Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Oh Canada!

Remember all the trouble we had getting approval to leave Florida and head to Canada on vacation with our son? Me either. It is in the past and everything turned out just like we had hoped it would. All we do from here on is look forward to the future and focus on the special memories we have made in recent weeks. We had a truly fabulous trip and visited with many family and a few friends while we were home in New Brunswick. 

We arrived late Thursday evening at my mom & dad's and were greeted by them and my Grammie Chase who has an apartment attached to their home. So just like that S met three of the most important people in our lives and now in his. Grammie Susan had made fancy new pillowcases for each of the children - here is S's with baseball theme, 

...he put in an order for a Star Wars themed one before we left. Obviously feeling comfortable enough to make such a request. I wish I could post photos of S enjoying himself in New Brunswick, but again - legal stuff - yada yada. One of these days there will be a post - likely many posts with photos galore to recap from our meeting in June until finalization - still hopeful for finalization this year.

For some reason I was basically a zombie on Friday. It was cloudy and I was exhausted - I hadn't been able to sleep much the week leading up to our trip. By Saturday I was feeling better and ready to take on vacation. Here are just a few of the hundreds of photos taken...

Crafting time with Grammie Susan - making a memory lamp shade with old slides. Which in turn prompted printing of some very special old photos, like this one... seriously how cute are my little brother and I?

The days are blending together for me now but I know that gradually over the 10 days we were there S met most of our immediate family members and he handled himself well. As an adult who is uncomfortable meeting new people I'm sure his anxiety was many times what I would experience. These weren't people he would never see again - these are his new family. People he will develop relationships with over the rest of his life. 

We took a two day excursion traveling through Fredericton including a campus tour of UNB - Michael's Alma Mater and a glance at STU - my Alma Mater. R & Michael were fond of the flat bill caps - for the record none of those made it into the shopping cart.

We ate at Montana's for dinner - yummo and fun to boot!

Relaxing with my R by the lighthouse on the Green.

The next day we went to Hopewell Rocks where we walked on the ocean floor at low tide. 

You may notice S's side pockets are extra bulgy here - it may have something to do with the 4.8 lbs (yes I weighed them) of special rocks he found on our walk. He also found his mama a piece of brown sea glass - I LOVE sea glass. 

There were 4-wheeling excursions to Tim Horton's. Speaking of which, what I wouldn't do for an Iced Capp right now. No really, someone go get one right now and enjoy it!

These last couple of shots were taken at Hays Falls on the Maliseet Trail below Woodstock. S shares K's love for adventure and had fun climbing over rocks and way up high on the sides of the falls and over the rocks at the base of the falls - okay honestly I think he was in the water as much as he was on the rocks. He doesn't like to admit not being able to do something but it was pretty obvious he had never tried to maneuver slippery rocks before. 

So it was a fabulous vacation. 
End of story? 
No this is only the beginning for S and his new family.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's start with the good news...


Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

That was the good news and it sure was good and I'll write about that later. However in an effort to keep this adoption thing real, I will share a little about getting there. The days leading up to the trip were stressful to say the least and I'm really thankful that some time has passed before I'm blogging about it because saying that my emotions were running high would be an understatement of epic proportion.

