Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

I'm finally caught up. I'll try not to do that again. Hopefully things will be interesting from here on out and I'll have plenty of good news to share.

Merry Christmas everyone. Best wishes for 2007. Have a safe night. We are enjoying being home. We're gone so much that we decided we'd like to relax at home. Of course that means I'll be sleeping by 9:00, but I'm going to try to stay awake. At least until 9:30. :)

Monday, December 21, 2006 ~ conference call with LSS & LAN

Karen had suggested that we do a conference call with our international agency, Lutheran Adoption Network. So Rob and I talked with LuAnn from LAN and Karen from LSS. The big issue was of course, the minor. She suggested that we to a set of test fingerprints from the FBI. If they come back fine, we will use those for the adoption. If they come back showing Rob's minor consumption, we'll have to get it pardoned by the governor. Any young adult who is reading this, listen up. What you do in your youth can and will come back to haunt you! So we had to get another set of fingerprints, write a letter stating that we are doing an international adoption and need these fingerprints back within ten days. With the holidays, I listed January 9. So hopefully the FBI complies with my direct wishes and sends them back ASAP. I just realized that I was supposed to track the envelope and I totally forgot. Shoot. Now I'm going to fret. If they come back showing the minor, the board of pardons and paroles meets on January 22-25, 2007. I talked to our local representative, Paul Dennert, and he called the governor, the board of pardons and paroles and really tried to help. I think the fact that they know who we are and know why we are requesting the pardon will help. So I sent an email out that same day to the very few people who know requesting letters of recommendation for Rob to receive the pardon. My plan is that I want to be ready with the application and letters if we need to use it. This is already setting us back a whole month and I don't want to waste more time by not being on the ball. LuAnn said that she would send Karen the orphange applications and Karen would forward them on to us. We are supposed to write our letter of intent to adopt and take pictures of ourselves. In a suit and dress. Anyone who has seen me lately knows I've gained 15 pounds so if I really have to wear a dress, I won't be able to zip it. I can pretend it fits as long as we don't have to take pictures from the back. We have to have a full length photo of the two of us and each individually. A waist up picture of the two of us and each individually. And also a head shot of the two of us and each individually. I wish I could use old pictures because I was skinny then. Now I have a big old butt. So I'm already fretting about these pictures. Rob has his "Dining Out" for his guard unit on Saturday, January 6. He has to wear his Class A uniform but he doesn't want his picture taken in that. And since I can't zip up my skirts, I will have to change clothes, too. So we'll complete the application and take our pictures (of our home as well) and have them ready to send in when we find out the results of the fingerprints. Once we send our application to LAN, they'll send it to the orphange with the shortest wait. We have three to consider: Los Pisingos, Ayudame, and Cran. She is still estimating 4-8 months before we get our referral. Once we receive the referral, we will take the medical information to a pediatrician in Aberdeen and see if he/she has any concerns. We will leave about two weeks after we get our referral. We will leave on Monday, receive our baby on Tuesday, and spend four to eight weeks in Colombia finalizing the adoption. She said the average time has been four weeks lately. We'll either go to the orphanage or the director's home to receive the baby. They'll talk to us about his/her medical background. LuAnn suggested that we video it rather than take notes. We'll take an outfit that we want him/her to wear and the nurses will change him/her into that outfit before they bring him/her to us. There is a very LARGE orphange donation. I'm not talking toys and clothes either. Right now it is a four digit number but she think it will go up soon. It isn't as if we haven't spent that sort of money at the doctor's office! Besides completing the orphanage applications, we also have to start collecting documents for our dossier: birth certificates, marriage licenses...apply for our passports, and submit our I600-A which is an advance processing application to adopt an orphan. We could travel to Bloomington to have our fingerprints done (yes another set) and it would take about a month. But it's wrestling season and Bloomington isn't like going to Aberdeen. So we'll request that we get it done in Aberdeen. Hmmm...what do you know. I just checked the USCIS website and it says that I have to go to Rapid or SF to get it done. I'll have to check on that because Karen told us we could go to Watertown or Aberdeen. Back to the passports, I already have one from the 1990's. One, it's expired, and two, I have no idea where it's at. So I have to fill in one extra form than Rob. Lucky for him he has a wife who is obsessed with this stuff. I've filled in his application (as well as every other form we've needed). All he has to do is take it to Aberdeen on Wednesday along with yet another check and hand it over. I'll do mine in Watertown on Wednesday when I'm over there working.

