In 2008, shortly before Murphy's first birthday on June 25, we took the first steps to be the parents of two (or three!). We use Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota as our local agency and Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota as our international agent. LSS of SD does our homestudy and post-placement visits and LSS of MN helps us prepare our documents that are sent to Colombia and acts as our intermediary with the orphanage, attorney, and any other official that we come in contact with. LSS of SD requires that their adoptive families attend a two day workshop to learn more about adoption. So on June 19 & 20, 2008, we talked with other adopting families about terminology (Murphy wasn't given up for adoption, she was placed for adoption; we ARE Murphy's real parents and she IS our own child; Murphy was adopted, just like she was born. She isn't adopted, just like she isn't born;), some of the laws and regulations about adoption; some of the things that birth parents go through in making the decisions they do... Once we had completed the workshop, we also had to finish a lot of paperwork that ended up taking us another year! We knew that we needed to get the process started because it would take a few years, but we just weren't ready for another baby yet. Murphy was just turning one. We had only been home for six months and were enjoying being a family of three. Plus, we hadn't finished paying for Murphy's adoption; we definitely weren't ready to pay for another. So we didn't get things as done as quickly as we had the first time. PLUS, we seemed to have less free time on our hands than we did pre-Murphy! :)
LSS of SD came out to do our post-placement on February 16, 2009. Still no paperwork.
In April of 2009, Rob was at a friend's house watching the NFL draft. I was at home with Murphy who was supposed to be sleeping. Sleeping babies don't talk as much as she was so I headed upstairs and found her sitting on the steps. She scared me half to death but I didn't want her to see me laughing. It took all I had not to giggle when I asked her how she got out of her bed. Sneaky little thing didn't even make a noise when she climbed out! So it was time to buy a bed. We set it up in her room and she started taking her naps in the twin bed and spent the night in her crib. I don't think she ever climbed out again, but I just wasn't thrilled with having her try it again.
We celebrated Murphy's second birthday swimming at the Ramkota Inn in Aberdeen on Father's Day, June 21, 2009. She has no fear when it comes to water. She just walks right into the deep end. We've had her in swimming lessons every summer and she really enjoys it. She jumps off the dock at the lake and jumps off the diving board at the pool. She can swim pretty good with her life jacket on. Luckily the summer babysitters take her to the pool when the weather has been nice. On Murphy's actual birthday, we took the day off and spent the day having lots of fun. I did actually post on that day, so you can go back to read that (June 25, 2009). When we came back from her party, she told us that she didn't want to sleep in her crib anymore and from then on, it was the big-girl bed. It took me a couple of months to actually take the crib down and I cried while doing it.
Murphy's meeting with the Shriner's Hospital in Minneapolis was on July 2, 2009. You may not be aware that she has Spina Bifida. We met with a nurse practitioner who would determine if she was eligible to enter the program or not. After meeting with us, she didn't feel that Murphy would ever have any trouble but wanted the team of doctors to make that decision and entered her into their Spina Bifida program. We returned to the Shriner's this year on July 9. We saw a spinal surgeon and a neurologist and both said she is absolutely fine and that we don't need to go back. Yay! We were so glad to be able to spend time with our friends, Rob, Megan, Maria, Carmen, and Benji Willrett while we were there both times. We had spent so much time together in Colombia that it was just like old times. We share a bond that most people will never be lucky enough to experience. On the way home, we stopped by Megan's mom, Juel's house. What fun! Megan's brothers and sister were there with their families and it was like we'd known them for ages. We had another post-placement visit in Sioux Falls on August 7, 2009 and we were just a little close to having paperwork done. Far enough along that we thought it was time to schedule our homestudy visit. The social worker came to our house on August 24 and we were now on the second step of the process. It only took us a year to get from step one to step two! :) We still weren't in a big hurry and things had just quieted down at work so I was spending all of my time catching up on six months work of paperwork and filing. But we knew it was time to move a little quicker. We were able to spend time with the Willrett's and other Internet friends at LSS' Latin American picnic on September 27. It was really neat to see these beautiful Colombian kids all together. I had read so many of their blogs and felt like I truly knew some of these people even though we'd never actually met!
By now, we had to work pretty hard to get our paperwork done so the social worker could complete our homestudy. And of course we had to pay a little bit with every step. Keep in mind that we still hadn't (and haven't) finished paying for Murphy's adoption!