On Monday August 6th we went to Miami. Michael, myself and S got up at 3 am and loaded in the van for an adventure and a half. We got to Miami without incident, found great $5 all day parking, located the passport office and found the appointment line in the parking garage - oh my! I'm glad we had an appointment. We eventually got called from the appointment line and were permitted to go in the elevator up to the passport office. We went through security and got in another line where we would get a number to be called to a service window. After a relatively short wait we were called up to the window. I presented all of our paperwork - yes we had lots of extra paperwork due to the adoption not being final. The kind young man who was waiting on us was very quick to tell me "You won't get a passport with this as it ISN'T a valid birth certificate." Well guess what, it's all I've got and it will have to do - of course I didn't say that - how could I? I couldn't say much because my throat was swelling up with tears that I didn't want to cry. I tried to maintain my composure as I explained we had more paperwork, a judge's order and such, would that be helpful at all? He finally agreed to show his supervisor who in turn took our paperwork back to "the great Oz" and guess what - IT WAS OK! Not perfectly okay but okay enough to obtain a temporary passport valid for 1 year. Heck yeah - we'll take it! So it was a tense few minutes that felt like an eternity but it all worked out. Remember I said I would be okay with however it worked out at the passport office? In truth, not so much. I was quite surprised at how upset I was when the guy initally told us no. But here we are standing at the mercy of those in power of passports and they have given us the verbal okay for approval. Now we just have to leave and come back after 2 PM to pick up said passport. So given all the complications we had endured to this point you will understand when I say "I'll believe it when I see it." So off we went with tempered excitement to be over that hurdle. Now what do we do with an eleven year old boy in the city of Miami for four hours? Why not a movie? So we drove to a nearby Muvico where we had a private screening (i.e. no one else wanted to watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Dog Days) complete with movie theatre food and beverages for lunch. A little shopping and low and behold it was time to return to the passport office which closes (they don't let you in) at 3 PM.

So we arrive and apparently they are too busy and we are once again put into holding in the parking garage. Then we go upstairs to the office, through security and this time we just wait to hear his name called. He is SO patient and it has been a looong day. We eventually place bets on which window will be the one to call his name - a bet he won and collected $10 for. So we happily go up to the window where a very sweet lady tells us she was born very near to where S was born in Puerto Rico and tells us what a beautiful area he is from. It was so nice to hear something like that and to have him hear it as well. She then asked where we were going to travel and tells S he will like it in Canada. So kind of her to take a few minutes to be so sweet. I pass the passport over to S and away we go. Happy happy happy happy - I text my mom from the ladies room because I'm happy crying now and don't want S to see me. We got it - we are ALL coming home!

We make our way down the street - the sun literally came out from behind a full sky of clouds just as we were back on the street walking towards the parking garage where we parked. We skip along giddy and chatting excitedly about Canada and plane trips and family.... blah blah blah.... When we get to the crosswalk I glance down at the envelope they returned documentation in - what's that? An "s?" His last name doesn't have an "s" but surely it is just on the label not on the passport right? I take a look at his passport - S!  CRAP!!! We have to go back! His name is spelled wrong. Can you imagine? Now remember the office closes at 3 PM. It is now 2:45. We race back and the security guard greets us at the elevator and when we explain our situation he looks worried but says, "they should be able to look after that for you." We return to the office and the guys at security tell us to go straight back to the window we picked it up from - the sweet lady from Puerto Rico - she promises us she will get it corrected and back to us ASAP. So we wait. We wait until about 4:30 and receive a fully correct fully functional passport! AMEN! Let's head home. Big sigh of relief.

So all is well - what a great feeling - never better - SO much stress in recent weeks - pick almost any previous blog entry for proof of that. Now all I have to do is pack for 6 people to travel in 3 days. No problem.  Tuesday morning I am basking in the glow of a fabulous weekend, Rays Game Saturday, back to school shopping in Ellenton Sunday morning, church Sunday night, a successful passport trip to Miami on Monday. Hahahahaha!!!! You don't think it could really be that easy do you?