So we are getting closer. It's only been five months since we started this process. It has gone by really fast. I've been reading lots of good blogs of people who have adopted from Colombia, Russia, the Ukraine...basically any adoption is interesting to me. I just want to know absolutely everything there is to know about adopting from Colombia though. I'd pack my bags right now if I knew what to pack. I could actually do this since I plan to pack my skinny clothes. It isn't as if I can fit into them right now, so that would give me more room in my closet. Once again, I'm starting my diet on January 2. I've done that quite a few times over the past year but I only last about a day. I don't have much will power. I need someone like Ang or Maria to go walking/running. Hopefully now that I'm not driving to Watertown every day, I can stick with it. I just really like McDonald's and Taco Belle and Arby's. And coffee and doughnuts from Casey's. Now, do you know why my clothes don't fit!? :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 ~ homestudy #2

Karen came to our house to complete the homestudy. Kramer was VERY excited to see her, so we had to lock her in the carrier. We did a little tour of our house. It didn't take very long. We had to laugh after we read the homestudy. She said that our home was well kept and decorated nicely. Decorated? My house? I don't think so. It's a rental. The walls are made of plaster. I'm not sticking one thing in those walls. Unless she was counting the pictures of my really good looking nieces and nephews. That must have been what she was talking about.

Anyway, we found out something very interesting. Our DCI fingerprints had come back clean. So we talked about the FBI fingerprints. She happened to say something about minor consumptions. Oops. What was that? Oh that's right...Rob had one almost seventeen years ago when he was eighteen years old. Well, at least one of us didn't drink before we turned 21! :) So now, we have a major problem on our hands. The Colombian officials basically consider Rob a criminal and won't let us adopt! This seems crazy to me for more than one reason. First of all, an eighteen year old in Colombia is probably legal to drink. And second of all, since it happened in Brown County, he was fingerprinted. There are many counties today that STILL don't fingerprint. But since he was fingerprinted, it will show up on his FBI report. Another thing that seems odd is that to work in the school, Rob had to be fingerprinted by the DCI and also the FBI. They both came back clean. But I guess there are three levels of FBI fingerprinting. The school level is the one with the most slack. The adoption level is the one where they dig deep. Karen recommended that we talk to the State's Attorney from Brown County and have it expunged from Rob's record. However, the current one is not the one who served when Rob got arrested. He really didn't know what to do. I emailed the governor and I got a letter back from him on December 12 stating that we would need to go through the board of pardons and paroles. Great. So we decided to talk to the social worker from LAN. I'll talk about that later. In the meantime, we have completed our autobiographies, Rob's physical and TB test, and paid more money to LAN. Always more money. But in the end, it will be worth it.

Just so you can all see Billy...

I don't want him to feel left out.
As you can see, he MUST lay on something. The bed just doesn't cut it.

Friday, November 17, 2006 ~ Welcome home Kramer.

We debated whether or not to bring home another kitty. Billy seemed so lonely so we thought we'd do a test-run. The niece of Rob's secretary had a kitty that was about two months old that needed a home. Her boyfriend wouldn't let her bring him in the house. I think he probably would have survived outside, but Rob didn't think so. I think he thought I really needed her. So we brought her home one night to see how they interacted. Billy ran up to me, smelled her, hissed, and ran away. I really think he thought she was Bob. When she wasn't, he was very disappointed. I think she has many of Bob's qualities in her. She is very pesky, she loves to play, and she loves her mama. We brought her home for good on November 17 but couldn't think of a name. Nothing really fit. And nothing really goes with "Billy" other than "Bob". We finally settled on "Kramer". If you've ever seen Seinfeld, she is definitely a Kramer. She stands on her back feet and sort of wobbles all over and she has this wild hair. She was used to sleeping in her carrier, so there have been many nights she's been locked in there in the middle of the night. She knows how to jump on the bed. She just doesn't like to. She would prefer to climb up the bed, turn around and go back down the bed...repeatedly. In the middle of the night. She also likes to play with the lace curtains on the window above our head. In the middle of the night. She LOVES to lick my hair. In the middle of the night. There is only so much hair-licking you can take. She also likes to torment her brother. At all times. He really isn't impressed. In fact, it's concerning. He stopped eating. started pooping on the floor, and throws up all over the place. We've been taking him to the vet and finally think we have the problem...he has always had a very sensative stomach. We think he's allergic to his food. He has developed allergies before with certain foods that he's always been able to eat. He still doesn't really care for Kramer, even after feeling better. She just wants to play with him and he just wants to lay on the blanket. I wish he'd turn around and get her, because she runs after him and bites him and he just runs away like a little girl and never defends himself. I've tried teaching him to swat at her but he doesn't remember how to do it. We are anxiously awaiting March 1 when the claws will be removed. Unfortunately, they won't file her teeth, which are extremely sharp. We're hoping she get out of that biting stage before the baby gets here. Billy will be fine with a baby. He's let Kalla hug him and kiss him and pull his ears and pull his tail and has never done a thing. His only salvation was hiding under the bed. She knew where to find him. She just couldn't get him out of there. Smart cat I have!