Strep throat went around Redfield last winter and both Murphy and I were lucky enough to catch it. Fortunately, Rob didn't, and his surgery wasn't delayed because of it. (Surgery story yet to come.) I exposed several, several people while attending the Lorie Line concert in Aberdeen, but in my defense, I didn't know it was strep and there was a slim chance I was missing that concert. After the concert, which was on December 18, we stopped at my brother and sister-in-law's, Dick and Pam's, to pick up a present that Santa had left at Grandma and Grandpa's: a kitty. Oh that poor cat. Murphy loves Riley but she LOVES the kitty. And so does Riley. She can hardly contain herself around the cat. It took us a while to name her. We tried out several names and none really fit. We tried Dora, Boots, Isa, Diego, Swiper (who is disguised as a fox but really a beagle named Riley) and she just wasn't any of those names. But she was kind of a Benny. So Benny it is. (No, she is not named after Ben Gillette, although Murphy does kind of have a thing for him.) Benny is so calm and patient with both of her adoring fans. She has sort of become my cat, and I did miss having a lump on my leg while I'm trying to sleep. I did not miss being licked in the middle of the night. Even my pillow is appealing to her because if I won't let her lick my face, she licks my pillow. Now if THAT sound isn't annoying!? Our household is expanding and we are grateful to have our blended family.
We finally completed all of our paperwork for LSS of SD, who was then able to complete our homestudy in December, 2009. Step number 3!
We had tried (with little effort) to start potty-training Murphy in September of 2009. She started wearing pull-ups when she started going to Carol's house in September. We'd ask her if she had to potty and she'd usually say yes and she'd go, but unless we asked her, she didn't volunteer the information. She was perfectly content wearing pull-ups using the toilet at her discretion. Fortunately for us, we were only having to change wet pull-ups as she had started pooping in the toilet shortly after her first birthday. We gave her Dora underwear for Christmas in 2009. She still wasn't overly enthused about potty training and we weren't pushing it at all. She was still only 2 1/2 and we were perfectly fine changing diapers for a while. Christmas of 2009 was one to remember, but probably one we'd like to re-do. We had too much snow and weren't able to go to my parents' house, nor was Rob's sister able to come home. We spent the holiday in our house, watching lots of TV. When Christy and Rob (Number 2 or Tink to avoid confusion) were finally able to come home from Sioux Falls, the seven of us celebrated Christmas at our house on January 2, 2010. We asked Murphy if she wanted to wear her underwear for the first time. She was all for that. She had an accident that day, and had only a few more since, but she has done a great job potty-training. I'm glad we didn't push her and let her go in her own time.
Two wrestling seasons have come and gone. We are having a great run right now; in February of 2009, our boys placed second, one-half of a point behind first place, and seventh in 2010. The time has gone by fast and Murphy has really enjoyed going to practice with Daddy and the boys.
Rob's sister, Christy is very special to both of us. They are only 13 months apart so have always been close, and Christy and I are alot alike and have so much fun together. I love her so much and am lucky to have her as my "sister". Christy turned a significant age this year (begins with a four and ends with an oh!) and we (Allan and Sandy, Rob, Christy, Alli, and Izzy (the dog), and Rob, Murphy, Riley, and I) decided to spend the weekend together in Watertown at the Holiday Inn Express. Before we got there, Number Two pulled out his most romantic move yet: proposing to Christy on her birthday! :) So we had a lot to celebrate that weekend! We look forward to a wedding in 2012 and I am having fun living vicariously through Christy's wedding plans! (I loved getting married and wore my own dress for weeks after our wedding. Then I had it professionally cleaned and it's in a very sad little box that I'm not able to open. :( It's been calling my name for 13 years now!) Murphy and Alli spent a lot of the weekend in the pool; we got pedicures at the mall; and Izzy and Riley got to spend time with their BFF's. It was a great weekend and we need to do it more often!
This spring had several sad moments for our family. My uncle, my godfather, had been sick for quite some time and died in March. I hadn't spent a lot of time with him since I became an adult and holidays were spent in too many different places, but childhood memories rushed back and I miss the man who watched NASA with my dad (even though there were hundreds of channels on their satellite dish) and had a mounted fish with a really long nose on the wall that always amazed me. Rob's grandma had also been sick for a very long time. She hasn't actually been healthy since I met her in 1995, but had gotten worse in the last few years. She died the day before Rob's birthday: April 20. We spent a lot of time that week at Rob's parents' house and as Murphy and I went home that first night, Murphy asked if we could go see Grandma Georgia at the hospital. I told her no and she asked me if Grandma George was feeling better. I think she finally was.
