Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 Days

In 10 days Agnese and Daniela will be saying good-bye to their foster family and hello to their new life as Tuckers! The closer we get, the more my emotions get the best of me! It was Youth Sunday at church, so the kids were very involved in the service. I am thankful beyond words that my new daughters will soon be a part of our church family, too! Ryleigh and her friend Bailey sang "The Greatest Commandment" as a special today! It's a song from our VBS from 2 years ago. I am so proud of Ry and her confidence getting up there in front of so many people! She loves Jesus and she is not afraid to show it! Joe did a children's sermon and my heart was so full of joy to watch the kids up there on stage listening so well to him. It was awesome! Joe's "big person" sermon was great, too! The topic was "Rest" and it really made me think about the "busy-ness" that consumes my life. I want my new daughters to know how important it is to make time for God and the best way for them to learn that is for us to be that kind of example. The Elders and some of the deacons had a time of prayer for us at the end of church and I couldn't hold back my tears. We are so blessed!

We called the girls this morning and I am so glad that the next time I hear their voices, I will see their faces, too! They seemed excited and said they were packing one suitcase of stuff. They always ask about their sisters and I am very sad that we are not all making the trip. I know that it will be fine and soon we will all be together, but 19 days is so long to be away from the little girls. I try to see the positives, but at this point, I don't know how my heart can take it! I am hoping there will be lots to keep us busy in Latvia, so the time passes quickly! We shall see!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Last Week as a Family of 4

So, our big girls have been our daughters (at least in our hearts anyway) for quite some time now, but in one short week, we will be leaving for Latvia to bring them home forever! I know there is no way to prepare for doubling our number of kids at one time and adding into the equation that they are 12 and 13. However, I feel like if I get everything clean, that will help! I think I am "nesting" like people do when they are pregnant. I have been grouchy lately because everything seems to be cluttered and dirty (even though it's not!) I know the girls will probably care about as much as their dad and little sisters, but I will feel better bringing them home to an organized environment!

We got about 6 inches of snow yesterday and all the schools let out early, so I did have some unexpected time to get things done. We have our huge list of things to get for the trip and Tim just went out to shovel the driveway so we can get the van out! We have Reagan's birthday party all planned and have a list of supplies and food for that, too! She is so excited and has such an opinion about how things are going to take place at the party. It has really been an easy party to prepare for because she had in her mind exactly what she wanted! Tim is going to play "Ace of Cakes" and make her a cake that she sketched out on a piece of paper!

We are anxious about the travel stuff. I know we can make a long trip, we've done it before, but I am worrying about all the little stuff. Life has been so busy in other aspects, too. We are trying to figure out what to do about Brenda (daycare director) leaving and how to replace her. She is one of a kind and has run the daycare perfectly since it opened. She cannot be replaced, so we are trying to figure out the budget and what we can afford to do. It's all confusing and stressful to me. I want what is best for the families who bring their kids everyday and trust that Bright Beginnings will truly be the next best thing to mommy and daddy. If the budget wasn't so tight, it would make a huge difference! God will work it out (and hopefully while I am gone!!!). We are also have Parent/Teacher conferences and VBS planning has started! I was at church until 9:00 three nights in a row last week! We also have a Children's Ministry Appreciation dinner tonight. I hope I can find the right words to show how much I appreciate all the teachers and helpers, not just as the CM Leader, but as a mom, too! I am so blessed to attend such an awesome church! Being a part of God's family is so comforting.

We found out this week that the Show Hope foundation awarded us a grant! We were elated to finally hear something and to know that we got it makes me love Steven Curtis Chapman even more! He truly does amazing things for orphans and Christian music and he definitely uses his spiritual gifts to give back to God. I am so thankful! This grant will pay for almost all of our second trip (except plane tickets and accomadations), so it is a relief to know that we have that taken care of ahead of time!

So, in less than a month, we will be home and all of our 4 children will be together with us! Please continue to pray that the transition will be smooth for all of us and for safe travels for us. I know the little girls are going to love having Grandma here for so long. They will be spoiled rotten!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Plane Tickets!

We have plane tickets! And we think we found an apartment to rent for a very good price that has most of the things we were looking for. We heard from Daina that we will drive from Riga to Rauna on the 10th to get the girls with a person from the court, Daina, and a driver. Then we will go to First Court that evening. I hope we are not rushed at the Foster Home, as I think it will be an emotional and difficult thing for the girls to say good-bye. We were hoping to go see their school, too, but do not know if there will be time for that. It's hard to imagine our "Gotcha" moment with them, very different from a nanny handing Reagan to us for the first time! It seems like so long ago that I held their sweet faces in my hands and promised I would come to Latvia to see them again. I could not tell them that we were adopting them at the time, but I did reassure them that we would come to their house. I am so excited to fulfill that promise!