Friday, November 10, 2006 ~ Home study #1

We were going to the state football games in Vermillion, so we scheduled our home study meeting for Friday at 10:00. We left a little late and I had to drive really fast to make it to SF on time. I get that handy trait from my mother who passed it on to all of her children. I think the first two got the heavier feet. By the time she got to me, the heavy foot gene had been dramatically reduced. But I still tend to drive a little fast. Times like this is when it comes in handy.

We talked to both Karen, our SW, and Jamie, the SW from the Aberdeen area for domestic adoptions. Our first topic of discussion was the possibility of meeting the potential birth mother we had talked about. She said that the woman had only had one counseling session and was moving out of state. We have learned through our sessions that birth mothers who receive little or no counseling are usually the ones who reclaim their baby. So the fact that she was moving to the east coast and had received very little counseling was disturbing for us. Karen asked us when we'd be able to feel comfortable that the adoption would go through. We both said "when the adoption legally goes through". And she said that while it was still our choice, she didn't think we should adopt domestically. I was OK with that. I've waited almost nine years to be a mother. I'd be devestated if a birth mother changed her mind. I've seen people who have no right to be mothers get pregnant again, and again, and again. But I have to remind myself that it's not my decision who gets pregnant. Anyway.... so Karen met with the birth mother and told her that we had decided to continue with the international adoption. I didn't want her to think that our decision was made because the child was biracial or because we didn't like her. Tell me which child that we adopt internationally isn't going to be biracial? I just knew I wasn't comfortable with the domestic process. Our meeting actually went by really fast and we headed on out to Vermillion to the football games. I met my friends Jen and Ang fo supper at Mona Lisi (you really need to try it if you're in well as Chae's) and we spent a great weekend with our friends Rahn, Maria, Keely, and Kalla. Saturday, I went to an adoption fair with my friend Cara who adopted a year ago from the Ukraine. We sat in on a forum about adults who were adopted as infants. It was the oddest thing...the founder of the fair was also a speaker. She was also one of Rob's former students! She interned at the telephone company where I worked so I had gotten to know her as well. Her mom and her brother were there too. She's always been wise beyond her years and so mature. It was so nice to see her and talk to both her and her mom. The really odd thing is that the very next week she called me at work (not knowing it was me) to sell me a phone system! We didn't stay for the entire fair, but listening to these adults speak was great. Especially since I knew some of Chellee's story. The fair was in its first year so all of the vendors were handing out information about their agency. I think it will continue to grow.