Ring! Ring! I see on call display it is S's case worker - obviously calling to confirm the great news from Monday, how wonderful. What is that she just said? Not, "Congratulations, is he excited?" It sounded like she said, "I hope you haven't booked your tickets yet." The tone of her voice was not good. To keep this already way too long post brief suffice it to say there was an error on her part in not having submitted a travel order request in time. So all these big obstacles had been overcome to be completely shut down by a simple travel order? So I spent all day Tuesday on the phone with supportive friends, and anyone in "the system" that I could contact. I didn't tell the kids, any of my family in Canada or even call Michael to tell him this devastating news, I was really hoping it would be worked out before he got home from work. Not so. Luckily it was a very busy evening. I was at cheerleading practice with R when Michael got home and he left for his softball game before we got home. He got home after 11 o'clock and I finally broke the news to him, he took it much better than I did. I'm sure that was in no small part due to the three friends whose shoulders I had cried on (over the phone) I know they were all praying for the situation to be resolved and for Michael's reaction to the news. Needless to say I didn't sleep much that night and no packing got done. Bring on Wednesday... no news is good news just didn't feel like the right thing to say. I continued to get support from the three people I had confided in on Tuesday. Packed a suitcase for S according to encouragement from one friend to think positively. Just after 4 PM we received in hand the approved travel order. HALLELUJAH! Now finish that packing and get on that plane - TOMORROW!

I'm writing this almost 2 full weeks after it all happened and I just realized my tummy is all in knots just reliving it. It does have a very happy ending which I will cover in my next post. I promise it will be a much more encouraging read than this one. Thanks for hanging on through this one.

Take me out to the ball game!

Until just a few weeks ago I had never heard of the organization Umps Care 

Our family was treated - ahem, VIP style - to a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles on August 4th. The Rays ended up losing but it was a once in a lifetime experience and so incredible that we got to have this memory making event all together as a new family.

When we arrived we got our complimentary tickets for our seats on the third base line. Best seats we've ever had at a Rays game and Michael and I both agree it spoiled us for sitting in our usual nosebleed seats. We also each got a goodie bag with TB ball caps, Cracker Jacks, sunflower seeds, gum, candy  and $10 each for snacks.

We had a little time to watch the Orioles take batting practice. Then we met our guide and she gave us our field passes and took us to meet the umpires. What a nice bunch of guys!

On our way through the tunnel to the umps dressing room we passed the visiting team's workout room, cool. Upon entering the umps dressing room and getting through introductions they offered up all kinds of CANDY - I can't even begin to explain the volume of candy in this room. When they first offered it up we all glanced in the general direction of multiple jars of candy on the counter...then they opened the cupboards... not cupboard, cupboards, PLURAL! Jars and jars and jars of candy. They told us to fill up our bags :-) I'm slightly shocked but pleased to say each of the children (and Michael) took only one or two candies. This isn't even including the cooler full of Gatorades and sodas they offered us. We were expecting the evening would be for multiple adopting families, but nope it was just us and the umpires. All the children clammed up - not a single question for the umps. So they handed us a bunch of game ready baseballs to add to our goodie bags and we went out on the field with the home base umpire and had a photo taken with him. 

It was a very cool experience.

 Dad and his boy watching the big boys play ball

BJ's up next

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Canada by way of Miami?

Monday August 6th is passport day or not passport day. Either way we have to be content with it and trust that there is a reason for whatever way things work out. If a same day passport is not approved for S (the son formerly known as J ) then he simply cannot travel with us to Canada. Looking forward there will be a family trip to Canada at Christmas and the hope is that his adoption will be finalized by then. His passport may even have his adopted name at that point. I dream big - why not? Merry Christmas indeed!

By August 6th S will have been living in our home for eleven days. By our travel date he will have been living with us for two weeks. That doesn't sound like much until you figure in the 200+ hours spent in supervised and unsupervised visits prior to his move in date.

Today I received in hand his certified birth certificate and certified court order indicating our status as his preadoptive family and that we have permission to apply for a passport for him. I've added those to the passport application and the additional notarized form they requested we have completed by his case worker. So I do have all the paper work in order. The only glitch I can see possibly causing us a problem is if they are sticklers about international flight because our flight is into Maine and then we drive into New Brunswick. So we need the passport to cross the border. Prayers for sympathetic passport employees to approve the passport for our itinerary.

On a completely unrelated note should I be concerned that I just heard a loud cry of "Cannonball!" followed by a splash coming from the bathroom? - The joys of boys!