I have been trying to have some heart to heart talks with Ryleigh about being brave and good while we are gone. I am praying that she will be extra nice to Reagan and that she will not be upset when we are gone. She is emotional, just like I am, and I know this is going to be hard on her. Reagan keeps asking why we have to be gone so long, it breaks my heart. I know they will have so much fun with my mom and she will take such good care of them, but the guilt of being away from them for so long is bothering me. I am planning on making a calendar and list of things for my mom today to keep track of all the girls' activities.

We had a tragedy in Lebanon yesterday. A mom and 11 year old son were murdered in their home. An 8 year old was found unharmed and all day they were looking for the dad. He was found, dead, in his truck that had been crashed down into a quarry. There are not answers yet if he was also a victim or if it was suicide. Everyone that knows this family says there is no way he could have done it. It's so sad. I am praying for this little boy who has lost his entire family and for wisdom for the police to solve this crime. Ryleigh's school was locked down all day, along with the other schools. We have several kids at our church that are in 5th grade, so they will need lots of prayer to deal with this horrible thing that has happened to their classmate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Loooooong Day

It's been a stressful couple of days...

We were told on Monday that we might have to have 3 weeks of bonding with the girls (which would be close to a month of total time being gone) instead of the normal 2 weeks. We were in quite a panic and decided that Ryleigh and Reagan would just have to go with us, since the thought of being away from them for a month made me want to throw-up. Problem #1, Ryleigh's passport expired on Jan. 9th. Problem #2, Reagan doesn't have a U.S. passport or a Missouri birth certificate to get a passport. So, we were frantically coming up with a plan how to solve both of these problems. In the meantime, we heard back from Cathy, our case worker, who had received an email from Daina, the Latvia coordinator, that said we could stay for the normal 2 weeks bonding time. So after all the unnecessary worry and anxiety, we have official travel dates...

February 7th to February 26th! A long time to be away from the little girls. I am, however, so excited to see Agnese and Daniela and start this new chapter in all of our lives!

I am also praying for the changes at Bright Beginnings and for wisdom in following God's will.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


We got our Court Date!!! February 10th! Now we can try to get everything ready. I am so happy that we finally know when we will see our girls! However, this means we will be gone for Reagan's birthday :( and Valentine's Day. I don't really care about V-day, but it is breaking my heart to know I won't be with Reagan on her 5th birthday. We will have her party on the 6th before we leave and I know grandma will make her day special, but the mommy guilt is eating me up inside. Please be in prayer for all of us as we are apart. I know everything will be okay, but it is going to be hard.

There are so many things to think about to get ready to be gone for 2 1/2 weeks! I will never have everything as organized as I want it to be! I am so blessed that I have a wonderful mom who will come take care of my kids!

We called the girls to tell them that in 25 days we will see them! Their reaction wasn't what we expected, so I am not sure if they didn't understand or they already knew. It seemed like it was old news to them, like "okay, that's great." They were trying to tell us something about January 21 being Agnese's birthday, which it's not, so we were really confused. They tried over and over to tell us it was her name birthday. After we hung up, Tim googled it and found out that they do some kind of Name Birthday celebration. We will have to look up more info and figure it all out. They were excited about it, though! It's funny to hear them say January, it sounds like "Yanuary"! I tried to say a few things in Latvian, but they didn't understand. The communication is getting more and more difficult and I am starting to get frustrated! I just want to see them so bad! When they left at the end of July, I promised I would come knocking on their door in Latvia, and now it's so close to being that time! We were not able to mention adoption to them (although it did come up a time or two) while they were here, so we have not been able really let our emotions show in front of them. I hope it doesn't take long for them to understand how much we love them and that God brought us together in His perfect way.

This process is so different from a China adoption. I wish we had a better support system like we did with Reagan's adoption, as far as from the adoption agency and in country facilitators. We traveled to China with such an awesome group of families and we had our guide/translator with us all the time. They also made all of our travel arrangements as well as cultural tours, dinners, etc. We only had to worry about taking care of Reagan! With Latvia, there isn't a set process where everyone experiences pretty close to the same thing. Everytime I have a question for our caseworker, it seems she doesn't really know. She is great to find out an answer, but it would be a much better feeling if we were more confident in their knowledge of how everything works. I am also nervous about making our own travel arrangements and having layovers in countries we know nothing about. We are not experienced travelers at all! It is a good feeling to know that God is with us wherever we are, and with all the girls, too!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Humbling Experiences and Hillcrest School

Our prayers are being answered in bigger and better ways than we ever could have imagined! First, we have started receiving responses from our Letters of Support and there are no words to describe how humbling and utterly awesome it is to receive the kind of support we are getting from our family and friends. I wish there was a way to adequately express how much we truly and deeply appreciate the gifts we have been given. I hope and pray that someday I can make someone feel the way we have felt when we open the envelopes. Thank you to everyone who has been so generous with prayers and monetary gifts.