Sunday, November 5, 2006 ~ One of the worst days of my life

We've had our cats since October of 1996. We weren't even married yet. They are inbred barn cats from my parents farm. They were actually born in the house. Billy, inside the foot pedal of the organ and Bob, inside the huge console TV. Their mothers are sisters (from different litters) and their dad is also their brother, uncle, grandfather...Billy was born on August 6, 1996 and Bob was born on August 14, 1996. My mom did not want six babies and two adult cats (plus Roscoe, their dad, and Charlie, our original cat) roaming the house. So the babies lived in a big box until they got old enough to crawl out. Every time we'd go home, Rob would pick up a kitty and say "Oh Billybob, I'm going to take you home". And the next time we'd go, he'd pick up a different kitty and say the exact same thing. So when it came time to actually take one home, we decided to take two since we didn't want them to be lonely. So the first cat he picked up had been licking his hand incessantly. Thus, Billy. And the second cat he picked up was the runt of both litters and sucked on the tails of all the other kitties. Thus, Bob. I'm not sure how, but Billy became Rob's kitty and Bob became mine. She was a true baby. And I doted on her just like she was one. She started sucking on her own tail instead of Billy's and after ten years, her tail was no longer gray, but brown. The kitties kept us company, entertained us, annoyed us, cost us a fortune...When we moved to Elk Point, Bob went into such a depression that she quit eating and drinking and her kidneys and liver quit and she weighed one pound. I took her to the vet in Sioux City every day and he gave her IV fluids and kept her on a heating pad. The vet told us to take her home and make her comfortable. This was really the only time she liked Rob. It's not that she didn't like him. She just liked me. And Rob wasn't me. If I were gone for a weekend, she'd lay with him. But the minute I walked in the door, she was my kitty again. She survived thanks to Rob's body heat, cheese, and yogurt. She was so skinny that she was cold all of the time. So she layed with Rob quite a bit. She always loved people food. Enough that she could eat through an entire loaf of bread on the counter. She was the naughty younger sibling. I can just picture Billy saying to her as she jumped up on the counter every night after I'd gotten into bed "You're going to get in trouble". And I'd sneak out into the kitchen, catch her, and then chase her around to spank her. She knew when she was in trouble. But she knew how to love me. When Rob was activated, it was almost like she missed him. She wanted me to hold her at all times. If I sat down, she jumped on my lap. If I stood in the kitchen, she cried at my feet. She also slept on my pillow. No matter that my head was already on it. She just wanted to be near me at all times. So in September of 2006, I'd taken them to the vet to get their shots. Plus, she'd been pulling out the hair on her stomach for a while, so the vet gave her a shot to make her stop itching. Knowing that any change in routine makes her act funny, I wasn't too surprised when she retreated and pouted for a few days. But when she pooped on the floor, I thought it was really weird. Again, not weird was the hair pulling incident. She would get so nervous at times that she'd pull out hair on her body. Usually just a small circle. But this time, her stomach was totally bald. She picked at the incision from having her fixed until it bled. So after the shot, she did stop pulling out the hair. But she didn't stop pooping on my floor. And always behind the entertainment center. She had never in her life done that so I didn't understand why she was still doing this. I figured the first time was out of retaliation for being taken to the vet. So I have Bob pooping on the floor and Billy throwing up. He'd done that quite a bit since we moved here. So I went to the vet to pick up some cat food and told them about these presents being left for me. He gave me some pills to give them to treat them for anything intestinal. I started the pills on Monday. By Wednesday, Bob was out of it. She kept shaking her head and sneezing. I just knew she wasn't reacting well to the pills. So I took them both to the vet on Friday. Saturday morning, Rob had guards and I was home. She didn't get out of bed with me but I figured she just didn't feel good. Around 2:00, I went and got her and brought her out to lay on the blanket in the living room. I thought that being out of bed and in the living room and sun would snap her out of her funk. (I think that's my mom coming out in me!) Saturday night, I realized that she hadn't moved off of the blanket. Meaning she hadn't eaten, drank, or gone to the bathroom. I really started to panic, but couldn't call the vet that late. I called him the next morning and we met at his office. He told me she was dehydrated, her temperature was low, and that her kidneys were functioning at a very low level. He gave her IV's and I took her home and laid her in a blanket in the sun. I laid next to her and we slept for a while. She started to act more alert and would lift her head when I talked to her. But by late afternoon, she looked worse. Her heart rate or breathing (neither we nor the vet could tell which) was about 130 beats/breaths per minute. Rob was home from guards so we took her back to the vet and he said she was basically in a coma and had been probably all weekend. He didn't think she'd make it through the night. So we took her home and she laid on my lap, her favorite place. All day I'd been telling her that she couldn't leave me. But as the time drew near, a calm came over me and I told her it was OK. I said that I loved her and that I knew she loved me and that she didn't have to stay for me. I knew that she was dying, but I couldn't do it myself. I still held out hope that she would recover. Rob kept telling me "We can't let her suffer". So I'd call the vet and then chicken out. At 7:26, she stopped breathing. I knew right away. The vet came over and listened for a heartbeat and told us she was gone. We sat there for an hour. I just pet her and told her how much I loved her. I took off her collar and put it on a stuffed white kitty that Rob had given me once for my birthday. (He used a black marker and colored it so it had Billy and Bob's markings and we call it BillyBob.) Rob got a purple fleece blanket that we'd gotten as a wedding present and that she liked to sit on. I wrapped her in the blanket and laid her in a box. We called my parents to see if they'd make a spot for her with our other pets that have died. Since she always slept with me, I put her at the side of my bed and kept my hand on the box most of the night. I didn't sleep well. I kept waking up but made myself think of something else. At 5:00, Billy came in and laid with me. He laid in her spot and I started bawling. He had stayed away from her all weekend but the vet said that was very normal. I still felt bad for her. So I had to get out of bed because I just couldn't take it. I showered and got dressed and got on the computer to email my friends. Rob was going up to the school for a little while. He said to me "Promise me you won't take her out of the box while I'm gone". I told him I wouldn't. Then he said "Promise me you won't open the box". I said I couldn't do that. And he started sobbing uncontrollably. I figured out that he had opened the box and pet her. He said that she was so cold and hard and he didn't want me to see that. I promised him I wouldn't touch her. He cut some of her hair for me and put it in a plastic bag. When he got back, we went to the farm. My dad was in Aberdeen at a doctor's appointment but my mom had dug a hole for her in the little cemetery we have for our pets. They all have markers over their graves. We stayed for a while then went home. Rob had conferences for school that night and I hadn't thought about how difficult it would be me to go home. I cried and cried and finally cried myself to sleep. Knowing that Rob had conferences on Thursday night, I called my mom to see if she'd come to stay with me. Rob was really good and came home early on Tuesday and Wednesday and would go lay down with me until I fell asleep then would go back out in the living room to watch TV. Mornings are the hardests for Rob as Bob would lay with him for a little bit after I got out of bed. The entire day is hard for me as she was with me wherever I was. When I did laundry, she laid in the warm clothes from the dryer. When I showered, she waited until I was done so she could drink out of the bathub. Everywhere I went, so did Bob. And since I haven't had a child, she was my baby. And we both loved it.