Having completed steps one, two, and three, it was now time to start collecting documents for our dossier; the information that would be presented to the orphanage. We applied for Murphy's passport and took our USCIS fingerprints on May 7. We received our USCIS approval on May 14 and received Murphy's passport on May 26. We met with the man who would do our psych evaluation on May 27. We received our FBI clearance on June 7. The FBI prints took nine weeks so we planned everything to be done around the beginning of June. I had prepared most of our documents so it didn't take long to get our physical health statment, our employment documentation, financial statment, list of all of our names (and with a hyphenated name I have several!), our birth certificates and marriage license. Everything needs to be notarized and then sent to the state for the notary to be notarized (apostilled). Then the whole packet was sent to the Colombian coordinator in Duluth on July 2, 2010. Bettina is an adoptive parent herself so has been through the process and also has been to Colombia several times so is familiar with our orphanage, Los Pisingos, and the Colombian process. We are so fortunate to be able to work with her. Unfortunately, the date on Rob's birth certificate was wrong. The birthdate of April 21 was transposed to April 12. Several of us had missed this but Bettina caught it in time. We needed to contact the Sioux County Recorder's office in Orange City, Iowa, where Rob was born. They were able to re-do the birth certificate and get it sent back to me. Rob drove to Pierre to get it apostilled and it was on it's way back to Bettina on July 29, 2010. All of our documents were FedEx'd to Cecilia, the coordinator in Colombia on Monday, August 2, 2010. And now we wait. Even though it took us two years from the time we started, we feel we are on the perfect schedule. We are now beginning to be ready for another baby. Murphy is beyond ready for another baby. She has nine of them already: Zoey, Ralph, Carly, Mama, Marco, Little Blue Baby, Little Yellow Baby, Little Pink Baby, and Shrek. Shrek is the naughty child who has to sit in timeout a lot. For hours at a time, poor thing. Zoey, Ralph, and Marco get the most attention. Marco is a stinky baby and needs his diaper changed several, several times a day. Unfortunately for Marco, we only have one set of boy clothes so he regularly wears girl clothes. We are hoping to be in Colombia before May of 2011 but we'll see. I'm OK with that for now. I may be harrassing Bettina in about the April timeframe! :)
In the middle of the two years it took us to get this far, Rob was activated to help with the floods in March of 2009 and finally retired in November of 2009 after over 21 years in the South Dakota Army National Guard. My job changed at the ethanol plant late in 2008 due to the margins in the ethanol industry. We were required by our lender to raise an additional $3 million in order to be in compliance with our loan covenants. It took a couple of months, a lot of phone calls, and lots of extra hours, but we finally did it. The ethanol industry still isn't a great one to be in right now, but we're confident with the progress we've made and are comfortable with the direction we are going. In August of 2009 the management agreement we had with another plant ended and several of us have taken on new job descriptions and duties. I am so fortunate to have a job that I love and that pays me well. It has reaffirmed our decision to stay here and we have decided to build a house. The house we are currently in is bursting at the seams and we know that another child (and all the stuff that goes with) will make it even more difficult to stay here. We have a pretty good idea of what our house will look like (on the inside at least) and are trying to find a builder for 2011. We aren't quite ready to pay for a new house until we have this next adoption paid off but we will need to have more room shortly after we come back from Colombia. We changed daycare providers in August of 2009. The provider we used to go to quit shortly before school started and we had a few weeks of panic. Luckily we were able to find another provider and we absolutely love her. They sing lots of songs and do lots of activities. There are also more kids for Murphy to be around. We still have a babysitter come in during the summer because it's just so convenient but during the school year, we couldn't find a better place for Murphy to be. Another thing that we dealt with in that timeframe was an injury to Rob's hand. He had hurt it on my birthday, March 19, of 2009 at school. They tried rehab and therapy but nothing worked. They finally did surgery to repair the ligaments in his wrist on January 6, 2010. He had a cast for several weeks and then more rehab. He will never have full range of motion but he isn't in constant pain like he was before the surgery. Unfortunately for Murphy, it put any snow activities on hold for the winter of 2009. She has told me that I am supposed to stay in the house and watch them through the window while they play outside. So I took her up on it and stayed in the house! We kept thinking that we'd have snow until May this year and that we'd have plenty of time to go outside. We as in Rob and Murphy. Unfortunately, the sun came out one day and melted all 12 feet of snow and winter was over. We have a brand new pair of snow pants, without tags, but never worn if anyone is in need! :)
So there is a recap of the past two years. I'm sure there are many things that I've missed. I have several Murphyisms that I'll share on another day.
We look forward to the day we are a family of four (or five!) plus the pets. We expect that our birth mother is pregnant right now and so we ask God for His blessings upon both her and our birth father as they make the tough decisions that they are making. We pray for Murphy's birth parents that they have found peace in their decisions. We are so thankful for the family He has created. How could we be more blessed? :)