We visited Hillcrest Elementary today, where the girls will both go to 6th grade. We met with the principal and both their teachers. They will be on the same "team", which means they will have the same two teachers, but at different times. They will have recess and lunch together, too, and do the same work. I was so nervous about how the girls would be accepted, but now I have such a peace about it. The teachers were amazing and excited about learning more about Latvia. They are going to be so nice to work with! We took pictures of the classrooms and the school, so we can show them on our trip. We all agreed that the sooner they start in their normal school routine the better. We will be using Skype to talk to the classes while we are in Latvia, too, so the girls can get to know their classmates and teachers. I hope they will be excited to go to school in America! They gave us a math book so we could see what kinds of things they are expected to know. I hope I remember how to do 6th grade math!

Still no travel dates. I am starting to feel like we are in complete limbo until we know something! I don't want to plan anything one minute and then the next minute I feel like there is so much to plan for the rest of this month so we can have February free and clear.

And have I mentioned how ready I am to see my girls again?????

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snow Days and Basketball

Well, we ended up having snow days on Thursday and Friday, which was great! I have decided I function better if I go to bed at midnight and get up at 8:00. Too bad my family has to be out of the house by before 8!

We were only able to play outside in the snow for a little bit on Thursday, it was so cold and I was worried about the girls being out for very long. I think it took us longer to get bundled up then the time we were out. They did get some good sledding in all over our yard, but unfortunately the snow we have is not good for building snowmen.

Ryleigh had 4 basketball games this weekend and they lost them all. It's frustrating for us to watch and we probably complain way more than we should. I am proud of Ryleigh for her heart and for her effort. She takes it so serious, which is probably part of the problem, but nevertheless, I love watching her play. I am anxious to see if Daniela will want to play, too!

We talked to the big girls this morning! They said it is very cold there, school is good, and they are ready to come home. We tried to tell them that we found out who their teachers are (Mrs. Admire and Mrs. Dickerson) but not sure if they understood. We are meeting with the teachers on Tuesday to talk about their education plan. We have a great first impression, as they have talked to their classes about the girls and the kids are excited to follow our trip and get to know the girls. They will both be in 6th grade, on the same team, but different teachers. They will have the same work, but won't be together in class. This will hopefully encourage them to learn English quickly! I know they will do well!

I packed most of Agnese's clothes on Friday! It's so exciting! I also got our list finalized for names. One list with middle names to go with Agnese and Daniela, one list with first names to go with A and D as middle names and the last list is two completely new American names. I can't even begin to guess if they will want to change their names, but we will be prepared whatever they choose to do!

We are hoping we get travel dates this week so we can get moving on getting plane tickets and hotel reservations and we can start to plan all the things that need to be figured out while we are gone. I am imagining what it will be like to see the girls again. I am sure they have grown. I can't wait to hug and kiss them!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jumping through Another Hoop!

Today was a wild day! You could tell the snow storm was coming by the behavior of the kids at Bright Beginnings! Not that they were naughty, just excited and silly! It started snowing about 3:00 and was really pretty coming down! And, we have a snow day tomorrow! Hip! Hip! Hooray!

In all the excitement we got an email from An Open Door this afternoon that our letter from the Ministry of Latvia was ready for us to read over and confirm that we "want these children". Unfortunately, the letter was no where to be found in the email or attached or in another email, so it wasn't until tonight that we finally received it via email. We didn't really know what to expect, but it was pretty much a letter saying that they had received our paperwork and they have two children who fit the description of what we requested (we couldn't name the girls specifically in our homestudy). They wrote a paragraph about each girl and suprisingly they did a perfect job! Whoever wrote it must know them well and we are thankful that somebody takes the time to get to know who they are, what they like, and their behavior. We obviously called Cathy and told her YES, we accept this referral! One more hoop we have jumped through on this journey!

I think I am ready to start packing! I can go ahead and get the girls' clothes picked out and the games and activities we want to take. There will be so much to do to get ready to leave for two weeks that I think I should get started! Plus, this is the part I am really looking forward to! What I am not looking forward to is being away from the little girls for that long. Reagan hugged me so tight and cried the day we got the call about traveling in February and said, "Mommy, I'm really going to miss you." Talk about breaking my heart. I need to plan some fun little thing for them to do to help the time go quickly. My mom will be staying with them so they can stay pretty much in their daily routine. I was thinking of doing a paperchain countdown with little things for them to do. It will be a relief when we have all four girls home and we can start our life as a family of six.

We mailed out letters of support this week and our hope is that the people who receive them will not be offended that we are asking for prayer and financial support. It is very humbling to ask, that is for sure.