I dream of her often. And I hold her collar. And cry. I know I was blessed to have her in my life for ten years. But I miss her so much. I just want to hold her again.

Billy is having a difficult time adjusting. He had never spent a night apart from her. He would walk around the house and meow and meow. I feel so bad for him.

We now understand how sick she probably was. We think that her pulling out her hair was because of something inside her and she just couldn't quite get to it. She used to jump up on the counter ALL THE TIME. She hadn't done that since we moved here. And she used to run around and act goofy quite a bit. She hadn't done that since we moved either. I also think this was meant to be, as hard as it is for me to accept that she's gone. She wouldn't have handled my leaving well. Especially for four to eight weeks. And she would have been so jealous of a baby. So we've accepted that this is God's way of preparing us for a baby. It all comes full circle I guess.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 ~ TB test nightmare

Well, I've had a slight delay in posting. Namely due to the fact that I've been driving to Watertown since the first week of August (actually nine months this entire year). So after spending 12 hours away from home, posting has dropped to the bottom of my list. But I pretty much have all of the details on my calendar, so I'll post by days now until I get caught up.

I had to have a TB test. I was in Watertown working and called to the clinic and they said "Sure...we'll get you right in!". So I told someone I was going to the clinic and would be back shortly. After watching people check in, sit down, be taken back for their appointment, and leave, I was getting a little antsy. I waited for 45 minutes before I finally went to the front desk and asked if it would be a while because I really needed to get back to work. The receptionist realized I'd been there for a long time so she asked a nurse when someone would get to me. And the nurse said "I'll get to you when I can" (imagine this in a really snotty tone). And I promptly started to bawl. I know. Not typical for me, is it? Well, besides the fact that I was getting my period (sorry to any men reading this) I was told I could get right in! No one at work knew where I was (well, one person did, but I'd told her I'd be right back). So the receptionist felt really bad for me and patted my hand and said "Oh honey, it will be OK. And then she said to a nurse passing by "SHE'S BEEN HERE 45 MINUTES!". And I got right in! Now I did not deliberately cry, but I will have to remember that tactic for future use. So I had my TB test and the nurse told me to come back in two days and not to even check in. Just to come back to the desk and ask for her and she'd see me. So I raced back to work and found I was the topic of some snooty office gossip. Someone said to me "I heard a rumor about you." I was really interested because I never do anything exciting to warrant rumors. She said "I heard you were pregnant!". Of course someone else was standing there and she said "You are!?!?". I said "No, I'm not pregnant!". And since this was such a touchy subject, I drove the 75 miles home bawling.

So on with the story...of course I don't have TB. I was secretly worried though that I could have caught it (along with every illness possible that is very hard to detect...I'm pretty sure I have some odd disease).