

We will be sending up prayers for you as well as you file your I-800A. Hopefully it'll be a quick and smooth process for both of us! Which regions are your boys in?

Charity Brown said...

Wow! The sunflower bread is BEAUTIFUL!!!!

I'm so excited for you guys and hope it all gets rolling pretty quickly!

mommajeane said...

We saw sunflowers in Ukraine and Bulgaria but you have to be there when they bloom...I think in July and August.They are gorgeous.I have always planted them in our garden becsause they are so full of joy and just make us smile...almost like the precious children's smile that we have adopted from those countries.Praying for a quick USCIS process.